“Ta-er al-Asfer, the name becomes you.” The words rolled off Nyssa’s tongue in reverence as she caught a gleam in the blonde’s eyes, almost black in the break of dawn. “Why?”
“I already told you - I had a canary for a pet when I was ten.” Sara sighed, leaning her back against the thick trunk of cypress. Her eyes readjusted to the growing life beyond the horizon. The morning dew on the grass tickled her bare feet and the smell of wet earth, burning coals and incense filled her nose. “I’m fond of canaries, that’s all.”
Nyssa pulled her loose linen pants up past her knees and sat on a mat of grass nearby, close enough for her hand to rest on top of Sara’s thigh and far enough to see her dark eyes become blue at the arrival of colors. “I know, but why? ”
“I don’t have any other reason than my name being a reminder of what I used to have.”
“Was it just because of the gift your father gave you or did you want to be free as well?”
The blonde shrugged. The first echo of the gong from the temple reached their ears. On weekdays Nyssa and Sara would already be warming up for the day’s training session but today was a Saturday and after their early morning prayers everyone was entitled to a day of leisure.
“Wouldn’t it be convenient if we have wings?” Sara asked after a while. “We could fly up here every day, watch the sunrise and come back down as fast without missing breakfast.”
“Wings…” Nyssa considered the thought, allowing the change of subject. “I would have mine in black and red, perhaps, as befits my identity. Heir to the demon. The darkness of my shadow alone will instill fear.”
Sara rolled her eyes. “Mine would be white with tips of gold and yellow.”
“Flying will become a skill to be taught and learned.”
“You can’t say you’re the better flier. I am Ta-er al-Asfer, after all. The bird that is yellow. I belong to the sky.”
“Imagine your surprise when you find out about my hidden talents.”
“I’m well acquainted with all your talents, Nyssa.”
“Is that a challenge I hear?”
The blonde pursed her lips and a smile broke through. The hand on her thigh made its way around her waist, and suddenly it wasn’t the gray that Sara saw but Nyssa’s face, radiant even in the dark, breathing the same hot air as hers. Then they were on each other’s lips, tasting, remembering, and reassuring each other’s affections. In Sara’s eyes Nyssa saw herself, happy and contented, before the almost unnoticeable speck of loneliness she was trying so hard to hide.
When the laughter and teasing subsided, Nyssa asked, “You miss him, don’t you? Your father.”
Sara nodded a little, almost ashamed. It was as if she was declaring her dissatisfaction with the family the League of Assassins provided her to one of the organization’s pillars, to Nyssa, daughter of Ra’s al Ghul the Demon Head, not the Nyssa who she came to watch the sunrise with. “Someone has a lot of questions today.” Sara sighed. “And it’s only morning.”
“Because someone refuses to answer most of them.” Nyssa was not the type to press on a subject further if she can see that it was making the blonde uncomfortable. “You know what my father said about flying?”
The question hung in the mists of their breathing, momentarily forgotten as tall sharp silhouettes appeared on the horizon. The first rays of the sun brought life to the dull gray of the night. The ice-capped mountains of Nanda Parbat contrasted white with their earthly brown bases; the thick lush of forest surrounding them brimmed with green, the peaks of the humble temples in white and gold. The sun has come, the warmth that spread through the mountains murmured in silence. The second echo of the gong resounded against the mountain walls.
Nyssa held her hand out in front of her, dark against the sunrise. “Birds can fly because they have wings.” She stretched her fingers as if to grasp the haze of yellow and orange and everything in between. “But we are not born with wings so we look for other ways to fly.”
Sara smiled quietly as she basked in the warmth of the morning sun. Pain and tension left her muscles - from yesterday’s training and last night with Nyssa. “I think I already got that covered.”
"You didn't let me die. You gave me a new life. You took care of me even though I was a nobody. I saw hope, Nyssa. You taught me not to give up." The blonde held her own hand out, lacing their fingers together before bringing them back down as one. “I learned to fly because of you.”
They sat in silence, holding hands, the cadence of their breathing through the mist and the third ringing of the giant gong in the temple their own music, the morning dew on the grass by their feet and the faint smell of incense and the wilderness their home. To see the sun in its full shape was a rare thing on their side of reality. It was only a burst of light, enough to color the world and brush over their skin with warmth. It had always been so distant in Nanda Parbat, yet Nyssa wouldn’t trade the sunrises she spent with Sara for anything else in the world.
It always amazed her, the life that the sun gives the little bird. Sara’s eyes were blue and shining again, the color of the sky, the realm of the winged and free. There is much to see in those eyes and much more to lose. The freckles that sprinkled her face were the gifts of the heavens, as well as the precious dimple on her chin and her full lips…
“The sunrise — beautiful as always.” When Sara turned to her left, the older woman was facing her, her lips curved to that particular smile reserved for her beloved.
By the look in Nyssa’s face it was as if the sun was rising in front of her, and not beyond the horizon. “As always.”