Based on: "Dusk and Summer" by Dashboard Confessional

Summary: Mal and River go away together for the night. Warning! Sad ending.

That smile. It was one of her huge smiles that lights up the 'verse better than ten thousand suns. She danced down the dirt road like she owned the rock. If he could, he'd give it to her. He'd buy her the entire planet, hell the entire cluster of planets and moons on this side of the border. He could tell by the way she skipped that she felt like she owned it already. She owned everything she touched, including him.

He followed behind her slowly, treasuring the time they got away from the ship and planet-side. It was a nice enough rock. The beaches were amazing. That's all River talked about as she flew them there. She loved beaches. She couldn't wait to dance barefoot in the wet sand. So, he decided to go away for a night with her. What a good decision it was. She was so radiant, even when the sky was dark with a storm brewing. He couldn't take his eyes off of her. He rarely could these days.

She ran through the sand laughing. He stopped to admire the sight. She spun around with her arms outstretched. He loved to see her so carefree and happy. The summer rain came. It was warm and refreshing. She laughed again, basking in the large drops. Her eyes met his with sparks he couldn't even begin to comprehend. She pointed towards the breezeway connecting both sides of their hotel, stilling smiling that breathtaking smile. He smiled and met her under the tin roof.

She grabbed him by his suspenders lightly and then pulled him towards her. She kissed him, gently biting his lower lip. He laughed and pulled her into his arms. She set her head on his chest contentedly.

"I don't need a planet," she said into his shirt.

"Why's that, darlin'?" he murmured against her hair. She pulled away and looked up at him.

"I have you."

He grinned. "That you do…that you do…"

She took his hand and pulled him towards a hammock that floated above the ground. They climbed on it together. He put his arms around her, bringing her closer to his chest. She looked at him, delving into his mind. She didn't do it often, since it was an invasion of his privacy. He didn't mind it mostly. He was happy, really happy. She saw everything as she looked deeply into his eyes. He knew that she was reading him. He just smiled and directed all of his love at her. She beamed and nuzzled into his neck. They listened to the rain and their steady breathing.

"Mal…" she whispered.

"River…" he replied, setting his cheek against hers.

"We should go to our room."

"Music to my ears, little one."

She pulled him out of the hammock and they went up to their room. He had his arm around her and she had her arms around his waist. They were laughing the entire way. It wasn't a big room, but it had a balcony looking out over the ocean. She walked out and stood on the covered balcony enjoying the summer air. He wrapped his arms around her waist, kissing the nape of her neck softly. She turned around in his arms. Their lips met in a sweet, soft kiss. He deepened it passionately. They stumbled into the room, not even bothering to shut the door. The curtains blew gently in the wind. Her sand-covered and rain-drenched dress pooled on the floor and soon the rest of their clothes joined it.

He fell into her arms with a smile. He let his fingers slide up and down across her stomach while he rested his head on her shoulder. Her arm was draped across his, and she caressed his face with her other hand.

"Had enough of me yet?" she asked with a smile.

"Nowhere near."

His lips found hers. His hair was such a mess. She smoothed it down carefully with her hand. She kissed his cheek, his jaw, and his neck before her lips accidentally landed on his teeth. He closed his mouth over hers, muffling a giggle. She pulled away from him so she could look into those blue eyes.

She healed him. Her touch, her eyes, her smile. They were the only thing he needed to chase away the demons. He was whole again, even more whole than before the war. She made him better than he had ever been before.

She put her arms around his broad shoulders and kissed his cheek by his ear.

"I can say the same."

He smiled again. Then he pulled her on top of him so he could wrap his arms around her.

"I love you, little one."

He swallowed her, "I love you too" with an open mouthed kiss.

They stayed in bed for awhile longer. He sat up against the headboard and she curled up in his lap. He gently stroked her head, occasionally playing with her soft hair. He could tell something was bothering her when her breathing pattern changed.

"What's wrong, darlin'?"

"I use to go to the beach when I was a girl. Arms outstretched, wings ready to graze the sky. They clipped my wings, but you taught me how to fly again."

If he could, he'd go back and keep them from hurting her. He hated the Alliance even more for what they do to her. She was just a girl.

"No, it's okay. It brought me to you…" she said softly.

"Well that's a good way of lookin' at things. Let's enjoy our vacation."

"Nobody here can live forever, quiet in the grasp of dusk and summer…" she muttered, trying not to cry.

He brought her into his arms and brushed back some of her hair so he could look into her eyes.

"You're in my grasp darlin'. I ain't ever gonna let go."

She put her arms around him, hanging on for dear life. He didn't know what had gotten her so upset. She was so happy earlier in the day.

"No one is alone the way you are alone…" she whispered to herself.

"What did you say, little one?"

She shook her head against him. "Nothing."

They stayed like that for a short amount of time until she was back to her earlier state of complete happiness.

He tenderly rubbed her back and kissed her temple. "Now let's enjoy this time away from pryin' eyes."

"What do you suggest, Captain?" she asked mischievously.

"I think you know."

"I don't have to be a reader to figure it out."

They enjoyed their night away from the ship together. It wasn't a secret that they were together, but Simon still wasn't completely okay with it. They tried to remain inconspicuous, but considering the ship is only so big and the crew is only so small it was a mite tricky.

They had to go back to the ship the next day. They got their things together and walked back to the docks, hand in hand.

"Days like that should last forever," he sighed. She moved closer to him.

"They should."

After arriving they both got a hug from Kaylee, an evil stare from Simon, a nod from Zoe, and several off color jokes from Jayne. Then it was back to business. They had to meet up with a new client and make the deal. River didn't have the best feeling about it.

She went with them, but she always went with them these days. She knew the second they met the client things would go pear-shaped. She tugged on Mal's sleeve nervously.

"What is it?" he whispered, turning away from the man called Wheeler.

"He's not planning on letting us walk away with the money."

Mal nodded and turned back around. "Well Wheeler, what can we do to make thi-"


River looked down at her gut. Blood seeped through her pink dress. She looked up at Mal.

"Mal…" she said quietly as she fell to the ground. He fell beside her, ignoring the firefight Jayne and Zoe were dealing with. He took River's hand, applying pressure to the wound with his other.

"You gotta hang on. I'll get you to the ship and Simon will fix you up, no problem."

"Quiet in the grasp of dusk and summer…" she said softly.

"I told you darlin', you're in my grasp and I ain't gonna lose you."

"You've already lost!" Wheeler shouted over the gunfire, but he was talking about the fight. Talk about timing.

Mal pulled his gun out and shot him without a second look and then looked back down at River.

"Hang on…hang on…" he repeatedly choked out. He scooped her up and ordered Jayne and Zoe to follow him. They were going back home.

They made it and Simon got to work on River. She looked up at Mal with that smile.

"Days like that should last and last and last."

He smiled back. "They should."

Her smile faded and then her hand slid from his grasp.

You've already lost, but you only had barely enough of her to hang on…hang on…hang on…

The end

Sorry the ending is so sad. That's the song though. So don't kill me. Thanks for reading! Reviews make my gorram day! :D