Night Terrors
Saturday, January 14, 2006

Not all monsters are found in nightmares.


Title: Night Terrors Author: Ana Sedai Rating: PG Character(s): Mal, River Prompt: 042 - Monsters Word Count: 815 A/N: Ninth in my Joss100 Mal/River series. I know I have to start writing these faster!


Mal was not a heavy sleeper. Years of war and hard living had left him with an overdeveloped sense of hearing, and any little noise that penetrated the walls of his bunk also tended to penetrate his shut-eye. This was occasionally a problem, as when Simon and Kaylee got a bit, er, vocal in her bunk, but overall he was thankful for it. His hearing sounds in the night had saved their asses on more than one occasion.

So when the sound of breaking glass snapped his eyes open, he made sure his gun was in its holster before he left his bunk. Early had been a hard lesson learned.

He headed for the kitchen, tiptoeing a little bit, and poked his head around the corner. He saw River kneeling on the floor, picking up the remains of a cup and saucer. It looked like she hadn’t even been able to start the tea before the accident. Her back was to him, but he could still see her graceful movements as she handled the shards.

“Not polite to spy, you know.”

She said this without turning around, and suddenly Mal felt a mite guilty, then a mite annoyed. He stepped fully into the kitchen. “It’s my gorram ship. I hear something break, I go check it out.”

River didn’t answer. She finished cleaning up, rose to her feet, and dumped the pieces into the trash, all without facing him. Great, now he’d hurt her feelings. Head down, she made to leave, but Mal caught her hand before she could go. Gently, he asked, “Albatross, what’s the matter? Why’re you up so late?”

Finally, she lifted her face, and Mal caught his breath. Her eyes were full of stark, raving terror. Okay, now he was scared. “River, you gotta tell me what’s goin’ on.”

Biting her lip, she answered simply. “Monsters. They won’t be quiet. I hear them when I sleep, when I’m awake. They won’t leave me alone!” Her eyes filled with tears, and Mal pulled her into his lap and wrapped his arms around her, forgetting the reasons why this was a bad idea.

“I thought that was over when folks found out about Miranda.” She’d been doing so much better recently, aside from her inexplicable fixation on him, and he’d thought at least some good had come out of the whole sorry mess. If they ended up right back where they started…

“Not Reavers. They lie down now. It’s Them, the ones that took me apart. They cut me, made me an animal, made me like killing…” She shuddered and burrowed into his chest. “They still want me back. Hear how much They want me back. Couldn’t before today.” She started sobbing. “I’ll never let them take me back. I don’t know how to make them stop!”

Mal took a deep breath as visions of slaughter danced through his head. She didn’t need to feel his fury on top of everything else. Without thinking, he tilted her face up and kissed her forehead. “River, listen to me. I swear to you that they will never, ever, get you back. I don’t care what it takes. They will not have you.”

He didn’t realize it, but his tone was the same as it had been on Haven, when he’d drawn his line in the sand with blood and anger. He’d scared everyone that day, even Zoë. But not River. She knew what he was capable of when pushed too far, and it didn’t frighten her. She looked up at his fierce expression, her hand coming up to smooth some of the lines away. “Fighting dragons gets you burned, swords are too short, and shields are very thin.”

Mal grinned a bit. “Hell girl, that’s the story of our lives, isn’t it?” He set her on her feet, ignoring the feeling of loss. “You gonna be okay getting to sleep now?”

She gave him that look again, the one that seemed to be looking for something in his face. Then she nodded. “Still hear Them, but not as loud. They aren’t breathing fire anymore.”

He let out a grateful sigh. “Good. We’ll ask that hotshot brother of yours if he has any bright ideas about what to do about those particular voices in the morning.”

All of a sudden, she gave a tiny smile, then leaned forward and hugged him. A little startled, he returned it. He’d gotten accustomed, if that word could be used, to holding her for comfort, but she’d never touched him in happiness before. It felt good.

Releasing him, she smiled again, turned around, and headed for her room. He just stood there for a minute, feeling a bit nonplussed. He shook his head, trying to clear a few stray thoughts from his mind. Then he went back to his bunk. It was a long time before he got back to sleep, though.


Saturday, January 14, 2006 2:44 PM



Saturday, January 14, 2006 3:49 PM


Loved this and so wonderful to see you posting here Ana, I have read and loved so many of your pieces of fic on Firefly Glow. I hope you write more River and Mal. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, January 14, 2006 9:15 PM


Really great peice you've written here. Makes sense with those two as well.


I write fic. It's what I do.

Sunday, January 15, 2006 8:32 AM


YAY!!! I was afraid that you had the dreaded writer's block! Very glad to see you postin' again. I love your fic! Keep 'em comin'!

Monday, January 16, 2006 2:50 AM


I like this, River feeling the monsters and Mal comforting her. Great stuff.

Monday, January 16, 2006 8:48 AM


"I don’t care what it takes. They will not have you."
aww, feelin' a lil' misty-eyed here...


Tuesday, January 17, 2006 1:47 PM


Nice work!
I wish you'd slowed the dialogue just a bit more when Mal first comes into the kitchen, but when he tells her that they'll never get her back, I wanted to cheer!

The dragon analogy was very good. Great imagery in so few words.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 2:29 AM


Ah, another WoT fan! Looking forward to the last one, too? Looks like '07's gonna be a big year for the fantasy book crowd. I'd like to think of myself as a Blue, but I'm much closer to a Brown's temperament.

Also, to everyone who's reviewed, thank you so much for your support. I'm glad I'm able to make this rather unusual pairing more plausible.


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