Title: Just My Imagination
author: Esti/ death_of_dreams
Part of the Moving Heaven Verse
Fandom: Firefly/Supernatural Crossover
Pairings: Sam/River, minor Simon/Kaylee
Warnings: Crossover; use of the Chinese swearing
Summary: Simon's noticed that River has an imaginary friend. His name is Sam.
Disclaimer: I own the laptop this was written on, and nothing else.
It’s been over a year of observing River and trying to properly identify her needs and adjust her medications accordingly, but Simon isn’t much closer to having answers than he was when he rescued her.
He’s accepted that in many ways, River is a child. But he wasn’t prepared for this.
River’s psychosis has developed an imaginary friend. His name is Sam.
He finds this surprising for many reasons. River never had an imaginary friend as a child because she was far too advanced to ever need one. Also, she had Simon for company.
Then there’s the fact that she doesn’t hallucinate otherwise. She is incoherent, possibly reads minds, seems to be able to predict the short term future (which confuses Simon enough), and emotionally unstable. But she doesn’t see things that aren’t real, just things that other people can’t or perceives things differently.
So when Sam emerges, it throws Simon a curveball, so to speak.
She’s more withdrawn at first, keeping to herself. When he asks her about what’s wrong she shrugs and goes “I miss Sam.”
His attempts to figure out who Sam is are complete failures. In fact, he had considered searching the ship for some kind of stow-away that the Captain hadn’t found yet and River had. It seemed highly unlikely though.
Simon tells Kaylee about Sam, hoping that River will open up to her about Sam. The only thing Kaylee manages to learn is that he isn’t on the ship itself.
So when he walks into the kitchen for breakfast and finds her smiling and humming at the table, he asks her what’s got her in such a good mood. She grins and says “I corresponded with Sam last night,” like that makes total sense. He knows she slept last night – he checked on her three times, like usual.
In a moment of what was probably stupidity, he asked Mal what he thought. The captain considered for a minute and said “What’s the harm? Gets the girl a mite calmer, I say she can conjure up wh’ever she likes.”
Simon grudgingly admits he may have a point. But there still seems something wrong with an eighteen year old girl who had an imaginary friend.
He finds her spending more and more time in the cockpit with Wash, on the NavPort, flipping through star maps and sky charts and muttering to herself. He sighs and goes back to the med bay to sort through supplies.
Later, when he comes to find her, he hears her talking to Wash. “He went to Stanford on a full scholarship but now him and his brother Dean travel around checking under beds. Dean checks in the beds too.” She giggles even though Simon has no idea why, and Wash doesn’t seem to either but he nods and listens.
He shrugs and figures he can come collect her later.
After he gets her into bed, again with a smile on her face and Sam’s name on her lips, he goes up to ask Wash why he’s indulging in her fantasies.
“Way I figure, the girl’s smarter than all of us together, so why can’t Sam be as real as you and me? ‘m pretty sure she can read my mind, she can shoot people better than Jayne so why can’t she be talking to Sam? Maybe he can read minds too.” Wash shrugs, never looking away from the sky. Simon walks out without answering him, passing Zoe and nodding to her.
This must be what going mad feels like, if Wash is making more sense than he is right now. Next thing he knew, Jayne would have a medical license.
He resolves to listen more when she talks about Sam, to try and discern if there’s any possibility Sam is real.
Of course, by now, River has learned that he doesn’t really react well when she talks about Sam, so she doesn’t any more.
He tries to encourage her by asking about him, but she rolls her eyes and answers, “He’s a figment of my imagination. Or yours. Maybe I’m a figment of your imagination.” The sarcasm in her voice is more than clear but it stings.
Slowly over time, she starts to trust him a little more, doubt his motives a little less. “Sam’s brother is dying,” she says one day when she’s sitting with Simon while he’s preparing dinner. He puts down his knife.
“That’s unfortunate,” Simon says. As a doctor he’s had patients die; his grandfather died when he was four; he couldn’t save Tracey after he’d been shot; all of those he had developed a process of grieving for. But the brother of his sister’s imaginary friend wasn’t something he was able to conjure emotions up for. “Is he seeing a doctor?”
“No needles to suck out the demon’s poison, no medicine to stop the tick-tock in the ear infection,” she says, calm as anything. It’s moments like this that he wonders – if it’s possible that Sam is real, then how much of his life is real and how much is his sister’s brain just playing tricks on her? “I can’t save him, don’t know how.”
Simon crosses over to her. “Honey, sometimes people die and we can’t save them. Even the best doctors in the ‘verse lose patients.”
Her eyes look haunted, in a way he hasn’t seen in months, in a way that makes him shiver. “Not Dean,” she whispers. “Sam.”
After that, he was too scared to ask about Sam for a good year and a half.
Until he found River wandering the ship in the middle of the night.
He’d gotten into a fight with Kaylee that day. He’d tried to initiate some kind of romantic scene or something, and being the idiot he is instead of going for the simple “you’re gorgeous” he had to go with “I love how curvy you look in your coveralls” – which she interpreted as him calling her fat (which was not true and he never would if it was – which it wasn’t).
He heard a soft noise come from River’s room and got up to check on her. He barely caught sight of her as she disappeared up the steps. When he finally caught up with her, he found her sitting on the catwalk with her legs hanging down over the cargo bay, her feet swaying back and forth.
Sitting down next to her with his back against the rails so that he was facing away from her, he put a hand on her arm. “River?”
“Can’t sleep,” she whispers. “Can’t sleep, can’t dream, can’t dream, can’t dream.” She mutters it over and over again, shaking her head and biting her lip a little.
“I’ll see Sam.”
Simon was confused. River was usually thrilled to go to bed and see her imaginary friend. “And you don’t want to see Sam?” he asked, hoping she was lucid enough to give clear answers.
“Sam’s not Sam anymore. The lone ranger’s gone and his partner is drowning in demon blood, suffocating on rubies.” She choked softly, tears running down her face.
So that was it. River’s brain was finally processing that Sam wasn’t real, and she was letting go of her friend, grieving for him.
He rubbed her back as she cried softly, occasionally muttering things he didn’t understand about ghosts or the devil or hell – nothing that sounded particularly pleasant.
She leaned over to him finally when she was done crying and whispered, “Help me Simon.”
“What would you like me to do, mei-mei?”
“Make me sleep. Take away the dreams. Please, I don’t want to see him anymore, it hurts too much…” she closed her eyes and leaned against Simon, clearly exhausted. He wondered to himself how long she’d been keeping herself awake without him realizing it.
“Okay, mei-mei, okay.” If she wants him to give her something to help her sleep, he had no problem with that. For once he could actually do something to help her, he was more than willing.
Simon’s embarrassed to say he forgot about Sam after that. River kept taking sleeping solutions for several months and then one day she told him she wouldn’t need them anymore, and it was fine. She didn’t say anything about Sam, so he assumed that River had moved on from her imaginary friend.
He doesn’t remember until one day when Mal starts screaming into the intercom that Simon better get his pi-gu up to the cockpit and control his insane sister who’s gone off the reserve and has kidnapped his damn ship.
The doctor rushes to find his sister calmly piloting the ship and turns to listen to Mal explain that she’s somehow managed to take them entirely off course – to the point that Mal didn’t have a gorram clue where they were or where she taking them.
They approach a planet that Simon doesn’t recognize, and slowly the entire crew gathers to see what River’s up to. The planet is largely blue and green and something tickles familiar in the back of Simon’s brain but he can’t really force it forward.
She lands them perfectly with minimal messages to Kaylee in what appears to be a clearing on the far side of a forest. She quickly hops out of the seat and nearly makes it around the entire shocked crew. Mal manages to grab her arm and hold her back to ask her what in the sam-hell she thinks she’s doing.
The grin on her face seems impossibly large. “We had to come and get Sam, silly.”
Before Simon knows it, she’s managed to load himself along with Mal and Zoe with herself behind the wheel of the new mule that Kaylee convinced Mal to buy a little while ago (one with wheels, as all Kaylee had to do to fix the airborne one was change a few parts). Mal was ranting to Zoe about how he was captain and it was his ship and he said where it went and who they went to get and how they immediately needed to find a pilot who was neither crazy nor able to kill him in less than thirty seconds. Zoe was silent, nodding along and never taking her eyes from River.
River drove them through the forest easily along some path, coming up on some large property with an old house that looked like it was falling apart and an open area of what looked to be machine parts of some kind – Simon didn’t particularly recognize anything.
She swung the mule to the stop just as three men walked outside the house to see what the noise was. River jumped off the mule and flings herself at the tallest one – and Simon’s never seen his little sister act like this before.
The stranger laughs and embraces her, swinging her around. Simon can’t tell what is said between them but he sees them kiss then finds himself up and half way over to the stranger, his hand curled into a fist to punch him.
But when he gets there River is still smiling all wrapped up in this stranger – gods, he was taller than Simon realized – and his resolve wavers.
“Simon,” she grins, looking up at the giant she’s become attached to. “This is Sam.”
It’s not until the older man points his shot gun at him that he’s certain he’s not dreaming.
Wow. So I'ts been a while since Moving heaven's had an update. This came together because of darkmagic_luvr
's recent spur of Siver/Ram activity. When she updates, I update. so go bug her to write more and I will too :P