Her hands were always there. On his shoulders. Any time he had to get out of a scrape. Every time he pulled Serenity out of danger. That was the only way he was able to keep it up. To know that her strong hands steadied him. Those beautiful hands complete with the pinkies that could kill him. It had become so much a part of his aerobatics, that he almost (but not quite) took it for granted. It was the familiar. It was right. And it was the only way.
She knew it too. Knew that with a simple touch she could transfer her strength to him. She could help him do something that no one else could. Without him, they would have been lost many a time. Without her to back him, just as many a time. She did not feel smug about this. She felt it was her duty to the pilot. Just as wielding a gun beside the captain was her duty to him. It was also her duty as a wife. The unwavering support. It was something she excelled at. So she would calmly stand with her hands upon his shoulders. Speaking seldom and quietly. Joking dryly or offering encouragement. And she could feel him respond. He was in his element, but without her his shoulders were tense, his speech harsh and clipped. With her at his back he could accomplish the impossible.
The EMP crippled Serenity, sent her spinning planetside. The fact that they were going to hit the ground was unavoidable. But she was there. Her hands had been there earlier, perhaps gripping a bit harder than usual. She was now strapped down safely near him. He could still feel her strength. And that was what he needed most as the conflicting forces warred and nearly crushed the passengers. He did it though, leveled the ship out. The decent was too steep, too fast. He could do nothing. And she remained out of contact. Only her voice spoke strength.
She felt that she should be there with him. Clinging to his shoulders. Helping him reach the controls he needed. Breathing into his ear and feeling his strength grow. But she could not. She was tied down behind the captain (and glad to be tied down.) Only her voice could reach her husband. And the ground came up too quickly. There was no way to miss it.
After the noise and violence of the crash-landing, he felt good in the silence. He'd done it. They'd done it. Again.
The silence was broken by a phrase, an unfinished phrase. The abrupt end penetrated her heart just as the wooded spike penetrated his.
And she wasn't there. And it hurt.
And she wasn’t there. And it hurt.
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