Lessons (Part 4/11)
Friday, December 30, 2011

Kaylee snoops, Simon's tense, and Wash is being Wash.



Kaylee had partly done what Zoë had told her to do. Following their conversation in the cargo bay she'd gone to the galley and put the shepherd's pin on the eating table, close to his favorite seat. Sometime during the night it had disappeared, so she assumed he'd found it.

The part about pretending she'd never even seen it, on the other hand, proved a little more difficult. Kaylee wasn't usually the person to hide or neglect her feelings, and that included curiosity. And so the thought of Adelaide was there in the back of her mind all day while she was tinkered around in the engine room, and it was more than a little possible that it showed on her face during meals and any other time she and Book happened to be in the same room.

She'd looked in on Jayne after dinner and found him a little groggy but awake and looking a whole lot better than the last time she'd seen him. He'd complained about his cast itching and she'd spent the next twenty minutes poking inside it with a steel wire trying to relieve some of that itch, while she told him everything that had happened on the ship the last few days. Which wasn't much when you excluded the mystery of the pin, and she somehow managed not to mention that.

When Simon came by to check on his patient, she left them and hung around the common area next to the dorms, hoping to catch a few words with the doctor when he was done. But when he reemerged he wasn't very talkative; he seemed stressed and tense (more so than usual), and it was during their very short conversation that she finally gave in and asked to borrow his encyclopedia.

He was more than happy to and she brought it to her bunk to look at it in private, feeling just a little guilty for probing into this matter.

She entered the search word Adelaide and started reading, her heart beating rapidly in her chest.

'Adelaide,' it said. 'May refer to: Common name, feminine, meaning 'nobility'. Mainly used in the Himinbjorg system.'

And under, 'May refer to: City on Earth-That-Was, located on the southern coast of the Australian continent. Destroyed and rendered uninhabitable during World War III in 2057.'

Gosh. She hoped this wasn't the Adelaide Book's inscription was referring to, that he didn't wear that pin in memory of some long lost relatives that had died in that tragedy. She knew some people could trace their family lines all the way back to Earth-That-Was, but mostly only rich folks, those who claimed they were royal and the like, and Book didn't strike her as such a person.

She still kind of hoped it was, or had been, a woman. And if it was, maybe somewhere in the Himinbjorg system. The thought made her smile.

But the encyclopedia hadn't provided her with any real answers, and now her curiosity was only heightened.


Wash was on the bridge, in his pilot seat, settling in for another lonely night at the helm. Not that he had to be there, not for the whole night, the course was plotted and the ship basically flew itself, but considering the fact that he was being paid to be its pilot he guessed it was only fair that he at least looked busy now and then.

He heard the sound of steps approaching, and he knew it wasn't Zoë because even after all these years she was still stealthy enough to sneak up on him. He sort of hoped it wasn't the captain; Mal had been kind of moody these last few days. Not all scary-angry or unreasonably snippy in any way, just gloomy and melancholic, and Zoë was right, that was worse. You could only hear that many heavy, not-especially-successfully-concealed sighs coming from your otherwise steely captain before they started to get on your nerves.

He turned in his seat and saw Simon leaning in the doorway. "Doctor," he greeted jovially. "Step unto my bridge and enhance my evening."

Simon accepted the invitation and came inside the room. He was glancing out through the windows, a thousand-yard stare in his eyes, and Wash realized right away that if he wanted a conversation he'd have to push for it.

"Can't sleep?" he asked.

"I can," Simon replied with a sigh. "I just don't think it will make much of a difference."

"I see," Wash nodded, "you can't get relaxed."

Simon gave him half a glance. "I suppose." He sighed again. "Don't understand why, though."

Wash just smiled. "You're just a little space crazy. It happens, mostly during long journeys when there's not much to do."

Simon didn't look fully convinced. "Really? You think it's just that?"

"Sure. You're being restless. Please, have a seat." Wash nodded to the co-pilot seat.

Simon pensively sat down and didn't speak for a long while.

"Jayne giving you a hard time?" Wash eventually asked, another attempt to spark a conversation.

"No," the doctor replied. "But I'm pretty certain he will be very soon."

Wash chuckled. "Feeling better, then. Well, I guess I'm glad to hear. All things considered, life onboard weren't the same without that qingwa cao de liumang."

Simon didn't reply. He was still gazing out through the front window. Wash frowned. The young doctor had always been tense, hell, he'd been the dictionary definition of tense, but this was bad even by his standards.

"Everybody gets space crazy," he said, as if trying to comfort him, and then added, "Well, not me, I'm the opposite. I get land crazy if we're too long in port. But that's basically the same. You just gotta find a way to unwind a little."

Simon finally looked at him. "Yeah?"

Wash nodded. "Like for instance, d'you have a hobby?"

"I used to knit," Simon answered matter-of-factly.

Wash raised his eyebrows. "Knit? Huh, well, that's a useful skill to have, I guess."

Simon smiled, glancing sideways at him. "I'm kidding."

Wash stared at him, a little shocked, but then he just laughed. "You're making a joke!" He stabbed the air with his finger. "Good sign!"

He glanced over his shoulder and then back at the doctor. "Tell you what, Doc, why don't you go and find us a couple of mugs? I got a little somethin' stashed under here for us."

He started rummaging through the little compartment under the control panel at his right. Simon stayed in his seat, hesitating. "Are you sure you should be drinking at the helm?"

"No alcohol," Wash said as he popped his head back up. He triumphantly held up a can for Simon to see. "It's root beer."

"Root beer?" Simon repeated.

"Trust me, it's not easy to get hold of this part of space. And it's my very last can."

"And you want to share it with me?"

"You need it," Wash explained. "You need bubbles."


"Are you just gonna repeat everything I say, or are you gonna get us those mugs?"

The doctor's face broke into a wide grin and he got up and went to the galley and returned very soon with the said items. Wash carefully poured them both a drink and they took a moment to taste it and really savor it.

"What do you do?" Simon asked after a short while.

"About what?"

"To unwind. When you're space crazy… or land crazy."

"Me?" Wash smiled. "I got my dinos." He gestured to the toys lined around the control panel.

Simon studied him for a beat. "You play with your dinosaurs?"

"Yep. Very relaxing. You're welcome to borrow them any day."

The doctor smiled a little, looking a little uncertain as to if Wash was being sincere or not about the whole playing-with-toys-issue. Then he took another sip of his drink. "Thanks. I, uh, I'll get back to you on that."




Friday, December 30, 2011 7:28 AM


Ah, the cure for whatever ails you - root beer! Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 10:48 AM


Hmmm...root beer. Haven't really found a brand I love, but I've come around to being able to accept A&W if need be ;P

Gotta wonder what's got Simon clenching up tighter than normal (for this part of the overall BDH arc, pre-Serenity) though...


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