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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
Mal's plan is set in motion; Inara begins to regret her involvement.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2405 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
18. We Promise Not to Stop for Beers With the Fellahs
"You’re scratching,” Inara said.
“What? Oh,” Wash hadn’t realized that he’d been scratching his forearm again. “Well, it itches.”
“Scratching won’t make it better,” Inara said. “Not to mention, it’s crude.”
“Sorry,” Wash said, and put both hands on the steering wheel.
They rode on through the streets of the city in their rented convertible, out toward the scrapyard where Wash had originally fallen afoul of the Alliance. At the edge of the city, Wash opened up the little roadster, startling a squeal from Inara and kicking up a cloud of dust.
One hand braced against the dashboard, hair whipping around her face, Inara said loudly “This isn’t the way to avoid contact with law enforcement!”
Wash just grinned at her, and fully unleashed the sporty groundcar.
They raced over the terrain with the wind in their hair, and Inara gave in to the thrill of it and laughed. Wash pulled the roadster into a curve without slowing, both hands tight on the wheel, and Inara gripped the dashboard until her knuckles turned white and she was worried, somewhere in her hindbrain, that Wash was going to get them both killed over a bit of boyish foolishness.
Aboard Polyphemus, one of Coles’s aides located him in the officer’s mess, eating sushi. “Sir. Washburne’s ident chip tripped several DomSec monitors this morning.”
Coles waited for the burn of the wasabi to pass, and wiped his mouth. “Good,” he said. “Let’s go.”
Inara was actually disappointed when they arrived at the gate of the scrapyard – although she had never been there before, she was fairly certain Wash had not arrived by the most direct route.
“I think you’re enjoying this ‘wealthy client’ thing more than most of my actual wealthy clients,” she told him, laughing, as he brought the roadster smoothly to a stop just outside the scrapyard gate.
“Sometimes it seems even more like flying when you can feel the wind in your hair,” he replied. He hadn’t stopped grinning. Especially after the horror of Miranda, and the reavers, and (as they had believed then) burying Wash alongside Book . . . just to see Wash sitting next to her, grinning like a fiend with fire in his eyes was joy to her. She felt briefly guilty that it was her instead of Zoe, sitting here, exulting in Wash’s infectiously happy company.
“Let’s go spend lots of money, shall we?” Wash said. And before Inara could move, he’d grasped the top of the windshield, pulled himself up, thrown both legs over the driver’s door without opening it, and come around to her side to open her door for her. She laughed again; what an odd mix he was, of uncultured boy and old-fashioned gentleman. It was almost irresistibly cute. She recalled him bringing Zoe flowers, at some point, and being unable to imagine Zoe of all people being taken with such silly romanticism, but she thought now that she could begin to understand.
He offered her his arm, and she took it. She had dressed him for his part today, navy blue pants and an embroidered silk jacket such as a gentleman might wear, and he had spoiled the effect by leaving it half unbuttoned, showing the silver tunic he wore underneath. Too, his wild driving had ruined her attempt to cover up the jagged stitches still visible in his scalp by combing his long hair down over them, and there was no disguising the dark purple bruise under his left eye. Inara sighed. What a pair we make, for our visit to the junk yard. Maybe this was a bad idea; it’s not as though we won’t be noticed!
The attendant came out of his shack and stared at them with naked curiosity. “Can I help you?” he asked.
“One of my business associates told me you’ve got a ship on this lot I ought to come take a look at,” Wash said easily. “Firefly class? Thought it might be just right for a little venture of ours.”
“Uh, sure,” the attendant said. “Let me just – I’ll just be a second.” He disappeared into the shack, where he hung a “Will Return” clock from a hook on the window. When he came out, he locked the gate behind them, before leading them back into the scrapyard.
Inara didn’t spend much time in scrapyards, but she knew that Wash did, and she marveled that anyone who spent so much time in a dreary, muddy, junky place like this could be so generally cheerful. They followed the attendant back along a winding gravel path until they saw it – a Firefly, like Serenity, inelegant and worn, but beautiful to those who knew just how to look.
Inara looked up at Wash, who was eyeing the Firefly pensively. “Bad memories?” she asked.
He shook his head. “No memories at all, actually. Weird.”
They stood looking at the Firefly until the attendant said, “Well?”
“Yeah,” Wash said. “Let me just take a closer look.” He disengaged his arm from Inara, and walked around the ship, checking her out from every angle. Inara cringed when he dropped to one knee to look at the underside of the ship’s hull, and again when he absently dusted off his hands on his pants. Of course buying a ship would involve some sort of inspection; she ought to have thought of that.
Wash walked back to her, stripping off the fine jacket, and said, “Will you hold this for me?” Inara took the jacket and stared, appalled, while he swung himself up over the landing gear and scrambled around on top of the ship, checking the hull integrity from above.
“Wow,” said the scrapyard attendant. “He really does know a thing or two about ships, doesn’t he?”
Inara nodded, even as she sighed inwardly over the price of the ruined clothing. There was a long, black grease stain now on the silver shirt, the boots she’d bought him were scuffed, she’d seen him catch the pants on at least one sharp corner and he was dusty from head to toe. No wonder he and Kaylee habitually dressed the way they did. There would really be no point to wearing nice clothing, in their line of work. Although Simon could probably make the same excuse, if he cared to, and he kept himself up. Ah well.
“I’m going inside,” Wash called to her, as he swung down perilously from a stabilizer strut onto the ground. “You want to come?”
She smiled, even though the thought of watching him go through the engine room the way he’d gone over the hull pained her. “I’d love to.” So she joined him as they followed the attendant through the cargo airlock into the ship.
Wash went quickly through the cargo bay, up the steps, and checked out a couple of the crew bunks before continuing to the bridge – “Wanted to make sure they haven’t been stripped,” he explained.
On the bridge, Inara noted that this ship lacked many of Serenity’s updates and modifications, but Wash seemed satisfied with what he found there. “Just needs a few dinos for company,” he commented, grinning, and Inara grinned back and shook her head at him. She shook her head again when she saw that he had snagged the silver shirt on something while he was crawling under the control panels.
They made their way back through the common area, which was devoid of furnishings and looked even less like Serenity than the bridge had. In the engine room, Inara could not even bring herself to watch as Wash gave the engine a thorough going-over. Why is it that I didn’t just buy him an expensive coverall? Is there even such a thing as an expensive coverall? Surely there are wealthy men who like to climb around on ships just for fun . . . what do you suppose they wear?
Much disheveled, Wash rejoined her. He looked at the attendant and said, “She’s perfect. I’ll take her.”
They walked back to the attendant’s shack, where Wash dickered over the price a bit for show, and then peeled off a shocking number of colorful bills – Inara’s money; Inara’s credit, which Inara would now have to somehow extract from the chronically-underfunded Mal – possibly, she reflected, that had not been one of her best decisions ever – and handed them to the astonished attendant, who made them out a bill of sale and transferred the title into one of Mal’s endless aliases.
Wash walked her back out to the roadster, and helped her with their luggage – his own beat-up case, which Inara was now glad she had not bothered to replace, and Inara’s brand-new luggage, containing many items she’d been needing ever since she’d left the training house with Mal in a blazing hurry. Mal was headed for the training house now, of course, and he was supposed to collect her things for her, but who knew if he’d actually get the job done? Or do it properly?
Wash flipped the ‘retrieve’ switch on the roadster, which started itself up and took off for the rental agency at a far more sedate pace than he had used. Then they headed for the ship.
Aboard the newly-purchased Firefly, Wash settled into the pilot’s chair and reached up to flip the three switches that initiated her takeoff sequence. Lights. Camera. Action. He was rewarded by the whine and roar of the thrusters and the main engine springing to life.
It felt good to be back in a pilot’s chair.
He lifted into orbit.
Thursday, March 29, 2007 10:23 PM
Friday, March 30, 2007 9:05 AM
Friday, March 30, 2007 12:44 PM
Saturday, May 21, 2011 5:13 PM
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