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Disclaimer: Everything belongs to Joss
Rating: PG
Spoilers: The movie Serenity

Walking With The Dead

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Inara knelt beside the med-cot where Mal was muttering in his sleep. His wounds had been treated and the Alliance medic had given him a strong smoother to ease his pain, but it would be weeks before he recovered completely from his fight with the Operative.

“Shhhh, you’re going to be all right,” the dark-haired Companion whispered as she gently stroked his cheek.

“He is walking with the dead, and now there are three new bodies added to those he has already lost.” River Tam spoke quietly from her hiding place in the shadows. Inara hadn’t seen the young girl in the darkened corner watching over the wounded crew of Serenity. “The Captain is cold, and so are you. Share your body heat to make his journey more bearable and ease your pain as well.”

“River…” Inara shook her head trying to deny the gush of feelings that had been threatening to erupt from the moment the Operative had shown up at the Training House demanding her help contacting Malcolm Reynolds.

“It’s what you both want and need.” The girl backed away sliding gracefully though a hidden slit in the tent.

The ghostly words, which River left behind, washed away the last of Inara’s control and sent tears coursing down her face. With hands that shook she pulled aside Mal’s blanket and lay down beside him, careful not to jar any of his wounds.

The Tam girl had been right, Inara was cold. Her skimpy pants and revealing top were perfect for marksmanship contests on the Core Worlds, but did nothing to protect her in a real battle on an almost dead moon. She’d only chosen the outfit because it allowed her to move freely and quickly while shooting her powerful bow. She’d never believed any of them would survive the Reaver’s attack, and she’d taken a perverse pleasure in knowing that when she died she would do so elegantly attired.

‘Just this once,’ she promised herself as she pulled the blanket over them and rested her cheek against Mal’s shoulder. ‘Just this once I’ll hold him as I’ve wanted to for so very long.’ As her tears continued to fall, her eyes drooped and she fell asleep surrounded by the feel and scent of Malcolm Reynolds.
It was an old dream, and in recent years Mal had trained himself to wake-up rather than follow it through to its conclusion, but tonight, his drug-fogged mind prevented it. There was nothing he could do but walk the hills surrounding Serenity Valley. There were bodies everywhere and the air smelled of rotted flesh and death. In the distance he saw Zoe slumped against a large rock.

“Zoe, what the ruttin’ hell are you doing here?” He limped toward her, his eye bloody and the wound in his side from the Operative’s sword throbbing. “Only the dead live here.”

She watched him approach with blank eyes, never blinking as tears ran down her face.

“Oh, tianna, I’m sorry,” he whispered when he saw she was cradling her dead husband’s body tightly in her arms. Three feet away Shepherd Book lay gut-shot, still bleeding from the mouth and Mr. Universe was sprawled in the distance, a gaping wound in his side.

“Nothin’ to be sorry 'bout, the dead die when they’re supposed to,” she whispered as she rocked Wash’s body and held him close. “There, there my love, I’m right here, right beside you and I’m not leaving, not yet.”

“But you gotta,” Mal argued. “You gotta take care ‘a your own self, only the dead live here.”

“Part of me is dead.” Zoe rested her cheek against Wash’s.

“No!” Mal choke as a new stench filled the air. He didn’t think he could face one more death.

“Shhhh, you’re going to be all right,” Inara’s soft voice filled his ears and he could feel her hand as it stroked his cheek. Then her body slid against his side generating warmth and peace.

“’Nara?” he looked into her beautiful face and was surprised to discover tears filling her eyes and running down her cheeks. With some difficulty he pulled her into his arms and held her against him. “I’ve never seen you cry before.”

“That’s because you never looked.” She held him tighter and wiped her damp cheek against his shirt. “I came to help you find your way out of here.” She nodded to the surrounding death. “Will you let me help you?”

Mal leaned on her and felt joy as he buried his face in her hair, her clean womanly scent blocking out the stench of death.

“Please, Mal, let me in.”

He gripped her tightly and they took two steps before he hesitated. “I can’t leave Zoe.”

“Yes you can, she needs time to grieve.” They turned toward the first-mate and saw her sitting on the ground holding her dead husband, but where before the couple had been surrounded by bodies, now there were wild profusions of poppies growing.

Mal and Inara began the long trek out of Serenity Valley and with each step they took the circle of poppies widened until they were surrounded by a sea of color.
As the couple slept, neither were aware of River Tam’s reappearance beside their cot, or the smile on her face as she rested one hand on Mal and the other on Inara. Through her they dreamed the same dream. Through her they found a moment of peace in all the death of the last days and with luck she had finally put them on the same path.

The end, though my story ‘Becoming ‘Nara’ dovetails with this one. The first third of that story would be before and the last 2/3rds after.



Latest Month

September 2012


The moving finger writes: and having writ Moves on. nor all your piety nor wit Shall lure it back to cancal half a line, Nor all your tears wash out a word of it...The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

If I quiet the voices in my head, I would face the day with nothing to write. - Unknown

I must go down to the seas again the lonely sea and sky...J Masefield

Cinderella walked on broken glass,
Sleeping beauty let a whole lifetime pass.
Belle fell in love with a hideous beast,
Jasmine married a common thief.
Ariel walked on land for love and life,
Snow white barely escaped a knife.
It was all about blood, sweat, and tears.
Because love means facing your biggest fears

The heart has its reasons that reason knows nothing of...French Proverb

I have drempt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after. They've gone through me like wine through water and altered the colour of my mind ...E. Bronte

To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage...Lao Tzu

It takes chaos to give birth to a dancing star ..F. Nietzsche

How many loved your moments of glad grace, and loved your beauty with love false or true? But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you, and loved the sorrows of your changing face...Yeats

Let us go, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky...T. S. Eliot

In that book which is my memory, on the first page of the chapter, that is the day when I first met you, appears the words, "here begins a new life".
La Vita Nuova

Midnight courage of the heart...Jen Kirkwood

The three o-clock in the morning courage which Bonaparte thought was the rarest...Thoreau

Did you say it? I love you; I don't ever want to live without you; you changed my life. Did you say it?
Make a plan, set a goal, work toward it, but every now and then, look around, drink it in, 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow. - Meredith Grey

Shakespeare is easy, life is hard...Wheels

Don't try to be a great man, just be a man. Let history make up its own mind...Z.Cochron

I had a job to do and I was unafraid...Jack to John Creighton

For I dipt into the future, as far as the human eye could see. Saw the vision of the world, and the wonders that can be...RWW Hipwell

Without diviation from the norm, progress is impossible...F. Zappa

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea, In a beautiful pea-green boat: They took some honey and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five-pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar...E Lear

Sweet and low, sweet and low, Wind of the western sea, Low, low, breathe and blow, Wind of the western sea! Over the rolling waters go, Come from the dying moon and blow, Blow him again to me;... Tennison

Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn... Keats

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