river_meimei: (lying down)
River wakes early, some days. Not every day, but today's one of them.

Mornings are quiet on Serenity. Even though the chronology is all based on ship clocks, with no true pre-dawn hush, there's the silence of a ship whose crew is all still asleep in bunks and shuttles, behind closed doors. The engine turns; the life support runs; River's footsteps whisper against metal and rugs and tiles. That's all.

Serenity's on autopilot. The course is plotted in, and she knows how to fly herself, out here in the black.

So River's sitting in the copilot's seat, arms wrapped around her knees, ignoring the controls in favor of staring out at the stars.

All those tiny pinpricks of fierce light, impossibly white in the velvet darkness.
river_meimei: (laughter)
It's a beautiful summer day.

The conclusion, then, is obvious, at least if you're River: it's a day to be outside!

She has Simon's hand in hers, tugging him along, and from the way they're both laughing, it's possible that he didn't have quite the same intentions. At least not a few minutes ago.
river_meimei: (outlaw in training)
The kitchen: ruled by a plump and autocratic cook with a horde of scurrying servants.

The hallways: lit by gas and sunlight, wallpapered, lined with classrooms. (River's shoulders are tight and hunched every time she looks in one of these rooms. She looks in every one anyway. Every room; every corner.)

The cellar: damp, dim, full of shelves and barrels and glass jars. Pickles, blanched vegetables, potatoes and parsnips and onions. Coal and wood for fires.

The attic: dusty, dim as the cellar, and full of papers and stored paintings rather than root vegetables. A few servants' bedrooms, tiny and spare, with the kind of desperate cleanliness that's meant to make up for a lack of actual possessions.

Hardly anyone notices one more servant girl, especially one who keeps well out of the way of other servants. A few people -- a portly teacher with a bluff avuncular face, the cook, an imperious young teenager -- give her orders, barked or distractedly mumbled. River nods, tries not to flinch and not to glower, and scurries on with the proper cowed air. She ignores the orders once she's out of sight, of course.

Mostly, she keeps to the shadows. The corners, the back stairways, the closets; even fewer people look there.

She listens for whispers said and unsaid, for secrets and plans and screams. She looks at the walls: the cracks, the spaces, measuring dimensions with her eyes while her fingers tick and twist through mental calculations at her side.

(Whatever else may be said of the Academy, River learned there. Learned well.)

River watches, and River listens, and what River finds is: everything matches. Everything adds up.

There's a discreet back stairwell for servants' usage, but no hidden passages. There are trapdoors -- for laundry. There are rooms the students aren't allowed in -- for the faculty, or the servants.

But there's nothing sinister, in the building or lurking in anyone's thoughts. Nothing but the usual, petty human venalities.

It's an Edwardian girls' school.
river_meimei: (ships passing in the night)
From Bar, the clothing: drab, ruthlessly clean, much-mended with skill and tidiness. A dress, an apron and cap, stockings and button-down shoes with anachronistically soft and silent soles. Servants can go anywhere on the right person's orders, unlike rich students.

Built by Kaylee: a small silver-backed hairbrush concealing a tiny piece of decidedly non-Edwardian technology, down at the bottom of a pocket. One button sends a silent alarm to Simon's 'pocketwatch,' the device's twin; the small switch, when flipped by both people, makes it a two-way comm device.

If everything goes well, Mary will get the hairbrush to keep at the bottom of her trunk, and the pocketwatch will go to the joint possession of Dickon Sowerby and Colin Craven. Just in case.

River's hair has been brushed and tied back under a smartly ruffled cap. She's managed to keep from plucking absently at it so far, but this isn't likely to last.

Neither River nor Simon can open the door to Mary's Yorkshire, of course. But that doesn't matter with Galadan here. They disappear from Milliways to a rolling bit of moorland, River holding Galadan and Simon each by the hand. The andain leans on her for a moment, but no longer; teleporting between worlds is hard work, far from Fionavar, but he recovers fast. He's their guarantee of getting back, too, no matter what Milliways doors decide to open or not.

"Be careful, meimei," Simon says, tucking back a loose strand of her hair, when they're still out of sight of the school. Galadan lifts an eyebrow ironically.

"You too," she tells her brother, with half a smile, and turns away.

They split up: Simon to the front door at his most stiffly aristocratic, Galadan to the staff entrance, River to slip in her own way.
river_meimei: (cloven pine)
River's in her room, curled up on the floor between bed and wall. There's a piece of paper in front of her; she's been scribbling something. She's not right now, though.

Right now her hands are curled between thighs and chest and her eyes are closed and damp, and her face is tight with misery.
river_meimei: (through the doorway (with simon))
When River steps into Serenity's kitchen from Milliways, she's carrying a small bag of tangerines, and a note.

"It's a mail drop," she announces, to the general area of the sink.


Feb. 26th, 2008 03:43 am
river_meimei: (fixing the bible)
It's that meme!

Comment with your character's name (past or present) and the name of one of mine, and I will tell you:

1) how my character's opinion of the named character has changed over time, or
2) why my character does or does not get along/like/other with the named pup.

Mine, for reference, are:

River Tam ([livejournal.com profile] river_meimei)
Lan Mandragoran ([livejournal.com profile] taishar_malkier)
Piotr Rasputin aka Colossus ([livejournal.com profile] steel_artisan)
Regan Tam ([livejournal.com profile] regan_tam)

And past or mostly inactive:

Will Stanton ([livejournal.com profile] sign_seeker)
Alain Johns ([livejournal.com profile] honest_johns)
Edmund Pevensie ([livejournal.com profile] iustus_rex)
A-ko the shadow girl ([livejournal.com profile] a_ko_chan)
river_meimei: (study the steps)
[After this and this, and all that came before.]

An hour or so ago, River returned from Andrew's world. (With a hole in her arm, some other scrapes and bumps, and a whole hell of a lot fewer bullets than she left with. A lot of other beings' blood on her, too.)

She's been healed, now, thanks to Nita. Washed up -- her hair's still damp -- and changed into a clean sundress.

All the same, she's back at Milliways. And outside; she's barefoot, not dressed for the Scotland February, but it's an unseasonably warm night. Enough that she can borrow a heavy sweater from Bar and get away with at least a short trip out back.

Maybe she can't sleep.

She's walking slowly, arms wrapped loosely around herself, along the lakeshore. There's a wide flat rock in the distance; maybe that's her destination, or maybe her path is aimless.
river_meimei: (drawing)
Simon's upset.

River -- if she is -- isn't in the same way. It's hard to tell.

What she is is sitting on the floor near the fireplace, between couch and end table. She has a gold bracelet, spangled with bells, lying on the table in front of her. Every so often she touches it, and a soft lilting melody chimes out.
river_meimei: (through the doorway (with simon))
When River returns from Milliways, she's looking thoughtful.

This can be hard to tell, of course; sometimes dust motes and deckplating make River look soberly thoughtful. But today she only runs a slow hand down the wall, watching the path her fingers trace as the doorway closes into an empty hallway behind her, and then moves away.

She has a destination in mind, it seems.
river_meimei: (see the sky and remember)
The forest is chilly in winter, like every other non-Caribbean corner of Milliways's outdoors in February. But the trees are a windbreak of sorts, and more importantly, it's outside.

You can walk here for hours, without ever seeing the main building, if you choose your paths carefully.

River doesn't intend to be out for hours, presumably; she's not dressed for that. But she has boots on, and leggings under her dress, and a thick sweater she stole from Simon years ago under her coat. It's enough to make tramping along the forest paths a reasonable proposition.

There are birds singing.


Oct. 23rd, 2007 01:03 am
river_meimei: (through the doorway (with simon))
Serenity's cargo bay is huge, at least compared to the rest of the ship. There are other ships with far bigger holds, of course. But still, it's big enough to hold a crowd, or multiple vehicles; there's a hovermule, in fact, suspended from chains near the ceiling. There are stairs, too, with metal mesh and wire railings, leading to catwalks.

River's door was apparently a small niche in the wall, usually covered by an oddly-shaped bit of paneling that's now leaning against a nearby crate. She has to crouch a little to get through from Milliways into the main bay.

Stitch doesn't.
river_meimei: (drawing)
River's in the hallway between her room and Simon (and Kaylee)'s, stretched out on her stomach. She's examining a physics magazine: from Milliways, apparently, to judge by the glossy pages and the fact that the crew hasn't seen a mail drop or market in a little while; usually, if River gets a magazine or book there, she devours it the same day.

Her only concession to being in the way of traffic is that she's settled up against her own wall, instead of lying right in the middle of the floor.
river_meimei: (study the steps)
The Tams' house at New Mayfair is slightly less tidy than usual -- necessarily, with a reluctant invalid occupying the sitting room full-time. But the cleaners still know their job, and appearances must be kept up. Which is why the upstairs hallway, like all the rooms except the one Gabriel is more or less living out of, is still ruthlessly and tastefully tidy.

There are, of course, doors in this house that even the cleaners and security force don't know about.

Magic will do that kind of thing.
river_meimei: (looking down)
It's been days since Kaylee was home. More than days.

She's looked, but Kaylee's good at hiding. Sometimes. Sometimes everyone is.

(When you're hurt so bad you just want to find a cave to hole up in, you can usually look hard enough to find one.)

And the few times River's found her, it's been...

Sometimes you want to be alone.

Sometimes you don't want even people you love to be near you.

(There have been days River's sat silently outside a door, waiting. Waiting until she had to go, hours later, and nothing had changed enough.)

And then it's later, and the world's too crowded or you've found another friend and the fragile peace there, or you've found another hole to hide in.

But, now: a door, down one of Milliways' shifting corridors. (Locked.) River tries the knob, stares at it for a moment, and then lifts her hand to knock.
river_meimei: (face the dark alone)
This city's never fully dark. There's no star-spangled black in this sky, not even the close second-best that a clear atmosphere sometimes arches overhead; here the light pollution is ubiquitous, and the sky's a hazy humid grey under sulfurous street-lamps.

But it's night. Night, and growing later.

When there's nowhere else to go, you keep


running. One step behind, one step ahead.

River's looking for something. A key, a rose, a door.

But here, in the city that (as they proudly say) never sleeps, it's anyone's guess what she might find. And what she won't.
river_meimei: (see the sky and remember)
There are three places River spends most of her time nowadays: Serenity, the lake and forest of Milliways, and her father's hospital room.

Only one of them is free of grief and guilt and strain. Free except for what she might bring, of course. It's that one she's in now: curled on a rock set a few feet into the lake, damp bare feet tucked under her skirt. Her boots wait on the shore, haphazard and abandoned.
river_meimei: (huddled to hide)
The statue has teeth but it's stone, the one in front of her is frozen in an impossible slavering lunge but she knows there could be more right behind her and she knows this one can move even though it can't, it couldn't but it has, and she only has two eyes and she can't break stone, and she shrieks--

--and her eyes close, just for an instant--

(and in her ears a great rushing like wind and water)

The choked remnant of her cry is a pitifully small squawk in the damp unfamiliar night.

She's huddled in the shadowed corner of a stone wall, hands clutching her head in hopeless defense.

Behind her, sloping walls rise into crenellations and turrets. It's a castle: small, sturdy, and apparently abandoned.
river_meimei: (everything blue)
Gabriel Tam's hospital room is as spacious and comfortable as hospital rooms can get, as befits a senator. And -- as befits a senator badly wounded by an assassination attempt -- windowless and very, very well-guarded.

His bodyguards are feeling more than a little like failures, and accordingly more than a little paranoid.

The family can come and go freely, of course; River checked. (Not aloud. She knows the map of these corridors now. Knows where the eyes are, and where the walls change angles, and how many guards will follow her at a discreet protective distance if she leaves.) Simon's at Milliways, or back on Serenity.

Her father's asleep. So is Regan, having ignored the spare bed to curl up in an armchair next to her husband's bed. The resemblance between mother and daughter is rarely so strong.

River was asleep too, earlier. The floor under the corner table; Simon tried to make her take the bed, but River refused, more and more strenuously until he gave in and soothed her and tucked a blanket over her instead.

She's awake now.
river_meimei: (little soul)
It's full spring, even in Scotland. Or pseudo-Scotland, as the case may be. The grass is a thick green mat, and the last of the chilly mud has faded into good loam. The trees are in bud and in flower, and everywhere the air smells of growth.

River is curled beside a fencepost of the farthest paddock, watching Boukephalos strut with high flagged tail around a disinterested Corella. Her fingers shift lightly against grass and her skirt, and her face is abstracted in thought.
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