FAITH SERIES: 17. "The Unexpected"
Saturday, August 5, 2006

"The message brings something so unexpected Mal is not sure if he can trust it. Simon and Kaylee continue to explore some of the more creative aspects of married life."



SUMMARY: "The message brings something so unexpected Mal is not sure if he can trust it. Simon and Kaylee continue to explore some of the more creative aspects of married life." 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

* * * * *

Never in his whole life had Simon Tam been so relaxed. Slowly rousing out of a deep and exhausted sleep his body hummed with faint delicious aftershocks. He did not open his eyes. That would have taken energy he had yet to replenish. What felt like years later but was only moments, he felt the touch he would gladly die for gently bring him back to the fringes of heaven. Kaylee. Even her name sighed in his heart was enough to almost stop the breath in his body for love of her. He felt her smile before the hushed words stirred against his ears.

"Simon, that was..."

The smile that slopped across his face almost rivalled hers. "....amazing, *wo zhidao*."

He felt her hitch slightly against him, causing a tremor of excitement to hum through his over sensitised body. "Ya gotta be expert in that as well?"

"Um... I... expert?"

Kaylee's laughter was like sunshine in the Black. Her hands began to skim his sweat slicked body, the scented oils making her touch glide. His low moan of appreciation kept the contact going even as she spoke. "Oh yeah." She paused to drop a kiss on his lips. "How ya doin'?"

He blinked, not sure thinking was not an olympic event. It surely felt like it took all the effort of one with his entire concentration narrowed to the sensations wracking his body with need and desire. Titilated almost beyond endurance by the mere touch of her hand the slick slide of body parts in near perpetual motion but not losing contact. "Not sure." He paused to gather breath that was fleeting into his lungs. "I feel as if I could come just from your touch."

Her laughter puffed in his mouth as she kissed him, a hand sliding down his chest to check. His hips bucked as she gently teased him. Simon was so taut and erect he felt that he would snap at the slightest hint of roughness but Kaylee was gentle. Her touch like gossamer and a million times more devastating and the hum in his body increased, his pelvis trembling, his body so stimulated it almost reacted on autopilot by memory alone.

"Kaylee, I'm dying here." He groaned.

"Don't be such a baby, Simon." But her voice was thick and lust filled, somewhat easing Simon's worry that the lack of control was one sided. "I'll take care of ya."

"I know you will, *bao bei*, but could you..."

A strong tremor shook his body and robbed him of words. "Could I what?" Kaylee urged, her lips now a teasing mockery of everything he wanted her to do to him.


She stopped. "Ya want me to go?"

The groan was loud, primal and one step beyond total frustration. "Gorramit Kaylee, just get on with it, I need you, need you NOW, *dong ma*?"

Bright throaty laughter echoed in his ears as her hands wrapped around him, the stroking rythym just enough to start him coming then she was sliding down to take him in her mouth. Words choking him before he could protest, his hips jerking unable to stop, her hands busy increasing the sensations ring fenced inside him by one of the many gifts their attendants had left them. Oh good gorram she was killing him! Oh rutting hell, couldn't she go FASTER?

* * * * *

Everyone froze. Mr and Mrs Frye exchanged a look but Mal only had eyes for River. "Who is it, little one?"

River looked at the Captain with vacant eyes, as if her brain was a scanner and her eyes the screen. A tiny shake of her head had his heart spinning. "Can't see, not who you think." Then River blinked and focused on the Captain properly. "Don't kill the messenger."

Before he could say anything else the knock came again. Louder. More insistent this time. Zoe was already out of her seat, gun drawn. Catching her eye Jayne did the same, flattening his large frame to one side of the door while Zoe got the other. Mr Frye looked at all the tense faces round him and swallowed hard. "What ya expectin'?"

"Don't know, don't much care, long as it don't bring harm to me an' mine." Said the Captain grimly. "An' with your blessing, you an' yours as well."

River looked at Mr Frye. "You can open the door. Just the messenger. Doesn't even know what it is he's bringing." Then she looked at Mal. "No touching guns."

The Captain looked at Zoe but her expression was set in place. Not moving for anything. It wasn't just protecting the crew and Kaylee's family now. Zoe had family of her own and little Joshua had already lost a daddy, didn't need to lose his mama and the crew too. Mr Frye got up and as he went to answer the door River slipped out of her seat and crawled under the table, settling in a crouch at Mal and Inara's feet. Automatically the others moved their chairs closer, none of them with a clue what to expect but trying to be ready anyway.

Mr Frye glanced back and Mal gave a tight nod. Taking that as his cue, Martin threw the door open, the better to take any iniative away from his caller. Mr Peters blinked, fist raised ready to knock again. The surprise on Mr Frye's face was echoed by all those within expect River. She had curled into a ball at Mal's feet and was trying to hide her face.

"Clem, what the good gorram ya doin' this time of day?"

Mr Peters slowly regained his senses. "Oh, *duibuqi*. Got a wave, was all kinds of odd. Thought it might be urgent."

"A wave?"

Either side of the door Zoe and Jayne relaxed and carefully reholstered their weapons out of view of their visitor. Mr Peters was beginning to feel uncomfortable when Mrs Frye bustled up to the doorway and took over. "Martin, don't leave the poor man on the doorstep! Come in Clem an' be welcome. We still got tea a'brewin' an' reckon I could rustle up some pan fried bacon an' such."

Their neighbour visibly relaxed then flushed a little, mindful that he had come unannounced and interrupted their breakfast. "That ain't necessary, Lizzie, just come to pass a message on. Laura'll have my hide if I don't get back to tend to my own chores, *dong ma*?"

The Fryes laughed and everyone else made pleasant faces. Mr Frye gave Clem a curious look. "What's the message, Clem?"

For the first time since calling on them the man looked a mite uncomfortable. "Um, it ain't for you, Martin." Clem looked passed Mr and Mrs Frye straight at Malcolm Reynolds. "It's for your guest."

Guest. Inara thought it an odd term when Clem Peters knew well and good Malcolm Reynolds name. Why use that term? Or was she reading too much into too little?

No one noticed Zoe move until the door shut firmly behind Peters, the man almost jumping as he looked to see who was behind him. Zoe gave him a smile that could cut through granite with her most innocent *I ain't a threat but still might kill you* look. It did nothing for the poor man's nerves.

Everyone was stunned at the message, Clem Peters hovering as if waiting for a reply to take back. Made the hair on the back of Jayne's neck itch something fierce. River had said not to shoot the messenger but he wasn't seeing a gorram compelling reason not to. The Captain stared at Peters as if the man was booby trapped. "What the gorram Alliance want with me?" What he didn't ask was 'how did they know I was on Carousel?'

Peters shrugged. Could pretty much feel his palms beginning to sweat. "Don't know just seemed right uptight an' anxious to speak to ya."

The Captain's look hardened. "An' why would I be wantin' to speak to the Alliance?"

A suspicion settled in Inara Serra's eyes. "There's more, isn't there?" Clem Peters was all but squirming now. "He said he wouldn't say more 'til he could talk to Reynolds face to face."

"That's *Captain* Reynolds to you." Said Zoe in a cold hard voice, an anger in her eyes that never slept. Usually buried good and deep unless stirred but now on a hair trigger.

"*Wei*, just passin' on a message."

Jayne moved passed Zoe intent on wringing the rest of the story out of Peters but Martin Frye didn't like the way things were going. Like to turn ugly real fast. "Let's cool down a mite, *dong ma*?" He stepped up to Peters. "Clem, known you an' yours a lotta years, what's all this *fei hua* really about?"

"*Wo bu zhidao*, Martin, honest. Just the man was all official-like, near terrified me an' Laura. We ain't had no Alliance trouble since settlin' here an' don't want any now."

Mr Frye's look hardened. "Them are mighty offensive words to be bandyin' about, Clem. These people are my guests, *dong ma*? Insult them an' ya insult me." "*Duibuqi*, Martin, just a mite rattled is all. Didn't mean nothin'."

Zoe had waited long enough. "What's the rest of the message?"

"Officer said to get to Captain Reynolds soon as I could an' bring him back so's he could speak to him."

"What officer?" Said Mal. "He got a name?"

"Have to say his manner had me not wantin' to ask."

"On your cortex link?" Inara said, her look narrow and voice thoughtful. Made Mal want to call her on it but not now. Words he wanted to say needed to be uttered in private.

"Yeah. That's why I hurried an' why I had to say no to your very kindly offer of breakfast, Lizzie. Got my buggy waitin' outside."

"Why the big hurry?" Said Mal suspiciously.

That was when something in Clem Peters steadied some. "'Cause he said he'd wait no more'n a couple of hours. If you didn't answer the wave in that time the Alliance would come and get their answers in person."

Inara was about to suggest they use the cortex link on Serenity but one look at the Captain's face told her that wasn't happening. Even now, the Captain's main thought was the safety of his crew and he would want to protect Kaylee's family just as badly. Inara wondered just how bad things were going to get. Then the Captain was speaking, asking Peters to go wait outside for him. As soon as the man was out of the door Mal lost no time quietly passing out orders. He was pretty sure Peters wasn't part of whatever it was the Alliance was up to but it didn't hurt to be careful. Didn't want him overhearing anything and it had not gone unnoticed how Peters had cast an eye around everyone in the kitchen as if making note of who was there. Might be nothing more than a bit of paranoia but in the Captain's estimation a little was better than none at all. As he turned to leave Zoe said what Inara was not able to.

"Don't think it's a good idea, sir." "Ain't askin'."

"Then let me an' Jayne come with you."

Mal shook his head. "*Bu qu*, want you to stay here. Get Serenity prepped an' ready to fly if need be." The Captain turned and looked at the Fryes. "This shouldn't take long but I won't lie to you. Not knowin' what the Alliance want I got no right to tell you not to worry. If things go to *diyu* I want you to be ready with your people an' any bits of precious you can parcel up quick-like. Serenity'll take you somewhere safe 'til this is sorted out, *dong ma*?"

Clem Peters looked relieved when Mal stepped out of the house not that there was anywhere for the Captain to hide if he had a mind to do so. Would be no sense in it anyway as it was obvious Peters would not have hidden the fact that Serenity and her Captain were on Carousel in the first place. Only when they had gone and the clatter of the horse's hooves had faded away did River crawl out from under the table. Zoe watched the girl closely, a mite disconcerted when River smiled. "Didn't see me."

"River," Said Inara, trying to stay calm. "What do the Alliance want with Mal?"

* * * * *

Exhausted. Sated but happy. Did life get any better than this? Simon Tam did not think so. Yet even in the midst of his good fortune, as Kaylee slept like an angel in his arms, Simon could not turn his brain off. Again and again his thoughts would return to the same conundrum. How in the nine hells had they been able to afford such a fabulous honeymoon? Both the Captain and Serenity were always strapped for cashy money and they certainly had very few if any friends in high places. Coming from a former life of privilege and wealth Simon knew how much such things cost and as shiny as everything was a part of him worried and fretted about the sums that would not add up in his head. He would have to ask the Captain about it when they got back. After he thanked him and the others, of course.

A low warm moan chased such mundane thoughts from his head. Simon rolled on to his side so he could watch Kaylee wake, her sunny smile the first thing to break out on her face before her eyes opened to gaze on him in adoration. Simon smiled and kissed her then shifted a little awkwardly. Kaylee had trouble hiding her amusement. "I thought you'd taken it out, *bao bei*?"

He smirked. "I was going to but then I couldn't stop thinking of how intense it made everything..."

Kaylee nodded and stole a kiss, her hand coming up to caress his cheek, her eyes sparkling. Wide awake now and if Simon was any judge ready to give the whole damn thing another round. He wasn't sure he was up to it, but then her free hand slipped below the sheet and coherent thought fled as if Reavers were after it. Her touch starting it up again, the hum reverberating through his lower body and making even his toes tingle while other bits of him were rapidly coming to life, so filled with want and need it would rapidly becoming painful unless sated.

"You're a wicked, wicked woman Kaylee Tam."

She laughed and pulled him in for a kiss, her hand wrapping around his now hard and aching cock, enjoying the heavy pulse of blood pumping through it like a military tattoo. The drum beat rapidly synchronising with the one running through her own body. Simon groaned, jism already leaking out of the salty slit and now rubbed mercilessly back and forth over the sensitive head by his insatiable wife. Oh Kaylee had natural talent alright, enough to probably kill him. The little gift just accentuated that and more though Simon knew he would have a sore ass for weeks to come when they finally removed it. Would have taken it out after the last session if he hadn't been left so sensitised that any time he went to touch it the damn thing started vibrating deep inside him again. Dry organisms were no fun after the first flush of novelty wore off and Simon Tam was not into pain.

"Kaylee," He murmured against her lips. "We should eat something."

The protest was a token one at best. Smiling around his lips Kaylee gyrated slowly against him, so many points of contact setting him alight he was close to weeping. "When I've finished with you Simon Tam," She breathed in lusty whispers that made him shiver. "You'll never be hungry for food again."

Before he could even think of a response, Kaylee angled her hips then impaled herself on him, the slick slide thrumming through her body and setting off little spasms inside her wet heat as they moved together. Both moaning and writhing in bliss, perspiration heating on their bodies as the intensity began to build. Little cries breaking free of slack lips then Simon was bucking into her, Kaylee wrapping her legs around his waist and digging her fingernails into his back as she keened her pleasure, both lost in the kind of passion that was addictive. This was their last day of bliss and both were determined not to leave their room until it ended. Food periodically appearing as if by magic on the table just inside the door. But they ate sparingly, saving their appetite for the insatiable hunger they had for each other. That and the luxury of no interruptions was something they intended to make the fullest use of.

As Simon froze then errupted deep inside her, he rested his sweat soaked hair on her shoulder and whispered brokenly in her ear. "You've killed me."

Her laughter was silent but shook through her body making him groan when he realised what it was doing to him.

"Oh God, Oh God, don't do that! You've switched it on again."

Her quiet sneaky laughter mocked his ears as his body began to thrum again. Intense little shocks shooting through his body in waves making his breath catch. Writhing slowly against him, Kaylee lowered a hand and carefully sought out the mechanism buried inside his body. Now. If she could just find the gorram switch, she was sure there was one last setting...

* * * * *

Jayne was hyped up with tension anyway, didn't help a rutting bit having Zoe as mean and ansty as the Devil's Executioner. Gorramit, how did their *wangu baichi* of a Captain keep getting himself (and them) into these situations? Reluctantly, Zoe had fallen into line and let the Captain go with Peters, her look warning anyone against saying the wrong thing right now. She was a powder keg ready to go off and Jayne didn't want to be the one to light the gorram fuse.

"Surely we won't have to leave Carousel?"

Mrs Frye's tentative words knocked some normal into the panic brewing in Serenity's crew. Inara smiled gently, trying to reassure the woman and the rest of them that everything was going to be alright. "The Captain knows what he's doing." Inara ignored the soft snort of derision from Jayne, knowing Zoe would drop him where he stood if he followed it up with matching words. "He's just being careful."

"Ain't budgin'." Said Mrs Tam, a fire in her eyes that promised dire things to anyone fixing to force her.

"Mrs Frye," Inara coaxed. "It's a precaution, *dong ma*? This isn't just about you and us, we have to think of the children."

That was it. The one thing that could break through the sternest of defences. Inara took no comfort in seeing the Frye's faces crumple. Without another word they gathered up their people, children and some provisions. Jayne kept a lookout, Vera a solid comfort in his hands and ready to blast the first purplebelly that showed his face to each of the Shepherd's nine hells. River was strangely quiet, her expression giving nothing away. Her look distant. Even though Zoe wanted to know what the good gorram she was seeing, part of her was grateful for the girl's silence. Not sure what she would do if more doom and gloom spilled from the creepy girl's lips.

* * * * *

Clem Peters ranch was a mite smaller than the Fryes. For one thing he didn't have the huge extended family that the Fryes did, nor did he have stables and a workshop out back. Mr Frye was a rancher but he was also a mighty fine mechanic. There was nothing on the ranch that he couldn't fix if it broke and his neighbours had good reason to be thankful for that fact. But fine as he was with his hands it was as nothing next to his little girl's gift. Kaylee didn't just fix what was broke, she made it sing. Better and brighter than it ever had before. Didn't matter if it was farm equipment, a hover car or a ship.

They entered the house in silence, Laura Peters slightly panicked face not easing much when she opened the door. Fearful of what might be coming next and Mal couldn't blame her. Had never seen anything shiny come the Alliance side of the 'verse, 'cept the yoke of oppression wrapped up in disingenuous politicians' smiles promising a better life and protection from the uncivilised horrors that awaited in the Black. But no one ever told them who would protect them from the Alliance. Big, powerful and corrupt they had fingers in every pie, eyes in every corner of No and Where. Only the Black spelt anonymity. Freedom. Only the poorest of the Rim worlds escaped their withering touch. And that only because they had nothing left to steal.

The cortex link was in the back room. Laura gave her man a nod but no such courtesy to Serenity's Captain, as if his presence on Carousel would bring the full might of the Alliance down upon them all. Mal couldn't blame her for her bleak outlook. Was far too close to the apprehension he carried his own self. Peters waved him over to the seat, the Alliance logo hovering on the screen. Reluctantly Mal settled at the screen, glanced up at Clem then at his nod touched a random key. The screensaver resolved into what looked to be a view of a ship's interior. Looked like quarters, too fine for minions. The Captain or Commandant most like. But what was an Alliance ship doing seeking him out? Apart from the obvious of course. Before he could muse on it any longer the screen flickered then steadied again as a tall stern man sat before the screen. Mal couldn't quite hide his shock.

"Harkan! What in the spincter of hell are you playin' at?"

An almost-smile quirked the corner of Commandant Harkan's mouth then he was grim as a gravedigger. The look made Mal feel as if he was being measured up for the coffin. It was a look he didn't like. Harkan sniffed. "Captain Reynolds, I'll make this brief. You saved my life once."

Suddenly that seemed like the most foolish thing Malcolm Reynolds had ever done. Fortunately he did not say as much. "Huh, that it? You frighten years off the lives of me an' my crew to say *xie xie ni*?"

That did cause a fleeting smile to crack the stern visage. "In a manner of speaking, Captain that is exactly what I am doing."

The Captain blinked, not quite sure what to make of that. "Huh, could'a sent a card. Saved yourself the trouble."

"No trouble, Captain." Then the stern look became grave, the man leaning forward as if not wanting his words to carry to any ears but those of the Captain. "You saved my life once, Captain, and I don't like being beholden to any man."

"You let us go, that has to count for somethin' I'm thinkin'."

Harkan shook his head. "Not enough to do you good. Let me be blunt, there are people at a higher level of power than myself actively seeking to hunt you down. You know why. It would be best if they didn't find you, *dong ma*?"

"What you really sayin'?"

"Wherever you are," Harkan paused and Mal was pretty sure he knew EXACTLY where him and his crew were, the evidence being this wave. The fact that he wasn't mentioning Carousel or the Peters' ranch told Mal that the line was probably being monitored. Another complication. "Go. Somewhere deep, dark and far away. Lie low. Rest. Whatever."

"This have anythin' to do with some barnacles found on my hull?"

The man blinked at him, confused. Then something slowly clicked in his mind and he nodded. No spoken affirmation. Interesting. That meant the link was being monitored - sound only, no optical component. A listening station perhaps. "An astute fisherman sticks to safe waters in which to drop his net. If you hear from me again, it will be to reel you in and I can promise you won't like the reception you'll be getting."

"So," Said Mal slowly. "This is a warnin'?"

The Commandant shrugged, a brief flash of sorry in his eyes quickly vanishing. "Naturally. If I see you again I will squash you like the bug you are."

Then the screen went blank. The Captain blinked stupidly at it for a minute then smiled. The allusion to the bug was Harkan's side swipe at Serenity, a Firefly class transport. Mal didn't stop to wonder at Harkan's generosity, not intending to look a gift horse in the mouth even an ugly Alliance one. He had to get back to his ship and crew. Leave this planet before they got caught here, head for safer, *deeper*, waters. That way the folks on Carousel could continue their lives uninterrupted and he and his crew could do the same. Mal actually smiled at Clem Peters, putting a hand on the man's shoulder to steady him some. "I'm obliged to you, Mr Peters. If you'll kindly take me back me an' mine'll be headin' off world." Relief was almost palpable on the poor man's face. "Then there'll be no trouble?"

"Not if word of our stay don't get spread around, *dong ma*?"

Peters flushed and Mal spoke on to head off any offence his words might be causing.

"Not sayin' you'd do as such just sayin' how easy it is to make mention of somethin' no one needs to be hearin' about again. 'Specially as official folk tend to take things a mite too far in their efficiency. Don't wanna go 'tractin' Alliance attention if you don't have to, *dui*?"

The dime finally dropped and now Peters met Mal's eye firmly. His look not wavering or shifty as it had been before. "*Dui*. You an' yours were never here."

A big beautiful smile washed over the Captain's face. "I knew you were a good man."

The ride back was quicker, both men in haste to have Captain and crew off planet sooner rather than later. For all their sakes. Once back at the Frye's Mal waved Clem Peters off and hurried to his ship. As the ramp lowered he blinked at the row of guns aimed at his face. "Is that any way to treat your Cap'n?"

Zoe frowned at him, annoyed at his levity when the rest of them were holding their breath and imagining all manner of terrible things. "What they want?"

"Us." He did not elaborate but his smile actually got wider.

The first mate's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Not seein' the humour in that, sir."

"Me neither but we got us a lucky break an' that ain't nothin'." Mal ignored the raised eyebrow. The Captain didn't believe in luck. Cursed it mostly. "Best we let the Fryes and their people off so we can go."

Jayne leaned out and scowled then looked at the Captain as he walked up the ramp. "What happened?"

"It was Harkan. Seems his conscience was pinchin' him a mite from last time."

"Huh, purplebellies got no conscience." Grumbled the mercenary darkly as if suspecting a trap.

"An' normally I would agree with you, Jayne."

Zoe tilted her head, looking hard at the Captain. "What changed your mind?"

A soft smile came over the Captain's face but he was not looking at Zoe. As Jayne and Zoe turned to see what he was looking at they saw River smiling back. Behind her the Fryes and their family were starting to emerge, anxious for news. River stepped up to join them and looked up at the Captain, a smug little look on the pale radiance of her face. "You did good."

"*Xie xie ni*, little albatross."

"You still didn't explain what happened, sir." "An' I will, Zoe, but not here an' not now. Gotta be gettin' this boat in safer waters."

Confused but trying to be patient, Zoe helped the Captain get the Fryes and their people unloaded as quickly as possible then came the hugs and fond goodbyes, Mrs Frye piling them up with so much food even Jayne was satisfied. Mr Frye said what the rest of them were thinking just as Serenity was getting ready for take off. "What about Kaylee?"

The Captain grinned. "Don't you be worryin' about Kaylee an' Simon. Soon as we're somewhere safe we'll get word to 'em. Pick 'em up en route, be better than lettin' 'em come back here then havin' to land again. Might be we do that the Alliance'll find a way to make sure we don't take off again."

That sobered everyone up. With a final wave, Jayne closed the ramp. Mal yelled into the com for River to lift off and the ship rose up heading for the safety of the Black. Once they were in the air the Captain tracked Inara down to the commons room. "'Nara, be obliged if you'd let the honeymooners know we'll be meetin' up off-world."

"*Dang ran*, what co-ordinates shall I give them?"

"Go see River."

Inara nodded then went off to the bridge to do just that. Zoe frowned. She had been following the Captain like a gorram shadow since he had returned from the Peters ranch.

"Spit it out Zoe, 'fore you choke."

"Where we goin', sir?"

He looked amused and began to rustle up the makings for a drink. A tug on his trouser leg drew his attention to Zoe's son, now waist high to the Captain. Boy had been all manner of quiet the last few days, pretty much glued to Charlotte's cot most of the time. Mal realised he had missed the boy's presence something fierce. "What you wantin', Josh?"

"They gonna take you away, Mal?"

The Captain put his tea aside and leaned down, hands on his knees. "You see me goin' anywhere, Josh?"

The boy shook his head. Mal straightened and smiled, a hand resting on the boy's shoulder in reassurance. "Then I ain't."

Zoe fixed a frown on him. "You haven't answered my question, sir."

"Like I said, Harkan let us go."

She looked suspicious. "Just like that?"

The Captain shrugged. Harkan's sudden largesse had surprised him as well but River had indicated that it was genuine. A one time gift in repayment for saving the Commandant's life. Didn't make the Captain like him any more than he had but it did stir an inkling of respect. "It is what it is." He said quietly. "Don't go lookin' for trouble that ain't upon us, *dong ma*? We dodged a bullet this time, Zoe. Ain't too proud to be all manner of grateful for that."

Zoe nodded, not willing to push him further. As the Captain went back to making the tea she began to rumage through the cupboards, little Josh helping where he could. The rest of the crew drifting in as Zoe began to get a meal together. Inara joined them and went to help Zoe, Jayne giving River a wary look as the girl danced by, her feet barely touching the deck, a smile of happy content on her face. Joshua smiled at her and River laughed brightly, pausing to pirouette in front of the boy before giving the Captain a satisfied smile. "Coming home, now. Exhausted but happy."

As everyone settled at their places at the table Mal's eyes met Inara's at the opposite end. Matching smirks that only River understood but she wasn't telling.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*bao bei* = precious/treasure *dong ma* = understand? *duibuqi* = sorry *wei* = hey! *fei hua* = garbage/nonsense *wo bu zhidao* = I don't know *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *diyu* = hell *xie xie ni* = thank you *dui* = correct *dang ran* = of course *wo zhidao* = I know *wangu* = stubborn *baichi* = idiot


Sunday, August 6, 2006 5:55 AM


Whoa, nice honeymoon. Nicely described!

I'll be amazed if either of them can walk after its over! Of course, that's how it should be.

And Harken let them go...huh. A little - devine intervention perhaps. . . ?

Sunday, August 6, 2006 6:45 AM


That was quite the honeymoon!
> "Coming home, now. Exhausted but happy."<
I'm sure they are!


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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.