Running River: Act II
Friday, May 5, 2006

Zoe and Kaylee lose River, but did she run or was she taken? The crew have a choice to make, and not just about the name of the baby...


note: this was a bit slow coming about due to me not being sure exactly where to put things... hope its ok! it would probably be best to read the teaser and act i first! the former can be found at

i have all the characters (cos i cant bear not to) and it doesnt take place at any particular time in the series or bdm... oh and zoes pregnant =D


Simon paced the cargo bay impatiently. Why had Mal and Jayne returned sooner? The girls had been on the mule. Why weren’t they – Suddenly there was a knock on the airlock door. Simon rushed over and seeing Zoë, slung it open. Mal, followed by Jayne, rushed in from the common area and Zoë strode over to him purposefully.

Simon looked wildly around. “Where’s River?” he cried after a moment.

Kaylee couldn’t look at him, her eyes close to tears. Zoë ignored Simon. “Sir, River must have walked off. We looked but couldn’t see her within the vicinity so I thought it best we came back so you could operate a more extensive search.”

There was a pause of absolute silence before a cry split the air. “What?” Anger flooded Simon’s gaze. “I let her go with you and you lost her. Do you realise how long I have been -”

“Simon!” Mal rounded on him, conscious of Kaylee’s distraught look. “She’s not a pet. She should know not to walk off. This is not their fault.”

“She’s a mentally unstable teenager!”

“This is not helping! The sooner you stop accusing my crew, the sooner we find your sister. Dong ma?”

Simon was silent, but seething.

Wash’s voice crackled over the comm. “Guys? What’s going on? We leaving?”

Mal gave Simon a lingering look then stepped over to press the comm. “No. We’ve a slight delay on our -”

“Hello!” Mal’s automatically drew his gun, pointing it swiftly at the man standing in the doorway that had not been shut behind them. He wore dirty combat gear and a toothy grin.

“What do you want?” Mal snarled after a moment.

Garret smiled. “Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger!” His shirt was caked with mud and rugged stubble grazed his chin. “Just here to tell you, we got your gal.”

“River?” Simon gasped, without thinking.

“Is that it? We couldn't get it out of her. Hm… a pretty name,” he said thoughtfully. “Suits her…”

“You won’t hurt her or I’ll -” Simon growled, advancing on the man who did not seem in slightest scared, despite the gun pointed at his chest.

“Simon!” Mal bellowed.

Garret just laughed. “Oh we won’t hurt her. Not yet anyway. We don’t want her, you see. We want your Captain here. So you’d better hope he finds his way to Gerik Filey’s pad before sun down or don’t expect to see your running River again.” He said this with an almost psychotic smile. “Oh,” he paused before leaving, sneering at Simon, “and for you I’ll make it painful.”

They watched him leave.

“We letting him go, Sir?” Zoë asked, her eyes flashing furiously.

Mal let his gun fall to his side.


Kadeem leant against the whitewashed wall of the small holding area, his eyes staring up out of the small speckled glass window high above him. He cradled his gun casually, not expecting trouble in the slightest. This girl was an easy burden and Garrett would be back soon, hopefully with the bounty in tow. This job had been easier than anyone expected, but Captain Malcolm Reynolds was a honourable man, his records showed. It was easy to find a weakness in men who have pride, principles, a code of how they should act. That was why he had spent so many years severing all connections with anyone, determinedly not getting attached to things, because why learn to love something only to get hurt? Kadeem went by his own code now, which was not to care for those around him, only for himself. I mean, sure, he would help others if he thought they might be able to do something for him some time too, but there was no sense in just handing out charity to every soft story… Anyway, this job was going to be simple, and if the money was what Gerik made out it would be, they would all become very rich men. All they had to do was make sure -

“It won’t work.”

Kadeem turned to the girl. She was very odd. Her dark eyes stared at her unblinkingly, knowingly. “What d’you say, little girl?”

“The plan. It won’t work.” She said it with grim certainty, her gaze almost pitying.

Kadeem couldn’t repress a short laugh. “And how’d you figure that?”

“He never put down arms.”

He rolled his eyes, quite sure this girl was crazy.

“I’m not crazy,” she said sharply, almost angry. “You can’t make me do what you want. I’m not like the others with their pathetic sighs in the night.” She was beginning to get agitated, her eyes rolling in their sockets, her head shaking slightly. “But you smothered those, didn’t you. You can’t smother me!” She hit out, her thin, pale arms flailing pathetically in his direction before she suddenly froze. “You think you can, but you can’t, Kadeem. Isn’t that what she said? She was right.”

Kadeem felt a sickness in the pit of his stomach and his skin began to crawl. He watched the girl as she looked restlessly around herself in the small, cold room. Who was she? How could she possibly know about her. “What do you want?” he demanded, his voice a growling threat. “Are you trying to intimidate me?”

The girl turned and laughed, a tinkling laugh, a giggle that bubbled from her lips as though he had just made a fun joke. Suddenly her face straightened as she became deadly serious. “Do I need to?” she asked in a whisper, her eyes piercingly wide. She glanced away again and said flippantly, “Besides, it won’t work.”

The wall suddenly felt very hard against Kadeem’s back. He clutched his gun with hands that were damp with perspiration. He tried to shake away the dread that was clutching at his stomach, but how did she know? How did she know about her?

Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea…


“So that’s the situation,” Mal said, regarding each of his crew in turn. “They want me in place of River.”

Wash frowned, one hand was placed on the back of the chair where his wife sat, her expression unreadable. “Wait, so they don’t know River’s a fugitive?”

“Apparently not. And I intend to keep it that way.”

Kaylee sat in the corner of the kitchen, her sorrowful eyes at the floor. She couldn’t help thinking this was all her fault. If she only hadn’t insisted River come with them, they would all be off planet already. She looked fleetingly up at Simon whose expression was still one of steely anger. How could she ever forgive herself if River got hurt? How could Simon forgive her? After he worked so hard to protect her…

“Well,” Book said, regarding Mal with his thoughtful eyes, “Seems we have a decision to make.”

Mal glanced defiantly at him. “I don’t believe we do.”


Everyone sat in silence, feeling equally useless. Every now and again a sob gasped from the corner and eventually Simon approached Kaylee, allowing her to weep into his warm chest. “I’m so sorry…” she whispered, clutching at his back.

Simon hushed her gently, stroking her hair with an awkward hand.

Jayne shifted uneasily in his seat, playing with the knife in his lap. Book sat tensely next to him, reading his bible to himself, muttering under his breath.

“How about Kya?” Wash asked after another moment of silence.

Zoë glanced up at her husband, a hint of annoyance in her gaze. “Is this really the time, Wash?”

Wash stared back. “Yes.” He hated worrying. He hated the squirming feeling that toyed with his insides. He always had to deal with it, he was always left behind like this. This was a good a time as any to think of names for their child, at least it took their mind off it. “I like it. It means ‘diamond in the sky’.”

Zoë understood. After a moment of shocked silence she smiled. “I like it too.”

“Really?” Wash gasped.

Inara rushed into the kitchen, finding everyone seated there in silence. Not everyone. “Where’s Mal?” she gasped. She had been right. She had felt it in her heart. Something was wrong. Eyes fell sorrowfully on her. “He’s been taken, hasn’t he?” She felt the blood drain from her face as no one contradicted her.

She stumbled backwards into the corridor. She had to help him. Someone had to help him, but maybe she was the only with the power to…

“Inara, wait!” Zoë cried, but she didn’t listen, rushing to her shuttle. She had to do this. The words Mal had spoken, though they were long ago now, still resounded in her head. She had no life but for her job. He and she were different. She had to do this for him. It did not matter the consequences. She could bargain herself for Mal, she knew Gerik would do anything to own her. This was the only way…


It was but a matter of minutes later that Mal arrived outside Gerik Filey’s pad, just as the sun began to sink low in the skyline. His heart was heavy. He was unarmed and alone. He just hoped they kept their word…



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