On Love’s Wings

On Love’s Wings copyright c. 2016 T.A. Chase

Part Ten-

He kept his gaze averted, not wanting to see disgust or fear on Miataga’s face, but Miataga wasn’t allowing it.

“You look at me. I see nothing for you to be ashamed of.” Miataga shook Ari slightly. He trailed his fingers over the scars marring Ari’s face. “These are not a reflection of your soul. They are proof that you’ve survived something that probably would’ve killed a weaker person.”

Ari shook his head. “They come from harnessing the fire living inside Vikex, not from any kind of struggle. Just battles and death.”

Miataga stroked his cheek. “You hate them, don’t you?”

“Of course, I do. To me, they only represent death, destruction and pain.” He pulled away as Miataga started to lean in. He didn’t want Miataga to kiss him. Not right then. “Could you set my helmet over by our bags?”

There wasn’t any argument. Miataga did as he asked and Ari was happy for that. It had been difficult enough to remove his helmet. He wasn’t sure how’d he handle it when the time came to strip out of his uniform.

“Would you like to learn how to start a fire?” He made the offer as an olive branch, not sure if Miataga would take it. He didn’t want Miataga to be offended by his withdrawal. “Or at least how to start one when you can manipulate flame?”

Miataga’s soft chuckle brought a smile to Ari’s face. “All right, but maybe one night you can show me how to do it the normal way. Just in case I end up having to start on my own.”

He laughed. “I can do that.”

After piling several sticks and twigs together in a shallow pit, Ari held his hand over them and concentrated. Heat flared throughout his body then began to pool in his palm. A flash of red and orange caused Miataga to gasp. Flames trickled from his fingertips down onto the wood where it danced along the curves and knots until it caught hold.

“Wow. That’s amazing,” Miataga murmured. “Does it hurt when you do it?”

Ari flexed his hand, trying to get the tingling to go away. “Not something small like this. If I were trying to burn down a forest or destroy a battalion of enemy soldiers, there would be new scars on some part of my body. There have been times when I’ve done too much, and I’ll pass out because I run out of energy. Vikex will carry me away to heal.”

“You’re lucky to have him.” Miataga edged closer to the heat. “Do you need me to help with the food? Though I really don’t have any real idea what to do.”

Vikex landed nearby and the wind created by his wings fanned the flames slightly higher. Ari went to where he crouched and rested his hand on Vikex’s neck.

“You’re all right,” he asked.

The phoenix nodded before nudging the bag holding their food supplies at him. Ari grabbed it then returned to Miataga. “You can help by pulling out two bowls from the bag. When I packed, I grabbed field rations for our trip to my family. They’re already wrapped. All I have to do it toss them into the fire so they’ll warm up.”

“Did you think you’d have to take care of me the entire time you were on leave?” Miataga frowned as he dug through the bag to get the bowls out.

“To be honest, I didn’t really think you’d have any clue what to do on a camping trip. It isn’t like you go outside the city, right? I don’t mind taking care of things. My mother will cook while we’re at my village. I’ll teach you how to do it once we get to Vikex’s flock since I have to cook for myself.” He laughed. “That’s the hard thing about birds not having hands. We won’t have to worry about going hungry. The phoenix are good hunters, so we’ll have meat.”

Miataga nodded. “I’m actually looking forward to learning all of this. You never know when it’ll come in handy.”

Looking up, he caught Miataga’s gaze and smiled. He doubted Miataga would ever need to start a fire or know how to cook for himself once they returned to Sendler. Yet it was nice of him to act as though he were excited about it all.

“After I get dinner going, I’ll set up our sleeping area. I didn’t bring a tent. It’s not supposed to rain the next couple of days. Just blankets, plus we’ll have Vikex to keep us warm.” Ari tossed two dinner packets into the fire. “Want to come with me to the creek? You can wash up and I’ll get us some water to drink.”

“Yes.” Miataga looked at the fire. “Will that be all right?”

Ari nodded. “Vikex will keep an eye on everything. Don’t worry. We’ll be back before the food burns.”

He offered Miataga his hand to help him stand. Then he tucked Miataga’s hand in the crook of his elbow, escorting him across the clearing toward the creek as though they were in the finest house in Sendler and Miataga was the most important person in his world.

Ari sniffed softly. He was an idiot. Aside from Vikex, Miataga was the only person in his world. His bond with the phoenix unnerved the rest of the soldiers he fought with. They feared that he might loose control of the fire some day and burn them all. So while they respected him, they stayed a certain distance from him. None of them were his friends.

“It’s so quiet out here,” Miataga commented as they wound their way through the trees. “I’ve never slept outside. This whole trip will be an adventure.”

“I hope you enjoy it,” Ari muttered. “And don’t hate me by the time this is over.”

Miataga opened his mouth, then shut it as though he were rethinking what he wanted to say. “It might take me a day or two, but I think it’s something I could learn to like.”

One Response “On Love’s Wings”

  1. josexpressions says:

    just lovely… thanks, T.A.

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