Flesh And Blood
by Pearl-o


In the morning when River wakes up there's blood in her bed.

Blood is a good sign sometimes, not always a bad one. At the academy there was no blood, no cycles at all, nothing natural about her. And they joined Serenity and the blood came again, falling out of her, and Simon was pleased. Even if it doesn't come every month, regular and perfect, even if it's messy or painful, still. Blood is a good sign. It has meaning behind it.

Kaylee took her aside and showed her how to use the cloths, wash them out and reuse them. On Osiris they had ones you could use once and throw away, but on Serenity everything gets used again.

The blood on the bed is still wet, and it's wet between River's thighs, too. She sets her hand lightly over her mons -- inside, underneath, she feels tight, achy in a dull way. She guides her hand between her legs, feels the thick and sticky between her fingers.

There are contradictions in blood. It means River is weak and strong, still-a-girl and not-a-girl.

River gets out of bed. She washes herself, blood from her hands, blood between her legs, put on her clothes and her cloths and her day is here, a new day, another day.

Through the day in the back of her head she can feel her sex and musk all around, but no one else notices.



In the middle of the night when River wakes up there's no blood.

It's a week later. There's still wetness between her thighs, but it's not the same.

All River knows is skin and lips and touch and sensation but the dream is fading quickly, gone away into the mist, never to be found. She moves in her bed, adjusting her position, but her nipples brush against the fabric of her thin nightdress, and her thighs rub against each other once and then again.

Her body -- River's body wants. It does not understand that River is untouchable. River is a girl, River is damaged, River is wrong, River cannot have it, no one can give it to her.

But, oh, she wants. River wants to take it.

The rest of the ship is asleep. She can feel them each, off in their dreams, nostalgic (oceans of light upon the cities of Sihnon) and strange (he battles the horde of evil dinosaurs, the last of the valiant human survivors) and violent (the girl is almost dead, but she's still talking, still giving lip and that just ain't right) and sweet (cherries and chocolate and a boy and a great big bed full of pillows).

There's one dream River recognizes, though, because it's just like her favorite one. Home. Serenity. Love.

River follows that one.

There is a lock on the outside, keeping her out, but that's not a difficulty. River read a book, once, when she was six. All you need is a pin and a movement of the wrist and there. Open.

Mal makes a small sound as she comes down the ladder. "Shhh," River whispers, and she pulls her gown over her head and lets it puddle on the floor, so she is uncovered. Naked. Free.

It is frightening, suddenly -- she is open now and here now and she has to, she doesn't, she can't...

But the desire in her belly is stronger than the doubts in her mind, so River just takes a deep breath.

Mal stirs a little as she climbs onto the bed. "Shhh," River repeats, leaning over to kiss his lips, letting her hair fall over both of them. "Don't wake up," she says into his ear, but he is still stirring, he is going to wake, and that isn't right, that won't work.

River has never done this before, but she thinks -- she closes her eyes and concentrates and she tells her brain sleep and her brain tells Mal's brain sleep and then yes, yes, this will work. Mal sighs and relaxes beneath her. He won't wake, she knows; he'll stay in his dream, his beautiful dream, and River. River can have this now.

River kisses him again. Sweet and soft kisses. The captain is tough and strong, yes, but he is vulnerable. He doesn't know, he doesn't understand. But he moves as she moves and then he is naked, skin, not cloth.

Mal is naked beneath her and River is naked above him. They touch all along their lengths. Puzzle pieces. His skin is soft and warm, feeling of hard muscles and prickly hair.

River's mind is full of pictures, full of so many flashes of other people's memories she has seen so many times, but this is real and it is her and it is new and strange and awkward.

But River kisses him, and touches him, and rubs against him, and Mal kisses her and touches her and thrusts up towards her and his eyes never open.

His hands are large and callused, rough but sweet against her breasts. "Oh," River says softly and then "Oh" again, and then she is on her back in the small bed and Mal is above her and his mouth is on her breasts and his hand is between her legs, touching and moving and oh, River aches, she wants, and then he moves again and it is slow and it hurts as he fills her. But then it feels good, so good, so very good, and this is what she wanted, this, this. She is strong and weak; she is a girl and a girl-no-longer; she will feel this when nothing else is left.



In the morning when Mal wakes up there's blood in his bed. There isn't very much, though, and between the old stains from his older wounds and the mighty unsettling dream that's still in his head from the night, Mal doesn't notice.


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