FAITH SERIES: 14. "Preparations"
Thursday, July 20, 2006

"Kaylee and Simon get ready for their wedding."


TITLE: "PREPARATIONS" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Simon/Kaylee. Mal/Inara. RATING: G. STATUS: SEQUEL to "PROVIDENCE" ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE: SUMMARY: "Kaylee and Simon get ready for their wedding." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.

"PREPARATIONS" "Firefly" story Written by Alison M. DOBELL * * * * *

Kaylee couldn't help it, she was so full of happy she just couldn't stop crying. It made Simon all manner of unsettled, his movements awkward and clumsy with the uncertainty of what to do. Mrs Lizzie Frye smiled at him, not in the least disturbed to find her baby girl crying. *Diyu*, she would have been concerned if she hadn't been. The whole thing confused the *guai* out of Serenity's doctor.

"*Wo bu dong*, how can you not be upset for Kaylee?"

That amused Mrs Frye no end as she wrapped her arms around her daughter and looked at the now irritated and baffled expression on Simon Tam's face. Oh yes, it was going to be fun having a Tam in the family and no mistake. That boy needed to seriously learn to relax. She hoped it wouldn't take drugs. "Simon, *fang xin*, Kaylee's happy is all."

"*Shenme*? Then why..."

Kaylee sniffed into her mother's shoulder then lifted her head and turned to look at him. "Simon you are such a boob!"

He blinked. Stunned and a little hurt. Seeing his expression Kaylee laughed then sniffed again, slowly pulling herself together.

"*Wo gaoxing, dong ma*? It's every girl's dream to fall in love with the man of her dreams an' get married, didn't ya know that?"

"An' it's every man's biggest an' most secret fear to be that man."

The three of them looked round as Malcolm Reynolds stepped into the kitchen of the Frye's big old farmhouse. A step or two behind him was Kaylee's papa, Martin Frye. Kaylee beamed at her Captain, knowing he was just teasing but the mock serious look upon his face seemed to disturb Simon who had yet to fathom clearly when Serenity's Captain was and was not joking plus his concern for Kaylee made him even less inclined to see the humour in the situation. The young man visibly stiffened. "Captain, I am not afraid to be that man."

Everybody was amused now. The Captain hid a smirk, pretending to be a mite annoyed. The only one who didn't see through him was Simon. "Then why ya makin' my mechanic cry?"

Kaylee reached out a hand and gave the Captain a playful swat on the arm. "Now that ain't nice, Cap'n. Simon was just concerned is all."

The Captain leaned forward and dropped a kiss on Kaylee's forehead amusing her folks and further irritating Simon. He should be used to their banter by now but he didn't like being on the outside looking in, always the last person to get the joke. Especially when the joke was on him.

"*Cuode*, not a joke just affection."

Simon blinked as River glided through the door and stole a cinnamon cookie. Mrs Frye smiled at the girl, watched as the beautiful pale faced dryad of a girl dropped an elegant curtsey to the Captain, shared a laugh with Kaylee then danced around her brother.

"Relax. Statistically, married men live longer and happier lives than single ones."

Her brother reddened. "*Mei mei*, that's... that's... disturbing."

Mal laughed outright and clapped a hand on Simon's shoulder. He really shouldn't tease the boy but he was such an easy mark. And yet there were times when he was every bit up to the challenge, giving back as good as he got if not better. Figured getting married again would put the boy off his game. "How many times I gotta tell you to listen to your gorram sister?"

Behind him, Mr Frye just grinned. In his large capable hands little baby Charlotte lay happily smiling up at him. Mrs Frye kissed Kaylee and stepped over to her husband to get another look at the newest bundle of joy. "Aw, Kaylee, she's just perfect."

"That proves it." The Captain stated.

Simon had moved to put an arm around Kaylee and all of them were now huddled in a loose but happy knot around the baby. Simon was not really paying attention to what the Captain was saying so his response was distracted. "Proves what?"

The Captain grinned, eyes twinkling. "Must'a been an immaculate conception."

Everybody stopped cooing at the baby to stare at him.

"What? Baby's perfect, not a gorram flaw, disposition as sunny as his mama an' good natured to boot. Everybody knows Simon couldn't relax if his life depended on it which kind'a proves the point."

"Captain, you are not funny."

Martin Frye smiled. Kaylee and her mama were laughing quietly but trying not to make it too obvious. An annoyed Simon was not a goodly thing. "Best not tease the boy, Mal. This is their weddin' day, *dong ma*?" It was gently said but the Captain nodded only too happy to comply. "*Duibuqi* just you make it so gorram easy, Simon. Always tetchy an' uptight over every little thing..."

"You do always seem to bring out the best in me, Captain."

"Good recovery." River whispered in Simon's ear as she floated by. Another cinnamon cookie disappeared as if by magic.

A ruckuss at the door told them Jayne was up and on his way. It was still early in the am but the Frye's were early risers on a normal day and this was anything but. Mal had the feeling not a one of them had really slept, just laid a minute or two on their beds with their eyes closed faking it until the first hint of light in the sky was excuse enough to jump up again. Only Jayne had slept the moment his head touched the pillow. The Captain had not even pretended to sleep but spent the night discussing plans of his own with Inara out on the porch swing. Had no words to express how happy it made him to have normal conversations with her without the sharp barbed sarcasm posing as wit cutting him to gorram pieces. Words like sword points in a fight he would never win. Never had laying down arms been such a joyful experience.

The smell hit them before they saw him. Mal's face scrunched up into one of disgust and disbelief. "Jayne! Tell me you didn't fall in that gorram pig's trough again?"

Jayne's plaintive voice bellowed from the doorway. "Weren't my fault, Mal..."

Mrs Frye shook her head and pushed passed the others to get to the door before Jayne could stick one stinky little toe over the threshold. "Don't you dare tread that stench into my clean kitchen, Jayne Cobb, or I will box your ears so hard you'll never get your balance back! Out! Get over by the back barn an' I'll draw up a bath for ya. Now go on, get!"

* * * * *

Inara was sitting under a tree biting down on her bottom lip and lost in thought. Joshua was running in and out of the other kids, their happy playful laughter drifting over to her as they squealed happily in a game of tag. Their voices fading away as one of the bigger children became 'it' and the others followed like rats after the Pied Piper from Earth-That-Was. Zoe had been watching Inara surreptitiously on and off for days now, trying not to say or do anything to spoil the new mood. Whatever was happening between her and the Captain was good. Zoe wanted it to stay that way. The couple's track record did not inspire confidence that one or the other of them wouldn't mess up. "Mind if I join you?"

The Companion gave the ghost of a smile. "Not at all."

Zoe squinted back towards the house which was a good 500 feet away from Inara's current idyll. "Any reason why you're sittin' out here an' not nearer the house?"

"It's quiet and peaceful."

Zoe breathed in deep, enjoying the clean fresh air cycling through her dusty old lungs like a spring clean. Made her feel energised and content but something about Inara had her treading with care. Not wanting a word to start off something that would pick up the wrong kind of momentum and get out of control but equally not wanting her silence to encourage action of another sort. Truth was she just needed to know that all was well because if anything was on Inara's mind it could kill the happy between her and the Captain quicker than a Reaver gatecrashing the wedding. "That it is."

"You didn't come out here to share the shade of a tree with me."

"*Bu qu*." Zoe paused then lowered her voice even though there was not another soul near them. That fact alone telegraphed her unease. "Inara, is everythin' okay with you an' Mal?"

The Companion looked startled as if the notion was the farthest thing from her mind. "Why would you think anything was wrong?"

Typical, thought Zoe drily. Even now, when everyone was more relaxed and happy than they had been in a good long while Inara preferred to answer a question with another question. "Humour me."

Inara swallowed a sigh. She did not want this conversation. "Nothing's wrong."

Zoe sat a couple of feet from the Companion, reached down and sifted some dry soil so that it trickled through her fingers. "Then what's on your mind? An' before you open your mouth to let a neatly fashioned lie pop out remember who it is you're talkin' to. I ain't Mal."

For a moment it looked at if Inara wouldn't tell her. "It's personal."

Zoe nodded as if she had been expecting that and brushed her hands off, all her attention now on Inara. "I'm listenin'."

"You've probably noticed Mal and I have been... getting closer."

A little smile hovered on Zoe's lips but she didn't dare let it show. Not yet. What was it with core folks being all stiff and starchy when it came to revealing their feelings? "Think we all noticed that."

"I love him, Zoe. So much it frightens me. Can you understand that?"

Zoe nodded but did not speak.

"Which is why this is so hard."

The first mate's expression closed up. "You gonna leave him again?"

Startled, Inara looked almost anguished. "No! I wouldn't... I'm not..." Inara broke off, realising she was not being terribly coherent. She took a breath and started again, much calmer and more in control. "I have no intention of leaving him ever again."

That surprised Zoe so much she just stared.

"I'm a Companion, Zoe."

Now Zoe felt a different kind of panic beating a slow dull drum beat of impending doom. It was faint at the moment but she feared it like an approaching army not yet in sight. "What does that have to do with anythin'?" "It's not just what I do, it's who I am." Said Inara carefully.

"*Goushi*, that's just an excuse to hang on to the familiar. Can't hide behind the Guild for the rest of your life, Inara."

"Is that what I'm doing?"

Zoe's eyes narrowed. She really hated it when Inara turned her questions back on her. "Suppose you tell me?"

"I love Mal but it isn't that easy or straight forward, not that I could make him see that. Mal's a romantic." That raised a dark brow. "I'm not. Oh, I can appreciate romance, revel in it even, but I know it isn't real." Inara broke off, looked away a second then pinned Zoe with an intent gaze. "Mal wants to get married, did you know that?"

The look of surprise on Zoe's face was answer enough. "What about you?"

A real smile touched Inara's lips. "As surprising as it may sound, yes. I want that too."

Zoe frowned. "So what's the problem?"

"I'm a Companion."

Irritation flashed across Zoe's face, not an inch of give it in now. "What's that got to do with it? Love is love, Inara. Not everybody gets to have the real thing so when you got it you gotta hold on to it with both hands, *dong ma*? Don't make the mistake of thinkin' it'll come again if you don't. Way I see it real love is a one time deal."

Inara knew she was thinking about Wash and it hurt her that Zoe was still suffering his loss so deeply. Would she feel like that if anything happened to Mal? How could she not? She loved the *wangu*, noble, idiotic fool with every fibre of her being. But it did not change who or what she was and that was the problem. "There are things you don't know about being a Companion, Zoe. Things Mal would never understand."

"You tried tellin' him?"

The Companion lowered her eyes and Zoe felt her heart falter. Gorramit, if Inara screwed this up she wasn't never gonna forgive her. Not after building the man's hopes up. She couldn't remember the last time she had seen her dearest and oldest friend this happy. Mal was family, as close and dear to her as Joshua. Inara had it in her to make that permanent or leave him to spend the rest of his gorram life with nothing to comfort him but ashes of what might have been. Zoe came to a decision and steeled herself. Not nothing good ever came from opening Pandora's box but now just might be the time to test that theory.

"Then tell me."

* * * * *

Simon felt put out being shooed out of the kitchen with the rest of the men folk. Mrs Frye had got her cousin Henna to go fill a tub for Jayne, taking Henry Ray and Billy with her to do the hefting and to make sure Jayne stayed upwind of clean folk. Once it was just her, Kaylee and River, Mrs Frye hugged her daughter close. "Do you have any idea how much I love you, Kaylee girl?"

Kaylee was crying again, sniffing tears into her mama's ample apron. "As much as I love you, mama."

Mrs Frye eased back, a huge happy smile on her comely face. "C'mon, *fengmi*. Time to see if the alterations were done right."

A spark of excitement lit in Kaylee's eyes. River clapped her hands together with glee, already seeing her own bridemaid's dress in her mind's eye. As the other two looked at her she grinned. "I accept!"

Kaylee frowned but her mother laughed and hugged the girl affectionately. "Who else would my Kaylee want as a bridesmaid?"

"An' Inara?" Said Kaylee.

"Yes, yes, *bao bei*, we got a line a mile wide of friends an' family all wantin' an in on that job but first we gotta get you gussied up."

Kaylee let herself be hustled up the stairs and into her parent's room, Mrs Frye going to the big double wardrobe and taking out a vision in white that had Kaylee crying again. She turned to look at her mother, smiling through the glimmer of tears. Unable to speak for emotion, River did it for her.

"Mama's wedding dress. Real silk from Nan Jin. Kept it boxed and in tissue."

"Oh mama, it's beautiful!"

"Hush now, child, an' don't be cryin'. You wanna spoil good silk?"

Kaylee hugged her mama. It was a good few minutes later before either of them was steady enough to get on with the fitting. Kaylee marvelled anew. The fit was perfect. Mrs Frye beamed with pride at her daughter as two generations of Frye stared at the vision in the mirror like a Princess trapped in the Happy Ever After page of a story.

"I'd give you three wishes." Said River looking in the mirror at Kaylee's happy face, their eyes meeting. "But you don't need them now. Besides, they're needed elsewhere."

Before Kaylee could ask what she meant there was a pounding on the door.

"*Wei*, ya women finished in there? There's a mess of folk dyin' of hunger an' such. Best you feed the groom 'less ya wanna wake instead of a weddin'."

Kaylee, River and Mrs Frye laughed. Her mama carefully helped Kaylee out of her dress. The wedding was not until the early afternoon, they had plenty of time. But Mrs Frye was wise enough to know it would pass in a rapid blur. What her own mama would have called organised panic. "C'mon, *fengmi*, let's go feed our men or there'll be no livin' with 'em."

* * * * *

For a long time Zoe just stared at the Companion. Inara was beginning to feel that telling her had been a mistake.

"You think they'd follow you?"

Inara shook her head. "They don't need to. There is nowhere in the 'verse that you can hide from the long arm of the Guild. They have contacts everywhere."

Zoe frowned. "*Wo bu dong*, what can they do? You'd be a married woman."

"It's not that simple. I belong to the Guild, Zoe. Every Companion does. The Guild has records on each and every one of us. Painstaking ledgers, a balance of profit and loss. You have no idea how much coin it takes to train, clothe and educate a Companion. It isn't a cheap or short term endeavour but one that lasts our whole lives through. From the moment we enter our first Training House until the day we die there is an account which tallies every expenditure the Guild has made to make us what we are. Zoe, I am not talking of a few bags of coin. I am talking of the kind of debt that can never be repaid in one lifetime."

Zoe Washburne paled. Gorramit, why couldn't anything ever go smooth? It was like happiness had jinxed the Captain and in doing so it was hurting her as well. Oh Inara, why couldn't she be a blessing not a curse? Not that such thinking would help any of them now. Zoe pushed the negative thoughts to one side. There must be a way out of this, just had to find it was all. Her Captain's happiness depended upon them finding a solution. Before the power of the Guild imposed one on them.

* * * * *

Jayne wanted to be cross. Livid even but the happy laughing faces of the children just got to him every time. He tried scowling, shouting, chasing them, making threats. Nothing worked. They kept coming back for more. Baiting him, climbing all over him like he was some great over-sized toy. "Ya kids got no respect."

"Sure we do, you's just funny Jayne."

Jayne tried on his best glower. Gorramit just made them grin wider. How in the nine hells could he whip this bunch into any kind of shape when they looked at him like that? Didn't they know a wedding was a solemn gorram thing?

* * * * *

"Hey!" Malcolm Reynolds' calm voice softened the sharp morning tang in the breeze. Soothed Inara's nerves while turning her insides over in anticipation. Zoe had wandered back to the house a few minutes earlier. "Been lookin' for you everywhere, *xin gan*."

Inara smiled and held her arms out to the sides by way of illustration. "Here I am."

He closed the distance, his eyes never leaving her face. When his arms circled her waist and his lips found hers, Inara thought her very heart would break for love of him. It was several minutes before either of them came up for air. Mal had a crazy grin on his face, so full of happy not nothing seemed able to put a dent in it. "Frye's have some hot-shot Preacher man comin' from Hotton, t'other side of Carousel. It's part of why the weddin's in the noon."

She smiled and leisurely kissed his lips, not deep and demanding just enough to drive every thought out of his mind but her. A woman could get drunk on such power.

"What you doin' to me, 'Nara?"

"I can stop..."

"No, no," Mal interrupted hastily. "Didn't say stop. Just... keep goin', *dong ma*?"

Inara understood. After all she was a Companion. Once the wedding and celebrations were over she would need every bit of skill in her vast experience of men to handle the conversation that would follow. Oh yes, she loved Mal. Had meant every single word she said to Zoe. Which was why she had to find the right way to tell him, not just the problems that would beset them but the reasons behind them. He needed to see her in all her complexity. The imperfections as well as the artifice. The woman behind the skilled Companion. She would make love to him first. Long and deep and to the height and breadth of her passion for him. Then the mask would come off. He would discover why she had left Sihnon and who exactly it was that he was giving his heart to. If he still accepted her and wanted her in his life at least he would be doing so with both eyes open.

The Captain deepened the kiss, pulling her so close and tight that almost she believed it would work. That love really could conquer anything.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*diyu* = hell *guai* = devil/ghost *wo bu dong* = I don't understand *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *shenme* = what *wo gaoxing* = I'm happy *dong ma* = understand? *cuode* = wrong *mei mei* = little sister *duibuqi* = sorry *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *goushi* = crap/dog shit *wangu* = stubborn *fengmi* = honey *baobei* = precious/treasure *wei* = hey! *xin gan* = sweetheart


Thursday, July 20, 2006 9:28 AM


0000000h.... desperate to see where this Guild thing is going.

Thanks for sharing Ali


Thursday, July 20, 2006 5:46 PM


Ya me weird, but I get the feeling that Mal will accept what Inara tells him...maybe not calmly (probably would get all "Woman! You used wiles on me before laying this out!") but he will take this a just another challenge to be overcome. And honestly...besides Inara and Serenity, is there anything more Mal loves than sticking it to the Man?



Sunday, July 23, 2006 6:04 PM


Ahh, back from vacation and doing some catch-up!

Poor Simon. I'm glad to see he got a good comeback for a change.

Inara and Zoe's exchange was well done. I've never pictured Inara opening up to Zoe but it was nice and her talking about the debt made things even sadder for Mal and Inara.


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.