mjj (flemmings) wrote,

A Library ficlet, before incandescens can Joss my ideas further in book 3. Take as A/U.

Irene has learned that there are distinct 'Uh-oh' conversational topics that need to be avoided, or occasionally fled from pell-mell, whenever Kai gets near them. Family is the most obvious. It's not that Kai pesters her with questions about her experience as the rare child of two Librarians, or speculates as to why more Librarians don't follow her parents' example. True, in an unguarded moment he once observed that an extended family of Librarians- a tribe of grandparents, aunts, uncles, older and younger cousins, and a sea of siblings- might supply the Library's staffing needs more efficiently than the haphazard recruiting of louche but clever thugs (for which read 'slumming dragon princes') who get too close to dangerous information. Irene informed him flatly that his entrance into the Library was the opposite of Standard Operating Procedure; that the Librarian who'd had the bad judgment to press him into service without performing due diligence doubtless now has reason to regret it; and that Kai's regard for the virtue of blood-ties is not often shared by the solitary and single-minded run of Librarians.

(She did *not* say that the other kind of Librarian might well outdo Wu Zetian or Murad III in advancing their own offspring and disposing of other people's, just in case she was being over-paranoid, and also in case Kai asked exactly which Librarians were the other kind.)

And that was that. But every so often Kai casually inquires when Irene will be seeing her parents again, and then the danger bells sound. Of course a dragon will set off on his youthful adventures, waving farewell to fond Papa back home (wherever 'home' is to dragons who seem to regard alternate worlds as just another area of the same sea). But there's always *someone*, however much in the background, to be kept apprised, however general the information, of what's going on with Young Dragon: since that someone in turn informs the higher-ups (casually, more by way of gossip) as to how things fare with the younger members. But should our dragon neglect to keep his minder sufficiently apprised for too long a period, then that uncle or older brother or close cousin, or some representative thereof, will probably come seeking the information for themselves. Family is duty, duty is family: and one of the main family duties is 'don't worry your elders' with the natural corollary 'stay in touch.'

Kai has obliquely hinted that Irene is sliding near the damnable state of neglecting her nearest kin. So far Irene gets by with a certain elision of facts: Coppelia is Irene's mentor and hence responsible for Irene. (Professionally only, but that part can be ignored.) Coppelia but naturally reports on Irene's progress to Irene's parents. (Irene hopes this is false but fears it to be true). Hence there's no need for Irene to do more than send the odd email or birthday gift at the appropriate time, very much as Kai himself does.

The subterfuge is not to her liking, but she doubts it's possible to make a dragon understand how families relate in human cultures. An adult, and especially a Librarian, stands on her own two feet; she and no one else is responsible for her own actions; the chick must leave the nest and the parents are pleased and proud to see it go, etc etc. Minders- family interference- are an affront to an individual's independence. Then Irene wonders how dragons define either 'individual' or 'independence' within their kin-tangled net, and sighs.

But they must surely understand tact and noblesse oblige. Irene is unusual in having family in the Library, and not merely family but parents. Other Librarians have no blood ties at all: their only family are their colleagues, close but not the same. Is it not politer- more generous- more considerate of her fellows' feelings-- to keep contact with her parents to a minimum, so as not to rub her colleagues' noses in their kinless state?

Irene resolves to try this the next time Kai starts dropping Jewish mother hints about 'So when are you going to see your family again?'
Tags: dragons, fic, library

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