“Well, here goes,” John said, a slightly manic gleam to his eyes that Rodney recognized a moment after it was too late, and suddenly John was leaping off the cliff, hanging for a moment in midair—
“No!” Rodney shouted, hands grabbing futilely after emptiness, mind racing in recrimination and panic. Surely John hadn’t seemed suicidal; could he somehow be even more of an insane daredevil than Rodney’s John had been; perhaps the shallow stream at the bottom of the cliff would—but no, Rodney knew it couldn’t. Physics simply didn’t allow it.
...Just as physics didn’t allow the scene right in front of Rodney’s eyes: John, somehow, had wings. Proper ones. Huge ones.
“Oh my god,” Rodney (the long-decided atheist) said, and sat down. Hard. There wasn’t anything for him to sit on, aside from the cliff-top rock, so it probably would’ve hurt if he’d been paying attention. “You—are you—how? What?”
John didn’t flap his wings, just rode the air currents for a brief eternity—one minute, maybe two—the sunlight catching at the iridescent feathers so that the wings themselves seemed to flicker between deep shadow and non-existence. “You’re even worse at listening than the Rodney back home,” he said, but he sounded amused rather than exasperated. “Magic, of course. As I’ve told you multiple times.”
“I thought you were being metaphorical,” Rodney said, feeling still a bit wide-eyed with shock. “Or, well, insane,” honesty compelled him to admit a moment later. “Could you please come down now? You’ve made your point.”
“Didn’t know I had one,” John called back, carried away briefly by the wind, but a moment later he was gliding in for a landing beside Rodney, hesitating for a second just before his feet touched the ground. The wings shivered away into nothingness, leaving only a small curl of feathers falling away, and the stylized ink-shadows covering the lean lines of John’s back. “Wish that could’ve lasted longer,” he said, almost wistful. “Took six weeks of gardening to power that, and it feels like I burned off enough of my existing reserves that it’ll take even longer next time.”
“Assuming there is one,” Rodney couldn’t help but point out, still reeling a bit from the moment when John—the lunatic—flung himself off an eighty-foot cliff.
“Yeah, point,” John said, the tension creeping back into his stance. “Rescue could happen tomorrow, for all we know.”
Rodney didn’t like to think of it that way, but after this little incident it was hard to keep denying how that’s what it would be from John’s perspective. (Magic, geeze.) “I need a drink,” he said instead. “No, actually—you owe me an entire case of beer for this whole thing, and I don’t care that you have no way of paying.”