Birdhouse: The Daydream
A late @whumptober2021 Day 23: Pursuit. Completes the triplet of this and this.
TW: BBU, pet whump, dehumanisation, ‘it’ as a name,
It had never gone this far away for a job before. Usually those they were sent to rescue had wandered through a nearby city, or perhaps been trafficked away to a shelter in a different state. But this time, the trail ran long, and barely lukewarm, and it was only through eyewitness accounts that it became clear what had happened to the errant escapee.
Paris had met a woman with short pink hair and enough money to take someone who was legally property across the border, and then from Canada to England.
And now, It had to travel to England.
Normally, Mistress Tara would have called off the hunt by now. She didn’t usually allow her asset to be sent to a country without human pet laws. But It was trustworthy, and It was talented, and the owner was paying far more than anyone else ever had.
It was able to buy a ticket, collect a forged passport, purchase enough luggage to not look suspicious, and get through security without a hitch.
The plane ride was…horrible. Terrifying. Unnatural.
The woman beside them gave them a toffee and that helped a little.
From London to the countryside.
To the Birdhouse Shelter, an old, sprawling farmhouse in the middle of verdant farmland.
“Do you have a name?”
The woman with the pink hair went straight for the hard question. As soon as she’d found them, hovering around the property, and had recognised what they were, she had brought It in. Sat them down. Someone had brought them tea, a woman in a hijab with a neat and perfect smile.
They shook their head. It wasn’t a name. It was just what everyone had called them, and they had made it their own.
“Is there something you’d like me to call you?”
This was…new. Strange. A question that had never come up in their time. Either they were It, or they were playing a part. They stared at her for a long time.
The woman, whose name was Avis, spoke gently, the way that mothers spoke to children. “Can you speak?”
They nodded. Then shrugged. They could, but… What would be the easiest part to play? One that was mute and inexpressive. One that would refuse to go outside, or to get help for their conditioning. They couldn’t let her change them how she’d want to, and they had to resist her efforts. A vow of silence would start that process.
Avis didn’t even hesitate. “That’s perfectly alright. If you like, I could get some pen and paper?
Of course, she knew a way to work around it. They shook their head again.
The woman looked at them for a moment, and then nodded, expression concerned but accepting. “That’s okay. My name is Avis. This is a shelter for those like you, who have been trained in the pet industry.”
Pet was not the word for them, they thought. But they kept listening.
“I won’t ask you for your story. You can take your time to tell it, or you can never tell it. My only priority is to keep you safe and, hopefully, to help you move towards a free and independent life.”
Boo felt something in their chest flutter. They were careful to show no reaction.
Avis had dark eyes that reflected all the sunlight streaming through the window. She smiled, and they had never seen a smile that had made them hurt.
“Would you like to stay here?”
She was their opposite. Free and brave and honest and open, and reaching out to the people It hunted, to protect them from the people It served. She was everything they were trained to fear and loathe. She was an obstacle to overcome, like the countless liberation workers in the USA, Canada and Mexico that they had overcome before.
Inviting them into her shelter was their perfect opportunity to retrieve Paris easily and bloodlessly.
"Good morning, Boo." Florence lingered in the doorway, but Kamala came in with a gentle smile. "We're going to the garden. Would you like to come?"
Boo shook their head. They didn't need to go outside. They could see the whole garden from the window.
Kamala always, always invited them. No matter how many times they said no. "Okay. If you change your mind, you're welcome to join us."
The pair headed downstairs. Boo sat down at the window, and watched the grass and the leaves in the breeze of the morning. A few minutes later, Kamala's covered head came into view, followed by Florence's tumbling waves. They crossed the grass to the flowerbeds, where Florence sat down in a spot by the blue flowers, and Kamala sat down too with a relaxed lean back.
Kamala liked being in the sun. Florence just liked being outside. They reached out and picked up a fallen leaf from the flowerbed. It was shrivelled and dry, but they ran a gentle finger over its crooked shape, touching the ridges, the serrated edge, and the peak of the crease running across it.
The whole process took about five minutes while Florence sat, watching their own hands and the treasure within as closely as one might watch an alien creature. It was always this way with Florence. The tiniest things made such an impact to them.
Boo watched as they loved the world around them with a fascination that was unfathomable to anyone else. They never even looked at the sky, or the birds, or to the windows of he house where Boo was standing. They had everything they needed on the ground before them. Kamala was happy to chat away while they just…absorbed things, with their eyes, and then their fingers.
Boo wondered how someone could love the world so much, after all it had done to them.
Boo didn't love the world at all. The world was harsh and terrifying and unforgiving. The mission was everything and nothing mattered. The sky and the grass and the leaves were distractions, obstacles, or - temptations. Tantalising glimpses of an experience they had never known.
Because they were It. There was nothing for them but their mission. That was what they were doing supposedly. That was what they wanted. That was why they were here, watching Paris-turned-Florence, waiting for an opportunity.
But they delayed. They watched and waited. They let themselves get distracted. They'd settled down here, despite all the reasons it was a terrible idea.
They were just trying it out. Being free. Being rescued. It was just a sample, a daydream of a life they couldn’t have.
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