Bird or Cage?
Disclaimer: I don't own Bioshock Infinite.
A/N: Just a quick study of the" bird or cage?" choice you had to make at Battleship Bay and the implications. Note that it never actually makes an impact on the gameplay if you chose either one. I just wanted to explore what they could have meant.
Summary: Bird or cage? Booker chooses the bird. But what did it really mean? (warning: spoilers for the game). Bioshock Infinite. One-shot.
"Look at these, they're amazing! Which one do you like more? This one? Or-or this?" She presented two of the necklaces at him, voice rife with girlish excitement. She sounded like she hasn't seen jewellery before.
She probably hasn't, Booker thought grimly.
"The bird is beautiful and the cage is somber, but there is really something special about it. I just can't decide!" She smiled and held it up to him, so close to his face that he had to take a step back.
He didn't know. Bird, cage. Did it really matter? All he wanted was to get out of here and board that airship to New York, give them the girl and finally wash his hands off this debt. He didn't know what the purpose of the delay was; and why those two were looking at the girl so eagerly as if she were about to make the most important decision of her life. As if they didn't know who she was running away from. They've got a whole army of Comstock's men out for their blood and they get stopped for trinkets. This was definitely going to be a long day. Booker tapped his left foot impatiently and sighed.
The girl was still looking at him with that bright glint in her eyes, and it was clear they weren't leaving if he didn't choose soon.
"Uh…the one on the right." He shrugged, without really looking at them.
Elizabeth let out a small giggle and began to wrap the silk necklace around her throat. From behind her, he could hear the woman sigh in disappointment with a shake of her head as the pair began to walk away and disappear to wherever it is that they go to. There was something odd about those two, the way they just happen to show up almost everywhere with no explanation and with hardly any surprise on their part. Almost as if…well, as if they expected it.
"Surprising. I expected the cage."
He watched Elizabeth fawn and twirl over her new accessory for a moment. She glowed with that necklace on, the bird seemed to suit her. Like a symbol of her newfound freedom, or maybe something worse. He didn't exactly know what his mysterious contractors intended to do with the girl once he got her to New York. Although, it seemed, judging by the way she was treated up in that tower (like a goddamned lab rat) that New York was a better alternative than staying in Columbia. She'd never have to be subjected to cruelty or torture, just her and her freedom. He'd make her see that, once he dropped her off at New York.
Though he couldn't help the uneasy feeling now settling deep within him. He didn't know if it was because of Comstock and the whole of Columbia wanting him dead or if it was the encounter with the odd couple earlier. Doubt began to crawl up his spine and seep into his mind. Wherever those two showed up, trouble always followed.
But bird or cage?
What the hell did that mean? Earlier they asked him to flip a coin, and it landed on heads. Then the raffle happened and the next thing he knew, he was fighting scours of lawmen all throughout the amusement park. He was slowly starting to get the feeling that maybe he shouldn't have chosen anything.
There wasn't much time to think too deeply into his choice, however. What happened, happened.
Elizabeth had called him over to the commotion happening in the square.
The burning tower provided enough distraction to push that sinking feeling he had about the necklace and the couple to the back of his mind.
There wasn't much he knew about the girl. He realized that when he got whacked in the face with a hammer.
He groaned in pain, hand reaching up to his aching head. The girl knew how to swing. That definitely taught him to underestimate her.
The guilt that sprung up inside him made him hesitate as he trudged through warily in Finkton Docks. After Fitzroy tossed him out of the airship he and Elizabeth fought so hard for, he couldn't think of anything but her safety and the regret that welled up in him when he fell from the sky. It was strange to him. A while ago, the girl had been nothing more to him but a duty. In some ways, she still is. This guilt though, it was familiar. It was there when he whispered Anna's name after falling endlessly into the deep ocean, finally awakening in Elizabeth's arms. Even though he couldn't fully understand what he did to Anna, the guilt was almost the same. That and the questions. Something drew him to Elizabeth and he didn't know what.
It disturbed him deeply, but he kept moving and moving until he finally found her. She was a mess, her clothes disheveled and appearance muddied. The constant fighting had worn her out, but the look in her eyes stopped him short from rushing towards her. She was glaring at him.
But he expected this. However unwelcome the reaction, he still had to keep her safe. He still had to protect her.
When she began running away from him, he immediately started giving chase. There was no way he was going to let her go, not with the danger out there. He knew that Fitzroy was counting on him for supplies, but he didn't care much about that. He wasn't leaving Columbia without Elizabeth.
"Hey wait! I just want to talk!" He yelled after her, but he was ignored and she kept running.
Each time he got close to her, she just opened up a tear and evaded him. She was like a bird, that one. Fast and hard to catch.
His mind wandered to Battleship Bay and that damned bird necklace she had on. Maybe he was right in choosing the bird. She was doing a good job of acting like one, it seemed. No matter how hard he tried, he could never catch her. As hard as he tried to keep his thoughts on the run and on Elizabeth, those words echoed in his head. He felt powerless, but was confused as to why.
This was just like one of those nightmares, wasn't it?
How close he had been to reaching her, only to have the tear shut close.
"Give me back my daughter!"
He flinched but shook his head. The yelling in his mind dissipated to a faint echo, a murmur of something he couldn't piece together. He sighed in frustration and put his confusion aside. There was no time now. He had to find her quickly.
He asked her about the metal bird, once his curiosity demanded to be sated. There were far too many things that didn't make sense to him at all, and still too many questions to answer. Columbia was littered with the dead; the Vox Populi at work, no doubt. Dimensions bleeding to each other and the instability of these universes were making his head hurt.
But he just wanted to know about the bird first. He knew it was her jailer, and considering the ferocious way it had attacked him, definitely saw him as a hostile. Then he heard the emotion in her face, felt her tremble at its approach, but not truly from fear. Part of it, maybe, but it was too concerned - like she had done something wrong. Why care so much for a creature that only wanted to imprison her? Then he found out that thing had been her friend. It figures. All locked up in that tower with no one to talk to, no normal contact to speak of. It would make sense for her to be attached to the bird, something that was like a companion it seemed.
Except for the fact that it was her captor. No matter how many pretty stories she dolled it up with, it didn't change the fact that the creature was bred to follow Comstock and Comstock only. She knew this too. The moment she made him promise to not let it take her back to the tower, he felt relief. There were no misguided illusions about the bird's intentions or its purpose.
Although, when he caught a glance at the necklace that she still wore, he felt anxiety pool in his stomach and shuddered before looking away. If Elizabeth had caught his reaction, she didn't draw any attention to it. Maybe she knew the folly of his choice or maybe she didn't.
It didn't matter anyway. He was going to keep his promise to her no matter what. Bird or no bird.
A thousand different worlds and a thousand different choices. Booker wondered whether it all mattered. What was the point of having a choice if a whole new world was created to accommodate for a choice he didn't make? Was it all preordained? Or truly just possibilities?
If his head had hurt before, it was surely throbbing now.
Even if he had a choice, there was always Comstock. Comstock would find a way to sabotage things, he would always go through a tear and he will always take Anna. No matter what he did, Anna would always be that bird and he was always going to be that cage.
But the circle stops now. In the baptism, where it all began.
Both. I am both. I am Booker and Comstock. I am the loop.
The last thing he sees is the blurred image of that bird necklace.
"Bird or cage?"
Somewhere out there, a Booker would choose the cage, but it wouldn't matter anyway. It was all going to be over soon.