Nigel gave a superior grin as he looked over the masses of cages, containing over two hundred helpless birds. This smuggling expedition had been the most successful unit yet. His dry, baggy eyes gazed around. The cockatoo was perched on his one 'favourite' rival's cage, the azure macaw. His maple brown eyes beamed an extraordinary color, due to his pleasure of the accomplishment. The previous South American idol gave a sneer to the sight of Blu, who was slumped desperately against the cage wall. His mahogany eyes glazed over as he pondered a way for escape... There were hundreds of birds, which made the plan slightly more difficult.

The pallid cockatoo brushed a particle of dirt from his dirty grey feathers, a smile plastered on his face, or at least up until he noticed his belly. Ruffled with soft layers of quills, Nigel scowled when a brief realization hit him: he was kind of fat. Too much chicken, too much protein. Although it had come to his attention that lately, he had not cared for the salty seasoned meat, nor did he give any thought to devouring any other source of protein. Instead, he found his liking of food revolving around the unmarked, acid taste of a mango, or the sugary and soft skin of a peach. His mouth began to water at the thought of it.

His flight feathers found themselves resting on his belly, hiding the bulging abdomen from sight. Humiliation burned through his pelt. Why hadn't he noticed his obeseness before? Why, in fact, did he begin to notice now, and why did he even care? He was doing what he wanted; eating what he wanted, was the most feared bird in Rio and was an efficient smuggler. The thoughts made pride swell in his chest, and he sucked in his belly and puffed out his chest. It did not last for long, however, and his stomach bounced back into his swollen spot.

Some feathers were missing as well, he noted to himself. Pink spots were visible if he were to twitch his tummy into a precise arrangement, revealing bald patches of skin. When he lifted his wings into the air, Nigel blinked his dry eyes when he caught sight of missing flight plumes. His russet eyes widened with shock. What was happening to him? Why has he just suddenly started realizing his imperfections now? Why had his diet changed? The remaining, washed out feathers bristled with prediction and fear. What else was going to modify?

A couple of birds glanced his way, but swiftly looked somewhere else when he snarled at them. Suddenly, as the chicken float bobbed through the parade outside, Nigel tumbled forward and off balance. His wings flared up, and he began to glide to the floor below. When his talons came into contact with the wooden flooring, the sulphur crested cockatoo grinned at Jewel, who responded with a defiant glower. His gaze flickered to Blu, who cringed. The response Nigel received was what he wanted, feeding the arrogant sneer on his face.

Then he sauntered around in circles, gaze switching here and there, looking each of the dozens of birds in the eye. His deadly appearances made them flinch with expectation, only to see the cockatoo laugh maniacally and shake his head as if exaggerated with the outcome. The chicks were huddled up next to each other as the parade float let in cold drafts. Nigel himself fluffed out his gossamer pelt and shivered, but only for a moment before he sneered at Blu, who nervously fidgeted in return.

Nigel made his way around the cages and sat beside one of the enclosures, watching the two blue macaws from across the space of the van. He slumped against the wall; a satisfied grin stuck on his beak, and slowly closed his eyes. The darkness welcomed him with a hazy, restful feeling. However, it lasted only seconds before Nigel became self-conscious of his swollen belly again. He squeezed his eyes shut, refusing to look upon the round stomach. Instead, he kicked his talons out and crossed one over another, flexing his large wings behind his back. Comfortably shifting, Nigel smiled and drifted off into a light daydream, remaining conscious.

However, his trance state of mind was disturbed when a scuffling noise was heard, followed by a voice whispering furiously. "What are you doing? Get back here right now!" He determined it female. Shrugging it off, Nigel allowed himself to sink deeper into his little reverie. His belly rose and fell contentedly, round and plush. Occasionally his eyes would flicker, but then the scuffling sounds repeated. It was like little grunts of a hatchling.

For a while, nothing occurred. All was silent, music to his ears. All he heard was the thrumming of the drums in the outside world, followed by the rattling of the maracas, the music blaring and the melody that all of that created combined. He visualized being one of those exotic and fancy birds, flying free through the chaotic mass of humans and singing along with the beat. But a little bundle of feathers pressing against his flank startled him thoroughly, and his eyes shot open.

He saw... Nothing. But he FELT it. He felt the soft tickle of quills brushing his own. Nigel blinked in confusion and prepared to turn his head and catch a glimpse of it; however, he needn't have, for the object that disturbed his daydream was revealed. A feathery little ball clambered up his belly, settling down and snuggling into his quills, sitting upright. The cockatoo's soft maple eyes found themselves gazing into pure, sun-kissed golden. They reflected two suns. Circling the eyes was a rosy pink hue, and around that was a blush red tint. A crest of baby feathers stuck out behind her head, and four tangerine orange quills fluffed up directly on her cranium.

Aadi smiled merrily at him. Enthralled by who-knows-what, Nigel mentally scolded himself and scowled violently. Then he became baffled by one puzzling question: how on Earth did she get out of her cage? Roughly, he intended to shove her off of his abdomen, but froze as Nigel felt the soft, ticklish sensation of her little feathers stroking his belly. He didn't know why, but it had him captivated, and rigid. The touch of a child had never made him stiffen before. Aadi was stilling giving him that soft, soft smile when he yanked himself from his reverie.

The sight of the little chick canoodling on his round, swollen belly made his crest stand on end. Something warm began to leak into his chest, faster and faster, more quantities each time. Nigel felt his upper body become enveloped in this warmth, and his face was surely containing one pure word: shock. Disbelief and mystification and something... Soft. Affection. His baggy eyes loosened as he stared at this little dame with a tender emotion. He did not care about his round-belliedness, nor did he give any second thought to what he looked like or what he ate. Nigel could only stare, eyes softened with fondness.

Unbeknownst to him, those hundred of birds sharing the van with him were staring, too awe-struck to make a noise. Their beaks hung open at the sight of that little chick that had the right amount of curiosity to venture out of their cage. They had seen it happen; she had been little enough to slip through one if the square holes in the barred enclosure. They had watched her struggle up onto his belly, placing her soft and silky wings on it and carefully climbing. And now they witnessed Nigel, who froze at her wings that were gently pressed onto his gossamer belly. The very sensation of feathers brushing feathers made his abdomen twitch.

Then his eyes hardened. That small, peaceful moment ended abruptly, and he lunged out and snatched her scruff in his beak. Aadi winced as his beak pierced her skin, and felt herself being swing from side to side as Nigel stumbled over to Freyja's cage. The female cockatoo looked desperate, reaching out for her baby with extended wings. Nigel gruffly pushed the chick through the cubic holes, a scowl written all over his face. Freyja gave him an apologetic look, but he dismissed it, swaggering away into the dark part of the vehicle. He swore he could still feel the pressure of Aadi on his belly.

However, Blu and Jewel stared after him, dumbfounded. "What do you think happened back there?" asked Jewel, her Caribbean eyes staring in Nigel's direction, briefly showing a hint of... Amusement. Blu shook his head, unable to answer.

"I think I do, amigo," Rafael called softly, bringing the attention of the two macaws to the cage across the room. Nico and Pedro, who accompanied the toco toucan, looked at him with confusion, a dazed look remaining on their face after watching that little scene. The glossy black and white toucan gave a gentle smile. "He felt it." whispered Rafael. When the perplexity increased, he added, "He felt the rhythm. He lost it so long ago, meu amigos. But he FELT it. Ele sentiu o ritmo de seu coração!" the toucan sounded so blissful and relieved. Exchanging a glance with Blu, Jewel frowned.

Meanwhile, Nigel was pacing back and forth, confused and afraid of himself. What had occurred back there? Where the chick had simply sat on him- and he froze like an icicle! The idea sounded completely unlike him and preposterous! He would rather eat a dozen pieces of chicken than to make soft eyes at a baby. Shuddering at the thought, the cockatoo shook it off and rubbed the bags underneath his eyes. But he glanced back at the cage, to Freyja; to Aadi. Then his tummy grew warm, as did his chest, and the feathers on his body stood on end. Did he... LOVE this little chick? Stupid! Brash, foolish.

Unlike him.

But… maybe he was ill. Yes, that sounded more logical. The warmth… fever? A smile graced his beak. Maybe. His eyes fell upon a particular little chick being lectured by her mother, who frantically waved her wings around. Somehow, that told him that he wasn't at all ill. It told him it was deeper. More… emotional.

SO. It was going to be one of THOSE days.


I hope the ending to this little one-shot wasn't cheesy. I was trying to be funny! XD

Anyway, you know the drill! Read, review!