TEMPTATION SERIES: 15. "Reparation"
Saturday, July 30, 2005

"Inara returns to a subdued shp. Book learns that he has to payn for his actions but not in the coin he was expecting."



SUMMARY: "Inara returns to a subdued ship. Book learns that he has to pay for his actions but not in the coin he was expecting." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Inara could tell something was off the moment she set foot back on Serenity. It was nothing as obvious as weeping or wailing. Nothing as gross as rivers of blood. Nothing as frantic as panic and fear or as subtle as the wringing of hands. So what was it? Why did she have the unerring feeling of folly unfolding with a fool's grace? The praeternaturally silent cargo hold bore witness to her confusion then sounds began to intrude, steps clattering above her head as Kaylee leaned over the catwalk rail and spotted her friend then ran down the metal stairs to greet her. "'Nara, you're back!"

No one stated the obvious with as much happy exuberance as Kaylee. The Companion smiled fondly and stepped into a hug. It felt so like coming home that her heart settled a little despite her reservations. "What happened and where is everyone?"

Kaylee could hardly contain her excitement. "Simon took me to a hotel!" Inara's eyebrows rose, amusement and affection sparkling in her eyes. "An' that ain't all, he remembered our anniversay. Two years an' he still loves me, 'Nara, ain't that somethin'?"

"Yes, Kaylee, it is something." She kissed the top of Kaylee's head then pulled back to look her in the eye. "It is something very precious. The kind of love that is meant to last a lifetime. I'm so happy for you, *mei mei*, happy for you both." Then Inara glanced around, a little puzzled frown marring the perfect beauty of her face. "Where's Simon?"

The mechanic actually blushed. "I kind'a wore him out."

For a moment Inara just stared at her then threw back her head and laughed. Kaylee forgot to be embarrassed and laughed right along with her. It was their laughter that drew the others out. Everyone except the Preacher and the Captain. Wash chuckled even though he did not know what they were laughing at, Zoe at his side. Jayne scowled down over the railing, saw it was only Inara, and sloped off. "Huh, I'll be in my bunk." He mumbled. "Thought it was somethin' important."

The others made their way to the commons area, the natural gathering place for gossip and relaxation.

* * * * *

The Captain lay on his stomach, forearms folded in front of him, his chin resting on them. The cloak lay over his chair, the feeling of that weight off his back was all kinds of heaven. Shepherd Book was frowning down at him, unable to take his eyes off the raw gashes and weals etched into the man's back, feeling in equal parts exasperated and guilty. There were times when the Captain seemed to understand him a little too well for his liking. Not that he would ever admit as much. "This is foolish, Mal. You need to let Simon see to your injuries."

"Uh huh, that's what you're here for Preacher."

Book stared at him in shock for a moment, then recovered his equillibrium. "I'm not a doctor, Captain."

"*Bu qu* but you are a man of many talents."

There was a little pause, both men lost in their own thoughts for a moment or two. "That's why you asked me to bring the salve?"


"I could just refuse. Call Simon anyway."

"You won't do that."

Book felt his curiosity pique. "*Weishenme bu*?"

"Your penance not his."

The Preacher's look darkened for a moment. He moved closer to the bed and met the Captain's eyes. He tried not to think how much better he felt averting his gaze from the bloody view of the Captain's back. "Is that why you let me stay? So you could rub my nose in it?"

"No, but it ain't healthsome not to face what you done." At Book's look of disbelief he continued explaining. "'Sides, Zoe finds out you'll be a dead man before the words finish leavin' my gorram mouth. Not that I plan on tellin' her." He paused again, shifting slightly as twinges in his back shot pain and heat through him. The effects of the miraculous salve were beginning to wear off.

"You're in pain." Said Book.

"Seems like." The Captain said quietly, trying not to let a gasp escape but the Shepherd noticed anyway.

With a little sigh of defeat the Preacher reached for the salve and unscrewed the lid. "You really are a most *wangu* man, Captain."

"You just figurin' that out?"

The Shepherd didn't answer, carefully putting the salve to work. The Captain shoved his face in his pillow and tensed his back. Book's hands were firm but gentle, expertly annointing the wounds as he began to think out loud. "You can't expect to hide this from the crew."

"Not gonna hide nothin'," Mumbled the Captain, his words muffled by the pillow. "Just not gonna say nothin'."

"That's merely semantics."

"No, no it's not. It's a choice is all."

Neither spoke again until Book had finished. He washed his hands at the pull out sink, wiping them on the towel slowly. With a sigh he walked back to the bed and retook his seat, a thoughtful expression on his face as the Captain relaxed. "You aren't goin' to forgive me are you?" Asked Book quietly.

"Maybe not right away, no..."

"You forgave Jayne."

The Captain just stared at him for a moment. Book could almost hear the gears shifting in Mal's head before he spoke. "That was Jayne."

"What do you mean?"

A flicker of irritation crossed the Captain's face. Not happy to be having this conversation. "He ain't you."

Book paused before speaking. "Are you saying you can't or won't forgive me but you can forgive a back-stabbing mercenary?"

"Don't know what I'm sayin'," Said Mal wearily, his store of energy almost used up. "Just that you're a learned man, Shepherd an' Jayne ain't."

The Preacher hung his head, a sense of futility eating into him like depression. This hurt so much more than walking away from what he had done. With a jolt he realised that had been the Captain's intent. Making him face up to the results of his actions in order to ram home that every action had a consequence. In his own rough and ready way, Malcolm Reynolds was giving the Preacher a way to attone for his actions. A way to redeem himself. Blinking back the moisture in his eyes Book raised his head, his mouth opening to speak. Another thought occurring to him which he would have liked to put off raising only he was not sure he would get the chance to do so if he did not speak up now. "What are you going to do about River?"

The question surprised the Captain. "*Shenme*? What makes you think I have to do anythin' about her?"

"You do know she has a crush on you, don't you?"

Mal tried to laugh only the funny was squashed all out of him. "She'll grow out of it, Preacher."

Book raised his brows. "River is 24."

"She could be fifty an' it wouldnt' make no never mind, what's your point?"

The Preacher's lips quirked up a bit. "Are you sayin' you prefer older women?"

For a long moment the Captain simply stared at him. "Preacher you are a truly warped man."

"Happy to be of service, Captain."

"That wasn't what I meant an' you know it."

"*Wo zhidao*. You're going to have to talk to her. And sooner rather than later."

"*Wei*, why me? Ain't me got no problem with the girl. If you're worried you go an' speak to her."

The Shepherd sighed. Just listening to that exhalation made Mal feel a hundred years old. Odd how a little slip of a thing could do that to a man. "I've already tried to talk to her."

"I take it the talk didn't go well?"

"She told me I was ruining everything, whatever everything is."

"Mayhap you should just let things be? In my experience such 'crushes' usually wear themselves out."

"I don't think this one will." That surprised Mal so much he laughed softly then caught himself as his back twinged. "Preacher, I think you're makin' a whole lot more of this than needs be."

"Perhaps, but just remember my words."

"*Dangran*." The Captain paused, feeling mighty weary all of a sudden. His words beginning to mumble as he closed his eyes. "Think I could sleep a while."

Book picked up the blanket and gently lay it over the prone man, careful not to irritate the wounds on his back. He would have liked to have left them uncovered but if the Captain wanted to keep this just between the two of them he could not let any of the crew accidentally walk in on the man as he slept. Then, with a last look back, Book folded the cloak and took it away with him. Letting Serenity's Captain find what peace and rest he could while thinking how best to stop the crew from checking up on him until he had properly rested. Even a few hours would be a help. In the meantime they still had to take off and head out for New Dunsmere. With any luck the next job would go smooth. A wry twist to his lips, Book let himself out of the Captain's bunk then shut the hatch as quietly as he could behind him.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*mei mei* = little sister *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *weishenme bu*? = why not? *wangu* = stubborn *shenme*? = what? *wo zhidao* = I know *wei* = hey! *dangran* = of course


Saturday, July 30, 2005 3:41 PM


dun... duh ... dunnnnnn

think you left at off there at the end.

Saturday, July 30, 2005 3:42 PM


arg at = that.....*mutters something about proof reading self more and goes away*

Wednesday, August 3, 2005 1:32 AM


" The mechanic actually blushed. "I kind'a wore him out." "

Oh, a smile - at last! Good ol' Kaylee.

And again with the insightful:
" "You forgave Jayne."

The Captain just stared at him for a moment. Book could almost hear the gears shifting in Mal's head before he spoke. "That was Jayne." "

Mal knows what to expect from Jayne. He expects something different from Book.

Monday, November 20, 2006 3:51 AM


Ah, so they finally discuss River's age, at last. Going better now, more understandable. They still think of her as a broken child, even if she's all grown up. After six years, though, I'd think she would *have* grown up. Anyways, enjoying this despite these issues. Will continue to read. I liked Book's interaction with Mal. And Kaylee's "I kind'a wore him out". Hehehe.

Friday, January 12, 2007 5:32 AM


Good for Mal - way better than just letting Zoe shoot Book.


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