Summary:River isn't a little girl anymore, and Mal can't help but notice it. When Inara teaches her the way of the Companion, and River is forced to use that knoweldge on a job, Mal finally admits his feelings for the reader to himself.
Disclaimer: I DON’T OWN. REALLY. I DON’T. KEEP THOSE BIG GUYS WITH THE LAWSUITS AWAY FROM ME!!
Spoilers for Firefly and Serenity.
This is my first Serenity/Firefly oneshot, and definitely my first Mal/River, so please go easy on me and feedback is appreciated. Hope you all like it.
Her body was a nubile, flexible piece of artwork that never failed to fascinate him whenever the need for her special abilities presented itself. While he hated the thought of her putting herself in danger, he couldn’t help but watch in awe every time she fought as she twisted her body in ways no other human could, as she kicked, stabbed, and destroyed her opponents.
And she had only turned nineteen the other day.
Now, as he watched her in the yellow sundress Simon and Kaylee had bought her for her birthday, he couldn’t believe that this serenely smiling raven haired beauty was the same deadly weapon that the Alliance had created.
“Sir?” The tone suggested that this wasn’t the first time Zoë had tried to get his attention.
“Huh?” Tearing his gaze from River Tam, Mal Reynolds looked down at Zoë Washburn, his second-in-command and closest confident. It’d taken her a long time to get over Wash’s death on Miranda, but lately the shine had returned to her eyes, and she seemed more like the soldier with whom he’d fought with in Serenity Valley.
Blinking, he frowned, wondering what she was talking about.
An amused expression entered those dark eyes. “Today’s job is the twentieth consecutive one which we’ve completed without you being shot—stabbed—beaten up--.”
His hands shot up. “Okay, okay, I get it!”
Zoë smirked openly while Jayne, who’d been nearby, guffawed with laughter.
Sending a glare at the mercenary, Mal tried to look nonchalantly in River’s direction, and frowned when he realized that she wasn’t there anymore. Without giving Zoë or Jayne another thought, he stormed out of the room, looking around, frown darkening as he searched for his little Albatross--who wasn’t so little anymore.
“They’re going to be parents.”
Freezing in mid-step, Mal looked straight up and saw his query half hidden in one of the many hiding places she had on Serenity. “What’s that?” He asked, glad that he’d learnt early on during their coexistence to block her mind-reading ability--he was the only one on Serenity who could. It wouldn’t do for her to know of the scene that’d been playing over and over throughout his mind nowadays.
“Kaylee,” River whispered where she lay looking up above her, playing with an ebony curl. “I sense another within her.”
Mal blinked. Kaylee and the doc were going to be parents? “Do they know?”
She shook her head. “She’s too early along.” Turning, River looked down at him. “They’re going to be good parents.”
He smiled tenderly at her sincerity as she looked down at him with her big, brown, soulful eyes. After Miranda a weight seemed to have lifted from River Tam, and slowly she’d recuperated.
She’d never be the girl she’d been before the Alliance and the Academy had taken two years away from her, but she was saner, with more and more lucid moments, and she’d grown up on them all, becoming a woman far more beautiful than any of them had given her credit for.
And she’d learnt.
Jayne had once called her a deadweight--pure trouble and not a valuable member of the team--having no purpose, but that wasn’t so anymore.
River had proven her genius more than once.
She’d apprenticed under Zoë and helped whenever she was unable to do so, she’d learnt an impressive amount of medical knowledge from her brother—who at first had been most reluctant to teach his Mei-Mei anything, but she’d shown him that she was more stubborn than he, and now whenever he needed help or was injured River was the one he wanted by his side to help.
And with Kaylee she learnt how to take care of Serenity, how to pamper the ship and keep her in the air.
Her ‘reading’ abilities had grown drastically, and she could now control her powers as best as she ever would. Thanks to that she knew when someone would try to backstab them, and it was thanks to that that their jobs went smoother and smoother each day.
Mal himself had taught her to fly, and it was during those lessons the attraction he’d fought against for the girl before Miranda really blossomed into obsession. She was like a sponge, soaking in all he had to say, listening to his every word as if he was god, giving him a soft, enticing smile that made him want to forget that she was under aged and make love to her on the pilot’s seat.
It’d gotten harder when Inara had returned after one of her many extended stays on various planets and noticed what everyone else hadn’t—River wasn’t a little girl anymore.
The Companion had taken River aside and they hadn’t reappeared for days. Mal had been left to fly Serenity alone. Kaylee and Zoë (the only ones allowed in Inara’s shuttle) brought the women food and wouldn’t tell the men what was going on in there.
Jayne made a few crude suggestions about what the two hot women could be doing, but it’d earned him slaps on the back of his head and death glares.
When on the fourth day River and Inara reemerged, there was a glint of knowledge in the younger woman’s eyes, and while she refused to say what had gone on, they realized that she’d changed profoundly.
From that day on the ill-suited, formless clothes she’d been known to wear were discarded, and on the next planet she’d bought a new wardrobe with Inara’s help. She’d arrived with formfitting pants and shirts that showed off her enviable chest. And the dresses--the dresses were sheer temptation.
It hadn’t been until their next job that the males of Serenity discovered what had been going on in Inara’s shuttle.
The deal had gone well, but when they’d been caught in their ‘acquiring’ of a certain gem their contractor wanted they’d faced execution. All seemed lost, not even River could fight off the numberless amounts of guards sent the keep an eye on them and hadn’t even tried to.
The young woman had caught the eye of the man they’d tried stealing from, and insisting that she didn’t care if the others lived or died, she’d seduced him with soft whispers, sly glances through her thick, dark eyelashes, and seductive promises of what she could do for him if he spared her life.
Mal had wanted to kill him for looking at River that way, and the captain of Serenity had shook at his bars in rage when the man led River away.
Two hours had passed when the door to the dungeons opened once more and River walked in, blood covering her dress and coldness in her usually warm eyes. The keys that’d been on their captor were now in her right hand and the gem they’d come for in her left. She’d quickly and silently let them out of their cells.
She’d been silent as she led them out through a secret tunnel to the surface, all the while Zoë was close to her, hand on her shoulder protectively and also as a gesture of support.
Mal had waited until they were aboard Serenity and safely in the air, leaving the planet behind, before locking River and he inside the cockpit and interrogating her on what exactly had happened after she’d been taken by the man.
When River had looked up at Mal and calmly told him that she’d fucked the man, and then using a serum she’d created had gotten information from him before killing him on the bed while he was still within her.
She hadn’t been able to understand his anger, his fury.
He’d told her that to a woman her virginity was sacred, that she shouldn’t have given it away so freely and for a reason like that, and then when she’d softly told him that that hadn’t been her first time…that it’d been taken away from her years ago while at the Academy, his fury had been untamable.
He’d locked himself in his room for days without eating or allowing anyone to see him. The whole time Mal spent getting over his grief and murderous anger, and, he’d finally admitted to himself that while he would have been furious if any of the women onboard Serenity had gone through what River had he’d have been furious, it killed him because it was River, and that she meant a lot more to him than he’d wanted to fool himself into believing.
When he’d reemerged from his room he’d gone about things as if nothing had happened, but everyone could sense the shift in him, in his mannerisms with River, in the way he watched her longingly whenever he thought no one was looking.
Simon had wanted to pulverize the captain when he’d finally caught unto what was going on--but Kaylee had threatened him with sleeping in his old room and he hadn’t dared risk her making good on that threat.
“Sometimes I wonder if my parents knew about the Academy.” There was a soft thud as she landed on her feet in front of him. The young woman tilted her head to the side, no emotion on her face other than pure, innocent curiosity. “Did they know what the Blue Hands were doing and not care?”
“I doubt it, lil Albatross.” Mal smiled at her, remembering her shock when he’d ordered her to forget everything Inara had ever taught her about the ways of the Companion. That’d been the first and only time River had ever disobeyed him and openly told him to mind his own business.
Of course, she hadn’t realized that he’d decided that she was his, and thus his business as well.
“What do you think they’ll name him?”
“Who?” Had she said something while he was lost in his thoughts.
“Simon and Kaylee.” River smiled at him, as if surprised that he didn’t know what she was talking about. “What do you think they’ll name the boy?”
“It’s goin’ ta be a boy?” Mal asked in surprise, following her as she began walking towards the cockpit.
Amazed at the woman by his side, Mal sent her a crooked grin. “Dunno what name they’ll inflict on the kid.”
“What do you want to call our children?” River asked innocently. “We’ll have three, so we should really give it some thought from now, don’t you think?”
Malcolm froze when what she said registered. His eyes grew wide and a dark blush covered his cheeks.
She gave him a curious look, as if wondering what had him blushing.
Giving a little shrug, the young, raven haired woman walked passed him to the cockpit and sat on her seat, grabbing hold of Serenity’s controls and taking her off of auto pilot. She then proceeded to ignore him and began conversing with Serenity, giggling as if the ship had answered something quite witty to her.
Mal watched her and a small, tender smile lit his features.
Three children, huh?
Grinning, he joined his reader, the woman he was going to make his, and smiled as he looked out at the Black. He had his woman and his ship, what else could a man ask for?