The DUPLICITY Series: 54. "The Wheat From the Chaff"
Monday, March 16, 2009

"Jordan leaves Serenity. Simon decides that it is time to get the Captain back on his feet. Inara tells Mal about Mistress Barbette and Wash gets an unexpected wave from an old friend."


TITLE: "THE WHEAT FROM THE CHAFF" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Zoe/Wash. Kaylee/Simon. Mal/Inara. RATING: G. STATUS: Sequel to "HEARTS AND MINDS". ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at

SUMMARY: "Jordan leaves Serenity. Simon decides that it is time to get the Captain back on his feet. Inara tells Mal about Mistress Barbette and Wash gets an unexpected wave from an old friend." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Zoe knew she should have informed the Captain but honestly, what good would it have done? He barely knew Justin and explaining the ins and outs of what the boy had said was too gorram complicated to put into perspective. No. Best to let him go and be done with it. They had troubles enough to sort out without making life more complicated. Wash was itching to ask questions but one look at his wife's face kept him quiet. For now. Zoe knew it wouldn't last but they were almost there now.

"Where do you want me to land, *bao bei*?"

"Just stay high enough above the crater for the cloud cover to obscure us, *zhangfu*."

His eyebrows raised in surprise. Wash turned fully in his chair so he could see her face. "We aren't gonna land?"


When his wife didn't elaborate Wash frowned, concern beginning to creep into his voice. "Zoe, do you want to tell me what this is all about? Comin' back here is dangerous even with the not landin'."

She shook her head. "*Fang xin*, I'll explain later."

"How long do you want me to...." Wash broke off and spun back to face his console, his eyes widening in shock, as the warning light caught his eye. "Someone just opened the airlock!"

Zoe patted his shoulder. "We can go now, *fengmi*."

Face pale, Wash looked at her in shock. "Tell me we were just dumpin' *laji, bao bei*."

"Nothin' we'll miss."

He watched her go and slowly turned back to his console, the light going off as the airlock door closed and repressurised. As he regained height and turned Serenity back the way they had come Wash couldn't help but wonder whether Zoe had finally lost patience with their coarse but oft' times useful mercenary. Deciding he didn't want to know if they had just murdered someone in cold blood Wash put in the co-ordinates for their next stop. Not sure what to think because it was an Alliance world. The only good news was that it wasn't Osiris.

* * * * *

Simon was pleased that Inara and the Captain were no longer fighting but it was still rare enough that he kept expecting the truce to shatter. He wanted to ask the Companion about it, tentatively find out what her true feelings were and whether she was simply humouring his most frequent patient. Naturally, Mal chose that moment to wake up and the doctor lost his chance. He did a quick check to make sure everything was fine then changed the dressings before removing the bandages on his hands. Mal winced slightly as Simon carefully prodded around the edges of the healing burns. Satisfied that they were healing well, Simon applied some healing balm and put new dressings on. In a few days the bandages could come off. The Captain watched him move around, something about the way the doctor was acting telling him that Simon had something on his mind.

"*Shenme shi*, Simon?"

The doctor paused as he disposed of the old dressings in a bin and peeled off his thin surgical gloves, a small guilty look flickering across his face before he could hide it then the mask was back in place. He dropped the gloves in the bin then turned to face his patient. "*Yiwusuoyou*. You're doing very well, Captain. In fact, I was thinking of getting you on your feet later today."

Mal's eyebrows rose in surprise. "You really think I'm up to walkin', doc?"

The laugh was a relief to hear, some of the tension dissipating as Simon relaxed a little. "*Bu*, just standing for now. We need to get you used to being upright again. Just for a short while to start with, a minute or two should be enough."

"*Shenme*? Hardly seems worth the effort."

"Oh, I assure you it is. I'll put the leg braces back on then ease you to your feet. As soon as you are standing I will know whether your knees are healing sufficiently to take the weight."

"But no walkin'?"

"Absolutely not."

"What if I feel fine? Can't tell how well it's goin' if I don't try."

"Trust me, we have to take this slowly or not at all. I don't want to undo all the reconstructive surgery by trying to rush things. If today goes well then every day at the same time I'll get you up on your feet. We'll start with a few minutes then slowly build it up, after a few weeks we'll go from once a day to two then three times. After a couple of weeks I'll start the phsyiotherapy and get you walking again."

The Captain stared at him not noticing the little smile on Inara's face. "But that... that means months on my gorram back!"

Simon gave him a dry look. "Better than on your face, Captain."

He glanced at Inara and gave her a little nod before turning back to the Captain. "I'm going to get a cup of tea, do you want anything?"

Mal shook his head and watched him leave, Inara moving her chair closer to the side of his bed. He looked at her. "You don't have to stay if'n you got things to do, 'Nara."

"What could be more important that spending time with my favourite Captain?"

"Huh, must be dyin' of an incurable desease if that's the case."

All humour left her face. "Mal, you heard Simon. You aren't going to die besides, I need to tell you something."

The change from teasing to serious made his stomach tighten. He didn't like the way her lips twisted as if tasting something bitter. "Best spit it out before it chokes you."

"How much do you remember about Cyan when she was on Shadow?"

He frowned, wondering where the *diyu* this was coming from. "Was a long time ago, was just a boy. What is this about?"

"You said she was your teacher?"

A fond smile settled on the Captain's face. "*Qu*. Didn't have no school to speak of, ranches too spread out an' folks had too little coin to raise one let alone bring in teachin' staff an' such."

"Yet Cyan went to Shadow to tutor you."

His eyes narrowed. "What you sayin'?"

Inara leaned forward. "How many other children did she teach, Mal?"

"*Wo bu zhidao*." "Or was it just you?"

"No, there were others."

"Okay, name them."

For a moment he just stared at her as if she had clean lost her senses. "It was years ago, *xin gan*. Not that I ain't got a good memory but why so interested?"

"Just humour me for a moment. When Cyan was giving you your lessons were there any other children or was it just you?"

"Was in my mama's kitchen if you must know." He paused and thought about it then his face cleared into a grin. "Now I think on it Tubby Hayes an' Gil Hardin' was there. Luke an' Will sometimes came but on'y if their daddy was over our way at the time. Now what's this about?"

"Any girls?"

Mal laughed. "We was ranchin', 'Nara. Mostly boys an' men, the girls stayed with their mamas an' helped with house chores an' such." "Why do you think only the boys were given any education, Mal?"

"This a trick question?" Seeing her glare at him he sighed. "Suppose you tell me."

"She's a spy, Mal."

Whatever he had expected Inara to say it wasn't that. "This was before her companionin' ways, 'Nara." She shook her head. "No, Mal. Even back then Cyan was a Companion and a very good one. I once told you that all Companions were spies. Being a teacher on Shadow was merely a cover."

"What she have to spy on in a place like Shadow? We were dirt poor, 'Nara. No coin to speak of but rich in ways Core folk would never understand. Got most of our necessities from the land an' anythin' else we traded for."

"The spying was part of the reason I left Sihnon, Mal."

That shocked him more than the whole conversation about Mistress Barbette. "What was the other part?"

Inara patted his arm. "Only one secret at a time."

"You could'a stayed, bein' in line to be the next House Mistress an' all."

"How do you know that?" She cut him off before the Captain could reply. "*Mei shi*. I love being a Companion, Mal, I always have but it was the politics I didn't like and that would have got worse the higher up I went."

He watched her closely, hardly aware of Simon returning to the infirmary. The doctor moving quietly in the background, putting away the supplies he had been using and tidying up. The Captain's voice softened to a quiet hush. "Not so easy to stab someone in the back when you've looked them in the eye, is it?"

About to tear him off a strip, Inara bristled then paused at the understanding look in his eyes. He was not accusing but commiserating with her. Her anger deflated taking most of her energy along with it. After all the Captain wasn't saying anything that wasn't true.

"So you saw my scruffy boat an' thought...?"

"Like Shepherd Book, I just wanted to walk in the world for a while, Mal."

The unspoken meaning rang loud and clear in his mind. Words like 'escape' and 'freedom'. Being a fully paid up member of the Human Race and a Browncoat to boot the Captain couldn't find any fault with that. What Inara said next though shattered that happy state into a million sharp little pieces.

"Cyan wasn't on Shadow to ease her conscience by teaching children out on the Rim how to read and write."

"What was she doin' then? Findin' out who hadn't learnt their tables so she could tell on 'em?"

"There's no need to be sarcastic, Mal. In the run up to the War Cyan gleaned whatever information she could about Shadow: population numbers and distribution, independent sympathisers and so on. Everything was passed on to Alliance Military Intelligence."

The Captain shook his head, torn between laughing at the absurdity of Inara's claim and anger. Simon took a step towards them but Inara gave him a look, pleading silently with him to let her finish. There was no way in the 'verse that Inara wanted to be having this conversation with the Captain a second time. If Simon had known what she had in mind he would have stepped in before she started.

"*Bushi*! Cyan wouldn't do that. She's a friend."

"Mal, listen to me. As much as it pains me to be the one to tell you, Cyan is the reason Shadow was reduced to ashes."

In the stunned silence that followed that fun little bombshell the Captain felt something inside him crack. Gorramit, was there no good news? He barely noticed Simon fussing round him, the monitor going crazy until the doctor injected a sedative into his iv port. Inara wanted to stay but Simon was firm. Inara had rarely seen him so furious.

"*Duibuqi*, I didn't mean..."

"*Bi zui*! You're an intelligent woman, Inara. Don't expect me to believe you didn't know this would happen. What are you trying to do, kill him?"

Her face paled but Simon was too angry to take pity on her. Inara knew better and having a conversation like this while the Captain was still so fragile was unforgivable. "I suggest you leave now before I ask Jayne to remove you by as much force as he likes."

Inara nodded slowly as if a bit stunned. "*Qu*, I'll come back later."

"No. You are no longer welcome in the infirmary Inara."

Shock momentarily robbed her of speech. She stared at Simon as if seeing a stranger. "You can't mean that."

"You should know me well enough to know that I don't joke when it comes to the well being of my patients."

"Simon, I..."

A cold calm fury settled on Simon's face, seeming to etch into his fine features. It was almost chilling the amount of control he was using to keep that temper in check. "Inara. You knew what you were doing, that the information you gave Mal would upset him. Please don't embarrass us both by denying it. Did you really have to choose right now to tell him?"

"He needed to know." She said faintly, though even in Inara's own ears it sounded more excuse than explanation.

"No, Inara. *You* needed to tell him and if I'm being honest I didn't realise you were quite that selfish or vindictive."

* * * * *

The Minister looked up in surprise. He stared at General Rush. "Are you saying that the control device has been found, General?"

The nod was abrupt, something in the man's demeanour bringing a scowl to Rosenbaum's face. "*Jieshi*."

"It was the weirdest thing, sir. At first we thought it was a bit of space junk - just fell outta the sky." The General paused and sounded much calmer when he resumed. "By the time we realised it was moving on the ground my troops were rushing to contain the site."


"There was this man, or what looked like a man. Couldn't believe my eyes, he was standing in the crater as cool as you please with the control device in his hands."

Rosenbaum was on his feet before he realised it. "*Shenme*? Where is he? Don't tell me you let him get away."

The General shook his head, actually looking more uncomfortable now than he had when he first turned up at the Minister's office. "No, sir. We have him *and* the device."

"Then why do you look as though as the world is about to end?"

"Sir, he agreed to come with us but refused to hand the device over."

Minster Rosenbaum felt himself relax. Was that all? "Then I suggest you take it from him."

"Sir, we can't do that."

The Minister felt his patience beginning to slip. "General, what is so difficult about obeying a direct order? You are familiar, are you not, with the chain of command?"

It was on the tip of the General's tongue to point out that strictly speaking the Minster was not at the top of that chain but power begets power and he knew that while some facts might be self evident, spelling them out to the man who could not only destroy your career but wipe out you and your family at the stroke of a pen was the height of folly. Not able to say the words he just nodded.

"Now retrieve that device, *dong ma*?"

"That's the point, sir. He says he will only hand it over to you."

Time froze, the Minister stared at the General. What was this, a joke? But the General was not laughing, if anything he looked tense and unhappy. What the *guai* was going on here? "He asked for me by name?"

"Yes, sir."

Rosenbaum sat down, his movements slow and measured, giving himself time to think. "Are our representatives at Blue Sun aware?"

"Not yet, sir, I thought it prudent to bring the matter to your attention first."

"The man with the device, *ta shi shei*?"

"*Wo bu zhidao*. He said he would only talk to you, sir."

The Minister wasn't shallow enough to feel flattered. He did not like the fact that he had no idea who this man was or how he had known where to find the control device. "Where is he?"

"In a secure, *jianyu*."

"Did he put up any resistance?"

"No, sir. In fact he was so compliant it felt unnatural."

"I take it he is under guard?"


Rosenbaum was silent for a moment then rose to his feet, there was only one thing to do. "Take me to him, *mashang*."

* * * * *

Kaylee couldn't understand why Inara wasn't speaking. Maybe she was just worried about the Captain? Brushing the hair out of her eyes the mechanic left a smear of oil and dirt on her face. She had been under the engine tweaking it, Serenity now sounding much sweeter. Getting to her feet she put her wrench back in her toolbox and took her time straightening her back, wondering why the Companion was just standing there in the doorway to the engine room. It was so unlike her friend that Kaylee longed to be able to say or do something to cheer her up. She had lost count of the number of times Inara had reassured her and been a shoulder to cry on when Simon had done or said something stupid. As the Companion had once said, men only open their mouths to change feet.

"Thought Simon said Cap'n was gettin' better?"

Inara nodded. "He is but it will be a slow process."

"But he *will* recover, *dui*?"

The Companion cursed herself for worrying her friend. "*Qu*."

When Inara didn't say anything else Kaylee decided to change tack, Rumaging in her tool box she grabbed a spanner. "*Ni you kong ma*?"


"You know, if ya got a few minutes, *ni bang wo ge mang*?"

That at least brought a smile to Inara's face. "Kaylee, I don't know the first thing about mechanics."

The girl gave her a bright smile. "Ain't nothin' to it."

The Companion laughed.

"I yell at ya to pass me stuff an' that's what ya do."

"It doesn't sound as if I would be doing much."

"Believe me 'Nara, when I'm on my back under the engine havin' someone to pass tools to ya is real shiny. Cuts my work time like you wouldn't believe."

For a moment it was on the tip of Inara's tongue to say she wasn't dressed for it but then she stopped herself. It felt good to be needed and of all the people on Serenity Kaylee had never judged her. With a smile she stepped into the engine room. "Before we start, how about you tell me which tools are which?"

* * * * *

Wash was surprised at the wave and grateful that he was the only one currently on the bridge. "*Wode ma*, I thought you were dead!"

His friend grinned back at him. "Can't keep a good man down, Wash."

"Or a bad one I see." Wash paused, his smile slipping slightly. "So to what do I owe the honour of this wave? Not that it's not good to see you."

"You turned down Tanaka."

"You heard about that?"

Mr Universe gave his friend a smug smile. "I hear *everything*."

"Yeah well, I wanted more freedom but you didn't call to talk about that, did you?"

"You helped me once, Wash. It's time to return the favour."

"It is?"

"Yeah, so listen up flyboy. I have some information you need to know an' because I owe you, this one's for free."

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*bao bei* = precious/treasure *zhangfu* = husband *fengmi* = honey *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *laji* = rubbish *diyu* = hell *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *yiwusuoyou* = nothing *bu* = no *shenme* = what *qu* = yes (lit. go) *wo bu zhidao* = I don't know *xin gan* = sweetheart *mei shi* = it doesn't matter *bushi* = not so *duibuqi* = sorry *bi zui* = be quiet/shut up *jieshi* = explain *dong ma* = understand? *guai* = devil/ghost *ta shi shei* = who is he? *jianyu* = prison *mashang* = at once/on the double/immediately *dui* = correct *ni you kong ma* = do you have any free time? *ni bang wo ge mang* - give me a hand *wode ma* = mother of God


Monday, March 16, 2009 3:27 PM


Very well done. I can so picture Simon's icy control with Inara. It's the kind of scene Sean was made for! :)

Monday, March 16, 2009 5:10 PM


Now I see where your storylines are converging. It's said the truth will set you free - hope that's not the literal truth for Mal .

Monday, March 16, 2009 6:07 PM


Didn't expect that infirmary moment between Simon and Inara at all. And what on earth could Cyan have been spying on, though? I'm with Mal about that. Rendering Shadow a blackrock? Eek. She's dead next time Mal sees her.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 12:45 AM


Yes, slumming, Simon does icy calm better than anyone and as for what Cyan had been spying on Bytemite that was the people of Shadow, and you can bet she wasn't the only spy identifying enemies of the Alliance on Rim and mid-Rim worlds before war broke out. The truth will set you free Katesfriend and some of those truths will be come back to knock on Inara's door. Thanks for all the shiny feedback, it is much appreciated! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 3:19 AM


I can see you pulling all your threads together, and it's looking good! As to why Inara told Mal ... jury's still out on that one. I don't think she honestly thought he was going to be so distressed by it, but her timing sucked. And Cyan being a spy? Never did like her ...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 4:46 AM


Well, most people have already said what I wanted to say. LOL! I will just say far as spinsters go, you have really got a beautiful web of a story goin on here. Can't wait for more....and I never liked Cyan either.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 12:31 PM


There is a reason Inara told Mal about Cyan when she did but Simon had the rights of it. I think you and Angellemarcs will like the way Cyan Barbette reaps what she has sown. Thanks for the shiny feedback, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.