Cliff's Edge
Monday, May 8, 2006

An introspective piece (yes, another one) on falling, dreams, and waiting.


Title: Cliff’s Edge Author: Ana Sedai Rating: PG Character(s): River Prompt: 071 - Fall Word Count: 701 A/N: 17/100 for Mal/River Joss100.

Summary: An introspective piece (yes, another one) on falling, dreams, and waiting.


Before Miranda, River had had no way to block anyone out. As Simon had said, she felt everything. Sometimes, late at night when she hadn’t been able to sleep, she would close her eyes and try to imagine falling down, down, down into blackness, silent and still. Somewhere where there were no chattering thoughts or angry regrets or bitter nightmares. She’d wanted to lose herself in that blackness, become one with it, never have to come out and try to pretend that she could ever get better. All gone now, goodbye.

It had been easier to hold herself together during the day. Everyone was usually so focused on a particular task or busy with other people, and when she could she would focus on those whose thoughts were the least jarring. Kaylee’s in particular had been a balm to her psyche, like diving in a warm lake on a bright sunny day. However brightly she had shone during the day, though, at night Kaylee had always been drowned out by others.

Book, as disciplined and calm as he appeared, had memories of fire and death that haunted his dreams, covered by a veil of shame. Jayne, always so brash and noisy in every way, was no less angry in sleep than he was when awake. Zoe, fortunately, always had her husband to wrap herself around when her nightmares began growling at the door, but while they lasted they were hazed by red and thunder.

And then there had been Mal.

Instead of pounding against her brain with brute force, his dreams had slid in like a knife blade of pain. To have believed so deeply, and to have been crushed so utterly, set up an echo in his psyche that resonated in hers in a way none of the others’ ever had. Harmonics, she’d thought. Constructive interference, and the resultant wave will shatter us both.

And still he’d drawn her to him, a moth to the flame, with a mind that was so different from her own and yet so alike at the same time. Serenity had known who they were, what they were. You never leave Serenity, she’d thought. And they didn’t. Not her, and not Mal. Almost every night, he was there, and so was she, crawling in blood-soaked earth over torn bodies, falling endlessly into anguish.

She hadn’t slept well.

After Miranda, things had been better, for the most part. The worst of her not-dreams were Zoe’s mournful shadows. Then she had begun to hear the buzzings of those who still desired her back, and a sharp poker of panic had seared her.

Mal had been there that night, as he had been every night, if only in spirit, though once for real. He dreamed of the Valley less now, for which she was grateful. The pain was still there, and the guilt for Wash and Shepherd Book was fresh, but a place inside him that used to be black and empty had become lit by a small inner fire. He believed in something again. It had come as a bit of a shock when she discovered that something was her.

And there was still something else, something even more recent than his fragile peace. He wasn’t willing to let himself see it yet. It felt like he was trying to peer over the edge of a cliff, but the ground under his feet was crumbling, and he didn’t want to fall. He didn’t know where he would land, and that scared him.

River wanted to tell him to not be afraid, that she was waiting to catch him when he fell. She wanted to tell him that she was falling, too, that he could catch her if he wanted. She wanted to tell him that Serenity was waiting to catch them both, that she would hold them forever and shelter them from every storm that she could. She wanted to tell him...everything.

She could not. She had tried, but there was nothing more she could say until he was ready. And so Mal continued to teeter on the cliff’s edge, and she continued to wait, with Serenity whispering to her that, soon, all would be well.



Monday, May 8, 2006 1:26 PM


Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Your use of River's insights is beautiful, and I love it when the Mal/River relationship is given the slow build it deserves. Their soles are connected, more than anything else. The rest will follow...

Monday, May 8, 2006 1:39 PM


Thanks. Slow build is my specialty. Let's hope I can make the wait worth it...

One little note to all the readers out there. This story actually takes place *after* "Sand". I completely forgot that I hadn't posted that one first. Bear that in mind when reading this story, and that one. Sorry!

Monday, May 8, 2006 8:36 PM


Loved this. Beautiful introspective snapshot of River and I love it that she wants to help Mal but is waiting for the right moment. Shiny. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, May 8, 2006 9:34 PM



Becoming a big fan of your work.

Well done!



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Cliff's Edge
An introspective piece (yes, another one) on falling, dreams, and waiting.

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