The Little Things--Part V--Strange Bedfellows
Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Mal agrees to help the Operative despite the misgivings of his crew.


Simon climbed down into his bunk and saw Kaylee sitting in the dim light. “Sorry it took so long for me to get here, ai ren,” he said. “You didn’t have to wait up.”

“I wanted to talk to ya’. Haven’t really seen you that much today,” Kaylee said lightly.

Simon sighed. “Yes, well, it’s been a pretty busy day, I guess.” He began to pad around the room, preparing for bed. “Room looks nice,” he said.

Kaylee smiled, pleased that he’d noticed. “I had a little extra time on my hands, so I thought I’d pick up a little.”

Simon climbed into the bed and kissed her lightly. He moved to turn away, but Kaylee’s strong hands stopped him. “Don’t ya’ wanna, you know, maybe play doctor again, honey?”

Simon smiled slightly, but did not take her up on her offer. “Kaylee, do you ever think about what’s going to become of us?”

“What do you mean, honey?”

Simon took a deep breath. “Something happened today that got me thinking about our plans for the future.”

Kaylee felt a twinge of worry. “What happened?”

Simon looked at her kindly, knowing the answer would not please her. “I can’t tell you. Doctor/patient confidentiality.”

Kaylee frowned. “Whatever it is happened to one of our family, Simon. You can tell me anything.”

“I really can’t, ai ren. I’m sorry. But anyway, it got me thinking about our own plans.”

“Our plans about what?” Kaylee asked seriously.

“Do you want to stay on Serenity always, Kaylee?”

“It’s our home, Simon,” she said simply.

“I know that,” Simon reassured her. “But what about if we decided to have children? What then? Serenity is no place for a family.”

Kaylee embraced him gently. “Course it is, Simon. She’s already carryin’ our family. And now there’s little Anya. She’s doin’ all right here. There’s place for a child if we want one someday.” She smiled softly. “Cap’n wouldn’t throw ya’ out the airlock if you got me pregnant. He’d come around eventually.”

Simon looked at her, his eyes unreadable. “I don’t think the Captain is too keen on the idea of a baby right now.”

“You don’t know that, Simon. And besides, we ain’t got to worry on it for awhile anyway. We’re bein’ careful.”

“Believe me when I say that babies sometimes come unexpectedly,” Simon said dryly, thinking of the scene he’d witnessed in the infirmary earlier today.

Kaylee shrugged her shoulders. “Well, honey, if they do, that’s just part of livin’, best as I can see. Ain’t nothin’ to be worryin’ on. I ‘spect that if there was a baby comin’ on Serenity, it’d have all kinds of family to look after it and love it. Young ‘un can’t ask for more’n that.”

Simon kissed his wife, somehow relieved by her take on the issue. Maybe he was just worrying unnecessarily. Maybe Serenity truly was home enough for him, and for his sister’s unborn child.


Mal pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling the beginnings of an ice-pick-through-the–eye headache. His crew sat around the galley table, giving him looks ranging from mild surprise to utter disbelief.

“What makes you think you can trust the liou coe shway duh biao-tze huh hoe-tze duh urtze?” Jayne asked.

“If his aim was to take us out, he had a gorram fine opportunity to do it before, but he didn’t,” Mal answered.

“Yeah well, maybe he’s changed his mind,” Jayne said, in no real mood to face an Alliance assassin any time soon.

“That’s a chance I’m gonna have to take,” Mal said with finality. “If he’s tellin’ the truth, I don’t rightly see how we got an option that don’t involve trustin’ him at some point.”

“What exactly does he want us to do?” Simon asked.

“Haven’t gotten that far in the planning. I conjure he’ll let us know when I give him my answer.”

Inara eyed Mal with worry. “So you’ll be flying blind?”

Mal smiled. “Sounds about right. Don’t see a way around it.”

River finally spoke. “Means us no harm. Needs help.”

“That’s good enough for me, sir,” Zoe answered, setting Anya down out of her lap. “I’d imagine that’s the most reassurance we’re like to get.”

No one at the table could disagree with her assessment.


The Operative, true to his word, waved Mal late in the afternoon. Noting his hooded expression, Mal asked, “What’s happened?”

“I’ve just received word that the first fertilizations are to occur within the week,” he answered. “I need your answer now, Captain.”

“We’re in,” Mal said. “What’s the plan?”

“How soon can you get to Osiris?”

Glancing at River, who silently held up three fingers, Mal answered, “We can be there in three days.”

“Good. I’ll send you the landing coordinates for a private location. I don’t want Serenity to be seen on the public docks. I’ll meet you at the landing in three days, Captain.”

Before Mal could question him further, the Operative cut the transmission.


“I ain’t all that keen on goin’ to Osiris, honey. It’s real dangerous for you and River there,” Kaylee said to Simon in the privacy of their bunk.

“It’s unfortunate, I know,” Simon answered with a sigh. “Still, if that’s where the lab is…”

Simon understood all too well the driving urge to protect River that Mal must be feeling, having spent the better part of his life with that same need. In fact, the thought of what Mal had described made Simon want to learn how to use every weapon in Jayne’s considerable arsenal. But he understood his role in coming events. Mal had pulled him aside privately, telling him that the news had triggered a psychotic episode for River.

Mal had every intention of handling the Operative’s plan himself, while leaving Simon once again to see to River’s immediate mental needs. While not resentful of his place at River’s side, Simon wished he could go with the Captain as well, if for no other reason than the satisfaction of doing violence to those who would harm his sister just this once.

“’Spose you’ll be here with River,” Kaylee said, her thoughts dovetailing with his earlier ones.

“Yes, I suppose so,” he answered. “The Captain thinks it would be best, considering her circumstances.”

Kaylee nodded, unaware of the need for violence just below Simon’s cool exterior. “He’s prolly right. Don’t reckon we’d really want to see what all is like to happen in that lab.”

Simon did not disabuse her of her wrong idea.


“I am perfectly willing to pay the transport fee from Sihnon to Osiris, if you would be so kind as to honor my request,” Inara said to the House Priestess. “I’m sure Giselle would not mind packing my belongings for the trip.”

“Why can you not come and get them yourself, Inara? I do not wish to be held responsible if the trunks should be damaged during transport, or worse, stolen from the docks.”

Inara carefully concealed her growing irritation. “As the trunks are my property, I will of course assume responsibility for their condition. Please,” she softened her tone for the older woman’s benefit. “I am anxious to have my things around me, and I need them if I am to conduct business in a manner befitting our noble House.” For extra impact, she lowered her eyes submissively.

The House Priestess sighed. “Very well, I will see to it myself. Giselle hardly knows how to handle packing efficiently. I will send the trunks on their journey by the end of the day.”

“Thank you, most honorable one,” Inara said sweetly.


The three-day trip to Osiris dragged horribly for Mal and River. River’s mental condition teetered precariously between deathly calm and frenzied psychosis, sometimes within the space of minutes. Unwilling to potentially harm the baby she carried, she refused any offer of smoothers from Simon and instead took what stability she could manage from Mal’s presence.

Mal worried about this approach, as he knew there was more than a fair chance that he was walking into a trap from which he might not escape. He carefully controlled such thoughts as best he could when he was with River, but on a subconscious level, they still seeped through, causing her additional agitation.

Blessedly, on the third day, River was stable enough to land Serenity easily at the coordinates provided by the Operative. A small, sleek ship already sat in the tiny landing area, surrounded strategically by hills on all sides.

The Operative stepped out into the sunlight, holding his arms loosely at his sides. Mal approached him warily, noting that he still wore a sword in a scabbard across his back. The sense memory associated with the sight made Mal wince unconsciously.

The two men regarded each other silently. Finally, the Operative spoke. “I’m glad you’ve arrived as scheduled. I have word that the project director has given the order to begin fertilization tomorrow morning. We will have to move tonight.”

Mal looked at him in surprise. “I don’t know as I can get my people ready for a covert operation with any chance of success so quickly, seein’ as how we don’t even know where to go yet.”

“We won’t be needing your crew, Captain Reynolds. I have already received the diagram of the building and have devised a method of entry. You and I will handle it alone, without putting any of your people at risk.”

“So you expect me to go in with you blind, and leave my back-up here?”

“That is precisely what I expect and require. The lab is twenty kilometers from this location. We’ll have to go on foot.” The Operative studied the sky. “And we need to go now, if we intend to be in position when the guards change shifts. I can fill you in as we walk.”

Mal walked back to his crew, who stood looking nervously at the Operative.

Zoe asked very quietly, “Are you sure you want to do this, sir?”

“Fair certain I don’t,” Mal admitted.

“I can follow you quiet-like,” she offered, staring menacingly at the Operative.

Mal looked at her gravely. “No, I want you to stay here and protect my crew. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

Zoe nodded shortly.

Mal turned to River and drew her close. Feeling the trembling tension in her body, he tried to offer comfort. “It will be over soon, bao bei. I aim to make it stop, just as I promised.” He kissed her forehead gently, and motioning Simon to her side, stepped back out of Serenity to face the Operative again.

“Beware the foxes,” River whispered, as the two enemies set out on the long walk to the lab.


“Explain to me why we couldn’t just ride the mule as far as this?” Mal asked, sweat dripping uncomfortably down his chest and back.

The Operative sighed, wiping sweat from his own brow. “There is an underground surveillance system which detects the weight of anything that large within an eighteen-kilometer radius of the facility.”

“You sure it won’t detect our weight?”

“It is calibrated to allow for the normal movement of personnel and the occasional wildlife found here.”

Mal looked at the Operative through the corner of his eye. “What kinda’ wildlife we talkin’ about?”

The Operative shrugged dismissively. “Bears, foxes, wolves. Nothing to concern ourselves with.”

“I’m heartened to hear it,” Mal replied, wondering if he was just destined to spend his life in go se up to his hips perpetually.

After another two kilometers, he said, “What’s the point of having a lab on Osiris if you’re gonna put it at the ass-end of the world?”

“Captain, is your conversation with your crew this charming?”

Mal barked in laughter. “On good days,” he replied.

A short time later, Mal could make out a structure in the distance. Motioning him to move behind a boulder close by, the Operative said, “Now we wait for darkness.”

Looking at the sky doubtfully, Mal said, “Thought we were in a rush. Now we got to wait?”

“I didn’t know how quickly you could walk,” the Operative dead-panned.

Mal gave him a withering look. “Fast as I need to, as a general rule.”


“The public docks are approximately one-half hour away if you utilize the mule,” River answered Jayne’s inquiry.

“So, half-hour there, ‘bout an hour to deal with all the go se at the port and load ‘Nara’s things, and half-hour back. Shouldn’t oughta’ be a problem.” Jayne looked at Zoe expectantly.

“Please, Zoe,” Inara added. “If we leave now, we’ll be back well before Mal returns. And my guess is that we’ll need to leave immediately when he gets back. That’s the usual scenario.”

Zoe nodded. “Okay, go ahead. But get back as soon as you can. I’m none too comfortable with this whole thing.”

“Why?” Jayne asked, grinning innocently. “We’ll be just shiny, and you know Mal’s plans always go slicker than spit.”

Zoe rolled her eyes. “Best you be leavin’ ‘fore I change my mind.”

Inara smiled prettily. “Don’t worry. I’ll keep him out of trouble.”

The two climbed into the mule and headed toward the docks.


The Operative looked intently at the entrance to the Alliance lab, scanning the surrounding area with a night-vision scope. He handed it to Mal. “Looks like that’s the last guard change for the night.”

Mal took his time to confirm the statement. Nodding his head, he whispered, “No time like the present, then.”

The two men moved stealthily toward the entrance, working together as if they’d trained all their lives to do so.


To be continued


Wednesday, June 6, 2007 8:30 PM


Oh this is just gonna go all kinds of bad ... I can feel it.

I really would have liked to see more Mal/River interaction in this chapter, especially considering the fact that while Mal is going to "destroy" an evil experiment, he is leaving his pregnant wife behind ... I would think he'd be a bit more concerned about that.

And somehow I think Kaylee would have figured out what Simon was hinting at with the talk of children on Serenity. She has to know that Mal and River are not that careful ... but still, I'm glad to see her trying to ease Simon's worry. That man is wound tighter than a drum!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007 10:37 PM


I love Mal's worry that he's going to spend the rest of his life up to his hips in go se ... well, probably, at least if we writers have say in it!

Can't help agreeing with TamSibling - things are going to go wrong ...

Wednesday, June 6, 2007 11:21 PM


I have a bad feeling too but it can't be anything but dramatic with the Operative and Mal seemingly teemed up to do the job. I don't think the Captain really had much choice given his love for River and knowing how she would react if he did nothing and those embryonic offspring ended up being genetically engineered to be everyone's worst nightmare made flesh. Glad that Kaylee is reassuring Simon and doesn't realise what he was talking about in specific terms. You don't always pick up on the true meaning behind someone's words especially if you're not looking for it. Feel all manner of unhappy that the mule is off to ferry Inara while the crew waits for the Captain to get in touch. Could be a bad decision in hindsight. Can't wait to see what happens next. I am very impressed with the unusual pairing of the Operative and Mal, and oddly enough I don't believe he is being led into a trap. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, June 7, 2007 10:19 PM


This is definitely not of the good...the whole things screams "TRAP!" louder than Nathan in an outtake;D

Have to admit I too was hoping for a bit more of the Mal/River type of scene, since this is the big lead-up to the sneak attack on the Academy's genetics lab. Still...I really hope that things don't go too pear-shaped or River will miscarry again from the stress:(



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'Til Death Parts Us--Part VI
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'Til Death Parts Us--Part V
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