By Their Hands
by Maidenjedi

These people didn't walk in twos. She thought it was strange.

Stranger still, none of them had blue hands.

She didn't mind. Not at first. The one called Simon seemed nice. He wouldn't leave her alone, though. She didn't like to listen to him.

He made her think about other things. Dark things. Cold things.

Blue things.

Mal means danger in Latin. She knew that. She knew some things. She remembered things. Hydrogen and oxygen make up water. Chlorophyll makes plants green. The three basic colors are red, yellow, and


Blue like hands. She never looked at her own hands. She was afraid they'd be blue.

Mal. He didn't like her. She didn't care. He looked at her like she was in his way. She was in the corner, how could she be in his way?

Mal didn't have blue hands, though. He never walked two by two.

Two by two, hands of blue.

She feared them. Black suits, serious faces. Blue hands, and always two by two.

They followed Mal. The one called Jayne pretended not to. He would die for Mal, maybe. She didn't care. She wanted to sleep. Jayne wanted her dead. She thought dead would be better if it meant not listening to him.

Jayne said Mal would turn her in. If they came, two by two, hands of blue, they'd take her away. Mal wouldn't stop them, he'd welcome it. Jayne said so.

She didn't like Jayne.

Simon was scared. He tried to touch her, tried to sooth her when the dark closed in. He wanted to know all about the place. She knew nothing to tell him. Two by two. Wasn't that enough?

Hands of blue. Didn't he listen?

River. Her name is River. She liked her name, it was smooth. It meant nothing, just water running. Running. She could run. She knew how.

She knew things. Mal means danger.

No one called her River before. Simon did. Simon tried to use her name to draw her out.

Hands of blue, she said once again, taking Simon's pale hand in hers. Not blue.

"By their hands ye shall know them."

It wasn't how it went, but River thought she was being clever. She thought Simon would be impressed.

He blinked. "River," he started.

She didn't answer him. Or rather, she didn't give him the answer he wanted.

"Two by two, hands of blue, two by two, hands of blue...."

Simon stood up, tired of listening, tired of her code. She covered her ears, saying it over and over so Simon would understand.

Cold, dark, and blue.


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