Zoë is teaching Sarie how to shoot.
She doesn't want to. It's not fair, not to her, not to Sarie, not to anyone. But they were lucky last time.
Lucky that Zoë and Jayne and Mal were all nearby. Lucky that Sarie, with enormous presence of mind for a seven-year-old, bit the hand over her mouth and screamed for all she was worth. Lucky that no one wanted to get in the way when Mal and Zoë started shooting, and that even less people wanted to be nearby when Jayne charged, bellowing, into the fight. Lucky that it was only one man, quickly disavowed by any crime ring. Lucky.
They may not be lucky next time. No one on Serenity wants to contemplate what will happen if they are not. So Sarie must learn to shoot.
It isn't fair, she thinks, for the millionth time, as she tries to get Sarie to aim properly. Sarie doesn't even regard this as anything more than a game. She can't imagine actually shooting a real person. On Serenity, she is safe and loved, and with a child's endless faith, she thinks that she is safe and loved everywhere. The man who tried to hurt her is an abnormality. Something not real.
Zoë knows better. Ever since she was Sarie's age—ever since everyone on Serenity was Sarie's age, really, with the possible exceptions of Simon and River—they have known cruelty, seen that it is dangerous to be helpless in a violent and angry 'verse. So they have made it a point to not be helpless.
None of them had what Sarie had. None of them had a shipful of people willing to die or kill to protect them. None of them had the luxury of innocence.
That's why, she realizes. That's why they all hate the thought of Sarie needing to protect herself. She is their innocence, and they do not want to lose her.
"I think that's enough for the day," she says. "Let's go help your momma with dinner."
A/N: Constructive criticism requested.