"Are we going to pick up Papa?" the little girl asks, tugging on her mother's hand. Had she looked up at that moment, she might have seen how the mother's smile became strained, how her eyes became sad.
"No," is the simple reply. "Not yet."
"Then where are we going?" The girl scrapes her feet on the asphalt. "I'm bored…" she adds petulantly.
Abruptly, the mother stops in front of a red gate. "It looks like there's another little one I'll need to take care of," she says, pushing open the gate. There's a boy there, no older than the little girl, crouched in the dirt in the yard with his back to the gate.
Curious, the girl lets go of her mother's hand and skips over, peering over the boy's shoulder at the materials in his hands. "What are you making?" she asks.
"Kites," the boy replies.
"Why?" On second inspection, the girl can see kites scattered throughout the yard, in all shapes and colors, more than she can count on her fingers.
"To fly," is the matter-of-fact answer. "And then I'll be able to go really high up into the sky to find Dad."
The paper thing in his hands looks so small, so flimsy. "These will let you fly?" the girl says, frowning a little.
"Definitely," the boy says, with the conviction only a child can muster. "I just need to make one a day, and once I make a whole huge lot of them, I can fly to places really really far away." He tilts his head up, and smiles a wide, gap-toothed smile. "All the way up there, and beyond."
A balloon slips from a hand and ascends upward at a leisurely place, drifting a little this way and that as the wind blows. The red sphere steadily grows smaller and smaller, until it's a mere speck, a particle of dust against a deepening indigo sky.
And then, fireworks.
"Wow," exclaims the boy crouching on the roof, a hand shielding his eyes as he watches the explosion. "That's really something." Ignoring the frantic shushing from his sister on the ground, he climbs to his feet and chuckles. "A whole missile for one tiny balloon…"
"Get down!" the girl practically begs her brother. "If they see you out after curfew…!"
The boy, to her relief, finally jumps down, landing neatly. The relief is short-lived, however, as the boy snatches up the kite lying against the wall nearby and flips it onto his back. "Alright!" he says, striking a dramatic pose. "Prepare for takeoff!"
"What- you're actually going through with this? You can't do this!" wails the girl, pulling at her pigtails. "Didn't you see what they just did? For one balloon! Even a balloon can't make it off this planet! And in any case-"
"You know, you're being pretty loud right now," the boy remarks casually, inspecting his fingernails. The effect is instantaneous – the girl claps a hand to her mouth, looking terrified as her eyes dart around.
But she continues on after a moment, if in a much quieter voice than before. "You want to use a kite to get to the sky! What kind of insane idea is that?"
"Thanks to the Eyes, there isn't a single spaceship left on this planet," says the boy, shrugging as he straps himself to the kite. Never one to dwell on negative emotions, there is no bitterness behind the statement of fact. "And why can't a kite work just as well?"
"Using a kite. To get to the sky."
"Yup!" The boy stands akimbo with his customary grin. "As long as the kite is big enough, it can definitely bring me up there! And once I'm there, I'll find my dad and your dad and bring them home!"
And then the boy notices his sister shaking in absolute terror, and realizes that she hadn't been the one who had last spoken.
"Wow, they sure run really fast!" the boy laughs, hanging off the back end of the bicycle.
"Shut up!" yells the girl, any attempt at stealth abandoned as she pedals for their lives. She weaves through the alleys, sending pebbles skittering down the streets as she skids around the sharp corners to try and shake their pursuers off.
"I think we lost them," announces the boy, keeping an eye out behind them. "Hey, let's go for the hill!"
"I want to go home!"
The streets begin to slant downhill, and the girl is forced to focus harder than ever to avoid the obstacles as they pick up speed. Sensing this, the boy's grin only widens. "Prepare for takeoff!" he repeats, leaping off the back end of the bicycle. Connected to the bicycle by a rope, he runs behind it in long, bounding strides.
Ahead of them, the path becomes an overlook, then drops off into nothingness. The girl sends up a prayer and rides full-speed over the edge. A second later, the boy follows.
And he flies.
Time slows into nothingness; the shrieking of his sister fades away, until he can hear nothing but his quick breaths and pounding heart. He feels the air currents swirling around him, lifting the wings on his back. He stretches out a hand to brush the golden moon.
"So you really can…" and then there is a jerk at his waist, and the moment is broken.
The wind is strong today.
The girl pedals through the streets, sun and wind at her back. One by one, she releases her brother's kites, until the evening sky is filled with splashes of color. When she looks up, she can see, among the kites, a spaceship gleaming with the light of the setting sun. The last surviving ship on the planet.
The missiles are confused. There are too many targets. They paint fire in the sky, but against wings of paper and wood, not metal.
The last kite slips from her fingers to join its brethren. "Fly on," the girl whispers fiercely, sending the words up to her brother among the clouds. "Reach that place of dreams."
A/N: This just barely passed the 1000-word limit I'd put on myself for things going into Misc. Scenes, so I'm putting it as a separate story. There'll probably be lots (relatively, anyway) of Rainbow Sea stuff in days to come... I'm just excited for the promised PV at the end of this month
If you want clarifications on this, just ask. (I will say here that the boy is Maidang, and the girl is his cousin.)