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 located HERE
She was crying again.
She kept the lights dim in her cabin, so he always felt like he was stumbling through her nightmares when he went in to check on her.
“Tell me what happened?” Her voice kept getting weaker. Today, he could barely hear her.
“Tell you what, girl?” He sat on the edge of her bed, with her nothing but a thin shadow in the gloom.
“When you got out.”
“We both got out, remember? We’re headed away from there now.”
“I didn’t get out.” Her voice was bleak. “River died there.”
“You’re alive, girl. I know it.”
She shook her head and he felt strands of her hair slide across his hands. Her voice was intent.
“River’s dead.” Little fingers dug into his arm with bruising force. “You have to bury her, Jayne.”
River was carefully repotting the mangled remains of a plant when Simon entered the mess.
Her name was River. He didn't care what that hun dan mercenary had brainwashed her into believing; she was his mei mei. She was River.
He watched from the door as she worked, humming quietly to herself and occasionally stopping to make a comment to the plant she was easing into a new unbroken container. She had a small smile on her face and seemed perfectly content to remain in her own little world with her plants and her delusions of marriage.
But Simon couldn’t let her.
It was wrong, what Jayne was doing. What Jayne had already done. Jayne had taken Simon’s beautiful sister and twisted her already fragile mind.
He squared his shoulders. He knew what he needed to do.
It started with taking advantage of the fact the hulking brute wasn’t underfoot, giving Simon the perfect opportunity to speak to River and try and get her out from under Jayne’s spell.
She didn’t even look up. But he had spoken very quietly. It didn’t mean anything.
”River,” he tried again, voice tight with strain.
He couldn’t stop the leap in his heart when she spoke.
“Name isn’t River.” She kept her eyes on the plant in front of her, one dirty hand brushing a strand of hair from her face. “I am Birdy.” She watched him from the corner of her eye as she tried to hide behind the small plant. “I am Birdy,” she repeated softly, stroking a leaf between her fingers.
“You are River,” Simon stepped towards her with his hands out beseechingly. “I know that Jayne has lied to you, told you that your name is Birdy, but your name is River.” He reached to touch her, but she flinched away.
“My name is Birdy,” she told the plant in front of her. Her mouth was trembling slightly. “River is dead and gone.”
“No, she isn’t,” Simon’s voice came out in a snarl.
River shrank back, scooting behind the table at the anger in his voice.
Simon choked back a curse. River was so timid now; he had to be careful to not frighten her. She was probably easily frightened after living with that monster for two years.
Simon vowed that he would kill Jayne for abusing her.
“Not River,” she whispered, tears falling onto the small plant in her arms. “I’m Birdy, and River’s dead.” She was hunched over under the table, and couldn’t resist a small cry of fright as Simon came closer.
“It’s alright,” Simon kneeled beside her, trying to control his anger at Jayne. “I’m here now, River. I’m here.”
She tightened her arms around the container in her arms and shook her head. “Not River!” she sobbed, voice getting louder. She would not meet his eyes. “Want Jayne,” she insisted. “Want Jayne!”
Simon tried to shush her, but her cries were getting louder. He glanced around desperately. He did not want to have to drug her but could think of no other way to get her to come with him.
Simon had to get her away from Jayne, to a place where she could heal and recover.
He reached for her again, but she threw herself across the room, scrambling for the door. “Want Jayne!” The sound was a shriek, and Simon swore as he heard the heavy tread of booted feet running towards the mess.
Jayne threw himself into the room, one hand on his gun, eyes going immediately to the girl clinging to the side of the doorframe.
River choked out his name and buried her face into his chest. “Not River, not River,” she whispered.
Jayne tightened one arm around her protectively, his other still on the pistol on his hip. Cold blue eyes fastened on Simon’s face even as Jayne cradled the girl to him gently. “No, you ain’t River.”
“River’s dead,” her little voice whispered. “I’m Birdy.”
“Yeah,” Jayne growled. “You’re Birdy. And River ain’t here.” The last bit was snarled at the doctor.
Simon was not going to back down this time. “You know that she’s River. You’re messing with her memory.”
Jayne edged River behind him gently. “Go on down to our room, Ladybird.”
She shook her head, fingers tightening in his belt. “Don’t wanna leave you, Jayne.”
“Go on,” he nudged her. “I’ll be down shortly.”
She glanced over her shoulder, eyes skittering over Simon without focusing on him. She straightened her back, wiping her eyes with one shaking hand. “I do not like him, but River did. She would not want him hurt.”
Jayne nodded jerkily, not even looking at her. “We’s just gonna talk is all.”
She squeezed Jayne’s arm gently before disappearing down the hallway.
“So, doc,” Jayne loomed over the shorter man threateningly. “What say we have a little chat?”
END PART 12