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The Girl In The Box

Zhailei (amidalashari)

Rev. Alixtii O'Krul V (Alixtii)


Sean Maher/Summer Glau


No spoilers, other than the deleted scene from Our Mrs Reynolds.

She could swear Joss was doing it on purpose. In which Nathan gets drunk, Joss thinks he's funny, and River is pregnant. Sort of.

It's his jaw, when she first meets him. He smiles, and the muscles at the edge of his jaw clench, and she's gone. She barely manages to stammer out a hello, keeping the rising blush from her cheeks, drawing her attention back to his face. He's still smiling, and she doesn't think he noticed.

Later, it's his eyes. And his hands.

It's not that it's a bad thing to be naked in front of the guy you like - she's proud of her body, has worked hard on it. But she's genuinely cold, and it's different when you're surrounded by cameras and crew, whispering a name that sounded different being read across a table, fully clothed. His hands on her skin don't feel like they should, don't feel like anything other than acting, but later she smiles, and bites her lip as she remembers it differently.

He doesn't look as she puts on the robe, and she wishes he would, because he's Sean now, not Simon, and she thinks she looks good, even with goosebumps trailing her arms. But afterwards, he almost meets her eyes, and she thinks it's evened things out a little.


He calls her Summer, and it gives her chills. It's hard to stay in character when he's looking at her like that, Simon saying her name. He's sitting awfully close to her, and it's the final barrier between them; Simon and River, not Sean and Summer, and it slips away when he calls her by name.

She tries to look at him like River would, and she's not sure how much difference there is; he smiles when he realises his mistake, and the barriers break down completely, and it's just them.

"Doofus," she says, and there's almost too much similarity. But Sean doesn't look at her like a sibling (she's still not sure how Simon looks at River, and it's best not to ask Joss), even if he doesn't look at her the way she emphatically doesn't look at him.

"River," he says quietly, still Sean, and there are way too many layers in this. But for all that, she likes it when he says her name, and she savours it until someone cuts the scene.


She doesn't stammer when he's around. Maybe she stares, a little, but Joss' impression is way off, and she jumps every time she hears a noise at the door.

"Not funny," she tells him, and maybe she's laughing, because Joss acting like a woman half his age is kind of funny, even if it's her. He laughs louder, and she rolls her eyes at the way he's amused by his own jokes, and by the time Sean comes in, they're back to talking about the script.

She isn't sure she likes the way Joss' eyes gleam as he bends down to make a note on the page, and she shares a look with Sean, easy camaraderie that means more to her than remembering his hands on her skin. When Joss looks up again, he glances at both of them, and she braces herself for whatever changes he's made.


"Summer. It's okay."

She glances up at that, River slipping away. He's holding her close, and she feels more naked looking at him than she ever had with her clothes off.

"River," she prompts.

He frowns, Sean again, though sometimes it's difficult to tell. Sean smiles more.

"You did it again," Joss says from the other side of the set. He sounds more exasperated than he'd probably like; it's been a long day, and they're all tired.

Sean catches on a second later, and he drops his hands; she frowns when he's not touching her any more. "Damn," he says. "Sorry."

There's a shuffle as the cameras move back into place, and the clapboard snaps shut. "All right. From the top."


"I don't know why I keep doing that," he says afterwards, and she smiles.

"It's okay," she tells him truthfully.

"They're very similar, you know," he says, and she takes a slice of apple from his plate.

"Get it together," she says affectionately, and he ducks his head. She tries not to watch the muscles on his jaw move as he eats.

"What are you kids up to?" Nathan asks as he sits down across from them, and she sticks her tongue out.

"We're planning a mutiny," she says conversationally, and Nathan steals an apple slice, too.

"Of Joss?"

"Of Serenity," she says. "River's going to take it away. Leave Mal stranded somewhere."

"My ship?" he asks, and looks around protectively. "Does Joss know you're writing his scripts for him?"

"Who's going to tell?" she asks, and they smile. She reaches for another slice of apple, and Sean bats her hand away.

"You can't eat all that," she says, and takes it anyway. This time, he watches her, and she licks her fingers when she's done. His adam's apple bobs, and she smiles a little more.


"I guess I'll see you at Nathan's," Sean says later, and reaches up to touch her arm. She doesn't look down, doesn't call attention to it, but concentrates on the way his eyes lock with hers for a second. She smiles, and doesn't mind the way he steps back when Gina passes.

"I'll see you there," she says.


"Summer," Joss says warmly, and she only looks around for a second to see if Sean's there yet before she smiles, and shrugs her coat off to hang it on the rack.

"He's in the kitchen," he says, and she chooses to believe he's talking about Nathan. She perches on the edge of the couch as Jewel laughs with Adam about something, and Joss smiles at her.

"You don't have a drink," Jewel points out.

"I bet Sean will make you one," Joss says, and sometimes she isn't sure if he's teasing or genuinely cheering her on.

"I'm sure he will," she says, and leaves to find the kitchen.

Sean and Nathan are both inside when she gets there, and they look up from the makeshift bar they've set up on the counter. Nathan's drinking something she doesn't care to identify but can smell from where she's standing, and she smiles as she moves forward.

"Got enough to drink?" she asks, and meets Sean's eyes.

"Never," Nathan says, and finishes whatever was in his glass. "What do you want?"

"Vodka cranberry?" she asks, and he reaches for a bottle. Sean moves around the counter; his eyes are a little brighter than usual, and she thinks maybe he's been there a while.

"Did you drive?" he asks, and she shakes her head.

"Took a cab." She doesn't think any of them are driving home.

She takes the drink that Nathan hands her, and sips it slowly; it's strong, but she isn't going to complain. He pours another drink for himself, and Sean's hand brushes the small of her back as they leave the kitchen.

Joss is watching her when they get back, and she smiles as she takes a seat next to Sean. Adam's halfway through singing some song Joss made up, and she realises that she really was the last to arrive. Nathan and Joss join in at the end while Jewel laughs, and Summer takes another drink.

Nathan swears he was going to cook dinner, but but the time they get around to it, nobody will let him touch the stove. Gina brought tarts, and when those are gone they raid the fridge for vegetables and dip; Joss puts on a sketch of his next show using celery sticks.

When Nathan suggests they play twister, she laughs. "I could kick your ass," she tells him, and he smiles as if he likes the idea. She finishes her drink; she can barely taste the vodka now, and when she pours herself another, she guesses rather than knows that it's still too strong.

Joss suggests truth or dare, which is met with groans and a few cheers of agreement. She glances at Sean, and he smiles as he moves a little closer.

She didn't need to know what kind of underwear Adam wears. If she doesn't remember everything in the morning, she hopes that isn't one of the things that sticks.

A few people leave, much later, but most of them stay. Summer lays down as Sean throws a blanket over them, and she feels his hand resting on hers a moment before she falls asleep.


Nobody's really in the mood to work the next morning, but the show, as Joss says a little too loudly, must go on. They've gone over the script, and Summer doesn't complain as the wardrobe people arrange a pillow underneath her dress, but she blushes a little when she looks at Sean.

He's smiling as he leans in close to her, and lays a hand on her stomach.

"Is it mine?" he asks, and she bites her lip.


 Left By:
Guest (Alixtii)

2007-12-25 13:31:09

omg, Summer. I love her so much and I love you so much for writing this for me! I love the way you've utilized Joss and Nathan, and they way that it's about Summer and River and about Summer being River, with the levels (I'm articulate like whoah, huh?). And the desire that drives the story is just wonderful. And the small images, like Summer biting her lip that you close on--they all just make go "guh." Thank you!

 Left By:
anr (anr)

2007-12-25 19:07:50

Very nice! I like the tension in this story, and the blurring between what is their characters and what is them.

 Left By:
llaras (llaras)

2007-12-28 03:50:39

The teasing and the camaraderie made me smile. Love that last line!

 Left By:
Guest (Cadence)

2007-12-30 13:15:22

This is excellent! You handle the distinction - or perhaps lack of distinction - between Summer and River so well. This line had me laughing out loud: But Sean doesn't look at her like a sibling (she's still not sure how Simon looks at River, and it's best not to ask Joss), even if he doesn't look at her the way she emphatically doesn't look at him. I will definitely be reccing this!