Visit to a Weird 'Verse, Re-revisited - Chapter Five
Sunday, April 16, 2006

Nathan Fillion in the Firefly 'verse. His trial is over and he's been sentenced to a fate worse than death. Oh, and death.


<< Read Chapter Four

Chapter Five

The worst had happened.

The thing Nathan had most feared since waking up in this fictional nightmare was now truly and unavoidably upon him, and terror yanked cold fingernails down the chalkboard of his spine. He knew instinctively that Captain Malcolm Reynolds, veteran Sergeant Malcolm Reynolds, would face this situation like a man.

“You can’t do this! Wait! Please! We can work this out, just don’t—“

The door slammed shut in his face with a very solid thunk. Lost and Jake knelt down and peered through the slot. “Nothing to work out, Mal,” Jake said. “You’re gonna be shot dead like a dog at first light and that’s all there is to it. Trial’s over, I won, judge ruled, we all cheered, that’s it. We’d do it now only we got this here celebratory feast going and dead bodies stink up the place something awful.” It was true; the party was in full swing now. Sounds of singing and heroic drinking could be heard from outside, and from the sounds and cheers Mal was being burned in effigy.

“No, I get that, that’s shiny. But don’t leave me in here with her!”

Behind him Inara looked up from where she had been arranging some of her filmy wraps on the bunk to sit on. Without them her bare arms shone golden in the candlelight. “You know, the compliments I get are one of the most satisfying things about my profession,” she said. “The devotion. The praise.”

Lost and Jake exchanged glances. “Um, Mal,” Lost said. “To be honest, we figured we wuz doin’ you a kindness, letting you have one last, you know...”

“Evening of bitter sarcasm and uncomfortable silences?”

“Oh, you two got married?”

“Some people even worship me,” Inara said to the air. “Although that can get a little embarrassing at times...”

“’Sides, we can’t let her go. Her own testimony makes her one of them there accomplices, so she gets popped right there with you,” Lost said.

“She didn’t have anything to do with it! You can’t prove she stole anything. Hell, you can’t prove I stole anything!”

Jake grunted. “But you couldn’t prove you didn’t, could you? And the money disappeared same time you did. There’s enough circumcisional evidence to float a boat!”

“Circumstantial, I think.” Lost said. Jake shrugged.

“You can’t kill a man on circumstantial evidence!” Nathan yelled.

“But you can kill one from behind, is that it?” Lost said. Nathan felt the temperature in the room suddenly drop twenty degrees. They weren’t the brightest people ever crawled out of the mud, but he was suddenly reminded that they were very large, very angry, very armed, and on the free side of a very locked door.

“You know why I did it,” he said.

“Yeah, we do. So it’s a good thing you robbed us at the same time, so no one can go around saying this was cold-blooded revenge or anything,” Jake said. Both Larkins stood up and left. “See ya tomorrow.” After a few minutes a loud cheer rose up from outside as they joined the doings.

Nathan stood, leaning, with his hands on either side of the door and his head hanging down. “Any time anyone in Los Angeles wants to stick me with some thorazine, let’s go. I’m not getting any saner.”

“Come on,” Inara said, “we haven’t got much time. Get your clothes off.”

“Say what? I’m not that kind of... Did I miss something? What happened to the coy and maddening dance of non-intimacy?”

Inara moved closer and started unbuttoning his shirt. “You’re bleeding from a dozen wounds and you’ve got at least one or two broken bones. We need to get you patched up.” Quickly (professionally?) she stripped off his clothes until he was lying on the bunk in his underwear. Or rather, Mal’s underwear, which was a weird thought all by itself. She dipped another one of her veily things into the water the Larkins left – beautiful women got better rations, looked like – and started cleaning his wounds. The cool cloth alternately stung and soothed him, which was as good a metaphor for the effect Inara had on Mal as anything Nathan could think of.

She’s gonna know, he thought wildly. She’s been trained to read men, she’s gonna know right off I ain’t him, and then what happens? She goes wiggy? She thinks I’m wiggy and I end up in some futuristic loony bin? Or she just figures me for an imposter and kills me with her freaky Companion ninja moves? About the only thing Nathan couldn’t imagine was calm acceptance. He kept his eyes closed and tried not to think about how wonderful her hands felt.

“God, they did a number on you,” she said. “You can actually see boot prints in your leg, look.”

“No, thank you. I’m perfectly happy in my ignorance.”

“You should be, you spend enough time there.”

“I keep a summer home.”

“You’re really banged up. Will you be able to run?”

“Why?” He smirked. “You plannin’ on chasin’ me?” Dammit, Fillion, stop flirting with her!

Too late he realized the problem; when he heard her voice he thought Morena, and he was comfortable around her in a way that Mal simply couldn’t be with Inara. He didn’t have Mal’s intimacy issues, he was at ease around beautiful women, and the fact that he had a girlfriend and thought of Morena like a sister certainly helped cut the tension. Even now he had to resist the urge to reach out and beep Inara’s nose or tickle that spot he knew about. If he wanted to stay in character, Inara couldn’t be his friend.

With a sigh, he opened his eyes. Inara was bent over him, her silky hair brushing against his bare thighs as she wrapped a strip torn from her dress tightly around his swollen ankle. Her beauty was overwhelming, like stepping into bright sunlight. Morena was gorgeous and she was amazing at acting like a Companion, but Inara embodied it with every scented breath. She shared Morena’s lush curves, flawless skin and huge dark eyes and infused them with endless grace and sensuality gained through a lifetime of training. Abruptly he felt aroused, nervous, and slightly resentful at feeling defensive about it, and since that was pretty much how Mal felt around her it worked out nicely.

“Why should I chase you?” she said. “Ungrateful chwen jus are everywhere, you can order them through post now.”

“Inara, I do appreciate what you did. It took a lot of bravery to walk into a hostile place and tell a crowd of people somethin’ they don’t want to hear. Thank you. It means a lot.”

She looked up at him, surprised and pleased. “You’re welcome.” Her smile was dazzling, the more so because it didn’t look practiced.

“Three months rent, at least.”

“You did save my life, Mal,” she said, turning back towards his leg.

“Still, it was a courageous thing. You could have been killed.”

“Instead of just being sentenced to death, you mean?”

She tied off the cloth and sat back to look for more damage. Both of them carefully ignored his tented underwear. Nathan sat up, grimacing, and reached for his clothes when they heard a horrible wailing sound that cut through the room like a siren. Screams erupted outside. Inara grabbed his arm.

“What in the—“

“Ah, Jimmy’s here,” said Nathan.

It was the howl of a tortured soul, the wind whistling through a graveyard, the storm roaring in a moonlight sky, the sound of a man having the life dragged out of him. Also, it was scaring the bejeebers out of Nathan but he managed to keep a straight face. “Mama Larkin warned me he was like to come around for a conference. Said he spoke up now and then, and looks like she was right. Lovely singin’ voice, Jimmy!” he called to the room. “Like the angels above! Or some direction, anyway,” he muttered.

The wail picked up steam and got, somehow, louder.

Nathan got up and looked around. “Jimmy, Jim, Jimbo, Jimbalaya, c’mon! No hard feelings? You gotta admit, you were actin’ kinda rough that night, and hey, your family will wreak revenge for you tomorrow before breakfast. We square? With the wreaking and all?”

From outside they could hear distant gunshots and violent activity. Inara ran to the door and listened. “I don’t think they’re very happy to hear from him, either.”

“Damn, Jimmy, didn’t you have any friends?”

Frightened Larkins began running through the hallway, yelling and crying. Mama Larkin appeared at the slot, looking angry. “Time’s up, Malcolm! You’re going in the ground now, tonight!”

Inara ran from the door just as the Larkin brothers kicked it in. “You guys had the key, you really didn’t need to do that,” Nathan said, pushing Inara behind him and backing away towards the closet.

“Gets the blood pumping,” Lost snarled. He pointed his gun at Nathan. “Last chance! Where’s the gorram money?”

“As Jimmy is my witness, I got no idea,” Nathan said.

“That’s it! You got any last words?”

Jake had been poised to leap and rend his prisoners limb from limb but at that he dropped his arms and looked disgusted. “Why do you always ask that? It just drags it out and they always come up with wise ass shit.”

“How about ‘don’t shoot me’?” Nathan said.

Jake pointed at him. “See? Like that!” The brothers started to argue. Mama Larkin looked skyward for support.

Without taking his eyes off them, Nathan whispered back to Inara. “When I give the word, run. Got it?”

Streams of Larkins continued to run past the doorway. The sounds outside started to take on a more purposeful anguish, as if all the hounds from hell had declared open season on Larkins. The set of Larkins inside continued to argue, although now both Larkin brothers were pointing guns in Nathan’s general direction while they bickered at each other. Jimmy’s howling started going up and down an octave in a manner that was downright unsettling. Inara nodded at Nathan, her hair blowing in the breeze.

Wait a minute. Blowing in the breeze? What breeze? “Hey, does Jimmy always get riled when the weather picks up?”

“It’s the damn wind, you idiot,” Mama Larkin yelled. “Blowing through the walls! Do you think we’re some kind of stupid, superstitious hill folks or somethin’? Boys, shoot this crook!”

Lost fired. Nathan felt a hot streak shoot past his head and heard plaster explode behind him. The howling suddenly turned into a duet. “You like that, Mal? You like knowing you’re about to die? Jimmy knew it for two gorram days!”

A blast past his other ear came from Jake; now there was a chorus of damned souls keening in the room. Inara stayed silent but Nathan could feel her grip leaving permanent marks on his arm. “He was callin’ your name at the end, Malcolm,” Jake yelled through the din.

Nathan looked back at the closet, which was now sprouting new holes. The racket was getting louder. “Yeah, that’s great. Say, this wall doesn’t face the outside, does it?” It can’t, ‘cuz I can hear the screaming outside but I’m not hearing it coming from the closet...

He turned back to see both Larkins aiming directly at his face. “I’d love to gut-shoot you and watch you die for two days,” Jake called out. “but Mama says cruelty is a sin. I don’t see it, myself, but there you go. Goodbye, Mal.”

The wind forgotten, Nathan moved to block Inara and got ready to jump towards the family Larkin so she’d have a chance to get away in the confusion while they were preoccupied with shooting him. And suddenly, inside, all the turmoil and anxiety he’d been feeling suddenly drained away. He was doing what was right, and what happened next happened. It was a peaceful feeling. No fear, no worry, no regrets. He tensed his muscles. The Larkins raised their guns.

There was the attention-getting sound of a large and deadly weapon being cocked. All three Larkins froze.

“Much as I understand the impulse, I have to ask you not to shoot my captain,” Zoe said from behind them.

The Larkins dropped their guns. Zoe walked into the room, her rifle held steady, and Simon came in behind her with his bag. “Zoe, doctor, good to see you,” Nathan said. “Any reason you left me here all this time?”

“You told us to, sir. We obeyed.”

“Yeah, that’s the part that threw me. You wanna stop groping me? Inara already fixed me up as good as anybody.” Simon let go of Nathan’s arm, reluctantly, and stepped back, while Inara looked more stunned at the praise than the sudden rescue. “Hey, how’d you know when to bust in, anyway? Blood-tingling last minute rescue, shiny, but wasn’t that cutting it close?”

“We had help, sir.”

Inara’s dress swirled; from somewhere she produced a live comm unit and placed it in Nathan’s hand. It was warm. “They were listening in the whole time. We took the chance that I wouldn’t be searched.”

“So this is it,” Mama Larkin said. She spat on the floor in disgust. “You kill my boy, steal my money, come in here with your sob story and then shoot more people?”

“Actually we haven’t shot anybody,” Zoe said. “Just scared ‘em a little. Jayne was somewhat agitated about that part.”

“And I didn’t steal your money,” Nathan said. He spun around and started feeling around the inside of Jimmy’s closet. That close to the source he had to speak up to be heard over the clamor. “Did the wailing sound start about the same time Jimmy died?”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Lost said.

Nathan ran his hands over the entire interior of the closet before stopping near a spot by the floor. He smiled and ripped a large chunk of wall completely out of the closet. The howling stopped immediately and warm wind swept through the room. “I was wasting my time trying to escape through the door and the window. I should have just tunneled out through the walls, this stuff is like old cheese.” More chunks of wall came loose. “See, there’s a thing you have to know about Ma... about me. I’ll steal from the Alliance for the fun of it.” Another big chunk. “I’ll steal from a bank if no one innocent loses out.” Two more. “And I’ll steal from them what steal from others. It’s a circle of life kinda thing. But I don’t...” Yank. “...steal...” Yank. “...from friends!” He tugged hard at the remaining construction. There was a crash, a billowing cloud of dust, and a scream.

When everything settled there was a wall-sized hole in the side of the closet and a complete lack of Nathan. “Mama?” his voice echoed from below. “You’re gonna want to see this. And ow.”

Carefully, everyone crept over and peered over the edge of the hole. A few feet down, barely visible in the dim light, Nathan was sprawled on a very dusty pile of cash. There were crates all around him, and piles of assorted goods. He had two big fistfuls of money and was letting it trickle through his fingers. Mama Larkin’s hand flew to her mouth. The brothers just looked pissed.

“That little shit,” Jake said. “He was squirreling it away all along.”

“Probably planned to blame it on Mal anyway,” Lost agreed.

“Malcolm, I am so embarrassed,” Mama Larkin said.

Inara leaned over to see better. “So, you didn’t take it after all,” she said.

“No, I... hey, you actually thought I took it?” Nathan said. “Didn’t you listen to my hero speech, there?”

She smiled at him and nearly took his breath away. “I was joking, Mal. Probably.”

Lost stuck his arm in the hole to give Nathan a hand up. “Hey, is that my ammo belt down there? I been lookin’ for that!”

“There’s a crawlspace all the way under the house, here, and it looks like he had his own way out.” Nathan climbed up and let Simon prod him for a bit. It seemed to make the doctor happy. Outside the shooting and screaming had more or less stopped, but the sound of distant explosions still rocked the night. “Jayne?” Nathan asked.

“All part of our masterful plan, sir. He’s blowing up one of their orchards as a distraction,” Zoe said.

“But the fightin’s done now.”

“The distraction was for Jayne.”

“Ah. Good plan.”

Lost climbed down the hole to pass the loot up to Jake while Mama Larkin left to go calm down their kin and see if there was enough of the “Kill-Mal” party left to turn into a “We’re-Rich-Again” party. “Looks like we’re all invited to this one,” Nathan said. “’Stead of just me and Inara as the guests of honor.”

Zoe smiled. “I’ll go collect the crew, we could use a party right about now.”

“I think River suspected,” Simon said. “She’s been making paper streamers for the last six hours, we thought she was just being morbid.” They took off, leaving Nathan more or less alone again with Inara.

“You were all set to save my life again,” she said. Her eyes were shining, and when she looked up at him her neck stretched in a smooth line that cried for a caress.

Oh crap, we’re having a moment, Nathan thought. We can’t have a moment, can we? It’s not moment time! He still didn’t know exactly when in the series timeline this was happening, but it was obvious she hadn’t decided to leave the ship yet. And if she never decided to leave, if she never spent the time away from him before being thrown back into their lives by the events of the movie, would she be ready to make the decision to stay that she did? That she would? If she did, was Mal ready for it?

Nathan took a deep breath. “Well, you done doctored me and orchestrated an electrifyin’ rescue. I thought it proper to keep our transactions balanced.”

Something in Nathan died as he watched the light in her eyes dim, the edges of her lips pull sharply down, her whole body pull in on itself. “Transactions,” she said flatly.

“It’s dangerous when one person feels they owe another too much, don’t you think? Gratitude turns to resentment, lamps get thrown, lawsuits come bubbling out of the ground and frighten the children, it’s horrible.”

Inara grabbed her veils off the bunk, no longer looking at Nathan. “You’re right, much better to be even.” She straightened up with an armload of filmy cloth. “I’ll go mark our scoreboard so we don’t lose track. Have fun at the party,” she said, and she left.

Jake came over to stand besides Nathan. “Mal, you’re a good man, I’ll say that to God himself,” he said. “But what you know about women wouldn’t wet the bottom of a teacup.”

“I’d say you’re right, Jake,” Nathan said, looking at the empty doorway. Outside the sounds were turning, a bit raggedly, into a party again, but he didn’t feel especially festive. “I’d say you’re right.”

Read Chapter Six >>


Sunday, April 16, 2006 5:03 PM


One more chapter to go, and then notes. Hang on, travelers!

Sunday, April 16, 2006 5:37 PM


Poor Nathan, having to be all Mal-ish at the last moment...

Sunday, April 16, 2006 7:03 PM


Only one more?

I love the way you write the interactions between Nathan and the characters. A+

Sunday, April 16, 2006 8:22 PM


Dang it....only one more part? So no "Mal trying to be Nathan" schtick to bust a gut over:(

Still...this was an excellent chapter, CABridges:) Though I do wish Mal had at least tried to assist his alter-ego with some "truthsome" conversation that might have helped with the situation seen in the BDM:P


Monday, April 17, 2006 12:06 AM


Aw man, now I have to think up something complimentary enough to do this justice! And it's 5:30 AM, which is not my most mentally-clear time of day. ;)

Here goes. Nathan is a wonderful man. Mal is a nincompoop about Inara. Nathan knows he can't risk throwing the space-time continuum out of whack or anything. Put the three together, and you get exactly what happened. Poor Inara. :(

There were so many lines in this that I love. The "freaky Companion ninja moves" crack was good for a laugh. Nathan's comparison between his and Mal's "intimacy issues" was really cute.

But the part that got me the most was when Nathan got himself set and determined to die all heroic-like to save Inara's life. Why isn't this man married?! :)

Only one more chapter? Nuts. No more sarcastic Canadian humor. No more mistaken identity hijinks. No more Nathan trying to find some way to make the disastrous events of the movie somewhat less disastrous. I'm really going to miss this story.

Monday, April 17, 2006 3:34 AM


I've been enjoying this alot, sad to think it's gotta end :o(

Poor Inara... how I wish he hadn't had to do that, but... well, if things arent' supposed to be messed up, then... I guess it had to be done... but Ouch!! I think *I* died a little when that light dimmed in her eyes too... *sniff*

So, I both can and can't wait for the next part, seein' how it's the last... but it's been a great ride!

Monday, April 17, 2006 3:51 AM


Wow, so many killer lines, I can't mention them all. Jayne's diversion, ROFL! Zoe's arrival... And all the Nathan/Inara interaction is perfect.

Excellent tale! Definite 10!

Bummer it's ending. Are you gonna do the Mal at the flanvention part too?

Monday, April 17, 2006 10:27 AM


I gotta say, I missed this when you first posted it, but this is brilliant!! You've got the characters down so well. I still swear you're Joss in disguise...

- Soul

Monday, April 17, 2006 5:33 PM


Very well done! I'll be sad to see it end, but eager to see how!

Mal on "Earth-That-Is" would be pretty funny. Maybe a companion fanfic?

Keep it up!


Saturday, May 20, 2006 4:15 AM


hot damn that was good!!! and go nathan for trying to save inara's life!!



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