HEAVEN AND HELL: 17. "The Second Sorrow"
Saturday, April 17, 2004

"Davy is determined to sway his brother into not simply joining the Rebellion but leading it. Before any decisions are set in stone Pepper and his men tell their stories and an almost-friend makes an unsettling return to the fold."



SUMMARY: "Davy is determined to sway his brother into not simply joining the Rebellion but leading it. Before any decisions are set in stone Pepper and his men tell their stories and an almost-friend makes an unsettling return to the fold." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


A "Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

It was late but he couldn't sleep. Mind churning. So many pieces that didn't seem to fit. Emotions all churned up inside him. River knew what was troubling him deep down even if he did not yet have the words to explain it. She loved him. Would protect him to the last breath in her body. But sometimes, just sometimes, you had to let the drama unfold to reveal the entirety of what you were up against. Let all the masks fall before striking. That was why the timing was all important. Until then he needed distracting. If his mind would give him no rest perhaps his body would.

"*Wei*, what you doin', *xin gan*? Should be sleepin'."

River sat up, the bedcovers falling from her sylph like figure. The moon glow planes of her naked skin shining in the muted light of the Captain's bunk. A ghost among shadows. He had been pacing, unable to stop himself from perpetual motion. Too wound up to slow down and even think about resting. Normally he would walk his boat, check everything was battened down and secure. That all his people were safe. Trouble was they weren't safe and he wasn't sure where the danger would come from. River slipped off the bed and moved towards him on bare feet, her hands brushing his hips and stilling him for just a moment.

"River, now's not a good time."

She smiled sweetly, wrapping and rubbing herself over the coarse material of his clothing, her face tilted up towards his. Her ambient light warming him and easing the tension he could not hide. "Love you."

"Love you too, *bao bei*, but..."

Her hand ghosted over his lips then, in a supple movement that stole his breath away, she pulled herself up his body and wrapped her legs around his hips, her hands sliding up around his neck as she kissed his lips. Balance was a thing he tried to maintain, distracting him just enough for her to wriggle in passed his defences. He found himself kissing her back, strong arms folding round her leaving her confident and free to explore him with her hands, sliding his suspenders off his shoulders while her tongue seduced his. All the air in his lungs mixing with hers and making him a mite light headed as she deepened the kiss. She moved her hips in a close rotating movement that made him sigh and shudder in her mouth. Her oh so beautiful and wicked mouth. He felt her smile against his lips and stumbled backward. Though she never let up her hold on him her slow gyrations increased, her bare heels wrapped around him but guiding him unerringly back towards the bed like a rider guiding a horse.

He was all aware of what she was doing but River didn't fight fair. She knew what she wanted and was all kinds of gifted about getting it. Right now she wanted him. Any and every way she could have him.

* * * * *

It wasn't so hard. The better part of weight lifting was all technique anyhow. Privately Jayne was impressed with Pepper Rawlings. He might look old but he was fit and very strong for a man in his middle forties. Toiling in the mines had kept his body toned and his muscles trim.

The man's skin was shining now, a healthy glow of sweat on flexing muscles as he replaced the bar in its' cradle. Jayne grunted and handed Pepper a towel, using his own to wipe down the bench before getting in position to resume his lifts. Pepper watched him. Liking how they were getting comfortable with each other. His own men still a mite edgy but slowly settling in. He knew they were itching to go, to fulfill vows made in the heat of battle and held close to their hearts in the aftermath of war but he also knew better than to try to force the timing. If they wanted to succeed they had to do this right. By the numbers. "How long you known the Cap'n?"

Jayne grunted. Not pausing as he raised the weighted bar and slowly rose and lowered it in his big meaty hands. The rest of Pepper's men were ranged around the cargo bay, most of them setting up their bed spaces, blankets laid out on hard metal decking. Jackets folded into makeshift pillows. Rudimentary comforts for men who had come to expect nothing not earned from the sweat of their brows. They did not appear to be taking any notice of the conversation which suited him just fine. He spoke slowly without putting the bar back, his breath even, controlled, his thoughts following the steady slow rythym of his work out. Pepper watched and approved. "Best part of a year now, why?"

"He tell you 'bout the war?"

For a moment Jayne almost paused. He forced himself to keep his concentration and settled back into his rythym taking a moment to organise his thoughts and not just say the first thing that came into his gorram head. "Some. You?"

He shook his head. "Nope. Never met him before this job."

Jayne thought about that. "What's with you, the Cap an' his brother anyway?"

"I was in the Valley." Jayne had assumed as much from his earlier comments. Wondered why that mattered a good gorram. The war was over and he for one was glad of it. Not that he thought it a good thing to say so right now. Pepper swept an eye over the men bedding down around them. "We all were."


"We know about Malcolm Reynolds. Not a man of us doesn't. In that hell-hole it was death valley, men came unravelled in their minds as easy as the purplebellies shell fire ripped up their gorram bodies. Saw many a lieutenant fall to pieces while common soldiers stood firm." He paused. "Our units were devasted, some so fragmented they didn't know which side was up still less how to hold it all together before the end." Another pause. Longer this time. "Them as survived the decimation of their units looked for a leader, someone to stand firm when they couldn't. A voice that would rally them to fight or lead 'em home."

Jayne cut him a look, an idea of where this was going but he wasn't going to fill in the blanks. Pepper would have to spell it out or change the subject. Didn't rutting well matter that he was getting more than a mite curious. Wasn't him that started this gorram conversation anyway.

"Malcolm Reynolds was that man." Said Pepper with conviction. "Didn't know his name at the time, just rumours an' such that followed in his wake like a pebble stirrin' up a still pool. Odd tales, fragments mostly from them as made it out. In whole or in part so many had either stood an' fought with him or seen them as had. A unit would be blasted an' scattered. The remnants would hear him bellowin' defiantly across the blood splattered soil as if challengin' the devil himself to come out an' fight an' almost without thinkin' they would drag their selves towards that voice. Them as couldn't hear him copied them as did. Never saw a more stirrin' sight in my gorram life." He paused. "I've heard you only had to look in his eyes to see that he wasn't about to give up. Inspired them as was left to keep fightin'. Gave us pride an' suchlike when the gorram purplebellies was all set to rip it from our blood-slick hands."

He trailed off and fell into a pained silence. Jayne settled his bar on the rest, not even pretending to keep lifting now. "What happened?"

Pepper was staring off, eyes unseeing. Head full of smoke and gunfire, eyes misting with memories too vivid for comfort but ones he would not step away from just for the ease of forgetting. They scarred his mind just as much as the bullets and flying shrapnel had his rutting body. He wanted to remember. Not in part but in whole. Every gorram thing etched in his mind like a memorial to them as had died. A promise made by those who lived. He sighed as if his lungs were leaking air. "The surrender happened." He said and looked at Jayne. "No words can tell ya how that made us feel, Jayne. Havin' our hearts an' guts ripped out of us not by the gorram Alliance *hundan* but our own kind." His voice had become a sneer, pain coated and dredged up from the biggest graveyard he had ever seen. Seemed wrong to call it a battlefield with all them dead and dying lying in their own waste, heads blown off, flesh corrupted, the agony and screams haunting the silence that followed as the carrion circled and slowly fed on the honoured dead. It hurt. Beyond any other mortal pain, it hurt. Not no one who stepped out of that valley came away unscathed.

* * * * *

Davy Reynolds was restless yet had no choice but to spend what passed as night in the infirmary. The ship's doctor could be almost as stubborn as Mal but truth to tell he was tired and resting now would be the sensible thing to do. Come morning he had places to go and things to do. He didn't aim to be leaving his brother's boat alone. He had come too far. Gambled too much. A stab of pain behind the eyes made him wince before he could hide it from the doctor. Simon gave him a smoother before he could stop him. Davy frowned.

"What the *diyu* was that?"

"Something to ease the pain."

He frowned then nodded in a belated gesture of thanks.

"Now I suggest you go to sleep."

"Before I do, doc, where we goin'?"

Simon shrugged nonchalantly but Davy noticed he had sharp eyes and right now they were watching him intently no matter how relaxed his body language might be. A thought occurred to him.

"You frightened of me, doc?"

Surprised, Simon shook his head. "*Bu qu, weishenme*? Should I be?"

Davy almost smiled. His brother must be rubbing off on him either that or the man was just plain wary. Wary was okay though, wary was good. Kept a man sharp, alert for when the bullets started flying. He had no problem with that. Man couldn't argue with common sense. He wanted to ask Simon some questions, get the lay of the land but was starting to get sleepy. Opening his mouth to say something his jaw slackened, eyes closing against their will as he lost consciousness. The doctor made sure Davy was comfortable then left the infirmary wondering if Kaylee was still up. He needed some light relief and right now he could not think of anyone better suited to give it to him.

* * * * *

For several minutes no one spoke. Jayne tilted his head slightly as he took a good look at Pepper Rawlings. Sizing the man up. "Cap won't like bein' made into some kind'a ruttin' hero."

Pepper shook his head. "Ain't gonna do that. We need a leader, Jayne Cobb, and he's the man we want for the job, *dong ma*?"

Jayne wasn't quite sure he liked the look in the man's eye. There was something right unsettling about it. "What if he don't wanna lead ya?"

A disingenuous smile flashed across the previously affable face. No hint of softness in it now. "We can be right persuasive when it's for a good cause."

Rattlers began churning and twisting in his gut but Jayne kept his expression impassive. His look blank enough to fool folks into thinking he was somewhat slow witted or not at the top end of the smarts. But he was plenty smart and what Pepper was telling him was all kinds of disturbing. Before he could figure out what to do about it Pepper leaned in close to him, a smile skimming his lips. "You're a mercenary, Jayne." The big man frowned. When he remained silent Pepper's smile cracked into a knowing grin. "We got coin."

"Oh?" A spark of interest began to stir.

"I'm a man as likes to be sure of outcomes, Jayne. You follow my meanin'?"

"I'd follow it better if ya spoke plain." He growled not wanting Pepper to jerk him around.

"We'll pay handsomely for you not to interfere, *dong ma*?"

Jayne's eyes narrowed slightly. "How much?"

"How much ya want?"

"Depends on what I gotta do."

"Just this," Crooned Pepper, his tone conspirational and encouraging. "When we make our move don't stop us an' don't let anyone else get in the way. Think ya can do that?"

"I ain't gonna hurt the Cap."

"*Fang xin*, Jayne. He ain't no good to us dead, an' like I said he's been an inspiration. All we need is for him to be an inspiration again. What do ya say?" When Jayne hesitated Pepper leaned so close his lips almost grazed the mercenary's ears, but it was the whispered words that froze him in place. Eyes widening in surprise at the amount of money that would change hands. Suddenly things had turned even more interesting. Pepper said nothing for a moment or two. "Are ya in or out?"

He didn't even have to think about his response. "I'm in."

Over the far side of the cargo bay, Lenny Goss carefully eased his gun back into its' holster. His body angled to hide the movement as he relaxed in his makeshift bed. Jayne had not moved, all his attention still on Pepper Rawlings. Hiding a smile Lenny pulled the blanket over him and closed his eyes in high content. Odds were looking better every gorram minute.

* * * * *

Kaylee smiled, recognising Simon's tread before he reached her though she did not turn around. She liked feeling his approach, a smile bowing her lips as naturally as the sun coming up. To Simon the warmth was comparable though she outshone every sun he knew. Not that he told her so in words exactly. She sensed it in his smile. That look he got when he stared at her, lost for words and so gorram stunned that she wanted to rutt him stupid. Being top three percent that should be a fun challenge.

They had been skating around the attraction thing for a while. Part of Simon's reluctance to do anything about it was his own inexperience. Made him all kinds of nervous and wary. Not to mention how the Captain might take any move on his part to get better acquainted with Serenity's shiny young mechanic. The Captain was as protective as a brother, loving as any stern parent, and entirely too capable of ending one rash and foolhardy doctor's life should he step over the line. Plus there was River. Only that part of the equation looked to be having a dual benefit now. Not only had River transferred her focus and needs to the Captain but doing so had distracted that man so much that her brother dared to believe he could begin to embark on a relationship with Kaylee. *And* live.

The only thing sending tendrils of apprehension radiating through his mind and body like a gorram heart attack building was not knowing where it would go from here. Would Kaylee become so head over heels with him that he would find himself without any exit? How would he cope if it all went wrong? Not that he would ever hurt Kaylee knowingly but as the old saying went there was 'many a slip between cup and lip'. And he didn't want to be the one slipping up in matters of the heart. The Captain being an oddly honourable man he could find himself in the space equivalent of a shotgun wedding. Or worse. He could be chewing vacuum like Jubal Early. Now there was a blast from the past he could well do with not revisiting. But that was to overlook the very positive and awesome affect of the lady in question herself. She might be all smiles and sunshine but she could be as stubborn and obdurate as anyone else when it came to something she wanted or really believed in. Right now she wanted Simon.

He opened his mouth to speak but before the words could stumble from his mouth she turned around, her sweet smile robbing him of words. Humour danced in her eyes as she walked over to him, hips swaying as she closed in. Her arms wrapped slowly around his waist, the heat of her body igniting him with fire. Kaylee tilted her face and watched him struggle to speak. "I uh, I um..."

His lack of mental co-ordination amused her to *diyu*. Watching him flush with embarrassment she decided to cut him some slack. "*Bi zui* an' kiss me!"

Kaylee's guiding hands helped him. Moments later he was enthusiastically kissing her back. All thoughts of his terminal demise blown from his mind by a body stirred into passion and no working senses above the waist. But that was alright. Kaylee was right gifted with moving parts. Organic as well as inorganic. She would just have to show him what fit where.

* * * * *

He woke kind of sluggishly. As if dragged out of a deep and heavy sleep. The warm trail over his naked body bringing him to a shuddering climax. His eyes flew open as he jerked awake. River continued to drain him, sucking and licking and pulling every last drop of fluid from him as a low groan slid from his waking lips. "Gorrammit River, I ain't even awake yet!"

He could feel her smile around his shaft. Hips jerking slightly as she continued to suck on him as he softened in her mouth, sensitive to her slightest touch. Breath ragged yet beginning to stablise as he reached for her, her face shining and so happy it made his heart lurch like he was falling off a gorram cliff but he didn't care. Not nothing nor nobody had ever moved him or loved him like this crazy girl. But then he was crazy too. Not just because the sex was so rutting good but because of the way she filled his heart, took all the emptiness and sorrow and wrapped it in her gentle presence. Loving every inch of him with such totality that he was left in awe. Made him feel kind of humble.

"*Xin gan*, you're gonna wear me out."

"Love you."

He smiled softly and raised her up so he could kiss her lips, tasting himself in her warm mouth and feeling so rutting turned on. She sprawled over him, everything about her possessive yet confident and full knowing of exactly what she was doing to him. It just made him love her more. He didn't want no dumb nodding donkey to play servant to his needs yet never in a hundred years would he have expected to find the paradise he had with River. She touched and moved him in so many ways that every day with her was like a miracle. Where had she been all his life?

"Waiting for you." She whispered in answer to his unspoken question. The voice of his heart. Her words made him shiver with joy. The ecstasy so intense it was all but killing him.

"River, you know how much I love you, *dui*?"

Light kisses rained down upon him, her hair brushing silk strands across the planes of his face. The look in her eyes warm with love and understanding. He wanted to pleasure her too. To do any gorram thing she wanted. Anything to know that he was the one who had brought the smile to her lips. The joy to her heart. She was surprised to touch a tear upon his cheek and brushed it dry with a soft kiss. "Show me, *ai ren*."

He gently rolled her over so he was now on top though he did not press his weight down on her. For a while he contented himself with refamiliarising himself with her body, light gentle touches fanning the flames he was building. Immolating her with a rising tide of passion. His lips adorning her smiling face, worshipping her with his eyes and hands, his body sliding down hers until he kissed and licked his way down her mounds and valleys, sucking at the silky forest that parted for him in glorious welcome. Warm and enticing, her scent filled the air he breathed, her hands lightly stroking through his hair, her hips rising to meet his questing mouth as his tongue gently penetrated. A warm wet caress that found her eager and waiting, wanting him to thrust and explore her hidden treasures. To unlock everything that now called him by name. Her words a litany of want as her juices pulsed and throbbed to his encouragement. He sucked, he licked, prodding and washing the tip of his tongue back and forth across her nub, exciting the bundle of nerves that now shivered on his tongue. Her hips rose quicker now, his hands cupping her hips and slowing her ever more frantic movements until she cried his name and juddered flooding his mouth with her sweet essence. His tongue lapping and savouring her as her legs wrapped hard around him holding him in place while she shuddered through the intensity of her release.

At last she relaxed and let him go. Lay in a boneless sprawl beneath him, her body trembling with delicious aftershocks as he continued to pleasure her oh so gently that she thought she would die from the sheer joy of it. Her glistening body celebrating the nearness of him.

"Mal, I..." She moaned, closed her eyes and lost the thread of what she had wanted to say. Coming again in a sweet rush of feeling, her fluids washing him as he gently lapped. The taste buds on his tongue sensing every part of her and keeping her flowing across the warmth of his tongue. So totally his that she did not think her heart could survive without him. She was his. Heart. Mind. Body. Soul. If this was Fate she was a believer. He held the very compass of her existence in his hands.

Now it was his turn to smile as he licked and washed her clean, loving every tremor. Knowing he was the cause. The focus of her pleasure. The sounds she made delighted his ears as much as his heart. He lifted his head and caught her eyes gazing down at him. Smug and happy he crawled up to lay beside her, a hand slowly rising to frame the pale glamour of her beautiful face. "Hush now, *bao bei*, I got you."

"I want you inside me, *ai ren*."

"River, we may not have time..."

A flash of alarm cleared those passion glazed eyes with the threat of pain. It made his heart contract with unspoken agony. "*Duibuqi*, xin gan*, ain't nothin' to be frettin' over just we still got company on board an' somethin' tells me it's gonna get busy real soon, *dong ma*?"

His hands brushed her face gently, voice and touch soothing away her concern. She kissed his fingers, her hands brushing across his nipples and warming his damp cooling skin. Tracing the scars on his body with a light touch, wishing she could kiss them away and consign the memories that pained him to *diyu*. He resisted the urge to sink himself inside her, to fill her as she filled him. To rutt within an inch of their lives. She was a distraction but a glorious one. One he wanted to make his own for all eternity. Or at the very least as long as he lived. No way did he ever want to be further than arms reach from her. But practicality was a dispassionate master and he was all aware that they had men on board who were not crew. His brother notwithstanding they would be having to make some serious decisions this day. The Captain was about to extricate himself from her when there was a pounding on his hatch. Before he could say anything River spoke, her voice a soft hush of words that stilled him, her eyes seeming to gaze at something he could not see.

"He comes with empty hands but unseen gifts. Ties and bonds all twisted and held in the impurity of others' thoughts. He's sorry but has no regrets. With each word the pit grows deeper."

The Captain wanted to ask her who she meant but Zoe's voice found a way to penetrate steel. "Captain! We got company!"

* * * * *

Now that it came to it the Shepherd was nervous. Not that he would show it of course. It had been a judgement call deferring his arrival at the ship until morning. The crew were likely to be jumpy enough without his returning at night. All sorts of negative suspicions would multiply in the darkness along with the memory of his betrayal. He was all aware how it looked and how much effort it would take the crew not to shoot him dead before he could open his gorram mouth. He had to speak to the Captain. And quickly. Before the last nerve in his body turned tail and ran.

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill ya right now an' save the Cap the trouble."

Book gave Jayne a mild look, all the sorrow in the 'verse reflected in his dark eyes. But Jayne was not fooled. Would never be fooled by him again. "I just need to talk to the Captain, Jayne."

Jayne cocked his gun. The Shepherd showed no sign of the anxiety rising in his veins. The appearance of Zoe and Davy Reynolds did not make him feel any better. Davy's eyes narrowed, hands twitching beside his own gun although he did not draw it. "You must have a death wish comin' back here, Preacher."

"I mean you no harm..."

"Huh," Said the Captain joining them at the bottom of the ramp and cutting him off. "Best turn over that record, Book, you're wearin' it out. Almost as much as your gorram welcome."

So far Pepper and his men had not made an appearance. Book was aware of Simon and Kaylee at the top of the ramp peering down. He could not be sure where River was but no doubt the Captain had insisted she stay hidden. Wash would be on the bridge ready for a quick take off if things turned a mite ugly. Felt weird coming back like this knowing there would be no Inara. Part of him was all kinds of relieved but the part of him that still housed a semblance of loyalty felt guilty about it.

"Might I come aboard, Captain?"

The Captain watched him closely, his look was sharp and probing. Eyes narrowed with suspicion. It made Book feel uncomfortable but he forced himself to withstand the scrutiny. "Do I look that stupid to you?"

Book resisted the urge to say *yes*. After all, a known Independent taking aboard fugitives from Alliance justice and embarking on a life of crime aboard a vessel called Serenity was more than just asking for trouble. He was actively courting it. The only thing he lacked was a bullseye tied around his neck. Maybe the one with the death wish wasn't him after all. But now was not the time to make such remarks to the Captain. The man had a right to feel hurt and resentful because of his betrayal. But he *knew* this man. Had learnt exactly which buttons to press. A little discomfort was worth enduring to ensure the outcome he sought.

The silence was beginning to stretch to a painful level when Zoe spoke. "Sir?"

Mal hesitated. Knew he should either shoot the man dead or send him away but part of him wanted to believe this had been some kind of mistake. Another part of him wondered what could be so gorram important that the Preacher, having blown his cover, would risk coming back and facing him after what he'd done. Was it possible that what he thought was going on was wrong? What was he missing from this puzzle and could he trust the Judas that faced him now enough to listen one last time?

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*wei* = hey *xin gan*/*ai ren* = sweetheart *bao bei* = precious/darling *hundan* = bastard *diyu* = hell *weishenme* = why *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *dong ma* = understand *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *bi zui* = shut up *dui* = correct *duibuqi* = sorry


Saturday, April 17, 2004 3:06 PM


YEAH! Kaylee gets Simon.Or, at least, manages to kiss him...LOL

Wondeful chapter, can't wait to see what Book has to say for himself...and I hope Jayne doesn't do anything stupid!!

This series is so awesome, I totally love that things just never quite go how I want/expect them too...hehehe

Monday, April 19, 2004 12:46 AM


Passionate sex, inept flirting and villainous baddies - does fanfic get any better than this?

"She touched and moved him in so many ways that every day with her was like a miracle. Where had she been all his life?

"Waiting for you." She whispered in answer to his unspoken question."

So sweet. So why does it raise the hairs on the back of my neck?

Monday, April 19, 2004 8:46 AM


You're still a good time. Alison. A way with words and plot, too. And always a good cliff-hanger. Thank you so much!


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.