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Zoe's Run

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Run! Mal thinks, Hurry, gorram it!

As he lies on the cool red dirt gasping, he closes his eyes and tires to imagine how long he has. He can imagine each step and familiar corner of the path back to his boat. His thoughts fly with steady pounding of Zoe's feet, and he can almost see her long, leather-clad legs stretching out as she sails over the stream, and her boots skidding on the landing and making the turn coming out of the canyon.

She will be half way there by then, and he's not sure he can hold out long enough for her to get the Doc and bring him back with his kit. Not with the way Simon moves in the bush, anyway, but maybe Jayne can carry him. They can't land Serenity in this ditch.

What a gorram stupid place to have a meet. Zoe told him so every time, but the Stocktons are a flighty lot, and it's always worked out before today. She's going to be smug forever if she manages to save his ass.

She must be on the boat by now: making Wash move as close as he can, grabbing the Doc's gear tearing the infirmary apart doing it. Simon will be throwing a fit, but now she'll be shoving him out the hatch whether he's ready to go or not. That's my Zoe, Mal thinks.

The run back seems a bit fuzzy, and he can't seem to keep his mind on the steps as he pictures Simon cursing and splashing through the stream.

He can feel the blood seeping past Zoe's field dressing and dripping onto the canyon floor. Too late, he thinks, but then he feels hands on his shoulders and swearing in Chinese. He realises he must have lost track of time.