Title: The V in River
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Category: Firefly/V for Vendetta
Summary: River chooses not to turn the other cheek. 800 words.
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.
Spoilers: Firefly; Serenity (2005); V for Vendetta (2006)
Notes: Many of River's lines are paraphrased from dialogue in "V for Vendetta," much of which was paraphrased from older sources. I wrote this because I saw V last night and couldn't get it out of my head; I hope you find the result worth reading.
Mal leaned forward, bracing his arms against the console, and stared out through the cockpit windows into the boundless Black. Monty's news offered the crew of *Serenity* a chance to strike another blow at the Alliance, an opportunity none of those who'd been at Haven or Miranda were likely to turn down-- even 'Nara. There was an aspect of the plan, though, that had Mal a little worried; it weren't his place to speak for River, but he didn't like the idea one bit.
"So what d'you think, little Albatross?" he asked, glancing over at the lithe, otherworldly young woman seated in the co-pilot's chair. "How d'you feel about bein' the mascot for a whole new army of Browncoats?"
She smiled at him in return, sort of sad and nostalgic like, and shrugged her shoulders carelessly. "People should not be afraid of their governments," she said, like it was an answer. "Governments should be afraid of their people."
And mayhap it was an answer; cryptic as she got sometimes, Mal never really had much trouble unraveling her meaning. "They trained you," he said, voicing it aloud. "They know what you can do, and they're afraid of what could be done *with* you. And maybe you're right; keepin' you in the public eye will distract 'em, be better press for the Independents than some crusty old soldier like me or Monty. But darlin', it'll mean you bein' a target again. We just done got past that, what with that Operative clearin' our records and all. You sure you don't want to step back a little, breath the free air awhile?"
River seemed to think on that a moment, dark eyes turned toward the distant twinkle of stars. "I could have roses," she whispered speculatively, "and apologize to no-one."
"That you could," Mal replied, almost hoping she'd take that option. It might make things more difficult for everyone, but he'd take *Serenity* wherever she needed him to, even if it meant not fighting in the new war himself. Plenty of places they could go where things would be calm and peaceable for awhile yet.
She waited a few breaths longer, then shook herself and turned back to him, the fire of determination lit again behind her eyes. "Do you know what tomorrow is on the calendar of Earth-that-Was, Captain?" she asked, seemingly apropos of nothing.
Now that, he couldn't decipher; it had been a long while since his own school years. "No. But I have a feeling you're about to tell me," he replied, teasing her gently.
River rolled her eyes, but the fire in them did not diminish. "Remember, remember, the fifth of November," she said, in a sing-song tone of voice, then continued more seriously. "Fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words; they are perspectives. Twice the world was reminded, and twice the world forgot."
Mal didn't know about that; most of the history of Earth-that-Was may have been lost in the exodus and then the chaos of setting up a new civilization, but it seemed to him Man had never lost the urge to be free, nor escaped the threat of those who would curtail that freedom. What else had the most important events of his life-- the bombing of Shadow, Serenity Valley, River's journey aboard Serenity-- been about, in the end? "And you stickin' your neck out will change that exactly how?" he had to ask.
She shook her head, lifting her legs to the chair seat and wrapping her arms around them. "They won't kill me," she said. "All they'll have are bullets, and the hope that when their guns are empty, I'm no longer standing-- but I will be. *We* will be. It'll be different this time, Captain."
So it was lookin' to be a yes, then. "And what happened to those other folks who did the reminding?" he asked, skeptical of her logic.
She shook her head. "Dead, and dead," she said, fluttering a dismissive hand. "Guy Fawkes failed, though he left behind an idea; V succeeded, but had nothing left to live for when it was over."
"That ain't true for you, though, darlin'," Mal hastened to reassure her, dismayed at what he was hearing.
"I know," she said, and suddenly he could barely breathe for looking on the joy that shone from her. "What they did to me was monstrous, but I'm not a monster. I'm not. I'm a person, actual and whole."
Mal had to look away at that, feeling his face heat at her repetition of what he'd told her. He shifted a little in his seat, uncomfortable, then took a deep breath and looked back to her again. "That you are, darlin'. That you are." He swallowed. "So, I should tell Monty...?"
She nodded decisively. "The verdict is vengeance."