Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Fallen Part 2

(disclaimer - reposting this - originally on tumblr.)

Things actually went well that night and for some time thereafter. We did end up being partners for dance competitions. As you’d expect, the first few times we were eliminated pretty quickly, but within a couple of months, we were regularly making it to the final cut and sometimes won second or third place. Never quite first though, it takes quite a lot of effort to get the first prize.

At some point, Maria moved in with me. We agreed that her having a separate place made no sense after we starting spending more nights together then apart.

“Lucifer? I have something to tell you.”

“Yes, Maria?”

“I’m pregnant. I’m going to have your baby.” She watched me closely for reactions.

“But, but, you’re a cloudling, I’m a sunling. You know we aren’t supposed to breed.” The people of the city come in three types; the skylings - a light blue hue, the cloudlings - a silvery grey and the most common type in the city, and finally the sunlings - golden in tone like the sun. While all can live and work together, breeding is restricted by old laws to within your own type.

Maria was determined to have that baby, even if the law was against it. She refused to say who the father was to anyone who asked.

Our friends and family did speculate about it, since we’d been living together for months. But since Maria wasn’t talking, they didn’t push. The only one who knew the entire truth was Maria’s dame. The two of them secluded themselves in a small apartment at the edge of the city during the final two months, our story was that Maria wasn’t well and had to stay in bed for most of the time.

While I waited, I threw myself into the club scene with Mic at my side. I waged my body in The Cage. I’d dance with anyone willing to fly with me. I tried desperately not to think about Maria and the baby to be. I was lucky that none of the idiot things I did during these months caused me any permanent damage.

Finally one day, a brief note arrived. “Maria named her daughter Celia. They are both well and should be with you soon.” The note contained a picture of a tiny baby cloudling - a miniature of her lovely mother.

It was just as well that Celia was a cloudling. If a baby is born that isn’t of the same type as their mother, that baby is taken away to be left somewhere outside the city. There are no punishments for the parents, removal of the child is considered to be quite enough.

Celia, our own little piece of heaven, was such a delight. She was as lovely a baby as anyone could wish for.

Not a change of life I ever expected but she won my heart over very quickly.

We fussed over her, played with her, kept her as happy as anyone could wish. And she’d reward us with the biggest sweetest smile. She was perfect in every way; fingers, toes, her little wing nubs.


By the time Celia turned one, we were starting to be concerned. At 18 months, we had a very serious concern. Finally when Celia turned two, it was time to take her to the healers. Maria tried every delaying tactic in the books but not one of them helped.

“Sweetheart, we must. You know that we have to take her.” I told Maria.

“Luc, we both know that her wings aren’t developing. They haven’t grown at all since her birth.” Maria’s voice was intense with her worry.

It was true. Our lovely daughter was growing well in every way except one. Her wings weren’t growing with the rest of her. “I know, Maria. She doesn’t even try to use her wings. I’ve never seen her move them when she needs extra balance.”

“I’ve asked my parents, my friends and Celia should definitely be trying to fly by now. She never does, she’s perfectly happy walking. Our baby is deformed.”

It was true. If Celia basically had no wings, then by all rights, she was deformed. It was a serious and life threatening deformity. “Maybe it’s something that the healers can fix. Or maybe she’s just a bit slow with the wing development but it will happen a little later.” I sighed. “But the healers will have to see her sometime. We can’t put it off forever.”

Maria ignored my warning. All too soon, we were summoned to appear before the healers with an armed escort to ensure we attended. At the age of two, all babies had to be assessed by the healers.

Two staff members took one look at Celia and gently took her from Maria. “What? Where are you taking my baby!”

“Don’t worry, it’s part of the routine. She needs to be weighed, measured. All normal,” a male healer tried to reassure Maria.

“I want to watch. Let me go back there.” Maria tried to push her way past the healer, he gently deflected her back.

I happened to catch one of the staff coming out and shaking their head. My heart fell in my chest. The healer we were talking to said, “There are some questions first. This is your first baby, right?”


“And how is she progressing? How often does she crawl, try to walk, try to fly?” the healer asked quietly.

Maria sobbed and I closed my eyes. “She’s always moving. She crawls from one end of a room to the other in no time flat. She can walk too, but it’s not as often.”

“And flying? Is she trying yet?”

Maria and I looked at each other. This was the critical question. Maria started off by nodding her head. “Well…”

The healer interrupted her. “The truth is that she’s never so much as twitched them, isn’t it?” Maria buried her face in her hands.

“We haven’t seen her try her wings yet,” I replied.

“I thought as much. It’s a rare deformity that your daughter has. It’s a bit more common when different types have a child together. That’s why we discourage pairings like yours.” He stared at me. “You are the father, yes?”

I nodded reluctantly. At this point, there really didn’t seem to be much point in trying to hide it. “Yes, I am.”

He closed the folder containing the papers he had been consulting. “Well, that’s it. You may go home now.”

“MY BABY!” shrieked Maria. “I won’t go without Celia. Where’s my baby?”

“We’re taking care of her. She won’t ever fly so we are going to prepare her for a new life.”

“New life?” I growled.

“She’ll never be suited to life in the city. We’ll be removing the wing stubs than placing her with the groundlings. It’s where she belongs.”

“No! She belongs with me. She belongs with us. Let us take her home. We can care for her.”

“Now, now, calm down. Have some water,” the healer handed Maria a small glass. She drank it in a single gulp.

I didn’t actually quite see what happened next. One moment, Maria was ranting at the healer at very close range and the next, she was falling to the floor, already asleep.

“Will you go quietly or do I dose you up as well?” he said.

“What happened to Maria? What’s happening to Celia?”

“I’ve given Maria a sleeping potion, mixed with the water. She’ll sleep tonight, tomorrow you can come back and take her home.” He shook his head. “As for Celia, you’ll never see her again. By now, she should be as wingless as any of the groundlings. She’s young. She’ll forget this city soon enough and be just like them.” He looked me in the eyes, “So, are you going to leave quietly? Or join Maria in an overnight stay.”

I laid a hand on Maria’s right wing. It was probably the first time she would have serious rest in the last month, she’d been so worried about Celia. Maria’s wings were so perfect, why couldn’t Celia have been like her mother in that respect?

I had a plan and the plan required that I be awake tonight. Possibly more nights as well. “I’ll go. You take care of my girls.”

The first part of the plan required some scouting around. I flew around the building, noting the two exits. One at ground level, one on the rooftop. I looked carefully around for somewhere I could stay that wouldn’t be too obvious and yet within sight of both exits if possible. I found a spot on a nearby temple that was ideal. It even roof decorations which would meant one object more or less after dark was likely to be unnoticed.

That took some time. The second part of the plan was much more straight forward. I flew to a small shop that I’d visited a few times with Maria.

“Hey, long time,” the chief stylist greeted me. He looked behind me. “Where’s Maria? Don’t tell me you’re getting a job?”

“Yeah, she finally talked me into it. Look, can I get black? A full body job?”

“Full body job? We don’t have much call for those. But sure. What secondary colour were you after?”

I knew he was going to ask and so I’d been thinking about it. My golden feathers would be too easy to spot at night and I was hoping to be doing some stealth flying. Previous visits meant I knew the style was to use two colours. I wanted the second that wouldn’t ruin the effect.

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