Dear Mother and Daddy,

I guess you're right. There's really no point in indulging in post-mortems and fault finding. And yes, we all do have plenty to be sorry for. Thank you for forgiving me and I forgive you, and so does Simon, so we're all sorted out now. Let's get on with our lives. Unfortunately that's not going to be easy, either for you two where you are or Simon and me here.

It was very clever of you to go to Senator Hampton with the evidence my friends gave you - lucky you had his niece in your class, Mother - not even Blue Sun will dare touch you under H/E protection.(1) But I guess that means you can't go home either... maybe we can make a new home somewhere together? You and the orphans from the academy and me and Simon and the rest of the crew. Of course we live on Serenity, but it would be nice to have a home port.

I'll keep my eyes open for a good place but I'm not likely to find one soon. Captain is very carefully avoiding ALL the pleasant worlds out here because Inara is still planning on leaving us. I hoped she'd changed her mind for good after Xanadu but no.

I don't see why she's so set on going, seeing as the very thought all but rips her heart out of her chest, or maybe I do. Companions aren't supposed to form attachments, not even ones like Kaylee and me, and definitely not ones like Captain! She can't stop being a companion, it would be like Simon giving up being a doctor. But Captain can't stop being who he is either and never the twain shall meet - what a tangle!

And I thought I had a complicated life. At least who I love and who I hate is all nice and clear.

----

It's all gone crash.

They found us. They almost got us.

The girl lies crushed and bleeding.

Hands of Blue are dead but their evil lives.

It lives in her. She cannot escape.

The magic doesn't work anymore. She cannot make it work.

River was happy. River was escaping. Now she is broken. Her blood leaks from a million holes.

River is dying.

The girl is getting stronger. She doesn't want that! She wants to die so River can live.

Don't die, River! Don't die!

Don't leave the girl alone with the Blue.

Please, River. Please.

Help us.

Somebody help us.

-------

Oh Mother and Daddy, It's all undone. I was doing so well and now it's all undone. She's crying so and she can't stop. We came so close, so close.

They died. I felt them die. But first they got into my head. The anesthetic didn't work. I was awake. I felt them. They're here in my head. They're dead but they're here.

Oh God.

Oh God.

WHY?

----

Serenity is going to pieces.

People are leaving. Inara went, and now the Shepherd. Captain's turned mean which makes everybody sharp and edgy. Even Kaylee's gone all yellow. And Jayne keeps yelling at me.

The girl is going to pieces too. Little bits of River are scattered everywhere. She's too tired to pull them together.

Simon is looking for new meds, the boob. It's not meds she needs it's the magic. She's got to get it back - but how?

----

Something's coming. No - somebody. Somebody who makes the Hands of Blue look like little fluffy bunnies as Captain would say.

He's coming for me.

I've got to leave. I can't let Serenity be hurt anymore. I can't let anything happen to Kaylee or Jayne or Captain or Zoe or Wash.

Somehow I have to make Simon take me away. And then I must leave him too.

It's all right. The somebody doesn't want to take me back, he wants to kill me. That's fine. I'm tired. I don't care anymore.

Just don't let anybody else be hurt.

----

Dear Mother and Daddy,

This will be my last letter. I won't be coming home. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. I brought this on us all. Oh yes I did, by insisting on going to that school. I'm sorry. She's sorry too. She wants not to be - and now so do I.

It's the only solution.

It's all too much, Mother and Daddy. The craziness, the hunters, the FEAR. I just can't take any more. I thought I could find a way out - but there's only one.

Soon it will be over. She and I will finally have rest. Try not to cry. It's okay, really it is.

I'll do my best to make Simon go home to you. I like to think of you all together again. You'll be safe without me.

I hope.

Forget me. Pretend I never existed. Sometimes I think I don't - but if I do I won't for much longer.

I was a mistake. Forget me.

Be happy.

Love River.

-----

Dear Mother and Daddy,

Disregard all of above.

I'm all right. Not perfect, I'll never be perfect again, but all right. I'm like that restored Ming vase we kept in the foyer alcove. If you look close you can see the fractures but it holds water for the flowers. Like the vase I'm holding together. There's no girl anymore. Just me - River - but not the River I was.

Margot told me I was spending too much of my energy suppressing things. Its all out now and I'm much stronger, strong enough to master my own mind. But I don't blame me for working so hard on NOT remembering. You see what I was suppressing was Miranda. You must have seen the cast, Captain made sure of that. Yes, that was us.

Oh, Mother and Daddy, it makes me sick to think about it. Not just all those poor, innocent people dying in their tracks - at least they didn't suffer. But what about the Reavers? They were regular people, Mother and Daddy, with homes and families and people they loved and then the Pax turned them into something worse than beasts full of pain and hate - awful, horrible, EVIL! We can't let Them get away with this, Mother and Daddy, we just can't.

The whole 'Verse is in turmoil and so are we. I'd think I was crazed again being so happy and sad at the same time if it weren't that everybody else on Serenity feels just the same. First and worst of the sad things is we lost Wash. Zoe is heartbroken and the rest of us feel all empty and aching too. And Shepherd Book is dead, along with everybody else on Haven and most of our friends and contacts everywhere - but it's not our fault.

Captain was very firm and clear on that. It's not my fault and it's not his. It's the fault of them that did it and them that ordered it. I see that he's right but I still feel guilty. He says he does too, because folk ain't logical. So true!

Things we've got to be happy about: Inara's come home to stay. She and Captain are dancing around each other like a pair of courting birds but I know how it's going to end! Simon and Kaylee have finally had sex, in fact they can't keep their hands off each other! They're so happy the rest of us have to be too - even Zoe, just a little.

And I've got my own reasons for being happy. Jayne is looking at me in a whole new way. Things happened, things that would put off most men but not him. I'm a dangerous woman, Mother and Daddy, and Jayne LIKES that! I'll be eighteen soon and then I'll make my move.

We talked: 'I wasn't gonna turn you in,' Jayne said. 'Just get you off the boat.'

I nodded to show I understood. 'I'm not your sister, and I'm not crew (not then - I am now). Nor helpless either.' That's what he'd said when they were all arguing about me.

It was his turn to nod. 'And I was mad over what you done to me at the Maidenhead.' That's a bar. I won't tell you what I did - it was awful - and I certainly don't blame Jayne for being mad at me over it! But we've made up. We're friends now - and someday soon to be something more.

Simon and I are both crew now. I'm pilot since Wash is dead. Dead but not gone. I feel his presence in the control room, especially around his chair. Zoe says he's in their quarters too. She figures some of his spirit will always be with us. That makes me feel better - her too.

Shepherd Book is still with us too. I hear his voice sometimes in the common room or down in passenger country. He's happy I'm better and so proud of Captain! I'd like to tell him so but Shepherd says he (Captain) wouldn't believe me and I know he's right.

Remember once I wrote how I wished I could be of Serenity and part of Serenity forever and ever? I think that's what's happened to Wash and Shepherd Book. I wonder if it will happen to all of us when our time comes? I hope so. It would be lovely.

Right now we're on our way to Athens to see Margot. Captain figures she can put us back in touch with the kind of people like to give us work. Could you meet us there? Please??

Don't come if it would be dangerous for you but if you can do! I'm fit to be seen now that I'm me again, and I want you to meet Jayne. Try to keep open minds, I swear he's not as mean as he looks!

Hoping that this really will be my last letter -

Love River.

----

Note:

1. H/E Hampton Enterprises, another supercorporation and rival of Blue Sun.