A/N: This is a collection of drabbles about (and sort of by) River. All are set after Serenity (the BDM, not the episode), and there will probably be more of them as I feel like writing them. They are very disconnected, as can be expected of River, and I titled it "A Current of Thought" because "Stream of Consciousness" was too obvious. :) I think there are four drabbles in this chapter, and I'll probably update this story whenever I write up three or four more-so each chapter will have a few drabbles. Now that I am using redundancy to explain myself, which I don't need to do, I'm going to shut up and let you read. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I do not own River, Serenity, or anything else Firefly related. I just worship the ground Joss Whedon walks upon.
A Current of Thought
Sometimes she sits in the cockpit when no one else is around. When Serenity is on autopilot and everyone else has gone to sleep for the night. For the day. For the meaningless set of hours they arbitrarily designate as night. Night and day are meaningless out in space. In the black. But they all sleep for the same arbitrary set of hours as if there is a sun available to make a differentiation between the meaningless words humanity assigned to the hours when their little part of the world was turned to face the sun versus when there was a whole planet blocking it. As if there is a difference between night and day out in space. As if it isn't all black.
She likes to sit in the copilot's chair, curled up, her arms wrapped around her knees. She likes to watch the blackness sliding past Serenity's windows.
There are rumors that looking at the black is what made the Reavers go crazy. But it doesn't make her crazy. (Hadn't made them crazy either.) Then again maybe it does and she just doesn't know. Maybe she is already crazy. She is already crazy. So it doesn't matter.
"What are you doing, River?" Simon liked to ask her questions.
"Light." She liked to give him the simplest responses. Especially when he was looking for a more complex answer. "Trying to catch the light."
"Like snow. Or rain." She stuck her tongue out again, but his eyes narrowed and she knew she'd have to explain. "We used to drink rain? Tried to catch snowflakes on our tongues?"
"Yes..." Dubious. Like he wasn't sure if that's really what he meant to say.
"Good. I was worried." She paused, thinking, looking up at the light that shafted through the tiny holes in the grating that made up the walkways above the cargo bay. Lights like that would go out, eventually. Eventually the blackness would engulf them. Like the blackness was engulfing her. She needed new light. "Batteries." Non-sequitors like that gave Simon an adorable look of confusion.
"Need new ones. The light is dying. Like the 'verse."
"At first I thought it was just me. But it's not. It's the whole 'verse."
"River…" Simon spoke slowly, like to a five-year-old. She knew he didn't do it because he thought she was stupid. He did it to make sure she understood. But sometimes it was annoying. "The 'verse doesn't run on batteries. And neither do you."
"The light is dying," she insisted. "The light inside me. Need new batteries. But it's not just me. It's the whole 'verse."
"That needs new batteries?" Simon asked, his brow furrowing as he tried to work it out.
"That's going crazy."
Mal likes to think that he's the one teaching her to fly, but really it's Serenity. And Wash. She doesn't want to tell anyone that it's Wash teaching her to fly. She's worried they'll be upset by that.
She digs into her memories and pulls up something she learned in the Academy. Before they started cutting into her brain. Something about landing cycles, airflow, aerodynamics, and the engine of a Firefly class ship. She couples that knowledge with a memory of watching Wash fly. Serenity beeps calmly and a light flashes. The Wash in River's memory spins smoothly to press three buttons and pull a lever. She copies him and the ship glides into position over the landing pad. A minute later, she's landed, gentler than Wash ever managed.
"And so the student surpasses the teacher," she murmurs in a fair imitation of Wash. The Wash in her memory smiles at her.
"How did you do that?" Mal asks from the other chair. She doesn't respond. She doesn't want to upset him. The Wash in her head laughs at the look on Mal's face. She wonders if anyone else can still remember him with such clarity. She wonders if he's still inside their heads too, or if that's just her. If it's just her who's crazy. She shrugs. She might be crazy, but at least she can fly.
"She always did love to dance." She heard Simon talking above the music in her head. She felt herself smile.
"Beautiful." Zoe always said what she meant, simple and easy. Never too many words. Never more words than needed.
"She always has been." There was a trace of regret in Simon's voice. Her smile faltered as she spun. Zoe sighed.
"Don't worry." River paused in her dancing, letting the music drift away on a current of thought. She cocked her head, listening inside Zoe. Impossible wishes for things that would have been. Would have been if Wash hadn't…if she had only just listened to him. It would have been a beautiful baby. River listened. "Don't worry. It isn't would have been. It will be."
Zoe didn't ask the question forming on her lips. Her eyes widened slightly and she pressed a hand to her stomach. She smiled and it was the first time she smiled since Wash's death.
"What…?" Simon knew he wouldn't get an answer out of River or Zoe until he needed to know. He sighed and wandered off, presumably to find Kaylee.
"Will be?" Zoe looked down at River. River spun and began to dance again.
"Beautiful." She smiled.