Friday, October 7, 2011


“You’ve got to swear, Adam Reynolds,” Anya said, her brows drawn together in stern disapproval of her young friend. “I’m gonna go, and that’s all there is to it. But if you tell….” She stepped toward him, invading his space. “Remember how many times I haven’t told your parents about something you’ve done.”

Adam looked up at her in dismay. “It ain’t the same,” he insisted. “What if somethin’ were to happen to you? You may think you’re grown, but you’re not, you know.” He raised himself to his full height, which was still considerably shorter than that of his current antagonist.

“I can take care of myself,” Anya replied, stuffing her duffel bag angrily as she spoke. “And besides, part of the way there I’ll be on the Hit or Miss anyway. Captain Marcus wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me.”

“But he won’t even know you’re there, if you stow away,” Adam said angrily.

“That’s right,” Anya replied. “And you’re not gonna’ tell him or anybody else.”

Adam sighed in frustration. “You won’t be able to hide it. My mama’s a Reader, you know.”

Anya paused for a moment, struck by that indisputable fact. “But she hasn’t come to stop me,” she said after a beat. “So, she must not know yet.” She looked at Adam speculatively. “How come she hasn’t figured out it was you that broke the leg off the couch in the common area?” She paused, a thought coming into her determined head. “You can shield some things from her, can’t you?”

Adam began to shake his head in denial, not wanting to pursue this particular line of thought. Anya shook his shoulders. “Tell me the truth, Adam. You can, can’t you?”

Adam looked into her intensely blue eyes, and his shoulders slumped. “Sometimes,” he said. “But it ain’t always foolproof or nothin’. Most of the time, she finds out … eventually. I…” He stopped for a moment, gathering his thoughts for a last ditch effort at keeping his best friend from doing something stupid. “I can’t always keep her from knowin’ a thing.”

“But you can try, right?” Anya said hopefully. “I mean, if you can just keep her from knowing for a little while, I’ll be gone far enough she can’t read me, right?”

“Ain’t makin’ no promises,” Adam said, realizing that he had lost this particular battle before it had begun.

Anya leaned down and gave him a hug. “It’ll be all right, Adam. I promise I’ll be careful, and I’ll come back home as soon as the dance is over. Okay?” When he did not reply, she tried again, shaking him slightly. “Okay?”

Adam sighed. “Just….just be careful, Anya,” he said. “And get back home quick as you can.”

“Love you, Adam,” she said, fastening the last clip on her duffel and slipping it over her shoulder. “You’re a good friend.”

Adam watched her go, thinking that if she was wrong, they were both in a ‘verse of trouble.


Mal shifted uncomfortably, trying to find a good way to lie on the exam bed. “Don’t know why I have to be here,” he grumbled, as Simon set up the equipment for his check-up. “Clear as day that I’m healin’ up all right.”

“Well,” Simon replied, “If you hadn’t sent Hannah in here to dress me down about your inability to support her weight, we wouldn’t have to do this.”

Mal could not contain a lopsided grin. “She gave you what-for, huh?”

Simon nodded. “She was most emphatic about it. Indicated that she was quite displeased with my work.” He paused. “She’s certainly a lot like her mother. As I recall, River was always….”

“A brat,” Mal finished.

“Exactly so,” Simon said. Turning serious, he added, “But since you’re already here, it might be a good idea to have a real check-up.”

“Can’t we just fake it for the kid?” Mal whined, sounding very much like a two-year-old.

“I have to report back to Hannah,” Simon said. “And you wouldn’t want me to say that I couldn’t do my job effectively because you…”

“All right, all right,” Mal said, waving off the rest of Simon’s words. “Let’s get it over with.” He wondered how it came to be that what he had intended as a joke at Simon’s expense had landed him on the exam table. So much for gorram planning, he mused as Simon began the scan.

There was silence for a few minutes as the scan hummed quietly, steadily making its way over Mal’s mending bones. Mal resisted the urge to wiggle, as Simon always restarted the scan if that happened. ‘Sadistic son of a…’ Mal’s thoughts were interrupted by the beep of the machine. “What’s that sound mean?” he asked uneasily, noting Simon’s frown.

“Probably nothing,” Simon replied, in that preoccupied way that always grated on Mal’s last nerve. “Quite likely just a glitch…” His words trailed off as he began to run a diagnostic program on the scanner.

“What kinda’ glitch?” Mal demanded.

“I won’t know that until I’ve run through the diagnostic program,” Simon replied coolly. “Be still.”

“For how long?”

“That depends,” Simon said, as if he were talking to a recalcitrant child.

“On what?”

“Would you just please be still?” Simon asked, exasperation tingeing his tone.

Mal blew out a deep breath and lay back down on the exam table, his thoughts taking a decidedly dark turn. In moments, he shifted on the table, uncomfortable lying so flat with his multiple wounds.

“What part of ‘still’ are you unsure about?” Simon asked.

“What happened to that cool, collected bedside manner you used to have?” Mal asked, admittedly enjoying needling his medic and brother-in-law.

“It has been undoubtedly hampered by the company I keep,” Simon replied blandly. “You can go, by the way.”

“What?” Mal asked. “You’re already done?”

Simon could not hide his smile. “Never started,” he replied smugly. As Mal levered himself up from the exam table sputtering, he added, “Perhaps you might think about the inadvisability of sending Hannah in as your patient advocate next time.”

Swinging himself down with the aid of his crutches, Mal scowled. “Can still blow you out the airlock anytime, doc.”

“Perhaps,” Simon said, smiling still. “But then you’d have to deal with my sister.”

“Good point.”


Elizabeth looked at her reflection critically in the mirror. “What do you think?” she asked, glancing over her shoulder at Inara.

Inara nodded. “It’s beautiful,” she acknowledged.

Elizabeth stroked her hand gently down the soft blue silk, admiring the way the material shimmered softly like moonlight on water. “Not exactly a standard color for a wedding dress,” she murmured.

“Does that matter?” Inara asked, genuinely curious.

Elizabeth smiled. “Not so much, I think,” she said. “My wedding….I get to say what’s what, don’t I?”

“I’d say you do,” Inara said. “And of all the ones you’ve looked at, I have to say that this one is just….spectacular.”

Elizabeth blushed with the praise. Noting the way the dress emphasized the color of her eyes, she decided it was indeed the very thing she had been looking for all afternoon. “You think Marcus will like it?”

“Undeniably,” Inara replied. “Unless I miss my guess, he’ll be speechless.”

“Just so he can get out the words “I do”,” Elizabeth laughed, slipping the dress off carefully.

“That IS something to consider,” Inara agreed.

Elizabeth suddenly looked at her watch. “Best be getting back to Serenity,” she said. “It’s getting late.”

Inara smiled, knowing that the reason Elizabeth wanted to hurry had more to do with the thought that she might miss a wave from Marcus than that the shadows were lengthening into twilight outside the small shop. “You go ahead and get dressed. I’ll gather up the things you’ve chosen and take them to the clerk.”

“Thanks,” Elizabeth said with a grin. “I’ll be right out.”


“Nothing?” Mal asked. “You can’t see anything?”

River shook her head. “Nothing,” she confirmed miserably. Mal noticed the small tremor in her clenched hands and felt a moment’s regret for pressing her for information she clearly didn’t have.

Zoe’s jaw tightened, frustrated beyond belief that River’s abilities seemed useless at such a critical time. Anya was gone, her small duffel missing as well as her favorite clothes, one of Wash’s stuffed animals, and the one decent dress she owned. Zoe was not overly given to moments of panic, but after nearly a full day of searching for the child, she was on the verge of something very much akin to it.

Jim stopped pacing and came to stand at her side. “She can’t have gotten far,” he said tensely.

“Far enough,” Jayne replied grimly. “We’re on a gorram dock, after all. Ain’t no tellin’ which ship she coulda’ got on.”

“She had no money for a fare,” Kaylee said, somewhat hopefully. “Surely no one woulda’ just let her on a ship for free, and her just a young’un.”

Mal tried not to think of reasons someone would have let Anya onto a ship illegally. Best not to go down that road, he thought, leaning heavily on his crutches and inwardly cursing the way they slowed him down from the search for the precious child.

“She had money,” Zoe announced, her voice strained as she thought of the little purse that Anya had been carefully squirreling away coin into from the odd jobs she could take part in with the crew.

“Enough for passage somewhere?” Mal asked.

“Most like,” Zoe replied. “If it wasn’t too far.”

His earlier conversation with Anya scrolling through his head, Mal said to Jayne, “Check with the dock master then. See if any ships are bound for Osiris. Maybehaps she’s still dirtside in one of ‘em.”

Adam stared studiously at his toes, caught in a dilemma. He knew he’d promised, but Anya might have gotten into some real trouble this time, and maybe he should tell what he knew. He cleared his throat, unsure of what to do.

Mal looked over at his son. “You got something to say, Adam?” he asked.

Adam blushed bright red, caught in his father’s intensely blue eyes. He hesitated.

Mal moved quickly, heedless of his healing injuries. “You know anything about where Anya’s gone, it’s time to tell me, son.”

Adam gulped hard.

“Son,” Mal continued, reaching for a last wisp of patience. “Anya’s too young to be out and about by herself. If she’s gone somewhere you know of, even if she told you not to tell, you’ll be doing her a kindness to tell me now…before something happens.”

Swallowing with difficulty, Adam whispered, “She stowed away on the Hit or Miss,” he said. He looked up into his father’s eyes. “She said she could get on another boat when they docked in Verbena and get to Osiris that way. She said it would be all right. She’s aimin’ to come back soon’s she can. She promised.”

Mal turned back to where River had been just in time to see her sprint toward the bridge to wave the Hit or Miss crew. The rest of the crew followed. After what seemed an eternity, Marcus’ face appeared on the screen.

Noting the lines around Zoe’s mouth and the way the entire crew of Serenity was gathered around the screen, Marcus asked, “What’s wrong?”

“Anya’s gone,” Zoe said.

“Gone?” Marcus repeated. “How? When?”

“Apparently with you,” Zoe replied.

“What do you mean, with me?” Marcus asked, confused by the sudden turn of events.

“We think she stowed away on your boat. Just look for her,” Jim said impatiently. “She’s somewhere on the Hit or Miss.”

“Give me an hour,” Marcus said, slipping into command mode. “It’s a big ship, and she’s a little girl.”

“One hour,” Mal agreed, trying not to think about the possibility that she had already slipped past the crew of the Hit or Miss and bought passage on another vessel.


To be continued


Friday, October 7, 2011 11:28 AM


Oh Anya, not smart. This is no way for her to show she is grown up enough to go to the dance. I just hope she is okay and they find her soon. And poor Adam being pressed into keeping quiet, glad he couldn't hide what he knew for long. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Friday, October 7, 2011 5:22 PM


Oh, I do hope that Anya is found aboard the Hit or Miss. I just LOVED the scene between Mal and Simon! "If you hadn’t sent Hannah in here to dress me down about your inability to support her weight, we wouldn’t have to do this"--just the beginning of some absolutely priceless lines from Simon. "She was most emphatic about it. Indicated that she was quite displeased with my work"--oh, those little ones--can they ever! I just loved your way of phrasing that. And on and on in that brilliant vein throughout that whole scene. Bravo!

Friday, October 7, 2011 8:04 PM


Yeah kinda seen such a attempt coming. Can't keep raging hormones teenagers apart for long. :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011 5:56 AM


Thanks for the wave into my in-box, slumming. I look forward to your next chapter as and when - in the meantime take care and don't work too hard! You are needed here, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


You must log in to post comments.