Title: Rain
Date Posted: 6 February 2006
Author: Van Donovan
Rating: PG
Characters: Mal, River
Pairing: implied Mal/River
Word count: 693
Warnings: Spoilers for Serenity the movie
Summary: River travels with Mal.
Notes: Written to fill a requested Mal/River with the prompts: fields and thunderstorm.


“I’m confused,” Mal stated.

River laughed softly, but just nodded her head. She sat before him on a chestnut mare, her hands loosely entangled in her tawny blonde mane. Mal straddled the horse bareback behind her, his hands freely wrapped around River’s middle. He felt the horse’s even gait rolling beneath him, and the way it easily jostled River into him. It was a strangely comforting, familiar feeling, although he’d never ridden like this with anyone ever before, let alone River.

“Be patient,” she playfully chided. “You’ll see soon.”

Mal’s hands tightened on her middle; it felt right to do so. “Where are we?”

River shook her head, setting her dark locks rippling down her back. “Patience, Mal,” she rebuked again. Her knees tightened, and the mare’s gait increased a notch.

Mal wanted to keep questioning her. He didn’t know where he was, or how he’d gotten there. He was confused, although strangely not worried. Things seemed safe, however bizarre. They were riding through a field of grass. It was tall grass, stretching up to almost reach the horse’s knees. The sky was thick with clouds, although it wasn’t dark. It smelled like rain, and overhead the sky rumbled with encroaching thunder.

Mal thought it odd that he didn’t find the thought of being out in the rain with River a bad thing. The idea of water soaking them both seemed as natural as being dry, perhaps even more so. He inhaled deeply, savoring the smell and flavor of the fresh air.

“We’re close,” River announced.

Mal looked around her head, saw the slow rise of the grassy knoll, and found his interest was as relaxed now as the rest of him. He was still curious, but he was tranquil, too. “It’s gonna start rainin’,” he whispered in her ear.

“Yes,” River agreed, easily leaning back into him.

The mare reached the pinnacle of the hill and came to a halt on her own. Beyond them spread greener fields, dotted with white flowers. In the distance, barely a thumbprint in size, stood a house made of dark wood, a large red barn and stable beyond it. There was a dirt field beyond that, as well as a corral.

Mal’s breath drew in sharply. As he watched, creatures began to populate the scene: horses came out of the stalls and wandered through the fields. Farmhands pulled bales of hay out of the barn and carried them into the stables. A little boy chased a dog out into the pasture. Behind him, a woman in a white apron appeared, surveying over everything. They were barely ants in the distance, but Mal’s grip on River was tight enough to tell her that he knew.

“How?” he throatily whispered, his voice barely audible over the trembling rumble of the sky above.

River sighed, contented. She looked at the scene in a different way, like it was a beautiful capture photo, perfectly preserved. “You’re dreaming in my head,” she answered.

Mal tore his eyes off the view before him. He blinked sharply, glancing around him. The trees in the distance seemed suddenly familiar. The grass sharpened as his senses recognized it. The smell of the air intensified. “River,” he breathed.

His voice was lost in the thunder again. Lightning arched overhead, and a split second later rain began pouring out of the sky. River lifted her face up into it, relishing the feeling. “Rain,” she murmured, enjoying it.

Mal shivered, although he wasn’t cold. The rain was warm, and it was summer. His hands gripped at the soft fabric of River’s dress beneath his hands. Tears unexpectedly sprang to his eyes, but the rain washed them away almost instantly. He struggled to fight them down, but he couldn’t. His heart was overflowing with joy and light and memories of this life he had once led.

River’s hands untangled from the mane of the mare. She slipped them over Mal’s, pressing his palms solidly against her stomach. “It’s all right,” she reassured him, stroking her thumbs over the back of his hands. “You’re home.”

They lifted their faces to the rain, and together drank in the beauty of Shadow-That-Was.

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