FAITH SERIES: 10. "Good Intentions"
Sunday, July 2, 2006

"River talks to the Captain. Kaylee can't hide her excitement at the prospect of seeing her folks once more and Inara has to face something she would rather avoid."



SUMMARY: "River talks to the Captain. Kaylee can't hide her excitement at the prospect of seeing her folks once more and Inara has to face something she would rather avoid." 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.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

He should have been sleeping but couldn't. Even though they were still in the trench Mal found the bridge comforting. It soothed him in a way sleep could not. Too many memories crowded on the edge of his subconscious, waiting to swamp him with perfect recall. Every horror of his life magnified by the art of war. The close circuitry of a near photographic memory making a liar out of his desire for oblivion. He did not feel guilty for leaving Serenity Valley alive. He felt guilty for those he could not take with him.

It took minutes before he realised she had joined him, her quiet bare feet padding softly as if her intrusion could be merged into this quiet space without ruffling the still waters of his stark contemplation. The Captain blinked, not disturbed by the girl's presence. River. It was something of an oddity how in synch with the girl he felt. A tie of understanding binding them together in silences that spoke more than the fashion of their words. Eyes that had seen too much meeting in a library of shared expectations and hollow gifts of unreason. The tempered halls of their thoughts were not the hallowed ground of true believers but the battlefields of choices forced upon them. Hard decisions and a rough deliverance, the hand turned towards them as like to hold a sword or gun as equally as friendship. They understood each other in a way that should have been creepifying if it wasn't so gorram comforting.

"She loves you."

The Captain just stared at her. The question forming even though the answer lay in her eyes. "*Shei*?"


Mal snorted softly, as if the lowered volume of his response could hide the pain.

"Liked it when no one knew." River explained, her voice a soft calm monotone. "Could pretend. No ties. Nothing changing. No expectations."

"What you sayin', albatross?"

"All the time she could pretend it meant nothing she could lose herself in you. Take and give pleasure without thought of consequences but there are always consequences. The moment others began to notice..."

The Captain straightened a little from his boneless sprawl. "Like who?"

She ignored the interruption as if he had not spoken. "She had to face the truth. It scared her, so it had to end."

All too vividly the pieces slotted together in his head. Chains around the walls of his fragmenting heart. "Huh."

River was watching him closely, feeling her way with words. Serious as a heart attack but far more caring. "She loves you but what really frightens her is knowing you love her back."

The words struck a chord, deep and arrow straight. The Captain frowned slightly, trying to hide how much her words affected him. Yes, she could pluck the thoughts out of his head but he knew she tried not to violate the privacy of his thoughts in matters of the heart. "*Wo bu dong*, shouldn't that make her all kinds of happy?"

The girl leaned closer, her eyes boring solemnly into the Captain's. Reflecting a sorrow that was not his or hers. "Can't. Thinks she'll lose herself."

"Gorramit, River, I ain't ever gonna understand that woman."

"She doesn't want you to. Inara doesn't want anyone to have that much power over her."

The Captain could almost hear the 'again' that River didn't say. It made everything that had happened between him and the Companion painfully clear. "So this is about the past, *dui*?"

"Those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, Captain."

That was when the words between them ran out. Their message delivered. It was the silence that followed that brought understanding. River stepped up to the Captain's chair and tilted her head at him, taking in the weariness that had become a part of him. The pain in his heart a fleeting flicker in his eyes before the shutters came down again, though they slid closed softly, gently, as if determined not to hurt her for being the messenger. River nodded then leaned in to him, the Captain shifting his arm so she could take comfort as well as give it. The quiet like a blanket around them soothing them while around them the rest of the crew slept.

The Captain didn't want to face Inara. Did not want to slay the dragons that haunted the Companion. It was not his place, she had not given him that freedom and yet if he did nothing he was as much to blame as those who had hurt her in the past. It was a conundrum but one that would wait for a few hours at least. He felt River tremble a little and tightened his arm around her cold thin frame, concerned and protective. "You should be wrapped up warm in bed, little one." He murmured.

"And you should be married with a wife who adores you and a hundred fat children."

That made him look up in surprise, startling a smile on her lips. River's eyes twinkling with mischief, affection the hand maiden waiting in the wings. He responded with dry humour of his own. "Your brother was right."


The Captain's lips twisted in a off-centre smile. "You are a brat."

The smile slowly faded from River's face. "You need to speak to her."

"Not sure she'll be wantin' to listen."

"Then you'll have to be your most charming, *dong ma*?"

That amused him as she knew it would. "You expectin' me to use wiles?"

"She's hurting and in pain." Said River softly. "Does it really matter if it's self inflicted?"

He stared at her. Mal really had no answer to that.

* * * * *

Simon understood. Really, he did. It was just that he and River had never had the close family ties that Kaylee had with her own family. Logically he could understand why it was so important to see her folks and introduce baby Charlotte to them. He was just uncomfortable about facing the wrath of Mr and Mrs Frye for getting married in the Black. Kaylee thought his discomfort was funny but didn't want him to think she was laughing at him.

"Simon, they'll understand. It ain't like ya ran away with me."

"That's not the point. The last time I spoke to your parents they made a point of insisting we return to Carousel for the wedding."

She grinned at him. "Then we'll just have to have another one."

The doctor blinked at her, sure that his ears could not be working. "*Shenme*? Did you just say...?"

Kaylee leaned over her sleeping child to kiss him. "Uh huh. Hear Core folks do it all the time."

"Yes, once." He paused. "Kaylee, we're married. You only get married once, *bao bei*. I'm sure you're parents will see the flaw in your plan."

The bright laughter was completely unexpected. Kaylee loved how confused and flustered he looked. Poor Simon, she shouldn't tease him. Really. But he was such an easy mark and it was fun. "I know that silly, but sometimes when Core folk can't have the big shindig they want? I hear they go do it all over again when they can. Reckon what's good enough for Core folk is more than shiny for us."

"What about the Captain? I mean, he gave us his mother's ring and... Won't he be upset? He might think we don't feel his ceremony was good enough."

The moment the words were out of his mouth Simon regretted them. Kaylee's face fell, worry and guilt seeping in. pushing her happy mood to one side. "Ya think it'd hurt his feelin's? 'Cause I don't ever wanna do that, Simon."

Simon drew her close, a rain of kisses dropping on to her subdued face. Hair, eyes, cheeks, nose even. With a huff Kaylee tilted her head and stared at him. "Try now, ya might hit my lips!"

He laughed and hugged her one armed and kissed her on the lips, letting it linger until he felt her relax into it. He pulled away softly, wanting to see her face. "*Duibuqi*, I didn't mean to upset you." "No, no, that ain't it but you're right."

"I am?"

Kaylee nodded and handed him the baby. "Think I'd best go ask the Cap'n."

"Um Kaylee?"


"You do know it's 3am?"

Eyes widening like saucers Kaylee went from shocked surprise to humour in a heartbeat. With a smirk she dropped a hand between his legs making Simon yelp in surprise. The step back not far enough or quick enough to offer an escape route.

"Looks like we gotta think about another way to pass the time then, don't it?"

"We could sleep. I mean, it's late and..."

Kaylee steered him backwards then relieved him of their sleeping child as the backs of his knees hit the bed and gravity stepped in. Quickly settling Charlotte in her crib, Kaylee draped herself over her husband, pinning him down. "Now, Simon Tam, whatever are we gonna do to pass the time?"

* * * * *

Inara was not sleeping. Her thoughts going round and round inside her head until she worried that she would go mad. No. Wait. She was on Serenity. In love with that 'baichi' of a Captain. She was already mad.

* * * * *

The next day was somewhat a subdued start to the day. Kaylee had fixed breakfast, the protein mush eaten by rote. They needed fresh supplies and soon. The Captain finished as quickly as he could then smiled at Kaylee. "River reckons we can be on Carousel in three days Kaylee."

"Oh, Cap'n..." Her words trailed off, eyes filling with tears. Simon clasped her hand in his and gave a comforting squeeze.

Alarmed, the Captain jumped to his feet wondering what the gorran he had done wrong now but Kaylee was smiling at him, shaking her head and waving him to sit down. One man eternally fussing over her was enough.

"It's alright, Cap'n, just... kind'a emotional with the baby an' all. Want so bad to see my folks."

"Well now, little Kaylee, that's on'y natural."

The Captain was smiling again. It relieved the mechanic though she still felt guilty. "Cap'n, that was a shiny weddin' you gave us."

Simon nodded as well but did not trust himself to speak. He had a habit of opening his mouth and putting his foot in it. The Captain was giving Kaylee a long look, Zoe watching the exchange and wondering why Simon and Kaylee seemed tense. Only the baby lying happily dozing in Kaylee's arms looked truly relaxed. Inara got up and took the opportunity to leave, River slipping out in the Companion's wake. Jayne noticed the crazy girl hadn't touched her bowl of protein and dragged it over to him and started to eat. After all, food was just fuel for the body and his always needed stoking.

"So what's worryin' you?"

Kaylee blinked, Simon looked a little uncomfortable but decided he should explain. "I was thinking about the last time I spoke to Kaylee's parents."

"Mighty fine folk." Asserted the Captain. He had liked them both straight off.

"Um yes, more specifically something her father said to me as we were leaving."

The Captain raised his brows, remembering that Kaylee and Simon had taken their leave last. "Martin said somethin' to you an' that's troublin' you now?"

Awkward, Simon took a steadying breath. "Well both of them, they made us promise to come back for the wedding."

Silence fell, the Captain staring at Simon then Kaylee then back at Simon. He looked a mite pale. "Oh good gorram, I ruined it didn't I?"

Kaylee rushed to defend the Captain's decision to marry them on his boat, helped as he had been by their cajoaling. "No, no, Cap'n, ain't like that. We loved gettin' married on Serenity an' really we couldn't wait, ain't that."

"We're just afraid," Said Simon truthfully. "That we may hurt Mr and Mrs Frye's feelings by not having the ceremony on Carousel."

It was Zoe who asked what the Captain wouldn't. "I didn't know your folks were religious, Kaylee."

"No, they ain't. Well, not more'n most folk. They believe in God an' such as much as a body can as ain't seen Him but that ain't it. But I was figurin', hopin' really...."

Kaylee trailed off and stared at the Captain. The request and plea aimed directly at him but not quite able to finish the sentence. "What you sayin' little Kaylee?" He asked quietly.

"I was thinkin' they might be happier if we kind'a did it again."

Jayne guffawed. The others had forgotten he was still at the table. "Ya gonna pop the kid out all over again? I'd pay to see ya try. Can't go doin' the givin' birth twice."

"T'weren't what I meant!" Said Kaylee rounding on Jayne.

Mal looked at Zoe, putting two and two together. "You want to get married again."

It was a statement, not a question. He did not add the word he was thinking, 'properly', but it rang in his head all the same. They wanted to be married before God, with their folks and family present. Was only natural after all. He felt a twinge of something swiftly buried. This was for Kaylee after all. Kaylee nodded. "Yeah, but we don't wanna hurt nobody's feelin's."

That touched him. Kaylee didn't just mean her folks, she was also worried about her Captain. Smiling, Mal got up and walked over to her. Settled a warm reassuring hand on her shoulder and dropped a kiss on her forehead. "Ain't nobody's feelin' gonna be hurt, little Kaylee. What we did on Serenity was legal but makeshift, we all know it an' not nobody gonna fuss or be put out 'cause you wanna be married with your folks' blessin'. Once we're close enough to send a wave I'll let 'em know we're comin' an' you can speak to them your own self. Maybe get things movin' ahead of us landin'. How does that sound?"

Kaylee was crying but they were happy tears. "You're the best Cap'n ever!"

The Captain chuckled. "Maybehaps that's 'cause I'm you're on'y Cap'n."

Before Kaylee could say anything to that Simon spoke up. "Thank you, Captain, we appreciate it."

Nobody said anything else. Not one mention made of the ring. The Captain excused himself to go to the bridge, Zoe about to follow him when Kaylee caught her hand. "Do you think we're doin' the right think, Zoe? I mean, you don't think we're being selfish an' all?"

The first mate's look of surprise turned to a smile. "No, Kaylee. Nobody thinks that. The only thing you should be worryin' about right now is how you're gonna plan that weddin', *dong ma*?" "Yeah," Jayne grinned, pausing on his way out. "We could all do with some good eatin' so sooner ya tell ya ma, sooner she can get cookin'."

* * * * *

Inara turned to shut the door only to see that River had followed her into the shuttle. The Companion frowned before she could hide her reaction then tried not to look as unsettled as she felt. River stared at Inara in silence for a moment or two. "You've been hurt, powerless. Manipulated to the point where you lost your sense of self worth."

"You don't know what you're talking about."

"Do too. *Wo dong*. It's just the fear talking."

The Companion was not in the mood for this. "Go River, *qing*."

"They hurt you," Said River softly. "Used your beauty against you until the touch of a man's hand - any man - brought only feelings of revulsion and pain."

"River, don't..." Inara was determined her voice was not going to crack.

"It's why you became a Companion. Learned the skills you would need to turn their weapons against them. It's why you can never let yourself love a man - any man. They always betray you in the end. This way you get to betray them first."

Inara felt as if her throat were full of cotton wool. Emotions churning up inside her that had taken years to repress. "You don't know what you're saying."

"Do so. You only let down your defences with women. When you choose a woman she is always exceptional in some way..."

"Stop it!" Inara snapped. "That's enough."

River carried on as if she had not heard her. "But the Captain got under your defences. Broke the rules and now he has to be punished."

Inara choked back a sob. "It isn't like that."

She was compassionate, really she was, because River knew what it was to be broken. "He isn't the enemy, Inara." She whispered softly, voice sad and drifting as if she was already walking away even though her feet had not moved.

"Please," This time Inara did not hide the emotion which, like a breaking tide, threatened to overwhelm her. "Please go."

"I'll go but you should tell him. He loves you, he can help. A life of vengeance can never compare to one of love." Inara started to shake her head, to tell River she had no idea what she was talking about but River was a reader. Instead she left Inara with a question. Her voice gentle and soft, knowing the words would hurt her but needing the message to get across. "What happens Inara when beauty is eclipsed by age?"

Unspoken was the thought, who will love you when you are old and grey? When you would not let love touch you when you were young?

* * * * *

The Captain was about to go and look for her when River appeared on the bridge, she floated passed him and took her place in the pilot's seat as calmly as you please. The Captain glowered at the back of her head but his albatross ignored him, going through the pre-flight sequence as if she had not kept him waiting at all.

"I was about to come lookin' for you."

If there was any censure in his tone she ignored it. "Taking off now, Captain."

Her reaction oddly enough mollified him. "Good, that's good. Want you to set in a course for..."

"Carousel. *Wo zhidao*."

"You gonna let me finish a sentence?"

She threw an amused look over her shoulder. "Where would be the fun in that?"

He huffed but couldn't hide the smile on his face. He tried to sound grumpy because, well, he *was* the Captain and she had kept him waiting. "We work before we play."

River didn't answer, all her concentration now on flying. Bringing the Firefly transport up in a vertical ascent out of the trench that had sheltered them. It kind of gave the Captain a fleeting sense of vertigo, as if they were losing something more than height which was foolish of course. Once the course was plotted and they were clear of anything which might block transmission, the Captain ordered a wave be sent to Carousel. River looked at him. "The Fryes don't have a Cortex link."

"I know that, little albatross, which is why I want it sent to the Peters ranch. They do. Send the wave an' get 'em to wave us back when Kaylee's mama an' daddy are on the link. Shouldn't take more'n a couple'a hours for them to get from their place to Peters. Tell 'em their little Kaylee wants to talk to 'em."

"Not little any more."

The Captain smiled and rested a hand lightly on her shoulder. His affection unspoken but cherished none the less. "I know that River, just humour a mean old man."

"I'm not little either. Grown up now. See?" River took her hands off the controls and spread her arms, a huge smile across her face as if she were flying without need of a ship.

The Captain quickly leaned forward and grabbed the controls, taking them out of their downward spin. "Gorramit girl, have your crazy moments when we're on autopilot, *dong ma*?"

She gave him a tolerant smile of affection. "We weren't in any danger."

Mal straightened. "Yeah, well I prefer not to have to find out the hard way that your wings don't fly." He patted Serenity's reassuring hull. "This here's my bird an' she carries us just fine."

Still smiling, River sent the wave.

* * * * *

Way, way out in the Black the listening post blinked. Once, twice, three times to make certain. On the small but sleek Alliance vessel the navigator felt a thrum of barely concealed excitement. "*Shifu*?"

Mr Turner turned away from his contemplation and stared at the navigator. "*Shenme shi*?"

The navigator checked his readings one more time before looking the man in the eye. "I believe we have found the ship."

"The Firefly?"

"Yes, sir."

"Where is it?"

"Triangulating now, sir." When Mr Turner just stared emotionlessly at him, the navigator hastened to elaborate. "It's a transmission sir, we don't yet have the ship's co-ordinates."

"Well get them!"

"It was a very short transmission."

"Then how do you expect to triangulate it?"

"I was able to read enough to know the short burst was requesting a response. When the ship gets the response we will be ready to use it to locate them."

Mr Turner looked thoughtful for a moment. "A short burst transmission?" The navigator, Edgar Rose, nodded. "What was the destination?"

"A planet called Carousel."

The man folded his hands in front of him, a patient look on his gaunt face. He passed the information telepathically to his counterpart and tapped one blue goved hand slowly against the other. Soon. What they wanted would be within their grasp.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*shei* = who *wo bu dong* = I don't understand *dui* = correct *shifu* = sir *shenme* = what *dong ma* = understand? *bao bei* = precious/treasure *duibuqi* = sorry *baichi* = idiot *wo dong* = I understand *qing* = please *wo zhidao* = I know *shenme shi* = what's the matter?


Sunday, July 2, 2006 6:09 AM


Oh, that was sweet that Kaylee and Simon were concerned the Captain would be insulted.

Loved Inara's chat with River and River's chat with Mal.

And - of course someone is on their tail...

Nice work, looking forward to the next bit!

Tuesday, July 4, 2006 7:49 PM


Ya know...not sure if I wanna start sympathizing with Inara right now...sounds like she had a really rough time as a kid, but last time I checked....the Sword of Damascus is dual-edged;)

Still...can't wait for the eventual meet ups between the crew and the HoBs:D


Thursday, November 10, 2011 1:23 PM



Inara was not sleeping. Her thoughts going round and round inside her head until she worried that she would go mad. No. Wait. She was on Serenity. In love with that 'baichi' of a Captain. She was already mad.
^^^^love that!


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

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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.