Crop Circles -- Five
Friday, November 4, 2005

Shepherd's Walk


After leaving Jayne at the edge of town, Shepherd Book continued through the heat, following Flaherty’s directions. While Book had been many places in his life, he wasn’t sure if he remembered one as hot as this. “Lord, Jesus,” he thought as he inhaled. “Walk with me,” he thought as he exhaled. He repeated this a few times until the heat became more tolerable. Thankful for Kaylee’s parasol and the shade it provided, Book started wondering how people survived on a place like this, day after day after day. It was a mining moon; there was little vegetation and little rain. It would be a very hard life.

Finally, Book arrived at what was obviously the town’s meeting hall. It was not built at street level, as were all the other buildings he’d seen, but had a short flight of steps up to a porch and the entrance. When Book reached the top step, the doors opened and a young woman with a glass of water came out to meet him.

“Here, Shepherd. It’s a bit warm today,” she said as she gave him the glass and escorted him into the building. She took Kaylee’s parasol and closed it carefully, placing it on a shelf by the door. “Real pretty parasol, Shepherd. Please, sit down and rest a bit. We can wait.” Once Book sat down where she indicated, next to a table holding a pitcher of water, she passed through a door at the back of the room.

Surprised at such courtesy on a back-water moon, Book leaned back in the chair and sipped his water. It was cool, cooler than he’d expected, as was the room he was in. “Ah, Derrial,” he sighed. “Shouldn’t pass judgments on someplace by how it looks. You know that. This place may be isolated, but it’s definitely not without its pleasantries.”

When Book had rested and enjoyed the fresh water and quiet, both of which were in short supply on Serenity and something he’d had a hard time getting used to after the abbey, he got up and began looking around. He’d barely made it across the room to admire a painting on the far wall when the young woman returned. “Are you ready, Shepherd?” she asked.

“Yes, please,” he smiled. He was actually anxious to meet those wanting to marry. It had been a long time since he’d been involved in something as enjoyable as officiating at a wedding. The young woman returned arm in arm with a young man. They were obviously trying to appear calm, but their faces glowed with happiness. They were followed by a number of people including a large family with five, no six, children of various ages. Book walked to the couple and shook their hands warmly.

“Thank you for the water,” Book said, beaming at the young woman. “It was wonderful.”

“I’m Larry Ross and this here is Maggie,” the young man said. “We’re awfully glad you’re here.”

“I’m glad I’m here, too, and happy that you want me to officiate at your wedding.” Book then asked the question that had been on his mind. “Excuse me for asking, but surely your settlement has someone who can do this, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, the mayor can get us hitched,” the man said. “But when we heard he was comin’ home with a preacher, we decided we wanted to get it done proper.”

“Well, I’m honored.” Book looked behind the couple and asked them, “Are all these your witnesses, then?”

Larry Ross looked behind him and a man and very pregnant woman stepped forward. “Um, actually Shepherd? Me and Molly wanna get married, too.” Molly smiled shyly at Book. “I’m Arthur Ross,” the man continued. “The mayor hitched us, but we want it done proper.”

Book was mildly surprised. He had heard of families out on the rim who didn’t consider civil ceremonies to be “real,” but he’d never personally experienced it. “Arthur and Molly, I will be delighted to.”

“Shepherd?” Molly looked up at him, a hand to her abdomen. “Can you do christenings, too?”

“Well, Molly, I don’t think you’ll need my services for that on this trip, but I’ll be happy to come back after the baby is born.” Book began to think that coming back in a few months time might be a good idea anyway.

Molly shifted uncomfortably, pushed on a spot just below her ribs, and smiled at Book. “Shepherd? It’s not for this ‘un. It’s for all them.” With a nod, she indicated the group of children. Book took a closer look at them and realized they all looked alike and they all looked like Arthur and Molly.

“Oh, my!”

* * * * * *

Shepherd Book returned to Serenity just before sunset, his sleeves rolled up and a joyful tiredness written on his face. He was met at the ship by the captain and Mr. Flaherty, who were standing on the ramp.

“Well, Shepherd?” Flaherty boomed. “Did you get them all settled?”

“Yes, Mr. Mayor, I did.” Book laughed as he walked up the ramp. “You could have at least warned me.”

Mal looked at Flaherty, eyebrow raised. “Mayor?”

“Well, um.” Flaherty coughed and had the grace to look embraced. “I didn’t quite mention that, did I?” Turning back to Book, he continued, “Aw, come now, Shepherd. Wasn’t it more fun this way?”

Wash and Zoë walked past the three men, hand in hand, heading into town. Flaherty, with a grin big enough to split his face, stuck his thumbs in his belt and rocked back and forth on his heals. “Have a nice evenin’, y’all!” he called after them. Book looked at Flaherty with great suspicion, wondering what was in store for them.

“Warnin’? Fun?” Mal looked from Book to Flaherty and back, confusion mixed with annoyance moving over his face.

Book continued up the ramp and into the ship. “Well, Captain. It’s not often a shepherd gets to officiate at two weddings and six baptisms in one afternoon.” He turned and waved at Flaherty. “Next time, don’t wait so long between shepherds. I’ll be happy to come back anytime.”

“I’ll keep you to that, Shepherd,” Flaherty called after him.


Friday, November 4, 2005 7:32 AM


This really is it for a little while. These last two sections gelled quite nicely, but the rest is still stewing and I probably won't get a chance to put anything down "on paper" over the weekend.

Sorry, Tranquility. Seems my brain has issues with longer pices.

Friday, November 4, 2005 7:33 AM


Gack! Pieces, not pices.

Friday, November 4, 2005 7:43 AM


Thats ok. My brain has issues too... not really anythng specific, just... issues :D Verynice peice!

Friday, November 4, 2005 7:49 AM


I loved this part, the way you took the time to describe Book arrival and the way he is welcomed. It gave us the time to enjoy the moment too
Thank you


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Crop Circles -- Nine
Wash and Zoe's evening.

Crop Circles -- Eight
Jayne's fun.

Crop Circles -- Seven
Mal learns more than he really wants.

The Narrow Path
Inspired from a line in Objects In Space.

Crop Circles -- Six
Wash and Zoe's envelope revealed.

Crop Circles -- Five
Shepherd's Walk

Crop Circles -- Four
Jayne in, where else, a bar.

Crop Circles -- Three
Jobs and envelopes

Crop Circles -- Two
Changing schedules...again.

Crop Circles - One
Sometimes there are honest jobs. Well, almost.