TRAUMA MEDICINE: Chapter 10. Some men might take advantage.
Friday, December 17, 2004

Mal gets 'married', Simon and Inara get jealous. River tries to sort it out. And Mal remembers an old friend, who turned out to be a lot more than that.


Disclaimer: Firefly and its characters belong to Joss Whedon.

WARNING Spoilers for “Our Mrs Reynolds.”

Another warning - Mal doesn't just get seduced by a woman in this chapter. There is absolutely nothing graphic, but if the idea of Mal being anything other than utterly straight bothers you, DON'T READ THIS.

* * * * *

Trauma Medicine: Chapter 10 Some men might take advantage.

* * * * *

Simon recognizes the sound of Mal's footsteps coming down the hallway - there's a slight unevenness to his footfall that's probably indicative of minor but chronic lower back pain - so he's somewhat surprised to hear Jayne say, “Ah! Here she comes now – my lovely wife.”

“There you are, husband. Been looking for you everywhere.” Mal exclaims, making Simon jerk his head round, wondering what game the two of them are playing. His jaw drops. No, that wasn't surprise before. This is surprise. His eyes widen and then widen some more as he looks the Captain up and down. He's wearing a dress. A soft, cotton dress. Complete with matching floral bonnet. The doctor claps a hand to the back of his neck and gapes.

Mal meets his gaze, grins and does a little twirl. “Like it?”

“No,” Simon says firmly. It's all manner of unsettling, wrong in so many ways.

Jayne laughs and takes Mal by the arm. “He ain't exactly the prettiest creature I've ever seen, but I've bedded worse,” he declares.

Mal slaps his arm. “You, sir, are no gentleman!”

“Stop it!” Simon can't help but snap. His cheeks start to burn when Mal and Jayne stare at him in amazement, and he pushes quickly past them and escapes to the infirmary.

“Wha's up with him?” Jayne asks.

“No idea.”

* * * * *

Neither their hasty leave-taking of Elder Gommen nor the slight hangover he's suffering is enough to dampen Mal's spirits this morning. Not often a job goes that smooth. And there's that whole having done folks some real good thing to warm his heart. Yup - that went well. Jayne's ridiculously proud of his rain stick and they got themselves some decent provisions for the larder. Plus these flagons of real cider. Mal's stomach heaves in protest at the prospect of taking a mouthful right now and he decides the alcohol had best go into storage for a day or two.

He opens the wire safe and places the stoneware flagons inside. Good to have a little extra, a little luxury set aside. Reminds him of Momma's ranch – they always had a goodly supply of cider and beer in case of visitors. He finds himself smiling at the memory and then jumps back with a startled yell.

Because on the other side of the safe there's a girl, all pale skin and big eyes, staring at him in terror like he's gonna eat her.

“Who the hell are you?”

Her look of terror changes to one of hurt incomprehension. “What do you mean?” she asks hesitantly, and he notices how very young she is. Little more than a kid.

Mal feels like he's been caught in something damp and sticky and clinging. It makes him a mite panicky. “I think I was pretty clear,” he says defensively. “What are you doin' on my boat?”

“But ... you know ... I'm to cleave to you?”

Mal gives his head a little shake as if his ears aren't working right. “To wabba hoo?” No - this is a load of fei hua an' he ain't havin' it. “You can't be here.”

The girl looks stung, lost. “Did Elder Gommen not tell you ...?” she asks slowly, realization dawning.

“Tell me what?” Mal's impatient now. “Who are you?”

“Mr Reynolds, sir ... I am your wife.”

* * * * *


“You're in here,” Private Warren announced, finally coming to a halt outside of a small tent. A very small tent. Mal was used to a lot of space, both indoors an' out. He began to wonder if he ha'n't done a damn foolish thing, swappin' his home comforts for this when he realized he was getting' an amused an' ever so slightly disdainful look from the woman beside him. “Not what you're used to?” she asked lightly, not bothering to hide her scorn.

He stood up straighter and huffed. “I'll get used to it. Anyhow – don't s'pose we'll be here long. Soon we see some action against those hun dan Alliance ...”

“Six weeks' basic,” she said, like she had to say the same gorram thing to every new recruit and was pretty much bored with it. “Then .. who knows?” She tilted her head towards the tent. “Get unpacked, then report to the quartermaster for your kit.”

Mal looked at the tent again. How in the name of Buddha was he gonna fit himself, his belongings an' whatever kit he got issued in there?

He grinned at Private Warren “We ain't gonna be sharin' then?”

She gave him a withering look, turned and walked away without deigning to reply. Mal watched her go - part relieved cos she looked like the kinda girl his Momma reckoned ate farm boys for breakfast and part regretful for the exact same reason. Then he pulled the door flap aside and entered the tent.


“Ahh!” Mal jerked upright, head scraping the underside of the roof. “Tamade – who the hell are you?”

“Cody – Cody Bain,” the blond young man replied, getting to his feet and extending a hand. “Nice to see you again, Mal.”

“Huh? I know you?”

Cody Bain smiled a little shyly and looked down at his feet. “You don't remember? Well, no reason you should, I guess. I'm Clayton Bain's son. My Daddy's farm is about ten miles downstream from your Momma's ranch. We met once ... a cattle drive ... your first, I think?” He glanced up again, raising his eyebrows hopefully and willing Mal to remember.

“Right,” Mal nodded slowly, trawling through his memory and coming up with nothing. “Yeah. So – what ya doin' here?”

“Same as you. I heard you were joining up and ... well, I thought maybe I should do the same. Make a stand ...”

“Uh-huh,” Mal interrupted. “But what ya doin' in here?”

For a moment Bain looked confused, then he grinned. “It's a two-man tent, Mal.”

* * * * *

“The marriage ceremony of the Triumph settlers. Has been for over eighty years,” Book says with a barely concealed smirk. “You, sir, are a newly wed.”

Simon finds himself fervently wishing that he'd left his rutting encyclopedia back at home on Osiris. Because this is not the kind of information he wants or needs. The space that thing occupied in his bag would have been better filled by another vest. Or a few more pairs of socks.

Mal is clearly no happier. “So what's in say in there about divorce,” he asks, practical even in extremis. Simon hides a smile and even feels a little pity for the girl when she runs off, sobbing. As well as a fresh rush of tenderness towards Mal and the way he forces himself to go after her.

“You really think you're the one to talk to her, Sir?” Zoe tries to stop him.

“Way I see it,” Mal growls, “Me and her got a thing in common. We're the only ones who don't think this is funny.”

In fact Inara doesn't think it's funny either, although she isn't surprised Mal's oblivious to the fact. Of all the many things that annoy her about him, the one that infuriates her most is the way that his obsession with keeping his own emotions in check blinds him to the feelings of people around him. They can be having these huge, all-consuming, passionate feelings of love, hate, despair - and he doesn't notice. All he's worried about is that no-one can see into the heart of him. And he's not even very good at it – at hiding his feelings. No – Mal's talent lies elsewhere. In pushing people away, in shutting them out. His eyes can be crying out for contact, for warmth but offer it to him and he'll freeze you out with a sharp word or a nasty jibe, so petrified is he that a little love will dissolve him.

And the thing that makes it even more annoying is that Inara knows she does the same thing. For the very same reason. She catches Simon's eye and just for once she decides not to be like Mal, to let someone really see her.

It's not what he was expecting – all that raw jealousy and pain, underlain by endless, hopeless regret. They stare into each other's eyes, understanding. Knowing. Simon smiles weakly – touched, saddened – and Inara acknowledges him with a nod.

“Thief in the night,” River says, breaking into her brother's thoughts with a tug on his arm. “Not hers to take.”

He turns to her, confused. “Inara?” he asks hopefully. Guiltily, too.


* * * * *

“If you take sexual advantage of her,” Book says conversationally, “you're going to burn in a very special level of hell. A level they reserve for child molesters and people who talk at the theatre.”

Not for the first time, Mal wishes he hadn't told Book he was welcome on his boat. He stares at the Shepherd, dumbfounded at both his assumption and his audacity in saying it out loud. “Wha'? I'm not -” he starts to explain but then his astonishment turns to indignation. “Preacher, you got a smutty mind.”

Book is unperturbed. “Perhaps I spoke out of turn.”

“Per maybe haps I'm thinking,” Mal replies wishing he had more sentence modifiers at his disposal, because somehow that don't sound nearly emphatic enough.

“I apologize,” Book answers mildly in exactly the same unconvincing tone the Doc uses for his apologies. “I'll make her up a room in the passenger dorm,” he offers, retreating.

“Good.” Mal guesses he's won this confrontation.

Wrong again. Book's head reappears around the corner to deliver a reminder. “The special hell.”

Mal sighs. The special hell. He don't need no warnin' about that. Been there an' burned more than once. Twice to be precise. First Zoe. Then Jia ...

Four and a half years ago

“Could get used this, Zoe,” Mal said, dropping the pitchfork and wiping the sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand. “Good honest work. Good honest folk. Live simple.”

“If you say so, Sir. And Ru Wei's daughter's got nothin' to do with it.”

He thought about denyin' it but he cou'n't stop the corners of his mouth from curvin' upwards. Had to admit he'd been thinkin' about it. About a future with Jia. Ha'n't know her long, but she was funny an' smart an' cute. An' there was somethin' else. Somethin' that got to him. He wa'n't sure he wanted to confess to that, so he opted for practicality. “She's a hell of a farmer. A real hard worker.”

“Sure she has many exciting qualities, Sir. Probably hell of a cook too.”

Mal shot Zoe a searching glance. Not jealous was she? No. Why would she be? After ... well, some things were best forgot. “Maybe we're soul mates,” he joked cos neither him nor Zoe believed in such gou shi.

Zoe said nothing. Just looked at him - a touch sadly, he fancied.

Same way she looked at him later than night after they got run off the farm. Lucky those woods were as thick as they were. Gave 'em some place to hide. Somehow they managed to shake off their pursuers. Mal had been certain Ru Wei was gonna kill him. Still cou'n't piece it all together his own self. One minute he was kissin' her an' slidin' a hand under the soft fabric of her shirt an' the next she was screamin', blood beadin' from a cut on her lip.

* * * * *

“Could you leave me alone for five minutes?” Inara spits at last and Mal slinks out of her shuttle.

Why do they always end up angry with each other, she asks herself. She shouldn't get angry at all. She's not supposed to care what he says or does. He's just a job to her.

With a heavy sigh, she switches her cortex screen off. Now is not a good time to think about making appointments with other clients. She's not in the mood.

It was his talking about children that did it. Suddenly there was a whole future, full of endless possibilities in front of them both. All the things she wanted - and didn't want to want. Damn him! Damn Malcolm Reynolds to hell!

* * * * *

“The Vice Consul knows,” the Director announces.

Gaunt and Ginger exchange a look. “How much?” Gaunt ventures.

“That we've 'lost' her,” the Director replies, gazing up at the ceiling, tapping his fingertips against each other. “He's not best pleased.”

“And the programming? Does he know it's not complete?” Ginger asks grimly.

“Fortunately not. I have assured him that we have a very solid lead and that we will have her back under our control in the very near future.”

“Is that possible?”

“I have every faith in you, gentlemen,” the Director smiles icily. “Who understands better than yourselves the penalties of failure?”

“And if she's contaminated?”

“We shall be faced with a problem of enormous magnitude. A problem, however, with which you will not be concerned. You will have more pressing concerns of your own.”

* * * * *

Two parts sedative to one part antipsychotic worked well enough yesterday, Simon tells himself and a couple of clear drops fall from the pipette in his hand into the flask on the counter. Of course, the day before that this recipe had River emptying toothpaste tube after toothpaste tube in the hunt for 'the little blue one'. Whatever she meant by that.

“Two by two,” she whispers, staring into the distance, her mouth contorting with fear. “Two by two.”

Every time she says those words, a chill goes through Simon. He can't begin to guess what they mean, but he knows they're an expression of a deep, relentless fear. Part of the trauma she's buried. He's been doing more research and has a label for this behaviour. Obsessive compulsive disorder. The need to repeat the pattern over and over again. Two by two, hands of blue. She's lost in this particular wood, compelled to retrace her steps over and over again. If only he could help her find a way out.

“Don't always have to leave by the door. Not if there's a window,” River announces suddenly, slipping from her seat and marching determinedly out of the infirmary. Simon lets her go and returns to mixing her medicine.

Book is in the empty passenger dorm. Approval and a sense of victory radiate out from him. Foolish little soldier doesn't know what lies over the hill. River's eyes fall on the red pillow. Wrong, all wrong. She snatches it up, yanks the bedsheets back and leaves the room. Cushion, comfort – the task falls to her brother now, not her. Soft on the outside, poison-tipped spines within.

Simon is stoppering up the vial containing River's medication when through the infirmary window he sees her heading back his way, followed by a slightly disgruntled looking Book.

“What's going on?” he asks the Shepherd warily.

“Seems River doesn't want me making up a bed for our young guest,” Book smiles benignly. “Or she's starting a pillow collection. I'm still collating data.”

Simon's heart sinks. Will she never get better? “I'm sorry. I'll take care of the room ...”

He's going to give her the pillow! Doesn't he care? River thought it was love ... “It's not important,” she lies. “Tell him,” she urges Simon. Tell him you love him. Before it's too late.

Her brother looks at her blankly. “Tell him what?”

Momma wanted to see him happily married, settled with someone to care for him. Someone to care for. “We want you to marry us,” she tells him. Isn't it obvious?

What?” Simon splutters. “We – no! What?”

They're so close, sometimes it's hard to know where she ends and he begins. His thoughts seep into her, his feelings course through her veins. “Two by two. Each one a mate, a doppel.” The two of them are so alike too. Brothers under the skin. More than brothers. If he won't say it, she will. “I love you.”

Simon is horrified. She's much worse than even he had realized. Maybe Jayne's right after all, and she really is a moonbrain now. “No, River, mei-mei. Of course, I love you too. But we can't be married.” Her eyes shine, alight with some distant notion. He knows he's not getting through to her. “She's ... really crazy,” he admits. That gets through to her. She delivers a vicious kick to his ankle.”Ow! I don't mean crazy ... that's just not something brothers and sister do. I mean, on some planets – but only pretty bad ones.”

Her brother is a boob. Save him, she implores but the words won't come out. Simon has to save him. He's walking on quicksand and she'll pull him under if she can. “The captain took a wife ...”

“Well, that's also complicated,” Book says gently.

“I don't know where this is coming from,” Simon says helplessly.

River stares at him. Was Simon lying to her? Didn't he tell her he was the one? Theirs? To look after? She thought he was going to fill the emptiness. Simon's her brother and he's hollow and she can't bear it. She'll try to fill the void. Keep him warm. “We'll take care of each other. I'll knit.” Something's wrong. Not what he needs. “You don't love me.”

The footsteps overhead provide a welcome distraction as far as Simon is concerned. Mal descends the stair, followed by the girl. He senses something is amiss, but is glad no-one is rushing to explain what or to demand he resolve it. Whole gorram trip's more than complicated enough already.

'Not love, not love' she keeps hearing him say. Respect, admiration. Wanting. But not love. Not love. She understands the words but she doesn't comprehend. Trying to make sense of it makes her dizzy. If the meaning of words disintegrates, she'll be trapped forever. Everything must have its own name, not something else's, or the 'verse has no logic, no form. In the beginning was the word ... And now other voices are speaking too, making it very crowded in here. Gorram complications. Special hell. Just a kid. Gullible fool. Fool.

“You're a thief,” River suddenly accuses Saffron out of the blue, making her steal closer to Mal. Taking what's not hers – his hand, reassuring on her back.

“Well, ho! Let's play nice here,” Mal warns and turns to Simon. “Your sister's got some funny notions.”

Simon has to agree but Saffron reaches into the waistband of her skirt and pulls out a sachet of food. “I'm sorry. I didn't know when I was to be fed, and I was afraid ...”

Rage starts to bubble within Mal. He's angry now. Angry with River for sayin' such stupid things. Angry with Simon for not stoppin' her. Angry with Saffron – for, well, bein' so damn pathetic.

Little more than a kid...They held her down...It's haunted his nightmares for years, filling his nights with impotent rage as the horror replays over and over again. And always there's the serpent's voice telling him that maybe it wasn't like that. Insinuating that she didn't fight because, well ... hiss, hiss ... And sometimes his anger turns on her, on her vulnerability and her inability to save herself. She should have fought them, gorramit!

It's Book that tips him over the edge, with his well-meaning “Well, there's certainly no harm done.”

“And I say there is,” Mal snaps. “Good deal a'harm an' it's startin' to tick me off.” He glares at Saffron, infuriated by her downcast eyes and submissive manner. It makes him want to slap her. Hold her down and slap her. “Now I got no use for people sneakin' around, takin' what ain't theirs,” he says slowly, steadying himself. He doesn't see River smile as she hugs the pillow she's tucked against her belly. “But what I got even less use for is a woman won't stand up for herself. Five days hence we're puttin' you in the world, and you won't last a day by bowing and sniffing for handouts. You want something, you take it, or ask for it.” He swallows a little of his anger back down. They've all gone silent. Even Simon Tam is remarkably quiet and looks quickly away when Mal catches his eye. Got nothin' smart to say? Mus' be some kinda miracle!

Mal continues with his lecture. “You don't wait to be told when to breathe, you don't take orders from anyone. Except me – and that's just cos I'm the captain, and people take orders from captains - even in the world. But for the rest, damnit, be like a woman is. Not no petrified child. There's more'n seventy little earth's spinning about the galaxy, and the meek have inherited not a one. Do you understand what I'm saying to you?”

Saffron says that she does and Mal decides he'd better go. The way she looks at him unsettles him. So pale, so small ... Little more than a girl ... She staggered out of that place ... and looked him cold in the eye ... When he closes his eyes to sleep, he never knows which one of them will take that girl's place as he takes her and holds her down. Never knows whose eyes will be staring into the darkness in his soul. “Shepherd, will you show Saffron her room, please.”

They leave, taking their jangling thoughts with them and suddenly everything is very clear to River. But how to simplify it so that Simon understands? She smiles at him. “Now we have to be married,” she explains, glancing down at her pillow-belly. “I'm in the family way.”

* * * * *

Mal is hanging on by a thread. He's so afraid he'll hurt her. Like Zoe. And Jia. But then she gets up, allowing the sheet to fall away, dragging more of his self-control with it. She's naked. Her voice is like honeydew. And he's stuck. No good struggling. Wings just get held faster.

“If I'm wed, I'm a woman and I'll take your leave to be bold. I want this.” Her soft words are hypnotic and have him swaying, drifting. “I swell to think of you in me – and I see that you do too.”

“Well, that's jus' ...” His protest holds no conviction.

“Leave me at the nearest port, never look on me again. I'll make my way with the strength you've taught me ... “ How did he let her get this close? One breath and they'll be touchin'. “Only let me have my wedding night.”

He should tell her. Explain. But there's skin and heat and he can't think straight. “Oh, I'm gonna go to the special hell...” He knows that for sure. If he gives in to the screamin' inside. If he doesn't. What does it matter? It's all the same because she's kissing him, slow and sweet and he's OK. Perhaps this time ... Somehow he has just enough strength to pull away. He looks down at her sadly. Can't take the chance. “I really wish it was that simple, girl. But I just ...”

Her mouth is on his, warm and insistent, and he can't fight anymore. Sometimes you jus' have to surrender cos it's your only option. He takes her face between his hands and kisses her back, long and hard and desperate. Arms circling her, tongue swirling against tongue, head spinnin'.

Spinnin'. Huh? Mal takes a step away from her. “Son of a ...”

* * * *

Having settled a now fully conscious Inara on Mal's bed, Simon returns his attention to the Captain, who's still sprawled out on the floor of his bunk. Zoe is crouched at his side, her eyes never leaving his face.

Mal's eyelids flutter and Zoe becomes even more focused on him. He lets out a long sigh. “Bain...” he mutters, grabbing Simon by the arm. Zoe's eyebrows pull together a fraction as a little moan esacpes Mal's lips. “Don't ... stop,” he breathes.

Zoe freezes mid-blink. Simon raises an eyebrow but her expression is immediately deliberately blank again. Mal's fingers tightening into his bicep distract the doctor. He puts a hand on Mal's shoulder. “Can you hear me, Captain?”

Mal's head wobbles from side to side and he opens his eyes blearily. “Is it Christmas?”

December 2506

It was late December – leastways, it was on Ermine – and their batallion was coming under heavy fire from Alliance forces massed on the other side of the river. It it hadn't been for that river, the Independents would've been food for worms by now seeing as how they'd run out of ammunition two days ago. But God, in His infinite wisdom, had thoughtfully arranged it so that the river was too wide and the current too fast flowing to cross safely without amphibious vehicles. He'd also seen to it that amphibious vehicles was the one thing the enemy didn't have.

“What d'ya mean, they didn't bring any?” Mal demanded angrily, his face illuminated by an explosion off to their right.

“Said there's a second unit comin' in tomorrow, Sir,” Zoe responded mildly. “Bringin' rifles and rocket launchers too.”

Mal cursed under his breath. “So what the diyu are we supposed to do till then?” Another explosion sent a shower of stars up into the night sky.

“Private Bain might have a plan, Sir,” she answered. “Told me to tell you he's holed up by that bombed out church tower.”

Well, that was somethin' at least, Mal thought. All that fancy education Bain had had – most like he knew some way of making a grenade out of a can of beans an' a firelighter. “OK,” Mal decided. “I'll go on up there now.”

Zhen ta ma yao ming. Ju yi,” Zoe urged, a flicker of something indefinable in her eyes.

Dang ran,” Mal grinned, impatient to be away.

He turned and followed the cemetery wall, keeping low to keep out of sniper range and out of sight of his own side - di'n't want gettin' put on a charge. Where the wall ended, he turned downhill, in the shadow of the ruined tower.

“Psst! Mal! Over here.”

Cody Bain was sitting on the ground, leaning back against a tree. Mal scrambled over and sat down next to him. “She me?”

Bain glanced around and then slowly opened his jacket to reveal a bottle of what looked suspiciously like brandy. “Want to get into the Christmas spirit, Sarge?” he asked with a wink.

“Where in the good gorram did you get that?” Mal hissed.

Bain shook his head sadly. “Terrible thing, Sir. The Colonel's drink problem. Thought I'd better take precautions ...” He broke off laughing and handed the bottle to Mal who uncorked it and took a large mouthful.

“He finds out an' we get court-martialled,” he warned, wiping his mouth on his sleeve.

“We'd better ensure he doesn't find out then,” Bain answered, taking another swig from the bottle himself. “Better dispose of the evidence.”

“Can't argue with that,” Mal agreed sagely.

And so they sat there – an hour - maybe two - drinking, laughing and talking about mutual acquaintances back on Shadow.

“And that,” Bain declared proudly, slurring his words a fraction, “is how I pershuaded Daddy to let me go away to school.”

Mal threw his head back and laughed. “Cody Bain,” he began, finding himself a mite slurred too, “You are a sly one an' no missh..” he stopped and rushed to clarify, “I mean ... I didn't mean...”

“Mal- ” Bain interrupted.


“Shut up.” Bain leant over him and pressed his lips gently against Mal's. Mal's mouth fell open with surprise and then Bain was kissing him properly, his tongue hot and brandy-sweet.

“I ain't sly, Bain,” Mal said when he'd recovered enough from his shock to pull away. “An' - by the way - since when've you been?”

Bain smiled and wagged a finger at him. “You aren't very observant, are you Mal? I'm sorry. I shouldn't have ... Should've known you wouldn't like it.”

“Never said that.” The words were out before Mal had time to weigh them and for a moment the two of them sat in stunned silence, trying to absorb quite what he'd meant.

“So ... you did like it?” Bain asked at last.

Mal scratched his head, thoughtful. “Better than kissin' Josie Fletcher,” he admitted with a grin, before jabbing a forefinger into Bain's chest, “But not as much as kissin' her big sister.”

“Permission to do it again, Sarge?” Bain asked quietly and when Mal hesitated a second too long, he took his face between his hands. “Only this time, you've got to reciprocate.”


“You've got to kiss me back.”

Maybe it was the brandy. Or the boredom. Or the thought that he really shouldn't be doin' this that made it seem so damn excitin'. Whatever, Mal found he did quite like the feel of his lips on Bain's after all. And the warmth of his body. He liked Cody Bain too. They were young - jus' larkin' about – he told himself, tryin' not to recall his Momma's warnin's about the special kind of hell you went to for special kinds of sins.

There was a soft thud in the air overhead and then a deafening crash. “Tamade!” Mal exclaimed. “That's mag drops they're usin' now an' we've got nothin' ...” It was so ruttin' frustratin' this damn havin' to wait.

Bain took his hand and pressed the back of it to his mouth. “Not wanting to be overly dramatic about it, but we could die here. Tonight. Which is why I'm going to ask you ...”

“Look ...”

“We won't do anything you don't want to,” Cody said softly, blue eyes utterly sincere. He ran a hand up Mal's arm and touched his cheek.

“I ain't sly,” Mal repeated, wondering if he could sound any lamer.

“So you keep saying.” Cody kissed him again.

He was right, a voice in the back of Mal's head insisted. They really could die here. Tonight. “Nothin' I don't want?”

“Mal – you're a head taller than me and you must be at least ten pounds heavier! What am I going to do? Force you?”

“Guess not.” Mal muttered. “OK then.”

“Just one thing you should know, Mal ...”


“If you feel the earth move, it's probably because we're being bombed.”

* * * * *

The seat shudders a little as the shuttle comes to rest back on Serenity.

“All aboard,” Mal reports into the comms.

“Aye, aye Cap'n,” Wash crackles back. “Glad you made it back safe. Take it you didn't kiss her goodbye.”

Mal hears the laughter in his pilot's voice and grinds his teeth. He don't appreciate feelin' like a fool. Shoulda seen through that schemin' whore but she played him real good. How come he was the only one who fell for her act? Even Jayne – Jayne, whose brain resides somewhere far south of most folks' – woulda been safe from her wiles, bein' as he don't kiss 'em on the lips. He wou'n't've been knocked out cold on the floor of his bunk. Hey, wait a minute ...

Like all Companions, Inara is good at reading people so she knows Mal has an ulterior reason for being here. She's just not sure what that reason is.

“You're a very graceful woman, Inara,” he tells her.

Where did that comes from? “I ... thank you.”

His brow furrows a little as he approaches her. “So, here's where I'm fuzzy: you got by that girl, came and found me, and then you just happened to trip and fall?”

He knows! How can he know? How can he know? This is Mal – Mal who never notices anything. “Wh.. what do you mean?”

He's very close now. Another of his annoying ways – the always getting too close, invading her space, touching her things. She longs to pull him closer.

“Come on, Inara, how's about we don't play. You didn't just trip, did you?”

She could tell him now. Confess everything. And then all the games would be over and life would be simpler. “No.”

He smiles and nods as if he understands. “Well, isn't that somethin'.” He's gazing deep into her eyes as if he might be about to kiss her, but then the smile becomes a grin, a triumphant and smug grin. “I knew you let her kiss you.”

And off he goes, hands tucked into the back pockets of his pants and shoulders thrown back. She even thinks she hears him whistle. Stupid son of a ....

* * * * *

Di'n't turn out too bad in the end, Mal decides, helping himself to a glass of cider in the quiet of the empty kitchen. Got the shuttle back. Found out he wa'n't the only dumbass on board.

“Is that alcohol you're drinking?”

Mal glares darkly at Simon as he comes into the kitchen. “You know, I do believe it is. An' if you're thinkin' of tellin' me not to on account of my havin' been only recently pois ...”

“Would you pour me one? Please?” the medic asks, rubbing his temples and taking a seat at the table.

“Sure. There a problem? With li'l sis?” Mal places a glass in his hand and sits down next to him.

“No. Well, nothing new. Sometimes I think that's the problem. It's like she's stuck in one place and can't move forward. Keeps saying the same nonsensical things over and over again.”

Mal shrugs. “Maybe they jus' sound that way,” he suggests. “Words got a way of sounding nonsensical when you don't understand what's behind 'em. Don't worry son – you'll figure it out.” And he gives Simon a brief reassuring pat on the arm.

Simon looks down at his hand. “Captain ... who's Bain?”

* * * * *

Chapter Eleven


Friday, December 17, 2004 2:20 PM


Very nicely done and I love the way you intercut the actual dialogue from "Our Mrs Reynolds" into your story so that it dovetails perfectly. Can't wait to see where you go from here. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, December 17, 2004 3:53 PM


OOOoooooohhhhHHHHHHH!, "Très bien mon amie!"... although Mal's orientation is getting a bit complex... but that's what makes the story work!


Saturday, December 18, 2004 5:17 AM


I've been in awe over the way you've been twining the existing shows' scenes and dialog into your story's theme and direction, but this chapter stands out as particularly shiny in that regard. Mal's reactions and internal monologue as regards Saffron worked exceptionally well.

The seduction scene with Bain worked quite well and I really *liked* Bain. Nice fellow, likeable, which is important. And the way you brought it back to Simon and "Is it Christmas?" was delightful.

River in the 'deleted scene' was superb--her internal thought processes added clarity to a scene that, otherwise, is more than a little puzzling. Your interpertation convinced me.

Lovely work and so much looking forward to each part!


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HOLDING ON: Ch 2 - Tangential
Much to his annoyance, Sanzo's urgent quest to find Goku gets diverted. Meanwhile Mal meets someone from Inara's past. WARNING - slashy but not graphic

The Wheel Never Stops Turning
Mal meets a blonde in a bar. Violence ensues. And Mal discovers religion has its uses.

This is primariy a <i>Firefly</i> fic, but the character Mal ends up doing a job for is from the manga/anime <i>Saiyuki</i>. It's also <b>PG-13 nothing-explicit SLASH</b>. Because that's who I am!

MAKE ME A STONE: Ch 7: 'til the day you die.
Inara leaves Serenity for a new life. Mal gets a job with a couple of new employers, but sinks further into despair.
Slash so lite you'll probably scarcely notice it.

MAKE ME A STONE: Chapter 6: You just learn to live there.
Another job goes less than smoothly. Meanwhile River takes matters into her own hands and Mal has a brainwave.

SLASHFIC. SPOILERS for the comics, novelization and movie.

Make Me A Stone: Chapter 5: Chickens come home to roost.
Mal has to accept Badger's offer of a job. Meanwhile old enemies seek to take advantge.
Spoilers for the comics. Very light slash.

Make Me A Stone: Chapter 4. Some residual heat.
SPOILERS for the comics/BDM. Mal has to accept Badger's job offer. Not much else in his life is going right either.

MAKE ME A STONE: Ch 3: It's complicated.
Mal decides to pull a job of his own. Simon offers to help. It doesn't go smooth - but that's not entirely Simon's fault.

Non-graphic SLASH.

MAKE ME A STONE: Ch 2: And who exactly could fix you?
Simon'a altruism leads to a job going wrong. Mal's not happy.

MAKE ME A STONE: Ch 1: Pray there ain't any more surprises.
Warning: SLASH, but not graphic. Mal and Simon both find that the other has hidden talents. It kinda piques their interest ... *g*

TRAUMA MEDICINE: Chapter 23. Two by two.
Four years have past since Mal was forced to blow up Serenity and Simon disappeared with River and Book. A lot has changed since then. But a lot has stayed the same. The CONCLUSION to this series.