Strange, Stranger and Downright Unsettling – Part 2 (Repost)
Monday, November 12, 2007

After a fall, Mal's world changes dramatically.


A/N: This is the second of a four part fic. Any feedback will be appreciated. Hope you all enjoy it. Also, a big THANKS to my beta, Chazzer.

Disclaimer: All things belong to Joss.

Strange, Stranger and Downright Unsettling

By abbeygirl

Part Two

When he awoke, the glare from the lights above made him squint his eyes. Suddenly someone leaned over him. With the light now being blocked by his visitor, he opened his eyes so he could see. It was River.

“River…” he started to say. “Are you, well, you?”

“Shhhh…” she interrupted. Her eyes locked with his. “It’s all fluid. Go with it.” With that, she turned and was gone.

How odd, Mal thought. But then again, he seldom understood what she meant. At least things seemed back to normal. River was River. He felt a huge weight being lifted from his chest. He breathed a sigh of relief. Mal sat up ever so slowly. His head still hurt, but dulled by the meds he had received. He looked around. Everything else seemed OK.

“Must have whacked my head pretty hard,” he said to himself, trying to allay the nagging feeling that things were not what they seemed. “Everything seems fine. Everything’s OK.”

Then he went to straighten his clothes. He looked down and noticed he was wearing Shepherd Book’s gray shirt and collar.

“Or not…” he braced himself up against the table for a minute, thinking. He started rationalizing the events from yesterday. “Just a prank. Has to be a big prank. Not very funny one though”

He decided that it was time to end the joke. He knew he had to find Zoe. Zoe would help him get these hooligans back to work. Slowly, he left the infirmary and went towards the bridge. As he got near to Shuttle one, he saw someone dart quickly towards him. He tried to avoid them, but still managed to collide with them and they both ended up on their asses. Something clanked as it hit the grate.

“Oh my God, Shepherd! I am so sorry!” she said as she picked up the dropped engine part and stood up. He looked up and saw that it was Inara. She helped him up. “I didn’t make you bump your head again, did I? Are you hurt? I could go get Jayne…”

“Jayne?” he repeated, as if in a daze. He looked at her closely and like the others, she looked wrong too. She was wearing coveralls, hair tied up into pigtails and a grease smudge on her chin. She was carrying an engine part. He knew this wasn’t right, but he couldn’t stop thinking that she looked so damn sexy. Instinctively, he reached up and started to wipe the engine grease off her chin with his hand. “You look so…”

With a confused look on her face, Inara backed up a little.

“Are ya’ okay?” she looked at him.

In the back of his mind was a small voice. It’s a prank. You know it’s a prank. It HAS to be a prank. Just get through this until you get to Zoe.

“Shiny…” he murmured. That’s when he noticed that she had cut her hand. “You’re bleeding.”

She looked down and saw the small cut.

“Aw, it’ll be good as gold. It’s just a bitty one. Ain’t nothing.”

Ain’t? He didn’t think he had ever heard that word come out of Inara’s mouth before. His stomach was doing flip-flops now. He had to focus. So he focused on Inara’s cut. Mal cradled her hand in his and started to guide her gently towards the shuttle.

“Let’s go in the shuttle. We’ll get some water to clean it.” He said.

“Ain’t no need, Shepherd.”

There it was again. Ain’t. It’s a prank. It’s a prank. He repeated over and over in his mind. But they seemed so into the characters that they played. This must have taken a long while to plan out and practice, especially Jayne and his bit with being the doc and all. Jayne barely remembered what he had to say when they did the hospital heist on Ariel. But what if it’s real? Mal didn’t want to think about that again, so he returned his focus back on this one tiny little cut. The shuttle door was open and Kaylee stood in the shadow of the doorway. She had observed the whole incident. As Mal and Inara passed by her, Inara shot Kaylee a confused look. Kaylee shrugged. Mal didn’t see her there. She stayed in the background and looked on in concern. Mal went and got a small basin and a soft cloth. He filled the basin with warm water. Slowly, he cleaned the cut. It had actually stopped bleeding by now, but he went on and finished it like it was major surgery. Then he used a clean part of the cloth to finish wiping her chin clean of the grease. It’s a prank. It’s a prank. The mantra started in his head again. He decided to call them out on it. Stop it from going any further.

“Why are you running about so much? You helpin’ Kaylee in the engine room?”

Inara looked past him at Kaylee. Mal turned around to see Kaylee standing there. Her hair was perfectly coiffed and she was wearing a stunning green dress. Mal looked from her and back to Inara and then back to Kaylee. Kaylee took a step towards him.

“Are you feeling well, Shepherd? Should you be out of bed?” she asked. “We could help you back to the infirmary.”

“You guys are really going above and beyond aren’t you?”

“Above and beyond?”

“Yeah. You all thought it was my turn for a joke, but as much as I know, I didn’t give permission to hold a ‘let’s switch jobs with your friend’ day? Doesn’t the title of Captain mean anything to you all?”

“Captain?” Kaylee and Inara said in shocked unison. Kaylee smiled weakly at Mal. “I’ll be right back. You both stay here.”

“Sure. We’ll hang out here in Inara’s shuttle. No need to hurry. You might want to change out those clothes though. The gig is up.”

“The gig?” Inara started.

“I’ll be sure to do that,” Kaylee said as she quickly walked out of the shuttle.

Mal turned back to a stunned Inara.

“You didn’t think I knew, did you? You can’t fool me. Well, maybe at the start. But I caught on after a bit,” Mal said with a smile. He was feeling better since it seemed like Kaylee was going back to change her clothes to normal. After all, she did say she’d be sure to do that. It was all just a prank. He was starting to feel better. “I do have to say the coveralls and the smudged face almost threw me. You should get changed too. Don’t you have a client sometime soon?”

“A client?” stammered Inara.

Inara didn’t know what to say. Luckily, Kaylee returned. “How are we doing?”

“Just shiny, “ Mal smirked. He turned back at Inara and looked at her hand. His voice softened. “You do need to be careful running about like that. You could have really gotten hurt.”

Then he heard a ruckus by the shuttle door. Jayne and Book were there. Jayne was holding a doctor’s bag.

“Whoa,” Mal said as he stood up.

“He thinks he is the Captain,” Kaylee said.

“Reeaaaally…” Book said with a smile. Kaylee and Inara shot him an annoyed look. “Sorry. Just thought it was a mite amusing.”

“You guys are taking this prank just a little too far. Now stop it and get back to work!” Mal yelled at them. The voice inside started again. It’s just a prank. It’s just a prank. It’s just a prank. But is it? Am I nuts?

Jayne slowly walked towards Mal. He had his hand behind his back. It didn’t fool Mal though.

“Get that gorram thing away from me. You will NOT be doping me again. This prank has gone on long enough!”

“It’s all going to be all right, Shepherd,” Jayne said steadily. Mal was getting desperate and desperate situations caused desperate actions.

“Jayne, you stop now or I will drop you,” Mal said gruffly as he reached for his sidearm. His hand found nothing. He looked down quickly to see that he wore no gun belt because Shepherds don’t wear guns. It was enough of a distraction that Jayne pounced on him and injected him with the hypo. Mal’s world started to go blurry. “It will be fine, Shepherd. Just get some rest.”

“Again, I’m no rutting shepherd,” Mal slurred. “This is my ship and I say…”

And he was out. Book and Jayne carried Mal back to the infirmary. Inara and Kaylee sat down on the bed. Kaylee looked towards the door deep in thought.

“Oh. Here is the indicator for your console. Only take a moment to put it in,” Inara said. Then she burst into giggles, “Can you believe he thought I was a companion? Me. A Companion.”

Kaylee was still looking towards the door. She turned slowly to Inara.

“And if I didn’t know better, I would have thought he was sweet on you.”

Thanks for reading, please comment.


Saturday, February 23, 2008 4:33 AM


This is becoming bizarre...I hope Mal gets back to HIS world.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008 6:56 AM


This is funny stuff

Friday, May 23, 2008 12:00 PM


I wonder who Zoe's gonna be...

You have me hooked. ^_^


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