“We’ve lost, haven’t we?” Her dark eyes turned to him, not pleading, not appealing, but merely stating the undeniable truth.

David’s heart wrenched at the loss of innocence, and, ultimately, the loss of hope he saw in that gaze. Sera had been his source of inspiration so many times in the past that David was half-afraid that he’d used up so much of her spark himself that he’d left none for her. To see her so bitter, so hopeless like this, cut him deep.

“Humanity, I mean. Mankind, people—whatever. We’ve failed. We’re not going to make it.” Her eyes drifted meaningfully down to the crowd of racist protesters on the street below them.

Their cries had reached a crescendo now, and they were battering human dummies with their placards. Sera knew what would happen next. In a few minutes, the dummies would be alight and the protesters would be cheering, and eventually, when their excitement had died down a little, they’d go to a pub and get boisterously drunk, without a thought to the destruction they had caused. She’d seen the same scene so many times before. So had the history of mankind.

“Who knows, kid?” David shrugged, his own eyes distant. “The part of us that does these things is the same part that makes us human, the part that got us down from the trees in the first place.”

Sera snorted bitterly. “There’s irony for you,” her gaze drifted once more—but to the sky this time rather than to the protesters “We’re no better, y’know. We’ve been looking down on these people the same way that they’ve been looking down on us. We don’t burn dummies in the streets, but it’s still the same.” Her dark eyes shifted once again, this time searching for something in David’s gaze. Understanding, perhaps. “Them and us,” said David. “That’s what this is all about. It should be just ‘us,’ but it’s not. That’s where humanity falls down.”

Her eyes drifted back to the horizon and David reached out and gently took her small hand in his large one. He cleared his throat awkwardly, captured her gaze, and though his words were casually said, his eyes were intense. “Darlin’, I know I’m not exactly educated, but I’ve been around awhile. And if there’s one thing I’ve learnt it’s that as long as there is one person left in the fight, there’s a chance the fight can be won,” he said, his gaze flicking to the particular section of the horizon she’d been looking at a little while before—the part where the sea met the sky. “I know what it’s like, kid. When one person gets the courage to stand against the flow, it makes it just that much easier for someone else to do the same.”

His roving eyes rested on a flock of pigeons on a rooftop a few buildings away, his expression carefully blank as he continued. “Pretty soon one of those pigeons is gonna pick up and fly. And, in time, so will another, until the whole sky is filled with white birds,” he turned back to her, his eyes filled with uncharacteristic tears and his expression begging her to understand, but somehow knowing that she would, that she always had. “That’s us, darlin’.”

Sera squeezed his hand; a slight—very slight—almost sardonic smile curved around her lips. “We’re birds, David?”

“You and me both, kid,” David murmured, pulling her against his side and wrapping an arm around her waist. On his lips was a slight smile. “You and me both.”

Behind them, a shimmering, golden glow was shed across the concrete and glass masses of buildings that made up New York, as the sun crested the horizon.

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