"I thought you'd still be asleep," Mal noted as Xander joined him and Jayne in the galley where they were waiting for Kaylee to finish making coffee.

"River woke up early," Xander replied with a shrug.

"I'd think that'd make you more likely to be sleepin' about now," Jayne said.

"I've got more stamina than she does," Xander replied, "and I still haven't figured out how to keep her from reading me."

"Why would that be a problem?" Mal asked.

"She started asking questions about my ex's," Xander said, "and reading my memories about them before I could lie."

"Why would you lie about them?" Kaylee asked as she set a coffee pot on the table and the men quickly filled their cups.

"Well, with the exception of my best friend Willow when we were eight, all the girls I've dated are killers," Xander said while pouring himself a cup.

"Mercenaries or serial killers?" Jayne asked unconcerned, as Kaylee and Mal just stared at him.

"A little of column A and a little of column B," Xander said thinking of Ampata.

"You dated a serial killer?" Kaylee asked, wide eyed.

"To be fair, I didn't know she was one at the time," Xander assured her. "Turned out she had a medical condition that required her to remove something from people to keep on breathing herself. All the others either killed in self defense or because it was their job."

"Best type of women," Jayne said with a smile. "Long as they don't kill you of course."

"Of course," Xander agreed. He took a sip of coffee and shuddered. "What fresh hell is this?!"

"On the rim, coffee's a might hard to come by," Mal said, "real coffee anyway. This is as close as we got."

Xander nodded understandably while being thankful for the plethora of Mana he had on tap. He burned a green Mana and created nine 1lb vacuum sealed bags he'd scanned in an upscale shop back in LA. Pulling them out from his various pockets he piled them on the table. "Real coffee. Would you mind making a pot?" he asked Kaylee.

Kaylee picked up a bag and opened it, leaning forward to give it a sniff. "Oh wow," she said and snatched up the pot so she could pour it out and make some actual coffee.

"What kinda writing is this?" Jayne asked as he examined a bag.

"Arabic," Xander replied. "No idea what it says except the word coffee somewhere. They give them fancy packaging so they can charge more, but the coffee's good anyway."

"Did you just buy coffee before I kidnapped you?" Jayne asked.

"You had good timing," Xander told him.

Zoe entered and picked up one of the bags. "Do I smell coffee?" she asked hopefully.

"Kidnapped Xander just after he'd bought coffee," Jayne said, "had it in his coat."

"I still can't believe you aren't upset," Zoe told Xander, retrieving a mug from a cabinet and sitting down to wait.

"They had a decent enough reason and I was planning on travelling around anyway," Xander said with a shrug.

"Is there real coffee?" Wash asked as he entered the galley.

"Aren't you supposed to be on watch?" Jayne asked.

"Simon's on," Wash told him, rolling his eyes. "I'm not always on watch."

"You're the ruttin' pilot, don't rightly trust anyone else at the helm," Jayne replied.

"Thanks," Wash said dryly at the backhanded compliment.

'It's all clear skies till we reach Sanctuary," Zoe said.

"What all do you guys do in between planets?" Xander asked curiously.

"Polish my guns, make sure they're all clean and proper for when we got a job," Jayne said. "I also annoy Wash, but that's more a hobby than an actual duty."

"So you do, do it on purpose!" Wash exclaimed.

Jayne nodded. "You complained about being bored all the time and being annoyed is better than being bored."

Kaylee set the coffee pot in the middle of the table, interrupting whatever Wash had been about to say and poured herself the first cup. She let out a near orgasmic moan after her first sip while the others were still pouring theirs. "If I didn't love Simon, I'd marry you just for more of this coffee."

"It smells good, but not that good," Wash said before taking a sip. "I stand corrected. Xander… will you marry me? Sorry honey, but it really is that good," he told his wife.

Zoe rolled her eyes and poured herself a cup.

Xander burned another Green Mana and pulled another nine bags of coffee out of his pockets, piling them on the table. "Promise not to marry me and you can have more coffee."

"Deal!" Wash exclaimed cheerfully.

"How in the world did you fit all that in your duster?" Jayne asked. "Just the first nine bags should've taken up all your pockets."

Xander pulled a roll of gold coins out and handed it to Mal.

Mal looked at the gold, slid it into a pocket and said, "Man has deep pockets, ain't nothin' wrong with that."

"Are you really going to bribe the Captain every time someone asks a question like that?" Kaylee asked in disbelief.

"Only till it stops being amusing or I stop doing things I shouldn't," Xander replied honestly, "so not any time soon."

Wash laughed. "You are possibly the strangest passenger we've ever had, but also the most fun and least trouble."

"Least trouble?" Jayne asked with a frown.

"Anything he's done that's caused a stir has only helped us out," Wash said.

Jayne grabbed a second mug and filled it. "Well, I'm going to give the Doc a cup and annoy him."

"Have fun with that," Xander said, amused.

"I always do," Jayne said before leaving.

"Is he really being annoying just to be helpful?" Wash asked.

"Probably more because it amuses him," Mal offered.

"Sounds about right," Wash decided.

"Joking aside, this is the best coffee I've ever had," Zoe told Xander, "thank you."

"No problem, I enjoy my coffee and am happy to share," he replied.

"Who stocked up the galley?" Zoe asked. "Normally we don't fill up till we hit Harvest, them having the best price on food."

"I guess they filled more than the tanks," Mal guessed. "Might be a good idea to avoid visiting there for a bit longer than we planned."

"How long till we hit Sanctuary?" Xander asked, changing the subject.

"Less than a day," Wash replied. "Probably hit it around sunrise their time."

"Excellent," Xander said, setting his empty cup down. "In that case I'm going to try to catch up on some sleep before River wakes up again and hopefully I'll figure out a way to protect my mind from her nosy little self."

"If you find a way, let me know," Wash said. "Things would be a lot quieter if she couldn't just blurt out what we're thinking about."

"Are you still mad she spoiled the surprise present you got me?" Zoe asked.

"Our wedding anniversary only comes once a year," Wash replied with a pout as Xander left.


Xander woke up as Mana flooded his system and opened his eyes to find River staring into them from less than an inch away, which really was no big surprise as the bed was barely big enough for him, much less the two of them.

"You have some funny dreams," River told him. "It's almost like they're memories, but the things that are happening in them are too bizarre and what's with the cheese man? Am I going to get a cheese man in my dreams now? Who's Freddy Krueger?"

Xander tapped a Blue Mana and let it pour over his mind, concentrating on figuring out how to keep River out of his head and hoping for some inspiration as the blue mana sped his thoughts.

"That's no fair," she protested, "your mind's gone all cloudy."

"That was a lot easier than I thought," Xander told her smugly, "so you're just going to have to get used to dealing with someone whose mind you can't read."

"Just because you can't read minds is no reason to block me from reading them," she complained with a huff before laying her head on his chest.

"I haven't blocked you from reading other's minds, just mine," he assured her, wrapping his arms around her.

River moved around on top of him and grinned. "I can feel what you're thinking."

"Nope, I just have to pee," he said, trying to ignore her wriggling.

"What, really?" she asked, sounding disappointed.

"Well… not completely," he was forced to admit, "but mainly. It's hard to feel sexy when you have to pee."

River rolled off him. "Fine, you go do your business, but then come right back here, ya hear?"

Xander chuckled as he got up and pulled on some pants. "We're probably landing shortly which means we won't have time for what you want to do anyway."

River groaned. "Wish Sanctuary was further away. About a week's worth more travel would have been a fine thing."

"I'll bribe you with ice cream or a breakfast burrito if you promise to behave," he told her.

"I always behave," she said firmly. "Behave just means the way you act and I'm always acting the way I act, everyone is."

"Way too philosophical," Xander muttered as he stepped out into the hall, almost running into Simon.

"Oh, I was just about to wake you and let you know we'd be landing shortly," Simon said.

"We're both up," Xander assured him, "and once I pee I'll make sure we're both dressed and ready."

"How is River?" Simon asked.

Xander just gave him a blank look, sure he wasn't asking what he thought he was asking.

"He means mentally!" River called out.

"Oh," Xander said with a nod. "She's pretty solid mentally, though she does wander off on some strange tangents and I can tell she's borrowing mannerisms from other people." He continued down the hall.

Simon opened his mouth and River called out, "Let the man pee, you can see how I am when we land and we're forced off the ship!"

Simon just nodded and went to make sure everything was secure in the medbay.


"The air is brisk," Xander said as he got his first glimpse of the planet and though it looked a bit like the Midwest, at least what he'd seen in westerns of it, lots of grass and scraggly trees.

"You should be more excited to stay in bed with me than to see Sanctuary," River chided him as they walked down the gangplank and were met by a surprised Shepherd Book.

"I'm sure I'm reading something wrong here," Shepherd said, the dark skinned, white-haired preacher, giving Xander a look that said he'd best have misheard things.

"No, you heard correctly," Simon said, as he and Kaylee followed the two out into the early morning sunrise. "Xander was able to repair the damage done to my sister and she's been rather insistent on monopolizing his time."

Shepherd took another look at River, taking in the obvious physical changes before looking into her eyes and breaking into a smile. "It's a miracle!"

"I'm pretty sure it was just Xander," Kaylee said.

"No reason it can't be both," Xander told her, "my running across you and being able to help was pretty long odds."

"You're reading the town," River said suddenly.

"I thought I'd blocked you from reading my thoughts," the young Planeswalker said, feeling the refreshing coolness of the Blue Mana still running through his mind.

"I can still feel a little of their shape," River said smugly. "You're wondering how you can sneak away and heal everyone without anyone noticing."

"Why would you have to sneak around to heal people?" Shepherd asked, wondering what he was missing.

"He likes to hide what he can do," River said. "He's been bribing the Captain to come up with excuses for it."

"Bribing the Captain?" Shepherd asked.

"It's a lot funnier that way," Xander assured the preacher.

"I believe some introductions are in order," the preacher decided, extending a hand. "I'm Shepherd Book, a man of God, just trying to do good works."

"Alexander Harris," Xander said, shaking his hand, "I have a few unique skills."

"Like healing?" Shepherd asked.

"Exactly," Xander agreed.

"And reading people and machines by touch," Kaylee added. "Also pulling bags of coffee out of nowhere."

"He heals machines as easily as people," Simon reminded her.

"Serenity is in the best shape she's ever been… ever!" Kaylee exclaimed with a joyous smile.

"He also does this thing with his tongue that makes my eyes cross," River chimed in.

"And that," Xander agreed without a hint of shame.

"And you healed River?" Shepherd asked.

"Put a wet willy on my forehead and I was healed," River agreed brightly.

Shepherd looked at Xander and raised an eyebrow.

"I licked my thumb and pressed it to her forehead," Xander explained. "I'm pretty sure she's phrasing things like that on purpose."

"And that healed her?" Shepherd asked, deciding to ignore the rest of it.

"I don't have to hear everyone all the time anymore," River said cheerfully, "I can block them out or just let them whisper quietly."

"That's wonderful," Shepherd said, feeling like a weight had been lifted from his soul.

River tilted her head and narrowed her eyes as she looked at Xander. "You're planning on helping this place and being sneaky about it."

"It's hard to be sneaky when you just come right out and say things like that," he complained.

"Why hide helping out?" Shepherd asked. "I assure you, we'll accept any help offered."

Xander shrugged. "Partly because I do things that are flat out impossible," he replied honestly, "and partly because it's just more fun that way."

"As long as it assists my congregation, I have no problem with you being sneaky about it," Shepherd assured him.

"Excellent," Xander said with a grin.

The rest of the crew of the Serenity came down the ramp behind them, Jayne and Mal carrying a couple of good sized crates.

"We got the supplies you asked for," Mal told Shepherd, "not as fresh as I'd like, but not expired neither."

"Good, there's a sickness going around that isn't exactly kind to the youngest and oldest among us," Shepherd said, clearly relieved.

"Hey, ain't that Inara's shuttle?" Jayne asked with a sly grin as he gestured to the side with a jerk of his chin.

"Where?" Mal asked, spinning around, before locking on a shuttle sitting in the next field.

"She's down at the saloon, teaching the youngest to read," Shepherd offered.

"Erm," Mal looked torn.

"I can carry that," Wash said, taking the crate from him and staggering a little before Zoe plucked it from his arms and balanced it on her shoulder without a problem, "or she can."

"We can have someone else make excuses for me," Xander assured him.

Mal nodded and straightened his clothes. "That's probably a good idea. I believe I'll head on down to the saloon and have a drink. Captaining is mighty dry work."

"Who's going to make the excuses?" Kaylee asked as the Captain hurried along the packed down dirt that made up the colony's main street.

"I'll do it," Wash volunteered.

"Are you sure you can handle it?" Jayne asked.

"Sure," Wash said, "been watching the Captain do it. Come up with something that is fairly plausible, but obviously a lie, and act like it's the truth."

"This is going to be fun," Xander said with a grin.

"He's now planning to expand helping by a whole lot," River offered.

"Stop poking my mind," Xander said with a mock frown.

"Then start poking me!" River demanded.

"After lunch," Xander promised.

"Deal," River said, grabbing his hand and shaking it.

"Do they have a reservoir?" Xander asked Wash.

"Sure, ain't real big, but then there isn't that much water around here as we've mentioned," Wash said, leading the two off.

"How much am I missing?" Shepherd asked.

"A fair amount," Zoe replied. "Let's get your supplies delivered and we'll tell you."

Typing By: Abyssal Angel