Summary: Picking up the pieces. Set after BDM.

Disclaimer: I dont own this great universe... (emos)

Quote: I'd challenge you to a battle of wits, but you appear to be unarmed.

Authors Note: This is my first try at fanfiction, be gentle. I'll try to update regularly, but I have a full time job and go to school so I make no promises.

Out in the black of space is a ship. On it are seven individuals who for a moment shook the galaxy. They have worked hard to stay under the radar these past few months, and now it seems the worlds are finally settling down into their normal places.

On the ship all are asleep, or rather should be. However three lay awake, one sits in an empty pilots chair and tries to keep from falling apart, the other is above her waiting for her to slip away so she can check the headings one last time, and the last walks the darken corridors wishing for sleep to still his thoughts.

Morning comes and in the kitchen Kaylee cheerfully whistles as she throws something together. Beside her preparing the coffee is Simon with a big grin on his face, as he watches her. Next to come in is Inara, she glances around the room looking for someone, with a pleasant smile on her face that never falters, though behind the mask she does for a moment.

"Well Kaylee, what are we having this fine morning?"

However Kaylee is interrupted before she can reply by a rough looking man still wiping the sleep from his eyes.

"Gorramit how long till I can get my grub?! A mans likely to waste away waiting on yall lovebirds to quit making moony eyes at each other."

"Now Jayne it aint gonna be but another minute, so just sit tight now."Kaylee replies cheerfully.

During this exchange Zoë slips in quietly, the lack of sleep just barely showing on her face. Behind her comes the captain who chooses to stand against the doorframe rather than sit down.

"Where might our pilot be? I got some news and I don't want to be telling it twice"

Jayne rises from the table and sticks his head out the door to yell, "Crazy! Get down here so Mal can tell us the next stupid ass thing we doin' and I can get some food!"

Inara rolls her eyes. "Eloquent as always Jayne"

A split second later River leaps into the room, making half of the people jump with her sudden appearance. She looks over everyone there and then with a quick nod of her head sits next to Simon.

"Well folks I'll make this quick. We got ourselves a job haulin' some cargo from one of the outer planets, inward."

They all kind of looked around at each other uneasily, but it was Zoë who spoke everyone's thoughts.

"How far inward are we talking sir?"

"Well…it's……inward, ya know?"

"Sir."

"Er…well, its lookingtobeaboutPersephone."

Silence reigns inside the room. "Did you say Persephone?" Inara asks.

Mal quickly nods his head and waits for the chaos to ensue, and boy he is not disappointed. He calmly waits for the shouting to go down, and after a few minutes he gets some silence. Zoë again is the first to summarize what they are all thinking.

"Are you insane, sir?"

Before he could answer that, Kaylee interrupted. "What she means is are ya sure it's safe?"

Jayne chimes in,"Screw that. I think what she means is for the Doc to recommend a good loony bin, ASAP."

Mal saw the Doc start to look him over critically and snaps, "I am not going crazy!"

"Have you been taking any kind of…. special medication?" Simon tentatively asks.

Mal fixes a steely glare upon the doctor who hunkers down and murmurs, "It's an honest question, sheesh."

"Now if the whining is through; this job is gonna be paying us a lot more than we're gonna get from our public service announcement and I don't think I need to be telling ya we need it bad."

Jayne is the first one to reply, "Hell if the moneys good, then I'm in."

The others look around at each other, but no one says a word. Mal takes note of that and says, "Good. Take us out River" as he walks out the door.

Inara quickly follows him out the door, but then almost runs into him turning towards her way.

"Mal, I…" Inara starts to say.

"I meant to ask..." he says at the same time.

They both laugh a little and she gestures for him to go first.

"I meant to ask if you would make some subtle inquiries as to the state of things concerning the state of things. I don't want to walk into anything."

"Of course Mal, are you worried for any specific reason?" she asks, pleased to be useful and thought of.

"Nah, just the situation is more complicated now and this is the soundest offer I could find."

"Okay well I will see what I can find" she replies with a charming smile.

Back in the kitchen Kaylee and Simon have walked off grinning their idiotic grins as River and Jayne engage in a staring contest.

Zoë watches them with amusement as Jayne finally breaks it off telling Crazy he had some guns to take care of. River flounces off with a smug look on her face pausing a second to tell Zoë to watch the jagged edges. Zoë nods back and River continues on her way. Zoë sits at the table a moment longer then pulls out her gun and begins to look it over as she returns to her bunk and her memories.

"It's gonna be a bumpy ride" River says to the dinosaurs on the bridge.