In this last of meeting places
She's not a princess but kisses can wake the dead.
Disclaimer: The Winchester boys aren't mine and the girls don't belong to me either.
Rating: M (Language, sex, angst)
Characters: Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester, Bobby Singer, Jessica Moore, River Tam, Ruby
Pairings: Sam/Ruby, Sam/Jess, Sam/River (Het)
Author's Notes: I have no idea where this came from but I'm chalking it up to too many fairy tales and T.S. Eliot. This is the first story in my Firefly/Supernatural crossover series, Rhapsody of a Windy Night.
Spoilers/Warnings: This is a very dark story. There is non-consensual sex and references to character death.
Her eyes open and she stares up at the ceiling, her fingertips cold against cotton. The clouds roar in the back of her skull, the thunder warring against the lightning, and Papa's eyes replace the beige tiles in her irises.
A white man's pushing the needle in her arm and it's time to sleep. It's time to sleep and Papa smiles, fear clamping his insides. Afraid of where she goes, of never being able to follow where she dances – her screams when the dark clouds are filling the sky and the voices are filling her head with the buzzing. Searching and searching and searching to find the one who will rebuild earth that is into hell that was.
We have to leave River here. Especially after she…
Simon would never let you do this.
Simon's got more important things to worry about, Papa says. But she sees Simon's still face, the barren desert and dying children. She wants to tell Papa that Simon's not coming home, that there's no one to dance with the wind. We'll visit you soon, he lies, once you're settled.
She smiles, brushing her fingers against Papa's lips, and nods.
This is how the world ends, with a whimper and the heat in her belly and fingers in the wet, salt and sweet and a low moan through the wall – and he stares at the ceiling, unseeing eyes and an arching back.
The red woman sucks, lips stained red from bleeding him dry. All musty leather and dead flesh and blonde hair that curls against his thighs, nothing more than a mouth that dives and bobs. A red ghost that no one sees, that the white men don't hear – walking their straight lines with padded feet.
A red ghost with black eyes – she sucks and she sucks and it's a promise and it's the seas boiling and the land burning. It's in his bucking hips, the broken world scorched onto the back of his retinas with every flick of a tongue and nails no one sees leaving bloody half moons on his hips.
It's everything inside carved out by a swallow, by his hands clutching the sheets and her fingers moving like white flickers – one small cry and a roll on her side to match his growl. He drags her down right through the dark into the crackle and spit of where the world begins.
He drags her down into fire.
And she's coming, she's coming as her skin burns – she's coming, blown into ash where the world begins.
The red woman purrs and there's gold falling around her shoulders. When you are king, she whispers, I will be queen – eyes still dark when she licks the tips of cold fingers and looks at her through the wall, red mouth a stain sucking on one white finger before she hitches up and kisses him on the forehead.
It's a promise and it's a stolen sky and it's how the world ends, with his whimper and the stutter of his body against nothing but air.
She dances to the waltz repeating in the old man's head – whirling underneath the cherry tree's blossoms fluttering to the ground – and the sun beats down on her hair. She's the wind, a gentle zephyr stirring up the smell of the earth, and she breathes in warm grass and the sweet smell of flowers.
And she watches him, sitting slack-jawed in his chair. One thin line of drool slides down to his chin and the man frowns and looks for something to wipe him clean. He's marked, a bright glow above his hazel eyes and the howl of black dogs in the distance.
Sammy, he breathes. Jesus, Sam. A tear-stained voice to match his tear-stained eyes no matter the walls in both of them and he stares at the old man underneath the brim of his hat. What the hell is going on?
The old man pulls a handkerchief out of his back pocket and he leans down to wipe his mouth. I've never seen anything like this, he says, we're just lucky Ellen knew about this place. Sam's safe here. He sees her watching, smiles while she dances, and drops his voice to a whisper. His voice doesn't carry, not even when she's the wind.
She doesn't need the wind to listen.
It has to be a spell. Doctors say there's nothing abnormal with his brain activity.
But how the fuck do we break it?
Could try some basic charms but it's a shot in the dark.
It's the red woman, she calls – never breaking a beat as she swirls and sees how many blossoms she can keep in the air before they float down to the ground. They look at her and questions flicker in their eyes.
The red woman with black eyes, she answers.
Who the hell are you?
It's a demand and it's a plea and it's the voice of a big brother when there's nothing left but straws in his fingers, with the spark dying in his chest and the ache in his throat.
I'm the wind, she says. She stops dancing and points to the mark on his forehead. And you're the brother, she adds, the one who runs from dogs.
He thinks she's fong luh and he knows that she's dangerous but the old man puts his hand on a leather covered arm. She's touched, he says and points to the white men who shuffle between wheelchairs and tuck spindly legs in blankets. If they danced with her, they wouldn't have spindly legs.
She's screwed in the head…
He's a king, she clarifies with a cock of her head, but he's lost his crown. The red woman wants to be his queen.
The brother narrows his eyes and scrubs his cheek with scabbed knuckles, a coil getting ready to spring to life inside his belly – so still that it's the clench of his jaw that gives him away. The old man tightens the hand on his arm but he doesn't hear the vow pouring fully formed into the empty spaces between them.
If I find out you're a part of this, I'll put you down like a dog.
She starts dancing when they walk away. The old man shakes his head with a poor girl echoing through the curve of his frown but the brother with hazel eyes glances at her over his shoulder. He doesn't see the flowers she weaves into stars, doesn't see the wind that blows cherry blossoms or feel the sun that warms the grass.
He doesn't see anything but the ghosts in his eyes.
The world breaks like an eggshell in a fist as she's pushing the pillow between her thighs, with a sob and a spasm and a strangled groan through the wall – and he watches the sky burn on the back of his eyelids with eyes that never close.
The red woman pumps, nails red as she scratches and never breaks skin. A slash of a smile and dead eyes and a low laugh that leaves scars in its wake, nothing more than a hand that stains her territory with white stripes and black eyes that watch her back arch along with his. Two white ghosts with blue veins, pale bodies writhing against the dark.
Bodies broken as easy as breathing – but she pumps and she pumps and it's a promise and it's the earth tearing and it's the stars falling. It's in his silent scream, the sky rolling back into nothing when her Cheshire grin widens and a tongue that no one sees flicks across her lips.
It's everything soft inside turning to stone, spilling all over and her hips rocking against the fist on the other side of her pillow – one sharp cry when she flings out her arms to greet his howl. He drags her down right through the dark into the stab and the slice where the world ends.
He drags her down to her knees.
And she's coming, she's coming as her back bleeds – she's coming, body pitching forward and nothing left but hazel eyes where the world ends.
The red woman purrs and there's gold falling around his thighs. It's the only way to save your brother, she murmurs, it's your birthright – eyes still dark when she looks at her through the wall, red tongue lapping him clean before she stretches out on top of him and kisses the pulse at the base of his throat.
It's a promise and it's a blood-red moon and it's how the world begins, with her sob and the spasm of her body while the sky burns.
She lies next to him in the grass and watches the sun flicker across his face – tracing the shadows that march with the rays tilting overheard – but there's nothing inside. She's the whisper, the song humming to the push of blood through his veins, and she spreads out on the warm grass with the sun flushing her skin.
And she sees angels in the glimmer behind his chair, a gold woman with eyes that tremble and hair that shines and a hand that stops short of brushing down his cheek. She loves him, the ache blooming through her belly with a sharp tang that crashes and burns, but sometimes angels love too much.
Sam, the angel breathes. Oh, Sam. A voice full of smoke to match the fire in her eyes and the red slash across her belly. What has she done to you?
She shifts on the grass and shades her eyes from the golden nimbus of the angel's hair.
The red woman stole his crown, she says, and he screams in his broken world where no one can save him. No one can help him without his crown but the man who runs from dogs doesn't know where to find it. Not even the waltzing man knows what to do and the waltzing man knows everything.
The angel doesn't even look at her and she feels like she's nyen ching duh, a pale ghost with blue veins and grass-stained feet. A curl of a girl staring up at a white gold spark and she shivers when the angel's hair blows back in a wind that doesn't make the cherry blossoms fall. She closes her eyes and the angel dances, sunshine peeking through the rain while he sits in sand and laughs with her.
She opens her eyes and the angel's body glimmers underneath his. He whispers into her neck, blushing hot inside her before there's a beep and he chuckles cookies and she says let them burn.
His princess is dead, burned to ashes with a slash across her belly.
She's killing you, the angel whispers.
You're the real princess. Can't you find the crown?
I wish I could touch you. One last time.
She sits up on her hands. There's a differential of pressure when skin touches skin, she says, but it won't work. I'm not a princess. Even the red woman is a princess. She touches his leg, pushing warmth into the cold skin. If he moved, he wouldn't be so cold. He sleeps without closing his eyes, she adds, but there's no one who can cut away the vines.
One more night with her and you'll fall. You're so close to breaking.
A kiss would wake him up, she says.
The angel reaches out a hand that never touches his cheek. She's translucent, swallowed up by a ray of sun that plays with the gold in her hair before she shimmers into a mist that envelops them both – sparks on their skin as she curls onto her side and looks up into his face.
She doesn't see anything but the ghosts in his eyes.
It's the third night – the night of charms, lao da ge whispers in her head – and the red woman will come when the clock strikes twelve. Part witch and part demon and something that makes her head scream, red nails inching their way inside her rib cage. Needles pricked with poison to pull out every single one of a princess' secrets from pearly skin.
She's not a princess but kisses can wake the dead.
She's a ghost that no one sees, slipping past locks and into his room before the white men hear her breathing. She waits, watches their straight line and padded feet turn a corner, and she slides out of her gown. Walks to his bed with feet as white as the floor and pulls back the covers. She curls her fingers around the elastic at his waist, inching his pants past his hips, and she leans forward to look – breathing in the musky sweat off of his skin.
She knows the particulars but no boy tries to catch the wind.
It's soft when she touches it with the tip of her tongue, gently nudges it into her mouth until her head is the one bobbing and her hands are the ones on his hips. His lips open as his back arches, a gentle sigh, and she hears the blood rush to where she's sucking and he's hard and his thighs are trembling. She shivers when hands tangle into her hair but there's no screaming in her head, no cities burning on the back of her eyelids as he groans into her mouth and she blushes.
She's soft for him, soft and wet and warm for him. Nothing like the red woman's hard fingers and sharp mouth. She crawls up his body and straddles his thighs – one hand on his chest while he blinks and blinks and blinks and Jess is the memory on his fingers, the reality on his tongue. She's not a princess but she uses her hand to guide him and eases herself down, swelling around him through the pinch and the pain with an ah and with fingers digging into his shoulders.
Sam, she whispers. Sammy.
His eyes focus on her face and his big hands pull on her hair and he's hitching up to suck on her breasts, a deep pull in her belly when his tongue flicks against tender skin. She rides him while they outrun the Apocalypse. And she's rocking, riding past the sore spots into freefall and he's blowing her into nothing but ash and he's dragging her down to where the world begins, through the crackle and spit where one brother stands between earth that is and its ending. Her hips shudder when heat shoots inside of her with his deep moan, a scream that that no one hears.
It's sticky between her thighs, mixed with blood and the musky smell of them both. She's not a princess and she's not fit for a king but she's washing away every one of the red woman's stains with her blood.
Jesus, he breathes. You're…
I'm the wind, she says.
She leans down and kisses him on the mouth.
It's a promise and it's the stars being returned to the sky and it's time to wake up, with his ragged breath and the drum beat of his pulse as she flutters around him.
Her eyes open and she stares out of a window, her fingertips cold against leather and her head resting on a lap. The engine whirs in the back of her skull, muffled music about dirty deeds battling against slow breathing, and Sam's eyes replace the sunlight sparking in her irises.
It's time to wake up. It's time to wake up and Sam smiles, his insides free and easy. He's not afraid of where she goes because he can follow wherever she dances – he knows all of the steps and he remembers enough to keep them away from the screaming dogs. He remembers enough to save the stolen soul if they all believe in happy endings and she carries the rest so that he doesn't have to – a princess' secret that the red woman will never snatch.
I couldn't just leave her there. Not after…
This is never going to work, Sam.
Yes it will, he replies and he's looking at her like he sees River. It's been too long since someone listens, since someone catches the wind, and there's an ache where Simon still dances with her. It'll be okay, he adds, you'll see.
She nods, brushing her fingers against Sam's lips, and smiles.
The title of this story is a line from "The Hollow Men" by T.S. Eliot. Much of the plot – such as it is – was further inspired by the lines "Between the desire, and the spasm." The rest of it was taken from "Sleeping Beauty," which seems to be my fairy tale du jour.
There is also a tradition in many myths of the sleeping king, such as the whole "The land and the king are one" thread in Arthurian stories of the Grail. The Grail is used to restore Arthur – and a woman is, in some schools of thought, a physical embodiment of the Grail. I incorporated that theme into the story as well.
And, well…there's power in blood.
This is my first attempt at writing River and I'm not certain how effectively I captured her voice, but it was an interesting exercise to take her out of the Firefly 'verse and see if she would work in Supernatural. There were certain stylistic choices I used for her voice which I don't generally do and, from a writing exercise, I'm glad I followed through on the challenge she presented. She did drive me buggy, though – even more so than Sam's inner narrative in "The Square Root of Pi."
The premise here is that River "broke" when the demons came into the world. I've actually done a lot of work with her background to keep her recognizably River, such as reasons for her thinking in Chinese.
Sam's still got a way to go before he's fully healed from Ruby's spell – hence additional stories within this 'verse. I do have a storyline planned out in my head and this story has already diverged into AU based on Ruby's spell…but I'll try to weave it back into canon as much as I can.
In regards to Simon, I'll just say: This is Supernatural. What's dead doesn't always stay dead.
I actually dug up the transcript for "Safe" to see how River refers to her father and was shocked and amazed to discover that it was…Dad. I changed it to Papa because I like it better.