There’s no good way to write this. You know? I could write a thousand things to you and I think they’d all be true.
I guess this isn’t a polite letter though.
So here are the things I need you to know.
I don’t love you because you remind me of anyone at all. Just case you’re you.
And yeah, that’s pretty fucking sappy, but it’s true, and I figure I may not be able to write this one again—second chance, y’know? The things you might’ve said if you’d known at the time—so I’ll get out what I can think of, while I can think of it.
Now we’re done with that.
So here’s the thing—the other thing, one of many, I guess—I need you not to break through this. Because I’m not, so you can’t. So there. And because I’m going to tell you exactly what’s going on. You deserve to know, and I think Piotr will want to be less than blunt, and yeah, there’s a reason for it. But I also figure I’d rather you know than wonder. It’s always easy to think on how bad it can be.
And you know, this one’s pretty bad, but it’s not the worst.
Okay? Just that.
Here we go.
The thing is, I’m not a good person. I happen to like the hitting people thing and the killing thing and the breaking and entering thing and the hacking thing and—most things, honestly, that are Frowned Upon. And, well. Illegal.
I don’t like that I like them, but I still do, and I’m pretty damned good at them. And I’m even better at getting away with them.
That leads to a tiny problem that means that there’s more than one or two crimes I could be charged with, and saying I did it for the right reasons doesn’t mean they can’t call me guilty and be in the right to do so.
I don’t know how much they know yet, and I’m not exactly giving them a hint. But all else aside—there’s a lot I did that I don’t regret, but it could all make this more complicated that anyone wants to admit. Treason’s one thing; stabbing someone in the back’s another.
There’s that. So it’s complicated there. And it’s complicated because—they’re not wrong.
I broke their laws. Their laws are wrong, in this case. Registration is wrong. What they’re doing is wrong.
I still broke their laws. I won’t pretend I didn’t. I’m proud of it.
Makes it kinda hard to plead “not guilty”, though.
I won’t to treason; I was loyal to exactly what this country is based on.
The details are where it gets kinda complicated.
My father told me he saw you making rescue plans. I want to tell you not to. I really do. I don’t want you getting hurt. Not for this, because there’s no reason for it.
I don’t know that it’s fair to say that, because I think—hell, I know—that if it were reversed, I’d do the same. So here’s what I’m going to do.
I’m telling you what I know.
What I know is, if I break out, things get bad. For a lot of people. But things are already bad, and look like they might be getting worse, anyway. And the more I hear—the more I see the faces of the people come in to talk with me and try and get me to tell them things—the more I realize how bad things are.
If I stay, here’s what’s going to happen. I am going to go to trial, at some point. This may or may not be after I’m moved to Prison 42.
You are not, under any circumstances, to break me out of Prison 42.
This is not negotiable. This is not an option. It’s my life more than anyone else’s, and I’m telling you that if I’m moved there, you and anyone else is to stay as far away as you fucking can. You can mourn me, you can declare me dead, you can hate me, I don’t care; don’t do it.
Prison 42 is in a place called the Negative Zone. There’s some info on the zone on one of my laptops, if you want to look—password’s 3.141592653589—but I can tell you the details. They built a prison there to hold people who violated the Superhero Registration Act. They’ve been studying it for years. It’s—
I think it might be hell. I don’t know. It’s a place between worlds. A nothing kind of place, but there are things in it. Creatures, animals, aliens, I don’t know what. Not a lot, but some. And River, that place does things to you. Drives you crazy, saps your will to live, I don’t know what, but—
You don’t come out the same as you went in. No matter how long you’re in there. More than one person who’s been interred, if the reports I’ve read are right—and they are—just—went crazy the minute they went in. And some of them are taking longer and going the same.
They never should have built it there. I know why they did. I know they thought it was the best option. But this is why I’m proud to break their laws and proud to be guilty, if I am.
I don’t want to go there. (Understatement.) But I’d rather go there than have you get hurt. Keep that in mind, okay? I’ll ask that.
And if I go there, I’m not making it easy for them, and I promise you I’m not going to let them get rid of me that easy. No one else has in life, don’t see why the U. S. Government should get away with it.
If you do anything, you do it before that, or you don’t do it at all.
If you do anything—I don’t think I can come back here. To this world, I mean. And I’m good at disappearing, if I need to, so that’s okay, but it’s still something. And it’s something Piotr needs to be aware of, if he isn’t. I need to tell him that somehow. Sometimes he just does things and doesn’t think, like if he hits enough the world will be better when he’s done.
Me, I just hit anyway.
Think Mal’d let me bunk on Serenity a while longer? (Yeah. I know. Thinking way too far ahead.)
It’s not fair to tell you this.
It’s not fair not to.
I don’t want to make you worry or upset you; I don’t want your own brain to make it worse than it is. Because it’s not hopeless, River. If I’m lucky, I’ll just stay in this cell until someone decides something about the war. Hopefully coming down on the side of the angels. (Well. Side of the humans. I never want to be on the side of angels, poor Aziraphael aside; I think angels fight far more fair than I do.)
And I said I’d tell you what I know, River, so here’s the thing: I’m not fine.
I can’t phase, and it’s itching at the back of my skull, and I can’t forget it. It’s like having a hand cut off, almost. Or having yourself blindfolded. I can’t explain it, because—you know. When it happens. When they take away what made you special. What made you into you.
So I’m not fine.
But I’m not breaking. They don’t get that one.
And I’m not fine, but oh, am I so much finer than any of them will be the minute this is over with. There’s one guard in particular whose nose has a date with my fist.
And it’s still going to be okay. I promise. In the end, it’s going to be okay one way or another.
I won’t ask you to rescue me, River. I don’t know that I want you to, as much as I want out of here. Because I think I’m doing the right thing. And I think if I leave—nothing will change for the better. And I’d really, really, really like things to change for the better.
I can’t tell you not to, either, because—I don’t know. Because I don’t want to ask something of you you’d hate yourself for doing later, if you bothered to listen, and I know what that’s like too much.
So here’s what I’m asking: be safe. Okay?
Whatever you do. Be safe. And do what you have to so you can get through the night. And don’t do it after they move me, if they do. Then just wait, and trust me that I’ll come out okay. Do what you have to, outside of that.
Including break, which you’re possibly doing at this point. And I hope to God you’re not. But if you are—sweetheart, I do love you. I really do. And I want to dance with you again. And I think I’m going to.
--You know what? I don’t care. One way or another, I’m going to. Even if I have to beg Dream for a trip.
And it really will be okay.