Serenity Saved, Chapter 1
Monday, December 31, 2007

A woman from Mal's past shows up, and she's got a surprise. (M/I,M/OFC)


DISCLAIMER: Joss is boss. NOTE: I've taken some, shall we say, artistic liberty with dates and timelines. The technical issue is totally made up dribble. Oh, and I live in a 'verse where Wash never met up with a harpoon. Set post-BDM.


“Kaylee!!” Malcolm Reynolds bellowed from outside the engine room. “What have I told you about my ship breaking?” “’That if she breaks, I broke her’,” Kaylee repeated. “So if that be the case, then why in the gorram hell does she keep breaking?” “Cap’n, these parts are so old. We scrounge for bits here and there, try to keep her running. But things break. Metal and wire don’t last forever.” It was beyond freezing on Serenity, and trying to keep herself warm while working on the engine at the same time was a near impossibility. The captain was aggravated, and seeing Kaylee sad and dejected just depressed the aggravation even more. Mal was wrapped in his long brown coat and a thick blanket. He lowered himself down on his haunches next to Kaylee’s outstretched legs. “All right, Kaylee. What does she need now?” Kaylee grabbed Mal’s offered hand and pulled herself from underneath the engine. Oil and grime covered her fingers and smudged her cheek. “Simple fix really. Just a part we need that we don’t have. Get a new dampener for the grav boot. It controls the internal air processors, keeps the temperature regulated. And it ain’t just the cold. Oxygen’ll start going next.” “How long?” “Nine or ten hours,” she said, glancing away. “Maybe less. If’n we don’t freeze first.” “Help is close. In more ways than one.” Mal and Kaylee turned towards the source of the voice. River stood in the engine room doorway, but she didn’t look at them. She looked through them, past them, staring through the ship’s hull itself. She wore her pretty pink dress, tall black combat boots, and only a light sweater. Her eyes finally focused on Mal and smiled. “Help needs only to be asked for. Ships, planets, all there to help Captain Daddy.” “River, you’re gonna catch your death.” Mal crossed to her quickly, and before he could pull the blanket off his shoulders, River stepped close to him and wrapped her arms around his waist, under the blanket. “Warmth of the body,” River said, pressing her face into Mal’s chest, “better than the warmth of fabric.” Mal cleared his throat, clearly uncomfortable with River’s proximity, but he set the blanket around her shoulders and held her tight. Kaylee picked up a mangled piece of coiled metal and walked the few steps between her and her captain. “Part’s easy to find, most planet side stores carry it. Just gotta get one. Soon.” Mal looked down at the small head burrowed into his chest and felt her thin arms wrapped around him, her fingers splayed against his rib cage. Kaylee looked up at him, a look of sadness and defeat in her eyes. Dammit, Mal thought. How the hell was he supposed to keep these women, his crew, safe if his boat broke down every other day? He opened his mouth to speak, but it was River who spoke first. “Ship is coming. She wants to help.” Wash’s voice came over the intercom system from the bridge. “Captain, there’s a ship heading our way.” Mal looked down at River again, only now she was looking straight up into his eyes, a small smile on her face. “You’ll be home soon.” The crypticness of the statement was lost on Mal, as it usually was when River spoke in crazy person. He pulled the blanket off his shoulders and motioned for Kaylee to come closer. Kaylee disentangled River from Mal and wrapped her arms around the younger woman. Swinging the blanket around the two shivering women, Mal took a step towards the door. “Sit tight, Kaylee. Hopefully you and Simon can keep lil’ River warm.” As if on cue, Simon stepped in the engine room doorway. Mal could only be thankful that Simon had not seen his little sister wrapped around Mal’s torso. The last thing Mal wanted to hear today was the doctor’s far too appropriate mouth. “Captain. . .” Simon began, but was quickly cut off. “Y’all go to Inara’s shuttle. A smaller space will help retain some heat.” “Cap’n,” Kaylee said, “I need to stay here with Serenity.” “Ain’t nothin’ you can do without that part, you said yourself. Do as I say.” Mal turned and walked out. The others could hear him mumble to himself “Damn ship will be my death . . .” Up on the bridge, Wash was huddled in his chair, with his wife, Zoë, perched on his lap. There were both wrapped up in a large blanket, hats on and scarves wrapped around their necks. Zoe looked up at her captain as he strode onto the bridge. “Body heat,” she stated, noticing the pointed look and raised eyebrow at the sight of his first mate curled in her husband’s lap. Mal joined them at the pilot’s station. He stood close to them, closer than he normally would have, but it was damn cold. His upper thigh pressed against Zoe’s knee. The necessity of not freezing to death overweighed any sense of propriety. “No need to explain, Zoe. What do you got, Wash?” “Ship heading towards us. It ain’t Alliance.” He flipped a couple switches, and the fuzzy vid screen showed a ship. Only slightly larger than Serenity, but definitely a transport ship as well. “Looks like a Dunbar class. Older model.” “So, not Reavers?” Mal’s voice barely hid the trepidation he was feeling. Wash shook his head. “I would have gotten you up here faster if I thought it was.” Mal stared at the vid screen, a million, mostly bad, thoughts running through his head. The last time they needed a part and he welcomed it from strangers, he had got himself shot in the gut. Wasn’t something he looked forward to repeating. “Just another transport ship, sir, shouldn’t cause us any trouble,” Zoë stated, her usual unflappable and resilient manner still firmly in place. Zoe noticed that Mal’s hands were bare. He had given his gloves to Kaylee. She took his hands in her gloved ones and rubbed his hands between hers. He looked at her quickly. “You looked cold, sir.” Mal smiled. “Wash, you’re turning my first mate all maternal and such.” “What can I say,” said Wash, “my talents are endless.” A beeping from the console ended the moment, and Wash pressed a button on the console. “The ship is hailing us.” “Bring it through,” Mal said. The pilot pressed a few buttons on the console, and the three leaned over the vid screen expecting to see the face of the person hailing them. All they got was static, and suddenly a female voice came over the intercom. “Firefly class starship, this is Captain Faolan of the pirate ship Revenge. Do you require assistance?” Wash looked quickly at Zoe and mouthed, “Pirate ship?” “Depends on what assistance you’re offering,” Mal said. “We need a part, a dampener for the grav boot.” "As luck would have it, we just made salvage on an abandoned derelict. Think I recall seeing a dampener in the wreck. Give me a moment to check.” Wash muted their end of the transmission, and he and Zoë turned an expectant eye towards Mal. Mal sighed. This seemed too good to be true, which meant it was. And would only be trouble. But their oxygen would begin running out. He really wanted nothing more at this moment than to bury his head in his first mate’s lap and rest in her and Wash’s warmth. Mal blinked his eyes, and shook his head. Cold and fading oxygen was going to his head. “That’s a lucky turn of events.” Wash didn’t seem overly confident of the situation. It wasn’t sitting well with any of them. “Yeah, it is. What’s the nearest planet, Wash?” Mal asked. Wash leaned over the console again, hit a few buttons, and brought up schematics of the system they were traveling through. “Looks to be . . . Shadow.” Wash and Zoe both looked at Mal, waited for his response. Mal simply closed his eyes and sighed deep. “We’re definitely going to need a fuel stop soon. Should be able to find the part we need there.” Mal opened his eyes, trained his gaze on the black. “How long before we could get there?” “Ten hours, eleven if we don’t burn hard.” “We don’t have ten hours. Kaylee said our oxygen is running out.” Zoe and Wash shared a quick look. “We need the ship fixed. If this ‘pirate’ ship has the part, we get it, fix the grav boot, and head to . . . somewhere for refueling.” A beep from the console caught their attention once again. Wash hit his usual buttons, and Captain Faolan’s lilting voice filled the bridge once again. “I was able to find your part, Captain . . . I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.” Mal thought for a very quick moment before responding. “Harbatkin. We’re much obliged for your assistance, Captain. How. . .?” “Your problem may take a couple hours to fix. The part will have to be retrofitted for your ship. We can dock. I’d be glad to lend my ship for warmth and my mechanic for assistance.” “As much as I appreciate your offer, that ain’t an option.” “I’m not asking to come aboard your ship, Captain Harbatkin. I’m offering you mine. I know it’s not always easy to trust people out in the black. The decision is yours. I’ll wait for your response.” A click in the air told them the wave was closed. Mal closed his eyes and pulled his hands from Zoe’s. “Sir,” Zoe began, “we’ll be dead frozen, and dead, if we wait to get to Shadow. We’ll be armed, we’ll get what we need and get out. No surprises.” “There are always surprises. That’s what makes us special.” Mal stepped away and tightened his jacket around himself. “Wave Captain Faolan back. Tell her we’ll be ready to dock in ten minutes.” Mal pressed the comm button above his head. “Jayne, meet me in the cargo bay in five minutes. Inara, I’m headin’ your way.”

There was only a rare occasion that Mal knocked on Inara’s shuttle door. This wasn’t one of those times. He strode in, and stopped at the sight, a grin popping on his face. Inara and Simon sat on the velvet couch along the wall, River was perched on Inara’s lap, and Kaylee was practically on Simon’s lap, Inara’s thick comforter covering the four of them. “Aww, why wasn’t I invited to the party?” Mal joked. “That’s not funny, Mal.” The smirk faded quickly from his face. His bickering with Inara was really the only constant in the ‘verse. That, and nothing ever going his way. “We’re docking with another ship,” Mal stated, all business. “You four are to stay put. Zoe and I are going to get what we need and get back. No surprises. If something happens, ‘Nara, you know what to do.” He turned and headed to the door. “Please don’t get yourself shot again.” Inara’s concerned voice stopped him. But he didn’t turn around, and left the shuttle. “He needs a kick in his tight pants,” Kaylee muttered under her breath. Inara sighed and stroked River’s hair. “That he does.”


Monday, December 31, 2007 2:21 PM


Good. Hehe, a few things jarred. But better than most.

Monday, December 31, 2007 2:46 PM


Good start. Let's hope our gallant Captain doesn't get shot this time and that the crew don't end up popsickles - it being so gorram cold and all. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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