I lean against the wide trunk of a dead weeping willow. I'm doing my best to appear cavalier, nonchalant. Little does this boy, Brian, know that I am sizing him up. I take his height and size into consideration while calculating how long it would take me to disarm him, if in fact he was sent from Vesta corp.
Brian sighs with my lack of information. He runs his hands through his long blonde tresses, he's frustrated. Relax. I command with a single thought. He looks up and is no longer distressed. Instead he wears an uncertain smile. I try my best to return it, encouraging him to come closer. Once he does I lock my sights on him.
We circle each other. My eyes engage in a stare down with his piercing blues. I've amused him somehow. His wavering smile turns into a predatorial grin. After a moment I forget how to breathe. I spend my whole life in combative training and the source that threatens bring me to my knees is some hot domesticated boy with a killer smile. Ugh grow some back bone, I warn myself.
We continue this pattern of circling each other for another minute or so. We sidestep, moving simultaneously as we study one another. We're graceful as we complete a 360 around each other. Our backs are never turned.
Brain’s smile tells me he thinks I am flirting with him. If I were purely Avian that is what my body language may have portrayed. Unfortunately for Brian, I am equal parts lethal young adult as I am avian. But the dance is enticing, so I keep up the facade a little longer than necessary. I smile genuinely at Brian, forgetting myself in the moment. I allow him to be flattered with my affections. Once I tear my gaze away from him I regain control of the situation. I study him closer; his belt loop, pockets, boots, any place that he might have concealed a weapon.
There is nothing. I reach my hand out across the moving circle we are creating with our bodies. I surprising the both of us as my palm makes contact with the back of Brian's neck. The skin is warm and smooth. I feel Brian tense; maybe he isn't so sure about me either. His skin remains unmarred by any type of serial code. Unlike my own neck, which has been branded with a simple three digit code since before I can remember. Q84. I am marked as belonging to Vesta corp. Self consciously I reach my hand back towards my own neck. As usual I flinch at the sickening feeling of the scars, burrowed into my flesh concealed behind my long brown sun streaked hair.
In the distance I hear the roar of propellers. My wings shoot out at the threat. It could be paranoia, but the sound seems to be coming closer. Brian's gesture mimics my own. I am caught off guard with the impressive expanse of his wings. Their color is a magnificent shade of blue, reflective of the sky. I feel heat flood into my cheeks as I realize I've been caught gawking. Brian grins. He too is taken in with the sight of another Avian specie's wings. He studies mine. Usually this would make my skin crawl and my teeth grind, but he isn't studying me in the way I'm used to. He looks at my wings appreciatively, not as if I'm some kind of lab rat.
The air around us become heavy. A sudden wind ruffles my hair and tugs at my clothes. I stare at Brian. I'm sure its his doing. I open my mouth to speak, only now realizing the silence has been prolonged. Before I can make a sound my voice is drowned out by the noise of propellers. Their far too close for comfort now. I curse my bright vibrant wings and allow them too fold closely against my spine. Even so I know the florescent colors are a dead give away.
Brain registers the look of fear on my face. “Run,”I mouth.
Brian grabs my arm and were running, sprinting towards the small clearing where the aircraft is located. Brian throws the door open. He helps me in and positions himself behind the drivers seat. He slams the door and starts the engine. Moments later we are suspended in the air.
I close my eyes. I hate confinement, so much that I don't ask the rhetorical question that's on the tip of my tongue. But silently I wonder what could posses Brian to travel in the claustrophobic death trap instead of the own freedom that his avian wings could offer. I push the question aside. Right now I am thankful to have a means of travel that allows me to get by unseen.
After we put enough distance between ourselves and the other helicopter. Brian half turns to me. “What the hell-
“Sandwiches?” I interrupt not ready for the inevitable interrogation.
Brian blinks. “What?”
I smile innocently. Even Brian, who hardly knows me, seems to see through my bluff.