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Firefly: Ritual (Fanfiction)


Word Count: ~1.300
Summary: Simon wasn't prepared for this. So he'd started to beg silently, desperately ... constantly.
Characters: Simon Tam, River Tam
Rating: PG
Setting: during series 1
Author's Note: Written for hc_bingo and the prompt 'begging.'
Disclaimer: I’m not making money with this fanfic. The tv show Firefly and the characters appearing within it belong to their producers and creators. Any similarities to living or dead persons are purely coincidental and not intended.

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It was like a constant buzz in the back of his head, making him stare at the ceiling in the middle of the night, making him lose focus of the important things, making him feel insecure and incompetent and all those things he didn't want to be, didn't want to feel. But he didn't have time for this. He didn't have time to worry about himself. All Simon had time for was River and his job on the ship and the mantra he kept repeating in the back of his head.

Please, please, please … please let everything be all right. Please let her be okay.

Please help me. I don't know what to do.

Please, please, please …

He didn't even know who he was pleading with, but it helped to hope that somebody could hear him. He'd never been a religious man or relied on others much, had always preferred to be independent. He'd been raised to be. Then again, he'd also been raised to live in the upper class, to be a good host and polite guest, to work hard and remember not to take anything for granted.

That wasn't his life anymore.

His life was caring for River and sharing a ship with criminals, trusting those people not to betray them or consider them unnecessary dead weight. His life was dangerous and unpredictable now. He wasn't prepared for this. So he'd started to beg silently, desperately ... constantly.

And then there were the times when begging silently didn't cut it. ”River, please,” he said, raising his hands, trying to placate and calm down and smile.

"I don't want this!" River yelled in response and backed herself into a corner of the infirmary. When he stepped closer, she pushed him back weakly and he stopped approaching. The way her face crumpled and tears started to run down her cheeks broke his heart. His River never used to cry because of him. His River had cried with him or for him and in his arms. Never like this, never because he scared her. She sat on the floor, pulled her legs up to her chest to huddle protectively and hid her face behind her hands. "Please, please, please …" The only thing they had in common at the moment, it seemed, was that mantra.

Simon swallowed his tears, reminding himself why he was doing this: to find a medication that would help, to keep her calm and balanced, to show the Captain that he could do this and had this under control, no need to peer at him as if he'd brought something dangerous on-board … he crouched down. ”River,” he said softly, showing her the syringe, "I'm sorry. So sorry. But this is necessary. This is medicine."

”It's poison,” she muttered, glaring at the clear liquid before hiding her face again and turning away from him as far as her little corner would allow. ”Poison to kill me. You want to get rid off me.”

”That's not true,” he replied, reminding himself that she wasn't well, that she always said hurtful things she didn't mean these days. She wasn't his little River anymore. He didn't love her any less, though.

She sobbed and her hands went up, burying in her wild brown hair, clasped above her ears. ”You don't like me.”

”I love you.” He gifted her with a tense smile when she peered at him suspiciously. ”Please, River. Please.”

She looked at the syringe. ”This will change me?”

”It will make you better.”

”Why would you want to change me if you love me?” She hid her face again, pulling her legs tighter against her chest, pressing her forehead against the wall.

”I want you to become ...” He bit his lip, cursing himself for his choice of words.

”Dummy,” River muttered. She almost sounded like his little sister from back then.

Simon closed his eyes and slumped back to sit on the floor, hanging his head. ”What am I supposed to do?” he whispered. ”I don't know what to do.” He raised his arm to set the syringe down on the counter.

River watched the motion with a mistrusting frown buried into her forehead. ”No medicine?”

Simon brushed his hands down his face tiredly. ”No. Not right now.” He felt wrung-out and flattened. He was aware that he didn't get enough sleep but River needed him at night and during the day and the Captain demanding that he do his share of chores around the ship didn't help and neither did the pain that accompanied every thought of home. ”I didn't want this for you,” he said slowly. ”I'm sorry.” He let his head drop and closed his burning eyes. Just for a moment.

He felt River's fingers touch his hair, combing through it tentatively, before she suddenly wrapped her arms around him and pressed up against his side in a clumsy embrace. ”Poor Simon.”

Simon kissed her head and returned the hug fiercely, having noticed a while ago that River allowing him to touch her like they used to rarely happened anymore. He made the most of it every time she initiated a hug these days. Not just because it was River, but also because she was the only one he let come this close to him anymore.

When she spoke again, her voice had changed, the previous child-like undertone replaced by a calm serenity that was completely new. River had been many things. Serene had never been one of them. It calmed him, though, as much as it showed him that she'd been changed forever. This voice – this personality – was an anchor to him, keeping him grounded when he lost his grip. ”The fire in the hearth is warmer than artificial light.”

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He rarely understood what this personality tried to tell him. He was too tired to think about it. ”I guess so, mei-mei.”

”It's a fact.” She looked up at him, her blue eyes serious with no trace of her previous fear. ”I'm smarter than you. You can believe me.”

He chuckled and brushed her hair out of her forehead. ”I know, mei-mei. You've always been smarter.”

”Don't look for things that are no longer there. The woman is here now. You don't need the girl.”

It sent a chill down his spine, the way she said it, the way her eyes lost focus as if she was seeing something nobody else could.

But then her expression changed, her eyes lighting up. ”Can I go and sit with Wash?” She sounded so child-like again, so innocent, their previous argument forgotten.

Simon considered picking it up again, knowing he would have to some time today. The medication could only show him results if she took it regularly … but Wash was good with her, less prejudiced or wary than others, and River seemed to respond well to his easy-going attitude. And he was tired. Maybe – just maybe – he could lie down for an hour and gather some strength to approach her about the medication again later. ”If he says it's all right.”

With that, she was off, her boots thumping on the metal walkway. Simon got up slowly and leaned against the counter, capping the syringe carefully for later. He would try again and he would succeed in administering it, like he did every day, eventually.

Things would get better. They had to.

He closed his eyes.

Please, please, please


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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 25th, 2014 04:06 pm (UTC)
Poor Simon, and poor River. But mostly poor, beleaguered Simon, I felt for him.

Aug. 27th, 2014 01:09 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading. :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )