Digging Through Dreams
Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Post-series, pre-BDM; a follow-up to "Digging Through Memories." After pulling Mal from the wreckage of a collapsed building, some exhaustion leads to sleep. Rated a bit higher than G for some suggested "romance." All characters belong to Joss, usual disclaimers apply.


They were alone on Serenity.

She stood in the common room, her back to the table, facing him. He never said a word. He was moving slowly towards her, steadily, confidence radiating in his very being. She backed up, into the table and he was there, not touching her, just looking at her with desire she had never known. She tried to move to her left, he placed his hands palms-down on the table behind her. She suddenly found it very hard to breathe. She opened her mouth to say something to him, to excuse herself, anything, and his mouth was on hers, pulling all of her excuses from her with a need she felt she had to meet. He kept his hands firmly on the table behind her, his mouth pressed against hers, their kiss arousing her from within. She felt her cheeks flood; her body respond to his seduction.

He broke the kiss first and watched her as she caught herself from leaning in for more. She tried to regain calm in her breathing, but her heart was fluttering like a virgin's on her wedding night. He half-smiled and leaned in again, this time placing his lips at the sensitive place just below her earlobe where her neck met her jaw line. She gasped at the delicacy with which he flicked his tongue, tracing a path down her neck to her still-quickening pulse, to the crest of her collarbone, down further to the top of her breast. His hands remained on the table behind her. She gripped the table edge with a force she had previously been unaware she owned. She wanted to move, to touch him, to feel his heartbeat race beneath her touch, to excite him the way he was her, but it was all she could do to remember to breathe.

He had reached the neckline of her dress. Either he would have to move a hand to push aside the fabric or he would have to stop. She felt if he stopped, her heart would stop beating altogether. She needed him to continue. She needed it with every fiber in her being.

He removed his lips - those blessings from Buddha - from her skin and looked her in the eyes, his need to continue evident in the look he sent her. She finally released the table's edge, convinced her fingerprints would be ingrained in the wood there, and moved to undo the buttons that were surely straining against the buttonholes by now. He swiftly leaned in and caught her in another kiss, her hands pressed against his chest.

His heart was beating just as fast as her own. She smiled against his mouth at her discovery.

His reaction was heavenly: his hands left the table.

"Don't touch her, I wanna hear how this'un ends!"

Inara's eyes flew open to see Mal half-leaned over her, his hand poised over her shoulder, his face turned towards Jayne, who was leaning in the doorway, watching Inara intently.

Jayne scowled when he saw Inara was no longer asleep and dreaming - and apparently making sounds to reveal the erotic nature of her dream - and muttered something about almost gettin' to the name of the guy, as he trudged off.

Mal turned back to Inara with a shake of his head and saw her wide eyes staring back at him. He straightened stiffly and crossed his arms over his chest, a worried look on his face. Inara was still frozen to the couch on which she had dozed off. Mal had been sleeping in the infirmary while Simon had scanned him for broken bones after the building's collapse earlier that day. Mal had been the last person found in an extensive and grueling search and rescue led by Serenity's crew.

Inara had been in Kaylee's company while they waited to learn the outcome of Mal's injuries, but obviously had fallen asleep. And, judging by the blanket that had been tucked carefully around her, Kaylee had remained awake long enough to find the captain was going to be just fine and scurry off to her business.

"You, um, made some small noise," Mal offered quietly. "Ya might want to consider nappin' in your shuttle." Composing herself as quickly as she could, she stood in one movement, the blanket falling to the floor between them. She forced herself to not stare at his lips. "Thank you, I'll keep that in mind," she replied as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He smiled at her before bending to pick up the blanket. He made a small noise that reminded her he should not be cleaning up after her and she leaned in to take the blanket from him. "How are you feeling?" she asked, her dream pushed from her mind. He answered by shrugging and wincing at the movement. "Doc said somethin' about bruised bones and all the luck I seem to carry with me," he said, rubbing the back of his neck carefully. "And a knock on the head that I heard scared y'all." He still looked a little grey, but knowing Mal, he'd be up and moving around with or without Simon's permission. He was never one to take rest as seriously as he ordered others. Inara remembered how soon he had been walking after Niska's torture, how he had insisted on getting up so soon after being shot by the junker's pilot, and, of course, how he had winced his way around the ship after being stabbed by Atherton. He insisted he healed quickly, but Inara had her doubts sometimes. "A building exploded and fell on top of you," Inara countered. "Don't you think we had reason to be scared?" "I was in the cellar when it exploded," Mal explained not for the first time. "With those others who y'all dug out with the townsfolk. I appreciate the help, but the fussy-motherin' can be left alone. Kaylee's doing her share of that, I can promise you." "I can imagine," Inara smiled. Kaylee had been running from the engine room to the infirmary every spare chance she could to tell her captain to listen to the doctor and to tell the doctor to be nicer to the captain. It was Inara who had finally convinced her to sit on the couch and rest. And look where that left Inara. She folded the blanket deftly and placed it on the couch behind her. "I suppose now that you've decided to be up and taking charge, I can go rest in my shuttle, as you suggested," she excused herself demurely. He nodded in response. She was almost through the door when he asked his question. "Were you dreaming of a client?" he asked, a smile in his voice. He couldn't know...could he? She straightened her shoulders and turned back to him. It was apparent that he really did not know, just by the look on his face. She decided to keep it that way. "I don't remember," she lied evenly. He nodded again and moved to return to the infirmary, limping ever so slightly. She watched him lie down on the bed just as Simon made his return. "Oh, you're up," Simon said, surprise in his voice. "I came back here to wake you for dinner." "Thank you, I'll go up now," Inara smiled warmly. She let her glance fall back on Mal's form in the infirmary. "You might want to tell Mal." Simon looked at her quizzically. "I gave him a sedative not that long ago," he said, following Inara's gaze. "He should still be asleep." "Then I guess somethin' musta woke him up," Jayne said, coming down the hall. He winked at the Companion on his way past them. "Hey, 'nara?" Inara watched him go, her face a calm mask, and turned back to see the doctor by Mal's head, talking with the supposedly sleeping captain. She sighed heavily and squared her shoulders for the constant ribbing Jayne was sure to attempt, and made her way to dinner. *** "Dinner certainly was fun, wasn't it?" Wash asked his wife as they slid into bed, several hours later. "I always enjoy watching Jayne walk right into word games. And what made him think he could take on Inara in that..." He stopped talking when he realized Zoë wasn't listening.

Zoë's silence held his attention.

"Hon?" he tried. "You okay?"

"Just tired, is all," Zoë replied quietly. She had been quiet since they had dug Mal out of the building's remains. She had opted to help the Shepherd make dinner rather than keep Wash company as he piloted Serenity off-world. Not that he wanted to complain; he didn't often get food cooked by his own wife. He simply worried about her. She was obviously distracted by something, and he could guess who.

"He's going to be fine," Wash said, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her shoulder. "We got him out. And the doctor said he'll be back on his feet again in no time. Again."

"I know," Zoë murmured. "I know." Wash contemplated trying to draw her out of her shell, but judging by the fact that she didn't seem to want to come out yet, he decided to let her talk when she wanted to.

Zoë, for her part, stared past the wall to a place far away in her memory. It wasn't somewhere she went often...

Buildings turned to rubble faster than the shock could register in a person, once you threw enough grenades in them. The Alliance had used more than grenades, though, and the building was nothing more than dust and trapped Browncoats...Zoë being one of them.

Sarge had found her.

"You hold still, Zoë," he instructed. "We'll get you outta there. You hold tight."

Black spots were swimming across her vision as she stared up at him, uncomprehending. The pain that accompanied each breath was enough to make her bite her lip and pray that death was nearby. She remained silent, trying to be strong. Trying to do her father proud. Trying...

"I ever tell you 'bout how the sunset looks back on Shadow?" Sarge was talking. He was always talking. Why would he not let her just close her eyes and sleep away the pain?

"Those colors can make a man wish he could speak in hues and highlights, so words wouldn't have to be created just to explain 'em. And the quiet it leaves behind?" He let out a breath that could have been a laugh, were he not putting so much effort into moving the large piece of a wall from his corporal. "The quiet so peaceful you never even want to think; it might disrupt the soundless of it all."

Four other volunteers were there, pushing against the stone that was cutting off Zoë's air. Sarge just kept talking, even as he switched positions to use his legs more against the weight.

"And all the time you watch that sun go down," he grunted. "You keep thinking 'can't breathe yet, it'll all be over too soon, can't breathe out the beauty yet.' But when you breathe, you realize your breath makes it a part o' breathin' it in makes it stick with you more. Painting it forever on your brain..."

The weight was suddenly off Zoë and she coughed with the sudden rush of air into her lungs. She rolled to her side, cringing with pain. Seargant Reynolds knelt by her, gasping from the effort he had exerted.

"It's amazing what you start to miss way out here," he said softly. "Some things you never realized you'd ever live without, some things you hoped you never would have to."

Zoë blinked at him, the pain subsiding only a little. A medic was making his way over to her as Sarge finished his thought.

"But there are things out here I don't think I need to live without. And one of them is your silence when I'm talkin' words. Everyone else woulda tole me to shut my mouth by now, but you?" He did laugh a little, then. "You just let me talk words." He fell over next to her. It was then she saw the blood seeping through his coat.

"Shut your mouth, sir," she whispered to the unconscious Reynolds next to her. "Your words don't even make sense."

Zoë sat up in bed, sweating. She calmed her breathing and looked at the sleeping form of her husband, arms akimbo, jaw slack, drool forming on the pillow...and smiled at him. He did look better without the mustache, she mused as she snuggled into his shoulder. He snorted a little as he readjusted in his sleep. She stifled a chuckle, watched him resume sleep, and let his breathing lull her into a dreamless slumber.


Book sat in the common room, sending a prayer of thanks for the lives spared that day and drinking a cup of tea. He mulled over the events he had seen, the people's determination he had witnessed and knew, again, that Captain Malcolm Reynolds was a special kind of man.

He knew of loyalty, but there was something deeper than loyalty in a crew that would do so much for their captain. In a matter of months, he had seen this crew pull together to plan a daring escape plan to save Mal from a swordfight, bar fights, bullet wounds, torturers; he had seen them and helped them follow their Captain into out-gunned shoot-outs, commit crimes of all sizes and types, and decieve the Alliance time and time again. One would think that after all that, the Captain might learn to keep himself out of trouble, but that seemed to be the opposite way of things.

But with every wound inflicted on Mal's body, with every plan that went awry, the loyalty of the crew seemed to grow with his hair's breath luck. He had survived all of the bullets, swords, torture. He had survived all of the out-gunned shoot-outs and bar fights. He had survived.

And he insisted his crew survive all those events, too.

Book's bullet wound had been healing well since his return from the Alliance cruiser. Simon had even been kind enough to let him recuperate in his own room, once the good doctor had returned to the ship. They had talked briefly of the events that had brought the Tams back onboard, but Simon was not convinced he understood fully the captain's reasoning.

"Chow's in ten," he heard Mal in the hall. "No need to dress."

Still egging on the poor boy? Derrial thought fondly. Just can't let anyone too close, can you, Captain?

As if on cue, he heard a soft knock at the door. He opened his eyes and saw the captain himself lean his head in.

"Just seein' if you're up for food," Mal explained. "Kaylee put some extra care into it and I hate to think you'd miss out on that. She'd pitch a fit about it, too."

"I'm sure," the shepherd smiled. "I would love some of Kaylee's fine cooking."

"I'll be sure to have some sent in, then," Mal nodded. He started to leave.

"Captain?" the invalid called. The head reappeared.


"You're an interesting leader," Derrial smiled. Mal waited.

"All right, then," he finally said. "I'll be sure to tell the doc to take you down in your meds."

Book chuckled as the door slid shut.

"Shepherd?" Kaylee's voice cut through the fog of waking up. Book looked at her grease-stained face and smiled.

"Must've nodded off," he explained. Kaylee nodded.

"Lotsa folk doin' that today," she said, sticking her hands in her jumpsuit's pockets. "May be cause we were all workin' so hard t'get the Cap'n out. Simon says th'drenaline is running low. But I feel fine, now I know he's okay."

"It couldn't be all that coffee I saw you guzzling at dinner, could it?" the Shepherd teased as he stood up. Kaylee had the sense to smile and duck her head as a response.

"You go on t'bed," she said finally. "I'll clean up for ya here."

"Thank you, Kaylee," he said gratefully, smothering a yawn. "I think I will take you up on that offer."

She smiled as he made his way to his bunk and busied herself with cleaning the cup.


Mal woke in the middle of the night and, unable to sleep, made the slightly painful climb out of his quarters and staggered towards the kitchen. He found Kaylee sleeping in his chair, a blanket around her shoulders. He sighed and shook his head. He made his way to her side, unfolded the blanket and tucked it back around his mechanic before turning off the small light.

As he began to shuffle back to his room, he heard Kaylee mumble softly in her sleep:

"Glad you're still with us, Cap'n."

His smile was his only response.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007 5:36 PM


I loved everything about this. Everything. Especially the ending. *Waits for more with baited breath*

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 8:22 PM


Yay, was hoping there'd be more of this soon. I'm hoping more to come as well? Loving it!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007 9:28 PM


This is just adorable! Yes, I mean that, adorable. Made me feel warm and cosy and happy. Love the way the whole crew pulled together to get the Captain out then those little memories surfacing were nice touches. Laughed out loud at Inara's dream and so easily could imagine Jayne's reaction and Mal's amusement. Fine work, eagerly waiting for more! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, February 22, 2007 12:52 PM


Glad your back, just in time! ("Parting Gifts" is a favorite)

nicely written crew interaction

more please

Thursday, February 22, 2007 12:53 PM


Sorry, Glad you're back


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