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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. For Amdobell, who wanted to know what happened in the conversation between Jethro and River. For everyone else, more soon.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 944 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Jethro stopped outside her door, and felt ashamed. No matter that he’d spoken to Hank, agreed with him even that there was no need to run from River, in that short walk from the galley to the sleeping area his resolve had melted away like dew on a hot day. And now he was sweating.
He liked River - more than liked. But the things she’d told him, the way it affected her, chilled him to the bone.
“When I was fourteen,” she began, “I went to a school. It was supposed to be so much fun, so many things to learn, to expand our horizons and broaden our minds …” She’d choked slightly and he’d rubbed her back. “Our minds …” She’d looked up at him, the caring and understanding face he’d put on, his Shepherd’s face, and she pulled back from him, a look of fear in her eyes. But still she’d gone on, bitterness and pain now in her voice. “They wanted her for her minds. Took her into dark places. Shone bright lights into her soul and tore it out.”
“River, I don’t understand.”
“Cut into her brain. Over and over. Until there was nothing left. Until they filled her up with all the agony and anger they carried, the dreams that weren’t hers, the voices and the pictures and the horror ..” She stopped, staring at him, through him, then rolled away, turning her back.
He reached out to her, barely touching her. “River …”
“Simon found me. Found me broken but rescued me, started putting me back together again.” Her shoulders were shaking with the effort of telling him. “Put her back in her box and locked it with the Miranda key. Only sometimes she gets out.” River pulled her knees up to her chest. “I killed them. The Reavers. I took their vorpal blades and went snicker-snack.” Her voice caught, halfway between a laugh and a sob. “And when I was done there was only bodies.”
“You … killed?”
She turned back to gaze at him, her eyes pleading. “They would have killed us, Jethro. Raped us. Eaten our flesh. I had to save my family.”
“I …” He tried to find the words but failed.
The hope in her eyes faded. “They forgave me.”
“Who? The Reavers?” The words fell from his lips before he could stop them.
“My family,” she corrected softly. “Took me back.” She laid her head down. “Keep taking me back, even when I …” She bit her lip.
“When you what?” he asked, almost afraid to know the answer.
She whispered. “Another blade. Slicing upwards. Through flesh and muscle.” She closed her eyes. “I nearly killed her.”
“Who, River? Who?” He was appalled and fascinated, and disgusted with himself for both.
She opened her eyes and turned their infinite depths on him. “Freya. So much blood.” She reached out and took his hand, holding it carefully between both of hers in case it might escape. “I’ve spent so long trying to atone. To ask for forgiveness.”
“But Freya doesn’t … she’s not your … how -”
“She forgave me,” River interrupted gently. “I can’t forgive myself.” She suddenly let go and wrapped her arms around her body, shivering. “Never forgive.”
“River …” He stared down at her, so young, so fragile, so totally vulnerable. So lost. He wanted to tell her that God forgave, that she only had to ask, but this seemed so meaningless right now and the words stuck in his throat.
He leaned over, taking her into his arms and holding her, twisting around so that he could lie on the bed next to her. For a moment she resisted, then she put her head into his chest and wept. Tears soaked his shirt, but he held her until she quietened, until she slept.
He waited a while longer, to make sure she wouldn’t waken, then gently disentangled himself from her. Lifting the blanket he tucked it carefully around her, stroking the hair away from her cheek with a tender touch, then left her.
Now he stood outside, a sleepless night behind him, and wishing he’d stayed with her. He wanted to kiss it better, to make the pain go away, but all he could do was offer comfort and palliatives. Like a Shepherd. And it made him angry. He knew there was so much more, things she hadn’t said, had probably never said to anyone, not even her brother. Things so painful she hid them under the veneer of someone else.
Hank had called her the sweetest crazy person he knew. She’d said she was broken. Yet this crew, this family, claimed her as their own. Even Jayne, who wouldn’t admit to loving her. And he, Jethro, had come between them.
“It’s not your fault,” River said from inside her room. “I made him leave. I didn’t see how much I’d hurt him, and he had to get away from me.”
Jethro slid the door open a little. She was sitting up, still dressed in her clothes from the night before, the blanket wrapped tightly around her.
“I didn’t know,” he said softly. “I just thought he was protective of you. I had no idea of the depth of his feelings.”
“Neither does he.” She wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand and sniffed. “I drove him off. Before he could say.”
“It wasn’t your fault, River,” Jethro said, stepping into the room. “He didn’t have to go.”
“Yes he did. And they won’t forgive me,” she murmured, her voice barely audible. “They’ll never forgive this.”
“But he was just -”
“He’s Jayne!” she said suddenly. “It doesn’t matter how they all behave! What Hank says! They all feel the gap, the loss, the hole where he should be, sitting in the galley saying terrible things and making worse enemies! And he’s not there because of me!”
Jethro felt worse than useless. He felt guilty. “River …”
“I didn’t listen.” She was quieter. “When they told me not to do it. I wouldn’t hear what they were saying. And now all I can hear is what they’re thinking. That it’s my fault. And I’ve lost my friend.” She began to cry silently, and Jethro, a lump in his chest, sat on the bed and held her in his arms, just being there for her.
Monday, February 12, 2007 5:20 PM
Monday, February 12, 2007 8:02 PM
Monday, February 12, 2007 11:57 PM
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