Communication - Part XVI
Friday, March 23, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. 2BF. For TamSibling, as ... yes, it's Friday, but it's only short! Mal thinks he knows who's behind all this, and River wakes up. Sometimes there's so much plot I don't know how to put it all into words!


Greenleaf was only an hour out as most of the crew congregated in the galley. Only River and Freya were absent.

“We’ve heard back from Halliday,” Mal said, leaning on the back of his chair.

“And?” Inara asked. “What could he tell you he didn’t tell me?”

“Not much. But enough so I've got a pretty good idea who’s after you.”

Inara sat forward. “Who?”

“The Guild.”

Her jaw dropped. “That’s not possible.”

“Mal, the Guild is respected throughout the galaxy,” Simon said, wiping at his forehead. He was sweating again, nausea eating at his insides.

“Who knows about your demerit, Inara?” Mal asked, looking only at her, aware of the doctor’s discomfort but not acknowledging it.

“My …” She glanced around the table. “You do. And … and the Guild.”

“Nobody else.”

“It’s kept confidential. There’s no need for it to be made … Mal, why?”

“Because whoever gave Halliday that info also told him about a demerit. Specifically no. 9503.”

Inara paled. “That’s ridiculous.”

“We heard him too,” Hank said, pointing to himself and Zoe.

“But why would they … I can’t believe just because I left –“

“Somehow I ain't thinking it’s that at all,” Mal interrupted.

“Wing?” Zoe asked.

Her captain shrugged. “Maybe.” He looked back at the woman at the end of the table. “Did Xavier Wing have anything to do with the Guild?”

“We’re … they’re autonomous. They always have been.” Inara was trying desperately to think.

“Except Wing had information from them, didn’t he?” Simon pointed out.

“’Bout your son,” Kaylee added.

“Guild notepaper, with the red seal … that’s what River saw in Sheydra’s mind,” Inara breathed.

“Did she tell you something?” Mal asked quickly. “Something maybe the Guild don’t want anyone to know?”

She thought back. “She … well, she intimated that certain Companions used their skills to influence clients somewhat. But, Mal, she was just lashing out at me!”

“What if she wasn't?”

Inara stared. “Mal, you can’t be suggesting –“

“Maybe it’s just one or two. Maybe it’s more. But if the Guild were using Companions to change the order of things –“

“No!” Inara shouted above him, then drew herself together, grasping at the remains of her poise. “The Guild has to be non-political. Neutral. At least in that sense. Of course Companions have their own opinions, but they don’t … they can’t …”


“But I’d have heard. I’d know.” Her voice had dropped to almost a whisper.

“Maybe they didn’t trust you,” Hank suggested quietly. “You’d already broken the rules. Maybe they kept it from you on purpose.”

“And my son? Are you saying he has something to do with this?” Inara clasped her hands tightly in her lap.

“Children have been used as bargaining chips in wars before,” Zoe said softly.

“We’re not at war!”

“It’s still valid.” Mal held up his hand to forestall her next outburst. “Point is, someone knew you were speaking to Halliday. Told him to send you to Greenleaf. And that information –“

“Do you think it was a lie?” Inara asked, her face paler than ever.

Mal shrugged. “Maybe. But I don’t see the reason if it was. Those killers were sent to get you, so it wouldn’t have made any point to lie.”

“And he coulda checked,” Kaylee said quickly. “See if the name and place were real.”

“We’re close to finding out.” Mal stood straight. “Be on Greenleaf in less than an hour. And I don’t intend us staying longer’n we need.”

“Mal –“ Inara started.

“They’re still after you. Whoever the diyu they are. We don’t wanna make it too easy for them. Do we?”

Inara took a deep breath and nodded. “No.”

“Shiny.” Mal looked at Simon. “How’s your sister?”

“Awake. That’s about all that’s good.” He sighed. “Freya’s sitting with her, but … it’s going to be bad.”

Mal nodded, sadness touching his eyes. “Know too well how it feels to lose someone, doc. We all do.”

“Can we … can we do anything?” Kaylee asked. “Talk to her? Anything?”

“I don’t know,” Simon admitted. “I'm a doctor, and I still don’t know what to do about this.”

“Honey, it’s because she’s your sister.” Kaylee took his hand, holding it between both of her own.

“It ain’t fair,” Jayne rumbled, the first words he’d said. He scowled around the table. “Ain't fair to put her through that.”

“I agree,” Simon said quietly.

“’N’ when I find the ones who did this, they’re gonna pay.” He stood up abruptly, his chair squealing on the floor, and strode out of the galley towards his bunk.

“It wasn't his fault,” Kaylee said softly.

“I don’t think he’s going to listen right now, sweetheart,” Simon said, shaking his head.


“Hey,” Mal said, standing in the infirmary doorway.

“Hi.” Freya smiled at him.

“Can I come in?”


Mal stepped over the sill and approached the bed. He looked down into a pair of dark eyes, their depths filled with sadness. “Hey there, albatross.”

“Captain.” Barely a sound from her lips, more a breath.

“Ain't gonna ask how you are. I can see it’s bad.”

She nodded, her head still in Freya’s lap. “Hurts,” she whispered.

“I know.” He put his hand on hers, thankful when she didn’t pull it away.

“Where is he?”

Mal didn’t have to ask who. “He’s … we’re looking after him.”

“Can’t see him.” She began to tremble. “Holding tight, so close otherwise I’ll break into a million pieces and no-one can put me together again. Still cracked. Broken.”

Mal looked at Freya. “She’s afraid. If she lets go. What will happen.”

“You mean she hasn’t cried?”


He leaned over so he was looking directly into her face. “What do you think you might do, mei-mei?”

“Hurts.” She blinked hard. “Have to keep in control.” She bit her lip. “Don’t want to hurt you.”

“Are you thinking about what Freya did? From that dark place?” He didn’t have to look at his wife to know she understood.

“Worse. Much worse.”

“River, honey, nothing I can say’s gonna help. I know that. But we’re all here for you.”

She nodded, just a very small movement. “I know.”

“Look, I know this ain’t the best of times to ask – though I doubt there is a good time, but –“

“Prometheus,” she whispered.

Mal glanced at Freya, then back at the girl. “You sure?”

“I don’t want him to be lonely.” She shuddered.

“Okay.” He straightened up and looked at his wife. “Is that okay with you?”

Freya nodded, stroking the girl’s hair but feeling the same sharp tug of pain whenever anyone went near the subject of their daughter. “Of course.”

“River, we’ve just got the other … thing to deal with first, dong mah?” he said softly, his expression gentle.


“That’s it. Then we’ll head for Prom.” He watched as her free hand crept up to her lips, her thumb going between them. It made him hurt even more for her. “Freya’ll stay with you, if you want.”

She didn’t answer, just lay staring into nothing.

to be continued


Friday, March 23, 2007 7:46 AM


Oh gorramit, poor River. So glad she's got Freya and the rest of the crew round her but she has to be alright, she just has to! Like how this is starting to piece together and the possibility that the Guild may not trust Inara was news and turns another spin on the story which is all to the good. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, March 23, 2007 8:34 AM


Ooh, shiny ... government intrigue and secret societies ... love it!

And poor River - I think you're doing a great job of illustrating her grief. The poor girl. How about some nice Simon/Kaylee in the next chapter? I can picture Simon just heaving almost non-stop not only because of the drugs but because he's worried for River. And think what that'll do to Kaylee.

And maybe some Bethany/River interaction - little kids always help!

Friday, March 23, 2007 9:27 AM


I've got my own theory about Inara's son. I'll have to see if I'm right.

Fab writing as always. You have me hooked.

Friday, March 23, 2007 1:40 PM


Oh...definitely am all kinds of impressed with the work you've done here, Jane0904.

What really got me wanting to clap was the debate over the Guild's potential involvement in what happened on board the Marrakesh and Inara's son. Been more than a small amount of debate in the forums about the nature of the Guild (secretly evil or with a self-serving interest vs. benevolent) and Inara's reasons for leaving House Madrassa/Sihnon, and I personally support the view presented here that it could be either the entire group or a small few who are making with the insidious



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