One: Bedtime Stories (Firefly/Transformers)
Series: 23 for 23
Title: One: Bedtime Stories
Disclaimer: I own the World Walker, Joss Whedon owns Firefly, Hasbro owns Transformers.
and Transformers (2007)
Series Summary: Twenty-three stories and crossings of worlds (read: insanity) to celebrate twenty-three years.
Part Summary: Every bedtime story has a bit of the truth weaved into it.
A/N: First quote comes from the into, second comes from Set Adrift on Memory Bliss
Dedication: To fufumira for the fandoms and prompt. 23 for 23
One: Bedtime Stories
Behind them she saw the worlds that had so briefly intersected with hers.
Bet you say that I don’t care, I bet you say I don’t even think of you
But God knows how wrong you are
River Tam was as good as bat shit crazy in Jayne Cobb’s opinion. ‘Course, lotta folk held that very same sentiment about the lithe young woman sitting across the fire from him, her body nuthin’ but a shadow on the hull of Serenity
. He just never figured the crazy could rub off on him. He shook his head as moonbrain tipped her head in an old world fashion of greeting to the girl who stood in the spot of sunshine in the otherwise black night behind the campfire.
“Just an ordinary girl but out of place,” River whispered, her eyes darted to Jayne’s blinking eyes and open mouth and smiled. The girl was gone again, but her eyes turned back to the ship. There was an odd whirring sound coming from the north, but there was no face to place to it. “Ordinary but not. Simple but far more complex, more than meets the eye.”
“Gorrammit, girl, don’t go talking that crazy shit again,” Jayne muttered, wishin’ he hadn’ta taken sentry post with the girl. This gorram moon were spooky enough without River ‘seein’ something that weren’t there to begin with.
“It’s not crazy,” River said firmly. “Our girl forgot how to be, got caught being just a thing, no real explanation but that. She forgot how to be a girl.”
“You talkin’ bout yerself again?”
“No, not every fractured thought process leads back to the moon child,” River snorted, a sound that caught Jayne by surprise. For a split second he could see the sane and brilliant girl the doc kept yammering on about her being. Not that he wanted to ponder on that overlong. River smiled softly in the flickering fire light. “She’s not always so self -referential. Serenity forgot what she was, what she could be in times of great need.”
“If’n that ain’t the gorram pot callin’ the shit brown, I don’t know what is.”
“Elaborate,” River curled her knees up under her chin and cocked her head at him, viewing him at a new and perplexing angle. Changing her body’s trajectory didn’t help much to get a clearer view.
“The old girl ain’t nuthin but our boat,” Jayne muttered, his skin feeling prickly under her creepifying gaze. “It’s a damn good boat, got most of us through Miranda, but it ain’t more’n that, girl.”
“More than the mere sum of her parts, Jayne. Just rust and forgotten forms. She’s so far from her home and the forgetting creeps up on a body. Stars don’t look right no more,” River’s voice hit an eerie lilt that struck Jayne still for a moment. They were old words he’d heard a thousand times over, and they stuck and bit into his liquor addled brainpan. Them were his Mama’s words. He cursed and threw a stick on that fire vehemently. River blinked but otherwise held herself perfectly still.
“That there mind readin’ is down right unsettlin’, bird girl.”
“Albatross,” she corrected him.
“Bird girl works just as well as Mal’s fancy 1500 credit word,” Jayne huffed, his fingers trailing over the hidden weapon at his side. He knew she knew it was there, but they both pretended it weren’t there.
They sat in silence for another dozen minutes or so, enjoying the brief rest the still fall night had to offer. Worlds had changed a bit when the truth about the Reavers had hit, even on the small Firefly class boat. Safe was relative to nuthin’ no more. River’s head jerked up off her knees and her eyes widened.
“He’s coming, the always failing son, the one who fled his greatest failure to his general,” Panic tinged words bubbled and frothed over her lips as she jerked so suddenly off the fallen log that had been her perch, her skirts nearly in the fire pit. She shivered and nearly tried to hurl herself closer to the fire as her eyes and face drained of all warmth and color. Her eyes lifted solemnly to the shadow stained hull of Serenity
. “He’s found her, his greatest catch to make up for all those failures.”
Jayne weren’t left with much opportunity to ponder on that bit of crazy because of the distant rumble and flash of brilliant light of a strange vessel breaking atmo. He narrowed his gaze to the ball of fire. In two hurried movements he had the reader in one hand and his Vera in the other. He yanked River closer to the hull opening, Vera trained on the burning ship.
River’s fingers dug into the meaty part of his forearm and practically cowered behind him. Gone was the Reaver-killin’ psycho. The terrified girl behind him weren’t nuthin’ similar to that warrior. Her eyes locked on the burning shape headed toward them.
If he hadn’t a seen it hisself, he never woulda believed what he saw. It was a ship but it weren’t like any ship he’d ever seen afore. Too bulky and too few compartments for a newer craft, but all anyone in theses parts could afford woulda been old. It sorta resembled a fighter, but it were too damn bulky and no real warcrafts had been made in the last ten years. Lack a war and all. ‘Cept the turn a the worlds had shifted some since Miranda and nobody were truly safe thanks to his people - and it was a sad think to think that he now counted ‘em as his people. And this hundan
was now barrelin’ his antiquated piece of shit at ‘em. Jayne shoved River’s hands off a him and pushed her roughly toward the door. She just stood there, watching it barrel down on them.
“It’s going to destroy us down, extinguish the last piece of the spark. A coup for crap,” River cried, her hands pounding against her skull. “Nothing but ash and bone. He’ll leave nothing but misery and death, that’s all he knows!”
“Gorramit girl, get yer high strung, vapors-having ass on that boat and get us the hell gone!”
Before either could move there was a strange static and grinding sound behind them as the vessel approached them. Rust cracking and metal bending in impossible shapes. The ground heaved beneath them, and the boat moved of it’s own accord - cause there was no way in the seven hells Mal or the doc would leave without River. Maybe without Jayne, but never the without the girl.
‘Cept it weren’t no boat anymore, but something outta fiction. A tall femi-nine lookin’ thing stood in it’s place and quickly stepped delicately over the two tiny people. She glanced down at them, metal plating shifting up her chest to protect her hidden human cargo. A strange new emblem stood out against the hand-painted moniker on her - well, her neck. A strange iridescent face similar to her own.
“Little Firefly,” a new voice hissed as the strange vehicle shifted into a similar creature before them. “You’re supposed to be dead. Something I can easily remedy. Especially since your brothers have long abandoned you.”
“You’ve tried and failed before, Starscream. I sent you running then before
my brothers came,” Firefly’s voice was rusted with disuse, and her tone sounded like a mix of Wash’s, River’s and Mal’s voices. “You are nothing but a weak failure.”
“I have killed your brother,” Starscream taunted the larger Autobot.
“You mean you fled from Bumblebee,” Firefly tossed the taunt right back at him. “Just as you fled Optimus when you saw him last. All these millennia and you still haven’t learned, Starscream. It almost makes me wish Megatron were still around to give you the lashing worthy of your weakness.”
“Spoken like a Decepticon.”
“What do you want, Starscream? A fight or gorram chat? I’d gladly give you the former.”
“‘Firefly’ class ships don’t have weapons, they’re cargo ships,” Starscream sneered.
“Didn’t stop me before.”
“He’s coming, and he’s going to get his revenge,” Starscream screamed before he shifted again and sped off, leaving the two humans and Autobot staring at him in confusion.
“He’ll go after you first, you silly thing,” Firefly said softly. “Why warn me first?”
“Pigtail pulling and wise-cracking disguise the beat of the heart,” River called up to the Autobot. Both females slid their gazes over to the dumbfounded mercenary beside them. *******
When Mal stumbled into the mess an hour or so past three, he was greeted with the sight of River curled against Jayne that nearly threatened to take away his eyesight. Vera was in her hand, and a jug of mudder’s milk was pressed against Jayne’s mouth as River’s voice floated over them. ‘Cept it weren’t really River’s voice - it was a bit too boyish for the girl. But her lips were movin’ and - well, it sure as hell weren’t the merc’s.
“…they sought peace on Earth-that-was, but the tall villain would never let it be, and though he never defeated the great warriors. And when Earth got used up like their own world had been, the great leader sent his few remaining warriors out amongst the stars to keep the heir’s line safe.”
Jayne looked up at Mal and snorted in disgust. Mal wasn’t sure whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. Jayne took another shot of Milk and spoke quietly.
sure as hell ain’t worth it.”
“Some say that about you too, Jayne.”
“Do I even want to know what in the sphincter of hell is goin on in my boat?” Mal sighed.
“No.” Mal ignored the fact that it was three voices that answered him - and one sure as hell weren’t his.