Bring Me To Life - Chapter 3
Friday, May 22, 2009

First of all, yes, it's Mal/River so if that notion upsets you at all, don't bother clicking. The crew arrives for a job on Beaumonde but as usual, things go less than smoothly. Later, Mal and River share a private moment. M/R, Post-BDM, PG-13 for language and violence.


A few hours later, Mal and his crew were walking through the streets of Beaumonde, on their way to the Maidenhead for another meeting with Fanty and Mingo. Mal strode confidently down the crowded street with River right by his side and Jayne following closely behind.

“Can you explain to me why we’re dealing with those two niao-shi de liu mang again after what they put us through last time? Jayne grunted, not carrying the same amount of confidence as Mal.

“Well, the way I figure it, last time we didn’t go in with any leverage against them. We had no real way to bargain against them. So this time, we bring River with us.” Mal replied cheerfully.

“And how’s she going to make them give us our fair take?” Jayne snapped back waspishly.

“Make them afraid,” River said softly with a glint of a sinister smile on her face.

“Exactly. I figure that they’re likely to remember our little Albatross here and are not going to be too keen to have a scene like she caused last time, especially if they’re among the body count. So we show them River, they piss their pants in fear and we walk out a bit wealthier.”

Jayne raised his eyebrows a bit and grunted a response that told Mal Jayne understood what he was saying and thought it was a good idea. The crew then entered the Maidenhead and headed down the stairs, seeking out the twins. After a few moments, they slipped into view from behind the stairs with a pair of smug smiles attached to their faces.

“Mr. Reynolds,” said Fanty.

“Mr. Reynolds,” Mingo repeated.

Mal and the Serenity crew turned to face the twins whose faces immediately fell when they noticed River.

“Fanty, Mingo, nice to see you boys again,” said Mal brightly. The twins, however, merely gazed at River, horrified to see her. “Oh, right, I forgot, you haven’t been properly acquainted yet. Boys, meet River Tam. River, this is Fanty and Mingo.” River curtsied gracefully before the two brothers who nervously laughed and adjusted their ties.

“Care to do some business?”


About an hour later, the three smugglers walked back out of the Maidenhead, each of them with giddy smiles all over their faces.

“Well, did I tell you or what? Told you my plan would work,” said Mal triumphantly.

“Hot damn, did it ever! This has got to be the best cut we’ve gotten since we knocked off that hospital,” whooped Jayne.

“And we owe it all to our little good luck charm here!” Mal hugged River tight and spun her around, causing River to giggle at the captain’s antics. He set her down and turned to Jayne. “Jayne, I want you to go out and find the best alcohol they got on this rock because tonight, I think we’ve earned the right for a little celebration!”

Mal threw his arm around River’s shoulder and held her close as they set off through the town, beaming happily. River nuzzled her head against Mal’s coat, inhaling the smell of leather with just a trace of cologne residue buried in the coat. Suddenly, they passed a man on the street, who wheeled around and stared wide-eyed at River for a moment before fixing an enraged glare on his face and setting off after them.

“Hey, stop right there! Hey, you!”

Mal, River and Jayne all halted and turned to face the man. He was a young-ish man, around Simon’s age but was a good deal more muscular than her brother. He pointed angrily at River who clutched herself tighter against Mal for protection from the man seething down on them.

“I remember you! You’re that bitch who went nuts in the Maidenhead a few months back! You kicked my girlfriend down the stairs, breaking her back and paralyzing her! You’re gonna pay for that!” the man seethed.

Before the man could do anything though, Jayne and Mal both whipped out their pistols and aimed them straight at the man’s face. He stopped dead in his tracks as the crowd around them immediately dispersed, not wanting to get caught up in the imminent violence.

“Now look,” Mal said calmly, “we are genuinely sorry for what happened to your girlfriend. But you aren’t going to lay a finger on our pilot here without more than a few gunshot wounds in you. So, I’ll tell you what, we’ve recently gotten a windfall of money and we’d like to chip in to help pay for your girlfriend’s medical bills. In exchange, you don’t harm our crew. That fair enough for you?”

The man stiffened as he glared between Mal and Jayne but with two big-ass guns pointing at his face, he smartly realized that the option they were giving him was the only one they were going to take. “Fine,” he growled. “When do I get the money?”

“We have a job to do on Three Hills and will be back here shortly to collect our payment. Once we get paid, we’ll come find you and cut you in on some of it. What’s your name so we can find you again?”

“Name’s Riley Marsh.”

“Well Mr. Marsh, we’ll be seeing you in a few weeks time. Be sure to give your girlfriend our best.”

Riley tensely paused for a moment, thinking over his options before he nodded grimly and sulked off. Mal and Jayne holstered their weapons and set back off towards Serenity. River was so grateful for Mal saving her once more that she didn’t even sense Riley reaching into his coat and drawing his own gun. But Mal somehow felt it and as Riley wheeled around and aimed at River, Mal shoved her forcefully into Jayne as the gun fired. The bullet caught Mal in the back of his right shoulder and Mal crumpled to the ground as blood immediately started flowing from the wound.

“NO!!!” River screamed as Mal fell. In an instant, River felt her killer instinct conditioning switch on and the urge to destroy Riley Marsh overwhelmed her. Riley took aim at her once more but River leapt out of the path of the bullet like a cat. In a flash, River was charging at Riley, who didn’t look particularly fearsome at the moment, but instead looked scared out of his mind as River ran full speed at him. River leaped at Riley and tackled him to the ground, causing him to drop his gun. Riley tried to get back to his feet but River quickly kicked him as hard as she could in the face, hearing his nose shatter from the blow. As Riley clutched at his face in pain, River swung an axe kick down to the back of his neck, knocking him back to the ground.

Slowly River walked over to Riley’s gun and picked up, training it on its owner who was cowering before her and groaning in pain. For a moment, she glanced over to Mal who was being tended to by Jayne and a few random people on the street. Seeing that he was going to be taken care of, River focused her cold gaze back to Riley who was begging for mercy. River merely responded by shaking her head at him and promptly shooting him in his left knee. Riley screamed out loudly in pain and grabbed at his leg. But River wasn’t done with him just yet and shot him in his other knee. Riley howled out again but before he could do much else, River flipped the gun over and smashed Riley in the temple with the butt of the gun. Riley was knocked out instantly as River just stood menacingly over the severely beaten man.

“You deserve this,” River breathed. “You tried to take him from me, now you’ll suffer.”

“River! We gotta get him back to the ship! Let’s go!” Jayne yelled out.

At that, River snapped out of her trance and her fear for Mal rushed back. She dropped the gun and ran over to Mal who was lying unconscious in the street. River helped Jayne carefully heft Mal’s body over Jayne’s shoulder and he quickly carried his captain back to where Serenity was docked while River cleared a path up ahead, sobbing silently the entire time as she ran.


When Mal finally woke up, the first thing he felt was a tiny hand, wrapped inside of his own. The second thing he felt was “Ow, my shoulder!” Doc must have short-changed him a bit on the painkiller. When he finally opened his eyes and let out a soft groan, the first thing he saw was River, sitting in a chair next to him with her hand wrapped around his. She looked a real wreck as her eyes were all puffed up from crying and she looked white as a sheet. But when she heard his groan, River scrambled to her feet and let out a huge sigh of relief before breaking out in fresh tears, these ones distinctly happier than the ones she’d been crying recently.

“Oh, ranci de Shang-di, I was so worried.” River sobbed.

“I miss the party?” Mal slurred, his tongue still a bit thick from not using it.

River rolled her eyes at him being concerned about the party above everything else but dismissed it as she wrapped her arms around his head and hugged him tightly against her. Mal tried to hug her back but pain shot through his upper body as he tried to sit up and he slumped down against the bed, grimacing in pain. River winced at his pain but tried to soothe him by gently stroking his forehead, which seemed to distract him from the pain efficiently enough.

“So, how long have I been out?”

“Two days. Nobody was in much of a party mood when we got you back. We’re on our way to Three Hills; we should be there in a few days time.”

“Oh. Well good, glad to hear it.”

River merely nodded and the two sat in silence for a few, uncomfortable moments. River finally broke the silence by whispering tearfully, “Why’d you let him do that?” “You mean to say you don’t already know?”

“All your head has been doing is crying out in pain. No real thoughts to be read.”

“Ah, well yeah, getting shot will cause thoughts like that from time to time.”

“Don’t joke, this is serious,” River cried, now sobbing again. “You nearly died. The bullet punctured your lung but thankfully missed any important arteries. But you were so lucky. Why’d you take that bullet for me?”

Mal was left speechless at the revelation that he nearly died. Sure, he’d faced death numerous times, especially at an alarming rate in the recent past, but this time felt different for him. Instead of just shrugging it off and plowing ahead like normal, it actually rattled him a bit. He was real close to losing River forever but he knew he couldn’t let her take that bullet. He couldn’t lose her, she was too gorram important to him. If he had to really think about it, he’d say he cared about her as much as Serenity herself. Serenity meant freedom for Mal, and now, so did River.

“River, I did it because I couldn’t let it happen to you. You’re too damn important to me. I can’t lose you again.”

“Again? When did you lose me before?”

“Back on Mr. Universe’s moon. When I came down that elevator and saw everyone there except you, I feared the worst had happened. It nearly killed me inside. But then those blast doors opened and there you were, and I was so rutting relieved. But I don’t want to feel that pain that I felt ever again. I’m not going to let anyone take you away from me, dong ma?”

River just sat on the edge of the infirmary bed listening to him, no longer crying but her lip was quivering a bit from emotion. Inside, her heart hammered with excitement, though. Could it be possible that she was wrong and this man really did deeply care for her?

“Yes, I understand, but I need you to understand something too,” whispered River. “I don’t want you to be taken away from me either. You’ve been my great protector. Simon may have broken me out and has been trying to make me better but you’ve been the one always coming to the rescue for me. You were even willing to risk everything to find the truth that everyone else just dismissed as my usual psychobabble. And now you’ve taken a bullet for me. You’ve kept me safe, whatever the cost and I can’t thank you enough for that.”

“Well, there’s one thing you could do for me. There’s something that’s been burning me up inside for the past few weeks now and I need to get an answer from you about it.”

River nodded as Mal struggled to sit up and looked her squarely in the eyes.

“That day back in the Maidenhead when the Alliance triggered you, you didn’t shoot me. You took out everyone with no regard whatsoever but you didn’t shoot me. Why not?”

River got a faraway look in her eyes as she tried to think back to that day and to what was going through her mind at that moment. She found the memory and smiled at her recollection. She then reached out and gently stroked Mal’s weathered cheek.

“Simple really. I saw you and everything inside me just screamed, “No, don’t do it!” Then Simon rushed in to really make double sure I couldn’t. You’re a strong enough presence in my life that the programming has no effect on you. I couldn’t shoot you because...”

River’s heart caught in her throat as she struggled to get out the last bit of reasoning, but for some reason, she couldn’t get herself to finish telling him that she loved him. After struggling for a moment to spit it out, she rolled her eyes and scoffed at herself and decided to opt for a more physical response. She leaned over on top of him, cradled his cheek in her hand and pressed her lips against his. Mal was taken a bit off guard but quickly melted into River’s kiss, softly kissing her back. Electricity flowed from their hearts to their lips where they met in a wild exchange, sending shockwaves through each other’s bodies as their kiss deepened. After what felt like an eternity but was probably only a few seconds, they amicably pulled apart and gazed deeply into each other’s eyes.

“I love you, Mal,” River finally said.

The full enormity of what River said coupled with the kiss crashed over Mal like a typhoon and he nearly drowned in it. The girl he secretly loved loved him back. For a brief moment, he considered jumping for joy but then he remembered back to his talk with Zoë on the bridge and him confessing he didn’t know if he could love anymore. Mal swallowed hard as he stared at River, noticing how her eyes appeared to be dancing.

“River, I’m not going to lie to you on this because I know that you’d just pull the truth out of my head anyway. So all I have to say is that what you just said means more than anything has said to me for a long, long time. But I don’t know if you should love me. Because I don’t know if I can love you back. I can care for you and protect you and keep you safe until my dying breath but I honestly don’t know if my heart is capable of love again.”

In an instant, River’s happiness crumbled and her eyes started to well up again. Noticing this, Mal quickly scrambled to head them off.

“That’s not to say that I don’t care for you because I think this wound in me right now is pretty compelling evidence that I do. I just don’t want you to get hurt by me. You’ve already gone through unspeakable horrors in your life and felt more pain than a hundred people will feel in their lifetimes. And I don’t want to contribute to that none. I’m not an ideal mate. I’m a bitter, depressed, broken, mean old man. Someone as good and wonderful as you doesn’t deserve someone as horribly damaged as me; you deserve someone whole and pure who can love you with all of their heart. Quite frankly, I’m not sure I even have an entire heart left to love with.”

At hearing this, River’s heart swelled again because she knew that Mal did indeed care for her in the way she wished. Now all she had to do was convince him he was good enough for her.

“Mal, pretty much the only way you could really hurt me is by rejecting my love. I have been through a lot but now that’s all in the past and I get a chance to be normal again. And I want to have the chance to be hopelessly in love with someone and the someone I want is you. When I came to Serenity, I was completely shattered but with your help, I’m nearly whole again. I’ve conquered most of my demons thanks to you. And I can help you conquer yours. I know you’re capable of love because I know you love this ship and me and everyone else that’s apart of it. And you may be older than me, but you’re not old; you’ve just got more life experiences than you bargained for. I know you’re afraid to love me but you have nothing to fear. I won’t hurt you and I know you won’t hurt me. So please Mal, give me a chance?”

River grabbed onto Mal’s hand and held it against her heart while gazing into his haunted eyes. She knew he was deep in thought but chose not to invade his thinking, wanting to hear the full truth of his words from him. Instead, she merely clutched her hands to his and placed gentle kisses on his fingers. Finally, Mal softly muttered “Simon...” River groaned and launched into another tirade.

“Don’t worry about Simon, Mal. He can’t keep a leash on me forever. I may be his mei-mei but I’m capable of making my own decisions and having my own desires. No doubt he’ll be upset but if he can’t accept that I love you then he can go kiss a baboon for all I care. Nobody is going to keep me from being with you.”

“No,” Mal muttered, now pointing behind River with his good arm, “River, Simon’s standing right behind you.”

River’s eyes flew to the entrance to the infirmary to indeed find her brother standing there, looking as if he’d just been punched in the stomach. Behind him stood Kaylee, pressing her hand to her heart and beaming excitedly, joyous tears leaking from her eyes. River scrambled off the bed and backed up against the counter, feeling her face get very hot and knowing had she seen herself in a mirror, she’d have watched her face go from pale to beat-red at an alarming rate. Simon merely gaped his mouth open and closed, resembling a fish, a rather dazed, thunderstruck fish.

“Oh, Simon. Um, Captain’s awake now.” River said, nervously laughing as she wrung her hands nervously together.

“Yes...I can see that. Is this a bad time?” Simon finally asked, his voice oddly higher than usual.

“Oh no, not at all! I was just leaving to get back to the bridge,” River said quickly. She then bent over Mal, gave him a quick kiss on the cheek and whispered, “Think about it,” into his ear before saying loud enough for Simon to hear, “Good to have you back, Captain. Heal up now.”

And with that, River strode out of the infirmary, briefly tripping over the doorway as she went, trying her fastest to get the hell out of there with some shred of dignity left intact. As she passed Kaylee, the engineer flashed her a double thumbs-up which made River smile and blush more as she headed for the bridge. But first she made a quick stop by the dining room and took a look in the liquor cabinet. She came across a bottle of Kaylee’s homemade wine, popped the cork off and took a long draught straight from the bottle. She replaced the cork and bottle and shut the cabinet door before sitting down hard at the table, pressing her forehead into her hands.

“Oh, what in the world have I just gotten myself into?” River mused to herself before standing up and heading to the bridge, replaying the kiss she and Mal shared in her mind as she walked.


TRANSLATIONS: -niao-shi de liu mang: "piss-soaked sons of bitches" -ranci de Shang-di: "merciful God" -mei-mei: "little sister"


Saturday, May 23, 2009 1:25 AM


Very nice I liked the length of the chapter a lot more this time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009 7:52 PM


Thank you. I decided to take your advice and combine two of the chapters into one.

Monday, August 10, 2009 5:10 PM


Oh this was good.

Love how Simon interrupted them. Such a boob!


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