Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 4
Sunday, July 8, 2012

River goes on her first date but it does not end how anyone expected...with napkins.


Chapter 4

River carefully disconnected the septic vac-line from Serenity. She had forced herself to go slow and avoid another blowout, even though she was bristling with anticipation. Inside Serenity she knew Kaylee and Inara were working hard so they would have time to help River get ready for her date.

Her date, that thought sounded strange after all she had been through. River found her own excitement strange as well. She had spent plenty of time with Aleksander on Serenity why should going with him off the ship be a big deal? The only thing she could think of was that it was milestone for her, a point in her life she would always remember, her first date.

This was also important to her Serenity family as well. It was River growing up and beginning to live her life as a complete person, as a girl. She understood she would never be normal, or really healed, but she was in control for the most part. This was because of them. The crew had given so much for her and now they were getting to see the results of all their sacrifice.

“River honey, are you almost done with your work?” Inara asked from the catwalk as the young girl re-entered the ship.

“Almost,” River responded. She could feel Inara’s joy at the prospect of helping River get ready.

A few minor chores later and River was in Inara’s shuttle letting the Companion run a brush through her hair.

“How do you want it done, mei mei?” Inara asked with a smile.

“I think you should put it up,” Kaylee said with a smile laying on Inara’s bed with her hand propping up her head

River ignored both of them as her looked down studying her hands. They looked hard and bony at this moment. Her knuckles had been toughened from training she did not remember. She wondered how her touch felt. Could she still be soft? She tried to remember a time she had been, she couldn’t. Too young for anything like that before…before the academy.

“River,” Inara said calling her back.

“Sorry…I was…”

“Excited about tonight,” Kaylee stated.

“Solicitous,” River replied.

“I don’t think you have anything to worry about, honey,” Inara stated. “Now about your hair and makeup.”

“I want to look like me,” River replied.

Kaylee smile, “You always look like you, but don’t you want get dolled up a bit for Aleksander?”

“I think I understand what you mean,” Inara comforted.



“Now you go to that club and that eatery and nowhere else dong ma,” the captain explained to Aleksander as they stood in the cargo bay waiting for the rest of the crew.

“I got it, the club than the dinner and back to the ship. I won’t take River anywhere else,” Aleksander confirmed.

“That’s right. Anything happens I want to know where to find everyone,” Mal responded as Simon entered the bay from the common area. “I would say you are looking like you’re ready for a night on the town doc…well that or a board meeting.”

“Thank you,” Simon answered. “The girls must not be ready yet?”

“We are,” Inara announced as she, Kaylee, and River emerged from her shuttle above.

Each of the men below gazed up at their respective lady. Inara was in one of her more conservative outfits, an orange blouse and a simple tan skirt. Kaylee on the other hand was a bit more done up. Her hair was up and she was in a white summer dress with flower prints.

Than there was River. Her hair was down, but had been washed and brushed. She wore a blue, form fitting cotton blouse which was covered by a loose knitted white vest, this lead to a long flowing blue skirt and Rivers signature black boots.

“Well ain’t that a sight!” Mal announced as the three women made their way down the stairs.

“You look lovely,” Alexander said to River as he offered his hand for the last few steps.

“Thank you,” She replied.

“Okay you two, get going and be back before midnight,” the captain ordered. “I don’t want anyone out that late.”

“River smiled, “Yes dad.”

“I ain’t your father, but I am responsible for the two of you.” Mal retorted, not caching Inara’s smile behind him.

River and Alexander took their leave, walking down Serenity’s ramp and into the mild evening as Mal turned to Kaylee and Simon, “and where are you two off to?”

“Turns out there’s an industrial museum in town,” Simon answered.

“Well that defiantly sounds like you two,” Inara said.

“Sounds like loads of fun,” Jayne said sarcastically as he and Zoe entered the cargo bay.

“You two have plans?” Mal asked looking a Jayne and Zoe with a bit of confusion and worry.

“Yes sir,” Zoe replied.

“There’s an all you can eat place not far from here…Zoe’s buying,” Jayne answered with a smile.

“Why?” Inara asked.

“Lost a game of mahjong,” Zoe answered, “seems I forgot the rule about not playing Jayne when food is on the line. Besides, it’ll be fun watching staff argue over who’s going to ask him to leave.”

“Fine, ya’ll be careful,” Mal said as everyone but Inara made their way off the ship.

“Now, are you ready to go?” Inara asked sliding her arm around his.

“That depends, where are go going? As much as I like to see Jayne cleanout eateries I don’t think that’s your style.”

“You’re right, but quite places on the shore are.”

“Oh, so you think I’m going to take you to a fancy place like that now do you,” Mal said with a smile as they walked off of the ship.

“No, I’m taking you. My treat,” Inara responded.

“In that case, let me lock up.”



Driving rhythms and pounding beats fill every part of the club, including River Tam. Normally River found such crowded places uncomfortable, but this was different. The loud music and spinning light seemed to drown everything out. For once it seemed she could just enjoy dancing, moving to the music without the rest of the ‘verse butting in. There was just the music and the gyrating, crowed who swayed to that music.

A few hours flew by all the while seeming to take an eternity. River Tam stepped out of the club an into the cool night air.

“That feels good,” Aleksander said stepping out behind her, “It was getting warm in there.”

“I’m hungry,” River stated turning around a taking Alexander’s hand.

“Okay, there’s a place down the street” Alek responded.

Hand in hand they walked down one of New Buffalo’s main thoroughfares. It was lined with multistory buildings which housed shops, restaurants and numerous other businesses on their bottom floors. The street itself has had been closed for vehicles and now served as a wide walkway for the hundreds of people taking in the city’s night life.

“It looked like you were having fun dancing,” Aleksander said.

“Yes, let’s go again.”

“I thought you said you were hungry?”

River smiled, “I am, meant after.”

“Maybe, depends…what?”

River had seemed to tense up as they passed a small ally way between the buildings on their right.

“River, you okay?” the young man asked.

River did not respond.

“You’re starting to….”

Before Aleksander could finish his thought River pulled him in front of her as she planted a kick into a man who had been walking behind them. The man stumbled back and fell, dazed.

“River, I…”

River spun around Aleksander as another man approached from the other direction. River grabbed his hand as he pulled a small pistol from his jacket. Before the larger man could go to overpower the girl she punched him violently in the throat with her free hand. As he man choked from the blow River shifted her weight into him and pulled with all her might on his captured hand. The man spilled over her hip and onto the concrete. Quickly she delivered a stomping blow to the downed man’s head and took his pistol.

People around the commotions had yet to see the gun in River’s hand as they stopped to see what was going on. That quickly changed as she pushed a confused Aleksander out of the way and pointed the gun at the man she had first kicked. She pulled the trigger as he tried to remove his own weapon from the small of his back. River’s shot hit the man in the center of his chest, dropping him. People screamed and started to run away.

In the chaos River turned and tried to get a shot an unseen third assailant making his way through the crowd.

“River, no!” Aleksander screamed grabbing at the gun. It looked very much to him as if she was just going to shoot into the mass of people. Before he could grab the weapon a shot rang out and what felt like fire erupted on his left shoulder as he yelped in pain.

Unable to get a clear shot River returned fire over the crowd’s heads, and pulled Alexander into the ally they had passed yelling at him to “Run!”



“I am not,” Inara said with a laugh, while leaning against the side of Serenity, “a lady does not get drunk.”

“Really, is that why you told that waiter your wine was fine, but you could use another glass of shrimp?” Mal mocked as he opened the small panel on the side of the ship to lower the cargo bay door.

“That was a simple slip of the tongue,” Inara protested, “besides, I was not the one that hit his head on the table trying to pick up his fork.”

“You throw a roll at me!”

“You insulted me.”

“I did?” Mal asked unsure as the two of them started wobbly up the ramp.

Inara smiled, “I think so, can’t remember.”

“Well is sounds like you two had a good time,” Zoe voice called from behind them.

“That we did,” Mal smiled as he and Inara turned to see Zoe and Jayne at the bottom of the ramp.

“And how was the buffet,” Inara asked leaning on the wall for support.

“Good,” Zoe said as Jayne groaned and rubbed his stomach.

“Don’t think that last plate is sittin’ to well,” Jayne replied looking a little green.

“Those first five most likely didn’t help,” Zoe smiled, “Captain, something wrong?” she asked seeing the Mal heading up the stairs.

“Panel says we got a wave, be right back,” Mal said as he carefully climbed.

“So, got the captain drunk did ya’?” Zoe asked Inara.

“I think it was a mutual attempt,” Inara answered.

“All I know is I’m don’t even want to think about food for a while,” Jayne said taking a seat on some crates just inside the bay.

“How can you eat six plates of food?” Inara asked.

Zoe Smiled, “Plus dessert and more than a few root beers.”

“ZOOOEEEE!” Mal yelled as he raced clumsily down from the ships top level carrying Zoe’s mare’s leg and his own holster and pistol.

“What’s wrong, Sir?” Zoe responded heading to meet him.

“Wave was from Bernoulli, the whole job was a setup to get Aleksander. Ruttin’ kid waved one of his friends about his date tonight.”

Hun dan, that’s why they didn’t try to get him earlier,” Zoe replied gabbing her gun and holster from the captain at the bottom of the stairs.

“Do you think they got them?” Inara asked worried.

“Or little sister, got them,” Jayne added.

“We’ll find out. Jayne, you and Inara stay here and keep Doc and Kaylee here when they show up,” Mal ordered as he and Zoe headed out.



River and Alexander made their way through the maze of back allies and dark side streets until they found themselves among rows of abandoned warehouses on the edge of the industrial zone.

“I think I need to get to a hospital, I’m shot!” Aleksander urgently pleaded.

“Only a graze and they will be waiting,” River responded.


“The men that are after you.”

“What?” Alexander asked as River stopped next two warehouse door locked with a padlock and chain.

River moved Alexander out of the way and raised her pistol. Firing she separated the chain from the lock. She quickly pulled the chain free and swung open the door, shoving Alexander inside. She followed along making sure to bring the chain to hide any evidence of them being inside.

The ware house would have been completely black had it not been for the light coming from the moon, Parth, coming in through the skylight. Rive and Aleksander made their way through rows of partly full shelves into the center of the warehouse, where it was brightest.

Stopping River said, “Take off your shirt.”

“What?” replied Aleksander.

“Let me look at your shoulder.”

Aleksander turned and removed his bloodied shirt. A deep trench of a wound ran across the top left shoulder blade.

“How bad is it?” he asked.

“Stay here,” River ordered as she went in search of supplies.

Aleksander was about to start calling for her when she appeared out of the darkness carrying a large box. She set it down and pulled out large dinner napkins. Each was about 2 square feet of white linen.

“Napkins?” Aleksander questioned. “We will be all set if a dinner party breaks out.”

River rolled her eyes, “Just turn around. Napkins were very important to a prince once.”


“Yes,” River started. “A young prince was once framed for his father’s murder and placed in the tower. He requested two things, a napkin with every meal and his mothers old doll house. He pulled strands from the napkins and used the small loom in the doll house to make a rope and escape the tower.”

“And then proved he did not kill his father I take it.”

“Yup,” River smiled.

“Is that a true story?” the young man asked.

“It was written by a king,” River replied playfully.

As she bandaged his wound Aleksander asked, “What’s the plan?”

“Stay put, to many eyes to make it to the ship now,” River responded as she finished tying up Aleksander’s shoulder.

“Well, are there any more boxes of napkins? I have an idea,” he said with a smile.



“This is exactly what I didn’t want,” Mal said angrily as he and Zoe made their way through the streets.

“To get drunk, Sir?” Zoe replied.

“Not funny, you know what I mean.”

“Suppose I do.”

“This is the last time I let you and Inara talk me into anything,” Mal continued.

“Yes, sir, never again,” Zoe answered dryly.

“From now on everyone can just stay on the gorram boat. People start getting land crazy we can land on some backwater and they can run around for a while.”

“You mean a backwater like Blackwood, Sir?” Zoe asked knowing full well what had happened to Jayne there.

Mal turned and looked as her angrily, “You know sometimes that attitude of yours is really…”

“What’s that?” Zoe interrupted.

“You’re attitude?”

“No, sir, what’s that up ahead?” Zoe asked pointing at a group of people standing around with the flashing lights of the police nearby. As they approached they could see the local police had tapped off a section of the street.

“What happened?” Mal asked a women standing at the edge of the crowd, pulling his coat shut to hide his sidearm.

“A young man and woman opened fire on the street, killed one guy,” the women replied.

“Did the police get them?” Mal asked.

“No, not yet.”

“Thanks,” Mal said as he and Zoe walked away from the crowd.

“River must have seen them coming, had to get a hold of a sidearm from one of them,” Zoe said.

“Yup, and now the both of them are wanted to murder on top of being targets for whoever is after the boy. Juh jen sh guh kwai luh duh jean jan,” Mal said cursing his crews luck.

“Don’t think it’s likely she would try to get back to the ship, sure the people after Alek will be watching. That means they could be anywhere,” Zoe said.

Mal thought silently for a minute than said, “If I was her I know where I’d go to avoid the Feds.”


“The industrial zone.”

“Those old factories and warehouses do give a person an awful lot of places to hide,” Zoe nodded in agreement.



Two more forgotten boxes of napkins and a box of matching linen table cloths was all River and Aleksander needed to construct their makeshift bed for the night.

“So what do you think?” Alek asked sitting on their creation.

“It’s a bit lumpy, but it will do. At least there’re no peas,” River responded.

Aleksander smiled, “Oh, are you a princess now?”

“Yes,” River smiled back, “Plus I’m just looking out for my….never mind,” she finished trailing off.

“You alright?” Aleksander asked.

River forced a smile, “Yes, just a bad memory I won’t let ruin this.”

“You mean ruin being on the run from people trying to kill us? I can see how that would be a downer.”

River’s face fell, “Not a very good date.”

“Nonsense, the club was fun. If nothing else this is a memorable night,” Aleksander replied. “And it is not like the captain will be able to yell at us for staying out to late.”

“You don’t know him,” River said with a bit of a smirk. “Are you alright?”

“Pretty much…shoulder hurts.”

River knelt in front of Aleksander. “Let me check it,” she said as she leaned into him and looked over his shoulder.

As she did her check gently bushed his sending a shiver down her spine. They both stayed their frozen for a moment. The softness of her check, the slight roughness of his and the growing heat between then was something indescribable. Without any words River slowly pulled her head back, keeping in contact with him. She moved until her forehead was against his. The tips of their noses flirted with each other of a moment before they plunged their lips together as if they could stand no more.

…and they fell back on their bed of napkins.


Sunday, July 8, 2012 10:23 AM


Okay here is chapter 4, hope you all enjoy.

Sunday, July 8, 2012 4:48 PM


Found a spelling error.

He requested two thinks,

should be things,

Don't think Mal will be happy to see them kissing on a makeshift bed when he arrives.

Sunday, July 8, 2012 6:37 PM


Thanks, I missed that one.

When is Mal every really happy?

Monday, July 9, 2012 7:33 AM


Uh-oh, trouble seems to find them wherever they go. Zoe's got the right instincts about what happened to River and Aleksander, but is Mal really in good enough shape after his and Inara's night on the town to be out and about in hot pursuit? “We will be all set if a dinner party breaks out.” -- made me laugh with that line. Poor River, not a very good date, I have to agree. At least Aleksander has kept his sense of far. Thanks for your update.


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Firefly - Albatross Chapter 8 and Epilogue
A message from River set the final events into motion.

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 7
River and Aleksander look for a way to contact Serenity, while a Fed follows an unusual trail.

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 6
The crew tries to get off Bellerophone but find things getting more complicated.

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 5
Mal and Zoe find River while the rest of the crew deal with some new friends.

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 4
River goes on her first date but it does not end how anyone expected...with napkins.

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 3
Simon plays doctor and big brother, River talks to the dead, and the captain waits for thing to go awry.

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 2
The crew heads to Bellerphon to complete their job while River and the ship's guest grow closer.

Firefly: Albatross - Chapter 1
The crew looks to complete the first part of their job as they get to know their guest.

Firefly: Albatross - Introduction
The crew of Serenity finds its next job while events in the Core unfold.

Firefly: Family - Chapter 6 and Epilogue
The Tams on Blackwood, tissue samples taken from Jayne, the crew tries to make sense of it all.