TEMPTATION SERIES: 42. "Murphy's Law"
Thursday, December 15, 2005

"The Shepherd tries to stop the Captain going to Hope. Simon discovers that Kaylee is having twins. With the Alliance out in force everyone is more than a little tense."



SUMMARY "The Shepherd tries to stop the Captain going to Hope. Simon discovers that Kaylee is having twins. With the Alliance out in force everyone is more than a little tense." 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

* * * * *

It was getting on the Captain's gorram nerves. Every step he took the Preacher seemed to be shadowing him. Not a word spoken just that expectant silence driving him *shenjingbing*. He did not have time for this. If the man had something to say he should just up and say it. Stopping abruptly Mal turned to face the Shepherd, the pair of them at the top of the steps leading down to the cargo bay.

"You been stickin' to me like ruttin' glue, Shepherd. Got somethin' needs sayin' now's the time to speak otherwise go do whatever you gotta do but someplace else, *dong ma*?"

Book raised his eyebrows, expression deadpan but still managing to convey gently sharpened sarcasm. How in the nine hells did he do that? Did men of the cloth go to some gorram academy to practise their wiles? The Shepherd deliberately chose to misunderstand him. "Are you saying you want me to step out of an airlock into vacuum, Captain?"

"Don't go puttin' words in my gorram mouth, that ain't what I said or meant an' you know it!" Mal paused to control his temper. The last thing he wanted to do was fall out with anyone, especially now when he was gonna be counting on every one of those left behind to keep out of Alliance hands. They had to play this smart. "Why you followin' me anyhow?"

"I don't think you should go down to Hope, Captain."

Mal opened his mouth to protest but the Shepherd held up a hand.

"*Qing*, let me finish. If anyone is goin' with Chung-li it should be me. I am after all a man of God."

The Captain blinked. There were times when Mal completely forgot the Shepherd's calling even in spite of the collar and grey suit. Man was too worldly wise for such things as meek as prayer and turning the other gorram cheek. And yet part of him couldn't shake the sneaky conviction that Book was exactly what he said he was. More Old Testatment than New. "Forgettin' the whole faith thing why would I do that? This has nothin' to do with you, Shepherd. 'Sides, you wanna watch over a flock the one right here on Serenity could use you about now."

"No more than it's Captain."

"Best not be goin' there, Shepherd. Ain't lookin' to fall out with you."

"Good. I have a small bag packed so I'm ready to go."

Mal raised both brows. "Have you now? Well you can just go an' unpack."

"Captain, *ni bu dong*..."

"I understand plenty an' while your motives might be good this is still my boat an' I'm still Cap'n. You wanna help? Stay on Serenity. Don't let Jayne do nothin' stupid an' if this whole circus looks to be goin' bad make sure everyone gets the *diyu* outta here, *dong ma*?"

For a moment silence fell like an uneasy truce between them. Something in the Shepherd's expression shifted, his eyes darkening with a perception so acute it was almost painful to witness. "You don't expect to be coming back, do you?" He asked quietly.

"*Shenme*? What *fei hua* is this an' why in the nine hells ain't you supportin' your Cap'n stead of bein' all stubborn an' crotchety?"

"I believe the only one who answers that description is you, Captain."

"Huh, *haoxiao*. Missed your callin' Preacher, should'a been on the gorram stage." He paused a beat then underlined his meaning. "Sweepin' it."

"This is serious, Mal."

The Captain took a moment to study his friend. "Why you pushin' so hard? Ain't like you to cross the line. Best you make your point then leave it be." "I once had a friend who never knew when to abrogate responsibility, always had to be doing everything himself. I see his twin in you."

Mal resisted the urge to shudder as if someone had just walked over his rutting grave. "What happened to him?"

"Buried him on Xeng Dao."

"I ain't him an' this ain't Xeng Dao. *Buguan fasheng shenme shi, wo dou bu hui gaibian zhuyi*."

The Preacher let out a soft exanguinated sigh of frustration. To Mal's ears it had the mournful lilt of a flag of surrender fluttering in the tiny gusts of a fitful breeze, the words expelled with equal reluctance. "You are being set up, Captain."

Surprise. Shock. Then anger. The Captain took a step towards Book, the look in his eyes hardening but not quite enough to hide a tinge of sorrow mingled with disappointment. The kind whose bitter aftertaste clung like dust to his words. "An' when were you gonna let that little fact slip, Shepherd? Before or after they hung us?"

"Nobody's gonna hang, Captain. At least, not if we do this right."

"Then best you tell me the full of it."

Book shook his head, a look of true regret in his eyes. "I'm afraid I can't do that, Captain."

"Then I can't be changin' my plans, *dong ma*?" Mal waited just a beat but Book was silent. He had hoped the Shepherd would open up to him but he might have known nothing so simple would happen. Some folk were just born to work the hardest furrow. Not nobody's fault who got the easy and who didn't. The familiarity of future hardship echoing the past was not comforting but at least he had learnt to accept it. Didn't have to like it though. Nodding, the Captain's voice was low, quiet and flat yet with absolutely no give in it. "Then I'll thank you to look out for my crew."

Knowing he could not change the Captain's mind Book nodded. For several moments after the Captain left the Shepherd stood deep in thought. A phrase from Earth-That-Was came slowly to mind. *There is more than one way to skin a cat*. The Captain might not be of the feline persuasian but he did seem to have nine lives and nearly always landed on his feet. Mayhap he would need a little help this time to accomplish both.

* * * * *

It had taken some iniative and determination but Kaylee finally managed to drag her illusive *zhangfu* down to their bunk. River was sleeping quietly now and Simon did not expect her to wake for at least a couple of hours, perhaps longer. Anxiety put on hold the doctor let Kaylee half cajole and half drag him, he still could not believe they were doing this. Her insistence amused the *shenming* out of him. "Kaylee, it's the middle of the day!"

She grinned sweetly at his weak protest, her warm passionate hands undressing him as he landed with a laugh at the foot of the ladder. Simon wanted to reach up and shut the hatch but Kaylee beat him to it, hardly pausing more than a second or two before getting back to her primary objective of getting him naked and worked up as quickly as gorram possible. Simon was smiling at her now and if that wasn't the shiniest thing Kaylee didn't know what was. As he opened his mouth to speak Kaylee dropped to her knees and slid her lips over him, the hot wet heat of her mouth robbing him of words and all conscious thought as he quickly hardened in her busy mouth. Gasping above her Simon rested a shaky hand on her head then reached out to brace himself against a wall with his other hand. Beyond the power of speech he could only gape and gasp as Kaylee licked and sucked, her hands roving every gorram where, their slightly sweaty heat finding every nook and cranny that turned him on. Flushing he groaned and tried to hang on.

Head resting back against the wall Simon panted erratically, his mind vainly chasing after any brain cell still working enough to command coherent speech. Simon wasn't there yet. When he got close Kaylee teased, dangled and strung him out then pushed him over the edge. His suprised cry matching his sudden ejaculation as Kaylee eagerly sucked him down, throat swallowing while she kept up the suction and worked him until it was getting painful. Deflating in her mouth his legs finally gave out on him. Kaylee smiled then chuckled as her oh so upright doctor folded at her feet, a silly soppy grin on his face as he watched his wife lazily lick the last of the cum off her lips. As she bent in to kiss him Simon realised he was the only one naked. Smiling wickedly he met her lips with his own and decided it was time to put his own not inexpert hands to good use. The squeal bounced off the walls of their bunk. By the time he had her naked, Kaylee was spread against the metal wall of the ship, her legs wrapped around Simon's waist as he pounded into her wet heat with an energy and enthusiasm he didn't know he possessed.

Afterwards they lay in a messy tangle on the floor slowly recovering. Neither one wanting to move even if they had the energy to do so. Simon was almost asleep, so relaxed his bones seemed to have melted to jelly. Satisfied, Kaylee wrapped possessive loving arms around him, both of them content not just in each other but also in the new life they were creating between them. Simon had been stunned to discover that Kaylee was expecting not one child but twins! His shock turning to joy at Kaylee's reaction, her pleasure and happiness unlocking something deep inside that turned his whole 'verse into a gift he had never imagined possessing. It made him feel empowered in a way he had never been before, as if anything was possible. Kaylee loved Simon so much, adored being pregnant, couldn't wait to fill her beloved ship with the patter of a million little feet carrying his genes. Didn't matter a good gorram if the Captain got a bit grumpy and overwhelmed she knew he would adjust. Man had survived the hell of Serenity Valley he would survive living in a gorram creche too. At her deep throated chuckle her exhausted husband stirred just enough to smuggle a word past his weary lips. "*Shenme*?" Kaylee drew back just enough to see his face. Simon's eyes were closed, his face like the rest of him bathed in sweat from their exertions. Dark hair plastered to the side of his head. Yup, that proved it. Simon Tam was definitely the shiniest thing she had ever seen. "*Yiwusuoyou, bao bei*."

Sighing he accepted her assurance. Kaylee dropped a gentle kiss on his nose before snuggling closer as Simon drifted off to sleep. One hand reaching just far enough to snag a blanket off the bed and wrap it round them. Time enough to clean up once they were rested. Heart so full of happy she thought she would burst, Kaylee let the warm comforting hum of Serenity lull her to sleep. Safe and happy in the arms of the man she loved more than anything in the 'verse.

* * * * *

It was dark, hot, noisy. The bellow of the ringing voice lost in the hammer strokes chipping off sparks and dust in the search for all that glittered. Chasing a dream shrouded in blood. A price others would pay until the planet was exhausted of resources and all its' people were used up. Funny how even in the Black some things were a universal constant.

She tried to wake, really she did, but the medication was too strong and surgery had left her weak. In her head River drifted, drawn by a current that dragged her down not up. Deeper not higher. Closer to an unnamed fear that hid from her yet crawled under her skin with the lethargy of a narcotic. And just as insidiously, she felt if she did not wake it would kill her.

* * * * *

Zoe watched the little interplay between her Captain and her husband. The dark teasing, the light mockery, the back and forth of witty dialogue vying for more than the sum of their words. A bridge to a friendship forged in adversity. Adelei Niska was an evil and warped *tamade hundan* but even that miserable excuse for a human being had accomplished one good thing. He had brought Mal and Wash together, given them common ground which bound them far more than the ties of Captain and Pilot. Since the Skyplex there had been an ease between the two that had never existed before. Wash was still a jealous man but no longer where the Captain was concerned.

"How is it possible to lose someone on a boat this small, Wash?" The pilot grinned at him and cut the Captain a sly look. "Lost or hidin'?"

"River wouldn't hide from me."

"Then you haven't looked everywhere."

Zoe decided now was a good time to cut this conversation before it put them all off track. "Sir, might be a good thing River's not listenin' to any of this."

"*Shenme*? What the good gorram you talkin' about? River's a Reader, *jide*, so how you think you can cut her outta the loop?" "Not tryin' to cut her out, Cap'n. Just think we don't need to be borrowin' trouble is all."

"You callin' River trouble?"

"If the name fits I say yeah!" Said Jayne from the doorway. He looked all kinds of happy at the notion that maybe their little albatross would be flying to warmer waters. Or colder. He didn't much care where so long as it wasn't Serenity. He had nothing against River as moon-brains went but anyone could tell the girl weren't right. And as for the Captain bedding her, well that was a whole pile of foolishness its' own self. He'd always thought Mal was smarter than that but maybe it had just been one hellova long time? Whatever. The girl was trouble, he had always said so. Only back then none of them had been listening.


The warning tone in the Captain's voice almost started the mercenary off on a run of defensive responses but catching that look in Mal's eye allowed a little common sense to trickle through the Swiss Cheese he had for a brain. Jayne Cobb had plenty of smarts just not always kicking in when they could do him the most good.

Mal had given a cursory look everywhere for River even poking his head inside the infirmary but he had been looking for someone upright. Standing or sitting or just leaning against a table or the wall, not a figure lying prone, otherwise he would have seen her laying on a bed in the corner of the infirmary. Hadn't helped that the room had been in half light and in his haste he hadn't bothered with the lights. The only place he hadn't checked was Inara's shuttle. The thought brought him up short, that must be where River was. Made sense, Inara always did have a soft spot for her. Had even had a hand in bringing the two of them together. Mal noticed Zoe watching him and brought his thoughts back into focus on the Here and Now. He and Chung-li had a job to do and she was right. Was probably best his little albatross didn't know too much about it.

* * * * *

Drylan listened to the update as he watched the progress of the small shuttle. The Governor had expressed interest in the priest and it behoved him to make sure that whatever the man wanted he got. Not that he was sure how bringing him a holy man was a goodly thing. But the Governor had an edge that Chung-li didn't have. While Commander Drylan had spoken to Captain Reynolds and Chung-li over the cortex link and seen their faces, the Governor had not. It was only when Drylan had downloaded an image of Chung-li to the Governor that the man had put in his request to see him face to face. Curious but not suicidal, Drylan had kept his thoughts to himself. Inwardly musing at the fickleness of fate and by what thin thread a human life could hang.

* * * * *

The Captain piloted shuttle two, occasionally flicking a sideways glance at his erstwhile companion. Chung-li had been silent for so long. Even aboard Serenity the big man had moved as if a *guai*, hardly interacting with him or the crew unless one of them sought him out. It had worried him and now Mal just wished he could have the old Chung-li back. "*Shenmi shi*?"

"*Hen hao*, just thinkin'."

Mal gave him a look of query and waited. When Chung-li did not elaborate the Captain huffed. "I ain't a gorram mind reader, Chung-li, just tell me what in the nine hells is eatin' you."

"I am worried, *wode pengyou*."

"*Fang xin*, if they're down there we'll find 'em."

The Chinaman shook his head. "*Ni bu dong*."

"Then best you explain."

"I am afraid we will find them."

"Huh? An' that's bad how?"

"Because I do not know what condition they will be in."

"Look, we go, we find 'em then let Simon work his magic, *dong ma*? I ain't never had such a shiny medic before or since. Boy knows his stuff so no need to fret none."

Chung-li did not say what he was thinking. Did not want to worry the Captain with his own gloomy introspection. He missed his friends from Glory, a hole in his heart that ached and filled him with a dark foreboding. He kept getting vague flashes accompanied by a growing feeling of tension and dread. Chung-li wished Mal had not come with him but explaining would have made things ten times worse and weak man that he was, it gave him enormous comfort having his friend near. He just hoped Mal would not pay too high a price for the privilege.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*shenjingbing* = crazy *dong ma* = understand? *qing* = please *ni bu dong* = you don't understand *diyu* = hell *fei hua* = nonsense/garbage talk *shenme* = what *haoxiao* = funny *yiwusuoyou* = nothing *jide* = remember *bugan fasheng shenme shi, wo dou bu hui gaibian zhuyi* = whatever comes I won't change my mind *shenming* = life *zhangfu* = husband *bao bei* = precious/treasure *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *hen hao* = very good *guai* = devil/ghost *wode pengyou* = my friend


Thursday, December 15, 2005 1:53 AM


Great job! Your chapters are so long, it amazes me every time!! As you know, I cannot write a long chapter to save my life!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 1:57 AM


Such sweet Kaylee and Simon. Hee! That girl will wear him out!

The ominous undercurrents are intriguing but I enjoyed our crew being happy and funny. Mal's "Sweeping it" - LOL. Jayne and his sage notions about M/R. :-)


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.