Summery: Ariel AU. Simon gets left behind.
This is, in fact, sort of a Rayne story. But not exactly. *innocent smile*
Massive thanks to michmak for the beta. She who keeps me from comma abuse.
Lovingly dedicated to literarylemming, without whom this would not exist. She is responsible for feeding the bunny. All credit (and blame for the crack) goes to her. Im just the messenger.
All parts HERE.
Italics are flashbacks
The man looked up when the girl spoke.
She was sitting on the bed, pale and hollow-eyed, thin arms holding herself tightly.
“What’s growing?” His voice was hoarse and thick with fatigue. The girl had barely slept in the past four days, and he kept having to get up to tend to her.
“Death.” Her voice was eerily calm. She held her hands up to look at them. “Covered in blood and drowning in it.”
“There ain’t no one drowning, girl.”
She kept getting worse. Half the time she was hallucinating, thinking he was her brother. The other half, she kept asking him to kill her.
He was starting to seriously consider it.
“We’ll figure something out, girl.” It was the same thing he had said so many times before.
He still didn’t believe it.
Birdy was a sweet girl.
Kaylee stood at the sink, wiping off some dishes, watching Birdy talk to the plant at the table.
She was bent over, carefully going over the stems of the plant, exclaiming worriedly over every break and tender part. She was also carrying on a conversation with it involving a number of either people or other plants, Kaylee wasn’t sure which. But the fact that it didn’t answer back didn’t seem to bother Birdy any.
Birdy seemed completely absorbed in her surgery on Theodore, and Kaylee hesitated, throwing a glance at the door. The starboard motor had been running a little hot lately, and it really did need tending to. But the way Jayne had been acting before he went off to get yelled at by the Captain kind of made her feel like she needed to be sticking close to Birdy ‘til he got back.
But that motor was starting to make her nervous. And there was nothing left to do in the mess. Kaylee always was one to never be able to sit still for long. And with Birdy all wrapped up and involved in talking to Theodore, there wasn’t much for her to do.
Birdy didn’t even look up when Kaylee came over to the table, she was so absorbed in what she was doing. Kaylee paused, but Birdy didn’t even seem to notice. So Kaylee went on and stepped out of the room.
She paused on the threshold, worried. But the starboard motor was barely a few feet away. And really, it weren’t like Birdy wouldn’t be alright on her own for ten minutes.
Mal was mad.
Which wasn’t unusual, when it came to dealing with Jayne, but seeing as Jayne had only been back on board Serenity for twenty-four hours, the yelling was coming a bit earlier than expected.
The big man shifted from one foot to the other. He could feel the Captain’s irritation from where he stood.
Mal leaned back against the empty pilot’s seat, arms crossed unhappily. “Why the hell did you lie to me, Jayne?”
“I didn’t lie, Mal.”
“You said that River was dead!”
“River is dead!”
Mal dug his fingers into the back of the pilot’s chair. “The girl is standing downstairs, bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and from what I could see last night, alive as you or me.”
Jayne shook his head in frustration. “But that ain’t River.”
“It sure as hell looks like River. Wanna tell me how you managed that?”
“She ain’t River,” Jayne said stubbornly. “She’s Birdy.”
“That girl downstairs?” Mal spit into Jayne’s face. “That girl is River and you lied to my face after I let you back on my boat!”
“She ain’t River!” Jayne yelled back. Why couldn’t none of them see what was right in front of their ugly faces? “That’s Birdy! My wife, Birdy!” His voice went cold. “River’s dead,” he repeated. “Buried by the river,” he gritted out. “River by the river. Poetic.”
“What the hell does that even mean, Jayne?” Mal ran a hand through his hair, breathing out in exasperation. “I got a girl downstairs who looks just like the doc’s sister, a girl you say is dead. And all you can tell me is that River is buried by the river?” A ragged chuckle forced its way out of his throat. “Never thought I’d be signing up for this, Jayne.”
“You want us to leave?” Jayne’s voice was quiet. He was watching Mal close, looking a little anxious. “You can put down somewheres and let us off.” The big man looked down at the floor. “We don’t want no trouble.”
“I ain’t decided yet.” Mal breathed out hard, closing his eyes. “I’m all manner of unhappy right now, Jayne, let me tell you that.”
Jayne nodded. “She ain’t the crazy girl, Mal, I swear.”
“Then where did you get her? She’s the spitting image of the doc’s sister, and you know it.”
“They’s different girls, Mal.” Jayne’s face was earnest. “They’s different.”
He believed what he was saying was the truth.