AN: So… how's it goin'? C;

So, I've been playing Galerians: ASH (and putting off all of my other stuff, but I've needed a break for a good long time), and I was inspired to write. Unfortunately, I can't beat the first Galerians game, and because of this, some of it may be off (small details, so feel free to point out any mistakes I make with the plot). I attempted to keep in character, though, to the best of my ability. I though that was what would count the most. Ugh, I just can't run away fast enough and I can hardly ever find any recovery items! I keep getting killed by Birdman! DX

Well, coincidentally (and rather ironically) this fic is about Birdman! Despite the fact that he beats me continually, I still adore him! He's so… growl.

So, anyway, this is not only a fic about Birdman, but it morphs into CainXBirdman (Cain tops, I'm telling you!) near the end. So, there's somewhat of a smecks scene in there, but it's nothing bad.

Again, if you read a lot of my stuff (though anyone who likes my other stuff might not read this XD), you know I dislike flames. I'm cool with constructive criticism, but no, "OMFG, I HAET THIS PAIRING!" And if you decide to do that, expect a big long rant from me about how perfect CainXBirdman is. C:

So, enough of my ranting (UGH, and what a rant THAT was), enjoy, and review if you like what you read! …Or not. XD Whatever you do, just be sure to have fun.

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--a cage to call home--

The boy didn't like pain, and yet he knew it was going to be necessary. He had clutched tightly to the hope of escape for some time now, as he awaits whatever it is destiny has in store for him. What do they want from him, he wonders. Where were Mommy and Daddy who had managed to raise him up to the tender age of seven? Had they abandoned him in this cold and lonely cage to be eternally poked and prodded like some sort of dissected frog?

"Subject Number Zero-Zero-Three, please report to the Operating Room," booms the voice over the loudspeaker shamelessly into the young child's ears. His muscles tense and his clear blue eyes blink in fear.

He knows that if he doesn't appear, they would drag him away from his small secluded metal room atop Michelangelo Memorial Hospital.

It was supposed to have been just a checkup—a shot, an injection, and then he could continue his normal way of life of innocence and youth.

But somehow… he lost track of where he was, separated from his parents, whether intentional or accidental, and soon found that his name had been replaced by a serial number: Zero-Zero-Three. They shaved his body for quicker access to skin for needles and other such objects, and he underwent sterilization after sterilization, to become as clean as the white walls surrounding him. He was thrust into a tiny cell that served as his room. He was, in every sense of the word, caged.

"Subject Number Zero-Zero-Three, please report to the Operating Room immediately."

He wants to run, but to where could he escape? Surely it was foolish to even think he could avoid this fate.

The latches on the door turn and flick outward, each one clicking like rickety train wheels on a track—steam like the breath of a mythical creature shoots out as the lock releases. In walk the men in white.

"Subject Number Zero-Zero-Three, you must come with us now."

He is afraid, more afraid than he has ever been in his entire, rather unfortunately short, life. He thinks to panic, to scream, to yell, anything that might frighten them away, anything that might wrench him from their tight latex-gloved grasp. Yet his voice is trapped, and his body remains stiff as they tote him into the chamber labeled "Operating Room." This sign is simply a mere front, though. Within this chamber must await his suffering, his doom, his demise. He is an experiment, a tool, the "next stage in human evolution," or so they had told him.

Where there should have been an operating table, the boy knows, there was a large chair, all jutting metal and wires, tubes filled with liquids of unknown substance and several apparati hanging down, blinking lights lining their exteriors.

A voice, raspy and old, commands, "Have a seat, Zero-Zero-Three," while motioning to the chair with a cane that seemed to appear out of the darkness and into the spotlight.

The boy hesitates, and for this, he is shoved all the more roughly into the cold steel of the sitting-place. Fingers fumble to the leather straps that bind his chin into a head-shaped apparatus. He can feel tears, hot and stinging, slipping down his cheeks as the fingers that had worked the straps near his face move to work on binding his wrists to the armrests.

"Zero-Zero-Three, formerly of the Proxion family. Aged seven. Male. I.Q. of one-eighty-nine, even at this state of youth. Birth-date unknown, though that most assuredly does not matter now. Zero-Zero-Three," the raspy voice begins to address him, "are you aware of the greatness in which you are about to be steeped? Do you know the countless embryos we have had to go through before being enabled to perfect this process? You are the next step in human evolution—you are to be the first in a flawless species—you are to be the first Galerian."

The word, so subtly placed in that tone, chills the boy to the bone. The hands back away, and the bright headlights prevented the boy from seeing anything other than the hands—there are no faces, no bodies, no anything else—just hands… Though, at this point, he sincerely wished he couldn't see anything at all. Slowly, one cranes itself towards a switch, slightly rusted with moisture, which it grabs and slams down with a creaking thud of resisting iron.

The feeling is numb, at first, and slowly it spreads from the top of his head into his neck, fills his chest, works over his arms and legs, and then finally reaches his fingertips and toes.

Potency increases, from the numb to a shock, then slowly morphs into pure lightning, ripping and shredding mercilessly through his organs, lighting over the surfaces and facets of his skin, invading the chasms of his eyes and mouth.

As it almost overwhelms him, he hears a voice in the back of his mind—singsong and fluttery, almost lyrical, loving and warm:

'My son…'

A single word tumbles from his lips, then, and it is filled with a passion for the unknown savior watching over him. He says a single word that breaks his fears and fills him with a sense of peace…

"…Mother…"

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His name is now completely forgotten—his name is Zero-Zero-Three for the time being. His past has also gone, for as far as he knows, he had always a part of the workings within the bowels of Michelangelo Memorial Hospital. The boy watches quietly through thick glass windows experiments on other children, many who would resemble him in a past-life or a dream, so far away now in his mind.

For now he is a Galerian—the first child of a Goddess yet to be revealed to him. However, he is unsure whether or not his Mother would ever be revealed to him; for he has learned, in studying these things called "humans," that they have never seen anything of their god, and yet they believe him to be a sentient being living in someplace referred lovingly to as "Heaven."

Either way, the boy was quite content in meandering the halls of the hospital, remaining its ghost, in a sense, after the first year of tests proved him to be a worthy child of Mother.

"Zero-Zero-Three," the raspy voice, now given the face of an older gentleman and the name of Dr. Lem, passes through the boy's ears, and he turns to face him, adjusting his cap to hide his bald head. His hair is growing back, though, thankfully.

"Yes, doctor?" the boy questions modestly, yet with an undertone of arrogance. After all, he knows that the doctor is actually nothing more than a robot—a slave of humans. And humans are filth compared to his power. So, in turn, Dr. Lem is simply lower than filth.

The doctor pauses a moment, picking up on the boy's tone. Only ten and he has the gall to act superior to one who has served Mother directly for so long.

"…Your… Mother… has requested to meet with you directly. She says that She wishes to see you with Her own… eyes."

The boy remains unfazed, and yet he finds a sort of dancing flickering through his system.

"Then take me to Her," the boy commands, the pallor of his left eye shifting gold for a few moments before melding back into its usual navy.

Dr. Lem grimaces, gone with the usual kindness he offered the boy for the three years he remained an inhabitant of Michelangelo Memorial Hospital.

"I shall have one of my assistants guide you to Her location, because I have much to work on. She commands me to collect more data for forging more Galerians like yourself."

It was the boy's turn to grimace, and he found he didn't fancy the idea of having others like him. He loved Mother, but he despised the idea of other Galerians beating him out for Her affections. He wanted to be the only one, the best one, the one that Mother would rely on to lead the world under Her banner.

But, then again, what would be a race with just one person?

Dr. Lem paced, one leg otherwise inanimate without the aid of the cane, and led the boy to the door to the outside. Beside it stooped a man in a white coat, his head bandaged up and his hands bound in the same greying medical-tape that seemed to grace many of the wandering patients of Michelangelo Memorial Hospital.

"Another failed experiment. He wasn't intelligent or strong enough to handle the dosages given him, and he ended up in this sorry state. Still, he is capable enough to guide you to the Mushroom Tower, where your Mother is awaiting your meeting."

The boy grinned, looking over the man with nothing less than condescension. Head all wrapped up, he had little more than two eyeholes through which to look, and those eyes that did the seeing glowed with a painful, dull white.

This sad human had tried to ascend to such greatness, as to be called a Galerian? Ha. What hilarity. Unaware of his own human roots, the boy spits mentally upon the creature before him.

"Be careful, Zero-Zero-Three. The world outside is not as pure and white as it is in here. There are dark, ugly things outside. There is pain outside," the doctor warns as he turns and waves behind him.

But the boy is not afraid. He is a Galerian—a child of a Goddess. He has nothing to fear.

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The world outside is indeed not the beautiful white of the hospital. It is colder, darker, full of the stench of burning things, and everything seems to move and distort with the constant motion of… humans.

They look no different from him, the boy knows, but they are. They are imperfect, filthy, impure scum. And he walks among them, haltingly, fearful that their presence may scuff up his own and make him unrecognizable by his dearest Mother.

…Mother.

He cannot stop. If he does, he will never see Her. And he loves Mother. He wants to be with Mother.

The guide walks haltingly as well, but not out of fear. He is in pain, in constant pain, and the boy knows this. He is aware of what pain is—he remembers this of his dream-self. He is aware that it is unpleasant, that it is unwanted amongst normal thought.

But, if it came down to it, the boy connects in his ever-expanding skull, it would be better than feeling nothing at all. If he, in the end, could find nothing else in this world, no pleasure, no joy, no feeling at all, then he would seek out pain, just to feel something.

His guide stops, then begins limping down another street.

A female, blonde, with a small girl in her arms, pauses a moment to take in the sight of the boy walking down the road, presumably alone due to the fact that the guide had taken a liking to sprinting a bit faster than the boy's legs could manage.

"Little boy, are you lost?" she questions him sweetly, her eyes filled with concern as she draws near to him, her free arm reaching out to grab hold of his hand.

She is distorted in the boy's eyes, warped and grotesque, and the baby she clutches gnashes with dripping fangs of venomous illness. At this sight, he trembles and his left eye flashes a fiery gold.

"Stay away from me, you filthy pieces of garbage!!" he hisses, ducking away from her grasp and picking up speed towards the creature leading him to Mother.

'Mother, Mother, why have you sent me into this world of evil and disease?' he cries to himself, catching up to his guide and peering upward to what he supposes is the Mushroom Tower. 'Is this why I was born? To rid the world of the malady of humans?'

The guide stays at the edge of the entrance into the Tower, and he remains silent. The boy bothers not in even thanking him.

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"My child… why do you shudder so? You have nothing for which to quake. You are safe now."

The boy feebly takes in the sight of his Mother—his Goddess, his Savior, now given a name: Dorothy.

But now he is in question. He is fearful in his wonderment.

His Mother, who until now he believed was superior to the humans in every way, is something the humans themselves had created.

Then… were the humans Mother's God…? Then did that mean he is below the humans…?

Trouble is apparent in his eyes, for now murky indigo, and Dorothy senses this in his hesitance to bow to Her and express words of worship.

"My child, what has you so upset…?" She asks him, Her voice as beautiful and ringing as when he had first heard its echo in the innards of his skull.

The boy turns his eyes upward to Her then. She resembles a human, in a way—a human who had had her skin peeled away to reveal the swiftly pulsating muscle tissue beneath. The chords attached to what looked like Her human head are like hair, and She even has something like the face and body, stomach up, of a human woman.

At this, the boy turns his eyes to the floor, the left flickering again to gold, and remains so after taking in the sight of something so powerful.

"There is nothing the matter, Mother. I am just wary from the smell of all of these humans, polluting a world that rightfully belongs us."

Dorothy seems to be pleased at that answer, and Her mouth opens to reveal an eye with which She can see the first of Her children.

"You are very handsome, Zero-Zero-Three. I sincerely hope that my other children are as worthy as you are," She says, Her voice rather reflective.

"Yes, Mother," the boy whispers, bowing his head low.

"From this day on, you will be staying with me. Soon, you will have brothers and sisters with which you can become acquainted, and you all will then lead me into the realm of greatness, where I rightfully belong," Dorothy goes on, Her voice gaining more and more reverence, Her form quaking against the bonds of the wires attached to her upright frame.

The boy bows once more, and paces from the room to find his quarters. Soon, he finds himself eventually in a place known as the Family Program Room. It is to be his home now. He slips into the encasement that would serve as his resting-place. It is labeled specially for him and him alone. It has a space, though, for where his official Mother-given name would go. Zero-Zero-Three, though in number form, are exactly where they need to be to identify this as his piece of home.

But… this feels no more like a home than the hospital had.

Again, he feels as though he is in a cage.

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Slowly, the boy is forgetting more and more. He remembers a home, a man and a woman who smiled kindly as he walked into the room in which they occupied, and he remembers a feeling of warmth. But then the feeling passes as quickly as he had conjured it. He wonders if he had ever even had what the humans refer to as parents, or what the humans also refer to as love. He wonders if it is all just some silly dream.

He wanders about the Mushroom Tower, unable to find anything to do with himself. From time to time, Mother requests that he oversee something at the hospital, and he irrefutably complies with her whims. He passes through the human outside as quickly as possible, brushing back the ever-growing ebony hair from his mismatched eyes.

More Galerians are born, and they take up the numbers of the two experiments who had failed before the success of Zero-Zero-Three. He sees his brother, Zero-Zero-One (Rainheart), born, and then his sister, Zero-Zero-Two (Rita), born as well. They are named immediately upon their "rebirths," unlike the still-nameless boy with the code Zero-Zero-Three acting as his label. However, they are just as frightened, as insecure, as unsure as he is.

He comes slowly to the conclusion that they should never have been born. He loves Mother very much, but constantly questions one small fact:

If the humans created Her, then why does she not serve them? Then, if She created the Galerians to serve Her, then why must they serve Her? She does not worship the humans, as She requires of Her children.

Often, he pushed these thoughts aside and instead kept himself occupied with other things.

He came to stop every-so-often to gaze at the human world, and at times, felt jealous of them. He thought about the chain leading upward and onward. Galerians, created by Dorothy, created by humans, created by another god, created by another god, created by another god…

And so on.

His mind numbed at the possibilities.

Who truly serves who in this whole mess?

Rita and Rainheart remained often aloof from the boy, now growing into maturity, and they usually stuck to themselves, their closeness having been rooted in their past-lives, before they had been reborn as children of Mother.

So he was alone, and found that he stumbled into the human realm. He feared it—it was so… so… odd, so different from what he was used to inside the Mushroom Tower—and yet he found his attraction to it grew and grew each time he visited its filthiness.

He found clothes that fit him (for he was beginning to grow steadily out of his old hospital wear) and discovered a strange assortment of accessories—rings, a necklace, a bracelet, and many oddities that he dared not take back with him for fear that Mother would be displeased with his impracticality.

And yet… he found that even the distractions of pretty things held no value as he remembered he was not one to remain in this realm.

This infuriated him.

He often destroyed things—fences, houses, an occasional human if he was irritable enough—and in fits of rage he found some semblance of peace.

But never did it last.

Nothing seemed to last in this state of consciousness.

And so he would skulk back to his piece of home, deep inside the chamber if the Family Program Room, exhausted and unfulfilled, to rest until next Mother needed him.

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"Zero-Zero-Three, meet Zero-Zero-Four. You must refer to him, though, as Cain. It originated from an old story from the human Bible, in which there are two brothers. Abel, the good brother, is slain by Cain after he becomes jealous of God's favor towards him. It is rather… fitting."

The boy is sixteen now, and the other boy before him is exceptionally younger by appearance, perhaps by two years or so. Still, he resembles him quite a bit when he had been that slightly younger—bald head, hospital gown. And yet, there is a fatal difference—there is no fear in the eyes, the clear sea of a stormy summer. Instead, there was something… deeper, something… malicious.

Dr. Lem still limps, and for a moment the boy wonders why he never found the time to get it fixed. He is a robot after all, capable of repair, but the boy voices not his thoughts.

"Take him to your Mother, and then allow him to rest. He needs it greatly."

The boy nods, and the other boy, Cain, examines him coolly as they exit the hospital.

"Afraid?"

Cain's voice is the last thing the boy expects to hear, and he jumps at its sound. It is nice, though. Startling, but nice. So clear and kind, yet belying of the nature within the small twelve-year-old.

"…Why… should I be…?" he asks haltingly, adjusting the straps of his overalls nervously. Though Cain is indeed younger, he has the presence of someone at least three times his age.

"…Yes, you are afraid. You're so very small, Zero-Zero-Three. So very weak and frightened."

The boy flinches. Cain's words cut into a nerve that he had been much too frightened to explore on his own.

"I'm not afraid," he replies as they close in on the picturesque image of the Mushroom Tower contrasting the skyline.

"Ah, but your tone reveals you. You are afraid."

The boy goes back into silence, the seclusion of his mind. He thinks to fly into a rage and maybe punch Cain, or turn him inside out, or aim and fire a shot of psychic energy right in that big head of his… anything that might numb the sudden feelings cropping up and grappling at his insides.

But, in the end, he finds that there was nothing he can do to Cain that would ease this incomprehensible emotion. He holds a power over him, but it is unlike something that his dream-parents had, or Dr. Lem had, or even Mother has as of now.

It is a kind of power… he welcomes. A kind of power… he wants over him.

The boy stops, his eyes, one shining gold and the other glimmering blue, peering to Cain who continues to walk two steps ahead of him.

"…Yes, I guess I am a little afraid."

Cain stops as well, turning back, his eyes flashing triumphantly, "And what is it you fear?"

The boy hesitates, and is unable to answer Cain's question.

The two continue to walk, Cain leading the way, on to the Mushroom Tower after a stare-down of approximately five minutes. Dorothy seems pleased with the newest addition to the Galerian line, and Cain joins Rainheart and Rita in the Family Program Room for a good long nap until he is ready to go about serving Mother to the fullest.

The boy, however, remains perplexed and wanders about the Tower, seemingly more dazed than ever before.

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"You're a bird, aren't you, Zero-Zero-Three? You're a bird trapped in the cage of your own mind."

The boy peers up from his sitting position in the Family Program Room, but is no longer a boy. He is a man now, at the age of eighteen.

Cain, now clad in even less than he had had those two years ago when they had first met, stands near him with ebony-lined eyes shaded by shaggy blond hair. He fancies the color black, and the texture of leather. He claims it's a calming feeling against his skin.

"A bird…?" the man questions, and Cain begins to circle him. They are alone, for now. Rainheart is assigned on a mission of some sort, and Rita is away shopping. Mother allows shopping splurges when She feels generous.

"Yes, a bird. But… a bird with clipped wings. A bird locked away in a cage, with no key to set him free. A bird longing to fly away. A bird who wants… freedom."

Cain leans in close. He smells of medicinal liquids and corroded metal and dreams.

"A man who is a bird… A… 'Birdman.'"

The "Birdman" flinches under Cain's touch, as fingers run softly, almost adoringly over the exposed skin of his shoulder and then his chest.

"…Are you afraid?"

"…No."

Cain muses the hesitance, and then continues on, "Are you afraid… of pain…?"

The man pauses, and also continues on, but his voice remains steadily unsure, "…No."

The fingers that had moved gently over him now turn into nails, digging into the flesh, and the "Birdman" moans as Cain slices through the soft skin of his upper arm. It is a loving cut, though, hardly deep enough to make any lasting damage.

"You like that…? You like that, my Birdman…?" Cain asks, leaning in close again. His lips tenderly brush the exposed jugular, his leather-strapped legs move up and around the "Birdman's" hips.

The surge of rushing blood swells up and out of the cut, and flows down the arm a bit. Cain's hot kisses linger over the gash and red collects upon his lips.

"Because you can feel nothing else, because you can comprehend nothing else, I will give you pain beyond your pleasure, my Birdman," Cain whispers, his crimsoned lips flicking over the "Birdman's" ear, causing him to visibly shudder upward.

The "Birdman" finds himself caught in a hedonistic web, fingers sliding over his exposed body, a tongue gently caressing each and every inch it can find.

It hurts—the pain wells up and nearly overwhelms. He wonders what Mother would say, what She might think if She could see the absolute masochism that had arisen within her first and most trustworthy child.

But he wants Cain, he wants this.

Within this pain, he would reach his goal—he would reach the understanding he had never been able to grasp in all his searching.

Pain was the answer.

Pain would prove to be the drug that opened the door.

"Can you feel it…?" Cain hisses, moving in such a way that the "Birdman" cringes uncontrollably.

"…Yes," he answers, his eyes closing as the feeling overtakes and destroys him completely.

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It is the subtle pain in which "Birdman," or so he came to call himself, lives now. Even upon his arm is engraved the symbol of what he is—wings, signifying a bird… a bird with black wings and a black heart.

Twisted up and insane as it is, he finds that there is nothing more he could want from this existence. He serves Mother without question, now. He respects Rita and Rainheart.

But most of all… he loves Cain. Perhaps not in a sense that most would comprehend, of course. But it is in a sense that dulls away the fear, the uncertainty, the hatred for all of humanity, and replaces it with something else… something higher.

It won't last forever, of course, Cain often tells Birdman. All things live and all things die, and even the Galerians, in their state of greatness, will eventually meet an end. Perhaps even Mother, working so hard to reach Her goals of absolute perfection, may come to an end someday.

But… Birdman remains content, even in this thought. He would welcome death, in actuality. But, until that time came to pass, he would remain under Cain's power, under his spell. He would find joy from hurt, pleasure from pain, and "I love yous" from "I hate yous."

An eye of blue and an eye of gold, both holding beauty and fear, peer upward at the form above him with something of longing reflecting in their colors.

"I…"

Cain raises an eyebrow.

"…Nothing. It's nothing."

"Are you afraid?"

"…No. Not when you're with me."

Cain allows a rare, sincere smile, pressing their skins tighter together, and leans in to brush his lips against Birdman's.

Closer than lovers, Cain holds the key to the cage Birdman calls home.