A/N: a moment between the Gasman and Max's daughter, Aria. From the "Uprising" verse. Please R&R :)

Half-awake, I shush her deafening cries on automatic, and strap the papoose to my chest. Last check for my passenger, then stagger up the Fire Escape to the roof. "Shhh. Chill, Ari. It's okay."

I hope to whatever god might be out there that this idea will work.

It's been a crap day, no lie. It's not that I don't enjoy taking care of a baby that isn't mine...but it's exhausting. She's not my responsibility. I may be a bird, but I'm not a nesting-type. Depending on the orders from the Company, my days off vary, and when I finally get one, I intend to sleep through the whole thing with no interruptions. And yet, here comes the mini-angel to bawl and cry and scream and poop and burp and all the disgusting things that babies are just good at doing.

To be fair though, I'm not that bad at it. Aria is calm around me, though she shouldn't be - there's enough of an arsenal in my front living room to storm the Pentagon or take on a Third World country. My trusted Tactical Cruiser, a Mossberg 500, hangs above my bed like a trophy; a mini-gun above the door to the bathroom. I'm a dangerous citizen, no doubt, with a license for 'creativity'. But no, she stills when I shush her, and after a few weeks at it, I might even proclaim myself with a minor in "Baby-babble". Maybe its an Avian thing, to just instinctively know what an infant wants or needs after a while. Dunno.

But tonight, she's not hungry, doesn't need a change, not in any physical distress. The most I can gather is that she's tired, but can't sleep, or maybe just scared - shoot me for grasping straws here - so maybe a way to get us both to relax would be a nice night flight in the warm air.

It's a good night for it, too. There's a momentary lull, about fifty-miles wide, in the gaseous upper atmosphere, completely clear and safe to breathe. And oh, the moon and stars don't glow or shine, but sing - literally sing to the dark skies and illuminates the crummy slums below. I open my wings and stare up at the bright, heavenly sphere on the rooftop, marveling at the favor of the conditions. Aria's cries cease to half-curious whimpers at the sight of it. Pretty, huh? "That is gorgeous, isn't it."

Well, no more delay here. Doing one more check for me and my passenger, I stretch my arms and legs and take a running jump into half-sail - then fully expand on a gust of warm air, a mighty thermal from the busier inner-city that throws us up into the sky like a baseball leaving earth from a slingshot, and in seconds, we're over a hundred feet up and rising, Aria secure and dangling her arms and legs. She's stopped crying altogether and coos in wonderment, brown eyes wide. I can't help a sleepy smirk. Mission accomplished.

Though I've been assured by "experts" that her anatomy is perfectly capable of handling changes in pressure, even at barely a year old, I don't want to do too much that might possibly be out of her depth, so we cruise at just below a thousand feet, glide in the dimmer light of the city, the softer sounds that won't hurt her eyes or ears. Baby Aria "mehs" and squeaks, and I take that as a sign to pull a fast one on her: leaning heavily to the right, we turn together, over like a barrel, and then we're right side up again.

She busts out giggling.

Grinning, I do it again, for two this time, mid-air rolls with accompanying fighter-jet noises. "Peeeewwwwwwzzzzhhhh...shhhrraaaaaahhhh...!"

Just giggles. Just giggles, like a little lunatic. Well, she gets it honestly, I suppose, thinking of Max and the rest of us escaping real fighter jets launched from the Pentagon and laughing about it, once upon a time. Hah, even if that one had been mostly my fault that day. I hold out my arms like a plane, and she does too - if wavily and excitedly - and this time we do a slow loop-de-loop upwards, a gentle forward roll down. She shrieks in delight. Psh, nutball. On one of the loops, getting higher each time, I throw out my chest into nearly a back-bend, and she and my belly scrape the lowest-hanging shroud of silvery mist, to her huge enthusiasm. I shoulda been a Gymnast. Or a whale.

We keep on, floating like a dream, to nowhere in particular.

I keep gliding, and let my eyes drift closed for a bit, and just doze on the bed of warm air, half-asleep on the back of the wind; we sway, left to right, back and forth, like an airborne paper boat, sailing in the sea clouds. When I open my eyes again, I don't hear anything from her, and look down to find her fast asleep, mouth partially open in a drool, and brown patch of fuzzy hair blowing in the breeze. I take this cue to check my watch - one hour and thirty-four minutes passed - and easily bank back around for home, where I can put her back to bed.

She's an angel when she sleeps. I'm surprised Max and Fang didn't name her after my late sister. She'll have dark, defined brows when she's older, and a piercing gaze, too. Strong, brown and white wings like her mother. One day, maybe we'll fly together, separately; I'll teach her. She's a natural to it so far.

Goodnight, angel.