The Strawman
Saturday, October 22, 2005

Written for Halloween Challenge Rayne Shippers. Warning for Deathfic. River follows the strawman.


AUTHOR's NOTES: This is my first posted complete Firefly fanfic. I used to write fanfic for The Sentinel. I am working on a longer fic at the moment that I will post when it is completed. And if you can't tell I am Jaynebabe and a Rayne shipper. Enjoy! Would really appreciate feedback on this fic.

The Strawman Stormwolf

The flames danced.

All eyes watched the people who paid homage to the flames, moving in rhythmic grace, encircling the bonfire that lit the village of Salem.

River moved among the dancers and the revelers chasing the sparks that floated upon the wind. She found Simon first, sitting on a bale of hay beside the sweet mechanic, drinking the home brewed beer, and cuddling against Kaylee. Kaylee seemed to welcome the cuddle, seeking her own comfort in Simon’s arms.

River passed them by, intent on following the strawman. He danced on spindly legs, while sparks from the fire that burned him blew in the air like fireflies. He had been placed on the bonfire earlier, to burn away the year and to burn away the sins. River didn’t think it had worked.

But she followed him anyway as he beckoned her with burning hands. He led her to Malcolm Reynolds, who sat upon the tail of the wagon that had brought the straw and the wood for the bonfire. He, too drank, the homebrewed beer. Drowning in the fermented grain,. He looked up at her approach. She knew he could not see the burning strawman, only the young girl who was not a girl standing before him in her red dress and combat boots, hair blowing in the night breeze.

“What are you doing?” Mal asked her. “Where’s your brother?”

“Simon is basking in the sun, swallowing the grain and feeding the warmth.” River said. Beside her the strawman laughed, flames burning brighter.

“Uh huh.” Mal said. “He’s with Kaylee I suppose. And what are you doing?”

“Going to find the Green knight, I need a holly bush. The man of straw and hay leads the way.”

“Green knight huh. Not any of those around here.” He took another drink of his beer and settled back against the side of the wagon.

River moved on, flinching away when the strawman tried to reach out and touch her. He didn’t seem bothered by her reticence to be touched. Instead he continued on his path, leaving smoking footprints where grass and leaves burned where he tread. She followed.

She didn’t need to enter the shuttle to know who was inside. The waves of pleasure and love that washed over her like an ebbing tide told her. She bypassed the shuttle, leaving the loving couple to their lovemaking. The strawman seemed to linger, though, the flames burning his straw body dulling to a kindling fire, as he reached out with one burnt straw hand to caress the shuttle leaving streaks of black soot over its surface before continuing on further away from the village and his place of ending.

The strawman led her to a bridge over a river. She smiled as she stepped onto the wooden planks. A river over a river. A river looking down at a river. Laughing at that, she turned to see the strawman continue over the river moving deeper into the forest that surrounded the village. At the middle of the bridge she stopped for a moment, and looked behind her.

She could see the peace, a dark shape against the moon filled night: Its graceful neck arching toward the sky, yearning for the stars. The place of the strawman’s demise still burned, silhouetting the dancers and revelers. She imagined she could see her brother, still curled up beside Kaylee, both sleeping away the drink. River imagined the captain, lying in the wagon, looking up at the stars that called him, that filled the hollowness she had carved out when she left. The war weary woman and the reckless pilot, filling the hollow places in them both with each other; two halves become whole and the man of secrets with his book of lies.

River turned from looking upon the village to see the strawman, burned for the sins, burned for the New Year. He stood at the other end of the bridge, the once bright flames now nothing more than blackened smoldering straw. Every so often the breeze ignited the flames, making them glow a deep orange in the darkness of the night.

She took one step, then another until she found herself on the other side of the river. No longer a river on a river. She was now a river along, flowing across the land to reach her sea.

When the strawman finally crumpled to ashes on the ground, from the darkness rode the Green knight. He sat upon a black steed made of shadows and space. He wore the dark green clothing that served as his armor, and carried the beloved weapon that served as his sword.

The steed’s hooves crushed the ashes of the strawman into the earth. River bent over and scooped up a handful of the ashes. Opening her hand, the ashes blew away in the breeze that ruffled her hair. Her gaze followed the ashes as they waltzed upon the air. Up and up until she had no choice but to look upon the face of the green knight. She was afraid of what she would see.

Her heart leaped into her throat when she realized the knight visage was unblemished. Gone were the bleeding gashes and torn skin that she had last seen. He reached out the hand that had been severed, now whole and unmarked. Her eyes were blurry from tears as she reached out to take that hand with her own tiny one. His hand engulfed hers and with a leap she was pulled up into the saddle behind him.

Her arms came around him no longer fearful that she would touch the spilled intestines, bloody organs that had been spilled. Instead her arms found only the solid bulk of his body and she hugged it tight to her, ignoring the lack of warmth.

“Are you ready?” He asked in that gruff voice that had screamed itself hoarse while the not men felled the knight.

She nodded against his back. She had been ready since that day, but had been held back by her love for her brother. But Simon had found the sun, and she was left to follow the burning sins, content that Simon would be alright. It was her time to find not the sun, but the flames and the shadows.

Tightening her arms around his waist, she hugged his cold body to her as he heeled the steed of shadows and space into a tireless trot.

“Are you scared?” He asked her.

“No.” she answered. “The flames are warm and the shadows are my home.”

He nodded at that. “To me as well.” More eloquent that he had been in life.

Together they rode away leaving the river to float upon a river, and a firefly to soar the stars.


Saturday, October 22, 2005 5:03 PM


It took me a while to comprehend the subtext. I hate to say it, but my first reaction was" what in hell?"

Sunday, October 23, 2005 4:00 AM


i think someone's been watchin' "the corpse bride"...sweet in it's own morbid way


Sunday, October 23, 2005 5:37 AM


Actually I have never seen the Corpse Bride. THe only movie I have been to in the past three months is Serenity.

Glad you liked it though.

Thursday, October 27, 2005 10:45 AM


hmmm I never really thought of Jayne as green..... I did really enjoy the story and I did understand it, but it did leave me feeling kinda sad.

Sunday, October 30, 2005 6:52 PM


See, I told ya I'd read both of your stories, Storm! I like this, especially the line: "He had been placed on the bonfire earlier, to burn away the year and to burn away the sins. River didn’t think it had worked." I liked River on a river, etc. and I liked the whole River voice in this piece. She thought and talked like I need her to. I think I must be too dense to get most of the imagery. Maybe you could explain it to me some time. I know about the strawman's symbolic burning for sins, harvest, etc., but maybe there's more you could tell me. Gotta tell you, even though you let the gorram reavers more than half-kill Jayne in "Patients" that one is still my fave. Now be a good Storm and prove you're Jayne's girl by getting our lovely strong merc back on his feet, 'kay?

Thursday, February 23, 2006 5:41 PM



Interestingish. Kinda sad


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