Jun. 26th, 2006 11:31 pm
[identity profile] ninamazing.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] uselessflattery
Title: Unholy
Author: [livejournal.com profile] ninamazing, or Nina
Word Count: 893.
Progress: 3/50 for [livejournal.com profile] 50_darkfics. Table here.
Rating/Warnings: PG, for naughty touching. :P But I think just the rating description is already more risqué than the story itself. Tee hee hee.
Pairings/Characters: Mal/River. The OTP of Hot.
Spoilers: Some subtle ones. I mean maybe.
Author's Note: A little less depressing, perhaps! We can all hope. :) (And hey -- I'm writing faster than I can comment! :P But even if you don't believe it, I love you all SO MUCH for making my day every time you leave a thought.)

Every Sunday at daybreak Mal's mother woke him. It was the latest he was allowed to sleep all week, and Ma Reynolds didn't begrudge him the lie-in: her boy never complained, no matter how far away the sun was when he milked the cows, or chopped wood, or dashed outside to grab some eggs for breakfast. On Sundays only he slept until the first rays of orange poked into his room, and the solid, no-nonsense woman always smiled when she watched her son's breath puff out once, twice, under the faintest light of day.

After a kiss and a firm, encouraging slap on the behind, Malcolm was awake. He dressed in his Sunday best -- the shirt with black buttons, a belt with a fancy gold buckle, shoes that never stepped in the mud -- and went downstairs.

At church the boy was always silent. Even when the rest of his village compatriots were making faces and kicking the backs of pews, Mal faced forward, held tight to his momma's hand. And if during the hymns, some saw a blush creep across his cheeks as he sang, well, he still sang, and Ma Reynolds told her women that little Malcolm made her prouder than his daddy ever would.

Every night until he was twenty years old, he kissed the cross, and prayed to God before he slept. Sometimes he added something new, but usually he just asked please keep my mother safe, please keep my horse healthy, please keep Alliance guns away from my church and my house. For a few weeks in winter it was please keep the fever from spreading to all the ranch hands; once for several nights in a row, please help Sarah Ann to put her hair down tomorrow and let me kiss her. In the months after the war started and before he joined in, Mal was fervent enough to whisper: please don't let me die before I make some account of myself.

Mal often thought back on that prayer, now, leaning his hand against the wall of his ship, memories blowing back in a flow that he couldn't control. Woulda done better just to die, he was convinced; shouldn't have asked for all the wrong things, forgot what was important. He'd stayed alive too long now, made too much account of himself, in all the ways he'd never meant to.

If his momma saw him now, it'd be the slap, not the kiss.

And even though he knew it, he allowed himself to hope -- maybe she'd understand. Maybe she'd see. Zoe could turn her around. He'd tried to do the right thing, the honorable thing. He'd just lost sight of the rules.

The body against him stirred. Mal kept himself still, leaning back, not wanting to shift and disrupt her. He never knew what she was going to say when she woke up, and it was deep into night-time, when words became slurred and things that were meaningless during the day loomed large and frightening. The rest of the crew slept soundly, sanely; but the little girl who cuddled against him needed so much more before she could give her mind a rest.

"Don't worry, Captain," she murmured sleepily, and rubbed her hand under his shirt, between the places where the buttons had been undone. "It's a paradox that no one's expected to solve. She just wanted you to get further than most."

Mal smiled -- couldn't help himself -- and since she was awake anyway, sat up a little, held her more firmly in his arms, kissed the top of her head, to keep her from running away.

"Little darlin'," he said, "as usual I'm only half-sure what you mean to say."

"Told you not to worry," she said again, grinning and leaning up, gazing at him adoringly until he kissed her.

This was the part that made him worry anyway -- holding her face in his hands, feeling her smallness in his arms and in his lap and at his mercy, sensing her trust. Simon's little sister came frantically, but Mal just ignored it, angry and crazy inside, thinking, she'd been the Alliance's plaything, God had let that happen; why couldn't he have her too, why couldn't he fix what they'd done wrong?

If he'd still been wearing his cross it would have burned a golden hole in his chest, weighted him down until his legs were solid lead and he never left the floor again, gave his life and sanity to give this girl a little.

She pressed herself against him, and it wasn't hard for any man to tell where she wanted his hands to go. She let them, let him pull her over, stroke her, make her helpless; Mal's fingers brushed the places he'd known on many a woman before, and they felt mostly the same, but he knew they were different. River's skin was warm against his; though he knew she was the reader, he could tell what she wanted, where she meant to go.

It was like being at home again, with the sun streaming on his face and his momma sitting down on his bed -- pretending to be still asleep, so he'd get the soft brush of her lips before her stern voice woke him up.

It was like sitting quietly in church, with the world washing over him.

But there was nothing more unholy.

Date: 2006-07-06 01:32 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raincitygirl.livejournal.com
Wow. This story is.....really good. Really gets into Mal's guilty conscience,a nd the problems of the relationship.

Mind you,I think he's being a little too hard on himself, because she is a psychic, for Pete's sake. Yes, he's aware that there's a power differential between them that works in his favour, and he's a decent enough person that the differential concerns him, or rather, scares the hell out of him. But while he's right that River is vulnerable, she'd also know pretty damn fast if someone were taking advantage of her or being dishonest about their feelings. But Mal's not going to see that, and you've done a lovely job of covering what he DOES see.


50 Tales of Dark Fiction

July 2007


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