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Battered Dreams
Saturday, July 8, 2006

Mal remembers youthful hopes. 20/100 for Joss 100


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1231    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Title: Battered Dreams Author: Ana Sedai Rating: PG Character(s): Mal Prompt: 003 - Daydreams Word Count: 995 A/N: 20/100 for Mal/River Joss100. Oh, and I have no idea of the name of Mal’s hometown, so I just made one up.

Summary: Mal remembers youthful hopes.

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There was a time when Mal had been able to see himself with a wife, children, and the whole rest of the mess. He’d even had the girl all picked out: Jenny Mitchell, a blond, green-eyed angel from the ranch next door. As far as twelve-year-old Mal had been concerned, there was no more beautiful creature in all the ‘verse, nor one more caring and sweet. His opinion hadn’t wavered over the next seven years.

The day before he’d shipped out for basic, he’d given her a ring, a kiss, and a promise that he’d be back in time for the wedding next summer. She had just smiled at him bravely, tears hanging in her eyes. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Mal Reynolds.” She’d cupped his cheek and kissed him one last time, and he’d forced himself out the door before he changed his mind and stayed.

He wasn’t back by the next summer, or the one after that.

Three years after leaving her behind in a sunlit kitchen on Shadow, Mal heard of the Alliance’s attack on his planet. The burnings, the shootings. He scanned the lists of casualties until his eyes hurt. He told himself that her family would’ve gotten out, that she was safe, that his Ma was safe. But he still read the lists.

And then, one day, he felt his heart stop in his chest. Jennifer Mitchell, 20, Waterston. She was gone. His angel was gone. He wanted to throw up. Numbly, he handed the list to the man next to him, whose eyes had the same feverishly desperate look that his own had had not two minutes ago. He made his way to his bunk, jaw clenched so tightly it was a wonder he didn’t crack any teeth. He lay down and didn’t move until role call the next morning.

Oh, he’d eventually recovered well enough. It was truly amazing how therapeutic blasting the hell out of those responsible for Jenny’s death had felt. Time, that wonderful universal balm, had helped even more. Zoe had simply been there for him, and that had done the most for him. But every time he saw a body with long blond hair, he’d seen her face.

In all the years since, he’d never seriously considered marriage again. Even Zoe and Wash’s blissful (okay, tempestuous might be a better word) state of matrimony hadn’t shaken the dust covers off those particular hopes. And as for Saffron, well, he’d spent most of that disaster in denial, so that didn’t count as serious consideration.

Inara had been the closest he’d ever come, and even that had amounted to no more than a few half-felt musings. If he were honest, her very unattainability was probably what had made her safe for his nebulous fantasies. He was a realist, and a person who spends half her life in training for something doesn’t give it up, especially if it afforded her independence. He’d understood that from the start.

So, with all of that, why did a half-crazy young pilot/assassin with dark hair that always seemed to fly around her face keep showing up in his gorram dreams? And these weren’t the usual brand of female-dreams, either. Tell the truth, he might be a mite less disturbed if they were, even if he would’ve felt like the most perverted hun dan in the ‘verse.

Nope, these dreams were so commonplace, they scared the ever-living crap out of him. Some were partly memory, some purely conjecture. Her feet on his lap while he massaged her arches. The feel of her hands in his as he taught her how to fly. Him coming up behind her and sniffing her soft, freshly washed hair. Oh yeah, they were weird, and wrong, and all-fired dumbfounding. And they left him with such an ache in his chest when he woke, that he wondered sometimes if he didn’t have some kind of heart condition.

And the worst, the absolute kicker, was that he occasionally had these little visions while he was awake. Dreams, he could handle. No one could control what they dreamed. But he should be able to control what he thought about while awake, right?

He lay in his bed and glared at the ceiling. Lack of sleep had left him a tad snappish lately, he could admit that. Luckily, with cargo in the hold and the promise of a paycheck, no one had called him on it. But this couldn’t stand. River was worming her way into his heart and mind, and he still didn’t have the foggiest idea of what to do about it. Push her away? She wasn’t pursuing him. At least, not in any way that a woman went after a man. Talk to her? And say what? “River, stop followin’ me around so much, would you?” Yeah, sure. They lived in a space ship, a very small space ship, a space ship that, if you were lucky, you would pass no more than 24 hours in without tripping over someone, literally.

Part of him wondered if this thing, or whatever it was, hadn’t already spiraled out of his control. The woman had spent the night in his bed, for God’s sake! It suddenly hit him just how much go se he was in. River and Simon were crew, and that meant she wasn’t goin’ anywhere for a good long while. Whatever he did, there would be permanent consequences.

His dreams had always died hard and messily. Most likely why he allowed himself so damn few of them. River was a dream he could not permit himself to have. He’d been a fool to even consider she ever had been. She deserved more than the dregs of a thief’s battered psyche. No, this had to stop, one way or another.

As he drifted off, hoping he wouldn’t see her tonight, or maybe hoping that he would, he felt the ache in his heart start up again.

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COMMENTS

Saturday, July 8, 2006 4:19 AM

AMDOBELL


This was excellent. I would really love to see a companion piece from River's point of view as I suspect she is the active architect of his dreams. Could this be her tentative way of courting the Captain? Shiny story, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, July 10, 2006 10:12 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Gotta agree with Mal here....it's one thing to fantasize about River sexually; that can be rationalized out the wazoo. Fantasizing about domestic moments with River? Definitely a might more complicated to explain;)

Gotta agree with Alison here...would be hella cool to see a companion piece to this entry with River's thoughts on either her subconscious visitations of Mal's noggin or her realization that Mal's got hankering for some petite assassin-cum-pilot goodness;)

BEB

Wednesday, December 20, 2006 5:29 AM

GIRLFAN


Really intriguing piece - get's the mind working on all sorts of speculation.


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