Flight Lessons

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He didn't stand a chance of saying no to that. It almost terrified him, because every preconceived notion he had about himself was peeling out of his grip. He hated training with others, and yet he found nothing more pleasing than the idea of taking her to one of his secret places where no one would find them so they could make fools of themselves flapping about like clipped chickens.

Because that's what they ended up doing. He led her to the small rocky beach that could only be reached by climbing about a cliff during low tide. He didn't even have a shirt on, as he didn't feel too inclined to dismembering one of Tyson's shirts to accommodate his wings, and all his own clothes were still in the dryer. Their trench coats, Ayah's being Grandpa Granger's off-white monstrosity, were draped over a nearby rock, leaving them bare and winged in the early autumn breeze and ocean spray. He even, covertly as possible, slipped out his tail feathers, though the riding of Tyson's sweats beneath his tail wasn't exactly pleasant. Constant aviary wedgie.

Ayah's reaction to the sight of his long, graceful tail feathers, however, was worth it.

"They're so beautiful!" she cried, clapping her hands together. "And the gray at the end matches your hair!"

And then the flapping. She said she had practiced in Tyson's backyard, but it was obvious from the start that she hadn't the sort of insane drive that Kai had in achieving excellence—though it didn't really matter because they both ended up on their faces on the first try to get off the ground. A few fluffs of white and scarlet downy fluttered about them.

She spat out a mouthful of sand. "Ow."

"I think if we make sure we keep our heads up," he said. Forget training with others, this wasn't even training. He was so use to being a leader that he had forgotten what it was like to not have any idea of what he was doing.

"Yeah, I was definitely looking down at the ground that time. You trying to tell if you're feet leave the ground too, right?"

"...This is weird."

She laughed a curious high, trilling thing. It was unlike any sound he had ever heard her make.

"We're weird!" she cried. "Come on! On three, we'll try again."

"How about one of us tries on our own and the other watches? For suggestions."

"Yeah! How about you first? I can still remember what it looked like to see my parents flying, so maybe I can use that."

This gave him pause as he lifted his wings. He wanted to ask, but she was already waiting, eyes bright with delighted expectation.

He crouched down first. Then, with all his strength, he jumped, flapping down at the same time. More downy feathers flew. He feared he'd hit the ground with his wings, fluttered, teetered, and with a burn of pectoral and dorsal muscles, managed to keep himself airborne for a precious few seconds before dropping back down. He couldn't help but be ridiculously pleased by the fact that he managed to land on his feet rather than his face this time.

She looked rightly impressed. "Wow. You actually almost had it. I think you're not reaching high enough, though. With your wings, that is. I think my dad said once you have to scoop up as much air as possible."

Again, he was curious. He wanted to ask about her parents and her siblings. Though, since he knew they were killed, he worried he'd touch some nerve and end up having to deal with her sobbing or revisiting unpleasant memories. He didn't do the whole comforting thing well.

"Try one more time. Then I'll take a turn."

He nodded, already beginning to feel the heat building up from exertion. He didn't sweat, however, as he had found rather early on in his practice that it took much more exertion on his part to actually work up a sweat, as his body could handle heat. He had even seen the air ripple about him from his own breaths a few times. Best he warn her of that if it should ever get to that point.

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