(ab)normal iteration (the water metaphor remix)
by Jennifer-Oksana

A remix of "(ab)normal iteration" by Molly.

I rise and fall on sanity's moody seas. And he is always watching me, so I watch back, looking at how Serenity's lights change the angles of his face and smile.

"He always loved you more," I tell him, watching him from my bunk.

"River--that's not true."

He doesn't like to hear the harsh things. It's not in him to know the worst of it. He heals. He doesn't destroy. That's for me.

"It's true," I whisper. "Don't be angry. He loved you more, but you love me better. With all your heart."

I remember us at the fair. Just he and I and Him, dancing on the ice, the air full of crystals more perfect than geometry, but so fragile that one touch of a woolen glove and ten thousand triangles were obliterated. He fell. Blood on the ice.

"Do you remember Shelton?" I ask. He laughs, but it's just a matter of form and not a matter of mirth.

"You looked at his hand," he says, the smile lingering. "And you told him the exact measurement of thread that would be needed to put seven stitches in his palm."

The air here is close, but we are in infinity. Sometimes I miss the ice.

"They only put five in."

"He needed seven," and oh, he loves me best, and oh, I love him so, brother dearest, and he wants me to wake from these dreams that don't separate themselves from the waking. "The scarring was pretty bad."

He loves me best, he loves me yes, he loves me no, and I let the hair fall like a curtain, so as not to see his eyes.

"I try to be right," I explain, feeling him near the bunk, glad for his presence, for his breathing. "They make me wrong. They change things. I try over and over and over again. Is that psychosis? They gave him five. It was enough. The blood stopped. It was right and I was wrong, but I'm supposed to be--"

My name is River and I flow like the water, changeable, mutable, always one thing but never the same.

Simon's hands are sure and strong; there are no scars. He pushes the hair back and the feel of his skin against my skin comforts me. Our blood is so similar, almost mingled in the touch of skin to skin.

"Mei-mei," he murmurs, and his eyes are so trusting. "What are you trying to say?"

The words are flowing like water, like blood before it turns to ice.

"Nothing's definite. It's always infinite," I try to explain. "I can't nail down the answers, Simon. Always room for decisions and indecisions in a second, a thousand ways to find an answer but they ask for the right answer, they made me to find it. But I can't change the past and it slides away. Each iteration is a reiteration, because that's the control data."

He bows his head. "River--" he says softly, ever so softly, but he understands, which is strange. Because I don't. Am I talking strategy or philosophy? I'm so scared. I don't want to go away again, trapped in the deep waters of my own mind.

"It never changes," I say, laying my head on his knee, as though we are children again, as though there could be innocence. As though we didn't know the way he touches my shoulder, the way I shift to my side and touch his knee wasn't the beginning of a reiteration that is also an iteration. "Simon--"

Our world is so large and so small. The bunk. The entire galaxy, a thousand thousand thousand stars that have room and never crowd.

"I can hear you, mei-mei," he tells me, stroking my arm, so good and sweet and with a heart of gold that beats blood that might as well be mine.

"You always do," I reply.

He sinks down beside me, holding me close. Some things never change, some things don't want to change. The feel of blood, like salt-water tides. The whisper-hum of engines flying us through the vacuum, the buzz of the lights. The way we sing the oldest song together.

These things do not change, despite the tide, despite the nature of water. Liquid. Time is liquid, and events are liquid, and all the world's a shifting dream.

Perhaps we are a pebble, shifting in space but remaining fundamentally pebble-like in our iterations and reiterations.

I can taste medicine and hodgeberries on his tongue. Feel the sea-tides shift between us, like parted legs and parted lips. He can hear me breathing, can hear the way I cry out against his hand.

There are some things as don't want to change.

And am I the river's water, pulling us under into the black? Does he forget I've changed, that I used to be eager and wanting for achievement? Am I water, changing and shifting like the sea?

Or am I honey? and is this sweet?


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