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Title: Spatial Harmonies, 5 / 10
Fandom: Firefly/Serenity
Pairing(s): Mal/River
Rating: I’m going to say rough PG.
Word Count: 1, 498
Songs: One Song, Glory – RENT; Losing My Religion -- REM

Mal stumbled his way down the hall in a bit of a daze. One night, not even a full night, and it seemed that everyone was all about feelings. The worst secrets that everyone had tried to keep hidden from everyone else, seemed to be bursting out into full bloom. Mal was a prime example. Quite frankly, he just wanted the music to stop.


Mal glanced up, mildly stunned. “Sheppard. Can I help you with something?”

Sheppard Book was standing at the end of the halfway, looking at Mal with a curious expression, a cup of warm drink in his hands. “Just thought you looked a little like a lost soul, is all. Something on your mind?”

“Nothing worth discussing Sheppard,” Mal said quietly, looking away from the Sheppard and back down the hall in the direction he was going. “’Sides, I thought you were leaving.”

He turned to begin walking again, but the Sheppard stopped him once more. “Mal.”

Mal paused, turning on his heels to face Book, his face showing his annoyance.

“It’s Inara, isn’t it? And River?”

Mal’s look of surprise clearly betrayed the answer to Book, who sighed softly. Gentle guitar music began to play in the background. Mal looked around him with a sharp glare, sighing in annoyance. Another song was on its way.

Sheppard Book stepped forward, looking directly at Mal. Then, responding to the interesting rhythm played by the guitar in the background, he began to sing.

“One song, glory,
one song, before I go
one song to leave behind.
one song, one last refrain
from the pretty boy front man..."

Book gestured to himself at these words. Mal forced a straight face – surely the good Sheppard was being sarcastic. He couldn't imagine the man was ever a 'pretty boy front man'. Though, to be fair, he didn't know much about Book's past.

"...who wasted opportunity.
One song,
he had the world at his feet
in the eyes of a young girl...”

Here, Book stopped. He had Mal’s full attention, talking about himself like that. But Book merely smiled, looking pointedly at Mal. That was likely as much of Book's past as he was going to get – the rest was going to be the preacher giving advice. Mal scoffed, and turned away, but Book sung more firmly.

“A young girl...
beyond the cheap coloured lights
one song
before the sun sets
on another empty life.
Time flies...
time dies.”

The background music exploded in a sudden whirling crescendo, as Sheppard Book broke out in a wave of passion, which seemed to again be more directed inwardly than outwardly. A song that had started out giving advice from Book to Mal became a song for Book to mourn for a loss.

One blaze of
One blaze of

The crescendo died down, and Book looked back at Mal, speaking the next words of the song to him.

in a song that rings true;
truth like a blazing fire.
An eternal flame.
one song,
a song about love.
from the soul of a young man...”

Mal made an amused face, and pointed to himself. Book nodded.

“A young man.
the one song..."

The one song? That one rang true for Mal. Book was hinting that he had to figure out what his feelings were going on about. He had to make a decision about which girl he wanted to be with. If he even wanted to be with either of them.

"...before the virus takes hold.”

That had to be a metaphor for something deeper. Mal blinked at the Sheppard, puzzled. The only virus he could see at the moment was this cursed need to sing everything. His eyes widened in shock – the singing. Pulling everyone apart. Ruining relationships that barely got a chance to grow, since emotions had been buried for so long. The Sheppard nodded, and continued.

like a sun set.
One song,
to redeem this empty life.”

Amen, Preacher, Mal thought to himself.

“Time flies...
and then no need to endure anymore!
Time dies.”

Sheppard Book ended his song, looking at Mal pointedly. Though Mal suspected he understood what Book was getting at, there was no sense in admitting that. He scoffed. “I never was one for sermons Preacher,” he said quietly. “Never really understood ‘em.”

Book looked at Mal in annoyance. “It means, Mal, that you need to be able to make the right decisions. Even when they may be hard.”

His temper flared before he could stop himself. Hard decisions – what did this preacher man know about hard decisions?! Mal had already made his fair share of those in his lifetime, and he didn't need to be making any more, though he knew they were coming. He knew he had a tough choice ahead of him, he didn't need Book to be telling him. Where did this preacher get the nerve to be coming up to Mal, acting all high and mighty with his talk of glory, and empty life? Mal barely even noticed as he burst into song.

“Oh life, is bigger...
it’s bigger than you
and you are not me
the lengths that I will go to
the distance in your eyes.”

Book’s eyes widened suddenly, and Mal hesitated.

“Oh no I’ve said too much
I’ve said it all.”

Mal turned away to walk down the hallway, sick of dealing with Book. Book, however, followed him. Mal slumped against a wall, continuing his song.

“That’s me in the corner
that’s me in the spotlight
losing my religion.
Trying to keep up with you
and I don’t know if I can do it.”

Sheppard Book placed a hand on Mal’s shoulder, but Mal pushed it off irritably, stalking away from Book.

“Oh no I’ve said too much...”

This time, the Sheppard didn’t follow him.

“I haven’t said enough.”

As he walked down the hallways, Mal gazed through the walls of Serenity, imagining that he could see out into the black, out into the stars. Softly, he sang a few verses to himself.

“I thought that I heard her laughing
I thought that I heard her sing
I think I thought I saw her try.”

He glanced up suddenly, seeing the infirmary up ahead. He glanced up at it guiltily, looking at it as if it were the cause of the problems that he had brought upon himself.

“Every whisper
of every waking hour, I’m
choosing my confessions.
Trying to keep an eye on you
like a hurt, lost and blinded old, fool...”

As he turned away from the infirmary, he found himself looking at River, standing just behind him.

“Oh no I’ve said too much
I’ve said it all...”

River peered at him with a mixture of emotions. Fear, anger, confusion. So, Book wanted to talk about hard decisions? Mal supposed that he had already made his. Almost as if he couldn't control his own actions, Mal moved towards River with firm steps.

“Consider this
consider this, hint of a century
Consider this...”

Mal was an inch away from her lips. River closed her eyes slightly, feeling the heat passing between them.


Mal moved away swiftly, leaving River hanging. She opened her eyes in frustration.

“...that brought me to my knees, pale.
What if all these fantasies come
flailing around?”

River began to furiously stalk away from him, clearly sick of his games. But Mal wasn't finished yet – that had not been the point of this exercised. He moved after her quickly, grabbing her arm and turning her around to look at him.

“And now I’ve said
too much.”

He began pleading with her earnestly. For this to work, she needed to know he understood... because he felt the same way she did.

“I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try...”

River looked at him curiously. Mal knew that the next part of his song was important to get across to her. He had to make her understand. It was a nice dream, being with her...but it wasn't appropriate. He was the Captain – had to set an example. And she...despite everything she may have been through up to this point, she was little more than a child. She deserved more, deserved better, than what he could give her anyway. The fantasies were nice, but...

“But that was just a dream
Try, cry, why, try
That was just a dream
just a dream, just a dream...

He faded off helplessly, not sure if she got the message or not. River looked into his eyes without speaking, reading his very soul. Then, very gently, she leaned up, and gave him a small kiss on the cheek. The simple action betrayed more of her emotions than words ever could – she understood.

Then, she turned and walked away, leaving him feeling like a monster. But relieved nonetheless.

Next Chapter


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June 2009


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