Story: Winter Where You Are
Rating: all ages
Word Count: 1,810
Author's Summary: Clyde has helped Luke sort out some confusing issues, but even he can't explain why the universe is named River. (SJA/Firefly crossover)
Characters/Pairings: Clyde Langer, Luke Smith
Recced because: You can probably tell from my other recommendations that I have an amazingly large soft spot for crossovers; when they’re done well, they expand the universe in which we read. More than that, they also are proof that we’re reading an author whose sense of wonder is even more strong and flexible than the norm in the already creatively flexible universe that fanfiction is. This story by st_aurafina is a beautiful example of that. This story is remarkable for the cut glass purity of the conversations between River and Luke, the different ways that Luke interacts with the people he loves, and the brilliant way the author has drawn the similarities between Luke and River. (By the way, if you know the world of Firefly, you won’t be confused by the name “River.” If you don’t, all you need to know is that this River is not a curly-haired archaeologist.)
The Bane had gifted their Archetype with an oddly arbitrary database. By now, though, Luke had friends: Maria, Clyde and later, Rani to help him fill the gaps in his pre-programmed knowledge. But Luke always brought the awkward dilemmas to Clyde. Clyde was never too busy or impatient to sort through little scraps of confusion that slowly accumulated day to day, and he was happy to explain the most impenetrable things. It was their habit after school, to spend a little time at the playground on the corner for a quick debrief.
Today, Clyde had scrounged up enough change for chips, and the two boys sat on the roundabout , hands dipping into the paper parcel balanced on Luke's knee. Clyde idly spun the roundabout with one foot as he explained. "See, it's more of a convention with ships. Not a physical thing. You know, they don't have..." Clyde made some vague gestures towards his chest. Luke paused with a chip halfway to his mouth, raising his eyebrows in surprise. Clyde let his hands fall to his lap. "Well, anyway, it's not just ships that are female — cars too. And bikes.."
Luke nodded. "And the universe." He licked the salt from his fingertips.
Clyde nodded absently as he pulled the edge of the paper towards him, then stopped. "No, wait, what?"
"You know, the universe." Luke peered into the paper, and wondered whether it would be wrong to eat the last chip. "I don't think River is traditionally a girl's name, but I like it. It suits her voice." He broke the last chip in half and offered the larger piece to his friend, then realised Clyde's mouth wasn't hanging open in anticipation. He held the steaming chip gingerly between his fingers; it threatened to burn. "Oh, does she sound different to you, then?"
Clyde stuffed the chip in his mouth. "Mate, I think we need to talk about this."