A storm began. Rain fell soft, then harder. Wind blew, brushing the leaves of the trees with grace and elegance. The creatures of the world took cover in their homes, protected from the cold. Nothing moved other than the elements of nature that stood firm, withstanding yet another day of weather. Only the howling wind, whooshing leaves, and cracking rain could be heard.
A furry, light-brown creature sat on the edge of a cliff. It was cat-like in its build, but had much larger ears, a thinner, more pointed muzzle, and a much longer, thinner tail. Two large wings protruded from its back, tucked tightly against the creature’s sides to protect their feathers from the tearing wind. Its fur was matted into spikes by the rain, and its claws gripped the grass to steady itself against the storm.
The creature gazed on, over the treetops of the forest below, eyes narrowed to keep out the water. A large gust of wind swept past, catching under the creature’s wings and ruffling its feathers into odd positions. Why it sat here, it didn’t quite know. It lived alone as a wanderer, but had just that day found shelter in this area. It could be there, right now, protected from the harsh wind and pounding rain. But for some reason it was drawn to sit here, nearly getting drowned in the storm. Milo was his name.
He adjusted his wings for the umpteenth time, finally beginning to wonder if he should go back to his shelter. The chilly wetness was not exactly pleasurable, and all he had to watch was the constant rolling of the wind through the leaves of the trees in the forest under the cliff. What had he wanted to come here for? He had no reason to enjoy the pins and needles that the rain was causing his skin to feel, and the wind attempting to take his wings along with it was getting rather annoying.
No. He knew why he was here. He was contemplating. He had just recently witnessed a father save his baby from falling into a raging river. When the father had calmed the baby down, the mother had come running to the sound of crying and scooped the baby into her own wings. The father and mother both smiled in relief and kissed each other. Milo had watched them leave the area soon after, their sides brushing as they walked with their baby. He had been deep in thought for a few days after, thinking about how he was alone, with no one who would ever be with him. That was why Milo was sitting out here in the rain.
He breathed in deeply, then let it out in a sigh. What a fitting environment for feeling so downcast. His sapphire-blue eyes blinked and absently followed the path of a leaf flying through the air. He had a headache from thinking so much. Maybe he shouldn’t be out here; his shelter was sounding quite welcoming. He turned his head slightly, looking at the ground. Yes, maybe sleep would help get his mind off of it. As he was about to stand up, a thought returned to him. Sleep had never helped get rid of this. Why would it now? He sat himself back down.
He looked back out at the sky, filled by sheets of rain. Was he waiting for something? He blinked and watched another leaf fly by. Nothing was here but him and his worries.
Then he saw it. A sleek shape slithered through the air, with two large wings keeping it aloft. It was far away then, but it was getting closer by the second. It made no noise or sudden jerking movements, which left Milo staring at it inquisitively. A flash of lightning lit the sky for a split second, showing a glimpse of blue on the creature. He tilted his head in curiosity, awaiting its further approach, and contemplating a return to his shelter; he wasn’t in the mood to do anything social at the moment, therefore if the creature out there wanted to talk to him, he would turn tail.
The figure drew closer, and as it did, Milo prepared himself to get up. It kept pumping those big wings. Yes, it was definitely set on Milo. He looked at his tail on the ground next to him, getting ready to make the walk back into the forest, taking a deep breath before taking what he assumed would be his last glimpse out over the forest for the night.
But as he looked back out, the figure who had been flying his way was right in front of him, making him jump. He was about to make a rude comment about it scaring him out of his fur, but he was captivated by the newcomer. It was quite obviously a female, having long, feathery eyelashes and housing a bit of a bulge on her chest area. Her body was mainly a light aqua blue color, with a white belly and chest and darker blue tail fins and flight feathers. From her forehead to midway down her neck jutted a collection of horn-like spires, the same color as her body. She had no legs but had fin-like hands, and two large ears sat on either side of her horns. Overall, she looked like a majestic, winged seahorse. The most stunning part about her was her eyes. They were bright sapphire blue, and stared into Milo’s with a innocent glimmer of curiosity.
A small smile stretched across her pointed snout as she saw Milo’s shocked face. To his surprise, she spoke. She spoke with a voice like silk.
“Why are you out here? Do you like the rain as much as me?”
Her voice was enchanting. Even over the deafening pounding of the rain he could hear her perfectly, as if they were in a silent, empty room. It captivated him.
Realizing that she had actually asked a question, he snapped out of his trance. “Oh, uh… I don’t exactly like the rain, just–”
“Then why sit here and get pounded by it?”
Again he was awed. “I… I don’t know. I was just thinking about something…” He trailed off.
She blinked. “Oh. I understand. It is a bit uncomfortable to be in a small space like a den when you have something big on your mind. And what better place to think than in the midst of a storm, right?”
She had read his thoughts. She had just said exactly what he was thinking earlier. “Y-yeah, I guess–”
Before he could say more, she moved from her spot in front of him, circling him once and looking at him from over his shoulder. “I could help, you know.”
“What do you mean?”
“I could teach you to love the rain. I could take away your worry,” she said with a grin.
Milo stepped away from her. “I’m not sure where you’re going with this…”
Before he could get too far away from her, she took hold of his paw. “I could teach you to dance with the storm,” she explained, floating only a foot or so from him. “I swear, It would take all your angst away. It works for me every time I feel down. Except… it always works better with a partner.” She enunciated the last word and her smile grew even more.
“Dancing is an art that is meant to be done with a partner, you know.”
“Yes, I know that. But… well, I don’t really dance. I’m not exactly the most ‘social butterfly’ you’ll ever meet.” Milo’s eyes darted to the ground for a split second.
She let go of his paw and beamed quite animatedly. “Well, that’s alright! I’m not really, either. I usually spend my time flying by myself. I don’t have a flock to be with anymore, since I… Well, that’s a story for another time!”
Milo was becoming more interested. “Well…” he tried, “I guess we both kind of have the same kind of story, huh?”
She nodded, her enchanting grin returning. “Ha, I guess so!” She looked out over the forest, just as Milo had been doing when he was alone only a few minutes before. “Hmm. You have a nice view from here.”
He followed her gaze, this time actually trying to see it as a “nice view”. “Yeah… I guess it is kinda nice, when you look at it right.” He shivered again from the freezing rain. “Not really in this weather, though, huh?”
She didn’t take her eyes away from the view. “Well, when you learn to appreciate storms, it looks at its best.”
There was silence for a while as both of them looked out, one loving what she saw, and the other just trying to. Milo broke the silence first. “What’s your name?”
She looked at him and the corner of her mouth turned up. “Ciela. What about you?”
A strange bubbly feeling found its way into his chest and he had to look at the ground. “Milo.”
He heard Ciela laugh. “Hey, you smiled! That’s the first time I’ve seen it!”
Milo’s eyes widened, surprised. He hadn’t even noticed the small grin that had made its way onto his muzzle.
“Ha, I like how your fangs stick out!” she giggled again.
For the first time in months, Milo laughed. “Y-you do…?”
“Yeah! It’s cute!”
The surprising and sudden feeling of blush under the fur on his cheeks made him grin even bigger. “Ha! W-well, thanks, I guess.”
Silence overcame both of them for a few seconds. Milo wasn’t even minding the rain much anymore. This was the first time he had had an actual conversation with another creature in almost a year. It felt unbelievably good.
Ciela spoke first. “Do you want to dance now?” she asked excitedly. “Now that you are in a better mood, and it seems like you trust me a little more.”
Milo looked at the grey sky again, contemplating. “Uh, I don’t know. I’ve never really flown in a storm before. It doesn’t seem like a really good idea, to me.” Then he noticed Ciela looking at him with laughter in her eyes and realized that she didn’t even have a possibility of landing, in the first place. She had no legs. “I-I mean, for a creature like me,” he tried to correct himself. “For you it must be easy, because you have to do it whenever there’s a storm, anyway. You must be used to it, right?”
She smiled. “Yes, quite. But just because you haven’t done something before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it now!”
He looked at the ground nervously.
“Oh, come on. I promise I won’t let anything bad happen to you.”
“I don’t know… Maybe, I guess, but–”
Before he could say another word, she had grabbed his paw again and was suddenly pulling him toward the edge of the cliff. He opened his wings slightly to try and pull himself back. “Woah, wait!”
Ciela giggled. “Don’t worry! It’s super easy!”
With that, Milo was shoved off the cliff into the whirling air. Immediately he thrust his wings outward to steady himself, but that only seemed to make things worse. He was held aloft now, but he was swinging out of control. “Hey, C-Ciela! Help me!”
“Don’t worry!” he heard her call out. “Just flap with the wind! Push along with it!”
He frantically tried to make the most out of the tiny tidbit of information he had been given, working it around in his mind, trying to make sense out of it. He flapped violently, giant raindrops pounding on his head and back, trying to return to a stable position. Flap with the wind, he repeated in his mind. What the heck is that supposed to mean?!
Frantic and scared, he squeezed his eyes shut and called out again. “CIELA!”
At that, he felt her smooth figure fly under him, giving him a boost upward. Shooting his eyes open, he flailed, alarmed, and tried to use that boost to his advantage. Still he was out of control. Abruptly, she appeared in front of his face. Reaching on both sides of him at once, she fixed his wings to a strange angle, and suddenly he was thrust forward and away from the cliffside. The wind had caught him in exactly the right way. Was that what she had meant by ‘flap with the wind’?
“There you go!” he heard from behind him. “Just like that!”
Intrigued, he tried to remember the angle she had put his wings at and tilted his wings back the same way. He wasn’t thrusted this time. “I don’t get it!” he shouted aimlessly.
“Tilt your wings to the wind!”
Right then something clicked in his mind. He had to match his wing angle to make a parachute for the wind to catch on. He focused, trying to find the direction of the wind. He found that when he focused on it, it was quite easy. It had shifted to coming straight from under him. Understandingly, he angled his wings against it and he was thrust upward. He was using the wind to move without barely flapping!
“There you go!” he heard Ciela shout happily. “Get control over it!”
Milo, feeling the pleasure from his success form into a smile on his face, felt the wind shift again and angled his wings back down to follow it. Leaves from the forest swirled up and into the air around him, following the same wind current as him. He watched them with calm eyes. He grinned, not scared anymore, but completely in control. The wind changed again, and he tilted his wings once more. The breeze whistled around his ears, blowing them back and ruffling the long fur outside of them. His fur was rain-spattered and matted, but he didn’t care. He was deeply focused.
All his senses were homed in on keeping control, and as each second went by, he felt it becoming easier and easier. As another, different gust flowed around him, he noticed it formed a sort of loop. Eager to try the idea that had just popped into his head, he grasped the direction in his senses and latched his wings onto the wisp. Triggering a jolt of adrenaline to burst inside Milo’s chest, the wind swept him upside-down, and he made his body streamlined to it. He spiraled around in the storm’s grasp, strangely controlled and calm.
As the spiral ended, he was surprised to find Ciela above him. He didn’t bother to come right-side up, but instead smiled at her. She blinked and smiled back. With a swift motion, she grabbed his paw and flipped him back over. She flew under him, wings tilted down in an upward glide, and twined her tail with his. He looked down at her, and she beamed up at him.
They were both thinking the same thing: It was wonderful to have someone to enjoy moments like this with.
She brought her head up behind his. “Milo,” she whispered in his ear. “Let’s go higher.”
He smiled and nodded. Ciela moved out a few feet from his side so they could both have room to flap, and Milo pumped his wings to thrust himself upward. Ciela followed close behind and began spiraling around him as they went up. She winked at him, and he got the hint. He began spiraling, too, and suddenly they got the sensation of dancing.
At the same time, they broke the lower layer of clouds, coming into a less windy environment. All around was grey and black, and the rain was more spaced out. The wind that still existed swirled in complex corkscrews and loops, but it was easy now for Milo to stay controlled.
Ciela kept up the pace when she broke the clouds, doing a wide backflip. Milo watched her, never having lost his grin, and flew close to her when she came back up. She laughed gleefully, brushing the underside of his chin with her finned tail. His grin softened as he briefly closed his eyes, enjoying the delicate touch, before opening them again and coming up closer to her. Affectionately, he rubbed his nose against hers, earning a sweet giggle. With that they parted again and twirled around each other.
They continued dancing for what seemed like an eternity.
Soon they began to drop back down below the cloud layer, tails twined. Milo knew it had to be over, but with all his heart, he wished it could go on forever.
When they neared the cliff that their time together had started at, Milo slowed himself and landed smoothly on the grass. He turned back to Ciela with a caring smile. She smiled back, looking at him with a beautiful sparkle in her eyes.
“I wish that could have lasted until the end of the world,” he sighed.
Ciela beamed at him. “We can do it any time you like, Milo. I’ll always be out here when it storms. Just call for me and I’ll be with you.” She glanced to the side, frowning. “Though… I wish it would storm more often… I can only fly in the rain, so I follow this storm wherever it goes. But next time it comes through here…”
Milo brushed her cheek with his wing, getting her to look at him again. “I promise,” he said. “I will come here next time it storms. I wouldn’t want to miss another dance with you for the world.”
She smiled softly. “Yeah…?”
Her smile grew quickly, and before Milo knew what was happening, she had planted a kiss on his lips. “Thank you, Milo,” she said. “Thank you for dancing with me when no one would. I will remember it forever.”
Milo’s tail curled as he took in her last action. “No,” he said. “Thank you. You helped me so much. You made me happy when I didn’t think I ever would be. That I will remember for all of eternity.”
Ciela took his paw in her hand and gazed lovingly at Milo. “We both did each other a favor, then.” She touched her nose to his paw. “I will see you again, I swear it.”
He returned the gesture. “And you, as well.”
Hesitantly, she flew out a few feet, then turned back to Milo. “Goodbye,” she said in almost a whisper.
Milo smiled reassuringly. “Farewell, Ciela.”
With one more smile, she moved out a bit further, and disappeared in a flash of lightning.
Weeks passed before another storm passed through. Milo, just upon hearing the thunder faintly begin, dashed back to that cliffside, thrilled to be able to meet with the enchanting creature who had pointed his life back upward.
As he reached it, he stopped, heart racing with anticipation. As the rain spattered against his face just as it had that night, he called out her name into the tearing wind. In a flash of lightning, she appeared, her magnificent eyes wide and filled with joy. As the two met each other’s gazes once again, Milo spoke the thing she most wanted to hear.
“Dance with me.”