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Believe (Firefly, Book, Gen) - artistshipper
artistshipper
artistshipper
Believe (Firefly, Book, Gen)
It's not A Ship To Tarshish (which i've only been working on for forever), but I managed to finish a firefly fanfic.  Whoo!

Title: Belive
Author: Artistshipper (Satori)
Fandom: Firefly
Rating: PG
Genre: Gen
Summary: "It doesn't matter what you believe, Mal. Just believe." Odd thing for a Shepherd to say, don't you think?


Believe

 

"Why are you so fascinated by him?"

 

"Because he's a mystery. Why are you?"

 

"Because so few men are."

 

It's been the better part of a year now, and Derrial Book reckons he's just about figured out part of the mystery that is Malcom Reynolds. There is no joy in this understanding, for it is one born of his own memories of loss and betrayal.

 

Cognitive dissonance, psychologist would call it. Mal, as much as he would like to pretend otherwise, is a man adrift, cut loose from his moorings.

 

As misery loves company, he decides to discuss his findings with the other person on board Serenity who has made a study of Malcom Reynolds.

 

Inara greets him at the door to her shuttle, as unlike some, he's polite enough to knock. Her eyes flit to the bible clutched against his chest, but she says nothing about it, merely inviting him in for tea as though she had been expecting his visit. Perhaps she had. In truth, she's more the ships confessor than he is. His role is largely that of an advisor, the ship's scholar and record-keeper.

 

"So what brings you here today?" Inara asks brightly, and there's something of Kaylee's wide eyed innocence in her smile. He'd noticed that before, how she picks up the subtle mannerisms and reactions of others and makes them her own, part of her repertoire of body language. He's no slouch about minding his own body language, but she's clearly read distress in the lines of his face.

 

"You've been on this ship longer than I have. You've known Mal for quite a some time now. I'm sure you can see the same trend in his behavior I'm seeing, how he makes one decision out of compassion and the next out of harsh calculation." He meets her eyes this time, having no desire for an oblique conversation. "He can't reconcile between the values he was raised with, and the harsher code followed in the life he's chosen. So he wavers back and forth. It can't go on. He'll snap."

 

"I find his decision making processes idiosyncratic and opaque, but yes, I can see moral confusion that makes him so unpredictable. He's sworn off the idealism that he feels failed him, betrayed him, during the war, but he's lost without that part of himself." Inara looks away, unable to maintain the gaze between them. "I'm as worried as you are."

 

"But you don't know what to do about it either." Somehow he finds that comforting. Even Inara, the consummate companion, is stumped by the conundrum that is Malcom Reynolds

 

She snorts, the breaking the image of the aloof, composed, companion. "If I told him that oxygen is breathable, he'd try to breath methane just to prove me wrong. He's a stubborn man. And if I tried to influence him indirectly, well, he's made it clear what he thinks of my 'womanly wiles'."

 

"His pride is going to kill him." He picks up the teacup; it gives his hands something to do in this awkward conversation. "Is there anyone he'll listen to? Zoe, perhaps?" The tea is superb, but he'd expected as much. Everything in the shuttle is carefully picked for it's effect. There only blemish is in who hasn't been visiting much of late.

 

"About this?" Inara doesn't need to say more. The skeptical, slightly bitter tone of her voice tells it all.

 

"He needs to find. . . something. Something to hold on to." He doesn't elaborate on his words either. He knows she can hear the echoes of his own desperation, all those years ago when he'd staggered into the abbey drunk and ready to die.

 

"I hoped, for a while, that River would be that something." She admits. "That what they did to her would bring the idealist in him back out, even if for just a short while. But he's convinced himself that he's putting the crew's well-being first, above his own need for... closure, justice, truth, whatever it is that he's missing."

 

"And never considers that it hurts his loved ones to see him letting himself fall apart," he agrees.

 

"Men rarely do," Inara says, more sad than bitter.

 

"Look, shepherd, I'll make this plain, it don't matter to me that you hit me."

 

"Which is exactly why I need to be away from you. Because sooner or later, it wont matter to me, either."

 

It's the best he can do to address the slow slide into moral confusion on Mal's part. Leading by example, he draws a line. Inara will have to carry the campaign on without him.

 

He finds a community that will welcome him, and disembarks, leaving his (somewhat mutilated) bible in River's possession, and a good many happy memories with it. He promises to wave periodically, keeping up on Kaylee's stories and River's prognosis - discussed obliquely, of course, since she and Simon have to stay off the cortex.

 

In the end, it is Mal who calls him, when Inara leaves. He knows why. As much as she loves him, he's made himself untouchable, and even Inara's emotional fortitude has limits. Mal doesn't say much about Inara, but he answers all the questions the Captain doesn't ask out loud, and leaves him staring at the screen with a contemplative look when they cut the signal. It's a small victory, but he'll take what he can get.

 

Mal understands the absolutes of living in this harsh world around them. But he keeps butting heads with the realities of the world within himself, where some part of him, some part that is still the boy who recited psalms to calm his mother at her sickbed, cries out in horror every time he crosses another moral boundary. Derrial can only pray that Mal lives long enough to be reconciled to himself.

 

"It doesn't matter what you believe Mal, only that you believe it."

 

He sees the fire light behind Mal's eyes and hopes Mal understands. Even if he doesn't, Inara will make sure the message gets across. It doesn't bother him that he has to die to make the point - it's no more than what the Lord he serves did, after all.

 
-Fin-

Author's Notes:

 

I loved Firefly, because by and large, it had such wonderful, rich characters. Shepherd Book was one of the few that irked me, because whoever did the writing for Firefly and Serenity just fails at portraying an even marginally believable person with religious convictions. JMS managed it, so clearly, even an atheist can write a screenplay that portrays a religious character well. There's really no explanation for Book's cardboard-cutout-ness except going beyond Did Not Do The Research into Just Didn't Give A (expletive). I mean seriously, Book gets lines like "A man can live on processed food from here till judgement day if he has enough Rosemary," which is so corny even televangelists wouldn't stoop low enough to use it.

 

So yeah, I write Book, because Book needs fixing. Badly.

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Comments
eternitian From: eternitian Date: October 11th, 2010 01:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Mmm, an interesting revision of Book's character. Personally, I found a lot of his cheesiness due to the short amount of time he'd spent being a Shepherd. But your interpretation -- that it was just bad/lazy writing -- seems more likely.
artistshipper From: artistshipper Date: October 11th, 2010 03:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks. Do you think I managed to make book not seem like a Shepherd who'd completely fallen into pluralism?
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