this is fine this is fine this is fine this is fine this is fine this is fine this is fine this is fine this is fine this is fine this is fine this is fine this is fine this is fine this isfinethisisfinethisisfinethisisfinethisisfinethisiSFINETHISISFINETHISISFINETHISISFINETHISISFINETHISISFINETHISISFINETHISIS-
Bees buzzed around the blossoms of a nearby manuka tree where Yuuri sat, cross-legged, on the floor of his parents’ nest. In his hands he held a cup of tea, wisps of steam coming off the surface. His father had instructed him to drink it before it cooled, the herbs swirling inside meant to help him fill out his wings faster.
Yuuri played with a bowl of greens and nuts set before him, eating only when a pointed glare reminded him that he was meant to be consuming what it contained. Calcium, for his feathers.
“You won’t be able to make it back if you don’t eat.”
Yuuri threw a handful into his mouth and crunched through them, washing them down with the tea. He watched, as his father tended to another siren. Her wings were shredded, in worse condition than Yuuri’s. Yuuri had seen her attempt to spread them earlier, a brilliant gradient of scarlet, under his father’s instructions. Now she managed to lift them through gritted teeth, but when they attempted to unfold, Yuuri saw that they were broken. He looked away, knowing he would not want to be observed in such a state.
His mother shuffled in, clicking her tongue in disapproval. “They’re getting bolder. The humans. Some of them seemed to have figured out a couple tricks. We’ve had a lot more sirens coming by lately, it’s never been this bad. I think they’ve started trying to hunt us.”
“That’s how… that’s what happened to my mate,” Yuuri muttered in reply, hands tightening around the cup. The feathers around his ears twitched, wings rustling. He was keenly aware of the snail-like movement of the shadows, because with each minute they crept closer and with each moment, Victor’s infection would be spreading. And he was simply sitting there, waiting.
“Awful. They should be concentrating on sinking their precious ships with their pride and their arrogance, like they’re meant to.” Hiroko scowled, then softened as she sat herself down next to Yuuri. She placed a jar in front of him, which Yuuri promptly snatched up, holding it tight to his chest. “You should rest more, your wings don’t look ready for flight.”
“I can’t, I have to go, I’m afraid if I don’t…” He had visions of returning to the ship, to a crew angered at the death of their captain. And with Yuuri to blame for it. Of not even being able to see Victor, chased off by grieving pirates who were not frightened of a molting siren.
“We’re not as weak to infections as humans,” Toshiya said, coming back. His wings, a dark blue which matched Hiroko’s, trailed behind him.
“You should bring your mate here when they’re better. We’re so happy to hear you found one. Mari still refuses to. Says she’s not done flying around the world.” Hiroko laughed. “What are their wings like?”
Yuuri thought to the flowing length of Victor’s hair, how it fluttered at the wind which swept over their ship, how it shone the most beautiful in the light of the moon. “Silver…”
“Oh, how gorgeous. You’ll make a good pair.”
Yuuri thought so too, looking down at the golden color in the jar he had been given. Around his fingers, the gold of the rings Victor had given him flared when hit by the rays of the sun. “I-… I have to go.”
Sighing heavy, Hiroko stood and left, coming back a minute later with a satchel. She took the jar of honey from Yuuri and placed it inside, along with a small pouch of powder which Toshiya had pulled from their medicine stores. She draped the satchel around one of Yuuri’s shoulders, tying it snug around his waist so he could fly without fear of losing it. “Fly safe, Yuuri. It’s becoming so that we’re no longer the most feared predator out on the oceans.”
With a short nod, Yuuri unfurled his wings. He could still feel the strain lingering in them. The old black feathers were gone, shed with the desperation of his flight to his parent’s nest, but it meant the new midnight blue was free to grow in in full. He would not be fast or stable, but he could make it. He needed to make it.
A promise to stay cautious given to his parents, Yuuri left. He spread his wings on the beach before the cove, testing their hold. He had to stay low, for fear of falling, but he was steadier than the day before.
Yuuri kept to the coast, more wary of the cities and the ports that he passed. He met no ships until the sun began to sink, painting the sky in colors.
On the horizon was a fleet. With bold white sails and figureheads carved into the forms of warriors. To go around them meant wasting time he did not have.