Title: Strangely Comfortable

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.

Rating: T

Summary: Firefly, Boondock Saints. The crew of Serenity rescue a shipload of students from River's Academy. Connor and Murphy McManus are among them. 5x500 words.

Spoilers: General Firefly; "Serenity" (2005); "Boondock Saints" (1999).

Five Minutes Before


There's a part of Mal that's been waiting for this day ever since he first laid eyes on River Tam. He ain't a man ever cottoned to the notion of slavery, and the sight of her, naked as the day she come crying in that frozen metal box, had touched off a rage in him usually reserved for purplebellies.

If the girl's first word hadn't've been Simon's name, the outcome of that first meeting might have been a good deal bloodier. Doc'd had him on a hair trigger already, what with getting Kaylee shot and then nigh on refusing to help her; useful as the boy was, he'd made a terrible first impression. Took Mal months to warm up to him after that, and by then, he was irritating Mal on a whole host of other levels.

River, though. In that first moment his instinct had been to protect her, and despite all he's learned since he's never managed to shake the impulse. She has a mind like the black, wide open and like to craze a man tries too hard to understand her, but also like the black, she's got right under his skin and made to stay there. Not that he gave in gracious-like, and not that he hasn't tried to dissuade her, but that don't seem to matter none. Since Miranda, ain't a body in the 'verse able to pry her away from him.

He shares a weighty glance with her as the docking clamps latch into place. Since Miranda, she's taken Zoe's place at his side often as not; one of 'em's got to hang back and play pilot, and Zoe's not as keen on the action as she used to be. Not that they're like to need River's special skills this time out. Old transport half a day out from the nearest troop ship, loaded down with two dozen genius kids locked up in drugged slumber, only a handful of doctors between them kids and rescue. Easy pickings. No, River's along for another reason today. Ain't no way to undo what was done to her, but those what done it can still be made to pay.

Simon's set up in the cargo bay with the last of the drugs from the Ariel take, ready to deal with any medical emergencies when their guests come aboard. If the kids are anywhere near as fengle as River was at first, they might have to be kept asleep from here 'til they arrive at their destinations. Kaylee'd wanted to help him, but Mal's sent her to the engine room; he's fair sure they'll need a quick getaway.

A knock comes from the other side of the airlock door, ending the suspense. He grins to himself and nods to Jayne, who holds the promised part up to the window. Mal don't usually stoop to sabotage, but this ain't business, and all's fair in love and war.

The door clangs open. Mal lifts his gun, and they explode into motion.