Bel Canto
Thursday, October 20, 2005

SERENITY SPOILERS - A few quiet moments with the crew.


Bel Canto

It was weeks before he pulled the guitar out.

Honestly, Mal hadn’t thought he ever would. The guitar had been a parting gift from Book when he left Serenity, and although Mal couldn’t fathom the friendship between a Shepherd and a Mercenary, he couldn’t dispute the strength of it. He just figured there was too much of Haven tied to the instrument for Jayne to ever play it the same.

Maybe that was why he hadn’t recognized the solitary, haunting melody that twisted through Serenity.

Bursting into the passenger lounge to investigate, he was almost sad when Jayne pressed his hand flat over the strings, silencing the music. Mal shifted his weight guiltily, his blue eyes drifting from Jayne to Kaylee, who sat beside him on the couch, curled up tight with her arms wrapped around her legs, and then to River, who had paused mid-step in her impromptu ballet.

Quirking an eyebrow at Jayne, he gestured back the way he’d come, “Didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“Oh, have a sit, Captain,” Kaylee gestured to an empty chair, “Jayne here was just playin’ for us.”

The bigger man shot her a disgruntled look, “Never said I was playin’ for nobody.”

She smiled at him and he melted like butter, his fingers moving back over the guitar to pluck out a few lonely chords.

“Listening to him sing,” River added, beginning her dance again, moving to silence.

“Now I sure as hell weren’t singing,” Jayne protested.

She moved to him, all lithe grace and little girl smile. “Bel canto. You sing inside,“ she passed her cool fingers across his furrowed brow before dancing away, out of his reach. “High notes. Can’t reach.”

Mal thought for a moment that Jayne would toss aside the guitar in favor of throttling River, but the big man stayed put. His calloused working-man’s hands slowly filling the room with that same ethereal song.

He lingered in the common, following River’s movements with rapt fascination. Her steps were disjointed, not quite in sync with the music and he wondered if she really was dancing with Jayne’s thoughts.

If so, he’d have to start giving the merc a little more credit.

They were joined by Simon first, the doctor immediately scanning over River for any sign of harm before he allowed himself to relax and sink into a chair by the infirmary.

Inara came last, gliding through the portal leading into the cargo bay, a silent spectral and he found himself reaching out to touch her and ensure himself she was real. Catching himself just in time, he smiled awkwardly and dropped his hand back to his side. He eyes were studiously avoiding her and he jumped when her soft fingers unexpectedly threaded through his.

The music wound around them, tying to thoughts, pulling out memories, unburying emotions too long suppressed. River drifted in and around them all, soft touches and smooth smiles. Living, breathing compassion.

Eventually she tired, and Simon took her off to bed. Inara squeezed his hand once and slipped away, back to her shuttle leaving him with Jayne. Kaylee rose, and stretched her arms above her head. Jayne’s fingers faltered on the strings as she brushed a kiss over his cheek.

The music died and he and Jayne exchanged a look, together moving to the stairwell beside the infirmary. Mal climbed the steps, and leaned against the wall, feeling Jayne come up a few steps behind him, and offered Zoe a faint smile.

Sitting in shadow at the top of the stairs, she inhaled a shaky breath and wiped her eyes. “I ain’t weak.”

“Never said you were.”

“Dumb song woulda made anyone weepy,” Jayne offered, leaning his shoulder against the wall.

Her dark eyes shifted to him, black as coal and just as fathomless. “Didn’t think you knew that one.”

He shrugged, “He taught it to me.” No need to clarify which He. “I wont play it again.”

Mal offered her a hand up, feeling a surge of protectiveness as her icy fingers met his. Squeezing, her hand, he watched as another tear snaked down her cheek.

“No.” She smiled, “No, I kinda liked it.”

Bel Canto, beautiful song.


Thursday, October 20, 2005 3:11 PM


Awwww, thanks! That's so sweet of you to say. You totally made my day!

Thursday, October 20, 2005 4:15 PM


Excellent. You have such a straightforward, from-the-heart writing style. No using catchphrases or throwaway Chinese curses for a crutch, and you don't need to when you get the atmosphere and the characters right like this. Easy to read, yet it's moving because it rings true.

Thursday, October 20, 2005 7:33 PM


What an image, sad and brave and true: Zoe- "Sitting in shadow at the top of the stairs, she inhaled a shaky breath and wiped her eyes. “I ain’t weak.” Browncoats needed a fic like this to help us and Zoe through the grief. Now if you would just write a tale 'round the time Wash taught the song to Jayne, wouldn't that be shiny?

Friday, October 21, 2005 6:17 AM


i wanted to say something, but whatever it was, it would just have seemed fake and insincere next to this.

Friday, October 21, 2005 8:04 PM


wow. that just got incorporated into my vision of the 'verse. seriously, it's a sticker.

Saturday, October 22, 2005 9:17 AM


That was very nice. Thank you for filling in a scene I really felt was missing from the film.

Friday, November 4, 2005 6:08 AM


Beautiful little story... brought me to tears.

Friday, November 18, 2005 12:51 PM


Heard about this one on the Firefly Talk podcast and had to come over and read it. I am surely glad I did! Everyone is amazingly true to character and this is such a hauntingly inspiring peice of fiction. Loved it from the first word to the very last.


Tuesday, January 3, 2006 6:32 PM


absolutely lovely... every character and every relationship spot on... i love the image of river dancing to his thoughts, his "singing"... just gorgeous work... and the idea of jayne with his big calloused hands picking out beautiful delicate melodies and how they all seem to be pulled into the room by the music from all over the ship, like a cord connecting them all together... and then zoe sitting alone... *sigh*.... *perfect*...

Sunday, January 8, 2006 12:29 PM


Katjen, Thank you! Your FB totally made my week!


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