BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

ALIENZOOKEEPER

Sometimes You Need A Medic.... Conclusion
Tuesday, January 6, 2004

The Crew recovers their lost lamb and find a home for Claude


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2017    RATING: 8    SERIES: FIREFLY

These characters belong to Joss Whedon, but they're so much fun to borrow...

***

"I thank you for your time, Abbot King." Book took a sip of the his coffee.

"I always have time for visitors, Shepherd Book, for we do not get many." He turned to the young shepherd who was serving them. "Paul, see that there are two more places set for supper-"

"I don't want to impose, we-"

"Perhaps you will change your mind, then. Please see to it, Paul."

After he had left, the Abbot considered Book for a long time. "You are looking for something."

"That... is very perceptive. Yes."

"Several of my less disciplined brethren are, shall we say, absent with out leave. The Sheriff has been asking difficult questions as regards the recent bank robberies. I was not completely forth-coming when answering his questions- a sin of omission, perhaps."

"And yet, you are rather open in your dealings with me. Why?"

The abbot drank the rest of his cup of coffee. "Would you like some more, perhaps to top off?"

Book nodded. After he had filled both cups, the Abbot stood with the aid of his crutch and busied himself at the fireplace. Book waited, patiently, until at last King spoke.

"This is a place for those with injuries suffered in the late War. Not all of those injuries are on the outside, as, for instance, my missing leg. There are some whose victories came at too great a cost to their soul..."

Book said nothing, his face stony. Abbot King sighed.

"So be it." He sat down facing Book, and sipped at his coffee before he continued. "There are also those who... feel that the powers that be broke faith with them. It is a terrible thing to be at war with your homeland..."

***

Book walked back to the shuttle after his talk with the Abbot. His tread was slow as he had much to think on. He spotted the Captain at the edge of the meadow, turned and waited for him by the hatch. Mal came stalking up to Shuttle Two.

"Shepherd! Did Wash leave Kaylee all alone on the ship?"

"Not at all," Book said calmly, and gave Mal a considering look. "Meet my pilot." He stood aside as Mal barged past, just as Inara stepped out of the shuttle. They were nose to nose for a couple of heart beats, then both backed up. Mal stood there with his mouth open.

"Huh."

Mal found he had trouble taking his eyes off of her. The coveralls with the sleeves torn off and Blue Sun cap were very different from even the comfortable dress she wore when she wasn't out seeing clients. He started to say something and stopped as he took in the red bandana tied around her neck.

"All alone with 'just' Simon and Inara to help her fend off boarders, Captain? I imagine the three of us could get the job done."

"Where'd you find that get-up, in lil Kaylees' closet'? Makes you look short." He looked from one to the other and said, "Either one of you care to tell me what you're doing, flying around in my shuttle?'

"We came to St. Martins' Abbey to help in the search, Captain. The information we had indicated there might be a connection with the wolves who took our lost lamb."

"And was there?"

"Yes." Book stopped and looked around. "Where are Zoe and Jayne?"

"We couldn't take the mule any further into these hills, so I sent Zoe back to the ship, which is where you should be. Jayne was still following the trail, when I split off and came over here for this little get together." He looked up at the Abbey on the hill. "You saying that these brothers operate a den of thieves?"

Inara smiled but said nothing. Book shook his head gravely. "Not all of them. Perhaps a half dozen, veterans of the War."

"Can't say as I blame them, but laying down arms was the right thing, then, even if it felt like we were breaking faith with our dead. Still, perhaps they'll be willing to have a sit-down with fellow Browncoats."

"They are not Browncoats, Captain." That was when they heard the shot fired, up on the hill.

***

Jayne followed the trail among the buildings. A little before they'd reached the Abbey, he'd seen the spots of blood from someone (he really hoped not River, that would make Mal all kinds of difficult. Jayne figured to get the bank robbers' money, turn this into a paying job...). Whoever it was probably had lost the foot back at the final shoot-out with the Feds, so, probably not a problem. That left River and the other two. It would be just like the moon-brained girl to have a fit in the middle of bargaining.

The irregular flecks of blood led from the stables, with several tired animals whose hoof-prints looked like a match, to another building. Their was plenty of activity here, and he definitely saw signs of River and her hostage-takers, plus one other. Jayne stopped by the half-open door and listened. A machine was whirring in there, but no people, as far as he could tell. He slipped in and found a makeshift bed.

Back out in the courtyard, he could hear voices and River's laugh. "At least she's having fun," Jayne groused. It was coming from the next building away from the stables. He tried the door, found it unlocked, and went in.

River was dancing about, while one man stomped after her, and the one with only one foot crept around. The man chasing River was surprised when she stopped and grabbed him. "Found you!'"

"Well, hell, girl, it was us that found you." He looked at Karl, who shrugged.

Jayne took a few steps to the left, so his back was to the wall. He still had them covered with his handgun. "Alright, let her go, easy-like and put yer guns on the floor-" The gimpy one drew to fire and Jayne shot him. Karl gurgled and the hole in his chest bled freely as he slid to the floor. Mike pulled River between himself and Jayne and put his gun to her temple.

"I figure it's you who ought to lay down, Mister." He kept his eyes on Jayne, but spoke urgently at Karl. "Hey, stay with me, dumb-ass. Put your hand over it and apply pressure. Karl! You hear me?!"

"I heard ya... Mike, I'm getting sick and tired of being shot."

"Well, you just keep making jokes." Mike blew out a breath. "What the hell is your story? Why you want this annoying armful, anyways?"

That had Jayne at a loss. "The Cap'n wants her back, that's for him to say."

"Well, now, I do believe we've got you covered, two guns to one, Mr.?" Jayne scowled and looked at the door, where Tom was pointing a gun at him. Mal and Zoe were never going to let him live this down, not to mention the little man...

"His name is Jayne." She moved in Mikes' arm, and he cursed. "'Fall down... fall down!'"

"What the hell is she talking about?" Mike shouted. Jayne smiled. For once he understood, when nobody else did. Di-version. The crazy girl had a plan

"No touching of guns!" River cried, looking straight at Jayne. The big mercenary scowled, but he laid his handgun down on the floor, careful-like and held his hands up. A man didn't respect his weapons was hun-dan, everybody knew that. He was glad for the big knife at his back, where it wasn't visible. The newcomer was either too stupid or in too much of a hurry to search him, as he pushed him against the wall and picked the handgun up, then put it in his jacket. Mike kept his gun on Jayne as Tom saw to Karl.

"Okay, Jayne? You'll be carrying my cousin, that's Karl on the floor. Remember, I've got a gun on you and Mike has the girl, sorry, honey," he added to River. Jayne cursed silently as he did as the man said. As he expected, Tom noticed the knife and whistled.

"Hold still." Tom pulled the knife out of it's scabbard . "A little present for me? You shouldn't have. As a matter of fact, you shouldn't hold out on your good buddy Tom. Anything else?"

"No," Jayne said through clenched teeth. Karl was fairly heavy, mostly dead weight as he was unconscious. Tom took note of that and waved him out the door, coming right behind Jayne. They were headed back to the laundry and the stables.

"Move it! He needs some doctoring-"

"Someone needs a doctor? Happens as we have the services of one." Mal stepped away from the stables, his pistol pointed at Tom.

"I've got two hostages and two guns to your one. You do the math."

"I never was much good at figures and such. Jayne, did you drop your gun for ah, Ariel?" Mal smiled. "You did, didn't you? I think I might cry..."

"Gorramit, Mal, this ain't no ruttin' joke, dong ma?" River has a plan, he thought, and shuddered. Then Jaynes' eyes narrowed. "Just don't go pissin' yerself like ya did with Early, on Higgins Moon."

Mal stared at Jayne. "Right, 'cause I... " Mal turned his head, but stopped himself from glancing at River. "Huh."

Mal looked back at Tom. "You know, actually, you might want to just let her go right now. I need my tracker, but, thing is, if you allow harm to come to the girl, her brother might not be available to doctor."

"That's how come she knew that," Tom mused. "Where's this doctor of yours? Karl is in real bad shape."

Faintly, the rumble of Serenity's engines could be heard, distant but growing louder.

"That would be my people, right now."

Book stepped into the courtyard, twenty feet from the captain and drew Toms' gun away from Mal. The shepherd held out his empty hands. "Come on son, this can only end badly, if you keep this up. Trust me, these folk have nothing to do with the Alliance."

"I suppose you've been talking to the Abbot." Tom pointed his gun back at Mal. "There's probably a reward for us, by now, plenty of money to take care of 'bandits', but not so much for some vets."

"So you're robbing banks as a what, a political protest? Amateurs," Mal muttered.

"Nah, I'm robbing banks because that's where the money is. It's insured by the Alliance, so the way I figure it, I'm just making a with-drawl against what's owed us for fighting and winning the War." The bank robbers laughed, and Inara came up behind Mike. He saw her movement and tried to point his gun at her, but she knocked his hand up and it fired into the air.

"Goramit, woman, I told you to go back to the shuttle!" Mal shouted as Tom threw Jaynes' knife at Inara and fired blindly towards Mal at the same time. The companion screamed as the knife sliced her upper left arm and clattered against the wall of the building behind her. Mal had ducked, but came up and fired three times at Tom. The bullets struck him in the chest and he fell to his knees, dropping his gun.

River somehow took the gun out of Mikes' hand and threw him against the wall. Between the force and the surprise, Mike just slid down the wall and lay there, watching as River ejected the clip and pointed the gun with one remaining bullet at him. "I don't need it to kill you." She fired into the dirt at his feet and Mike stared at her, his heart thudding, as she field-stripped the gun in a few seconds.

Jayne kicked the gun away from Tom and set Karl down, not gently, but at least not like he was a sack of potatoes. He picked up Tom's gun and his knife. The knife he waved at Mike. "Don't surrender, make me real happy and fight, so's I can carve on ya a little and get back some of my own..." Mike raised his hands above his head.

Shepherd Book crouched down by Tom. Mal went to Inara. She had taken the bandana and was holding it on the cut. Mal put his hand over hers and she looked up. "I think maybe I should have gone to the shuttle," she said, and grimaced.

"I wasn't going to start with the I told you so's. Let's see." Mal had a peek under the bandana and pressed down again, squeezing hard, as the blood welled up. "It's deep," he said, gruffly. "Simon'll just have to make a lot of small stitches, and...gorram." Mal closed his eyes for a moment. "This is exactly why I don't want you involved when there's crime to be done. You're not a fighter, you... you got hurt."

"I'll live, Mal. What you want and what I...said, after Nandi died, can't change the fact that I'm part of this crew, this family, now. If any of us, even Jayne," she made a face "is in trouble, we'll all come running to the rescue."

Serenity flew over slowly, hovering. For a moment, it seemed that Wash would try to land in the too small space, but then he took Serenity down to the meadow and set her down. Mal kept his had on Inaras' arm but turned to Jayne.

"Stop playing with your knife, Jayne. Pick the one I shot up and get him down to the Doc." He pointed at Mike. "You pick up the other one and follow him. Shepherd-"

"I'll bring up the rear with our found lamb and watch for strays, as a shepherd is wont to do. Why don't you accompany Inara?"

Mal nodded, but as he and the companion walked away, he muttered "...snarkiest crew in the 'verse."

***

Even with the help of Wash and Zoe, it was a few hours later when Simon got around to stitching up Inara's wound. Karl had a collapsed lung and some bleeding from the ragged stump of his foot, which Simon cut and shaped for an artificial foot and stitched up. Tom crashed four times and Simon was proud and relieved when he had gotten all the bullet fragments out. He asked Zoe to do the honors of finishing up, so that he could see to the companion.

"Well, the bleeding has pretty much stopped. I put a stitch in the artery, where it was nicked and flushed out the wound before closing it up." The trauma surgeon absently hummed as he went about his work. Not that he'd wanted this to happen, but he had had a much better evening than his afternoon. It was good to be useful, to be able to actually heal, which was more than he could say for his treatments for River.

"That sounds like Kaylees' audio-file."

"Yes, we were listening to it while Wash was playing dinosaurs with our, uh, passenger."

"The big man with the smile? I'm surprised Wash let him on the ship and that Zoe didn't dump him off again when you came out to us."

"He really needs help. Actually, he was one of the soldiers from this afternoon- hold still, he's okay. Kaylee vouches for him, no less. Says he's cheerful and polite." He paused. "You don't think she meant cheerful and polite, compared to me, do you?"

"I really doubt that." Simon finished with the last of a neat row of tiny stitches and began to wrap her arm.

"I'm sorry you got hurt, rescuing..." He glanced over at the bank robber Zoe was finishing with and out in the lounge where one lay in a makeshift cot. "Ariel."

"I appreciate the sentiment, 'Samuel', but not everything is your fault." She smiled. "Most of it, belongs to Mal, of course. And..." She looked at Simon, seriously. "After the way she handled that one man, I'm not completely sure she couldn't have managed on her own." She waited for him to respond.

Instead, he patted her shoulder above the bandages. "Not surprisingly, this is going to hurt when the local wears off. I prescribe lots of rest and a good dinner, which I hear the Abbey will be treating us to. I'll change the dressing in the morning. Perhaps Wash and Zoe could walk you upstairs?"

Zoe spoke. "If you're offering to take this job back, fine and good, Doctor, but I'm not leaving you alone with them. Captains' orders." Wash stole a kiss from her, then escorted Inara up to the cargo area. After Simon had gone back at work on Tom, she added, "You didn't answer her. Did that hit a little too close to home?"

"Home is wherever Ariel is." He sighed. "Which is also wherever Kaylee and Serenity are, too." He finished putting a dressing on Tom's wounds and pulled out a stool to sit on. "Zoe, they did more than just cut up her brain. I'm certain, now, that they trained her as an assassin."

"You won't get an argument from me. Question is, Why? Have you thought about it?"

"Yes, but I haven't got any answers."

***

Mal and Shepherd Book met with the Abbot a few hours after the gunfight. It was getting late and most of Serenity's crew had just eaten supper with the Abbot's flock.

"That was a very fine meal. Abbot King. I think Jayne went back for thirds!" The Abbot motioned for them to have a seat in front of the fire. Mal and Book did so.

"I recall it being fourths and he was on remarkably good behavior. I wonder if it was the company or fear of being sent away from the table?" Book leaned back in the comfortable chair and closed his eyes for a moment.

"I think it was sitting next to Ariel." Book laughed with Mal, while the Abbot sat there, bemused. King poked at the fire from where he sat and looked at his guests for a moment.

"Now that you've got Thomas, Karl and Micheal on your ship, I wonder what your next move is?"

"What do you think about that, Abbot?" Mal asked, leaning forward in his seat.

King scowled. "The three of them are wanted criminals. It would do the Abbey no good to turn them over to the Law, especially as we are in possession of the money they stole."

"Could give it back, explain what happened."

"Sadly, no. I don't think that would work. In all likelihood, the Alliance would say we're terrorists, guilty by association. Plus, we really need that money."

"So, as I see it, you've got two problems. You need to get rid of these three, but preferably not kill them, and you need some money laundered. Might be we could help you, Abbot King. Provide passage off planet for them and arrange for someone to make a large and legitimate donation to your Abbey." Mal smiled at Book, who spoke up.

"There is something you could do for us, Abbot..." He was interrupted as Shepherd Paul knocked and came in with a pair of old army boots.

"Thank you, Paul. Gentlemen, that young girl handed me one shoe tonight as we sat down to supper. As it fits me and I don't have any further use for these, I'd like to pass them on..."

***

Claude climbed up to a little nook under the eaves. He changed and got down to the serious business of praying

"God? It's Claude, again. I think I'm going to like it here at the Abbey. The brothers are all pretty nice and I've even got my own bunk, nice and snug up here in the attic, with a good view of the fields. I like Shepherd King, the abbot. He's like a sergeant, I suppose. Jack told me that good soldiers get to be sergeants when they grow up. Maybe he was funnin' me, but I'd like to think he was right..."

Serenity's engines wound up and Claude looked out at the ship, bathed in moonlight in the meadow below. Serenity rose up into the air and transitioned to flight, then flew on towards dawn.

"Listen, I'd like to ask ya to reach out your hand over Serenity, will ya? They're some nice folk, even that gruff one. Watch over Sam and his sister, Ariel, Captain Mal and the pretty one, Inara. Bless Wash and Zoe, keep them safe and happy. Bring peace to Shepherd Book and also to Mr. Cobb. Most of all, watch over little Kaylee."

His evening talk with God attended to, Claude climbed into bed. He soon fell asleep and dreamed of fireflies.

(Cut to burning 'Firefly' logo ;-)

COMMENTS

Wednesday, January 7, 2004 3:16 AM

AMDOBELL


I liked this story and just loved the ending. Well done and *xie xie ni*, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, January 8, 2004 9:01 AM

TASS


I loved it.. you got them perfectly in my opinion.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004 6:14 PM

ALIENZOOKEEPER


I was kind of rushing, because i missed my personal deadline of New Years by a week. Should I have filled in the scenes more, instead of doing sort of quick cut and leaving, say, the rest of Book's conversation with the Abbot out of it?
The combat didn't have much action, definitely should have outsourced it :P


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