The Aftermath

In the aftermath, she seeks him out. Her whole body shivers, shakes with the effort it had taken her to become the weapon, to fight off the demons. But still, she pushes on. She searches through the debris. She searches the broken building - what remains of it. There are so many bodies, so many of them, dead, covered, broken. Like her. She's broken.

She's been broken since she went to the Academy and had her brain messed around with like a ruttin' playground. Cut after cut after cut. Slice. Brain go squish. They did this to her.

They are why she was able to fight off the demons. They are why she chose this life.

And they are why she is still alive. She hates them though, for what they did. They had no right.

Somewhere nearby, her comrade needs her, so she continues on as the voices in her head scream worry at her that he is dead, and others tell her the Alliance might still be after her, and another misses Simon and Serenity's crew. Long gone now.

She is broken, but she has been living like this for a long time now. She is used to it. She is used to feeling everything now, and somehow, her brain has stepped aside or broken even further to make her care less and more and more.

She hears a groan. Step after step, she seeks through the remaining rooms. She is close. She can hear his heartbeat in her mind. Still alive. Still breathing. Still waiting for her to save him from himself, like she needs saving from herself.

Heavy breathing. And then she sees him. He's crushed beneath the weight of a bookshelf. It's one of the well-made ones. Old. The wood is something ancient, something heavy.

"Sam," she says.

He grunts back at her, unable to voice his thoughts. Or maybe he's in too much pain to form any words; his leg is bleeding. She can't access the extent of his injuries or if there are any more, without moving the bookshelf.

At once, she kneels by his side. She begins moving the debris away, starting with the smaller bits, and working her way up to the bookshelf. She tosses books aside, cringing when one lands, open and crinkling the pages. But it can't be helped. She leaves it and throws more out of the way, and then she removes one of the shelves, and then a second shelf. She brushes concrete bits aside.

Without the shelves in place, she can take the weight of the bookshelf. She lifts it high enough that he can slip out. Then, when he's clear, she drops it back in place. He's soon trying to sit up, ripping off a part of his shirt to wind around his injured leg. In his mouth, he puts another strip of fabric, which he bites down on as he pushes his dislocated knee back into its socket. Grunts of pain make their way past the fabric in his mouth. Screams.

She places a hand on his shoulder.

"River," he pants out. "Thank you." He looks at her, and his eyes are wet - wet from the pain, and wet with emotion.

"You'd have done the same," she whispers.

"What do you say we get out of here?"

She nods and a smile plays at her lips. "What next?"

"Next," he says, "We rest."

"Still demons," she insists, and she remembers the battle they just survived. Snapping teeth; long, thin claws; blurs of action and of blood. Spraying blood. Blood everywhere. And her axe kept swinging, kept cutting them down, one after the other, until there were none left.

Sam shot at the ones near to him and took down a good amount. But she got most of them, as always. She's the killer. Sam is a killer, too. That's why they fit. That's why she's still here with him. No one else knows what it is like to be different.

Their differences aren't the same, but they can revel in the fact that there is someone like them: someone different. Someone that can snap a demon's neck and then move on to the next demon. No remorse.

They saved each other in the battle. She knows this. And she knows that if it wasn't for Sam being in her life and caring for her, she wouldn't be the same. She would still be shattered. Now, she is simply a broken mess that has no chance of being swept up. But that doesn't matter, because Sam, too, is broken on the floor, and their messes have tangled.

In the aftermath, she's done all right.

fin.