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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE
Rayne, a little Mal/Inara. River tries out her new look, and Mal jumps to a wrong conclusion.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1814 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Disclaimer: characters and 'verse not mine, Joss's
The boat was oddly quiet when they returned, just as the lunar planet-set was beginning. River stood as the doors were closed behind her and cast her glance around. Kaylee saw the disappointment in her slumped shoulders when a certain large and appetizing mercenary didn’t appear.
“Hey,” she called, “let’s go stow your goodies in your bunk.” River responded to the chipper voice and trailed after her. An uncommon look of shared knowledge passed between Inara and Zoe.
“So,” even in the silent bay Zoë’s voice didn’t seem loud, “River’s crushing on Jayne?”
Inara sighed. “Actually, I’m afraid it might be a bit more than just a crush.”
“And you don’t approve?”
Inara moved her head in negation. “It’s not for me to approve or disapprove. But I’m concerned. River is very young. Jayne is very uncouth. River has so many problems, and Jayne can be so clueless.”
Zoe nodded. “But then again, they might surprise you.”
“Mmm, maybe.” Inara made sure her smile was very, very gentle. “You would certainly be in the best position to see a romance that wouldn’t be obvious to everyone else.”
There was pain under the smile but Zoe managed it. “I would, wouldn’t I?” Her voice was pensive. Then she refocused on Inara and her smile had a bit more force behind it. “Wait, are we discussing Jayne and romance at the same time?”
Inara laughed softly. “You’re right. River and a one-nighter, or one-hourer, seems wrong. River and romance are a given. Jayne and romance . . .?”
Together, they shook their heads. The “no” was in stereo.
“But then again,” Zoë’s voice trailed off as they left the cargo bay. Inara nodded and finished; “they may surprise us.”
River had let Kaylee brush her hair till it shone, and Inara applied light lip gloss and mascara. When she asked if she didn’t need more makeup, Inara kissed her forehead and told her she shouldn’t cover up her perfect skin. Now, River smoothed her hand over the silk of the rose Mandarin tunic she wore, then frowned at the hand which shook a little.
“There is no reason to be nervous,” she told it, “we are fine. It is only a new outfit. Jayne will like it.” She tilted her chin determinedly before she slid open the screen to her bunk and moved through the opening, following cooked food smells to where the others were gathering for the day’s last meal. When she arrived just outside, Simon, Mal, and Kaylee were as yet absent (the men having been handily diverted for an extra five minutes by Kaylee). She hesitated nominally before ducking her head and filling her customary seat to Jayne’s left.
Unbeknownst to him, Jayne was the focus of two women’s gazes as River began to fill her plate. He eyed her sideways, finishing his bite before speaking.
He’d noticed! River drew breath, turned her head and half-smiled. “New attire.”
“Yeah, I see.” He snorted. “What’d you want to go and do that for?”
River blinked in some confusion. If Jayne had looked across the table at Inara or Zoe, he’d have rethought his words, but he didn’t look anywhere but at his plate. The girl beside him completely lost her animation when he added, "chi* thing to do."
River’s voice was very small when she spoke. “She wore it in hopes that he would like it.”
Jayne’s spoon paused noticeably before continuing it’s descent to his plate. “Oh,” was all he had to say. Simon and Mal’s return cut short the words poised on Inara’s tongue. When Simon’s eyes lit on his sister, his response to her appearance was all that could be hoped for from a brother. Kaylee beamed at him proudly when his compliments elicited a smile. Mal even put his two cents in that his “li’l albatross” looked “very fine.”
For once, Simon’s hypersensitive River-radar didn’t alert him to her quietude. Jayne, though, felt it all during the meal, and wasn’t surprised when she finished first and left. He watched her go from the corner of his eye, noting the long length of leg outlined by her pants and the alluring span of her back and shoulders under the tunic. When she’d been beside him, the rose of the silk had pointed up the rose in her cheeks and the alabaster softness of her skin. He’d craved a feel of it. And, apparently, her new look had been aimed at him. Well, he’d sure screwed that up royal.
Others at the table would’ve agreed with this assessment, if they could have heard it. Kaylee of course caught on that the unveiling of River hadn’t gone as they’d wished, and directed her harshest glare at him the instant his line-of-sight crossed hers. Once River was gone, Zoe sat her cup down with unnecessary vigor, and left the table next, with an under toned comment about a “ben huaidan* who didn’t know a good thing from an apocalypse”. Mal watched her leave confusedly, and was about to question this behavior when his mercenary also stood up abruptly, dumped his plate and utensils in the sink, and exited.
Kaylee and Simon were getting up to leave, too. He stopped them. “Wait. Either of you know what that was about?”
Simon shook his head. Kaylee frowned thoughtfully and said nothing.
“Won’t work, Kaylee. You know anything? Is there something of a, uh, intimate nature going on between Zoe and Jayne?”
Kaylee gasped, then chortled. “Um, I don’t think so, cap’n.” She grabbed Simon’s arm and made her escape good before she could give anything away, which left Inara to blandly meet Mal’s stare.
“I don’t suppose you plan on enlightenin’ me,” he grumped at her. She rose, walked past him with her dirty dishes, and placed them carefully in the sink. On her way back he reached out and snagged her sleeve. She paused at his side, heart thumping, its accustomed reaction to every such casual touch, or near-touch, or eye contact that lasted a second too long. I either have to do something about this or get back off the ship, she realized as she stood there. Her emotions weren’t going to fade; wasn’t that why she’d returned to Serenity in the first place?
I will always love this man. It was the first time she’d allowed herself to think the words all the way through, and they shook her.
There was an insistent tug on her arm and she blinked, looked down into Mal’s face. “Hey, you plannin’ on answering me?” he demanded.
“Ah- what was the question?” He hadn’t let go of her, and she hoped he couldn’t feel her trembling.
“Jayne and Zoe. Anything going on there I should know about?”
“If Zoe and Jayne want you to know anything, they’ll tell you in their own time.” She even managed a smile. Then she knew that was a mistake as he zeroed in on it. “Inara, what’s wrong?” He stood, and was abruptly way too close. But she couldn’t have backed away if she’d been attached to a tow mule. When she didn’t form a response, the frown on his face intensified, and his hand slid down her arm to curl around her fingers.
She might pass out, here and now; her blood pounded so fiercely through her ears she didn’t think she’d have heard an engine explosion. He was only holding her hand, for Buddha’s sake, she was a Companion! She’d performed probably every sexual act in the ‘verse. But never with Mal. His skin was so warm on hers, his fingers firm and steady but gentle. The scrape of his palm’s calluses against her knuckles was maybe the most erotic thing she’d ever felt.
“Inara, please,” his tone was worried, “Are you all right?”
She opened her mouth, and managed a gasp. “A little trouble – breathing”- mustering strength, she pulled away from him and was out and down the corridor. But of course he followed her, demanding she go see the doc. When he caught up with her she stopped of her own accord, to keep him from touching her again. She couldn’t handle that right now, she needed to think. Plan.
“I’m fine, Mal, really. Breathing normally, now.” She demonstrated. “See?”
He was distracted for a moment by the rare opportunity to stare openly at her breasts, rising and falling in front of him. “Um, yeah -- that’s not normal, Inara, to get short of breath like that. ‘s it happened before?”
Her laugh sounded strange, she knew. “Oh, yes, it’s happened before. Thank you, Mal, but truly, you don’t need to be concerned.”
So he let her go. Watched her the whole way to her shuttle, though. Then went to discuss this with Simon.
Jayne holed up in his bunk until he could hear that the sounds of everyone else moving around had settled down for the night. Then he waited another canny half-hour, to be sure that brother of hers was in either his bunk or Kaylee’s for good. Only then did he slip out of his own and down to River’s, to knock quietly on her door.
It didn’t slide open right away, and his knocks got louder until he heard her soberly bid him to enter. He did so and skimmed the screen tight behind him. Then he stood with his arms crossed, uncomfortable. He’d never been in here before. It was nicer than his own, of course, but pretty bare for what he figured a girl’s room would look like. River was sitting cross-legged on her mattress, and she was back in one of her old too-large sundresses. He cast a glance around and saw a pile of rose silk dropped carelessly in the corner. The sight dashed guilt over the discomfort he was already experiencing. At the meal, when she’d practically said she’d gotten all dressed up for him, he’d felt it like a punch in the gut. No girl had ever done that, not for him, not in his whole life.
He cleared his throat. She hadn’t looked at him yet, and that didn’t feel good.
“’bout the clothes,” he ventured, shoving his hands into his pockets. “They was really for me?”
She didn’t turn but he could see her eyeballs slide his way and her lids squinch together. Right, what was he thinking, like she was gonna admit to it now when her pride was hurt. And she wasn’t gonna help him along here, either.
“I didn’t mean they ain’t pretty, River, you’re all kinds of beautiful all the time.” Her head rose, and he rushed on past that, “but you shouldn’t be lookin’ like every other planet-dwellin woman out there. You’re not every other woman, you’re you. I liked your old clothes just fine ‘cus men – people, I mean, didn’t look at you and – well, now they will, and know that you’re”- he chopped the sentence off there, having said way more than he intended.
But she was looking at him now, and of course she’d gone and fastened onto all the stupid, self-revealing things he’d just said.
“What? She is what?”
She was callin’ herself ‘she’ again, and had at dinner, too; weren’t a good sign. He scrubbed a fist in his hair, walked nearer, and crouched down on his heels by her bed. “I don’t like the thought of every diao* in the system takin’ notice and thinkin’ they can have ya.”
River firmed her lips. “They can’t have me,” she asserted. “I am very picky.”
“Good!” he exclaimed. “That’s good, because you’re”- he pulled himself up short again, looking away from her large brown eyes.
“Don’t stop,” she pleaded, “say it. Please? Already called me beautiful . . .” He winced, and caved. She could read it, anyway, so what was the use of not sayin’ it?
“Look, yer special, everyone knows it; I’m not so dumb I don’t know it too. Don’t mean anything.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. “Don’t do that, don’t be like them. You know it means something.”
“Be like who?” He was honestly bewildered.
“All the rest of them. You match, Jayne. Your mind doesn’t think what your words don’t say. Except for Ariel, all correlates, contiguous”-
“Whoa, hold on, you’ve totally lost me. And Ariel – was a long time ago. All right, y’ look good in that outfit. Hen yan*. If it’s fer me . . . I liked it. Hell, y’ can read me and know how damn much I liked it, my thoughts ‘r definitely matchin’ my words, here. Just, don’t let ‘nara start puttin’ yer hair up, hear? Leave it down.”
That was quite enough soul-barin’ for the night, and the month, and maybe the year. He straightened away from her, and caught sight again of the garments discarded in the corner. He bent over, picked them up, and shook them out. “Now, look, these’re all wrinkled,” he said, his back to the now bright-eyed girl on the bed. “You gotta take care of this kind of silk, can’t just fling it on the floor like that.” Mid-lecture, he looked around for a hanger. River followed his movements bemusedly, then pointed. He took hold of the hanger she indicated, carefully attached the pants, and hung the tunic on it, smoothing all the layers down. He used the backsides of his hands so the calluses on the palm sides wouldn’t snag the material. “You watchin’, River?”
“Yes.” She was, very closely, in fact. And he was becomin' many kinds of warm, running his hands over the cloth that had recently touched all her girly skin in very intimate places. He hooked the hanger over her clothes bar, stopping to check out the other items hanging there that he’d never seen on her. Then, unaccountably uncomfortable, he clomped over to the entry.
She left the bed and was in front of him in what seemed to be one fluid motion. He paused with the doorframe in his hand as her bare toes touched his boot tips and her up-tilted face drifted scant inches below his down-turned one. “Is this all you want to do, Jayne? Care for my clothes? You don’t want to do anything else, in this room with a bed, late at night, with this girl?”
He had to swallow before he could answer. He felt melted to the floor. “No,” he bit out, “That ain't all. I definitely want to do somethin’ else. Lots of somethin’ elses. You offerin’, up front and clear?”
She lowered her head until he could only see brown hair and white shoulders. “Not yet,” she whispered. “There are steps.” She took two precise steps back, and he could move again. “I am not one of your whores, Jayne.” She looked at him severely.
His hand clenched on her doorframe. “Hey! Did I say y’ were? Did I think it? Didn’t that whole spiel I just went through tell ya anythin’?!”
Her eyes crinkled in the corners, and were glowing again. “Yes, it did. But clarity is necessary. Now we are clear. Good night, my Jayne.”
The next thing he knew he was on the other side of the door staring as it slipped closed. They were clear? He’d been clearer about the physics of reacting photons when Kaylee’d tried to explain the engine to him.
But she had called him “my Jayne”. Had to mean somethin’.
ben huaidan; stupid bastard
hen yan; very sexy
Sunday, July 30, 2006 7:16 AM
Sunday, July 30, 2006 7:48 AM
Wednesday, August 02, 2006 5:50 PM
Monday, March 05, 2007 12:21 PM
Wednesday, August 06, 2008 2:38 PM
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