TEMPTATION SERIES: 16. "Understanding"
Sunday, July 31, 2005

"River decides to turn to the one person who has never let her down."



SUMMARY: "River decides to turn to the one person who has never let her down." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

He woke slowly in that giddy delight, that physical afterglow that followed incredible mind-blowing sex. Simon smiled. Happy, sated, self satisfied and blessing his good fortune. Thoroughly enjoying the sensation and all memories like erotic truffles tempting his senses to recreate the moment. He could still feel Kaylee ghosting in his arms even though he knew she had left him to sleep, to recover from their exertions if he was being honest with himself. And why wouldn't he be? Giving in to his desire for the sexy mechanic had been the wisest thing he had ever done. It still amazed him it had taken him so long but more surprising still had been Kaylee's willingness to wait for him. The thought brought a tender smile to his lips. Marrying her made him complete in ways that sex alone, however fabulous it might be, could never do. So it was that he opened his eyes in complete and boneless relaxation only to jolt to full cognisance as he met the eyes inverted above his own. His were sleepy, hers were bright, sharp and knowing.

"R... River, *shenme shi*?"

Embarrassed he hastened to sit up, quickly pulling the covers up over his naked chest. An action that amused her though there was little enough laughter in her eyes. He blinked and took a harder look at her, concern now uppermost in his mind.

"*Mei mei*, what are you doing here? Has something happened?"

River righted herself and plopped on the bed beside him. Simon pulled his legs up to make room for her. There were times when he looked at her and almost did not recognise his sister. Some magical change seeming to cast a spell over her as if overnight she had gone from something hidden, almost shy, into the kind of sparkling beauty only glimpsed in her suddenly too adult eyes. It was as mesmerising as it was unnerving to see his little sister all grown up. Now the shade of the past hung over her, the woman retreating - a girl again, a sister unique and gifted. A girl in need of her brother. Without even having to think about it he reached for her and she let him draw her in. The circle of his arms so comforting and familiar. Her face turned to his shoulder to hide the tears. Swift, quiet then vanquished. She had not come here to cry but to talk. First her thoughts needed to form into something solid that he could hear not melt from her tear ducts and leave him speechless with concern. Alarming Simon would achieve nothing. He let her take her time, instinctively knowing it was the right thing to do. One hand stroking soothingly through her thick dark fall of hair.

"If I'm a woman why can't I be treated like one, Simon?" Surprised he drew his head back a little and looked at her. River tilted her face, waiting for his reply. Her wistful words tugging at his heartstrings. Gently he brushed her hair out of her face so he could see her properly. "Perhaps you should explain, *mei mei*, after all I'm no mind reader." This last comment was said gently, meant only to tease.

"I'm not a child any more." She all but pouted.

Simon had to batten now the urge to smile as her expression seemed to underline the exact opposite. Though even that was an illusion. "No, River, you're not a child any more."

"Everyone thinks I'm broken."

His breath caught, like pain trapped beneath his ribs.

"I'm not broken Simon, *wode butong*."

Her words chilled him, just a hair's breadth away from total panic. It took effort to stay calm, to remind himself he was here for River nothing else. "What they did to you at the Academy..." He began softly, trying to rein in his anger.

"No!" Her quiet but forceful interruption stilled him. He frowned, needing to know what this was about. Who had upset her. River knew what he was thinking but was cautious not only in how much to say but how to say it. She had changed so much but because the outside looked the same few noticed. They saw glimpses, they did not see *her* and she so badly wanted to stand out of the shadows of their regard and be a woman through and through. Not just feel like one but be treated as one. "I need help."

Before he could suggest anything medical River put the fingers of her right hand up to his lips to still them. He gazed intently into her eyes, trying to fathom out what she was trying to tell him. What she was asking. What the *diyu* was wrong.

"I'm a woman but I still think like a girl. My body isn't a girl any more, Simon."

Simon flushed. "I think you'd be better speaking to Kaylee or, or Inara. I'm not sure what you think I can...."

"You're not listening!"

The familiar old complaint stopped him in his tracks. "O-kay, then *duibuqi*." Simon sat straighter, letting his hands fall to his lap in a patient *I can wait as long as it takes* pose. It almost brought a smile to River's lips. So Simon.

"I've tried to be subtle." She said seriously. Simon frowned. Subtle? River? Why? River shook her head, her look very focused as if she were working out a particularly complex problem. "Subtle doesn't work."

"What are you trying to be subtle about?"


Simon almost choked on his tongue. "River!" He sounded scandalised, shocked but also somewhat baffled. "Are you sure you want to have this conversation with me?"

"Don't be a prude Simon, you're married and I know you and Kaylee do more than hold hands." His face reddened. Point made she moved swiftly on. "I need to be seen as a woman so I can be treated like one, *dong ma*?"

"Well, yes, I suppose that makes sense."

"If he sees me as a woman perhaps he'll take me seriously."

The frown of confusion was back on Simon's face. Oh God, don't let it be Jayne! "Who, *mei mei*, who do you want to take you seriously?"


If he thought River pining for Jayne was bad this was ten times worse. Ten to the power of millions. "The Captain? River, that wouldn't be a good idea."

"I know what I want."

"Yes, but the Captain? You knows he's suicidal, pyschotic?" At her hardening look he continued, knowing he was rambling but unable to stop his headlong scramble to head her off from a path leading to sure destruction. "The man's insane!"

"*Ni bu dong*." She said half sadly and half accusing. "He's been hurt, damaged like me but healing."

Simon put his hands on her arms and tried to make her see how serious he was, how wrong this would be. "The Captain is nothing like you River. What happened to him, in the War and after is not the same as what happened to you at the Academy. The War changed him, made him darker, more dangerous." He paused. "The Captain is a very damaged man, *mei mei*. You don't want to visit the dark places he has been. I'm not sure you would survive it, in fact I'm not sure he survived it."

He was alarmed to see the beginnings of tears in her eyes. Her look sad but also very gentle. As if she were the one comforting him. "*Bu qu*, Simon. We're closer than you think."

The seconds stretched into pregnant minutes, the weight of her words crushing entire worlds inside Simon's skull. Oh God, she couldn't mean...? "River, what have you done?"


"Did the Captain touch you? If he's..."

"No, Simon, you aren't LISTENING!"

The shock of her raised voice was like a douse of cold water. He stared at her then had to make a conscious effort to calm down. "I need your help, *ge ge*. I can look but I can't touch. I want to touch."

Simon stared at her, mouth agape, a look of complete horror in his eyes. *Wode ma*, this was worse than he thought.

* * * * *

Book felt worn out in a way physical exertion and manual labour could not compete with. Yet there were things he needed to do before he could retreat to his bunk. First and foremost he would need to make sure no one disturbed the Captain. Then ensure they set course for New Dunsmere. It might help if when the Captain finally surfaced they were nearing their next port of call. Distraction could sometimes be more beneficial than medicine. A thought occurred to him and instead of heading for the commons area he went to the bridge. As he had expected Wash was sitting in the pilot's seat, Zoe breaking off their kiss to look up at the interruption. He could see she had been expecting the Captain.

"Everyone is aboard," Said the Shepherd smoothly. "Inara's shuttle is securely docked and we even brought some provisions on board."

"Where's the Captain?"


It was clearly not the answer she had expected. "What did you do at that Abbey of yours?"


Wash looked at him in surprise. "Talk? All night?"

The Preacher was a master at schooling his features, ensuring nothing flickered on his face but a mild ghosting of humour. That it was fabricated was something they did not need to know. "Evidently. I understand the Captain did not get much sleep."

Something in his comment must have alerted Zoe. Her eyes narrowed slightly. "You weren't there?"

"No, while the Abbott and the Captain were talking I availed myself of the luxury of refamiliarising myself with the grounds of the Abbey and spending the day in quiet contemplation." He paused. "It was very restful for the soul."

She gave him a searching look but the Shepherd had an amazingly good poker face. Deciding to take his words at face value for now she nodded. "New Dunsmere it is." Zoe looked at her *zhangfu*. "Best we be on our way."

Wash nodded and began to ready for lift off. Zoe turned her head to watch the Preacher leave the bridge, a thoughtful expression in her dark eyes. She thought Wash had not noticed but as he levelled off and went to medium burn his eyes locked on hers. "What do you suppose that was about?"

"I don't know, *bao bei*."

"You goin' to speak to the Cap'n?"

She shook her head, gave a little sigh then put a hand on his shoulder. "No. If he is sleepin' I don't think he'd much like the interruption."

The pilot did not say what he thought, just placed a hand over his wife's for a moment before getting down to the business of laying in their course. They were a day and a half from New Dunsmere. Zoe promised herself that as soon as the Captain was up and about they were going to have themselves a little chat. She didn't know that a steady queue was forming.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*shenme shi* = what's the matter? *mei mei* = little sister *diyu* = hell *wode butong* = I'm different *duibuqi* = sorry *dong ma* = understand? *ni bu dong* = you don't understand *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *ge ge* = big brother *yiwusuoyou* = nothing *wode ma* = mother of God *zhangfu* = husband *bao bei* = precious/treasure


Monday, August 1, 2005 5:01 AM


Re-building nicely. Can't wait to see how it goes, and who all's in the queue.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 1:42 AM


And now a laugh, an actual laugh after so many painful chapters!

" The frown of confusion was back on Simon's face. Oh God, don't let it be Jayne! "

And the ending was kind of funny too, because I had a sudden vision of Simon standing in that line ...

Zoe's surely going to kill Book? OK - she wouldn't if Mal told her not to - but I wouldn't be asking if I were her!

Friday, January 12, 2007 5:36 AM


There were so many perfect lines I would have to copy/paste the whole thing to tell you everything that I loved!


You must log in to post comments.



His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.