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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - SUSPENSE
The beginning of Objects in Space looked at from a uniquely River point-of-view.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2025 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Dopplegängland by debxena
SPOILERS: Objects in Space
FEEDBACK: This is by far the longest of the Fireflyfic stories I've done (sitting at just over 1000 words). I'd really like feedback for this.
NOTES: Written for neongraal as part of the Fireflyfic Challenge. There is another note at the end; please don't read it until you've finished the story.
THANKS: to willshenillshe for a very thorough beta; and to kallysten for a read-through and encouragement.
We're all just floating.
There was a strange voice in her head. Not a voice she remembered; not her own. Not from the academy. It was both near and distant; it spoke to her sleeping mind and then fell still. She awoke with a start and quietly slipped out of bed, slid into her dress.
Standing next to the rumpled covers, she stretched her body upwards - fingertips pointing high and bare feet poised beneath. Listening within herself, she heard only silence. Listening outside herself, she heard the low rumble of Serenity's engines, and distant familiar voices.
So I'm dreaming again. Just floating. Hello Serenity - you look different in my sleep. At least - is this a dream?
Silently, she left her room and walked up the corridor, heading toward the external voices she could hear. Entering the common area, she saw Simon and Kaylee sprawled on couches, laughing and relaxed as they talked to each other. She walked up to them, waited for them to see her, but they didn't pause. She smiled at them, shyly, but they kept on talking.
Maybe I'm a ghost. No one sees me here. But I can still touch your walls, Serenity. So I'm real. Not a ghost.
Then the laughter stopped, and they turned to look at her. There was no merriment in their eyes anymore.
"I would be there right now," her brother said, before turning back to Kaylee and resuming his conversation and laughter. Stricken, River left, padding quickly up the stairs. The coolness of Serenity's steel under her feet was calming, until she came face to face with herself.
Well, look at me. I'm all fuzzy in the head. And talking to inanimate objects again. It's just an object, you know. It doesn't mean what you think.
She saw herself - dressed in boots, belted brown trousers and a well-fitted blue shirt. Her hair was up in ponytail, drawing her face into stark relief. On her hands, which were fitted into her waist in a casual pose, she wore bright blue gloves.
Hello River. You're the not-me. The created one. What do I want with you? What do you want with me?
It had been months since she had spoken to herself this way, and seeing herself again had come as a shock. She steadied herself against the bulwark, felt the imperturbable hardness of spaceship metal behind her.
You brought me here, xiao mei-mei. You left my world, but I'm always with you. Did you think Simon's medications would banish me? River is very unhappy now. She put the emphasis on 'River', making it clear that she was talking of herself and not of her flesh-and-blood adversary. But River was unhappy too.
Determined not to talk to herself, she walked on, leaving behind her counterpart. Dropping down the few steps into the kitchen, she saw Jayne and the Shepherd cooking and talking. Blue-Hand River followed her, heavy boots clanging loudly as she descended into the galley. Neither man heard the noise.
Jayne turned to face her, spat out: "I got stupid. The money was too good."
We want you back, River. You're not supposed to be here, be out at all. Jayne wants you to go back too, you know. She walked up to River, crowding her so they nearly touched noses.
Bi zui. You're not real.
"I don't give half a hump if you're innocent or not. So where does that put you?"
The good Shepherd isn't everything he seems either. But you know that, don't you mei-mei? He's not innocent, so he doesn't care if I exist or not. And don't fool yourself - I am real. She lifted her booted right foot, and delicately brought it down on River's bare left, grinding hard on her toes before letting go, snorting. You can make-believe I'm imaginary all you like. But I'm not.
River bent down, inspected her foot. It was unscathed, though she could feel the pain. Oh. You're here, real as me? Only if I let you be. Once again, she walked away.
They both walked up the corridor, heading towards the bridge. Blue-Hand River seemed content to walk behind. As they approached the bridge, they could see Zoë and Wash, entwined and kissing gently in the darkened room.
Full of innuendo, her doppelgänger whispered in her ear: I don't know... I kinda like the idea of the two of us. We could be quite a team, if you came around to my way of thinking.
She turned to herself, appalled. I'm not going to lose myself to you, share myself, snuggle into you. We're not a couple, not together. You're not real!
She retreated, leaving the pair to their love, and was followed once again. From behind her she heard: It's not a threat, River.
Mal and Inara were talking on the catwalk, almost arguing. River and River paused nearby, joining them in dissention.
You're in my brain, but you're not-real River.
"You are unreal." Was Inara talking to her, or the other her? She continued: You belong at the Academy, with the others. You should go now.
Qu ni de. What do you say? Wanna be bad? You don't wanna play, I guess I can't force you. Oh, wait. I can. I can kill you, you know. Simply take over more and more until you're all melted away. No one will know you're gone, no one will miss you. They don't want you here anyway - you scare them.
River walked down the stairs, almost fleeing the tirade. Silence descended for a moment, then she stepped on a branch, cracking loudly, sounds like gunshot. As she bent down to look at it she could hear Blue-Hand River coming down into the cargo bay, her boots clomping.
She picked up the branch, straightened as her other self stepped into her line of sight. She held the branch in front of herself, and looked her other self in the eye, hand steady. Voice steady.
You're going to go now. You're real, your blue hands are real, but I exist and you subsist. "It's just an object," she said aloud. "It doesn't mean what you think." See?
Other River stepped back, slipped slightly on the dead leaves, mild alarm on her features. Her lips curled as she spat: Bitch … Zhu yi! Gradually she faded, transparent, translucent, gone. Only her voice remained, whispering in her head. We're all just floating, River. We're all just floating.
And then there was shouting, and a gun in her hand.
POST-STORY NOTES: Much of the dialogue and River's thoughts is directly quoted from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Dopplegängland and from the Firefly episode Objects in Space. The first because it was part of the challenge, the second because both of River's personas are more integrated than you'd think - you'll note that much of what Blue-Hand River says is repeated by River in later parts of the episode.
You can find out the meaning of the Chinese phrases here. The Dopplegängland script is here, and Objects in Space is here.
Monday, July 26, 2004 7:13 PM
Monday, July 26, 2004 8:17 PM
Tuesday, July 27, 2004 11:56 AM
Thursday, December 21, 2006 7:54 AM
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