Wedding Blues - Part One
Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Mal and Inara are having a blissful reunion but Serenity needs to stay in the air and that takes platinum. Then River starts having nightmares again. Is it a portent of doom? 6th fanfic featuring the usual post BDM characters and a few of my own creation. Constructive criticism and feedback is always welcome. Part 1 of 3.


Sheydra hugged her friend in farewell. She could see Inara was ecstatically happy, the fact that she had left her to Jayne Cobb’s attentions was testament to that. Jayne had been a nice diversion and she was grateful for the rescue, but she would never let herself attached to spacers again. Space was too unpredictable – her father had been right about that at least. Still she had enjoyed being in their company and she had said goodbye to Jayne warmly and without condescension. “You keep sending me waves – I don’t know how long it will be before I get back to Sihnon,” Sheydra said. She shifted uncomfortably in the transport, her leg was very painful and she still had to be carried everywhere. At least her parents could arrange for her to get the best medical attention, but she would never tell Inara that, as she spoke very highly of Serenity’s doc’s abilities. “I will, Shey,” said Inara indulgently, they had shared a lot together in the last couple of weeks. “And you take care of yourself.” “How’s your dangerous, unpredictable and downright insane life now, Inara?” teased Sheydra, echoing one of her friend’s earlier statements. “He’s still in bed,” laughed Inara. “And stop teasing.” Zoe came up to them. “We’re ready to depart now, Inara.” Inara hugged her friend again and then watched as the transport drove away, Zoe waiting with her until it was out of sight, before she then turned to return to the ship. “Zoe,” Inara called and she turned around again. Inara walked up to her. “I’m not staying on Serenity.” Zoe, always impassive, nodded briefly and asked. “Does he know that?” “He does,” replied Inara. Zoe walked onto the ramp, she knew it was Mal’s business if he wanted to do this, but he was going to be awfully ornery for a while. Inara was a little put out by Zoe’s unconcern, but she did not want to let it dampen how she was feeling. Zoe pressed the big red button to close the ramp. Inara knew that Zoe did not view her as a threat, but with all they had been through in the past, she also knew that Zoe had Mal’s interests at heart. So did she. She returned to her quarters and slid the door quietly back and forth. Mal was still asleep lying on his belly, the sheet barely covering his blushes. Inara perched on the edge of the bed and ran her hand over his back. Mal stirred and came awake. He turned over onto his side and opened his eyes and smiled. “Mornin’,” he reached up and pushed a wavy bit of hair behind her ear. “Afternoon,” Inara leaned down and kissed him. Mal pulled her on top of him as they felt the ship take off. They both knew that a week could pass very quickly. ~ * ~ “You reckon Mal’s gonna come up for air in the near future?” muttered Jayne. Bane was spotting him on the weights. “He seems very happy. Reckon he’s got a right to enjoy it.” “Well, I seen those two together afore – and happy ain’t the way it usually ends.” “How did things go with Sheydra?” asked Bane curiously. Since she had left the ship Jayne had been the gym for several hours. He got up and changed the weights so that Bane could take a turn. She wiped the bench down with one of the towels before lying down. Christmas was over and it was likely that Mal would soon have the jobs lined up – if he ever emerged from Inara’s room. She needed to work off some of the good eating they had done. “She’s gone back to her own world now,” Jayne said in a neutral voice and Bane looked up at him. “Are you alright, Jayne?” Jayne looked at her and then leaned on the weights resting on the stand. “I liked her, but it was like she had a plan and diversion for every move I made. I guess it’s part of what she is and that ain’t gonna change.” Bane did not know what to say. “She seemed to like you, but I don’t think she was anything like us.” Jayne muttered an ambiguous sound and looked down at his hands. Bane was lying down and waiting patiently to lift the weights. Jayne then looked straight at her. “Why does there have to be all this pretence an’ design in order for people to get together?” “There doesn’t need to be,” she disagreed. “No? Could have fooled me. The women in this ‘verse seem to have it all worked out.” Bane decided to sit up and drank some water before responding. “Come on, Jayne, you’ve done your own pretending in order to get laid.” “Thought I did – till I got an eyeful of you in that bar a couple of months ago. Seems I’m always the one being played.” He changed tack, the frustration and anger from the last couple of weeks surfacing. “How can you bring yourself to do that kinda thing?” Jayne’s voice was full of reproach and it stung Bane. “I was on the job, Jayne, not picking up men.” “So if you actually wanted a man, you’d go about it a different way?” he shot back. Bane was getting confused as to where the conversation was going, seconds ago it had been about him and Sheydra. “I don’t know how I’d go about it. It’s not something I’d plan anyway. I thought you were upset about Sheydra leaving.” Jayne ignored her and was still looking at her like she had committed murder or something. “So how long’s it been since you bedded someone?” Bane opened her mouth in shock, still not sure why Jayne had turned his anger on her. “I’m not answering that question,” she stood up. “Guess I’ll come back when you’re in a better gorram mood.” She was at the doorway, not angry, but steaming at being unjustly accused. Although she was not sure what she was exactly being accused of. She spoke again, “If you think that all the women you’ve had played it that way – what about my cousin, Corren? Reckon her momma taught her how to nail a man when she was swinging her rattle in the cot?” Jayne walked closer, appearing slightly menacing to the average person, but Bane was not phased. “Two years? Maybe three? Must be easy to play a man when you can’t remember what it’s like to be on the receiving end.” Bane was already headed upstairs to her quarters, but she still heard all of Jayne’s words. Karl came out of his hatch as she was going down hers. “Hey, Bane. Fancy a game of cards?” he said aimiably. “I’ll give it a miss, thanks,” Bane disappeared. “Ni mei shi ba?” he called out. “Ask Jayne,” he heard her say before the hatch closed. In her room she paced up and down angrily. What right did that bun tien-shung de ee-duai-ro have to judge her like that? She sat down at the desk and picked up Monty’s gun and then slammed it down again. She had finished Monty’s order a couple of days ago and she had enough materials to make about another crate of grenades before she needed to go shopping again. She reckoned Monty probably would not be averse to taking another crate. But no matter how much she tried to think about other things it kept coming back to Jayne’s words. How did he know but, more importantly, why the rutting hell was he so interested? ~ * ~ River screamed sending Bane leaping off the bed and on the floor crouching, ready for action. She switched on the table lamp and saw River writhing in the armchair. She touched her tentatively. “River! Wake up, you’re having a nightmare,” Bane said. She shook her and it was enough for River to open her eyes again. But they were open too wild and wide. “Two by two, hands of blue,” she whispered harshly over and over. “River. Please,” Bane wrapped her arms around her. River woke up trying to sense where she was. This was not her bunk. Why was she in Bane’s quarters? Then memory returned. Mal and Inara were in the quarters opposite hers. They were quiet, but their minds were very noisy. She took some quiet breaths and Bane spoke to her again. “What was it? Can you tell me?” She felt River shake her head. “Come on, you take the bed – I’ll have the chair.” River liked Bane, she had always treated her as an adult, not an unpredictable and damaged teenager. She moved over to the bed and snuggled in, as it was still warm and cosy, and she fell asleep almost immediately. Bane could not go back to sleep, so she tinkered again with the shotgun Monty had given her. River’s scream had gone right through her body like an earth tremor. She wondered if she should tell Simon, but reckoned River would tell him herself if something was bothering her. Everyone had nightmares once in a while, after all. She did. She was thankful that all the quarters in this part of the ship were soundproof, otherwise she would have a bunk full of people right about now and that was probably the last thing River wanted. She could tell River was special – the genius reader thing gave it away. And that, like her, the avoidance of Alliance attention was preferred. She knew little more than that about the Tams history though, and judging by Jayne’s comments to her the day before, maybe she should leave River to deal with her own problems. * * * * * * * * * There was one more night to go until they were due to dock on Sihnon. It was Kaylee’s idea to hold a farewell dinner and she roped in Karl and Jayne to help her. It was actually Karl’s turn to cook, which is why he was taking part in the first place, he would never volunteer otherwise. She got quite a thrill out of ordering the two large men about the kitchen. They both took it in good grace, even if she could not stop them from throwing bits of food at each other like children. “I did ask Bane to help, but she said she was finishin’ Monty’s order,” said Kaylee, her voice muffled due to the fact that her head was in a cupboard. Karl glanced up and saw Jayne getting an eyeful of Kaylee’s butt. “I thought she’d finished that order,” he said. “Maybe I got it wrong. As a matter of fact I ain’t seen her much lately ‘cept at meals.” He then remembered what Bane had said a couple of days ago and he looked at Jayne, vegetable chopping forgotten. “Come to think of it, a few days ago she seemed in a bad mood and when I asked her if she was okay, she said ‘ask Jayne.’” Kaylee brought herself upright and she and Karl both looked expectantly at Jayne. Kaylee’s imagination ran wild and it spilled over. “Did you come on to her? Ooh, tell me, Jayne. This is so exciting.” Kaylee could never stop wanting to see other people happy. Jayne’s face turned to horror. “No I ruttin’ dint. No, I warned her off using any of her whoring tricks against the crew.” “What!” exclaimed Kaylee, equally horrified. “Why in the ‘verse would you do something like that?” Jayne was beginning to wish he had kept quiet, or at least made something up. But with Kaylee looking at him like he had killed her pet kitten, he could not lie. He glanced at Karl and then at the knife he held. “Seen her gettin’ a mite friendly with Karl over Christmas. Dint want him getting’ tricked like I seen her doin’ on Beaumonde,” his voice petered out as he saw Karl’s expression, a dangerous one he had never seen before. “So, let me get this straight,” started Karl. “You call Bane a whore an’ told her to keep her distance from me?” Karl’s jaw clenched. “What are you, my mother?” “Well, I dint say your name, jus’ warned her off trying anything like that with the crew, is all.” Kaylee was positively hopping, and it was using all her willpower not to say anything. She could not believe what Jayne was saying, but wanted to see how it played out – there was useful information being divulged. Karl and Jayne had completely forgotten her presence. “I saw what she did when the doc was patching up Inara,” Jayne recalled another piece of evidence from his memory and pounced on it. “And in the hot pool on St Albans.” “She was teaching me to swim!” retorted Karl angrily. Jayne got angry too, as he thought he had been doing the right thing and looking out for his friend. “Well I don’t remember being taught to swim like that. Hell, it was like watching a gorram peepshow.” “Only in your warped mind, you ho-tze de pigu. She taught Kaylee and River as well – you were there!” retorted Karl, waving the knife around in his anger. “What happened when the doc was patching up Inara?” put in Kaylee. She knew they would not kill each other, but this was too juicy and she had to know. She had been at the pool too, on some occasions, and had not seen anything untoward happen. Jayne was not as insightful as Kaylee and answered her question without thinking. “She was sexin’ it up against your leg like some gou tsao de.” Karl’s mouth had opened in shock. He was used to vulgar talk – it was part of the spacer way – but found ‘dog humping’ in reference to Bane extremely offensive. Karl barely remembered the incident, except that there had been nowhere else for her to sit other than the floor. It was Kaylee who came to Bane’s defence. “She was not! She’d just been helpin’ to save Inara and Sheydra’s life, Jayne. Karl was just givin’ her some comfort. Weren’t you Karl?” Jayne was under attack from two areas now and not liking it one bit. “I was?” Karl answered, completely mystified. Kaylee rolled her eyes – men could have the memory span of a goldfish sometimes. “You don’t remember? You had your hand on her shoulder,” she explained. Jayne felt justified again. “See! You don’t even know you was bein’ tricked.” Before Karl could answer either of them Mal interrupted, coming in from the cockpit. “Everythin’ alright, people?” He was greeted by a telling silence. He did not really want to get in the middle of an argument right now so he came to the point. “Anyone seen Bane? She’s got a wave from her brother.” He saw Karl and Jayne give each other a nasty look and then carry on their cooking tasks. Mal had not been brought down in the last rain storm not to realise that the conversation had been about Bane. “I’ll get her, Cap’n, think she’s in the workshop,” Kaylee said cheerfully. After they had both departed Karl turned to Jayne with a serious expression. “Jayne. You’re my friend. In a tight spot you’ve got my back and I’ve got yours. But if you ever try an’ interfere with my life like that again, I’ll take Vera and shove her right up your pi gu.” Karl was not the type of person Jayne could hold a grudge against, but he took the threat seriously – almost. “So you do fancy her then?” he grinned. Karl frowned and wiggled his moustache back and forth in annoyance. “I don’t ruttin’ know. But I’d like the chance to find out for myself without you tellin’ her she’s a no good deceivin’ whore.” Jayne looked like he was considering Karl’s request, but really he was just glad to have things back the way they were. “Deal,” and Jayne held out his hand for Karl to shake, which he did. Before Karl let go he wanted to say something else. “Think you should apologise to Bane.” “Why the hell should I do that?” Jayne flashed angrily. “Because she’s got your back too.” ~ * ~ Bane went up the stairs by the Med Bay two at a time. She had not heard from Tony since before Christmas and he was the perfect remedy to get her out of her blue mood. The Captain was the only one who could get a wave in his quarters and Bane accepted River’s presence in the cockpit without a thought while she received hers. “Good to see you, Tony,” she said. “You look well. Had a good Christmas then?” He had on the usual immaculately clean shirt and his bare feet with missing toes, were propped up on his desk. “Not looking too bad yourself, xiao mei mei.” She could see that Tony was sending the wave from his quarters and not the cockpit. It was Captain’s privilege on the Rosalyn as well. They talked about family goings on, and the shares each other had in the various businesses – profits and losses. Bane could see that Tony kept looking at something in his quarters, off screen. “You gotta be somewhere else, Tony?” she asked, finally getting a little annoyed after about ten minutes, he did call her after all. Tony looked sheepish, the way he always looked when he was going to tell her something to make her mad. “Don’t quite know how to tell you this, Bane...” Yep, she thought, sounds familiar. River knew, but said nothing, she could not help smiling though. “What is it? You’ve just told me we’re in profit. What’s wrong?” Tony pursed his lips tightly, his sister was always so impatient. “Nothing’s wrong. It’s good news. I’m getting married.” “Ba –“ was all the words Bane could get to come out of her mouth. She had only been serving on Serenity since last August and Tony had not even been dating anyone then. She ran her mind through all the possibilities she could think of. There was only one, her cousin Corren. “Shu ma nyaow, Tony, not Corren! She’s far too young and wu de tyen ah you can’t be serious.” Tony, whose expression had changed at the mention of Corren’s name interrupted her. River stifled a giggle which Bane did not even notice. “It’s not Corren, Bane. It’s Anna.” Bane’s relief was quickly followed by more questions. “Anna Shoo Pye? But you’ve only had her since September.” Tony flushed at Bane’s choice of words and decided it was time he acted like the big brother he was. “We’ve known each other for years. So have you,” she watched him hold out his hand, and realised with horror that she had been in his room the whole time. Anna’s familiar face appeared on the screen and Bane smiled back. She could not deny that her brother had taste, but it was just the speed. Looking at them both she could see the love between them. She swallowed whatever else she might have said in disagreement. “Hey Anna. Good to see you again.” “Bane, you are looking so well. Nice tats – Tony said you’d got some impressive ones. Makes my little butterfly seem lonely.” Bane grinned. In truth, if Tony had told her he was marrying anyone else, they would not have been as good for him as Anna was. “Ma said you visited a while back,” Anna leaned forward, although it was more conspiratorial, rather than trying not to let her fiancé hear. “She said that you were shipped on board with a boat load of eligible men. When we told her our news – and after she got up off the floor – she clapped her hands and said there could be two weddings this year.” Bane’s cheeks flamed red, Anna’s mother could never stop matchmaking with her. She changed the subject slightly. “Have you set a date? I really want to be there, if I can.” Anna gave Tony a loving look before replying. “Twentieth of February, on Persephone,” she answered. “If we didn’t have it there, Ma would hunt me down.” “No, she would hunt me down,” put in Tony. Bane was genuinely happy for them, but could not prevent other strong emotions from invading too. “There’s something else, mei mei,” said Anna, trying out the new relationship terminology. She gave a quick look at Tony who did that lover’s nod thing and Bane kind of guessed what was coming. “I’m pregnant.” She saw that Anna had tears of happiness in her eyes, but it was her brother’s look of complete love and contentment that brought the tears to her own. It was a look she had not seen for a very long time. A new Pye generation was on the way. She gave them her congratulations and wiped her own tears away roughly with her hand. There was not much to say after that and she gave them her warmest regards and promised to try and get leave to attend the wedding. It was Tony who said that all of Serenity was welcome to attend as well. River, still eavesdropping, was very pleased as she would get to see Stan again. Maybe Kaylee could help her decide what to wear. Bane’s thoughts were not exactly on the same train. She was about to retreat to her quarters when Karl poked his head in the cockpit. She did not want him to see her crying, so she rushed past him and down the stairs, back to the workshop. “What’s wrong?” Karl asked River. “Bad news?” River remained looking out of the front of the cockpit. “Brother’s getting married, bun in the oven, she’s upset,” she replied, hoping she had phrased it right - enough for Karl to go after her anyways. “Do you think she wants to be alone?” asked Karl, concerned. River hid her smile by biting her lips together. “Think she wants to talk to someone. She trusts you.” Karl’s eyebrows raised, he was not good with crying women, but then he had never seen Bane cry so it must be serious. He groaned inwardly and went down the stairs after her. He found her, predictably, in the workshop. He had to crawl in the entrance and as he did, he heard her curses and sniffing. Karl wondered again if he was the right person for the job and almost reversed out to go get Kaylee. But then he changed his mind. When he had gone through enough to stand up he discovered there was very little room for two people and several crates of whatever she had been creating. Bane’s face had come up in red blotches, despite the fact she was trying to hide it. “River said your brother’s gettin’ hitched cuz he got someone pregnant. Not the first time that kinda thing happens – my own folks did it on account of me comin’ along,” he looked closer at her. “But I’m guessing that’s not what’s both’rin you.” Bane explained the fuller version of the wave. “So what is it?” he asked again. “Apart from the fact that they are first cousins?” she said, attempting to make herself feel better. “No, that doesn’t bother me. Us Pyes have been teased about that for generations. Long as there ain’t too much of it, there’s nothin’ stoppin’ them.” “Then what’s the matter?” asked Karl, kindly but firmly. Bane could not look at him, she wanted to be alone to think. What with Jayne having a go at her for doing her job, and now Karl did not look like he was going to leave until she explained. She guessed that the honeymoon period of being aboard Serenity was over. She took a deep breath and spoke. “Do you know how long it was since I last cried?” He shook his head. “I was fifteen and just been dumped by a boy,” she sniffed in disgust at her former self. “All that time; during the war, watching my mother shot in front of me, being sold as a whore, Niska carving me up with his knives, being rescued by my brother. All that time I didn’t cry once - too busy survivin’ I guess. Since coming into contact with Serenity, this is the third time I’ve cried.” “Nothin’ wrong with cryin’,” said Karl, trying to take in all the revelations about Bane’s past he had just been given in a few seconds. When he had quizzed Jayne after she had first arrived on board, he had only made vague references to her being someone’s whore during the war – the man was useless for gossip. “Are you mad at your brother? Is she a real tchen wah?” “No!” said Bane, horrified. Karl was now getting impatient, but short of shaking her by the shoulders, there was nothing he could do to make her talk. “Wu de tyen ah, Bane, what is it?” Bane gave a shaky sigh and sniffed away the last of the emotion. “Tony’s news is the best thing that’s happened to our family in a long time. I think we’d both given up on tryin’ to capture the life we were born to before the war. The great Pye fleet tradition reduced to a single ship. Generations of knowledge and heritage killed in a matter of a few years.” She looked up at Karl’s face. He was trying his best not to look confused and it made her feel a little better. “It means that it was not all in vain. I always cursed the fact that none of us would ever have a normal life again after the war. But after today, I realise that if we had not gone through it ... If I’d not had the skills to make weapons, I would not be on Serenity now an’ Tony would never have taken on Anna as crew.” She blew her nose on an oily rag. “That’s the simple version, anyway. Feels a mite silly an’ unimportant sayin’ it out loud to you, but thanks anyway.” Karl shrugged. “Let’s just say after the swimming lessons we’re even.” Without there being much room in the workshop, he had been leaning on the crates. He now looked around the small space. “So if you’ve finished the order,” he stated, seeing the desk and shelving were immaculately ordered and clean. “What have you been doing the last couple of days?” Bane gave a short laugh and swivelled around to the desk on the stool, picking up some leather pieces. “Been attemptin’ to make a holster for both the guns I’ve made, but I’m no good with leather. Also been updatin’ my munitions journal,” she lifted a hand around her to indicate the workshop, “Tidied up and organised things.” Karl shook his head disbelievingly. “Do you actually know how to relax and do nothing?” Bane grinned and shrugged before responding. “I guess, but I reckon I’d need to be tied up or incapacitated.” * * * * * * * * The newly, and rapidly promoted, Colonel Dedham had made himself very comfortable in the chair formerly occupied by the hapless Colonel Collins on board the I.A.V. Malaga. He loved it. That was until the arrival of the two Federation Agents, who had arrived on board last October. He was not party to their orders, except that he had been instructed to do everything they ordered. The only autonomy he had left was if they got any emergency responses. The word from crew gossip was that they were just as frustrated, all it seemed like they were doing was chasing some phantom from one end of the ‘verse to the other. They had orbited outside the Dust Planet, then Persephone, with apparently nothing happening. Fortunately after that, the Malaga had come across a settlers’ vessel in distress, which they had to tow all the way to Newhall - that took priority over anything these two Agents might have. Dedham had been desperate to know what they were after, and when the two men had taken a trip down to the next planet, he had gone to see the Chief Com Officer in his quarters. “I realise this is unorthodox, Chief, but I need to ask you some questions.” Pavel Wladek pulled his door open further, so that the Colonel could enter. Crew quarters for those of a certain rank were spacious and Wladek’s was one of those of a certain rank. Dedham did not wait to be asked, but sat himself in the best chair available. “As you are no doubt aware we’ve had these Agents on board for some months towing us around the ‘verse by our noses.” “Yessir,” said Pavel. He was no fool and he could guess why the Colonel had come to see him. But he let him talk anyway, the Colonel liked to talk – made him feel more important. “You’re smart enough to guess why I’ve come to your quarters and not come to your office.” “Yessir,” answered Pavel. He was also smart enough to wait for the Colonel to ask him for information, not the other way around. Acting on orders would be his story, if he was ever questioned about it. “Well?” said Dedham, getting impatient. “Why are they here? An I.A.V. is too large to be chasing someone or something around the ‘verse.” Pavel sat in another chair. “The first thing they did was look at our Interpol bulletins.” Dedham frowned, that was something that could be done from any Alliance com port, but he let Wladek carry on. “They focused on transport vessels fitting a certain class – Fireflys.” Something triggered in Dedham’s memory, but he could not remember why. “Is that relevant, Colonel?” asked Pavel, seeing the change in his expression. “I don’t know. Carry on.” “They hooked onto a bulletin about a gun fight between local law enforcement and two transport vessels – one being a Firefly. That was when we got the instruction to go to the Dust Planet, sir, which was where the bulletin was posted. One of the vessels frequently used it as a drop site but, according to the report, both ships got away. The other ship was a transport class Buccaneer.” “The most popular transport class ever made,” put in Dedham before letting Pavel continue. “Yes, but they are only after the Fireflys. I was curious so I tapped into their research.” “Hope they’ve got no way of tracing you?” added Dedham. Pavel passed him an brief expression of annoyance before masking it again. “No sir. But it didn’t tell me much. Whoever they are they’re real picky about setting down the specifics. They’re looking for a specific Firefly ship. One called Serenity.” It was then Dedham felt a wave of fear wash over him. Not the scared kind of fear, but the I-don’t-want-to-get-caught kind of fear and he knew why the Firefly had triggered his memory. He looked back at Pavel. What he was about to ask him could put them both at considerable risk, but the alternative was not exactly promising either. “We salvaged a vessel by that name back in September. Have the operatives looked at our logs yet?” “No, sir. I don’t think so. Although I’m sure they will get around to it.” “I want you to alter the logs –“ “That won’t be possible, sir” argued Pavel. “Let me finish. I don’t want you to alter all of the logs. Just the bit where it says what Colonel Collins did with the ship afterwards.” Pavel considered the Colonel’s request. It was possible, yes, but it would not be easy. “What do you want me to put instead?” he asked quietly. Dedham gave him a cold stare. “Make sure it says that Collins deemed it too old to be any good for salvage and we destroyed it.” Pavel was silent, thinking furiously. If Dedham wanted the Firefly’s presence covered up, then he was covering up something he did. Orders were orders. Pavel could get strung up by his balls for doing this but if he did, then he would not be hanging alone. “I better indicate that our munitions records show that we blew something up as well.” “Good thinking, Chief.” Dedham got up and straightened his jacket, leaving the capable Wladek to his work. Just before shutting the door behind him, he turned. “Have they been doing any scientific experiments?” Pavel looked blank. “Not that I’ve seen, sir. Why?” “Just wondered why they always wore those blue gloves,” mused Dedham. “Probably scared of catching some spacer disease, sir.” “That’s what I thought, Chief.” * * * * * * * * Inara was helping Mal to dress and he was liking it. She had discovered he was ticklish a few days ago and it had let to some noisy and fun activities. Now he was trying to hold his breath while she finished doing up the buttons on his shirt. This would be their last night together, at least for a while. He put his hands on Inara’s still bare waist and saw her lift a half smile. She may start tickling him again, but at least the view was worth it. She looked up at him with a sardonic expression. “We can’t miss dinner again, not this time. Kaylee won’t understand,” she said. “My mechanic should mind her own,” said Mal, moving his hands down. Inara pulled away, but not because she did want him. She turned and pulled on a top, another borrowed one of Kaylee’s. “I will be very glad to wear my own clothes again.” Mal cursed silently, both of them had been trying to avoid talking about their eventual splitting up, even though they knew Serenity was almost at Sihnon. “I kinda like seeing you in them low slung trousers and tight t-shirts,” he said. Inara honestly thought he was joking and stuck out her tongue in response. She was so used to always being immaculately presented, that being dressed as a spacer was tantamount to treason for her. Inara checked her hair again in the small mirror and slid the door back. “Ready to face them?” she asked. Mal did not feel anything untoward about facing the rest of the crew, he had to do it everyday. He felt just a tiny bit guilty that he had not been around much, or returned the numerous waves he had. Dinner was a noisy affair for the most part, for Mal it bought back memories of older times when Wash and Book were alive. The only sign of tension he could see was between the three musketeers; Jayne, Karl and Bane, who were normally pretty tight. Must have something to do with what he walked in on in the galley earlier. Reckon he might have a word with Kaylee, after Inara left. He looked at Inara sat at the other end of the table. She was nose to nose with Kaylee and they were sharing some joke. She looked radiant as always. He would miss her when she was gone, but at least she would not be gone forever. Maybe she was right, it could never work with her living on board. She would have to earn her keep and he was not about to let her go servicing clients again under his nose, not now. He was trying not to think about their parting tomorrow. Zoe thought Mal looked like a goofy teenager, grinning and stupid. She knew he deserved some happiness, but she had to admit she felt more than a little uncomfortable with this side of him. When they went back to earning some platinum maybe he would be a bit more like his old self again. If he stayed doing this grinning baboon impression, they would likely get humped pretty quick. River caught Zoe’s last thought and grinned, as it was a pretty apt description of the Captain at the moment. She did not agree with Zoe that Mal was losing it. He was just happy, having let loose years of pent up frustration over the last few weeks. She looked at Bane who was now laughing at one of her brother’s Medacad stories, she was another one who had years of pent up frustration. She had not told the others about her brother’s wedding yet. Things were playing out well between her and Karl. Softly, softly, thought River, no thanks to Jayne. She glared at him. “What you starrin’ at, Moonbrain?” he asked after swallowing a mouthful of rice. “You’re such a boob,” replied River.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007 7:58 AM


Please please post your thoughts as (good or bad) it inspires me to keep writing.
For a quick synopsis of crew members Bane Pye and Karl Jacobsson, see my log.

Sunday, May 6, 2007 4:04 PM


Well now....things are definitely getting interesting aboard our favourite midbulk transport, aren't they?


Gotta say...Jayne's downright atrocious outburst to Bane about her methodology when it comes to gleaning intelligence from a target and related "skills" definitely left me a tad bit confused. As a person who frequents bordellos every chance he gets, his diatribe on feminine wills just seemed like he was channelling Mal on an especially bad day after he's had a conversation with Inara concerning her job. Though if he's developing feelings for Bane....

Still...fabulous work as always, hermitsrest! Can't wait to see how the next part of the story pans out;)



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