Sign Up | Log In
BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Okay, so I'm splitting it up. Tough. I wanted to yank your heartstrings as much as possible, so I seperated the big blow-up scene from the poignant ones. Also, I wanted to give you guys something (since I've not posted since what, Saturday?) and I won't be able to post until maybe Sunday. :( Anyway, here it is: River's goodbyes.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1438 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Life's Too Short- Part Eighteen A
Author's Note: first, for disclaimer, see first post. Now, on to the story. Only one note: if you think that Kaylee has been left out, DO NOT! In Part B, we find that River has definately not forgotten about her best friend/sister.
“Fireflies die when you catch them in a jar.” Simon opened his eyes blearily as Kaylee snuggled more deeply against his side. He turned his head to see his sister standing by his bed, her hair down around her face again. Her eyes were huge and shining in the darkness.
“What, mei mei? Can’t you sleep?” He was whispering, not wanting to leave the warmth of the woman tucked against him. Kaylee murmured something and buried her face against his arm. He drew her closer, searching River’s face through the gloom.
“Can’t catch the light. You want to, but physiology is not on your side. Don’t try it. Believe me, I know.”
“River, what-” She put her hands to her face, clenching her fists against either side of her mouth.
“Got to let them fly. Got to break the jar, or throw it away.” Simon began to sit up, but River brought one fist down and unfurled one slender finger, placing it on his lips and gently pressing him back down. “Love you, Simon. Let Kaylee take care of you. Make sure the others stay whole. Don’t eat the raspberries, they have thorns on the insides. And always remember, you fixed what you could. Don’t be sad for me.” She patted his forehead like a mother, her touch cool and calming. Simon found himself settling back down, his eyes suddenly heavy.
“River,” he murmured sleepily.
* * * * “Captain.” Mal snorted awake, half-reaching for the gun beneath his pillow. He stopped when he saw River kneeling beside his bed. And remembered that, not only did he not have a gun beneath his pillow, but he also was too sore to do much with it. Yes, the pain reminded him of that quickly enough. He was more bandaged than not, though the doc had done a mighty fine job. Really, it wasn’t that bad. Inara, though… but she’d gone into her shuttle after being permitted to leave the infirmary, and Mal had decided to respect her privacy. Well, actually * Zoe * had decided that he would respect her privacy and had pretty much manhandled him (gently) into his bunk where he could regain his strength in peace. Best thing, really. Sheepishly, Mal sat up and ran a hand through his hair. Then, he remembered that she was invading * his * bunk in the middle of the night, and stopped feeling sheepish.
“What the good gorram are you doing here, lil Albatross?” She gazed at him with serious eyes, her hair hanging loose around her slim shoulders.
“Came to tell you things. Things you should hear.” Mal rolled his eyes.
“Maybehaps you should tell your pillow things. I’m sure there’s a great deal it ought ta know-”
“Don’t make faces. It’s important.” Mal made as if to swing his legs off the bed.
“We got another of them bounty hunters aboard?”
“No,” she said with a small smile, pushing him down with a hand on his shoulder. Just above his heart. “She was right, you know. You just have to have faith in people.”
“That’s important. And you were right too: life’s too short for ifs and maybes. That’s important. And I was right, of course: it’s time for you and Inara to admit some things. And move along to other things. It’s the course of human nature to procreate, helped along by hormones and mental stimulates. It’s not healthy to subdue these for too long. That’s important.” Mal had to actually think about shutting his mouth, which happened a lot around River.
“Well, sounds like everybody’s right.” She held up a hand, suddenly fierce.
“No! Not everybody is right. Zoe is wrong.” She continued before he could interrupt. “Once you reach Serenity, you do leave. You take what’s yours and leave what must be left, and you heal. You heal! You fit pieces together until you make a whole, and then you make your own serenity. ‘Learning to live with it’ is impossible. It kills the soul.”
“That’s no place of yours to be talkin’ about-”
“Wouldn’t I know?” Her voice was no longer fierce, but instead quiet. Childlike in its carelessness, horribly adult in the look in her eyes. “I know about ‘learning to live with it’. They broke me. But you aren’t broken, Captain Malcolm Reynolds. So Zoe is wrong,” River finished triumphantly.
Mal rubbed his eyes carefully, avoiding the stitches in his cheek.
“Albatross, I think you should go to bed.”
“You too,” she said simply. “Need to sleep.” Then why’d you come wake me up an’ babble nonsense, he thought as he lay back down. Suddenly, it seemed near impossible to keep his eyes open. As he was drifting away, he thought he heard her say something else, but wasn’t sure what. “Because I won’t get another chance,” River whispered to the sleeping man before her.
* * * * “He’s not gone, you know.” Zoe sat up with a jerk, her hand on the hilt of the knife she kept by her bed. She met River’s eyes, taking her hand away but not relaxing the tense muscles of her back and legs.
“What’re you doing here, River? You should be in bed.”
“So I’ve heard,” the girl replied. Despite the humor that should have been with her words, her face was solemn and sad. Zoe noticed that her hair wasn’t in the braid she’d taken to wearing. Instead, it hung in dark tangles around her face. Brought back memories, that loose hair did. “He’s not gone. He lingers. They all do.”
“I know,” Zoe said finally. Unwillingly. River smiled a little, touching the snout of a green dinosaur that sat on the pillow beside the imprint where Zoe’s head had been.
“Ceolophysis. Early Cretaceous. A scavenger, but sometimes hunted in packs up to ten. First dinosaur to utilize teamwork. He liked this one. Named it Rhino. Part of him lingers in this, you know,” River told Zoe earnestly.
“Yeah.” Part of her wanted to slap River’s hand away from the dinosaur, and part of her wanted to grab the girl and make her tell her what she knew about Wash.
“He talks to me sometimes,” River said shyly. “In the cockpit. Tells me stories. Makes me laugh.” Zoe felt a chill run down her spine. She’d often seen River sitting where her Baby had sat, laughing softly. Staring at space. She’d marked it off to River’s strangeness. “He saved Mal and Inara. Brought them back from the brink. He wanted you to know. Wanted you to be proud of him. Said, ‘I’m no warrior-woman- well, of course not, that would be awkward, wouldn’t it- anyway, I’m no fighter, but damned if I don’t make a great spook.’” As she spoke, Zoe closed her eyes. She could hear Wash’s voice, that wonderful, dear voice, in her head as it overplayed River’s.
“Why won’t he talk to me? I’m his wife!”
“He does. He talks to you all the time. In your sleep, he talks to you. Tells you he loves you. Tells you jokes. Tells you dirty stories with endings Jayne would like. You smile in your sleep, you know. You don’t remember when you wake up, but he makes you happy then. Like before. You’ve got to know that,” River said, catching up Zoe’s hands in hers. “He’s waiting for you. He’ll be patient. He wants you to look after Mal and the others. Especially Mal. Says he understands how you two are bound together. Says he won’t hold a grudge. You have to trust me, Zoe,” River told her softly. Zoe couldn’t remember a single time River had ever said her name, but she was saying it now. “I know. It’s going to be rough flying ahead, but we’ll make it through. Always does.”
Zoe lay down, tired. So tired. But something eased within her, just the same. A different sort of peace.
“Always does,” River repeated, her dark eyes shimmering. “Always does.”
* * * * “I’m sorry,” Jayne heard someone say. A soft, gentle voice. He wasn’t sure if it was in his dream or not, but it was a nice kinda sound. Sounded like his River. Mebbe he should wake up. “No, don’t wake up. Easier this way.” Well, okay, if you put it like that. He rolled over, snuffling into the pillow. The soft voice continued. “I am sorry, Jayne.”
“Nuhuhnna,” he mumbled. Ain’t got nothin’ to be sorry for, is what he meant.
“I do, though. This is my fault. You’ll shove it away after, say it wasn’t anything to you. Pretend. You’ll go after your whores, and lock me away inside. That’s not healthy. But you’ll do it anyway, because I’ve hurt you. I hate it,” she said, a sob in her voice. Jayne fought against the gentle but iron-hard will that was keeping him asleep. “I didn’t think… I hoped it wouldn’t have to happen like this. Hope is too fragile for us humans to bear. It breaks so easily. I tried not to drop it, but my foot slipped. Please understand. I couldn’t catch it in time. Time goes by so fast. I close my eyes for a moment and it’s gone. I’m so sorry for what I’ve done to you,” River whispered. Jayne felt two hot tears fall on his cheek, and reached out with a hand. He didn’t like this dream. He found hair, soft and long and silky-smooth. His hand fell away, his heart heavy. “You’ve got to protect them. They’ll need your help. Don’t forget about me!”
“Don’t,” Jayne managed. He felt a fleeting kiss on his brow, and then she was gone.
* * * *
Inara sat in the kitchen area with a mug of tea, her head resting in her hand. She knew Simon would be very put out if he saw her not flat on her back in bed, letting her body heal. But she couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t sleep in her shuttle, amidst all the beauty and finery and deep red-golds. It felt somehow… lonely. Here, at the scoured kitchen table, she felt more at home. She could feel the residual presence of the crew here, and it comforted her. Her abdomen ached, and the many different cuts on her body stung, but the tea was soothing. It dulled the already dulled pain.
“Inara.” The Companion lifted her head, looking around to see the slender form of her teenaged friend, the girl who had become so dear to her in ways she couldn’t quite explain.
“You’re awake. Couldn’t sleep.”
“No,” Inara agreed, sipping her tea. She held up the cup. “Would you like some?” River shook her head.
“I don’t need it.”
“I guess not.”
“You need to tell him, you know. Tell him that you love him. It won’t hurt as much as you think it will.”
“I was going to have so much fun getting you two together for good,” River said sadly, raising a hand limply into the air and letting it fall again. Inara swallowed and studied River’s face. She didn’t need to say anything. A Companion knows.
River walked over to the table where Inara sat, resting a hand on the old wood.
“Memories. Like ghosts, caught in the wood. Splinters of souls. They’ll always be here. Both hurts and soothes.” Inara nodded.
“You’ll…” She cleared her throat and started again. “You’ll be careful?”
“Of course,” the girl said softly, looking down. She lifted her gaze to Inara’s face. “Take care of Kaylee. And everyone else. They look to you a lot, you know. They just won’t admit it.”
“Yes, yes I know.” Inara studied her hands, and then stood. She drew River into her arms, and River hugged her back carefully. When they pulled apart, there were tears in both women’s eyes.
“I’ll expect it all back in one piece, sweetie,” Inara said, trying to smile. River smiled for her, nodding.
“Go. And River?” She turned from the doorway.
“We all love you. Be safe.” The slender form that carried so much shuddered, straightened, and held true. She nodded, and vanished through the door that led towards the shuttle.
TBC: The crew wakes up, and everyone else finds out what River’s strange night-visits meant.
Thursday, May 25, 2006 6:00 PM
Friday, May 26, 2006 12:18 AM
Friday, May 26, 2006 1:03 AM
Friday, May 26, 2006 1:14 PM
Friday, June 02, 2006 7:57 PM
You must log in to post comments.
OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR
All FIREFLY graphics and photos on this page are copyright 2002-2012 Mutant Enemy, Inc., Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Fox.
All other graphics and texts are copyright of the contributors to this website.
This website IS NOT affiliated with the Official Firefly Site, Mutant Enemy, Inc., or 20th Century Fox.