Title: Heading

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: K+

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

Summary: Mal finds his heading. 300 words.

Notes: Spoilers for "Serenity" (2005) & "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (2006). Because I apparently have a kink for compass!fic.


"It ain't a thing I ever seen the need to talk on before," Mal said grudgingly, stroking the edge of the dining table with his thumb. "Ain't never been anyone's business but my own how I got the job done."

"And I ain't disagreein' with you in general, sir," Zoe said quietly, staring across the table at him. "Whatever jing-cai knack you have, I long since learned to trust it. But the last few jobs, it ain't so much got things done as interfered, and the others are startin' to take notice."

None of that was news to Mal. He'd seen the concern hid in the lines between Inara's brows, the belligerent set of Jayne's jaw, and the dimming of Kaylee's smiles. There weren't that edge of desperation to 'em there'd been before Miranda, but in some ways their current predicament was worse; bad as things had been then, leastwise they'd always had a heading.

Mal slipped a hand into a pocket of his brown coat and felt, by long habit, for the antique compass that had been his father's legacy. An ordinary compass would have been about as useful in the Black as teats on a bull-- but this weren't no ordinary compass.

Which, of course, was the problem. Piece of fei-wu.

Never in all the years since it had brought him Serenity had it reacted to a person, not even Inara, outside the context of a job. But lately, every time it settled on one direction, it would shift to point at her-- the ethereal presence of his co-pilot.

A more conflicted man-- before the Tams, before Miranda-- might not have admitted what that meant.

"I'll take care of it," he said to Zoe, giving in.

Because Mal would. It meant he needed her to keep flying, too.

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