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New fic! Post-Serenity, "Flying Lessons" - Light One Candle

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October 13th, 2005


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10:20 pm - New fic! Post-Serenity, "Flying Lessons"
I must warn you all, this does contain a couple of MAJOR spoilers for the film. :-)

Also, if it seems a bit weird on first reading, read it again. It's short; it won't hurt you. lizamanynames and whitemartyr were kind enough to beta this for me--it's my first (finished) fic in the Firefly 'verse.

Rating: G.

Summary: "River likes her piloting lessons best when she has Serenity’s bridge all to herself."

Comments and criticism welcome!


FLYING LESSONS

by izhilzha

~~~~~

River likes her piloting lessons best when she has Serenity’s bridge all to herself. That means they’re either grounded or in port, because Mal says she was still has a lot to learn, but River doesn’t mind.

She can only see her real teacher when the others aren’t there.

"The first rule of piloting is...?" His voice is to her right. Technically, River’s still co-pilot.

The first rule of piloting is love, River thinks, but Wash and Mal never did agree on which words to use, even when they were talking about the exact same thing. "Trust," she replies dutifully. She turns her head a fraction, looking through the veil of her hair. If she blinks too hard, all she’ll see is the empty chair and plastic dinosaurs frozen in their march across the console.

Right now, Wash is there. The gentle pat he gives his instrument panel makes no sound. "Trust," he echoes fondly. "Trust a boat like Serenity, and she’ll trust you back. Do what you ask, no hesitation, no mind games. Just the pleasure of pure, unadulterated teamwork."

"Does Zoe know you talk about your ship that way?" River asks, risking another sidelong glance.

Wash draws himself up, as if deeply affronted. "Of course she does. We have a very open relationship, I mean, a very honest relationship...." River thinks that his fluster is an amusing but not terribly convincing act, and smiles when he changes the subject. "What about the second rule? Forgotten it already?"

River squints around the cockpit, frowning, pretending she has. "Imagination?" she hazards.

He chuckles. "Good girl. Know what your ship can do, and you’ll figure out ways to talk her into the impossible." Wash’s voice is hushed, full of private delight.

River sneaks yet another look. His chin is resting on one hand as he gazes dreamily out the cockpit window. She slides from her chair and reaches for the nearest dinosaur. Simon had a set of these, once; she’s holding Tyrannosaurus Rex. "Grrrrr." River makes it stalk up and growl into Wash’s face.

He grins, flickers, and is still there. "And there are all kinds of imagination. Use all of them; it helps when you have to think fast, if you don’t have to think very far." His hand finds the counterpart dinosaur–-Apatosaurus-–and it trundles up to rub noses with its mortal enemy.

When River takes her hand away, Tyrannosaurus Rex stays put. Apatosaurus is sitting across the console as if it had never moved.

Enough playing. She should study the manual again, though she knows it nearly by heart. River steps back towards her own console. Wash’s voice follows her. "You know nobody ever guessed the third rule of piloting?"

"Somebody must have," she replies, matching his serious tone. Her fingers don’t answer, as they are busy calling up the incredibly dry "Guide to Firefly-class Ships" that Kaylee loaned her.

"Nope." Wash can (is that the right tense, River wonders) be insufferably smug when the occasion demands it.

River stills her hands and glances slantways at him. "Why?"

"Because it’s my own secret ingredient." That delight is back, dancing beneath the mock-solemn words.

It’s contagious. River finds herself grinning back at him. "Tell me. Please?"

Wash looks her up and down, as if gauging her worthiness. River endures the scrutiny, and then answers the prompt of instinct by crossing her eyes and sticking out her tongue at him, instead.

"How did you figure it out?" Wash asks immediately. "You shouldn’t have done it so fast."

"What?" River looks him full in the face, truly perplexed. There is never enough for her to 'read' Wash the way she does the others, though she doesn’t enjoy thinking about why. "I don’t understand."

Wash scratches his head theatrically, then shrugs. "Ah, well, you’ve got the sense of it already, I might as well tell you the rest." He leans forward, glances around, then when she moves to match him, whispers to River behind his hand. Just one word. "Levity."

Then Wash sits back, gazing expectantly at her, as if that should explain everything.

Perhaps it does. River turns the word over in her mind and on her tongue. "Levity: lightness of mind, character, or behavior; lightness in weight."

Wash’s smile becomes a positive smirk.

River tastes the word again, not quite sure she believes what she’s hearing. So she pushes her hair out of her face and asks. "You make jokes to keep Serenity flying?"

Wash beams at her.

"But–-" River raps her knuckles against the solid metal of her console. "That’s not possible. No one has ever proved telekenesis, and the laws of physics really don’t allow–-"

Wash puts a warning finger against his lips. "Shhh. We’re not gonna tell anyone. Kaylee keeps this boat together, and it wouldn’t be nice to hurt her feelings just because we’ve discovered one of the secrets of the universe."

River feels a laugh rising, but holds it in for a moment, spreading both palms out flat on her console. It’s as if she can feel Serenity shiver with the same unreleased laughter, can feel the ship strain skywards, rising on Wash’s secret ingredient. River looks up, and there are stars spinning past the window, the curve of a planet, the flash of the distant central sun.

The laugh bursts from her, high-pitched and light, and Wash’s low chuckle counterpoints it perfectly.

River turns to share the moment more fully, to ask where they’re heading, but she turns too quickly. The pilot’s chair is empty, and she can’t hear his laughter anymore.

The light spilling in across the consoles is early morning, planetside.

"River, we’re heading back. Everything shiny there?" The captain’s voice isn’t unwelcome, exactly, but River has to blink hard and swallow before she can reach for the intercom and reply.

"Shiny, Mal." River reaches over and puts Tyrannosaurus Rex back where it belongs. "I’m just...learning my lessons."

~~~~~


ETA: It's Beta Appreciation Day! Everybody cheer for: jd3000, whitemartyr, lizamanynames, and V. who-has-no-LJ. Thank you guys so much--my work is the better for your sharp eyes and brains, and your kind words help me keep writing.
Current Mood: tiredtired

(22 lit candles | Light a candle)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:lizamanynames
Date:October 14th, 2005 06:09 pm (UTC)
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...I still love this. God, I love this SO MUCH.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:October 15th, 2005 03:27 am (UTC)
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*grins*

*bows*
[User Picture]
From:jd3000
Date:October 14th, 2005 06:36 pm (UTC)
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Holy snap, this is great. Levity, brilliant.

Sarah, I reeely want to beta your NaNo Novel. ;-D

-JD
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:October 15th, 2005 03:28 am (UTC)
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Ah, thanks, JD! You know I totally value your opinion (now go see the movie, goofball).

Sarah, I reeely want to beta your NaNo Novel. ;-D

LOL. If you're serious, I'm not gonna say no--it might be good to have a non-Sentinel fan read it, as well as the fan-betas I'm going to solicit.
[User Picture]
From:jhall1
Date:October 14th, 2005 09:12 pm (UTC)
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Lovely! :)
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:October 15th, 2005 03:29 am (UTC)
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I don't know if you've commented on my LJ before--hi! I've seen your over on kerravonsen's....

Thank you so much! :-)
[User Picture]
From:jhall1
Date:October 15th, 2005 08:46 am (UTC)
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Hi! It's my first time commenting here, I think. I came here via the link to your story from lizamanymanes. But of course I've seen many of your comments on other people's entries. It helps that you always use the same user icon and that it's very distinctive, so you're easy to identify. :)

Your LJ name looks to me as though it might be Aztec influenced, but I expect I'm wide of the mark.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:October 15th, 2005 08:51 pm (UTC)
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Your LJ name looks to me as though it might be Aztec influenced, but I expect I'm wide of the mark.

ROTFLOL! *wipes eyes* That's the first time I've heard that about my user name. Actually, it's a more phonetic spelling of the Minbari word isil'zha: "the future; birth, beginnings, the dawn of a new age."

Ie, it's a made-up word from a made-up language. The show it's from is Babylon 5.
[User Picture]
From:jhall1
Date:October 16th, 2005 08:01 am (UTC)
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Thanks for enlightening me. :)
[User Picture]
From:scionofgrace
Date:October 15th, 2005 01:35 am (UTC)
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Oh, that was just wonderful! A Wash-River moment! What's not to like?
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:October 15th, 2005 03:31 am (UTC)
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I'm so glad you enjoyed it! That was the intention...and I have no real idea where the story came from...I doubt I'd have thought of Wash & River just out of the blue. Must be the pilot thing. :-)

Here's to our leaves on the wind! *raises glass*
[User Picture]
From:scorptilicus
Date:October 15th, 2005 02:24 am (UTC)
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You're doing a NaNo? As in NaNoWriMo? Heh, good luck.
[User Picture]
From:scorptilicus
Date:October 15th, 2005 02:30 am (UTC)
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Wow. I love the story, BTW.
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:October 15th, 2005 03:33 am (UTC)
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*bows* Thanks, Josh! I value your opinion, too. You must be a Firefly fan, from your icons...somehow I never picked up on that back around LICC.

As for NaNoWriMo, yeah, I just signed up today. It's my first year doing it--I just managed to learn to fit writing in around the work/social schedule, and now I think I need to learn to write at productive levels. *nervous grin* I have a feeling November will be a very tiring month.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 15th, 2005 12:48 pm (UTC)

Very nicely done!

(Link)
Aw, you're welcome, sweeting! *ponders new title: She-Who-Has-No-LJ . . . heheheh. I like. (Though I confess to pondering the possibility . . .)*

Lovely, lovely, lovely fic. And from my limited experience with FF, quite on the mark character-wise. Touching warm-fuzzy moment, too. Just good stuff all over the place.

So this novel, is it what we were discussing when last we met?

V.



[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:October 15th, 2005 08:53 pm (UTC)

Re: Very nicely done!

(Link)
V. should have an LJ! V. should have an LJ! *sends subliminal signals to V.*

Re: my NaNo novel, yes, it is. :-) We can discuss it a bit when I call you today, how's that?

And thank you so much for the praising words! I had much fun writing this fic. *hugs Wash*
[User Picture]
From:fikgirl
Date:November 17th, 2005 01:51 am (UTC)
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Very good, bravo! Yet another fic on my friend's list that I missed. I really am going to have to go back and comb through...

River and Wash, very sweet. Because River really is so childlike and yet not, and Wash is just ... *sends evil glares of virtual doom to Joss* ... anyway, Wash was also sort of the innocent as well - not a soldier, just along for the ride. I like the connection and what a wonderful memorial to Wash.

Thanks so much for this one! Well done, three thumbs up. :P
From:darmok47
Date:May 31st, 2006 11:32 am (UTC)
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Not sure if you'll notice this, but...

Don't you think it should be a PG because of Wash's "open relationship" comment? Or is it subtle enough to be no problem? :)

Interestingly, my sister and I just finished watching Firefly (bought Serenity today - yes, I've seen it before and I know what happens to Wash, she doesn't) and she remarked that there's never a scene between Wash and River. Well... now there is. :)

By the way, you can be ambiguous and "the question is, how do you see it?" if you want, but is this meant to be the memory of a real conversation between the two, or just River's idea of what a conversation between them would be like?
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:June 1st, 2006 12:59 am (UTC)
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LJ notifies me when I have comments. :-)

Don't you think it should be a PG because of Wash's "open relationship" comment? Or is it subtle enough to be no problem? :)

*snicker* Surely that counts as subtle.

Interestingly, my sister and I just finished watching Firefly (bought Serenity today - yes, I've seen it before and I know what happens to Wash, she doesn't) and she remarked that there's never a scene between Wash and River. Well... now there is. :)

Yep. :-) And it's true that I can't recall a scene just between the two of them...hmmm. Interesting that my mind went there, then.

I'm fond of the ambiguity in this story, yes. Is River playing make-believe? Is there really some sort of "ghost" still there? Is it bits and pieces of memory? That's my short answer to your question.

My longer answer would probably involve me saying that I didn't intend for this to be an actual "recollection" on River's part (though I can see how it might incorporate such), nor do I think she intentionally "talks" with Wash. It's as mysterious as River herself--at least in my mind.
[User Picture]
From:snickelish
Date:December 15th, 2008 06:07 am (UTC)
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Oh, I enjoyed this very much! I was bouncing along, thinking, "Yeah, another mourning-Wash thing, except it's River so she can see him, yep." And then I got to the following paragraph and just had to sort of stop and gape at the rightness of it:

Wash scratches his head theatrically, then shrugs. "Ah, well, you’ve got the sense of it already, I might as well tell you the rest." He leans forward, glances around, then when she moves to match him, whispers to River behind his hand. Just one word. "Levity."
[User Picture]
From:izhilzha
Date:December 24th, 2008 05:00 pm (UTC)
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I honestly had no idea where this fic was going, it just sort of took over my brain and wrote itself. I'm gleeful that it turned out so well--and a bit in awe that instead of going straight to the angsty place and staying there (I had nightmares after I watched Serenity), it had humor and hints of how Wash lived his life so well in it.

And then kalquessa made me the icon. *g*
[User Picture]
From:ladymercury_10
Date:August 11th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
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Wow, this is really lovely. I saw it listed in your poll and clicked the link, and I must say I really enjoyed it. Your characterization and...well, choreography, for lack of a better word, are excellent. :)

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