Paper Letters
by Lady Gray

Lady Tam seldom opened the door to her own home. She was a woman of wealth, taste, and property, servants opened doors. It was only the persistent knocking, and the memory that most of the servants had gone with her husband to the country side, that brought her to the door.

The man on the other side of the door did not look like he belonged on a central world. Lady Tam could feel dust and sweat radiate off him.

"Lady Tam?"


"For you." He held out a package wrapped in brown paper. Lady Tam took it tentatively; the gentleman put a finger to his hat and wandered off.

Lady Tam retreated to her elegant sitting room; she turned the package over in her hands then gently pulled the paper aside.

The first thing she recognized was her son's handwriting. She had spent hours staring at it as he grew. She was proud of it, of the elegant curve of the letters. Too many mothers simply let her children type. She had insisted on more. She pulled open a thick envelop, inside were several still photos of a wedding and a letter written on rough paper.


Dear Mother,
I will not begin to explain just what it has taken to get this letter to you. If you wish to turn this letter and its contents over to the Alliance that is your choice. I doubt it will help them any. I have become far more skilled at covering my tracks over the years.


"My son is not a wanted criminal!" She winced as her husband thrust the print outs into her hands. They did not take long to read, and yet she found herself standing there, minutes later, still staring at the faces of her children. "What did they do?" her husband shrugged.

"He told me once they we're hurting River?" Lady Tam did no speak to her husband for nearly a month.


I am writing because as a mother I thought you should be aware that your daughter is now married.


Simon felt the sweat pour down his neck, though for once it wasn't from the desert world's oppressive heat. The chapel was cramped, but River's words echoed through the room and filled it as if it were empty. From his stand point he could see in her eyes a mixture of love and cold assurance in what she did.


Yes that is her in the picture. She never grew much after I took her from the academy, but she's nothing but muscle.


Simon winced as the air flew from him, his body impacting hard on Serenity's deck.

"Do it again stupid."

"You're a lot quicker than I am mie-mie." Simon slowly hauled himself up, carefully cataloguing every injury.

"Half the 'verse is quick than you are." Zoe chuckled from her vantage point on the catwalk of the cargo bay.

"Captain, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to let River teach Simon hand to hand." she commented to her captain.

"Maybe not, but it's good for a laugh" there was a crunch as Simon hit the deck again.


The groom, your son-in-law, is the thug next to her. He is the 'public relations' officer on the ship that your daughter and I have contracted to. I will tell you that I did not entirely approve of the relationship in the beginning.


Mal had always figured that if you put a gun in the doc's hand it would shake, but he was now willing to bet the ship itself that Simon had the steadiest hand in the 'verse, and that hand was trained on Jayne.

"I will kill you, you son of a bitch." Jayne actually looked scared for a moment at the sheer ice that dripped from Simon's words.

"What the hell is going on here?" As far as the captain was concerned this was the last thing he had needed to walk in on.

"He raped River!"

"Now hold on..."

"I didn't do nothin' of the sort!" Jayne stood up knocking his chair over.

"I'm her doctor! You think I don't know when something's happened to her!" Mal desperately wanted to step into the middle of this, since it could only end bad. On one hand he was sure there were basically two things in the 'verse Jayne wouldn't stoup to, one was cannibalism, and the other was rape. On the other hand while River was a fair bit saner than she was, first coming on board, that doesn't mean she knew completely what was going on if something did go on.

"Now doc, hold on." Simon could barely see threw his rage. He turned to train the gun on Zoe when he felt a soft hand on his wrist, and felt the rage drain away.

"He's my choice Simon." Simon looked at his sister.

"Mie-mie, what ever he told you..."

"He can't lie to me. My choice, for nearly a month" Simon felt his arm drop nearly against his will.

"That's right," Jayne said proudly "she's one jumped me, middle of the night, god damn scare me half death when she starts..." River cast him a look. Simon had to admit he'd never seen Jayne shut up that fast. River walked over and placed a gentle kiss on the hulking man's cheek.


"Yes Zoe?"

"Permission to leave and become slightly ill."

"Granted." Simon put his gun on the table.

"You hurt her, I'll kill you."


Jayne (yes that is his name) is a gun for hire with minimal education. For reasons I can not begin to understand he and River became rather infatuated.


There was a crunch as Jayne hit the deck.

"Too slow, no grace." Jayne picked himself up.

"I'll show you grace." Jayne made another grab for River and quickly found himself impacting, yet again, on Serenity's deck.

"'I do not believe that any man can dress in civilian clothes who wants to be quick and ready for any violence; nor can that man have civilian customs and habits,'" Jayne pulled himself up again.

"Now quoting weird shit ain't helping, girl"

"It's from the Art of War by Machiavelli." Simon injected from atop a stack of boxes.

"Machia who?" River used the distraction to knock Jayen off his feet for a third time.

"No grace, can't fight, can't dance, can't fuck." River did an elegant twirling leap over Jayne's prone form while Simon sputtered into his coffee.


Fortunately the better parts of each seem to have rubbed off on the other.


Simon did probably the only triple take in is existence. He had known Jayne could read and write a little. He would proudly read the letters his mother sent, but he had never expected to see the man at the dinner table with a battered abacus, and an equally battered math primer; especially at one in the morning. In the end Simon had to ask.

"Jayne, what are you doing?"


"I can see that. Why?"

"We'll I figure I'll never catch up with your sister," Simon began to snicker at the very thought, "Hell you can't even do that, doc. But, well, I been thinking lately."

"Always a dangerous sign."

"I'm serious doc. You know your sis can go an' take thoughts out of peoples head, well I'm thinkin' she can put um in to cause I been thinkin' lots lately and I been thinkin' with words I didn't think I knew, words like 'theology' and 'pedantic' and such and the math ain't exactly easy, but I never got no further than addin' and subtractin', and now I'm all the way to fractions and I figure she must of done something to my head so it's startin' to work like it should and I may as well see how far I can go now that I can go there. You know what I'm sayin' doc?" Simon had never considered the possibility. It did make a strange sort of sense. Jayne's dinner managed to rise above primal grunting in recent weeks.

"So what you're saying is that River did something to your brain so it's actually possible for you to learn?" Jayne thought for a moment.

"Yeah." Simon looked over at the math book and pointed to a problem.

"That's wrong. 8 times 7 is 56 not 65." Jayne carefully erased the number and wrote in 56.

"Thanks doc."


And you know River, she always gets what she wants in the end.


Simon looked at his sister clad in dusty silk.

"Are you sure mie mie? You don't have to walk in there." River smiled.

"I'm as sane as I'll ever be." Simon felt the tears well up already. "I need someone strong, and someone gentle, and someone with a quiet mind."

"I'm sure the captain would have let you have a puppy if you had only asked."


River is doing well earning her keep on the ship mainly as a contract negotiator and pilot...


"I'm not havin' 'er around when we're conducting business." Mal smiled.

"And what threat could a 90 pound woman be to you Badger?" River smiled as well.

"Dat right, mate, wot threat could I be to the likes of you?" Badger shook his finger in River's direction.

"Don't even think 'bought slippin' into my brain missy. I 'ear 'bout you. Reader they say. Some gov experiment got loose. We'll I'm not 'aving it in my office."

"Now Badger, we just like to keep our proceedings honest, not to mention the fact that this job you hinted at sounds like it will involve some fancy flying, and River here, being our pilot, should be involved in the conversation." River curtsied, Badger scowled.


...although it is mainly her skills in a fight that have earned her a reputation within our current social circles.


River held a broken bottle to the neck of the man who had started the fight. His comrades were on the floor and the rest of the bar was watching with morbid fascination.

"Touch me you would, wood, you like to touch, bad, bad man. Touch my friends, touch my captain, touch my brain, touch the little girls in the dark alleys, their ankles cut, so they never run, never kick, never scream." A murmur ran threw the crowd. "Pretty boy like you. Maybe doesn't need to be so pretty." Mal half thought about stopping her but he also knew that he really couldn't. When the shards of the bottle went through the man's cheek and into his tongue Mal decided River had, had enough fun playing avenging angel for the day.

"Come on River" He said sweetly. "You don't want the bad man's blood on your pretty new dress."


If you feel the need to tell father of this letter you can assure him that I am upholding the family name with my medical practice. Trauma surgeons are of constant use out here.


"Oh yes, just a milk run, no one's going to get hurt."

"I am in need of your skills in doctoring not sarcasm." Mal winced as Simon pulled the thread through his flesh. "Couldn't you just use a sealer?"

"We've been out for a month, and we've been out of local anaesthetic injections for six weeks." Simon gave the thread and extra tug to drive the point home.

"So you're saying we need a big hull, or to knock over a core hospital again."

"That would be the general point I'm trying to get across." Mal looked over to the recovery bed where Zoe lay asleep.

"You sure she'll be all right?"

"She'll be fine. It was a clean wound and I was able to re-inflate the lung quickly. She'll need to take it easy for a few weeks and you may want to talk to Kaylee about rerouting a little more oxygen to her sleeping quarters for a few days."

"Will do."


In recent years I have added a bit of midwifeing to my repertoire of skills as well.


"Zoe, I need you to keep her from moving so much."

"I'm doing my best here doc, but she's strong." The cow kicked out, barely missing Simon.

"River!" River stroked the bovine on the nose.

"Hush little dear, almost done, remembering sky, grass, sun, no pain, hush." The cow calmed down. Simon took a big breath and plunged his arms in where no man's arms should go. God never intended for a calf to come out rear end first, but this one had missed the memo. Simon pulled gently. He felt a contraction around his arms and a moment later a large slippery, thoroughly disgusting mass landed in his lap.

As the calf let out its first meek bleat for its mother Simon could see the farming couple breath a sigh of relief. Simon got up as the cow took over its motherly duties.

"Thank you so very much doctor." Simon grimaced.

"My pleasure."

"It's a fine bit of kindness you being here, I'll make sure my misses got a few crates of fresh vegetables for you and yours. Know they're worth a bit in the black." Zoe's head shot up from where she was wiping down the calf.

"I knew you'd figure out how to pull your weight around here doc."


Speaking of Fathers, the man giving River away in the Browncoat uniform is named Mal.



"Yes River?" Even after all these years Mal found that River still seemed hesitant to ask him things. Of course most anything she wanted to know she could pull from his head, but the way River was approaching him, very formal like was making him a little nervous.

"In transition, the spring gives to the summer blossoms." She stuttered and shook her head. "There has to be of balance, tradition." She stumbled again.

"River." Mal hadn't seen her like this for a while. And while her speech was never completely normal, they had learned to translate Riverease over the years. These days she only got completely weird when she got nervous. "River, take a deep breath, think about what you want to say, one word at a time." River nodded and took a deep breath, then another.

"Captain, will you be the father of the bride and give me away?"

"No looking into my head while I think!" Mal quickly said before he could even contemplate the request. He knew he couldn't say no to River's big soft eyes, but he was going to say yes out right, instead of letting her just take it from him.


He is our captain out here and despite possessing a rather loose interpretation on the words 'honest work' is the most honourable man I have met.


Simon knew the last time he had been this drunk it had been graduation. He had been happy then, this was a very different kind of drunk.

"She's never goin' forgive me." He slurred into his drink. Mal patted Simon on the shoulder.

"Now come on doc, Kaylee is a creature of pure love and forgiveness."

"She called me a Liu kou shui de biao zi he hou zi de ben er zi" Mal decided not to point out that she had learned the phrase from River.

"I'm sure she didn't mean it." Simon shook his head.

"Oh she meant it, every word." The doctor threw back another shot. "Mal," he tried to focus on the captain. "As my commanding officer I'm asking you for permission to kill myself."

"You're going melodramatic doc."

"I'm serious. I've dishonoured her, and you, and the ship, and my family." Simon was actually on the verge of tears.

"Well in that case doc, drink a few more of these and we'll go find a sword." Mal handed another shot glass to the doctor who knocked it back.

"Thank you captain."

"No problem."

Six more drinks later Simon passed out cold. Mal paid the tab, carried him back to the ship, and even made it a point to only slightly mock the younger man in the morning.


I have to say that for reasons of his own he did not entirely approve of Rivers infatuation any more than I did.


"Jayne you can go sleeping with her all you want, seein' as how she's quite capable of killin' you if she wants to, but I am not letting you propose."

"I don't see where you get off givin' me orders about my personal life."

"I'm your captain."

"Yeah but I aint sleepin' with you."

"Jayne do you remember what happened to Zoe? Do ya?" Jayne remembered all right.

"I still got the scar, don't I?" Zoe's screaming woke him every other night for nearly a year. She went through half the ships supply of tranquilizers. He had tried to wake Zoe from her screaming one night, managing to forget the fact that the ex soldier still slept with a knife under her pillow.

"Either one of you could catch a stray bullet, Jayne, or get nabbed by the Alliance, or any number of different unpleasant things out here."

"Yah and when that happens its goin' hurt just as bad if we got a ring on the finger or not, so it might as well be there." Mal cursed. Sleeping with River had somehow given Jayne the ability of form coherent arguments.

"I aint having another widow on this ship!"

"And I aint goin' let you stop me making an honest woman of her. Tomorrow night's her birthday and I'm giving her this." Jayne waved a ring under Mal's nose. It wasn't a large stone but Mal was willing to believe it was real and probably cost Jayne his life savings. Mal ground his teeth together.

"Fine. But if Simon tries to kill you I aint jumpin' in front of the bullet."


The Beautiful young thing standing as maid of honour is my own fiancé Kaylee.


"It's so romantic; who'd a thunk Jayne had it in him?"

"Certainly not me."

"And we're goin' get to plan a wedding. A right proper one with flowers and a cake, oh it'll be so much fun."

"Yeah" Simon answered in a rather non committal tone. He had been staring at the ceiling for nearly an hour. He and Kaylee had kept their own quarters but seldom spent nights apart.

"Everything alright Simon?" The worried tone in Kaylee's voice seemed to solidify some sort of idea he'd been pondering. He rolled over and looked down at Kaylee. Not for the first time he looked as deep as he could into his lady's eyes. What he saw there was nothing but kindness and love.

"Do you want to get married?"

"What?" Kaylee sat straight up.

"Um. Would you like to get married, I mean since River's getting married and all..."

"What? It'll be practical if we get hitched too." Simon cursed himself. For all that kindness and love he always seemed to step right on every open nerve Kaylee had.

"Let me start again."

"I think you better." Simon crawled out of bed, knelt down next to it, and took a deep breath.

"Kaywinnit Lee Frye, there was a time when I could have offered you the verse on a platter, I am now here before you, with not much more than what you see. I can offer you nothing but my love and my soul. Will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?" Kaylee leaned over and kissed Simon soundly.

"That's a yes."


She is our ship board mechanic. She can dissemble and reassemble any engine in the 'verse blindfolded if given enough time.


"Now this here is a fuel compression line, not to be confused with a fuel transfer line." Simon nodded and franticly scribbled notes. When he had asked Kaylee to explain to him how an engine worked he hadn't tough he was singing up for introductory physiology again. Unfortunately that what it felt like. "Now can you tell me what it's connected to?" Simon flipped a few pages in his notebook. "Without your notes." The Doctor looked at the strange bit of metal.

" fuel intermix chamber?" Kaylee smiled.

"Very good. And a right answer gets you a kiss." Kaylee leaned over and planted a small kiss on Simon's cheek.

"If only physiology had been like this."


She took my heart when she lay in my arms with a bullet hole in her abdomen and asked me if I wanted to dance.


It was the social even of the season, a once in a life time ball. And Kaylee was getting to go twice. Mal on the other hand was to spend the night on the ship while Simon played escort. Her dress was of a deep blue, where as before she had looked like a little girl playing dress up, on Simon's arm she looked like a woman. This hadn't stopped her from attacking the strawberries at the buffet table. Simon had any number of unprofessional, if rather pleasant, thoughts as she ate the berries, but now his thoughts were running towards a bit of jealousy.

"I'm tellin' you the XE-01 isn't worth the money."

"but the technology.."

" to damn new. It's got more bugs than a pile of cow gou shi."

"but the tests--"

"are run by the company who's trying to sell the things to you." Simon sighed as he watched a young man bring a bowl of strawberries to Kaylee. There were half a dozen men around her. A couple recalled her from two years previous, and asked if her current escort was libel to cause as much of a ruckus as the previous one. Kaylee laughed at the suggestion. Simon on the other hand was beginning to consider the benefits of a ruckus just to get her attention.

"What about the new L37 jumpers?"

"Now those..." Simon stepped in.

"Excuse me. Kaylee, almost three years ago you requested a dance." Kaylee looked puzzled.

"I did?"

"Yes, when I asked if you could move your feet."

"That's hardly a thing to ask a lady." a young man who had been paying a good deal of attention to Kaylee interjected. Simon turned and levelled him with the gaze he had once used to frighten first year interns.

"I am a doctor, she was bleeding from a gun shot wound to the abdomen at the time." several of the men looked at Kaylee with new respect or interest. Kaylee blushed.

"Oh, I'd forgotten that."

"We I haven't, and I am claming this dance." Kaylee blushed deep and took Simon's arm with a giggle. Later one of the older gentlemen Kaylee had been talking to cornered Simon.

"That lady of yours reminds me a fair bit of my sister, rest her soul." The old man looked Simon dead in the eye. "If you want to keep her boy, I suggest you learn a thing or two about engines."


We had originally planed on a double wedding with River, however Kaylee is insisting that I meet her parents first. I'm sure ours will be a much smaller affair. Just immediate family as they say.


"It's not that I don't love you, and it aint that I don't think a double wedding is a bad idea it's just that I don't need nothing fancy and it's goin' be some time before we're over in my neck of the verse again."

"But Kaylee..."

"Leave it doc. If the girls happy with a small wedding you should be happy too."

"Thank you Jayne," Kaylee turned back to Simon. "Besides one of the things I promised my Pa was that if I was going to get married out here I'd bring him home first."

"Right, meet your folks." Simon pushed the food around on his plate.

"What's the matter doc, you afraid all your fancy core world manners aint goin' live up to old man Frye?"

"That is one fear, yes."

"Oh my pa will love you, now my mother..." Simon looked more than a little worried. Mal decided not to mention to the young man that Kaylee's ma had grilled him for over three hours, over tea and biscuits, on every facet of his life before letting Kaylee take the job. Simon had to be in for at least a day of interrogation, probably two.


You will be glad to know that, as with any proper Tam wedding, River's was the social event of the season, at least among our associates.


Serenity didn't have many friends for several years. It had become known as the Serenity massacre. Mingo and Fanty, Book, Mr. Universe, The Heart of Gold, a dozen others. Only by luck had Badger walked away. It has taken a long time for anyone to give Serenity harbour. Work yes. A ship that can make a mad run threw Reaver space and back out can get work.

Half the chapel was filled with Jayne's family. Simon, despite himself, had found himself warming to the woman who had knitted Jayne so many strange hats over the years. She had even taken the time to pull him aside in the days before the wedding and have a long talk with Simon, assuring him that the Cobb family always took care of its own, and seeing as how he was going to be family any problems he might have would be looked over by the family.

Simon was also amused when he discovered that Jayne was considered a bit of a family hero, not so much for his work, they didn't ask about that, but for the fact that he'd been sending a fair part of every take home for years now. Jayne also had a stack of nieces and nephews who had clustered around River, half believing she was a long lost princess. River patiently answered all their questions about the central planets.

The other half of the chapel was filled with Serenity's business associates and few friends. Badger had, in a moment of who knows what, presented the couple with a proper wooden headboard elegantly carved in ancient patterns and knot work. It looked so old Simon was willing to believe it had come all the way from Earth That Was.

Sir Warrick Harrow, who had been giving Serenity fairly steady work in cattle and sheep, put in an appearance as well. As a man raised on the core planets, before hading to the rim to seek his fortune, he knew some of the things River had probably dreamed of when planning out her wedding as a little girl. Simon nearly kissed the man himself when he sent ahead several bolts of fine red silk, enough to make three elegant bride's maid's dresses.

The reception was being catered by the Lee family, whom Serenity has rescued from Reavers not eight months prior. When River had announced she was getting married Simon had figured the cake would be made of protein and no one would be there but the crew. Every flower and scrap of silk made him puff up a little. He had always figured River would be married in the great cathedral but the amount being given by people who had so little was slowly making up for the lack of vaulted ceilings and a hundred voice choirs.


River just asked me to tell you that her dress was pure silk, and that she bought it herself by saving her cut from every job for nearly a year, as well as taking a few extra.


"You'll never be able to afford that mie-mie."

"A Tam bride should be married in silk." That had been the shopping motto for the last four hours.

"That's a lot of silk River." Zoe eyed the creation River was modelling in the little boutique. It was a dusty, silver grey, silk gown that seemed nearly made for River. Simon, being the closest thing they had to mother of the bride, had been dragged along dress shopping by the ladies of Serenity. So far he was not enjoying it.

"I think its Shiny." Kaylee, was bouncing around River looking at the dress from all angles. The lady who was minding the shop was eyeing the people dragged in with the bride with some trepidation. They certainly did not look like they could afford the type of wedding the boutique catered to.

"We do have a layaway plan, assuming a reliable income can be proven." River reached into her small purse and pulled out a smaller bag which she dropped into the shop lady's hands.

"That's half a year's work, and I have ways of getting the other half." The shop lady dumped out the contents of the bag which caused Zoe and Kaylee and even Inara to let out a little gasp.

"River hun, I know an' Jayne been taking extra work to pay for this shindig you're planin' but what exactly do those extra jobs entail?" River gave a smile that made Zoe shiver.

"Stages of life are born in blood, birth in blood, death in blood, marriage was once the exchange of blood."

"Never mind hun. Every time you get talkin' about blood it ends up being information I don't need to know." River gave a giggle and a twirl and grabbed a bouquet of silk flowers off a shelf. The shop lady had frozen at the turn of the conversation. She suddenly noticed that everyone in this shopping party was in some way armed.

"Since you are willing to pay in cash, and so much in advance, I believe I can talk our manager into giving a discount."


I have to say she takes a strange pride in her work that I never had, but after these years I found that life as a ships doctor on the edge of space could be tolerable assuming one can survive scavengers,


"We'll be taking this here fine ship of yours." The second rate pirate cocked his gun and pointed it at Mal's head.

"Like hell you are."

"I said I'll be taking this ship." Mal looked up to the ceiling of the cargo bay where River was hanging upside down, a gun in each hand.

"You know I think our pilot might have something to say about that."




Jayne held Vera close. Even with River breathing softly, an inch from his head, the knowledge of the Reaver ship gliding by them sent his heart racing. He could hear it pounding in his ears. He closed his eyes for a moment and prayed for his heart to stop. It sounded so loud he was sure the Xiong meng de kuang ren things could hear it.

When he opened his eyes he cast a look across the room to Simon. It was strange but the damn Doc didn't seem afraid. He had a large gun resting in his lap and a strange look of calm on his face. Mal's voice came over the intercom.

"We're clear folks." Jayne let out a long breath.

"Wo de tian a." Simon put the safety back on his gun and picked up his medical journal as if nothing had happened. Jayne was curious.

"You alright their Doc?" River answered for him.

"He has no fear." Jayne looked at River.

"How'd you manage that Doc?" River giggled.

"He got my medicine in his head." Jayne looked between the siblings.

"Deng Yi Maio" Simon smiled slightly.

"I accidentally reversed my inoculations and River's medication today. I figure I should just read until it wears off." River giggled again.

"You were going to take on Reavers stoned, Doc?"

"More or less." Jayne made the decision not to let Simon touch him ever again.




River had a Reaver sword in one had and an axe in the other.

If Mal had thought it was hard to part Jayne from Vera that was before they had tried taking those weapons off of River. During a more lucid moment they had gotten her to agree to keep them in the weapons locker instead of under her bed, but that was as far as they had gotten. They had become the girl's weapons of choice, that and a small sharp knife she took to wearing up her sleeve when they went planet side.

River had been twitchy enough when they made landfall that Mal had actually asked her if she wanted to stay behind. It was supposed to be a strait mercenary job. Roust some yahoos out of the hills who were terrorizing the locals, and maybe knock around the incompetent sheriff who was letting it happen. The devil was in the fine print.

The description the locals painted when they got there were of men who were about half a breath away from being Reaves. Then they trotted out a young girl who had just managed to escape them. Simon spent three days in the infirmary doing as much reconstructive surgery as he was able. The girl would never speak again but at least she could open her eyes when Simon was done.

River had been all for a frontal attack. Jayne volunteered to go with her, and since the best plans never survive the first engagement with the enemy River now stood in a pool a blood while Jayne talked softly to her.

"It's all over, they're all dead, every damn one of the fuckers. You can rest now, they're all dead, let's go back to the ship and clean you up." Other people's blood was soaking her hair flat.

Mal, Simon, and even Jayne admitted privately to each other, later that night, that they felt slightly ill when River deposited a sack of severed heads and other sensitive body parts on the front porch of the town sheriff. The women of Serenity had far less sensitive constitutions.




River was throwing herself against the hull, her fingers bloody from clawing the deck, tears having cleaned streaks along her cheeks. Mal and Simon stood outside the room and occasionally peeked in.

"I thought you said she was getting better Doc?"

"Dig a hole to china, sleep in earth."

"She touched the mind of a Reaver, captain, I don't think better has anything to do with it." River threw herself against the floor with bone crushing force.

"This is fang zong feng kuang de jie. She's been around them before!"

"Well maybe this was one time too many!"

Jayne liked it when thing were simple and when he could get a good night sleep, the captain and the doc screaming at each other while River went berserk did not make either of these things easy.

"Would you just say the magic words, Doc?"

"If I go in there she'll hit me in the throat before I can get two words out."

"You he bi zhao wo ma fan." Jayne opened the door. "Hey girl, calm down."

"Yah that's really going to help Jayne." River froze then threw her arms around Jayne, leaving bloody streaks on his shirt.

"Hole to china, old story, old children don't listen."

"Yah, old children just sleep in earth, don't travel." River pulled back and looked at Jayne. Mal and Simon looked at Jayne with equal shock.

"The blood won't clean the mind, the water isn't of earth. dong ma" Jayne gently stoked the girls head.

"Zhen de shi tian cai. We'll find the earth water and wash them all clean." River cried silently on Jayne's shoulder.


"Yes, Captain?"

"Is insanity contagious?"

"Technically, no."



and the Alliance.


"What kinds of fools are running this verse?"

"I've been asking that for years, Doc"

"Do they honestly believe that import tax on goods to the outer rim is going to stimulate economic growth?" Simon threw the newspaper across the room.

"No, they think it will make themselves richer."

"It's crippling the outer worlds."

"Yes, it is also making us richer in smuggling jobs."

"People have revolted for less than this." Mal smiled just a little.

"That they have."

"They're going to have a second independent uprising if they keep this up."

"You planin' on getting yourself fitted for a brown coat, Doc?" Simon froze at the words. They scared him because he had stopped himself a second away from saying yes.


I hope this letter has not disturbed your day.
Your Devoted Son
Simon Tam


Lady Tam carefully placed the photos and letter into the back pages of a plain photo album that had sat next to the others for many years. She knew even if they tore the place apart no one look past the first pictures of River's dance recital. Though she had cried a smile now touched her lips as she hoped for pictures of grandchildren she would never see in person.


Silverlake: Authors / Mediums / Titles / Links / List / About / Updates / Silverlake Remix