Lessons (Part 3/11)
Friday, December 30, 2011

Mal ponders his losses and short-comings, Zoë and Kaylee are curious, and Jayne's being spoon fed.



Mal had gone someplace he almost never ventured these days: Inara's shuttle. Well, technically, he told himself, it was just Shuttle 1 now, seeing as she wasn't living there anymore. The place still smelled faintly of incense but felt dark and cold without her tapestries and delicate furniture, and he wondered for a moment what had brought him there.

Old habit, perhaps? It had always been kind of his hiding place on the ship, his little get-away, even though Inara had usually ended up throwing him out whenever he came to 'visit' her.

Still, it had always been the place he went to calm himself before a big job.

It didn't seem to do the trick now, though.

One of her crates was still standing there, hidden away in the corner. He assumed she had forgotten it, though sometimes he caught himself thinking that she'd left it there purposely, as an excuse to get in touch with him someday maybe. As one last tether connecting the two of them. But that was a fantasy and he was angry with himself for entertaining it.

He had never peered inside that crate. Never touched it. Until now.

He opened the lid and her scent whirled up from the box, engulfing him.

Not the incense. Not her perfume. Her.

And he just couldn't do it.

He closed the crate and left the shuttle.


Zoë was helping Kaylee look through the cargo for a missing spare part for the engine when she saw Mal exit Inara's shuttle. Kaylee had seen it too and a tiny "oh" escaped her lips.

"Don't stare," Zoë hissed at her, and they both tried to look busy as the captain descended the stairs and went past them towards the infirmary and passenger dorms.

As soon as he was out of earshot, Kaylee sighed, "He really misses her."

"I know," Zoë replied.

"Then why did he let her leave?"

Zoë shrugged. "Guess things got a little complicated."

"No, it didn't! He likes her, she likes him, nothin' complicated 'bout that."

Zoë smiled teasingly. "You of all people, Kaylee, should know that mutual interest don't necessarily mean no complications."

Kaylee blushed. "What's that supposed to mean?"

She sat down on one of the crates, but bounced right back up again. "Oh!"

Zoë raised her eyebrows, puzzled, as Kaylee fumbled through the back pocket of her overalls and pulled out a small object. "Oh," she repeated when she saw it. "Gosh, I done forgot all about this."

"What is it?" Zoë asked.

"Shepherd's pin," Kaylee said and showed her the little silvery cross. "I's gonna give it back to 'im. Look!" She pointed to an inscription at the back.

Adelaide. 0012-0016-0999.

The young mechanic's eyes glittered. "You think maybe she was his sweetie?"

"He's a shepherd, Kaylee."

"He wasn't always one."

Zoë just smiled. "Curiosity killed the cat."

"But ain't you? Curious, I mean."

"Everybody on this ship has secrets. Guess it would only mess up my head if I tried to find 'em all out." She kept smiling and added mildly, "Tell you what, Kaylee, you put that pin somewhere the preacher will find it and pretend you never even saw it. Whatever or whoever Adelaide is, I got this feeling it's somethin' he don't want us to know about."

Kaylee frowned but nodded. "Guess you're right." She put the pin back in her pocket and they continued looking for the engine part.


Now, there was something vaguely familiar about that. And despite what she'd just told Kaylee, Zoë couldn't help but think that maybe a good mystery was what they needed right now.

Adelaide 0012-0016-0999.

Curiosity killed the cat. But then again, so did boredom.


This time when Book arrived, Jayne was actually awake. He was lying quietly in bed, as if lost in thought (which of course only went to underline how poorly he felt), but he looked up as the preacher entered the room, carrying a bowl of soup, a spoon and a napkin.

"Hello, Jayne, feeling any better?"

"I guess," Jayne mumbled.

Book gestured with the bowl. "Doctor thinks it's time for you to try some real food." He glanced down at the greenish liquid and tried hard not to make a face. "And by 'real food' we mean non-intravenous, 'cause there's really nothing real in this."

Jayne eyed the bowl hesitantly. "I don't know, ain't really hungry."

"Oh come on," Book encouraged him. "Kaylee made you this and she poured her sweet soul into it. She'll only be upset if you don't eat it." He put the bowl on the nightstand. "Now, let's get you sitting up."

He managed to get a partly protesting Jayne up into a semi-sitting position, rearranging the pillows so he could lean back on them.

"I sense you're not exactly comfortable with being nursed, son," he said as he unfolded the napkin. "But you're weak and you won't be walking on that leg for a long while, so I think you best get used to it."

He draped the napkin across Jayne's chest, folding it under his chin and then picked up the bowl and spoon.

"Hell no, preacher, you ain't spoon feedin' me!" Jayne's face was a mixture of anger and horror.

Book only held out the spoon. "Take it."

And Jayne did, but just like the shepherd had anticipated his shaking hand wasn't able to hold it for long, and both the spoon and the hand fell to the blanket, and the big man sighed and made an annoyed face.

"Best let me do it," Book said and picked up the spoon again, "so the doctor won't have to treat your burns atop of everything else." He moved closer. "I won't tell anyone. Now, open up."

Jayne's eyes made it clear that this was done under protest, but his mouth didn't voice any more complaints and he reluctantly allowed the older man to feed him a couple of spoonfuls.

"Do you remember now?" Book asked him. "What happened on New Lafayette?"

"Yeah. Rufus Miller, guy I used to work with. Thought I could take 'im but… "

"Well, you're alive," the shepherd said. "Not everybody would be after lying injured in the dessert for two days."

Jayne glared at him. "Two days?"

"Yeah, the captain thought you'd quit on him and left without you. As I understood it you'd left a message for him."

"Well," Jayne said and allowed another spoonful of soup into his mouth. "I did. Can't blame 'im." He glanced at the preacher. "But you came back. Why?"

"You got River to thank for that." Book took great pleasure in telling him this and he didn't even try to conceal it.

Jayne raised his eyebrows. "River?"

"She sensed you were in danger. Made quite a racket about it. Of course we didn't understand her at first, she has a way of speaking in riddles, as you know. Apparently, my dear boy, you're an eagle."


"Yes. Well, she finally got through to the captain somehow and we turned back and found you."

Jayne snorted. "Confirms the girl's a gorram fool! What she do that for?"

"Well, I guess the eagle is…"

"Not that, though that's pretty crazy too. I meant, why'd she make the cap'n go back for me? I wouldn't have."


Jayne's eyes flickered a little. "I ain't exactly been nice to her."

Book smiled a little. "Well, if you can't do something smart, do something right, I always say."

He tried to feed Jayne another spoonful, but the merc had had enough. "Sorry, I can't…" he mumbled, turning away.

"Well." Book glanced down at the soup. "That was half a bowl, I guess that's something." He put it away. "Anything else I can do for you?"

He could see Jayne hesitate a little, as if he was on the verge of making a request but then he just shook his head.

"Jayne," Book probed.

Jayne sighed and stared at his hands. "It's just that... I gotta, you know… go."

He glanced sideways back up at the shepherd, who said "oh" and for a moment regretted he ever asked. "Um, okay, yes, of course. Just a moment, I'll go fetch some… equipment."

They perfectly avoided looking each other in the eyes as he stood and left the room.




Friday, December 30, 2011 7:22 AM


I had to laugh at that last part with Jayne needing to go and the Preacher realising he had to get him something to do it in. Also I'm thinking the pin Kaylee found has quite the history. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 10:43 AM


Poor Jayne...self-sufficient merc like him is really gonna be struggling with needing to be fed, a limited appetite and having to use appliances to do his various businesses. Hope someone reads him the riot act to ensure he doesn't try something too soon out of embarrassment ;P


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Angels We Have Heard (Part 4/5)
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Angels We Have Heard (Part 3/5)
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Angels We Have Heard (Part 2/5)
Christmas special. Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.

Angels We Have Heard (Part 1/5)
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The Night Before (revised and reposted)
It's the night before Christmas and Jayne is having spiritual problems. Literally.

Book of Secrets (Part 8)
Mal drew a deep breath and exhaled slowly, closing his eyes for a moment. "Gorram preacher," he muttered.

Book of Secrets (Part 7)
Kaylee comes clean and River goes for a swim.

Book of Secrets (Part 6)
The captain dances, Inara's feeling out the new girl and the first secret is revealed.

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Zoë and Inara have a heart-to-heart, and Mal discovers more shades of grey.