Parents, Preachers, & Pistol Skinners: Chapter 5
Friday, July 11, 2008

The New Haven Series; Post BDM; M/I, S/K: Kaylee gets a happy letter, Simon asks about nuptials, River works through her nightmares, and a showdown is in order


My Dear Winnie, I’m so glad you and your crew are doing well. Meilin’s a sweet little thing, I loved the captures you sent of her! Your Daddy thinks she’s a button if there ever was one. Tell Mal and Inara congratulations, as I said in my previous letter I didn’t even know they were expecting, but I’m glad they’ve got a little blessing of their own. Also, be sure to tell Simon that we’re excited to meet him. All the captures and letters you’ve written make him sound like quite the catch, we’re so happy for you. I’ve prayed many years you’d find someone just like him.

I’m happy to tell you that I don’t think we’re going to need some of your paycheck for a good while. You see someone crash landed their boat nearby your Daddy’s shop, and it turns out it was a core fella who’s Cappasen shut off in entry. Your Daddy and brothers got paid five times the going rate to fix it in two days, and cause of it there’s gonna be some big changes we’ve always wanted. We finally have enough money to move! In a month we’re going to move off of this barren rock and set down somewhere else. We heard there’s a need for air-nautical mechanics on Shadow in the city of New Calgary, and they’re being paid good money and land’s cheap. Plus, it looks like we’ll be closer to our little girl.

Now I don’t have an exact date yet, but we want to try to move and settle so we’ll be here when your folks come for the big cattle drive. I’m so happy just thinking about it! We haven’t seen our baby girl in so long.

Well, I need to go. There’s a lot of plans to make. Happy Yuletide Xiang Dou, and enjoy your gifts!

Love You Always, Mommy & Daddy


“Oh Zoe.” Kaylee hugged the paper as Serenity was headed towards Pryor. “My folks are comin’ this way, aint that zuihao shi chang?”

“Sure is Meimei.” Zoe chuckled at her enthusiasm as she flew, the shepherds were all in the galley, keeping to themselves.

“I haven’t seen them in three years.” She sighed wistfully. “And here they can get land cheap, and there’s plenty of work. My daddy’ll have a proper shop, and my momma a proper house, she won’t have ta live in an apartment above a shop they rent anymore.” She beamed, brimming with happiness.” Remembering something. Kaylee dug through the box, as she had been fixated on the letter, and pulled out a tin, along with two parcels wrapped in newspaper and thoughtfully tied with electrical wire.

Zoe arched a brow to the wrapping.

Kaylee giggled. “She made my daddy wrap it. I bet she told him since he don’t write the letter he’s gotta contribute somehow.” Peering at the writing, the mechanic read off. “One’s for me, one’s for Simon, annnd…” She opened the tin to see homemade hard candy. “Somethin’ for everyone.”

“Best not tell Jayne about that and save some for the Captain.” Zoe warned.

“I’ll hide it in the book shelf, he never even looks in that direction.”


River emerged from the lake at dawn.

She wrung out her hair and stretched, practicing Tai Chi to warm her body and muscles. Fiyero watched as her eyes remained closed the entire time. Every step was perfect, she never hit anything, regardless the fact her sight was shut off. The forms gradually intensified until they transitioned into more Wudangquan, Xingyiquan. Her movements then snapped into various forms of Northern Shaolin. She was faultless, her body in rhythm as her mind focused and worked out the problems that haunted her.

Suddenly her eyes snapped open.

Fiyero rose to his feet.

River Tam grabbed a stick, using it like a calligraphy brush, she wrote in the ground, carving into the damp soil of the lakeshore. Her wrist was quick, and her body swayed and her feet danced slowly to her inner rhythm.


Simon, hadn’t told anyone about his encounter with Bailey Tig.

He went home and found one of their milk cows was straining to deliver not one, but two calves. So he helped deliver the spindly legged twins, both white with black patches as they staggered to their feet and found their mother. After making sure the calves were settled, he changed clothes took the smell of cow and afterbirth off of his skin, gathered some fresh supplies, and rode his horse to town. There, he checked up on those still damp in the lungs from the Lilac Syndrome, as well as treated a nasty case of the flu in a three year old. Eventually he ended up at Colter’s store, where he found the older man.

“Well what brings you here Doc?” The store owner greeted. “I finished my rounds, I wondered if I could come in here and visit until Kaylee and Zoe come with the shipment.” Simon dusted the snow off of his jacket and stomped his boots.

“Well visit away.” Colter gestured for him to come in. “Can I offer you a cup of coffee?”

“Yes please.” Simon pulled off his gloves and tucked them in his coat before hanging it and his hat on the coat rack. “So uh, how have you been?”

“Same old, same old.” Colter poured a mug of hot coffee and set the kettle back on the hot plate. “Susan’s down the road at the house, our daughter’s family is drivin’ a wagon from Logan County ta be with us for Yuletide, so she’s cleanin’ and bakin’ and gnawing on my hide for being messy.” He chuckled, handing the cup to the doctor. “How about you? Besides workin’ from here to Plymouth County curing Lilac Syndrome.”

“Well, those trips were only one time, to distribute the meds.” He corrected, taking a sip. “But, I’m for the most part just… playing doctor and cowboy.” Simon gave a slight smile. “Wondering a few things.”


“Yup.” Nodding his head, he looked at the store keeper sideways.

“Why do I sense this wondering has an answer I can provide?” Colter rumbled suspiciously.

“Because it does?” He smiled diffidently, looking down and swallowing. “I was uh… I was wondering… Hoping, you could tell me about the traditional Shadow wedding… You know, the customs.. every planet does have its customs.”

Colter furrowed his brow, though his mustache smirked in knowing. “Now what has you gotten you so interested in the intricacies and nuances of a Shadow matrimony?” He questioned so in amusement. “Would it be a petite, perky grease monkey who thinks the world of you?”

“I’ve been trying to save money, so I can buy land and build a house, and then marry.” He explained, his voice thoughtful and warm, yet he blinked, and gazed into the steaming pool of black liquid. “I can’t wait that long though, land is inexpensive but not inexpensive enough, if I did we’d both…" he sighed "I, just can’t prolong this any longer.”

He sipped his own coffee, chuckling. “You got it bad, Son.”

“I know.” Simon sighed again. “Which is why I’m curious.”

“Well,” pulling up a stool, he sat down “first of all, most folks out here, they either give a ring or a necklace when they propose, just ta keep with western tradition. Necklaces seem ta work the best, seen my share of hard prairie women tearin’ up their rings from manual labor. But when you talk about the actual ceremony, most Shadow folk adhere to a time honored ceremony steeped in the history of this planet. Far cry from the ostentatious Core vows you're probably used to, but it's…” He paused, as if controlling his emotions. “Well… it’s the most breathtaking moment you'd ever been apart of."

Simon nodded his head and leaned in.

"Now, a proper Shadow wedding, one that adheres to time honored traditions,” Colter began “is in the early spring. And it's not in a church, there's no rings exchanged, nor does the bride get strapped into some frothy ruffled gown. It's nothin' like a churched wedding. It's done right out of town, in the prairie where the wildflowers all spill t'gether, in full bloom. And the bride wears a special white dress passed down from her momma that's adorned with all sorts of lace designs. And she's got a bunch of wildflowers as a bouquet, 'cause they say all Shadow women are as wild and as beautiful as those flowers."

Simon smiled.

"The groom, he dresses in a white linen shirt, and a pair of tan chaps over his tan pants. And those chaps are from his daddy, and they are decorated with fringes down the side and beads and embroidery on the leggins. Each family's is different, and when that groom stands there, he don't wear shoes. Everyone of the spectators and the preacher does, but he just stands there, feet naked on a hillock where he can see the whole prairie." Watching as Simon silently pined for what he was describing, he continued "And the whole town gathers 'round, and the shepherd stands in front of him and then his bride walks through the middle of the crowd on her daddy's arm. The fiddle wails a sweet tune all the way till her father gives her to the groom." Colter smirked. "She's barefoot too, by the way, as she stands alongside that love struck fella and they face each other, holdin' hands. Then the shepherd puts on each their heads a crown made of cherry blossoms. Those crowns are connected together by a single silk ribbon, and after that he turns... and he addresses the whole town. And he says ta them; 'these two wish ta become one, and they take this oath with their heads ta the free wind and their feet to the life bearing loam. They take this oath in front of you and I, and in front of all creation. So all may witness their love for one another runs deeper than depths the navy seas, stronger than the steadfast bison on the celadon plains and higher than the eagle in the azure sky.' Then he looks 'round and he says 'is there a soul that questions their union?' And then, nobody ever objects, and they take their vows. Then the shepherd announces 'By the power invested in me, I give ta this 'verse a new union. May all whose eyes see them as they are bless them. May they sun shine bright on their house, may the clouds not spurn their soil with drought, and may God keep them and their legacy in his favor.' Then he tells them ta kiss, announces their wedded names, and as they walk through the crowd the best man brings a horse in wedding tack, and they climb on and ride ta town where the whole town celebrates life with the Spring Festival."

There was a pause, and Simon mulled over it. He turned and looked Colter square in my eye. “So that’s….”

“I gave two daughters away and went through it myself. Don’t reckon I’ll forget somethin’ like that.”

The doctor’s head nodded slowly, his grin broadening in anticipation. “Well, I suppose we’ll just have to get married in the spring.”


The branch fell from River Tam’s hand.

She dropped to her knees, weary, as she had just for told the fate of the universe. The lithe body swayed, her knuckles hit the soil and dragged across it, marring the lines she had just spent her time writing, drawing, forming. The black hair hung in her face, and she wanted to sink to the bottom of the cool lake forever. Since training, she had conquered the nightmares that had plagued her, but ones she that had long been suppressed by the Academy had come back in fragments. Fragments of ghastly things, macabre things, things that hardly made sense yet she knew they would if the pieces fit.

But days like the one she was having, made her want to be at the bottom of the lake.

To become cool, relaxed, one with the serenity of the universe.

As Fiyero crouched next to her, rubbing her back, trying to revive her for this episode was the worst of the lot, River felt the numbness slowly leaving her. She loved the monastery, the way of life, how it made her stronger, more in control. The clairvoyant rose, her legs strong yet the rest limp. Fiyero’s caring voice was distant, dulled as her brown eyes scanned the large square of beach she had just carved dozens of pictures and calligraphy into. None making sense. Pictures of fish with sharp teeth, bean cans with teeth, powder wigged bureaucrats with teeth, the god Osiris with fangs; all eating brains. Eating crying babies. The words ‘scream’, ‘sas’, ‘the gifted ones’, ‘verde’, ‘beau’, ‘breed’, ‘assembly’, ‘gods’, ‘men’, ‘mice’, ‘ghosts’, ‘warriors’, ‘celestial’ and ‘blood’ were scattered about.

Clasping her ribs, she vomited on one of the pictures.

While she loved the monastery, the fragments were tearing her apart.


Serenity landed in Pryor.

Kaylee was the first to come out. Simon caught her and kissed her passionately, making her giggle and pull away. “Well I missed you too, but jiminy.” She giggled, combing her fingers through his thick brunette hair as he hadn't put his hat on. “It was just the day.”

Simon grinned foolishly, his mind awhirl with thoughts of marriage. “I know… it’s just… what can say... because it occasionally comes out an insult.”

The mechanic blushed “Awww I love you too Sweetie.” Suddenly she lit up at another subject. “Oo! Guess what? We got post!”

Zoe walked over to Colter, who was nearby a group of businessmen who were waiting for their shipment of goods. “Well Colter, I'm afraid prices are up.”

The heavy brow of the storeowner fixed together with concern. “What’s….”

Horses came galloping into town, gunfire erupting.

Simon stood in front of Kaylee, and stiffened as Bailey’s horse charged towards them, his brothers behind him as mean spirited as the one leading charge.

Zoe slung her mare’s leg out of the holster and fired a round into the air, then racked it and aimed at the unruly Tigg boy, as Colter skinned out the peacemaker holstered to the back of his belt and took aim as well.

“YOU!” Boss Tig’s son aimed at Simon. “Ni ai yinjing chuo er di yi shu! Bai ling kuai de Zhongxin lashi!”

“Ni la na biezhen wo bi ding ni zai yi song xiang!” Zoe shouted back, getting in front of Simon and Kaylee.

“Chi cao xia!” Colter ordered as the shepherds walked to the edge of Serenity’s ramp, curious about the uproar.

Bailey Tigg slowed his horse down, the hooves inches from the first mate’s boots as it snorted in her face with a curl of frost clouds. “I ain’t gonna kill that gui hundan.” He snarled. “Step away woman, I have no quarrel with you.” His brother’s horses caught up and slowed, kicking up billows of powder as they tossed their heads and whinnied.

“You call me woman again and you will.” She warned, meaning every letter of it. “Respect me, pup.” The boots, slowly walked away, though the gun was still poised, and her eyes flickered the killer inside.

The older brother spat, glaring at her, his guns drawn.

“Holster those guns.” Colter ordered.

“Or what?” The younger son William challenged. “What are you gonna do storekeep? Throw a tomato? Hit me with your broom?” The sheriff was still in bed with Lilac Syndrome, so there was little the law could do, and the Tig brothers knew it.

“I’ll shove this barrel down your throat and fire so you shit bullets.” He snapped. “Now put the gorram guns away!”

Bailey Tig holstered his pistol and stepped his horse so it was right next to Simon.

The brothers followed suit.

“Kaylee, get back.” The doctor told her.

“Simon..” She began to protest fearfully.

“Baobei, please go with Zoe.” As soon as Kaylee was safe, Zoe guiding her back, he tilted his chin up with eyes turning into slits. “What.” Simon bit out.

“You,” he seethed, face bright red as the back of his head still throbbed “I’m sick of you…”

“And I return the feeling you buren zhiguanjie tuo.”

“Pistols, five days from now.” Bailey challenged. “You and me, twenty paces, noon, we settle this the proper way.”

“Because shooting is high etiquette?”

Bailey licked his lips. “Speak all you want, you lace pantied horn choker. Five days you better know how ta skin a sue, ‘cause winner takes all. Your possessions,” He glanced significantly to Kaylee, who was watching, terrified “are gonna be mine." He leaned into his saddle and further calmly whispered. “And if you don’t show, me and my brothers will hunt you down, and lynch you, and I'll wear your scalp on my belt and I’ll make her watch. Dongma?”


Xiang Dou: Sweet Pea

zuihao shi chang?: the best thing ever?

Meimei: sister

Tai Chi: An internal martial art that focuses more on the mind to help bring mental calm and clarity

Wudangquan: The group of martial arts that focus on internal meditation, also known as 'soft'

Xingyiquan: Shape/Will Boxing still an internal martial art, it is more aggressive and uses explosive power

Northern Shaolin: External martial arts often employing long range technique, wide stances, speed, circular blocking and aggressive attack

Ni ai yinjing chuo er di yi shu! Bai ling kuai de Zhongxin lashi: You short c**k sucking son of a rat! White collared piece of Core shit!

Ni la na biezhen wo bi ding ni zai yi song xiang!: You pull that pin I will set you in a pine box!

Chi cao xia!: Slow the f*** down!

gui hundan: Sly bitch

Baobei: Darling

buren zhiguanjie tuo: Heartless knuckle dragger

horn choker: A sorry excuse for a cowboy grabs the saddlehorn

skin a sue: black eyed susan is slang for pistol

dongma?: Understand?

****As always, the writer appreciates all comments whether they be positive, negative, or suggestions.**


Friday, July 11, 2008 6:55 PM


Pistols... didn't see that coming.

Very curious to see what River's going on about, the bean cans have me baffled.

Saturday, July 12, 2008 1:51 PM


pistols indeed - somehow there always are...:)
you write stuff that i should hate - but i don't! how d'you do that?
fine, funny, flash - and well thought out. i hate you.

Saturday, July 12, 2008 5:18 PM


You know, hate is such a broad word, praytell what should you hate? As I sit here eating my sherbert I can't help but be curious.

Glad you are enjoying it ^_^


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