Author: Meltha

Rating: FRT for frightening imagery

Feedback: Yes, thank you. No spoilers beyond the pilot of Firefly.

Distribution: The Blackberry Patch and If you're interested, please let me know.

Summary: The future holds rooms within rooms where madness is life, life is madness, and two become one who is two. This piece is extremely stream of consciousness, so it may not make a great deal of sense.

Author's Note: Written for spikendru's Scoobies in Space ficathon.

Disclaimer: All characters, both Firefly and Buffyverse, are owned by Mutant Enemy (Joss Whedon), a wonderfully creative company whose characters I have borrowed for a completely profit-free flight of fancy. Kindly do not sue me, please, as I am terrified of you. Thank you.

Joined

Time didn't seem to pass in this room. They could hear the soft, incessant hum of an air vent rushing wind past them that felt neither hot nor cold. It bothered them, sometimes. It felt like the air was dead, and death was an uncomfortable thought, though not because of fear, but because it seemed alluring in a way that it never had before. At times it whispered to them in that monotonous, mechanical hum, wanting them to come to it, and at other times it was something they craved not for themselves but for others.

Mostly, though, there was pain. It blossomed in a thousand different shades of agony, twisting its vines around the two of them and binding them more and more closely together until the line between them blurred. She remembered a pair of old cherry trees from her father's house, planted too close to one another, and how eventually the trunks entwined until it was nearly impossible to tell where one began and the other ended. She'd always used that image as one of love.

Now she's not even sure whether that memory is even hers or if it's the memory of the other one she is tied to, and it terrifies her. She doesn't want to be here, and neither does the other she. They are both helpless, hopeless, utterly alone, but the one time she is certain of who she is happens when she remembers Simon. She conjures up his memory, trying to recall the smallest details of his being, little things like how his brow furrowed when he was annoyed with her or the games they used to play. It's a comfort, and yet there are times when she remembers things that don't seem quite right about him. She's not sure he ever wore glasses.

There are other things she knows aren't hers that live in her head now, whispering incessantly like the hum of that gorram air vent. They tell her dark, dark stories, stories as dark as bottom of some ocean on a planet long since a cinder rotting around a far away sun. Death stands there, too, but sometimes death looks like the other she, and since they are one, death looks like herself as well. She remembers things she has never seen: cities crumbled into dust centuries before her birth, faces of people lost long ago who were lost forever, the thrum of engines and screaming iron guitars, the equally iron screaming of victim after victim after victim until guilt and lust for the kill overwhelm her senses.

Beneath it all, in an undercurrent of pain where the sobs are almost human and pitiable instead of a wail of demonic damnation, there is a quiet place they go to sometimes. The Others, the ones on the outside who stand with their inhuman blue hands and clipboards and scratching pens and blank faces like manniquins, think they've both lapsed into coma from what is being done to them during those times, and they feel safe there. It's just a room, one with dark walls that smell of dampness and earth. There's a bed there, tall with a canopy of woven lace, and someone who was ill lay in it once, but she became well again, well enough to get up and walk around and see death rain down from the sky in liquid and fire and ice and hell and to know that all love was dead with it, but since she was death herself, what had she lost that she had not lost before?

She looks at the other she. That one never stays still, even in the silence of the mind's eye, moving from created object to created object, examining the things there. Those things change each time, save for the bed. Once the room was filled with stacks of old books from her childhood mixed with books from the other's childhood, and some were the same, and some were different, but the words wouldn't tell a way out. Another time there were dolls, thousands of them, crammed to the gills in the place they hid, and the other she whispered (does she always whisper, does she have no voice that isn't either a shriek or whisper) that they were her children that she could never have, as dead and cold as herself, and as dead and cold as she would one day be. Once, the room was filled with music, something she remembered dancing to with Simon, though Simon had two left feet like all boys it seemed, and she had remembered the steps and the other she had mirrored them, momentarily delighted before the darkness fell again and they were drawn back into the whirling eddy of destruction where everything was pain, pain, pain, the top of her head ready to blow off, clicking pens and watching eyes and desperate pleading for it to stop coming from twin mouths in a thousand languages that neither of them knew and ceaseless, rushing, dead wind from the air vent like a death rattle that would never end.

It ended at last one day when things went a shade too far and the other she became like the cities of her childhood and crumbled to dust herself. The mannequin faces around them moved into anger that one of their toys had broken, and it was the first expression she had ever seen them wear. It burned her brain like the poison they pumped from the other she (she was gone now, where did she go, why did she leave me, I'm all alone, I hate her, I hate Simon, I hate daddy, daddies always leave, always, never trust daddies). But the Others placate each other, saying they had used enough for their purpose, that the experiment was well on its way to fruition.

And then the bed rolls away down a hall. She doesn't know anymore if she was in that room a day or week or a month or a year or a century. She didn't even know she was on a bed, but this one doesn't have a canopy of lace, and there are no dolls in the new room where she is put in the dark, with the door locked snap-trap shut.

It's not until then she finds she is not alone as the whispering begins again in her ear, telling her those dark stories she doesn't want to hear, and yet she is so glad that she isn't alone that she almost doesn't mind knowing the things she shouldn't know about what hasn't happened but will, the dim veils of time shifting in the wind like curtains in the villa in Italy when William had opened the drapes to let a wild tempest from the Medditeranean blast through their room until the carpets were soaked with rain, and if it isn't her memory to begin with, it is hers now, for what once was the other she is wrapped tightly, tightly inside her, coiled like a snake with gaping fangs and like a newborn fawn that begs for its life at the hunter's gun, and though in truth both of them have gone and will not return ever again, they are so bound together now that so long as one lives, so does the other.

Whether they will it or no.