Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"Jayne and Book return to Serenity with Sheriff Bourne in tow. While the Captain is still out of it Zoe explains."


TITLE: "ALLIES" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Canon pairings RATING: G. STATUS: SEQUEL to "UNINVITED" ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE: None. All "Firefly" stories archived at

SUMMARY: "Jayne and Book return to Serenity with Sheriff Bourne in tow. While the Captain is still out of it Zoe explains." 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

* * * * *

Kaylee couldn't help it, torn between excitement and curiosity there was no way patience stood a chance of raising its' sober head. Jayne stepped out of the shuttle but before he could step out of the way to allow the Shepherd and lawman to exit Kaylee confronted him, bouncing up on her toes, eyes alight for the merest hint of scandal or impropriety. Normally Jayne would have grinned and joined in her fun but he was feeling a mite abashed and not so keen on having his nose rubbed in it.

"C'mon Jayne, ya gotta tell us what happened! How'd ya get pinched an' how come the Sheriff let ya get away?"

"Kaylee," Zoe's calm voice intruded "perhaps we'd better let everybody off the shuttle before you start askin' questions?"

She turned her head towards Serenity's First Mate. "Huh?" Then her brain kicked into gear, she flushed and stepped hurriedly back. "Yeah, sure. *Duibuqi*."

The big man mumbled something unintelligable and moved to stand next to Zoe, Shepherd Book following with a grave but amused expression in his eyes. Zoe stood expressionless, waiting for them to disembark her eyes like flints looking for a spark. Jayne knew that look and didn't like what thoughts might lie behind it. "*Wei*, weren't my fault!"

"Jayne." The low growl silenced him. Zoe's eyes caught the Shepherd's as he got ready to introduce the lawman.

"I believe you've met Sheriff Bourne?"

Zoe gave the man a respectful but wary nod. "Sheriff."

Bourne nodded back, paused and craned his neck to look behind her. "Where's Captain Reynolds?"

"In the infirmary."

A look of alarm flashed over the Sheriff's face. "What happened?"

"Nothin' to concern you Sheriff, had to have an operation on his hip where he'd cracked it in a fall. Ain't exactly conscious right now."

The Sheriff raised an eyebrow, instinctively recognising when someone was being economical with the truth but he would hold his peace for now. Kaylee almost smiled. Seemed the Sheriff could be taciturn too. Zoe hid a sigh of frustration, knowing she wouldn't be able to get rid of him any time soon.

"Best you come into the commons room. Should be some hot coffee left, if not Kaylee'll brew more." She paused and showed a flicker of surprise. "You come alone?"

Sheriff Bourne gave a slow nod back, his eyes kind of narrowing but not in a dangerous way. He was assessing her and that didn't set well with Zoe but at least no one was firing. Would be shiny to keep it that way. "Let's say my men were gettin' a mite twitchy. Didn't want a misunderstandin' to turn into a gunfight, *dong ma*?"

A flash of gratitude so swift it dazzled the eye like an after-image made the lawman blink. He stared at Zoe but the granite facade did not crack. If nothing else, Malcolm Reynolds had got himself the best person to watch his back. Best tread carefully.

* * * * *

Inara stared at Mal. Unconscious or asleep was a good look on him. Made the man all kinds of vulnerable and the Companion wavered giving way to the very human woman that was the real substance beneath all the Guild trained gloss. She reached out and gently brushed the damp hair aside the better to see his face, the fringe needed cutting but that was not why she touched him. Seeing the Captain like this reminded her how young he really was. Not an old man despite the hard bitten exterior he projected so effectively that age never came into it. He was the Captain pure and simple and people didn't argue with him unless they were looking for a fight or just plain stupid. Inara wondered which one she was then smiled. Perhaps she was a good pinch of both.

A thousand memories and fragments of them filtered through her mind like light through a broken skylight. Her heart softened with love for this man. A man who provoked the kind of emotional storms that Inara thought she had left behind at puberty. Feelings so intense she had to work to keep him out, from intruding on her conscious thoughts until her ability to think straight robbed her of everything she had worked so hard to achieve. She was a Companion. Not a whore but then Mal had a way of speaking to the truth of a thing that left a harsh ragged edge like a wound that would not heal. The man could be subtle, insightful, kind to the point of her heart almost breaking yet wound in a tangle of thorns that would rebuff all but the most intrepid of intruders. He brooked no artifice which was why they clashed so often.

A tiny pained sigh leaked out of him. Inara froze and stared at the Captain's face but he did not wake. Inara leant down to drop a kiss on his forehead when, contrary man that he was, Mal stirred, his head turning too late for her to pull away. Her warm lips brushed his cool ones. Pained eyes fluttered open on a glimpse of Heaven. Impossible, improbable, yet solid.


His voice pierced her. Feelings of want, desire, protectiveness made her feel weak. Acknowledging that weakness raised a flash of anger as if the wounded man had purposely affronted her. Inara blinked and regained control, noticed the confusion on Mal's face. "The operation was successful."

For a moment he did not speak, his eyes searching hers for the meaning behind words that did not match the tension suddenly filling the room. "It was?"

Inara nodded, lowering her eyes. "You need to keep off your feet for a couple of weeks but that's all."

He looked up at the ceiling. "You kissed me."

"You moved."

Mal glanced at her, saw the flush she couldn't hide no matter how much she averted her gaze and felt a rush of pleasure. He watched her fidget with the blanket, eyes still downcast. He didn't like to see her like that. Was used to the spark of fire, the sharpened wit they bantered to and fro that could turn humour into a weapon in less than a heartbeat. At times it drove him mad with irritation until it bled into an anger he in no way wanted to feel but sparring with Inara was never dull. What was it with the woman that as soon as they seemed to be reaching an understanding she would have to push and twist him up until he didn't know what he thought or felt any more? This though, this awkwardness, had the ring of truth to it. He liked that more than the playful posturing that had no depth. More than the acidic barbs they traded instead of saying what they meant. He lifted a too heavy hand and she immediately caught it, her fingers wrapping around his as if they belonged. His eyes fluttered. So gorram weary. He fought to raise the lids above half mast. "What did Simon do to me?"

She smiled, gave his hand a squeeze and sat back on the chair next to his bed. "It's called anaesthetic, Mal."

"I know what it's gorram called, why'd he put so much in me I'm weak as a kitten?"

Inara sighed, smiled, then gave him an even look. Her exaggerated patience making him irritable. "Simon's a doctor. You've just had a major operation and it's natural to feel weak and woozy when you first come round."

The Captain blinked, closed his eyes. "Huh."

He sounded so tired but was still fighting his body. With a struggle heavy lids opened a crack.

"Don't like this feelin'. Can't think straight."

She leaned over the bed, a smile in her voice. "That's because you should be sleeping."

"You givin' me orders now?" The Captain slurred.

"No, your body is. You should listen to it."

* * * * *

The Sheriff sat, mouth agape, and stared at the crew of Serenity. They were all sitting round the great oak table in the commons area barring the Captain. Inara snuck in some time during the telling of their latest misadventures and felt a warmth suffusing her heart and mind. The core of this crew more family to her than her own had been. She knew the same applied to the others, whether they would admit it or not. Even Jayne now fit into that fabric as if he was born to be a part of it.

"Are you people tellin' me you snuck into an Alliance penal colony to get your Cap'n back?"

"Not so much snuck." Corrected Book with a mild admonishment.

"Oh yeah, I was forgettin'." Sheriff Bourne paused for effect. "You 'knocked'."

Everyone laughed, a light happy sound that did more to heal their anxious and accident prone hearts than all the medicine in Simon's infirmary. Bourne shook his head, still not quite able to believe everything he had heard, and took a slow sip of his tea. It was black and a little bitter, just the way he liked it. Didn't like bland or sophomoric flavours that made you sleepy when you wanted to be alert.

"So, explain to me again how the Cap'n bein' in an Alliance *jianyu* has anythin' to do with Jayne an' the Shepherd lookin' for gold on Barclay."

Zoe smiled at Wash then looked at Jayne. "Sounds like your cue to be a Big Damn Idiot, Jayne."

"*Wei*, that ain't fair!"

"No." Simon deadpanned, enjoying the way Kaylee leaned against him. Her warmth and presence making Serenity feel like all the home he'd ever need. "It isn't fair to the other idiots out there."

Jayne turned a glare in his direction but Inara smoothly intervened to calm ruffled feathers. "Whatever else you may say Jayne *is* a Big Damn Hero."

Everybody stared at her as if she had gone *shenjingbing*. Inara gave a slow smile and projected an innocent air. "You did tell the good Sheriff how Jayne became Captain of Serenity, didn't you?"

"An' saved the gorram day!" Jayne added, his chest puffing out just a little.

The tale got so confusing that the Sheriff had to insist they all stopped interrupting each other and told the tale from the very beginning. It was very late before the crew turned in. Wash left to make sure there was nothing showing on the ship's sensors before calling it a night. Zoe poked her head through the door to the bridge just as he was finishing up. "Comin' to bed, *zhangfu*?"

He smiled and flicked a few last switches. "Just making sure everythin's okay." Wash set the proximity alarm and rose from the pilot's chair, pausing as he turned to face his wife. The humour and relaxation he had been exuding moments before now held in abeyance. "Don't take this the wrong way, *bao bei*, but why we trustin' the Sheriff? I mean, he's Alliance an' all, what if he turns in River an' Simon or decides to check up on our story? Remember the hidin' an' not bein' seen part, when did that change?"

Zoe stepped up to him, a smile in her eyes as well as on her fullsome lips. She looked so shiny that Wash almost forgot how to breathe. Gorramit, he was a lucky man. "*Fengmi*, one thing I learnt about the Sheriff when we met him in Paradiso was that he has no love for the Alliance."

Wash frowned. "He represents their authority as Sheriff, Zoe."

"Bourne was Sheriff first an' when the Alliance put their claim on his world it made more sense to just stay where he was."

"I would'a thought he'd get out, get as far away from those *tamade hundan* as he could if that's the case, *bao bei*."

Zoe kissed him then pulled back, her smile gone and a hint of sadness darkening her eyes. "He had people on Paradiso, Wash." The pilot's eyes widened as the dime dropped. "Family?"

She nodded. "An' friends. Figured he could protect them from the worst excesses of the Alliance by stayin' put. Man don't have to join up to fight, Wash. Sometimes it takes more courage to stay put an' not let the bully rule the roost."

For a moment Wash didn't speak, his arms wrapping around the only woman in the entire 'verse he would ever love. "He seems a good sort," he allowed at last "but if he's the Sheriff of Paradiso what was he doin' on Barclay?"

"As I hear tell Barclay doesn't have a Sheriff of its' own. Most of the population live off-world only goin' to Barclay to work. Seems someone sent a wave to Paradiso that they had trouble so the Sheriff went over with some deputies to see what was happenin'." "An' found Jayne an' Book." Wash added, a twinkle in his eyes.

Zoe smiled. "An' found Jayne an' Book." Zoe agreed with a burst of laughter. "I wish I had seen their faces, *zhangfu*. Must'a been mighty entertainin'."

Wash brushed her dark heavy hair from her face, not wanting anything to mask the beauty she radiated, a deep stirring of lust making concentrating on conversation a hard thing to do. "Can we stop with the talkin' about untrained apes an' such?"

An eyebrow arched quizzically. "You don't find it funny?"

"Amusin' as it surely is I'm lookin' for a different kind of entertainment."

Her eyes sparkled now, a fiery blaze heating up at his words. Zoe pulled him closer, their bodies touching, then rubbed herself seductively against him. "You expectin' to get lucky?"

Wash growled, kissed her hard, then dragged her off the bridge as fast as he could. Zoe's laughter echoing in his ears as he hurried her off to their bunk.

* * * * *

Even though it was late Simon couldn't go to bed without checking one last time on his most frequent patient. Satisfying himself that all was well he turned to leave and was startled to find the Sheriff a step behind him. The man was near silent on his feet. Simon blinked as his mind raced, silent and deadly. Right now the Sheriff was looking concerned.

"He gonna be alright?"

The doctor nodded. "Yes. It'll be a couple of weeks before the Captain will be back on his feet but he should make a full recovery."

Sheriff Bourne nodded thoughtfully, his eyes on the sleeping man. After a moment or two he looked at Simon. "I take it he'll be conscious tomorrow?"

Simon nodded warily, all his senses on high alert now. No matter how happily the crew had bantered with the man, liked him even, the Sheriff's words reminded Simon that he had history with the Captain. What that meant for the rest of them only time could tell. "*Qu*."

"*Hen hao*." The Sheriff straightened. "I'll speak to him tomorrow then."

As the Sheriff began to walk out the infirmary Simon couldn't resist a question. "If you don't mind my askin', what did you want to talk to him about?"

"Just somethin' I'm hopin' Cap'n Reynolds can help me with." Sheriff Bourne paused. "*Mingtian jian*, doctor."

"*Wan an*, Sheriff."

Simon left the infirmary and went to his bunk but it was a long time before he could sleep. When he did drop off it seemed as if he had just closed his eyes when he woke with a start. River was leaning over him her long hair hanging down like a straggly curtain where it badly needed brushing. Naturally River didn't notice. One thing his little genius of a sister was not was vain. "Worrying for nothing. Loose ends."

He blinked and sat up, River leaning back to give him room. "What do you mean, loose ends?"

River gave him a smile, the kind that said he was being slow witted but that she could be patient because she loved him. "He needs to hear the rest of the story. From the horse's mouth."

Before Simon could question her further River danced away, her steps light and full of energy as if she had said nothing troubling to him at all. He lay back and stared up at the ceiling and wondered why things never went smooth.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*duibuqi* = sorry *wei* = hey! *dong ma* = understand? *zhangfu* = husband *shenjingbing* = crazy *fengmi* = honey *bao bei* = precious/treasure *qu* = yes (lit. go) *hen hao* = very good *mingtian jian* = see you tomorrow *wan an* = good night *jianyu* = prison *tamade hundan* = fucking bastards



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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.