The Gift - Act III
Friday, March 2, 2007

Several years post-BDM. Story of new crew, of visiting relatives and of ponies. Feedback would be great!


note: eek! i'm so so so so very sorry for not havin posted this earlier. you've probably all forgotten what's happened! you see i've been really busy with coursework and workin on the script for my comic. i hope you can enjoy this anyway =)


“And why do you think Bronte uses metaphor here?” Inara asked.

Sephora and Daniel exchanged bemused glances across the mess table.

“Cos it makes her feel clever?” Sephora suggested and Daniel grinned.

“Nara!” Mal came striding in.

Inara frowned. “Mal, we’re in the middle of a lesson.”

“This is important!” he insisted, a grin on his face.

“And urgent?”

“Yes! Important and urgent. Will only take bout half an hour, promise. Then you can get back to your learnin.”

“No rush, Unca’mal.” Sephora slipped from her seat.

“Alright, we’ll take lunch break early,” Inara conceded, before being dragged from the room by Mal.

“Mal, this isn’t fair,” Inara was complaining as her feet touched the floor of their bunk. “You shouldn’t interrupt me, it’s not setting a-” She was cut short by a kiss.

“Do you know what date it is?”




“Well, I was sitting thinkin-”

“You were busy then, obviously.”

“And I thought, it’s nine months until Dan’s birthday.” He gave her a significant glance.

“You interrupted the lesson for that?”

“Ain’t that a thing to be celebratin?”

She couldn’t help smiling. “What kind of celebration did you have in mind?”

“Well,” Mal pulled her into his arms. “I had some things in mind, but I’m open to suggestions.”

They kissed and she allowed him to lay her on the bed. “You know, I’m still angry you interrupted us.”

“I know.” He kissed her then sat upright. “Ok, what’s up?”

Inara lay still for a moment. “What?”

“Nara, when have you last given in so willingly to my wiles?”

She opened her mouth to protest, but shrugged, sitting up too. “I’m sorry.”

“So? What is it? What’s bothering my beautiful wife?”


Zuriel saw Kaylee at the end of the corridor and hastened towards her. “Hello.”

“Oh, hey there,” she span around, looking slightly guilty.

Zuriel glanced over her shoulder and saw what she had been watching. Rosie was sat next to her Father outside the infirmary, reciting her letters. “He’s very good with her,” Zuriel commented.

“He’s had a lot of practice with caring for people. What was it you wanted?” They strode back towards the engine room.

“I was just wondering how long it is Captain Reynolds has owned this ship.”

“Oh, I’m not sure. I came to work here I guess… eighteen years ago? Wow, that’s a long time!”

“Yeah, who has been on the crew in that time?”

Kaylee smiled. “Why you so interested?”

“Just curious… about Serenity’s history.”

“Well, Wash was pilot when I arrived, an Jayne came along a bit after-”

“What did she do?”

Kaylee grinned. “He was a mercenary. Trust me when I tell you he would’ve shot you for sayin that. Inara began rentin the shuttle and it was about 6 months later that Simon and River became passengers. Simon became our Doctor and River, the pilot when Wash left us.”

“And that’s it? No other men?”

“Well, we had a Shepherd aboard for a while, but no. We’re quite a close-knit family! You know you could just check out the personnel logs.”

“I didn’t think of that. Thank you, Kaylee.” He turned on his heel and strode out.

“No problem,” she said, more to herself than anyone. There certainly was something odd about that pilot…


“It’s just at times I feel so… useless.”

“Nara!” Mal scoffed. “I think we both know-”

“Don’t. Don’t try and fight me, Mal. I have no place here. I know medicines, but I’m not a doctor. I can fly, but I’m not a pilot. I can fight, but I’m not a warrior. I’m educated, but I’m no teacher. Don’t you see, Mal? I have spent a lifetime learning and yet I have learnt nothing and I have become no one.”

Mal was silent for a moment. “Need to get that off your chest?”

“This is serious, Mal.”

“Sh! Now’s your turn to listen, Nara. You’re not here to be a doctor or warrior; you’re not my employee, you’re my wife. If you don’t acknowledge anythin else, know this: You are the heart of Serenity. Without love, she won’t fly, Nara n that’s a fact.”

Inara sighed, unable to meet Mal’s eye. “Sometimes I want to be more.”



Zoë looked up, shoving the dinosaurs beneath her bedclothes. “Yes?”

“Can Seph come down? She has something she would like to say to you.”

“Li-wu, have I gotta-”


Zoë smiled to herself. “If she wants.”

There was a pause before Sephora clomped down the ladder. “Li-wu said I should apologise for before.”

“Do you want to?”


“Are you sorry?”

Sephora was silent. “I still don’t think you should forget him. But that wasn’t why I was angry. I was angry cos you could remember him, but I can’t.”

“There was a time when I wished I had never known your Father. I thought if I had never met him then I wouldn’t have to live with missing him so much. It’s been sixteen years since his death and not once have I felt for someone else anywhere near how I felt for him. Does that prove that I am worthy of remembering him?” Zoë’s voice was tinged with anger.

“Mamma, I didn’t wanna make you upset.”

There was a hush that did not breach the gulf between them.

“Is there somethin else you wanted to say?”

“No, Mamma.” Sephora turned, knowing she had mended nothing and the silence in her Mother’s heart was screaming.


“Mommy, Mommy!” Rosie scampered into the engine room.

Kaylee stuck her head out form beneath the engine. “Heya, Sweetie! All done with lessons?”

Rosie nodded her head with a grin.

“Wanna help Mommy with Serenity?”


“Pass that wrench then. Look where I’m pointin.”

Rosie glanced around for a moment, then picked up the wrench with both hands and stumbled to her Mother’s side.

“Can you say ‘wrench’, Rose? Wrench.”


She looked guilty as Simon entered with two mugs of coffee.

“You don’t hear me testing her on medical equipment.”

“Don’t mean you ain’t done it!” Kaylee pointed out. “Sides, I knew all this stuff by her age, n I weren’t a Tam-like genius!”

Simon shook his head with a smile. “We don’t know that she’s a genius, Kaylee. Here, I brought you coffee.”

Kaylee grinned, jumping to her feet. “N that’s why I love my man.”

Rosie stuck out her tongue as her parents kissed. “Icky.”

Simon blushed ever so slightly and straightened. “Why don’t you tell Mommy what you learnt today?”

“K!” Rosie bit her lip then pointed to a part in the engine. “A!” She pointed again. “Be! Se!”

Simon frowned. “Why are you pointing, Rose?”

“It’s the convection-feed. Wait!” Kaylee’s eyes widened. “The abductor, the bypass trip and the convection-feed…”

Rose pointed to Simon. “De! Daddy!” She grinned to herself.

“Kaylee, why does our baby daughter know more about Serenity’s engine than me?”

“To be fair, that don’t take much…”

“Mal was right!”

“You shouldn’t sound so shocked. The Cap’s always right! Well… sometimes. How could he be wrong bout our baby bein genius? Hey, looks like I’ve won! She’s clearly gonna be a mechanic.”


“Well, you don’t see her sproutin medical jargon...”

Simon smiled. “Our daughter’s future profession is not a competition. …And besides she may be sprouting it in private.”

Kaylee laughed. “Oh! I wonder if she’s a reader.”

“Doctor Tam?”

Simon and Kaylee span around. “Oh, hi, Zuriel!”

The pilot stood darkly in the doorway, his clear blue eyes glinting. “Can I have a word, Doc? …In private?”

“Urm, well, sure!” Simon put down his coffee and stepped towards the door. “Let’s go to the Infirmary.”

Kaylee watched them leave. “Rosie, time to see if you’re a reader like your Auntie River. What are Zuriel n Daddy discussin in private?”


“No, I doubt that…” Kaylee grinned.


The sun was setting oranges and golds as Serenity was brought to land. Mal strode down to the cargo bay where his crew had gathered.

“So..?” Kaylee asked. “What’s the big surprise?”

“Is it ponies?”

“No, Sephora,” Mal growled. “It ain’t. And right about now would be the time to let that drop.”

“What is it then?” Daniel pressed.

“You know I’m surprised that no one asked where we got a job.” Mal punched the button to lower the gangway.

Zoë and Inara shared a knowing smile while the rest of the crew remained bemused. As the doors opened, the deep red light flooded the cargo bay. Simon was the first to recognise the figure at the bottom of the ramp.


Kaylee squealed.


While most the crew took a shuttle ride, Sephora rode behind River on her jet-black horse to the house. By the time they arrived her hair was on end and her grin reached her ears.

“Oh, Unca’mal!” She cried as she stepped through the door, “Can’t I please-”

“No. And you-” Mal pointed to River. “Should not be encouraging her.” He was smiling though.

“Horse, equus caballus. They are compatible with space travel,” River pointed out.

“Don’t matter if they are. Horses are not compatible with Serenity.”

“Seph, you still wantin a pony?”

Sephora span around. “Hey, Jayney!” Their greeting was a high-five, a gesture odd between the burly man and the young girl.

“You ever gonna quit callin me that?”

“River! Come quick!” Kaylee yelled from the other room. “Jayne wouldn’t give us the tour till you’d arrived.”


There weren’t enough chairs in the house so as it grew dark the family lounged around a fire in a field adjacent to the Cobb home.

Daniel and Sephora curled by the flames, reading. Nearby, River sat chatting with Kaylee, Simon gazing at her as though they’d been apart for a year, not a month. Rosie’s eyes remained bright, but her head was lolling against her Mother’s chest. Mal and Jayne were sharing a bottle of whiskey, their raucous laughter occasionally blaring into the air, causing Rosie’s eyes to jerk open. Zuriel sat close to them, but not quite with them, gazing into the depths of the fire.

Zoë was a little way off. Her dark eyes shone as she watched the stars. Stars.

“I love you.”

“Is that so?”

“I love you more than the stars.”

“Mind if I join you?”

Zoë did not flinch and tried to keep the shock from her eyes as she turned to Inara. “Not at all.”

“Aren’t they beautiful?”


There was a silence.

“You still miss him.”

Zoë flinched. She was not used to being confronted about her feelings. Unsure how to respond she remained silent.

“Forgive me, I did not mean to pry.”

“It’s fine. It’s been years since he left. Sometimes it feels like forever but sometimes like just yesterday. I’m used to it.”

“I heard Sephora was upset earlier.”

“Yes. She’s angry she didn’t know her Father and needs someone to blame.”

“It seems selfish, but she is still just a child. It must be hard for her.”



“I know who you are.”

Zuriel almost fell from the log on which he sat. “Pardon?” he gasped.

River smiled curiously. “I know why you’re here.”

“I am the new pilot.”

“No, you’re not. You don’t belong on Serenity and you never wanted to. I know.”

“What do you know? What could you?” Zuriel’s tone was disdainful bordering on dangerous.

“I know you’re searching, like the rest of us. You’re broken but you keep hoping you might find the glue to hold your pieces together.”

“You can’t know.”

“No, but I do. I felt you coming. Do you think you’ll finally find it here?”

“Find what?”


“You’re crazy.”

“That’s the popular theory.”


Kaylee lay back against Simon, allowing him to hold her. Rosie was curled in her arms, now fast asleep. “So?”


Kaylee smiled up at her partner. “What was it Zuriel wanted earlier? You know it’s been eatin me up.”

“Doctor-Patient confidentiality, Kaylee.”

“So it’s medical?”

“No, not necessarily,” Simon replied quickly.

“You think after all this time I can’t tell when you’re lyin, Doctor Tam?”

“It’s personal, Kaylee, and I know he will tell everyone in his own time.”

“Alright, you keep your secrets then. I’ll ask River, bet she can glean somethin from him.”

“She wouldn’t do that.”

“Maybe not intentionally…”

Simon kissed her. “You can be very persistent, can’t you?”

“Wouldn’t get nowhere bein anythin different!”

A little distance away Sephora and Daniel lay close to the fire, he propped up on his elbow, reading from a battered copy of Wuthering Heights, she on her back, staring to the heavens. She allowed the words to wash over her, knowing she would not exchange, for a thousand lives, her condition here for that of a lonely Princess.

To be continued…


Friday, March 2, 2007 11:54 PM


I liked this though it seems like forever ago since your last post. Not sure about Zuriel. Loved it that they all got to visit with River and Jayne, just like a family reunion. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, March 3, 2007 11:24 AM


I knew it! I called and I was right! Boo-frickity-yeah!


Definitely an intriguing chapter, Sofi...especially when Zuriel appears. Gotta wonder if his presence is dangerous, though River is certainly not trying to whoop his ass in defence of her family:(


Saturday, March 3, 2007 11:53 PM


YAY FOR RIVER AND JAYNE! I loved the family moment at the end there, it gave me warm and fuzzy feelings. More please! ;-)

I am still uber-intrigued by Zuriel, but I'm thinking he can't be much of a danger to the crew then, if River accepted him.


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