CHAPTER FIFTY

Extracted from the diary of Rose,

(Daughter of Blu and Jewel)

It has been several months since our final battle with Marco and the dreaded New World Order and believe me when I say that those dark times are far from forgotten, especially for those birds across Rio who were forced from their homes. The whole city and state of Rio de Janeiro have flourished. With the final few days of autumn ahead of us, which will soon dive deep into mid-winter, the world seems to blossom under a longing sense of peace and harmony. Despite there being no mention of it from any creature, I think we all feel the same way. We fear that the calming sense is nothing more than an illusion. Being ever the optimist, I must try to believe that this feeling of safety will last a long time… although I must admit that sometimes I can't believe such a thing. I keep reminding myself that my father (who has become a legend amongst the many jungle creatures who have named him the great hero in Rio or the hero of heroes) has shown what he can do if he needs to. I doubt that any evil creature would dare to follow Marco's example. Even evil beings must hold some value to their miserable excuse for an existence.

Those who were brainwashed and served under the dark emperor's cruel whims have been freed. With a sense of guilt and a longing regret which I doubt will ever fully heal, they have moved the confiscated food and dispersed it amongst those who are starving in the jungles. With a heartfelt apology, that would cause tears to form in the eyes of even the most masculine bird amongst them, I know now that they truly are sincere in what they say. Their kindness isn't just an act to get back within the good graces of their former friends. Every word they say is the cold truth, and that is something everyone must face to be redeemed.

A few weeks ago, Rafael returned to Rio de Janeiro. He surprised everyone, who seemed overjoyed to see him. After a long, hard season away from our tropical home, he has brought every creature back. I could not be happier to see Eva, Carlos, Marco, Sophia, Manuela and the rest of the toucans again. I was so disappointed when they had run off. It was like I had lost a piece of myself that day, but now they're back and my how they've grown since the last time I have seen them. Rafael, however, still looked stressed out and he complains the kids are going to end up giving him gray feathers, but I can see a certain sincerity in his eyes. Even though I know he wouldn't ever admit it to anyone, he wouldn't trade a second away from them for anything else in the entire world.. in a way, he is kind of like all the stories I have heard about my dad. His love for my mom, all the things they have been through. It all seems way too farfetched to be true… like some kind of wonderful fairy tale… but that couldn't be the case. I've witnessed some things they've gone through… most recently, the ordeal with Marco and my father's resurrection from the grave. Yes! The toucan reminds me of them beyond any doubt. They both seem to have found a love that even death itself can't stop.

Speaking of my father, right after Rafael's return with Eva and the rest of the fleeing birds, my father hobbled by himself. Though he walks much slower than what I remember of him, I am amazed by his progress. His gray feathers have changed back into their natural cerulean state. I know that with each day in the sun, his condition will only increase, and he'll grow much stronger and far sturdier than he ever has been. He has taken it upon himself to teach me how to write, and I am using his lessons to write this now. I write words I could never truly express with my voice. I would be far too embarrassed. Mom says that I've developed a socially awkward personality, but that is one of the more attractive qualities I inherited from my father's gene pool.

Now that I have gabbed on about what has happened in everyone else's life. I should probably tell you a little about mine as well. It is only fair; I am sure mom would be proud that I have considered everyone's feelings in this matter, and not just excluded myself… at least I think… she can be sensitive, and I try my best to avoid her unpleasant moods. I guess she is still suffering from her past and with her guilt over the things she has done recently. Still, I wonder what happened to her? Maybe one day she will confide in me, but until then, I really do not want to pry into her personal life. I am her daughter, and I don't want to cross any boundaries that shouldn't be crossed.

Rico made a full recovery, and he and I have hung out more and more. Rafael says that he can see sparks of romantic interest on the bird thief's part. I can't help but wonder if he really cares for me? Could he really be the one? So many questions continue to work through my mind. My heart seems to skip a beat every time I'm near him. I would never say this to mom or dad, but I really want him to admit it. I want him to say those three words. I know I gladly would return those feelings if he would just be honest with me about what he felt inside his heart. But he seems to hold on to pain, something that has caused him to suffer in the past. He has agreed to share that story with me right after we finish the victory party tonight. I am nervous about it though. What could he be so bad to cause him to take up the life of a thief? Unfortunately, the day is drawing to a close and I desire to spend what little time is left to be out in the sunlight. I can always continue writing this journal entry later. Until then, I think I shall call it quits and go see what Mom, Dad, or Rico are up to. They surely must be planning something for the party tonight. Maybe, just maybe, I can help with something.

Rose the Spix's macaw

Rose put down the pen and stood up straight. She twisted her body, shaking the stiffness which captivated her. She could feel a renewed sense of energy flowing through the core of her entire being. She didn't want to waste another second of the day writing in her journal. She wanted to be out, having fun, playing as the seasons shifted from one to the next. Her whole life felt sheltered, and now she could break free and experience life to the fullest. Turning towards the door, she spread her wings and prepared herself to fly. In her excitement, she failed to see Rico creeping up behind her. With his talons slanted and his body extended to his full height, he didn't make a sound as he crept close with each second. He leaned in, moving as close to the female's ear as possible.

"HEY ROSE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" he shouted at the top of his lungs, causing the female macaw to jump with fright. She swung her wing, swatting him with all the strength she could muster.

Rico winced in pain as he fell backwards, landing on his back against the countertop. His head grimaced with a rather large goose egg from the impact. He rubbed the injury with an un-amused and rather disappoint look. He hadn't expected her to act that way.

"Calm down, Rose." he pouted. "That's not cool. You could hurt someone doing that."

Rose formed a sly smile that mimicked her mother during her and her father's courtship. A mischievous side awakened deep within the female in that one instant. She curled her beak sarcastically and let her voice ring out, holding out a wing to help him up as she did so.

"And shouting at the top of your lungs in someone's ear, can't hurt someone? I never knew that. You are someone with great wisdom… or are incredibly foolish."

Rico looked on a bit confused as he tried to determine what the female was saying. He continued to rub his head, becoming lost. He couldn't form a reply because he didn't understand the statement. Rose shrugged her wings and giggled to herself as she explained herself further.

"Relax, I was only joking." She waved her wings towards the door and peered back at the thief. "I should probably help mom and dad prepare for tonight. Do you want to come?"

Rico shook his head. "Not really. I haven't met your dad. I think I shouldn't involve myself with him until you and your mother say some nice things about me. I don't want the fact that I'm a bird thief to leave the wrong impression."

Rose nodded in understanding. She wouldn't force him if he felt uncomfortable. Without another word, she soared through the room, heading towards the door.


#


Hundreds of birds lined the streets just outside of the samba club which Nico had christened as "Paradise". No one dared to say a word as they tried to glimpse their valued hero who saved them from living a horrible life and remains trapped within the clutches of Marco's tyranny and dictatorship. They all stared in awe, gasping with excitement as they watched him appear, his wings wrapped tightly around the waist of a female member of his kind. He ignored them and stared into her eyes as they moved quickly towards the club. Blu felt really nervous out in the open. He didn't like his newfound fame, nor did he want the glory. He only did what he needed to do, and that one thing ended up garnering him as a hero.

"Keep moving, Blu!" He told himself in his mind. "They can't follow you to the club. Nico has increased security, especially after what you did during your last visit here."

Blu peered at Jewel and allowed her to enter before him. The female macaw bowed her head and giggled as she moved past him. She wasn't used to being treated like a lady... she especially wasn't used to Blu acting like a higher-class gentleman. She smiled and whispered in his ear as she passed.

"Thank you, Pet"

Blu bowed his head low and followed suit. Upon entering the club, his eyes widened as he stopped dead in his tracks. There weren't any streams of colored light this time. Instead, the moonlight glistened through several long gashes torn into silk cloth roofing. The effect proved effective and felt like they stood underneath a star-strewn night sky. A romantic vibe emanated throughout the entire club. Sweet harmonious music filled the air -very different from the traditional fast-paced samba music Nico preferred to play- Blu forced a smile as he realized what this meant. Jewel would want to dance with him. He held out a wing and bowed low to the female at his side.

"Can I have this dance?" he asked, arching a curious eyebrow, and holding his eyes wide for added emphasis. He changed his voice to give it a more elegant touch of class, mimicking a richer upper-class stiff with a British accent. "It would be a great privilege, my dear."

Jewel giggled and accepted his wing. She swung him around, taking the lead. She smiled seductively at him and winked a single eye in his direction. She couldn't wipe the smile from her face.

"I'm going to make you regret that, Pet." She teased. She didn't mean it in the way she said it. She meant it more as a romantic gesture. "Let's get this party started. Let's throw down."

Blu and Jewel danced throughout most of the night. They became lost in the romantic setting the club provided. Before long, they were joined by Rafael and Eva, as well as Rose and Rico. Blu peered at the two macaws for a moment. His jaw dropped as he drew into the mode of an overprotective parent. He let go of Jewel's wing and stared slack-jawed at what he seemed to witness. He pointed a wing at the male and peered at Jewel, more than just a little confused.

"What did I miss?" he asked. "Who is that guy? And why is he dancing with our daughter?"

Jewel hugged her husband reassuringly and shook her head. She peered at him with her soft sapphire eyes. She knew that Blu didn't have much of a chance to meet Rico. In fact, by the time the macaw had arrived on the battleground, Rico himself laid wounded and needing medical attention.

"His name is Rico… he is, kind of, Rose's first crush."

Blu's jaw dropped even lower. His eyes widened in shock at what he heard. His beak trembled as he fought the urge to stare at the young couple. He couldn't wrap his mind around it.

"C-C-Crush?" he echoed. "Rose has a c-c-crush?"

Jewel nodded. "Say, Blu, could you do something for me?" she asked. "Could you please sing me a song? I've sung you two, and I really haven't gotten to hear your singing voice yet. Please, can you do that for me?"

Blu nodded and led Jewel to a quiet corner of the club. The moon shined in through a tear just overhead and the beam covered them in its pale light. Jewel smiled as she thought about what kind of song Blu would sing. She closed her eyes and became embraced in the moment. She leaned in, waiting to hear his sweet voice singing out to her. Blu sang out in a deep voice, rather slowly, but every word filled her with a sense of love, happiness, everything she wanted to feel whenever she was with him… and he did a good job at that. Every single time she stood beside him, or he held his wings around her. She could feel her heart falling for him all over again. It was the spell he could cast with just his own gaze, with his own touch, with his own voice, and everything that lurked within his soul.


"Someday, when I'm awfully low,

When the world is cold

I will feel a glow just thinking of you

And the way you look tonight.

Yes, you're lovely, with your smile so warm

And you're cheeks so soft

There is nothing for me but to love you

And the way you look tonight.

With each word your tenderness grows,

Tearing my fear apart

And that laugh that wrinkles your nose,

It touches my foolish heart.

Lovely, never, ever change

Keep that breathless charm.

Won't you please arrange it?

Cause I love you, just the way you look tonight.

With each word your tender grows,

Keep that breathless charm

Won't you please arrange it?

And that laugh that wrinkles your nose,

It touches my foolish heart.

Cause I love you, just the way you look tonight."

Mm, Mm, Mm, Mm

Just the way you look to-night."


Blu peered at Jewel, who appeared speechless from the words of the song. He could hear her heart skip a beat as she thought about the words for a second. She waited no longer before she pulled herself into a passionate kiss. She wrapped her arms tight around him. She never wanted to let him go. Blu's eyes widened in shock by her sudden openness towards him. He hadn't expected that kind of response from her. After a moment, he closed his eyes and embraced the moment shared between the two of them, basked only in the pale moonlight.

"Hey, you two!"

Blu broke away and peered out at the sky and stared at Nico, working his way across the room towards them. He hovered in place and forced a smile. His eyes filled with innocence, as if noticing the romantic moment shared between the two for the first time.

"Come on guys, this is a party. You got to shake your tail feathers and have some fun."

Blu nodded and grabbed a piece of the roofing. Without a word, he wrote something down and handed it to the canary.

"If you want me to have fun, you'll sing this for everyone and dedicate it to Jewel. This is how I feel about her, so make sure you sing it well."

Nico nodded and fluttered off towards the makeshift stage. "Right, everyone, listen up!" Nico shouted.

"We have a special song dedicated to my friends Blu and Jewel. With everything Blu's done for the city of Rio, it is only fair to honor his request. Let's put our hands together and clap them, slap them, and we don't care if you even have to slap them!" The band played a delicate beat as the song began. Nico spun his bottle cap hat and let his voice ring out.


"Every part of my heart, I'm giving out

Every song on my lips, I'm singing out

Any fear in my soul, I'm letting go

Anyone who asks, I'll let them know.

She's the one, she's the one, I'll say it loud

She's the one, she's the one, I'll sing it proud

Ring the bell, Ring the bell, for the whole crowd

Ring the bell, Ring the bell!

I'm telling the world, I found a girl

The one I can live for

The one who deserves….

Every part of my heart, I'm giving out

Every song on my lips I'm singing out

Any fear in my soul, I'm letting go

Anyone who asks, I'll let them know

She's the one, She's the one I'll say it loud

She's the one, She's the one I'll sing it proud

Ring the bell, ring the bell for the whole crowd

Ring the bell, Ring the bell

I'm telling the world, I found a girl!

The one I can live for

The one who deserves.

To give all the light

A reason to fly

The one I can live for

A reason for life!

Wo-ay-oh, wo-ay-oh-oh,

Yeah, yeah

Wo-ay-oh, wo-ay-oh-oh

Yeah, yeah

Wo-ay-oh, wo-ay-oh-oh

Yeah, yeah

I'm telling the world…. I found a girl

The one I can live for

The one who deserves

To give all the light

A reason to fly.

The one I can live for

A reason for life."


Jewel smiled and grabbed hold of Blu's wing. She pulled him towards the exit of the club. Blu struggled to free himself as he became more than a little shocked by what she seemed to do. His voice trembled out for a moment.

"W-W-What are you doing?" he asked. "W-W-Where are we going?"

Jewel peered back and winked at him. "We're going home. So, I can show you my appreciation for two beautiful songs."


#


Out in the alleyway, Rose and Rico stood staring up at the moon. The male bird swallowed a lump in his throat. He shuffled his wings, a little anxious at what he needed to say. Even though he had built a career on being the craftiest, most versatile, and most skilled in terms of stealth and sweet-talking his way out of most situations. This provided him with a whole new challenge. He peered at the female a little nervously and spoke.

"Rose, um, I want to say something. I should really do this now before I lose my nerve."

Rose turned to face him. She formed a smile and knew what he wanted to say. She could see it in his eyes.

"What is it?" She asked, pretending to play innocent. "Did you remember something you need to do tomorrow?"

Rico shook his head. "No, um, what I want to say affects us both. Um, as you know, we've been spending a lot of time together lately. I was wondering if you wanted to make it official and become boyfriend and girlfriend. I'll let you know about my past, and you can take me to meet your parents… if that is what you'd like"

Rose nodded. Her smile deepened. She grabbed hold of his wing and rested her head on his shoulder.

"I'd like that. I was thinking you would not ask me."


#


The first few rays of the morning sunlight shined through the opening of the hollow. Jewel formed a peaceful smile as she nuzzled him with her neck. She could feel the beating of his heart as his chest bobbed up and down with peaceful breaths. She smiled as she felt his wings wrapped around her. They hadn't changed positions all night, and she felt herself safe and warm within them. From everything that had happened between the two of them lately. This moment seemed almost like some wonderful dream. She couldn't help but let her smile deepen. Dark Blu would never return, Marco and his band of villains rested in the afterlife. The world seemed to remain still, frozen forever in time, and she herself rested in the wings of the bird she loved.

"Life is perfect." She sighed. "Absolutely perfect."