|The Wizard of Odd, and other stories
Author: Michmak PM
Six short ficlets of the MalRiver variety the first of one hundred. hopefullyRated: Fiction K+ - English - Mal & River - Words: 3,154 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 5 - Published: 11-04-05 - id: 2646813
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I signed up for Joss100, which basically means I have a prompt table with 100 words, and from that table I need to write 100 stories in the Mal / River pairing and each needs to be between 100 -1000 words.These will hopefully follow theprompt table in sequential order (although I might deviate, who knows?) and will also - HOPEFULLY - progressand make one larger story. Nuts, right? Yes, I thought so. Never fear, however - I am still going with the Jayne /River series I am writing (don't ask how I can do two ships for the same series - I'm trying to expand my horizons...LOL) I am also working on a few unfinished Harry Potter stories and expect to have something posted for them next week as well.
In the mean time, if these suck, let me know. If you want you can check out my LJ writwritewrote, where I will also be posting all current stories and archiving all my older stuff.
Anyway, here are the first six.
Prompt: 001 – Dreams (list 2)
Word Count: 211
Summary: What color is crazy?
The Wizard of Odd
"She dreams in color," River whispers, "and wonders what it means."
"Huh?" Mal starts slightly at her words. They've been sitting in companionable silence for so long he'd almost forgotten she was there. Turning slightly in his seat, he glances at the girl flying Serenity.
"She dreams in color," River repeats. "For the longest time, all her dreams were blue. Blue Sun, blue hands, cold blue pain and sorrow. Then they were red, tingeing everything in blood. The red dreams were anger and loss. But now the dreams are different, like a rainbow. The blue is warm now, like a lake and the red is hot, like love. There are other colors too – pink for happiness and green for life. So many colors; all of them hers. She wonders what it means."
"I think it means you're happy," Mal offers, after a moment. "You ain't scared no more."
The girl nods at this, "She's made it to Oz and everything is so shiny. The wicked witch is dead and the ruby shoes will take her home."
The Captain just looks at her blankly for a moment, before shaking his head and asking in his teasing voice, "What color is crazy?"
"You should know," River replies. "You're still in Kansas."
Prompt: 002 – Nightmares (list 2)
Word Count: 448
Summary: "She will be your dream catcher and lend you a rainbow, if you will let her."
He wakes in a cold sweat, his voice ripping at his throat, trying to escape. Sitting straight up in his bunk, he reaches blindly for something to hold on to before he realizes nothing is there.
It's the same every night. If he's not dreaming of Serenity Valley, he's dreaming of Miranda. If he's not reliving Wash's death, he's imagining other members of his crew pinned to their seats with large wooden harpoons through their chests. No one looks pretty when they die.
Sighing, he slides to his feet and decides a walk 'round the ship might be in order – just to make sure everything is okay.
He can hear Kaylee's soft laughter coming from the engine room. This is followed by a squeal and a sigh, and the unintelligible mumble of Doc's voice. Zoë's bunk is silent, and Jayne is snoring so loudly in his Mal is surprised the rest of the crew even manages to sleep at all. His mind drifts briefly to River, who still sleeps in the guest bunks. He wonders what colors she's dreaming about tonight and hopes, whatever they are, they're making her happy.
He decides a strong cup of coffee is in order; as he don't think he'll get anymore sleep tonight. Instead, he'll sit in the cockpit and watch the stars drift by.
River is in the kitchen when he walks in, and he looks at her in surprise.
"What are you doing up, little albatross?" he asks. "Ain't it a bit late for you?"
She shrugs and smiles at him, "He needed coffee to chase away the nightmares. She thought she would make some for him."
He grunts at her in surprise and frowns as she indicates the cup steaming on the table, in front of the chair he normally sits in.
"What do you know about my dreams, girl?"
"She knows they hurt him," River replies, "and she remembers what nightmares are like."
"Ain't nothing a cup of coffee will cure," he sighs as he sits down and lifts his cup. The hot, bitter taste of it burns away the edges of the dreams and he sighs again.
"Coffee won't cure," the girl agrees, "but companionship might. She will be your dream catcher and lend you a rainbow, if you will let her."
"I don't know what that means, little albatross. All I know is I'm awake and you're awake and this coffee is good and strong and warms a man up. Can't remember what I was even dreaming on, to tell you the truth. It all seems to be fading from my mind."
River beams at him, "She's doing a good job then."
"Yes she is," he replies gently.
Prompt: 003 – Daydreams (list 2)
Word Count: 652
Summary: Mal thinks that River is a little girl. At least, he likes to pretend he thinks that.
River is sitting on the catwalk, arms over the railing and legs under, doing nothing in particular. From his position down in the cargo bay she ain't too hard to miss. She's wearing one of Kaylee dresses again – the pink one – and her feet are bare. The neck on the dress is just a little large and has slid down her collar bone and off of one shoulder, leaving it bare as well. She's got one hand propping up her head and her long legs are swinging rhythmically back and forth.
He stops to watch her, distracted by the movement of her pale limbs. He's gonna have to talk to Simon about the way she continues to walk around the ship without the proper amount of clothes on. The thought don't thrill him none.
For one thing, she's Doc's sister – not his. He shouldn't have to worry about her lack of proper clothing. Doc gets his fair share of all the jobs they do and since River is becoming a purt-good pilot, she's getting a share now as well. Buying clothes that fit her shouldn't be no great hardship. Doc sure don't seem to be lacking in them futzy vests he wears, although his starched white shirts ain't so starched or white no more.
For another thing, he feels like a dirty old man for even noticing her lack of clothes that fit proper. He shouldn't be looking at her shoulders or her arms or her long, supple legs. She's just a girl, gorramit - a girl in his keeping - and she's just a mite crazy to boot. Don't matter none that she's eighteen and legally an adult on all the planets in the 'verse. Ain't years that make you an adult any – it's experience. And he has too much 'a that and she – well, she ain't got none.
But those legs 'a hers sure do look strong. They don't belong to no little girl that he ever knew of. And the look she sometimes gets on her face, when she's happy and thinking on things that please her, well – she don't look like a little girl then neither.
And she ain't such a little girl that he don't appreciate her company on the many nights he can't sleep and his dreams send him to the kitchen for a hot cup 'a coffee. He don't think she's a little girl when he sees her, sitting at the table and smiling at him, his drink already steaming in front 'a his chair.
He wonders if any one other than him thinks on her like this. Is he the only one that sees her becoming a woman; shedding her little girl aura a tiny bit more every day as her confidence comes back to her?
He knows he's caught Jayne staring at her a time or two and it weren't too hard to see the big Merc was thinking on things he oughtn't 'a. He doesn't really like the fact that he seems to have something in common with the man, other than a general propensity for trouble and shooting things.
As if conjured by his musings, Jayne steps beside him. "Somethin' wrong, Mal? Ears still ringin' from that last gun fight? I been askin' if'n ya would spot me for near 'bout ten minutes now."
He stops talking suddenly and leers, "Damn, that girl's gotta have the finest set 'a stems I ever did see. Wonder what they'd feel like wrapped 'round my waist."
Mal turns to him and scowls, "Doc'd kill you if he ever heard you talk like that about his mei-mei. Besides, she's just a little girl."
"Admirin' and doin' is two different things. A man's allowed to daydream," Jayne responds. "'Sides, from where I'm standin', she's lookin' mighty grown up to me."
As he follows the larger man over to the weight bench, Mal mutters under his breath, "That's what I'm afraid of."
Prompt: 004 – Emotions (list 2)
Word Count: 791
Summary: Mal is thinking maybe the Ancient Mariner didn't have it so bad.
Doc hated it when he took River with him on jobs, which was one 'a the reasons Mal liked to take her. The younger man, all het up about his mei-mei's safety, tickled his funny-bone something fierce. Despite all the evidence indicating otherwise, Simon still seemed to think River was gonna get shot on one 'a their little excursions or come back hurt, somehow. He seemed to forget the girl was a xiong-can sha-shou, something which had been more useful than not on more occasions than he liked to admit.
'Course, the fact that she could out-fight and out-shoot anyone else he'd ever seen before was one 'a the other reasons he took the girl on jobs now. She was handy to have around when things got tetchy. For one thing, she always knew when the job was gonna go tits up and people were gonna start trying to kill 'em and that was useful. Advance warning was always kinda nice. For another thing, when she went into full-on fight-mode there weren't nothing that could beat her. She made kicking ass a thing of grace and beauty and Mal just liked to watch her move.
Mainly, though, he took her 'cause he didn't really trust anyone else but him to keep her safe. He realized this was a bit of a contradiction in thinking – if anything, she kept him and Zoe and Jayne safe – but he couldn't help it. When he looked at her he saw a fragile girl in need a someone to shelter and protect her.
It was the way his brain was hard-wired and she didn't do much to try to convince him of anything different. When she fought she fought hard, but when she was finished she was well and truly finished. She'd turn to him and just look at him like she was in some kinda trance, men piled around her where they'd fallen. He'd go to her and wrap an arm around her and gently lead her away, almost as if he was trying to shield her from what she'd done. It was just the way things were.
Jayne would always snort something along the lines 'a 'What are ya tryin' to protect her from? She's the one done this, so it ain't like she ain't already seen it.'
Zoë would just look at him all assessing-like and gather their pay before climbing up on the mule. 'Good thing she was with us,' she'd sometimes say, ' or that would have gone down a whole lot different, Sir.'
When they'd get back to Serenity, Doc'd always make a big fuss over the girl but she'd just smile at him and say she was fine. Then Doc'd say, 'Anyone need any stitches? Bullets removed? Bones set? Anything?', and they'd all shake their heads no. Ain't no one got hurt when River was with them. Today's job weren't no different.
Later that night, they're sitting around the table after dinner filling Kaylee and Simon in on what had happened during the course 'a retrieving their pay. 'Your feng le sister saved our hides again,' Jayne is laughing. 'She's gonna make havin' a Doc on board this boat redundant. She's a gorram good-luck charm, is what she is!'
And while Kaylee offers to teach Simon everything she knows 'bout engineering in case the doctoring ever dwindles down to nothing, River looks up at him and smiles. 'Little Albatross,' she whispers under her breath, pointing to herself as if she is sharing a secret with him.
'I know it,' he whispers back.
Still later, while everyone else is sleeping, he meets her in the kitchen. The coffee is bitter and hot as he drinks, just the way he likes it.
They sit together and don't say anything, and he forgets she's still just a girl and he's the man who runs this boat; the man old enough to be her father. He drinks his coffee slowly and enjoys the stillness and the sound of her breathing. Eventually, though, he's finished. She gets up and he puts his mug in the sink and they both head to their bunks in opposite directions of the ship, on the off chance a peaceful sleep might be waiting for them.
Just before she leaves, though, she turns to him and whispers, 'He prayeth best, who loveth best / All things both great and small; / For the dear God who loveth us/ He made and loveth all.'
He thinks on what she said as he slowly makes his way to his room and he realizes she ain't so wrong. She's given him something to believe in again.
For that, he loves her.
xiong-can sha-shou – ass-kicking killer
feng le – crazy
A/N Redux: River's quote at the end taken from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Title: First Impressions: Simon
Prompt: 005 – Emotions (list 2)
Word Count: 263
Summary: First impressions are hard to forget
First Impressions: SIMON
He remembers the first time he thought to go looking in that big shiny box 'a the Doc's. Weren't but five, maybe ten minutes, since the younger man had finished patching Kaylee up from a gut shot. Mal's anger had been running so hot he was surprised he hadn't exploded.
They weren't even sure Kaylee was gonna live yet and Mal had looked at the Doc, standing there healthy and whole, and had vowed to himself the man wouldn't live two seconds more'n Kaylee – if'n she died. The Doc had done a good job, patching her up – Mal could admit that – but she wouldn't 'a been shot in the first place, t'weren't for him. And he had threatened to just let her die. At the time, he had wondered what could possible turn a sissy-Core boy like the Doc into a murderer and he had aimed to find out.
He remembers Simon's panicked look when he realized what Mal was gonna do. The Doc had chased after him to the cargo bay, but there weren't much he could do to stop the older man from opening the box, what with the hold Jayne had on him.
The anger that had already been burning him away went super-nova when the top opened to reveal a little girl, folded up on herself and naked as the day she was born.
He had turned to Simon, shaking, accusing him of all manner of unspeakable things and had known – sure as shooting – he was gonna kill the man.
And then the girl in the box had screamed.
Prompt: 005 – Emotions (list 2)
Word Count: 283
Summary: First impressions are hard to forget.
First Impressions: RIVER
She had been shaking with fear, shaking with the cold of the cryo-tank. Her skin had been blue and her eyes haunted. Her cries chilled him to the bone. Without the heat of his anger to sustain him, he had felt momentarily bereft.
He remembers the way Doc had held her, the both of them crying, as the younger man had tried to convince her she was safe. It hadn't been what he'd thought – the girl was his sister – and wo de ma, something bad had surely happened to her.
He'd tried not to allow himself be affected by the Tams' plight. He had his own people to see to and the Doc and his sis had brought nothing but trouble to them. Little Kaylee shot, the Alliance on their tail, a cargo bay full of contraband and a Fed held prisoner in the back. Ain't none 'a that would 'a happened if'n if weren't for Simon choosing his ship to ride on - none of it, 'cepting the contraband in the cargo bay. He had decided they were getting off in Whitefall and then tried to ignore the way his conscience niggled at the thought.
But the girl – River – had been so scared. And the thought 'a what those Alliance hun dan mighta done to her had left him cold.
He wasn't gonna let them stay, but things had a way of sneaking past him when he weren't expecting it. His ship needed a doctor and the Tams needed to run. And that's they only reason he didn't boot kick them out.
The memory of the girl in the box, naked and blue and shaking from shock and cold, had nothing to do with his decision.