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A settlement called Serenity

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The town of Serenity was a small, homely looking place in the middle of barren America. Set up some twenty years earlier by some war veterans, it quickly became populated by a small group of interesting characters. It was situated between two larger settlements and therefore received a lot of overnighters that threw away their money at the infamous Firefly inn. There was only one road going through it and it was a sandy thing that often blinded its residents on a windy day. The sun would start its journey by peaking over the Sheriff's office and barbers, would shine brightly over the main strip that consisted of the inn, the doctor's office, the small bank and the blacksmiths as well as several residential homes. It would end its day by dropping down on the coach station, plunging the town into blackness as dark as pitch.

At five that morning, the nearby rooster made the mistake of giving its cry, resulting in it being shot by a grumpy, hungover, Jayne Cobb. Leaning heavily against the inn doors, he groaned and rubbed his sore heading with lead fingers. He could not remember what he was celebrating or with whom he was celebrating; didn't matter though- it probably was a good night, looking at the state of the bar. Clattering down the wooden steps, the sunlight flashed in his eyes making him reel back and grunt in annoyance and pain. Steeling himself, he started to make his way back across the street but found his path blocked by a tall, black mare upon which sat sheriff Reynolds. Great, just great.

"Jayne..." he drawled. Jayne looked at him with faux innocence. He may not remember what he did last night but he probably did something.

"Yeah what? I ain't done nothin'."

"You just shot that bird Jayne."

"So? Jus' a bird, shouldn't be disturbin' us good hones-"

"It was Monty's Jayne."

"Oh." Was all Jayne could say.

Monty had served with Mal in the war and the two were close friends; messing with one meant dealing with the other. Even worse, Monty was like a human bear and with his head all messed up, Jayne didn't doubt that Monty would wipe the sandy floor with his ass.

"Hell Mal, I didn't mean nothin'- I mean is just so early an'- my head's pounding Sheriff, could you not-" he tapered off when Mal began chuckling at his semi-panicked rambling (something that rarely happened due to Jayne's aversion to speaking). Scowling, he spat to the side and started walking again, hearing Mal move his horse around him so that, once again, his way was barred.

"This is a surprise! Jayne Cobb lost for words, must be a special day." (Did he have to speak so loud?) "Tell you what, I wont tell Monty, if you promise to wash out that jail cell that you make use of so often. O' course, you could go and apologise to Monty but that looked like his prise rooster, so..."

"Alright, alright! Just don't go buggin' me about it."

"Sure thing Jayne." 

And with that said, he rode back to the Sheriff's office to kick back and relax as the (mostly) lawless town came to life. Jayne spat again and finally crossed the road, ending up outside a small, two storied house with no lights on and an old sign with bright gold lettering outside that read (if you could read, that was): Simon Tam, MD. Grinning at his success, Jayne stepped onto the modest wooden porch and 'subtly' banged his fist against the door, snickering at the rattling glass panes. Failing to hear any noise from within, Jayne pounded harder on the door, feeling it jolt and try to get away from him. The upstairs light illuminated the still dark street and Jayne chuckled when he heard the muffled curses from the room, then the stairs, then the medical room before finishing as the door opened and a composed looking Simon stared out at him, all hints of anger gone. Pushing past the smaller man roughly, Jayne sauntered over to the shelves, now regretting banging on the door because his head was screaming at him. He began rooting through all the shelves of precariously positioned medicine bottles. Hearing an inhuman squawk from behind him, he turned on his heel and looked at the doctor with a bewildered expression.

"Jayne wha...What are you doing?" The boy was shouting and that made his head pound even harder. Biting back a grimace, he sighed heavily to show he couldn't be bothered and turned back to the bottles. The smaller figure of Simon stepping in front of him stopped him and he looked down in irritation.

"Jayne. What are you doing?" Simon crossed his arms and raised his chin in a (fruitless) attempt to look more intimidating.

"Looking for my headache, what else?"

"Oh yeah, what else. What else? How about you remind me when it was that I gave you a lovely, handwritten note that told you you could just waltz in here and-"

"Doc, shuddup and give me somethin' would you?"

Scowling and throwing him murderous glances that probably would have terrified most people, Simon quickly took a bottle down from the shelf and measured out a small portion of the liquid in to a tiny version of the glass bottles that stood on the shelves. Given that it was so early, Simon hadn't lowered the wooden flap on the counter that would have prevented customers walking to the shelves but now he wielded it greatly, forcing Jayne through it before slamming it shut in an obvious demonstration of dominance. Placing it on the counter, he pulled it back swiftly when Jayne reached for it. Smirking, he wagged the finger of his other hand like a mother scolding her child.

"Ah, ah, ah! You've got to pay. No free hand outs this time Jayne, you're already behind on the chits board and I simply can't accommodate any more delayed payments."

"That's bullsh- since when have I ever not paid you?"

To his surprise, Simon pulled out a leather bound ledger from under the counter and began flicking back through it.

"Jayne May 1st, Headache remedy (sod looked up and smirked at this), Jayne April 28th, Headache remedy, Jayne April 27th, Headache remedy, Jay-"

"Okay I get it! How much?" He began rifling through his pockets and the doctor put the ledger away.

"One dollar." he said. Jayne gaped at him; surely one remedy wasn't worth one dollar. Evidently, his shock showed on his face because Simon felt the need to elaborate.

"That will pay for two and a half remedies Jayne - less debt in one go."

Huffing, he slammed the money on the counter and then chugged the bottle back. The taste was awful and he almost spat it out. The doctor chuckled and ducked under the counter, coming to stand next to the ranch hand. Placing a hand on his shoulder, Simon led him to the door which they both left through. Jayne stared at him in confusion and Simon once again explained it for him, locking the door behind him.

"River stayed at the Firefly inn last night so I'm going to go check on her. I would say you better not have done anything to her during you night time activates but seeing as how she can kick your...I don't think it is necessary." 

Giving the door one last check, Simon spun on his heel and made his way to the Firefly, waving goodbye as he went. Moving quickly across the street, Simon pushed open the doors of the inn and gave a wave at the drunken greetings that rose up from the slumped bodies - one of which was on top of the piano. It was a large establishment with varnished, oak flooring, velvet wall trappings and a large hearth that possessed a roaring fire during the cold nights. A long balcony made up the next floor and there were five doors leading of into different rooms. From the back of the bar Inara came through a door and smiled when she caught sight of him. He made his way over, stepping over the slumbering forms, and sat down on a stool, already excepting the drink she put in front of him. Ah, he thought dreamily, the wonders of whisky. He threw it back and coughed slightly.

"I assume she's upstairs then?"

"Yes," Inara said. "But not in her usual room, we had two guests arrive last night so she's in the one at the end of the balcony."

"Interesting sorts?"

"I didn't take you for a gossip, doctor." She smiled slyly at him and he ducked his head, embarrassed at acting like a fisher wife. "They're not, really. Two men by the name of Dobson and Harken, one a bumbling fool and the other a miserable miser by the looks of things."

They both laughed at her assessment and she passed him another drink, pouring one for herself as well. After draining his second glass, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and pushed away from the bar. Flashing Inara another smile, he climbed the large, wooden staircase and approached the aforementioned door. He heard giggles coming from within and his face lit up when he recognised them as that of his sister River and of his lover Kaylee. Obviously the blacksmith apprentice had snuck in at some point in the night, meaning neither one will have slept. He knocked and waited patiently as the giggles died down and the voice of River called for him to enter. Pushing open the door, he smiled at the sight of them sat together on the small bed. Letting out an excited squeal, Kaylee launched herself at him, wrapping her arms around him and kissing him passionately. He returned it for a second until, blushing heavily, he bashfully moved away and gave his sister a hug.

"I just came to check on you. Obviously my trip was pointless as Kaylee (at this she giggled once more) has found her way here first and so has rendered me useless." The three laughed at this and he spent a small amount of time with them, enjoying the easy companionship that had developed since their rocky arrival some three years prior. Flicking open his pocket watch and finding the time to be seven, he gave Kaylee one final kiss before making his way from the room, reminding River that it was her turn to cook dinner. He closed the door with a soft click and made his way back along the balcony. Nearing the stairs, he was roughly jolted and pushed into the banister by a man coming from the room. Tall, thin and with spikey blonde hair, he grunted at Simon and rushed down the stairs, ignoring Inara as he pushed through the door into the street. Simon frowned at his behaviour and brushed imaginary dirt from his waistcoat. He passed pleasantries with Inara as he left, passing Shepard Book as he went.

Book bade the doctor a good morning but, judging by his flushed face, guessed the sentiment was wasted. As the doctor went back to his clinic, Book stood still for a moment, enjoying the warm sun. He breathed in and out deeply, basking in the peacefulness of the world.

"Falling asleep there old man?"

"Not until I give you faith Sheriff." Chuckled Book, opening his eyes and smiling softly at the man stood in front of him. Mal grinned back, brown coat fluttering in the small breeze. He gestured with his head for Book to join him as he walked through the town. They moved silently, neither wanting to ruin the tranquillity of the early morning.

"Was that the doc I saw just then?" Mal said after a while.

"Simon? Yes. I believe the young doctor was visiting his sister. I recall her performing at the inn last night." River performed there sporadically with enchanting dances the captured the attention of those from miles around - many came to see her specially. Book had seen one of her routines and had to admit it was practically angelic in nature.

"Good, good. What about Inara, did you..see her?" The hesitance in his voice made Book smile (though he hid it well) and he refrained from chuckling at the unmistakable attraction the sheriff had for the woman.

"I did not," he replied slowly, "though we could, of course, go check on her..."

Mal was distracted when he shook his head and told Book they needn't worry. They lapsed into silence again, each man concerned with his own thoughts. Nearing the bank, Book (and also Mal) found his attention captured by two men, one sharp in appearance and the other not, glaring at it. The smaller one, the one with sandy blonde hair, appeared deep in concentration, lips moving silently as he worked something out. The taller one nudged his companion and they both moved away, back towards the inn. Shrugging, they both made their way back to the Sheriff's office, waving to Wash as he placed his wares outside the shop. Walking up to the door, Mal turned to say goodbye to the Shepard - he may not like the man's beliefs but the man himself was, in his opinion, a man to be respected.

"Well Book, I'll see you around sometime."

"What can I say sheriff, you know where I'll be come sunday."

"And you know I won't be."

Book smiled, shook his hand, then made his way back down the street towards the outskirts of Serenity. It was there that his church lay, still waiting for someone else to turn up.