"The First Step"
Monday, June 6, 2011

"River is smarter than the Captain, Knows he is what she needs. That she can help him but they there are not there yet."


TITLE: "THE FIRST STEP" STATUS: Short Story AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Mal. River. RATING: G. SUMMARY: "River is smarter than the Captain. Knows he is what she needs. That she can help him but they are not there yet."


A "Firefly" Story"

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

So quiet on her feet her silence courted him if he did but know. The darkness had no rule over his soul when she was present. Even in shadow her light illumed the dark fractured planes of his benighted soul. She knew and he accepted that it was the way things were between them. Right now he was trapped by her eyes, so wide and full and knowing. Feelings radiating from her to him that bound him in the stillness she adopted to keep him from fleeing her presence. He did not want to hurt her with the grim tide of nightmares that still haunted him. She did not want to frighten him away with the oft times jagged edge of her insight. But true natures seldom altered no matter how well they were hidden or masked. Both knew it and danced around each other with careful wary steps, neither able to stand the thought of hurting the other, no matter how accidental. Understanding each others' pain because in it they saw a reflection of their own, the broken pieces in each slowly and inextricably gravitating towards each other. Wanting to be whole.

"River, I don't think..."

She hushed him with fingers which fluttered gently to settle upon his lips like angel's wings. Her liquid eyes pooling around him drawing him into a world where he was lost without her. "Sssh, too much thinking."

His eyes widened slightly. River saw his trauma, his pain. Virtual scars left over from the war like carelessly discarded shrapnel. No one had thought to remove the pieces. When he moved different edges would cut him, some so deeply it was like looking into an open wound. His pain hurt her just as his calm moments of respite filled her with a transient joy and hope for the future. One beyond pain, for both of them.

"You should go, little one." He murmured. Tender. Gentle. Concerned.

He thought he would hurt her if she stayed. That somehow the pain and darkness of his past would rub off on her, soiling something that was meant to shine with a healthsome lustre not lie dull like something devoid of worth, worn out and hollow. River knew differently. Knew the value of his mettle even if he did know it himself. "Need you."

A hint of a smile dusted his sardonic lips with irony. River knew she could help, that she could heal him. That he could fill her life with meaning. The trick was convincing the Captain that all destiny required was that first step. She wanted him. He needed her. Only he didn't know it yet. Her burden and joy was to enlighten him little by little until the truth of it became inevitable. The brighter her light burned the more it vanquished the darkness that consumed him from within. She was his light, his hope. He was her destiny. His stength tempered to clothe her in his care. River knew, she always had. Saw the goodness locked in his heart. It was no surprise to her to see and recognise something rare and beautiful bound in his shabby but noble armour. A glimpse had touched her the moment he opened the box forming the most tenuous of connections between them but one that would grow stronger than steel.

In his dreams she touched him. In his nightmares she vanquished demons the like of which no one else would ever see. All his torments she jousted one by one, his fears set to flight. Her vibrant belief in him leaving the man staggered and humble before her oddly ethereal grace. Then Mal would wake and all he would remember would be the lingering agony of a pain so deep but barely remembered. Only if she stayed would the banishment be complete but he wasn't there yet. The Captain still thought he could only protect her by sending her away.

Malcolm Reynolds was making himself a mug of tea. Sensing her approach on bare soundless feet he automatically began poouring one for her before looking up, as if doing so was the most natural thing in the 'verse. Neither of them able to sleep but set in each others' rythyms. For River, there was comfort in being near him. In not having to speak if she didn't want to and for the silence to be a healing balm not an awkward empty search for words that would not come. Simon would prod and coax and try to find out what was wrong, her silence as troubling to him as it was accepted by the Captain. Falling back as always on his medicine when he failed to understand, his over riding love for her admitting no defeat even when it suffocated her. The Captain would let her be herself, calm her if she got distressed, sit with her if she needed company or grounding and leave her be if she didn't. No pressure and no expectations. River didn't want the tea but accepted it in the spirit of a gift which made it precious. Instinctively he knew that there were times when his presence was welcome, gave her respite from the craziness that ruled her brain and darkened her visions. Truth to tell he tried not to think of how easy it was to understand her, to relax in her company, even when he wanted no more than to shelter her from harm, to keep her safe. River wanted more, craved it more than he could know, but something this important could not be rushed. She could be patient, would bide her time. For him.

She took a slow sip of her tea, watching him silently over the rim of the mug. Wearily he nodded back and they settled into a peaceful cocoon of silence that was all kinds of soothing. River was prepared to wait him out. To watch. Be ready when the first flicker of realisation dawned on his much maligned and battered soul. Yes, she would heal him and the healing of him would make her whole. All it needed was a first step.

* * * * *


Monday, June 6, 2011 10:39 AM


Just a little one-off short story before the next chapter in my current series. Hope you enjoy, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Monday, June 6, 2011 5:47 PM


While I don't personally prefer Mal/River as my OTP, I think you've done your usual amazing job with exploring River's desires for Mal and to help vanquish some of his demons in an effort to help him heal :D

Monday, June 6, 2011 9:50 PM


Very nice set up.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 1:53 AM


Thank you for your shiny comments, BlueEyedBrigadier. What River wants she does not necessarily get to have but I could see her hoping anyway. Appreciate your comment Nutluck, though this is just a little one shot story not the set up to a series. Anything to keep us flyin' - Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 5:24 AM


Enjoy your work, Ali D, and although I don't write M/R as a romantic pairing myself, I am fascinated by explorations of the relationship between these two characters, which you have delved into on several occasions.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 12:41 PM


Thank you ebfiddler. There just seems to be a natural empathy between these two characters, an understanding that does not have to be voiced and sometimes I like to run and play with where that could lead. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Saturday, June 11, 2011 4:21 AM


I like the subtly in River. She is such a diverse character. Great stuff.

Saturday, June 11, 2011 4:40 AM


Yes, River is subtle Angellemarcs and such a mix of genius and vulnerable innocent too. Thanks for the feedback, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Friday, August 26, 2011 6:35 PM


Peeks in to tell you how much I like this.

gentle journey,


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