Just a Touch - Part 2 (Repost)
Friday, November 9, 2007

River's view of crew post-BDM


A/N: Hi. This is the second part of my first fic. Your comments on the first part were appreciated and any feedback on this one will be appreciated as well. Hope you all enjoy it. Also, a big THANKS to Chazzer (I love my beta).

Disclaimer: All things belong to Joss.

Just a Touch

By abbeygirl

Part Two

Just a touch. That’s all it is. A hand on the shoulder when no one else is around. A single touch and it means so much. It helps us to remember what it is to be alive. It grounds a person. Makes things not so lonely. And it doesn’t demand anything in return.

River knows that healing is taking place on Serenity. She feels it from all of them. Book and Wash will always be in their thoughts. The other crewmembers have changed after Miranda too. Jayne is still grumpy, but she thinks that they may be becoming friends. He respects her as a fighter; however, why she can fight like that makes him a mite twitchy. He doesn’t call her moonbrain or crazy quite as often and that’s nice.

River was sad when Inara left. She and the Captain just couldn’t get things to work for them. The love and the passion were there, but the incompatibility between their lines of work was what made it impossible. Inara couldn’t give up being a Companion; it was all she knew. She also couldn’t sit while he was out on a job and wonder if he was going to come back alive. The tension between the two of them was palpable to River. She didn’t even need to be in the same room to feel it.

Zoe had surprised her. In the beginning, Zoe was barely holding on without Wash. He was all that she thought about. She rarely came out of her bunk. As time went by, River could feel Zoe beginning to ease back into life, but still spent a lot of time in her bunk and she could feel that all of that time was still centered on Wash. It took a trip inside to find out that she had been journaling her times with him. It really helped to allay the feelings that she was going to start to forget the little things about Wash. River knew that would never happen though.

Then there was Simon and Kaylee. They made her smile. They tried to keep to themselves and not draw more attention to themselves more than they had to. The plan was working well for the other members of the crew, but not for River. She knew of every place they had made love on the ship and, boy howdy, were there a lot. River didn’t know how they kept their out-of-bunk antics secret from every else. Maybe she should slip a hint to Jayne…

Miranda changed Mal. He didn’t seem to notice the change in himself. Zoe would have seen it if she didn’t have issues to deal with herself. River noticed. She always thought it strange that Mal knew she was broken from the time she came on the ship but was unaware that he himself was broken too.

He had seen so much death. Hundreds of soldiers under him died in Serenity Valley. He felt responsible for each and every one of them. He felt responsible for Wash when he got killed after miraculously maneuvering his way through the battle between the Alliance and the Reavers and landing without getting them all killed. Wash was truly a “leaf on the wind.” Mal felt responsible for Book and the people at Haven who were slaughtered. He felt responsible for the people who had given them shelter in the past, like the Sanchez Brothers, who were killed by the Alliance. He felt responsible for Mr. Universe too. He even felt responsible for all the people in the Alliance fleet that were killed by the Reavers. After all, he had put them in that situation. Some deserved it but there were many that were just following orders, probably some of them still wet behind the ears and on their first tour. No one deserved to die that way.

He had left a part of him in each and every one of those places. His heart was starting to look like Swiss cheese. Sometimes River felt the need to leave the room when he entered, but she felt his presence and pain everywhere on the ship. There was no escape.

He never did blame her though. Not once did he think that all that had happened in regards to Miranda was her fault. River was thankful for this. She had felt that from time to time from the others, especially in the early aftermath of their battle. Mal was her rock, but her rock was starting to crumble.

He didn’t talk to the crew as much as he used to. The dinnertime talk that they all were fond of went on without him. It was if he was sitting at another table. He spent too much time in his bunk. She could feel his guilt as he sat in there by himself. At night he would wander the ship because he couldn’t sleep. He was pale and he had bags under his eyes. He wouldn’t let Simon give him a sedative to help him sleep. He allowed himself to sleep only when he had to. He was punishing himself and it was starting to take its toll. He was on autopilot and life was happening without him.

That’s what the touch is for. Words are never needed. It is the way to let him know that he is not a monster. That his crew still regard him as family and that Serenity is still the place they choose as their home. The touch lets her become the bridge in the gap between his inner demons and reality. She knows exactly how that feels. It is the way she can help him stay connected with life. It is the touch you would see if you happen to come to the bridge when no one else is around. River, standing behind Mal, with her hand on his shoulder as he sits in the pilot’s seat silently looking into the black.

Thanks for reading, please comment.


Saturday, January 5, 2008 10:33 AM


Very, very good! :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008 6:47 AM


Very nice. You pack a lot of emotion into the story.

Friday, May 23, 2008 11:50 AM


Commented here, too, and I still like it lots ^_^


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