Author responses to reviews of the ninth chapter of Immortality in the Verse and reviews posted on any and all chapters of Immortality in the Verse since the release of the ninth chapter on either this site, Harry Potter FanFic Archive or Archive of Our Own.
His pouch was still disillusioned against his chest in what 500 years Harry never thought of doing the same to his wand holster?
Harry doesn't need to disillusion his wand holster, to everyone it seems like a knife holster on his wrist.
Good chapter although I was a little confused about what upsetted Inara in the morning for her to go after like that. Please continue again soon.
In the episode of Firefly Inara finds Mal leaving Nandi's room in the morning, in the show she is in love with Mal so that is what makes her upset, so she is emotionally crushed and tries to find solace in Harry. I apologise for the confusion, I just assumed that the people who read this story would have watched Firefly.
"The 10th Wand":
Interesting chapter, thank you for the update. I do wonder what was up with Inara after she saw Kass.
Kass passed away long before this chapter, Inara has never met Kass.
I noticed we didn't get any River in this chapter…
I also noticed that.
I loved it, I like the play on harry as a tough loner but I don't think Inara would have backed down as easy yeah he may have scared her but i see Inara yelling the place down and storming off in anger. where's pup the poor little mosnter didn't even get a look in :-( great chapter. if you rewrite may want to put more into the fight and expand on harry's interactions with the crew simon maybe been a bit more forceful river mentioning something crazy that no one understands about the harry leaving.
But once agian great story please don't stop
Thanks for the review, I think the reason for Inara backing down in the argument was because she had crossed the line, Nandi had sworn Inara to secrecy for a reason knowing that it is important to Harry and so when Inara invoked Kass she knew she was in the wrong, also he just found out the Captain was sleeping with Nandi, she probably wasn't in the most intelligently argumentative state.
The halls of Serenity were dead, voices could be heard, but there was no life left within her.
The crew sat assembled in the kitchen, no one was speaking but their tension rolled off them in waves.
Sighing the Captain said, "Okay, Kaylee, why don't you speak your piece?"
Kaylee was leaning against the cabinets, she had an air about her as if of a scolded child.
"It was when the Captain and Wash got took by Niska," began Kaylee.
Straightening somewhat at the mention of the incident while Zoë placed a comforting hand of her husband's shoulder, the Captain said, "I ain't likely to forget that anytime soon."
"Well, we all went in… me too," continued Kaylee, "didn't make much account of myself, I'm afraid."
"I got no problem with the notion of you not killing nobody, Kaylee," said the Captain reassuringly.
Simon, confused at the point of the discussion interjected, "What's this got to do with River? She wasn't even in that fight."
"Well, no, she was," said Kaylee almost directly to Simon, the person she didn't want to be mad at her, "I got pinned down and there were three guys and I couldn't," Kaylee seemed to lose her words at that point, but continued nonetheless, "and then River comes up. She looks out, sees 'em all, and they was spread out, you know, had some cover. She… she only looked for a second and… took my gun… closed her eyes… killed 'em."
"She shot them?" asked Simon incredulously.
Kaylee nodded, "All three. Dead, in an instant. With her eyes still closed."
Jayne wasn't convinced, "That's, ah, you saw it wrong."
"I thought I must have," admitted Kaylee, "but I wasn't the only one who saw."
"Who… ?" asked Zoë.
"Harry," said Kaylee to the sighs of the crew, Harry was a difficult subject aboard Serenity.
"Harry saw it?" asked Book.
"Yeah," nodded Kaylee, "he had come out, guns up and was about the shoot them, he probably could've, but River beat him to it."
Zoë seemed to processing the information, "Is it possible that Harry actually shot them and River was just micking?"
"I told myself that was what happened," said Kaylee, "then after the fight Harry came to me and asked if I wanted to talk 'bout it, 'bout what River did. He knew it was her, he seemed more impressed than anything."
"How come we didn't hear about this?" asked Wash.
"I told Harry, no I pleaded with him to say that he shot them, I made him tell me that he shot them, made him make me believe that River didn't do it," said Kaylee not making eye contact with the crew, "I think he took pity on me, he more or less said what I needed to hear, but us three that were there knew. River shot them, and I didn't see it wrong, not a jot, and it weren't auto fire or luck. She just… she just did the math."
Zoë curious more than anything now said, "You understand how that sounds?"
"What," started Jayne sarcastically, "she killed 'em with mathematics. What else could it have been?"
Kaylee shook her head, "You couldn't have done it, Jayne, nor you, Cap'n. Nobody can shoot like that that's a person."
"So River's not a person," said Simon hurt.
"Oh, please don't be mad" pleaded Kaylee.
"I just want to understand what you're saying here," said Simon passive aggressively, "I though River was your friend."
Kaylee offended at the notion of her not liking River said, "She is. But, Simon, the way she… right after, she looked at me and, she smiled… like nothing was wrong. Like we were playing, … scared me."
Book who had stayed silent for most of the discussion spoke up, "Could be she saved your life, Kaylee."
Kaylee knew this and she didn't want to seem like she didn't, she said, "Oh, I'm all aware of that, and I'm not saying… "
Simon cut Kaylee off in her step, "She probably didn't even know what was going on," said Simon, "Thought it was a game."
"Later on you can explain to me how that's a comfort," rebutted Jayne, "Might have to use some of that math we've been hearing about."
Not wanting to escalate the issue without discussion Mal interjected, "What we got here to deal with is the larger issue, and that larger issue is we got someone on board this ship might be a danger to us. Ain't a question of whether we like her? Some of us have grown attached to River. Kaylee, I know you have, or you would've spoken up sooner, which, by the by, you should have. I find River pleasant enough myself but she does have an oddness to her, and I ain't talking about her proficiency with firearms. Girl know things, things she shouldn't, things she couldn't."
Confused, Jayne said, "What, are you saying she's a witch?"
"Yes, Jayne. She's a witch" joked Wash, but the joke didn't sink in with Jayne, "She has had congress with the beast."
Even more confused, Jayne said, "She's in Congress?"
"How did your brain even learn human speech?" asked Wash, "I'm just so curious."
Fed-up with the joking nature that the discussion had turned, Inara interjected, "This isn't a joking matter. This is about over lives and River's."
"Thank you" said Mal genuinely.
As if trying to reason with the crew, Simon said, "She's deeply intuitive. It's true that sometimes… "
Arms folded in an authoritative way, Mal interrupted Simon's reasoning, "I don't think she's intuitive, doctor. I think she's a reader."
"Psychic?" said Zoë.
"Is that even remotely possible?" asked Wash to the gathered crew.
"You tell me," said Mal nodding to Simon, "You've been studying what they've done to her."
"They've, uh, they definitely altered the way she reacts to things, even the way she perceives, but I'm not… " said Simon his eyebrows furrowed in confusion.
"Psychic, though," questioned Wash, "that sounds like something out of science fiction."
With a half smirk only a wife could give to her husband, Zoë said, "We live in a spaceship, dear."
"So?" asked Wash reasonably.
Jayne who was struggling to digest what the others were saying spoke up, "Whoa. Back up a sec. Are you saying she really reads minds?"
"Or near enough," said Mal calmly, "I ain't alone thinking along those lines neither. I've had my suspicions for something of a while now and what Harry said sort of clinched it for me."
"Pardon, Captain?" said Zoë.
"Back when we were at… Nandi's," said Mal struggling on the name of his deceased lover, "when myself and Inara ran into Harry, after he shoed you away," Mal nodding to Inara, "I confronted him and about what happened the night he ran, after a bit of shoe-horning 'round the subject from his part, I asked plain-like if he thought she was a reader, gauge his reaction or some such, he weren't shocked that I had my suspicions."
"He was probably just deflecting, knew what would happen if he told the truth," sighed Simon still reeling from the idea of his sister being psychic.
"He didn't have no reason to be lying," said Mal, "Could've got me caught, had a gun, he was in control. It was only after he said his piece that he gave me my sidearm back."
"And what did he say?" asked Book.
"He said she was a reader, said he had experience with the likes of them before," said Mal.
"He was probably… " began Simon to be cut off by Mal.
"That ain't all he said," said Mal louder to cut Simon off, "Said he was a reader too."
"What?" Inara and Wash said in unison.
"Said he was a reader, 'sept he had control of it, not like River," said Mal.
Jayne, his face contorted with confusion said, "Wait, so now Harry reads minds too?"
"He said it ain't exactly like that," sighed Mal, "said he that could read but that he also could block out readers, readers like River. That was why she was always going off at him, he said that River was used to being able to see inside of all of us that when she couldn't see inside of him, even if she didn't want to, she went all… you know."
"Convenient" said Simon, his words were supposed to be sarcastic but they came out as genuine, "How did Harry have control of it?"
"Didn't say exactly, just said practice," explained Mal, "He said that River could've controlled it, but the damage of her brain wasn't doing her any favours."
"Aren't we skipping over the fact that Harry could read our minds," said Jayne.
"He said he hadn't ever intentionally read us?" said Mal.
"Intentionally?" said Inara sternly.
Mal sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose trying to make sense of it, "He said the he picks up on surface thoughts, major emotions and all, like if any of use was going to attack him, he said that couldn't be stopped but he never read our specific thoughts, like what River does."
"Well at least that's something," joked Kaylee half-heartedly.
"Harry ain't the sort to lie, and if he did I would've been able to tell," said Mal, "The point is that Harry confirmed that River was a reader, and a dangerous one at that, she can't control it, her… abilities are tied in with her instincts, like when she was all chummy with Harry and then she turned feral and the like, she couldn't control it, it was just her mind reacting to what it thought was an attack, but in reality was Harry blocking her from reading him."
"Why wouldn't he tell us this?" asked Simon.
"Doc, you of all people," said Mal incredulously, "would have you believe him."
"That don't explain why had stabbed me," said Jayne, "twice" he remembered.
"I'd think that young River tried to read Harry at his most vulnerable" said Book softly.
"When he was asleep" nodded Mal, "Harry said that his," Mal sighed trying to find a way to not sound ridiculous, "… shields… we're weaker and she slipped in."
"And he woke up and found what River had done," nodded Wash making sense of the situation.
"A man with secrets would react violently to being compromised," said Book.
"When I spoke to Harry when we were at the 'Heart of Gold' he said that River attacked him and he just snapped on instinct, he said he didn't hurt her but then Jayne must've heard him shouting at her and then everything sort of escalated," said Wash.
"If all of this is true," supposed Jayne, "which I ain't saying is so, couldn't Harry just show River to do what he does, you know, control it."
The crew were momentarily shocked at Jayne's sound logic, Mal responded, "I didn't think he wanted us to know what he could do, didn't want us thinking wrong of him."
"And after what River did," mused Wash, "I'm not so sure Harry is lining up to be her teacher."
"After what Harry did" yelped Simon, "he nearly killed Riv… "
Book interrupted Simon, "He didn't touch River that night, I supposed that like River who was accustomed to being able to read everyone and when she couldn't reacted violently, Harry was accustomed to being shielded and when River took advantage of his vulnerability she probably saw a lot of things that Harry didn't want anyone of us to know. It's no wondering that he did what he did."
Kaylee spoke up tentatively, "Wash, Inara, you don't think that Harry was telling the truth? There ain't no such thing as mind reading."
"When nothing makes sense," said Wash, "the strangest things start to."
"I've heard tales of people who could do it," said Inara, "but that's what I thought they were, tales."
"They fact of the matter is that that girl has done some impossible things, am I alone of thinking along these lines?" asked Mal.
"No" admitted Book.
Jayne having enough of the discussion and who was still thoroughly confused about the whole damn thing said, "Well, I don't like the idea of someone hearing what I'm thinking."
"No one likes the idea of hearing what you're thinking," said Inara cattily.
"The Alliance could have any number of uses for a psychic," mused Book.
Remembering the skill of which she had fought Harry, Zoë said, "A psychic… or an assassin."
Simon who despite his belief in the sciences was slightly considering the impossible said sadly, "She's just a kid. And she just wants to be a kid."
Placing his hands of a chair, Mal said to Simon and the crew as a whole, "I wish it were that simple."
"Yeah, and if wishes were horses, we'd all be eatin' steak," spat Jayne.
Book said half-hearty, "Well I don't think Harry's going to agree to teach her, not that we even know where he is or how to get in touch with him, once someone see's your core, I don't think you could ever interact with them the same way again."
"Well then, what do we plan to do about this?" said Jayne firmly.
Mal said heavily, "Well that's the question."
"I don't think she'd ever hurt any of us," said Simon.
"Maybe you're right, but we know that them Alliance cutters did more than scar her brain, they taught her to fight, if Harry weren't as good a fighter as he was, I think she might've killed him. We know that she definitely has some sort of triggers, triggers we ain't got no idea how to deal with," said Mal calmly, "I ain't going to make a decision on anything till I thought on it awhile."
Looking at the crew Mal said, "It's late, let's get some rest."
The halls of Serenity were dead, voices could be heard, but there was no life left within her.
It had been four months since the universe battle and the Miranda secret had been revealed, it seemed as if the colour had been sucked out of Serenity. Without its pilot, Serenity wasn't the same. Without is preacher, Serenity wasn't the same. A sort of dejected stability enveloped the crew, while there wasn't anything to complain about, there wasn't any life left within Serenity.
After Miranda, the crew had mourned their losses and had been comforted by the notion that what they had done was 'the right thing to do'. Inara hadn't gone back to the house, but had chosen to reclaim her spot on Serenity, while Simon and Kaylee had found solace in one another. Zoë was heartbroken and rightfully so, Wash was her everything, and he was gone, yet she was still here. Zoë found comfort in the job, first mate, she could do that, she could be the first mate, she could do that well. Jayne was Jayne. The Captain was now filling the position of pilot, while he could never dream of having the same raw natural talent for the craft as Wash had, he was a fair flyer. River had appointed herself co-pilot, surprisingly that was a job she could do, without the gnawing knowledge of Miranda inside her head she could function at a level that nobody had ever thought possible. River still had the occasional outburst and was still River-like in her oddness, but she was calm, well as calm as River could ever be.
Serenity was still but she was groaning, she had crashed into a dangerously unstable ice field, or as the Captain would put it, Serenity landed just a little fast-like. Kaylee had repelled of the ship's top and was hastily wielding the torn rotating propulsion covering while Simon held her tools. River was hanging upside down from the catwalk humming to herself while the Captain was fastening down the mule and some collected cargo boxes. Zoë exited the kitchen where she and Jayne were collecting the spilled rations into the appropriate cupboards.
Walking down into the cargo, with a sigh Zoë said, "Captain, now this here is a problem."
Pulling hard on a fastening belt, the Captain replied, "Nah, Kaylee will patch up Serenity before the ice shifts."
"It's not that, Captain" said Zoë with a swallow, "We need a proper pilot."
The Captain was a little shocked at his first mate's statement, he had thought that for a long time. While he and River managed well enough, well… their current predicament spoke volumes. He had avoided bringing up hiring a new pilot for as long as he could, he didn't want for Zoë to think he was trying to replace Wash, which he never would.
"That so?" asked the Captain.
Zoë knew that the Captain had avoided bringing up the subject, she had as well. But their situation demanded action.
"I think it's plain to see that our current arrangement isn't working," said Zoë her eyes for once not actually meeting her Captain's.
"It don't have to be like that," the Captain offered, "River, with a bit more practice, okay a lot more practice she could… "
Zoë interrupted, "It ain't just that Captain. River is needed, both of you are. Me and Jayne aren't like to pull off many ground jobs if our Captain and our reader are stuck in the bridge."
"I am capable" said River from her upside down hanging position.
"Nobody isn't saying you ain't" said the Captain.
"I am capable, but others are more so," River sorrowfully admitted, she liked piloting Serenity, but she like all the other crew knew that she and the Captain combined weren't at the same level that Wash was.
"That so, little one" the Captain asked River.
River nodded but in her position it just jostled her backwards and forwards, nevertheless the expression was conveyed.
"Listen, Zoë, you know I ain't bought it up before, didn't want nobody to think that we could replace him," reasoned the Captain.
"I know, Captain," Zoë nodded, "But I don't see how we can go on like we are."
"It's simple mathematics," said River still sillily dangling from the catwalk.
"What's that?" asked the Captain.
"Two pilots costs two soldiers," explained River as if to a child, "But a new one repays us."
Despite River's phrasing the Captain and Zoë did understand, "Well I ain't never been one for calculations and the like," said the Captain looking at Zoë, trying to make sure she wasn't secretly against the idea of replacing their pilot.
Zoë put her hands on her hips and said, "In the case of mathematics, I think it's wise to be listening to our prodigy, Captain."
The Captain turned away and nodded, not wanting to meet the eyes of his first mate.
Zoë walked up the stairs to the catwalk, "It's settled then, I'll reach out to our contacts, ask for some recommendations."
Once the Captain was sure that Zoë wasn't in the cargo bay anymore, he thought it safe to turn around. He had dreaded the topic of a new pilot, he knew that the crew saw it as moving on from Wash, but this was necessity. He looked up and saw River still dangling upside down, she looked serene, but sad at the same time.
"Badger" said the Captain.
"Badger" nodded Zoë.
"Badger" repeated the Captain.
"Is there a problem, sir?" asked Zoë.
"No, no, no problem at all," mused the Captain, "Just making sure that we are talkin' 'bout the same person."
"Serenity is unpopular" spoke up River.
"She's what now?" asked the Captain actually moving in his pilot chair to look at his co-.
"No one wants to dance with her," said River.
"I… just…," the Captain shook his head, "go shi, now I can't remember what I was thinking about."
"Badger, sir," Zoë said calmly.
"Right, yes, Badger" said the Captain remembering his train of thought.
"Badger" River nodded in confirmation.
"Okay, so please tell me out of all our near and dear friends, why are we listening to Badger's recommendation" asked the Captain.
"Because Serenity is unpopular" said River again.
"She's right, sir. No one wants to deal with Serenity at the moment, despite no one accept for the whole of the top tier Alliance members knowing that Miranda was because of us, our so called friends all suspect us," explained Zoë.
"So our near and dear kicked us while were down," mused the Captain, "Feeling the friendship."
"We have friends," confirmed River absentmindedly.
"We have contacts," Zoë corrected River, "It's just Badger was the only one in range that answered."
"Fine," said the Captain, "Whose he got?"
"Didn't give us a name," said Zoë, "Just said he was new on his radar and his was very good, and Badger seemed to hold this last part in the highest regard, he is very cheap, seems the guys needs the work."
River scratched her head and said, "That's slightly ominous."
"Ominous," repeated the Captain, "How do we even know Badger's guy is on the level?"
"We don't" admitted Zoë, "But he is our only option at the moment, sir."
"Fine," said the Captain standing up and making to leave the bridge, "Plot the course for where exactly."
"Osiris" said River and Zoë in unison, no matter how often River did those things it still unnerved Zoë.
The Captain nodded, "Send a wave to Inara, she is still there, ask her if she wants to dock."
Five seconds after the Captain left, he returned, "Badger" he asked incredulously.
"Yes, sir, Badger" said Zoë.
The Captain, Zoë and Jayne walked in silence up the steps of a fairly dirty inn. Even on a world like Osiris the slums still looked like slums, they could hear the unmistakeable sounds of lovemaking as they passed the doors, ignoring the shouts and moans the three looked for a particular room.
"Should be this one, sir" said Zoë looking at the information she had scribbled on the paper she grasped in her palm.
They could hear loud music reverberating from inside the room, Zoë was slightly nervous at the situation from what Badger had told her the person was something of the quiet introverted type.
Jayne had raised his boot ready to smash in the door before the Captain had stopped him, "I'm not thinking that our new hire is going to be the like that enjoys having their room busted open, Jayne."
"If you say so, Mal" said Jayne gruffly.
Despite reprimanding Jayne for his violent approach, the Captain nonetheless ushered Jayne to enter the room first, after all he had Vera.
Not a second after Jayne opened the door was Jayne impaled in his shoulder with a knife. Zoë and the Captain burst into the room guns razed looking for the attacker.
"CAPTAIN" the attacker yelled over the blaring music.
Zoë and the Captain looked thoroughly confused at the sight before them. The room was totally trashed, anything that could be shattered, was shattered, anything that could be broken, was broken and there was a sickly smattering of blood across the walls and floor. And to top it all off, sitting on the remnants of a torn up mattress and splintering bed frame sat Harry.
"Hey, didn't fancy seeing you guys here of all places" said Harry happily.
Harry stood up from the failing bed and walked over the section of the floor where he had left a large bottle. Walking over to where Jayne was slumped against to door Harry pulled out his knife and poured some of liquid onto the wound before downing the almost full bottle.
"Hey, would you look at that?" said Harry, "Same exact spot, eh Jayne, seems my knife doesn't like you so much."
Picking up another bottle, Harry walked back to the Captain and Zoë who were staring blankly at Harry while still having their guns raised. Harry pushed two partially shattered glasses into their arms and poured them drinks, spilling more than he poured.
"So, guys, what are you doing here," said Harry drunkenly, noticing that they weren't drinking Harry said continued, "C'mon good drink shouldn't be wasted, but on the other hand this isn't good drink."
The Captain and Zoë still didn't drink their glasses, it wasn't the shock at seeing Harry here that had them so perturbed, but it was the fact that Harry was acting so un-Harry-like. The last they had seen of Harry was at Nandi's funeral and now here Harry stood or stumbled might be a better description, utterly smashed off his head and weirdly tapping his feet the loud music that was playing.
"Well, if you aren't going to have it, then it should go to the more deserving," said Harry taking the Captain's glass on handing it to Jayne who had made himself stand upright and was wondering why the Captain hadn't shot Harry.
As Jayne downed his drink and gasped as it hit his throat, the Captain spoke, "You're the pilot Badger recommended."
"Can't say I've flown with a badger before, Captain, but you know what I actually knew a whole house full of badgers," laughed Harry stupidly as he walked over to the music box and turned a dial making it louder.
"You get it," said Harry, "Badgers because of the house, you know the animal thing."
"Can't say I'm following you, Harry," said Zoë, "but are you saying that you aren't the pilot that Badger told us about."
"No, I don't think that's what I was saying," said Harry as he pulled back the sheet of the bed revealing an arsenal of firepower, "but that doesn't mean it isn't true."
Jayne grabbed another half-empty bottle off the floor and poured some over his wound and the rest into his mouth, "You ain't the pilot" he said.
"Oh, you know what" said Harry shouting over the music, "You're probably after the bloke that was here before me."
"Before you," asked the Captain, "this isn't your room."
Harry looked thoughtful for a moment and then burst out laughing, "Nah."
"What's so funny," demanded Jayne.
"You," laughed Harry, "were going to hire an operative."
"What" the three asked confused.
"An operative" Harry laughed, "you know doesn't officially exist, deadly sort of fellow, you know operative."
Harry noticed that the three didn't get the joke so he walked over to the wall and with a bit of effort pulled a short bladed sword out of the wall and showed it to the three.
Mal was the only one to recognise it, it was the sword of the man who had tracked them throughout the Miranda incident, the man whose actions lead to the death of Wash and Shepherd Book.
"Where did you get this, Harry" growled the Captain.
"Duh," said Harry taking another long swig from the bottle, "the guy who had to room."
Seeing the state of the room in a new light along with the large amount of bloodstains that adorned the room as well as Harry, the Captain asked, "Where is he now?"
"Gone" Harry shrugged.
Zoë who had caught on asked, "Who killed him?"
Harry shook his head, "He wanted a good death, more than anything, so I didn't give it to him?"
"You let him go" said the Captain disbelieving.
"Don't worry, Captain" said Harry who was still shuffling around the room awkwardly, Harry pointed to the corner and said, "He's completely 'armless now."
As the three looked in the corner Harry continued to laugh madly at his joke, in the corner lay a severed arm in a pool of blood.
Harry looked worriedly at them, "Don't you get, it's a play on words. You know harmless and well you know."
The Captain whose knuckles were white gripping his lowered gun asked forcefully, "Where is he now, Harry?"
Harry scratching the back of his neck gestured over towards the open window and the trail of blood, "Think your new pilot's going to have some trouble steering with one arm."
Zoë inspected the window and to her disappointment there was a garbage skip below and she could see a distinct trail of blood leading away from the skip and back into the slums.
"What are you doing here?" asked Zoë suspiciously.
Despite his current state of inebriation Harry answered seriously, "Why do you think?"
"Wash" said the Captain.
"On the money there, Captain" nodded Harry.
The Captain was trying the process all this information when he saw something embedded into the floor, "And this is?" asked the Captain.
"Oh, that" said Harry as he peered over to what the Captain was referring to, "That was dear old lefty's party favour."
"Party favour" Zoë said losing patience with Harry.
"Had him dead to rights," said Harry as he demonstrated clumsily with a sword he picked up from the bed, "he wanted his good death, but he didn't want me to get away. Said he was done with the Alliance, thought it might make a difference to me, didn't stop him dropping the signal."
"Tracker" said the Captain moving over to the window searching for Alliance.
"Oh, again right on the money, here," said Harry tossing the Captain a sealed bottle, "crack it open before the other guests arrive."
"Guests" growled Jayne arming Vera, "What guests?"
"It was an operative issued tracker, high priority, it is Alliance protocol to send a strike team to its location and on a world like this," mused Harry, "think we can get maybe twenty of them down here, what do you think, Captain."
"I think you've gone 'round the bend," said the Captain, "Jayne, Zoë we have to hoof it."
"Now that's just rude, Captain" said Harry sitting on the failing bed and examining his assembled arsenal, "you gate crashed my party but that doesn't mean you can insult the host, and anyway it's no use."
Harry took another long swig and threw the near empty bottle against the wall shattering it, "The tracker has a fifteen minute response time, and I'd been here for about twelve and I'd also venture a guess that you've been here for about two, maybe two and a half."
"What the hell have you got us into, Harry" cursed Zoë as he armed her weapon.
"I didn't do anything, you guys just showed us," shouted Harry, "I thought they had showed up early when Jayne entered the room, sorry for the knife, but you know safety is everything, well obviously not your safety."
All four of them paused when the heard distant screams from other rooms in the building, Harry somehow in spite of all the empty bottles that lay scattered round the room had entered a militaristic attitude, no sloppy movements in his stance or slurred words, just seriousness.
"Looks like it is about that time," said Harry picked up a rather large assault rifle and peering out the window seeing that the others wouldn't be able to take the same exit as the armless operative.
Harry awoke when his skull smacked against the metal frame of a speeding mule and was subsequently somewhat humiliatingly knocked unconscious again when a bump in the road caused him to smack his skull against the same metal frame.
"No, no, no, no" yelled Harry.
The doctor was advancing on Harry with some sort of medical apparatus.
"Relax, Harry" said the doctor, his words were supposed to calming but he said them threateningly, "It's Dr. Tam, everything's fine."
Harry scrambled off the table, "I know who you are, doc."
Zoë was leaning up against the wall of the infirmary observing Harry's erratic movements.
Calming his breathing Harry tried to process what had happened but his mind was still clouded by the alcohol, with furrowed brows Harry asked, "What happened?"
"You passed out" said Simon.
"I put your grenades to use," said Zoë coolly.
"And then you passed out" said Simon.
"You weren't too steady on your feet and you got knocked out by the explosion," explained Zoë.
"Or you passed out," muttered Simon.
Harry sighed, he always cursed the vulnerability of his immortality that allowed him to be knocked unconscious, but then again its vulnerability is what allowed him to imbue alcohol without his advanced healing rendering it null.
"That's somewhat disappointing" admitted Harry, "narratively speaking of course, skipped out on the fight scene."
"You're still drunk," figured Zoë.
"Doesn't make it any less true," muttered Harry his eyes closed due to the throbbing in his head, "Are the others alive?"
"Yes," said Zoë again coolly.
"I'm sorry, you shouldn't have been there," said Harry.
Zoë lightly pushed herself away from the wall, "Why were you there?"
Harry shrugged his arms in the obvious, "Kill the operative."
"That didn't work out," said Zoë.
Harry replied, "He wanted it too much, worked out better."
"Why did you stay?" asked Zoë.
"I'm ambitious," Harry said as he reached behind Zoë for his pistols and knifes, "Sorry you lost your pilot, but he wouldn't have been a good fit, too much of a yes man."
Harry sighed, "And I'm sorry about Wash, and the Shepherd."
Zoë crossed her arms, "And you thought that killing the operative was revenge?"
Harry shrugged and shook his head, "Wash was my friend and when I found out I needed someone to blame, the operative was responsible for the Shepherd's death and indirectly responsible for Wash's, but indirectly was good enough."
Zoë didn't say anything and neither her expression nor posture showed an emotion, she was ice.
"Who is on board?" Harry asked.
"Myself," said the Captain as he walked into the infirmary, "these two, Kaylee, Jayne, Inara and River."
The Captain noticed a subtle flinch at the last two names, "You put yourself into something mighty stupid."
"I had it under control," muttered Harry.
"Yep, and that was why Jayne had to throw you out of the window into a dumpster and then carry you to the mule," scoffed the Captain.
"I didn't know you were going to be there," said Harry.
"And neither did we," said Zoë.
"Where are we heading?" asked Harry.
"Persephone," said the Captain, "Need to discuss with Badger about what he describes as 'good folk'".
"I take it I am free to leave when we make port, Captain?" asked Harry.
"You're free to go when we make port" said the Captain making to leave but turned back and handed Harry what looked like a melted bit of plastic that resembled modern art, "Your music box was the only causality, but it wasn… "
The Captain was cut off by the lights turning off. Simon was about to say something when the com lit up, "Reavers."
The single word that sounded over the com made Simon, Zoë, Harry and the Captain freeze, "They might not see us," suggested Simon hopefully.
The ship shuddered and the com lit up again, "They've roped us, Captain" said the voice of Kaylee.
All four of them sprang into action, Simon ran to the engine room in hopes of helping Kaylee while Zoë, the Captain and Harry went to the bridge where River was.
"Two" said Zoë looking out the view panel.
"Three" said Harry and River in unison.
While Harry's feelings of contempt for River hadn't dulled, he didn't had the luxury of bringing those emotions to the surface.
"The big one is two ships, likely tangled but I think they may be able to detach," said Harry.
"Can we shake the harpoon, sir?" Zoë asked the Captain
The Captain who has sitting in the pilot's chair replied, "I think they've got us hooked and just our luck it's the big one that has us."
Harry leaned over the Captain an engaged the com, "Anyone who isn't immediately needed get down to the cargo bay."
Harry ran down the hall to the catwalk practically jumped down the stairs in urgency. Harry heaved a fuel drum of into the airlock and on the return he saw Zoë, Simon, Jayne and Inara making their ways down towards him, Harry supposed that River and the Captain were needed on the bridge and Kaylee in the engine room.
"Zoë, Jayne, help me move these drums into the airlock," Harry shouted urgently, "Inara, Simon find some cord, a lot of it."
The four did as instructed Harry supposed out of the fact that they had didn't know what else to do.
As Jayne heaved a fuel drum he grunted, "You know we ain't got no cannons, we can't make these go boom."
"I know," grunted Harry as he moved another drum.
"Then what good is if dumping our emergency fuel?" asked Simon.
Harry ignored Simon, "Okay, that's more than enough fuel, you need to tie them up," said Harry to Simon and Inara.
"I don't understand," said Inara confusedly.
Harry hadn't met Inara's eyes since he came aboard, but at her question he accidently found himself looking straight into them.
"Just, just…," Harry swallowed, "Tie up the drums and seal the inner doors, but don't dump them." Harry left the others doing as he instructed and ran back up to the bridge.
"Harry, what the hell are you doing?" asked the Captain as Harry met him in the hall.
"We can't ditch them" said Harry as he went to move passed the Captain.
The Captain stopped Harry, "We need to arm up," he said, "The only hope is to fight them off."
"We can't fight off three Reaver raiding ships, Captain," said Harry, "I can get us away, if you let me."
The Captain didn't say anything and was still blocking Harry's path, "If you do this wrong, we're all dead," said the Captain solemnly.
"If I do this wrong, then we can still try to fight them off," countered Harry not looking away from the Captain.
The Captain with a sigh despite himself said, "What do you need?"
"Kaylee in the engine room and River out of the bridge," said Harry.
The Captain nodded, he and Harry in agreement to go out fighting. Harry sat himself down in… Wash's seat, he didn't take notice to what the Captain said to River but he soon took her seat.
"I don't need a co-pilot, Captain" said Harry concentrating on the position of the Reaver ships.
"Just do what you need to do," said the Captain his tone saying that there wasn't any room for argument.
Harry activated the coms, "Jayne standby the airlock release, Kaylee prepare for full burn, the rest of you strap in," said Harry as he himself strapped in and the Captain followed suit.
"Captain?" asked Kaylee nervously over the coms.
"You have your orders," said the Captain.
Harry manoeuvred Serenity at a steep angle downwards at a spin making it so the rear of Serenity was perpendicular with the side of the dual River ship.
"Okay, Jayne, prepare the release the payload," said Harry as he readied the controls, "in 3, 2, 1, now Jayne."
As Jayne opened the airlock, Harry lurched Serenity whipping her tail sending the payload towards the rear of the Reaver ship.
"Harry, you know that without enough air, it ain't going to explode," said the Captain as he and Harry watched the slow movement of the payload on the monitor towards the ship that they were tethered to.
"Kaylee, prepare for full burn on my mark, and Captain" said Harry, "those ships are running without core containment."
"That helps us, how?" asked the Captain.
"Without core containment, those death traps are bound to be pumping excess oxygen," said Harry, his eyes not leaving the monitor, "and where have we sent our payload?"
"The propulsion system," said the Captain with realisation.
"On the money once again Captain," nodded Harry, "Kaylee, you ready?"
"As we'll ever be," squeaked Kaylee over the coms.
"Full burn in 3, 2, 1, now," Harry shouted over the intercom.
On the "2" the payload collided with the dual Reaver ship's propulsion system and with them operating without core containment the heat that they were giving off ignited the roped fuel drums and blew apart the rear of the ship.
"We're still hooked," Zoë yelled over the coms.
As Serenity engaged full burn, Harry whipped the ship sharply dislodging the harpoon from the structurally weakened Reaver ship. Once they were free Harry quickly engaged the thrusters and rabbited away from the second Reaver ship who couldn't follow as it was blocked by the wreckage of the dual ship.
For a moment neither the Captain nor Harry spoke, Harry leant back in the pilot's chair and let out a sigh of relief and felt the unfamiliar muscles of his face contorting into a genuine smile.
Harry was broken out of a trance of blissfulness when Inara's voice sounded out of the coms, "I take it by the lack of screaming that we're safe."
Taking a deep breath, Harry leant over the com, "We're clear."
Harry heard whoops of happiness from down in the ship and the Captain placed a congratulatory hand on Harry's shoulder.
"What are you doing," the Captain asked nervously, Harry was furiously plotting a course in the NAVSAT trajectory system.
"It won't take long for the other Reaver ship to follow and if they were already operating in units, I don't doubt they'll call for reinforcements, they don't like losing to their prey," said Harry, "I'm taking us somewhere safe, lay low for a spell."
The Captain leaned over to see where Harry had plotted, "Tanna" said the Captain, "Never heard of it."
Harry stood up and moved to the lockers on the walls of the bridge, "That's the point, Captain," said Harry as he pulled a bucket out of the locker, "Now, Captain, if that's all, I think I need to throw up."
As Harry walked down the hall with his bucket, the Captain yelled out to Harry as he moved into the pilot's seat, "Alcohol is the devil's brew, Harry."
All the Captain got in response was a horrible retching sound.
While Harry was searching in the infirmary he knew that the crew were probably going to approach him, it would be about ninety minutes until they reached Tanna, ninety minutes with seven people who all had different attitudes towards him. Harry turned when he heard someone knock on the frame of the infirmary's door.
"You got my baby groaning and moaning, Harry," said Kaylee shaking her head, "This ship ain't built to whipping 'round and such."
Opening another cabinet and looking inside, Harry smirked, "She held together well enough, managed to take out two Reaver raiding ships and ditch the third. I think that's worth some groaning and moaning."
"Suppose so," grinned Kaylee, "That was some fancy manoeuvring you did back there."
"Uh huh," said Harry turning to Kaylee, "Have you guys moved the hydration packs?"
"Don't know," said Kaylee who had heard Harry's retching and was taking notice of how dazed and glassy his normally bright eyes were. While Harry could sober up with magic, a hydration pack surpassed magic in speed.
Learning against the bench Harry took in Kaylee, she was certainly dirty, oil and grime were common place and seemed to be ingrained into the patterns of her clothing. She seemed happier since the last time he'd seen her, Harry supposed that was due to the 'celebrating' he had heard from Simon and her in the euphoria of their escape.
"How are you, nowadays?" Harry asked.
Kaylee smirked slyly, "Don't you know?", Kaylee noticed Harry's confusion and elaborated, "The Captain's told tales 'bout you," again Harry looked confused and Kaylee was become impatient with Harry's lack of comprehension, "enough tales to fill a book, a book that was be an interesting read," Kaylee emphasised the last word greatly.
Harry nodded in comprehension, but didn't want to cut Kaylee any slack, "Ask what you want to ask, Kaylee."
"But you already know what I'm going to ask," said Kaylee.
Harry looked directly into Kaylee's in the hope that she would know that he wasn't lying, "Kaylee, I'm not reading you."
Kaylee unconsciously relaxed her posture at Harry's statement, "That's a comfort."
Simon walked into the infirmary checking his workspace and looking miffed at how Harry had searched for his quarry, "But you could if you wanted to," said Simon, "Read us, you can control it."
Knowing what Simon was going to ask Harry turned away and keep searching the draws and cabinets.
"Can you?" Simon asked again.
Harry half-shrugged, half nodded.
"Can you teach it?" asked Simon seriously.
"Didn't think you'd trust me with your sister, doctor" said Harry avoiding the question, "You know after what happened."
"After everything," said Simon closing the cabinets and draws that Harry had left open, "We've seen her do things, she… ah, she once took out two dozen Reavers by self, once she got the Miranda secret out of her head, she controls the triggers better, and with the things we saw he do, your story made a lot more sense."
"If it was the secret that was digging into her," said Harry, "She shouldn't need teaching if she has it under control."
"She's loads better, Harry," said Kaylee, "and she ain't fighting or not knowin' where she's at anymore."
"But she still picks up everything," Simon cut in, "and that would be hard for anyone to take."
Harry nodded as he moved around the room, "I am not helping your sister, doctor."
"Why?" asked a voice that sent uncomfortable shivers down the immortal's spine.
Harry turned to face River who was standing in the doorway of the infirmary, it seemed she hadn't change her taste in wardrobe. There she stood in two sizes to big heavy black cargo boots, dark patterned short-skirted sundress and a kaftan kimono tied around her waist in contact with her hair that fell to the small of her back.
"You know why," said Harry coarsely.
"That wasn't her fault" tried Kaylee.
"It was her choice," shouted Harry angrily, "She might've not been able control it, but she damn well knew how to direct it. It wasn't the ability that made her do what she did." Harry turned to River, "It was your curiosity that made you sneak into my room and pillage my mind when it was at its weakest."
"Pillage?" said Kaylee confused at the context, not the statement.
Harry sighed, still not wavering from River's gaze but no longer referring to her, "View then, she broke into my mind and viewed as she pleased," said Harry, now directing his words at River, "you purposefully invaded my mind and saw my own memories, mine, not yours or anyone else's."
"She didn't have control, Harry" reasoned Simon.
"She had enough control, doctor" said Harry, "like I said before, she had enough control to direct it in a way which let her see what see wanted to see, to let her see what she had no right to see. My head is my property and you," Harry turned back to River, "had absolutely no god damn business being in my head, just because you could see into the other doesn't mean you should have been, you never had to right to look into my head and see things I didn't want anyone to ever see."
Harry turned away from the three, Simon heard Harry mutter what he thought was, "Things I don't even let myself see, anymore."
"So you won't teach, River" said Kaylee.
"I don't even want him to teach me," cried River in indignation of not having gotten a word in.
"That right," began Harry in obviously passive aggressive tone, "She's already used my head as a picture book, I'm sure she got all the information she needs."
"The sarcasm veils scars," stated River.
"Oh, I see she still hasn't got that phrasing down pat yet, and I wasn't being sarcastic," said Harry.
"No you were being mean," said Kaylee.
"I wasn't being mean, Kaylee" sighed Harry, "Despite the fact that I had every right to be mean, I wasn't being mean. If I wanted to be mean I'd say that I won't help the psychic. Oh, damn, I guess I've picked up River's screwed up phrasing because it didn't mean psychic, I mean psycho."
Simon looked at Harry in scorn taking River with him out of the infirmary. Harry felt bad at what he said, but he couldn't take it back.
Kaylee gave Harry a pitying look, "There weren't no need for you to say those things."
"Kaylee," struggled Harry, "There a lot of things that I'd like to forget from my life and some things I treasured, but unfortunately in my case the whole lot of bad overshadows the little good and I have the ability to shield myself from them, but River she… she took it upon herself to go looking through my memories, my secrets, my nightmares to satisfy her curiosity about me, she committed the ultimate breach of trust."
Kaylee's face was stricken with confusion and sadness, "I understand that must be hard, but River is in pain. I'd have thought that you'd be the sort'a fella who'd be able to put that behind you to help someone in need."
"This isn't a petty argument," said Harry, "The things she saw, Kaylee, are things I don't let myself remember, for a reason, it isn't as simple as forgiveness."
"And your feelings for her don't make you want to help her," asked Kaylee.
Harry gave Kaylee a pained look, "Just because I had, emphasis on had, Kaylee, just because I had a thing for River doesn't matter in this sense. I'm not helping her because… because, Christ Kaylee, I'm just not going to help her. That doesn't take away from what I think of her, Kaylee, I liked River, but a person is defined in part by their actions, and her actions spoke volumes."
Kaylee pursed her lips and pushed herself off the bench, she knew that nothing she could say would change the way Harry saw things.
As she disappeared into Simon's bunk, Harry yelled to the doctor, "Where the hell are the hydration packs, doctor."
"We're out" yelled Simon back coldly.
As Harry moved up the stairs into the hall of the crew's bunks, the Captain and Zoë pressed themselves against the wall of Serenity. They were standing next to a vent that led down to the infirmary, and this vent had the nasty habit of carrying the voices from the infirmary up to where the Captain and Zoë stood.
"It's a good idea," said the Captain. He looked at Zoë, but she didn't respond, "isn't it?" the Captain added uncertainly.
"I don't know, sir" said Zoë as she and the Captain walked down into the kitchen.
"Well he dismembered our replacement pilot," smirked the Captain.
Zoë's eyes darkened, "Should've killed him."
"I got some thoughts similar to that myself," the Captain admitted.
"He's good" grunted Zoë, "Wash always said Harry was as good as him in a pinch," she smirked before continuing, "Always made a note that he was just a little bit better than Harry, though."
The Captain smirked at the memory, "Yeah, and not everyone can shake Reavers like Harry did."
Zoë nodded, "It was quick thinking, but even if you offer him the job, there is no guarantee that he'd accept. And if he did, no doubt there'd be some comments from the others. He said himself that he wasn't going to help River, you heard it too Captain, those feelings might be troublesome if they were both on the ship."
"They'd figure it out," said the Captain certainly.
"How so?" asked Zoë.
"They both want to be here, even if Harry won't admit it," said the Captain.
"Sir, there is the other issue of Harry himself, we all know that he is good, but that's all we really know about him," reasoned Zoë, she wasn't trying to dissuade the Captain but was trying to get him to see it from both sides.
The Captain said calmly, "Man deserves his secrets. As long as he has your back when the time comes."
Zoë looked at the Captain seriously, "And how do you know that Harry will have your back when the time comes, sir?"
Looking equally as serious at Zoë, the Captain said, "Because that's the sort of man he is."
Harry kicked his boot against the hatch.
"Come in," Jayne grunted.
Jayne looked up expecting to see Mal or the doc or anyone else.
"Do you have hydration packs?" Harry asked.
Jayne, not forgetting that Harry was a reader shook his head. Harry nodded and was about to climb the ladder when he saw something.
"That's my sword," exclaimed Harry moving over to where Jayne had placed it.
"Dropped it," said Jayne who had regained his composure, "in the fight." As Jayne remembered once again that Harry could read his mind, he added, "Just keeping it safe, was going to give it back to you."
"Are you reading me mind?" Jayne asked.
"Sure" said Harry as he climbed the ladder with the sword in his hand.
"It's tough," admitted Simon to Kaylee, they were both sitting in his bunk while River slept on his bed, "I understand what he's saying, but River needs help, she's in pain."
Kaylee nodded, her head against Simon's shoulder, "If someone broke into my head and saw everything I never wanted to tell anyone, I wouldn't be doing them any favours."
"But if he found a way to control it, that is incredible," said Simon as he rubbed Kaylee's hand, "I just wish River was able to, I just want her to be able to be who she wants to be."
"And Harry might be able to help, I understand, but we also don't know if it can be taught," mused Kaylee.
Simon looked over at River's sleeping form and sighed, "Anything that can be learned, can be taught."
"But he said he won't do it," said Kaylee, "it's different than River, but he is in pain too from what she did. They were close before, they were friends, she and him used to able to talk, but that always turned into her trying to kill, but Harry always took it."
Simon nodded, "But she went too far." Simon looked at River and digested Kaylee's comment about River and Harry's closeness, "River and Harry were never, … you don't think… "
Kaylee laughed at Simon, "They weren't sweeties."
"Good," Simon relaxed.
"Probably," Kaylee shrugged.
Harry internally cursed himself for what he was about to do, he raised his fist to knock but was saved the trouble when it opened of its own accord.
"Nice sword," mused Inara.
A little taken aback by her sudden appearance and her state of appearance, it seemed she had changed since the Reaver incident, she was wearing a flowing red and gold gown with similarly coloured bands in her raven hair.
"Jayne thought so too," said Harry.
"Do you wish to enter?" asked Inara gesturing to her shuttle's interior.
"Sure" said Harry following her inside, "Is was wondering if you had any… "
Inara cut Harry off, "Hydration packs," at Harry's look she elaborated, "I heard you yelling at the doctor."
Harry didn't respond only nodded.
"Is this a trade?" asked Inara, "The Sword for the hangover cure."
Harry smirked, "I'm not even sure I need it anymore, taken so long to find one."
Despite herself Inara smiled, "It is of no consequence, I don't carry hydration packs."
Harry nodded and made to leave, but Inara spoke.
"Harry," started Inara, "Would you sit?"
Harry nodded silently and sat down where Inara was gesturing.
"I owe you an apology" Inara struggled, "Back at Nandi's, she had told me about you and… and Kass in confidence, and then in the morning I abused her trust and used it as ammunition against you."
As Inara took a deep breath after speeding through her sentence, Harry's grip tightened around the sword at the mention of Kass.
Inara expected Harry to shout at her but he spoke firmly instead, "What happened that morning? You were crying."
Inara turned away for a fraction of a second, "I saw Mal… the Captain leaving Nandi's room."
Harry nodded processing the information, "And you came running to me."
Inara put on a smile that was a little too forced, "Many would take compliment that a companion would run towards then."
Harry gave Inara a soft smile at her deflection, "Many would feel something else knowing that spending a night with another woman would send a companion running away from them and towards another man."
Inara grimaced at Harry, she always seemed unable to maintain the companion façade when he was around, "Nevertheless, I apologise for my actions."
Harry nodded again, Inara noticed that he was nodding more than talking in this conversation, "I won't say that I didn't mean to yell at you, because I did, but I will say that I wish I hadn't. It's just… I hadn't talked about… her in a long time and when you bought her up, a lot of emotions came to the surface and I saw red."
The two sat in silence, unable to think of something else to say.
"It's… " began Inara awkwardly, "It really is a nice sword."
Internally smirking Harry handed the sword to her.
"It's fine craftsmanship," said Inara as she examined the sword, "Perhaps a bit to ornate to be functional."
"It gets the job done" replied Harry.
"It is rare to find a weapon like this," said Inara gesturing to the ruby encrusted hilt, "so far out in the black."
"I didn't steal it," said Harry getting up.
Inara quickly spoke wanting to correct herself, "No, I never thought you did," she handed Harry back the sword.
As Harry pressed the door release button, Inara asked, "The name below the hilt 'Gryffindor' is that your surname?"
"Potter" Harry said with a pause, "My name is Harry Potter."
And with that Harry exited the shuttle, leaving Inara to her thoughts. Closing the shuttle door Harry went to make his way up to the bridge, but met the Captain and Zoë on the catwalk.
"What were you doing in Inara's shuttle?" asked the Captain.
"It seems, sir," Zoë began with a rare smile, "That Harry was showing Inara his sword."
Harry sighed, "There is also a joke about Jayne grabbing my sword but I don't have the energy, we need to prep for landing."
The Captain and Zoë nodded at led Harry to the bridge, "What's so special about this 'Tanna' that will help us hide from the Reavers," asked Zoë as the Captain and Harry sat themselves in the co-pilot and pilot seats respectively.
"Reaver's don't like vegetated planets, they like dunes and sand, they are uncomfortable with trees," said Harry as he pointed to the clearly vegetated moon that they could just see in the distance, "And it was the closest place that we could reach without the Reavers catching us, without core containment they are fast, but hopefully they will just sail on past the moon with trees."
"Makes… some sense" said the Captain as he watched Harry enter the entry sequence into Serenity with ease.
"Plus they wouldn't land here even if they wanted to," said Harry.
"Why is that?" asked Zoë as she watched Harry work Serenity's controls like a professional.
"Magic" shrugged Harry causing Zoë and the Captain to smirk at his joke.
Harry's mind was racing as Kaylee activated the opening of the cargo bay door. Harry, Zoë, Inara, Simon, the Captain, River and Jayne walked out of Serenity into Tanna's fresh air. A few metres away from the ship was Pup wagging his tail frantically at the sight of his master. Pup was being held back by a pretty Asian woman who was struggling significantly to hold the energetic hound's collar.
The group followed Harry as he walked to the woman, "It's good to see you," said the woman as Harry kissed her cheek.
Harry bent down to pat Pup, "Thanks for letting us crash here, Di."
"It's no problem," smiled Di as she awkwardly waved to the motley bunch standing sheepishly before her as Harry scratched Pup's ears.
"We thank you for the hospitality, … " said the Captain prompting for her name.
"Diana," she replied shaking the Captain's hand, "But everybody calls me Di."
"It's nice to meet you, Di" the Captain said as he rocked on the balls of his feet, "I'm Captain Malcolm Reynolds," he said gesturing to himself and then to Zoë, "this is my first mate, Zoë, our mechanic Kaylee, Simon our doctor, Inara our resident ambassador and that's Jayne and River at the end."
"It's a pleasure to meet you all, you best come inside, the rains should be coming any moment," started Di but her focus shifted when a small mass rocketed past her and into Harry.
"Harry" exclaimed the young girl in excitement as Harry hugged her enthusiastically.
"Hey, there little one" said Harry as he stood up with the young girl still attached to his torso, "Did you get my birthday present?"
The young girl nodded into Harry's chest.
"Yes, she got all five of them, Harry," Di said sternly.
"Five years old warrants five presents," smirked Harry.
"You spoil her" reprimanded Di, "Now come on, I don't want to get caught in the rain."
The group followed Di through a small township while Harry tried to hold off the jumping Pup while the child clung to chest.
"It's where you left it" Di said as she pointed to a small garage.
Harry nodded and detached the child, "You go with your Mum, I'll meet you in there in a sec," while Harry entered the garage, Di gestured for the others to follow her inside.
"Go on, sit down," said Di gesturing to a large table in the centre of a wood panelled room, "I've just made breakfast."
Jayne immediately sat down at started pulling food towards him, while the others took their seats.
"We really can't thank you enough," said Zoë.
"It's just breakfast" shrugged the little girl as she accidently choked on her food.
"Lee, don't talk with your mouth-full," Di reprimanded.
"Yes," said Simon as he took a plate, "it was kind of you to let us hide out here, not many would."
"This town owes Harry a lot," said Di as placed a pitcher of juice on the table, "and any friends of his, are friends of ours."
"Do you get many ships here?" asked Kaylee placing food on a plate a passing it down the table.
"Not many," said Di sitting down, "We get supplies every few weeks and a few transport ships."
Lee sniggered, "Harry crashed a ship in the forest once."
"Really" said Zoë, she seemed more at ease with children than the rest of the crew.
"Yep," Lee nodded importantly, "right into Jayslip's creek."
"Ching Ahn Jing Yi Dien Xiao Mei Mei" Di said sharply cuffing Lee over her head.
"Starting to rethink your offer there, sir" said Zoë slyly.
"What offer?" asked Jayne food spilling over of his mouth as he spoke.
Di seeing Jayne's rudeness said sternly, "If you act like a dog, you can go and eat with them."
Lee sniggered and Di gave her a warning look.
"What offer?" asked Simom as he spooned some eggs onto his toast.
The Captain deflected the question gesturing that he had food in his mouth.
"Captain offered Harry the pilot's seat once we landed," Zoë said coolly.
As the assembled group all started to voice their opinions, the Captain raised a hand to silence them and swallowed, "Yes, I asked Harry if he'd consider re-joining Serenity, we all know that we have been struggling without a proper pilot and we've all seen what he can do, today especially, I was struggling to think a reasons why I shouldn't offer him the job. I know y'all have your piece you want to say, but Harry hasn't said yes, said he had to think on it some, so let's calm down and enjoy our breakfast." And with that the Captain pulled the bacon towards him in a finality on the topic.
"So… " squeaked Lee from her lower position on the table, "How long are you staying?"
"Half-day, maybe" Zoë told Lee, but turned to Di, "If that sits well with you of course."
"Stay as long as you need," smiled Di and turned to Lee, "Lee, can you go tell Harry that there won't be any food left if he doesn't hurry."
As the crew and their host watched young Lee's retreating form exit the house, Kaylee said, "She's precious."
"That she is," mused Di as she took a sip of her juice, "and if you wouldn't mind, could you not let her hear about the," she mouthed Reavers, "don't want to give her nightmares."
"Of course," said Inara as she poured herself some tea from the steaming pot.
"How old is she?" asked Simon.
"Turned five two months back," smiled Di, "she thinks that because she's older now that she can do everything the older kids do, the pastor caught her last week trying to start Harry's motorcycle, but knowing Harry he is probably congratulating her and teaching her how to do it right now."
"She emulates" said River quietly.
"That she does, and she has Harry wrapped around her little finger," Di nodded, "He keeps his bike in the shed sometimes and last year she asked Harry to teach her how to pick a lock, for educational purposes of course, and of course Harry didn't see anything wrong with that, he thought that a four-year old would forget it pretty soon, but she didn't, and when Harry came to visit he found his bike in pieces, experimenting on it is what she said she was doing."
The crew laughed as they ate, "No doubt Harry is trying fix whatever she's done with it this time," said Di.
"If you don't mind me asking," started Inara, "is Harry, Lee's… "
Di shook her head in amusement before Inara could finish her question, "No, no, me and Harry ain't never been together. I met him way back when he ran with my brother Damon, thick as thieves they were."
"Does Damon live on Tanna?" Simon asked.
Di shook her head sorrowfully as she collected the crew's dirty plates together, "Damon passed long ago close to ten years now."
"I'm sorry" said Simon genuinely.
"No matter, Lee came along few years later, she and Harry are all the family I need," Di said as she placed the dirty plates in the sink, "and speak of the devil," said Di cheerily seeing Lee came inside, judging by the dampness of her clothes the rain had started, "where's Harry?"
"He said he needed to put the seat back on his bike because despite my thoughts on the matter it would be a bit hard to ride in the future," said Lee with her eyes scrunched trying to recall the message, "and he said he wasn't feeling too good and didn't want any food and then he muttered something about moderation."
"That so," mused Di turning to the crew, "Well, there is water in the tap and the couches out in the other room ain't so uncomfortable, I'm sure you need some rest after flying through the night."
"Thanks," grunted Jayne who was already eyeing the most comfortable looking couch.
"We'll help you wash up," offered Zoë nudging the Captain to agree.
Di smiled as walked over to the sink, "I ain't the sort to turn away an offer like that."
While Di and Zoë washed up the plates and glasses, Inara and the Captain dried and replaced them in their cupboards.
"So what living do you lot make for yourself?" asked Di as she scrubbed a bowl.
"Transport," said Zoë, "Cargo mostly."
"I take it that your work isn't strictly legal," Di mused coyly.
"How did you… ?" asked Mal.
Di smirked, "Ain't Harry's style to go legit, I met Harry was I was a teenager and ever since I don't think I've ever seen Harry doing something that doesn't piss of some person or another."
"Really?" asked Inara.
"Most like," nodded Zoë, "Yeah, when Harry and Damon ran together they were making a bit of noise, see. Well, they got on the radar of someone called Niska, never met him myself but from what Damon told me he wasn't a good man or anything resembling a good man."
"What did they do for Niska?" asked Inara as she dried a tall glass.
Di smirked, "They were running this scam of sorts, Niska would either give them cargo or get to steal something and he would make them take it a buyer and bring back the cash."
"I don't get the scam," said Zoë confused.
"Well, Niska only cared about the bottom line, he wasn't interested in being a middle man, he never spoke to his buyers. So Harry and Damon would take the cargo and sell it to a third party, a man by the name of Druce, so they would take the stuff to Druce who'd give them whatever Niska was expecting, but he would then make sure the cargo got into the hands of the people who actually needed it." Di explained.
The Captain nodded, "So Niska got his money even though Harry and Damon gave the goods to the wrong people and because he never dealt with buyers, Niska didn't know the difference."
"Exactly" nodded Di, "Simplistically profitable."
"That's quite an operation," mused Inara.
"Yeah," said Di as she pulled the ship's plug out, "'Sept Niska started to like Harry and Damon too much, you see they were his most dependable men, always got him the money on time without fail, so Niska was looking to make them his lieutenants, but that would've moved them out of transport and into more unseemly positions. Harry and Damon were never going to work for Niska in that sense, hell they actually were never working for Niska in the first place, they made up some excuse about not wanting to leave the skies or something, left on good terms with the bastard, Niska even sent 'his boys' Christmas presents."
As Di was finishing her story she put the fruit peels into a small machine and uncapped a clear bottle of liquid, pouring a small amount in the fuel cartridge and let the machine mulch up the waste. But as the machine mulched Zoë's faced turned a sickly shade.
"Where is your bathroom?" Zoë asked quickly.
Once Di had pointed Zoë rocketed inside and a retching sound was heard, "What happened?" Inara asked worriedly.
The Captain eyed the clear bottle and sniffed it before putting it's cap on, "It's nothing, she's fine" he reassured Inara.
Di looked from the bottle to where Zoë had disappeared to, "Oh," she said in realisation, "How far along is she?"
"What?" Inara almost shouted.
"'Bout four months," said the Captain calmly, "How did you know?"
"I was the same way with Lee, any smell of alcohol sent me packing," nodded Di.
"Wait, what, Zoë's pregnant," exclaimed Inara in a serious whisper.
Di covered her mouth, "I'm sorry, I thought you all must've known."
"She told me and the doctor," said the Captain, "Didn't want any else to know until she was further along."
"Well, for four months she's hardly showing," said Di.
Inara still confused asked, "Why did the bottle make her sick?"
"It's methylated spirits, honey," said Di, "We use it to fuel the composter. Must've made her nauseous."
"It's why we needed a proper pilot," explained the Captain, "She didn't wanted to do everything she could to make it easier."
Inara had to sit down at the revelation, "It's like a little bit of Wash is still with us."
Di looked confused, "What happened to the father?"
"He was killed," swallowed the Captain, "Shy of five months back."
"That must be tough," mused Di, "I was the same way, Lee's dad skipped out before he knew I was going to have a baby, but she seems tough, and with a family as big as yours, I'm sure she'll be fine."
The Captain who still hadn't got used to the idea of his first mate being pregnant with the child of his deceased friend was reeling from the conversation as he truly realised that an actual baby would be coming.
Di nudged Inara worriedly, "I think I broke him."
Music played as Harry lay on the dirt ground of the shed trying to reattach the fuel line to his bike while Pup lay in an extremely oversized pillowed basket in the corner watching. Perhaps it was the loud music, Harry's position or the pounding rain on the tin roof, but Harry didn't notice the shed door open and a person enter.
Inara watched in amusement as Harry on his back had his knees bent upward and was tapping his feet awkwardly to the loudly playing song:
"or the growing need for speed and novocaine.
So I worked across the country from end to end,
Tried to find a place I could settle down, where my mixed up life could mend.
I held a job on an oil-rig, flying choppers when I could,
But the night life nearly drove me 'round the bend.
And I've travelled round the world from year to year,
And each one found me aimless, one more year the worse for wear.
And I've been back to South East Asia, but he answer sure ain't there,
But I'm driftin' north to check things out again.
And the last plane out of… "
Inara couldn't contain herself as Harry kicked his legs out mimicking the points of drumming. At the sound of laughter Harry jerked hitting his head on the underside of his bike as he tried to scramble out from underneath. Quickly leaning past Inara, Harry turned a dial of heavy looking box extinguishing the music.
"You know there's such thing as raincoats," smirked Harry as he took in Inara' appearance.
She had obviously breached the heavy rainfall as she went from the house to the shed, her gown looked almost sheer as it clung to her body and her hair which usually stood in ringlets was plastered somehow still attractively to her face and neck.
"Yes," Inara said as she nudged Harry's boots, "I heard about that the same time someone told me their feet sometimes moved oddly, at the time I thought it was crazy but now I see its contagious." She had tried to say this sarcastically, but the effect was marred by her shivering.
Harry moved away to grab a blanket and threw it at Inara which she gratefully draped over her shoulders.
"I liked the music," Inara said awkwardly as she noticed Harry grimace slightly, "I've never heard anything like it."
Harry nodded, "Must be travelling in the wrong circles then," he offered weakly.
Trying to think of something interesting to say and drawing a blank, Inara settled on saying anything, "Sure does rain a lot here."
Harry laughed as packed up his tools, "Weather, we're talking about the weather. Christ we're really scrapping the bottle of the barrel for conversation. Yeah well, that's why Tanna has so much vegetation, a lot of sun and a lot of rain."
Inara smiled at Harry, "Heard you might join the crew."
"The Captain offered me Wash's seat," Harry nodded.
"Are you going to take it?" asked Inara somewhat impatiently.
"It's Wash's seat" Harry said weakly.
"It's a pilot's seat, Harry" Inara said kindly, "Nobody thinks you're replacing Wash, nobody ever could."
"I miss him, you know" said Harry as he fiddled with a spanner.
"That makes sense," replied Inara.
Harry nodded, not meeting her eye, "I had a lot of people die around me and it's sad, but that's a part of life you know, but Wash's was hard."
"Because you weren't there" said Inara placing her hand on Harry's arm as he sat himself on the work bench she had sat up on.
"Should've been," said Harry, "Should've been there."
Inara moved her hand from Harry's arm to his hand as they both stared forward at the opposite side of the shed.
"When I found out, I didn't really know what to do," said Harry softly, "Should I go to his grave, should I wave Zoë and you guys, should I rage a war against the Alliance."
"What did you do?" Inara asked.
"I was here when I found out, about two months ago. Left Pup and my bike with Di, she was worried about me, thought I was going to do something stupid," said Harry.
"That'd be so unlike you," joked Inara as she rested her head on Harry's shoulder.
Harry laughed, "Didn't help that I drank a bottle of whiskey and told her that I was going to go kill the man who killed my brother."
Inara felt sorry for Harry when he referred to Wash as his brother, "Zoë said you cut off the operatives arm with your sword."
"He was the sort of man who wanted to fall in battle," said Harry, "Disabling him hurt him more than death. Oh, and did Zoë also tell you that they were going to interview the operative for the pilot job."
Inara smirked into Harry's shoulder, "Yes, she did. Seems like he turned to a life a crime to escape the Alliance. Little did he know he should've been worried about escaping you."
Harry felt Inara shiver against him and reached for another blanket draping it over both of their shoulders.
"So are you going to accept Mal's offer," Inara asked as they both stared across the room not having met each other's eyes since they'd been sitting.
"I don't know" Harry shrugged.
"Because of River" Inara guessed.
"That's one reason," Harry said.
"I think," began Inara, "You just have to decide whether your negative feelings outweigh the positives that could come from taking the job."
"That's fair" nodded Harry as he rubbed his arms, "Jesus, it's gotten cold in here."
Inara who knew she was making Harry colder due to that she was still soaking wet and they were sharing blankets said, "You could go over and turn the heater up."
"So could you," said Harry.
Inara reluctantly push herself off the work bench and turned the heater up, "You know," she said, "You're going to take the job, Harry."
"Why's that" said Harry in amusement.
"Because you smiling," she said as she rubbing her arms trying to get warm, "You know, Harry, we should return inside, it's warmer there."
Harry smirked at Inara as he walked over to her and wrapped his blanket around both of them, "But you're in here."
The following evening the crew of Serenity were moving through the mud towards their ship.
"You know you're welcome here anytime" smiled Di.
"That's much appreciated," the Captain said.
As the crew filed inside Serenity, the Captain who was about to close the cargo bay door saw Harry standing on the ramp.
"You coming with?" the Captain asked.
Harry threw his bags into the cargo hold and Pup ran past both of them inside the ship.
The Captain smiled and started to walk towards the stairs with Harry following behind him, "Good" said the Captain, "Because I aim to misbehave."
If you're reading this I thank you for not giving up on my story and reaching the end. Congratulations on slogging it through. Well, this is the final chapter of Immortality in the Verse, at least that is until Immortality in the Verse, Part II which hasn't been written as of yet. Hopefully you'll get to read it before I die, or at least until I can think up a plot or have sought enough inspiration from this stories reviews. Keep an eye out for any other stories I might right, and if you are like me and reeling at the lack of Harry Potter/Firefly stories, you should try to write your own, that is what I did. I'd like to let all who read my story and especially all those who reviewed and commented on it know that I appreciated their input and I hope that my story turned out okay in their eyes. Alright then, be terrific and everything.