Source: Bioshock Infinite
Characters: Elizabeth, Songbird
Challenge: 1sentence, beta set
Summary: Years spent alone but not alone... That was the paradox shared between the girl and her guardian.
Since before Elizabeth learned to take her first steps, Songbird had been there.
Once she was old enough to stand, she would sometimes twirl and dance to her audience of one.
On clear nights she stared at the stars, imagining how they would glitter on the opposite side of a window… until a large silhouette drifted through the dark sky and blocked their view.
She glimpsed those metal men with their pulsing hearts encased for all the world to see and the thought occurred to her that perhaps, hidden somewhere deep in Songbird's casing, there also beat the heart of a man.
She was his charge; she was his life; if she died he would swiftly follow.
She had seen a Columbia freed from Songbird's reign, where she could dance and converse and be normal.
She'd seen a Columbia painted red by the Vox, where a vengeful screech tore through burning and crumbling walls, where light from a glass red eye searched for her.
(whiskey & rum)
She once opened a Tear onto some sort of party but the immediate crush of people— too many— made her slam it close, gasping and afraid... and hearing laughing echoes bounce around her empty tower.
During the quiet of some evenings she could hear the distant sounds of fighting within the city although they always seemed to silence after a metallic cry.
Romance was a nice thought and nothing else, because when would she ever have the chance to meet that special someone?
He never had a reason for celebration and she never had anyone to celebrate one with.
In a tiny way she envied her younger self for thinking of Songbird as a gift.
Oh, certainly his whole world revolved around her but that wasn't love, just programming, wasn't it?
She never remembered when it happened— maybe there wasn't a single it happened— but a hatred lit within her.
That hatred blazed so strong, sparking and smoking, it was suffocating her— he was suffocating her!
And it wasn't long until her heart shattered because she now knew she truly was all alone in the world.
The concept of 'God' was not one she could understand from anywhere outside a theological examination; after all, she already had a giant man in the sky to look after her.
It honestly stunned her to hear Booker's casual ignorance on how Columbia worked because, well, this was the only home she'd ever known and it was strange for anyone to know different.
She pressed her face against the cold glass window, her outlook over the world he was supposedly protecting her from.
A man had taken his charge from him, an insignificant little man that he would crush...
Silence was her constant companion, yet- somehow- he made some silent days bearable.
He observed her strange little movements: retucking the same loose strand of hair behind an ear, curving over a book when she was fully invested in it, sighing into the windows and drawing on the fogged glass.
She saw memorabilia for her (now desolate) tower and asked, "Do you think it was modified to resemble me or did I grow up to resemble it?"
If she really wanted to she could take out her frustrations by screaming them to the only other almost-living thing around to listen, but there was no relief to be found in yelling at a creature unable to care.
With his eye sensors cracked and other such damages to his structure, it would be some time until he could bring the girl back to her home, but he would bring her back, he had to.
Elizabeth had spent a long time imagining what her initial moments of freedom would be like, but had never envisioned the ground tilting away beneath her as her stomach shifted and leathery wings snapped mere feet from her head.
She remembered the trick windows— subsequently remembering her adolescence as a thing, an entertainment— and briefly wondered if she'd directed her anger at the wrong monster.
A few of her storybooks inspired her to take up play-fighting, wielding a pretend sword against her stoical competitor.
He had a skeleton crafted from copper and steel, but she'd crafted a soul made of diamond.
She would sometimes comment aloud how unfair it all was but he of course never replied, and perhaps never understand what the concept of "unfair" was.
Knowledge and wit were all well and good, but there wasn't much fun in being simply 'smart' when she received no congratulations.
Occasionally she'd sob and some forgotten instinct— perhaps from a forgotten life?— rose within him, urging to console her even if this mechanical shell offered little comfort.
Really, it was her own fault for believing the naivete he'd ever been her friend instead of her gatekeeper.
Those sounds he made- the tinny wheeze of his breathing, the scrape of rusting joints when he moved- had once upon a time been a comfort to her.
"So happy to see you again," she said to the empty air.
After seeing so much suffering, so much death, after knowing what still warm blood felt like on her hands, it was almost— almost— tempting to let him bring her back to that prison if it meant none of this ever happened.
She grew accustomed to one-sided conversations before long.
Long, long ago she'd crawled into the safety of his hand… she did so again now, briefly taking her eyes off the fallen man, and he did what he'd always done… he took her to safety...
There was a certain cruelty in their situation, being together and being incapable of communicating between themselves.
Loneliness was a punishment she would not wish upon her worst enemy.
Back before her Tears started dwindling, she would open seams into small anywheres she likely would never see otherwise.
Some days she would run up to embrace him, sometimes she would strike him with fists, but both actions were for naught since he couldn't feel either.
There comes a time, she mused, when you get so used to your companion's predictable movements that it all feels unreal, as if you are part of someone else's fancy, no more than puppets controlled by another's hands.
She finally called to him, needed him once more to protect her, embraced him like those long ago days, asked (as if she even needed to ask) for him to tear down all that threatened her.
She wanted to feel the earth beneath her feet, wanted to feel a hand that was made of warmth rather than metal.
He at least had wings to view the world below, all she had were her books and her dreams.
She read stories featuring princesses dreaming of knights in shining armor saving them from towers and she laughed bitterly.
She wished he could talk, if only so she could know the answer following "Did you truly believe you were protecting me all that time?"
As his body split and crumpled, a sense traveled through his wiring and, reaching out, he felt... accomplished... seeing her still alive because of him...
...and as she watched that broken machine drift to the ocean's floor she felt a hollow ache in her chest for the Elizabeth that could have ever mourned Songbird.