His Something
Saturday, January 20, 2007

Pre BDM, during the series, just wanted to write a story about Book and River- and no not a romantic story.


Disclaimer: These characters and places are owned by Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy... Sadly, neither of those are me.


The Bible hit the table with a soft thunk. Shepherd Derrial Book had dropped it there because his eyes had become too unfocused to read the words.

Inara glanced up from her tea, "What's wrong, Shepherd?" she asked, concerned.

"Oh, nothing. Just tired is all." he replied.

She nodded, "It has been trying of late, what with the constant jobs and all. It seems only fitting that the need for rest would catch up with you at a time when you can."

He smiled at her, "It does, doesn't it." he said. "Well, that's all the initiative I need, I'll be off resting if anyone needs me." he gathered up the Bible and walked back to his room.

Instead of resting, however, he opened the bottom drawer of his dresser, which was full of socks. He fumbled a moment in the bottom of the drawer, causing the wooden plank that held the socks to flip up. All the socks merely slid to the back of the drawer, and slid back to their original positions when he retrieved the box and let the plank quietly drop back to its rightful place.

Sitting down on the bed, the box carefully cradled in his lap, he took a deep breath. Gently, he lifted the lid of the wooden box, the gold inlay shimmering in the light. There were three things in the box: a picture, a pin, and his something.

Staring at the picture, he felt a certain sadness wash over him. He hadn't felt a sadness like this in years. He had never been overly sentimental about before, there had never been much to be sentimental about. But now, he wished that someone would've told him what he would become before he had gotten himself into that. Wished he had had all the facts and had said no.

But that was in the past, and he was someone else now. Though he sometimes had less than shepherdly thoughts.

His fingers delicately traced the intricate yet so simple design of the pin. There was a time when he had worn it with pride. No more and never again.

He laid his hand on his something and said a prayer for everything he had done, and those he had done it to. He prayed that it would never happen again, not by him or anyone else, although he knew this was wishful thinking.

He sighed, closing the box and putting it back in its secret drawer. Closing the drawer, he stood.

"He knows he ought have burned his box a long time ago. Knows he should have when he took his vows." A voice said from the doorway to his room.

"What did you say, River?" he asked turning to her, wondering how long she'd been standing there.

"She didn't see anything she didn't already know. She's been standing here forever, not long at all."

"What did you see, River? What do you know?" the question was posed as if Book had no idea what she was talking about, but he really wanted to ascertain how much damage had been done.

"His something's in the box he ought have burned, he couldn't burn it. Why does he open the box when all that can come from it is evil and disease? Doesn't he know that all the good is out? He opens it like Pandora opened it, and lets the evil free."

He was somewhat shocked. Even if River had seen open the box, which he was almost positive she hadn't, she couldn't have known what was in it. The lid had hidden the contents from view and he hadn't taken them out. How could she know about his something? To call it that was almost as if she had taken the name right out of his head.

"What do you mean by that?" he asked her.

River tilted her head. "The box is evil. It's not safe. His picture of himself and the others, his symbol of evil, his something... They're not safe. Not safe yet he keeps them. Why does he keep them?"

"I keep them as a reminder, River. So it doesn't happen again." he responded.

She gave a snort of laughter, "He says that, but she knows when he opens the box, the evil creeps into his mind. Sometimes he feels sad. She's always known. Always watched over him."

"What have you always known? Have you looked in the box?" he asked.

"Not with her own eyes, she hasn't. She wonders how the others cannot see. See what he was, he knows things, can do things, things shepherds don't know, don't do. See what they want to see. See what you tell them to see. Can only see what's right in front of them and not what's really there."

"What do you mean 'not with her own eyes'?"

"Seen it with his. Seen inside the box with his own two eyes, showed her his something. Shouldn't keep it to himself, shouldn't keep it all alone. She'll keep it with him. He'll burn it someday, she'll help him." River said, looking into his eyes.

"I'm not sure I follow you. What do you mean I showed you my something?" he asked tentatively.

"She sees it with his eyes. Seen it because he showed her. Showed her everything. She knows. She watches him and makes sure he's all right. Makes sure he doesn't take his something and use it again. He ought to have burned the box. Ought to have burned it when he took his vows. Then the something wouldn't be there beggin' him to pick it up and pull the trigger."

His eyes widened. "How'd you know my something was a gun, River?" he asked very quietly.

"He showed her. He told her. Told her it was his first. Shot more than kneecaps with it too. So many dead. So many with his something. Never missed his mark, never faltered in his aim. He told her how hard it is sometimes, not using his something again. He'll burn his box someday, she'll help him."

Somehow, he felt better that River knew all this. Somehow, he knew she wouldn't tell. "River..." he stopped.

"Don't worry. She'll be there when you need her. Someday, she'll help you burn it. She'll be your someone to watch over you. She won't let you fall." she said and turned and left, apparently having said everything she had to say.


Sunday, January 21, 2007 8:48 AM


How very intriguing, and beautifully told.

Sunday, January 21, 2007 9:00 AM


Thank you, I loved writing it. i'm glad you liked it.

Monday, January 22, 2007 2:23 AM


That was beautiful work, Azlenna! Definitely helps show the seldom explored bond between River and Book...the similarities of past and purpose:(


Tuesday, April 22, 2008 4:47 AM



Saturday, October 29, 2011 9:41 AM


Glad for the link to bring me back to this first chapter. I can see River acting like this and letting Book know she'll be there to help him when he is ready. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Saturday, October 29, 2011 4:43 PM


"She's been standing here forever, not long at all."

Really liked that line. I looked up this story because you mentioned it in your new one. Good to explore the interaction between River and Book--I feel this was under-explored in the series.


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