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TITLE: Calligraphy
AUTHOR: Melody
CHARACTER: Inara
WORD COUNT: 100
PROMPT: Temperance
SUMMARY: Inara has more self-discipline than that.
DISCLAIMER: Inara, Mal, and all things Firefly-related belong to Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy Productions. These stories are intended as a tribute to a beloved show and characters.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is set during the episode "Heart of Gold."

***

Inara's brush stroked across the paper. She'd been upset earlier, but the degree of focus calligraphy required had centered her; she was calm again. She was happy, really, that Nandi had found comfort -- Mal, a night of peace. She wasn't upset at all.

She dipped the brush into the inkpot. Tranquility: an elegant character, a way of life. Her profession denied her temperance of body, but it required -- demanded! -- temperance of spirit. And if the deep places of Mal's soul tempted her to indulge in an orgy of emotion...well. Unacceptable.

She lifted her brush, and created tranquility once more.




TITLE: Paper Sun
CHARACTER: River
PROMPT: Red
WORD COUNT: 100
Jayne looks better in red.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Writing from River's POV is a mite persnickety. That girl's plum crazy!

I realize that I'm conflating two seperate incidents into one story -- the scene from "Shindig" where River rips all the labels off of the cans of food and the scene from "Ariel" where she stabs Jayne -- but, hey! It's River! She's not exactly the most linear person in the world.

One warning: if you're not familiar with the television show Firefly, this drabble will make no sense whatsoever. I'm relying on the reader's familiarity with the show, the characters, and the specific scenes mentioned above to put this story into context.

***

--sun beat down, paper rays stabbing like knives in her brain, blue blue, hot and cruel, slicing and cutting, rip-dip-hitting, tearing, grabbing until nothing was left. The solar surface burned at 5,780 kelvin, indigo heat, melting the world. Eating it up, contaminating all the food. Rip it off, off, grab, tear, smash -- that's all they understand, and the blue sun had to set. An eclipse could save them.

The numbers started to equate when they mutated, spreading their fibrous poison outside the kitchen counters, and it had. To. Be. CUT. OUT!

One single red line disrupted the evil geometry.

Safe.




TITLE: Moments Like This
CHARACTER: River
PROMPT: Smell
WORD COUNT: 100
RATING: G
SUMMARY: She doesn't get many moments like this.
NOTES: This is set during "Out of Gas," during Simon's birthday dinner at the beginning of the episode.

***

She doesn't get many moments like this. Lovely, laughing, and warm. The air was filled with sweet, singing comfort and the soft glow of love, shining like candles on the birthday protein. Everyone is relaxed and happy. River breathes in the scent of pure joy.

It;s a moment to be cherished, and she savors it, like the taste of the chocolatey frosting she won't get to eat.

Because it's there now too. It's always there, all the time, lurking around the edges -- stronger some times than others, and right now it's so strong it's choking her.

The smell of death.




TITLE: The Last Session
CHARACTERS: Dr. Matthias, River
WORD COUNT: 100
PROMPT: Star
SUMMARY: Dr. Matthias observes Session 416.
SPOILERS: For the R. Tam Sessions. If you haven't watched this yet, then you need to go do that now. It's pretty short. I'll wait.
NOTES: Again with the morbid and creepifyin'!

ADDITIONAL NOTE: This story was remixed on remixthedrabble. The remix can be found here.

***

Dr. Matthias closed the observation room door. His guests had already activated the one-way mirror. "Gentlemen." They gave no indication they'd heard, but he knew they had. Those blue-gloved bastards didn't miss a trick.

One said, "She's been responding well to the treatments."

Matthias nodded. "Exceptionally so. She's our star pupil."

From the intercom came death's bloody gurgle.

The other one said, "Yes," and smiled. Matthias shivered.

His funding was assured for another year. Good. His work was important.

Behind the mirror, the subject whispered urgently, "I can see you."

He believed her. God help him.

God help them all.




TITLE: Other Plans
CHARACTER: Simon
PROMPT: Life
WORD COUNT: 100
RATING: G
SUMMARY: Simon reflects on life.
NOTES: Title taken from a line in a John Lennon song, "Beautiful Boy." Set immediately after the episode "Objects in Space."

This story is also available as a podfic (mp3 file). Right click and save as, please.

***

This wasn't how he had expected his life to turn out.

He'd been a brilliant doctor, his parent's pride and joy. He'd had a successful career, work he loved, a promising future, status, wealth -- comfort and ease among the Core's elite. Everything.

He'd given all that up for her.

Now he was an outcast 'fugee hiding in the Rim, a patient in his own infirmary: a complete reversal of fortune.

Simon watched River play with Kaylee. His sister was safe where she belonged. Where they belonged.

His life was so different here. He'd never imagined he could be so happy.




TITLE: Act of Faith
CHARACTER: River
WORD COUNT: 100
RATING: G
PROMPT: Patience
SUMMARY: Writing calmed her, despite her doubts.
NOTES: Small spoilers for the episode "Safe." Set pre-series.

***

With hands that shook only slightly, River moved pen over paper. Writing calmed her, despite her doubts. She never received a reply. How could she know if she'd been heard?

...at the D'Arbanville's ball this year, mother? I thought it tedius; last years was much...

Still, she wrote -- wrote her paper rosary. Surely, these prayers did not disappear like so many wisps of smoke? Surely some kindly Ear would hear? Surely...

...Simon's work at the hospital? Not too busy to write...

Simon would listen. She believed it with the religious fervor of a saint. She had to.

She would wait.




TITLE: One Thing
CHARACTER: Simon
WORD COUNT: 100
PROMPT: Faith
RATING: G
SUMMARY: No one was coming for them.
NOTES: Set during the witch-burning scene in "Safe."

***

No one was coming for them.

That was okay. He'd never been able to rely on anyone except himself -- himself, his wits, and his money. But the money was gone now and his wits dashed to pieces against the rock of these people's ignorance. He had only himself.

And River. He always had her, even when she didn't have herself.

She smiled. "Post-holer. Digging holes for posts."

He'd lost his faith in the government, his parents, in everything -- except for her. She was the one thing he could believe in.

He wrapped his sister into his arms. "Light it."




TITLE: Lilacs Out of the Dead Land
CHARACTER: River
WORD COUNT: 100
PROMPT: Spring
RATING: G
SUMMARY: April is the cruellest month.
TIMELINE: I imagine this story taking place sometime in-between "Ariel" and the apple-bits scene in "War Stories."
NOTES: Title and summary taken from "The Waste Land" by T. S. Eliot.

***

"No!" River shouts. "No drugs!"

Simon's tried kindness, cajoling, logic, and pleading, and now all he has is confusion. "But why? They've been working!"

"That's why!"

He doesn't understand. He's a surgeon, not a doctor – he doesn't heal, he fixes.

And sometimes – especially when she takes her medicine, and the blurred edges of her thoughts begin to sharpen – she wants to be fixed, wants it desperately.

Painfully.

He can't heal her. She doesn't stay fixed. And it hurts when the sharp edges blur again.

She wonders occasionally if they deliberately let her escape. Hope is a crueler torture than knives.




TITLE: Time, Like a River
CHARACTER: River
WORD COUNT: 100
PROMPT: Time
RATING: G
SUMMARY: Like water, she flows.
NOTES: This is a lot more metaphorical than I usually write for fanfic -- even for River-POV fanfic!

ADDITIONAL NOTE: This story was remixed on remixthedrabble. The remix can be found here.

***

She is lost in the river, but is not drowning.

The current sweeps her along; she goes where it sends her. Like water, she flows: forward, back, round and round. The Academy was full of unexpected waterfalls, and her throat would ache from screaming as she fell. On Serenity, she doesn’t fall; Simon – the crew – anchor her.

Today, she floats. She knows it’s not normal. Most people walk in one direction along the banks; they don’t drift back and forth in the river itself. She can’t help it.

She is the River.

But she thinks she’s learning how to swim.




TITLE: Where the Heart Is
CHARACTER: River
RATING: G
PROMPT: Months
WORD COUNT: 100
SUMMARY: Home is where the heart is.

***

She’d lived on the family estate on Osiris for most of her life – fourteen years – and it had never really felt like home. She hadn’t realized it at first; she’d had Simon, and Simon had had her, and they were home to each other. But where Simon wrapped her in a warm embrace, her parents made her feel...separate. Strange. Apart.

She existed at the Academy for two years. She refused to say she lived there. And considering it as a potential home was an obscenity.

She’d only been on Serenity for a few months, but she’d finally come home.




TITLE: Reward
CHARACTERS: Original Character, River
RATING: G
PROMPT: Beginning
WORD COUNT: 100
TIMELINE: Pre-series
SUMMARY: So how did River come to the Academy's attention in the first place?

***

The blue-gloved man spoke. "You did well to bring this to our attention."

Charlotte nodded. "I've never taught a brighter child, but she has an...antiauthoritarian streak." She was a rebellious freak who asked too many questions, and Charlotte would be glad to get rid of her.

"Her parents might object."

"Who, the Tams? They won't say a word." She hesitated. "So...about the reward?"

"You will be rewarded." He held out a metal cylinder and smiled; she shivered at the ice in his expression. Her last thought before the bleeding began was to hope that her prize was worth it.




TITLE: Crash and Burn
CHARACTERS: Wash, Zoe
RATING: G
PROMPT: Crash
WORD COUNT: 100
TIMELINE: Pre-series
SUMMARY: Wash asks Zoe out.

***

He'd asked her out – and she'd shot him down – 22 times. So? 23rd time's the charm!

Yeah, he was gonna crash and burn and die a horrible, flamey death. But he was a pilot – he knew how to handle a crash. He'd taken a class and everything: Plunging Inexorably Towards Your Doom 101. He'd gotten a B-.

Wash cleared his throat. "Zoe–"

"No."

He blinked. "I was–"

"No."

"But–"

"No."

"Okay, okay." Crash and burn #23-25, check. "You know, you're really very difficult to romance properly."

The corner of Zoe's mouth quirked into a smile.

Suddenly, he was flying high.