title: sell my soul
b-noise: running up that hill - Depeche Mode
genre[s]: drama, one-shot, character insight
spoiler[s]: some basic background, pre-series.
word count: 1,062
If someone had told him a few years ago that River, his beautiful, graceful brat-of-a-sister would become a lethal assassin of a guinea pig for the all-mighty-do-no-wrong alliance, Simon Tam would have gotten that yuppie-upper-class look on his pretty face before spouting off facts like a vending machine, all accurate but none relevant, just to cover the shock of this ridiculous claim. Those times of certainty seem more than a few lifetimes away as he prepared to administer a shot in hopes of calming down the continuously heart wrenching and despairing sight of this mere shell of his sister.
There were days in which he is physically hurt to look his sister, to watch how she had been reduced from what she was. For as long as he could remember River had been a star in every sense of the word. Brilliant, burning of her own power with a long future ahead, and now it seemed that she even more resembled it in isolation. Sure there were times that she was semi lucid but for the most part she was completely lost within herself, as if someone had reset her to default settings. It was hard and painful to comprehend that this was his sister, his flesh and blood. To look at her and want to shake her until it would seem that her brain would fall back into place, screw scientific knowledge. And it wasn’t just her brain, her whole spirit seemed to be shaking from the aftermath of the abuse, the passion created and craving beauty was reduced to a wrecked child trapped in her own mind.
Holding his breath, he tightened his grip on the slender forearm as the needle slipped home. Heart racing, he could feel it pulse through her brachial artery, the convulsions shaking her entire body vibrated the items resting on the counter. Eyes darting from certain places to corners to the door, like a wild animal cornered and trapped. Watching the drugs kick into her system, her brown eyes slipping closed as the first few hours for her would thankfully be filled with nothing. Picking her up, he moved her to the cot set up for him to watch over her during his studies. Tucking her in and drawing the blanket up over her, Simon prepared for that rare moment of peace.
Reaching forward to brush a stray piece away from her face, he waited a moment to pull over a stool to sit near her head. Watching River, her deep breathing relaxing him, he could almost imagine that this was just the tail end of a nightmare and they were back on the central planets. And not for the first time in his life, Simon would have given anything to take his sister’s place. But for the first time it was not to better her but instead for some chance of taking her pain away. Because at the end of the day she was still his little sister and the only family she could claim.
When he gave up his life as an upper 3% class surgeon on Osiris he didn’t even have to think twice about it. Everything in his life didn’t matter if he couldn’t even take care of his own sister when she needed help the most.
Simon wasn’t sure if he believed in a god or higher being but he would have given just about anything to exchange places with her. Even though he already had given up any chance of a future to just get her out, his only wish was that he could have gotten to her quicker so there were less nightmares, less terrors that never seemed to go away even when the lights were on.
And this brilliant creature actually thought that she wasn’t worth saving, that her only brother, who loved her more than his own life, wouldn’t come to rescue her from that hell. Through their childhood, they had been each other’s best friends’ due to their upper class living. All those years they had bleed together, cried and laughed, were all he could think about as he blew the money, landed in jail and committed the highest form of treason. Unlike most of his life which had almost seemed planned since his birth, once he had gotten back his sister he wasn’t completely sure what he was going to do, just focusing on getting as far away as possible until he stumbled on the crew of Serenity.
Even to this day, he had no idea what he would have done if he had never booked passage on Serenity and as much as he hated to admit it he was pretty lucky that Mal was a loyal captain to the crew or that he had unknowingly chosen a ship with as much against the Alliance as himself, if he hadn’t he would be gorram out of luck. And while he still wasn’t ever sure that he would completely adapt, Jayne’s crude behavior and Wash’s random comments amongst the other crew’s habits were becoming normal, or as much as they could.
And it seemed that Serenity herself was helping River in ways that being planet-side would not have been able to do. As much as he couldn’t find a logical reason for it, sometimes he would watch her just gazing out one of the portholes or resting on the bridge and knew that at times the inky blackness sprinkled with lights was what was keeping her sane, not the chemicals he injected her with.
He hoped for her to get better, even if it meant that she would no longer need him. When he was younger, part of him wanted to have her rely on him, after all he was her older brother and even at a young age it seemed that there was no need for him to help her with anything. She was more of an equal sibling, almost like a twin when it came to their relationship. And he liked that, someone to share his secrets and have legitimate conversations with.
So if he had to give up the rest of his life, to take care of her, even if it meant staying on this broken down smuggler’s vessel with its equally cracked crew, then so be it. After all, he would give up much, much more, including selling his soul to make that deal.