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Title: Spatial Harmonies, 6 / 10
Fandom: Firefly/Serenity
Pairing(s): none
Rating: PG
Word Count: 2, 126
Songs: Fields of Innocence – Evanescence; What You Feel – Joss Whedon (as sung by character Sweet)
Notes: There is *no* better song to introduce Sweet than the one Joss wrote for him. I changed the words, as I am prone to do, where Dawn sings to reflect more of a River perspective, but I hope that you enjoy, even though you’ve heard it before.



Heartbreak.

River had experienced it before, in so many different ways, through so many different people, but that didn't make it any easier to handle. Understand, maybe, but River understood much more than she should about most things, and it never helped to deal with the pain that came with it.

Slowly, without any real purpose, River wandered the hallways, a blank expression set on her pale face. She felt like all the energy had been sucked out of her. A ghostly whispering noise was whistling around her ears; Serenity was singing to her. She ran her fingers over the edges of the ship, caressing the metal with her fingertips. As her feet wandered the ground in distinct dancing patterns, she heard her voice gently starting to sing.

“I still remember the world from the eyes of a child.
Slowly those feelings were clouded by what I know now.”


River felt her feet moving in the intricate dance moves as she wandered her way around Serenity, pouring her soul to the walls of her greatest friend.

“Where has my heart gone?
An uneven trade for the real world.
Oh I, I want to go back to...
believing in everything and knowing nothing at all.”


Her swirling motions were not guided in any particular direction. She moved where the music took her, allowing Serenity to carry her as she sang to the gently guiding music. Her eyes caught sight of a portal, and she encouraged her feet to move towards it, gazing into the black and stars as if they were an intensely woven tapestry.

“I still remember the sun always warm on my back.”

She placed her hand on the portal, feeling the tears forming in her eyes. She felt like the black, the cold endless expanse of space, was covering her heart so completely that she couldn’t think, couldn’t feel anything but the intense pain and misfortune that life was bringing her.

“Somehow it seems colder now!”

She turned away from the portal, allowing her feet to carry her again.

“Where has my heart gone?
Trapped in the eyes of a stranger!
Oh I, I want to go back to...
believing in everything!”


Her dancing became more erratic. In the pauses between her words, she closed her eyes, whirling around so frantically it was a wonder that she wasn’t crashing into walls. It merely strengthened her belief that Serenity was guiding her, helping her to relieve her pain.

“Where has my heart gone?
An uneven trade for the real world!
Oh I, I want to go back to...
believing in everything!

Where has my heart gone?
Trapped in the eyes of a stranger!
Oh I, I want to go back to...
believing in everything...”


River finished off her dance piece, listening to the soft echoes of voices around her. Slowly, the music became less frantic, she began to settle. Carefully, without opening her eyes, she slowed to a delicate walk, moving a few paces before turning easily, and crossing her legs, sitting down. The music was encouraging it, though River had no idea where it had taken her.

As the music finished its last few notes, River sighed deeply. She felt much better than she had a few moments before. Carefully, she opened her eyes, expecting to find herself in the infirmary, or the galley.

Instead, she found herself in the middle of the cargo bay. And standing before her was the Great Red Demon she had seen from before.

River screamed, jumping to her feet, and attempted to dash away.

---

The soft, high pitched wail echoed across the ship, and caused Mal, who had been sitting in a chair in the galley with his face in his hands, to suddenly sit up in shock. He wasn’t sure how he knew, or what he was going to do about it, but he knew something was wrong.

“River,” he murmured softly, his face an expression of panic. “It’s not...could have been anything.”

But the feeling within him that the noise had been River in an expression of complete panic burned so strongly that he knew that he needed to at least make sure that it had been nothing.

Slowly, he pulled himself up from his chair, and proceeded towards the cargo bay.

---

The Demon quickly reached over and grabbed hold of River’s arm. As he did, a band began playing a jerky beat in the background. River could pick out what she thought was a piano and drums. The Demon grinned at River, and began to sing in a low and melodic voice.

“Why’d you run away?
Don’t you like my, style?”


The Demon released River’s arm – she was too stunned to do anything but stare – and began to perform an obviously well rehearsed dance.

“Why don’t you come and play?
I guarantee a...great big smile!”


River had a fleeting vision of the Demon removing his lips and showing them to a young girl with brown hair much like hers. Thankfully, this time the Demon kept his lips fully intact.

“I come from the, imagination,
and I’m here strictly by your invocation-”


River paused on that sentence. Her invocation? What did he mean?

“...so what d’ya say? Why don’t we dance awhile?”

He gripped River tightly, pulling her towards her in what appeared to be the beginnings of a choreographed dance piece that would slink its way around the floor. He barely touched her, yet his body seemed to command hers to move through the dance flawlessly. It was unnerving. And still, the Demon kept singing.

“I’m the hottest swing,
I’m the twist and shout.
When you gotta sing,
when you gotta...let it out.
You call me and I come a-running...”


There it was again. The implication that somehow, it had been River who summoned this strange demon.

“I turn the music on; I bring the fun in.
Now we’re partying,
that’s what it’s all about.”


The music was suddenly building in volume and power. A trumpet part began to absolutely wail. The Demon was spinning River around like she was some sort of toy!

“’Cause I know, what you feel...girl!
I know, just, what you feel, girl!”


Then the music settled, along with the dance, and the Demon leaned in closely to River, as if telling her a secret. He nodded behind him to an odd door that had suddenly appeared in the middle of the cargo bay. River, confused by it, and suddenly finding herself out of the bewitching dance, walked towards it carefully. The Demon watched her, a smug smile on his face, and continued to sing.

“All these melodies,
they go on...too long.”


River ignored him. Her fingers traced the edges of the door frame.

“Then that energy,
starts to come on...way too strong!”


River placed her hand on the doorknob. She was reluctant to open the door, though she wasn’t sure exactly why.

“All those hearts lay open;
that must sting.”


Finding the courage in her heart, River opened the door slowly. Quite suddenly, a Reaver burst out from it. Screaming in shock, River jumped back from it, but the beast hardly noticed her. It was spinning around so frantically that its feet seemed to almost be on fire. Suddenly, right before River’s eyes, the Reaver burst into flame, and fell to the floor at her feet. In horror, River turned her face too look up at the Demon. He grinned, and shrugged.

“Plus some customers
just start combusting.”


He leaned in close to River again, entrancing her in his dance once more. Though this time, when he sang, he wasn’t telling her a secret, he was giving her a warning.

“That’s the penalty,
when life is but a song!”


He pulled away briefly from River, grinned again, and then began approaching her slowly. River, terrified, backed up from him in rhythmic steps as he sang.

“You brought me down,
and doomed this town,
so when we blow this scene...”


There it was again. Surely he was joking? River hadn’t performed any sort of magic...lately. The Demon almost seemed to read her mind, and pulled out of his pocket a small trinket. River gazed at it curiously for a moment, then her eyes widened in shock and horror. It was the same shape and style as the medallion that she and Kaylee had found in the market that morning!

“Back we will go
to my, kingdom below,
and you will be my queen!”


River’s eyes filled with horror. Suddenly, the need to burst into song herself was overwhelming. The Demon seemed oblivious to her sudden change, and kept going.

“’Cause I know what you feel, girl!”

In her haste, River overlapped the demon, “No you see, you and me, wouldn’t be very regal!”

The Demon grinned at her again, “I’ll make it real, girl!”

Again, River overlapped him, this time pointing to herself for emphasis, “What I mean, seventeen, so this queen thing’s illegal!”

This seemed to amuse the Demon, he burst into his own solo, “I can bring whole cities to ruin, and still have time to get a soft shoe in!”

River decided to try a different tactic. She crossed her arms in an obnoxious way and said arrogantly, “You’re real sweet. Barely meet, and then you want to date her?”

The Demon’s eyes flashed, but he still seemed amused by her antics. The word sweet remained on River’s lips. Could it possibly be his name?

“Something’s cooking,
I’m at the griddle.
I bought Nero his very first fiddle!”


Temporarily avoiding the need to contradict the large demon (“Sweet,” River told herself. “His name is Sweet.”) by informing him that Nero had, in fact, never owned a fiddle, River played her last card, turning from the demon making one last escape move, “Well that’s great, but I’m late. Hope I don’t see you later!”

As she expected, the De – Sweet reached out and grabbed her arm, finishing off the last line of the song with a great flourish. “Now we’re partying...that’s what it’s all about.”

---

Meanwhile, just out of sight in the upper level of the cargo bay, Mal glanced down at the demon, a grimace on his face.

“Yeah,” he murmured quietly to himself, “that is what it’s all about.”

---

“Ha ha!” Sweet cackled as the invisible band played the last notes. He looked at River with a – now familiar – grin. “It’s an old number,” he said. “I use it often. It’s a fun one to sing, don’t you think?”

River couldn’t speak, she was so flustered. She began pulling at the demon’s arm, attempting to break out of his strange grip.

“Woah,” he said in a hushing voice which River assumed was supposed to be comforting in some way. His grip on her arm tightened, and he pulled her towards him in a specialized dance spin which River followed from memory, stunned that she was reacting so easily to his movements, even now. “What’s your rush darling?”

“Late!” River stuttered out. “Shouldn’t be here, shouldn’t be...shouldn’t have bought it...should have left it alone, as Kaylee suggested...”

Sweet smiled playfully, “Too late for ‘woulda coulda shoulda’’s there darling. Now all you can do is wait.”

“I beg to differ,” said a voice from the upper level. River sighed with relief.

Sweet looked up in mild curiosity, and smiled at Captain Reynolds as he approached. “Ah. The Captain returns.”

“You don’t mind, I’ll be taking back what's mine, thanks,” Mal said, familiar threateningly polite smile in place.

Sweet glanced down at River, a powerful smile in place, and released her arm. “Yours?" he said. "Seems to be you just sang about how very much she isn't yours, Captain Reynolds."

Mal grimanced sharply. "Be that as it may," he said slowly. "She's part of my crew. Don't need her dealin' with the likes of you."

Sweet paused, grinning, taking in Mal's words, before tossing River out of his grip and spinning her into Mal's. "What does it matter to me?" he said airily. "I'll just take her with me after your heart opens you to the fires of home."

With a final grin that sent shivers up and down the spines of the two crewmates, Sweet and his colleagues faded away into nothingness, as if they had never been, leaving River and Mal standing frozen, wondering what in the sphincter of Hell was going on.

Mal snapped out of the trance long before River did, grabbing her arm and pulling her out of the cargo bay forcefully. River was only in a state of half wakefulness, but she was pretty sure she could hear him mumbling, “Gorram red demons on my boat, causing everything to go all wacky. Don’t like it. Don’t like it one bit.”

Next Chapter

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