Communication - Part VII
Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Inara's looking for her son, and River's looking after Inara ... More plot. Is this working? Can I get from where I am to where I want to be? Let me know ...


Inara lifted the long dresses out of the case and sighed. Not so many as there once was, and unlikely to be replaced any time soon. This trip was costing a fair amount, and it was only due to the good graces of Captain Branscombe that she wasn’t using all her money on the suite. But he was an old friend, and an ex-client, and he was letting her travel for the cheapest possible fare. She smiled. Maybe being a Companion hadn’t been so bad.

Laying them on the bed Inara went to look out of the window. The stars looked the same as they had from Serenity, but there was a great deal of difference, not least of which was the lack of sound. There had always been a hum of life on board the Firefly, coming from the turning of the engine, even when they’d been sitting idly waiting for the next job, and somehow it felt wrong that there was nothing at all. Just silence.

She sighed again. No point in getting upset, not now. She’d made up her mind and taken the only path open to her. Still …


Mal opened the door to the shuttle and stepped inside. Jethro was right – the place looked bare. Or more bare than before. Inara had never replaced the odd hanging that had been damaged on Corvus, nor the cushions, but it had never looked … unlived in before.

Shen sheng de gao wan,” he said, feeling annoyance building as he stared around.

“Mal,” Hank said, nodding towards the vidscreen. The light was flashing, indicating a message.

“Play it.”

The screen flared into life and Inara’s face appeared. “Mal, I’m assuming it is you who are listening to this message. Particularly since you’ve never shown any regard for coming into my shuttle unasked.” She smiled a little. “I’ve come to a decision, and this is the only way I can do this without you trying to talk me out of it.” She took a deep breath. “Ever since Sheydra told me my son was alive, I’ve been thinking about him. And I’ve decided I have to find him. No matter what it takes. In fact I have been employing an investigator who … well, I think I know where he is.”

Her head lifted a little in defiance. “So I’m going to see. If he lied to me, then I’ll carry on. Try other avenues. Only I can’t ask you to be a part of it. Your family need you, you have to find work, and you‘re seeing that doctor … and I don’t know how long I’ll be gone. It’s better this way. I’ve left one month’s rent in the bronze vase by the door in lieu of notice. The rest of my possessions, anything valuable, I’ve sold to finance my search.” She shook her head. “Not that you need to – Mal, I have to find him. He’s my son. Please understand. Surely you can, with Ethan …”

She took a half step back from the screen. “Captain, I hereby cancel my contract with you, and return your shuttle. If there’s anything left behind of any use to you, please take it, otherwise …” She reached forward to turn off the recording but paused. “Tell the crew I love them.” Then the screen went black.

Mal stood for a moment, staring at nothing, while Zoe gave the shuttle a quick search. “She’s right, sir. Everything she could reasonably sell’s gone.”

“Why’d she do that?” Hank asked, shaking his head. “She knows we’d help.”

Mal roused himself. “Sometimes that woman makes me so mad ...”

“Only her?” Freya said from the doorway.

He gave her a stony look. “Rather than standing there making personal comments, do you have any idea where she might have gone?”

“I can’t pick up on her, if that’s what you mean.”

“And River?”

Freya shrugged. “She’s hiding from me. But that does tend to suggest she’s gone with Inara. Otherwise why would she?”

“The women on this boat are gonna make me go grey,” Mal said, striding out of the shuttle towards the bridge.


Inara stepped onto the liner’s promenade and looked around. Large windows looked out into space, and comfortable chairs were in groups along the wall. She wasn’t going to be on board that long, but there was no way she could stay in her room, no matter how luxurious it was.

“Would you care for a drink?” asked a servant, appearing at her elbow.

“No, thank you.”

He vanished again without a sound.

Inara smiled. Some things never changed.

“I’m thirsty,” said another voice, this one much more familiar.

Inara turned, and her jaw dropped. “River?”

The young psychic smiled. “I’d like a lemonade.”



“What are you doing here?” Inara tried to pull herself together.

“You need me.”

“How …”

“Easy-peasy.” She grinned.

“Miss?” The servant was back, a glass on a silver tray. He held it out.

“Thank you,” River said, taking the lemonade and sipping it through the straw.

“You are welcome.” He slipped away.

“You stowed away?”

“Of course.” She looked into the glass. “This is nice. It tastes like I remember.”

“You stowed away?”

River walked to the window and looked out. “Not as nice as Serenity’s view.”

“It’s the same one.” Inara shook her head. “This … you shouldn’t be here.”

“And you shouldn’t be on your own.”

“You do know I’m going to have to … oh, River.”

“Don’t you want me to be here?”

“What I want isn’t the point.” She leaned closer. “Does Simon know?” When the girl shook her head Inara sighed. “Of course he doesn’t.” She looked up and down the promenade. “We have to tell them … they must be worried sick.”

“They’ve guessed.”

Inara stared at her. “River, this is ...”

“They know we’re together.”

“But you’re …” Inara saw Captain Branscombe enter the promenade at the other end. “Oh, gos se.” She turned back to River. “You’re my sister.”

River looked at her with her big dark eyes, still sipping the lemonade. “That will be nice.”


Hank looked up from the bridge Cortex screen. “I can’t tell, Mal. She checked up on a lot of travel plans, but I can’t figure out one specifically.”

“Anyone she spoke to more’n once?”

“Several.” His pilot sounded regretful. “But I can’t –”

Shen jing bing,” Mal muttered.

“Her or me?”

“Her.” Mal leaned on the back of the chair. “Anything that rings out of true?”

“Well, there is this.” Hank brought up a screen of text.

“Where’d you get this?”

Hank had the good graces to look slightly ashamed. “I’ve been … keeping track of … um …”

“Good work,” Mal said encouragingly, patting him on the shoulder. “Can you backtrack it? Find out where it came from?”

“I can try.”

“Get onto it.”


“Captain, I have a confession to make,” Inara said.

Captain Branscombe smiled benevolently at her. “I find that hard to believe.”

“I … have to report a stowaway.”

He raised his eyebrows in surprise. “A stowaway?”

Inara turned to the girl at her side. “This is my sister. River. She … she came on board to say goodbye to me, but –”

“I got lost,” the young woman said, looking down into her glass. “There’s so many corridors …” She looked up and smiled softly. “Then I felt the ship take off, and I … I got scared.” Her voice shook a little. “I’ve heard what happens to stowaways on some ships.” She stepped closer to Inara.

“I see.” Captain Branscombe looked at her, so vulnerable, so waif-like. He felt his heart melt. “Sisters, eh?” He smiled at Inara. “And does she follow in your footsteps?”

“As a Companion?” Inara laughed. “No. She’s training to be a doctor.”

“A doctor. That’s good. We can always use more of them.” He thought for a moment then signalled to one of the servants. “Ask Mr Kuo to join me a moment, please.”

The servant bowed and vanished through a doorway.

“I’m so sorry about this,” Inara said, putting her hand on his arm. “I had no idea she was still on board until she found me. I can, of course, pay her passage, at least until the first planetfall.”

“It does happen,” the Captain agreed, trying to maintain his dignity. “Of course, it shouldn’t be able to, with all the sensors at the port, but …”

The Purser hurried out from the door. “Sir?”

“Add Miss Serra’s sister to the list of passengers.”

“Yes sir.” If he was at all surprised he didn’t show it. “And the cost of passage?”

Captain Branscombe gazed at Inara, as if he was reading the thoughts off the back of her head. “I think we can waive that. Such a little thing isn’t going to each much, and she’ll be staying with Inara in the Presidential Suite.”

Inara smiled at him, all of her considerable skills warming him through. “Thank you,” she said sincerely.

“Just allow me the pleasure of a dance this evening,” he said, lifting her hand and bowing low over it.

to be continued


Wednesday, March 14, 2007 4:35 AM


I am glad that River is with Inara, she will be able to warn her if there is trouble ahead and somehow I think there will be. Had to smile at Mal's comment that the women on his boat would turn him grey. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 7:31 AM


I think you can get there from here - although I'm not precisely sure where "there" is ... But I like how this is building. My only fear is that Mal is going to avoid therapy for the rest of the week in order to find Inara which is going to put a HUGE strain on his marriage to Freya. They both need to get counseling, A LOT of it.

I, too am glad River is with Inara and I thought her whole introduction was adorable. I like Captain Branscombe - please don't make him a bad guy. And I also loved Mal's comment about going gray - so very true ... although I think Zoe should have shot back with something like ... "I already have to dye my hair because of you." or something to that effect. Still really good stuff, I hope the muse (and you) are feeling better!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 8:32 AM


I hope Inara can get River safely back to Serenity. This was the kind of situation she tried to avoid - her friends getting into danger because of her. Still it makes good plot ;)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007 1:18 PM


Oh...this was fabulous, Jane0904! I definitely think that exploring Inara's storyline for the moment is a good way to go to help balance out the other crises of the Maya counselling sessions and the Silee angst over Simon's decision to take the dangerous medication whose name I have forgotten;)



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