Title: Trauma Medicine
Warnings: Sexual violence, including gang rape, which is described relentlessly but not terribly explicitly. PTSD. Torture. Canon-level violence. Experimentation on unwilling human subjects, including brain damage (from canon).
Genre: Drama, Action/Adventure, Darker than canon, Serious Angst, Hurt/Comfort
Word Count: 167,611
Mal Reynolds is suffering from serious PTSD, but has never acknowledged it or tried to get it treated. Zoe, recognizing that he he needs help, hires Inara to provide some therapy, not telling her exactly what the problem is. Inara is willing because it sounds interesting and she is tired of the same old same old on the core planets. She, needless to say, does not know what she is getting into.
Then Simon brings his sister onboard.
Why You Should Read This:
This is a long story, showing that past traumas can have devastating effects on current and future lives. It is a beautifully written re-telling of the story of the TV show, but was written before Serenity and so does not include that part of the story. Otherwise it is technically canon compliant. It begins well before the first episode, with new elements woven skillfully around canon. There are numerous scenes where the dialog is the same as the show, but we see it from a specific POV. The choice of what canon scenes are included is brilliant, creating a very different version of the original, with canon being more or less superficial, floating on top of a dark story full of angst and despair and love and hope.
Those who are easily triggered by descriptions of rape might want to test the waters carefully here. Though none of the sexual violence that happens in this story is very explicit, aspects of one gang rape are repeated over and over, as Mal suffers from frequent flashbacks.