Vows - Part IV
Sunday, November 26, 2006

Fourth part in a not so short series. The McGregors go to a party, and meet some old friends. Feedback is most welcome, good or bad!


“I’ve tried everything I can think of, but it’s no use,” Kaylee said, wiping the grease from her hands. “Nothing works. The landlock is too solid.”

“I thought it might be,” Zoe said. She poured a cup of coffee then held out the pot. “Want some?”

“Please.” The mechanic sat down at the large table. “Ain't going too well, is it?”

Zoe brought their mugs and joined her. “Well, Freya and Inara seem to have something up their sleeves, but … no, I don’t think it is.”

“They’re not really gonna find the Cap’n guilty, are they?”

“Unless we can persuade Saffron to renounce all claim on him, they just might.”

“And that cup thing?”

“The chalice,” Freya corrected, coming down the steps into the galley. “There’s nothing on the Cortex,” she added, staring at the portable screen she was carrying.

“What about?” Zoe asked, sipping her coffee.

“A theft from the Museum. The chalice is still listed. And it’s in their live tour.” Freya sat down and put the screen on the table.

“Maybe it’s a copy,” Kaylee suggested.

Freya looked up sharply, glancing at Zoe. “Copy.”

“Yeah, the one on display,” Kaylee went on. “Simon says they have duplicates of most things in museums, in case the originals are damaged, or need cleaning. Or are just too valuable to be out for looking at.”

“You know, everyone’s taking it for sure that this is the real thing,” Zoe said slowly.

“What if it isn’t?” Freya suggested. “What if this is a copy?”

“Would explain why there’s no report of a loss.”

“And why Badger was happy for us to take it. Something like that, so swai, he’d want to keep it around, keep it close. Not give it to Mal to be picked up by just anyone.” Freya smiled.

“So it’s not real?” Kaylee asked, looking from one to the other.

“But how do we prove it?” Zoe asked.

“We don’t have to.” Freya sat forward. “The judge said they were getting in contact with the Museum. Even if Badger dropped the information that it was stolen, the Museum aren’t going to authenticate a fake.”

“We need to speak to Inara.”

Freya nodded. “Let’s just hope they haven’t gone in yet.” ---

“Inara!” Killian Ornstein held out both arms, stepping towards the Companion with a wide grin on his face. “How good to see you! If I’d known you were on Boros we could have scheduled some time together.”

Inara smiled. “Killian, how nice of you to say that.” She let him kiss her on both cheeks then stood back. “But it was a last minute thing. I had no idea I was going to be in time for one of your famous parties, though.”

Killian’s grin became more of a leer. “Of course.” He tapped his nose. “But that’s just between us, isn’t it? And a few of my closest friends.” He waved a hand towards the people Inara could see in the interior of the house.

“And a few new ones, I see,” she commented, seeing a man in the throng who could have been the Captain, if Mal’s hair was blond, his waist a little … no. It couldn’t … It took all her Companion training not to laugh out loud.

“A few,” Killian admitted. “After all, new blood, Inara – you must feel the same way.”

Inara laughed, glad to be letting a little of the tension out of her. “Of course.” She stepped to one side. “And this is a perfect example.” She put her hand on Simon’s arm, pulling him forward a little. “Killian, may I present Simon Mara?”

Killian extended his hand. “A pleasure.”

Simon smiled, a little forced. “Thank you. And for opening your invitation to include me.”

“Any friend of Inara is a friend of mine,” Killian replied. “Please, go in, partake of the refreshments, and the evening proper will be getting underway in a short while.”

“Thank you, Killian,” Inara said, then dropped her voice. “Please forgive him. He’s very young, as you can see, and his father kept him more or less a prisoner on their estate on Londinium. He was a virgin until a short while ago.”

“Can I assume he lost that troublesome soubriquet through your ministrations?” Killian twinkled.

“Of course.” She smiled. “And he’s coming along nicely.”

“I'm sure he is!” Killian said, laughing and sweeping a hand towards the other rooms.

“The evening proper?” Simon breathed to Inara as they walked away, hoping the blush on his cheeks was fading.

“Just take it easy,” she said, smiling at people in the crowd. “And at least try to look like you’re enjoying it.” She swept into the party. ---

“Well?” Freya asked, coming up behind Zoe on the bridge.

“Nothing,” the other woman admitted. “Jayne said they’ve gone in already.”

“So soon?”

“Inara said something about it being a long day.” Zoe couldn’t help but smile. “And a longer night.”

Freya laughed. “Just so long as Mal remembers who he’s married to.”

“Oh, I’m pretty positive he does.”

“Then it’s up to Inara.”

“And Simon,” Kaylee added from the doorway.

“I think he’s more or less just window dressing,” Hank said kindly.

Surprisingly Kaylee grinned. “Oh, he is that. I'm not sure I'm going to tell him that, though.” She sighed. “And he looks so good in those tight pants,” she added as she headed back to where River was watching Bethany.

Zoe watched her, not blinking.

“What are you thinking?” Freya asked, looking at her friend.

“Just … putting two and two together.”

“And making five?” Hank offered.

“No. But maybe my addition is better than yours.”

“Hey, you called me honey yesterday, I don’t care if I can’t add up!” Hank said.

“You did?” Freya asked, sidetracked for a moment.

“An aberration,” Zoe said, still looking after Kaylee.

“You still did,” Hank confirmed. “And I got witnesses.”

Freya looked from one to the other, then got herself back online. “Zoe, what are you thinking about?”

Serenity’s first mate turned her dark gaze on the other woman. “Fakes, and Badger.”

“He still isn’t taking calls,” Hank put in.

“I am seriously going to kill that little man,” Freya breathed. “With his own knife. I don’t care if it does have jewels on it.”


Freya waved him to silence. “That’s beside the point,” she said quickly. “Zo?”

Zoe smiled. “I think I have a little job for Kaylee.” ---

“Is that Mal?” Simon asked, staring across the room.

Inara pulled him around to face her, watching the other couple over his shoulder. “It is.”

“But he’s –“

“Blond. Yes. I'm not sure it suits him.”

“And that’s Saffron with him?”

“The redhead, yes.”

“She’s really quite pretty.”

“Didn’t you see her at all before?”

Simon shrugged. “Briefly, when she first came on board Serenity. When she was introduced to us all. The next time we stayed in my room, in case she realised who we were.”

Inara pursed her lips slightly. “Do you think she noticed you?”

“I don’t know. Mal must have thought she hadn’t, otherwise he’d never have told us to stay out of her way when they stole the Lassiter.”

“This is a problem.”

“So what do we do?”

“I think we hope for the best. She saw you once, in totally different surroundings … maybe she won’t remember.”

Simon nodded. “Memory does have a tendency to place people and places together, and she certainly wasn’t looking at me. She seemed to be much more interested in the floor.”

“Playing games,” Inara agreed. “Well, I think we have to chance it. Go and chat to them.”

“What?” Simon looked aghast. “What if she does remember me?”

“Tell her … tell her what a coincidence it was that you were travelling on board a Firefly at the same time. Slumming it.”

“She’ll never believe me.”

“Try.” Inara sighed. “Just walk up to them and start talking. Try and get Mal on his own. Or distract Saffron enough so that I can talk to him.”

“You can’t be serious.”

“She knows me. I can’t do it.”

“Inara –“

“It’s either that or you make a play for Mal himself. Simon, you can do this. You’re a doctor. Pretend you’re going to talk to a particularly recalcitrant patient and you need to stretch the truth a little.”

“I never did that!”

“Perfect time to start.” She turned him around and gave him a gentle push. “I’ll be watching.”

Simon swallowed, then stood straighter. She was right. He could do this. He’d managed to persuade that foreman on Higgin’s Moon that he was a buyer, and had got away with it more times since. It was just … He took a deep breath and moved through the crowd.

“Hello,” he said, holding out his hand. “My name’s Simon. Simon Mara.”

Mal turned and almost dropped the glass in his hand. Recovering quickly he glanced at Saffron, but she hadn’t noticed the look of shock that had crossed his face.

“Hello to you too,” she simpered, taking his hand in his and holding it to her. “You’re new.”

Simon managed to smile. “I am. My first time here. And on Boros, for that matter. I only arrived a few days ago, from Londinium.”

“Londinium?” Saffron gave a delighted little laugh and turned to Mal. “That’s where I want to go, isn’t it, Abe, darling?”

“Hmmn,” Mal grunted.

“Oh, don’t mind him,” Saffron said, turning back to Simon. “But where are my manners. I’m Lucy and this is my husband Abe.”

“Abraham,” Mal corrected.

“He hates it when I call him that,” Saffron said, leaning into Simon conspiratorially. “And who are you with?”

Simon was about to answer that he was on his own, but remembered it was couples only just in time. “My wife. She’s around somewhere. Probably talking to some handsome boy about now.”

“I think I have the only handsome boy in this entire city,” Saffron said, turning on her charm full force. “You know, you look familiar.”

Simon felt the blush creeping up his neck. “Well, that’s most kind of you, but I get this a lot. I seem to have one of those faces that people think they know.”

“Kindness it isn’t,” she insisted. “Just the truth.” She glanced at Mal. “Would you mind if I take him away for a few minutes? Just for a little chat.”


She smiled at him. “I’ll be right back.”

Mal watched them leave, shaking his head. Maybe this wasn't real. That’s it. Must all be some kind of hallucination. A bad dream, maybe. Simon hadn’t just walked off with Saffron. He wasn’t really standing here, his hair bleached, a layer of padding under his shirt … and that wasn't Inara pulling at his sleeve.


“Just wake up,” he muttered. “That’s all you have to do. Just wake up.”

“What?” Inara moved around in front of him, looking up into his face. “Has she drugged you again?”

“I think that would be preferable,” Mal said. “Are you two totally feng kuang? What the diyu are you doing here?”

“Trying to find out what’s going on.”

“What’s going on is that you are getting the hell out of here and letting me take care of things.” He glanced around, making sure no-one was taking any notice of them.

“Really? Like you’ve taken care of things so far?”

“’Nara, I don’t want to argue about this.”

“Good. Then just listen.” She leaned in closer, as if they were having an intimate little talk. “What’s going on? Why are you here?”

“I thought you told me just to listen?”

“Mal, please.” He infuriated her. He always had and he always would. For once she was glad it was Freya who was married to him, and not her.

“I got her into the party. It’s couples only.”

“I know.”

“Why is that?” he asked, wanting to scratch the itch of curiousness.

“You don’t want to know.”

“No, I …” His eyes widened. “You’re not saying …”

“Let’s say that relationships here are very … loose. Mal, just don’t go upstairs with anyone.”

“I am going to kill her. And then I’m going to get Simon to revive her and then I‘m going to kill her again.” He wasn’t a prude, could never … would never call himself that. But he had morals, albeit sometimes twisted, but this …

“Get in line. I think Freya’s first.”

“Is she okay?” Mal asked, his face softening as it always did when he spoke of the woman he loved, and Inara felt a twinge of jealousy again.

“Oh, she’s more than happy to let Saffron take you down,” Inara said, more testily that was needed.

“Really?” Now he looked like a puppy who’d just been kicked off the bed.

“Oh, Mal.” She shook her head at him. “She’s worried sick. Of course she is. And we’re trying to do everything we can to get you out of this.”

“Yeah,” Mal said, serious again. “Tell her … tell her thanks.”

“You can tell her yourself when this is all over.” She half smiled. “She loves you, you know.”

“Kinda figured that out. Pretty much the time she said ‘I do’.”

“That soon?” She glanced over her shoulder, making sure that they were still unobserved. “You really think Saffron’s just going to let you go?”

“Nope.” Mal sighed. “Much as I’d like to think otherwise, that just wouldn’t be Saffron’s style. She’s as likely to be setting me up to take the fall for this as well as the chalice.”

“Then what do we do?”

“At the moment?” He grabbed a pair of champagne flutes from a passing waiter. “Here. I don’t know about you, but I think I need this.”

She took one of the glasses, watching him quaff it back. “Better?”

“No.” He took back the glass from her and it went to same way. “Gorram it, but Jayne was right.”

“Piss poor?” she suggested, enjoying the slight look he gave her.

“Damn right. Got no kick to it at all.”

“Mal, I think you need all your wits about you. Saffron isn’t stupid.”

“No, you’re right there. But forewarned is forearmed.”


“It means –“

“I know what it means,” she hissed. “But you’re acting like this is a game.”

Mal smiled. “Have to, ‘Nara. Else I’ll be climbing the walls.” He took her arm. “Look, there’s nothing anyone can do for the moment. You’d be best to take Simon and get out of here.” A thought occurred to him. “How did you get him here anyway? I’d’a thought he’d run a mile before coming through that door.”

“Freya … persuaded him.”

The smile grew into a grin. “That I would’ve given money to see.”

“Well, she can tell you later.”

“Yeah, pillow talk.”

“I was more worried she’d remember him from before.”

“She saw him once. After that she was more concerned with seducing various members of the crew. Including yourself,” Mal pointed out.

“Mal, I …” She’d never told him she’d kissed him whilst he was unconscious. Probably not the best of times to start being that honest. “That she did.”

“Even if she does, what’s she gonna do to him?”

Inara tried not to smile. “You and I both have too active an imagination.”

He grinned and ran a hand through his blond locks.

“By the way,” Inara said, turning from him and looking for Simon. “The blond hair? No.”

“Really?” he asked ingenuously. “I was thinking about keeping it.”

“Not if you ever want to sleep with Freya again.” Inara glanced around. “So I presume Saffron has you pretending to be someone else to get in here?”

“She has. One Abraham McGregor.”

“You don’t look like a -”

“I know.”

“Another one of her husbands. We’re surprised she can keep track.”

“She can’t.”

Inara looked up, surprised. “Although, I have to say, there is a strong resemblance to his picture. Do you think you’re related?”

“I wouldn’t know. Far as I’m aware there ain’t no McGregors in my background.”

“Still, I wouldn’t be surprised.” Inara smiled. “And did it occur to you that she may be more enamoured of you than you think?”

“Who, Saffron?” Mal almost scoffed. “Whatever gave you that notion?”

“Well, I don’t have much evidence, but … McGregor is a husband of only a year. And he looks like you, despite the hair. Perhaps she’s trying to replace you.”

Mal stared at her. “How many of these have you had?” he asked, holding up the champagne glass. ---

Kaylee tapped nervously at the judge’s chambers.

“Come in,” a man’s voice called, and she opened the door.

“Sir?” she asked, peering round.

Judge Udall looked up and saw a pretty young thing, all wavy brown hair and big eyes. “What can I do for you?” he asked. “And come on in, no need to be scared.”

Kaylee smiled a little and entered the room. “Thank you.”

“And who’s this?” the judge asked, looking at Bethany in her arms.

“My daughter.”

“Well, sit, sit.” The judge pointed to a chair. “You look tired.”

“I am, a little,” Kaylee agreed, perching herself on the edge.

“So, what can I do?”

“My name’s Kaylee. I work on that ship, Serenity. The one that’s –“

“I know the ship,” Judge Udall interrupted. He looked her up and down. How could this pretty girl come off that ship? He shook his head. “Sorry state of affairs, I’m afraid.”

“I just …” Kaylee disentangled Bethany’s hand from her hair. “I wanted to know what was likely to happen,” she said in a rush.

“To happen?”

“If the Captain … if he …” She screwed up her face as if about to cry.

Judge Udall hurried around from behind his desk. “Come, come,” he said, pulling a large white hankie from his pocket. “No need for this,” he said, patting her ineffectually on the back.

Kaylee took the hankie and wiped her eyes. “I'm sorry. It’s just …” She looked at Bethany. “This one’s barely much more than a month old, and her daddy ain't here, and if something happens to the Captain and the ship then I won’t be able to go back, and if I don’t then I can’t persuade him to marry me, and if that happens then I don’t know what we’ll do!” She took a breath.

“You’re not married?” the judge asked, pulling up another chair and sitting down next to her.

“No,” she said softly. “Little Bethany’s daddy didn’t want us.”

Judge Udall was shocked. “How could he not want a little thing like this?” he asked, looking at the baby.

“He ain't seen her. She was born in space, and the Cap ain't been back to Verbena, so I ain't had a chance to show him just what he’s missing, and he –“

The judge stopped her before she got going again. “And you’re worried about having to bring a child up by yourself?”

“If’n I ain't married, and the Cap’s in jail, or worse, then there won’t be any money, and … how do I feed her?” Kaylee looked up, managing to bring real tears to her eyes as Bethany pulled her hair.

“There, there,” the judge said, comfortingly. “It may not be as bad as all that.”

“But that gold cup thing,” Kaylee went on, blowing her nose. “If it’s real, and it did come from that place, then the Cap’s gonna be found guilty, and –“

“We haven’t had the trial yet,” the judge pointed out.

“I know, but … I got this little’un to think about, and if –“

“Miss Kaylee, don’t worry none.” He put his hand on her knee. “I've got a daughter myself, probably not much younger than you. I know the tribulations that can cause, so I am sympathetic to your situation. Just wait and see. Try not to let it get to you. Who knows, maybe the chalice isn’t real.”

She looked up at him, a little smile crinkling the corners of her mouth. “Not real?”

“Who knows?” Judge Udall smiled kindly. “Now you just take yourself back home, and let me worry about all this.”

“Thank you,” Kaylee said softly. She held out his hankie, but he shook his head.

“No, you keep it.”

“Thank you,” she repeated, and stood up. “You’re a real good man.”

“I wish you’d tell my wife that,” he said. “Go on home.”

“I will.” Kaylee settled Bethany more snugly in her arms and hurried out.

Judge Udall watched the door close behind her and sighed. So young to be a mother. And that was exactly what his own daughter might end up being if he didn’t do something about it. Running around with who knows who doing who knows what … He sat back down at this desk. And he’d never let the young man get away with it. Not like this Captain Reynolds appeared to be doing. If he did manage to wriggle out of this, he’d have to take Miss Kaylee’s erstwhile beau in hand and make him do the right thing. Thinking of which … he leaned forward and flicked a switch on the com. “David?”

“Yes, Judge?”

“Do you know if that chalice has been tested for authenticity?”

“Well, I know the Federal officers have waved the Museum –“

“Get the commander on the vid. I think we need to have a talk.”

to be continued


Sunday, November 26, 2006 1:51 PM


Oh yes, please let them find out that the chalice is as fake as Saffron. And how in the nine hells did she manage to get Mal to partake of another of her dubious scams? She needs to come to a real sticky end, hopefully one that is witnessed by as many people as possible just to add to her shame. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, November 26, 2006 1:59 PM


Ya know...wouldn't be hilarious if it turned out Saffron was Judge Udall's daughter? Kinda makes sense...if ya squint some at the logic;)

And I gotta yout props for Mal's reaction to Inara's subtle explanation of the party's nature and Kaylee's little sob show to Udall to get him to think a bit more out of the box about the whole chalice matter;D


Sunday, November 26, 2006 3:38 PM


I love Kaylee speaking with the Judge and preying on his sensitivities. That was great!

And I too would like to see Saffron meet a very, very nasty end. If BEB's right and Saffron is the judge's daughter, that'll be a hi-larious turn of events.

Monday, November 27, 2006 3:41 AM


Jeez, Mal's certainly found himself in a bit of a situation here hasn't he!

Hah, Saffron made him bleach his hair...poor guy.

Love it that Simon is in on the plan so embarrassingly. I'd feel for the guy, really, if I wasn't laughing at him. And go Kaylee for getting in on the act!


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