Flight School

rylie_icon.png zan_icon.png

Where: The Desert

When: May 27, 2012; Night

What: Night time flying proves instructional, in a few ways.

The desert is an entirely different world when the sun goes down. Above, stars hang like pinpricks through a sheet of blue-black while below, things hide in the darkness, obscured by the pale glow of waxing half moon. The ground is already giving up the day's heat, the land cooling yet still comfortable this time of year.

Earlier in the day, Zan made a couple of test runs with his ability. Idle things, a couple of laps taking him in a far circle around the off road location Rylie's found for parking, once going straight upward as high as he dared before returning to earth. And spending the rest of his time simply hanging out with Rylie. But now, with night fallen, he sits on the ground with a new video camera in hand. He's fiddling with it, changing settings and occasionally turning it toward her while he peers through the viewfinder.

Rylie's car isn't too far away, nor is the tent they have set up. But while it's still warm enough to be out in the open, and dark enough for the sky to be sparkling, Rylie is content to sit away from either structure.

And sitting near Zan is more palatable anyway.

She lays back, propped up on her arms with her legs bent at the knees while she looks upward. She doesn't notice, at first, when the camera turns her way, assuming he's still messing with it. But when it sinks in, she turns to look his way with a smirk. "That's not what you're supposed to be using that thing for, you know."

"I need to make sure it works," Zan answers, innocently enough. His head lifts away from the eyepiece so he can look at her without the digital effects of the camera, smiling. "Here," he says, scooting closer and partway behind her. His arms go around her and the camera is brought to the front, held up so she can see how to work it. He flips open the mini screen for easier viewing. "So, you can use the viewfinder or the screen," he explains. "And this button starts and stops recording. It's all on auto focus, just point and shoot."

When he moves behind her, Rylie opts to lean against him rather than her arms. Her attention turns toward the camera, a sort of amused smile on her face as she takes in the lesson.

"Oh good, nothing complicated. I like it when the gadget does all the hard stuff." Focus, lighting, whatnot. "That mean you're ready to get out in front of the lens?" She doesn't take the camera just yet, but she tilts her head to look back at him, still amused.

Zan tilts his head a little, chin resting lightly on her shoulder when she leans back. "I could teach you the hard stuff," he offers, still looking at the camera. A beat later he looks at her, brows lifting upward slightly. "Guess so," he chuckles, setting the camera in her lap.

With his arms freed, he gives her a hug, and plants a kiss against her cheek. Then he stands, unfolding himself from the ground and looks toward the sky. "Going to go up first, then start circling around. Should be able to stay in view if I really do glow."

"You might just have to, if we keep this up," Rylie says with a crooked smile. She leans into the hug, and twists enough to cheek his cheek as well.

She stands up, too, taking the camera in hand and testing out the buttons a bit. "I'm pretty sure I'll be able to keep an eye on you, so long as you stay close enough." Looking up from the camera, she looks over at him, her smile softer, "Just be careful up there."

Turning to face her again, Zan grins and holds his hands up in a helpless gesture. "Always am," he replies as he starts to drift upward. His hands come up in front of his face as rises five then eight feet into the air. Though any glowing still goes unseen by him. He drops one hand, the other giving her a thumbs up before he starts flying. He makes a slow circle at first, moving steadily outward and away from the campsite, keeping a fair pace for the camera to catch.

"Please. I've seen what you do for fun." Which seems to be getting into trouble, mostly. But she teases, not seeming to mind that it's caught on camera as she starts recording. But it's pointing in his direction before long, catching the moment when he lights up. So to speak.

At least she does well following his movements with the camera, even with her attention split between watching the screen or watching him.

It's an easy pass at first, nowhere near Zan's top speed, and amused laughter follows for her tease. He stays relatively level as he travels away from the camp, roughly following the same track he's taken on other trips. When he's further away, still within range of being seen, he shoots forward, climbing closer to his max speed. Which in the dark might not be too wise, but he had said he wanted to test his limits. His form starts bobbing and weaving, dropping closer to the ground then rising up higher, twenty, thirty feet.

His speed picks up, and Rylie does her best to keep up, but can only really do so when he's further away. The darkness makes it difficult to see, yes, but even in the dark, he gets those nudges when he's too close, when something's coming in too fast. It helps, even if he doesn't ever quite know just what he's getting out of the way of.

Eventually Zan slows to something nearer to normal. For a vehicle on the highway. He continues weaving through the darkness, pushing himself to trust the tingling to know when he's too close to something. All in all, uneventful for some time. Good thing they'd planned to see how long his ability can hold out.

After some time, his path starts bringing him back toward the camp. As of yet, unchanged in his behavior. Then suddenly he twists around, nearly doubling back. However instead of returning completely, he starts climbing upward. Though unsure of the range of the camera, or of his own powers, he goes skyward.

"Oh boy," Rylie says as he starts going up, her tone a little worried, but there's no denying a thread of excitement there, too. Of course, he'll have to wait until later to hear it. That, and a number of far more worried words after her disappears from sight and stays that way for some time.

The camera keeps rolling, mostly for getting an accurate count on how long he was gone, but also because it gives her something to focus on other than just staring up and fretting.

For Zan, the climb goes on for some time without much eventfulness. Where the air should be thinner and colder, he doesn't even notice as the glow keeps him protected against such things. But eventually, there's a blip in his power and the rush of a level of frigid he's never felt before. His power kicks back in before he can even blink, but it's only the first of many warnings that he's gone too high.

That's a heart stopping second that causes him to stop completely. Once his power returns an instant after it cuts out, of course. Besides the lights of the city some many miles away, it's a sea of darkness below Zan when he looks down again. He can only guess at how high he's gone, that blast of sudden cold was alarming, almost as much as the sudden and temporary loss of his flight, enough that he starts back toward the ground.

Not all the way down, though. As he comes back into view, Rylie can see him still a ways off, zigging and zagging, circling in what might be search for the campsite.

The camera catches a heavy, relieved sigh when he comes back into view, but when Rylie notices he looks a little lost, it gets set on the back of her car as she digs around for a flashlight tucked under her seat. Nothing exciting on the tape until she picks it up again and refocuses on him.

He can catch the flick of light when he turns in the right direction, turning methodically on and off and back on again. Trying to get his attention. It doesn't glow as much as he does, but it stands out in the darkness of the desert.

After circling around a second time, Zan catches the flashing light. He hovers for a moment, yet some way above the ground and away from the car. A close up might catch him waving during his brief stop. He begins flying once more, keeping the camp oriented to one side of him. His circle roller coasters, moving up and down, barrel rolls that may or may not catch during night time footage.

It is with a close up that Rylie catches when he's noticed her and the light stops blinking. Apparently, she thinks he'll be able to tell where he's going without it. She laughs as he plays around up there, only zooming out again after she's gotten a bit of that recorded, too. Perhaps for blackmail later. Or teasing, at least.

He disappears again, though it must be behind a larger rock formation. Zan reappears above it a few seconds later. But beyond that it's again, relatively a smooth flight. Time moves on, and it looks like his control has evened out, even with all the stunts and close calls.

It's all pretty normal, if anything he's doing can be called normal. Until his power cuts out again. Just another short, sputtering interruption though it has him turning straight for the camp.

Rylie'd missed that bit before, being stuck on solid ground as she is, so when his power cuts out, there's a surprised noise from behind the camera. And being unable to do much else, she spends the time fretting. A gentle come on or two will be heard later, right now she doesn't seem to notice she's saying anything at all. she worries a little more each time the glow cuts out around him. And it does so with increasing frequency as he flies toward the camp.

That didn't happen earlier in the day. Must be reaching the end of his duration.

It might be best that Zan doesn't have the added anxiety of seeing the glow around him cut off. He's got enough just bracing and remembering to breathe at alternating points during his return flight. Another time he might claim that he's playing around, intentionally cutting off his power just to see if he can turn it on again midflight. But now, night time, he's trying to get back.

The blackouts become far more frequent and begin lasting longer. If there was any doubt before, he's found some kind of limit to his ability. He's still a few yards off from the camp when flight abandons him completely and leaves him to freefall the last few feet to the ground.

The camera is abandoned on the back of the car again, only vaguely pointed in his direction as he comes in for what promises to be a rough landing. Rylie won't get there in time to try anything like catching him, but she slides into the dust of the desert floor only moments after he hits ground.

"Oh god, Zan? Are you okay? Are you broken?" The worry comes out clear there, and while she might usually disguise it, she's not bothering just now. "Bleeding?" There is a first aid kit in the car, but that only goes so far.

The dust is just settling when Rylie finds him, having slid several feet himself before coming to a stop. Zan's gotten his elbows under his chest and is already trying to get his knees under as well. "I'm okay," he answers. There's a tightness to his words, though it's hard to say if it's related to pain or if he's trying not to laugh at himself. "Did you get it all?"

"Let me help," Rylie says as she moves to help get him to his feet. And likely, to help him get over to the campsite. "Oh, I got everything the camera could pick up. You disappeared on me for a while there," she says, her smile crooked, but soft, too.

"Might let me toss you on the back seat, it'll be more comfortable than the sleeping bags." Next time, she might have to get an air mattress for this sort of thing.

There's no protest for the help, though Zan winces as he straightens and gets to his feet. He doesn't look terribly bad, considering his semi-reenactment of his first landing, scraped up mostly. He drapes an arm around Rylie's shoulders anyway, carefully pulling her in for a hug rather than starting for the car right off.

"I think tossing might be a bit rough," he says with a chuckle. His hold loosens a little and he looks at her, a small smile forming. "I'm fine, really."

The hug seems to surprise Rylie at first, but she returns it— gently— after a moment. She echoes his chuckle before leaning back herself. "I will place you in the backseat, then. At least while we get something over these cuts the desert keeps giving you."

She kisses his cheek softly before tugging him along toward the camp.

Zan lets himself be tugged along, and as they cross the dusty, rocky ground he watches her still with that small smile. It's not until they reach the car that he looks away to climb into the back seat. He slouches, head finding the headrest while he gazes up at the sky. "Next time, I take you with," he says. "If you want."

Rylie actually opens the door this time, since making him hop over would just be cruel. She's digging a first aid kit out when he speaks up again, and she straightens up to look over at him. "You mean it?" She smiles brightly, climbing in to sit next to him before she opens the kit to get started. "Not as high as you went tonight, right? I'm all for adventure, but, you know."

"Yeah." Zan looks over at her. "Definitely not as high as I got tonight, but we'll go up." He won't mention right now that going as high as he had caused his power to fail. No need to cause her more worry. He holds his hands and arms out for cleaning and bandaging. "I want to share it with you, what it's like."

The cleaning is quick, at least, given that Rylie doesn't like lingering on the part that stings the most. She only looks up again at those last words, her smile soft as she looks over at him. And instead of grabbing the bandages right away, she leans in to kiss him. It's deep enough to prove that he said something right in all that.

Zan's attention is on her more than the cleaning. It doesn't stop him from flinching fully or twitching at a stinging part, but it keeps him mostly still. He smiles again when she looks his way, something small and gentle. He begins to say something more when she leans in, the kiss stilling that thought and anything else that might try to interrupt. One hand raises and lightly rests against the side of her neck as he returns the kiss, thumb brushing against her cheek.

Rylie's hand ends up pressed against his chest, like she were going to mimic his movement, but only got halfway there. When she pulls back, though, it moves to touch his where it rests against her neck. There's a pause there where she just looks at him, but her smile returns before long and she finally replies. "I think I'd like that," she says simply.

A slow breath escapes when she breaks away, and Zan's brow furrows slightly. Almost like he's worried. Again he nearly voices a question when she speaks first. His thumb brushes against her cheek again, a smile mostly easing away the small creases along his forehead. "Once I can fly again," he promises quietly.

Another kiss, gentler, is pressed to his cheek there before Rylie settles back again. "Anytime you're ready. It isn't like I'm going anywhere," she says with a crooked smile.

She grabs the bandages to actually finish what she started, being careful to not press too hard against those cuts and bruises. "You look like you've got something you want to say," she prompts, eyebrows lifted slightly.

"We'd go now if I thought I could," Zan says quietly. He sits patiently for the rest of the ministrations. This time he is watching her hands work as the apply bandages. Her question draws his attention up to her again and his head shakes a little. "No," he answers, "I don't know. Just wondering what's on your mind."

As if she needed to really concentrate, Rylie stays quiet until she's closing up the kit and tossing it into the front seat. She settles back into her side of the back, an arm hanging out of that side of the car. "I think it's sweet. That you care to share it with me. Most people I've kickstarted by accident aren't so… Well, I just like being a part of all this. I could just be a tutor," she says with a crooked smile, a little less jovial this time.

Zan flexes his fingers, looking over the bandaging on his arms while giving her time and space to think. But when she answers, he looks at her again, hands resting against his knees. "I'm not like most people," he offers quietly. "And it was an accident. I wouldn't hold you responsible." He pauses and picks at one of the freshly placed bandages, peeling at a corner before going on. "Even if you hadn't helped, I think I'd still want you being part of it. You couldn't just be a tutor."

"No, you're not," Rylie says with a warmer smile. "You'd be surprised how many people would rather place blame. Or would want me around for the boost. Or whatever." She watches him during that pause, turning a bit to put her back against the corner where the edge of the seat meets the door. Her brow furrows a little, puzzled as he goes on.

"Why not?" The question is sort of blurted out without a lot of thought behind it and once it's out, she glances away for a moment. "I just mean, you know…"

"Because," Zan begins quietly, looking at her. There's no surprise to her sudden question, just that self same nervousness creeping back, the sort that had presented itself when he'd asked her out. "Because I can't see you that way," he finishes. "Because you're more than that. To me. And I don't care what your shrink says, or what my dad might think. I wanted to ask you before…"

The hint of nerves brings a smile back to Rylie's face and she reaches over to nudge him a little. "You don't have to be nervous. I said yes, I'm not planning to take it back, you know." There's a quiet chuckle at the list of things she'd brought up herself, and she looks over his way. "I wanted you to ask me. I mean, I think we'd be great friends, too, I just— wanted you to ask me. It isn't the sensible thing at all, but then, I never claimed to be, so I guess it's okay."

The nudging earns a small smile, a touch sheepish. Zan reaches across the seat to take her hand while she speaks assurances. And its her admissions that have his smile growing a little. "There's nothing insensible about it, either," he says, lightly tugging her hand to pull her closer. "I'm going to disprove your shrink's theories."

Rylie threads her fingers with his, her head leaning back against the seat as she grins at his reply. "Oh, she'll love that," she says with a laugh as she slides back over toward him. Lifting his arm, she scoots right next to him and drops his arm over her shoulders. "I wouldn't mind it myself."

Zan turns slightly, resting his back more against the side of the car. He gently pulls her along as he reclines, to settling against his chest while his arms enfold around her. He rests his chin against the top of her head for a second or two, then ducks it lower to set a kiss to her cheek instead.

Settling against him easily, Rylie closes her eyes and smiles softly. Her fingers curl around his shirt just a little, rather than putting her arms around him as well. Her eyes only open at the kiss and she looks up at him. "You're extremely gentlemanly for a college boy, you know. I believe it now, about not being in a frat," she says with a crooked smile.

"Not my kind of thing," Zan says with a quiet chuckle. He smiles at her, then tilts his head back to look up at the sky. "I'm rebellious enough without adding to it." It's self deprecating and he knows it, grinning slightly. His arms tighten briefly around her, hugging, then loosen again. "You deserve the best."

"You are troublesome, that's true. When you can tell people our first date was a kidnapping," Rylie lets out a whistle there, playful. It isn't strictly true, but it's a lot more humorous that way. She shakes her head a bit at those last words, her smile a little more gentle. "Oh, I don't know about all that. But I'll take it while it's here," she says as her hand moves to touch his cheek.

Zan chuckles again and looks at her. "I did say I had to take the chance and ask you out when it presented itself," he murmurs. He tilts his head to press his cheek against her hand, then leans forward a little more to leave a lingering kiss upon her lips.

Rylie returns the kiss and shifts slowly to slide her arms around his neck instead. She draws the embrace out even longer, but when it breaks, she leans back to look at him. "This is a pretty decent start, on proving them wrong," she says with a smirk, but doesn't give him a chance to answer, because that kissing thing needs a little more attention. For a while.

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