Firefly - "Our Mrs Reynolds"

Written by: Joss Whedon
Directed by: Vondie Curtis Hall

Episode #: 1AGE05

Teaser

EXT. RIVER IN WOODED GLADE - DAY

[NOTE: If a river is an impossibility, wagon in a glade will suffice. But water makes it cooler.]

A farmer in a broad-brimmed hat (Amish-ish) sits by his bonneted wife on the front of a flat boat. There's a pole that sticks out to one side harnessed to a team of two horses. The boat is covered with a tarp, almost covered-wagon style.

We see it from a distance, through the trees - and in the foreground, horses snort and paw. Someone else is watching as well.

A beat, and the riders - four of them - clear the woods and circle the boat (the river being shallow enough to ride in.) The men are bandits, the main one (BANDIT 1) facing the cowed couple.

BANDIT 1
Pardon me for intruding, but I
believe y'all are carrying something of mine.

The Farmer doesn't lift his head, barely whispers:

FARMER
T'ain't your'n.

BANDIT 1
(pissed)
You talking words to me? You
< steaming crap pile >, you gonna mouth
off after what you done? Did you
think we wouldn't find out you
changed your route? You're gonna
give us what due us and every damn
thing else on that boat, and I think
maybe you're gonna give me a little
one-on-one time with the Mrs.

The Farmer lifts his head - it's JAYNE, smiling.

JAYNE
You might wanna reconsider that last
part. I married me a powerful ugly
creature.

MAL looks up from under his bonnet, shocked.

MAL
How can you say that? How can you
shame me in front of new people?

JAYNE
If I could make you prettier, I would.

MAL
You're not the man I met a year ago.

Over this is the extreme confusion of BANDIT 1, who finally gets pissed enough to go for his gun -

- and Mal and Jayne, in mid-spat, raise theirs first, targeting 1 and 2.

MAL
Think very hard. You been
birddoggin' this township a while
now, and they wouldn't mind a corpse
of you. Now you could luxuriate in
a nice jail cell but if your hand
touches metal, I swear by my pretty
floral bonnet I will end you.

A beat. The Bandits all look to each other -

Bandit 4 in the back raises his rifle - and a shot from the covered boat knocks him off his horse.

Then everybody's firing, Mal and Jayne dropping 1 and 2 as ZOE dives from the wagon, dropping 3 as she hits the water.

Much falling, much splashing and --

EXT. TOWN - NIGHT

Much celebration, the town gathered around a bonfire dancing, laughing... all the trimmings.

Mal walks through the celebration with INARA, who is dressed down (for her).

MAL
We'll head for Beaumonde in the
morning, give you a chance to do some
work of your own.

INARA
I appreciate it. This place is
lovely, but -

MAL
Not your clientele. I'm wise. You
got to play at being a lady.

INARA
Well, yes. So explain to me again
why Zoe wasn't in the dress?

MAL
Tactics, woman. I needed her
covering the back. Besides, them
soft cotton dresses feel kind of
nice. There's a whole air flow.

INARA
And you would know that because...

MAL
You can't open the book of my life
and jump in the middle. Like woman,
I am a mystery

INARA
(laughing)
Best keep it that way. I withdraw
the question.

MAL
Care to dance?

INARA
I've seen you dance.
(off his mock hurt)
Go enjoy yourself. You got hired to
be a hero for once. It must be a
nice change.

ANGLE ON JAYNE: he sits by the fire, drunk as a butter-churn, as a townsperson, ELDER GOMMEN, hands him a big wooden stick filled with beads, that sounds like rain when you turn it over.

ELDER GOMMEN
It makes the rain come when you turn
it. The rain is scarce, and comes
only when needed most. And such it
is with men like you.

Jayne's eyes fill with tears.

JAYNE
This is the most... you, friend.
You're the guy.

He hugs the Elder hard.

JAYNE (cont'd)
I'll treasure this.

ANGLE ON: BOOK. He stands far off from the noise and light, by a sheet with four pairs of boots sticking out of it, silently reading last rites. Looks over and sees:

ANGLE: BOOK'S POV

Mal sits in a circle, next to Jayne. Book watches as a shyly pretty girl kneels before Mal and places a wreath on his head.

Book goes on with praying.

ANGLE: Mal - as the girl hands him a bowl of wine. Mal drinks and she smiles, moves off into the dance. Others draw Mal and Jayne into the dance as well, Mal finishing his wine sloppily and Jayne not letting go of his rainstick. Mal looks to Zoe, but she is making out with WASH like mad. These are three soused heroes.

Mal and Jayne join in the dance, noise and movement filling the frame, cutting to -

EXT./INT. SERENITY AIRLOCK/CARGO BAY - MORNING

The noise of the whirling engine coming to life - we pan from it to Mal and Elder Gommen on the ramp, as a couple of townsfolk load crates onto the ship.

MAL
Elder Gommen, thank you for your
hospitality.

ELDER GOMMEN
We owe you a great debt. I'm sorry
we have so little to pay it with.
Though I hope our gifts will show our
regard.

MAL
I don't think Jayne's ever letting go
of that stick.

Zoe runs up to Mal from inside, whispers in his ear:

ZOE
Alliance patrol boat is heading into
atmo right now.

Mal smiles at Elder Gommen as Zoe runs back up.

MAL
Well, we gotta fly.

He steers him off as Elder Gommen replies:

ELDER GOMMEN
We will pray for a safe voyage, and
hope to lay eyes on you again 'ere
too long, my friend.

MAL
Count on it. Bye now.

He runs back up, the ramp closing on the still waving Elder.

EXT. SERENITY

As she takes off and heads up.

INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUOUS

As Mal is squaring away the goods he comes upon -

MAL
Ahh!

- the girl from last night, huddled shyly in the corner between various boxes. She wears the same potato-sack shift she sported before, and sandals. And an expression of extreme subservient fear. Her name, we will learn, is SAFFRON.

MAL (cont'd)
Who the hell are you?

SAFFRON
What do you mean?

MAL
I think I was pretty clear. What are
you doing on my boat?

SAFFRON
But you know! I'm to cleave to you.

MAL
To wabba hoo? You can't be here.

SAFFRON
Did Elder Gommen not tell you...

MAL
Tell me what? Who are you?

SAFFRON
Mr. Reynolds, sir... I am your wife.

We hold on his very stupid expression for a long, long time.

END OF TEASER
Act One

INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUING

Mal is still looking dumb for a while. Finally:

MAL
Could you repeat that please?

SAFFRON
I'm your wife. That was your
agreement with Elder Gommen, since he
hadn't cash or livestock enough to -

MAL
I'm sorry. Go back to the part where
you're my wife.

SAFFRON
(downcast)
I don't please you.

MAL
You can't please me. You've never
met me.

Zoe and Jayne enter.

MAL (cont'd)
Zoe, why do I have a wife?

JAYNE
You got a wife?

ZOE
What's she doing here?

JAYNE
All I got was that dumb-ass stick
that sounds like it's raining. How
come you got a wife?

MAL
I didn't.
(to Saffron)
We're not married.

SAFFRON
I'm sorry if I shame you...

MAL
You don't shame me! Zoe, get Wash
down here.

ZOE
(hits comm)
This is Zoe. We need all personnel
in the cargo bay.

MAL
All -- I said Wash!

ZOE
Captain. everyone should have a
chance to congratulate you on your
day of bliss.

MAL
There's no bliss! I don't know this
girl.

JAYNE
Then can I know her?

ZOE
(tough)
Jayne...
(sensitive)
Don't sully this.

MAL
Zoe, you are gonna be cleaning the
latrine with your face, you don't cut
that out.

Everyone is in now.

BOOK
Who's the new recruit?

ZOE
Everybody, I want you to meet Mrs.
Reynolds.

ANGLE ON: INARA

True pain crosses her face.

KAYLEE
(excited)
You got married?!

SIMON
Well, that's -- congratulations...

WASH
We always hoped you two kids would
get together. Who is she?

MAL
She's no one!

Saffron starts to cry.

KAYLEE
Captain!

MAL
(at a loss)
Stop that.

SAFFRON
I'm, sorry...

WASH
You brute.

Kaylee goes up to Saffron --

KAYLEE
Oh, sweetie, don't feel bad. He
makes everybody cry. He's like a
monster.

MAL
I'm not a monster! Wash, turn the
ship around.

BOOK
(to Simon)
Have you got an encyclopedia?

SIMON
< Of course. >

He goes off. Wash and Mal are still talking throughout:

WASH
Can't.

MAL
That's an order.

WASH
Yeah, but can't.

MAL
What the hell is wrong w --

WASH
Alliance touched down the second we
left. And there's already a bulletin
on the cortex as to the murder of a
prefect's nephew - that's right, one
of our bandits had some family ties.
So unless you feel like walking into
a gallows, I suggest we continue on
to Beaumonde and you enjoy your
honeymoon.

MAL
This isn't happening.
(to Saffron)
Will you stop crying?

INARA
Oh, for god's sake, Mal, can you be
a human being for thirty seconds?

WASH
Speaking as one married man to a
another...

MAL
I am not married!
(to Saffron)
I'm sorry. You don't shame me, you
have very nice qualities but I didn't
ever marry you.

BOOK
(holding encyclopedia)
I believe you did. Last night.

Mal hesitates. As does everyone

MAL
(to Jayne, quiet)
How drunk was I last night?

JAYNE
I don't know. I passed out.

BOOK
It says here, the woman lays the
wreath upon her intended - which I do
recall - which represents his
sovereignty.

MAL
(to Saffron)
That was you?

BOOK
And he drinks of her wine. This
represents his obeisance to the life -
giving blood of her -- I'll skip this
part and then there's a dance, with
a joining of hands.
(closes book)
The marriage ceremony of the Triumph
settlers, been so over eighty years.
You, sir, are a newlywed.

A beat.

MAL
So what does it say in there about
divorce?

Saffron runs from the room, to the infirmary.

KAYLEE
< You don't deserve her, you fink. >

MAL
< Mind your own business. >
(starts after her)
Everyone go back to... whatever.

ZOE
Really think you're the one to talk
to her, sir?

MAL
Way I see it, me and her got a thing
in common. We're the only ones who
don't think this is funny.

His words ring true, and he storms out, passing Inara last, who doesn't particularly feel like laughing either.

INT. PASSENGER DORM - CONTINUOUS

Mal enters, finds no one. A quick look --

MAL
Hello? Woman-person?

He starts up the stairs.

INT. ENGINE ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Mal enters, finds Saffron huddled in the corner. She has been crying, but has stopped.

MAL
You all right?

SAFFRON
I thought last night during the
ceremony... you were pleased.

MAL
Well, yeah, last night I was. I had
some mulled wine, pretty girl gave me
a hat made out of a tree, nobody said
I was signing up to have and to
hold...

SAFFRON
You don't have marriage where you're
from?

MAL
Well, sure, we just... we do it
different.

Awkward beat.

SAFFRON
Are you going to kill me?

MAL
What? What kind of crappy planet is
that? Kill you?

SAFFRON
In the maiden's home, I heard talk of
men who weren't pleased with their
brides, who...

MAL
Well I ain't them. And don't you
ever stand for that sort of thing.
Someone tries to kill you, you try to
kill 'em right back. Wife or no,
you're no one's property to be tossed
aside. You got the right same as
anyone to live and to try to kill
people. I mean, you know. People
that are... That's a dumb planet.

SAFFRON
What will you do with me?

MAL
Not rightly sure. We're bound for
Beaumonde, it's a decent kind of
planet... might be able to set you up
with some sorta work...

SAFFRON
I'll not be anyone's doxy.

MAL
I don't mean whoring, there's ...
factories and the like. Some
ranches, if you're more for the
outdoors... I don't know - near a
week before we get there, we'll
figure something.

A small beat.

SAFFRON
I'd be a good wife.

MAL
Well, I'd be a terrible husband. You
got five whole days to figure that out.

SAFFRON
Five days, we'll be together?

MAL
We'll be together on the ship, not in
any --

She stands, visibly cheered.

SAFFRON
That'll be fine. I'll do for you or
not, as you choose.

MAL
Well, shiny. You hungry? Kitchen's
just through there.

And she slips by him, excited.

SAFFRON
I'll cook you something!

MAL
No, I meant if you --

SAFFRON
I'm a fine cook, everyone says.

MAL
Yeah, but --
(She's down the hall)

She turns.

MAL (cont'd)
I ain't ever even --

SAFFRON
(smiling)
My name is Saffron.

And she goes. He stands there, bemused. Book appears from the infirmary hall. He has seen that nice moment between the two.

BOOK
Divorce is very rare and requires
dispensation from her pastor. I can
send him a wave, see what I can do.

MAL
I'd appreciate it. She's a nice girl.

BOOK
Seems very anxious to please you.

MAL
That's their way, I guess.

BOOK
(bright, casual)
I suppose so. If you take sexual
advantage of her, you're going to
burn in a very special level of hell.
A level they reserve for child
molesters and people who talk at the
theater.

MAL
Wha - I'm not - Preacher, you got a
smutty mind.

BOOK
Perhaps I spoke out of turn.

MAL
Per maybe haps, I'm thinking.

BOOK
I apologize. I'll make her up a room
in the passenger dorm.

MAL
Good.

Book goes back. A beat and his head pops back in:

BOOK
A special hell...

And he's gone again. Mal sighs.

INT. DINING ROOM

Mal sits as Saffron places a plate in front of him, mostly mush (and a few bao), but well presented and aromatic.

MAL
Thank you.

Zoe and Wash enter as he tucks in.

WASH
Something smells good...

ZOE
Having yourself a little supper,
Captain?

MAL
Well, Saffron insisted on... I didn't
want to make her feel... it's damn
tasty.

He can't figure out who to be careful around - so he just starts shoveling it in.

WASH
Any more where that came from?

SAFFRON
(downcast)
I didn't think to make enough for
your friends.
(to Zoe)
But I've everything laid out if you'd
like to cook for your husband...

Wash looks at Zoe for a microsecond of hope - her eyes narrow - and he laughs overcompensationally.

WASH
Ta-ha-ha-- Isn't she quaint? I'm
just not hungry.

He sits, Zoe sitting as well. Her hilarious mood has abated. Saffron retires to the pantry.

ZOE
So, are you enjoying your own nubile
little slave girl?

MAL
(mouth full)
I'm not... nubile...
(swallows)
Look, she wanted to make me dinner.
At least she's not crying...

WASH
I might. Did she really make fresh
bao?
(off Zoe's glare)
Quaint!

ZOE
Remember that sex we were planning to
have ever again?

MAL
Y'all are making a big deal and I
would appreciate it if one person on
this boat did not assume I was an
evil, lecherous hump.

ZOE
Nobody's saying that, sir.

WASH
Yeah, we're mostly just giving each
other significant glances and
laughing incessantly.
(to Mal)
Is that cider?

MAL
(finishing his)
By the stove.

WASH
(going for Mal's glass)
Yum. I'll give you a refill.
(to Zoe)
Hon?

Saffron is suddenly in the frame, grabbing Mal's glass from Wash.

SAFFRON
That's for me to do.

She fills Mal's glass, places it by him. Everyone is quiet and uncomfortable as she stands by Mal, waiting for him to continue eating.

MAL
You know, you weren't lying about
your cooking. If I hadn't just
eaten...

SAFFRON
You don't want to finish.

MAL
No, I just, I have captain-y stuff I
have to do, but truthfully, that's a
fine meal. Thank you.

He rises.

SAFFRON
Do you need anything else?

MAL
(rising)
No, no. You just, you eat something
yourself, I'm gonna go... captain.

SAFFRON
If you're done with supper, would you
like me to wash your feet?

There is a pause. Mal exits.

Saffron goes back into the kitchen. A moment and Wash grabs Mal's plate, digging in. Zoe goes for it as well, elbowing in with a fork.

EXT. SHIP - LATER

Through the space she floaty.

INT. INARA'S SHUTTLE - LATER

Inara is working her screen, talking to it as the graphics change accordingly.

INARA
Beaumonde, City of New Dunsmuir.
Arrival, October 24, Departure...

Mal comes to the door.

MAL
Can I come in?

INARA
(touches screen to deactivate voice command)
No.

He does anyway.

MAL
See, that's why I usually don't ask.

INARA
What do you want?

MAL
I just needed to, um... hide.

INARA
So I take it the honeymoon is over?

MAL
She's a fine girl, don't misread -
hell of a cook too.

INARA
(pointedly)
I'm sure she has many exciting
talents.

MAL
Do you ever, um, wash your client's
feet?

INARA
(no)
It's my specialty. We'll be on
Beaumonde at least two weeks, right?

MAL
Can't be exactly sure, but --

INARA
Well, I need you to be exactly sure,
Mal, I can't make commitments and
then not keep them. That's your
specialty.

MAL
I'm sorry. Are you tetchy 'cause I
got myself a bride or 'cause I don't
plan to keep her?

INARA
I find the whole thing degrading.

MAL
That's just what Saffron said about
your line of work.

INARA
Maybe you should think twice about
letting go of "Saffron". You two
sound like quite a match.

MAL
Maybe you're right. Maybe we're
soulmates.

INARA
Yes. Great. I wish you hundreds of
fat children.

MAL
(laughing fondly)
Can you imagine that? Me with a
passel of critters underfoot? Ten
years time, I could teach 'em to --

INARA
(standing)
Can you leave me alone for five
minutes please?

Mal is surprised by the force of her outburst. He exits.

INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUOUS

He calls back as he goes:

MAL
I wasn't looking for a fight...

Turns and sees Jayne standing with meanest looking future shotgun imaginable. He cocks it, stonefaced.

MAL (cont'd)
I always do seem to find one,
though...

END OF ACT ONE
Act Two

INT. CARGO BAY - CONTINUOUS

JAYNE
Do I have your attention?

MAL
We're kind of going to extremes here,
ain't we?

JAYNE
There's times I think you don't take
me seriously. And I think that
oughta change.

MAL
Do you think it's likely to?

JAYNE
You got something you don't deserve.

MAL
And it's brought me a galaxy a'fun
I'm here to tell you.

JAYNE
Six men came to kill me one time, and
the best of them carried this. It's
a Callahan fullbore autolock,
customized trigger and double
cartridge thourough-gage.

He holds it out to Mal.

JAYNE (cont'd)
It's my very favorite gun.

MAL
The explosive diarrhea of an
elephant, are you offering me a
trade?

JAYNE
A trade? Hell, it's theft! This is
the best gun made by man, and its got
extreme sentimental value! It's
miles more worthy'n what you got.

MAL
"What I got" - she has a name.

JAYNE
So does this! I call it Vera.

MAL
Well, my days of not taking you
seriously are certainly coming to a
middle.

JAYNE
Dammit, Mal, I'd treat her okay...

MAL
She's not to be bought. Nor
bartered, nor borrowed or lent.
She's a human woman, doesn't know a
damn thing about the world and needs
our protection.

JAYNE
I'll protect her!

MAL
Jayne! Go play with your rainstick.

Mal heads downstairs. Jayne clearly not letting it go, but heading back up to his quarters.

Mal comes to ground level and runs into Saffron - he jumps a bit.

MAL
Gah! You do sneak about, don't you.

SAFFRON
You're a good man.

MAL
You clearly haven't been talking to
anyone else on this boat...

SAFFRON
I don't wish to be wed to the large
one. I'd rather... if I'm not to be
yours, I'd rather have that work you
spoke of. I could be useful on a
ranch.

MAL
That's good work. My momma had a
ranch, back on Shadow where I'm from.
Ran cattle, mostly - wasn't nobody
ran 'em harder or smarter. Used to
tell me, don't brand the cattle,
brand the buyer - he's the one likely
to stray.

SAFFRON
She raised you herself?

MAL
Well, her and about 40 hands. I had
more family for a kid who -

He stops looking at her.

MAL (cont'd)
Well, that is odd.

SAFFRON
What?

MAL
I just don't - I'm not one talks
about his past. And here you got
me...

SAFFRON
Does your crew never show interest in
your life?

MAL
No, they're, they're... They just
know me well enough to... What about
you? What's your history?

SAFFRON
Not much to say. Life like yours, I
fear you'd find mine terrible dull.

MAL
Oh, I long for a little dullness.
Truth to say, this whole trip is
getting to be just a little too
interesting.

EXT. SPACE

Serenity passes a small (tiny) cracked moon. Zoom in to see a device webbed about the surface of the moon, with a dozen tiny camera faces all firing flashes one after another.

ANGLE: A COMPUTER

CONTINUED

As a 3D image forms (fed by the camera's info) of Serenity. Pull back to:

INT. CHOP SHOP OFFICE

As two men, CORBIN and BREED, look at the screen. They are clearly disreputable, their outfits as hodge-podge and junky as the room they're in. Corbin is tough, strong, in charge. Breed is seedier, but also not to be underestimated. Bad guys.

BREED
It's a wreck.

CORBIN
No, no. This is good.

BREED
It's parts. A lot of cheap parts
we'll never unload.

CORBIN
This is why you'll never be in
charge, Breed. You don't see the
whole. The parts are crap -

BREED
I said exactly that -

CORBIN
- but you put'em together, you got a
firefly. Thing will run forever,
they got a mechanic even half awake.

BREED
It's got no flash...

CORBIN
Some people ain't looking for flash.
She's a good catch. She comes our
way, you prep the nets.

BREED
Lotta effort we're going through
here... hoped we'd hit a t-bird, at
least.

CORBIN
Just keep complaining. The sound is soothing.

He's on his way out.

BREED
Kill the crew?

CORBIN
Save me the pretty ones. You know the
drill.

IF POSSIBLE - This entire talk has been one slow pull-out from the screen, and now pull-out further, through the window to see:

EXT. SPACE - FLOATING CHOP SHOP - CONT.

Which is basically a giant floating ring - The office sits on top like a giant crab, the rest of the ring made up of connecting tunnels and chambers, and mostly by ships and parts of ships. Some gleam enticingly, some are cannibalized. Electricity crackles silently along the rim, fired up at six key points (this, we will see, forms the net). Ten Serenities could pass through the ring at once.

A flash of electricity flares out to:

OMITTED

INT. ROOM/PASSENGER DORM - LATER

Book is making up a room for Saffron, making the bed. He finishes smoothing it out, admires his work. We hold a still, wide frame as River enters and pulls the bed apart quickly and calmly and exits again, taking the pillow. Book sighs, starts out after River.

Simon is coming the other way, interrupts River. She takes him by the hand, turns back to Book.

SIMON
What's going on?

BOOK
Seems River doesn't want me making up
a bed for our young guest. Or she's
starting a pillow collection. I'm
still collating data.

SIMON
I'm sorry. I'll take care of the
room -

RIVER
It's not important!
(to Simon)
Tell him.

SIMON
Tell him what?

RIVER
(to Book)
We want you to marry us.

SIMON
What? We - no! What?

RIVER
Two by two. Everyone has a mate, a
match, a dopple. I love you.

SIMON
No, River, mei-mei. of course I love
you too, but we can't be married.
(to Book, mortified)
She's... really crazy.

River kicks him in the shin.

SIMON (cont'd)
OW! I don't mean crazy - that's just
not something brothers and sisters
do. I mean on some planets, but only
pretty bad ones.

RIVER
The captain took a wife...

BOOK
Well, that's also complicated.

SIMON
I don't know where this is coming
from...

RIVER
We'll take care of each other. I'll
knit. You don't love me.

Mal enters with Saffron.

MAL
What's going on?

SIMON
I really couldn't say.

MAL
I was gonna show Saffron her
quarters, did they get squared away?

BOOK
Once upon a time...

SAFFRON
I don't need anything, I'm really
just fine -

RIVER
(turning)
You're a thief.

Slight beat as Saffron recoils from River's accusation. Book notices that she shrinks a bit toward Mal, who puts a protective hand to her back.

MAL
Well, ho, let's play nice here.
(to Simon)
Your sister's got some funny notions.

SIMON
That's not untrue.

SAFFRON
I'm sorry...

They all turn to her, surprised, as she pulls a packet of food from her dress pocket. River responds by stuffing her pillow under her shirt.

SAFFRON (cont'd)
(handing the packet to Mal)
I didn't know when I was to be fed,
and I was afraid...

MAL
You made that fine meal, didn't eat
nothing yourself?

SAFFRON
That was for you. Weren't but pot
lickings left, so I took this for
later, I didn't know she saw me.

RIVER
(to herself)
Didn't see you...

BOOK
Well, there's certainly no harm
done...

MAL
(forcefully)
And I'd say there is. Good deal
a'harm, and its starting to tick me
off.

Saffron is frightened, and Mal turns her to him.

MAL (cont'd)
Now, I got no use for people sneak
around taking what ain't theirs.

BOOK
(wryly)
Yes, we frown on that here.

MAL
But what I got even less use for is
a woman won't stand up for herself.
Five days hence we're puttin' you in
the world, and you won't last a day
by bowing and sniffing for handouts.
You want something, you take it, or
ask for it. You don't wait to be
told when to breathe, you don't take
orders from anyone. Except me - and
that's just 'cause I'm the captain,
and people take orders from captains
even in the world. But for the rest,
damnit, be like a woman is. Not no
petrified child. There's more'n
seventy little earth's spinning about
the galaxy, and the meek have
inherited not a one. Do you
understand what I'm saying to you?

SAFFRON
(with quiet strength)
I do.

He tosses the food back to her. Looks to Book.

MAL
Shepherd, would you show Saffron her
room please?

Mal exits, Book leading Saffron the other way. Simon is left with pillow-belly River.

RIVER
Now we have to be married.
(hands on belly)
I'm in the family way.

Simon cannot think of a response.

ZOE (V.O.)
She's clearly out of her mind.

INT. BRIDGE - LATER

Zoe and Wash in mid-conversation.

WASH
Well, she's led a sheltered life.

ZOE
Did you see the way she grabbed that
glass from you?

WASH
Every planet's got its own weird
customs. 'Bout a year before we met,
I spent six weeks on a moon where the
principal form of recreation was
juggling geese. My hand to God.
Baby geese. Goslings. They were
juggled.

ZOE
Of course the man rushes in to defend
her...

WASH
(huh?)
I'm talking about geese.

ZOE
Captain shouldn't be baby-sitting a
damn groupie. And he knows it.

WASH
Okay, when did this become not funny?

ZOE
When you didn't turn around and put
her ass back down on Triumph where it
belongs.

WASH
Oh, hey, now it's even my fault! Is
there anything else on your mind I
should know about? There's all sorts
of twists and cul-de-sacs, it's wild.

ZOE
She's trouble

WASH
I'm getting that.

ZOE
I'm going to bed.

She exits.

WASH
I'm gonna stay here, where it's safe
and quiet, and I'm gonna play with
some of these dials and stuff.

He's watching her go, confused and unhappy.

WASH (cont'd)
I might, you know, steer.

She's long gone. He spins back around.

INT. JAYNE'S ROOM - LATER

Jayne sits on his bed, unhappily turning his rainstick over and listening to it.

INT. FOREDECK HALL - NIGHTPHASE

It's empty as Mal starts down his ladder, we follow him into:

INT. MAL'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS

Mal enters, pulls off his shirt. Tosses it in the corner, turning to see:

ANGLE: IN THE BED is Saffron. She is quiet, a bit apprehensive and more than a bit naked.

MAL
(jumps)
Wah! Yo - hey. You're, um... well,
there you are

SAFFRON
I've made the bed warm for you.

MAL
It, uh, looks warm.

SAFFRON
And I've... made myself ready for you.

MAL
Let's ride right past the part where
you explain exactly what that means.
Didn't you see you got a room of your
own?

SAFFRON
And... I'm to sleep there?

MAL
That's the notion. Assuming you're,
yeah, sleepy...

SAFFRON
But we've been wed. Aren't we to
become one flesh?

She is soo insouciantly sexy. Mal looks up where his shipmates would be, resolve wavering...

MAL
Well, no, I think we're still two
fleshes here. And that your flesh
oughta sleep somewhere else.

SAFFRON
I'm sorry. When we talked, I'd
hoped... but I don't please you.

She says it shamefacedly, the covers slipping down as she sits naked before him.

MAL
Hey! flesh! Look Saffron, it ain't
a question of pleasing me. It's a
question of what's... uh... morally
right.

SAFFRON
I do know my bible, sir. "On the
night of their betrothal, the wife
shall open to the man, as the furrow
to the plough, and he shall work in
her, in and again, 'till she bring
him to his fall, and rest him then
upon the sweat of her breast."

Beat.

MAL
Whoa. Good bible.

SAFFRON
I'm not skilled, sir, nor a pleasure
to look upon, but -

MAL
Saffron. You're pleasing. You're...
hell, you're all kinds of pleasing
and it's been a while... a long damn
while since anybody but me took a
hold a'my plough so don't think for
a second that I ain't interested.
But you and me, we ain't married.
Just 'cause you got handed to me by
some < bastard > couldn't pay his
debts, don't make you beholden to me.
I keep trying to explain -

SAFFRON
Let me explain.
(he waits, surprised at the grown up tone)
I lived my life in the maiden house,
waiting to be married off for trade.
I seen my sisteren paired off with
ugly men, vicious or blubberous, men
with appetites too unseemly to speak
on. And I've cried for those girls,
but not half so hard as I cried the
night they gave me to you.

MAL
(suddenly insecure)
Well, what - you - is there blubber?

SAFFRON
I cried for I'd not dreamed to have
a man so sweet, so kind and
beautiful. Had I date to choose,
I'd choose you from all the men on
all the planets the night sky could
show me.

She stands getting close to him.

SAFFRON (cont'd)
If I'm wed, I'm a woman and I'll take
your leave to be bold. I want this.
I swell to think of you in me, and I
see you do too.

Mal looks down, embarrassed.

MAL
Well, that's just...

SAFFRON
Leave me at the nearest port, never
look on me again, I'll make my way
with the strength you've taught me...
only let me have my wedding night.

They're inches apart. He's dying.

MAL
(looking up at the door)
I'm gonna go to the special hell...

She kisses him, slowly and sweetly. He pulls away, his face still close to hers, sad resolve in his eyes.

MAL (cont'd)
I really wish it was that simple,
girl. But I just -

She kisses him again, and he gives massively in, putting his arms around her, their tongues intermingling...

He takes a step back, confusion on his face. Puts a hand to his lips.

MAL (cont'd)
Son of a -

He is already stumbling as he goes for his gun - it drops to the ground with the same lifeless thud as he does.

She looks at him a moment as he snores. The expression on her face, one we've not seen before, is sly triumph.

SAFFRON
Night, sweetie.

END OF ACT TWO
Act Three

INT. BRIDGE - NIGHT

Wash pilots alone. Saffron enters, tentatively - all shy girl (and dressed) again. Wash hears, turns -

WASH
Well, if it isn't the master chef.
Not sleepy?

SAFFRON
Am I let to be up here?

WASH
Well, sure, why not. Not like anyone
else is taking up space.

She enters, eyes on the window.

SAFFRON
I've never been off world before.

WASH
Beautiful, isn't it? Endless. You
stare at it long enough, as long as
I have, it becomes almost...
preternaturally boring.

SAFFRON
(brow furrowed)
I don't think you're serious.

WASH
(smiling)
'Bout half. You stop seein'em after
a spell, but they are your very first
charts. Time and again, you look up
from your screens and remember that.

SAFFRON
It's like a dream.

WASH
Planet I'm from, you couldn't see a
one, pollution's so thick. Sometimes
I think I entered flight school just
so I could see what the hell everyone
was talking about.

She smiles at him, her warmth enfolding his sweet reminiscence. A beat, and she moves to the door, quietly shuts it.

WASH (cont'd)
What are you doing?

She moves to the middle of the room, stands there, almost trance-like.

SAFFRON
Now we're alone. Us and the stars.
No ship, no bellowing engines or crew
to bicker at each other... look.
Come look...

He's hesitant, but comes to stand next to her. They stare out at the brilliant black

SAFFRON (cont'd)
Do you know the myth about Earth-that-
was?

He can feel her closeness, her excitement - tries to be cool amidst the hard-on.

WASH
Not so much.

SAFFRON
That when she was born, she had no
sky, and she was open, inviting and
the stars would rush into her,
through the skin of her, making the
oceans boil with sensation, and when
she could endure no more ecstasy, she
puffed up her cheeks and blew out the
sky, to womb her and keep them at
bay, 'til she had rest some, and that
we had to leave 'cause she was strong
enough to suck them in once more.

Beat.

WASH
Whoa. Good myth.

She turns to him, eyes nearly moist with pleading.

SAFFRON
My whole life, I saw nothing but
roofs and steeples and the cellar
door. Few days I'll be back to that
life and gone from yours. Make this
night what it should be. Please...

Her face is inches from his.

SAFFRON (cont'd)
Show me the stars.

They're practically touching and she moves to kiss him, but he pulls away at the last minute.

WASH
< Holy mother of god and all her wacky
Nephews > do I wish I was somebody
else right now. Somebody not
married, not madly in love with a
beautiful woman who can kill me with
her pinky.

SAFFRON
I've been too forward.

WASH
No. Well, yes. But I actually like
that in a woman. That's part of why
Zoe and I are, as previously
mentioned, married.

SAFFRON
I thought... she didn't seem to
respect you.

WASH
Not everybody gets me and Zoe at
first glance. Did it get very hot in
here? I need airflow.

He moves to the door. She stops him with...

SAFFRON
You love her very much.

WASH
Yeah.

He turns to open the door. Saffron rolls her eyes with bored exasperation as he continues heading for the door -

WASH (cont'd)
I never did meet a woman quite like
her. The first time we -

And Saffron sidekicks him in the back of the head, slamming his face into the door. He slides down, unconscious.

She pulls the door open, drags the body into the space before the stairs, hidden off to the side from view. Shuts the door again, locking it.

She moves to the console, hits the screens, working the nav like an expert. We see the course setting come up on the screen, see her change the coordinates and lock them in. Hits another screen and opens a channel to signal the new destination of arrival.

Just as swiftly and expressionlessly, she slides under the console, chooses a few wires and rips them out, sparks flying. Crosses a couple of others (we see the nav screens wink out) and she's up, back at the door, opens it, looking to see if she's alone.

She reaches under her dress and pulls a strip of tape from the hem, sticks it on the interior lock of the door and pulls off a layer, which causes a bubbling not unlike the burning glue of the pilot. As the lock begins to melt and fuse she slams the door shut, locking herself out of the bridge.

INT. CARGO BAY - MOMENTS LATER

She comes down the stairs, gets her bearings straight for a sec, then heads to the second shuttle. Opens the door and runs smack into:

INARA.

SAFFRON
Oh!

INARA
Are you lost?

Instantly she's subservient Saffron again, looking down. She backs up as Inara comes down a few stairs.

SAFFRON
I'm sorry. I thought the other
shuttle was yours.

INARA
It is. I was on the cortex and my
screen shorted. This one's out too.

SAFFRON
Looking for customers?

INARA
What were you looking for?

SAFFRON
I don't mean to be rude... A
companion's life is so glamorous and
strange... I wish I had the skill for
such a trade...

By God, she's moving from subservient to seductive...

INARA
You'd like to please your new husband.

SAFFRON
Oh, he'll have none of me... For
true I'm somewhat relieved... if I'm
to learn of love, I'd want it to be
at the hands of someone gentle...
someone who could... feel... what I
feel...

Their faces are close. Inara is as intimate in tone as Saffron:

INARA
But Mal said... you don't approve of
my work...

SAFFRON
Sure and he said that to keep you
from me... I was too curious about
you, ever since I saw you...

They are face to face.

INARA
Come to my shuttle.

SAFFRON
You would... you would lie with me?

The alarm goes off, red lights spinning - Saffron looks around in innocent alarm, looks back to Inara, who drops the act.

INARA
I guess we've lied enough.

Saffron drops the act as well.

SAFFRON
You're good.

INARA
You're amazing. Who are you?

SAFFRON
I'm Malcolm Reynold's widow.

All the color drains from Inara's face. (okay, not all the color, she's from Future-Brazil so she still has a hue, but she's upset, okay?)

Saffron punches, hard but Inara blocks - a spinning kick from Saffron and Inara rolls out of the way, Saffron moving to the shuttle and slamming the door behind her.

Inara is on her feet in a heartbeat, racing toward the foredeck hall...

INT. COCKPIT OF 2ND SHUTTLE - CONTINUOUS

Saffron pulls some chips from her dress and inserts them into the console, brings the shuttle to life.

EXT. SERENITY - CONTINUOUS

As the shuttle takes off and heads the opposite way.

INT. FOREDECK HALL - CONTINUOUS

Inara comes in as Zoe is at the entrance to the bridge, holding a dazed Wash. Jayne is trying to open the bridge door (it won't budge) as Kaylee is coming sleepily up out of her room. They all overlap:

ZOE
Baby wake up... He's bleeding...

JAYNE
There's nobody in there -

KAYLEE
What's going on?

Inara ignores them all, slams Mal's ladder in and drops down as fast as she can -

INT. MAL'S ROOM - CONTINUOUS

She finds Mal draped like the dead on the floor, rushes to him, fearing the worst -

INARA
Mal Mal Mal Mal -

She goes down, pulls up his head - and he moans - still alive. Unwanted wetness springs into her eyes as she gasps, relieved -

INARA (cont'd)
Merciful buddha...

And she kisses him, once, hard, then holds him to her, collecting herself - laying him back down and heading to the ladder as she calls out to above:

INARA (cont'd)
Get the doctor! Mal's hurt... he...

She starts to sag. Puts a finger to her lips, recognizing the taste - she turns to Mal, scorn in her drooping eyes...

INARA (cont'd)
Oh, you stupid son of a -

And she collapses, unconscious, out of the frame.

BLACKOUT AND FADE UP ON:

INT. - SAME - LATER

Fuzzy close on Mal awakening. Gets more focus as he looks about him, blinking.

MAL
Is it christmas?

Reverse angle: The entire gang (minus River, Jayne and Kaylee) is staring at him. Simon closest, with his doctor bag, and Inara on his bed propped up like a rag doll.

SIMON
Well, he's back...

ZOE
Yes, sir, it's christmas. That
special night when Nick the Saint
comes down your chimney, changes your
course, blows out the navcom, seals
the bridge and takes off in your
shuttle.

MAL
What happened about me...?

ZOE
Your blushing bride was a plant.
(re: him and Wash)
She took both of you out.

MAL
How did...

SIMON
A narcotic compound, probably spread
over a seal on her lips. You get it
on yours and pow.

ZOE
Lips, huh?

MAL
Well, no...

SIMON
We used to get a lotta guys brought
in on the night shift at the E.R. -
usually robbed and very groggy.
Called it the "goodnight kiss".

ZOE
So you two were kissing.

BOOK
(pointedly, to Mal)
Well, isn't that special...?

MAL
(trying to change the focus)
Wash? How did -

WASH
Hey, I just got kicked in the head.

ZOE
My man would never fall for that
< cheap floozy >.

WASH
Most of my head wishes I had.

MAL
You guys don't understand...

BOOK
Seems pretty simple from here. You
were taking advantage of a -

MAL
(standing clumsily)
I was the one being taken advantage
of!

BOOK
My apologies, you were victimized,
Wash was beaten and Inara found you
here.

INARA
(defensively slurred and sleepy)
And then I fell. My head got hurt
like Wash.

MAL
I don't get any of this.

INARA
I only fell is all.

MAL
What the hell is our status?

ZOE
We're shut down. Jayne and Kaylee
are still trying to get us on the bridge.

WASH
All we know is we're headed somewhere
and it ain't Beaumonde.

Mal starts up the stairs, the others following. Hold on Inara, who says to Simon...

INARA
I'm fine. I don't need to be
examined. I'm comfy.

INT. HALL CONTINUOUS

As Mal and everyone files up (save Simon and Inara) to see Jayne firing up a blowtorch. Kaylee explains -

KAYLEE
She didn't just lock it, she fused it
to something. Both entrances.

MAL
Why the big act? What the hell was
she after?

BOOK
Besides molesting innocent captains?

MAL
You wanna stow it, preacher? We're
in some peril here.

ZOE
If she can fly this thing why just
take the shuttle?

Simon is entering as well as:

WASH
Maybe she likes shuttles.
(Off Mal's look)
Some people juggle geese...

RIVER
I told you.

They look at her.

RIVER (cont'd)
She's a thief.

A beat.

ANGLE: THE DOOR

As Jayne pulls it open

INT. BRIDGE - LATER

Kaylee and Wash are lying side by side under the console, looking up at the wiring.

KAYLEE
She's a pro.

WASH
This is a masterful job of muck-up.
See how she crossed the drive feeds --

KAYLEE
Yeah huh --

WASH
So we even try to reroute it'll lock
down. < brilliant >.

KAYLEE
And she went straight for the thermal
cap!

WASH
Yeah yeah! We are so humped!

They're starting to admire it -- a bit too much for Mal to take. He stands there with everyone else, waiting.

MAL
I'm glad you two are having a good
time under there, you wanna progress
to the making it right?

They poke their heads out.

WASH
That's not gonna happen for a good
long while, Cap'n

MAL
We don't have a good long while. We
could be headed straight into a nice
big solid moon for all we know so
hows about you get to work?

KAYLEE
Hey! You're the one whose big make-
out session got us into this, sir.

MAL
I was poisoned!

INARA
You were drugged.

JAYNE
That's why I never kiss 'em on the
mouth.

There is a moment for everyone's extreme silent horror.

MAL
Well, what CAN you do?

WASH
Give us some time we could get the
cortex and navcom back on line, at
least see where we're headed.

MAL
That's fine, except for the part
where I give you some time. What
about steering?

INARA
What about stopping?

WASH
She humped us hard. We're gonna have
to do a lot of --

MAL
Do it. It doesn't help me to see
where I'm going if I can't change
course.

KAYLEE
The girl really knows her ships.

INARA
That's not all she knows. She's well
schooled.

SIMON
You mean the sedative? The Goodnight
Kiss?

INARA
I only hit my head but Mal... went
through that but no, I mean
seduction, body language, signals...
she had training. As in Companion,
as in Academy.

BOOK
Our little Saffron's quite a wonder.
I'm beginning to think she married
beneath herself.

MAL
(to Inara)
How do you know? About the training?

INARA
She tried to seduce me too.

MAL
(trying not to sound too intrigued)
Really? Did she -- did you --

INARA
You don't play a player. It was
sloppy of her to try it, but I think
she was in a rush.

MAL
But she had professional... so in my
case, it was really...
(to Book)
You woulda kissed her too.

ZOE
Wash didn't.

MAL
But she was naked, and all
articulate...

WASH
Okay. Everyone NOT talking about
their sex lives, in here. Everyone
else, elsewhere.

KAYLEE
Jayne, find me a splicer.

Jayne rummages through tools as everyone else save Book departs. Wash ducks back under with Kaylee.

WASH
Do you really think we have a hope in
hell of fixing this?

KAYLEE
Not by talking 'bout it, darlin'.

INT. CHOP SHOP OFFICE - LATER

Breed is looking at a screen, call out of the room:

BREED
They're coming!

Corbin rushes in.

CORBIN
How far out?

BREED
Ten minutes or so. Right on target,
speed... a-1.

CORBIN
That girl is a wonder.

BREED
She gets it done. I'll tell the boys.

He starts out --

INT. BRIDGE - LATER

As Serenities screens pop back to life.

WASH (O.S)
YES!

He is looking at them, working them. Kaylee's still under the console, Jayne and book at the ready.

Mal runs in.

MAL
You got it?

WASH
We got life. We got screens. It's
a qualified "yes". A partial.

MAL
What about nav control?

Kaylee comes out to look miserable, shakes her head.

MAL (cont'd)
So where are we headed?

WASH
(working the screens)
Coordinates she entered... we're
headed for something and it's not too
far...

MAL
Did she signal anyone?

WASH
< Hold on a second >... she did. Same
coordinates, no I.D.

JAYNE
Who's out there...?

WASH
Let me see if her signal wave can
translate to a visual, there might be
a -- < Damn! > Heavy ionization,
electrical interference bouncing the
signal all... look at that.... It's
like a circle.

Mal gets it. He looks at Book, who also does.

MAL
It's a net.

JAYNE
I don't get it. Where are we headed?

BOOK
The end of the line.

Off their looks:

EXT CHOP SHOP RING - CONTINUOUS

As the electricity fires up and does in fact form a powerful net.

END OF ACT THREE
Act Four

INT. BRIDGE - MOMENTS LATER

The same gang are there, as the explanation begins.

BOOK
It's a Carrion House. Scrap shop,
takes ships, pulls 'em apart or fixes
'em up.

WASH
Doesn't sound that scary...

MAL
That pattern you're looking at is a
net. We fly into that we're more
than helpless. It'll turn the ship
into one big electrical conduit, burn
us all from the inside out.

BOOK
Some of the newer ones'll just hold
you, then the scrappers'll override
the airlocks, pull the Oh-two, or
just gas you. They're not looking to
deal with survivors.

JAYNE
One day you're gonna tell us all how
a preacher knows so damn much about
crime.

MAL
Kaylee.

KAYLEE
I'm trying, sir, but...

MAL
Well, you stay on it. We can't fall
into that net.

He's thinking fast, looks about him.

MAL (cont'd)
We need a plan B.

He hits the com.

MAL (cont'd)
(into com)
Zoe, get our suits prepped, now.
(to the others)
I figure we got one shot at this.
(to Wash)
Give me a visual as soon as we're close.

WASH
Won't be long...

JAYNE
What do I do?

Mall turns to him, waits just a hair of a beat.

MAL
You go get Vera.

INT. CARGOBAY/AIRLOCK - LATER

Mal and Jayne are suited up, save helmets and gloves. Jayne is loading big-ass bullets into Vera while Zoe checks his suit and Simon hooks his encyclopedia to the com console with Book's help.

WASH (OS)
(over the com)
We are two minutes out...

JAYNE
This thing needs oxygen around it to
fire, and we don't have a case.

MAL
We're gonna use a suit.

SIMON
Here. We got it.

They look over at:

ANGLE: SIMON'S ENCYCLOPEDIA

Has a visual of the ring on it.

JAYNE
What am I aiming for. The window?

MAL
That might kill some folk, but it
won't disrupt the net. See these six
points where it's brightest?
Those're the breakers. Hit one and
it should short it out.

JAYNE
What do you mean, should?

INT. BRIDGE - CONTINUING

Kaylee slams her wrench against metal, near tears.

KAYLEE
If I just had a stupid conductor
cap...

EXT. CHOP SHOP RING - CONTINUOUS

As we can see Serenity tiny in the distance.

INT. AIRLOCK - CONTINUING

Mal opens the door, and he see him suited up, with Jayne as well, Jayne is sitting, holding the gun. It's in a suit, Jayne holding it through the sleeves (which are duct-taped to his), the barrel pointing out through the helmet. The butt of the gun is braced up against containers against the airlock doors.

Angle: their pov

Through the door, of the approaching ring.

MAL
You see it?

JAYNE
Clear as day.
(then softer)
You see, Vera? You dress yourself
up, then you get taken out somewhere
fun.

INT. COCKPIT OF INARA'S SHUTTLE - CONTINUING

As Kaylee rips out some wires and parts from it.

She comes up and looks out the window, stops -- mesmerized.

EXT. CHOP SHOP RING CONTINUOUS

As the ship approaches, the net forms fully, electricity silently flaring in a spiders web of power.

INT. EXT AIRLOCK/SPACE - CONTINUING

Mal waits. Jayne waits.

Jayne FIRES, a silent burst blowing through the helmet, air rushing out as the breaker EXPLODES, the crackling web disintegrating --

-- and Jayne continues firing, aims up at the office itself:

INT. CHOP SHOP OFFICE - CONTINUING

Corbin and Breed duck and cover as the bullets rake across the window. We hear it crack and groan -- they look at each other in horror --

EXT. CHOP SHOP RING - CONTINUOUS

And the window and all contents of the office blow out into space -- pan down to see serenity blow through the sparking but harmless ring, continuing on in the distance.

INT. BRIDGE - LATER

Kaylee, Mal, Zoe. Wash is at the controls. We hear things humming to life.

WASH
We got it. It's not pretty, but we
can steer enough to turn the hell
around.

MAL
Nice work, Kaylee.

KAYLEE
(despondent)
Weren't soon enough to help.

MAL
Lot easier to pull things apart than
to put 'em right. You're still the
best mechanic floating.

He kisses her on the top of her head. She waves him away, but didn't hate the compliment.

WASH
Captain, don't you know that kissing
girls makes you sleepy?

MAL
Sometimes I just can't help myself.
Let's go visiting.

INT. HOTEL ROOM - DUSK

Can something be described rustically plush? 'Cause that best describes this little suite.

Saffron sits on the bed, pulling on her boots. She is nothing like the girl we've seen, much more modern and cool (though she still wears a skirt). And she's packing a sidearm in a shoulder holster.

She stops a moment, listening to something.

The door flies open, Mal having kicked it in. Before she can draw, he has his gun to her head.

MAL
Honey... I'm home...

A beat. She knocks his gun aside, it fires as she draws hers but he is in close, they tussle -- he wrenches her gun from her hand as they collapse on bed, him on top.

MAL (cont'd)
Looks like you get your wedding night
after all.

She pushes him, they go tumbling to the floor but he's still on top and this time he's got his gun to her chin.

MAL (cont'd)
It's the first time, darlin'. I
think you should be gentle with me.

She lets out a breath, smiles at him unfathomably.

SAFFRON
You gonna kill me?

MAL
Can you conjure up a terribly
compelling reason for me not to?

SAFFRON
I didn't kill you...

MAL
You turned me and my crew over to
those that would kill us, that buys
you nothing.

SAFFRON
I made you dinner...

MAL
Why the act? All the seduction
games, the dancing about folk --
there has to be an easier way to
steal.

SAFFRON
You're assuming the payoff is the
point.

MAL
I'm not assuming anything at this
juncture.

He sits, gun still well on her. She gets up on her elbows, below but facing him.

SAFFRON
How'd you find me?

MAL
Only a few places that shuttle could
make it to from where you left.
Happy to find it intact. You always
work for Elder Gommen?

SAFFRON
I work with lots of folk. He's
thrown me a few choice fish. What'll
become of the dear Elder?

MAL
Oh, he'll be laying eyes on me soon
enough. And to think I saved his
town from vicious bandits.

SAFFRON
(smiling sexily)
You're quite a man, Malcolm Reynolds.
I've waited a long while for someone
good enough to take me down.

MAL
(also smiles)
Saffron... you even think about
playing me again I will riddle you
with holes.

Her smile goes. This is the closest we're gonna get to seeing what's inside her, and there ain't much to warm your hands by.

SAFFRON
Everybody plays each other. That's
all anybody ever does. We play parts.

MAL
You got all kinds a' learnin' and you
made me look the fool without trying,
yet here I am with a gun to your
head. That's 'cause I got people
with me, people who trust each other,
who do for each other and ain't
always looking for the advantage.
There's good people in the 'verse.
Not many, lord knows, but you only
need a few.

SAFFRON
Promise me you're gonna kill me soon.

MAL
You already know I ain't gonna.

SAFFRON
You know, you did pretty well. Most
men, hell, they're on me inside of
ten minutes. Not trying to teach me
to be strong and the like.

MAL
I got one question for you. Just one
thing I'd like to know straight up.

SAFFRON
Ask me.

MAL
What's your real name?

She looks at him... looks away, considering the question...

-- and he slams the butt of his gun into her chin, knocking her out cold.

He stands, regards her genuinely vulnerable form. Says with a kind of sadness:

MAL (cont'd)
You'd only've lied anyhow.

A beat, and he leaves.

OMITTED

INT. INARA'S SHUTTLE

As she is turning off her vidscreen. Mal knocks, enters after:

INARA
Come in.

MAL
We're back on course, should be on
Beaumonde just a day or two late.
Hope that's all right.

INARA
It should be fine, thank you. And
does the vixen live?

MAL
If you can call it that. All's well,
I suppose.

INARA
Yes.

MAL
You're a very graceful woman, Inara.

INARA
(surprised)
I... thank you.

MAL
So here's where I'm fuzzy: you got
by that girl, came and found me, and
then you just happened to trip and
fall?

INARA
Wh- what do you mean?

MAL
Come on, Inara, how's about we don't
play. You didn't just trip, did you?

She holds his look, and acquiesces.

INARA
No.

He smiles, nodding.

MAL
Well isn't that something. I knew
you let her kiss you.

Her look changes to one of stupefied disbelief. He exists, chuckling. We hold on her expression for a long, long time.

END OF SHOW