I started reading Saga back when Saika first recced it on this blog, and so far, it’s been a great ride. While I love Alana, Marko, and Hazel, my favorite part of the comic is actually The Will, his sidekick Lying Cat, and his plotline with Sophie. The Will starts out as a Freelancer who’s hunting down our protagonists, but he quickly gets sidetracked when he accidentally encounters a young girl, Sophie, being held captive as a sex slave. In trying to free her, he gets himself into a lot of trouble. The Will, Sophie, Gwendolyn, and The Brand are an unique iteration of Saga‘s focus on family, and they’re my favorite type of family—the found family type. Which is why I was so annoyed when the comic switched focus to the robots, who I don’t care about at all. Fortunately, in AO3’s small collection of Saga fanfic, there was one that seemed like it was written just for me.
After The Will is hurt, Gwendolyn and Sophie join up with The Brand, The Will’s sister, to try and find something that will cure him. On the way, though, they have to figure out how to live with each other and how to act around others. The Brand is a Freelancer like her brother; Gwendolyn’s a soldier hunting down Marko, and Sophie has a lot of trauma and guilt to work through. Not the greatest start for warm family feelings. people, not places follows Gwendolyn as she starts to deal with Sophie as a reluctant parent and her own burgeoning feelings for The Brand.
‘And this is?’
They hadn’t thought of that. ‘My daughter,’ Gwendolyn says stupidly, aware her face is unnaturally pinched. Beneath her, Lying Cat makes a choked, tiny mewl, clearly going for restraint, and ending in a prolonged coughing fit. It buys her time; the customs operative’s worried glance suggests that, at least momentarily, he’s more worried about feline vomit than the verity of Gwendolyn’s family tree. Behind her, Sophie is frozen still.
The moment passes. He stares back at Gwendolyn, his pig-like features screwing up in suspicion. Gwendolyn knows they look close enough, at least; to most non-humanoid species, a vaguely matching categorisation of skin tone should be sufficient. The horns are a stumbling block, but maybe Sophie’s just haven’t grown in yet as far as the customs official is concerned.
Gwendolyn doesn’t want to offer any more detail, conscious that any definitive statement will draw more ire from Lying Cat. Instead, she reaches next to her to ruffle Sophie’s hair, whose look of pure surprise is thankfully missed by the official, and smiles as winningly as she can, which, at that moment, is not much. ‘We’re just here to relax,’ she remarks carefully, technically true, at least enough for their companion.
The operative clearly senses something is wrong beyond their vaguely similar appearances – and by vaguely similar, Gwendolyn is grasping at the fact that they both have the same number of eyes and legs. Perhaps he doesn’t think their body language is that of a family, and while he’s right, Gwendolyn can’t help being annoyed with herself for failing to give a convincing performance. How hard can it really be to pose as a mother to a little girl whose well being she is, for better or worse, primarily responsible?
He lets them go eventually, but she doesn’t fool herself into thinking it’s because she played her part well.
people, not places does a great job of filling in some of the blanks in Gwendolyn, Sophie, and The Brand’s short-lived adventure together. This kind of character development is pretty important because it’s the only way to show how all the pieces of a found family start to fit together, and I’m glad this fic exists even as I’m disappointed that Saga itself didn’t have more of these moments. You can catch the fic here on AO3, and hopefully we’ll see more of these characters from Saga soon!