Guess whose back. Back again. Me, that's who. Say amen.
Well, I say I'm back. I'm not, really. I just found time to put this little piece together. I want to get back into writing again, I know I won't.

I have nothing to prolong this with, so, I'll just let you read. Enjoy.
(There might be a part 2. Don't know yet. We'll see.)

My Protector

The male's eyes slid open, and the world swam into focus. Where was he? Through a haze of residue left over from his slumber, Blu tried to make sense of where he lay, and what he lay against. It was soft, blue and prim. All he could see was a hazy cerulean aura that stretched out across his retinas as though he were witnessing an astral anomaly through a frosted window.

He blinked. The anomaly grew in size, and saturated in his eyes and mind, and made more and more sense the further it ebbed into his brain.

The macaw realised where he was. His hollow. This cosmic beauty he was witnessing was his pillow, which so happened to be the chest of his mate; Jewel. He put his right wing on the floor and pushed upwards with it. As he did, he gained some perspective on his wife. He was just high enough to adore all of her lustrous features. She lay peacefully and undisturbed; a blue angel at rest, her luscious feathered coat clung to her skin, a few rebel fibres roused by the gentle night breeze waved softly.

Each breath she took sounded as though it were being played by a finely tuned instrument. Her face was illuminated by the moonlight which bathed a ghostly white aura over her equally white facial features, and brought a sensuous hue to her lavender eyelids.

Laying in the nest in the moonlight, Jewel looked like a living, breathing work of art.

The male looked upon his mate's face with wonder, and thanked the Lord she was his. Jewel laid quietly below him, and calmly overcome with emotion, he bobbed his head down to plant a tender kiss on her cheek. No sooner than he completed the short gesture, did she stir. A warm smile crept its way across her beak, and while she did not awaken, the female was raised to the realm of sleep betwixt reality and dream.

She exhibited the most minuscule of movements from her diminished state of sleep. Blu smiled at her, though she couldn't see it.

"I need a drink, honey. You stay asleep here; I won't be long. If I'm gone long enough for you to feel cold, come look for me. You will know where to find me."

Jewel's left eyelid opened a fraction, though her gossamer thin nictitating membrane stayed firmly in place. She had enough visual awareness to parse that her mate was awake, and had at least a vague understanding of what he had just said. She croaked softly, and that was all Blu needed to hear from her.

Blu couldn't help himself, and so he gently pecked her on the cheek once more before rising from his heightened position from her side.

He yawned, before walking over to the hollow's exit, stepping onto the ledge and leaping out into the unknown. But before he left, he took a glance over his shoulder and viewed his wife one last time. Whenever Blu had to leave her vulnerable, he always took care to look at her as many times as he could. He knew that any of the glances he shot before vacating her presence could be the last time he ever saw... "My precious Jewel," whispered Blu.

Having faced her for what he hoped would not be the last time, he dragged his gaze away from his mate and fixed it instead upon the darkness of night. There was no manmade light anywhere to be seen, as the time was approximately three o' clock in the morning. He had to rely on his own keen, honed eyesight. He had not been flying for so long as of now, so it was vital that he concentrate on his own hazard perception.

He leapt out into the starry blackness, a small shape whose colour was a funny shade of dark blue, versus the contrast of night. He plummeted for all of a half second before his first strong wingbeat gifted his streamlined body with a burst of momentum, pushing him forwards before his second wingbeat added to that momentum, and his third continued to build on it. By his seventh, eighth, ninth wingbeat, he was at an adequate flying speed, and with every downward pass of his flight appendages did he find himself moving on ever further, away from his love and his home. A necessary exodus.

Blu, at this point in time, was in need of something to drink. So, he set his sights on going somewhere not all too far away from where he lived: A water source known as The Testament, which is a pool of clean water that is situated lower down, in a flatter ridge on the side of Tijuca mountain. The nature and rarity of the pool has earned it infamy as a gift from God, and is considered sacred ground. Indeed, it is a safe place for any animal to bathe or find a drink and for as little or as long as they liked, even in the midst of outside perceptions of cowardice that were held towards those who took the opportunity of sanctuary on these grounds when faced with danger. As with life, one could always find an undesirable individual at The Testament, though visitors who found themselves in this decidedly less likely outcome were the object of exception. As one of the living exceptions to this rule, Blu could recall meeting predators who elsewhere would not have hesitated to rip him to shreds, and yet it was on these lands of divine jurisdiction that he managed to have insightful conversations with them. In essence, The Testament is like a church to the wildlife of Rio de Janeiro.

It was the best place for a macaw to go, should he find himself or herself parched at silly o' clock in the morning. The blue macaw couple had also made a mutual agreement that, were one of them to disappear in the night, that this location would be the first that the respective bird would search. It would not be worth Blu or Jewel's effort to get worked up thinking the other had disappeared, when in fact all they had done was quench their thirst.

Blu thought to himself about what it would be like to have a nice cool liquid slide down his throat and satisfy his itch for something to drink and found himself drifting through the air rather than flying for himself. Thankfully, it was a particularly cold night and thus, Blu was snapped out of his sleep-flying with quite a shock when a gust of frigid wind chilled his face. He blinked and exhaled, steadying himself in flight.

"Get a hold of yourself, Gunderson. You can't go falling out of the sky at this time. Jewel would never find you," he thought, with an airy chuckle. The bird continued on his expedition for water. Though, soon, he was able to wake up fully, as the cold air wouldn't let up on his face, and other parts of his physical form. He was grateful for his plush feather coating to keep his body temperature up, and, he became grateful too, for the wind against his face, as it put some sense into him, and allowed him to see what surrounded him.

Shrouded in darkness and shadow all around him was the thick, dense canopy of the tijuca jungle that adorned the higher altitudes of Rio de Janeiro like a crown of lush green, bejewelled with the vibrant colours of the birds that inhabited it, which presently, were nowhere to be seen. The only jewel on the crown was Blu, and he was soon to fade away, once his thirst had been sated.

The male drew ever closer to The Testament, and as he did, he admired the sky, with its countless stars, and the clouds; massive and invisible, the only way of confirming their existence is to see patches of the sky where these silent behemoths block out the starlight.

He thought about how beautiful it was, that such a vast cosmic web could grace the earth. But enough of that, now. He was now within visual range of his destination. "Ah," he said, out loud, confirming his optical acquisition, "Here we go," finished Blu.

He dropped altitude rapidly, and within a few seconds, he was grounded. His feet brushed the ground as he drew close to earth, and he touched down with an inaudible thud. Pleased that he had reached his desired location, he walked up to the pool and threw his head at the still surface. He scooped up a beakful of the water and gulped it down. It was crisp and fresh, and he could feel it lubricate every little square millimetre of his gullet as it rushed downwards to his gut. No sooner than it had, he sucked in a breath of fresh air, and used the time to check he was alone.

A quick scan showed that he was. Not that it mattered; he felt very safe at this landmark. So, he got back to satisfying his thirst.

After about seven good swigs of the crystal clear substance, Blu was disturbed from his drink by a sound. A distinct pad; something soft hitting the ground. He spun round, without much fear, expecting to see some other bird or animal who required a midnight drink. However, what really scared him was that he saw nothing.

The male gulped and looked around. "Who's there?" he called, bravely. Many tense seconds passed. He gasped as he heard a distinct noise of movement behind him. He turned to face it as fast as his joints would allow, and pointed straight towards the source of the sound.

"This is sacred ground! You can't… You can't hurt me here!" he protested to whoever or whatever was making the noise.

Suddenly, there was a splash, and a square inch of the pool erupted with an underwhelming plop. While it would be nothing to a human, to Blu it was terrifying. He turned to face the splash just as quickly as he had turned to see who was moving behind him. Seeing the ripples of the water made him wonder what on earth was trying to harm him. He walked backwards, slowly moving away from the source of the disturbance, when he bumped into something.

Blu was transfixed. He didn't dare turn around.

The thing he backed into was soft. Its chest was level with his back, and something about it felt familiar. All of his fear burned away almost immediately, ebbing from his mind, and venting from his feathers like an invisible red steam.

The thing behind him wrapped its wings around his chest and placed its curved beak on his left shoulder. Blu's eye followed the progress of the beak, and soon, a whole head came into view, which he wished to see more of. And so, he tilted his head to face it. The head in turn moved to line up with his.

Blu felt the being's breath on his face, like the chill of the wind, only, this breath was hot and familiar, and carried an aroma of exotic fruit. The beak from which it emerged curved into the bird's familiar, signature smile. Blu's beak curved into his own special smile, and the two birds shared the jovial expression for a second.

They bobbed their smiles closer, before sharing a quick, gentle kiss for all of two seconds.

The thing recoiled, slowly, batting its eyelashes at Blu, before slicking back her plumage and manually inserting herself under his wing, not losing eye contact with him at any point.

She spoke in a voice as sweet as the fruits she ate, "I need to teach you a little more about surviving in the wild, don't I, Jungle Jim?"

"Good night to you, my darling Jewel," replied Blu, pretending not to have heard her.

"Don't dodge the subject, honey. You totally freaked out," she giggled, "You should have seen your face. 'This place is sacred!' you said, 'You can't hurt me!', you said!" joked Jewel, squeezing her mate slightly. "Still," she began, "It is a sacrilegious thing to harm another being on this premises, but that isn't a bridge some are afraid to cross," informed Jewel, finishing her serious note quickly, "You do need to be aware of your surroundings. Anything friendly would certainly announce itself."

Blu looked hurt, "Well, you were very scary. What kind of predator wouldn't just take me by surprise?" he protested. "A pretty sick one," Jewel responded, before adding, "And one that isn't so uncommon. So I need you to be able to be cool and calm no matter what faces you," she finished.

"Okay, honey. Okay," breathed Blu, eyeing up his wife, "But, I'm the male in this relationship, so…" Jewel looked at him, her head and neck turned to the right, to face him, "So?" she said, simply. "So," began Blu, pausing for a second to instil some playful suspense into his response, "I'm your protector."

Jewel sighed, and gave into his embrace. He could feel her body distinctly slump against him, and he adjusted his grip on her to account for the weight. She rested her head on his shoulder and cuddled up to him; Blu in return held her tight.

Blu laughed, softly, "I know that you could fight the biggest, meanest hawk and win; strangle the biggest snake and scratch the bulkiest jaguar, but, if anything ever tries to come between us, you can bet it will be me in front. I wouldn't want you anywhere else but behind me… Safe and sound."

Jewel blinked and sighed once more, "I'm glad to be in the wings of my protector. Even if he is a bit of a traditional coward. He makes up for it by being the bravest bird I know. Even braver than me," she complimented.

"Coward? I was going to say… I didn't jump out of a plane to my death for you to call me a…" began Blu, before Jewel shushed him.

"You never worry about yourself. But as soon as I'm in danger, you want to save me. It's how I know you're such a good husband… You wouldn't hesitate to put yourself before me," she insisted. Blu was pleased with this response.

"Was that what this was about?" he asked. Jewel confirmed, "Yes. I've thought about it for a long time. How could you be so brave, yet so… dare I say, cowardly. It's because you really are a protector. You joke, but it's true," she finished.

"Well… We've talked about the plane. I thought I was going to die, and I wanted it to be with you. But when you kissed me, and I just had this… epiphany. This revolution. I don't even know what happened. But I held onto you for dear life, and flew… badly, but, just about well enough," explained Blu. "No, I wasn't talking about that," began Jewel, "Though it was what… made me fall in love with you, well and truly… I'm talking about how you tried to comfort me in the cage, when we were being loaded onto the plane," she finished.

Blu looked thoughtful, "I didn't want you to be marched to your death with fear in your heart and sorrow in your mind. I wanted you to know I was right there," he answered. Jewel nodded, "You were ready to stay with me until the very end, and when it came to pass, you really were. You were there with me. You were!" she breathed. Blu blinked at her, and whispered directly into her right ear, "I don't care how strong you are. I would do it again without hesitation. I promise."

A solitary tear escaped from Jewel's right eye and rapidly snaked down her cheek. "When you managed to use that red.. Thing.. To open my cage, and the cages of everyone else?" asked Jewel.

Blu's answer was simple, "I did what I had to do… To protect you," he purred.

"And to protect everyone else, as well. I would never have figured out how to open the door. Or even open the cages without you teaching me," replied Jewel, her eyes like stars.

Blu didn't have a response ready for a few seconds as he worked out how to reply. "But you could have flown away, too. You could have left me. And truthfully… I… I thought you would. I think I silently hoped you'd leave me behind and find love somewhere else… Even after everything. I thought it might-" Blu spoke, but was cut off abruptly by Jewel's horror, "NO!" she cried.

Blu went still at once, a shock sprinting south down his spine.

"No… My love, how can you say such things?" she urged.

"I feel so lucky to have you, but I at times feel like you'd be better off-" Blu was interrupted again. "Don't you dare say it," demanded Jewel, "Don't you dare." Blu defied her wishes, "Better off without me," he finished.

Jewel looked at him, her beak ajar, and her head shaking. "No… No, my love. No!" cried Jewel, "I stayed with you, because you showed me you would be with me until the end, and I wanted to repay that! When we were trapped, you comforted me. And when we were free, but you were trapped, it was up to me to comfort you. And then you showed me something that I've never seen in anyone, before or since," she continued, before Blu interjected, "You showed me something, too." Jewel blushed and looked away for a brief moment. "It was the only thing I could give you knowing I didn't have the time to do anything else, and that we would surely die. But you showed me the truest, purest, most tender loyalty I think anyone could ever exhibit," she began, sucking in a quick breath before continuing, "You were there. You really were with me to the end. And without you…" Jewel looked lost. "You wonder if I would be better off without you. Well, before I met you, I wondered if the world would be better off without me," she said; an eerie tranquillity in her voice. Blu looked at her, "Jewel?" he said, wondering what his mate was talking about. "Nobody cared about me. Everyone who spoke to me was just doing so for my looks, for my body, and for nothing else. Never anything else. I hurt people, Blu. I've been abused, and I have fought back. And when Tulio captured me and put me in that cage? I resisted with all I had, and if I couldn't make it out? If I couldn't escape? I'd have hid. Found a corner where they couldn't find me, and waited for the end. At that point I thought I'd seen all I had to see. That it was the end, anyways. Nothing else left but being afraid. That was it for me," told Jewel, before pausing for a moment before sighing, "Then you came along. This nerd… Making a fool out of me. Trying to kiss me. I thought you would be just like the rest. I thought I'd have to hurt you, too. But… you were different," she finished. Blu's eyes sparkled.

"And that…" began Jewel, bobbing her head closer to his, "Is just why, when we were moments from death, I gave myself to you," she went on. The couple gazed into the eyes of one another for a few burning seconds, before Jewel shook her head again, slowly, "Blu, I wouldn't be better off without you, because I wouldn't be here at all," she said, before dipping her voice to a purring whisper, "But you are here. You really, really are. And believe me when I say… I'm yours," finished Jewel, sealing her statement forever with a kiss not dissimilar to the one they shared in the event that similarly sealed their love for each other after they were cast from the plane. Once it was over, the two birds parted their heads and held each other tight.

"I love you, my precious Jewel," whispered Blu.

"I love you, too, my protector," whispered Jewel.

And that's that. Hope you enjoyed. Bit of a shorter one, but, I wanted to see if I could write shorter stories. Like... I wondered if I were actually capable. Now we know.

I was a bit careful about mentioning Jewel's thoughts on her life near the end, but, I have tried to paint it with as much respect as I can given the circumstance. As always, feel free to send me a message if you want to natter about this story or anything in it.

For this second, bub bye.

- Le Chat Noir