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strikesback

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 2 months ago

THE EMPYREAN STRIKES BACK

Or, The Shiny

 

Author: NA67

Fandom: Firefly

Pairing(s): Mal/Caleb

Warnings: none

Spoilers: none

Summary: Caleb is the shepherd at Mal's church before he leaves Shadow

 

Nominated Category:

Cleverest Crossover


 

1. Malcolm

"Where you been, Malcolm?" Mariette Reynolds asked.

 

"Over t'the church, Mama."

 

"Well, go to the pump and wash up quick, supper's on the table already. If you want, you can ask the blessing."

 

It was winter, so there were only two dozen men gathered around the two long tables; the other table had been taken off its trestles and put away until spring.

 

"Has Shepherd Gustavson been teachin' you catechism?" Mariette asked.

 

"No'm, the other Shepherd." The other Shepherd—you could tell that's what he was because of his dark shirt and the tab of white collar showing through—reminded Malcolm of the capture that his Mama let him see, maybe, once or twice a year. She didn't flat-out say that was his Daddy, but she didn't flat-out deny it either.

 

"Ain't but the one," Joel Chou said. "And he can't be here all the time, ridin' Circuit and all."

 

"Don't see much difference between talkin' to a Shepherd that ain't there and a God that ain't there," Bob Zubrov said, already pouring gravy over his chicken-fried steak.

 

"You will keep a civil tongue in your head, Bobby, else I'll think that you don't want this work," Mariette said. "There's plenty that does, you know."

 

"Sorry, ma'am," he said, ducking his head.

 

2. Caleb

{{Be damn if it ain't that young'un back again}} Caleb thought.

The boy had something of the look of a girl from a long time and a bit of dimensional hopscotch ago. A warm-trending-toward burning place, with lots of blood and screaming. Caleb liked that in a Dimension. A girl who surely learned a lesson about getting into cars with men with backwards collars and crooked smiles. A lesson that would have been very valuable in her future life, assuming that she'd had one. But after awhile all those girls' faces had a blendsomeness. There just wasn't much in a face to catch your interest—even if it was a screaming face—what with one bloody gash to pump at and the one you cut in her throat pumping right back at you. And after awhile, the highest Heaven and the deepest Hell looked pretty much the same, once you learned the entertainment value of pain and suffering. And once you learned the trick of not minding much whose it was. Just look at that boy. Kept coming back, no matter how much he got hurt the time before. Just fascinated. Couldn't stay away. Not old enough to feel the heat, but he felt the warmth sure enough when he was held.

 

"What're you doin', Shepherd?" the boy asked.

 

"Can you read that?" Caleb asked, pointing to the letters on his knuckles, drawn in the blood that oozed out at the strokes of a rusty nail.

 

"T-E-V-O-C," Mal said slowly, looking over the Shepherd's shoulder and starting with the smallest finger. "What's that mean?"

 

"Covet," Caleb said sonorously. "The Lord's command is not to covet. Not your neighbor's goods, or his ox, or his ass, or his wife, or his handmaid. None of the above. And when it becomes necessary to hit a man with a closed fist, he will see them letters and know what the Lord told him not to do."

 

"Shepherd, sir," Mal said, "One of my Mama's hands says you're not really here."

 

"Depending on what you mean by "here"—or "be"—there's a certain amount of truth to that," Caleb said. "Best keep your mouth shut, boy, when you ain't been told to make it specifically useful. Folks start thinkin' you're seein' what ain't there, they'll nail you up in the Crazyhouse, crown o'thorns on your skull."

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