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Title: Spatial Harmonies, 9 / 10
Fandom: Firefly/Serenity
Pairing(s): implications of Xavier/Red/Blue, and variations thereof; Mal/River friendship
Rating: PG-13, because of the Green Day song and implications of violence.
Word Count: 3, 251
Songs: Misery – Green Day
Notes: Significant crossover to Buffy/Angelverse (spoiler free, and all implied; situations are merely referred to, and character names are not mentioned); with complete disregard for comic book canon. Red is a vampire because, well...there needed to be more than 2 episodes that had vamp!Red. I had originally intended to have Angel be one of Xavier's gang, but I could not resist the fun that it was to have the two characters be Red and Blue, so Angel was cut. Ignore the fact that they should have gone through significantly more personality changing character arcs in the past 700 some years. There are bigger gaps in the story to be concerned with. Such as the fact that River should not be *nearly* this together pre-BDM. (Ignore that too, would you? Thanks ever so much...)




It was cold.

That was the first thing River noticed as they stepped off the small shuttle. River hadn't even stopped to unpack – several of her boxes were still strewn around the floor. Mal had not wanted the opportunity to change his mind, so he and River had simply geared up and headed off. She could sense that he was close to changing his mind, and so she hadn’t argued when he had gone over the basic plan. They had to leave as soon as possible.

He had done very well to keep it hidden as to where they were going. Closed his mind to her quite well. She kept getting glimpses of images that she would swear that she had dreamt about in another life, yet they were memories uniquely Mal’s.

It wasn’t a terribly far shuttle ride. Mal had sent Zoe and the others to a neighbouring planet to search for work, and he and River had darted off for this small detour to a small, cold moon.

River gazed around. There was no sunlight lighting her way; all the lights were artificial. All the people were strange, deformed, and caused River a great amount of fear, and a great want to fight. As a man advanced on her and Mal’s position, River stepped towards him, ready to match his strength. Mal laid a hand on her shoulder. “Bad idea darlin’,” he said quietly. “There’s things here...”

A sudden, heavy organ began playing, hovering in a cloud over he and River. Mal shuddered; the music was following them. The demon men and women around them either didn’t notice or didn’t care the way they sang quietly to each other. Mal was determined, absolutely determined, that River’s moon-brained head understand the danger they were facing. And if the only way he could do that was through song, so be it. And so he sang, pointing out demon-folks as he saw them.

“Virginia was a lot-lizard from Aberdeen
she had a compound fracture in the trunk.”


River gave him a funny sideways glance. Mal shrugged, suggesting it was a figure of speech, and continued his song.

“It started when she ran away,
thumbs out on the ‘interstate’
she hitched a ride to Misery.”


He gestured around him. River was fairly certain the moon...planet...wasn’t actually named Misery, but he captured the essence, the feel of the planet. She smiled slightly. Mal didn’t take too kindly to that, pointing to a man nearby, who had a face with slinky skin, looking to be quite swirled over his expression. River shivered slightly, her nerves acting up, the folks in this place were quite frightening to behold.

“Mr. Whirly had a catastrophic incident,
he fell into a city by the bay.”


River nodded. That would be why his skin was all falling off. She wondered absently if that was something Mal was trying to tell her; all the people in this town were dead men walking.

“He liquidated his estates...”

River chuckled obediently at the joke.

“Now he sleeps up on the...hey...”

Mr. Whirly had just slipped his hand into someone’s back pocket, pulling out their wallet. He spotted Mal and River staring at him, flashed them a sneaky smile and disappeared into the musty crowd. River followed his thoughts absently for a while, before they got lost in the mess. Mal brought her attention back to him swiftly.

“Panhandling Misery.”

River grinned brightly at Mal’s half grin. No reason why he couldn’t have a little fun while terrifying the girl. He pointed out a couple of demons who were surrounded by a cloud of smoke around their heads.

“And they’re going get high-igh-igh...
when they’re low-low-low.
The fire burns for better days.”


River looked at him in confusion; she understood the release of endorphins, the ‘high’ the men got off the drugs, but not really the why it happened, or why they continued with it even through the destruction of their brain matter.

“And she screams ‘why, oh why?’
I say ‘I don’t know.’
It's the catastrophic hymns of yesterday...
of Misery.”


Mal took River’s arm, pulling her away from a group of questionable looking folk. River spotted a strange looking man just off to the side. She pointed him out to Mal, her eyes expressing her curiosity. Mal chuckled.

“Well Vinnie was a hustler out of Amsterdam,
he ran the drug cartel in ‘Tinsel Town’”


River blinked in mild confusion; could Mal be talking about Sihnon?

“They found him in a Cadillac,
bludgeoned with a baseball bat,
in the name of Misery.”


River could see Mal smiling slightly as a young woman, dressed in deep colours of black leather and dark colours of make up (which oddly complemented her pale skin), approached Vinnie. He gave her a small kiss on the cheek.

“Regina hit the road to our fair city,
mysteriously the night Vinnie croaked.”


River smiled, getting the reference. Gina had fallen in love with and killed Vinnie.

“She stopped in temple to elope...”

Mal gestured vaguely over his shoulder, as Mr. Whirly and Virginia, the two he had introduced earlier approached them from behind. River turned around in shock; how had Mal remained so aware of them, when she had lost sight?

“...with Virginia and the dope...
then kissed the bride eternally.”


He pulled her closer to him as a crowd of miscreants moved past them. He held her tightly, feeling her quivering against him. His voice became less playful, and more harsh as he repeated his earlier chorus.

“And they’re gonna get high-igh-igh...
when they’re low-low-low.
The fire burns for better days.
And she screams ‘why, oh why?’
I said ‘I don’t know’.
The catastrophic hymns of yesterday.
Of Misery.”


A young man approached them, Mal reacted instantly, but he didn’t come very close, merely pointed at River and cackled evilly.

“Hell hounds are on your trail now once again, boy!
They'll grope and scratch your legs until they sleep!
The emptiness will fill your soul with sorrow!
‘Cause it’s not what you make, it’s what you leave!”


Mal took River’s arm, pulling her away from the cackling man. As they kept moving, passing the multitude of faces of the different demons and monsters, River could hear a fascinating musical beat playing in the background. It seemed to reflect the faces she was seeing. She marvelled at how no one else could hear it, except Mal, who seemed to just be relieved that he didn’t feel the need to sing anymore. He simply held her close, keeping a firm alpha-male attitude apparent as he gazed into the eyes of the demons around. No different than dealing with Jayne, really.

As the song was beginning to come to its conclusion, Mal repeated the chorus once more.

“And they’re gonna get high-igh-igh...
when they’re low-low-low.
The fire burns for better days.
And she screams ‘why, oh why?’
I said ‘I don’t know’.
The catastrophic hymns of yesterday.
Of Misery.”


The music resolved itself as Mal led River up the last few steps. Ahead, they could just make out through the mist a tall castle, looming over the town. It wasn’t much further. The sight of the building filled Mal with all sorts of dread; it made River uneasy. The music reflected it, making strange squealing sounds as it came to its conclusion. Then, it stopped.

“Misery’s got a...strange orbit,” Mal said quietly as they walked towards the castle. “Seldom sees the sun. Draws in a bunch of strange folk.” He looked at River firmly. “They ain’t human. They ain’t Reavers. They’s...demons.”

“Vampires,” River said quietly, her eyes flashing over a man with strangely sharp teeth.

Mal gave her look of surprise, then smiled playfully. “Not all of them,” he admitted. “But most.”

River leaned up, whispering into Mal’s ear. “Should we be wearing signs?”

Mal raised an eyebrow at her.

“Sayin ‘Eat me’,” River finished with a sideways smirk.

Mal chuckled. “Certainly feels that way...” he paused, wondering how best to explain it. “They don’t eat, here. Too many other folk to have to share it with. They’re hungry, they go off world. Most folks don’t come here anyway; too risky. Not all are conscious of them rules.” River gave him a bemused smirk. “Don’t fret there little one; we’ve got a friend in the world.”

“Xavier...” River whispered, bleached blond thoughts flittering through her head.

Mal shook his head in wonder at how she was able to see into his mind. “Xavier,” he said darkly.

---

The heavy ‘clunk clunk clunk’ of the wooden knocker on the wooden door (which River found ironic; so much wood. She pointed this out to Mal, but he didn’t see the joke) echoed through the giant castle. River felt a shiver, both of excitement and fear, race through her as she waited for the knock to be answered. Xavier. The images that she could see of him, floating through Mal’s mind, were more intriguing than any images she had read before. They filled her with all kinds of emotions; probably some she shouldn’t be feeling. She prayed that Mal wouldn’t notice.

The door opened slowly to reveal the image of the girl with red hair that she had seen earlier in a vision from Mal. The girl was wearing a rough leather outfit, with hints of red colouring. Her skin was a vibrant pale, lined with black makeup. River felt Mal shudder briefly.

“Red,” he said sharply.

“Mal!” her voice was sultry, deep and dark, with a hint of something spicy. It reminded River of cinnamon. If cinnamon had a voice. Red slid forward, as if walking on air, and gave Mal a kiss on each cheek. As Red passed her, River felt a deep chill fill her. She couldn’t see the thoughts of the girl...Red. It stuck in her mouth; not the right name. It unnerved her more than Mal’s fear.

“Xavier in?” Mal said, same sharp tone. “We’ve gotta talk.”

“For you? Always,” Red said with a seductive smile, stepping aside slowly. “Come on in.”

Mal stepped past her, holding River’s hand tightly and pulling her with him. No way in Hell was he losing her here.

Red led them through the hallways, twisting and turning. Collections of memorabilia covered the walls, dating all the way back to Earth-That-Was, River was sure of it. She wondered vaguely how old this Xavier was, that he should have these kind of collections.

River was especially fascinated by the old captures. Pictures, she seemed to remember them being called. Mostly the captures featured a girl with blond hair, and a presence of power about her. Some of them featured Red standing alongside her, their arms around each other. Others featured a boy with dark brown, almost black hair standing with them. Others featured a girl with long brown hair. River started; she had seen the girl before! Sweet...Sweet had sung to that girl. It was one and the same. She glanced up at Mal; he couldn’t have come to a better place.

“We’re at the right place,” River said to Mal, pointing to the picture though she knew Mal wouldn’t understand the relevance.

Mal nodded, but didn’t speak. It was good to know.

They reached the main hall, and with a small smile, Red turned around. Looking at Mal and River with a distinctive smirk on her face, she asked, “Are you ready?”

In response, Mal gripped River’s hand a bit tighter, and pushed open the door.

The room was elegant, bright and expansive, which surprised River considering the darkness that hovered over the building and the city like a cloud. Large pillars were scattered in strategic places throughout the room, leaving ample hiding places for an ambush, but Mal didn’t seem to be too worried about that, walking down the middle of the room carefully towards a large desk that stood at the end of it. While on his way, a woman stepped out from behind one of the hiding pillars; her light brown hair was streaked with a blue dye that seemed to have also dyed parts of her pale face. She was not a vampire; River could see into her heart, images of the people she had seen in the photographs; images of a girl much younger, with the same brown hair...no blue. Images of a man, as he lay dying...

The blue woman waved her hand in front of them, and River felt the connection severed. “This one violates my mind,” said the woman in a deep voice that betrayed years of experience in the world, more than her barely 20 year old body suggested.

“A mind reader?” Red had come up behind them, wrapping her arm around the other woman’s waist. “I didn’t notice.”

“That is because you are weak, and feeble,” the other replied.

“Blue,” Mal said, barely stopping to greet the new arrival. River held back a snigger; Red and Blue. “Nice to see you again.”

“Captain Reynolds,” Blue said with a nod as he past. She shot a warning glare at River before turning her attentions back to Red.

“Not their real names," River said to Mal, in a voice that was more of a question than a statement. "More a description."

Mal jerked her arm sharply to keep her focused and quiet, turning his complete attention to the desk. They were close, barely 10 metres from it. River could see the detailed outlines of it, the large black chair that stereotypically was turned the other direction from them. She felt something tingle inside her. There was something in this room that she was reacting to. She longed to find out what.

“Xavier,” Mal said sharply, stopping a bit of a ways from the desk. “A word, if you please.”

There was silence, and then a deep rich voice which echoed the tones of the Dyton folk rang out, bouncing off the marble walls and piercing into River’s heart. “I’ll give you two; sod off.”

“Xavier, come on,” Mal said, trying to be smooth but also biting back anger. “What’s a few bullets ‘tween old friends?”

“Then you won’t mind if I shoot you?” the chair spun around suddenly, to reveal the well-built casual frame of Xavier, the bleached blond menace that haunted Mal’s thoughts. He was wearing a smooth leather jacket, with many creases, showing it had been well worn. He had on a pair of black denim jeans, and a black shirt of some kind. There was a red jacket cover that was underneath the leather duster, but overtop of the T-Shirt; River could just make out its edges. Her eyes were following every curve of his body; he fascinated her. But what intrigued her most were his deep azure eyes, which gleamed from behind his pale skin, entrancing her into his very being.

“Don’t think I know you there pet,” he murmured out, sitting up in his chair briefly so that he could lean in towards her with more elegance.

“Don’t think you’re going to know her any time soon,” Mal said sharply, giving River’s arm a firm tug to break her out of the trance. She quickly looked down, staring at the floor, her face turning a bright red colour. She could practically feel Xavier smirking. “You know I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t a serious problem.”

Xavier nodded. River shivered as Red and Blue came up on either side of them, standing on either end of the desk. Xavier shot a brief smile in their direction, and then said to Mal, “What’s your vice?”

Mal gazed hard into Xavier’s eyes. “I’ve got a demon-y problem.”

This peaked Red’s interest. “What kind of demon-y problem?”

Mal gave River a small nod. "She knows more about it than I do." River blushed, continuing to look at the floor.

Xavier seemed amused. His darts darted over to Red, and they shared an almost secret chuckle. "What're you thinking about love?" Xavier asked, directing his question to River.

River blushed again, unable to control her reactions to this man. She managed to stutter out, "R-red demon. Wh-whole crew...s-set to reveal deep...deepest darkest secrets," Mal gave her a shove. River gulped, and tried again. "Whole crew set to reveal deepest darkest secrets through well placed choreography and song."

Xavier had a bemused expression on his face. He turned to Mal. "She always this articulate?"

“That's River," Mal said with a shrug. "New people frighten her."

"River?" Xavier asked, his brow furrowing. "Sounds familiar..."

"She ain't one of them Tam's that escaped,” Mal said dismissively. “And what can you tell us about the demon?”

"Right, the Tams," Xavier said. He paused, and then shrugged. "But as for your demon, seems pretty clear what it is," he glanced up at Red, who nodded. "Sweet."

“It really isn’t,” Mal replied, before River gave him a small shove and he remembered the demon’s name. “Right,” he said. “How do we get rid of him?”

“He would be looking for a bride,” Blue interjected. “Give him one of your females and all should be well in your world. Preferably the one who summoned him, but I don’t believe that is an actual requirement.”

“Can’t,” Mal said before River could speak. “Don’t know who summoned him.”

“You’re lying,” Xavier said with a cool grin. “But it’s all right if you don’t want to play the game.” He paused. “You could always destroy the medallion.”

“Destroy...” his eyes fell on River briefly.

Xavier smirked, “Did you bring it with you? Give it here and we’ll dispose of it for you.”

“Did...” River trailed off, her voice failing her as Xavier’s eyes fell on her with a familiar smirk.“D...Did...brought...” River stuttered out.

“Mighty gracious of you to offer to destroy it,” Mal said, cutting River off and not really wanting to owe Xavier a favour, “but I couldn’t possibly ask you to-”

“It’s nothing,” Xavier said, his voice beginning to hold the slight makings of a threat. “Give it here.”

River glanced up at Mal, who hesitated, and then nodded slightly. With shaking fingers, she reached into her pocket and pulled out the medallion that had started this whole mess. She stepped forward slowly, moving towards Xavier’s outstretched fingers. She held it out to him.

For a brief instant, their fingers touched, and then sensation caused River to draw her hand away as though she had been burned. She shivered anxiously, stepping back quickly in an effort to avoid the cheeky grin that Xavier made at her reaction.

“Quite the girl you’ve got there Reynolds,” Xavier said. “An’ don’t worry about this. We’ll take care of it.”

Mal grit his teeth, “At what cost to me?”

Xavier smiled, “Like you said earlier Mal: what’s a couple of bullets between friends?”

Mal nodded sharply, still certain he was going to regret this decision later, but pleased that at least now he could guarantee that the red demon was not lying in wait, ready to ambush him with another song. He turned, gripping River’s hand tightly, and began to walk out of the hall.

“By the way Mal,” he heard over his shoulder. He stopped, but didn’t turn around, “We really shouldn’t go so long without seeing each other. Next time I’m in the world, I’ll send you a wave.”

It took everything in Mal’s power to force himself to take River and keep walking. He didn’t turn around and talk back to Xavier. He just kept moving forward. They would deal with the repercussions later.

Next Chapter

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