Pit Stop
Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Serenity's crew stops to get something to eat...Among other things.


Harold Waterman was 19, a little unattractive, and completely unhappy. He was happy with his job. It provided him with a few creds from week to week, and he managed to save a little here and there. He was hoping to join the Alliance one day, like his forgotten father had. His mother was dead set against it.

What he was unhappy with was the shift. Working fast food was a chore enough as it was. The grave shift, however, was the hated shift he had been banished to as soon as he had graduated school. Everyone who was still in school worked the afternoon shifts, where they could still manage a social life and studies. Harold had never had much of a social life, and this didn't bother him. He wasn't ambitious. Which might explain why he was working in a McDonald's.

At three AM on morning, there had been a strange bit of static over the drive through comm. It sounded to Harold as though the people aboard whatever ship couldn't decide what they wanted. There was much arguing, and a constant, underlying static that was the hallmark of a poor, cheap communications system. This spoke to an older ship, and Harold was not ashamed to say that after two years of working here, he could pick out what a ship sounded like by the communications he heard. Most of the time, when someone called or came in at this time, it was a bunch of drunks. This was, in fact, the farthest outpost that held a McD's. So, no one was really terribly worried about running into the law here.

He managed to pick out the words "Captain", "Fries", "Horse", "Book", "Order", "SHUT UP", and "River" before the night shift cook, a squat, older man named Hax knocked him roughly aside, toggled the mic and said:

"If'n ya'll can't decide what ya'll want, then bring it inside. There's other's that might want to use the drive through!"

Hax was another downside to the grave shift. The older man had requested, continuously to stay on this shift, and God himself only knew why. Hax gave Harold a look that revealed he would rather spit on the young man rather than talk to him.

"Will do!" Came a jaunty retort through the speaker. Most of the time Hax spoke to anyone like that, they just floated off, too offended to even try to come inside and face the man who had talked to them that way.

Harold didn't see the ship as it must have hooked to an airlock. He didn't even see the seven people who had come in until one of them cleared their throats.

Harold found himself looking at a motley crew of seven if he had ever seen one. One of them was a stunning Companion. Harold had only seen one in his life, and while that one was gorgeous, this one made her look like his old hound dog back home. There was a preacher as well. A Shepherd, much like the one his mother had dragged him to see every weekend. There was a pretty girl. A girly girl, he might have said, except she was covered in black engine grease and wearing baggy coveralls. There was a huge, behemoth of a man staring down at him with ill intent. There was a strange looking man with fluffy strawberry blonde hair and fruit and tree printed shirt. There was a tall, beautiful woman who looked as though she could punch a hole clean through his head.

Standing in front of them was a man with sandy hair and blue eyes. He caught the eye, because even in such a strange group as this, you could tell he was the leader. Three of the people in front of him were wearing holsters. There were, of course, no weapons allowed on McDonald's/Blue Sun Skyplex #341, but Harold didn't want to press the issue. It looked as if at least one of them could probably find a way to get a gun past a tech-scan.

The man who was obviously the leader looked past Harold to Hax. Harold spun around in time to see a slight nod from Hax, before he frowned at Harold and motioned that he should take their orders.

"Oh...yeah. Hi, and welcome to McDonald's, a Blue Sun Corporation. How may I serve you this morning."

"Mornin'" the large man said "It's mornin'?"

"Quiet Jayne." said the leader. He turned to the cute girl with streaks of black on her face. "Kaylee?"

She stepped forward and actually winked at Harold before she began. He blushed deeply...something the guys back home would have called a "Brain Burster". The young girl was obviously pleased with herself and tossed her hair before ordering.

"Let's see. Oh! You have Happy Meal pre-packs! What's the toy?"

Harold gulped and cursed himself for being so shy in front of ladies. He hadn't even gotten to the Companion yet!

"I think it's Hello Kitty."

The girl, Kaylee, clapped twice in glee and said "I'll have that, the cheeseburger one, and do you have strawberry protein shakes?"


Kaylee clapped again, slightly bowed at the knees, and placed her hand on Harold's.

"I have to have one of those...okay?" She tipped him another wink, and Harold knew, that even though there were three beautiful women in front of him, this was the one he would be dreaming about when he went to sleep.

The leader stepped forward, took the girl by the shoulders, and gently guided her to the back of the group. He gave her a smiling, though warning look before returning to the front.

He turned to the Shepherd. "Book?"

The Shepherd, Book, stepped forward.

"Do you have anything really fresh, son?"

"Well, sir, we just got a shipment of vegetables from planetside, so you're in luck. What would you like?"

The older gentleman smiled, and Harold found himself instantly liking the man, something he couldn't say for the preacher back home.

"I'll have the tomato stuffed pepper, then. Its so hard to find a good pepper anywhere, and I don't mind saying that I enjoy yours the most!"

Harold didn't bother to turn around to see if Hax heard or not. He always did.

"And, to drink?"

"A tea, thanks" Book said, walking to the back to speak with Kaylee.

"Inara." The sandy haired man said, quietly. Harold sensed a history here, so it must have been palpable if a 19 year old young man could pick up on it.

"Captain." Inara said as she walked past him, giving him the briefest of smiles. He returned it.

The Companion began to rattle off in rapid Mandarin. Harold hung his head in shame. It was the subject that he was the worst at in school, and he had a hard time understanding it. Before he could ask her what her order was in english, Hax bellowed from the back:

"She's askin' fer a salad, you ign'ant hick!"

Inara placed her hand on Harold's, and instantly he felt better.

"I would also like a tea..."She paused, looking at his name tag, "Harold."

She smiled before she moved to talk to the preacher and Kaylee. Harold's heart was beating three times too fast, and he didn't care. The blush in his face threatened to blow out his ears if it didn't stop. There were only two other customers in the joint, and they watched the scene unfold with mild bemusement.

The Captain turned to the giant.

"Jayne." He said, flatly.

Jayne almost pushed the Captain down getting to the counter.

"What meat ya'll got? Do ya got horse? Beef?"

"I'm afraid all we have is dog, sir." Harold said, frowning. He didn't condone eating dogs, but, fresh meat was much harder to come by than vegetables were in a Skyplex. Dog wasn't something most McDonald's served, but this one, on the very edge of the Alliance Commerce routes served a lot of things that the others didn't.

Jayne smiled broadly. "Dog is fine! Dog is a damn good meal. I'll have three quarter pounders and two shakes!"

"Jayne!" The Captain said with a stern look.

"I'll pay for it Mal...Geez!" He fished in one of his pockets. Harold was a little horrified to see that he had to raise a pistol holster and an empty knife sheath to get to it. He handed a few bills over to the Captain roughly, and went to stand by the door, agitatedly watching the other patrons. They didn't pay him any attention.

"Zoe, Wash?" Mal said.

The couple stepped forward. Harold had seen enough lovey-dovey couples to know that these two were together, if not married.

"I'll have the fried curly-carrot, a cheeseburger, a Filet-o-Fish, a chocolate shake, some regular fries, an apple pie, an..."

Zoe gave the man a little shove.

"Wash." She admonished.

Wash sighed and smiled.

"Just the carrot and the burger, thanks."

"And for you ma'am?" Harold said. He wasn't nearly as intimidated by this woman as he had been the others, but he suspected it had more to do with the fact that she was obviously in love with the man she was with. Strange couple, if Harold did think so himself.

"Coffee, and an Egg McMuffin."

"Oh...I'm sorry..." Harold began. He didn't finish, as a paperwad hit him in the back of the head.

"Hey! What are you doing? You know we're not supposed to serve those this late!"

Hax reared his ugly mug up at Harold's.

"I'm the damn cook, I say what we serve!"

"Okay, Hax...sheesh!" He looked up in time to see Jayne laughing at him, and instantly decided he didn't like that man.

Mal stepped forward as the couple walked back, hand in hand. The other two women looked at them and smiled. Everyone did, except Jayne, who went back to eyeing the other customers, who seemed to be finishing their meals. It didn't bother Harold that they were leaving. They kinda creeped him out.

"I'll have a Big Mac, and a Blue Sun Orange." He seemed to be calling past Harold to Hax directly, who waved his spatula at Mal and continued cooking.

Kaylee stepped forward again.

"Captain, don't forget "Samuel" and "Rita"" She actually used her fingers to form quotes, something that Harold's grandfather used to do. Oh yes, she was the one Harold would remember after tonight.

"Oh, yeah! Sorry, but I have two more. I'll have...let's see, a Chicken McNugget Happy Meal. Is Blue Sun drinks the only kind you got?"

"Well, sir, this is a Blue Sun company." Harold said, managing not to roll his eyes as he usually did when someone asked that question.

"Right. Better skip the drink then, I suspect."He tipped a wink at Jayne when he said this. " And for "Samuel"." Harold didn't think the Captain knew he had done it, but he had used the "air quotes" just as Kaylee had." How about a..." He had almost said a Barbecue McDog, but a strange look from both Kaylee and Inara changed his mind.

"Let me get him a salad and a tea as well. Thanks."

Thirty seconds later, Hax appeared with a tray filled to overflowing with the food they had ordered. There were ten little tied packages on the tray, and Harold picked up what looked like the extra one. He felt what appeared to be an info-disc inside. He didn't get to examine any further, as Hax slapped him on the back of the hand with his dirty spatula.

"Ow! What the hell, Hax!" Harold said.

"Never mind, kid. I'll take it from here." Hax said, as he collected what looked like several hundred from the Captain. That was way over what the cost of the food was, and all of this began to seem a little strange to Harold. He wondered if he should report it. He looked at the empty holster on Mal's leg, and thought better of it. The other two customers in the restaurant had risen to empty their trays.

"Balls!" Mal said, shaking Hax's hand.

"Bayonets!" Hax returned, nodding in Zoe's direction. Zoe returned it.

"May they never meet." She said, quietly.

The seven of them collected their food, Jayne opening his and eating right there. They all left, with Mal bringing up the rear. He accidentally bumped into the two men who had watched all this take place. It wasn't a hard bump, but it was a bump.

"Sorry" Mal said by way of apology. The two men were staring at him hard. One of them reached a blue gloved hand inside his coat. The other touched his wrist and motioned that they should leave. They did. Mal looked perplexed for a moment, and continued out. Harold saw their expensive looking silver ship leave quickly.

Harold Waterman had seen a lot of strange things at McDonald's/Blue Sun Skyplex #341, but none of them ever struck him the way that night had. He remembered Kaylee long into his years. Long after he had forgotten the Companion's name. He never did mention the group to anyone. Not because he was afraid, but because he didn't think they were up to misadventures. He looked out the portholes that showed the outside of the Skyplex, and the planet of Shadow below. Harold had seen a Firefly before, and wasn't impressed by this one. He had time to think "what a piece of crap!" just as he detected Hax standing at his side, watching the ship take off.

"She's beautiful, isn't she?" Hax said, with as close to reverance as Hax ever got.

"Yeah, sure." Harold lied. He thought that might be the ugliest ship he had ever seen. "Who were they, Hax?"

"Old friends, come to collect a debt that was long owed. Doubt I'll ever see em again, and that's sad." Hax honked his nose once on the filthy rag he kept in his back pocket, and went back to clean the grill.

"Old friends." Harold said.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005 5:40 PM


I loved this story. I worked at a McD's for a year (long enough for anyone in the fast food industry) so I could totally relate to this story. Nice to see our BDH's do regular things like everyone else.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005 10:02 PM


I liked this story. Simple, sweet and funny. I especially like the airquote "Rita" and "Samuel". Very funny.

No Power In The Verse

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 12:16 AM


this brilliant

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 4:42 AM


Very clever, Pezman!! I worked at a Taco Bell for a year, so I can relate.

- Soul

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 6:19 AM


Good piece of fun but what were those Blue Hand Guys up to and why did they want to leave in such a hurry? Did they realise who Hax's friends were?
Hmm, I smell a sequel - or was that a McDog Cheeseburger with relish? And why did Harold keep reminding me of Simon? Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 6:42 AM


I can honestly say that the Blue Hand guys weren't up to anything...They just stopped to eat, watched something amusing, got up, got angry that Mal bumped into one of them, and left...That's all. There may be a sequel, but I have something else in mind. Something big.
Harold may remind you of Simon because Simon, to me (and I'm sure I've infused into anything I write about him) comes off as a confused teenager with the ladies least,that's the way it seems to me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005 7:15 AM


what fun! It's not just fun it's a good story too. You have the characters down pat.

Friday, May 20, 2005 5:03 AM




"May they never meet."

Love that! You just packed six paragraphs of explanation and backstory into six words. Beautiful.

Also love our crew as seen from the outside (just how many tubeworms is Wash feeding, anyhow?). And the air quotes made me giggle helplessly.

And how much do I love that McDonald's is now a Blue Sun subsidiary? hehe


Friday, May 20, 2005 11:00 AM


Excellent. Hungry now.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006 11:15 PM


Barbeque McDog-- now that's comedy...


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Somnambulism - Chapter Fourteen
It's back...well, this is actually a reposting of a lost chapter. Hey! I just refound it myself!

Somnambulism - Chapter Thirteen
Trap. Hunt. Enemy. Trap

Somnambulism - Chapter Twelve
The Plan, Negotiation, Landing, Hunt

Somnambulism - Chapter Eleven
Wash's Orders, Mal's Revelation, The Other, Captiulation

Somnambulism - Chapter Ten
Mal's Dream. Walt's Problem. River's Regain.

Somnambulism - Chapter Nine
Safety. Recollection. Explanation.

Somnambulism - Chapter Eight
Simon's Dream, Mal's Choice, River's Verdict

Somnambulism - Chapter Seven
Memory, Atavism, Hera

Somnambulism - Chapter Six
History, Discovery, Purpose

Somnambulism - Chapter Five
Malice, Theory, Opportunity