“Wendecker was an idiot,” Rodney says bitingly, although his hands are gentle as they trace out the tattoos on John’s back—wings on shoulders, defunct binding spell down the spine. “A glorified parachute maker.”
“He was the first person to allow entirely non-mechanical flight,”John points out, resolutely staring out through the open door and across the balcony to the sky. He doesn’t flinch when Rodney’s fingers brush skin still raw from being stripped of magic. “And there’s nothing wrong with him being a parachute maker—his spell’s saved the lives of a lot of pilots, including mine.”
“Yes, well, people tend to do stupid stuff if they think they’ve got a safety-net.” Rodney sighs, suddenly sounding exhausted. “You can put your shirt back on now.”
“It’s not like I was using them to jump off of balconies, or go rock-climbing without any safety gear,” John informs him, voice muffled by the t-shirt he’s pulling over his head. “And I’m certainly not going to now. I’m not stupid.”
“I didn’t say you were,” Rodney says irritably, but adds, head turned away, “Though you could, if you wanted.”
“Could do what? Go rock-climbing?” John rolls his shoulders a couple of times, grateful that his back isn’t stiff as a board anymore. He hadn’t expected the removal of a spell to be more uncomfortable than having it applied in the first place.
“No, go jumping off a balcony. The wing spells are still intact, and I know you’ve always wanted to, so—” Rodney shrugs, still not looking at John. “Just don’t let Elizabeth find out I said so.”
“Really?” John asks, because Rodney’s right—it’s something he’s wanted to do for *years* and never had the nerve to try.
“No, I just said that to make you feel better. Yes, really!”
“Cool.” And it’s five strides to the door and two more to the railing before there’s an explosion of feathers and nothing but blue ocean and wind beneath him. Time stops for a while.
When he remembers to look back, Rodney’s watching from the balcony, minuscule against the expanse of city and sky.