She walked the ship at night. Cold metal on warm skin helped soothe her and for those hours of wakefulness, while the others slept peacefully in their bunks, she was calm and lucid. Since the tragedy on Miranda she had withdrawn further into herself. Grief was a fog that hung over the crew members and she was battered by their pain and suffering, scratched raw and bleeding by the words and feelings they kept locked inside. Let them out! She wanted to scream at them. Can't you see you're killing me?
Blinded by their own loss they did not see the wounded look in her eyes. So she avoided them, leaving them to their tortured emotions.
Captain Daddy felt guilt. A deep burrowing guilt that crawled through his veins and threatened to steal his soul away. In the beginning she had tried to reason with him, but her voice, her words, did not make sense to him. He pushed her away. She did not understand. Wasn't she his little Albatross? Wasn't she his good luck?
Zoe was resilient, anesthetized by her loss. Her eyes were dull, listless, deadened. She reminded River of the eyes of the Reapers. No one home, no one home. The first mate moved through the ship in a way that scared her. It was as if Wash had never existed. Zoe had pushed him to the furtherest recesses of her mind and locked him away.
Kaylee and Simon,
although blissful in their new found love, both felt the loss of
Wash and Book. But around themselves, they had placed their
allegiance to one another like a shield. It soothed their hurt,
buffeted them from their grief. At night, alone in their bunks,
they held each other and their sleep was deep and soothing. River
envied them. Her happiness at her brothers' tranquillity and joy
was limitless, but it hurt her in a way she did not understand.
She wished that Captain Daddy and Inara would allow themselves the chance to find the peace that her brother had with Kaylee. The companion tried to reach him but he did no see, could not feel anything other than his guilt at the death of his friend's. He would allow no one close to him.
Jayne. He was an enigma. A conundrum. She did not understand this man. She felt, heard and saw nothing around him. It frightened her and calmed her at the same time. With the others she could almost touch their thoughts they were so tangible, but with Jayne, there was nothingness. So she avoided him, unnerved by his presence, by the wall he placed around himself. Safety was found in the familiar, and Jayne was not familiar. He was a mystery and it scared her.
The voices in her head slept at night, tired perhaps after a day of talking to her incessantly. She had taken to sleeping briefly during the day. Simon worried she knew, but how could she explain it to him? How could she tell him that while he and the others slept she was normal? Or as close to normal as she was likely to get. So she walked the ship. She listened to the rumbling of the engine and felt the vibrations under her feet. Sometimes, she danced in the cargo hold to the sound of no music, her dress flowing around her as she pirouetted. It felt natural to her. Being fluid. In the calm of the night she became someone else. Not River. Not the girl that the Academy had damaged and torn asunder. With the voices gone and the peace settling over her like a shroud, she was free to dream. Free to imagine that she was somebody else, somewhere else. Free to imagine what it would be like to be like them.