Lessons (Part 9/11)
Friday, December 30, 2011

Jayne drives everybody crazy, and the shepherd comes clean.



The sound was even driving Wash crazy. Somehow Jayne had gotten his hands on a broom and discovered that by hitting the pipe that crossed the ceiling of his room with it, in just the right place, it could be heard more or less throughout the entire ship. For him it was an efficient way to get the attention he desperately craved, for everybody else it threatened to become the very thing that finally tipped the scale and drove them all over the edge. It wasn't particularly loud (unless you were in close proximity to the passenger dorms of course) but it was relenting and, after a while, extremely annoying; not unlike a dripping faucet.

Wash had entered the kitchen looking for food, nodding his greetings to Simon and River who was already sitting there, when the racket started again and made him groan out loud. "Taikong suoyou de xingqiu saijin wo de pigu!" he exclaimed as he threw his arms up and dumped down in the seat next to the doctor. "Will you please let the man out of bed, Doc? For all our sakes!"

Simon just nodded and stared blankly at the empty salt dispenser situated on the table in front of him, looking like he'd tried to block out the sound but failed and then just sort of given in to it. "Yeah," he sighed tiredly. "I think he's strong enough."

They heard Mal curse loudly in the hallway leading up to the bridge and Kaylee shout "I'm on it!" from the engine room in the opposite direction and then "Coming, Jayne!" mixed with her footsteps as she hurried down the stairs.

The captain came in, Zoë in tow, and he glared angry around the room at nothing in particular until the pounding beat had stopped. Then he pulled out a chair and sat down, while Zoë slipped into the seat next to Wash, gently touching his arm as she did so.

Shepherd Book entered and after greeting them, went over to the stove and started rummaging through the cupboards, soon joined by Simon.

Wash let his eyes drift around the room, counting the heads, and when Kaylee came in a few moments later, he realized that they, with the exception of Jayne, were all present for once.

"What was it now?" Mal asked his mechanic as she took her seat.

"One of his guns was outta reach," she replied. "Apparently. And he said Simon told him not to move."

"I never told him not to move," the doctor protested. "Just to stay off his feet."

"Well," the captain said dryly. "He wasn't this annoying before he actually started listening to you."

This made Book chuckle over at the kitchen counter, something that proved to be quite contagious as all the others ended up smiling too, even Mal.

Wash was thrilled (and a little amazed) by the fact that things appeared to be slowly returning to normal on the boat. The captain seemed more aware and in touch with his surroundings; his face was still mostly grave but his eyes looked more alive as he swept his gaze across the room, eyeing each of his crewmembers in turn.

The shepherd had carved up the protein bars and started passing them down the table. This was obviously turning into a sit-down meal, and Wash's mood got even better. They hadn't had one in eight days and he'd missed them more than he would ever have guessed beforehand.

After Book had quietly said grace (and at least Simon and Kaylee joined him) and they'd started eating, Mal turned to Wash. "Please tell me we'll be on Boros tomorrow," he said.

"We will," Wash assured him. "Everything's going according to plan. We should be there by early afternoon ship-time."

The captain shook his head. "Never thought I'd say this, but I ain't gonna cry to have dirt under my feet again."

"Or to breathe real air," Simon supplied.

"Or to have a bath," Zoë sighed.

"Yes," Book said as he settled into his seat. "It's certainly been a strange week." After taking a small bite of his food, he added, "Me, for instance, I lost my lapel pin."

Wash felt Zoë stiffen next to him and he turned to give her a quizzical glance. He saw her eyes flash to Kaylee for a short second, and then she just stared down at her plate. With a frown Wash looked over at the young mechanic himself and noticed that her reaction was just like his wife's, though she didn't manage to keep her face quite as blank.

"I thought I'd dropped it in here," the preacher said. "But I looked everywhere and I couldn't find it. Until a couple of days later when it turned up here on the table."

"That's good," Simon said, with genuine empathy.

"Yes," Book agreed. "I thought maybe someone had found it and put it there, and I didn't think more of it." He paused for a moment. "But then, when I borrowed your encyclopedia, Doctor, to double-check some facts for Jayne – I tell you, that boy asks a lot of questions when he's bored – I discovered that the last search word entered was 'Adelaide'."

Simon frowned. "I don't recall making that search."

"Adelaide?" Wash said. "But that's…" Zoë kicked him hard under the table and he almost instinctively shut his mouth.

"Interestingly enough," the shepherd went on, "Adelaide is also what the inscription on my pin says. So I figure the person who found it was a little curious."

Kaylee's face was now sporting the color of a ripe tomato, and when Wash cast another glance at Zoë he saw that she was still staring intently at her plate.

Mal was also shifting his eyes between the two women; his face was stern but with a hint of amusement mixed in.

Book continued. "Now, the person might have thought Adelaide to be the name of a woman, perhaps someone from my past. That's a reasonable assumption and I can see why it would spark an interest. Am I right?"

Even though he wasn't looking at her, the question was clearly directed at Kaylee, who broke at this point. "Sorry," she squealed, hiding her face in her hands.

Everybody, even River, had put their chop sticks down, their attention solely at the preacher now. Wash shot a glance at his wife again. "But didn't you…" he began, but it only earned him another kick to his shin.

Book wasn't finished yet. "But what I really don't hope," he said, "is that someone tied the inscription to the settlement on Selene and the Alliance terrorist cell it's named after. That would have caused them unnecessary worry, I assure you."

He looked at Zoë with a teasing gleam in his eye. She too put her elbows on the table and hid her face now. The preacher chuckled.

"What does the inscription mean, then?" Simon asked.

Book stroked the pin with the tip of his fingers. "Adelaide is a saint. Among other things, the guardian saint of exiled people. I thought it… fitting that she'd be my guardian saint as well."

"What about the numbers?" Kaylee asked, daring for the first time to look up from behind her hands. "Zero-zero-twelve, zero-zero-sixteen, zero-nine-nine-nine."

"The date of her death," the shepherd explained. "Her memorial day. December 16, in the year 999."


"Starting again!" River exclaimed, and just as the words had left her mouth the pounding sound from the pipes began once more.

Mal slammed his hands down on the table. "Okay, that's it! Who gave him that gorram broom?"

If possible Kaylee looked even more guilty, but Book got to his feet, still chuckling. "I'll go," he said and starting walking towards the door.

"You tell him to stop or I'll come down and demonstrate alternative uses for that thing!" the captain yelled after him.

Wash heard a little sound emitting from his wife and he turned to face her, soon realizing that she was laughing. "God, I feel so silly," she mumbled as she tried to straighten herself.

Kaylee started laughing too, and even River smiled happily at them as the others soon joined in.


When Shepherd Book had listened to Jayne's requests, fulfilling the more reasonable ones and relayed the captain's threats, he went to his own bunk and carefully slid the door shut behind him.

He removed the pin from his lapel and held it in the palm of his hand, studying it with a smile. Nothing indicated that the girls had discovered its other purpose. He retrieved the little box from his crate, put the pin in the lock and twisted it, making the lid pop off. He peered inside at the contents and his smile grew.

It was still there.




Friday, December 30, 2011 8:01 AM


Uh oh, what exactly is the Shepherd's secret? I did smile to see things slowly getting back to normal and can't wait to see what happens next! Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012 1:34 PM


Hmmm...what better way to deflect attention from the truth is by first calling people out on it but then spinning a completely logical story to cover things up. Why wouldn't the Alliance bigwigs choose something like St. Adelaide to name a covert ops group after...ya know, blackest of black...disavowed, like an exile?



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