Rock and a Hard Place: River

by dirty diana

Warnings: girly flirting
Feedback: is welcome.
Disclaimer: I didn't invent these characters. Obviously. Notes: The first of three. Simon, River, and Kaylee all find themselves in a place they didn't mean to be. Something has to give.

"I'm sorry."

Simon doesn't answer you right away. He is concentrating on making four perfect stitches in the palm of your right hand.

"I'm sorry," you say again. You are always apologizing to Simon. This morning you threw up in his room, and could only cry as you watched him clean up the mess. You wanted to stop crying, but you couldn't. You wanted to stop apologizing.

Simon has sewn the last stitch. He raises soft black eyes to look at you. "It's okay, River."

"But I broke the mirror."

"I know. The captain might have something to say about that." He examines his finished work, and curls his mouth in annoyance. The stitches aren't quite even. Simon likes everything to be even. "Do you want to tell me why?"

"It was already broken," you say.

"Uh huh." That's the sound Simon makes when he is pretending to understand you. He places your hand gently in your lap, and decides to try another tack. "Kaylee's very pretty, isn't she?"

"I'm sorry," you say, and burst into tears.

You didn't mean to. You didn't mean to want her so bad. It started out with a smile, and a pretty word, and a light touch on your arm. You didn't mean to save those things, hold them to you like precious jewels, until the sum of those things turned into wanting so hard that you hurt all over. You didn't mean to kiss her, that time when you were playing in the cargo bay, when you wrestled her to the ground amid fits of giggles. Her mouth seemed so close, then, so flushed and ready, and you didn't mean to but you couldn't help it. And Kaylee just smiled at you.

"Ain't gonna distract me that easy, sweetie." And she wriggled out from under you, and pinned you to the floor until you begged mercy, helpless and laughing.

She was Simon's. You knew that. You didn't mean to take her from him. You just meant to keep her with you in your head, along with all the other things that you keep there. Things that aren't real. But when you saw them kissing in the common room, their images melted into one and reflected in the mirror behind thought the mirror must be the thing that wasn't real. But you'd been wrong.

Simon has injected something into you to calm you down. He holds you, until you stop crying.

"She is beautiful," you whisper into the neatly pressed fabric of his vest.

"Yes," he agrees.

"She tastes so sweet. And soft."

Simon stiffens slightly against you. "Yes."

"I'm sorry," you say quietly, and close your eyes to sleep.


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