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Ducky123

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More than a blinky light
« on: February 03, 2019, 08:04:52 pm »
Important: This story is set in the SDP universe at a much later point in time than the current revamp is at so if you haven't read the old story, this might be spoiling a character for you, though this short story doesn't relate much to the overarching plot aside from a few references. It will one day be included in the SDP story but for the sake of the fanfiction prompt challenge it'll be its own story until then :D

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More than a blinky light

The little longneck took a side glance at the grown-up lying in the green grass next to her. The female’s chest rose and fell slowly in a perfect rhythm.
 
“She’s asleep, finally…” The child sighed with relief. Finally she was able to sneak away from the nest to pursue some nightly activities of hers. Of course, it wasn’t like she was breaking the nightly curfew intentionally but every so often the child couldn’t bear being at her nest at a time like this when her mind was in a turmoil so she’d sneak away to places lonely and quiet, to places where she could deal with those dark and gloomy thoughts which prevented her from finding sleep so viciously even long after the Bright Circle had disappeared…
 
“Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to do this so often…” the child mused as she travelled through the dark and quiet oasis which she called home in recent days. It was a wonderful place, a refuge in the middle of nowhere but it was way too crowded for her liking. Therefore, she was headed to a place where no other dinosaur would go at this time of the day. Especially recently, there was more than usual to reflect upon and more shit than usual to deal with so the young girl had already memorized the path she’d have to take. Past all the slumbering forms of fellow herd members, she’d cross the forest they resided in, passing by a river before entering another forest which hid her from curious eyes until she’d arrive at her very destination, the very walls surrounding this very oasis. Here, she could have some lone, quiet moments to think about her sad life. Orphaned, lonely, ignored, misunderstood… and times even subjected to hatred, tease and mockery because of her weirdness, which she herself couldn’t explain nor change, and because of her unique black colour…
 
“There it is…” Her glance went up to the mountain wall that surrounded their green refuge in the midst of the hostile surrounding deserts. The girl liked places that were elevated and lonely, that offered a good overview of the surrounding area as well as the night sky. Places like this were offering most comfort in times like these after all. Slowly, the girl trotted up the walls.
 
Only to find out that on this day the walls weren’t as abandoned as she had hoped.
 
“Huh?” The child blinked her eyes when she spotted another longneck, a child like her no doubt but older than she was, standing only a stone’s throw away from her spot. He appeared to be staring at the starry sky as his eyes twinkled with their radiant glow.  She had no way of telling in this darkness who that other child was but curiosity got the better of her, overwhelming her shy and reclusive nature which she hated so much within a moment’s notice. Besides, as things were standing, with this stranger around, sharing her sweet spot, she wouldn’t truly be able to feel alone and lose herself in her gloomy thoughts anyway…
 
The child tried to approach quietly but the grass was rattling underneath her small feet. Shortly before she arrived, the other longneck took notice of her. Swallowing, she continued to approach anyway, soon noticing that her apprehensiveness was completely unnecessary as she recognized the boy.
 
“L-littlefoot?!” The other longneck smiled, his brown eyes meeting her green orbs.
 
“I had a feeling I’d meet you here during this time of the day, Cho.”
 
Cho was looking up to the other boy in surprise. What was he doing here? At such a time of the day when she should be getting his rest?
 
“I know you didn’t expect to see me here, right?” the boy spoke kindly.
 
“Yes, I am surprised, “Cho admitted a little shyly. “Why are you here, Littlefoot? You… shouldn’t be up this late and also… you should be aware of the fact that I prefer to be alone...”
 
“Yeah, Ali mentioned that to me just recently,” Littlefoot replied casually. It had been his friend Ali who had introduced them to each other. Littlefoot had met her long ago when her herd had been visiting his home, the great Valley. A great adventure had forged their friendship and, through the mysterious sleepstories that had been haunting and leading them to this special oasis, they had now reunited.
 
“And, besides, you are even more at fault for being up so late, Cho.” Littlefoot’s wink gave away that he was merely joking.
 
“I am aware of it,” Cho responded a little drily.
 
Cho had met Ali during her journey to this very place as well. The little girl had felt a strange connection to Ali, which had only strengthened in recent days. Ali may have very well been the first friend Cho had ever had and, in spite of her solidary nature and her anti-social tendencies, she appreciated her company whenever they met. It was thanks to Ali, that she had made the acquaintance of Littlefoot. Although they weren’t strangers, there were a lot of things they didn’t know about each other.
 
“I’m not here to disturb your thinking time, don’t worry, Cho,” Littlefoot explained to make sure the sometimes awkward girl didn’t get the wrong idea. “It’s just… that I suddenly felt like watching the blinky lights on the sky tonight; and this is really a very good spot to do so, don’t you think?”
 
“Yes, quite,” Cho responded neutrally.”
 
Littlefoot could tell that his presence was bothering her slightly but decided to brush that thought aside for now and try to talk to her. In spite of her strange nature, he was very curious to get to know her better.
 
“I know, you’re wondering if this is just a coincidence, right?” Littlefoot chuckled. “You see, Ali recently mentioned to me that this is a particularly nice spot on the wall because the forest grows all the way to the top here so we aren’t as likely to be seen here by the grown-ups.”
 
“I see, Littlefoot.” Cho responded. Littlefoot was very unsure about how to proceed talking to the child because he just couldn’t predict how she’d react. Certainly, he didn’t expect her to go through a sudden change in mood.

“Say, Littlefoot, did you not invite her then?”
 
“Err, invite who?” Cho’s unexpected question confused the purple-ish grey longneck for a second before he caught on to it. “Oh, you mean Ali?”
 
“Yeah,” Cho said, a faint, innocent smile on her lips which was certainly a rare sight. “You know, Littlefoot, I believe she would have liked that.”
 
“M-maybe?” Littlefoot didn’t really know. Certainly, right now Ali mightn’t be the kind of company that he would be happy to accept. “Though I don’t think that she would have liked to come here with me today.”
 
“Because you are here to be alone too?” The words poured out of her before she was aware of it.
 
“Err… yeah, I am in somewhat of a thoughtful mood today,” Littlefoot confirmed. “Just like you, am I right?”
 
Cho nodded, the smile fading from her features.
 
“Ali had been right when she said that you’re a pretty sharp one by the way.” Now it was Littlefoot’s turn to offer a weak smile though his gaze soon wandered into the distance. “What kind of things do you think about, Cho? Are you here a lot?”
 
Cho didn’t answer immediately. It wasn’t like she didn’t trust the boy. Although her social abilities were very low and although most dinosaurs she knew either ignored or outright opposed and despised her, she didn’t sense any of that in Ali’s best friend. He was kind and open-minded, he didn’t seem to judge her for whom she was and how she looked like and, so far, she hadn’t been getting the impression of being misunderstood by the boy in spite of her weirdness. Therefore, and maybe also because they shared a terrible fate (neither of them knew any details about the other though), Cho supposed that it’d be okay to allow him a small peek into her mental turmoil.
 
“I am thinking about many things, Littlefoot. I am unhappy about a lot of things so I reflect upon them and reflect on how terrible my day has been… usually my days are terrible.”
 
Littlefoot gave her a sympathetic look. Cho sure didn’t have it easy which was another reason for him to try being nice and friendly. Surely, she was a peculiar character but she was Ali’s friend and she was kind enough. Not trying to become friends with someone who clearly needed one would be going against his very principles too!
 
“Has today been terrible as well?” he wondered with a questioning look.
 
“Of course,” Cho answered as if it was something as natural as the daily rise and fall of the Bright Circle. “I was teased a lot by some kids from a different herd, and then they chased me away…”It wasn’t as thorough an answer as it should have been but Cho supposed it’d sum up her day nicely enough. “It was a very lonely day of course.”
 
“Sorry to hear that…” Littlefoot admitted apprehensively - he himself was no stranger to malicious bullies. “Well, at least you didn’t run into Shorty.”
 
“Mhm…”Cho merely hummed. If it had been broad daylight, Littlefoot probably wouldn’t have believed her but the dark hid her emotions and bruises just about right and her skin colour certainly had a contribution as well.
 
“Maybe our meeting might end up making your day a little better?” Littlefoot mused in an attempt to stop the decline of Cho’s mood but the depressed girl wasn’t easy to cheer up.
 
“Maybe…” Littlefoot shot a concerned side glance at her as Cho gradually turned away from him. It took her a few moments to prepare her next words and the sound of her voice confirmed that it was troubling her greatly.
 
“Anyway… most of the time I just think about what my life *could* be like… if I was behaving, thinking and acting like everybody else… if I was looking like everybody else… if-if I had a family…like everybody else…… you know?”
 
Littlefoot could understand Cho’s sorrow about the lack of a family in particular, considering his family wasn’t as big as it should be…
 
“You know, I came here for a similar reason today,” he spoke contemplatively.
 
“To remember your mother?” Cho concluded quickly.
 
Littlefoot nodded. As his gaze drifted into the distance, Cho’s lowered head turned in his direction.
 
“Well, it looks like we are here for the same reason after all…” the child spoke with a heavy sigh, her words carrying some sadness.
 
“Yeah, it seems like it…” Littlefoot replied thoughtfully. A few moments of silence passed during which each of them didn’t say a word, only the distant sounds of the night reaching their ears. Littlefoot could tell that Cho wasn’t feeling well. Especially since he’d gotten her to mention her tragic early childhood, Cho appeared to be acting increasingly awkward and uneasy. Did it have to do with him?
 
“Cho, would you prefer to be alone with your thoughts? I can tell that I’m upsetting you…”
 
“You-you are not!” Cho immediately shouted though her manners gave her lie away. “No, I… I am just not used to having company b-but you can stay…”
 
“You were complaining about being lonely all day so enjoy the occasion.” Littlefoot gave the little longneck a wink but his attempt to cheer her up backfired somewhat.
 
“Oh, what is there to be enjoyed anyhow?”
 
Those bitter words shook something within the older longneck. He had known this mindset once ago, when his mother had been ripped from him so cruelly. Back then, Littlefoot knew not happiness, love and compassion for his mind could not think of anything but despair and the deep abyss ripping through his heart. Had he not found Ducky and the others, who knew what he’d have ended up like. With these past experiences in the back of his mind, Littlefoot could only muse how long the young girl had been suffering from her very personal sources of pain and despair- and, in a way, admired her for showing the strength to carry on for he had been on the brink of giving up.
 
“What do you mean?” Littlefoot asked for he desperately had to try preventing this foul mood from intensifying. Certainly, if he knew the exact extent of Cho’s suffering, he might be able to support her or even offer advice. Right now, all he could do was to assume things which left plenty of room for mistakes.
 
“Well, neither of us is thinking about happy things and…” Cho sighed, looking down at her feet. “I am never enjoying things.”
 
“Never?”
 
“Well, rarely…” Cho sighed even more profoundly. “You could say that there are things that are making me feel less terrible than others…”
 
Littlefoot swallowed at the extent of her dark thoughts, giving her a sympathetic look as he was searching for the right words to soothe the growing chasm of her mind but one wrong word could be enough to trigger an even stronger reaction so he had to be careful.
 
“Well… it seems that you are going through a lot of hardship, Cho. M-maybe I worded it wrong earlier but…I think it’d be nice having a chance to share each other’s feelings and sorrows… especially about those we miss so dearly…” As Littlefoot said these words, Cho walked a little distance away, towards the edge of the wall facing towards the hostile land beyond the borders of the oasis. Her steps were uneasy, her legs trembling.
 
“Should I really stay with her? She sure doesn’t seem to be comfortable…” The boy observed her closely. Not just her legs but her entire body seemed to tremble slightly and, overall, she was giving the profound impression of being under heavy stress. Perhaps his presence was what caused this? Or was it just all the hardship hammering on her mind, waiting for the moment that it broke?
 
“Am I really not bothering you?” Littlefoot said these words sternly, concern evident in both voice and gesture.
 
“N-no…” Cho replied weakly, clearly shaking. Littlefoot didn’t believe her.
 
“Are you sure?” he inquired, a mixture of worry and empathy ringing through his words. “Should I leave? Go somewhere else? The wall is big enough; it’d be no problem for me…”
 
“N-no…” The girl began looking right and left, right and left in quick succession, making an even more uncomfortable, even fearful impression.
 
“You’d like me to stay then? Talk about our mutual sorrow?” Littlefoot immediately regretted his wording but now it was too late. Utterly helpless, he had to watch Cho’s state deteriorating abruptly…
 
Cho didn’t understand what was happening with her and she despised herself for her inability to prevent moments like these, to prevent something like this from happening. A deep conflict had developed; Cho didn’t want Littlefoot to leave, not really at least, because, of all dinosaurs she knew, he might just be the only one able to truly understand her. However, something about his presence  greatly bothered her, causing extreme stress, discomfort and panic even though she also felt strangely comforted by his words. She didn’t want him to go, wanted to talk about their mutual struggles with the life of an orphan, but his company made her feel utterly, utterly terrible. She wanted to escape, wanted to run away, some place she was left alone and yet she couldn’t, yet she didn’t want to. Internally, she was screaming for help but no sound escaped her mouth.
 
That was until Littlefoot’s words reminded her cruelly of these dormant feelings deep inside of her, succeeding at resurfacing her extreme depression and sorrow which she always tried to choke back so violently. Suddenly, Cho was hit by a tsunami of negativity, of combined stress and long suppressed emotions which were now released at once. Without warning, tears streamed from her eyes like waterfalls, accompanied by wild spasms and uncontrollable sobs and screams.
 
“S-sorry, Cho, I…” Littlefoot cursed. He by far hadn’t intended to trigger such a heavy and extreme reaction but now it was too late to be undone and he was best advised to try mitigate the sudden outburst as best as he could and keep the damage minimal. Still cursing, he slowly walked up to the convulsing, shaking little longneck who was still on her feet.
 
“Hey, don’t worry, I know how much it hurts even after so many years…” he spoke solemnly, standing next to the poor child who edged away ever so slightly when she noticed. Littlefoot knew that it was best not to intrude onto the girl’s personal space though he stood close enough to spend her some comfort, provided Cho sought any. Her sudden meltdown painfully made him realize just how badly he was missing his own mother. Littlefoot didn’t know what had truly upset Cho so much as to trigger such an avalanche of emotions but he was certain that, whatever it was, was similar to what feelings were entering his mind at that very moment.
 
“Come to think of it…it-it hurts so so much…” he mumbled. His gaze wandered from the collapsing form of Cho, burying her head underneath her forelegs as she screamed out in agony, up into the sky, where a large cloud had just decided to block all view of the night sky. He couldn’t see the blinky light anymore which he had always associated with his mother ever since her death and somehow it made something snap inside of him. Cho’s uncontained and shameless wailing next to him probably had a fair share to contribute as well but, ultimately, it was this sudden feeling of emptiness, of being left all alone which broke Littlefoot as well. He was shaking his long neck in disbelief when thick tears started flowing from his eyes, he was trying to subdue the sobs forming in his dry throat but all he could hear was Cho screaming her sorrow away and it made resisting absolutely futile.  Before long, he too was sobbing as his past sorrows resurfaced.
 
Cho couldn’t remember when she’d broken down this badly before. Despite her obvious agony, she always tried to swallow it lest she’d be seen as a weak crybaby which would certainly earn her nothing but more mockery and contempt. Cho hated to cry, she’d cried so much in her short life already that at some point she’d sworn to herself to rise above her feelings and ignore them. Though, I hindsight, she had to admit that it usually just made her feel even more terrible. Of course she had attempted to prevent this meltdown and keep her face in front of Littlefoot but she didn’t have enough strength left. Too much shit she had had to endure recently to have the mental strength she needed, too tempting was the opportunity to give up all pride, however little she had possessed, in order to finally get rid of all the pressure which had been building up inside of her. The past hurt, the present hurt, thinking about the future too. Her mind was hurt beyond repair and the hardships of the recent days had taken its toll on her as well. Ultimately, there was nothing but pain and despair left and once Cho finally admitted to these horrible feelings there was no stopping her.
 
Strangely enough, even though she was 100% certain that Littlefoot had been the main trigger for the pain torturing her, she was glad when she noticed him at her side. With no pride left to lose, there was also no reason to deny herself access to his mute support and comfort, however faint and pointless it might have been. No matter how strong her yearning for loneliness was, for it was all she’d ever known and the only source of comfort she was aware of, even a hopeless dinosaur like Cho occasionally yearned for love and compassion. The fact, that she wasn’t alone at that moment took a little burden off her chest even if it didn’t make a difference in the end.
 
Cho didn’t notice at first since all she could hear were her desperate cries but after a while she noticed that Littlefoot was crying as well, not nearly as violent as her, granted, but his sobs and his posture were unmistaken.
 
“Am I responsible for this?” her burdened mind wondered inbetween fits of self-loath and painful spasms. Suddenly, Cho felt the odd urge to comfort the crying longneck even though her very own situation was several times as severe. Actually, it was her who needed comfort more than ever and Cho was finally ready to admit it.
 
“I really hope he doesn’t mind…” The girl’s pattern of cries, sobs and screams was shortly disturbed as she struggled her way onto her paws, crawling over to the older boy and curling herself up next to him, soon developing her rhythm again and wailing ever so pain-stricken.
 
“Huh?” Littlefoot shook out of his trance when he felt something tap his flank gently. Opening his eyes and wiping the tears, he noticed that Cho had edged over to him, shyly seeking comfort. The boy didn’t lie; he too was in dire need of some consolation, in whatever form it came so he was welcoming the child with open paws.
 
“I-it’s okay, C-c-cho!” he sobbed, being once more reminded up himself long ago when he was about her age, dealing with the loss of his mother. The memories which were floating in his mind only made things worse. “L-l-let’s be s-s-sad tog-gether, o-ook?!”
 
Cho immediately snuggled up to Littlefoot as he spoke his indirect invitation. Together, they wept for a very long time, each dealing with their very own pain yet sharing it and thus making it a little easier to bear. Neither of them had any idea how long they were keeping this up but when, finally, Cho’s last, faintest cry had silenced, the Night Circle was smiling from a clear sky, directly above them. It was already in the middle of the night. Littlefoot was shocked when it dawned on him just how long he’d broken down.
 
“The middle of the night already? My grandparents are going to kill me if they find out…” In a way though, this thought helped to break the mood of the first half of this night. Cho was suspiciously quiet so Littlefoot got up carefully, looking up in the sky. “Ah, there it is, mother’s light.”
 
Cho, however, was far from sleeping as Littlefoot had assumed. When Littlefoot got up from his position next to her, the lack of warmth on her right flank shook her out of the trance which crying for so long had pushed her into. Cho couldn’t really remember what had happened ever since she’d decided to accept Littlefoot’s comfort, only that she’d been feeling extremely sorrowful, more than she’d experienced in an eternity. But right now, none of that was present. It seemed like she’d screamed all her sorrows away and not only an empty feeling remained which was manageable although far from pleasant.
 
Grunting, Cho scrambled to her feet to join Littlefoot, who seemed to have recovered as well, staring into the night sky (was it really this late already?). Littlefoot noticed her, offering a weak smile.
 
“See that blinky light over there, Cho?”
 
Cho squinted her eyes but she couldn’t tell which of the thousands of lights the boy was referring to.

“I am sorry, which one are you referring to, Littlefoot?”
 
“It’s just a little below where the Night Circle is residing at the moment,” Littlefoot explained warmly, pointing into the general direction with his long neck. “It’s much brighter than any other light up there, you can’t miss it!”
 
Cho tried her very best but no matter how hard she tried, there was no such star as Littlefoot was describing to her. However, a different star far in the distance soon caught her eye. Despite being close to the horizon, it shone brighter than all the other ones nearby.
 
“I am sorry, Littlefoot, but I really cannot find it,” she apologized formally. “But… please tell me, do you see this very bright one far over there, close to the horizon?”
 
“Okay, let me see!” Littlefoot exclaimed, glancing into the general direction Cho had mentioned. “Hmm, nope, not seeing anything particular.”
 
“That is odd,” Cho commented drily. “Say, Littlefoot, what does that light mean to you? It seems to me like it is very important and it seems like it is cheering you up.”
 
“Oh is it?” Littlefoot pondered for a moment, then he smiled. “Yeah, yeah I guess so. You see, Cho, I have reason to believe that this is where my mother has gone when she passed away.” A little more serious, he added. “I was really upset when it wasn’t visible earlier, it felt as if I’d lost her all over again…”
 
“I see…” Cho looked at the older boy expectantly. Quite surprisingly, a youthful glint of curiosity was apparent in her expression.
 
“Say, Littlefoot, c-could you tell me about your mother? What kind of dinosaur was she? Was she kind like you?”
 
Littlefoot caught himself blushing slightly at the child’s honest compliment but he could thank the darkness that it wasn’t visible. Quickly forcing himself to smile again, he replied.
 
“Uh thank you, I guess.” A giggle escaped his mouth. “Yeah sure, I’ll tell you anything you want to know.”
 
“Is it really okay though?” Cho inquired. “I mean… I do not want to make you sad once again...”
 
“Don’t worry, I’ll be fine,” Littlefoot reassured with a broad smile. “I’ve gotten rid of my sadness.” The fact that Cho was displaying thorough concern only reinforced his desire to befriend her eventually. His spirits high, he began telling her about his mother, about how wise and kind of a dinosaur she had been and of how she’d always talk about the Great Valley, about how courageous she had been saving his life from Sharptooth… and about how crushed he had been about her untimely demise as a result of said courage.
 
“…I didn’t know what to do back then,” Littlefoot elaborated as he had reached the aftermath in his narration. “I had never been alone in my life; I didn’t know loss and despair until then. All I could think about was, “Mother, why? Why did you have to die? Why did you have to leave me alone?” I couldn’t comprehend the answer back then. Nothing in life felt worthwhile anymore and I spent days wandering around without aim, without a destination in mind, stopping here and there to cry a little and then move on. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to live at all; without mother it all seemed so utterly pointless. If a sharptooth had found me back then, I’m not sure if I would have run.”
 
“Welcome to my world, “Cho commented dejectedly, a glum look on her face. Littlefoot was taken by surprise.
 
“That bad?”
 
“Well…” Cho hesitated. “Maybe not this bad but… sometimes I do wonder why I am putting up with it at all…”
 
“I’d better make sure she doesn’t feel that way anymore…” Littlefoot pondered as he listened to the girl’s complaints.
 
“Whatever, how did you manage to overcome it?”
 
“Well, you see,” Littlefoot answered, glad that Cho had taken it upon herself to change the topic before it could deteriorate again. “It was actually Mother herself who saved me.”
 
“What do you mean, Littlefoot?” Cho blinked. “How can someone who is dead save you?”
 
Littlefoot gave a light chuckle. It truly had been miraculous how one day his precious treestar came sailing down from the heavens, his mother’s angelic voice speaking to him, reminding him of his quest to find the Great Valley… and that she was always, always there.
 
“After that, I began to walk with determination again. I still cried sometimes and the knowledge that my mother was watching was only helping a little, dissatisfying me greatly because… I wished so much that she could just descend back here from wherever she was watching.”
 
“The dead never return,” Cho spoke matter-of-factly.
 
“Wishes are wishes,” Littlefoot replied cryptically. “You wish for things you yearn for but it doesn’t mean that what you wish to happen is possible within the realm of our world.” When Cho gave him a befuddled look, he added. “Those are my grandpa’s words, he’s very wise.”
 
“Oh, it makes sense then,” the little longneck spoke. Littlefoot giggled at her words.
 
“Anyway, I’m just saying that I was back on track from that moment on. Soon, I met more orphaned kids along the way and we all became best friends. It took us a long time and many hardships but in the end we found the Great Valley and have been living there together ever since.”
 
“And your friends helped you forget about all the sadness, huh?” the girl wondered with a meek voice. Littlefoot smiled at her.
 
“Well yeah, you could say that. Where there is joy and laughter, sadness has a hard time, you know?” This didn’t quite have the desired effect on Cho though, the girl looking down. “Did I say something wrong?”
 
“No… it is just… I can’t relate,” Cho replied, crestfallen.
 
“Because you don’t have friends to laugh and have fun with?” Littlefoot offered questioningly.
 
Cho nodded. She really did want to socialize more but she had been hurt so many times over by so many dinosaurs that she had long since decided to stop trying. It wasn’t that she liked being alone and sad but both had become her only reliable companions in her daily life.
 
“Would you like to have friends, Cho?” Littlefoot suddenly turned quite stern as the topic of the conversation shifted. He’d realized that this was a welcomed opportunity to ask a number of questions that had been on his mind ever since meeting the girl for the first time… and just maybe to offer her his friendship too.
 
“Well… claiming that I don’t would be a blatant lie but…”
 
“…you don’t like things you’re not used to?”
 
“Mhm,” Cho merely mumbled. Littlefoot understood. Slowly, a suspicion was rising.
 
“You don’t like things changing, Cho? Even if the way things are is terrible??”
 
“I… I guess so…” Cho spoke quietly, lowering her head even more. “See how weird I am…I-I did not want you to leave me earlier b-but somehow… because things were different than I am used to… I freaked out…I did not want to but… but I couldn’t help it!”
 
Littlefoot gulped, this was harder than expected.
 
“Uhm, Cho, in order to have friends, you cannot be the way you are acting right now. If you are serious about it, you will have to try… to change a little bit… to accept that things don’t always go the same.”
 
“I know, I cannot help it!” the girl yelled in frustration. “I cannot help being who I am. I hate everything about me!”
 
Littlefoot jerked slightly.
 
“Cho, don’t say such things, please; you’re deceiving yourself,” he advocated, trying to be stern with her.” It’ll just be another circle of negativity, you’ve got to break it if you want to achieve something, if you want to *change* something.”
 
“How do I do that though?!” Cho shouted in extreme frustration. “I just don’t know…”
 
“Let’s see…” Littlefoot considered his choice of words for a moment, fully aware of the tremendous importance the success or failure could have for the little longneck’s future. “You’ve gotta keep in mind how others see you. You are usually alone and reclusive, minding your own business, or am I wrong?” A quick nod of the girl confirmed his assumptions so he continued elaborating. “What do you think others think of someone like you? They’d probably think you wouldn’t be any fun and don’t pay you any attention.”
 
“I KNOW all of that, Littlefoot!” Cho shouted in a mixture of annoyance and sadness. “Tell me how… tell me how I can become…become different!”
 
“I was getting there,” the boy spoke in defense. “What you need to do is become active and approach others; just like you approached me earlier.”
 
“I see but… Littlefoot? It… I do not think that I can just walk up to a stranger and-and ask them just li-like that!”
 
“Not saying you should ask random dinosaurs to be your friends but next time you meet kids you don’t know, ask them if they’ll let you play along? It mightn’t always work out but I’m sure you can find someone.”
 
“I really do not know, I…”
 
“Cho, you’ve done it before, don’t you remember?” Littlefoot was getting a little impatient with the shy and awkward girl. “Ali’s your first and only friend because YOU walked up to her and said “hi”! She told me about how she met you just the other day.”
 
“That was something different though…” Cho admitted, avoiding Littlefoot’s sharp glance.
 
“In what way was it different?” he inquired.
 
“Well…” Cho was struggling to translate her confusing emotions into words. There was a certain detail she absolutely couldn’t share with anyone, not even Ali herself. But even before she knew, there had been a reason why Cho had decided to approach Ali back then.
 
“She-she was injured and weak s-so… I did not need to fear anything,” she explained awkwardly. Littlefoot gave a befuddled glance. “The children of this herd just laugh and bully me but this girl, Ali, she was not raised in this herd so… I hoped that… she wouldn’t… reject me.”
 
“Makes sense to me,” the boy admitted.
 
“It absolutely is not going to work on anyone being raised in this herd, anyone who knows me is going to turn me down… but anyone from outside would not stay around me so… why should I bother…”
 
“It doesn’t matter, a friend is a friend and they stay your friend no matter where they are, Cho,” Littlefoot cheered her up. “I left all of my friends in the Valley behind; I miss them greatly. But they’re still my friends even if I never return to the Valley. Also, Cho, Ali and I only met for a few days but look how strong our friendship has lasted all this time. We’ve been friends even though we were so far apart!”
 
“But… what good is having a friend if you can’t see them, talk to them and have fun together?” It was a good question and Littlefoot had to ponder about it for some time before he was able to answer thoroughly.
 
“You might meet again or you might not but, regardless, you always know that, somewhere out there, there are dinosaurs you can call your friends. It gives me strength knowing that. Moreover, live for the moment, live for the memories you make and hold them dear. A friend might leave but the memories you make will never leave you, Cho!”
 
“I get what you are saying, Littlefoot, but… I am scared that I’ll just end up making more bad memories than I already have to deal with…”
 
“You won’t be making any good ones though,” Littlefoot argued. “Hey, whatever happens, I’m sure you will always be able to count on Ali if everything fails. The number of friends is only secondary; you should try to find good friends who you can rely on, Cho. And, uhhh…” A short surge of awkwardness flooded his mind but Littlefoot managed to defeat it rapidly. “Well, I would gladly accept your friendship as well. What do you think?”
 
Cho didn’t reply immediately. The little longneck was looking at something behind Littlefoot.
 
“Did I make her feel uncomfortable again?” he wondered, however, it was then that she gathered the courage to reply.
 
“Littlefoot, I-I appreciate the offer, but…a-are you really sure? I… you know that I am not a cheerful child…”
 
“Doesn’t matter to me,” Littlefoot replied, smiling kindly. “I’d love to help you become a happier longneck though. I don’t like seeing people suffer in front of my eyes so I would like to try doing something about it. I’m sure that, together with Ali, perhaps it’ll happen at some point…”
 
“Just like that? Would you really help someone you barely know just like that?”
 
“Yeah sure, I’d be grateful for help if I were in your situation.”
 
“I can hardly believe that to be honest,” Cho spoke thoughtfully, though Littlefoot readily reinforced his kind smile and began to explain.
 
“My mother has taught me to treat others as I wish to be treated myself. I’d like to have some support if I were in your situation so that’s why I’m so eager to help. Nevertheless, Cho, you are really kind if you want to and I think we have a few things in common.”
 
“Things in common… Are you referring to… how we are both orphans?”
 
“I knew she would jump to that conclusion…” the boy deadpanned. Nevertheless, Cho hadn’t been all that incorrect. It was indeed a major thing they had in common though Littlefoot preferred to look at the bright things first.

“That too but, more importantly, I think we both like quiet nights without Sky Puffies… and we both like Ali.”
 
“…and we both hate Shorty…”
 
“Haha, true,” Littlefoot laughed. Cho seemed to look a little less gloomy too. Was he making her day a little better after all?
 
“Anyway, Littlefoot, if you are really sure about it, I would like to…to be friends!”
 
Littlefoot had to laugh; the image of Cho desperately trying to show some assertiveness was just too amusing.
 
“Sure, let’s be friends, Cho!” he exclaimed happily. The girl was trying to hide it but he could tell that, this very moment, she was happy. 
 
“T-thank you, I guess,” she said quietly but her voice was devoid of sadness. Then, she suddenly changed the topic as if she’d just remembered something left unfinished. “Littlefoot, you have told me a lot about your mother. In return, would you also like me to talk about mine?”
 
“Oh?” Littlefoot was astonished that the girl would even want to talk about something which obviously hurt her, especially now that she was having a rare non-depressed moment. “If you don’t mind? Sure! I know she died really early in your life so I’m not sure how much you remember…”
 
“I do remember a lot, Littlefoot,” Cho answered thoroughly. Perhaps her only skill, it truly was more of a pain than a blessing. Cho was able to recall a lot of memories she’d made throughout her short life, even memories normal dinosaurs would never have in the first place. She was unable to forget any memory; once engraved into her mind, it would never leave her. It was this skill which allowed her to recall scenes from her earliest childhood.
 
“Is that really true?” Littlefoot could hardly believe when the girl explained it to him. “So, like, do you remember how you hatched?!”
 
“I do remember,” Cho affirmed. “Most of the time, though, I wish I could forget so many things that happened during my life…”
 
“I can imagine,” Littlefoot said sympathetically. “Well, go ahead with your story.”
 
“Sure.” Cho began to narrate. The boy could tell that Cho only told him as much as absolutely necessary and perhaps not the full truth but it didn’t concern him in the slightest. He was simply glad that the little longneck was telling him about it at all. Cho had lived for about a cold time when tragedy struck her family so violently. A longneck she didn’t know had cruelly murdered her mother after she had refused to give Cho and her siblings to the stranger. Back then, Cho didn’t understand what had transpired and why it happened, however she had long since uncovered the truth. A truth she was keeping to herself, however.
 
“…That same night, all of us snuck away and managed to escape from the stranger but we were just a bunch of helpless hatchlings who couldn’t even talk. If… if Shorty hadn’t found us back then, we would have died for sure…”
 
Intrigued, Littlefoot perked up.
 
“I wonder why your relationship with Shorty is that bad then. I mean why does he bully those around whose lives he saved?”
 
“Beats me…” Cho replied sourly. “It is not my fault that we aren’t on good terms…”
 
“Yeah… so, anyway, those other little longnecks are your siblings then, aren’t they?”
 
“Technically, they are my brothers and sisters…” Cho confirmed, though her voice held some bitterness. “We all got adopted at such a young age, that they don’t recall. I never bothered to tell them once I realized that they do not remember what I remember…”
 
Littlefoot gulped slightly.
 
“I-is that really okay with you, Cho? I mean…” He gave her a conflicted gaze but the girl remained calm.
 
“Yes, it is,” the little longneck replied, her mood deteriorating somewhat. “The moment my mother passed away, I lost my family; the moment they got adopted, I lost my siblings. My foster mother is very kind but it is just not the same and will never be. It is a constant source of sadness in my life…”
 
“…and ever since you cannot accept change?” Littlefoot puzzled, the thought just popping up out of thin air.
 
“Who knows?” Cho merely grunted. “Anyway, that is my story, Littlefoot. Please never make me talk about it again though…”
 
“I-I didn’t make you tell me, you offered me to do so,” the older boy objected. “Anyway, I appreciate it a lot, Cho. Now I can understand a little better why you are the dinosaur you are.”
 
Cho didn’t reply to that, instead entering what Littlefoot assumed to be a highly concentrated, thoughtful state of mind. He couldn’t fathom what caused this sudden mood swing but this was Cho after all, always good for a surprise. Actually, as he was giving it some more thought, he had barely been able to get to do what he came for that night so he, once again, dedicated his full attention to the bright star high above on the sky. For some time, both Cho and Littlefoot were standing next to each other, each with their long necks in the clouds until, eventually, a yawn escaped from Littlefoot’s mouth. No matter how hard he tried to ignore it, he wasn’t used to this hour of the day.
 
“Tired?” Cho inquired.
 
“Ye-eah, somewhat,” Littlefoot replied sheepishly, chuckling when another yawn snuck its way to the surface. “Aren’t you getting tired?”
 
“Just a little,” Cho shrugged. “Are you going to head to your nest soon then?”
 
“Probably, yeah,” he replied, yawning again. “You should do the same.”
 
Cho pondered about this.
 
“Actually, Littlefoot… can I ask you to stay just one moment longer? There is something you said earlier that does not leave me in peace…”
 
“Oh?” Littlefoot looked at the younger child with fresh curiosity. “What would that be?” “Did I end up bothering her?”
 
Cho looked slightly uncomfortable but she also gave the impression of a child who was demanding answers.
 
“Were you just looking at the bright light on the sky again, Littlefoot?” Cho wondered casually instead of giving him a direct answer.
 
“How’d you know?” Littlefoot gave a short laugh. “Yes, I was indeed. Does it have something to do with it?”
 
“Well… yeah,” Cho said, uncomfortable. “I cannot really fathom how your mother can be up there… she died long ago and… dinosaurs who die are…” Cho couldn’t finish the sentence. She didn’t know why but the feelings of sorrow and despair suddenly resurfaced without warning but she was certain that telling about her past played a major role.
 
“Yes, they are gone once their lives end,” Littlefoot confirmed, noticing the attempts of the little longneck to stay composed. Quickly, he gave her a quick nuzzle. “I once thought that they perished for good as well but remember what I said earlier. I wasn’t lying about my mother talking to me. She wasn’t there physically but, she was there. Somewhere. You know, Cho? There is something that I believe in.”

Cho was momentarily taken aback when Littlefoot’s words reached her ears. The child had a hard time grasping what Littlefoot was telling her. How could he talk to his mother in spite of the fact that she was dead? That didn’t make any sense, did it? Though, Cho was rather certain that the boy was about to tell her about it.
 
“What do you believe in?” Cho inquired, her voice shaky. Littlefoot remained close to the little one; Cho wasn’t breaking down completely so he supposed his poor attempt at consoling her was working after all. Or maybe he had just captivated her enough for her to swallow her sadness for the sake of learning about what he had to say.
 
“You know, I never told anyone about this, not even my friends or my grandparents. To be honest, that’s something we absolutely have in common… I never think about mother like this unless I’m all alone somewhere quiet and lonely. Anyway, that’s why I never told anyone. I wasn’t sure if they’d even believe me when I tell them that I can still sort of talk to mother on some days…”
 
“I do n-not understand, L-littlefoot…” Cho sobbed quietly, struggling against her tears. “I-I want to talk to m-my mother as well…”
 
“What I’m about to tell you is no more and no less than a theory, Cho,” Littlefoot explained in a calm, soothing voice. “I have reason to believe that there is more to a dinosaur than meets the eye. If we die, our bodies rot over time but the fact that mother is still around sometimes, in some ways at least, makes me think… that, perhaps, there is something living inside of our bodies which defines who we are – and if we die, we don’t really die but instead… we lose our body but… that something inside of us continues to exist, maybe without form and shape, but it’s still there somewhere. Grandma once mentioned while referring to the Great Circle of Life that dinosaurs “move on” when their time has come to meet their end. I didn’t understand it back then but I think I’m getting close to the answer. Mother always listens to me when I can see the light on the sky. I can’t really explain this but… I just *feel* that she does, deep inside. I feel warmth that isn’t from this world.”
 
Cho listened intently as she sobbed quietly. At first glance, his words sounded like the kind of nonsense stuff her sleepstories were made of but the longer he talked, the more it began to make sense. Cho desperately wanted him to be right about his theory, she really, really did.
 
“Cho, do you think it is possible that this something inside of us becomes a blinky light on the sky when we die?” Littlefoot wondered cryptically. “Wonder who all these other lights might be then?”
 
Cho had a hard time seeing anything through the persistent layer of salty tears in her eyes but it didn’t stop her from casting an extended gaze into the night sky.
 
“I do not know, Li-littlefoot, b-but I cannot s-see yours a-and I believe that you could n-not see what I was seeing…” Cho’s gaze continued to roam the sky until she found what she was looking for. The light had moved a huge distance as the night progressed, now high on the sky while the Night Circle had begun its journey towards the distant horizon – in a few hours the Bright Circle would be appearing again. It was still there and, even though she had no relationship with it unlike Littlefoot, it strangely soothed her seeing it again.
 
“So… Littlefoot? Could-could it be that the lights we see aren’t the same? Could it be that...” A particularly persistent sob suddenly shook and interrupted her forcefully but Littlefoot understood.
 
“You mean, they are like… like our ancestors? Family, maybe good friends too? People whom we cared about before they passed away?” Littlefoot was suddenly feeling very much awake again as excitement flooded his body.
 
“C-could be,” Cho responded, her gaze ever so fixated on the bright star high above which only she was able to see.
 
“Well, there’s no way we’ll ever know if it’s true or not but,” Littlefoot announced, smiling. “It sure is a consoling thought that our ancestors are watching us grow up though. Oh, you know, perhaps the sky up there is like a world for the dead where they reside and guide those closest to them who are still roaming this world where we live. I know it sounds ridiculous but how do we know really?”
 
“I like it…” Cho spoke quietly as she attempted to dry her tears.
 
Suddenly, Littlefoot felt a sensation in his chest and he immediately knew what it was. “I know, mother, I know…”
 
“So, Cho, why don’t you try to get in touch with that bright light of yours tonight? I’m sure that if you focus and concentrate you might just be able to feel it too?”
 
“H-how?” Cho wondered in clear agitation.
 
“Well, just dedicate to it,” Littlefoot explained mystically. “Try to communicate through word or thought. I’m sure your mother is always listening, you just don’t realize it most of the time.”
 
“O-okay, I shall try it now…” Uncertainly, Cho entered a comfortable pose, looking up into the sky once more. “Uhm Littlefoot? How do I *feel* it?”
 
Littlefoot grinned mirthfully. “You just do. Have a good night, Cho, mother told me to get some sleep so I’d better listen to her.”
 
A small involuntary giggle escaped Cho’s mouth all of a sudden.
 
“Hopefully, I can believe in your beliefs by tomorrow, Littlefoot. It would mean so much to me and if it is just being scolded for breaking the curfew…”
 
“Good luck, Cho, maybe I’ll see you tomorrow? Come join Ali and me!” Littlefoot encouraged her. Now that they were friends, it only seemed right.
 
“I will think about it, okay?” Cho promised and for the first time Littlefoot truly saw the little longneck smile. “Thank you for making my day just a little better, Littlefoot.”
 
“I did it after all, huh?” Littlefoot returned the gesture.
 
“You’re welcome, Cho. Have a good night!”
 
“Good night.”
 
*
 
While Cho returned to stargazing, Littlefoot slowly made his way back to his nest, tiredness hitting like a boulder but he knew that he mustn’t falter until he’d make it back to his grandparent’s place. Somewhere along the way, the little boy turned around when he felt a strange sensation somewhere inside of him.
 
“Oh, this feels nostalgic…” Above the place where they had spent half of the night, where Cho was likely still residing, hung a cloud in an unmistaken shape and Littlefoot could swear hearing distant happy cries.
 
“Guess it’s true after all… my beliefs… are no longer…a mere hope. Now I know that… mother is really up there. Everyone is. And, one day, me and my friends might watch our descendants in the same way that mother is watching me. Maybe being dead isn’t too bad at all…I love you, mother, good night…”
 
The blinky light twinkled; Littlefoot smiled. Then he continued his sleepy trek until he joined his unsuspecting grandparents and immediately fell asleep.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is my entry for the December 2018 prompt: Belief.

I don't really know what to comment below. Certainly, this has taken me much longer than expected and it also ended up being really large (8.5k words). The actual part of the story relating to the prompt only arrives at the end but I guess everything else is build-up to that scene. Since this is set in the SDP universe I had to explain a little more than I would have had to if this was part of the story already. Yeah I have no more words to say. Hope you liked this little teaser, shall we say? for what is yet to come in SDP.  ;)Cera :PAli

Will also put it up on ff.net tomorrow and upload two other chapters if I get around to... uploading takes so painfully long...  :(petrie

Note to self: finally create that signature lazy bum! :P

rhombus

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Re: More than a blinky light
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2019, 01:12:30 am »
This was quite a lovely entry for the prompt challenge that not only elaborated upon a well known character's beliefs and struggles with the losses of the past, but also connects them to that of an original character from SDP, Cho.  The use of nighttime to show the emotional isolation of the two characters is quite inspired, as it shows how Littlefoot sees the night stars as a sign that he is not alone, whereas Cho sees the same and fails to make that connection. The resulting exchange between the two dinosaurs, showing both Cho's skepticism intermixed with her need for hope, is quite well done.  Especially when Cho's own emotional turmoil finally forces Little foot to drop his emotional barriers as well. The result is a short story that not only shows Littlefoot's perspective on his mother's passing, but also Cho's gradual adapting to the dark memories and turmoil that threaten to drag her down.  I quite look forward to seeing when this is used in the Shorty's Dark Past narrative and to see what comes next.  :)


Go ahead and check out my fanfictions, The Seven Hunters, Songs of the Hunters, and Mender's Tale
Mender's Tale.

Ducky123

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Re: More than a blinky light
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2019, 03:17:09 pm »
Thank you very much, rhombus, I'm glad that you liked my short story :D

Sovereign

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Re: More than a blinky light
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2019, 03:20:55 pm »
This was a rather strong short story and I liked the emphasis you put on this one scene. The way Cho and Littlefoot’s behaviors affected each other was rather intriguing to read and the story developed from a rather low-key beginning into a nice character-building finale. In many ways, this was one of the stronger fics you’ve made.

The start was a rather silent one and initially, Cho’s antics felt more than a little awkward but when the ice between the two started to melt, things started to proceed more smoothly. I especially liked that you mentioned that both of the characters saw their own stars, making the thought that they really see their loved ones up there that much more believable. Littlefoot’s advice and the eventual shift into the religious discussion worked quite nicely and the atmosphere worked really well throughout the story.

Yet, the fact that Littlefoot and Cho already had this discussion in the original story made the premise of this tale a bit problematic as it was clear in which direction it was going towards. :sducky Also, this scene will be so far in the future that I wonder if it was necessary to do just yet, considering where you are with the rewriting of the larger fic. Of course, many of us know the context already so I guess it makes sense.

Even then, this scene was a real improvement from the original one and it’s a good intro to Cho’s character for those who haven’t read the original SDP. Many of the themes are ones that have been explored rather thoroughly in LBT fics before but they offered Cho some hope in moving forward. Despite those slight problems, the overall level of writing and the way you portrayed the duo’s fledgling friendship was rather impressive. :^^spike

Ducky123

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Re: More than a blinky light
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2019, 07:45:26 am »
Sorry, I missed your review Sovereign :oops

I'm really really glad that you think so. I'd agree that this is one of my better stories to date but I still had a few doubts about it because... well, the author tends to be biased. :P Thank you very much! :)littlefoot