TITLE: Leave This Room


"You wanna leave this room."

"Damn right I do."

I can't stop the rage pulsin' through me as I stride back up the stairs, away from the roomful o' idiots I'm meant ta call crew. A Cap'n who'll lead us into God knows what fer a couple a strays? You gotta be kiddin' me.

I head straight ta the galley, fixin' me up a drink 'afore I wind up in any real trouble. Cap'n keeps lettin' honour and 'Nara and whatever other go se he thinks about cloud his mind. This ain't hard, not by a long shot; they gotta go.

I finish my drink, the burn clearin' my head an' gettin' me battle ready.

I look up at the steel door that's keepin' her from the rest o' us and suddenly I know what ta do. I can't help the vicious anticipation; girl's been makin' trouble from the get go, an' I can' help but think that she'd be better off floatin' through space, left ta kick up mess fer whichever crew out there is fool enough ta keep her.

Or better yet, never be found.

"No trouble lil crazy person, we're goin' fer a nice shuttle ride."

I'm keepin' my voice calm but my heart is poundin' cuz the skinny lil girl I'm meant ta lead ta a shuttle ain't here an' if that ain't plenty dis-con-cerntin' then I don't know what is. I can't rely on my eyes, not wit' this lil bit, an' I close my eyes, breathin' in deep. It's faint but here, the tiniest hint of medication and cinnamon, and I can't help but grin. She ain't thought o' everythin', I know she's still nearby.

I cruise in closer, tryna see where this ruttin' girl's a-hidin', when suddenly I realize the source of the smell. I look up for a second an' all I see is lean split legs an' a face blank of emotion before the can hits me in the head, knockin' me out.

By the time I'm woke we's all on the bridge, lookin' out at the lil planet she's found. I enter stiffly, frozen protein bag clutched ta my head as I narrow my eyes at her. She has the good grace ta hang her head but I saw them eyes; the face may've been emotionless but them eyes give her away. I don't say a word as I reach out a hand, takin' back the handgun she took offa me.

I ain't about ta yell, I ain't about ta bitch right now. Their presence may be a clear an' present danger, an' I'm gettin' the feelin' we'll be knee deep in hells rivers afore this is all over. Usually I'd kick up all kindsa stink o'er their ongoing status as crewmembers.

That was afore.

But I saw them eyes, I saw what's inside.

An' I can't help but smirk as I recognise that look.

Seems I ain't the only weapon on board.

An' damned if this one ain't shiny as all hell.

Later Zoe'll tell me off fer informin' them that she's damagin' my calm. Let her think what she wants; it's the truth. Damn girl is seein' somethin' an' its dark an' its deadly an' it's gonna swallow us all alive iffen we let it.

So Mal gives his lil speech, an' he ain't got no way o' knowin' that my eyes ain't focused on him. They're focused on the skinny lil thing at the other end o' the table, an' as the glass o' our galley streams sunlight instead o' stars fer once, I can finally see what I'm ready ta fight fer.

It ain't about the smart thing, it's about the right thing.

An' as I take a swig o' whatever vile engine brew Kaylee's stuck in this bottle I glance o'er at her brother an' make my decision. I slide the bottle to him, hidin' my approval as he takes his own swig o' the bottle, an' I let my eyes meet hers.

Them eyes, they show her fer what she is.

And damned if I ain't wantin' it but bad.

I'm securin' myself while Kaylee screams fer me ta strap in an' fer a second as I'm checkin' their belts those eyes meet mine. I can't help the thrill that races up my spine an' I have ta look away afore I get caught in that whisky gaze. My heart's poundin' an' it ain't jus' the knowledge o' what an EMP can do ta a ship; it's her.

Somehow the lil man manages ta get us inta the hanger an' my heart jus' stops when I hear Zoe frettin' an' fussin' o'er his corpse. Ain't how a man should go, not a man o' that calibre, but we ain't got time fer this an' we all know it's the end o' the line.

I disembark first an' damned if Lux don't make a man feel a mite more secure in an insecure situation. I wanna say somethin' ta Zoe but now ain't the time an' she's tellin' Mal what's what like it ain't nobody's business an' I can't help the swell o' pride in my chest that this here's the first mate o' my ship, my crew. Ain't nobody in the 'verse able ta hold like Zoe, an' even though I can feel the agony in every syllable she's stronger than steel an' damned if but that ain't important at a time like this. Now Kaylee's askin' bout Wash an' Zoe doesn't need someone ta cover but all I can think ta do is issue orders fer movin' the gorram crates.

Mal's askin' iffen she's gonna hold an' I know she can an' my mouth runs on.

"Cap'n's right, can't be thinkin' on revenge if any of us are gonna get through this."

There ain't no expression in her face as she answers.

"You really think any of us are gonna get through this?"

I glance back at our useless band o' warriors.

"Well, I might."

Damnit the girl's screamin' 'bout Reavers an' I can't help the wave of fury cuz she's picked a ruttin' shitty time ta get all bughouse but we gotta hold, gotta make sure Mal gets that signal out. I flick my eyes back at the girl, the desire ta hold her makin' me even more furious as she breaks down an' I turn my head forward.

The signal is what matters.

Zoe's sliced an' I'm draggin' her back while the fire continues cuz I can't let her go down like that. Before I know it I'm hit an' Zoe's screamin' fer people ta fall back an' Kaylee's been shot in the neck wit' them darts. Zoe's askin' bout ammo and suddenly the doc's shot on the ground an' everythin' seems silent fer a moment as he makes his apologies to his sister.

There's screamin' at the frozen blast doors an' the end is very fuckin' nigh but all's I can hear is her soft voice as she tells her brother it's her turn. Suddenly she's just a blur, divin' through them blast doors, throwin' back the med kit an' disappearin' inta the waitin' arms o' them monsters.

I don't know how many minutes pass with the sounds o' fists meeting flesh an' all I can do is curse my injuries an' lack o' ammo cuz I can't do nuthin' ta help her an' ain't nobody deservin' ta die like that. I'm already resigned as I say what I reckon'll be my last words.

"We ain't got long, d'you 'spose he got through? You think Mal got the word out?"

Zoe's reassurances are anythin' but an' I ain't never hated myself more'n at this moment cuz I shoulda put a bullet in the girl's head afore she ran through, shoulda given her the mercy she deserved. But I didn't an' I know more'n anythin' that I couldn't cuz I was suddenly seein' her as somethin' else and I can't help thinkin' my timing's shit.

I can't stop starin' at those doors like my whole world jus' disappeared behind 'em and I'm startin' ta think that's the truth when Mal comes in and tells us he got through, askin' bout River.

None o' us can speak but suddenly there's the clang o' the blast doors an' I feel hair stand on end cuz that's her standin' there, blood and sweat coatin' her every limb, the wall blowin' out an' my heart completely stoppin' cuz I ain't never seen somethin' quite like that afore an' I don't ever wanna forget it.

They're screamin' at her ta stand down an' all's I wanna do is not aggravate the gorram situation fer once but she'd turnin' her head as if she'd ready fer a nother battle an' I'm kinda wishin' I could see it cuz the sight o' her on all them bodies is enough ta make my blood boil.

They're beggin' fer a kill order an' my legs are locked my spine is frozen an' I can't form words as suddenly the order's negated an' she's standin' there like our own coat o' arms, ready ta fight another battle an' lockin' me in place with them eyes.

Later I'm watchin' her fix parts onta that lil rocket that's standin' by our fallen an' I can't help the tear that slips down her face cuz all those that died served a purpose I ain't never imagined an' the lil slip o' a girl's still here lookin' like the tiny crazy person she is once more. Course in that dress I can't help but wonder jus' how much o' a crazy person she really is cuz it's huggin' curves that saved us an' slidin' on skin that was once slick with Reaver blood and if that ain't tattooed on my memory let me rot in peace.

I ain't never seen Zoe more terrible or beautiful than at this moment cuz that slinky dress is mixin' with her grief ta create somethin' powerful an' fer a second I can't take my eyes off her; this woman had love, hotter'n the end o' my cigar, an' she fought as hard as she could even without it ta blanket her, cuz she knew that's what he woulda wanted.

So now we're healin', all o' us, an' the doc's finally sorted things wit' lil Kaylee an' the Cap'n ain't pissin' 'Nara off too much an' Zoe's wrapped up in her private blanket o' grief tempered by the knowledge o' a new passenger she ain't quite ready ta share. An' I gotta admit I'd be jealous but I'm lyin' in my bunk an' the girl's takin' us inta the air an' Mal's finished his sermon bout flyin' an' then there's a white foot reachin' down my bunk ladder.

Suddenly I'm lookin' inta brown eyes and a shy smile an' I finally get what I missed all those months afore cuz she's walkin' ta my bed an' my heart's beatin' in that strange rhythm but suddenly I'm alright wit it all.

Cuz I don't wanna leave this room, an' from the looks o' that smile, neither does she.