Easy Tickets: Chapter 22
Friday, July 21, 2006

River finds something else she excels at, though she needs advice from Book and help from someone else.


See Chapter 1 and my blog for disclaimers and such.

Except I have to say thanks to VERA2529 and LEEH for the beta help!

Mandarin translations: put your mouse over the pinyan to get the definitions, or see the list at the end.

Again I stress: I’m leaving the BDM out of my little fic-verse, except for maybe the River/Reaver hidden truth. Other than that, I’m taking the characters my own way. (May Joss have mercy on me!)

* * *

Although River had a way of moving silently, Book was aware of her entering the dining room. She crept up to the island in the galley, then stuck her nose around the far side of it to watch him. For a time, he let her keep to herself, and he continued with his business of fixing up a late lunch for the crew. She stayed where she was, but after a while started tapping a toe impatiently. Book figured that the girl was up to something, and it’d be best to get it out in the open.

“You could help, since you’re here,” he commented without looking up.

“Cooking’s not what I do,” she replied, sounding like that should have been obvious.

He smiled. “No, I guess not. You’re very good at spectating, though, aren’t you?”

She didn’t answer, but leaned further around the island so he could see her whole face.

“Is there something I can help you with?” he asked.

“Why do bad things happen?” she asked, her tone matter-of-fact. Book paused in his cooking so he could look at her.

“What kind of bad things?”

“Everything dies, turns ugly. Bad people take happiness away. Good people lose out. Not fair. Weren’t asking for it. Didn’t deserve it. Why?”

Book set down the spoon he’d been stirring with. This girl never did ask easy questions. “River, sometimes there’s no reason behind the things that happen to us. And even if there is, it does no good to go about looking to place blame.”

Her voice was forceful. “But there must a way to make sure it doesn’t happen anymore. It’s not right.”

“I wish that was the way of it,” Book said sadly. “But there always will be grief, no matter how we try to prevent it.”

“But why?”

Her eyes glistened wetly as they held his. Whatever she was really asking about, and he had no doubt that it was something specific, her feelings were strong. Book sighed. How does one explain the existence of pain to a young person? He wiped his hands on a towel, then came around into the dining room and slid a chair over next to her.

“Sometimes there is no ‘why.’ It is the reality of the ‘verse we live in; matter how we try to prevent it, bad things happen. We must do what we can with what is given to us, and when there is hardship, persevere.” She clearly didn’t like that answer. “River – there is pain in life. But don’t let that blind you to the things that are beautiful. Those are, by far, more powerful than any evil.”

Book waited for her to speak, hoping that something he’d said would reach her and provide comfort. Her reaction was not what he expected, and a shiver went up his spine as she recited the words that were even now running through his head:

           A time to kill, and a time to heal;
           A time to break down, and a time to build up;
           A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
           A time to mourn, and a time to dance…

She finished, looking at him as if awaiting confirmation.

“Yes,” Book said, trying to push aside his uneasiness at her eerie abilites. He should be getting used to them by now. “To be at peace with yourself and this life, you must accept these things and do the best you can with each of them.”

“But… what if someone can’t accept?”

“What do you mean?”

“Couldn’t take the pain. Built walls. I’ve seen them. Walls trap the hurt deep down where it can’t be seen. Is that… Is that all right? Is it safe?”

“Sometimes people need to do that,” Book explained. “We need to able to separate ourselves from what hurts us, when it’s too painful to bear.”

“What if the bad things get trapped there, inside? What if the walls never open?”

Book cast about for an answer; River had a special aptitude for trying the limits of his beliefs and knowledge, but the worry in her eyes showed that this wasn’t just idle curiousity. He needed to do better than some dry scholarly explanation.

“When pain gets buried and left too long,” he said, “it can be like an infection. It festers. It can start to affect everything about the person, twisting them and making them change for the worse. That’s one reason we need other people around us, friends and family whom we love. They talk to us – bring the dark places to light and help us heal. Even if it’s difficult or painful, sometimes it must be done.”

River’s eyes focused in on herself, like she was making a decision. “So it needs to be opened up,” she said.

“When the time is right.” Book said. He studied her; it was a danger, giving advice on a matter this weighty without knowing the details. “Are you talking about someone in particular?” he asked.

“Many people,” River replied distantly. She looked like she might have said more, but then she was distracted, and turned toward at the hatch behind her. A second later, Kaylee appeared.

“Hey, Shepherd,” the mechanic said, “how’s lunch comin’?”

“Almost finished,” he replied with a gentle smile. “How are you doing?”

“Shuttle’s all fixed,” she said cheerfully. Book wasn’t sure if she had deliberately mistaken his meaning, choosing to deflect the question away from herself. River smoothly stepped over to take a seat next to Book, and leaned toward him.

“Infection,” she whispered. “Not festering, but it will.” Then she sat back in the chair, looking at him with her face set in know-it-all conviction.

Kaylee spoke before Book could reply to River. “We’ll be missin’ some folks for lunch,” she said. “Zoë and Wash took the new guy out to get his stuff, and the Captain’ll be busy gettin’ refueled.”

Book got up with a nod and returned to the galley, thinking hard on River’s words. He could easily believe that she was right about Kaylee, but the mechanic continued on like she hadn’t a care in the world. “Hey, River. Ain’t seen you much since… well, you know.” Kaylee shrugged and sat at the table. “I heard you did some playin’ in the engine room.”

“Didn’t break anything!” River protested.

“I know. I didn’t mean that. You did real good. You kept the bad guys away from the Captain without having to...” Book watched as Kaylee groped for words, then she just smiled and continued. “It was real smart how you did it. You handled yourself well.”

River turned to glance at Book, one brow arched as if to say See? Then she turned toward the hatch again, just as Simon came in.

“Where is he?” River demanded.

“Who?” Simon replied.

River tipped her head, as if Simon was a dope for not knowing who she meant. “Jase. Coming to lunch?”

“Oh. I don’t…. I don’t think so,” Simon said. “He’s recovering quickly, but I don’t think he’s ready. I helped him get cleaned up and took him breakfast, and he’s in his room now. He really needs rest more than anything.”

Book watched as Simon sat down at the table, and he saw how the doctor’s eyes were repeatedly drawn toward Kaylee. Simon took care of all his patients, but, in this case, one in particular was occupying him. Book smiled as he took a large bowl of stewed protein to the table.

The only other addition for lunch was Jayne. The mercenary kept to himself, just shoveled food into his mouth. The conversation was light; it seemed the food and chatter weren’t enough to entertain River, and she slipped away from the table before long.

* * *

River wandered into the passenger dorm, moving slowly. She felt oddly timid. But she knew where she needed to go; she felt a trickle of familiar images coming from one of the rooms. They drew her forward.

She grabbed the ladder in front of Simon’s room in one hand and leaned through his door to be sure it was empty, although she knew Simon was still up in the dining room, having lunch with the others. Then she pulled herself back and stepped onto the bottom rung. Two more steps up, then she was high enough to peek in the barely open door of the room above Simon’s.

It was empty of everything but the bed, which Jase was sitting on crosswise with his back against the wall. He was dressed in a dark blue button-down shirt borrowed from Simon, which was too big and looked all wrong with his torn and faded jeans and bare feet. His left arm was folded against his body in a sling, and he looked all cleaned up, his face free of dirt and hair damp from washing. He wasn’t doing anything, just staring blankly at the space in front of him.

River made a note to let Simon have it for putting Jase in an upstairs room. Her brother must be very preoccupied to do something so careless – it wouldn’t be easy for Jase to come and go. But she’d do that later, she had another task now.

She reached out and pushed the door open a bit more. Jase looked up at the sound.

“Oh – hi,” he said when he saw her face low in the doorway, and he started to get up.

“No. Sit!” River snapped.

He blinked at her sharp tone, surprised by the order, but he slid back to lean against the wall again.

“You missed lunch,” River told him, as if he didn’t know.

“I wasn’t sure…” He looked down at his lap. “I mean, no one came by and I dunno if I’m allowed to just walk `round…”

“Why wouldn’t you be allowed?”

He looked at her with the faintest hint of a frown, like he was wondering if she was making fun of him.

“I tried to shoot your captain.”

“Lots of people do. He used to it.”

He couldn’t hold back a small smile at her answer, and she liked how it lightened his face. She climbed the rest of the way up the ladder and slid through the open door into his room. His smile faded as he watched her; he was good at blanking his expression. She’d never have been able to tell what he was thinking just by looking at him.

“We goin’ back to Niflheim?” he asked.

River stayed by the door, trying out her nails between her teeth to see which would be best to chew. “We’re there now.” She thought about it. “I mean, here now. I mean…”

He didn’t notice her confusion, just looked down at the bed beside him, his right hand plucking at the cover. “I’m goin’ off with some security folks, right?” He asked it like he didn’t really care. “Gettin’ locked up or somethin’?”

She dropped her hand from her mouth, deciding she didn’t actually want a nail to chew on. “No. Going with Bucky.” She chewed her bottom lip instead.

He didn’t answer, didn’t move a muscle, but River felt his relief. It was so overpowering that she had to grip the doorway to hold herself up until the brunt of it passed. When she looked at him again, he still hadn’t moved. She took a few steps into the room, staying close to the wall, continuing until she was standing straight across from him. By then, his relief had started to change over to doubt.

“You sure?” he asked. “You sure he wants me to go with him?”

“I’m sure. But that’s not all. I need to tell you more about him.”

“Look - I know that he’s… I think that he’s really my Pa,” he said. “But he left me. A long time ago. There’s no reason for him to come lookin’ for me now.”

“Didn’t mean to leave – it was… it was a mistake.” She continued chewing her lip for second, thinking and gathering words. Her eyes wandered the room while she tried to piece it together. “You don’t need to worry. I checked him out – looked close. Very close. There’s a gap. He went away… for a while, no reason to stay. But didn’t twist. Never broke. Some shadows, but walls are translucent.” She scratched her forehead, wrinkling up her brow. It was so hard to explain things like this. “Mostly translucent,” she continued. “Where it matters. Inside is strong, stable. Down deep.”

Jase frowned at her.

She tried again. Simpler this time. “He’s good. Safe.”

He was still frowning. Of course, he wouldn’t know to believe her. But it didn’t matter if he did or not; he’d figure it out himself eventually. Besides, she knew that Bucky wasn’t really what she was here for. That was just an excuse. Something to talk about.

She hesitated, then quickly, so she couldn’t stop herself, stepped across the room and slid onto the bed. She sat against the wall next to him, on his right so she wouldn’t bump his bad arm. He shifted, moving away from her.

“Does it hurt?” she asked.

He glanced down at his shoulder, started to shrug but he stopped when it pained him. “A little.”

He was looking down at his lap. River turned to face him, reaching out to almost touch the healing bruise on the corner of his mouth. “How’s this?”

He pulled his face away. “Fine,” he answered shortly.

River saw his memory, and it made her press her lips together angrily. He’d gotten that bruise because he’d listened to Kaylee. And because he’d spoken Chinese in front of Ray.

“Bucky won’t do that,” she said.

Jase looked up at her.

“Trust him,” she said. “He’ll take care of you. Make you grow up true. Eat, sleep, go to school, learn.”

His look of disgust was clear, and it made her laugh. He could be expressive when he let himself.

“You shouldn’t think that, it’s fun. Science, math – how the `verse works. Helps you understand lots of things. Beautiful things. Biology and chemistry and physics. And there’s reading – literature and languages. History is bad, though. Too much spin. No right answers.”

He looked down again, embarrassed that he didn’t know some of those words. “You know a lot of stuff, huh?”

“I do.” River looked at her hands for a second, his shyness rubbing off on her, then she decided that this was silly, being scared when she knew he was thinking the same thing she was. Down deep he was, anyway.

“I know you want to do this,” she said, and leaned toward him. He moved away, but couldn’t get far with no healthy left arm to catch himself. She caught up, pushed back the hair that fell forward from behind his ear, and placed a soft kiss on his lips.

“Oh,” he said, staying still as she sat back down. “I don’t… I hope you don’t think…” He gave up trying to explain. His hair hung over his face again, but River could see he was blushing. Suddenly she felt embarrassed too, and her own mind clouded up with too much doubt to see through. What if she was wrong about him? Worse – what if she’d done it wrong?

Before she could talk herself into too much agony, he moved closer to her. This time his lips found hers, and stayed there. River closed her eyes and experimented, opening her mouth just a little, and he did too. She felt his warm breath, inhaled it and tasted a hint of the same toothpaste that she and Simon used. Then she felt the warm silky touch of his tongue on her bottom lip. She opened her mouth more, and let her tongue touch his.

It was slow and awkward and strange, and it made her dizzy. It was a good dizzy, and she let herself relax into it, bringing her hand up to his cheek. As soon as she touched him, he pulled back. Not far, just enough so he could talk.

“I… I ain’t never done this,” he said.


He nodded. “Am I doin’ it right?”

She stroked his cheekbone with her thumb. “Perfect.” She started to pull him close again, but paused with her forehead against his. “I mean, I think so.”

“Think so?”

“First for me, too.”

He smiled in relief. “Well, you’re real good at it.”

She smiled back. “I’m deeply intuitive.”

“What’s that mean?”

“I’m good at it.”


The next kiss was less awkward, and his hand slid up her back. She moved her own hand down his cheek to his neck, feeling the shiver in his mind when her thumb stroked a certain spot just below his ear. She decided she needed to know more about that.

She pulled her mouth away from his, but trailed kisses along his jaw so he wouldn’t think she wanted to stop. When she reached that place under his ear, he tipped his head aside and the shiver in his mind returned, this time running all through his body. She could read it so clear it made her own body shiver too.

River turned more toward him, shifting her legs so they lay bent across his lap, and she nestled into the space under his right arm. She took her time about finding all the other good places on his neck, and her hands tangled in his soft hair. When she was finished, she returned to his mouth for another kiss, and she thought they might both have a natural talent for this. They certainly were getting it down quickly.

After a bit, he did some neck exploring of his own. She thought she’d have to make a special effort to let him know where her shivery spots were, since he couldn’t read her mind, but he figured it out. She happily quit thinking.

* * *

Through a pleasant haze, River became aware of Simon approaching.

Āi yā!” she gasped, and pulled away from Jase. She hopped off the bed and took two light steps to the door. Quietly she slid it shut, but stayed there to listen. Book was at the base of the ladder, asking a question. Simon’s reply was indistinct, his voice carrying up through the floor.

River exhaled in relief when they soon went away again. She left the door shut and went back to the bed, sitting in the middle of it facing Jase, her knees folded under her.

“Simon is such a pain,” she said with a small eye roll. “So uptight. He’d be feng le about this.”

She immediately regretted saying it, because Jase looked at her with eyes wide in shock. “You shouldn’t talk `bout him like that. He’s a doctor. And if he don’t want you in here with me, then – ”

“It’s all right,” she told him, and picked up his right hand. “He’s just my brother. It doesn’t matter if he approves.” She caressed his fingers, one by one, wondering if hands had shivery spots.

Apparently so. He was watching the movement of her fingers on his. It distracted him. “But…” he stammered, “he mended me.”

She smiled brightly, letting her pride in Simon show. “Yes, he’s a very good doctor. But I told you that already, remember?”

He looked up to her eyes. “That really was you? Flyin’?”

“Wasn’t really flying. Grav was shut off.”


“Makes up be up. Kaylee told you about it, in the dockyard shop.” She inched closer, leaned in, and kissed his cheek.

“Oh – right. I forgot.” He turned his face away and she felt his doubt. He was self-conscious, and hesitant to kiss her again, as much as he’d liked it. He pulled his hand out of hers. “Guess I need schoolin’. I don’t know much.”

“You’re very smart.”

“No I ain’t. Never have been.”

She sat back on her heels. “Very smart!” she insisted impatiently. He didn’t answer, and she saw that he really didn’t understand.

“You were nine when she died, right?” She asked.

He looked up, his mouth open in disbelief. “Who?”

“Your Ma.”

“How do you – ”

“Never mind. Nine, right?”


She looked down at his chest, and placed her hand over his heart. “Haven’t been alive in here since then. Still nine.”

He looked at her hand, then up at her face. He looked afraid, but all he said was, “You’re kind’a weird.”

“Not the point. Kept yourself safe. In here…” She pressed her palm firmly to his chest, then raised the hand to his forehead. “…and in here, in your mind. Locked away so you wouldn’t get twisted up like the others. You’re smart. Not stupid, just hiding.”

She let her hand wander down the side of his face, studying the green eyes that stared into hers, trying to stay distant but starting to crack. She’d got through, just a little. “How d’you know?” he asked her in a whisper. “How d’you know `bout it?”

She took his hand again and guided it to her own heart.

“In here,” she said, barely above a whisper, “fourteen.”

He spoke quiet too, like they were talking about something secret. “What happened?”

“People hurt me. Mean people. Couldn’t hide my mind like you did. They got in. That’s why I’m weird. I hid my heart, though.”

“Why’d they hurt you?”

She still held his hand against her heart, stroking the back of it with her thumb as she thought.

“I don’t know. Wanted to change me. Don’t understand why.” She looked up at Jase again. His eyes were shining, tears in them, tears for her. “But Simon got me away from them, and the Captain protects me now. I’m getting better. You will too.”

He studied her a bit longer, then looked at her hand over his. He smiled, then leaned forward to put his mouth by her ear. “You’re not weird,” he whispered.

His breath tickled her, gave her goosebumps. She pulled back enough to look in his eyes again. “Yes, I am. Don’t have to pretend, I know.” She smiled, to let him know it really was okay.

“Well, then, I like how you’re weird.”

That made her smile more, and she raised a hand to push his hair back behind his ear. “I like you too,” she said, then she kissed him once, real small, just a soft peck like the first time. “You can come out now,” she told him. “It’s safe here.”

She liked how his eyes got warmer when he smiled. He believed her – at least, he really wanted to. He bent over her neck, kissed right where neck changed to shoulder. That was a very good spot. Then she felt the warm hand over her heart slide to the side a bit and down.

“This okay?” he asked, his breath warming her skin.

She answered by pulling his mouth up to hers.

* * *

A while later, River was curled up in Jase’s lap, resting her head against his good shoulder. She had one arm wrapped around his back, the other tracing small circles over the front of Simon’s borrowed shirt. They were taking a break, just holding and thinking. River felt more awake than she had in a long, long time, in a boneless relaxed sort of way. She sensed echos of the same feeling in him, but there was still a part held away, far out of reach. Like the Shepherd had said, it was an infection, and it had to be cleaned out.

“Tell me about it,” she said.


“About your Ma, and the apple tree.”

He didn’t answer for a few seconds. Then, softy, “I get the feeling you know `bout all that already.”

She smiled. “I want to hear it anyway. And everything that came after.”

He was quiet for a while, then he asked, “How exactly do you know?”

She wasn’t sure how to answer, and took her time thinking about it. But before she could explain, he asked, “You an angel?” Then he laughed uncomfortably, as if he hoped she wouldn’t take him seriously. But she saw that in his mind he was serious, at least a little bit.

“Maybe I am.”

He kissed her again, slow and patient, taking his time. His arm tightened around her waist, holding her close.

“You ain’t like any angel Ma ever talked `bout,” he said after a time, his lips moving against hers.

She resisted the distraction. “Tell me about her.”

He sighed, and tipped his head back against the wall. She didn’t need to be a reader to understand his reluctance; he didn’t want to go back to those times, to the nightmares that followed. He wanted to stay in the right now, in this moment that was the first he’d been really in for nearly half his life.

“Please,” she whispered. She wasn’t going to let him keep this dark place of hurt trapped inside.

She waited, and eventually he started talking. He told her the story she already knew, told it with a quiet voice and a blank face, like it was just some overheard tall tale that had nothing to do with him. After a while, River let the words pass over her, closing her eyes and pressing an ear against his chest where his voice rumbled against the steady beat of his heart. In his mind, she could hear his Ma singing, could see the clear blue sky and brightly colored trees. Even while he told her about the dead brown years that followed the loss of his Ma and his home, about life in the city with Ray, she could see those precious days stored up in a safe place deep inside him.

When he finished, they sat still for a long time. He was afraid, nervous, while he waited for her to say something. It needed to be something good, she knew, something to let him know that he would be okay now. But she couldn’t figure out what. She felt him start to worry, wondering if she was changing her mind about him, or if maybe she’d fallen asleep, not at all interested. Why would she be interested? I shouldn’t have said anything. Should have kept my mouth shut. No matter how nice she asked…

She had to do something. She lifted her head to look at him, hoping the words would come, but her attention was caught by the pulse at the base of his throat. She had to pause to kiss him there.

“You have a pretty neck,” she said after she was done.

She didn’t think about it – the words just came out. If they surprised her, they caught him completely off guard. He gave a short embarrassed laugh. “I guess you really are weird.”

“You do,” she insisted, and looked at his face. “Eyes too.”

He blushed and turned away from her scrutiny. “Stop it.”

“Beautiful face. And hair.” She combed her fingers through it. “Silky. Needs a trim, but so soft.”

He was getting to be bright red. “I ain’t kiddin’, cut it out.”

“You don’t think so?”

He didn’t look at her while he answered. “I ain’t seen myself in a while. Not really, not like in a real mirror.”

“Didn’t have a mirror?”

He shook his head. “Ray had one for shavin’, kept it with his stuff. He didn’t like it when I got in his stuff.”

She saw the images that came unbidden to his mind when he said that, and she felt his thoughts cower away from the memories. She put her hand on his cheek and turned his face back to her. “You’ll be happy when you see. You’re handsome.”

He smiled, embarrassed, but still wouldn’t meet her eyes. He started to say something, then stopped and said “Shut up” instead.

“You can say it the other way – bì zuĭ.”

He finally looked at her, smile fading and eyes questioning, and she explained.

“Can speak it whenever you want now. Nothing wrong with a language. Nothing wrong with how you look. Nothing wrong with you. I see. I see what’s inside, and it’s good.”

“You don’t know what you’re – ”

“Don’t have to hide. Never again. Think about your Ma and sing her songs whenever you want.”

Telling her his story hadn’t done it, but hearing that did. River felt him start to crumble and she pulled him close, letting him bury his face against her shoulder while he cried. Years of held back grief needed to come out. She couldn’t fix it all, but this much she could do.

She let him cry for a while, then she pushed his head back from her shoulder so she could kiss the bad feelings away.

* * *


āi yā: damn feng le: crazy bì zuĭ: shut your mouth

* * *

On to Chapter 23.


Friday, July 21, 2006 3:44 AM


Thanks for the shiny comments on the last chapter! Maybe it just seemed dull to me because I’m
dying to get on to next week’s installments!

And I will say nothing about the Kaylee situation, except that the questions some of you are asking about her future please me. *rubbing hands together and grinning*

23 on Monday…

Friday, July 21, 2006 6:41 AM


This girl never did ask easy *questions.*
-Wouldn't be any fun if she did.

“I tried to shoot your captain.”
“Lots of people do. He used to it.”


What if she was wrong about him? Worse – what if she’d done it wrong?
-Poor River, having to wonder if she had kissed him wrongly

She happily quit thinking.
-Ahh, finally some sweet relief, amd I like the terminology 'shivery spots'

I am so very very happy for this River-centric chapter. I hope to see more soon, but if it isn't until the beginning of next week, I guess I would be ok with that.

Friday, July 21, 2006 11:10 AM


This was a sweet and beautiful chapter, showing the wonderfully intuitive and loving side of River - I love that she is getting Jase to open up, getting him to face his insecurities and that they are "testing" the waters ... It's great!

More soon please!

Friday, July 21, 2006 11:18 AM


This was excellently written. I'm trying to think of good comments to make but I'm still surrounded by the somewhat shimmery feeling of having read good fic. The one that makes you feel like you're in a bubble of shinyness, (does anyone else get that?)

I'll just have to settle for rating the chapter at 10 as opposed to trying to be witty and insightful.

Friday, July 21, 2006 11:25 AM


I loved how River tried to help and mend Will, that was so beautifully done. I also liked Book thinking that River never did ask the easy questions. Can't wait for the next part. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, July 21, 2006 10:13 PM


OH...this was beautiful in its angst and cautious joy, mal4prez! I especially like how you had River and Jase bond with one another over their mutual pain and habit of locking parts of themselves away to protect them:D

I do hope though that you will allow Kaylee some tiny reprieve and healing while stretching out this issue....lord knows angst is wonderful and all, but it's Kaylee for Buddha's sake!



Sunday, July 23, 2006 6:34 PM


>“I tried to shoot your captain.”
“Lots of people do. He used to it.”

Oh, that was so perfect, and so true.

Very River to worry about if she'd kissed him right. I'm not sure quite how I feel about her doing so much kissing and exploring, though.

And there is definitely more than one person on that ship that could use a few walls being torn down. . . :)

Monday, July 24, 2006 11:18 AM


What a sweet chapter! I loved seeing River talk about her own history. I loved Jase's concern about walking around the ship (since he'd tried to shoot the Captain), and River's response. I like how Jase's emotions and feelings had a physical effect on her.

I also loved how you portrayed Kaylee's avoidance of the issue. Her smile and, "It was real smart how you did it. You handled yourself well,” to River was so in character, but also heartbreaking because you know she's beating herself up inside for how she didn't figure out a smart way to fix the situation she was in without killing someone. Oh, Kaylee.

I can see how this part would have been difficult to write, but I think you pulled it off just great.


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Back Stories Book 3, Chapter 25
Zoë nodded. “I’ll bet there’s a little committee of suits back there trying to figure out how best to lie.”&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp

“Or how to tell some horrible truth,” Inara replied softly.&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp

“Or how to make the most effective use of medical waste incendiaries to get rid of our bodies,” Wash chimed in.

Back Stories III, Chapter 24
Mal returns to a few familiar places.

Back Stories III: Chapter 23
The BDH’s find themselves enmeshed in too damned many OCs. But hey, they’re necessary. Plottiness and all.

Back Stories III, Chapter 22
Inara tells the story of why she left the Core. Well, half of it anyway.

Back Stories III, Chapter 21
The battle with the Reavers continues, and Mal makes a choice. All decisions have consequences.

Back Stories III, Chapter 20
Finally a little Mal POV, but it doesn't last long.

Back Stories III, Chapter 19
The trials and tribulations of an older, wiser River Tam.

Back Stories Book III, Chapter 18
The aftermath of an unexpected encounter. Except—not all of the crew are accounted for…

Back Stories Book III, Chapter 17
A lovely day in the mountains: friendly locals and fresh air under a clear blue sky. What could possibly go wrong?

Back Stories Book III, Chapter 16.
Zoë tells of her soiree with terrorists on Oeneus.