Wish I Was Somebody Else 21/26
Thursday, April 5, 2007

At last, a rendezvous.


21. Get You Close Enough to Ring the Doorbell

They made their rendezvous six hours out from Whitefall, and then had to figure out just how they were going to get everything done in the air. Wash suggested that they put the two ships belly-to-belly, with their cargo airlocks facing each other – a maneuver that made River nervous because of its complexity, and made Mal nervous because of the unpredictability of the ship Wash was flying.

“What if your autopilot fails in that thing and she rams right into us?” Mal asked Wash, over the broadwave connection.

“Well, that’s a good argument for me staying right where I’m at, flying this ship manually until the rest of you are all done,” Wash replied.

“Sounds like it’s also a good argument for River staying put, and ready to get out of the way right quick,” Mal suggested.

“Yeah. That too,” Wash allowed.

So Wash and River flew, while Mal, Zoe, Jayne and Simon moved the bodies from Serenity to the other Firefly, which Inara had dubbed Lemon, over Wash’s protests. “She won’t fly any better just because you insult her,” he’d said.

“All right, what would you call her?” Inara asked.

“This Ship?” Wash suggested, but earned only an exasperated look from Inara.

In the cargo bay, Inara retrieved the space suit Mal had carried over for her.

“How did you and Wash get along?” Zoe asked, as Inara glided past with the suit over her arm and the helmet nestled like an infant into her elbow.

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Inara said over her shoulder, “but you can keep him!”

Mal and Zoe exchanged inquiring looks.

Mal sent Kaylee up to Lemon’s bridge to see if there was any hope of straightening out some of her problems.

“Honestly, I think the soldering on all of the circuit boards is bad,” Wash told her, so she retrieved her soldering iron and set to work, pulling out circuit boards and re-soldering them.

“Just don’t touch the ones I need to steer,” Wash said.

“Which ones are those? Is this one?” Kaylee said, tugging a circuit board free. She laughed when Wash jumped. “It’s just the backup, silly.”

“What’s happening over there?” River demanded.

“Don’t do that !” Wash said to Kaylee. “There’s only about ten yards between these two ships!”

“Right this second, it’s only four point six meters at the nearest point,” River corrected acidly.

Kaylee grinned impishly, and went back to work.

Jayne had the misfortune to be Simon’s first victim on the duplicating table. He frowned uncertainly at the body arranged across from him. They didn’t look much alike; Jayne had had to settle for someone smaller than himself, with a different hairline. “Can you really make him look like me?” he wondered.

Simon glanced at the body. “Well, a large ape certainly would have been easier to match up.” He pressed a sequence of keys on the scanner and positioned it over Jayne’s face.

“Hey!” Jayne said. “There’s no call to be insultin’ people.”

“My sister can kill you with her brain,” Simon reminded him calmly. “And I also have a lovely assortment of edged surgical tools and potentially deadly pharmaceuticals in the med bay. So while there may be no call for insults, there’s really nothing to prevent me indulging in a few now and then.”

“You better just watch it, doc,” Jayne huffed. “I know where you sleep.”

Zoe spelled River at Serenity’s helm while River took her turn on the scanning table.

“Do you want to be sedated?” Simon asked gently, as River seated herself nervously on the operating table.

“If I’m sedated, how will I fly?” River asked, and lay down. She squinched her eyes closed. “Tell me when it’s over.”

“Okay, mei-mei. It only takes a few minutes.” Simon pulled the scanner over River’s face, and punched the buttons that linked what the scanner was reading to what the microsurg array would do. He positioned the microsurg array over the body on the other table; a young woman with pale skin, long brown hair, and a slender athlete’s build whom Simon might have taken for his sister from a distance, at a glance. The resemblance was strong enough that Simon had to force back a lump that formed in his throat.

“Simon? It stinks in here.”

He turned back to River – alive, warm, breathing. Complaining. “I know, mei-mei. It’s the bodies.”

“I’m not stupid,” River said irritably. “Isn’t there something you can do?”

Simon suppressed a smile. For the moment, his bratty little sister was still among the living, and the best work he could do here might help to keep it that way. “Believe me, I’ve already got the vents blowing as much fresh air in here as they’ll carry. Sorry. Lie still.”

River returned to Serenity, and Zoe returned to Lemon bearing food for Wash.

“Captain says whatever’s done will have to do,” she said to Kaylee. “Get down to the med bay so Simon can copy you, and then head back to Serenity.”

Kaylee put the boards back in place, and gathered her tools. “Well, that should take care of some of it, anyway,” she said to Wash. “But you’ll still have to look sharp – those aren’t the only potentially bad connections.”

Wash nodded as he turned the helm over to Zoe. He took the covered plate she’d brought, as well as the space suit she had slung over her arm – “So you’ll be ready to cross back to Serenity once we put this ship in place,” she said, “You never know when we might need to leave in a hurry.”

“Actually, I think that’s pretty much a given with us – the whole ‘leaving in a hurry’ thing,” Wash said, settling into the copilot’s chair. He uncovered the tray of food. The cover had kept the food on the plate, but the trip through zero-G had jumbled it all up together, so that the sauce had coated the inside of the lid, and Wash’s fork as well. He picked it up gingerly in two fingers, and, discovering that he lacked a napkin, shrugged and licked the handle clean. The food was also pretty nearly cold, thanks to its trip through space, but that wasn’t Zoe’s fault. Oh well. Wash cut a slice with the edge of his fork.

“What did you do to Inara?” Zoe asked.

“Inara? Huh? I dunno, what did I do to Inara? She say something?”

“She said I could keep you. She seemed a little annoyed,” Zoe said.

“Maybe she’s still sore over the fancy clothes I ruined. Or the mattresses. She was pretty upset that I didn’t pay closer attention to those when I checked out the ship,” Wash speculated. “Or, no, I bet it’s the gravity thing.”

“‘The gravity thing’?”

“The gravity on this ship comes and goes without warning.” He sopped up the last of the sauce with the end of the protein, and reassembled the plate and its lid with the fork inside.

Zoe frowned, trying to hold Lemon in place while Mal and Jayne crossed back over from Serenity, and wondered if the gravity thing ought to be worrying her, too.

Wash pulled on the space suit. He looked down unhappily once he had it on. “I’m swimming in this,” he said irritably, noting how the suit gapped pretty much everywhere.

Zoe looked him up and down. “You’ve lost weight.”

“Prison food,” Wash said disgustedly.

“No more of that for you.”

“Somehow prison protein managed to be even drier, blander, and more nauseating than what we usually eat,” Wash said.

“See if I bring you dinner again anytime soon.”

“It was delicious,” he lied, kissing her cheek. “You are so sweet to think of me! And please tell Inara that the gravity thing was not my fault! And I’m sorry if I found it amusing and she didn’t.”

Mal poked his head through the doorway. “Wash, how much fuel you figure you got?”

“She was full up when I bought her, but fuel efficiency isn’t exactly her strong suit. Got maybe sixty percent left,” Wash replied.

“How much you figure you need to make the drop point?” Mal came on in, laying a large envelope on the copilot’s console next to Wash’s plate.

Wash did some quick mental figuring. “Forty percent ought to get me there, with a margin. What’s the envelope?”

“Then I’m taking the other twenty for Serenity,” Mal said. “The envelope is for Coles; just leave it there when you abandon the ship. We’re about ready. Simon and Jayne are dismantling the equipment in the med bay now.”

“Sir, I know it probably has a great deal of market value, but where exactly are we going to put it?” Zoe asked.

“Jayne says he can chain it up next to the mule,” Mal replied. “Could use your help getting it across – we need to get moving. Coles will undoubtedly be early, so I meant to be earlier yet, and we are already way behind schedule with a slow boat.” As Zoe stood, preparing to turn the steering back over to Wash, he added “Wash, I meant to ask -- what did you do to Inara?”

“I didn’t do anything to Inara!” Wash insisted.

Zoe stood and slipped her arms around his waist. “Inara seems to think he lacks gravitas,” she said.

“Is that something I might need later?” Wash wondered.

Zoe’s reply was to kiss him -- a lingering kiss, for which Mal tried and failed to be patient. “Zoe . . .” he said, and the two of them finally came up for air.

Zoe pressed a hand to Wash’s face. “Be safe,” she said.

He nodded, and took over the pilot’s seat from her.

Mal and Zoe went to retrieve the fuel cells and finish loading the med bay equipment onto Serenity. Over the comm, Mal told Wash “We’re going on ahead. I want to make sure the coast is clear. Make the best speed you can.”

“Will do,” Wash replied. "See you at the rendezvous."

"Make sure you do, this time," Mal said.


Thursday, April 5, 2007 6:45 AM


All manner of tense expectations, hoping our Big Damn Heroes get away with this and that Coles takes the gorram bribe. Loving this, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, April 5, 2007 9:14 AM


There's so much suspense! I can't take it!!

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Inara said over her shoulder, “but you can keep him!”
Love that line forever and for always.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 6:56 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER comment got ate:(

Still...brilliant bit of work here, nauticalgal! Especially loved Inara's little remark to Zoe about her husband's predilection of going balls out with the humour when immersed in a stressful situation;)


Thursday, April 12, 2007 5:19 AM


Thanks, BEB :-) I hate when writers act as though if you put any two random people together alone, they're going to end up in bed. Personally, I look at other women's husbands and think "I'm glad it's them not me!" most of the time, and I thought it would be funny if Inara ended up feeling that way about her extended time with Wash. Plus, you know, Inara joneses for Mal so badly, and Mal and Wash are so different . . . just struck me that he would get on her nerves after a while. I'm glad it seems to have worked for folks.


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The Four Winds, Epilogue
The end...or maybe just another beginning.

The Four Winds, Chapter 25
The rest of the crew return home.

The Four Winds, Chapter 24
Me and Elwood, we're puttin' the band back together.

The Four Winds, Chapter 23
Inara investigates matters; Mal discovers that the impossible has been done in his absence.

The Four Winds, Chapter 22
River needs Mal to solve her problem; Mal is forced to provide information to the Alliance.

The Four Winds, Chapter 21
When Mal tries to recover the cargo, will he lose more than he stands to gain?

The Four Winds, Chapter 20
Mal makes changes to his plan; River puts her plan into action; Inara decides on a plan of her own; Wash finds something he'd lost.

The Four Winds, Chapter 19
Simon gets an alias; Mal gets a look at his client; Wash gets a shock.

The Four Winds, Chapter 18
Our Heroes - and Our Villains - try to figure a way out of the mess they're in.

The Four Winds, Chapter 17
River finds out what's really going on; Simon and Zoe fall into the wrong hands.