I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Firefly. Nor do I own any of the characters. A few of the lines in the fic are re-workings of quotes or exact quotes from Firefly. This story features Caleb. I'll readily admit that this is too long to be a drabble, but otherwise it meets the challenge...
KEEP WALKING, PREACHER MAN
It had started out as such a nice vacation on Beaumonde. The crew had been taking their ease for quite a while since the mission on Miranda. Each of them had needed to heal in their own way.
Simon and Kaylee had it the easiest. They had found solace in each other at last. Mal still felt the urge to shoot the Doc for taking so long to see how much Kaylee had wanted him…
Zoe was mourning the loss of Wash. The man, despite his occasional petty jealousies, had been Zoe’s rock for quite some years and he certainly had died far younger then Mal would ever have expected. Not that he hadn’t seen kids die younger, but he had hoped, perhaps unreasonably, that Wash would live a long and fruitful life… for Zoe’s sake, at least. She’d loved Wash ever since that night they got drunk, made love and shaved that thrice-damned lip ferret off the man’s lip. Wash had been too smug to really whine about the lost facial hair much. Still, Zoe was solid and was getting her feet back under her.
Jayne found himself in lifting weight, oddly enough. Normally the big man was all for the pleasure houses, but he seemed to think that the weights connected him with his old, now deceased, spotter. More power to him, Mal thought.
Inara was gone back to the training house. It had been inevitable, Mal figured. Much as she loved him and much as he loved her, they would never agree. He would always find her work demeaning to her, while she would always find his opinion about her work to be equally demeaning to her. You couldn’t build a relationship on that. They were still friends, and Inara remained one of his best and most trusted contacts in the ‘verse.
River was the one Mal had worried about, until Kaylee had found a production of the ballet on Beaumonde. Scraping up enough money, Mal did allow it, provided that Kaylee went with her. It had seemed like such a good idea at the time.
How was he to know that they’d wind up finding some psychotic preacher that seemed to scare River more then a boat full of Reavers? How was he to know he would wind out standing on the boarding ramp of his very own ship, denying a preacher the right to enter his ship, cleanse it of the ‘whores’ on board, and go on about his holy mission? How was he to know that the preacher had already caught Kaylee on the arm with that damn sword he was carryin’. Doc had Kaylee in the infirmary and said she’d be fine.
“Keep walking, Preacher Man. Just keep walking. People on this ship are right tired of some small-minded soothsayer tryin’ to tell us what’s what…”
The preacher, Caleb, grinned psychotically. “God has given me the right to preach his true belief that the daughters of Eve, that brought evil to the land through their temptation of the the sons of Adam, must be cleansed from the ‘verse so that life may go as it should…”
Mal let loose a lopsided grin that hid his disgust fairly well. “Well now, why don’t you just go on then and go preach to the fuzzy-wuzzies on some other ship, Preacher. I fear that the heathens on this ship are just too happy being alive and all and, as they’re on my crew, I see no particular reason to deny them that.”
“You know,” Caleb said, almost conversationally. “I met a man like you once before, Malcolm. A protector of the womenfolk. Do you know what I did to him, Malcolm? I took his eye from him with my thumb.”
“Well now, that there’s a coincidence,” Mal replied in an equally reasonable tone. “Ya see, I met a man like you once before, Preacher. A man who thought it was a good idea to shoot up my crew just ‘cause his life’s mission said that River here should die. Do you know what I did to him, Preacher? I took his eye from him as well, with my gun…” With that declaration, Mal loosened the gun in his holster.
“Do you really think that your gun can harm an emissary of the Lord, Malcolm?”
“Not really,” Mal replied evenly, “But I somehow doubt that it will have too much trouble with you, Preacher. Here’s the deal. Option one is you leave and we leave and everybody’s happy. You don’t have my womenfolk on your little world no more and I still got my crew intact. Option two is a less happy option. You attempt to kill my crew, I attempt to kill you. I gotta tell ya though, what with you having already blooded Lil Kaylee, I’ve got a real hankering to try option two. But if you try that option, I’ll warn you now. You’d best make your peace with your dear and fluffy lord…”
“This ship must be cleansed. In the name of God, to ones who have been corrupted by the seed of Eve. Your cleansing shall here be granted; Amen!” And with that, the preacher charged with his sword held high…
Caleb lay dying on the ground, his body riddled with bullets. Silently, Mal knelt by the fallen priest and whispered in the dying mans ear, “May your god forgive your sins and cleanse you with his love, Preacher… ‘Cause I sure as hell won’t be… You took a shot at one of my crew and that just can’t be allowed to pass. Another preacher, Derrial Book, once told me he didn’t care what I believed, just that I did believe. If, by some chance, you should come to the same place as he is now, tell him I found it. I believe in my crew, and a more religious and fervent believer you won’t find anywhere in the ‘verse.”
With that, Mal turned back to River. She had a small smile of satisfaction on her angelic face as they walked back up into the ship. When Mal finally asked her what she was so smug about, she replied in her usual somewhat incoherent manner. “You protected your girls from the bad preacher. He’s very proud of you Mal. Proud that you are of his line… his blood. Found your cause and found your faith. The same way he found a cause and eventually found his Faith.”
Mal shook his head ruefully, not at all surprised that he didn’t understand her statement. “Whatever you say Lil Albatross. Ready to take us out of the world…?”
River grinned impishly “Breaking atmo in five, Cap’n…”
I hope y'all enjoyed this little interlude into Firefly.
Enjoy the read...