BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE

TIMBOLECTABLE

Vows 1
Friday, September 15, 2006

It's taken forever, but the third installment of the series I've been working on is finally done. A two-parter about...well, a bunch of stuff. Jayne and Kaylee kissin'! River in love! New additions! Volatile villains! Marriages! Mal gets naked! Drugs, Elvis, and rockin' happenings!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1082    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Vows Script taking place approx. a week after the end of Icarus (I'm pretty sure it's kinda rough, and hence apologize to the wooorld!)

Scene 1:

A shot from above, of Mal and Inara, asleep in her bed. They’re tangled up together sort of confusingly, with Inara’s head tucked underneath Mal’s chin, holding each other. The shot goes down to show Inara’s face. She smiles without opening her eyes, then slowly does so. Reality hits her suddenly, and she glances around without moving her head, trying to figure out where she is and who she’s entwined with. She remembers, and a look of intense embarrassment, mixed with a dollop of humor she finds in the position she’s in, crosses her face. She half-bites her lip.

Inara: (quietly) Um, Mal?

Mal moves closer. Inara half-laughs, still embarrassed.

Inara: (louder) Mal?

She moves her head so that his chin tilts, and sort of tries to push away. He wakes up suddenly.

Mal: (sleep-mouthed) Danger? Where?

Inara: Mal, you’re squashing me.

He looks down, sees her, lets go, and jerks away, somehow managing to roll himself off the bed and onto the floor in a tangle of sheet.

Mal: Aii-yah! Pins and needles, pins and needles.

He shakes his arm vigorously. Inara clutches the remaining sheet to her chest and sits up. She looks straight in front of her, nervously avoiding Mal’s gaze, a bit exasperated. He stops shaking his arm, looks down at himself, then up at her. He sees her back and her profile, and his gaze goes hot.

Mal: ‘Morning.

Inara: (stiffly) ‘Morning.

Mal: (responding by getting equally stiff, though he doesn’t know why they’re fighting again) How are you?

Inara: (snapped) I’m fine.

Mal stares at her for a second.

Mal: (muttered) Well, fine then.

He attempts to get up, but then gets re-caught in the sheet and falls back on the floor heavily. Inara scrambles over the bed toward him worriedly. She leans her head over the side.

Inara: Mal?

Mal sits up quickly and their heads crack together. Inara cries out.

Mal: ‘Nara!

She kneels up slightly, pressing the heel of her palm to her forehead. Mal kneels up as well, from the floor, and sort of lifts a hand to touch her, then stops.

Mal: It hurts?

Inara: I’m fine.

Mal: You said that already. Didn’t mean to—

Inara: (exasperated) I’m a big girl. I can take care of myself.

Mal: (hitting back) I guess your last lay knocked you around worse than that. But then what can you expect, servicing crew on this boat full o’ petty criminals. Ain’t none of us going to set the standard—

Inara: I didn’t…go to Daran for violence, Mal. If you were, as has been previously mentioned, a little less puritanical about sex you’d know there are… (she trails off)

Mal stands and begins to gather his clothing and put it on. Inara is watching him.

Mal: (he looks to the floor, then back up, burning-eyed) ‘Nara, I—

Inara holds her knees to her chest and bites her lip. Mal directs his attention toward his shirt again.

Mal: (muttered to his buttons) Hell.

He sits on the bed next to her. She gives him half a look.

Mal: Your head…

He touches the temple where they hit each other. Her eyes flutter closed. He leans in, very hesitant yet very intense as her face turns slightly toward him—

Kaylee’s voice over the com in the cockpit of the shuttle: Serenity to Shuttle 1. Come in, Shuttle 1.

Mal growls slightly, determined to ignore it.

Kaylee’s Voice: Captain, we all know you’re in there.

Inara’s mouth begins to curl into a smile.

Kaylee: Everyone knows exactly what you’re up to, too. Jayne’s been describin’ it to us, in fact—mostly the Inara parts.

Mal: Gorram it.

Inara opens her eyes, laughing slightly. Mal’s habitual irony drops over his face, but it’s a sharey sort of irony (like that last scene in Shindig).

Kaylee: No offense, ‘Nara. I just got enough of ye’r quivering mounds the first couple times Jayne mentioned ‘em. The Captain, on the other hand, I could’ve stood to hear more about his long, stiff—

Mal is sprinting toward the cockpit. He grabs the comlink.

Mal: Kaylee, I don’t like ending little girls before twelve hundred hours. And…ick.

Kaylee: Check your clock, Captain. You got a call coming in.

Mal checks the clock on the instrument panel. It reads 13:28.

Mal: Who is it?

Kaylee: I don’t know. Says he’s waving you back? (a slight question)

Mal: Damnation. I’m comin’.

Mal hurries into the main room of Inara’s shuttle. She’s sitting where he left her. He kisses her mouth breifly.

Mal: Fight later?

Inara: Fight later.

He leaves, glancing back over his shoulder as he does so. She sighs and reaches to locate her robe.

Scene 2: Mal tucks his shirt in, hurrying through the halls to the cockpit. He can hear Jayne speaking:

Jayne: I takes what I can get, but I guess if I had to pick, it’d be against the wall, you know, sorta…rough and ready.

River giggles.

Jayne: Kaylee?

Kaylee: I guess on top’s my favorite. Plus, Simon says—

Mal: (entering) What the [Chinese for batshit] are you-all speaking about?

Kaylee: (with outright straightforwardness, grinning) Sex, Cap’n.

Mal: (muttered) Thought I might have misconstrued. (then, louder) Don’t you people have jobs to do?

Jayne: Want someone shot?

Kaylee: (impatient, talking over Jayne) If you weren’t too [Chinese for “cheap”] to buy a new catalyzer hood, yeah, maybe—

Mal: (leaning over the instrument panel, not paying attention) Elsewhere. Now.

Jayne, shrugging, and Kaylee, eye-rolling, leave. River goes too, but turns at the door.

River: I like it on my belly.

Mal: Ngaah!

She goes.

Mal switches on the call screen—a light has been flashing there, indicating a held call. Guererra comes online. He looks like a protagonist out of a Peckinpah movie: older, with a hard and charming face. He grins at Mal with an off-kilter charm (charm and a sort of easy, surface simpatico-ness being his major characteristics), acknowledging a shared weariness, and leans back in his chair.

Guererra: (friendly) Reynolds.

Mal: (hard-eyed and polite) Guererra.

Guererra: (after a pause filled by his study of Mal’s expression, he chuckles) What’s made you so desperate you got to call in your marker from me of all people, boy?

Mal: (acknowledging both the situation and the potency of Guererra’s charm, not by unbending but by cutting, as Guererra has, to the fact that Mal feels antagonism toward Guererra…) Weren’t either of us thought it’d come to this, sir, but I… (he checks around to see if it’s possible that anyone could hear him) need a favor.

Scene 3:

The Pit is a Sumo wrestling establishment on Dante. Dante’s another planet on which the terraforming crews did a half-assed job—it’s more like a large moon with its own satellites, and is the world upon which “The Train Job” takes place. I don’t know anything about Sumo wrestling, but the kind that goes on at The Pit is, I’m thinking, basically the WWF of Sumo: rigged, with larger-than-life personalities, and lucrative enough to be attractive to organized crimelords, such as the one we’re about to meet. There’s a crowd of onlookers around the ring, many dressed in red and white—but the confusion’s enough that we don’t really notice—and a few boxes for richer patrons; the general impression is one of excited, loud confusion. Susan Kristanos, fat, jolly, and dressed in a white suit reminiscent of Boss Hogg’s from “The Dukes of Hazzard,” stops for a moment to look in on the action. She speaks to Pierre, a bouncer who has red hair and some sort of bizarre piercing.

Susan: We makin’ some money?

Pierre gives her an impenetrable glance.

Susan: Keep up the good work, sweetheart.

She pinches his butt and goes down a hall toward an end wall with a tattered leather-boy pin-up tacked onto the door in it, fumbles with a jingly key ring, unlocks the door, closes it. There’s a metal wall, set up with fingerprint i.d. and retinal scan. She submits to the security procedure; the machine says “Susan Kristanos, I.D. Confirmed” in Chinese. The wall opens, and she’s in her office, which is lavishly traditionally old-Westy, with some sort of skull on the wall and fringe on everything.

Susan: (muttering to herself) Where the hell is that—

She leans over the com on her desk.

Susan: Trina?

Trina’s voice: Yes?

Susan: You heard anything from—

A pair of cowboy boots swing up onto the desk across from Susan. She looks up; the boots’ wearer is seen from the back, in silhouette, dressed in a big Stetson.

Susan: Never mind, Trina. (She puts on a big grin) Watson, how the hell’ve you been?

Watson doesn’t respond. Susan has a moment in which she can’t conceal her intense dislike for the person across from her, and then her face goes jovial-conspiratorial.

Susan: Look, you know I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t important, but I need you to do something for me.

The shot cuts to Watson; two-thirds of the face are shadowed by the hat brim. All you can see is the mouth, which curves into a smile.

Title Sequence

Scene 4:

River, lying on a rock (I keep opening scenes this way; it’s an addiction. I’m sorry.) Her ear is pressed to it; she is humming, almost whispering, something simple, folksy; she’s wearing a relatively long skirt (this is a plot point). She sings the words out of the music:

River: And from his heart grew a red red rose, and from her heart a briar…

A gentle, Rivery soundtrack accompaniment picks up the tune (this becomes the River love theme), creeping its way quietly under the scene as her eyes go alert, watchful. She slides down behind the rock, crouches so that she can get a look out from behind it. A second later we hear the hum of the new mule (the mule redux); a second after that we hear Jayne’s voice, distantly, coming into focus, getting louder as the mule gets closer. The landscape is dusty, rocky, golden, and severely unvegetated.

Jayne: (speaking pleasantly) —met the Captain, I guess. First mate’s named Zoe; she’s as handsome a woman as you ever laid eyes on, but she was hitched to the pilot what got ended a few months back, so there ain’t much hope of gettin’ between her thighs. An’ there’s Kaylee, but she’s been goin’ hip-to-hip with the medic recently… There’s Inara, who’s one of them companions (savoring the word), ‘cept her an’ the Captain been havin’ some relations. So if you don’t want your nuts tore off and served to you with your tea it’s best not to get fresh, I know for a fact—

His companion laughs a polite, appreciative chuckle. The voice and the engine have been coming closer and closer; we can see the tops of heads go past the rock. River shuffles to peep out, but her foot gets caught on the hem of her skirt.

Jayne: About all we got left by way of available girlfolk is—

River loses her balance and sprawls out into the dust in front of the mule. Jayne pulls up. Seated next to him is a gorgeous, gorgeous Indian man. Eratz is the pilot Mal’s hired to replace Wash. Aside from GORGEOUS, he’s also very likeable: nice, kind, with excellent manners. He looks down at River, three parts completely nonplussed, one part appreciative.

Jayne: (jumping down) —River, our resident genius.

He goes to Serenity’s door, which is two feet away, and pounds on it. Eratz jumps down from the mule and holds out a hand to River. River is staring at him. She scrambles away, not taking her eyes off of him.

Eratz: Hi, I’m Eratz.

River: (sort of crouched, crab-style, on the ground) The—the human body can be drained of blood in 8.6 seconds given adequate vacuuming systems.

Eratz’s eyes widen.

Jayne: (paying barely any attention) That’s what she says to everyone. Kind of like her handshake.

Serenity’s doors open. Mal’s standing at the airlock, looking mildly impatient. Zoe’s behind him, taking care of something.

Mal: Jayne, what took you?

Jayne: There was a—

Mal: That was a rhetorical question, Jayne. Eratz, nice to have you with us. River, (treating it, as Jayne has, as if River frequently sprawls in the dirt and looks with wild eyes at newcomers—which of course she doesn’t not, but is naturally new and extremely unusual to the newcomer himself) get the mule on board. You-all are meetin’ with Zoe in five in the kitchen. Eratz, this is Zoe. (He gestures at Zoe)

Eratz: Nice to meet you.

Zoe nods, friendly enough.

Jayne: ‘Nara offworld yet?

Mal: She is.

Jayne: (to Eratz, leading him up the stairs) I guess you’ll meet her later, then.

Eratz gives River another bewildered glance, notes Mal and Zoe, going about their business, then looks back at River. She’s craned her neck around to watch him go up the stairs, but other than that hasn’t moved. Camera’s focus is redirected to Mal and Zoe, standing beside the airlock-opening button and conversing.

Mal: I don’t know if I like this.

Zoe: Cap’n, there’s no reason in the ‘verse to worry about the Vows run.

Mal: If something goes wrong—

Zoe: We’ve been doing it for years.

Mal: I just don’t think I ought to—

Zoe: Remember what you said last time we ran it?

Mal: But it was—

Zoe: You said that doing the Vows run was simpler than ending up married to a Triumph settler.

Mal: ‘Verse is gettin’ smaller, Zoe.

Zoe: Then you went into detail about how easy it was to end up married to a Triumph settler, as I recall.

Mal: Times are changin’.

Zoe: You said a border collie could do this job, sir. A stupid border collie, sir.

Mal: Things is different. And not just in general, Zoe.

Zoe: (ignoring, somewhat pointedly, his anxiety) Sir, all we have to do is park on Vows and get the cargo from the drop point to the ship. If we find Vows overrun with feds, I promise I’ll hail you and you can come extricate us singlehandedly, all right?

Mal: Well, I would appreciate it.

Zoe: Now move, sir. You’re going to be late.

Mal: (as they go up the stairs toward Shuttle 2 and the kitchen respectively) “Extricate?”

Zoe: To remove from a situation, sir.

Mal: Ah.

River drives the mule into the cargo bay, turns it off, jumps down. She feels the shape of the big red airlock button as the River folksong/love theme music becomes more apparent in the (very quiet) soundtrack, and sings, murmuring, looking more shell-shocked than usual:

River: And from her heart grew a red red rose, and from his heart a briar.

See her intense focus on the button as she begins to push it. The camera follows the line of her sight onto the button’s red surface, glowing like a jewel, and her finger pushing it down. The scene change is abrupt.

Scene 5:

Paradiso jail/sheriff’s office. The sheriff from “The Train Job,” who I’m naming Boise Hauer, is sitting at his desk, examining a mass of crystals inside a clear tube. Guitar playing and singing is coming from the jail cell in which the Bowdens victim received the cheroot in aforementioned episode. Hauer sighs, sets the tube down, and stretches his feet up onto the desk.

Singer: (to the tune of the Michael Hurley song) When you accuse me, that’s your lyin’ tongue… Don’t treat me bad, don’t treat me bad…

Penny the deputy enters. Hauer looks up.

Penny: Chancellor ain’t playin’. Says he wants the whole thing turned over to the Feds, an’ you know what that means. Paperwork an’ delays.

Hauer: (looking, as he tends to, like much more’s going on in his head than he’s talking about) Well, I do.

Penny: (jerking her head over at the cell) Calkins?

Hauer: Payday.

Penny: Sounds sober enough.

Hauer: If you say so.

Calkins: (as Penny unlocks the cell door) You got no ear, Sheriff.

Hauer: (raising an eyebrow slightly, nearsight-eyed, with that grin that’s more like a stretch of the face) If you say so.

Calkins: I got pain, Sheriff. Felicia went an’ rejected my suit again.

Penny: (in a “show’s over” kind of voice) She ain’t the marryin’ kind, Calkins. You go on home now.

Calkins: I got pain, Penny. Pain makes me thirsty.

Penny: (in a more sympathetic tone) I know, Calkins. I know. Go get some rest.

Calkins exits.

Hauer: (to his receding form) See you next month.

Calkins raises a hand, goes. Penny pulls a chair up across from Hauer on the other side of the desk.

Penny: Got anything?

Hauer: Scope broke. Can’t do much without it, but I’d say this is the same stuff.

Penny: Got to be Kristanos, right?

Hauer: Yep.

Penny: What we really need is a charge that’ll stick. (realizes what she’s just said, and modifies herself) What we really need is a miracle.

She gets up and begins doing something routine, sorting or something (I can’t think what the routine would be in a sheriff’s office on Dante.) The point of this is that she, too, looks like she isn’t paying much attention to what they’re talking about—and partially she isn’t. This sort of discussion is pretty routine with her and Hauer.

Hauer: (it doesn’t look like a response to her comment…not right away) That Reuben Ma case up on Vows. Somethin’ about it don’t hit me right.

Penny: (knows where this is going) His nephew told as he went to New Canton, like he said he was thinkin’ about.

Hauer: (he gets his feet off the desk. With that half-lilt, half-sigh in his voice, as though he didn’t finish the sentence [try it out in his voice, then tell me if you think the line works]) That is what was said.

Penny: You don’t think Reuben Ma was part of that Kristanos racket.

Hauer: (after a brief pause, in which Hauer rubs his chin and stares into the distance) Not Reub. His nephew…

Penny: Checks out.

Hauer gets up, favoring as always, his right knee. He puts a Stetson on.

Hauer: Maybe worth a double-check.

He ambles out of the sheriff’s office.

Penny: (without looking up, shaking her head slightly) Buddha love him.

Scene 6:

Serenity’s kitchen table. Kaylee, Simon, and River on one side of the table; Jayne and Eratz on the other. River is continually looking at Eratz from sort of under her hair (not Ringu-style, but River-style—on top of her altered reality matrices and Alliance-created hypersensitivity is layered the brutal shyness of a teenager who’s scared of the guys she’s most attracted to, and…well, I guess I should save it.) Jayne’s leaning back in his chair, arms folded; Kaylee’s beaming at both Zoe and Eratz; Simon glances at his sister, then at Eratz, and his gaze levels and slightly narrows. Eratz watches Zoe with only a slight indication in his pleasant, eager to please face of the fact that he feels as though he’s in way over his head. Occasionally he glances around the table. Kaylee he knows how to respond to, but neither Simon nor River’s expressions make him particularly comfortable.

Zoe: The Captain, as you all know, has gone on a bit of a vacation, (Kaylee giggles) so we’re picking up the cargo without him. The goods are at Reuben Ma’s place about three miles outside of Vows’ capital, as usual. We park there, contact Ma, get the goods, load ‘em up, and probably end with about a day and a half of sightseeing time on our hands. Can’t see no reason why it won’t go smooth. (To Eratz:) Vows is a colorful place. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Just don’t drink the water.

Eratz has a smiling sort of query on his face. He looks around, requesting confirmation that he’s acting correctly. Jayne and Kaylee are grinning; Zoe’s smiling slightly. Simon’s still staring at Eratz levelly; River glances up through her hair and her eyes get stuck.

Zoe: Questions?

Kaylee: (with a kind smile at Eratz) Who’s the new recruit?

Zoe: Eratz, this is Kaylee, our mechanic, and Simon, our medic. River and Jayne you’ve already met. I’m Zoe.

Eratz: Pleased to meet you. (His smile is strong when he directs it at Zoe and Kaylee; it flickers perceptibly when it reaches Simon.)

Zoe: River, you want to back Eratz up in the cockpit?

River: (murmured, looking tensely at Eratz) The human body can be vaporized instantly upon contact with certain chemical and electrical compounds.

Eratz’s eyes widen. Simon’s eyes narrow.

Simon: (after a pause) I’m sure he’ll be fine.

Zoe: (with a slight eye-roll) River, Eratz, let’s get in the air.

River gets up and goes down the hall. After a wary glance at Simon’s glare, and a nod of encouragement from Zoe, a bewildered Eratz follows. Simon, jaw tensed, leaves after him. Zoe goes to her bunk, and Jayne, with a grin at Kaylee, who’s watched these interactions, spits on his polishing stone thing with a disgusting hawking sound and begins sharpening his knife.

Kaylee: (with a flat sort of sigh) All aboard.

Scene 7:

A shot of a manorial, classically dignified house, situated on gently rising ground, overlooking a fine prospect of a stream and well-timbered park. The shot should, in fact, be borrowed directly as possible from the first view of Pemberly in the BBC “Pride and Prejudice,” except that, across the stream from the house, we see Inara’s shuttle, parked among trees. Also the house probably comes from an entirely different tradition than the English architectural one. But it should be really nice, and really traditional. Also (and the coming description’s going to be kind of vague), the River folk song/love theme music should be playing in the soundtrack, except refashioned into a “Shindig”-style classical melody, but not too obtrusively (I don’t want it to sound rigid or obtrusively structured, just, you know, classical.)

The camera cuts into the shuttle, and Inara’s signature violin weaves its way into the arrangement. She is wearing something extra-gorgeous, seated in front of a mirror with incense burning, going through the ritual of applying lipstick from a brush. Whatever is happening in her day-to-day life, Inara’s world as a companion follows certain forms; she knows how to handle and prepare for the coming interlude of ritual, lovemaking, companionship. She isn’t self-satisfied, but more just not shattered, not wild—she owns her energy, her focus; she is poised, and completely perfect. She stands and prepares the tea tray. There is a knock on the shuttle door. She goes and presses the button to open it.

There is an instant where we see her, through the opening door, as gracious and professional as she is on Higgins Moon—and then she realizes who’s standing outside her door. Her jaw drops, her eyes bug, and she stands frozen for at least a second.

Inara: Y-you’re unbelievable.

Shot reverses to Mal, wearing his Cap’n Tightpants outfit, holding a bunch of peonies.

Mal: (with a grin) Your flattery overwhelms me, ma’am.

Inara: W-where’s Alphonse Guererra? (with growing irritation) Did you kill my client?

Mal: (matching her irritation, but still with some humor) [“For God’s sake”, in Chinese], woman, he owed me a favor. We go back. It’s a long story. Can I come in?

Inara: (as if to say, why bother asking? but clench-jaw-style) No. I made a contract with Councillor Guererra—

Mal: And I called in my marker. (views her up and down) You’re lookin’ mighty handsome.

Inara eyes him, somwhere between dubious and disbelieving. He steps forward, not looking at her, and fingers the material of her sleeve.

Mal: (raising his eyes, almost teasing) That some kind of silk?

Inara: W-what are you doing?

Mal: (into her eyes) Can I come in?

Inara: (her eyelids lower slightly; she says it softly) No.

Mal: I’ll take that as a maybe.

He hands her the flowers. She sighs and recieves them. He passes her into the shuttle. She takes a longing look outside before closing the door.

Scene 8:

Eratz and River in the cockpit. River’s sitting in the copilot seat, knees tucked up, looking straight ahead. Eratz is piloting. Vows is coming closer out the window, but it’s not yet time to initiate landing sequence. Calling the silence uncomfortable would be like saying that Saffron has “slight commitment issues.”

River: (suddenly) Top right.

Eratz: Do you know where the—Oh.

He pulls down a lever.

Eratz: Thanks. (a pause—Eratz tries to think of something polite, yet again, to initiate conversation with) So have you been on Serenity long?

River: (muttered) A certain combination of frequencies can cause the human brain to implode to a circumference approximately the size of a pea’s.

Eratz tries to think of a response, then subsides. Silence. The planet comes nearer.

River: (clears her throat) The…the—

Eratz: (hurried) Excuse me?

River: The antigrav thrust—

She gets up. Atmosphere starts to kick in, and Serenity begins to shake, Star Trek-style.

Eratz: Oh, crap, I forgot—left or right? River? Left or right?

River: Right—it’s right—

She leans over him to do it herself, and Serenity jolts again so that she ends up sprawled in Eratz’s lap. The ride smooths out, and she and Eratz stare at each other, suspended in time and shock.

Eratz: (looking both shocked, and slightly surprised by the attraction he’s feeling) Thanks.

River: (breathless) The… (she snaps out of it, blushes like hell, scrambles away, rapidfire speech) human body can be drained of blood in 8.6 seconds given adequate vacuuming systems.

Eratz: (snapping out of it as well; slightly breathless as well) Right. Yeah. Of course. I’ll just…uh…

Zoe: (from behind them, sounding tolerant) Everything okay?

Eratz: (rapidly) Nothing. (He gets a hold on himself—with a nervously apologetic smile) Sorry. River was just, uh, showing me how not to crash the ship.

He glances back. Zoe and Simon are standing in the doorway. Both have their arms crossed, though for entirely different reasons: Zoe’s comfortable enough to do so, Simon’s full-out glaring. Eratz’s tentative smile flickers noticeably again. He runs his hand through his hair.

Eratz: (feels as though he needs to say something, smile flickering back in even more tentative than before) I think I’ve got it now, though.

Simon: (low-voiced) I hope so.

River runs out of the room, pushing past Simon. Simon’s eyes narrow to slits.

Zoe: I’ve got a call to make. Simon, could you—

Simon stands back, gives a level glance to Eratz, and leaves.

Eratz: (half-tentative, half-trying to pass it off as a joke) So he doesn’t like me.

Zoe: (glances, quietly indulgent, at Eratz’s profile) No, son, he doesn’t.

She bends over the console, attempting to get Reuben Ma online. Eratz thinks of a response, realizes it won’t work, and doesn’t say it. He breathes in slightly and breathes out in a gush. Zoe glances at him again with a slight smile.

Voice Coming From Vid Screen: (a high man’s voice; it sounds bored) Hello, this is the Hunk o’ Love Wedding Chapel, how may I help you?

Zoe: (to video screen, at her most friendly and polite and such) How are you. Is Reuben Ma there?

Scene 9:

Kristanos, in her office. There’s smily, chuckly, smarmy Kristanos, and then there’s maniacally angry, thing-throwning Kristanos. Currently the second version is driving the Kristanos-mobile. Guererra’s standing in the middle of the room, across from her, holding his Stetson in his hands. He doesn’t look penitent, at least not on second viewing, but more contemplative. The same charm and empathetic tiredness remain on his face. He’s dressed in the manner of one of that contact guy on Canton: a modern man in a Western world. Except for the Stetson. The scene opens with her slamming her fist on her desk.

Kristanos: Gorram it, Guererra, you were supposed to get that poedunk Paradiso lawman Boise Hauer off my back last month at the latest. What the [Chinese for “flying monkey evil”] is he doing still prowling around my go-to boys?

Guererra: (with a noncommittal [weary, charming] smile) I don’t know, Mz Kristanos. Maybe he smells a rat.

Kristanos: Well it’s your job to keep that rat smelling like roses—or to cut off Sheriff Hauer’s nose, you get it? It’s perfectly simple. You alert the Feds, and you get them down to that hellhole Paradiso, and you get them crawling all over Hauer’s hellhole operation, and you make damn sure something turns up.

Guererra: Yes’m.

Kristanos: I got a whole shipment of drops sitting up on Vows in a mighty precarious position. That lawman’s got a sample of the goods and he’s gonna be asking himself where he can find the batch, don’ ma?

Guererra: Yes’m.

Kristanos: Don’t “yes’m” me. You think I bought you that spot on the Council so you could play with yourself behind a fancy desk?

Guererra: (with irony) No, ma’am, but I sure do appreciate it.

Kristanos: I want Hauer out of my way. Period. I don’t care how. Comprende?

Guererra: Yes’m.

Kristanos: Get out of here.

Guererra goes to the door. Kristanos flings herself down behind her desk and barks at the intercom that connects her office to its anteroom.

Kristanos: Tina. You contact Watson yet?

Tina’s Voice: Yes, Boss.

Guererra sort of lifts his hat at the occupied and seething Kristanos as he puts it on his head, then goes out the door. He passes through the anteroom where Tina is listening to Kristanos bark at her over the intercom, gives her a sympathetic smile in response to her eye-roll, then opens another door, makes his way through a shadowy storeroom, opens the door of the storeroom and comes out inside a dress shop, kind of like the one on Persephone. There are women modeling the dresses while they work as salesgirls. The dresses are predominately in shades of red. He tips his hat slightly at the ones he makes eye contact with, heading out of the shop. The camera switches sides of the door (if this will work) to show him coming out of the shop: the door reads “Ming’s Bridal” in English and Chinese. The camera then expands its scope, showing the street Guererra stands on. There are lights everywhere; it’s kind of run down, but wildly exuberant in its self-presentation, a mix of Western-style town and, like, Vegas. Every building on the street is a wedding chapel, and every wedding chapel has its own theme, complete with its own music. Hence the scene is cacophonous. Brides and grooms, grooms and grooms, brides and brides and grooms, brides and brides—there’s basically a throng of people going in and out, getting married and drunk. Guererra pulls his hat down over his eyes and looks at the chapel across the street from him, the Heart’s End Chapel. Under the sign is a red-colored square of a disclaimer reading, “The Heart’s End Chapel of Vows reminds you that no ceremony performed here is legally binding.”

Guererra: (muttering to himself) Welcome to Vows.

Scene 10:

Inside Inara’s shuttle. Mal’s sitting on the couch. Inara looks at the peonies in her hands, then throws them on the bed and crosses her arms. She’s trying to calm herself, to act rationally in front of this roughneck spaceman. Automatically she uses one of the techniques of her training: to look at the situation from as close to his point of view that she can get, to use words he’ll understand.

Inara: Mal, my work is…important to me. It’s not just the rituals or the—

Mal: [Chinese for “fucking”]?

Inara: (rises above it, but showing her irritation) I need the independence it provides.

Mal: (seriously) I know that.

Inara: So you see why I can’t have you barging in on— (she pauses, collects herself) This thing between us is complicated, Mal. I appreciate that. But I need my space. Just as you need yours.

A solemn pause, possibly with some solemn music under it to emphasize the solemnity.

Mal: (breaks the mood) How dumb do you think I am, woman? I said I know all that.

Inara: (immediate and irritated) Then why aren’t you leaving?

Mal: (stretches out a little) Thought maybe I’d bridge the gap between a woman of stature like you and a petty crook like me. Be your client. See what I’m missin’.

This is like something out of Inara’s worst nightmare, but he’s treating it so lightly that she unconsciously does the same.

Inara: (witheringly) I would never have accepted you as a client.

Mal: (grinning) Why, cuz you couldn’t woo me by tellin’ me how special I was to get chosen by a lady such as yourself?

Inara: (immediate and super-defensive) No, it’s because you obviously don’t respect any of the modes and meanings of expression and tradition that go on between a companion and her—

Mal: (with a slight, much restrained earnestness, masked by irony) I’m tryin’ here, ‘Nara. Meet me halfway?

Inara: (after a pause; his earnestness, no matter how restrained, hits the tender meat of her feelings, and she acknowledges his honesty by putting on a façade which masks her understanding: she’s impatient, ironic, and eyebrow-raised, though underneath a little tremulous) What about Serenity?

Mal: (dismissive) They’re on the Vows run. Job’s like a cakewalk, Zoe said so. What could possibly go wrong?

Scene 11:

Back on Serenity. Everyone’s gathered in the kitchen again, in basically the same configuration, except that this time Simon and River are sitting alone across from Kaylee, Jayne, and Eratz. Kaylee looks pissed. Simon is somewhere between still glowering at Eratz and ashamed he’s made Kaylee mad. Jayne’s focused, jovially enough, on Zoe, who’s about to present. River’s still curtained in hair, and Eratz looks up less.

Zoe: As you all know, we’ve experienced a slight hitch in the plan. Reuben Ma’s out of town, and his nephew’s running the Chapel now. We’re going to assume that the nephew knows nothing about the goods, and that it would probably just make difficulties to explain the situation to him.

Jayne: You mean he’d want a cut.

Zoe: Precisely. Now, unless things have changed drastically at the Hunk o’ Love, there’s no reason for the security system to have altered. We know the code and we’ve got the authorization card for the storeroom door and it’ll be simple to slip in, get the goods, and slip out, provided we’ve got a diversion—

Kaylee snorts expressively, glaring at Simon.

Zoe: So everyone clear on the plan? Simon, you’re with me. River, Eratz, stay with the ship until we call. Kaylee, Jayne, you know what you have to do.

Kaylee snorts again and leaves. Eratz, with an uncertain smile to Zoe, follows, and Simon follows Eratz. Jayne looks at Zoe.

Jayne: Plan ain’t exactly air-tight.

Zoe: (slightly grimly) Nope.

Jayne: You know the old Earth saying. When you assume you make a dumbass out of us. Or me. Or somethin’.

Zoe: I get your point, Jayne.

Jayne: Oughtn’t we at least to call the Cap’n?

Zoe: (hard tone:) Jayne, when did you become the voice of reason?

Jayne: (Pause.) I’ll go get ready.

He exits.

River: (softly) Ready or not.

Zoe: (with empathy tinging her voice slightly) You and Eratz going to be okay here?

River looks at her, terrified, resigned. Zoe smiles in a responding manner, and as she heads for the exit, ruffles River’s hair a little.

Scene 12:

Eratz and Simon in the hallway of the passenger dorm. Eratz is about to turn in at the door of his bunk when he notices Simon standing behind him, arms folded, looking like thunder.

Simon: Eratz, is it?

Eratz: Oh, hi, um, Doctor. (he smiles, nervous-friendly) I didn’t hear you.

Simon: (sort of cutting him off, measured, threatening) My sister is very important to me.

Eratz: …O-oh?

Simon: I can’t begin to describe to you what Serenity’s crew, and especially myself, have gone through to keep her safe. Knowing this ship, and the sort of individuals that end up on it, I’m sure you have some long and involved back story which, frankly, I am not interested in. My priority, first and foremost, is my sister’s well-being. If you threaten that, in any manner, physical or emotional, I will personally see that you pay. Good evening.

Simon goes down the hall.

Eratz: (to himself) He has a sister?

Scene 13:

Mal is lying face-down on Inara’s bed, shirtless. Inara is attempting to give him a massage, something like the one she gives in “War Stories,” except that Mal’s no Councillor. He’s lying there with a bemused look on his face, attempting to give it a try as he said he would. Inara’s somewhere between sarcastic and amused at the set-up, though she’s hiding her sentiments very well. She’s doing an extra-good job at playing the companion, in other words, precisely because she feels Mal’s lack of commitment to his role as patron. This whole level of her reaction sits slightly below the irritation and discomfort she feels.

Mal: (slightly muffled) What’s this accomplishin’ again?

Inara: (sighed) You’ve never heard of a massage before?

Mal: (leaning up slightly on his elbows) I just don’t see what it has to do with gettin’, you know, sexed.

Inara: (rolling her eyes) It’s a way for my body to begin to know yours intimately—a technique. There is a special understanding conveyed between two individuals through touch—

Mal: You’re tryin’ to defer my pleasure moment. I’m not sure any of this fancy stuff is really movin’ us towards the part what I paid for.

Inara shoves him back down into the bed.

Inara: You didn’t pay me anything.

Mal: (turning his face out of the pillow) Well I don’t think it’s what Guererra paid for either.

Inara: Yes, Mal, it was. This is an important part of my job.

Mal: Fondling the erogenous zone of the back?

Inara: No, helping you to relax and get in touch with yourself.

Mal: We seem to be at cross purposes, ma’am. I thought I was paying YOU to get in touch with me. You want to watch me get in touch with myself, maybe it’s you who should be givin’ me the coin.

Inara presses her hands to her eyebrows and shakes her head, getting off of him and sighing vigorously.

Inara: This is ridiculous. You make ME need a massage.

Mal: Well all right, but I want my credits back. Roll over.

Inara: What are you…

There is a brief tussle. She ends up lying face-down on the bed this time. Mal massages her shoulders.

Inara: Ow!

Mal: You have such soft skin.

Inara: Shut up.

Mal: So, live around here often?

Inara: (sighing explosively) Oh God. Can we just have sex now?

Mal: (as she rolls over under him) I must have magic fingers.

Inara: You have hands like lobster claws—

Kissin’.

Scene 14:

Simon, behind a rock. He’s a distance away from the Hunk O’ Love Wedding Chapel, but can see it clearly through his binoculars, as the camera, becoming the binoculars, shows us. He’s focused, however, on two blurred figures from the back—the lenses resolve; he’s looking at a dressed up Jayne, and Kaylee in her pink fooferah dress. River’s love theme is playing below the scene, but reworked somehow to make it agonized and Simon-y.

Zoe: (from next to him, low) They in yet?

Simon shakes his head. The camera widens out to include Zoe in the shot, also behind the rock.

Zoe: Say when and follow my lead.

The perspective changes to Kaylee and Jayne’s. She’s holding a bouquet of red roses and birds of paradise; he looks almost unnaturally good for Jayne in old-West finery and a dress-Stetson. He keeps fiddling with his cuffs and collar. Kaylee’s grinning hard.

Kaylee: (taps his hand with her bouquet) Stop that.

Jayne: I don’t know about this.

Kaylee: Jayne! You’re nervous!

Jayne: I look like a whore in a tea parlor.

Kaylee: You wouldn’t if you’d quit meddling with your cuffs.

Jayne: (twisting his tie around) Is my collar right?

Kaylee: Just stop…twistin’ it about. (laughing) Hold these, you [Chinese for “dumbass”].

She hands him the flowers and reaches up to his neck to adjust the tie. He looks down at her, not entirely able to conceal what he feels: attraction, the desire to hide it, tenderness, love… She looks into his eyes with a grin, and he snaps back to Jayne-form.

Kaylee: There. Fixed as a fiddle. Now just don’t touch it. And give me my flowers.

Jayne: Yes, ma’am.

Kaylee: You ready?

Jayne: As I’ll ever be.

They enter the Hunk O’ Love together. At the reception desk, a slight, slender man (we in the 21st century might call him a “twink”), maybe Asian with dyed fuschia hair, is painting his nails. He doesn’t look up.

Receptionist: (in a drawl) Welcome to the Hunk O’ Love chapel if you’ll just sign in the King will be with you shortly if there’s any special song you wish for him to sing on the joyous occasion of your nuptial bliss you just fill it in on the form. The Hunk O’ Love Chapel reminds you that any vows taken herein are not legally binding. Three credits please.

Jayne swipes a payment card, then fills out a form which shows on an old-ass console. He presses the “send” button and the console makes a bleeping noise.

Receptionist: Just wait right over there please. The King will be with you shortly.

Scene 15:

Shifts to a shadowy sort of back room. Because the walls are covered in Elvis paraphernalia, however, one could possibly make the assumption that we are somewhere in the Hunk O’ Love. A guy in a pompadour wig and a white jumpsuit is bent over a comscreen upon which Kristanos’s figure wavers. The two are obviously mid-conversation.

Kristanos: (soothingly) Stevie, Stevie, I understand your concern. I truly do.

Stevie: Really, Kristanos? You understand the fact that Hauer’s riding my ass, I’m stuck on this poedunk planet marrying psychos, and I’ve got a security system guarding your drugs that a two-year-old with a Wonka-Blaster could bust through? I’m feeling the need for some back-up, here, you get me?

Kristanos: I’ve sent Watson to you. He should be showing up any time now.

Stevie: Oh, great, yeah, cuz I really want to baby-sit YOUR outpatient while—

An electronic rendition of “Devil In Disguise” begins bleeping out of a flashing consul screen like the one that held the form Jayne filled out in the lobby.

Stevie: Wonderful. Just gorram wonderful. (viewing the screen) More idiots looking to get hitched non-bindingly by a centuries-old dead guy. Kristanos, if you don’t come rescue me from this Hell—

Kristanos: (sweet as sugar, but scarier) Would I go back on my word to you, Stevie? Those drops’ll be gone before you know it. Over and out.

The comscreen flashes off. The other consul continues playing “Devil In Disguise” until Stevie pounds it with his fist. He adjusts his wig, slides on his shades, pushes some buttons, and opens the door out of his office.

Stevie: (muttered to himself) Freaking showtime.

Scene 16:

Simon and Zoe have broken into the chapel storeroom. Zoe is in the process of shutting the opened door and putting away the cardkey that allowed her the access. The room is not so much messy as crammed with stuff: Elvis costumes, electronics, big holographic dragons and tigers, boxes and boxes of things labeled in Chinese.

Zoe: It’s a big metal box, looks something like a coffin.

Simon’s attention is arrested by a t.v. screen, showing in black and bluish-white what appear to be the real-time happenings in the chapel proper. It shows Kaylee and Jayne, standing next to each other, holding hands. As Simon watches, a shower of holographic sparks fires up from a descending staircase and the room he’s watching goes darkish, with a spotlight on the man standing at the top of the stairs: an Elvis impersonator, be-wigged, be-sunglassed, be-jumpsuited, with a microphone that he’s obviously singing into as he descends the stairs. Faint strains of the music come through the wall as Simon watches: “It’s Now Or Never.” Kaylee’s visible as the lights go up; she’s grinning hard.

Zoe: Simon.

Simon looks around.

Zoe: Little help?

Scene 17:

Serenity. River’s lying on the floor of the dining room/kitchen, ear pressed to the ground. She jumps up. Love theme slight underneath scene. Eratz enters; she looks at him, as if frozen. He stares back.

Eratz: Just, uh, getting some—

River: (softly) Upper right.

Eratz: (automatically opens a cupboard) Thanks. (with a smile at her which tries to be not freaked out—less by her knowing his thoughts, more by their odd attraction and her weird reaction to him—and is really nice) Are you psychic or something?

River: 11.9 percent of suicides are enacted by the intentional opening of a ship’s airlock.

Eratz: (after a pause) Want…tea?

River ducks her head. Eratz pours tea, walks with it over by the door, hovers awkwardly.

Eratz: Uh, see you in a bit—

River: (looking up) It won’t work.

Eratz: Hunh?

River: What you’ve come here for. Serenity won’t let you have it. She can’t.

Eratz: The ship?

River: She can’t give it to you.

Eratz: (his face dark) What do you know?

River: (helpless) 0.2 percent of murders have been proven to be caused by intentional opening of the airlock—

Eratz: (softly) What do you know about it?

River: (a creepy, heart-tugging River-can’t-help-it moment) Everything.

Scene 18:

Jayne, Kaylee, and Stevie/Elvis in the Hunk O’ Love. Jayne and Kaylee are gazing into each other’s eyes; Kaylee’s trying very hard not to laugh, Jayne’s trying very hard not to look anything like he means it.

Stevie (in Elvis’s voice): Matrimony is indeed the surrenderin’est of all holy states of bein’. Take yourselves unto yourselves only if you truly have that fire for each other burning inside. Sir, if this little brown-eyed kitten shakes you from your head to your toes, you’ll repeat after me—

Jayne: (clears throat) Actually, I—uh, I wrote my own vows.

Stevie/Elvis (in Stevie voice): (looking less than overjoyed) You did.

Kaylee: (shocked and having a hard time keeping her sense of the ridiculous under wraps) You did?

Jayne: Where’d I … (he gropes around his pockets and pulls out a scrap of paper) Ahrem. (reading, in stops and starts) “Kaylee you are the joy of my life and I love you forever. When you are happy I am happy too and when you are sad it makes me want to kill folk. I wrote you a poem it goes like this:” (clears throat again, drops to one knee) “Your lips are sweet as spun sugar. I could suck on them forever. Your curves are soft as spring weather. I need them like I need my own hea-rt (said to make it rhyme). Your eyes are pretty like a bird’s feathers. They are light and are very clever. Your tits—“

Scene 19:

Changes abruptly to Simon in the storage area. He’s watching Jayne on one knee, Kaylee’s big grin.

Simon: What the [Chinese for “fuck”] does he think he’s doing?

Zoe peeps her head out of an inner store-room and looks at the scene on the screen, then goes back to her search.

Zoe: (back inside the storeroom) You could have volunteered to marry her, son. Kinda surprised us all when you didn’t.

Simon: (distracted) It wasn’t—

Zoe: Found it.

Simon keeps watching the t.v.

Zoe: Simon, get River on the com, don’ ma? Simon.

Simon tears himself away from the scene and goes to where Zoe is. Inside the inner storeroom are some wigs arrayed on forms, some more costumes, some old cosmetics, and a shiny metal box vaguely the same shape as a coffin.

Zoe: That looks to be it.

Simon: Do you even know what’s in there?

Zoe: Don’t have to, don’t want to. Get the other end.

Simon stoops to pick it up.

Scene 20:

Elvis/Stevie, Jayne, and Kaylee. Kaylee is pink-cheeked with her effort not to laugh.

Stevie (in Elvis voice): Do you, Jayne, take this sweet li’l honeybee to be your everlastin’ bundle o’ love?

(Kaylee grins harder, if possible).

Jayne: I do.

Stevie/Elvis: And do you, Kaylee, take this tomcat to be your heartbreaker forever and ever?

Kaylee: I do.

Stevie/Elvis: Flippy. Pour some sugar on your mama, cat.

Kaylee: (to Jayne) That means kiss the bride.

Jayne’s face quivers for a second—that flicker of serious desire—before he grins, grabs Kaylee, bends her over backwards, and kisses the heck out of her. The bouquet drops to the floor. After an overly protracted interval, Jayne breaks the kiss. Kaylee looks at him with slightly dazed eyes. Jayne watches her, waiting for a signal—the slightest indication from her and he’ll do it again for real this time. Her lips curve into a smile and she raises an eyebrow slightly. Jayne grins and picks her up.

Kaylee: (laughing) Put me down, you idiot!

Jayne: (yelling a whoop) Let’s get connubial!

Elvis/Stevie: Mazel tov.

They exit the chapel.

Elvis/Stevie: Idiots.

Cut to the red-painted front of the Hunk O’ Love, then Jayne and Kaylee running out of the its doors, Kaylee now piggy-back.

Kaylee: (lauging really hard) Put…me…DOWN!

She thumps him on the shoulders. He runs a little further and puts her down, then clutches his chest, wheezing. His Stetson falls off. She grabs it.

Kaylee: I’m not that heavy, you big jerk!

Jayne: Just…healthy…

Kaylee: (dissolving into giggles) You deserve the punishment, after that…p-poem...

Jayne: (straightening; part of his wheezing is laughter) You…didn’t…like it?

Kaylee: (puts the hat back on his head, grinning) What’s our status, idiot?

Jayne: Let’s get us…back to the ship and find out.

He starts away. Kaylee watches him. The grin on her face wavers a bit, and a worry line works its way into her brow. Jayne looks back. She smooths her face out.

Jayne: What?

Kaylee: (shaking her head) You are such a hump.

He takes off his hat and gives her a little bow, and she takes the hat from him and hits him with it in the chest. They keep walking towards the shuttle, which is in sight.

Scene 21:

River and Eratz. Still in the kitchen.

River: (with soul in her eyes, quietly) You want escape. Freedom. I know.

Eratz: (softly) How—

River: (empathy—that’s the word for it) But there’s no such thing. Ties and parts that bind. Inside the machine.

Eratz: But if you know, you know I don’t… (he trails off)

River: You can’t stay here. Too much in the engine, the metal, the heart of the machine. No freedom. No escape.

Eratz: (stepping towards her, eyes dark—he thinks he loves her, he doesn’t know how) River—I don’t get it, I know, I’m just a normal guy, but—

River freezes, takes a moment to assimilate what Eratz is getting at—his reaction is not, for once, what she was expecting.

River: H-hunh?

Simon’s voice on the com comes into the room.

Simon: River? We need the mule.

River: (backs away from Eratz, speaks into the com) Comprehended.

Simon: Has Eratz been molesting you?

River: (blushing bright red) SI-MON!!!

She runs out of the kitchen.

Eratz: (enlightened) Oh, SHE’S his sister?

Scene 22:

Zoe and Simon, outside the back of the chapel, waiting for River, Eratz, and the mule. They’re sitting on the box in which the goods are stowed.

Zoe: Why didn’t you want to?

Simon: (looking broody, for Simon) Why didn’t I want to what?

Zoe: Marry Kaylee. You hurt her feelings. You know Vows ain’t for real.

Simon: I know. (He pauses) That’s pretty much the point. I want… Kaylee’s my… (He tries yet again) I want things with her to be…

Zoe: (quietly) Right?

Simon: Well, yes. I…care about her too much to lie. She’s the one thing in my life that makes sense.

Zoe: Did you tell her that?

Simon looks at Zoe. River and Eratz come up on the mule. River’s frozen, looking straight ahead; Eratz has been sneaking glances at her. River stares down at the cargo.

Zoe: This the right box?

River: (bites her lip) It will be.

Zoe glances at her speculatively, then she and Simon heft it onto the mule and jump on.

Simon: Did anything happen on the ship?

River and Eratz in chorus: No.

Scene 23:

Mal and Inara lying in the bed. Inara’s looking dreamy. Mal’s watching her. He lifts a segment of hair from her neck. She looks at him and her eyes focus slightly.

Inara: (not smiling, just barely) Get off.

Mal: (teasing/covering) I thought I’d at least get an “E” for effort.

Inara: (giving up and smiling at him) Maybe.

Mal: You companions sure expect a lot from a man.

Inara: (smiling harder) It’s the training. The training is very…rigorous.

Mal: It’s got rigors, hunh.

Inara: Yes.

Mal draws her closer to him and she closes her eyes.

Mal: (softly) You’re okay-lookin’.

Inara: (her lips curl luxuriously) Oh, thank you.

The com statics on in the cockpit.

Guererra’s Voice: Reynolds?

Mal groans.

Guererra’s Voice: I’m sorry, is Malcolm Reynolds there?

Mal sits up. Inara makes a slight protesting noise. Mal gets her bathrobe off the side of the bed and puts it on, goes to the cockpit. Inara opens her eyes and grins at the sight of Mal in the robe. We hear the conversation from her perspective, viewing her from a bird’s-eye angle.

Mal’s voice: What’s up?

Guererra’s voice: (amused) Nice duds. (pleasant) I’m sorry to pull this on you, Reynolds, but it’s a necessary thing—

Mal’s voice: I understand. She’ll be there.

At this Inara sits up.

Guererra: I’ll send someone for her in an hour.

After a moment, Mal appears again in the cockpit doorway, looking…well, trepid.

Inara: Where will I be in an hour, precisely?

Mal: The Chancellor’s hobnobbing with important types, and wants you to grace his table. Says the party’s a good hunk of the reason he hired you. Needs some class brought to his establishment.

Inara: And why didn’t you tell me before?

Mal: I feared for my life.

Inara: Coward.

Mal: Yes’m.

Inara: (sighing) Are you coming?

Mal: Me? (laughs) No. (then seeing she’s serious-ish) No no no.

Inara: I thought you said you wanted us to connect in my world.

Mal: Wait a gorram minute, now. That ain’t the literal interpretation you’re taking on my words there.

Inara: Why not? You don’t want to end up stabbed again?

Mal: It ain’t no joke, woman. I got… Right here… (he points to his side) Wanna see the scar?

Inara: (interrupting) Mal, people go out in polite society without ending up in duels all the time. You just don’t hit anyone.

Mal: (cutting his losses) It’s Guererra. We got history. He’s everything I hate.

Inara: (rationally) So am I.

Mal: (after a pause; there are ways he could respond to this, but he chooses none of them) It’s not what he does, it’s what he is.

Inara: Did he invite you to the party?

Mal: Yes.

Inara: And does he know you’re free during the time it’s going on?

Mal: Yes.

Inara: Then according to the rules of my world, it would be impolite of you not to go. Unless if you can think up a plausible excuse.

Mal: I’m washing my hair.

Inara: (looking pointedly at Mal’s head) Like he would ever buy that.

Mal: I got nothing to wear.

Inara: Aren’t you approximately the same size as he?

Mal: Oh, no. I won’t play dress-up in my enemy’s clothes.

Inara: If he’s your enemy, why’d he invite you to his party?

Mal: …We got…(lost for words) history.

Inara: Do you want to send me alone into a room full of people who may disrespect myself, if not my profession?

Mal: (Inara’s won) Gorram it.

Inara grins, sits up, wraps the sheet around her, and goes into the cockpit and the comlink.

Inara’s voice (after a brief pause): Chancellor Guererra? May I bring a guest tonight?

Mal, listening, snorts briefly.

Scene 24:

Boise Hauer on Vows. He’s sitting on a crate in a dark back alley, smoking a cheroot. Further up the alley are drunk, drugged out boys giving each other blow jobs. Sp-club music thumps from the other side of the wall—it’s late-ish afternoon. A figure in a Stetson hat, bootheels ringing on the cobblestones, walks into the alley and down toward Hauer to the accompaniment of a few comments and catcalls. The figure sits down next to Hauer on another crate, and accepts a cheroot from him. The Stetson’s low over the figure’s eyes, revealing only that smile.

Hauer: Watson.

Watson: Hauer.

Watson’s voice is modified by a voice modifier thing (like in Scream), which rests around his throat—don’t ask me how it works, but it may be invasive. Watson’s a little creepy.

Hauer: Steven Ma?

Watson: He’s still got the drops.

Hauer: What’s the holdup?

Watson: (grin widens) You, friend. Watch yourself.

Hauer: (sucking on cheroot contemplatively) Kristanos?

Watson: Putting the screws on Guererra.

Hauer: Feds, then? Investigatin’?

Watson: A good bet. (Watson stands.)

Hauer: If you get anything else.

Watson: I will. (walks a few paces, then turns) And, Cap’n?

Hauer: Mm?

Watson: Reynolds’ firefly Serenity’s parked at the southside docks. A heads-up.

Hauer: Thanks.

Watson turns again and leaves the alley. Hauer grinds his cheroot out on the bottom of his boot toe. The sparks show against the darkness he sits in.

Hauer: (to himself) Waal, shit's about to hit the fan.

Scene 25:

Kristanos in her office. Steven Ma on the comlink screen: it’s a biggish screen, high-tech. Kristanos is screaming.

Kristanos: Who took it? Who took it?

Stevie: I have no idea. I thought it was your people—the door was undamaged. A few couples came in and out—

Kristanos: You waste my time! (she slams the control panel, and the comlink lines out—she moves over to her p.a. system link to her secretary) Tina, get me Watson! Get me Guererra! Get me anyone! I want people out on the town looking for that cargo!

Tina’s Voice: Yes, boss.

Kristanos: Do it NOW!

The camera focuses on her hand, splayed over the red leather of her desk.

Scene 26:

Mal and Inara, standing before a fancy door in Guererra’s house. Some servant in some sort of livery is standing at the door, waiting to open it for them. Mal’s wearing the same kind of dress clothes the younger men wear in Shindig: a long shirt of darkish blue shiny taffeta that matches his eyes, and I hate to say it but I forget the pants (weep for this authoress: she lost her Firefly dvd’s a while ago). Anyway he’s at the cutting edge of border planet space fashion. Inara is in blue, purple, and gold, and looks incredible.

Mal: (muttered) The collar’s too tight.

Inara: (murmured) Just don’t hit anyone.

The Servant: This way, sir, madam.

He opens the door. The room disclosed is tall-cielinged and white, fancy somehow—possibly Moorish-style latticework over fake windows, or Greek columns—at any rate, the door closes behind them. Guererra stands, comes over to them, charming and tired-eyed.

Guererra: Miss Sera. The pleasure of meeting you in the flesh is indeed great. And Mal.

Mal: (with a short bow) Captain.

Guererra’s nostrils flare for a split second. He regains control almost almost immediately and smiles tiredly at Inara.

Guererra: Come and let me introduce my guests.

A Voice from Behind Guererra: Inara Sera.

The camera takes in an Alliance officer in full dress uniform: it takes perhaps a moment for one to recognize that it’s the officer from Bushwhacked.

The Officer: And Captain Reynolds.

Mal looks at the officer with an immediate tightening of recognition. After a moment he smiles at Guererra, while gathering up the material of the robe to get at his gun.

Mal: True to form, sir.

Guererra: (already has his gun out; with a shrug and another flare of the nostrils, he says pleasantly) I aim to satisfy, Sergeant.

I don't know how to explain this, but the River love theme has been steadily altering underneath various scenes (including this one) to the point at which it's got enough range to do a scary yet really beautiful orchestral sort of swell right here... (sorry, that's ridiculously inexplicit)

Scene 27:

Kaylee, Jayne, Simon, River, Eratz, and Zoe gathered in the cargo bay. Simon’s looking earnestly at Kaylee. She’s a little guilty, but mostly angry in how she avoids his gaze. Jayne’s fiddling with his tiepin. He gives Simon a sneer, mostly for form’s sake. Eratz is looking with fear at Simon and starstruck gaze at River, who is staring at the ground, and Zoe notices this and represses a smile.

Zoe: Word on the street is there's been a theft at the Hunk O’ Love. Reuben Ma’s nephew wasn’t supposed to know about the cargo, so I’m guessing something’s a amiss in our calculations. Maybe we better take a look at exactly what's in this box—

She breaks the lock and the top suctions off of the goods box. Everyone crowds around to look. Inside is an older man, unmistakeably dead, and dressed as Elvis. An upwards shot of everyone staring at the body for a moment, nonplussed.

Eratz: So…our cargo is dead Elvis?

END OF PART 1

COMMENTS

Friday, September 15, 2006 12:37 PM

LEIASKY


Hmm, very interesting.

Some of the characterization seems off, especially since this takes place after the movie, but I'll keep reading to see where you go with it.

I do hope Simon manages to tell Kaylee how he feels.

Saturday, September 16, 2006 1:48 AM

AMDOBELL


A few things felt a bit off but by and large I am happy to see where you're going with this. The lawman on Paradiso is Sheriff Bourne (played by Gregg Henry). I did have to laugh at the Mal and Inara scenes but now it appears that Inara has unwittingly delivered Mal into the hands of his enemy. Hmm. Wiles. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, September 19, 2006 5:48 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


This is some mighty crazy stuff you got here, timbolectable...especially the River/Eratz conversations;)

Definitely loved Mal's attempt (though we all know it was intentionally half-assed) to understand what Inara does in her shuttle on a job! I was so waiting for Inara to snap and give Mal a good seeing to;D

BEB

Tuesday, January 16, 2007 7:24 AM

AGENTROUKA


Wow. Wow wow wow wow wow. Absolutely incredible, and I can't start recounting everything I love or I'll be here all day. It's just... you so OWN the characters and the subtleties of the show. It's like Christmas, reading your stories, everytime. *G*


And wow, this has been posted some time ago... What are the chances that you haven't yet abandoned this beautiful series and another chapter might grace this archive some day? Because.. well, duh. It's amazing writing, about ten levels above most other writers in fandom.

MUCH love!


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YOUR OPTIONS

OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR

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