Distribution: no permission required. Disclaimer: Joss Whedon owns Firefly, and all characters Feedback: Yes, please that would be nice. Note: only my second fic and I feel a great need to apologize for grammer and sentence structure, Just want to tell the story, not much for the rest.
I met him near ten years ago, in the war on the side of the Independants. We were both young, strong willed, strong opinioned; he was like most of the boys out there, eager, idealistic and yet there was something different about him, me, I was full of swagger, had loads of anger, lots to prove to everyone and myself. We butted heads constantly at first, then it was like we called a truce, we realized we were a lot alike. We found that we complimented each other while working together; there was no task we couldn't complete when we worked together. We fell into the habit, soon it was a friendship, we both moved up the ranks, he faster than me, though that never bothered me. When it came to decisions to be made, we both usually came to the same conclusions; I found it went over better with the troops when the words came from him. I'm about getting the job done, not the glory and it helped that he didn't seem to care much about any response; good or bad.
Mal was the perfect leader, approachable, fair and an inspiration to all. I wasn't the only one to follow him blindly, he had a way of motivating people with his faith, his charm, his never say die attitude. He has saved me more times than I can recall, in more ways than one. The first time was in the war, we had been fighting side by side for a coupla years by then, sure we had probably saved each other's lives before, but this was when I first knew for sure that he was my soul mate. I had been captured by the Alliance along with four others, there were seven men that took us prisoner, I was shot in the leg, and two of the men captured with me were shot worse. They beat us, tortured us, raped us; the two wounded men died screaming. I was hoping for death myself, cut and bruised, my body's pain was nothing compared to the utter defeat I felt. There was an explosion, gunfire, lots of yelling; over it all I heard him, heard Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds calling for me. When he found me alive he smiled and told me he knew I was too stubborn to die. He had against orders organized the rescue; he got me and the other two men out of the enemies' camp.
The war changed us both, but it didn't change our bond. After the war we drifted for years, hopping ships from planet to planet, looking for work. Mal saved near every credit he earned, saving towards his dream, his own ship. It was a nomadic life, better than some but not by much. I would be hard pressed to explain our relationship, sure we're friends, but it was more, more than family, more than lovers, which we weren't. I've said he was my soul mate and I mean it, but it's not about love, not romantic love and it's more than trust. I would follow that man into the bowel's of hell if he asked me, damn he wouldn't ask, he wouldn't even need to, I'd just be there. Nothing but death will ever separate us; if there is one thing I know it's that.
The first time it happened we were having a hard year, work was hard to find and the work we did find was back breaking. We had been having rough luck, lots of scrapes with the law, nothing serious and Mal was having an even harder time than usual sleeping. The war had changed us in different ways, I had become more accepting of what I could not change, my anger was for the most part in check. Mal lost his faith in Serenity Valley, while I gained some. Coarse the faith I gained was in him, not anything else. During war time sleep was hard to come by, you got what you could but you always had to be on guard, afterwards the nightmares plagued him, his screams would often wake me and I would find him in a cold sweat, shaking. We never talked about it, didn't have to; since we had been traveling together we developed this sort of mutual telepathy, we could have whole conversations with our eyes. I aint saying we could read each other's minds, just we knew each other so well, a look, an uplifted eyebrow, his quirky little boy smile all said volumes to me without a single word. We were that in tune with each other, still are, can't think of anything that would change that.
Mal was so down that first time, hardly no fight left in him, we were wore down from weeks of hard labor that had resulted in the employer cheating us out of our wages. I had little problem convincing him that we deserved a real room, real bed to sleep in, and of coarse a real bath. I even told him I'd spring for it which he didn't let me. Should of known it was too easy, something was wrong. We had been sleeping in whatever quarters our temporary employers provided us, between jobs we would use abandoned buildings, caves, or just out under the stars. Mal wasn't a cheap man, he had a goal and was single minded about that ship, it was most all he thought about. The room was dingy, only slightly better than we were used to, I didn't care, all I could think about was getting a decent meal and scrubbing all the accumulated filth off my body. I left him sitting on the only bed in the room to go to the bathroom down the hall; I didn't plan on being back for some time.
It was near two hours when I returned, I had washed my clothes in the bath also, couldn't even think of putting those filthy things back on after I was feeling all fresh. It had taken quite some time to clean my hair and try to brush through the mass of tangles but I was feeling considerably better. I had only a towel wrapped around me and a bundle of wet clothes when I entered the room. Mal hadn't moved, I only took notice when he didn't answer me. I looked in his eyes and immediately dropped my clean, wet clothes. I kneeled in front of him, asking him what was wrong. The look in his eyes scared me and I don't do scared. I saw more than fear, more than despair in those eyes, it was something I would know anywhere, just don't have a name for it. I tried to shake him out of it, yelled at him, even slapped him, hard. Nothing worked he kept staring, every horror he had seen, every injustice, reflected in his eyes. I finally just grabbed him, held him fiercely to me. I shook with the thought of losing him to his demons.
He came around slowly, wrapping his arms slowly around me and burying his head in my still wet curls. He said my name over and over, begging me, for what I couldn't say at the time, but it was the sound of desolation and he was slipping into an endless pit of it. I meant to save him anyway I could, I owed him that, and more. When he first kissed me I was shocked, he pushed his lips to mine as if I were a lifeline, like I was the only source of air to be had. It was desperate and rough, but I knew he would never hurt me, ever. I never resisted, would never deny him anything, it wasn't unpleasant just wasn't about the sex. Afterwards he half lay on me, still holding me tight but with a calmness that relaxed me. He looked at me and for a moment I was relieved, some dam had broken in him, his eyes were clearer, then suddenly they swam, he lowered his head, I felt the drops falling on my shoulders as he wept, he shook with the power of emotions that fell off of him, I cooed and soothed him, I absorbed all the pain he spilt. I comforted him till we both fell asleep.
The next day things were different, Mal didn't have the dark circles under his eyes, in fact there was a lightness and twinkle I had near forgot they could possess. He had an idea on how to get our lost wages from the employer who had stiffed us and it was brilliant. I didn't care that it was illegal, it was due to us. We were successful in that endeavor and soon hard physical labor was only a last resort; we schemed, cheated, and outright stole our living from then on. It was more exciting, more profitable to say the least. Mal, of coarse, would never take from someone he deemed couldn't afford it, we were even hired muscle from time to time. Things looked up from that moment on, we never talked about that night, and I for one had nothing to regret, in fact I felt closer to him if that was possible. I was proud that I could help him out of his anguish and if he was too embarrassed to mention it well there was no need to be, I still think he is the strongest man I have ever met.
There were probably less than a handful of times we ever spent in each other's bed. After that first time it was always my doing, if I felt he was losing sight of the goal, getting too down, losing too much sleep as to endanger what else we were doing. I would take to a room; I would never let him get that low again. It was almost five years since we had been traveling together, five years since the end of the war when Mal finally fell in love, he fell hard, nothing I could do to stop it neither though he didn't give me much of a chance. I knew I would be fighting a losing battle by the stars in his eyes. Her name turned out to be Serenity; she wasn't at all what I had envisioned all those years of saving for and talking about her. She was mostly Mal's, I put in the final third of her cost but he made it like she was both our dreams come true.
Mal hired a pilot I couldn't stand, the man was loud, thought he was funny, and though he came with great recommendations, he didn't seem near serious enough about anything to be of real use to us. He wore these wild, bright shirts, was boastful and well strangely enough I eventually fell head over heels for him. He never stopped with the jokes, he thought I was too somber and meant to show me the errors of my ways. He wasn't intimidated by my strength like other men; in fact he found it extremely sexy. Wash lightened my soul considerly, he is my sunshine out in the black. He was and probably still is a little jealous of what I have with Mal, when I tell him of all that we have been through together he says he understands. I didn't exactly tell him everything, in fact when he asked me if Mal and I had ever been lovers I lied. I could tell he wasn't sure if he believed me but neither of us pushed it.
When I told Mal I was going to marry Wash we had the biggest argument we ever had, he forbade me, I told him where to shove it. He begged me not to do it, threatened to fire wash. I told him I wouldn't let him, I told him it couldn't change US. We both cried as he finally accepted it, fighting still, saying he never imagined me with a man like Wash. I let him know I needed Wash, I needed everything he saw in me, everything I thought that wasn't there. I told Mal there was room in my life for Wash, cause I didn't need someone like him, cause I had him and there was no substitute. He told me if Wash ever hurt me in any way... he didn't finish the sentence but I understood. Mal wasn't at the wedding, there was no way that I would ask or he would accept giving me away, there was no promising to obey, still it was one of the happiest days of my life.
We all get along pretty peacefully, the only time Wash and I ever argued was about Mal, Wash can see the connection between Mal and me and sometimes his imagination gets the best of him. Wash believes I think more of Mal than him, I don't. They both have qualities that I need, maybe some I need more than others; still I hope I never truly have to choose. When Niska took them both, he thought it would be hard for me to choose; there wasn't even a choice. I know, as well as Mal knew that Wash would never survive Niska's torture without him. I knew, like Wash now knows that Mal won't break. Strangely enough our reasons for knowing that are similar, Wash thinks Mal is insane, I know the only thing that can break Mal is Mal. The truth is now Wash can see why I have so much faith in Mal, I think my husband has a better appreciation of what kind of man Mal is, and maybe just a little bit of hero worship.
I went to Mal after we had rescued him from Niska; I saw the reflection of our relationship in his eyes, cept maybe from a different perspective. He stopped me from my plan of comforting him, told me he knew I would come for him, understood completely about me choosing Wash over him. He voiced things we felt for each other but never said. I feel real fortunate to have both Mal and Wash in my life. There are few things I fear, reavers for one, though I think I would rather deal with them then my greatest fear, which would be to choose between these two men, I hope neither one ever demands it, I know that would be a choice I could never make.