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I Am Not An Illusion

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So many things change. The soft red is no longer hanging on the metal walls and everything is so cold and bare. She chose to leave and everything is different. He is different... harsher, darker. More like me. The pretty satin drapes were ripped out of my mind and the walls of my shuttle hold secrets behind their unforgiving panels. Now he looks like I do. His eyes are hard, like my heart.

His speech is harder, his voice cracks like a whip now, not with tenderness but deprivation. He lost her and he knows he will lose more; he feels it. He is afraid of losing me and afraid of what that means. He hates me as much as he loves me; I feel it as clearly as I feel myself. I know what it’s like to hate me and not be able to escape. Hatred, fear, disgust - oh yes. But the guns have been in my hand before and there is always something holding me to my skin. I don’t call it hope, and it will not tell me its name.

(Serenity says it is love.)

Serenity knows about love. She bleeds for him like I do; she fights and sacrifices and lets herself be stripped. She struggles to hold him together because she knows it strips him and pushes him to the skinny edge of extinction. He does it for himself, he does it for the war - he does it for me. He does it for the ones he has lost and will lose. His soul trembles in its private Gethsemane and I feel it and the walls of the ship tremor in sympathy, in empathy. We are all dying for the truth and the cup will not pass from us.

Why did he carry me? Why did he chain me to Serenity? Why does he use me, use and use but never for the one use he needs? Because he knows my secret. Because my mind screams to him in the caverns of the night -- I cannot help it; I cannot find the safeword for silence. But he is my harbor and he holds me and he heard the word Miranda once before. Whether in my dream or in his past, he does not know. It has echoed in his head in the night seasons for months - months and months until I whispered it aloud and he knew what he had been hearing.

Miranda - mirandus. Latin. “Wonderful.” Hide your head, duck and run; there is no man as dangerous as the one who believes what he is doing. There is no murderer as relentless as the one who believes he is bringing life. There is no disaster like utopia, because no one has the right to refuse paradise. No one has the right to remain outside the benevolent circle of civilization. There is a tempest brewing and the storm will worsen as the night wears on. There is no sunburst yet except that of pain, sparkly-white and pin-pricks and oh God everything is the same color and it hurts, it burns, and I’ve been here before because they were in my room and they were in my brain and their souls screamed out with guilt and with secrets that only hid in the corners of their mouths and made them speak out of the sides.

The birthplace of the Reavers, a secret that slipped into me unnoticed and has burned there for ten long years. For ten years it has burned and I would not lie down because I knew they would drain it out of me in my sleep. They would reach in and scrape it out, scrape clean the walls of my womb, the place where I was born anew every day. Every day I was born and every day I wailed into the world and kicked and cried for food that no one let trickle into my mouth. It was a miserable existence but I did not want to die.

I do not want that, because I am all right now and I have vomited up all the bits of lie that they told me, everything they wanted my brain to believe and it wouldn’t. Up, up, up and out and I am a girl again. Older than I look, older than I am. I was not born this morning; I was born this moment and I am the sunlight on the side of the mountain, the starlight in cold space, the white dust on the tips of a man’s fingers when he has cleaned away the residue of long years of disuse.

I still know things that I shouldn’t, couldn't, but he knows that I know: he has taken me into his bed already in his heart, and he remembers when Simon hit him for taking me into a bank heist. He wonders what Simon will do now that he is planning me to take me between his covers.

My soul is at rest because we have both known that I should be there but I was too broken and the pieces would have gotten lost in the blankets and we would never have been able to put them back together. He knows that but now he knows that I am whole and that we are the same. He is the cold black (not so cold, beautiful) and I am starlight and I know how he breathes.

Now so many we have lost, so many, I loved them all but I love him most and my fingers tighten on the handle of the blades. Even I will not be able to dance around all these bullets but I will lose myself for him. Blood drips off the edges of the metal in my soul where the silver has been bare and red-less since the soft drapery of girlhood was stripped from me. It is now the color it wanted to be -- the color of relentless love because there is nothing I will not do for him.

Serenity let herself be raped by Reavers and I will allow my body to be battered and riddled and torn to bits and pieces because we bleed for him so willingly as he bleeds for the truth. I would not be the most painful loss their hearts have sustained; I would be a willing one, and purposeful. I would die with my eyes holding his and I would not look away. I will die fighting, because when you stop fighting, you stop breathing. Breath can be stolen -- mine, his, SimonKayleeBookZoeWashInaraJayne's -- but I will not let it go without a fight.

But another’s will purposes that I should live, and it doesn’t feel right to be in this chair looking out over space, but Serenity is whole again and so am I and if he is going to fly again I will be there. And I know the door to the bridge locks from the inside and I know that the starlight and the black will not break their oaths to each other and the pilot’s chair weeps and mourns for love because love used to rest in it, pure and overwhelming and deep-breathing.

And who knows whose thought it is first, but it is both of ours quickly, and love is what keeps us all flying and it’s why he brought me back and it’s why his hands are broad and hot on my back as I settle into his chair and curl against his chest. I trust him to know, to hear, to feel when I tell him in my own head what my mouth cannot say aloud. (After all, he started running for his gun the very moment my heart warned him Run, run, they’re trying to kill you and I’m going to do it in a minute, I’m going to kill you because they have my body. Kill me before I kill you.)

He heard, he knew, he trusted me and did what he should have. His timing was perfect. It always has been.

And the timing has never been better than it is now and finally my body knows what it is to be whole and complete and function exactly as it is supposed to. He is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone; his breath is the breath of me, his life would be the death of me. I am real and solid in his arms and I am not an illusion.