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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Kaylee and Inara talk sex, Serenity has a problem, and Mal and Inara are at odds again (go figure).
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1766 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
See Chapter 1 or my blog for disclaimers and such.
Except I have to say thanks to VERA2529, LEEH, and GUENEVER for the beta help!
“Thank you for playing along with that,” Inara told Kaylee as she carefully pulled a plump berry off of a thorny branch.
“Wha’d’ya mean?” Kaylee asked with pink stained lips. More berries were ending in her belly than in the basket.
“About you planning to come along.”
“I wouldn’t even think of tellin’ on ya.” Kaylee snuck a look at Inara’s serious face. “So why don’t you wanna go on a walk with the Cap’n?” Kaylee voice was all innocence, but when Inara paused in her berry picking to study the girl, Kaylee couldn’t help but smile.
“I know what you’re thinking, Kaylee, but there is nothing between Mal and me.”
“`Course not,” Kaylee said, still smiling.
Inara didn’t answer, and they picked quietly for a while before Kaylee asked, “Inara, you ain’t had a client since that Chairman on Oeneus, right?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“It’s been near a month.”
“So… ain’t you gettin’ a little… antsy?”
“You know… when you get used to doin’ it all the time and then you don’t get to no more?”
Inara looked at Kaylee’s blushing face and realized the conversation was no longer about her and Mal. “Are you having a difficult time?” she asked with a gentle smile.
“Wŏ de tiān, á! Jayne’s even startin’ to look good! Did you see him yesterday?”
“Everyone saw him yesterday; he made sure of that.”
“Yeah. An’ if he’s lookin’ good I know I got problems.” Kaylee scratched her nose and left a little raspberry juice on it. “I mean… he does look good, but he’s just so… so Jayne! `Sides, I couldn’t go without the kissin’.”
“Sounds like you’ve thought about this.” Inara pointed at her own nose; Kaylee got the message and wiped most of the raspberry juice off her face.
“No! Well, yeah, but that’s only `cause I been all caged up. It ain’t natural, livin’ like this. And them as could help are just…” Kaylee gave a little harumph of frustration, then looked up at Inara again. “Ain’t it tough for you?”
“What I do is for my clients, not for me.”
Kaylee’s eyes widened in shock. “What? You mean, with your clients, you don’t ever…” She raised her eyebrows and nodded suggestively.
“Of course I do.” Inara laughed. “I guess I could pretend with quite a few of them, but there are those who would know.”
“So you always do?”
“Then you gotta be missin’ it.”
“It’s a controlled response,” Inara said with an indifferent shrug. “It’s enjoyable, but it’s not something I need.”
Kaylee sat still for a bit and thought about that, then she got up and carefully made her way deeper into the prickly bushes. When she settled down, the majority of the berries she picked were gathered into the folded down top of her coveralls. She was too busy with her thoughts to snack.
“That’s a shame, Inara,” Kaylee finally said in a soft voice.
Inara responded quickly, as if her thoughts had followed a similar path. “Why? It’s my job. A professional chef is trained to analyze the flavors in a dish instead of mindlessly enjoying them, and so he or she experiences food differently than the rest of us. It’s the same with a Companion and sex.” She’d clearly used this argument before, in her head if not out loud.
Kaylee paused and sat back. “But how `bout that one time? You know, when I …”
Inara smiled and relaxed. “That was different. Special circumstances. It was… not really me in a way.”
“Maybe it was more you than you think,” Kaylee said without looking up.
Inara looked at Kaylee in alarm, “Kaylee, are you saying…”
“No, Inara, don’t worry about me. I know what I want, even if he don’t. I’m just worried `bout you is all.”
“You don’t need to be. I’ve chosen my life and I’m happy with it.”
Kaylee answered in a small voice. “Maybe you just don’t know what you’re missin’.”
Inara sighed. “Please, Kaylee, enough.” She licked her red stained fingers and changed the subject. “So this… thing that you want – how exactly is that going?”
Kaylee shook her head. “I can’t seem to get the message across. We have all this fun swimmin’, but then he goes off like I’m just some play pal. And not the good kind of playin’.”
Inara smiled knowingly. “Smart people are notorious for being stupid. Especially men. Especially doctors.”
“Think he’s sly or somethin’?”
“I think he’s in over his head and he’s lost. Be patient, he’ll come around.”
“Hope so.” Kaylee sighed wistfully, “I’m wearin’ myself out waitin’.”
Kaylee sounded so forlorn that Inara had to laugh. “Be patient, băo bèi. Good things are worth the wait.”
“Well then, this is gonna be really, really, really good when it happens….” Kaylee couldn’t finish without breaking into a laugh too. She came back over to Inara to pour her gathered berries into the basket.
“So, Inara, why don’t you wanna be alone with the Cap’n?” Kaylee asked. Inara looked away with a frustrated sigh, but Kaylee continued. “And I ain’t talkin’ about gettin’ all sexed. I thought you two was friendly now, after what happened. After you helped him get better.”
“Kaylee, it’s… complicated.”
“Can’t be that complicated.”
Kaylee nodded in understanding, then smiled sadly. “Yeah, guess it always is.”
* * *
Book finished filling the smoker with strips of bear meat and closed the door. Jayne had set up a spit over the fire which currently had several large steaks sizzling. Zoë and Mal had taken the rest of the meat onto the ship for storage in the freezer; it was a good haul for one morning’s work.
“I saw you spent some time with River yesterday,” Book said to Jayne.
“What?” Jayne looked up with an open mouth. “What’d ya mean?”
“Oh, yeah.” Jayne returned to poking at the fire.
“Did she seem all right?” Book asked.
“Yeah, other than bein’ weird. But that ain’t nothin’ new.”
Book stepped up on a rock and looked toward the water, where Simon was still watching over River. “I hope she hasn’t taken a step back.”
“Yes. She had a bit of an… episode while you were out hunting.”
Jayne snickered. “Too bad. It’s been all right, her not bein’ nutso.”
Book looked over in surprise. “How so?”
Jayne shrugged. “I dunno.” He scratched his head, then looked at up Book again. “She’s been kind’a fun, I guess. Helluva lot more than when she’s comin’ at me with a knife.”
“I can’t disagree with that.”
“Kind’a like a li’l sis or somethin’.”
“Yes. That she is.” Book nodded with a fond smile, then stepped down from the rock and sat down. “Do you have any sisters?”
“Just Matty, my little brother.”
Book didn’t answer. He watched Jayne throw a few more small logs on the fire, spreading the heat to make the meat cook evenly.
“I had one once,” Jayne said after a spell.
Book had to backtrack, to remember what they’d been talking about.
“Yep. She passed since I left home.”
“Oh… I’m very sorry.”
“No need. Long time ago.”
They sat in silence some time before Jayne asked, “So what d’ya think sets her off? Makes her get all nutty?”
Book glanced back out toward the water, but all he could see was Simon, still sitting watch. “Apparently it was a patch of raspberriy bushes.”
Jayne snorted and shook his head. “Nutjob.”
The crew finished a lunch of meat grilled over a fire and sat back in the shade of the ship to enjoy their full stomachs. The bear meat was the first real food they’d had since Ricky Lu’s seafood ran out, and no one had any complaints.
Although he kept the idea to himself, Mal was thinking that this could become an extended vacation. There was food and fun a’plenty, and no Alliance patrols or troublesome locals to worry over. But experience had taught him the need for pessimism and caution.
During the afternoon, he had Book watch the oxygen chiller, sent Simon to finish with the gathering of greens, and dragged Kaylee and Wash into the ship. It had been quite a while since they’d had her shut down and could run a full check.
It turned out to be a good thing that they did one.
“It’s `cause of the grapplin’ on the servo powerin’ the artificial grav drive,” Kaylee explained in the engine room, shining a flashlight into an open panel under her hammock. “It’s all brittle, just `bout worn through. Probably not ever been replaced.”
Mal nodded, not overly surprised. If the crew’s needs were seen to and no one was currently trying to kill them, the only place for the problem to arise was the ship. Always had to be a gorram problem somewhere.
“Can you fix it?” he asked.
“I’ll weld some braces on the grapplin’, n’ that’ll hold up fine. But it’s been puttin’ strain on the axle, and it don’t look good. Tiny little part, Cap’n, but it’s real special. Can’t fix her without replacin’ the whole servo.”
“Define ‘don’t look good’.”
“Greasy spots. Nine of `em.”
Mal raised a brow at her and she explained. “Axle goes, we’ll lose internal grav. No big deal if we’s settin’ still or in orbit; we just float around. But if it goes while she’s at full burn, acceleratin’ at all, we’ll be squished `gainst some wall or `nother.”
“Tā mā de hún dàn,” Mal swore under his breath.
“That’s for sure. Can’t be goin’ `tween worlds with it like this, not if we wanna move fast. Can’t be doing any fancy maneuverin’ neither. Gotta be real careful.”
Mal wasn’t about to sit around camping while he knew that his ship wasn’t spaceworthy. He delivered the bad news at dinner: they’d have the night to rest up, and in the morning they’d go looking for the part Kaylee needed.
“On the way in, Wash picked up some EM noise,” Mal explained. “It’s the only sign of tech life on this rock. We’ll hunt it down, see if they got anything Kaylee can use.”
“And if they don’t?” Jayne asked sulkily.
“Ain’t your problem to worry over. You just finish curing your bearskin if you wanna take it with, I don’t want it stinkin’ things up. Wash?”
“Humm?” Wash looked up from where he was cuddling with Zoë.
“If you two really plan on spendin’ the night under the stars, you need to rig up some kind of security. It smells like meat out here, and I don’t want any of you bein’ late night snacks for the wildlife.”
“Right, Captain,” Wash replied as he tipped his cheek against the side of Zoë’s head.
“See to it now, Wash.”
Wash sighed and started pulling himself out from under his wife. “You know you worry too much, right?”
“That’s my job,” Mal said, and looked at Wash like he was daring him to argue.
In the end, everyone except Inara and Mal decided to camp out for the night to take in as much fresh air as possible. Simon didn’t seem overjoyed at the prospect, but River was insistent and he wouldn’t let her stay outside without him.
They took advantage of the soft floor of pine needles in Book’s natural ‘cathedral.’ Wash set up a small perimeter of electric wire around a shallow dell, meant to be private space for himself and Zoë. Book and Kaylee made a larger area for the rest of the campers.
Mal made sure his crew was set up with fire pits and blankets and checked the smoker before he returned to the ship. He had taken a little razzing from Jayne about being a pansy, like he was afraid to sleep out of doors, but that wasn’t why he didn’t join them.
It wasn’t about needing the comfort of his own bunk, wasn’t even about wanting to watch over the ship. He hadn’t been sleeping so well in the past few weeks. He doubted that even the cool air of the forest would do the trick, and the last thing he wanted was to lay awake all night listening to Jayne snore. He figured he could enjoy the peace just fine sitting by the cargo bay doors, watching the light of the two local moons on the water.
Before that, he had one order of business to take care of.
Inara finished rinsing out her suit, still wet from her post-dinner swim, and was just hanging it in the shuttle’s head to dry when there was a soft rapping on her door. It had to be Mal, there was no one else on board. She was surprised at the knock, but it allowed her a moment to twist her damp hair in a chignon on the back of her head and pull her robe tight around her.
Sure enough, it was the Captain. He stood outside the hatch looking at the floor like he was hesitant to bother her.
“To what do I owe the courtesy of the knock?” she asked.
“Wasn’t sure if you’d be sleepin’.”
“Not yet, though it won’t be long. There’s nothing more tiring than a good long swim.” She motioned for him to come in, then stepped back.
“Suppose not,” he said as he followed her.
She walked to the center of the room, but Mal stayed by the hatch, not closing it behind him. “Would you like to sit?” she asked.
“No thanks. Just got a few words to say, won’t take long.”
“All right.” Inara was put on her guard by his formal air. He looked a little… not nervous, but taut?
He cleared his throat. “Look I uh…” He paused and took a heavy breath.
“Yes?” she prompted. His unsure manner was almost amusing.
He looked away from her smile. “It’s about you takin’ Kaylee off today.”
“Oh?” Inara’s amusement faded. Had he followed them? Overheard? She tried to remember exactly what she’d said to Kaylee, but the polite smile on her face didn’t change, or the light tone of her voice. “What about it?”
“It... it wasn’t `propriate.”
Appropriate? Good lord, what had she said? “I must not be fully aware of the propriety of berry picking. Could you explain?”
“Inara… I meant what I said about the danger.”
“You mean - all the hungry beasts? You were serious about that?”
He had the grace to look a little embarrassed, but he didn’t back down. “Bears don’t tend to faint dead away on account a’ gettin’ hit by one little crossbow dart. And we don’t know what other kind’a hungry critters are out there.”
In truth, Inara felt more than a little relieved, but she needed to be sure. “So… did you follow us then? To stand guard?”
“If I’d a’followed you the whole crew would’a been on my back. You saw to that.”
“I didn’t think you were serious!”
“I was. We know nothin’ `bout this place. And it ain’t just wildlife. Don’t be forgettin’ about people. There’s no law out here, and just `cause a place looks empty don’t mean it is.”
This is ridiculous, Inara thought, her relief turning to annoyance. “But we were hardly fifty meters from the ship! Picking berries!”
“Which would’a made it all the more idiotic if you and Kaylee got dead or hurt doin’ it.”
“Mal, do you understand the meaning of overprotective? If not, you might want to take the time to look it up.”
That struck a chord in him, and not a good one. He looked down at the floor for a second, and when he raised his eyes they were so fierce she almost took a step back.
“Inara, you’re all kinds of good at arguin’ and pointin’ out the things I don’t know. But, in the future, if I’m doin’ anything that concerns the safety of my crew, don’t you ever question me.”
Inara couldn’t look away from him. Though he hadn’t changed his stance, there was suddenly a tension in his body that suggested violence. This man had nothing in common with the grinning prankster she’d seen in the water yesterday.
“I’m sorry,” she told him softly, still holding his intense stare. “I… I didn’t know.”
It didn’t matter which one was the real Mal; the overbearing tyrant in her shuttle right now was the side he needed for survival, and would always be there. She couldn’t let herself forget it.
“It won’t happen again,” she said, and after a second she added, “Captain.”
He watched her closely, as if he was waiting for her to add something sarcastic or flippant. When he realized that she meant what she said, he looked away and the tension left his body. She thought she saw a hint of regret in his face, but when he looked at her again, it was only to give her a short nod before he ducked back out the open hatch.
wŏ de tiān, á: dear god in heaven
băo bèi: treasure
tā mā de hún dàn: Mother humping son of a b****
On to Chapter 3.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 4:26 AM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 4:57 AM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 5:01 AM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 5:08 AM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 5:22 AM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 5:57 AM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 6:07 AM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 8:00 AM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 8:05 AM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 9:58 AM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 12:33 PM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 1:30 PM
Wednesday, May 24, 2006 6:58 PM
Thursday, May 25, 2006 10:17 AM
Thursday, May 25, 2006 6:24 PM
Saturday, July 08, 2006 5:53 AM
Thursday, July 13, 2006 3:43 AM
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