A Mighty Thorn In a MIghty Paw - Ch. 61- The End
Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A lot to learn...



Cheerful Firefly music. Rolls over into...


Jayne is attempting to drag his destroyed mattress up the entryway to his bunk. It’s jammed tight. He lets out a grunt and yanks it through.

View moves up into the Bridge. Malcolm is re-stacking the crates in the fore storage area, strapping them down. River sits at the pilot’s console, legs tucked under her, messing with the screens.

RIVER: I ran the self diagnostic and foreign signal sweep. They never bothered to put a tracking beacon aboard us.

MAL (ascending the ladder to the upper deck): ‘Course not. Wasn’t a chance in the ‘verse we’d actually escape their evil clutches. Jonah in the whale’s belly we were.

River smiles at Mal and he gives her a wink.

View pivots 180 degrees and travels back downs steps, through forehall, past Jayne dragging his mattress around the corner to the fore/starboard stairs and into the galley. Inara is picking up the scattered articles. Kaylee is attempting to sort items into the various kitchen compartments.

INARA (carrying a stack of plates to the counter): I realize the necessity of a thorough search, but do soldiers honestly think a human being could fit into one of those?

KAYLEE: No. I just think they’re mean. They like to break stuff, ‘specially our stuff. I hope Paul made ‘em limp for a month.

Inara smiles, squeezing Kaylee’s arm.

View travels through the galley into the aft hall. We see the engine turning lazily in the engine room before view turns the corner and travels down the aft stairs. Camera slows as it approaches the Infirmary. Simon stands within, holding his Med Scanner near Paul. Paul’s eyes are still closed, his body relaxed. He is unrestrained. A single IV drips into the line in his arm.

Simon touches the screen on his Med Scanner. He shakes his head.

View travels from Infirmary and up into the Cargo Bay. Zoe is moving crates about, her shirt soaked with sweat. She hefts a particularly large crate and stacks it on another. She brushes off her hands and looks around. The Bay is neatly organized. Zoe walks toward the rear entrance, stopping next to Paul’s swaying heavy bag.

A half smile touches Zoe’s face. She throws a crisp left hook, denting the bag. Zoe walks toward the rear entrance, rubbing her knuckles with a smile.

Jayne can be heard fumbling with the mattress on the fore/starboard stairs. We hear him curse, then the sound of the mattress hitting the deck. Zoe shakes her head and steps through the door. Follow her into the Infirmary. She stops in the doorway.

ZOE: How’s he doin’?

Simon looks up from the Scanner, defeat in his eyes.

SIMON: From a clinical standpoint, he’s as close to perfect as one can be. He’s healing rapidly. His vitals are textbook, including his intra-cranial pressure. His EEG is a millimeter off, but that’s to be expected. (sighs) I can’t see a single medical reason why he’s still comatose.

ZOE: Maybe it’s not medical. Not every aspect of a person can be gauged. Some things need to... find their own way.

Simon nods, looking most unhappy. Zoe squeezes his shoulder and moves on.


Serenity approaches the camera directly, passing beneath our view.

Camera zooms into Galley window. The crew sits around the dinner table. Camera passes through window into...


The crew eats silently, nibbling at their food with little visible interest. Even Jayne isn’t attacking his plate with the usual zeal.

Mal glances up from his plate, his eyes checking each person around the table individually. He sets down his fork and pushes his chair away from the table, the wooden legs scraping loudly on the deck. Everyone looks up from their plate. Mal places a foot on his chair, crossing his arms and leaning on his knee.

MAL: Don’t believe much in prayin’. Haven’t had congress with the Man in quite some time. But I believe in the folk around me, and that number grew by one in recent days. Never an easy process, givin’ or gainin’ trust. Well, he’s trustin’ us now, knowingly or not. Let’s not let ‘im down. You’re all under orders to pray as hard and as much as you like.

The crew nods. Mal nods back and sits back down.


Mal leans way back in the pilot’s seat, hands rubbing his face, exhaling loudly. A digital time readout says 0200. Zoe enters behind him.

ZOE: Ready for some relief, sir?

MAL: Abso-ruttin’-lutely. Can’t say as I’ll get any shut-eye, but...

ZOE: I don’t think anyone’s sleeping too soundly as of late.

MAL: ‘Specially Jayne. Man didn’t have much of a plan when he tossed his old mattress. Last I saw, he was crashin’ on one o’ the couches down below... (eyes Zoe a beat) How you farin’?

ZOE (dropping into co-pilot’s seat): Sleep wasn’t a luxury I was enjoying much of prior to our last little escapade.

MAL: I’d conjure not. (beat. Looks out at stars, voice quiet) He said somethin’ to you, good ways back. Somethin’ you didn’t even hear, havin’ got yourself knocked out, an’ all.

ZOE (waits a beat, perplexed, a twinkle in her eye) Care to... share?

MAL: He said “You’re strong, the strongest person I know.” (beat) Well, I couldn’t argue then, and I sure as hell can’t argue now. (he stands) G’night. Oh, and could you try not to run us into any more battle ships? Had my fill, thanks.

ZOE: My best, sir.

Mal gives her shoulder the smallest of squeezes, then exits.

Zoe looks back out at the stars. Slow, delicate zoom into her left cheek. A single tear forms and creeps down at the slowest possible pace.


Mal descends the short staircase to the fore hall deck. He shuffles to his bunk ladder, kicking it forward, and slowly descends.

CU of Mal as his head drops out of sight...

View pans along deck to a pair of bare feet that step up from the Galley. CU of feet and ankles as they slowly walk along fore hall and silently ascend the Bridge stairs.


Zoe checks a screen, then stands. She pauses, stretching her arms over her head. She drops her arms to her sides, takes a step to her right. She stares out at the stars.

ZOE (eyes glancing to the right): Hello, Paul.

PAUL: Is that... what I’m called?

ZOE (turning her head to look at Paul): Yes. Welcome back.

Slow pan from Zoe around Bridge to center on Paul. He is dressed in shorts and an armless shirt. The IV is still plugged into his arm, though the tube has been detached.

Paul glances around the Bridge with open curiosity, as if he’s seeing it for the first time. Zoe turns and watches him, her face neutral, her body appearing relaxed.

Paul takes another tentative step forward. He puts a hand on the pilot’s seat.

PAUL: I’ve been here before... haven’t I?

ZOE: A few times.

PAUL: What’s this... place... called?

ZOE: Serenity. It’s a shi...

Loud running footsteps can be heard on the fore hall deck. Paul slowly turns toward the noise. Zoe calmly glances in that direction.

Simon barges onto the Bridge, out of breath. He looks tired and haggard.

SIMON (to Paul): You... you’re... (gasping, looking pleadingly at Zoe) I only fell asleep for a second...

ZOE (smiling): We’ll try to forgive you for being human.

Paul has turned toward the windshield. He steps off the top rung of the ladder, gently landing down in the forward storage area. His eyes are fixed on the view beyond the windshield.

PAUL: It’s... beautiful.

River steps up behind them, startling Simon.

RIVER: It’s home.

Mal stumbles onto the Bridge, Jayne not far behind. Inara glides in as well, Kaylee next to her.

MAL: What’s all the ruckus...?

Simon holds up a hand. Mal catches sight of Paul in the forward area. Kaylee grins happily.

Paul looks at the faces around the Bridge, meeting their gaze one by one. He rests his eyes on River.

PAUL: I don’t know what you mean...

River steps down the ladder. She moves close to Paul, taking his hand.

RIVER: I’ll teach you. (she looks around at the crew, than back at Paul) We’ll all teach you.

Paul’s face slowly relaxes. He turns back toward the windshield. Simon steps forward and holds up his Med. scanner. After a beat he holds it out for Mal and Zoe to see.

CU of Med. scanner screen. It shows a basic scan of Paul’s skull and brain. It appears normal but for a small dark section. Mal waves it aside.

MAL: Seaf... Paul, do you remember anything?

Paul looks back at the crew. His gaze settles on Jayne after several seconds. Jayne’s brow furrows and he looks around, obviously uncomfortable.

Paul climbs the ladder and walks up to Jayne.

JAYNE (glancing side to side): Uh, hey, man.

Paul grabs Jayne in a hug. Jayne’s eyes bug out for a beat before his arms settle awkwardly around Paul in a brief, manly hug. Paul releases him after a few seconds.

PAUL: You saved me... from something, didn’t you?

Jayne’s lip quivers.

MAL: Jayne, you cryin’?

Jayne roughly rubs a hand across his eyes.

JAYNE: Ruttin’ wind... eyes. Dried out.

MAL: Wind. Right.

PAUL: Wind?

Mal steps up to Paul and puts an arm around his shoulders.

MAL: Like River said, you got some learnin’ to do, Seafood.

PAUL: I can’t argue with... (beat. perplexed look at Mal) Seafood?

Zoe gives Mal the look. Kaylee slaps his arm. Simon shakes his head. Inara ducks her head with a smile. Jayne rubs at his eyes and grins.

View pulls away to show entire crew, then pulls away through the windshield. Serenity soars through space, heading lazily into the black.


... Then fade to black.


Jayne snores loudly and peacefully, his head tilted back. He rests on a make-shift mattress laid on his bed frame.

CU of a pair of hands holding a familiar visor. The hands reach out and gently slip the visor over Jayne’s eyes. The hands retreat, one hand reappearing holding a small remote. A button is pressed.


Serenity passes out of sight. Nothing but stars are visible.

JAYNE (VO): Hey, what the hell? (sound of clanging metal) How’d ya...? I’m gonna kick yer...

Sound of River’s musical giggle.

SIMON (VO): Happy birthday, mei-mei.

Cut to black.

Roll final credits.


Click to go back to Ch. 60

Click to go back to prologue


Wednesday, April 4, 2007 3:44 PM


Hope you write another. I loved this one!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007 11:01 PM


Lovely ending if this is the end. Was a bit confused with the last scene with Jayne for a moment or too. So happy to see Paul awake but am concerned about the still dark section of his brain. Just hope the greater good outweighs that dark spot. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, April 5, 2007 4:13 PM


Yay! A warm and fuzzy ending! It chills me that I could almost see Simon saying that Paul was braindead or something. Chilly. Much better that his mind just hit reboot. I hope he stays with the crew for a good long while, because they're his real family. And Jayne crying! A very funny image.

I, too, definitely hope you're up for writing another one, because I certainly am looking forward to seconds! (And yes, my own story will hopefully be arriving shortly...I'm such a slacker!)

Thanks again for a great trip through the 'Verse with the BDHs.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007 10:59 AM


Well...that was certainly an interesting wrap-up. Not sure how I feel about Paul's brain getting rebooted and having seem to have lose years of maturity and experience like that. Maybe it's for the best - not really recalling all the stuff he did as the Academy's CQC trainer and his guilt for not trying to stop the Alliance and the Academy sooner - but I just feel like the crew should be concerned about Paul's future mental state, what with the black spot on his CAT/MRI scan...

Still...been all kinds of addicted to this tale and I really can't wait to see what you come up with next. Can only hope is on par with this series;)


Thursday, April 19, 2007 8:03 AM


I *love* how you write this segment, moving through Serenity from person to person, so very much as we would see it in the series or the BDM, getting the ship as back to normal as they can. I can so clearly see what you are describing. Also like the touch that passes from crew member to crew member, bonding them. And Paul too? Really nice wrapup. Take a little break. Then give us more, please.


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