Eagle (Part 6/7)
Friday, December 30, 2011

Simon contemplates, and desperation drives Mal to a nasty corner of the 'verse.


The next morning Book arrived at the infirmary to find Simon bent over Jayne, taking his temperature. As he read the result, it only deepened the frown on his face.

"Not doing so good, huh?" the shepherd asked.

Simon turned towards him. "A hundred and four," he sighed. "And climbing."

Book shook his head. Jayne did indeed look as if the very last of his spryness had left him. He hardly stirred at all, his eyes were closed, his face slack, a breathing mask covering the lower part of it.

"He's having a little trouble breathing," Simon explained. "So I'm giving him oxygen."

He put the thermometer away on the counter and turned around to silently spend a few moments observing his patient from there. "He should have died in that dessert," he said.

Book gave him a sideways glance, encouraging him to explain that statement, and Simon took the hint. "Not that I wanted him to. I just don't understand how he managed to stay alive." He sighed again. "Guess he's just too stubborn. Too strong." He paused and then added, "But he won't be strong enough for this. If we don't find that medicine very soon we might as well stop looking for it."

"You're not giving up," Book firmly said.

Simon gave yet another sigh. "No." He straightened. "No, I'm sorry. I just feel so useless." He peeled off his gloves and turned on the sink to wash his hands.

"You have not been useless, Simon."

The young man pensively wiped his fingers and sent another glance in Jayne's direction. "You know, Shepherd, I thought I was just being professional. Just a doctor worried about losing his patient. But it kind of feels like there's more to it."


"I don't want him to die. I really don't." He put the towel down and shook his head. "And I don't even like the guy."

Book just smiled. "Don't have to like him, son. You've gotten used to him. Used to him being part of your life. And that bond is a lot stronger than most people realize."

The corner of Simon's mouth curved just a little. "Yeah, maybe that's it."

He turned again, picked up his pen and started making notes in his journal.

"River also seems mighty fixated on keeping him on this ship," Book probed.

"She doesn't like changes," Simon replied without looking up.

"Yes." Book purposely made it sound like that explanation didn't fully convince him, as he mimicked Simon's words. "Maybe that's it."

They heard feet rushing down the little staircase from the cargo bay and next Mal's frame filled the door. "Grab your coat and get ready, Doctor," he said.

"What?" Simon looked confused.

"Zoë finally found someone willing to sell us the stuff. Price he's demanding, we'll be livin' on scraps, but it ain't far and time is an issue here, I'm thinkin'."

Book closed his eyes, silently thanking his Lord, and Simon sighed with relief. "That's good," he said. "And I need my coat because…?"

"Need you to come with me. To verify it's the real deal before we make the exchange."

"Yes," the doctor, absolutely not looking like he wanted to leave the ship. "Right. I understand. Where are we headed?"

"Newhope. Little town called Kuikui."

Simon frowned. "I take it the place is ironically named?"

The captain's face was a mask of stone. "No, not really."

"Uh, okay, but you've dealt with these people before?"

"That I have."

"So there'll be no shooting or… anything?"

"Didn't say that."

"No, of course not."

"Half an hour, Doc."

"Yes. Yes, I'll be ready."


The rendezvous spot was just a few miles outside of town, and Mal had insisted on parking Serenity in a canyon at the far side of the nearby mountain, out of harm's way, so to speak. From there they had traveled in shuttle 2 (Mal still never used the other unless he really had to). Wash had come along to pilot it, just in case things turned ugly and the doctor would have to be hauled to safety in a hurry. It could happen.

Their contacts were already there when they arrived, and Mal and Zoë cautiously approached them, with Wash and Simon a few steps behind.

"Captain Reynolds!" yelled the smallest of the three men waiting.

"Arrow," Mal called back, as he and his team came to a halt.

"Long time no see."

"I'm here for business," Mal said, making it clear he was not interested in small talk. He'd dealt with Arrow several times in the past, but never liked him and never truly trusted him.

"You got the money?"

"You got the goods?"

Arrow was handed a small wooden box from one of his henchmen and held it up for them to see. "Throw me the coin and you can have it."

"The doctor sees it first," Mal said.

"My, my, if I didn't know any better, I'd say you don't find me trustworthy," Arrow grinned.

"The doctor sees it," Mal repeated.

"By all means."

Mal half turned to Simon and nodded, and the doctor nervously stepped forward, his eyes glued to the questionable fellows in front of him. Arrow, with a wolfish smile on his lips, opened the box and held it out and allowed the young man to take two small vials of colorless liquid out of it. Simon carefully studied the markings and the safety seals, then turned to Mal and nodded his approval.

"See?" Arrow said as his henchman took the vials from Simon and put them back in the box. "Happy now? The money, please."

Mal took the pouch from his pockets, coins jingling inside. This would cost him everything they'd earned on the last job, except for what they'd already spent on fuel.

Well, so be it. He angrily tossed it to Arrow, who opened it to check the contents and, once satisfied, grinningly gave the doctor a nod. Simon anxiously grabbed the box and hurried back to the others, nervously glancing over his shoulder.

"Hey, Reynolds!" Arrow shouted cheerfully. "You're losin' it, man! You knew I set the price embarrassingly high and you didn't even try and haggle. Boy, you must be desperate!"

"Shut it!" Mal snarled at him and turned to leave.

Arrow laughed. "Well, come on, boys," he called to his men. "Best head back to town before that Rufus Miller fella takes off with everyone." He laughed even harder at what was assumingly a joke.

Mal stopped, he felt Zoë stiffen next to him, and they both turned back towards their trading partner.

"'Scuse me," Mal said, "but was I hearin' that right? Did you say Rufus Miller?"

Arrow cocked an eyebrow. "Yeah, you know 'im?"

Mal exchanged a short glance with his first mate. "By reputation only. He in town?"

"Yup. Is sittin' down at Tainted Heart, recruitin', they's sayin'. Only place he can find people stupid enough to join 'im. Man's a ruttin' moron. Take my advice, don't get involved. Ain't worth it." He waved as he and his men started to walk away. "Nice doin' business with ya, Reynolds!"

Mal watched him leave. Zoë stayed next to him, waiting for his call. Wash and Simon had started walking back to the shuttle, but stopped after a few paces and turned to look at their captain, obviously confused as to why he wasn't coming.

"Zoë?" Mal said.

"Right there with ya, sir."

"What's going on?" Simon asked.

Mal didn't answer him. "Wash, take the doctor back to the boat. Zoë'll come with me. Seems there's still some loose ends need tyin' up hereabouts."


A/N: In case anybody wondered (and didn't bother to look it up), 'kuikui' means 'to be awe-struck with fear'.




Friday, December 30, 2011 6:25 AM


Hooray, not only do they get the medicine they get on lead on that treacherous piece of scum, Rufus Miller! Really loving this tale, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Saturday, January 7, 2012 4:29 PM


Rufus Miller! I hope Mal and Zoe give him what he deserves! Glad Simon got the medicine, though at a steep cost. Hope Arrow doesn't take advantage of his knowledge that Mal was desperate enough not to haggle the price down. I like seeing Book play an important role.

Saturday, January 7, 2012 4:30 PM


I did look up kuikui, but didn't find it. What language is that?

Saturday, January 7, 2012 11:44 PM


It's Chinese. Apparently some figure from their folklore. I learned it from a friend who's fluent in the language.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 9:48 AM


Awww yeah! Miller's in for a beating or killin' that will go down in the history books!


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