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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Wash jokes; Mal sulks; Kaylee’s friendly; Book’s concerned.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 982 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Chapter B. In Which the Crew Chatters.
*The characters and their world belong to Mr. Whedon and company; the mistakes and the follies are solely mine.
“So,” Wash said, catching up with Zoe, “we’re leaving Westfield to hit Milagros and Santo.”
“Then circle back?”
“Granted, Santo can be a bit rough, but it ain’t like we’re goin’ to be hanging around. Just dropping off cargo and picking up cargo. And there’s nothing on Milagros but dirt and towns of dirt farmers. And Michaels got paperwork, real paperwork.”
“That’s what he said.”
“So it won’t even matter if the Alliance stops us.”
“You goin’ someplace with this?” she asked, still casually curt, stopping to lean against the wall. Knowing the answer.
“You thinkin’ this job sounds a bit boring?”
“A bit, yes.”
“That got you worried?”
“A bit, yes.” Her tone was unchanged. Wash frowned in agreement:
“We never have this good of luck. The nice, sane people always hire someone else.”
“Maybe our luck’s changing.”
“Do you really see that happening?” he asked, the hopefulness in his voice edged out by whining. Which did not suit Zoe. She doubted he was complaining out of boredom, Milagros’s atmo being what it was, and besides, she couldn’t remember the last time he’d looked for action. Give him a few canyons to whip Serenity through, and he was a happy boy. No pursuit necessary. So it was nerves, then, she figured. Same gut reaction that had her sliding a knife in her boot, even when she wasn’t planning on leaving the ship. Worries she could handle, she knew. But Wash shouldn’t have to be jumping at phantoms. Wasn’t his job.
“Well,” she paused. Stretched a bit languorously. “I know when Mal leaves to makes the first drop on Milagros, I’ll be acting captain.”
“True.” He watched his wife. Light dawned. “True. And I tend to get luckier, when you’re acting captain.”
“So not such a bad plan,” she suggested, and ran her hand up his arm, stepping close. Wash smiled, and shelved the fact that she was distracting him. He pulled her in, pulled them both away from worries they could not help.
“Definitely a not bad plan. A good plan, I’d say. Maybe a great plan?”
“Like to be,” she laughed outright, kissing him lightly.
“I like it when you’re captain.”
“What was that, Wash?” Mal asked, running across them on the way to the galley. Wash was enjoying himself too much to take warning at Mal’s closed face, low voice. He savored the words as he spoke them, making sure not to look at Zoe, who was probably, he thought, narrowing her eyes. And definitely standing up taller. And putting inches between them. But so long as he did not actually see her warn him, he could keep up his best insouciance voice.
“I was saying how much I like it when Zoe’s captain.”
“Yes sir.” Mal did not much care for Wash’s wide grin. He was on a roll though, one now tinged with righteous indignation—if Mal was going to interrupt perfectly good hallway moments with his wife, Wash thought, then he deserved to be goaded. Like there weren’t other halls for the captain to wander in. Or other ways to get to the galley. After all, you didn’t see Simon or Kaylee interrupting them, did you? Or Jayne for that matter. Or River or Book or...
“I believe we’ve been called to table,” Book said, brushing past the group.
“Yeah, in a minute, preacher,” Mal said as Book disappeared into the galley. “You care to elaborate on that mutinous sounding statement?”
“Are we having a mutiny today, Captain?”
“Not as far as I’m concerned, doc—”
“We got concerns now?”
“Don’t push Simon,” River told Jayne. He glared. “It’s a mutiny,” she offered, and his face turned to one of complete bewilderment.
“Food’s on the table, Captain!” Kaylee called from the galley.
“Yes, I know. Everyone, go to dinner.” Mal ordered. Almost shouted. “Jayne, food. Go.”
“That was weird,” Wash said, as he headed to the galley with Zoe, “I was just thinking—”
“Wash. We ain’t done.”
“But Mal, you said—”
“I meant everyone else.”
“Yeah, but, we’re kinda past the joke, don’t you think? All the interruptions kind of threw off my timing.
“Loyalty,” Mal said, “ain’t a laughing matter, on my ship.”
“Right. Ok, well, Captain, I guess it starts with how when Zoe’s in charge,” Wash explained as he kept walking, Mal on one side, Zoe slightly behind, “she orders me ‘confined to quarters’ a lot more than you ever do. And then herself. And then—” Everyone at the kitchen table was quiet, listening to Wash as he walked down the stairs into the galley. Mal cut him off.
“You know what—I don’t need to hear it.”
“Don’t remind me. Zoe?”
“You did ask, sir.”
“Yeah. Right.” He just turned away from them and pulled out his chair. Zoe and Wash looked at each other over the heads of the crew. The captain seemed to be giving up on a lot of arguments, of late. Another worry they could do nothing about. Instead, they took chairs, sat close, and shelved their captain’s worrisome behavior alongside the rest of their fruitless concerns.
“We’ll be leaving 0800 tomorrow then,” Mal said, having snapped into business mode once everyone had food on their plates and a moment to clear their heads. “In the meanwhile, Jayne and Zoe, you’re coming with me to get the cargo squared away. Wash ‘spect you to gather any necessaries we ain’t yet got.”
“I was gonna head to the yard again, see if they got—” But Mal cut Kaylee off before she could start the list of things they really could use, again. It was a long list. Again.
“That enough time to get your things together, Doc?” he asked.
“Should be plenty. I don’t foresee—” But Simon’s forecast went unheard as the table broke out into a series of questions, freely aimed, rapid fire.
“Simon’s things... what’s goin’ on? Simon? You...”
“Did you say—”
“Is there something perhaps we missed...”
Simon held up his hand. No one stopped talking. Mal was about to stand up, when a whistle shot through the galley. To everyone’s surprise, River shrugged a silent “what?”. “Inara taught me,” she said. Since the table stayed silent, Simon cleared his throat, started explaining.
“As I was saying. Dr. Elias asked that I remain with him, while the job is done. He has some acutely ill patients in his clinic and been working day and night. He could use a few days rest along with some trauma expertise. He knows I am not interested, in, official attention, and assures me his silence. And the community needs a doctor more than an Alliance invasion, I think.” He said the last bit looking at Kaylee, or rather, at Kaylee’s plate, since he can’t quite look into her eyes. River nodded, speaking solemnly, to the table.
“And River?” Kaylee asked.
“She’s coming too. She’s already told quite a few people,” he stopped to frown disapprovingly at her. She, in turned, smiled at Kaylee, mouthed “mostly boys.”
“—that she’s my assistant, so the story’s already out there. And not raising much interest, or suspicion.”
“It’s Simon’s choice, though, like he says, situation seems stable enough,” Mal offered. “River’s free to stay or go as she pleases, just the same.” Simon was taken back at Mal’s off-handed remark, far from what they had discussed. He had not considered River wanting to stay on the ship, alone. With a sudden knot in his stomach, he watched for her response. But she had gone out of focus again. Her eyes swimming, not landing on anything in the room. She turned to the captain, but it was impossible to tell what she saw.
“Blood buys what stains. Still, impossible to get out.” Simon looked down at his shirt, as did Kaylee, but he had remembered to change before dinner. Jayne’s fork stopped again at River’s words, but Mal has already moved on.
“Ok,” he clapped his hands together, tired of the tangents. “Simon gets to help somebody, River goes where she wants, we do the job, everybody wins. ‘Cept Kaylee—no more shopping. Got make cash, afore you can be spendin’ it.”
“Mei-mei, you’re staying on Aramis, with me, right? In Westfield?” She only nodded her yes. Simon’s relief did not extend to the crew. River’s words had settled oddly about the table. Wash decided they were not likely to be good for digestion.
“Hey, if Simon and River are taking a side-seat this show, maybe we could pick up some tourists? Who doesn’t want to go to the beautiful Santo, this time of year?” he cast out.
“I mean, respectable ones, of course,” ignoring Mal again, waiting for bites.
“Wash—” Mal’s attempt at maintaining control of his table did not register with the crew.
“Respectable. Like a preacher?” Kaylee asked, mischief written across her face, even as she spoke slowly, unfolding the joke with care.
“Perhaps a doctor, from the Core?” Book added.
“How ‘bout a fed? Don’t get much more respectable than the law.” Mal snorted at Jayne’s comment. Wash kept the chatter rolling, enjoying the laughs circling the table.
“I was thinking some of those traveling monks. No, really, think about it. They’d be quiet. You know. Stay in their bunks. All fasts and meditations.”
“Hey, they eat nothing, we save on rations.”
“Yes, Jayne, and when you spot a herd of starving, star-wandering monks you lead them right over. ‘Til then, we ain’t taking on fares if they offered to pay their way in rice wine and jewels. Ain’t a one of them that’s easy money, as we all know, either they’re telling stories or keeping secrets, and if they ain’t about to kill you or get you killed, then they’re about to leave you.” The table was silent. Even Zoe did not want to meet Mal’s eyes, right then. Simon was bright red, and River had her arms wrapped tight around her. Kaylee was blinking fast. Book considered speaking, but Mal stood up, in a calm voice pulled them back, together. “In the meantime,” he said, and only River heard what his words cost, “ ‘til Jayne’s wandering monks show up, we’ve all got real jobs to do, so let’s get to ‘em.”
Kaylee spent the afternoon sunning herself outside Serenity. Simon was packing; Dr. Elias had waved him looking for help with something or another. And away he’d go, early, instead of sitting next to her, talking, like she’d planned. Kaylee flicked away annoyance; it was too nice a day to waste stewing. And if the Captain wouldn’t let her go to the scrap-shop, or take apart the nav-sat console, which was not about to take three days to rewire, despite what Wash said, then her jobs were impossible to get done, and she might as well enjoy herself, she thought. Eyes still closed, she asked Book what he was doing. She stretched her legs out at his answer of people-watching. There were people to watch all over the ‘verse, she thought, but not so much with days like these, and she was intent on capturing the feeling of the day. A wind was blowing clouds across the sun, making for moments of cool, followed by sudden heat. The clouds were big, the breeze slow, which made waiting for the heat a game of anticipation.
A shadow crossed her face and did not move. She opened her eyes to find Simon standing over her, outlined with white sunlight. He held out his hand to say goodbye, and would not let her stand up. River just waved, and Simon, awkwardly listing things to do and problems at the clinic to handle, left after a couple of minutes. Kaylee rolled her head over at Book; he just chuckled. She was about to ask him what he thought, when his “what do we have here,” made her follow his line of sight to a young woman, her own age maybe, or a few years older, walking an twisting way, sometimes towards them, sometimes more to the ship parked alongside.
“What’s wrong, Shepherd?”
“I don’t know. But it looks like we might have company.” He gestured subtly with his head, but Kaylee shaded her eyes with one hand and point with the other,
“That girl?” she asked, her movement clearly visible. The girl swerved, moved to a street vendor of cloth, started a conversation. Book nodded. Kaylee peered at the girl through the crowd, the sun, and the dirt.
“She don’t look like a traveler. Although, that’s a heavy-looking bag she’s dragging about.” Kaylee stood up, with Book. “Ain’t so sure she’s coming this way, though.” Book had been watching the woman’s elliptical steps for the last half hour, ones that had her weaving around the three ships set for morning departure. He was not sure she would come to talk to them, but Kaylee looked far more approachable than the other barkers.
“She walks with such small steps. Look at the way that dress just whispers over the ground. It’s like watching Inara.” Book nodded at Kaylee’s observation. “Can’t be Alliance then,” she continued, speaking her thoughts as they came to mind: “Purplebellies won’t walk a spaceport in those shoes.”
“Alliance isn’t the only thing to fear in the ‘verse, Kaylee.”
“You’re thinkin’ she’s bad news?” she asked, puzzled. But Book was his calm, welcoming self when the woman finally approached them. She bowed slightly, formally, and Kaylee, after a nod from Book, stuck out her hand.
“Hello there,” she waited, but the young woman said nothing. “Can we... help you?” Kaylee prompted. The woman seemed nervous, her fingers tapping on the leather strap near her hip.
“No-o, I was just curious. Looking around. Ships are... of some deep interest to me. It’s hard to explain.” Her eyes shifted from Kaylee to Book and then quickly to the ship as she talked. Once, she looked over her shoulder. But Kaylee was too happy to notice:
“Not at all,” she exclaimed, the slight restraint that had clipped her greeting completely gone at this confession. “They’re the only thing ever really caught my fancy, ever since I was so high.” Her hand almost hit dirt in her enthusiastic gesture. “You know about ships, then? This is Serenity, she’s a Firefly. Right smart ship build, too, Fireflies are. Last forever and sail smooth as... clouds through an open sky.”
“I see. No, I don’t see. I don’t know anything about ships. But this one looks so proud. Like she would sail, cloud-like.” Kaylee beamed. Book tried to gently cut in, remind Kaylee they were not able to take on passengers this trip, and if the young lady was looking for a flight, then she would need to look elsewhere. And perhaps look a bit further elsewhere, since he could not recommend whole-heartedly the ships parked nearby. But the girl in green shook her head, laughing, saying she was only interested in ships as a sort of intellectual pastime, she was always reading about space and—
“... would it,” she asked, suddenly shy again, and formal, “would it be considered gravely impolite to request of the captain a short tour. If only to see what it might feel like...I’m Ledah, by the way. Where were my manners, I can’t believe I didn’t introduce myself. This whole place is overwhelming.”
“Kaylee. I’m the mechanic. This is Book. He’s a passenger with us. On Serenity. This is Serenity, like I said. Let me show you; she’s such a beauty.” And as Kaylee could not imagine a problem showing off her girl to an interested audience, she was pulling Ledah up the gangplank before Book could comment and before Kaylee herself could wonder why a girl of Westfield would be overwhelmed by her local port, a place everyone within a hundred miles came to weekly for shopping and gossip.
“What about that good-looking man? The one that talked to you earlier. Is he a passenger too?” Ledah whispered to Kaylee, following the mechanic up the ramp with a more demure step than Kaylee’s bouncing one.
“That’s Simon. He’s our medic. Isn’t he swai?” Reaching the bay doors, they walked into the disappeared into darkness, it appeared to Book, still standing in the bright sun, wondering.
swai: cute, good-looking
Thursday, August 17, 2006 6:48 AM
Thursday, August 17, 2006 12:31 PM
Wednesday, August 30, 2006 7:37 PM
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