A/N: Yeah, it's short. Yeah, it's a one-shot, and yeah, it's bird people. Happy New Year, everyone!

I went ahead and made it K+ because I think Deror swears a time or to, so kiddies, don't say those words.

Taren is mine, Deror technically belongs to Banane, so, yes. Enjoy! Soon, I'll put up a link to the comic version of it, once I get around to finishing it.

-I.S.S.


FLIGHT

InSilverShadows


"Deror," said Taren, white as a ghost as they walked up the stairs, "Deror, I can't do it. I know I can't."

Deror looked over his shoulder at his half- brother. Taren was nearly four years younger than him, only nine years old. He didn't say anything, mostly because he agreed with Taren that he couldn't. Their father was in the middle of the long and complicated process of trying to teach Taren to fly, and this was Taren's first day going off the tower.

Deror remembered when he was ten, and took the first horrifying leap from the tower only to realize he couldn't catch the wind yet, and he didn't know how, but it hadn't been their father who tried to teach him. Deror had been told simply and frankly by one of the castle servants how to fly, and the first two times he'd been pushed from the tower to learn, it had been that servant who had leapt from the roof to catch him before he hit the ground. After the first two times, Deror had been able to catch the air, albeit clumsily, and flap frantically to try to stay airborne, at least for a few minutes.

Their father was busy today, which meant Deror had to take Taren up to the tower, push his little brother from the roof, and be ready to catch him.

"Deror, I can't fly yet!" said Taren, catching his sleeve in terror, gulping, his amber eyes wide, "I can't! I'll fall!"

"I'll catch you if you fall," mumbled Deror, pulling his arm from his little brother's pale hands.

"Deror, I can't do it!"

"You'll pick it up," said Deror tightly, pulling dark hair from his face, "everyone does."

"I barely know how to put my wings out!" whimpered Taren, "I don't want to go up there, it's too high and I'll fall straight to the ground!"

"I'll catch you," repeated Deror, glaring at him, "just remember what Father told you."

"I don't!" cried Taren, "I don't understand anything he told me!"

Deror turned again, stopping his brother with a finger into his chest, "If you fall, you let your wings out and flap like hell!" he said, "it's not hard!"

Taren stared at him, and swallowed, "I'm scared," he said.

Deror rolled his eyes and turned, stalking up the circular staircase, "You're a baby," he said.

"Am not," said Taren.

"Coward," Deror said accusingly.

"I am not."

"You're scared," he said, "you just said it. You're a baby and a coward." His words bit like the chill wind coming in through the windows.

Taren clenched his teeth, "I'm not a baby," he said, sniffling and wiping his nose on his sleeve.

Deror shoved his shoulder against the heavy door that led to the tower roof, without a word, managing to get it open. Taren flinched as cold air from outside rolled into the room, along with a few shreds of snow, and tentatively, very shakily, he stepped out onto the roof, peering fearfully over the edge.

It was a plunge of about a hundred meters, into a broad white expanse of snow that Taren didn't feel would help to break the fall in the least. Taren clung to Deror's sleeve, afraid he'd slip and fall, and plunge to his death. The wind whipped at them, Deror's dark hair mingling with Taren's strawberry blonde.

Taren chewed his lip, kneading his fingers into Deror's sleeve, whimpering.

"Tell me when you're ready," said Deror quietly, his own wings unfolding behind him.

Taren shook his head, drawing back from the edge and closer against Deror, blinking tears.

"Go!" said Deror, "I'll catch you!"

Taren shook his head, with a sob.

"Go!"

Taren pushed back against him, and Deror clenched his teeth, grabbed Taren's shoulders, and threw all his weight against his younger brother, who staggered and fell over the edge with a shriek.

"Deror!" he shrieked, as he fell, tumbling.

"Put your wings out!" screamed Deror.

Taren shrieked for his brother as he tumbled for the ground, not even trying to put his wings out, and finally Deror threw himself from the tower, plunging to his screaming brother, and snatching him from out of the air.

"Let your wings out!" he shouted hotly, "you didn't even try!"

"I can't do it!" screamed Taren, Deror's arms wrapped around his frail chest, under his arms and holding him tightly.

"You didn't try!" Deror bellowed.

Taren kicked his legs, pulling against Deror, "I can't fly!" he bawled, "I can't, Deror!"

Deror let out a growl and let go of him, letting him drop another thirty feet with a shriek of terror before Deror swooped to catch him a second time. The elder brother's wings flapped hard to keep both of them airborne.

"Stop it!" sobbed Taren, "stop it, put me down!"

Deror didn't listen to him, looking up and pumping his wings, setting Taren down only when they had reached the tower roof.

Taren ran for the door to the stairwell, sobbing, but Deror caught his arm. "Try again," he said, tightly, "let out your wings, and try to steady yourself."

Taren let out a cry of protest but Deror took him by the arm and flung him over the edge a second time. Taren shrieked like a child, struggling to get his wings out, but he wasn't thinking clearly enough, and he couldn't. He stared at the ground, and the sky, and the ground and the sky as he tumbled, flailing. But Deror dove from the tower again, and seized him around the waist.

"You didn't try!" roared Deror.

"I did!" screamed Taren, kicking and struggling, "I can't put my wings out, I can't think that fast!"

"You're damn right you can't!" snapped Deror. "Throw yourself into it, you'll never learn if you don't! I'll catch you! "

"You hate me!" screamed Taren, "You won't catch me!"

Deror let go of him a second time, then swooped after him, catching Taren narrowly by his wrist, and dragging him through the air back to the tower roof, where he grabbed his little brother by his shoulders.

"Let. Your. Wings. Out," he growled, "you can do it, just do it faster."

Taren stared at him, shaking all over, "I c—"

Deror shook him roughly, "You aren't making an effort!" he shouted, "What would you do if there was no one to catch you?! You'd try!"

"I am trying!" said Taren, and Deror put his weight against his little brother so hard that they both tumbled over the edge, Deror catching the air after a moment's difficulty. Taren plunged for the snow, screaming as he tried to put out his wings, and with a jerk of his entire small body his feathers burst from his back, and he shrieked, pumping his wings with all the energy in him.

Deror plunged after him, praying his little brother would learn this time, but feet went by in cold wind and he realized Taren was trying too hard, moving too fast, unable to catch the air. Deror grabbed his brother's pale wrists, pulling him against himself as they fell. They were already close to the ground, too close to fly back up, and so Deror let his wings out to ease the fall as they hit the snowdrift.

Taren was sobbing uncontrollably, and wouldn't let go of Deror's shirt. "Please!" he said, "Please don't make me do it again!"

"You were beating your wings too fast," said Deror softly, "you can't catch the wind if you beat too fast."

"I can't keep myself up if I don't!" said Taren tearfully, "My wings aren't strong enough—"

"If your wings weren't strong enough Father wouldn't want you to fly," scoffed Deror, "it's you who isn't strong enough!"

"I'm only nine!" said Taren, "Father hasn't even dismissed my nursemaid yet!"

"I never had a nursemaid!" snapped Deror, "when I was nine I was plenty ready to fly!" He rose to his feet, shoving his brother off of himself, "Go back inside then! Get your nursemaid to bring you cocoa and play with your stupid toys, but I'm going straight to Father and telling him that the reason you can't fly is because you're weak and you won't try!"

Taren sobbed, intimidated by his older brother's rage, and still shaken from the plunge from the tower. Deror seized his wrist and dragged him up, storming back to the tower and inside, without saying a word to him the entire walk back.

"Deror…" said Taren, biting his lip, but Deror didn't so much as look at him.

"Deror," he said again, louder.

Deror cast him a glance over his shoulder. "You know just because your fit won today doesn't mean you don't have to learn," he growled. "Father will bring you back out here."

"I know," said Taren softly.

"And he'll push you too," added Deror.

"I know," Taren repeated, even more softly, trotting to keep up with his older brother's longer strides. He stumbled, and fell into the snow, nearly pulling Deror down with him, but the older brother merely jerked him back to his feet, without so much as a glance.