Author's Note: The poem that I've used in this fic is called "Pour toi, mon amour" (For you, my love) by Jacques Prévert and to help the selection make a little more sense in context, I've put the original French version at the beginning of each section and translated each verse into English at the end (so it sort of begins and ends with the same concept if that makes sense to anyone else. XD)
Je suis allé au marché aux oiseaux
Et j'ai acheté des oiseaux
Sue never knew if it was one of her own powers that she summoned them or if something about their own abilities drew them to her. All she knew was that sometimes she had visitors and none of them seemed to know how they wound up in her glass prison.
The first was a young boy with the fairest complexion she had ever seen. With the fluorescent light shining down on him, he seemed almost translucent; she could see the network of veins beneath his skin, a pale blue web, casting an intricate design upon his snowy skin.
At first she didn't say a word, watching him silently, afraid that he was merely a dream and speaking would cause him to vanish as suddenly as he had arrived.
He seemed particularly fascinated by the birds for a long time, watching their jerky movements with wonder, gasping audibly when they took flight in a mechanical whir of gears. He spun around the room, following their flight until they disappeared in the light. Only then did he notice her sitting silently on the swingset.
He regarded her with sky-blue eyes, far too serious for a child his age and Sue wondered if her own eyes held such depth and intensity. She only caught glimpses of herself occasionally in the reflection of the glass between the foliage on the edges of the cage or in the surface of the pond between distorting ripples. It was always a fragmented, broken image she saw, and one that she had come to recognize as the only way she would ever see herself.
"Are you a bird too?" He asked suddenly.
She shook her head.
"But you have wings like one." He approached cautiously. "Can you fly?"
"Where would I fly to?" She wondered softly.
The boy gave her another serious, contemplative look and she waited for the question that would force her to explain captivity to a child who had probably known nothing more than freedom but instead his eyes took on a hazily haunted gleam.
"You can't leave." He pronounced slowly.
She shook her head.
"But you want to." It wasn't a question.
She stared up at the false candy clouds drifting by in their predictable pattern. There were only so many ways they could roll across the glass ceiling and she knew them all well by now.
"What would you give to be able to leave?" the boy asked softly and yet she heard the razor sharp edge gleaming dangerously beneath that cottony voice.
"I can't leave."
"But if you could. What would you be willing to give up?" The ice in his voice had long since frozen over whatever subject was truly behind the question, cryogenically sealing away the events of his past. Sue wondered if he had intended to destroy them that way, or to preserve them.
She shook her head again. "I chose to stay here."
He didn't physically stumble but the boy was caught off balance nonetheless. "Why?"
"It's better that way for everyone else." She replied carefully.
A shadow passed over the boy's face and filled lines that should not have been present on such young features. "You mean you being here will keep other people safe?" He asked somberly.
She nodded silently.
"You are powerful?" He was hesitant but not fearful as she would have expected. Rather he seemed… hopefully shy.
She decided to go with a simple and non specific answer, knowing that it was nearly a lie in view of the scope of all that would not be said.
"Is there anyone else like you?"
Sue shook her head. "No, I'm the only one."
The boy's eyes filled with salty sympathy. "Me too." He admitted. "There used to be another but… but not anymore." He pulled himself up onto a nearby branch so that he could be a little closer to her. "Aren't you lonely here?"
Sue considered the question carefully before giving the barest nod.
"Can't you see anyone?" The boy wondered, icy eyes wide with insistence.
"I can see everyone." She replied quietly, much to his confusion.
"Can they see you?"
Sue felt her breath catch slightly in her throat. "No."
"Well I can see you." The boy pointed out. "So maybe there is someone else out there who can."
Mechanical wings fluttered by and a bird landed on his thin shoulder, clinging to the blue fleece of his coat.
"Can people see them?" He demanded suddenly.
"I don't know." Sue replied honestly.
The bird chirped once then took flight once more, glittering blindingly in the false sunlight before vanishing from view.
"Are you invisible?" the boy seemed greatly intrigued, leaning forward as though he might catch a glimpse of translucency about her, as though the sunlight might filter straight through her as though she were made of the same glass as her very prison.
"I'm not invisible."
"Then why can't anyone see you?"
"Because no one else can be in here."
The boy gave her a look that was so close to understanding and genuine comprehension that Sue felt a chill down her spine.
"Are you capable of leaving?" The solemnity of his voice hardened that chill as she sensed that he was not asking the question innocently.
"Then you should." The boy replied flatly.
"I must not." Sue protested and was surprised to find herself feeling as though she had to defend her actions, or rather her inactions, to this small child who could not possibly know her own position.
"It's not a matter of what you must or must not do, but what you need to do." He pressed. A flutter of metallic wings sounded and artificial sunlight glinted off of the wings of another mechanical bird as it lighted on a branch beside her. "You aren't like them." The boy pointed at it the false creature. "You are like their model." He spun slowly in a circle, fully taking in her living arrangements. "You don't belong in here the way you think you do. No one does." He punctuated the thought by finishing his rotation to look her square in the eye.
"It would do harm to others."
The boy clasped his hands tightly in his lap. "Sometimes people say things like that and they aren't true."
There was a writhing in the air below them as a silvery pool of light began to shine.
"You have to go home." She noted softly.
"I do." The boy replied. "I can't stay here, I have something I have to do."
Sue nodded and watched the boy untangle his coat from a few branches that had crept up to cling to him.
"Before you go-" She paused and the boy obligingly waited. "What is your name?"
He hesitated for a moment, not meeting her gaze as he stared into the light below. "It's… Fai." He answered quietly before jumping into the growing pool. The writhing stopped instantly and the cage seemed somehow emptier than before.
Sometimes people say things and they aren't true.
Sue wrapped a hand around the vine that upheld her perch, staring at the ground below, where he had vanished. "I hope you find what you're looking for." She whispered to it. "Yuui."
She swung her legs ever so slightly and raised her head to eye the false sky above.
I went to the bird market
And I bought some birds