* * * * * *
The sunlight shone gold through the window. It warmed the large bed and signaled that morning had finally come.
Sparrow opened her eyes. The first thing she felt was a dull ache in her wings and legs. Then, she heard birds chirping outside, and felt the quiet sunlight warm her tired body. She drew in a sudden breath and almost started crying.
I’m alive, she thought. Oh God! I’m alive!
God! Oh God! Thank you... I am alive. But how?
It seemed to her that living was something she had never done until this moment. She had taken it for granted, but here she was waking up again. A melodic breathing brought her out of her thoughts, and she lifted her head slowly.
There, at her feet, was Rhythm, asleep. He was sitting on a stool with his head and arms resting against the bed.
Her heart overflowed.
Rhythm. Of course, Rhythm. Always, always Rhythm…
And whether it was the sunlight, the stillness, the joy of being alive, or everything and more, Sparrow didn’t know… all she knew was it was time.
It was time to let him know. It was time to love him. She had run out of reasons to be afraid.
Even so, she hesitated to wake him. He looked so beautiful with his hair and beard rumpled, his eyebrows furrowed as if in concentration, and his full lips slightly open in sleep. The beauty of the moment made her not want to rouse him. She wanted to feel this quiet joy of simply living and watching, just for a little while longer. The dust danced in the sunlight. Rhythm breathed through his mouth with steady, continuous breath. It seemed, to Sparrow, to be the most lovely thing to witness.
She called his name in a raspy, voice.
His eyes opened like a magic word had summoned him. He saw that she was awake and he was immediately stirred to motion.
“Sparrow, oh God, Sparrow!” he rushed to her side and took her hands. “Are you okay?!”
Looking at him as if for the first time, she smiled and nodded her head.
“How are you feeling?” he asked sincerely, “What can I do?”
“It’s cold,” she said slowly, cautiously. “Come in with me.”
His ears turned pink, as she expected them to, but he did as she asked without a word. He slid in on the left side of the bed. His body was so warm that she could feel the temperature increase, even though he kept himself at a modest distance on the bed. She looked into his cinnamon eyes, now level with her own on the pillow. Then carefully, she moved her body flush against his. He raised his hands, unsure of what was happening or what to do.
“Sparrow?” he said in an almost pained voice.
She looked up at him. His eyes were dark with worry… and something else... longing or desire. It gave her confidence. She buried her head into his chest, as a bird would in a nest. It felt like the most natural place for her to be, as if his chest were her home. He smelled like wood and rain.
Rhythm lowered his hands. Gently, he placed them on her silken wings. She let out a small groan, as his touch caused her to wince in pain and yet filled her with happiness.
“Rhythm,” she said, her eyes filling with tears. “I’m so, so sorry… I thought I was going to die… and you… you have waited for so long, and I knew but I… I was afraid and… oh God! I’m alive right now because of you… again! You always do this! You always… you always…” She silently cried, wordless, not knowing how to continue.
He said nothing, but rested his chin on her head and closed his eyes, listening and holding her. He stroked her auburn hair. It was longer now than when they first met. His hands lingered on every strand until she had calmed herself and let out a sigh. Her crying stopped.
“I…” she said after a while. “I want you.”
Rhythm’s eyes slowly opened.
“Rhythm, darling, I want you… please…” she said again, unsure he had heard her.
Slowly, as if in a dream, he took her face in his rough, gentle hands, and pulled away to look at her. Sparrow’s face was red and her eyes glistened. He shook his head.
“Sparrow,” he said gently. “What are you saying?”
“I want you.” She said, pleading. “I love you.” Those last three words said in a rushed whisper. Grabbing his hands with her own, she closed her eyes. Turning her head, she kissed his palm. Repeating the words into his hand like a chant, she continued saying, “I want you. I love you. I want you so badly.”
Rhythm‘s face changed from one of disbelief, to one of overwhelmed joy.
“You—” He let out the beginning of a laugh. “You do?”
“Yes,” she said simply.
“Are you... are you sure?”
“Yes,” she said with smile playing on her lips.
Overcome, he let out a loud, genuine laugh and quickly pulled her to himself, until her face was buried into the crook of his neck. She grabbed the collar of his shirt and laughed with him.
“I’ve loved you since I first laid eyes on you,” he said, the crack in his voice betraying his emotions. “I thought it would be impossible but… I’ve wanted you to be mine and… and I thought… ah, but, Sparrow, you’re hurt…!”
“I don’t care,” she replied, nuzzling against his neck, placing soft kisses wherever her lips could touch. He sighed with happiness.
Then, softer than any whisper, he breathed into her ear the words, “Are you sure, my love?”
Sparrow shivered. She tightened her grip on his shirt.
“Yes,” she whispered back. “Yes, please.”
Without another word, he laid her gently back down on the bed. Sitting up, he silently took off his shirt. His chest was broad and hairy, and Sparrow suddenly realized that it was pleasing to look at. He tentatively started unbuttoning her shirt, and although her face burned red, she lay deathly still.
Tenderly, he then removed her bra and underclothes. She lay there exposed; totally naked in front of the man she loved. The silence and tension seemed more glorious and holy than the golden light from the sun. Rhythm looked at her for a long, lingering moment, his eyes wide with awe and his breath ragged.
Sparrow suddenly felt very awkward and self-conscious. She covered her face and her breast with her wings, and crossed her legs.
“Oh, you’re beautiful,” he said at last. His voice was hushed, it almost sounded like he was talking to himself. “You’re an angel...”
Her wings withdrew from their position, and she peeked through her feathers. Rhythm laughed and bent down to kiss her thigh. It sent a mysterious shiver of delight through her. She giggled nervously and hugged herself.
Gently, Rhythm helped her over onto her side.
“What are you doing?” she said in a nervous shriek, which embarrassed her.
Though he smiled at her shyness, he said nothing but lay down beside her, until he was spooning her naked body. She felt his warm, hairy chest, his rough jeans, and bulge growing against her sensitive, bare back and wings. It was almost too much to take in.
She didn’t know what to expect, really. She shivered from uncertainty and anticipation. Rhythm wrapped one arm about her waist, and pressed his nose against her hair; breathing in her, leisurely, taking his time with each movement.
His strong, ever-warm hands rubbed her stomach, sending her spasms of butterflies. He caressed her as if he only wanted her pleasure, and not his own. Slowly, as if making sure he was allowed, those hands reached her breasts. He touched and massaged them with an unashamed delight. She felt his hot breath as he touched them; his fingers warm and trembling. He moaned with desire.
And then… oh then!
His hands went down. Down, down… until they reached a warm, wet place. Sparrow drew in a sharp breath, her wings fluttered against his chest.
“Oh,” she breathed. She didn’t know that it was like this. How could she?
Slow, rough, strong circles around that secret place.
That secret place to everyone except for now.
Except for him.
“Ohhh…” she moaned.
Her back arched, until her head was pressed under his chin. With his other arm, he held her against himself. His hands and arms were all strength and masculinity. She could feel his heart beating harder than her fluttering wings.
She was on waves of pleasure. Yet, every time she thought she was about to reach a shore, she seemed to drift further away. Yet the waves kept coming. Over and over. Crashing over her. It was the most lovely, wonderful torture.
“Ohh, Rhythm,” she said in a whisper. “I can’t – I want – oh, I don’t know what to do…!”
He pressed her back down against the bed, not as gently this time. She whimpered as his fingers removed themselves and his lips came crashing into hers in a passionate kiss. He explored her mouth with his tongue, and sucked her bottom lip, as if she was the most delicious food.
She heard in the distance, the sound of clothing falling to the ground. Then Rhythm, naked as she, pressed his body cautiously on hers – into hers; her name on his lips.
It hurt her very much.
He felt too large to be accepted by her body, but somehow she made no cry - she only gulped the air. She wanted this. She wanted him in her more than anything. She could bear the pain. Once he was totally in her, it felt as if her whole body was being ripped apart.
Then suddenly, the waves of pleasure came back. They mixed with the pain and became something she almost couldn’t understand. It was too wonderful, beautiful, and frightening.
It was too much.
She opened her eyes, and tears streamed unwillingly.
Rhythm was looking down at her, unblinking.
His face and ears pink.
He reached out one hand to her face.
He traced her lips with his thumb, and she licked him and tasted salt and smelled sex.
Little beads of sweat were on his forehead. He was shivering as he looked at her. His every movement was felt by her. His eyes were dark with a thousand desires. Sparrow smiled to herself as she realized that she was the only one who could fulfill those wishes. It gave her the courage and stamina to go on.
He smiled back and kissed her tenderly.
Finally, he closed his eyes and pushed down.
In, out, in, out… rhythmical sequencing… like music…
Breathe in, breath out…
Crashing… storms and lights…
Gasps for air… clinging…
“Ah!” she cried, her wings flapping as if to fly.
Her fingertips clawing his back like a wild animal.
How long they were in and out of one another, they couldn’t tell. Time didn’t exist for them. To Sparrow, it felt like hours.
And she knew him. She knew him well.
They had grown together, both suddenly realized.
They had met as children a thousand times. They had grown old a thousand times.
Rhythm felt full and Sparrow felt beautiful. They were the morning and evening stars. They were the push and pull of tides.
He loved her.
She loved him.
They were crossing an ocean together.
Finally, Sparrow reached the shore, and she cried out uncontrollably. Her eyes fluttered open, and she saw and felt him become rigid. He let out an animal-like growl. His face looked like someone who had reached enlightenment.
He was still for a few seconds, and then, he lay back on top of her – in her, around her, and clung to her – letting out a great expulsion of air, and then breathing quickly. He opened his eyes and pressed his face into hers.
“Sparrow,” he said in between breaths. “Ohh…. my Sparrow…”
She kissed his face again and again.
Then, reluctantly, he removed himself from her.
Sparrow felt the pain leave, but she felt emptier for it. They lay there, naked, side by side, breathing deeply.
Looking down, Sparrow saw blood. She was about to cry out, but Rhythm put his hand in hers.
“It’s okay,” he said, gently. “This is normal for the first time.”
“Oh,” she replied, feeling embarrassed that he was more knowledgeable about this than her.
He stood up, dizzily, and grabbed a towel he had draped on his chair. She cleaned herself and modestly put her underwear back on. Rhythm, however, remained naked. He lay back down on the bed and simply looked at her. He looked more at peace than she had ever seen him before.
Sparrow felt all of the aches in her wings and legs return, with new pains accompanying them – but these new aches made her aware of a strange transformation happening to her. She could tell. She was a different woman now, somehow.
“Did…” Rhythm asked, hesitantly. “Did it hurt?”
“Yes,” she said shyly. “But it also felt... it felt wonderful...”
“Really?” he asked.
“Yes,” she replied, blushing. “Yes… it did.”
He smiled a beautiful, genuine smile.
“Sparrow,” he said. His hand took hers. He looked as if he had so much more to say, but didn't know how to say it.
And Sparrow knew was he loved her, and she loved him.
She laughed at his lack of words, and he laughed at himself. Snuggling back into his arms, she once again felt the warmth of his naked chest and body.
It felt like coming home.
“Go back to sleep,” he said after a while. “I’ll be here.”
“I know you will be,” she said, and she drifted into a dreamless, peaceful sleep.