Back again with a new story. As long as Rio keeps me entertained (which I assume will be the case for quite some time), I'll continue thinking up stories for it. This time, I'm going to try to make it longer than my other stories. Positive criticism, suggestions, ideas and if you must, flamings are welcome, as my inspiration and imagination only goes so far. Enjoy!

Chapter One: Memories and Hope

Life was good in the Blu Bird Sanctuary. Every bird everywhere could find peace, friendship and love in this safe haven. This was especially true for two blue Spix macaws, who met under unusual circumstances, and fell in love under even more unusual circumstances. That love was celebrated with three beautiful chicks, and they all lived happily in this protected part of the rainforest.

Ever since the sanctuary was founded, all the birds and many more that Blu and Jewel met during their travels willingly relocated there. Four of them stood out. Nico and Pedro weren't all that interested in a relationship (at least for the time being), they were more than happy just being free and party whenever they could. Rafael and Eva, along with their many children, nested a few trees away from where Blu and Jewel lived. Eva insisted on moving here, especially after Rafael told her what happened to him last time he went to carnaval. Now, she'd never have to worry again he might get caught, plus she made him promise he'd never go to carnaval again. Rafael wasn't all that happy about that, but if he had to choose between carnaval and his family, it didn't take him long to make a choice. Besides, he had quite some off-time during the day, as their children, along with Blu and Jewel's, would go on play dates nearly every day and get entertained by Nico and Pedro, who loved to dance and sing for them.

Of course, they were not the only birds in the sanctuary. Everywhere one would look, one would see dozens of macaws, parrots, toucans, cardinals, and much more avian species, all living free of worries and troubles.
One day, during one of those play dates, Blu and Jewel were spending some time with Rafael and Eva on a branch, catching up on the good old times, while watching their children play.

"So, Blu, how's parenthood working out for you? Any regrets yet?" Rafael asked. This earned him an angry look from Eva. "Now what is that supposed to mean?" Rafael laughed it away with a wink. "Relax, my magnificent mango, you know I'm only kidding! I love all of our little miracles, even though I'm sure I had less gray feathers at first." Blu and Jewel chuckled. "If you must know, it's the second best thing that ever happened to me. There's nothing in the world I would trade it for." Jewel looked at him with a surprised look. "Second best? Then what's the first?" She asked. Blu smiled at her, looked deep into her eyes, and gave her a quick peck on the beak after saying: "I'm standing right next to her." Rafael and Eva looked at the lovebirds lovingly while putting a wing around each other, reminding them of their own love for each other.

Blu turned to them and asked "What about you two? You obviously know how we met, but how did you meet each other?" "Well," Rafael began, "as you know, I love carnaval. I was already counting down the days for the next one after the previous one had just ended. Last year, a large gathering of birds were all sitting on a roof of a building, looking at the parade. I was there with a few friends, Nico and Pedro included. From inside one of the rooms below us played a song called 'The Girl from Ipanema'. That's when I turned around and saw my sweet little angel, in her own group of friends, and I was mesmerized. I had never before in my life seen so much beauty and grace packed in one lovely bird. I was so bedazzled, I even forgot about the parade. That's when her friends saw me gazing at her, and told her "Don't look now, the King of Carnaval is checking you out." Eva looked my way, and giggled in shyness when she noticed me staring at her. I walked up to her, but it seemed to take forever, almost as if time froze. After introducing ourselves, we talked some, had a great time dancing and laughing, and before I realized it, we were the last birds on the roof, while the parade had ended hours ago. That's when we first kissed, and I haven't let her out of my sight since. You can probably guess what happened between then and now," while gesturing at the several playing toucan chicks on the ground. All this time, Eva was lovingly looking at Rafael as he was telling his story, as if she was falling in love with him all over again. "I can't believe you remembered all of that." "How could I not? It was the most magical thing that ever happened to me!" He answered. Eva rewarded him with a long kiss on the beak. Blu and Jewel both said "Awww!" A moment later, panting from the lack of oxygen, Rafael then proceeded, "Yeah, her father wasn't very keen on having his only daughter hook up with a party animal, but once he saw how much I genuinely cared for her, he gave me his blessing."

Father. That single, meaningful word struck Jewel in the back of her head, and sent a wave of sadness through her body. She tried to not let anyone notice, and continued talking in the current conversation as if it was nothing. It didn't escape Blu's attention however, but even though Rafael and Eva were good friends, he wasn't going to bring it up while they were around.

After a few hours, the sun was starting to set, giving the rainforest a golden glow. Even though the chicks didn't want to stop playing yet, they knew to listen to their parents. After each family reached their own nest and put their children into a solid sleep, Blu turned to Jewel and started talking in a whispering tone, trying not to disturb their kids. "Jewel? You want to talk about today?" "What's there to talk about? Today was another great day in a great life," she smiled. She wondered if Blu meant her reaction from earlier, but he didn't see that... Did he? "You know what I'm talking about, Jewel. When Rafi mentioned Eva's father, I saw you flinching a bit, and even saddened. Do you wanna talk about that?" "Wow, I guess I really turned into an open book ever since we started hanging out," she said with a nervous smile.

But then her face grew more serious. "But you're right, Blu. Hearing Rafael talking about Eva's father immediately made me think of my own father, and mother." She started walking to the entrance of their nest while talking, and sat on the edge of it, looking at the night sky littered with sparkling stars and a brightly illuminated full moon. "I was very young at the time, but still remember everything as if it happened yesterday. I just learned how to fly, and even though I was still working out the kinks, I could already fly faster than my parents."

Blu slowly walked up to her from behind, coming to a halt but inches away. She was sharing a very important event in her life, so this wasn't the time for intimacy. "One day, we all went for a fly to look for some food. I flew ahead to reach a crop of my favorite fruit, which I discovered the day before. When I reached it, I was expecting my parents to come up right behind me... But they didn't. I started to get worried, and went to look for them. I looked everywhere, but couldn't find them anywhere." Her eyes started to get humid. "I was just about to give up, when I looked at the ground and saw a blue feather on the ground. I went down to examine it, and... recognized my mother's feather. I looked around to get any glimpse of her, but found none. That's when I suddenly heard a strange noise coming from up ahead. I went to check it out, and saw a car with an open back drive off down a dirt road. The back was loaded with cages, and..." A few tears started to drop from her face, falling to the earth below her. "... my parents were in them, along with many others. I didn't care about them, I just had eyes for my parents. I flew as fast as I could, but the dust kicked up by the car filled my eyes, leaving me nearly blinded. That's when I flew into the sky, to get a better look at my surroundings. When I saw the car again, I followed it from above, until it entered a town. When it stopped before a red light, I landed near my parents. I tried frantically to get them out, but what could I do against a set of iron bars? My parents were just as eager to get out, but when we noticed all our efforts were unsuccessful, my father said to me: "Listen carefully, honey. It's too late for us. You have to be brave now. We're going to a place far away. That place isn't for you. Yours is in the rainforest, to live as free as you can be. Have faith, and you'll be fine. And your mother and I promise you one thing... We will come back to you, one way or another." They each held part of their wings through the bars to hold me one last time. "Farewell, my child. We'll never stop thinking about you." I was too astonished to answer. All I could do was return their hug, fly up and cry my eyes out as the car drove off again, forever taking my parents out of my life."

Jewel then proceeded to burst into tears as she turned around and hurled herself into Blu's wings. Blu couldn't do much to comfort her, so he just set her down, rocking her gently back and forth and giving her time to compose herself. When she recovered a bit, he asked, "Did you hear anything at all from them?" "No, nothing. I don't know if they're someone's pets, living in a zoo, living free in another wilderness... or even if they're alive." Blu tried to comfort her at least a bit. "I don't mean to sound insensitive, but maybe they ended up with a good owner, like I was. I turned out fine and came back to where I was originally from, so maybe one day your parents will too." Jewel wiped away the last of her tears. "Thank you Blu, for being there for me. For giving my life a new purpose. For... everything." Blu put his wing under her beak, lifting her head up ever so slightly. "And I'd do it a hundred times over just to see you happy." And with that, they shared a kiss, and went to join their children in a well deserved good night's rest.

Several months passed. Tulio was in the treatment room with the rest of his team, looking after a handful of birds that were recently brought in with some minor injuries. As he was finishing up with a scarlet macaw, the phone rang. He answered with "Blu Bird Sanctuary, Tulio Monteiro speaking." A voice on the other side said "Hello, Mr. Monteiro, my name is Marcus Finnegan, calling from the United Kingdom. It has come to my attention that you have a safe sanctuary for rare birds?" "Oh, good day Mr. Finnegan. Well yes, in a nutshell, we try to give all kinds of birds a better future, but rare and endangered ones are more than welcome." "Delightful! I have in my possession a pair of blue macaws. They were a birthday present for my son fifteen years ago, but now he's moved out of the house, and neither of us are capable to take care of them anymore. I figured it would be best to have them returned to their natural environment, and came across your establishment on the internet. Would you be willing to take them in?" Tulio's eyes widened as far as they could as soon as he heard the words 'pair of blue macaws'. "I would most definitely be interested in them, but I need to know a few things. Like how old are they, their gender, their current health?" "Oh, certainly. They are about forty years old, a male and female, and they lived in a large enough habitat, so they haven't forgotten how to fly. We've taken very special care of their diet, and a recent check-up from the veterinarian said they are both in excellent condition. The female is incapable of reproducing though, because of her age." "That's alright, sounds very okay to me. I'd be more than happy to take the birds in at your earlier convenience!" "Ah, splendid! I'll start making arrangements for their trip. Nice talking to you, Mr. Monteiro." "Have a nice day, Mr. Finnegan."

As Tulio hung up the phone, he rushed over to find Linda. She was standing on the sanctuary's lookout tower, where coincidentally, Blu, Jewel and their chicks were visiting her. "Linda! Linda! I got fantastic news!" he shouted. The macaws all squawked in surprise from the sounds of a shouting man, then settled down once they saw from whom it came. Linda turned around, saying "Calm down Tulio, you'll scare the birds away!" "Oh, sorry everyone, but I just had some wonderful news! I just got off the phone from a gentleman in England. He said he had a pair of blue macaws in his possession that he wanted to donate to the sanctuary! Isn't that great?" Linda was thrilled hearing this. "Another pair? Great, so Jewel and Blu weren't the only ones left after all! We can continue saving their kind!" "Ah, not quite, the female is too old to reproduce, sadly. But still, they can have a nice retirement with us, right?"

Jewel looked at Blu with a shock on her face. Blu was excited, but didn't realize what she was thinking at first. He was just happy enough to find out they weren't the only ones left, save for the three chicks jumping up and down next to them, also happy with the news. Jewel however, thought further. If the female was incapable of breeding because of her age, it means they were much older than they are. Could this mean... "Blu, did you hear that?" "Of course I heard that, we're not the only ones left anymore!" "No, not that. I mean the female is too old to breed, so she's older than we are." "Yeah, so? We'll still welcome them with open arms, right?" "Dammit Blu, wake up! What if this pair... are your or my parents?" Blu's face immediately turned to shock. "Wow, I didn't even consider that. Yeah, you're right, they could be!" He thought a little, and said, "But we don't know for sure right now. I think it's best we assume for now that they aren't. So if it turns out they actually aren't, we won't be let down too much." "Yeah, I guess you're right... But still, now that I thought of the possibility, it's going to be hard to let go of the idea." "I know honey, and I hope for the best as well. But all we can do right now, is wait and see."