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Considering I created this journal to cater to them, it's a real shame I haven't written more about them. Anyway, this was for a Gaia writing contest, but I think it's an excellent sketch of the two characters interacting.

---


"Li," Icarus piped, reaching for a leaf with trembling claws. "The trees are crying." Her clumsy hands made grabbing the colorful prize difficult in the extreme; she batted at it ineffectually until a lucky snatch ended with it between her fingers.

The woman to whom the chimera spoke seemed to be in another world entirely. Ashy breezes tangled fingers in her long black hair as she surveyed the gaping hole in the earth before them. People lived down there once, the wind whispered. People, Sung Li, and you and yours did nothing to save them, said the sickish-sweet scent of rot the wind carried. "It wasn't my responsibility," she mumbled numbly, unaware she'd given voice to the thought.

Bemused, Icarus was nibbling on the yellow leaf. It wasn't usual for her guardian to ignore her queries, so after she'd finished with her prize, she loosed it from her claws and tugged on one sleeve of Li's tabard. "Li," she repeated, urgently. "The trees are crying."

"I heard you the first time, Icarus!" the woman snapped, rounding on the chimera. Icarus cringed away by instinct, raising her arms over her head and shaking so hard the beads on her skeletal wings jangled. Li instantly regretted the harsh words, along with the memories of inaction that haunted her. She knelt down before her charge, reaching to take Icarus's furry head in her hands.

Characteristically, the chimera didn't even try to pull away, though she whimpered. "I din't mean to, honest I din't," she muttered to the ground, big dark eyes going misty. Li shook her head.

"Icarus--Ick. You just...startled me, that's all. I'm not mad at you."

The chimera's wings jangled uncertainly as she looked up. She sniffed once, before nodding slowly. "Wh...why are the trees crying, Li?"

Li sucked in a breath. It wasn't the question she'd been dreading, but she knew once Icarus got on a line of questioning, the chimera would doggedly continue until her childish curiosity was satisfied. "Because it's autumn, Ick. It happens every year. The trees lose their leaves."

"Are they sad? The trees?" Icarus looked away from Li, watching a bright red leaf swirl past, skating down into the valley. "I'm sad when I lose things."

Li smoothed a hand over her charge's fur, smiling ruefully. I'm sad when I lose things... And who'd lost more than Icarus? Those people down in the valley. Selfish, Sung Li. Selfish for everyone like them who never got as much of a chance as Icarus did.

Shut up! she thought ferociously. Aloud: "I don't know if trees can be sad like people can, Icarus. They always grow new leaves in spring." The voice of memory chuckled nastily at this.

"Oh." The way Icarus shaped the sound freighted it with meaning. Li closed her eyes, the feel of an impending migraine knotting between her temples. "Did we come to watch the trees crying?"

The stress headache blossomed like a malignant black flower. "No--we came so I could see what was down in the valley."

"They had a war there," Icarus said mournfully. Li looked up, startled. "They had a war there and everyone is gone now. They talked about it in the village when they thought I couldn't hear them. They said the pee-kays didn't come to make things right, just let people kill each other until the valley was empty."

The chimera's gaze, when she looked at Li, was black and depthless as the scarred valley that stretched out beneath their feet. "They said there was crazy gas in there, that made everyone into crazies that fought and fought and fought until everyone was dead. Then someone else said that there was no gas, it's just people being people to fight and to fight..."

Her child's voice dissolved into nothing, and she looked up as another shower of leaves drifted down. Li swallowed her gorge and stood up. The pee-kays, Peacekeeper. Where were you when these people were just being people, and fought and fought until everyone was dead? Where was she? Attending some diplomatic function as an honorguard? Doing paperwork? Certainly not here in this little unnamed valley, or a hundred like it. Selfish, Sung Li, very selfish...

"Maybe," Icarus said quietly, "that's why the trees cry every year."

The thought was so childlike and impossible and Icarus that Li could scarce contain a laugh--or a sob--and instead picked a red leaf out of her daughter's fur.

"Maybe, Ick. Maybe that's why."

---


muse

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Date: 2005-06-21 11:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] onapalehelix.livejournal.com
I just realized on reading back entries that Sung Li's original name was Liang, and that she was something other than human.

I like her better as Sung Li, though, and quite human. Must be Firefly on the brain.

muse

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