Here's a bit of homework for me. I was challenged to write a story on the stages of grief, but I went one further and added in how various emotions are experienced, along with me flexing my literary muscles, as I haven't written in a while. I plan to work on more stories soon, this is one of many!

Also, RIP search history. I'm probably on a couple watchlists; I had to google how atom bombs and the human brain functioned to write this.

Anyways... Enjoy!

22:57 - Rio de Janeiro

The concrete jungle, and the real jungle have a symbiotic relationship. The former of which laid, sprawled out over the bay, in various states of poverty, and the latter high upon the mountain, with the perfect vantage point over this marvel of human creation.

The lower down on the mountain you take residence, the more troubles you had with the hustle and bustle of life in the city. But up in the mountains where no humans go, reside the animals of Rio, where this particular story is set.

More particularly, we reside inside the hollow made by two blue macaws, carved into the side of a Brazil Nut tree. It is big, and roomy, and holds more than enough space for the two birds. The tree stood tall on the mountainside, and, in the entrance of the shared hollow was one of the two macaws. Her name was Jewel, and she was wife and mate to Blu, a male of the same species, thought to be the only one in existence, whom, a year prior had saved her life by jumping from the rear of a cargo plane, despite being unable to fly, only to be motivated to no end, by her kiss, saving them both from a watery grave.

The female, Jewel, perched comfortably in the entrance looking out over the landscape that unfolded before her, and sending quiet thanks to God that she didn't have to worry about being a human, or being busy, or worrying about things other than herself and her mate. Her appearance was magnificent; the azure feathers that covered her slender frame, shining in the pale moonlight with a great lustrous sheen. The light breeze blew against her white facial marking, fluttering the smallest feathers that lined the edges of her face, and rocking the curled feathers that adorned her head. She let out a shiver, and inhaled the crisp, clean air.

Without any warning, she spoke, seemingly into the abyss, "Isn't it just beautiful out here?"

Nobody was there to listen. Her honey-rich, feminine voice travelling out into the unknown for no ear to hear.

She seemed to expect a reply, and craned her neck over her left shoulder, into the darkness of her home, dully lit with a purple aura by the moonlight. Her beautiful azure irises only settled on the sleeping form of the male, Blu, her mate. She laughed softly, and stepped back inside. She stretched herself, in anticipation of sleep, and silently padded over to the nest in which her mate was sleeping. Her gaze met his slumbering form. Blu was more squarely built than her, and had darker feathers, which rustled in the soft breeze.

She sighed, and decided it was late enough, and that it was time for her to sleep. She needed her rest, so as to stay healthy, as she usually woke up early in the mornings.

With a tidy hop, she found herself on the rim of the nest where her mate lay sleeping, and, without hesitation, she stepped inside, and laid down in the nest, facing towards him. Draping her wings over the sleeping Blu, Jewel snuggled up to the bird she loved, closed her eyes, and emptied her mind, attempting to fall asleep peacefully.

Unfortunately, her movements against him caused him to stir and awaken. He mumbled a sweet, incoherent nothing, as he was wrenched from his dreams and back to reality.

Jewel sensed his reawakening, and decided she would apologise to him, for spoiling his rest. "Oh, sorry, I didn't mean to wake you, Blu," she said, tenderly. Blu, still half asleep, didn't quite know how to respond, as it wasn't within his grasp as he laid stranded in the void of consciousness. He soon drifted over to the awake side, and as Jewel was just thinking she hadn't actually woken him, he responded, "No, it's okay," his voice slurred by the fermented fruits of slumber, "I was wondering where you had gotten to, anyways," he finished. His voice was croaky, like a bull frog, and every syllable dragged on his windpipe like a fleshy xylophone.

"Aha, I was just standing in the entrance. Looking out over the bay. Thinking. This sea air is so good for your lungs, you know, honey," said Jewel, with a smile, still wrapped around him. He shifted himself into a more comfortable position, his head rested upwards, so he could easily look into the eyes of his mate. His face was flushed with fatigue, but the loving smile and friendly sparkle in his eyes would stay the same no matter what. "I agree with you. Did you have a nice time, out there?" he asked, his mind much more in its awake state at this point in time. "I did, thank you for asking. I feel much more refreshed, and I feel so glad to be alive, and that we don't have to worry about anything," she responded, a loving smile on her face, and a similar sparkle in her eyes. "We don't have to worry about anything, but ourselves," he corrected, tugging his mate closer. "Oh, you," she responded, she turned her head away, but kept her eyes on him, a blush painted on her face. "You feel tense. Why are you so tense?" he asked, a smile on his face. "Because you're hugging me too tightly, it's like I'm being squeezed!" she responded. His suaveness out the window, he said, "Oh! Sorry," and loosed his grip.

"Whew. I can actually breathe, now," she laughed, and inhaled deeply to exaggerate her point, slightly, and finished her sentence with, "It's okay, honey, I know you can't help it."

"Well, I do love you very much, you know, my precious Jewel," he responded, with a purr. His voice had lost its croak, and had softened to its usual, American edged, smooth tone. "Awhh, I love you, too, sweetheart," she returned, a dreamy look in her eyes. She tensed herself for what was inevitably going to arrive next, as it was plainly visible in his eyes. Her predictions were accurate, and she could feel her mate craning his head towards her, endeavouring to share a kiss. She allowed him the gesture, and craned her own head forward to meet his beak halfway, and tilted her head to the side. Their beaks met, and the couple shared a quick kiss. And when the loving gesture was shared, their heads retracted to the default position on their heads.

Jewel giggled with glee, and said, "Thank you, Blu. That was sweet."

"You're welcome, sweetheart," he responded.

Pondering for a second, Jewel sucked in a quick breath, and enquired her mate, "Hey, Blu. Do you know how lucky I feel to have you in my life?"

"I have a feeling you wish to tell me?" answered Blu.

"Aha! I do wish to tell you," she responded, snuggling in closer to him. "The answer is, 'supremely lucky'," finished Jewel. Blu smiled at her, and assured her, "I feel the same way. Our fates could have gone one or two ways on that plane. I'm so glad that it was the way that ended up with us together. Here."

"You know, you have yourself to thank for that, Blu. Diving from the rear of that cargo plane, when you knew you couldn't fly, just so you could spend your final minute on this earth with me? Do you know how that felt?" asked Jewel.

"I bet it felt as amazing as when you kissed me. But you also did something special, you know," Blu mentioned.

"What did I do? You jumped," said Jewel.

"You waited," responded Blu.

"Ahh. I did. Didn't I..." she recalled, shifting into a sort of thinking position. "Yeah, I remember. I waited for you, because even at that point I did care about you. I wanted to wait and try and get you out of there," she responded, warmly.

"See? You did a special, and caring thing, yourself. It was so noble of you, to wait for me, to try and help. I jumped out of the plane to be with you for my final moments; not to help you, because what could I have done?" asked Blu.

"You're right..." answered Jewel, "It was quite brave of me."

"It was. Your parents would have been proud," said Blu.

Unfortunately, Blu was absolutely oblivious as to the altercations of asking this question. Upon hearing the words symbolic of the two birds who raised her, Jewel's temporal lobe buzzed with activity, pumping it through the tracts of white matter, passing it from one gyrus to the other; onto the frontal lobe, where the emotions in Jewel's head began to rise, and beat at the vast dam she had created in to suppress her feelings. It was sturdy and strong, which it needed to be in order to survive rainforest life, where every day might be your last.

"Jewel? Are you okay?" asked Blu, still blissfully unaware of what he had said, and its meaning to Jewel.

Her breathing became rougher, and more rich, and she seemed to sniff every few seconds. Her eyes remained closed as she made an attempt to fight back the wave of sadness crashing around inside her skull. As the words he said sunk more and more into her mind, so, too, did her happiness also sink. Far, far down into the pits of her frontal lobe.

Her brain was like a nuclear power plant, with all the different parts of her mind reacting as if they were ingredients to an atomic bomb. Her emotions were tightly packed, like atoms, with her memories acting as heavy nuclei, and the sorrow that came with the loss of her parents were like neutrons, hurtling toward these tightly packed emotions, causing the memories of hers to break apart into almost pure sorrow, and bombard her other memories, creating a chain reaction. Her whole mind was experiencing an emotional fission, and filling with sadness. The bomb had exploded, the dam had burst, and her tears came pouring out, soaking her face, and making the soft feathers on Blu's shoulder, where she rested her head, sodden. He was feeling the force of eighty terajoules of, not real energy, but emotional energy.

Blu felt something cold against his skin, which had seeped through his lustrous blue, feathered coat; the sudden chilled feeling on his shoulder causing him to squint for a second or so, until it was warmed to a heat he was better able to withstand. He concerned for his mate, and called for her attention in a soft voice, "Jewel?"

He heard her scrabbling for her breath, as one would do when they cried. From the grip he had on her, he gently tugged her head to a position where he could lay eyes on her face. He took in her details. Her once beautifully composed face was a mess. Her eyes were puffy, and sodden with moisture, and her tears stained the soft white markings that adorned her face. "Sweetheart, what's wrong? Is everything okay?"

"Yeah. I'm fine," she responded, with difficulty. "I'm no fool, my darling. I know you're not okay, and I know that for a fact," insisted Blu, "Come on, now, honey, what's wrong? You can tell me. I'll listen."

"It's just a... bad memory. It's nothing. Don't w-worry," she answered, taking breaths and pauses as her words were spewed from her beak in a barely ordinary fashion.

"Okay, so, tell me about it? Whatever is broken, I'll do my best to fix," said Blu, warmly, in an attempt to comfort his mate.

"That's so s-sweet of you. Really, it is. But I don't know for sure if it really is worth worrying about," Jewel responded. "Well, then let's find out, together. Tell me about what bothers you, sweetheart," replied Blu.

Begrudgingly, Jewel responded with, "If I must."

"The only way to really move on from a grievance is to talk about it, don't you know?" asked Blu.

"It seems that way, and, I guess its time to tell you," said Jewel, with a sigh. She made herself comfortable against her mate, and he lifted a wing and wiped a tear from her eye.

"Take your time," he said, kindly.

"When I was little, I lived in a vast, lush, jungle. The Amazonian Rainforest," she began. "Wow. I've heard of that. You hatched there?" asked Blu. "Yes, I lived there for the first eight years of my life, before..." she responded, unable to finish her sentence, before her voice couldn't take the strain any longer, and broke. She buried her head into his shoulder and sobbed again; the fallout from her sorrow.

"There, there, sweetheart," purred Blu, his voice comforting, soft and pure, "Take your time in explaining, there's no rush."

She slowly removed her head from the comfortable, albeit sodden spot on his shoulder, and rekindled her gaze. Blu raised his wing and wiped a tear from her cheek, and she responded to this, along with his previous affirmation, with all the joy she could muster, that incarnated itself as a faint smile on her face, and a twinkle in her eye,

"You're so caring, and so good to me," she said, softly, the fragmentation of her voice repairing itself, syllable by syllable.

"Now, carry on in your own time. We have all night, my dear," he responded. "You're right," she said, before continuing her story, "I lived in the Amazon Rainforest before the..." she started, the repairs made to her voice were undoing with every vocal crack that appeared within the metaphorical panes of speech that was her larynx, but she stood fast, she developed a stammer as her mind fought to keep the emotions in, "Before, t-the..."

She kept on trying, but she kept repeating herself over and over again, like a broken record player, stuck in an infinite loop. Blu put a halt to her endeavour, "Shh, okay, that's enough, honey. You're hurting yourself," he said, placing a gentle primary feather on her cheek. (Primary; flight feather. Think of it as an index finger.)

"It- Feels that w-way," she responded, the star-like twinkle in her eye was more like a supernova, spewing tears that formed a small blanket over the lavender tinted lids of her eyes, before cascading down across the contours of her face.

"It sounds that way. Your voice sounds so... Broken," stated Blu, "I think you ought to have a drink," he suggested. Jewel inhaled, shakily, and managed to dispel the correct words from her beak, "You're correct. It's not too late, I think we could stop by The Testament if we are quick, and don't h-hang around too long," she affirmed.

"Then I think that is where we shall go," said Blu, with a smile. Inhaling deeply, Jewel responded with, "Then, I think we h-had best get up, and go now, before it gets too late. I don't think we have long as it is."

I understand," responded Blu, bracing to stand. He swaddled his wings around his mate, and so, as he stood up, she came with him, without any effort on her behalf.

She managed, once again, to give him a smile, and said, "You spoil me," to which Blu responded, "You're worth it," as he placed her down onto the wooded floor of their abode, and they both softly padded over to the hole they used to enter and exit their little hideout.

Both birds fixed their gazes out of the enterance to the hollow, and braced themselves for flight. "Are you sure you're going to be okay?" asked Blu, temporarily averting his gaze from the landscape that lay before them both to look his enthralling mate in her sorrow-glazen eyes to speak. "I'll be just f-fine, honey, worry about yourself, as my flight capabilities are not hindered by my emotional state. My heart does the flying, not my mind," she assured him, and he understood fully, but gave her a condition,

"I wish for you to go first, sweetheart. I trust your abilities, but I just wish to be extra safe," he said, authoritively. "The way you care about me over little things like this

is the reason why I love you so, Blu," she responded, with a dreamy sigh, albeit edged with sadness.

Blu extended his primary out to touch her face, and she craned her neck in to meet it. "Stay safe," he said, "I'll be right behind you." Her head still in contact with his wing, she responded, "With you around, I always am." She turned around, took stance on the ledge, and inhaled a copious amount of oxygen, before letting herself plummet from the ledge. Blu made a clumsy skip with a few flaps of his wings needed to stabilise himself, as he still wasn't fully used to flight yet, and found himself located where his mate had just been. "She's got more grace than me even in a more sorry state than... well... me," he whispered to himself, gazing out on her swiftly disappearing form.

With no time to waste, he closed his eyes, and did a similar sort of dive to Jewel, although, a much less refined one, and beat his wings until he gained the lift he required.

Opening his eyes again, he observed the moonlit trees that surrounded him as he set his course. First thing on his mind, was to pinpoint the location of his mate. He knew where The Testament was, though, he was more worried about his mate. He wished to fly alongside her, or, at least to keep her in visual range. He filled his air sacs with the fresh forest chill and called out to his mate, "Jewel, where are you!"

He allowed himself roughly three seconds before he would worry. Alas, Jewel, the natural rainforest survivor, gave him a swift reply, "I'm about 400 meters ahead of you, I'll let you catch up. Hit a left around the tree with the vines and the yellow flowers, and hold your course!"

"Understood!" he called back, in response. Flying was still relatively new to him; flying is like the human equivalent of swimming, if you were to swim in the middle of the ocean, and if the ocean had many obstacles jutting from its watery depths. Only the most elite of fliers, genetically, could truly have fun in the air, as if it were some sort of sport, but for Blu and Jewel, they did not have this privelege to be so carefree. When Blu and Jewel flew, there was a sense of urgency, and in the jungle, there was no telling what could go wrong. There are hundreds of things in the jungle that could kill a macaw, and most of those hundreds of things would take great pleasure in doing so.

Around ten seconds after, he reached the aforementioned tree, and with a few swift cycles of his feathered flight appendages, he found himself banking to the right.

"How far now?" he called, yet again. Jewel, once again, didn't leave him waiting, "You're not far behind me at all, I should be in visual range in a few seconds!"

As she shouted, he could her the sound of her voice looming closer, and closer, until he saw a speck of a familiar shade of blue. His mate was but a few tens of meters away.

"I'm right behind you! I'll be catching up, momentarily!" he assured, loud enough to be heard. By the time he had finished his sentence, he was close enough to make out her distinguishing features, and saw her head glance over her shoulder, like a motorcyclist would do, when changing lanes on a motorway. As she was in visual range, she chose not to reply, for the few seconds it took for him to catch up. She glided elagantly through the lunar lit greenery, comforted by the fact that her mate was behind her.

Finally, after no less than a minute of being airbourne, he drew alongside his mate. "Took you long enough," she laughed. "Well, I'm glad to see you're not too upset to have a laugh, now!" he retorted. Jewel didn't take offence to his statement, and told him, "You'll get the hang of it eventually. You're not the best, but, then again, neither am I," she responded. "Oh, I know you don't mean any harm by it, but, still. Words can hurt!" he said, his pride damaged by her statement. "They can, indeed," she finished.

Spying that the foliage was thinning into a natural clearing, she changed the subject to a more pressing matter, "Alright, The Testament is up ahead. Get ready to land somewhere, and, for goodness sake, don't go face first, please? You look so sad when you crash. It took me ever so long to get you all back to your handsome, spruced up and smart little self afterwards," she said.

"Awh," he responded, "I'll try." Jewel shot him a smile and said, "Just watch and learn, honey."

The Testament was a large natural water source located deep in the rainforest. It was known locally as The Testament by the local tribes of various breeds who saw it as a gift from God. It was situated on what is a big ledge on the side of the mountain in the Tijuca forest, whose top was large enough to take on a sizeable amount of water. Dusty sand covered its shores, and trees encircled its circumference, shadowing the source with their leaves, as if hiding the pool like a big secret. The west side of the pool had trees that allowed anyone in proximity to the pool to see out over the hillside, and truly realise what a marvel this source was, and the sheer unlikelihood of its formation.

The story of its mysterious appearance was passed down many many generations, of many walks of life.

It was rumoured to have appeared out of thin air one hundred and fifty years ago, and soon became a landmark of the animal kingdom of Rio. The water is so clean and fresh, that it was deemed biblical in nature, as it seemed to go against the laws of geology to have a pool of water situated on the side of a mountain, yet, here it was, obeying all physical laws for it to be possible. Not only that, but no human could possibly have made it, and was further believed by many due to the miraculousness of its appearance, as the tribes at that time were in need of clean water for survival, and the ocean was not providing them with the sustenance they greatly needed.

Jewel spied a suitable landing spot with her keen, trained eyes, and let herself drop from the sky, fanning her wings out like a parachute, allowing her to fall with full control and at a sensible velocity. She touched down on a sturdy branch, a few feet up from the shoreline, before using it as a stepping-stone to elegantly meet the ground, as graceful as a feather falling from room height. She shot Blu, circling above, a satisfied smile, and called to him, "I believe!"

Although she couldn't have planned what might have happened next. Blu simply decreased elevation until he was just a few metres from the water, and folded his wings close to his body, and let himself drop like a stone. He hit the water at a speed where surface tension would have been uncomfortable, but not by any means painful. Jewel watched on in amazement, staring at the ripples left in the clear, abundant liquid, and then looked around for him.

He did not surface for over twenty seconds. Jewel grew worried, and her eyes darted around inside her head, trying to spy him under the water, but, alas, even though the pool was crystal clear, the lighting did not allow its true opacity to show, clothing anything inside with a billowing robe sewn with threads of shadow.

"Blu?" she called, her voice edged with the bitter brew of concern. No reply. She called again, "Blu!"

Her heartrate increased, and her breathing became faster, and heavier. She took a few steps closer to the water in an attempt to see in more than a few yards. He had been under for upwards of a minute and just when the icy cold spectre of panic was about to seize her in its vice like grip, there was a rush of water, and a blue object came speeding towards her like a missile. She let out a frightened yell. Instead of panic seizing her, instead did this object; wrapping its appendages around her waist, and exerting a force to her side, knocking her off of her feet. It was Blu.

"Gotcha!" he laughed, taking deep breaths, after his quick dip in the drink. They lay on their sides in the sand, both sucking in oxygen for their own reasons; for Jewel, fear, and for Blu, his time spent submerged.

"Ohhh! You scared the life out of me!" she screeched, although there was an obvious overwhelming sense of relief in her voice. "Welllll, now we're even!" said Blu, playfully, planting a quick kiss on her feathered cheek. He helped her up into her feet, as he had done in their hollow not ten minutes beforehand. She had a mock scowl painted on her face, and faced away from him. "Oh? Is my brave little gemstone mad at me?" he asked, a goofy innocent frown complete with puppy eyes was painted on his face. Jewel couldn't keep up her optical aversion of her mate, and she rotated herself to face him, and took in his face. "You look like a twerp," she said, "wipe that silly look off of your face, because you'll get nowhere with me."

She splayed her wings out to her side and surveyed herself for damage as she was instinctively used to doing after experiencing high levels of stress. There was no obvious signs of physical ailment anywhere, and the only issue she had was her damp feathers. Blu's aquatic dive bombing run had left her exquisite fluffy coat wetter than a haddock's bathing costume, and, suffice to say, Jewel was not amused in the slightest.

"I'm wet," she said, finally noticing, "You are, too. Neither of us are safe to fly!"

"Its very lucky that there are many community maintained hollows around here. They're marked with blue flowers," her mate pointed out.

Jewel out her wing behind her head and fake laughed, stating, "Yeah, I knew that! I didn't forget(!)"

"I believe you, honey," responded Blu, a bright smile on his face.

"Well, since I am already wet, I might as well... " she began, before quickly turning around and diving into the pool. A splash was heard and water was thrown around in all directions away from the radius as to where she made impact, sending crazy ripples careening across the surface. "Hey! You can't have all the fun!" he called, a look of joy on his face. He dove in after her, leaving the small sandy shore behind and kicking up a bit more of a splash than his mate, and this sending larger pulses of ripples out into the centre of the pool.

After no more than twenty seconds, Jewel emerged in the middle of the pool, with a gasp of fresh air. So quick did she rise from the depths, that she sent droplets of water silently shooting through the air, before raining down on the other side of the body of water she resides in.

There wasn't much of a need to tread water, as her feathers made her quite buoyant. The ruptured surface tension sent outlines of her frame flowing across the top of the pool like sonar pulses.

Blu emerged behind her, his momentum lifting him half way out of the water and in a forwards direction towards his mate, who saw him and made a split second attempt to get away, with a playful fear, before his weight crashed down on top of her, submerging them both. For a half second, nothing above water could be heard.

With the biggest splash of all, both birds surfaced for the last time.

While they were underwater, Blu had swaddled his mate in his wings, and Jewel in returned held onto him. For a second, after they broke through, they just held one another, panting and laughing, joyful smiles on their faces.

But before long, their laughter ceased. Their panting subsided.

The peace and tranquillity of the pool got the better of them, and lulled their bodies and minds into a more peaceful, relaxed state, while their contact, both physically and optically filled their hearts with the love they shared. They floated on the surface of the pool like two rubber ducks, clinging on to each other for dear life in a giant's bathtub.

"Well. Sweetheart. This is certainly a nice, relaxing drink. Now it's time to hear about your childhood. After all of the emotions we have been through tonight, it is time to put the worst aside," said Blu, softly.

"You're right. You've taken me on a sort of trip tonight, haven't you?" she questioned him, and he responded with, "I have, indeed. Unintentional, but, it seems like I have! And I'm glad I have."

"Well, I think I can talk about it, now..." she said, a sense of dread in her voice. "Remember, take your time," he said, kindly, removing one of wings from her side to gently caress the back of her neck, soothing her nerve greatly.

"Up until the age of eight, I lived in the amazon," she began, Blu nodded, and she continued, "I lived there, until... The incident," she said. She was visibly discomforted by the thought, but not a tear escaped from her eye. "Okay, so, would you like to tell me of this incident, sweetheart?" asked Blu. "Yes," she responded, and continued, "I lived happily in a tribal community with my father and mother. They were excellent
parents, and always took good care of me, and made my life such fun. And my father, in specific, took care of the tribe too. He was the leader," she finished.

"Okay, so, what happened?" asked Blu, and Jewel responded with a smile, "I'm getting there, silly. Let me tell you."

"I lived happily there, with my parents, and I even had an old love interest-" she said, before Blu cut her off, "I don't wish to hear about old love interests, dear," and Jewel dispelled any worries of his by simply saying, "You are my one and only, Blu, and nobody means more to me than you. Besides the point, I will glaze over that part."

She took in a quick breath, and continued. "For this to be a decent story, predictably, something has to happen to me, to make me have ended up in Rio. And unfortunately, something did happen," she told, Blu looked on at her face in wonder, as she told her story, "One fateful day, there was a huge forest fire, expected to have been started by humans who wanted our homes, who showed no pity for the birds who lived there," she spat out the last few words as if they were bitter seeds from a fruit she had just ingested.

"Oh lord..." breathed Blu, "I'm sorry, Jewel."

"Thank you, but, you should say that to the tens of thousands who lost their lives. Predators and Prey," she replied, and continued talking before Blu could interrupt her again, "My father was warned of the blaze by his finest scouts, whose keen eyes perhaps saved the lives of many, you can never say for sure. He took immediate action, and everyone grabbed their children and left. It was a risky decision, but we decided to head north, as that seemed to be the weakest part of the blaze," she finished.

Blu was transfixed by her storytelling, and allowed her to continue, "He could be forgiven if he were wrong... Those blasted flames were taller than the tallest trees in the jungle, the sky was black, the air was un-breathable," she said, really getting into her stride, now, despite the pain it caused her inside she still continued. "It was like a living nightmare. Our homes were collapsing, left right and centre, our hopes of survival and the survival of the forest came with them. He was fighting a losing battle, but my father's guess seemed to be accurate, as after about ten minutes of sustained flight, we were nearly out. There were casualties, but all who fell, fell as heroes, trying to save their families. Some of the things I saw, they stick with me to this day," she told, before slowing down. She stared forward for a second, a chill shooting down her spine. "The yells..." she whispered, "The yells of these people. These innocent people. There must be a thousand tales of heroism that will remain untold until the end of time."

Blu gulped, and continued comforting his mate. "We almost made it, until the mistake was made," she said, "My father was carrying me, as my mother had to bank hard to the right to avoid some sort of peril. And then, it happened. He was swatted out of the air like a fly by a branch, and I fell with him. He hit the ground on his back, but I landed on his chest, which likely saved my life. I thought he was dead, but he spoke. His splayed wings curled around me, and the last words I ever heard him speak, was, 'Don't worry sweetie, everything will be' and then, it happened," she told, her mate looking on at her with intrigue and wishing to know what happened next, "There was a great explosion. Although it was far away, it was more than sufficient to knock me clear. I don't know how far I fell, but, it knocked me out cold. Who knows how far I went," she finished.

"But, your father, what happened to him?" he asked, and Jewel could only say, "He can't have survived. Surely not." It was Blu's turn to cry, now, for his mate, "Sweetheart, I'm so sorry. That must have been horrifying to experience..." he said, with a sob.

"It's okay, Blu. I'm okay. But at that time, when I woke up? The shock seized my bones solid. The things I was surrounded with couldn't have been seen in my worst nightmares. Burning embers and thick black ash. Trees toppled as if they were nothing. Foliage smoldering in piles, red hot sparks flying in the barely breathable air; the sky nowhere to be seen," she said, before looking downwards, at the water, with an indescribable look of sorrow own her face, saying, slowly, and almost synthetic in nature, "I thought I had died and gone to hell."

Blu removed his other wing from her side, and thew it around her upper body, and squeezed her tightly. Jewel did the same, and held her mate. Although they were in the water, which wasn't the best place to embrace, they still were driven to do so. "When I gathered my senses, it dawned on me that they were gone. I would never see them again. I couldn't believe it. I spent the rest of the day trying to escape; I knew I couldn't possibly go back. Something inside me made me move on. And so I did. By the end of the day, the remnants of the weapon the humans used to murder my family and friends simply fizzled out, and began to die, itself," she told, turning her head to the right and spitting into the water, with anger. "Those damn pieces of human scum, just waltzed into the forest and set it alight. They cast my family, my friends, everyone. They cast them into the flames. All for what? What did we do to them? What did we do in this life to deserve this? Nothing. The humans are just selfish, selfish creatures, who will stop at nothing to satisfy their lust for their consumerism," she growled. She dispelled each syllable from her beak like a globule of acid that burned her throat, and wrenched her innards. Her muscles grew rigid, and her eyes filled with spite.

She observed the look her mate gave her, sighed, and relaxed. Her next words came out, as soft as the feathers that adorned her head, "I curse these memories, but at the same time, I bless them. Because they brought me to you, and made me who I am, today. Even though I miss my family, and would do anything to bring them back, my life hasn't been completely wasted. Not since you came here," she said, her neck laced a quarter of the way around his.

"How have you survived like this? It must eat you inside," asked Blu, still with a tear in his eye. Jewel flicked it away, and said, "Because I have you. It's a horrible, horrible thing to look back on, but I've accepted it, as hard as that was. For years and years I was a mess, and I never truly let go of my old life until I met you, my love." Upon hearing this, Blu felt a great overwhelming sense of happiness, and cried while laughing, relieved to have someone as caring as Jewel to be his mate, and pleased to be able to valiantly serve her through such a terrible memory. Her eyes, too, welled up with the sorrowed substance.

"I developed a thick skin after spending time in the rainforest. It took me about four years, but, after meeting people and moving around, eventually I made it here. And here, was where I wanted to stay, and so I did, until that bird nut captured me. I don't know how I got there. All I know is I went to sleep one night, and woke up in the morning, in that fake jungle we live in. I'd lived in there for about two weeks before you arrived," she told.

"And I'm so glad that I came to be here with you. Despite our drastic differences, it seems like we were made for each other; to love each other, and to be together for a lifetime," replied Blu, his voice edged with a rare form of joyful sorrow. His mate removed her head from behind her neck, and looked him deeply in the eyes, and said, "We were. We absolutely were. And I think God for your existence every single day. You know that, right?"

Blu's response was simple, "Of course I do,"

The couple were transfixed. Irises of luscious blue and chocolate brown acted as the doors to their souls, and opened up. Before long, the desire to draw closer overwhelmed them both, and they found their necks drawing closer to one another as if attracted by a magnet. Closer and closer, their heads drew together, until the tips of their beaks met, and Jewel cocked her head to the side, and they shared the final kiss of the evening. Their hearts overflowed with their passions for one another, and their minds were hives of activity. The emotions at the wheel were the most powerful experienced, in this night: love.

After they had broken off, they held each other in a tight embrace for a few seconds, before exiting the water, and making their way to a suitable hollow.

The journey the two lovers went on tonight, sealed their bond forever. Jewel entrusted Blu with something she could never have told another soul, and he would go on to guard that secret with his life, until the day he breathed his last breath. And on that night, Jewel finally let go of the emotional toils that came with the loss of her parents, and whole tribe. Although she claimed it was behind her, she proved that it was still something that ate her inside, and thus, being able to talk to the bird who mattered to her most, she was finally able to let it go. She needed to focus on him, now. The one she loved, and cherished.

And, until death doth come their parting, where they would live their life in a better world, forevermore.