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Pure Clouds

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"Pretty," Cocona whispered. A thin smile lit her features, and her eyes sparkled.

"I know, right?!"

They lay on their backs, on the soft grass, staring at the vast blue expanse of sky overhead. A small cluster of clouds drifted slowly into view.

"Oh, even more pretty!" Papika said.

"Yeah," Cocona said. Her smile widened just a bit, and she raised a hand up to the sky.

"I wonder what they feel like?"

Cocona glanced at Papika, who grinned at her. She raised her hand up beside Cocona's, brushing it. "Clouds!"

"Feel like?" Cocona pursed her lips. "I wonder."

"I bet they feel like ... cotton candy!"

"Cotton candy?" Cocona giggled. "So, sticky spun sugar?"

"Uh huh! And super sweet! Actually, I wonder what they taste like."

"What clouds taste like? I don't know if they really taste like anything at all."

Papika sat up abruptly. "Let's go up and find out!"

"Huh?! Papika, we're not in Pure Illusion."

"So?`That doesn't matter at all."

"It kinda does though. Clouds are really, really high up."

Papika shot up to her feet, turned, and trotted off.

"Wait, Papika?!"

"We'll find out!"

Cocona sat up, watching Papika run off. She shook her head. "There she goes. She just does whatever she feels like, even now."

Cocona sighed, and glanced back up to the sky. "What they feel like," she whispered.

Cocona didn't have to wait long.

"Cocona! We can go up and see what the clouds feel and taste like!"

She turned to see Papika, in her sleek black suit and on her hoverboard, flying over to where she sat, inches from the ground.

"Are you sure that's safe though? Like I said, clouds are really high up."

The board came to a halt right beside Cocona. Papika, grinning widely, remained on the board, which floated in place. "Uh huh! And we've flown really, really high up before! All the time even."

"Sure, in Pure Illusion."

"It'll be fine! If there's a problem we'll just transform!"

"I don't think it works quite like that."

"Cocona! Come on!" Papika stretched a hand out toward her.

She looked at the hand, just for a moment. "Well. I mean, I guess it's okay."

"Uh huh! I won't let you fall after all!"

Cocona nodded once, stood up, and took Papika's hand. The girl giggled, and pulled her up onto the board.

"Hang on tight!"

Cocona wrapped her arms around Papika's waist, clinging very tightly to her. She felt just a trace of heat rise to her cheeks.

Papika giggled, and wriggled backwards against her. Cocona's cheeks turned a brighter red.

"Hey?!"

"What? Just making sure you're all tight and cozy back there!"

"Yeah, I am. I mean, just go or we'll never get up there!"

Papika giggled again. "Okay, hang on!"

The board started to move, less abruptly than Cocona expected. It rose in a slow, shallow arc, making a series of gradual, twisting turns up into the sky.

Cocona glanced behind her. She mused that if the hoverboard were trailing smoke, it'd trace a wide, spirally inverted pyramid.

"You okay back there?"

Cocona grinned, and hugged Papika just a bit tighter. "Just fine."

"Okay! Then we'll go faster!"

"Wait, Papika!"

Papika giggled. "Just kidding."

Cocona couldn't help but laugh.

They rose and rose up into the deep blue sky. The cloud that Papika evidently decided to touch grew larger and closer. And larger. And larger!

"It's so ... big!"

Cocona nodded. "Yeah. I guess they're so high up they don't look quite so big."

"Yeah."

They pulled up alongside the cloud. Alongside being a very relative term, as the cloud still towered above them for what looked like kilometers.

"Ready?"

"I guess."

They drifted closer, close enough to see that what looked like a solid, fluffy form from the ground, was in fact a roiling mass that looked like white smoke.

"It looks like fog," Papika said.

"Well, yeah. Fog's basically a cloud that's close to the earth."

"Aw!" Papika sounded disappointed. "I know what fog feels like!"

"Well," Cocona said, consolingly, "that's fog though. I mean, this is a cloud. It's different."

"Just because it's so high up?"

"Probably."

"Okay!"

They moved even closer. "Ready?"

"Uh huh."

Papika stretched her hand out toward the cloud. Cocona did the same, though she gripped Papika's waist all the harder with her other arm.

Papika grinned. "Okay, just a bit closer ... Aw! It really is just like fog!"

"Just colder."

"Yeah."

"I mean, much much colder. Really, freezing! We ought to be freezing now too."

"Really?"

"Yeah."

"Are you cold?"

"No. are you?"

"Nope! You're keeping me warm!"

Warmth spread across Cocona's face. Though she couldn't deny it. She felt warm and safe, clinging to Papika. With a quiet sigh, she wrapped both arms tightly around Papika again, giving her a tight hug.

"You wanna go back down now, Cocona?"

"Sure."

Papika shifted her stance just slightly, angling the nose of her board down. It drifted down, away from the cloud.

Just like before, Papika chose a slow, spiraling path back toward the ground.

Cocona sighed. "Thank you."

"Huh? For what?"

"For taking me up to touch a cloud."

Papika grinned, and glanced back at Cocona over her shoulder. "It was fun!"

"It was."

As they descended toward the grassy field they had started from, they saw a figure. As they got closer, they gradually made out that it was a girl. Closer, and they recognized her.

"Yayaka!" Papika shouted, as the hoverboard glided to a stop.

Yayaka shook her head. "Just what were you two doing?"

"Touching a cloud!"

"Huh?!"

Cocona hopped off the hoverboard, with a thin smile. "She wanted to see what a cloud felt like."

"And tasted like!" Papika said, hopping off the board, flipping to its side with her foot and tucking it under her arm. "Aw wait! We forgot to taste it!"

"Tasting a cloud?" Yayaka asked. "I don't think that'd be a good idea."

"Why not? It'd taste like ... a snow cone!"

Cocona and Yayaka both shared a look. "Maybe," Cocona said slowly.

"But," Yayaka said, "it would be terrible. Like, a snow cone made with nasty, dirty water."

"Ew," Papika said, making a face.

"Exactly," Yayaka nodded.

"Okay! Well, let's go back up!"

"Huh?"

"I wanna go up with you too, Yayaka! So you can feel a cloud too!"

"That ... isn't really necessary."

Cocona shrugged, and grinned. "It would be fun though."

"I guess. Can your board thing even hold three people?"

"Sure!"

Yayaka chuckled. "Well, maybe next time."

"Okay! Next time for sure, we'll all go up to the clouds!"

Cocona and Yayaka shared a glance. Thin smiles. Shrugs, and chuckles.

"Okay, Papika," Yayaka said. "Next time for sure."