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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
More spiritual discussions... BADGER! [Finally got him to 'talk' to me!]
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 612 RATING: 0 SERIES: FIREFLY
There once was a man
Who was born to be king
He changed all our lives
And he made my heart sing
He turned water into wine
And called his fishermen
He cured the sick
The lame could walk
The blind could see again
He told us of the shepherds
And the flowers in the field
The story of the farmer's seed
And the harvest it would yield
He told us of two houses
And the man who lost his son
Of two men in the temple
And the Good Samaritan
Only love's gonna take you higher
Only love's gonna carry you home
[He Said Love – Barclay James Harvest]
Jayne shot to his feet, “Wo cao! Wuh de mah! You are ruttin' kiddin' me, right?” He saw the sublime look on Mariamne's face and slowly sat down, “No offense; but as I said to somone else not so long ago, I'm a merc. 'S'what I do best. Killin' folks an' getting' paid for it.”
She looked at him steadily, “I know. It's what you do best. There is no judgement in that – as I said before - in every 'verse, you are a warrior.”
“But I – we – ain't even ruttin' sure there's a God!!”
Mariamne smiled, “To be honest, neither am I. I have had experiences and seen things which lead me to believe there is at least love behind the 'verse. Of course, I may be wrong.”
“How we gonna be Shepherds of any gorram thing if'n we don't have a God to think on or nuttin'?”
Her smile widened, “*That's the journey.”
Vera frowned, trying to get her head around the more Zen-like aspects, “So; we stay as we are; living on the edge and frequently killing or hurting people out of necessity or 'cause we're getting paid. How does that make us Shepherds?”
Jayne gestured emphatically, “An' we both been pretty bad sometimes. Me mebbe more'n Vera. I was expectin' to end up down below with the fire and the pitchforks, not with a pair of sissyfied wings!”
“Ah. Christian hang-overs. The afterlife...is. As I understand it, in your dying moments there is a review of your life. Good, bad, indifferent; everything. Not just what you did, but what you felt and intended. No blame, no judgement, just 'this is how it was'. If someone has been an out-and-out villain, this will likely be a harder experience for them. All the good and bad is burnt off. *That's what it is; a cleansing fire, so that you can stand before God naked, *exactly as you are, and unashamed.”
Jayne asked, “Why us?”
Vera put in, “But the rest of the crew...”
“Are also Shepherds.”
Vera objected, “River said that she and Mal weren't.”
Mariamne smiled, “I'm not talking with them at the moment, just with you.”
Jayne was frowning again, “So, the nub of all this go se is...?”
“Be yourselves. No change, no training, no alteration. Carry on just as you are; good and bad and every glorious thing in between. Live!”
Vera grinned, “I'm glad about that.”
Jayne's frown was subtly changed to one of concentration, “Book said to Mal, 'I don't care what you believe, just believe'. An' another time, he said, 'If you can't do summat smart, do summat right'.”
Vera smiled at him warmly, “I like that last one.”
Mariamne's smile was even wider, “Yes. You've got it. Before you go and send Mal and Inara in here, I'd like to bless you,” she fetched out a ten inch high glass vial, “This has water in from all the holy rivers on Earth-that-was. It's been kept by my sisters down the years and doled out sparingly on special occasions.” She anointed each of them with a drop of water in the centre of their foreheads.
“Live, grow stronger, fight another day. And you, little one, especially. Be blessed with the blessings of the Goddess.” Junior stirred and looked at her with the open, direct gaze that a very young child can give. Then they stood up, bowed and it was over.
Jayne blew out a breath, “Did you think that was a pile of crap or what?!”
Vera looked at him, “Remember seeing Hori, over his grave.”
'We can talk in our minds too.'
Jayne stopped and looked at her apologetically, “Almost forgotten that. 'S'been a while.”
Vera's lips curved, “We've been busy having a baby, ai ren.”
Jayne's lips almost fought back smiling fully in front of witnesses, 'Rememberin' *now!'
He went to Mal and Inara, gesturing backwards with his thumb, “The Abbess woman wants to talk with you two.” Mal and Inara nodded and walked away.
Kaylee was bouncing, “So... What did she say?!”
Jayne grinned, “None of your gorram business, Kaylee-girl! Won't ask if'n you get a turn in there. 'Less it's smutty, then bring it on!” Simon was giving Jayne stern looks.
Vera looked at him, “Jayne...!”
He smiled at her, unfazed, “I don't mind tellin' 'em about how sweetly we used that rented motorbike. One *hell of a bike ride! Came so hard I thought the top of my head was gonna explode. Explode in a good way, that is!”
Vera lifted her chin and faced him right back, grinning, “You weren't the only one!” She turned to Kaylee, “Jayne was revving the engine in time with...” Jayne's big hand popped over her mouth.
“That's enough, darlin'! Kaylee gets hot around engines! She'll figure it out an' show the doc what to do next time!”
Simon deadpanned, “Making love on a motorbike? I was doing that when I was fifteen!”
Vera was suddenly busy juggling an armful of Junior and an eager Melissa, whilst smiling at her and Clarry, “Okay, pumpkins. Looks like we could be in for the long haul whilst people see Mariamne. How about a cola or something?”
Zoe overheard her and nodded, “There's that bar down the way which does ice cream.”
Sarah jumped up and down, “Oooh, ice-cream!”
Cliff picked her up, “Anything for my princesses!” So, they all went out for drinks and ice-cream.
Jayne was at the bar getting drinks with Vera, “What d'ya think about what the Abbess lady said?”
Vera shrugged, “Seemed very real about it; on the level. Walks her talk. Not like some snake oil salespeople I've met. More than a bit of Zen in what she said, but it seemed to be one long drawn-out blessing. I'm not planning on changing anything, ai ren.”
Jayne gave a curt nod, “Huh. Mebbe talk with each other in our minds more, is all?”
Vera smiled at him, 'We can do that!'
Jayne handed her a tray of drinks and ice-cream and swatted her gently on the behind, 'Love ya, woman!' Vera walked away, laughing.
In the end, the only person significantly and deeply changed by an encounter with Mariamne was Cliff. The blessing had opened a door for him and he constantly ran out of words when trying to describe his spiritual experiences. Zoe humoured him, let him say his piece, then distracted him with either hormones or Sarah. But there were subtle changes in the rest of the crew. Mal and Inara got a lot closer when they were behind closed doors. They settled into a relationship that let them verbally bait each other in public, then work out the accompanying arousal with long, hot, sweaty sessions of love-making. The days helping build Burnham slid by.
Jayne was holding Junior whilst diaper changing. Junior gurgled as Jayne tickled his stomach. Suddenly Jayne yelped.
Vera came running, “What is it, darling wan nao?”
Jayne was grinning like an idiot, “He smiled!”
Vera came and Junior turned a beatific and mostly gummy grin her way, “Ohh! Clever Junior!” She finished Jayne's handiwork then picked Junior up. Junior started making excited and incoherent chattering noises. Vera grinned, “That's the way. Talking and smiling back is wonderful!”
Jayne was great at telling stories, but he always slowed down when it came to anything but the simplest books. Vera had long sinced noticed that reading wasn't one of Jayne's greater accomplishments and she knew he'd had minimal schooling, but she knew he wasn't a complete dummy either. Natural cunning, a true card sharp, better than 20/20 vision and knew every coin and banknote in the dark or blindfold. Something about the way he squinted at the page of Junior's reading book made her act on her gut feeling at last. She went to see Simon.
“Simon, I know you and Jayne haven't always got along, but you've known him longer than me. There's something particular about the way Jayne tries to read that's been nagging at me since I met him. He can see the print well enough and he certainly understands either English or Chinese, apart from really obscure or complicated words. He won't come to you himself..”
Simon looked rueful, “I should say not!”
“But could you go in to his bunk; maybe say you want to give Junior a quick once-over or something, but watch Jayne. The way he looks at that book has got my brain trying to grab at lost knowledge and you'd probably be able to put your finger right on it.”
Simon came back some time later, “Vera; you spotted something that I should have acted on years ago. Blame my main concern with River's safety and health and my previously antagonistic relationship with Jayne if you like. I'm pretty sure Jayne's got a mild form of dyslexia.”
Vera's face lit up, “That's it! Trouble is, how are we going to persuade him to accept help?”
Simon rummaged around in the drawers in the infirmary, “Sometimes merely a coloured transparent strip over the type – or worn as glasses – will help a lot.” He brandished a thin red strip of something like polythene, “Try this. Maybe make it into a game involving Junior. If it *does help, I think Jayne's smart enough to fill the blanks. If not, you could have a bit of an uphill task.”
Vera smiled, “I'll see what I can do.”
Days turned into weeks and then months. Junior started crawling, then walking. The strip of red polythene proved very helpful to Jayne. He surreptitiously furnished himself with a small supply for further use. His reading improved dramatically; at least when he was with Junior and Vera. Bowing to any form of perceived 'weakness' in public was going to take a bit longer, even if Mal himself sometimes needed spectacles for close work. River came back from her first year of pilot training top of her class.
“Jayne looks better in red.” She murmured, half to herself.
The autumn was taken up again with harvest duties alongside the re-build. Almost before they'd almost had time to think about it, Clarry was a young woman, Junior was talking and out of diapers, Sarah has grown several inches and what sometimes seemed to be at least ten years, Jessop had graduated and Sam and Lee were attending regular school.
Serenity was back in the black again. Burnham was just about finished, the house was there whenever they wanted to come back, the harvest was done and a new year – as far as Newhall was concerned – had just started. River had her pilot's licence and the school-age children were plugged back into learning via the Wave distance learning. The only one needing kindergarten activities was Junior, and the presence of all the older children was bringing him along in leaps and bounds. Mal was steering with River.
He smiled a little bit, “Over two years, gone,” he snapped his fingers, “Just like that!”
“It's been good. We needed the respite.”
“You met Mariamne as well, didn't you?”
River nodded, “She came to our flight school. We had a talk. I could have become an abbess myself, but I said no thanks. My home is here, in the stars with all of you.”
“Glad to hear that. You did say you weren't a Shepherd.”
River nodded, “But I can spot a fake. Mariamne was the real deal. So's Cliff.”
“Is he going to be okay?”
“Sure. He's just recovering from a major spiritual experience; well, one that doesn't involve making love with Zoe.”
She grinned at him, “Sex can be worship. If you don't know how, I can tell you...”
Mal laughed, “Oh, I know! Just still finding it difficult thinking of you knowing about such things.”
“I'm over twenty now.”
He sighed, “So you are, *and you've been married. I'm glad I didn't have any daughters of my own. I'd be grey by now!”
“You've got me,” River paused for effect, “And it's not just Zhang any more. I had a *really good time at flight school!” She smiled impishly.
Mal threw up his hands, “Please; no more!”
River giggled, “Hands on the wheel!”
Mal grumbled, “Not exactly a *wheel. Anyway, where are we going?”
“To catch a fake Shepherd. Badger will point us in the right direction.”
“Wuh de mah! Haven't seen the little Cockney hwoon dahn in an age. Okay, Albatross, let's roll...”
Miss 'Lilah's place [see 'Bladud' for catch-up purposes]
Rangi had turned up, just as Miss 'Lilah had hoped. Near on seven foot of solidly muscled, rangy Maori, with a light step, short on words, but watching everything. He kept his long sable hair in a tight plait down his back, often going around in just pants and boots. His chest was mostly smooth dark brown skin, with a few scars and a small patch of black fuzz dead centre between his nipples. He tipped his hat every time he saw Miss 'Lilah and called her 'Ma'am'. After two years, Miss 'Lilah was a ball of frustration. He'd been polite, an excellent watchman and security guard, and she'd seen he was a good man with an amazing physique. Lust had hit early and hard and slowly melted into real love; at least from her side of things. He hadn't gone whoring in town either; just kept himself to his duties, often taking long walks around her estate and asking for very little. Then there had been that very hot day six months ago when she'd seen him skinny-dipping in one of the small lakes in the grounds. He'd come out of the water alone, naked and performed several hakas. He was tall, beautiful, graceful and deadly. 'Big all over' did not even begin to cover it. There was a picture Miss 'Lilah had from Earth-that-was of a chalk giant cut into the side of a hill with a phenomenal erection. Rangi looked like that, but hot, wild and Maori. Miss 'Lilah finally decided to take matters into her own hands, possibly literally if things went well. She invited him over for Sunday lunch. She put her best, easily removable dress on, and her best smile.
“Haeri mae, Rangi.”
His dark eyes were almost unfathomable, “Ma'am. You're in love with me.” It wasn't a question.
She blushed, “Yes. If that's going to be a problem...”
He slowly walked around to her side of the table, bent fluidly and his lips brushed hers, “No problem.” Miss 'Lilah gasped. The one touch had tightened everything in an instant and she was melting with arousal.
“You love me?”
A small smile played about his mouth, “Never thought I'd love again, but yes.” His lips brushed hers a second time and she was gasping, right on the edge. His thumb coaxed her lips apart. He lowered his head again and the very tip of his tongue teased the tip of hers. Miss 'Lilah came, hard.
“Whairapau. If you're *this responsive now, think how it's going to be when I touch you in other places.”
She grinned, “I'm thinking, hard!”
Rangi smiled, “I'm going to take *hours over foreplay. Just so you're warned.”
Miss 'Lilah rocked slightly. His low, seductive voice alone was bringing her back to the edge. She looked into his eyes, “Rangi?”
He held her chin gently, “And *hours over making love with you.”
“Ohhh!” Just a little more...
“I *know, whairapau. I've never wanted and loved a woman so much as I do you. I'm so hard for you right now that I reckon I could bend iron bars,” Miss 'Lilah whimpered as he continued, “So, it's going to be like this between us, eh. You racked up right on the edge and me hard and urgent.” He pulled off his shirt and took her into his arms, sweeping her off her feet and inside the house.
Serenity duly came into land on Persephone. Badger was one of the few of their old contacts who had escaped the Operative's purge. Well, him and YoSaffBridge, but she wasn't even close to being a friendly contact. Badger wasn't much better, but at least he gave them jobs which usually involved them getting money or goods at the end of it. Sometimes getting them by leaning on Badger until he squeaked, but Mal was used to that. Or getting Jayne to look menacing with either a knife or a gun or both.
Badger was leaning back on the far side of his desk, “Malcolm Reynolds. Ain't seen your hide in a bloody long age. You've been causing all kinds of bovver in the 'verse since last time you pumped me for a job. Maybe I ought to increase my cut for an ex *President?”
Mal leaned slightly, all relaxed charm next to a spit-and-polish Zoe and Jayne bristling weapons, “And maybe I could say I'm honouring you with my patronage? C'mon Badger; a job's a job. Even wicked men like me need coin to get along and put kibble on the table.”
Badger gestured to his boys and a tarty looking young woman with bleach blonde hair and wearing tight clothes came in to the room before too long, carrying a pot of tea plus cups, saucers and crab paste sandwiches. She rolled saucily as she walked, which was quite a sight.
“This is Marnie.” She put the tray down and Badger swatted her bouncing behind fairly hard as she retreated, “Sit down, sit down; get a load off. Job'll wait for a cuppa!”
Mal and Zoe sat down warily and Jayne pitched himself into a chair, hat low over his eyes. He looked relaxed and slouching, but Mal knew he could strike faster than a snake if things got out of hand. Jayne started eating Badger's sandwiches, just like the last time.
“Can we cut to the chase?”
Badger grinned, “'Ere; I was only being social! Have some tea and loosen your belt a notch.”
Mal gave in and helped himself to a cup, passing one to Zoe. Jayne was already on cup number two.
Badger sighed, “There's this new preacher on the other side of Persephone. Seems to be offering healing and all sorts of religious stuff. Don't bother me none, just sends requests my way for things. She's got this bulk order for silks and fancy candles and stuff and it's far too risky to send by train.”
Mal's eyebrows rose, “'She'? Preacher's a woman?”
Badger nodded, “Calls herself 'Mother of Mercy'.” He shrugged, “Not by cup of tea – pardon the phrase – see, there was me being comical!”
“I'd noticed,” Mal said, straight-faced.
“Aw, you're no fun! Asks me for special goods, pays her bills. Don't give a flying f...erm...fig what she does for a living as long as the money comes in regular.”
“And maybe while we're there you'd like us to check her out?”
Badger beamed, “Got it in one, me old love! Could send the boys, but they tend to hit first and ask questions after. Can't go meself, 'coz there's piles of work to get on top of here.”
Jayne grinned, “Including gettin' on top of Marnie, huh?”
“Fella needs his exercise regular. You know how it is!”
Mal crossed his arms belligerently, “So...you've dragged us halfway across the 'verse to fetch and carry some fancy preacher woman's frou-frous?”
“Perish the thought! Got a whole bunch of stuff lined up to go thataways. Other stuff to bring back.” Badger held out a hologrammatic list.
Mal relaxed a notch or two, “Hungh. Pretty eclectic bunch of cargo there. Some of it under the radar?”
“It's as legitimate as me, me ol' china!”
Mal knew what *that meant and perused the list another time, “Plants?”
“Herbs. Rare herbs.”
Mal finally nodded, seeing all kinds of potential funny business and cash in the hand 'no questions asked' stuff in the payload, “Very well, but we'll need an extra 10 per cent.”
“Oooh, you're squeezing me hard!”
“Can't see anyone else lining up to do the job, Badger.”
Badger sighed, “Very well. Half now, some from the recipients and the bonus for bringing the return delivery back in one piece.”
Wo cao [f*ck]
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