DISCLAIMER: Firefly belongs to the genius that is Joss Whedon and not me. No money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Set after the movie.

The Things I Will Miss
By Celievamp


Things I will miss… I will not miss the black. I will not miss the taste and smell of recycled air. I will not miss the silence. I will not miss the constant edginess, the never-quite-knowing if we will live to see another day. I will not miss the way nothing and no one is as it seems, the lies we tell every day to survive.

The 'verse seems very small sometimes.

They are good people, all of them. One thing the Guild teaches you is to never go by appearances, first impressions. I know how I must appear to people, how my work defines me absolutely in their eyes. For some that first impression will never change. I know this. And I can live with it.

When I was a child, I wanted to be liked, so much. It was my biggest flaw according to my teachers. They taught me that I should simply be. And I tried… so hard, yet still… I want to be liked. I admit it. By some more than others. Mal Reynolds is too proud, too stubborn, too afraid to admit to the truth of how he feels about me. He knows how much it hurts me when he calls me whore and yet he still does it. I see him watch me, follow me with his eyes, undress me…

This ship seems very small sometimes. I will not miss the cramped conditions, the basic rations, the rasp of metal on metal.

Kaylee, sweet Kaylee. When she looks at me she sees some sort of fairy princess. I know she is worried that I will go away for good this time. That she will never see me again. She is so sweet, so trusting. She has so much love to give to the right person. That isn't me. I don't think it's Simon Tam either, though the Core brat has mellowed and matured of late. Kaylee has a real gift but she thinks so little of herself. She does not see how special, how unique she truly is.

The Companion's Guild teaches you how to react to those who look beneath the clothing, makeup and ritual, and don't like what they see. It does not prepare you for the fear that beneath these things there is nothing. Not even ugliness. Just emptiness. Kaylee helped me to see that I am more than a Companion, to see that a simple smile can change the world.

I will miss Kaylee, her honest simplicity, her generous heart.

Zoe stands aside to let me pass as I go along the companionway to my shuttle – not that I can call it that much longer. She tolerates me – I'm not even sure if she likes me. I don't really appear in her philosophy. She is a soldier, first and foremost. Wash's death has changed her. It changed all of us, I think. We of Serenity had begun to think we were indestructible. It has made her brittle. We all step more softly in her presence. She mourns, of course, but in her own way. We are not part of it. She mourns alone, wants no pity, no understanding. She will survive because she doesn't know any other way to be.

I want to have her strength, her resolve. I wish I was more like her so that I could do what I need to do. To be strong enough to leave all of this behind with a clear heart. I still want to be liked. I want to belong. Somewhere – anywhere. Just not here.

River is an enigma. She watches me. Studies me. Sometimes I get her, sometimes her cryptic comments seem directed to me and me alone, even if she's not talking to me or even looking at me. There's a connection. And she comes to my shuttle sometimes. It makes no difference whether I am there or not, she comes in, lies down on my bed and clutches one of my pillows to her, hiding her face in its scented softness. She is very still for a long time, and then without a word or a sign she is gone. I am so glad I can give her that space, that silence.

The others, her own brother included, assume River is crazy, that nothing she says makes sense that she cannot be trusted to care for herself. Yet at the same time we trust her to fly the ship since we lost Wash, to be our canary, to fight for us, to be the abomination that the Alliance made of her. I'm tired of them all. I wish I could show her a different life, but her ties to her brother, to this ship are so strong.

When River dances it is as if the whole world stops, waits. She has such grace, anyone else stutters and totters in comparison. How can such beauty be crazy?

Weapon or woman…

Today, my last day, something changes. Today she comes in to my shuttle and just stands for the longest time by the door, observing me as I pack away the last of my belongings apart from those things I wish to bestow as gifts on those I am leaving behind. I don't see or hear her move but then suddenly she is standing at my side, a hairsbreadth between us.

It takes all of my training not to show how much her sudden presence disconcerts me. "River?"

"You know things…" she whispers. "Things I don't know. Won't know because no one will ever teach me. Not the crazy girl, not the weapon."

"What things?" I ask, though I already know the answer. "River… are you asking me about sex… about boys?"

"Sex, yes. Boys…" She pulls a face, forcefully reminding me of just how young she really is.

"Girls, then…" I make her blush. She glances at me sidelong. "Do you have your eye on anyone in particular? Zoe… Kaylee…." River's gaze bores into mine. "Me?"

"You shine," River whispers. "So brightly… And you know… All I know is hurt and fear and pain and darkness. You know light and love and… people. Show me. Show me… please."

I think that is the first time I ever heard River say 'please'. I am touched and terrified. But this is what I do after all. I take hold of River's hand and draw her across to the couch. Hesitantly she sits down next to me.

"River, what you're asking me takes a lifetime to learn. And I'm leaving here in just a few hours. I'm honoured… really, I am, that you want me to be the one for you, but you deserve more than just a day, you deserve a lifetime with the person who is the one for you."

"Then I will come with you," River said. "And we will have that lifetime."

I blinked at her. There was an authority I rarely ever heard before in her voice. "But what will Simon say…"

"Simon can say what he likes… I am long past the time for children's games. And I am over the age now where he can do more than advise. Serenity has been my home, my haven, for you as well but like you it is time to go and not look back, to keep this place, this time safe in memory. My needs have changed. I do not need safe nor quiet, not any more. What I need is to be with other people now, to emulate, to learn from them. And I need you, Inara Serra, I need to learn from you most of all, I need you to show me who I can be." Her fingers traced the line of my cheek, her eyes intent on my face.

"Does Simon know of your plans?" I asked. I hadn't yet said aloud that I agreed to this but I saw River's face brighten anyway. There was no fooling this one, she saw through any dissembling. The girl's empathy and almost chameleon like quality with accents and behaviours would stand her in good stead if she chose to become a Companion. Though she was old to start training it was not impossible.

"Not explicitly," River grinned. "But I don't think it will come as a great shock to him. He is not stupid – he will see this for the opportunity that it is. He's been wanting to lead his own life for so long. This is his chance. He would be a fool not to agree to it."

And Simon Tam might be many things but he was not a fool. I smiled at River, leant in and softly kissed her lips. "I don't think he's a fool either, but you must tell him of your plans, River." I could not stop smiling. "If you like, we could go and tell him together."

River seized my hand, almost pulling me to my feet. "Let's go,"

I will not miss River Tam. I won't have to. She dances beside me, singing under her breath as we walk together along the corridor to the infirmary where Simon Tam will be working on something, as is his habit. Her hand slips into mine and she gently squeezes my fingers. I squeeze back.

The End

Return to Firefly & Serenity Fiction

Return to Main Page