Preacher's Prayer - Conclusion
Sunday, March 21, 2004

Book's past causes trouble for the crew of Serenity


Disclaimer: Characters do not belong to me. Until Joss's movie comes out, I'm just entertaining myself and others.

*One word of note, I made some changes to Chapter 4 -- don't really need to read them to follow this, but realized I'd never explained why someone's behaviour changed.

Chapter 6 Chinese glossary Xin gan – darling Gunkai – fuck off goushi buru – lowest of the low *** "Sir?" Zoe questioned as Mal rejoined his crew at their camping spot. He had to admit, that was one piece of good luck that had come their way during this ordeal. The nights they'd had to spend in this camp had been rain-free and not too cold. He finally met Zoe's gaze when she repeated her question.

"What?" he replied tiredly. Despite having done nothing all day but sit and listen, he was completely drained from all the revelations about Book's past.

Zoe scowled at his false obliviousness. "You were in there a long time. Anything important I should know?"

Mal looked around the fire. He must have lost track of time. Everyone else around the fire was asleep. He really wished that Zoe was too. He didn't feel like replaying his conversation with the preacher right now. "If you are wondering if we're trying the wrong man, we're not. Don't know that Inara isn't right though."

Zoe looked at Mal stunned. Before she could say anything, he held up his hand to stop her. "Look, I'm not saying I'm fine with what the man did. But he's right, it was war. Even if he'd refused, like as not all those worlds would still have been attacked." Mal lay down on his bed roll. "I'm sure we'll get into this tomorrow again. Try and get some sleep." With that, he rolled over and left Zoe with her questions.


The trial recommenced bright and early the next morning. A little too bright and early for both Mal and Zoe who had both spent the night wrestling with their memories. Mal's mind was blank as he stood between Book and Mayli. This woman was a mystery to him, he hadn't even talked more than three sentences with her. How was he supposed to know what to say to keep the Shepherd alive? Nate was a strange one too, but Mal thought he had the man figured out. From what he'd seen, Nate wasn't too eager to kill, but well, one could never really know.

The shorter Asian woman stood looking at him, eager to hear if he'd even attempt a defense. Mayli had a hard time even keeping the smile off of her face. Yesterday had turned out even better than expected, who'd of guessed that the Browncoat's own world had been attacked by the hundan. "We gonna stand here all day Reynolds, or are we gonna finish this thing?"

Mal looked over at his crew and received a nod from Zoe. She'd been quiet at breakfast as he'd outlined his plan, but she hadn't dissented. She didn't agree either, but he knew he could always count on her to stand with him when they were humped. They'd deal with Book in their own time, but now they were united.

"We already voted. It was war, Mayli, that man didn't hurt anyone out of malice. Malm, Book, whoever, he goes free with us," Mal told her calmly. The people in the camp watching the proceedings muttered quietly. Mal spied Nate push his way forward till he was behind Mayli while out of the corner of his eye he saw Zoe and Jayne prepare for trouble.

"Well, guess I know now why the Independents lost the war," Mayli replied with scorn. "You all just don't have the balls to follow through on what's gotta be done," she continued as she raised the shotgun she carried.

Jayne, Zoe and Wash all reacted by pulling their weapons as well. Mal kept his hands in the open as he made sure he stayed between Mayli and the restrained Book. "You might want to consider that you only have one shot there girl, is he really worth you're life?" Mal questioned calmly.

Nate moved closer to Mayli. "He's right xin gan. We told them they'd decide - it's over."

"Gunkai Nate. It'll be over when he's dead," Mayli replied coldly.

Mal looked around. The people in the camp hadn't pulled in any weapons yet, so if they took out Mayli and he managed to not get shot, they might actually be able to get out of this. Or they might just be humped. "I'll repeat myself girl, you've only got one shot and I'm not letting you kill anyone," Mal warned her.

Mayli's face took on a speculative look. "Well, actually, that might not be a problem. Guess I've been too focused all this time – the Independents share the blame just as much Malm does. You goushi buru soldiers took our supplies and our men, but couldn't be bothered to defend us. One shot will be all I need; it's just up to you which one gets it."

A pistol cocked behind Mayli. "Please, Mayli, don't do this," Nate asked desperately. Mayli didn't even acknowledge him as she pulled the trigger. Two pistols sounded first and knocked her aim just to the left of Mal's head. Mayli fell, blood blossoming on her chest and torso. Nate fell to his knees beside her as Simon rushed to her aid.

Mal turned and began untying Book. "Shepherd, Wash and Jayne are going to take you to the ship. We'll be along."

Book paused after getting to his feet. "Captain, I should stay and see to her."

Mal pushed him forward to where Jayne, Inara, and Wash waited impatiently by the mule. "You stay here, and all this is for nothing. I can't guarantee you that that man there won't change his mind about killing you, so get. You can pray on the way." Book nodded.

Turning back, Mal looked at Zoe. She shook her head. Mayli might have been able to survive either of the shots alone, but together the bullets fired by Zoe and Nate would kill her. Simon knelt beside Mayli still, but it was clear there was nothing much he could really do for her. Mal walked closer to the three on the ground intending to retrieve Simon.

Mayli was fighting the pain as Nate soothed her. Simon was attempting to slow the bleeding as he felt Mal try to pull him away. He shook off the other man's hand and continued to work.

"Why can't you ever listen?" Nate kept repeating as he held her head.

Mayli turned her head wincing as her breathing became more difficult. Meeting his eyes, she whispered to him. Simon barely heard what she said, but he clearly saw the effect on Nate. As she took her last breath, the other man continued to caress her hair, his face a mask after the brief glimpse the doctor saw of grief and guilt. This time when Mal went to pull Simon to his feet, he allowed himself to be dragged away from the grieving man. He took a last look back at the pair as Zoe and Mal hurried to leave the camp.



Simon gazed up at the black from his chair in the kitchen. His sister had been glad to see him return and Kaylee had been ecstatic. Apparently, River had been more than a handful after the second day and Kaylee had not been able to get near her to give the girl her medicine. As a result, a few more things on the ship were broken, but in all life appeared normal.

Mal and Zoe were still cool towards Book, but Simon had not heard any talk of them making the preacher leave the ship. Simon dragged himself back to reality as he heard someone enter the kitchen.

"You should be asleep son. Your sister's quiet and restful, you shouldn't waste what isn't plentiful," Mal observed as poured himself a drink.

"I never sleep well after I lose a patient."

Mal looked at the younger man and poured a second drink. Offering it to the doctor he sat down across from him at the table. "She didn't die while you were treating her doc, you had no effect on the outcome back there."

"I just don't understand it, Captain. After removing that shrapnel from her, her life would have been pain-free in a few weeks. I can't understand how she could sacrifice all of it."

Mal sighed and took a drink. Simon Tam was more of an innocent than even his sister. The things that he took as fact of life, to Simon they were catastrophes; problems to be fixed rather than realities to be lived with. "Son, some pain ain't physical. She didn't want to be fixed so she kept it raw, hurting." Simon just shook his head and stared into his drink. "Simon, what did she say before we left?"

Simon looked up and met his eyes. He'd told the others at breakfast that morning what she had said to him in her tent. "She told Nate that he should have done what she'd asked when they met. That he'd been a fool." Mal shook his head. That explained the pole axed expression he'd seen as he pulled Simon away. He'd pity the grieving man except that Nate had to have known Mayli was broken when he'd chosen to stay with her. He had to have known after a while that she'd never started living again after Temburong. And if he hadn't realized that fact, well, the poor bastard had understood it at the end.

Mal stood. "Simon, you can think on it all you want. But I promise you that you won't ever understand it until you lose everything, especially hope. And as your friend, I hope you never do." With that, Mal left the room and started for the bridge.

Book was waiting for him there. "Those were kind words, Captain."

Mal swore under his breath. The preacher was quieter on his feet than Zoe when he put his mind to it. The captain sat down in the pilot's seat and hoped that Book would leave him be if he didn't talk.

"I just wanted to make sure that you were okay with"

Mal interrupted him. "With what Book? What are you so concerned I'm okay with?"

"With her death. I know you tried your best, and I appreciate it. It's not on your shoulders you know."

Mal angrily turned the chair so he was facing Book. "You're right there. It's not on mine, Zoe's or even Nate's. It's on your shoulders Book."


"Just leave me be Book. I already told you, you're welcome to stay as long as you can pay passage. Until then, you're crew. We clear or you got other secrets to get off your chest?"

"No," Book replied as he sighed.

"Then get off my bridge." As he heard Book leave, Mal turned back to the Black. He was eager for morning to come so the sounds of his crew, of his family, would fill up the hollowness. Until then, he leaned back to enjoy the freedom again.

The end.

*** Notes: Neroli reminded me that Book says during the episode of Serentiy that he never married. I claim artistic license as I needed something for him to leave behind. I hope it didn't pull anyone out of the story too much. Thanks to everyone who commented on as I posted the chapters --- was very glad that it was entertaining enough for people to want more.


Sunday, March 21, 2004 7:52 PM


Wonderful story, it was sad that Mayli had to die but then...she was already dead inside.

And hey, like I said before, one must take anything Book says with a grain of salt, we really don't know how truthfull he's been. ;-)

Monday, March 22, 2004 9:32 AM


Excellent story, full of splendid characterizations and insight. Bring another story, please.


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