Shepherd Book tried to calm the doctor. The young man was backing off and his voice was raised in a panic.
"They're not taking her and you're not giving her to them!"
"Don't be a fool, son. Do as the man says."
Later, after the Alliance vessel departed and Wash had pointed Serenity in the opposite direction, Shepherd overheard Mal speaking with Zoe in the walkway.
"Damn fool doesn't know when to stop fearing every word outta someone's mouth and just do what need doin'."
"He don't know you like we do, sir. And he did get suited up and hold onto the hull, just like you asked."
Zoe studied Mal, who was leaning against the bulkhead with his arms crossed, tapping the heel of one boot on the tip of another - a sure sign he was thinking and that what he was thinking about bothered him.
"Since you're not going to get any sleep, what with your brain spinning around the fancy doctor like that, I'm going to go grab my man to help keep my bunk warm. You can take the helm tonight, sir."
Shepherd turned and walked through the galley and into the common area before he was noticed. After briefly considering their conversation, he went in search of the doctor. His order may not necessarily condone such things, but Shepherd knew that folks found comfort and companionship in all sorts of ways. Finding the young man in the infirmary, he cleared his throat to announce his presence.
"Hello, Shepherd. Is there something I can do for you?"
"You know the Captain takes particular care with those he considers crew, Doctor. A man like that usually has a plan and there are times he has little time to explain."
"I'm not sure that I'm considered 'crew', Shepherd."
"Well that much is obvious by your reaction when the Alliance arrived. I understood that the Captain asked you to stay on for a while, until you found better. Doesn't that make you crew?"
Simon seemed to ponder that for a moment. "You know, I'm not entirely sure."
"Well, I did see the Captain heading towards the helm. Perhaps you should go ask him."
River wasn't much for subtly, despite the opinion of most of the crew. But she didn't want to ruin whatever slim chance her brother and the swashbuckling pirate captain might have either. Mostly because she thought it was wildly romantic. So she concentrated very hard to insure she didn't blurt things out in front of the crew. Like during a simple stitches removal when Mal would stare at Simon's hands or at at dinner time when Simon would stare at Mal's mouth. She was real careful not to mention these thoughts out loud.
But later, when she was alone with Simon, she'd try to tell him about the images flying through the Captain's head. But it only served to distress him.
So, she tried telling the Captain. She tried telling him about his hard jaw and soft lips and the way butterflies danced in the heart and not the stomach, like everyone suspected. He regarded her with a puzzled look on his face and she hoped that maybe he understood.
"You know. You ain't quite right."
Out of Gas
Jayne wasn't normally one to come up with good plans. He knew that moon brain girl was dangerous and he'd been trying to figure out how to get Mal to drop them off next chance they got. Besides, that fancy doctor was most likely sly and he wasn't all that comfortable having him around all the time.
So this train of thought is what lead him to the idea he had, which he had to make into a plan if he was ever going to see it happen.
The idea was that if he could somehow get that fancy sly doctor to proposition the Captain... why Mal would surely throw the two Tam's off the ship faster than a gopher could tunnel through good dirt.
The plan was intricate and involved precise timing. Ok, well, maybe not so much. But it was sure complicated enough when you had to come up with it!
See, there was this one time Jayne had rushed into the Captain's bunk because he thought Reavers was comin'. They weren't, and Mal had asked why the comm system wasn't faster than Jayne jumping down with Vera in hand. Well, Jayne had just gotten spooked. That's all. Anyway, the point was that he knew Mal slept as naked as the day he was born. That's the important part. He wasn't sneakin' in to look at the Captain or nothin' - it was possible Reavers, so a man's gotta be excused for things like that, right?
So, knowing what he knew, he had to get the doctor down there, right? So, here was his plan.
All he had to do was ask the Captain to spot him lifting weights. The Captain has a mighty big competitive streak in him, so it wasn't too hard to get him all worn out and rubbing his shoulder at dinner time like it was gonna hurt the next day.
Sure enough, about half an hour after dinner and the Captain was limping a bit and heading back to his bunk. Jayne thought it was best to wait another half an hour before sending the doctor in with some of that muscle ointment, which really does work wonders.
Sure enough, there he goes. Jayne chuckled as he watched the doctor head towards Mal's bunk with a jar of salve in his hand and a towel from the infirmary. Debating on whether he wanted to hang around and see the fireworks or stay out of the way, he decided he'd hear the good news in the morning.
Only at breakfast, there's no announcements about the Tam's leavin'. Zoe's chattin' with the doctor and he's grinnin' like he ain't got a care in the world. Mal's lookin' at Jayne strange, though. While Kaylee and Shepherd are cleanin' up, Mal pulls Jayne aside.
"That was real thoughtful of you, Jayne. Having the doc tend to my pulled muscle."
"Er.... yea. You seemed uncomfortable."
Mal smiled and wondered what the gorram hell Jayne was up to.
Mal was seated at one end of the dining table, cleaning his gun while Inara was at the other enjoying a cup of tea. It was night, or at least what passed for night out in the black, and everyone else was asleep. Inara was extolling the virtues of various teas and whiskeys while Mal only half listened.
"Are you listening to me, Mal?"
"Huh? Uh.. sure. Blended Scotch is fine with green tea."
"No, that's not what I said at all. I'm just saying that sometimes men from core worlds are used to a bit more refinement when it comes to their beverages."
"Uh huh." He nodded and turned his attention back to his barrel casing.
"I'm trying to give you some advice."
"About what? I'm not likely to be needed to take on any of your clients anytime soon, Inara."
"I'm just saying that I notice you make a fresh pot of tea just before you retire. I assume you make that for the doctor since he's the first one about in the morning. He drinks it because he doesn't want to waste it or seem ungrateful, but you might attract more flies with honey."
"Now why would I want flies?" Mal had finished reassembling his gun and was packing up his supplies. "Woman, you make no sense. But if you're so concerned about the doctor's early bird tea - I'll leave it to you to make."
"Good night." Mal walked out of the room, rather irked that someone had noticed he made the doctor tea. He was even more irked that apparently it wasn't the right kind.
"You know, the crew bunks aren't as small as you'd imagine. In fact, it's rather cozy sharing one."
"Listing that under 'things-we-don't-talk-about', Wash." Mal replied.
"I'm just saying that you've got plenty of room. No sense hogging it all up to yourself."
Mal twisted to try and look at Wash to see if the man was serious. Forget that they were both tied up and blindfolded in Niska's torture room. "And you think I'm fixing to take Zoe in my bunk with me, or are you volunteering to join me?"
"Neither. But I think there's a certain medic who may fit in very nicely. I only thought I'd mention it while we were hanging around here mentioning all sorts of things we don't talk about."
Objects in Space
Simon eased back into Mal, spooning against him and pulled the sheet to cover them. Mal traced Simon's hip, "How's your leg?"
"Fine. The stitches appear to be holding."
"So tell me again why Jubal Early felt he had to shoot you? Are you sure you weren't mouthing off to him? You do have a talent for alienating folks."
Simon jabbed an elbow in Mal's ribs lightly and smiled. "Maybe he was just trying to fix us up like everyone else."
"By getting you shot?"
"Well, it is rather unique."
"And who's been trying to fix us up?"
"Seriously? You haven't noticed?"
"Noticed what." Mal smiled, not really caring who was trying to set them up. He mostly liked to hear the sound of Simon's voice as he explained Shepherd's guidance, Inara's inquiries as to his preferred morning tea, and River's ramblings."
"So that's what River was talking about! Well, that's a relief."
"What did you think she was talking about?"
Mal ignored him and wrapped an arm around his waist instead, pulling him closer to him. "So Jayne wasn't really concerned about my welfare, he just didn't realize what a consummate professional you are. And if they've all been chatting about these things, that makes Wash's comments make more sense."
"So the entire crew knows I'm in your bunk right now?"
"Well, that and the fact that you ain't exactly been quiet for the past hour, now have you?"
"How could you possibly have heard me over all that noise you were making, Captain?"