“DERIALL REYNOLDS! Do NOT throw stones at the koi!” the Companion shouted and clapped her hand over her mouth at her loss of control.
“Shall I go speak to him, 阿姨 ?”, asked the slim preteen embroidering beside her.
“Yes, please, Hope. That 顽皮的孩子 can make trouble faster than anyone else I have ever met, and with the new baby I am running out of hands and patience.”
“Takes after his father, Mummy says.” Hope Washburne rose gracefully and glided over to the little boy. “Don’t tease the fish. It gets them all excited.”
“I wasn’t aiming at them. I was just trying to make them interested.”
“Mummy says they don’t like interesting. Interesting usually means they are going to die.”

Quiet voices were heard approaching the walled garden. A small group of men and women, most wearing white mourning, entered. Zoe Washburne embraced her daughter while Malcolm Reynolds, clad in black,  went to see what his boy was up to… this time.
“The ceremony went well, I assume,” the Companion said. “The baby was fussy so I gave her a bottle and she fell asleep. She’s been changed.” She passed the tiny child over to her mother.
Kaylee kissed the baby’s fine red hair and thanked the young Companion. “It was sad, but she ain’t in pain anymore. It was an awful  long illness.”
“嬷 Serra was my teacher in first year,” said the Companion. “I was very homesick, but she was so kind….” Tears welled up in the eyes of the girl and Kaylee’s eyes filled too, still raw from losing a dear friend. She embraced the girl.
“Thanks for watching the kids durin’ the interment. They’re too young to handle so much.”
“Not Hope. She is very mature for ten. I enjoyed my time with her,“ the Companion paused.”She seems to like being here too. Do you think her mother would consider her attending our school and perhaps following a career with us?”
“I wouldn’t suggest that to Zoe. She’ll keep her girl as close to her as she can for as long as she can.” smiled Kaylee. “And Zoe is a very determined person”
They were joined by the other members of the mourning party. Simon Tam, his sister, River and the large 危险的人, who was blatantly leering at the young Companion.
“Well, I must return to….my… my studies.” The young girl murmured.  “该死“ she thought “ I am so glad Mother Serra did not see me this morning. Losing my temper with a child and then being flustered by a man. Self-control is much harder in real life than in the classroom.”

Mal, with a firm hand on his son’s shoulder, approached Simon. “Where is the next clinic you’ll be doin? Have you given River the coordinates?”
“The plan is to visit Harvest,  first, to show Kaylee’s family the new baby. Kaylee wants to talk to you about that. We have three clinics set up there so far, maybe more if I get the damplung vaccine from the Ariel Central Medical Stores.”
“Kinda dry there for the damplung, ain’t it?”
“There’s been a lot of immigration lately. Brought the disease along. It might just die out on its own, but the vaccine will make it die out faster.”
“Shiny. Well, in-laws… but, shiny. The Flying Doctor saves the day again.”
“And we get paid. And not shot at.”
“Win, win then. Except for the in-laws part. Not sure I can take much of Daddy Kaye glaring at me for seducing his baby girl.”
“What’s seduce, Captain?” asked Derrial.
“Shut up.” His father explained.”Go play with Hope”
“She’s bossy.”
“So’s her mother. And yours. And Aunt River. Get used to being bossed by women. That’s helpful fatherly advice just special for you. Git.”


About femmefan1946

Retired professional writer and editor. Nominated for an Aurora Award for work on CAN-CON 2014, which concentrates on introducing new and aspiring writers and artists to agents, editors and publishers.
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