Aftermath--Part IV--Mal
Thursday, August 6, 2009

Conclusion. Mal deals with the aftereffects of his time spent with the madman.


Sliding gingerly off Simon’s exam table, Mal slowly applied weight to his healing leg. Containing the grimace it caused, he straightened his back and tried to look perfectly at ease.

“It won’t work, you know,” Simon said, unfolding his arms from his chest and moving within a few inches of his teetering Captain. “I know it has to be very painful.” When Mal scowled, he continued, “That series of tight, little fine lines around your eyes and mouth is quite telling.”

“Ain’t so bad,” Mal lied through purposefully unclenched teeth.

Simon raised one elegant eyebrow. “I suppose not,” he conceded dryly. “Considering that your pain tolerance can usually be measured on a sliding scale with a mere gun shot wound being the low standard and torture by a psychopath being the high standard.”

“It ain’t exactly like I set out for these things to happen,” Mal protested, hopping a little as he became overbalanced. Simon handed him one crutch, his silence more eloquent than any words he could utter. Mal sighed, fitting the crutch securely under his unbroken arm. “Can I help it if every hundan in the ‘verse seems to want a piece of me?”

“Perhaps it’s the company you keep,” Simon replied blandly.

“You think?” Mal said as he made a couple of uneven steps forward, testing his mobility with a growing sense of impatience. After another minute had elapsed, he turned expectant eyes toward his doctor. “So, I’m good to go?”

Simon nodded a little reluctantly. “I suppose so,” he admitted. “If you promise to continue with the physical therapy every day, and you don’t push yourself too hard, and…”

Mal held up his still-bandaged hand. “Heard it all before, doc. Don’t need the reminder.”

Simon nodded and quickly pressed an injection into the side of Mal’s neck.

Mal jerked away. “What was that for?” he asked as petulantly as any three-year-old.

Simon smiled. “Pain meds,” he replied. His eyes began to twinkle with barely concealed merriment. “Consider it cosmetic surgery to reduce those fine lines I mentioned earlier.”

Knowing the meds would make him sleepy in short order, Mal muttered, “Still got an airlock on this boat, you know.”

“Which is fairly useless while we’re grounded,” Simon retorted, grinning openly now.

“Won’t be grounded for long.” Mal tossed the observation over his shoulder as he made his way laboriously to the bridge.


“Might not have made a difference anyway,” River said softly, floating onto the bridge with her dancer’s grace.

“What?” Mal asked.

“If the first war had not come,” River said patiently as she curled herself into the co-pilot’s chair.

“You reading me again, bao bei?”

“Couldn’t help it,” she said, shrugging with not an ounce of contrition. “You’ve been thinking it so loudly for several days.”

Mal sighed. “Just hard to let go of, somehow,” he admitted. “Man was all manner of disturbed in the brainpan. Maybehaps if he’d had a father….I mean, if the war hadn’t come and taken the man away…..well, the boy, Bobbie, he seemed sort of….like a good boy.”

“Like Adam, you mean,” River said softly.

“Guess that’s what I do mean,” Mal admitted uncomfortably.

River nodded. “You see it all differently now, because you’re a father,” she said with gentle understanding.

“Conjure that’s a pure truth,” Mal agreed. He paused for a moment. “Been carrying around more’n my share of grief from that war for a long time. But even so, to see the hostility in that man’s eyes…..the pure, burnin’ hatred that was eating him alive…directed at me for no other reason than the color of my coat… was downright morbid and creepifying. And I got to thinkin’, what would it take to make a man like that?” His voice dropped low. “To make a boy….like Adam…like that?”

“Adam will never be like that,” River said quickly.

“I’d wager not,” Mal replied. “But still….it’s blood-chillin’ to think about. Just one more horrible thing to come outta that war.”

“If the war hadn’t come,” River said quietly, “where would you be today?”

Mal thought for a few minutes before answering. “On Shadow, most like,” he said. “Can’t really conjure leaving my mother to run the ranch alone.” He rubbed distractedly at his aching leg.

River’s heart twisted painfully. “Do you ever….think about…..going back?”

“Nothing to go back to,” Mal said, a little too quickly.

River shook her head. “I mean, to a place like that. A ranch. A…home.”

“Got a home,” Mal replied steadily. “Right here. With you.”

River unfolded her long legs and padded over to his chair. “Strong enough to hold me?” she asked.

Mal opened his arms. “Always,” he replied with a slow smile.

River slid gently into his embrace, careful of his wounds. “Home,” she hummed low against the shell of his ear.

“Home,” he confirmed, his voice an octave lower than it had been moments before.

River kissed him, gently at first, a promise of other things to come when he was sufficiently healed. When her lips left his, his slight growl made her grin. “Not well enough yet,” she said.

“Try me,” he answered, leaning slightly forward to lick the line of her collarbone.

Feeling his hunger for her flaring brightly as a flame in her mind, she shivered. Entwined with the hunger was another need, fragile and whip-thin. She read and understood the need, recognizing it as one she knew well from her own bitter experience. He had survived, yet again, against odds that defied all logic. And in the surviving, there needed to be affirmation, a celebration of life and all that made it worth the living.

She slid from his lap, though he tried to hold her fast. “That’s ain’t in no way fair,” he said, holding up his still-bandaged hands.

“Never said life was fair,” she said, walking quickly to the door and locking it.

Hearing the click of the lock engage, Mal’s heart skipped a beat. “Are you plannin’ to have your wicked way with me, woman?” he asked huskily.

“Only if you promise to let me do all the work,” River replied, her eyes shining brightly in the low light. As she spoke, she shimmied gracefully out of her dress.

Mal’s breath caught in his throat, struck anew by how beautiful this woman was. Her smooth skin glowed invitingly, backlit by the lights of the nav console.

“Come here,” Mal said softly.

She moved slowly toward him, watching the fire in his blue eyes deepen with each step she made. Then, achingly slowly, she slid back into his lap and kissed him, her lips and tongue distracting him from the work of her hands as she bared him to her as well.

He moaned softly as her warm, soft hands caressed him. “River,” he breathed out raggedly.

“Shh,” she murmured against his ear, smiling as she felt the twitch of his muscles beneath her fingertips. “Let me….”

“Wouldn’t dream of stoppin’ you, darlin’,” he said a little breathlessly. And as she moved carefully atop him, he closed his eyes and felt his life, interrupted by his time with the madman, start anew once again.



Thursday, August 6, 2009 3:34 AM


This was fabulous! Nothing like being partnered to a Reader to have every gorram wish fulfilled the minute it comes to mind. You might want to correct the first mention of River when you call her Rover. Easy done when the fingers are flying over the gorram keyboard. And I loved how well Simon knows his Captain and their little exchange. Just love this series, *xie xie ni*, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:18 PM


Of course Adam will never end up like the killer, because he has a father like Mal. And a mother like River, who knows exactly what her man needs. Good stuff.

Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:18 PM


Of course Adam will never end up like the killer, because he has a father like Mal. And a mother like River, who knows exactly what her man needs. Good stuff.

Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:19 PM


Oops! Double post. Sorry - slip of the fingers. But it also gives me a chance to say how much I loved the Mal/Simon convo too - there's two men who know each other (in a purely non sexual way, of course!).

Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:58 PM


So whens the next story start? I mean there is still the wedding and Mals full recovery to get to and of course their next caper.

Thursday, August 6, 2009 5:47 PM


Late as always. Wonderful ending and I can't wait for more.

Friday, August 7, 2009 4:16 AM


Loved the understanding Mal showed Bobby. There is an old saying that if you could feel for a minute the pain that your enemy was in, all hatred would end on the Earth. Glad the old soldier in Mal could see that in Bobby. Looking forward to more.

Friday, August 21, 2009 6:44 PM


No wonder hotel internet censors FFF fanfic!

Of course Adam will never end up like the killer... unless he gets kidnapped into a govt mind-control school for assassins.


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'Til Death Parts Us--Part VI
Co-written by Midnight Obsidian. For Marcus and Elizabeth, the moment has arrived, and Mal gives the ceremony his best shot.

'Til Death Parts Us--Part V
Co-written by Midnight Obsidian. The Hit or Miss crew’s plans for Marcus swing into effect.

'Til Death Parts Us--Part IV
Co-written by Midnight Obsidian. The search is on for Anya, and Adam faces the music.

'Til Death Parts Us--Part III
Co-written by Midnight Obsidian. Anya makes an inadvisable deal with Adam, and complications ensue.
Note: Thanks, ebfiddler, for suggesting that we include a small reminder note about the timeline of this story. At this point in this version of the ‘verse, we are about 10 to 11 years past the BDM, for those who keep track of such things. My, how time flies when you’re having fun! :)

'Til Death Parts Us--Part II
Co-written by Midnight Obsidian. Anya asks a favor of Mal, and Marcus plans a job.

'Til Death Parts Us--Part I
Co-written by the ever-talented Midnight Obsidian. Takes place shortly after the events of “Fractured” and “Aftermath” in a continuing Mal/River storyline that began a million years ago with “Voices”.
Summary: Life goes on for the crews of Serenity and the Hit or Miss, as everyone prepares for the long-awaited wedding.

Bad...In the Latin
Set within the timeline of the series. Stream of consciousness study. River contemplates her new environment. I'm kinda' rusty, so here's to hoping I have remembered a little something about writing!

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One-shot set anytime within scope of the Mal/River storyline.

Aftermath--Part IV--Mal
Conclusion. Mal deals with the aftereffects of his time spent with the madman.

Aftermath--Part III--Marcus
Follows the events of “Fractured” in a continuing Mal/River storyline. Marcus re-evaluates his choices.