"Vampires?" Wash asked.
They all sat around the kitchen table. Mal was interested to note who was surprised...and who wasn't. Inara, River, and Book were taking the news as a matter of course, while Jayne, Kaylee, and Wash were in various states of freaked-ness.
Wash continued. "Okay, I think my head just exploded. You'll be scraping my brains off the bulkheads for weeks. And I'm noticing a distinct lack of surprise among some of the crew," he said to Zoe and Mal. "Most notably, my wife, who's been remarkably closed-mouthed about the whole vampires-are-real thing."
"We seen stuff in the war," Zoe said. "Stuff you can't talk about without the aforementioned exploding heads. Or a visit to the place with padded walls and sleeves that fasten in the back."
Mal clapped Simon on the shoulder. "Nearly had to give the doc here a shot myownself when he figgered out what we was dealin' with."
"Yes, well, dealing with a patient with no vital signs isn't something they teach at the Medacad." Simon was still slightly shaken, although he'd recovered most of his aplomb. This was promptly destroyed by River's next statement.
"Monsters in the Academy," she said. "Far underground, but I could hear them anyway, roaring in my head, pinned like insects to cork, fighting to be free. They weren't any more successful than the rest of us."
Simon stared. "You never said--"
She gave him her patented you're-such-a-boob look. "You wouldn't have believed me."
"I notice you ain't all that shocked," Mal said to Inara. "They teach you about servicin' vampires in Companion school?" She opened her mouth to answer and he lifted his hand to stop her. "Never mind; I don't wanna know." He turned to Book. "And I guess they teach Shepherds all about demons and such."
"Something like that." Book didn't elaborate.
"And why're we transportin' a vampire again?" Jayne said.
"Three times the going rate for a passenger we don't gotta feed, and we keep the sheep."
"I'm in. We get to eat 'em?"
Kaylee punched him on the arm. "Jayne!"
"Ow! What?" He rubbed the spot. "Ain't often we get food with our food. I'm just sayin'. You know I'm right, right, Mal?"
"I tend that way," Mal answered cautiously, scooting away from Kaylee, "but ain't nothin' been decided. Sheep can be sickly things, and I'm pretty sure Simon don't wanna be a vet."
Simon's expression turned panicked for a moment, but whether that was at the thought of doctoring sheep or the thought of what Kaylee would do to him if he agreed was an open question. He quickly controlled his features and said, "Oh, I don't know. I already work on Jayne."
It took Jayne a second to get it. Then, "Hey!"
"On that note, I think I'll go check on my undead patient. If you'll all excuse me..." Simon rose and fled as gracefully as he could.
"Jayne, you don't get to eat the sheep until our passenger is gone," Mal said. Kaylee smacked him. "Ow!" :-:
A vampire constitution was good for something, Spike thought to himself as he woke up. He wasn't in the cage anymore; he could smell that much. What had happened?
His abused memory slowly came back. Angel and Illyria had found him. Had he bitten Angel? Great, that wanker would never let him live that down. Starving, though, not really in his right mind. They'd wanted to split up...
He opened his eyes and sat up. He remembered the infirmary, and the earnest young man in the vest, who was eyeing him warily and holding a mug out. "They said you'd be hungry when you awakened."
Spike took the mug, sniffed it, and grimaced. "They weren't wrong. I hate sheep, though." He drank it anyway. "Bloody disgusting stuff. Don't suppose you've got any otter...?" The doctor's deer-in-the-headlights look told all. "No, didn't think so. Pity. So," he said briskly. "Am I allowed out? Or am I stuck in hospital until we get to...Where are we going?"
"Greenleaf. You've got a room in the passenger dorm. Your friends packed you a bag."
"Green--Bloody hell! And where did they
"They said they were going the other way to throw whoever was after you off."
"So the sodding poofter gets to head toward the Core with a beautiful girl, probably on a luxury liner, and I get sent to the ass-end of the solar system in a tin can." Spike heaved a grumpy sigh. "Fan-bloody-tastic. And typical."
"They're going to wave you and set up a meet later. You were in pretty bad shape when they brought you in." The doctor led him toward the passenger area. "Don't let Kaylee hear you call Serenity
a 'tin can,' by the way. She'll throw a wrench at your head."
"Noted. Kaylee's the cutie in the coveralls, right? Was a bit befuddled when Angel brought me in. Didn't get everyone's name." The memory came percolating up of the Captain hollering for the doctor. "You're Simon, right?"
A head crowned with wild brown hair poked out of one of the rooms. Big brown eyes regarded Spike steadily. "River..." Simon said.
"Not to worry," she answered. "What was once evil now battles against it for justice and Christmas and puppies. And love, although the love is long lost and sometimes he's not sure what he's in love with anymore." She tilted her head. "It's become habit."
"Something like that," Spike said.
She smiled innocently. "Have you come to dance with me?"
He recoiled. "Not in particular." It had been a very long time since he'd danced with anyone, in any sense of the word.
She turned the smile to Simon. "I like him. He's effulgent." Her head disappeared back into her room while Simon stood there blinking.
"That was odd," he commented as they continued down the hallway.
"You have no idea," Spike answered, somewhat freaked. River reminded him of Dru. Only, not evil. He wondered if she'd made it off Earth-That-Was...
He only half-listened to Simon as he explained, "This is your room. Dinner's in a couple of hours. You've got the run of the ship; Jayne's got a weight bench in the cargo bay, and we play horseshoes and other games as well, that you're welcome to join in."
"Right." Spike sat on the bed and opened the suitcase, staring in consternation at the Hawaiian shirts and khaki cargo pants that his erstwhile partners had packed for him. "I am so
going to kill them when I see them again," he muttered. "Slowly."
"O-kay. I'll just...leave you to it, then," Simon said. "Anything you need?"
"A decent wardrobe," Spike said sourly. :-:
Kaylee puttered around the kitchen putting dinner together, since it was her turn. It didn't pain her none to admit that their new passenger made her a mite nervous, although it surprised her some that the news that vampires were real creatures didn't flip her world upside down as much as she'd thought it would.
He'd been pretty messed up when his friend had brought him on, and maybe that helped. He wasn't invincible; in fact, he looked pretty normal. No cape. No fangs even.
But she'd borrowed a cross pendant off the Shepherd, just in case.
She went to open the fridge and noticed a note stuck to it with a magnet. Upon closer examination, it proved to be a recipe for mutton stew. She yanked it off and crumpled it up, chucking it into the recycler and swearing in Chinese under her breath.
The others filed in as she set the table, including their new passenger...who wound up in the seat next to hers. His face, remarkably, had nearly healed, and he was a lot handsomer than she'd thought when she'd first seen him. He even pulled her chair out for her, which she wasn't sure how to react to. She settled for giving him a smile, which he returned, doing a thing
with his tongue and his teeth, which in turn made her knees a little weak. His eyes went briefly to the cross she wore, then back up to her face, and he lifted his scarred left eyebrow and actually smirked.
Made her feel all manner of silly. And they hadn't even spoke yet. She blushed and looked at her plate.
Jayne, in his typical blunt fashion, took the bull by the horns. "So. Vampire, huh? Ain't you supposed to have fangs?"
"You don't want to see them," Spike said. "Wouldn't like to put anyone off their supper."
"Speakin' of supper, you eat human food at all?" Jayne shoveled in a mouthful and reached for a roll.
Spike eyed the protein, which Kaylee had attempted to make appetizing. "Only when it's worth eating." Something in her expression must have given away her hurt, because he tried to cover. "Oh, it's not that, luv. Vampire taste buds ain't geared toward food like this. Has to be spicy to make an impression. I'll show you tomorrow night, yeah?"
"Okay," she said, mollified. "I do my best with what we have, but sometimes that ain't much."
"Can you turn into a bat?" Wash asked, waving his chopsticks. "Because that would just be neat." Zoe elbowed him. "What?"
Spike put his face in his hand. "Bloody Dracula. No, I can't do that."
Kaylee had just started thinking to herself that this vampire was just like regular folk when he turned to her and said, "There aren't any other vampires like me, pet. You see another vampire, you run like hell in the other direction."
"I was curious about that," Book said. "Why don't
you kill people?"
"Why don't you?" Spike shot back.
"Because it's wrong. Most of the time. We're instructed by the Lord not to do murder." He frowned. "Of course, man's definition of 'murder' seems to be fairly fluid."
"Well, I did a rather daft thing a few centuries ago. Went and got my soul back. Do that after over a hundred years of senseless slaughter and see what it does to you."
Jayne shrugged. "I've kill't plenty o' folk. I don't cry into my pillow at night about it."
"Well, there's a big difference between hardening yourself to it over time and having a conscience thrust upon you all of a sudden."
"That's so," Mal acknowledged. "I was a bit confounded, first time."
"I wasn't. Imagine thinking it's all fun and games...and then finding out it's not. A hundred years too late." Even Jayne was quiet as they all contemplated that. "So, yeah. I don't snack on people anymore. I'm not one that can fool myself into thinking it's the demon doing it, not me."
"Wouldn't need to feel guilty if you weren't responsible," River said. "The kill was unnecessary, and you could have eaten without playing with your food first. Didn't. Ergo, guilt."
Spike touched the side of his nose. "Give the girl a kewpie doll. If I--"
The ship shuddered, and an alarm blared. Nervous glances shot around the table, and Wash, Mal, and Zoe stood up and headed to the cockpit without a word. River put her hands over her ears and chanted, "Two by two, hands of blue," and Simon looked very alarmed and hustled her out. Jayne went toward the crew quarters, presumably to weapon up, while Kaylee jumped to her feet and ran back to the engine room to make sure her girl was all right.
That left Book, Inara, and Spike sitting at the table. "I do feel almighty useless at times like this," Kaylee heard the Shepherd say as she left.