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Life Ain't Fair

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River slowly, almost lovingly, ran a hand over the stasis unit. She remembered when she had been put in one. She hadn't liked it. She wonders if the Sleeper likes it even less than she had. She watched as her brother looked over the readouts of the unit.

If she understood everything, Serenity was transporting it some place. River didn't, really understand everything, that went on around her. River knew that the Sleeper called out to her. She could see it...

A blond woman, who could fight like she did, fought with a bleached blond male who had ridges on his brow. Yellow eyes gleamed with a feral bloodlust. It was a monster like the Reavers.

A different woman with blood colored hair and inky black eyes, was shooting lightning from her fingertips, and chanting in a long dead language.

Dusty books and ancient weapons surrounded an older man. A powerful aura surrounded him as well.

Darkness, fear, despair...

Light, love, hope...

A hero's trails...Battles won, battles lost...

Dark, dark eyes that cried soundlessly for help

River blinked, and pulled her hand back. "Help," she whispered.

Simon looked up for the control panel of the stasis unit. He had heard her whisper but not what she said, "Are you alright, mei-mei?"

"The One That Sees, the Fallen White Knight..." whispered River with a tear running down her cheek. Simon frowned in confusion. She was making less sense than normal even for her. "He is the First."

***                  

Mal and Zoe stood at the back port of the Serenity listening to their employer's last minute instructions given to them by the well-dressed, pale skinned crimson haired woman.

"That stasis unit must not be opened under any circumstances. The delivery must be made in a week."

Mal nodded. "We get paid on arrival?" he asked.

The redhead nodded, "On delivery of the unit."

"Of course." muttered Mal. He had a bad feelin' about this run. It was the same one he had when Simon Tam had bought passage two years ago. But Mal had a crew to pay and feed.

"My sister will be waiting, she will be the snobby looking blond. Trust me you won't miss her. I can not stress how important it is that you not be late."

"You have my word. The unit will arrive on time and in perfect condition."

The redhead's eyes narrowed, and for a moment Mal would swear they flashed black but then she nodded. "Do not fail, Captain. If you do the consequences would be dire," she threatened and before walking away.

Mal turned to Zoë, "Am I the only one with a bad feelin' about this?"

***

The crew of the ship were gathered in the cargo bay area as Mal paced in front of them giving them last minute orders," No one. And I mean no one but the Doc is to touch that thing." said Mal pointing at the stasis unit. Mal shoot a glance at his mechanic." This means you, Kaylee Fray!"

Kaylee rolled her eyes. Open a couple of shipments and no one lets you forget it. "You still blame me for that?"

"Hamsters, Kaylee, all over my ship!" Mal said waving his hand around. Kaylee made a face at him but promised not to touch the stasis unit.

Mal said nothing for a moment.

"Anything else, Sir?" Asked Zoë.

"Uh, no." the captain said with a shake of his head.

***

River silently walked down the stairs, towards the cargo bay. The others were in their quarters. She knew now would be the best time...Time to awaken the Sleeper.

Only the Sleeper could help with what was to come. Only he could help her...

River ran a hand slowly, almost lovingly, over the top of the stasis unit.

***

Mal stumbled out of his quarters swearing at sound of the alarm. He had taken no chances with this shipment. Mal was going to throw whoever touched that stasis unit, out of an airlock. He made his way to the cargo bay, meeting up with the others, as he did so.

River was sitting on the floor with a young man, who had long dark hair. He was resting with his head in her lap. She looked up at them. "The Sleeper has awakened."

Mal sighed." I'm guessing you helped awaken him."

Simon walked over to his sister and kneeled next to her, "Mei-mei, what have you done?"

River looked at her brother as she ran her fingers through the young man's hair, asking, "Help him, Simon."

Simon saw that the man's eye's were unfocused and he was shaking. The first two signs of stasis sickness. "He must be brought to the medical bay." Simon told them.

"Don't suppose we could just put him back in the box?" asked Mal.

Simon glared at Mal.

"You suppose right." Mal sighed again.

***

"So, what's wrong with him, Doc?" asked Mal once they got the boy to the medical bay.

"Stasis sickness, it starts with the shakes, then there is the blindness...it's not fatal just uncomfortable. "Simon told him.

"So, you can help him." Said Mal now standing at the foot of the medical bed, as the young doctor nodded. Zoë was standing next to the bed; being that she had helped move the boy here.

"Captain, what are we going to do?" she asked.

"Who cares," said Jayne from the doorway," he's got demon eyes!"

Simon scoffed, "No, he doesn't. While it's very rare it is possible for some one to have a green eye and a brown eye."

Jayne shook his head, he didn't care if it was rare it just wasn't natural to him, eyes should be the same color. "Demon eyes," he muttered again. The boy on the bed moved, quicker than a snake, he pulled Zoë's gun from her hip holster and pointed it toward the door.

I didn't even feel that, thought Zoë in shock.

"I thought you said he couldn't see!" Mal hissed to Simon.

"He can't!" Simon hissed back.

"Take it back, " the boy whispered hoarsely. "I'm not a demon!"

"Or what?" asked Jayne with a smirk.

"Or I'll shoot you." The boy said flatly.

"Now, hold on a second..."said Mal holding up a hand, then realized the boy couldn't see the jester. He glared at Jayne. "Say your sorry for insulting, the nice young man who has Stasis Blindness, who's holding a gun."

Jayne crossed his arms over his chest. "No."

The boy pulled the trigger, the gun fired...Jayne barely ducked in time to avoid being hit.

"Hey, no shooting up my ship!" yelled Mal

"Are you crazy?" shouted Jayne.

The young man, now resting on his elbow, smirked as he pointed the gun on Jayne.

"You know, for as many times as I've been asked that question, I should be."

River was standing next to Simon. She reached out and petted the boy's long dark hair. "Jayne's just mean...not evil."

The others glared at Jayne, until he mumbled an apologized. The young man sighed and melted into River's touch. The boy spun the gun around by the trigger guard, before slipping the gun back into Zoë's holster. before he slowly laid back down on the bed. 

"Hey, Doc?" the boy asked.

"Yes?" Simon.

"Can you make with the shot so I can see again?" he asked with the weariness of someone who had been through the sickness before.

***

Slowly, Xander Harris blinked, at the bright light shining into his eyes. He looked around the room. A beautiful black woman with long curly black hair stood by his bed, a hand resting on the butt of her gun. This had to be the person he took the gun off of...and from the look on her face she wasn't happy he did it.

On the other side of the bed stood a young man, maybe ten years older than himself. This was the doctor. He had short dark brown hair and caring brown eyes. Dressed in expensive clothes practical but expensive. Next to the Doc, there was a young teenaged girl, long dark hair and eyes that reminded him of Drusilla's. The insanity lurked plainly in her dark, but kind eyes. Xander could tell she was related to the Doc, in someway, a sister perhaps?

Xander glanced toward the door way of the room, the man who stood there was a soldier of fortune, he could tell by the way the man held himself...and the fact he was armed to the teeth. Xander was pretty sure that was whom he tried to shoot. A small movement next to the black woman caught Xander's attention. A young woman wearing coveralls, who had light tawny colored hair, with grease on her pixie like face stood there looking at the Doc. Xander came to the man standing at the end of his bed. Coal black hair, dark almost black eyes. He wore brown pants and a blue shirt. He looked familiar to Xander. He blinked then rubbed his eyes.

"Preachify...stick out my eye." Xander muttered to himself softly.

Mal looked at Simon, who just shrugged. Everyone reacted differently to being taken out of stasis.

"No!" River said sharply. Pulling on Xander's hair making him look at her.

"Not him, looks like...maybe even was...but not him now!"

Xander thought about that then nodded.

"Why don't we exchange names?" asked Xander.

"Ok," said Mal " who are you?"

Xander snickered and shook his head.

Mal sighed and began to speak, "I'm Mal Reynolds, captain of the Serenity, which your on by the way. Next to you is my first mate Zoë. The Doc, there is Simon; the pretty thing with the death grip on your hair is his sister River. Jayne's the one over there by the door; he's the one you tried to shoot. Don't do that again by the way. If anyone is going to shoot Jayne it's going to be one of my crew." He said, as Jayne made a discontented noise, "And Kaylee there is our grease monkey, she keeps this ship running."

Xander didn't see just a group of crewmates he saw a family, one that had suffered loss and had know triumphs, but had yet to be truly tested. 

"Xander Harris," he said paused," just so you know, I'm not getting back into that box."

Mal sighed...he seemed to be doing that often lately. "I figured as much."

***

It had been a week since Xander had been released from the stasis unit. A week since he made a deal with the captain of Serenity. Xander knew they would start searching for him soon if they hadn't already. He was angry with them. Her most of all, she should and did known better. Xander didn't like it when she played with his memories. He was missing time again. But Xander knew her magic wasn't as strong as it use to be, or perhaps she had just used it so often on him that he was becoming immune to it.

What worried him was the missing time; he remembered the time spent with them how they had used him like a slave...each of them in their own way. Xander was not a happy with them and soon they would know it. But first he needed time to get his head back together.

As Xander looked out of one of the window ports he could see that the Serenity was passing through a ship graveyard. Xander had been watching the dead ships float in space, passing by each other, crashing into each other like it was a ...

"Dance," said a soft voice.

Xander looked away from the view port. River stood next to him. He hadn't even heard her come into the room. I should have hear her, he thought, but wasn't sure why he should have.

"Do the stars sing for you?" Xander asked River instead.

"Do they for you?" she replied instead of answering the question.

Xander shrugged, "Sometimes, I think they do. Sometimes I think I'm just crazy, you?"

River shook her head." They don't speak to me, but Serenity does sometimes, she speaks to Kaylee too."

That Xander didn't doubt it. But most of Serenity's crew seemed touched in the head to Xander, though in this he could cast no stones. It was the crazy ones, who were the most interesting people.

"What are they?" Xander asked motioning to the ships in the graveyard.

"Fireflies, that weren't given Serenity's fate. Their pretty when they dance, Serenity hasn't danced since Wash died." She said sadly. Xander nodded, he had heard about Wash from Zoë she liked to talk about her husband, to remember him. Xander stared out of the view port.

"You can't hide..."River murmured.

"Not hiding, just resting, getting..." he trailed off.

"Getting the crazy out."

Xander frowned. "No, trying to remember..."

River shook her head, then gave him the 'your stupid' look, "Try too hard, make yourself worst, let it come on it's own."

Xander sighed and wanted to smack himself. It was a known fact that when you wanted to remember something you couldn't. He was about to reply when Kaylee come into the room.

"There you are Xander, Captain wants to see you."

"Why?"

"That redhead, she done waved the Captain, accusing him of stealin' the cargo we were to deliver. But since you are the cargo...she's making an awful fuss."

A dark look crossed his face, making Kaylee take a step back. They all liked Xander, except for Jayne. But they were all still warily of him, except for River who would follow Xander around like a puppy sometimes. Xander got up and walked by Kaylee. "Guess I'll go see the Captain then."

River frowned.

"What's wrong River?" asked Kaylee.

"Things are coming, strange things...he sees them. He doesn't like them."

"Who doesn't like what?"

 "The White Knight, he sees the darkness that claimed those he called friends...family. He wishes he were still blind." River told Kaylee as she followed Xander.