BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

MAL4PREZ

Easy Tickets: Chapter 2B
Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Kaylee and Inara talk sex, Serenity has a problem, and Mal and Inara are at odds again (go figure).


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2895    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.”

“Mm-hmm.”

“So… ain’t you gettin’ a little… antsy?”

“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?”

“Always.”

“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.”

“Can’t it?”

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?”

“Swimming.”

“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.”

“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.

“A sister?”

“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.

* * *

Translations

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.

COMMENTS

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 4:26 AM

MAL4PREZ


Hey you S/K fans, and you J/K fans too – I have my own take on this infamous triangle, but it’s not going to play out for a while. I got caught up in other things. Hang in there!

Re pinyan – I’ll let you all in on a fabulous discovery. Really, it’s so great.

http://www.mandarintools.com/worddict.html

It’s made certain things in later chapters possible for me. I love it so.

I’ve had problems with some of the pinyan characters not showing on FFF, the ones with ‘u’ shapes over their heads. But I played around in Word’s insert symbol, and found ‘u’ characters that work.

One more thing – cutting the chapters in half. It’s only for Ch. 2-6, and maybe a few later ones. They seem so long to post all at once! Well, and I also need to delay so I can finish the end before I get there. You know how it is. :)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 4:57 AM

TAYEATRA


Felt quite short but still had some great lines...

“I must not be fully aware of the propriety of berry picking. Could you explain?”

Almost shot coffee through my nose at this one. Just really appealed to my sense of humour!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 5:01 AM

LEIASKY


Oh god, the whole sex talk was perfect.

>“Hope so.” Kaylee sighed wistfully, “I’m wearin’ myself out waitin’.”

Wearing out her batteries, I bet :)

>“Well then, this is gonna be really, really, really good when it happens….”

Yeah. It better be!

Even Kaylee's remark about Jayne had me cringing and laughing at the same time. But - no comment on how good Simon looked in the water, all dripping wet, no shirt. . .

Aww, darn we didn't get to see the sleeping arrangements for their night under the stars.

Your Mal and Inara banter is some of the best I've ever seen. Good job!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 5:08 AM

LEIASKY


Ahhh, I commented before I saw your notes!

>Hey you S/K fans, and you J/K fans too – I have my own take on this infamous triangle, but it’s not going to play out for a while.

Ugh, is all I can say without worrying about insulting you - which is what I don't wish to do. :)

>They seem so long to post all at once!

So? We like long chapters :P

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 5:22 AM

LEIGHKOHL


Okay I am a little scared of the Simon/Kaylee/Jayne triangle thingy, but I am going to trust you because you are an excellent writer! And I agree with Leiasky above, your Mal/Inara is just a riot! I love it! And yes, long chapters are okay with me!:)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 5:57 AM

MAL4PREZ


Boy, you S/K people are opinionated! (I mean that lovingly) I really like being mysterious, so don't make me give it away, but trust me, okay? I won't take you anywhere scary.

You've convinced me about the chapters - I'll post them whole, but in that case I can't do everyday. I'll post 3 tomorrow, but no 4 till Monday!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 6:07 AM

LEIASKY


>Boy, you S/K people are opinionated!

laugh

Most people who feel strongly about a certain subject are. :)

>You've convinced me about the chapters

Boy are you easy! I figured it'd take more begging!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 8:00 AM

CAPERCAILLIE


mal4prez - why is it that everytime I read one of your pieces, I feel like I must have been very, very good to deserve such a treat?
I love your style of writing - easy to read, effortless to swallow, and just plain fun all round!
As for S/K, they make my stomach juices curdle - I will gladly wait a long while for that ship to dock....she says as she ducks projectiles hurled by S/K fans...

Thanks again for putting a bright spot in the day!

Capercaillie

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 8:05 AM

CAPERCAILLIE


So when I read...
"I'll post 3 tomorrow, but no 4 till Monday!"
My feeble heart did a cartwheel - I thought, "three chapters tomorrow and four on Monday...."
...and then reality struck!
Honestly, have pity on me as I drool at your feet.
Long ones, short ones, anything is good (okay, great) as long as you post it!

Caper

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 9:58 AM

TAMSIBLING


For all the S/K shippers out there, please put us out of our misery sooner rather than later (as Leiasky said we can be quite passioniate, i.e. LOUD, when we don't get our way)

I just happened upon this fic, but I like your style as well. What is happening with Mal and Inara though? Inara seems very uptight with him, just the usual sexual tension or something else? Hmmm...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 12:33 PM

VERA2529


Mal4Prez - shut up! before you give it all away.

Said lovingly from one of your betas.

Vera2529

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 1:30 PM

2X2


ahhh, why do you tease us with mention of all these other parts, when I Can't Read Them NOW!!!!

*stomps foot in most childish manner*

So wonderful to see you back, Mal4Prez! And I'm thrilled to pieces already to know you've a sequel planned for this story... I'm in love with it already, and that final scene between Mal and Inara just had me thrumming with the tension... I think I almost had to sit back away from my computer when Mal's head came up with that look in his eye.. very powerful stuff...

Can't wait for more... I will, becuase you force me to, but I can't do it quietly *pouts and crosses arms with a huff*

*G*

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 6:58 PM

SQUISH


Great chapter, loving all the very interesting tension between Mal and Inara, those two have such a long way to get where they need to be, but I'm sure you'll get them there! I have to say I'm not convinced that she always 'enjoys' her time with her clients, in the series when we see her with her clients, she seems to me as though she's faking just about every moment of the encounter (although it is an interesting idea to discuss--remember the classic Seinfield episode?).

And as far as the J/K/S triangle, as a Jaylee fan I'd just like to say: please write whatever you like, it's your fic and most of us are interested in reading YOUR take on it, no matter what that is, rather than dictating our desires to you (even if you take us to the equally scary S/K place *said affectionately*). That's what fic writing should be about.

I also like how you have Jayne warming up to River. And are we going to find out what happened to his sister or was that just a little incidental comment?

Thursday, May 25, 2006 10:17 AM

ANJULIE


<i>“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.”</i>

Oooh, I love the fierce Mal!! Great job so far. ::shivers in a good way::

Thursday, May 25, 2006 6:24 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Yep...you're definitely back in saddle again, m4p;)

Especially loved your Inara interactions with Kaylee and Mal. Definitely showing off the fact that Inara really can't control every situation she faces, as you have Kaylee picking up on a subconscious vibe and Mal reminding her that she ain't in the Core, where safety's been created at a price:D

BEB

Saturday, July 8, 2006 5:53 AM

SILLYLITTLEDUCK


I loved the Mal/Inara interaction. I about died when she added that "captain" as if all semblence of their cozy relationship from the fish job was gone with finality at her addressing him as such.

Couldn't stop laughing about Inara's talk with Kaylee. So funny, and can i get a manual from Inara on how to have an orgasm each and every time?

Thursday, July 13, 2006 3:43 AM

RIVERISMYGODDESS


Kaylee thinking of Jayne as an option is pretty damn funny.

Yay for the real meal, fresh bear and berries sounds pretty good right now, and I am sure it was a feast after weeks of nothing but protein.


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