This is a one-shot for magalina, for her winning first place in my fanart contest. It's very short, but I like the way it turned out. Her request was for me to write a happy story, taking place on an airplane. I took a little bit of liberty with the word "airplane", but I'm sure she won't mind. So I give this to her, and hope she likes it.

I find it to be sufficiently happy.

(Next chapter of Brainless will be up soon, but I felt like I needed to post this first. Magalina has been waiting long enough for her prize!)

Flying Far, Far Away

I'm balancing on air.

At least, that's what it feels like. That's what I always imagine when I'm in an airplane. Balancing on air, defying gravity. Most people don't think about it (or try not to think about it as they clutch so hard onto the arm rests that their knuckles turn white), but I love thinking about it. I love the thought that I'm teetering on the edge, sailing smoothly in the nothingness.

A slow smile crawls upon my face as these thoughts shift through my mind and I gazed around the airplane. Not one to miss out on all the fun, I'm flying business class, and therefore get to witness the agony, exhaustion, and exhilaration on the faces of the other passengers, a site that is almost as titillating as the one outside the window. It such a touchy thing, being on an airplane. It can induce such a range of emotions, unlike any other form of travel. Some people spend the entire time praying they'll get out of it alive, and some people spend it just like it were any other event. Just like they weren't floating in the sky. How weird.

My eyes land on a boy, no older than six or seven, jamming his feet onto the back of the seat in front of him. It's such a cliché, but it does happen, unfortunately for the rather frustrated looking gentleman occupying the abused seat. What I can only assume is the boy's mother starts to scold him, grabbing onto his hand and insisting he start behaving, or he'll never get candy again. It's such a harmless threat, but to the child, it was like holding a knife to his throat. His legs immediately fell down from the chair and the man sitting in it gave a relieved sigh.

I glance at the man next to me. He's sleeping, apparently not at all disturbed by the sound of a baby's cries, coming from the back of the plane. I pick up the headphones the flight attendant had set down on his armrest. She gave them to him as a free gift, an obvious flirtation. However, they had remained untouched by his hands. Can't let them go to waste, I figured, as I plugged them into my own armrest and let the soft sounds of classical music float into my ears.

Turning my gaze, it lands on a woman seemingly flying alone. She has a brown paper bag held tightly under her fingers and I scrounge my nose before I realize that it's thus far empty. I'm going to venture a guess and say that it won't remain as such for long, judging by the greenish hue of her face. I carefully decide to direct my attentions elsewhere, lest I witness something I'd rather not.

I've never understood why people don't like flying in airplanes. I've been fascinated by them practically my whole life. It started when my parents took me on a trip to see my aunt and uncle. We had to fly from Pennsylvania to Utah, and I was so incredibly excited. I fell in love with it, the feeling of flying. It was then and there that I decided I wanted to become a bird, or maybe Superman, when I got older.

Maybe it was because of my natural attraction to airplanes that I met him. His father was a pilot, after all, and he shared my love for flying with an equal passion. In fact, when we were littler, around the age of the boy who had ceased his tantrum earlier, that was practically all we thought about...

"Wow, this is so ace!" I exclaimed as we sat inside one of his father's planes. It was really old, having belonged to his great-grandfather, and it was never flown any more, but that didn't negate its extreme levels of awesome. "Del, you are so lucky," I whined, looking at my friend and envying that his father was a pilot. A tiny smile formed upon his face, as if he was happy but didn't quite agree with me.

But in my eyes, my best friend was lucky. He had the perfect life! Not only was his father a pilot, but his mom always let him come out to hang out with me. And he had the best grades in our entire grade and everyone wanted to be his friend. He even looked better than me! I was a bit on the chubbier side with round, doe eyes and girlishly long lashes not helped by a messy mop of brown hair, whereas he looked tougher, more athletic with dark hair that was combed neatly and just the perfect touch of tan on his skin. Even at seven years old, we knew who won the appearance competition.

"It is kind of the bomb, isn't it?" Delaire replied, sitting in the pilot's seat of the bright red plane and looking my way. I couldn't make out the expression on his eyes very well because he was wearing large aviator goggles that obstructed them just enough. "Wish I could fly it." He turned his head, which was covered in an aviator cap to match the goggles, and gazed almost longingly at all the knobs and switches.

My gaze followed his and I studied the pilot's controls as well, sharing his craving. What I would give for Delaire to just turn the plane on and lift us up into the sky, just like that time I went to Utah. We could balance on air, leaving behind the field we currently sat in, watching Delaire's house become smaller and smaller, joining the whole town, including my own house, until it was all just a tiny blip on the radar.

"Jamie, don't you just wish we could..." Del began, his sight now focused on the sky outside the plane's window.

"Fly away?" I offered and he nodded softly. "Yeah," I said, agreeing with his question. I thought about it all too often. "I've always wanted to be a bird, like when I grow up. So... so I can fly far, far away to a place where nobody has to work and... and nannies don't exist. A place where all parents want to do is pay attention to you." I blushed slightly, fearing that I sounded stupid and was about to be teased for it. But Del just smiled a soft, sad smile.

"And a place where all they want to do is leave you alone," he said, that ever-present longing expression still on his face. I wondered what he meant. Why would he want his parents to leave him alone? His dad was really cool! I had never really seen his mom though, but she couldn't be that bad. I didn't have much time to think on it, however, because he was speaking again. "But you can't be a bird, silly. That's not possible. You've got to be a pilot."

I shrugged slightly. "Not much difference," I said and he nodded after a moment's thought.

"I guess you're right," the seven year old boy sighed. "It doesn't really matter, so long as we can fly."

"Far, far away," I said.

"Far, far away," he agreed.

We had many adventures in that old, rusty plane. More often than not, we could be found playing make believe behind the thruster, shooting enemies in whatever war was dancing around our brains at the time. Sometimes we went on explorations through the forest that neighbored the field. We would pretend to be Indiana Jones (although we called ourselves Indiana and Jones, the whip-wielding duo) as we traversed the dangerous terrain that was the tiny wooded area. But even though we explored the land, our minds were always in the air.

I sighed, a sound of soft nostalgia leaving my lips. Delaire and I were best friends then, and yet I knew so little about him. It's funny, the way kids can put blind faith in others, and connect without understanding why they connected. I just liked the way it felt to have attention paid to me, something my parents never gave me. They were always away on business trips, working, or at social events. I don't harbor any ill feelings towards them now, as I know it was all to give me a good life, but as a child, it was disconcerting to think your parents didn't care about you. Little did I know, I wasn't the only one with this problem.

Things had changed so much since back then, it almost feels like a movie, thinking about it now. My appearance wasn't much different, though. Aside from the fact that I had lost weight (I thinned out as I hit puberty), I still had the mop of brown hair and the wide, innocent eyes, which were now trained on the sight outside the window. Eyes that were as green as grass staring out at a clear blue sky...

"Your eyes are blue like the sky," I said, my legs swinging down into the open air. Delaire and I sat upon the wing of the red airplane, sipping on bottles of Coke and sharing some Cracker Jacks in between us.

"You just now noticed?" he grinned towards me, popping a piece of caramel corn into his mouth and crunching on it joyfully. We were ten now, and he had stopped wearing the aviator uniform when we hung out, so I could get a clear view of his countenance. He was perpetually happy when we were together, and yet something always lingered just below the surface.

"Well, I just haven't gotten a good look before," I said, lifting my shoulders in a slight shrug. "I'm jealous of you. My eyes are just green and bleh." He laughed slightly, though not in a mocking way.

"Jamie, your eyes are just fine." He tossed a Cracker Jack at a passing squirrel. "They're green like the earth. And the earth and the sky have always been best friends, just like us." He said this simply, keeping his eyes on the animal, but to me, his words meant the world. I swelled with a feeling of belonging, of friendship.

It was always like this. Del was always the one to reassure me, to let me know it was okay that we were friends. I clung to his affection like it was a drug, even back then. I was a bit selfish back then, never really returning the sentiments. I was too shy to ever say something like that, too insecure. Del was so sure of himself, so sure of us. Perhaps it was because of this confidence that I never noticed how utterly sad he was. He could easily explain away the bruises and the scratches, because Del was invincible, and nothing could ever be wrong with him. He was Superman, flying through the sky.

"When we both go to pilot school," I said, kicking at the air, "you can be my wingman anytime."

"Bullshit! You'll be mine!" Del laughed, pushing me slightly as he picked up on my quote from the movie Top Gun. That's what we aspired to be, Mavericks, the both of us.

I think even then I was in love with him. I just wasn't aware of it yet.

I yawned, my mouth stretching wide as I sucked in air for quite some time. The soft nuances of the music coming from the headphones combined with the fact that the guy next to me was still sleeping soundly was making me tired. I stretched my shoulders a bit, blinking a few times in quick succession and trying to fight the feeling. I didn't want to fall asleep, I'd miss too much.

What is there to miss on a plane? Quite a lot, I have to say. Like the oncoming barrage of clouds outside my window. They aren't dangerous or ominous looking in the least. Instead, they're white and fluffy, the kind Care Bears supposedly dance upon. God's cotton candy. Old Man Wind. Delaire and I always came up with thousands of things that clouds could be...

Even at eleven years old, after we had learned in Science class what clouds truly we, Del and I played our little game.

"Hmm..." I said, sitting next to Del in the cockpit of the red plane, my head leaning against his shoulder ever so slightly as I gazed at the sky. "I think they're... tufts of the Truffula trees." Del giggled and I felt his body shake slightly.

"But I thought those were all gone," he said, being familiar with the Dr. Seuss story that originated my reference. "Unless you planted a seed to grow them all back without telling me."

The sun beat down upon us and it made our shirts stick to our torsos. Normal people would have been discomforted by the heat, whereas Del and I welcomed it. It was the sun's embrace, just another reason we were meant to be airborne. "Well, it was a surprise, obviously," I said, toying with a small lever as I spoke. "After all, it is your birthday." Even though I wasn't looking at it, I could tell he was smiling.

"But you already gave me that cool electronic plane," he said. "I wasn't expecting a double gift. Now what am I to do when your birthday comes? I hope you're not expecting a TRIPLE gift!"

"I expect millions of dollars and lots of cake and an entire, working airplane," I said matter-of-factly, listing the three things off with my still-slightly-chubby fingers. He made a 'hmm' noise, thinking for a moment.

"How about a Battle Beast?" he asked. I sighed in an exaggerated manner as a joke, even though Del knew that would be the best gift ever.

"Deal," I said. We sat in silence for a few moments, both of us looking towards the sky and thinking our own thoughts. Despite being talkative usually, we didn't mind silence either. We were completely comfortable with each other, content with the company. However, after a few minutes, I broke the silence to bring up something that had been on my mind ever since Del asked to hang out that day. "How come you aren't with your parents?" I asked.

Del shrugged, his face mostly stoic. "I never really spend my birthday with them," he explained, his voice seemingly unaffected. I looked at him for a moment and he explained further. "They're kinda busy. I mean... dad's a pilot, so he's gone at work and when he's not, he's just so tired. And mom... she's always out of it anyway." That was true. By this point, I had finally met his mother. She was so... spacey, as if she wasn't really there in her mind. When Delaire interacted with her, it was like watching a parent interact with their toddler, only Del was the parent and his mother was the toddler. He told me that it's because of her meds, they make her like that, and she's usually just shut up in her room.

"It's okay," I said to him, hoping all this didn't sadden him. "My parents don't spend my birthday with me either. Nina always gives me their gifts." Nina was my nanny, the woman who had practically raised me. He looked at me with something in his eyes, something I couldn't quite place, and sent me a smile that warmed me inside. I blushed slightly, looking down in an almost nervous manner. Reaching my hand out (though not too far because we were sitting right next to each other), I tentatively touched him, my fingers pressing gently against a bad bruise that had formed on his forearm. He told me he'd been hit with a baseball, though I can't think of a time when he would have played. He was always either at school, with me, or at home. Still, I bypassed it, sliding my fingers down his arm until they reached his hand. I stopped there, my fingers just resting in his palm, shaking slightly and silently asking permission. I dared not look up at him.

After only a moment's hesitation, Del laced his fingers with mine.

"I'll spend every birthday with you," I promised, staring down at our conjoined hands. Even though I was nervous, I wasn't really scared. I trusted Del beyond anyone. I felt, in my heart, that he'd always be there.

"Even when we're flying far, far away?" he questioned. His voice, for the first time, sounded slightly unsure. He was nervous too, I realized. Why was he nervous? He certainly didn't have to worry about me going anywhere. I was, after all, the one who had initiated the hand holding. Still, I felt like I needed to comfort him. For the first time, I'd be the one reassuring him.

"We'll have a birthday party in the sky," I said, looking up to meet the gaze of those blue eyes.

"Would you like a drink, sir?" the flight attendant asks me as she walks through the aisle, pushing her cart along. The close proximity causes her to brush against the man next to me. He shifts and I think he might wake up, but he stays asleep. I smile up at her.

"A Sprite would be nice, thank you," I say, taking the small plastic cup filled with bubbly liquid as she hands it to me. She continues down the aisle, offering beverages to the other passengers. I take a sip from my cup, letting the soda slide over my tongue and down my throat, burning it ever so slightly as Sprite is wont to do.

Looking out the window once more, my mind falls back onto Delaire, and particularly, his bruise. In hindsight, I can't believe how stupid I was to not see what was right in front of me. Then again, I was only a kid. I didn't understand things like that, it was the job of adults. But I still feel responsible, sometimes, for not putting two and two together sooner. In fact, I didn't even really start suspecting until we were about thirteen...

"I need you," cried the voice on the other end of the phone. It was Del, and he sounded more upset than I'd ever heard him. He never cried, not even at sad movies. He was basically the only kid who could watch Old Yeller and not shed a single tear. So this must have been something bad, something really bad. Panic struck into my heart and I almost dropped my phone, but I composed myself quickly.

"What's wrong?" I asked, trying to stay calm for my best friend. My voice betrayed me, and all my fear translated through it. I heard him take a shaky breath.

"Don't worry, James," he said, using the 'adult' version of my name that I had started going by, since I was getting older. "I'll be okay. I just need to see you. Meet me in the plane?" Leave it to Del to get a hold of himself with such ease and grace. I quickly agreed to his question, telling him I'd be there in five minutes before putting the phone back on the receiver. I grabbed a jacket from the hall closet and tiptoed towards the living room. Luckily, Nina had fallen asleep watching a movie, so I was able to get out of the house with no trouble.

I ran as fast as I could to the field, trying to make it there in the time I told Delaire I would. Since I had lost weight, I was more agile and could run faster than I used to. Still, by the time I reached Del's shed, just before the field, there was a killer stitch in my side and I stopped, grabbing onto the side of the little building and resting for a bit. It was dark outside, but I could see with the light of one of the tall, metal lamps that stood in his yard. Del was sitting on the wing of the plane, wrapped up in a big jacket, his eyes trained on the grass below him as if he was watching a particularly interesting bug dual. He hadn't noticed me.

"Del!" He looked up as I called his name, his face cracking with a smile. This smile was different, however, than his usual. There was no subtle sadness. This time, it was blatant. His eyes were red, puffy, and... broken. My eyes trailed over his face. His lip was split. I immediately wondered how that had happened and if it had anything to do with what was wrong. Still panting slightly, I neared him. "What's the matter? Are you okay?"

He nodded ever so slightly. "I'll be fine," he assured me as I crawled onto the red structure and sat next to him.

"What happened?" I questioned, but he shook his head. He didn't want to talk about it. "Tell me." He kept his wounded mouth shut tight, refusing to speak about it. I pressed the issue for a while, but he was obstinate.

"I'm not telling you, so you can just stop asking," he said, his voice completely calm. I was tempted to accuse him of getting me out of the warmth of my house for nothing, but I didn't say anything of the sort. It would just upset him further, and that's not what I wanted. Besides, he hadn't asked me there for nothing. He needed me, even if it wasn't to talk. He needed me to be there, like he'd always been for me. I sighed softly, putting my hands in my pockets and looking out at the desolate field.

"You scare me sometimes, Del." I said it casually, as if stating that he had on white sneakers. He furrowed his eyebrows and looked at me for a long time. Eventually, I returned his gaze, quirking an eyebrow. "I'm so beautiful you can't tear your eyes away?" I asked, smirking slightly. He smiled for a second, appreciating the joke, before his face fell back into one of contemplation.

"I'm just wondering why you care so much." We stared at each other silently for a moment, but his questioning gaze became too much for me eventually, and I turned my eyes towards the sky.

"Even more beautiful at night, huh?" I said, and he made a small, distracted noise of agreement. It was silent for a while longer, me looking up at the sky and Del gazing into nothingness. I was the one who broke the silence yet again. "You think we could fly to the stars?" I asked, my voice quiet even though we were the only ones around to hear.

"Well, they've been to the moon before, I guess," Del said. He still sounded distracted, depressed, and slightly disappointed for some reason.

I shook my head. "Moon's not far enough."

"Why would you come here? Why waste your time with me?" Del seemed intent upon whatever was in his mind. I didn't know how to answer him. My time with him wasn't ever a waste. I cared about him, deeply. He was the best friend I had. He was the best anything that I had. I didn't understand how to tell my best friend that he was all I thought about, night and day. I didn't understand how to tell him that he was the most tragically beautiful boy I had ever seen. We were both boys and it would just... I didn't want to lose him. I didn't want to upset him even more. I just wanted... Del.

"We could fly to the stars and live together on some distant planet," I said softly, ignoring his questions. "It'd be just like this one, only humans would be able to fly because the gravity wouldn't be so heavy. Wouldn't that be nice? Just you and me, flying... far, far away from here." He sighed, sounding defeated.

"Yeah James, that'd be nice." I looked at him. He was looking at the ground. Frowning, I nudged him, getting him to maneuver until we were both laying down, stretched across the wingspan, our gazes both focused on the night sky. I hesitated for a long time, mulling over my thoughts, before finally voicing them.

"We wouldn't even need to be flying, honestly," I said. "As long as we were together..." He made a noise, and I continued. "I mean, I've always liked being in the plane and thinking of flying... but you're the real pilot. I'm okay with watching you, really. You look so... impressive when you're in the pilot's seat. Then again... even when you're just standing there, your feet planted on earth... you take away my breath." At that, he turned to look at me, but once again, I couldn't bring myself to return it. My face was burning red hot and I found it hard to swallow the nerves.

I felt movement next to me, and my heart pounded in my chest for fear that he was leaving, running away from my confession. I simply stared upwards, willing myself not to start crying. Then, my view was obstructed by something. It was Del.

"James..." he said, giving me a look full of so many emotions, I couldn't distinguish any of them no matter how hard I tried. He was searching my eyes for something. I didn't know what he wanted, so I just looked at him like I always did, with utmost admiration and... well, I guess it was love, wasn't it? "I feel the need--"

He was going to finish with something, but I couldn't help but to interject. "The need for speed?" I grinned, biting my lip slightly. Perhaps I had ruined the moment, but Del was totally asking for it. He laughs, a genuine smile crinkling the corners of his eyes.

"You can be my wingman any time," he whispered, leaning down. His face was getting dangerously close to my own, and he wasn't stopping. There was no hesitation at all when he pressed our lips together. The kiss was soft at first, both of us unsure. We were, after all, rookies at this kind of thing. Del pulled away for a moment. I kept my eyes closed, wanting to remember the gentle feeling of his lips pressed against mine. Then, they were back, and more needy. He pulled my lower lip into his mouth, kissing me like it was something he'd wanted to do for a long time. I couldn't agree more and I wrapped my arms around him, letting myself be kissed silly by my best friend. Our lips melded together and suddenly, it wasn't just the jacket keeping me warm. The sensation had spread through my entire body. I may have been laying down, but boy, I was flying.

He pulled away moments later, and I didn't want it to end. My head leaned up slightly, my lips feeling empty without his. He stared at me, obviously wondering if what he had done was okay, gazing at me like he expected me to turn over and puke up my dinner. I swallowed.

"Gutsiest move I ever saw, Mav."

He grinned and kissed me again.

That's when we officially started dating. It was one of the happiest moments of my life, even if it started off pretty frightening. I had all but forgotten why we were in the field late at night in the first place. It stalled the realization of what was happening to Delaire.

I'm ashamed to say, I spent another two years being oblivious. I suppose I was just so incredibly overjoyed that Delaire was no longer just my best friend that I was slightly blinded with my love for him. We spent those two years much as we had spent the past seven, only with the added bonus of a make-out session every now and then. We didn't take it farther than that. I was still too shy, too virginal, to really want to do anything else. Del was fine about it, and quite content with kissing me.

Neither of us were too distraught at the realization that we were gay. I loved Del, and being with him wasn't going to hurt anyone. It wasn't wrong, because it felt so right. I think he felt the same way. Still, we never held hands in public, and kept the affection at a minimum. After all, not everybody felt the way we did about things like that, and school was breeding ground for bigotry. It didn't matter much to us. The intimacies we shared outside the classroom were enough.

Don't get me wrong, I wasn't entirely without vision. There was always something nagging in the back of my mind about Del. Where'd that bruise come from? When'd he get that scratch? Why does he wince when I hug him? Is he telling me the truth? Why does he look so sad?

It happened when we were fifteen. I finally found out why he always looked so sad.

I didn't get to hear it from his mouth. Other people were the ones to tell me. Nina talked to me the most, really. It was all just a blur in my mind. I couldn't make sense of it. It was... shocking and yet not so shocking. And I felt responsible. I felt so damn responsible.

Delaire had all the signs of child abuse, I had just failed to connect them altogether. I had stood idly by while his father pounded on him for no good reason. Del, who I had always perceived as such a strong person, was living a helpless life. His own mother was too drugged up all the time to do anything about, or even to really care about the way her husband's fists rained down upon her son.

He did hide it well, though. Del was a master at it. However, there's always a breaking point. And this one couldn't hold off any longer.

What I know now is that his father had gotten fired from his job as a pilot. He had lost his wings, and that didn't make him very happy. He came home and let hell rain down on his son. Delaire just let it happen, as usual. This time, however, his father wasn't satisfied. He grabbed a gun and he shot.

Luckily, very luckily, Del didn't die. He had struggled with his father, and the gun had merely shot next to the side of Del's face. The end result was the bullet cutting through the side of his head. It was a flesh wound, a bad one, but it wasn't fatal. The sound of the shot must have shaken his father quite a bit, because the man just ran.

Ran, and ran, and ran.

At this point, blood was streaming down the side of Del's head, and he could barely see out of one eye. The sound of the gun going off so close to him had shattered his ear drums, and so he couldn't even hear himself as he screamed for his mother to help. But Delaire's mother was even more useless than I was. He was effectively alone in that house. It pains me to think about it now, but Del was just.. completely and utterly alone.

When I think about it, I don't really blame him for trying to kill himself. The situation he was in... was unimaginable. To this day, I'm unable to comprehend how much pain he must have felt, physically and emotionally.

His mother was the one that found him and, doing the only sensible thing she's probably ever done, she contacted authorities. Del was taken to the hospital, secluded, and then sent to an institution for a while. When he got out, he was already sixteen years old, and he was sent to live with his aunt. I didn't get to see him for months and months. It was one of the worst feelings I've ever felt. I was in a constant state of worry, just going through the motions, hoping to god that I would be able to see him again.

Then, one day, I got a phone call...

"Hello, this is Mrs. Preston," the voice said. "I'm calling on behalf of my nephew." My heart felt like it had just jumped into my throat. Preston. As in Delaire Preston. But why wouldn't he just call himself...?

Oh. That was right. Nina told me the gunshot had left him deaf.

"U-um... hello. Is he.. uh.. is he alright?" I asked. What was I supposed to say? My body was shaking, I was filled with so much excitement and nervousness. Sorry your nephew got shot? That just seemed a little too blunt.

"He's doing... better," she said, a slight sigh to her voice. I swallowed, the worry I had been feeling for the past months creeping into the forefront of my brain. I had tried to suppress my longing for him, but when you lose your best friend so abruptly, it's practically all you can think about. He was ripped away from me. It hadn't been fair... and I was so scared for him. How must he have been feeling? I wanted to wrap my arms around him and tell him everything was going to be okay. But I couldn't. It was agonizing. I felt tears sting my eyes, and I attempted to keep them out of my voice.

"That's good," I said, being rather unsuccessful. Mrs. Preston would easily be able to tell that I was crying. Her voice was kind, however, when she spoke again.

"He had an idea..." she said. "I wasn't entirely sure it was a good one, but I'm going to let him go through with it. It seems to be something he wants really badly. He wants you to meet him at the plane." She obviously didn't understand why this would be so important for Del, but I did. I understood completely, and anticipation, mixed with a thousand other things, started to well up inside of me.

I kept the rest of the phone conversation short. It was the second time I had ever rushed so quickly to get to that grounded airplane. Del needed me. Del wanted me. I was going to have him back.

I couldn't help but glare at Del's old house as I ran past it, giving it the finger on a whim. I wasn't really sure what had become of his mother, but if she was still inside, she very well deserved my contemptuous action.

I got to the plane and Del was already there, sitting in the pilot's seat, just looking out at the sky. He didn't turn around, didn't notice me despite the fact that I was breathing pretty loudly. I swallowed. How would we be able to speak? I'm sure he had been learning sign language, but I knew squat about it. I could say 'I love you', and that's about it. Maybe that would be enough.

"Del?" I said stupidly as I approached the side of the plane and climbed into the seat next to him. He turned to look at me. He looked... even more amazing than I had remembered. The lingering sadness was still present in his features, but there was an air about him that seemed happier. Like a burden had been lifted off of him. And there was, of course, a scar extending from the edge of his eye to his ear. I looked at him tentatively, and he gave me a warm smile, immediately reaching forward and wrapping me in his arms. I returned the hug with fervor, squeezing him hard.

We stayed like that for what seemed like hours, though it was probably only a minute or two. He pulled back slowly, obviously unwilling to let me go, and just looked at me.

"Um... how do I..." I furrowed my eyebrows, trying to ask him how we would be able to speak. He held up a finger and then bent over, shuffling with something by his feet. When he sat back up, he was holding a pad of paper and a pencil. Alright, so this would be slow, but it could work. I smiled brightly at him. He looked at me for a few moments, tapping the pencil against his mouth.

Finally, he scribbled something on the pad and passed it to me.

can't be a pilot anymore, eye messed up, still love me?

I stared down at what he had written, trying to keep the threatening tears at bay. I had to be strong for him, the way he always was for me. I looked up, taking a breath. He was watching me, his head tilted slightly. The words may have sounded humorous, and I suppose he meant them as such, but there was a seriousness to it that I couldn't deny. I wrote something and passed the pad back to him.

you and I never needed planes to fly, silly

He couldn't hold back his tears and I saw them drip from his eyes onto the paper, leaving tiny damp circles. I bit my lip and reached out to him, worried I had done something to upset him. Is that not the answer he was looking for? Is he this upset at losing the ability to be a pilot? I suppose he would be... it was always his dream.

He took the hand I offered him, but instead of just holding it, he pulled me towards him. I was moved into his lap, our bodies close in the tiny plane. His arms were around me again, and I had a feeling that this time, he wasn't letting go.

Even though it's been almost ten years, the memory of that night, of the entire incident, still makes me tear up slightly. The music in my ears is appropriately morose and I lean my head against the cool airplane window. I've never understood the way the world works, why truly good people become victims of circumstance, like Del. I eventually just stopped trying to figure it out. I didn't want the world weighing me down anymore, and neither did Delaire. We both just wanted to... float...

"It's late. I had to sneak out," I signed to my boyfriend, who was sitting on the wing of the red airplane. "If you get me in trouble, you get no more kisses." Del laughed and gave me a mock look of hurt and horror.

"I'm sorry," he signed back. "I just wanted to see you." It was his eighteenth birthday and his aunt had dragged him to an amusement park for the day, with his uncle and cousins. I didn't get to see him at all, and so I was kind of happy he'd called.

"I promised that I'd spend every birthday with you, I suppose," my hands relayed to him. I had spent the past two years studying sign language, Del helping me along the way. I wasn't perfect at it, but we got along just fine. He nodded enthusiastically and slipped off the wing, crawling into the seats and motioning for me to join, which I promptly did.

"What did you get me?" he asked and I chewed on my lip thoughtfully. I was still uneasy about the decision I had made, even though it was in my mind months ago. Was it something Del wanted? I felt like it was... but I was James, and just as shy as ever.

"I want you to fly away with me," I signed to him and he raised his eyebrows. He put his middle and ring finger down, touching his palm, while his other fingers stayed up (what people would call the 'I love you' position of a hand) and moved it around a bit in the air, the expression on his face telling me that he was asking me a question. He had made the sign for 'fly' and was obviously asking me what I meant. I shifted, a blush rising to my cheeks, and I slowly signed something back to him.

Del's eyes widened. He brought his hands up as if he wanted to say something, but they remained motionless. I bit my lip, looking away in shame. After a few moments of pure torture, Del's fingers lightly touched the bottom of my chin, turning my head back towards him. We gazed at each other for a few moments before he nodded. I visibly relaxed, letting out a breath I didn't know I was holding.

He moved closer to me, and even though we'd been close before, it felt new. My heart pounded in my ears, my face was flush, and my hands sweaty. Del looked completely calm, so sure of himself as always. It alleviated my nerves only slightly.

And then he was kissing me and it was difficult to worry about anything. It was difficult to even think about anything except his touch. His tongue slid across my lower lip, asking ever so politely for entrance, and I obliged, opening my mouth and letting him in. His tongue was warm and wet against mine, moving in a slow teasing manner as he traced it along the roof of my mouth. I reached my hands out and clutched his shirt, pulling him nearer.

The seat of the airplane was small, but still large enough for one person to lay down. So I found myself with my back pressed against the seat, my boyfriend on top of me, his lips planting soft touches against my sensitive neck. I shivered slightly, a welcomed ticklish sensation running through my body and I heard him chuckle. A devious smile lit my lips. He thinks it's funny that I'm ticklish, huh?

I inconspicuously maneuvered as he kissed back up to my lips, letting his body fall in between my legs. Then, as he was busy with my mouth, I slid a hand down to his lower back and pressed him down as I rocked my own hips upward. He gasped, our lips separating, and I couldn't help but laugh. He narrowed his eyes at me but let out another chuckle, and we looked at each other for a moment, our expressions slowly falling serious.

"Are you sure you want this?" he asked with his toneless voice. I nodded carefully and he brought his lips down to mine once more, moving his hand up my shirt and tracing it against my skin, sending more shivers of pleasure through my body. It was ridiculous how much his touch affected me, even the subtle ones.

We moved slowly, neither of us wanting to rush it. We spent a lot of time on kissing, Del proving that he could make me moan without having his hands anywhere below my waist. Our clothes were slowly removed, Del's hands exploring my body as it was exposed. I was tempted to kiss along his torso, but it was difficult in the seat of the plane, so I made myself content with sliding my tongue along his shoulder, to the crook of his neck. He shuddered in appreciation, rolling his hips down. I lifted my hips into it, moaning with my mouth pressed against his neck. I had discovered that Del really, really enjoyed the feeling of the vibrations against his skin from the noises I made, and I took advantage of this as often as I could.

With no more clothes in the way, our bodies were pressed flush against each other, skin touching skin. It felt perfect, to be there with Delaire, feeling him against me. His prominent erection rubbed against my own and I mewled, blushing immediately afterward. He smiled, moving his hips so that it would happen again.

He brought me close to cumming many times, using his hand and his mouth interchangeable, but would never let me get there. Eventually, I was writhing underneath him. Couldn't he see what he was doing to me? I needed him, badly. My entire body ached with it, though most especially my lower half. I moaned breathlessly, half from pleasure and half from exasperation. Del would be the death of me.

I grabbed onto his head and turned his attention from my dick to my face. He raised his brows, a mischievous glint to his eyes. "Fuck me," I said quite bluntly, and I heard him gulp. He wasn't a lip reader, but he knew precisely what I just said. He shuddered slightly, as if seeing me mouth the words sent electric shocks coursing through him, and leaned down to kiss me gently. His arm hooked under my leg and brought it up slightly, his other fumbling for the tiny bottle I had shown him that I brought with me.

Having his finger inside of me was only slightly strange. I was more concerned about the stickiness of the lubrication. I squirmed slightly, but otherwise showed him that I was completely comfortable as he slid his finger in and out, eyes intent upon my face. When he deemed that I was ready, another finger joined the first. I made a small noise in the back of my throat, eyebrows creased at the discomfort. It wasn't everyday that I had something up there. Del moved slowly though, his fingers treating me gently. He spread them apart a little inside of me and I bit my lip, which he promptly leaned down to kiss.

Three fingers is where the real unpleasantness began. However, I breathed softly and let Del continue, not expressing the way it felt. I knew I had to be able to handle his fingers if I was going to be able to take other, larger things. But Del, as always, sensed how I was feeling, and his fingers bent slightly, moving as if trying to find something.

And they found it, alright. When Del hit that spot, I clenched his back with my hand, unable to suppress the loud, shaky moan that came from me. I saw him grin, slipping his fingers from me and getting the lube again. A weird, empty feeling filled me, but I knew what was about to come, so I waited patiently, apprehension visible upon my face.

"Relax," he whispered, coating his erection with the slippery substance. I looked at him, all of him. He was absolutely beautiful. I loved every part of him, and could spend hours just looking at him. But we didn't have hours, because Del looked painfully hard.

It wasn't easy. It hurt. He didn't even have the head in all the way when my muscles tightened. I held onto his back, trying to breathe like he told me to. He planted soft, sweet kisses under my ear and I slowly but surely began to relax. His hips pushed forward again, and he got farther inside of me, but it hurt and I gasped, putting my hands up to stop him again. He obliged, though as I looked at him, it was obvious he had to practice a lot of self-restraint not to just slam himself into me right then and there.

I bit my lip, trying to calm myself and tell myself to get used to the pain, but I just couldn't. I wasn't going to be able to do this. I breathed heavily, squeezing his back. Getting the hint, Del rubbed his hand soothingly down my side, slowly reaching my cock. It had fallen slightly, becoming less erect when I started feeling more pain than pleasure. He remedied this by wrapping his fingers around me in a firm but gentle grip, stroking from the base upwards. A little moan escaped me and my body was fighting between the pleasure and the pain.

Finally, I nodded, signaling to Del that he could keep going. He pushed further into me, until he was completely inside of me, and then stopped again. I was taking deep breaths and letting them out slowly, feeling as if we were undergoing some sort of operation. He was trying to be as careful and soothing as possible, despite the fact that his own body was aching with want. I loved him for that. I loved him for caring.

After regrouping, a few tears having trickled out the side of my eyes, I gave him the go ahead. He pulled back out and slowly pushed himself in again. It was still painful, but I could handle it. He began with a slow rhythm, his hand once again attempting to distract me as it stroked with the same, slow pace.

As he started pressing into me with medium regularity, the pain dulled and I became used to the feeling of Del inside of me. I slid a hand down to his waist, wanting to feel his muscles working as he moved. After a moment, he lifted my hips, angling himself differently, and thrust into me. I cried out slightly as he hit the spot from earlier, a wave of pleasure mingling with the pain. A satisfactory smirk graced his features and he started thrusting again and again, faster now, hitting that spot every time.

"Del... oh god..." I moaned, tilting my head back. He couldn't hear me, but he could feel it and he moaned in return. It was his first time as well as mine, and it didn't take us long to become frenzied with the bliss. His thrusts became irregular and quick, my hand having found its way to my cock, stroking quickly as my boyfriend moved in and out of me. I could feel the tension building inside of my body, and I was all gasps and breathy moans.

"Ja... James..." Del gasped above me. His body instantly tensed, his hand clutching the seat. I felt warm liquid spill inside of me, and it was enough to tip me over the edge. My legs jerked and I couldn't help my head pressing back into the seat of the plane. Complete ecstasy was coursing through my body and it was like there was nothing but white light and I was flying, flying, flying...

I'm shaken out of my reverie by crying. It's the baby again, screaming loud enough to infiltrate the music playing in my ears. I sigh, pulling the headphones out and putting them back on the armrest of the man next to me. Glancing down, I feel fortunate that my reminiscing didn't cause any unwanted consequences. Even though it was our first time, and it was so long ago, picturing Delaire in such situations was always dangerous. In public, anyway.

Yes, I'm still completely head over heels for the boy. He was my first everything. He was the first time I ever felt that someone truly loved me, the first time I held hands, the first time I kissed, the first time I ever did anything selfless, the first time I worried my skull out over someone, the first time I made love. And the first time I was ever proposed to, in fact...

"This is a joke, right?" I sign to Del as we approach the place he had decided to take me. It was our tenth year being together, never having broken up once. Delaire had said he wanted to take me somewhere special, for such an important anniversary. However, I still looked at the hot air balloon that loomed in front of me with skepticism.

"Nope," he said, shaking his head and merely smiling. I rolled my eyes, but I couldn't keep the delighted grin from showing up. This was incredibly sweet of him. Despite all of our talk about flying, neither of us had actually been in the air together. We would really be in the air together, for the first time.

"You're too cute," I signed, and we got into the basket. The operator explained a few things to us, safety regulations and what not. I signed them to Delaire as I heard them and he nodded in understanding. When the operator started the fire, I felt my heart jump and swell. It felt much like there was another balloon, growing inside of my chest.

Del grabbed onto my hand as we lifted into the air. I sighed happily, feeling utterly fulfilled with my life and so full of love, I could burst any second. We were silent for a while, both of us enjoying the feeling of being in the air on our own. It was only once we were well up in the sky, floating over the fields that Del spoke to me.

"Don't you just love watching the world wash away?" he spoke as he signed, his hands moving fluidly.

"We're flying away, and yet eventually we'll still have to land. How depressing," I responded, my eyes watching the sky. He gave me a look as if to say 'why' and I shrugged slightly. "We've always talked about flying away. Far, far away."

"We did that," he signs to me. I furrow my eyebrows.

"But we're still stuck in little old Pennsylvania." I tilt my head, wondering what he's getting at. He starts to look slightly fidgety and he moves away from me slightly. I frown. Did I say something wrong? When he turns to me, his face is slightly distressed but full of excitement.

"Ever since I've been with you, I've been flying. My feet haven't touched the ground once. And now, I'm far, far away. And I don't ever want to go back." He pulled something out of his pocket. A box. A little. Black. Box. My heart stops. "Let's live on this planet together, where we can fly forever." He's not signing, just speaking with that beautiful toneless voice of his. He opens the box, revealing to me a ring.

My mouth is hanging open. Time is gone. There is nothing under my feet. There is nothing holding me up. I'm balancing on air.

"Yes," I manage to squeak out. "Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes!" Ignoring the box in his hands, I move forward to wrap my arms around him.

The pilot comes over the intercom to let us know we'll be landing soon, and that we have to turn off all electronics and fasten our seat belts. I stretch my arms into the air, scratching behind my ear slightly. I fully enjoyed myself on the flight, but there's always a moment when you have to land. Fastening my own seat belt first, I turn to the man next to me.

He's still sleeping, the only one left doing so after everyone was woken up from the intercom. I shake his shoulder softly until he stirs.

"Hm?" he says, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. He looks at me and I gaze into my favorite pair of sky blue eyes.

"Time to wake up, Del. You wouldn't want to miss our honeymoon, would you?"