Another Girl Another Planet Ch 7
Saturday, May 13, 2006

They're about to hit dirtside...


7.Welcome To My World

There’s a certain air of expectancy on Serenity the next morning, that feeling the ship gets at the end of a voyage. Mal leans back through the door to where Ilargia is helping Zoe put the plates away.

“You want to come up to the bridge, see your world from space?”

Ilargia doesn’t need asking twice. She hasn’t had an opportunity to look around this bit of the ship yet. Smiles as she passes Kaylee’s decorated door, but she’s wondering which is the lair of the beast.

Looks at the dinosaurs a beat.

“These are the Lares of the ship, then?”

“They belonged to Wash.” says Mal, not understanding. But River likes the analogy.

“Watch over us. In memento mori.” She slides out of the co-pilot’s chair, indicates with her eyes to where Jayne is lurking. “Hic illes monstrum.”

Ilargia grins back; she knows he’s there. She sits, eyes on the stars, and to Mal’s relief, says something in a language he understands.

“Never been on a bridge before.” (Behind her, a hand edges up on the back of the chair, braid against his fingers, soft and cool.)

Aware, intensely aware, of a large warm hand by her neck, could pick her up like a kitten. Calloused thumb resting, not touching, but so near. Snatches away as Mal turns his head.

“Coming up on Hecate - we should arrive mid-morning local time. Any place we need to be heading for?”

“Main port is Southam, but you’ve no call to land there unless you need to. Take a bearing north by north west. There’s a little town by the mountains, name of Halliwell, and my house is a few clicks on. I like my space.” Remembers the weight of people back home. Angular room in an angular block in a linear row, galaxy of lights at night. Here the lights are just a few small homesteads, and the fierce white stars. Mouth curves softly. Hand’s crept back again.

“What’s Hecate like?”

“Green and clean.” Pulls her feet up, tilts her head back. Planet fills the window. (And warm touch of knuckles fills her world.) “Lots of forest, lots of mountains, and not a lot else. Most of the fertile land is vertical. But the hunting’s good, if you get the chance.”

Horrible thought strikes both of them. Mal could just unload the cargo and take off...

River is impressed by the speed with which Ilargia thinks her way round that one. This is going to be interesting. Makes an apologetic little noise.

“Need to fly now. Hitting the atmosphere. Going to hit back.”

Ilargia relinquishes the seat, as the ship bumps. Doesn’t even get the chance to fall over.

“You can let go of her now, Jayne.” Zoe says dryly. “We’ll go strap in.”


Ilargia strolls down the ramp, jumps to the ground in a swirl of coat, turns and spreads her arms with a half-mocking bow.

“This is my world, and welcome to it.”

“Gorram, it’s cold.”

“I wanted to get back before winter set in; you can get snowed in.”

Jayne contemplates getting snowed in with ‘Larji; it’s a pleasing thought. She’s dressed in that prim coat and hat again, but he knows she has the devil in her eye, you look for it. Watches her now, all business, independent and sexy as hell.

“...unload the cargo, but I don’t have room in the house. Are the crates weatherproof?”

“We can keep them on board until they get collected.” Mal wants to see who the ‘special’ cargo belongs to. “That be long?”

“Doubt it. Word will be out that a ship’s come in.” She smiles. “That’s very kind of you, Captain. In return, I can offer you some real home cooking, and...I’ve got a bath, once I get the furnace going, anyone cares for it?”

Bath. Immediately the word is said, everyone feels...itchy. Aware of their clothes. Mal looks at his crew. His mostly female crew. His mostly female, cooped up with Jayne and his bodily functions for months on end crew. His crew look back at him. (‘Cept Jayne; no prizes for guessing where his attention’s at.)

He makes a captain-y decision.

“We’ll be glad to stop a while.”

‘Cos he reckons that between them, they are like to pull his engine to pieces rather than let him take off. Gives Ilargia a narrow look, says quietly,

“You seducing my crew?”

Look he gets back is direct, and wickedly amused.

“Not all of it, Captain. And not quite yet. Business before pleasure.”

Woman scares him.


Kaylee wants to see inside Ilargia’s house. It’s a neat little wood cabin, solid built, with a steep pitched roof and small thick windows, that say a lot about the weather. View from the porch looks down over Halliwell, and Southam is a smudge on the horizon. Would have been more imposing without the Firefly-class ship blocking all the light on the northern side.

They walk into a room the height of the house, with an open staircase up the side wall to a gallery, and doors off it. Fireplace in the opposite side, and a doorway through to a kitchen at back. Very simple, but tidy, homely. Mal has a sudden memory of childhood, catches at him. Ranch kitchen had a table like that, only on a larger scale. Reminds Kaylee of home, too. Same kind of battered couch. No engine parts round the place, though.

Ilargia finds it strange to see them in her space. Worlds colliding. She lays and lights the fire. Journeys are one thing, but it’s very different when it’s your home ground. Makes it real. Little shiver down her back from more than the cold.

Kaylee has found a snap on the mantelpiece. It seems to be an abstract design, until she touches it. The ‘abstract design’ promptly stretches out into a crescent and opens a pair of evil yellow eyes. A yawn shows long white fangs, and then the cat rolls back into a ball.

“That was my boy.” Ilargia touches the frame lightly. “Had me a tomcat, name of Baphomet. Mean old hun dan. His life was the three ‘f’s, feasting, fighting and fornication.” (By association of ideas, several pairs of eyes slide sideways. Ilargia continues, oblivious.) “’Course, he was just a big soft pudding to me.”

“There’s pudding?” Jayne, who has been peering into the kitchen hopefully, perks up. Can’t work out why people are laughing, but Ilargia says she’ll see what’s in the cooler, and they’re to make themselves at home.


She’s chopping logs out back, swinging the axe like she was used to it. He grew up doing chores, wonders if she did. She straightens to chuck the logs in the shed, sees him. That smile she has for him. She was wondering how long it would take him to follow her out.

Helps her chop the rest of the logs. It’s no hardship to him to stretch his muscles, an’ he knows he looks good doing it. (Drop of sweat on her collarbone and he wants to just lick it off...)

Damn, but he is built. Under his singlet, she can see the edge of an ugly wound in one shoulder, tattoo on the other, edge of a scar. (Wants to see the rest of him...)

Fact is, they both want to (and then some.)

Then a small craft comes in over the house, fast and low, makes them both jump. Ilargia rips out a curse that makes him blink, sighs.

“Company’s coming.” She eyes him regretfully. “Best put those muscles away. I have to go to work.”


River has found one of Ilargia’s few proper books, and is curled up on the hearthrug with it. She a girl, face bright and absorbed. Mal watches her. Raises her head suddenly - “They’re here...” - as the engine goes over.

Jayne comes back from elsewhere somewhat mussed and twitchy, muttering to himself. He’s been jittery as a pan of popcorn since they got here. Granted he hadn’t had nobody to shoot for a spell, but not being in mortal peril has to have some charm.

“Folk are rolling in. Time to unload the gorram soap.”

Ilargia appears behind him, looking pissed and amused in equal measure.

“It’s probably going to turn into a party.”


It’s like the biggest yard sale Mal has ever seen. People in all sorts of vehicles turning up. Ilargia’s right about the party, too. Taciturn man called Jenner sets up some trestle tables, and Kaylee is out and circling the covered dishes already. Jayne and Zoe are moving the crates down to the end of the ramp. Clean air moves through Serenity, brings the smell of pines and ice.

Craft they heard has touched down in a space would have made even Wash think twice, and the owner is locking down the cargo ramp.

“Juno, meet Captain Reynolds.”

She’s tall, broad-boned face handsome, copper hair. Gives him a handshake near breaks something.

“Captain. Right pleased to see you.”

“Juno runs the bath-house.” Ilargia’s marking the list. “I see you brought Tiy with you.”

“Oh seen Elspeth around? Need a word.”

The pilot steps out of the craft, slim figure in a proper flyer’s jacket, cropped dark hair and a limp. Mal finds himself face to face with one of the most beautiful women he has ever seen - coffee skin and long, lifted eyes. She gives him a nod, limps past after Juno’s long stride.

“In case you were wondering, Zoe is more their type.” Ilargia murmurs.

“Criminal waste.”

“If they are here, I had better see about separating the cargo out.” A look up at him. “But me carry some provisions, Captain?”

Heads round to the wood store, but it ain’t wood she’s after. Goes into the back of the store. Mal lets out an admiring oath. Ilargia grins.

“Beauty, isn’t it?” (‘It’ is a still, half the height of the room.) “I keep it secret so no-one gets tempted to drink themselves blind whilst I’m away.”

Mal’s about to say something about keeping Jayne away from it, when the man himself peers round the door.

“Ai ya! This is where you brew your rocket fuel, huh?”

“Damn straight. Got a jar or two ready to drink - red tops.” Both men stare at the massed shelves. “This is what I do when I’m not smuggling, gentlemen.”

“Shiny.” Jayne grabs two demi-johns, grins. “What’s everyone else drinkin’?”

Mal gives Ilargia a warning look.

“You ain’t seen him drunk. It’s kinda horrific.”

“He’s your crew.” Hands him another demi. “Now, do you want to come and meet the owner of that cargo?”


He’s expecting Juno, finds himself looking a foot further down. Looks like someone’s damn grandmother, with a birds nest of grey hair. His face betrays him. Sharp black eyes fix him with a basilisk glare.

“Dr Elspeth Sung. I trained on Ariel before you were born, young man. I’m no backwoods bonesetter.” The wrinkled hands pick and peck through the soap with practised ease. “Oh, good girl, you got the thyroximene - Jenner’s been watching the skies for the last week for you.”

“I came back as quickly as I could, Elspeth.”

“I’m only teasing, Gia.” Looks to Mal. “We’re very grateful to you for this, Captain. It’s not everyone you could trust with this sort of cargo.”

“Indeed. Glad to be of service, ma’am.” He smirks at Ilargia. “Difficult to find decent men in this day and age.”

“Always been difficult to find decent men.” Elderly ladies ain’t supposed to grin like that. “Sometimes you just got to make do.”


Kaylee thinks it’s real nice party. The Hecate folk are friendly, real pleased to see Ilargia back. People are turning up with all sorts of real food. Few jars of happy brain death making their way about, too, and she’s keeping Simon off those. He ain’t used to that sort of drinkin’. There’s gonna be music, too, later - already seen two fiddles, and she wants to dance with him.

Ilargia’s minding the store. There’s half a cargo bay of crates, and she seems to know what’s in each one and who it’s marked for. Reminds Zoe of her first QM - no-one had a belt buckle without that woman knowing.

Jayne wants these people to take their rutting soap and go. Likes a party much as the next man, but he’s got a party of his own in mind. Watches the bossy little woman on the ramp, and doesn’t even know he’s frowning. A real entertaining mix of tenderness and frustration.

He’s gotten used to having her to himself. And now all these folks that she knows, and he don’t, are round her, laughing and chatting. Makes him twitchy, seeing her smiling at other men. Then she’s hugging one of them.

Sittin’ and nursing a bottle of something wicked as he feels when Kaylee bounces up to him.

“You not enjoyin’ the party?”

“No. I ain’t.”

Kaylee looks more closely at him as the tone gets through. He’s got that tight mean look on him. But she has a hunch as to what’s causing it.

“Jayne, would you be jealous now?”

“Hell, of what?” Jayne takes another vicious drag on his bottle. “Ain’t nowhere on this stinkin’ dirtball for a man to have himself a good time.”

Yep, thinks Kaylee, jealous. Big idiot.

“You drinkin‘ yourself...stupider than usual this evening?” Takes the bottle away from him. That gets his attention. “You know she ain’t got eyes for no-one else. But she’s gotta work first, and she ain’t gonna want a drunken mess slobberin’ on her.”

He gives her a shamed grin - (so easy to read, not like Simon, with his perfect poker face.)

Kaylee reminds him of his ma, when she puts her hands on her hips like that. Points a stern finger.

“Now stop being an ass an’ get...”

He’s already loping over. Ilargia is sitting on the edge of the ramp. She’s not exactly peering around, but her eye is out for a certain set of shoulders. Finds them. He’s looking about him like a questing hound. And she sees the moment he sees her.

“Hello, you.” Woman looking up at him with a promise in her eyes. “Thought you’d left me for a bottle. You enjoying the party?”

“I am now.” He sprawls down by her feet. “Thought you’d left me for somethin’ prissy in eyeglasses.”

“Tad?” She outright laughs. “He just told me his wife is having a baby come summer. They teach the school here.” Sideways look. “I’m only interested in his library.”

Jayne don’t flirt. He’s a bit for that. Never had a woman as wasn’t willing, though. Still can’t quite get his mind round that she might be willing. She’s smart and classy, and he’s...not. Tries to explain.

“Never had me much schoolin’. Can’t talk fancy, ain’t nothin’ but a hired gun.”

“Never picked you for your erudition.” Ilargia grins, strokes her fingers down the back of his neck. Jayne twitches.

“Quit that.”


“’Larji...” What’s meant as gruff protest comes out pleadin’. Does things to a man, he can‘t think straight, woman pettin‘ him like that.

Ain‘t all a bad thing though...

Sound halfway between a growl and a purr makes her giggle.


Tiy is sitting, right leg stretched out in front of her, artificial from mid-calf down. Elspeth is examining the joint. Tiy is talking to River - by the hand movements, River is asking about the landing. Mal will bet she’s hearing a lot more than Tiy actually says.

“Combat flyer - got shot down and spent the last two years in a camp. Rutting Alliance medics didn’t do enough to save her foot.” Juno gives him a sideways glance. “That little girl is your pilot?”

“She is. Got a female mechanic, too.”

“Good for you. Got three male plumbers on my workforce.” A ferocious grin. “I don’t hate men, just don’t want to hump ‘em is all.”

Mal manages a smile. This planet is full of women make Zoe look warm and fuzzy. Juno takes a pull on a bottle, offers it to him. Elspeth, with few more manners, offers him a glass.

“Kinda assumed you were old friends of Ms Donovan.” Nods over to where Ilargia and Jayne are...well, way they look to each other, there’s no-one else in their ‘verse.

“They met less’n a week ago.”

“Shipboard romance, huh?”

Enough to freeze the blood, that. ‘Romance’ is not a word Mal has ever associated with Jayne. But then he’s never seen him look quite that doped either, as she rakes gentle fingers through his hair...Mal looks away.

“Could call it a romance. All I know is, it scares me.”

“Remember when that girl came off the ship first time.” Elspeth shakes her head. “Never thought she’d last the winter, she was that thin and sad.”

“Oh, she’s no quitter, Gia.”

“Left her useless husband, though.”

“I think she was just heading away.” They look at the stars, the sweep of the mountains. “And this is about as away as you can get. Hecate’s mostly folk who just wanted to live a mite further out.”

“What Elspeth means is that we’re a bunch of free thinkers, radicals and political dissenters.”

“But we don’t cause enough trouble to get ourselves stepped on. ‘Course, we’re last in line for any Federal assistance. Which means dabblin’ with the dark side.” Elspeth raises her glass. “Here’s to those ladies and gentleman.”

Mal acknowledges the toast. Someday he’s gonna be able to drink this stuff without his eyes watering.


Simon is torn between his two women, and annoying both of them, in his usual fashion. Kaylee wants to dance with Simon, but he’s fussing about River, who does not want her big brother breathing down her neck at a party. Ilargia watches them.

“She’s going to be a terror now she’s started noticing boys.”

“River...ain’t quite like other girls.”

Ilargia snorts.

“She’s the smartest cookie I ever met, but she’s a teenage girl. Genius against hormones - no contest.”

River huffs down beside them.

“Never have any fun. Simon hovers.”

“He fusses like a gorram nursemaid.” Jayne agrees.

“I think he’s worried that you may be making undesirable male friends.”

“One of Simon’s biggest fears,” River confides, “Thinks I’m going to notice that Jayne’s not a girl.”

“Even you ain’t crazy enough to miss that...ow.” (Ilargia has pulled his ear, though gently.)

“Noticed.” River puts her tongue out at him. “So not my type. Besides, stealing is wrong.”

“So, what is your type? Let me guess.” River’s eyes go wide as Ilargia carries on. “Tall, dark and brooding, a touch of the rogue about him?”

Jayne’s lost, but River is scarlet. Ilargia pats her shoulder.

“You got good taste, sweetie.”

“Has to see the girl before he sees the woman.” says River sadly. “And the girl would like to dance.”

“Well, you can’t have Jayne, ‘cos I think he‘s comfy.” says Ilargia, practically. (Jayne grunts agreement.) “But I‘m sure there is someone that Simon would trust you with.”

Dark eyes meet green with a moment of perfect understanding.

“Not good for morale if the crew is upset.” River agrees solemnly. Darts off.


Mal’s had a bit to drink, not enough to excuse being dragged into a hoedown. But his little albatross has a grip of steel.

“Dance with me.” That good smile of hers. “No hats made of tree.”

...Mal backing out of the dancing hastily. River stuffing a fist in her mouth. And a fragment of conversation with Simon.

“...what? These are surgeon’s hands.”

“...only one handy with a needle...” Mal hisses back.

“Has he done what I think he’s done?”

“Yep.” Even Zoe can’t keep a straight face.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006 5:37 AM


“Dance with me.” That good smile of hers. “No hats made of tree.”

She's no Saffron either.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 9:36 AM


Guess those tight pants finally met their match!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007 6:39 PM


This is all manner of interresting. But I'm confused about the ending. What exactly is going on? Did Simon punch Mal or something? I'd appreciate some insight :-)


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