Broken Souls Part 4
Thursday, March 20, 2008

Sorry this is sorta late, but something finally happens!!! M/I, S/K, R/J


Out here in the dark we wait in shadows…. Broken souls dance like leaves on the wind, Waiting for sun to break out again, Out here in the dark we wait in shadows, Broken dreams, wrapped in our hands, Like streamers for the things that leave, And all we do is hold on tighter and tighter, Until the hopes we long for fly away, We search for answers we know we won’t find, And we dream the dreams that we know are too big, Because if we scale ourselves down to size, We lose ourselves in the chaos, We are the broken souls, Dancing to our funeral march….

Mal tapped his foot impatiently as River and Jayne unwound themselves from each other’s arms. He had expected them to spring apart immediately, but River had slipped her hand in Jayne’s even after they were standing, shamefaced, side by side. “What were you doing with my sister?” Simon howled. “Simon, one would have to conclude that you knew exactly what we were doing, seeing as you saw us clearly and given your experience with a certain mechanic, you would know immediately what were doing. So what is the point of asking a question you already know the answer for?” River asked, tilting her head to the side and observing her brother through partially closed eyes. “River, why were you kissing him? Has he hurt you? Did he drug you?” Simon interrogated his younger sister, but Mal put a hand up. “Now, hold on there, Doctor, Jayne wouldn’t take a woman less’n she was willing,” warned Mal. “I wanted to kiss Jayne,” River said. “And I will kiss Jayne in the future. I will probably do more with Jayne in the future, and you have no call to stop me.” Simon stepped forward and raised his fist to hit Jayne, which in itself was a foolhardy move, but his sister moved in a blur to grab his wrist in midair. She tightened her grip to the point of pain on Simon’s part, and her eyes narrowed angrily. “You are not going to attempt to hurt him. You are not going to keep me from him. Do you understand?” she asked, her voice cold and her eyes blazing with controlled anger. “Mei-mei,” Simon said softly, and River stepped back and gazed at him imploringly, the anger gone. “I’m not a child, Simon. Let me be me,” she murmured softly, reaching out and touching his cheek gently. She spun and danced away, moving to music inside her head. Simon was struck by how Jayne watched her graceful movements- a mixture of awe and admiration. “Gorrammit,” muttered Mal as he watched the struck expression on Jayne’s face and the amazed expression on Simon’s. “What ever happened to ‘no shipboard relationships’?”


Simon stepped carefully into the engine room, eying the mess of pieces of shapeless metal scattered about. Kaylee was bouncing around happily, swinging around a wrench like a menace. “Heya, Simon!” she greeted him cheerily, turning and kissing him on his cheek before fluttering away to tinker with some metal part. He felt the light brush of her lips on his skin, and it sent a shivering sensation down his back. “Kaylee, I was thinking, maybe we could go out to eat next time we get near somewhere civilized enough to buy a hot meal made of real food,” Simon said, admiring the quick easy movements she used, making everything look so simple, even though he knew it wasn’t. “That’d be nice,” she murmured, eying one particularly complex piece with borderline frustration and then broke into a grin again, fitting it neatly into another part. “The auxiliary filament in the H-Line is shot…” “Got an explanation for that?” Mal asked, coming up behind Simon. “Means that if the primary filament breaks, we explode,” she replied. “I need a new auxiliary filament when we land on Galileo.” “How much would it set us back?” Mal demanded, and Kaylee shot him a regretful look. “Is it likely to break?” “It’s ancient, Cap’n. Most likely, it’ll bust in a month, at the least,” Kaylee told Mal. “Well, we got a job lined up on Boros in two weeks. We’ll buy a fil-a-thingy then, dong ma?” Mal proposed, and Kaylee nodded happily. Mal turned and stomped away. “Dinner? On Galileo?” Simon reminded her. “Sounds wonderful, sweetie,” she told him. Simon gave a mock sigh of frustration and huffed. “You aren’t listening to me,” he said, encircling his arms around her waist and pulling her backwards. “Simon! Stoppit!” she giggled, swatting at his hands, clasped securely in front of her stomach. “No, I don’t think so,” he told her hair, the one part of her that always smelled like fresh strawberries. She wriggled and fought it, but he twisted her around so that they were face to face. He bumped his nose into hers, and her mouth went to meet his instinctively. “Simon?” “Huh?” “I love you.”

We search for answers we know we won’t find…..

Mal dropped down into his bunk easily, and nearly had a heart attack at Inara perched on his bed, reading a book. “Mal,” she greeted him curtly, and went back to reading her book. He stood, bewildered, looked behind him, looked up the ladder leading to the hallway, and back to her. “Um, ‘Nara, would this be a bad time to mention this is my bunk?” he pointed out. “I know it’s your bunk,” she answered, still absorbed in the book. “Then why are you here?” he asked, stressing each syllable. “I was waiting for you,” she responded, refusing to look up from the book. “And I’m standin’ right here,” said Mal. “I want another gun,” she told him reluctantly, putting the book aside, one slender finger marking her place. “You have a gun. One I gave you. I don’t want you becomin’ a killer,” Mal shook his head. “What you want has nothing to do with it. Since I’m not a practicing Companion anymore, I want to help you. I have to say, Mal, you’ve been a bad influence on me,” she said to him, smiling a bit at the last part. “You…want to be part of my band of merry thieves?” Mal teased, uneasy on how he was to talk Inara out of this. “I didn’t know you’d ever read Robin Hood,” Inara returned cheerily. “My Ma made me,” the man admitted. “Anyway, I won’t give you a gun.” “Mal, I can always go out and buy one,” she reminded him. “Why don’t you?” The question startled her a bit, and she sat silently for a moment. “It would mean more if you gave it to me. I can’t describe it,” she told him. “You want to stoop to bein’ a petty thief?” he joked, waiting for her to come to her senses, but a look of realization dawned on her face, and she turned to face him. “Yes, I do,” she said, awed by her own words.


“River, gorrammit, where are you?” Jayne howled, stomping down the stairs to the cargo bay. “I’m right here. Don’t yell, you’ll wake everyone up,” warned River, appearing out of nowhere. “And if we attempt to ‘talk’ again, in your words, there will only be physical activity. And we do need to talk. So when your brain is capable of reasonable human speech, we’ll talk then. I have things to tend to.” “Like what?” Jayne demanded gruffly. “The soul of an ancient evil that from time to time takes over the souls of suitable hosts. Dates back to Earth-That-Was. Some became well-known. Jack the Ripper. Lizzie Borden even got a rhyme. This one wants to fly away once the killings done…Spread his wings and fly away…,” River murmured, and looked at Jayne suddenly, a mournful expression in her eyes. “We can’t be…Not yet.” Jayne nodded. He knew it, but hadn’t wanted to admit to himself. What would the lithe dancer/killer want with him? “Didn’t say I didn’t want you. Just not yet,” she said, reaching out a fragile hand to touch his cheek. No, not fragile. Delicate appearing. He nodded, and turned away, not seeing the pained expression in River’s eyes. But this was for the best, she reminded herself. She knew what she had to do would hurt Jayne beyond belief, but it was necessary. “Lizzie Borden took an ax, And gave her mother forty whacks, And when she saw what she had done, She gave her father forty one,” recited River to herself, a single tear leaking out. She usually didn’t cry, just went into hysterics. But here she was, a psychic assassin, two tears running down her cheeks because she had a mission to fulfill.


“You are not-not gonna be a thief, ‘Nara,” Mal told her as they made their way to the kitchen together. “Now, we’re all gonna sit ourselves down- and shut up while I do my captain’n stuff- and discuss why the hell no one’s been listening to me anymore.” “Honestly, Mal, did you think they listened to you before?” Inara scoffed. “Well….They listened. Maybe not so much with the followin’ of orders,” admitted Mal. “I mean, really, what happened last time you gave them an order they disobeyed?” “Hey-.” “What happened, Mal?” “We made five hundred credits.” “Five hundred credits that we used to buy a part for the ship that would have broken and left us for dead.” “Hey, we don’t know if we would’ve died!” snapped Mal, but a rush of familiarity came rushing back to them both, so that by time they entered the kitchen, they were laughing together. “Well, it’s about gorramn time,” growled Jayne sourly, his hands wrapped around a mug filled with a beverage that was no doubt alcoholic. River was sitting next to him, surprisingly demure, but when Jayne wasn’t looking she was stealing bites of his fried potato slices. “French fries on Earth-That-Was,” she marveled, popping one in her mouth before Jayne could snatch it back. “Yeah, well, it cost me an ass load’a’money to buy that deep fryin’ thing,” grumbled Jayne. Mal glanced between his pilot and his mercenary with budding frustration, but River nodded her head in a soft movement, and Mal shrugged and gazed at his crew. They were a ragtag bunch, always had been, and always would be. You couldn’t change a thing about them, and with all their faults, you weren’t sure you wanted to. River smiled a bit at that. She knew Simon would change that tiny little fact about her being a psychic assassin, but appreciated it when she heard it cross any of the others minds how glad they were River was River. “River is River,” she murmured to herself, and the fleeting sensation that Jayne was about to hit her. But even Jayne was smart enough not to hit the human weapon, and everyone turned their attention back to Mal. “Glad she ain’t anyone else,” came Jayne whispering instead, and she felt a torrent of grief. But her mission had to be completed before anything… “Now, ‘Nara here’s taken it into her head to be one of us,” Mal interrupted her thoughts, and everyone glared at him with annoyance. “She is one of us,” pointed out Kaylee. “She wants to be a thief,” amended Mal. “Lassiter,” River put in, a gentle smile crossing her face. “A full-time thief,” Mal growled. “She’s been a full-time accomplice,” Simon reminded him. “Can we vote on it?” asked River cheerily. “Tragic space dementia,” muttered Mal before storming off, calling back over his shoulder. “I got captain-y things to be doin’, and you all got jobs. I’d appreciate you doin’ ‘em.” “Well, I guess I’m one of the gang now,” Inara preened subconsciously. “Always were,” smiled River, skipping away. Only Inara and Simon saw and recognized the pained, longing expression the lithe assassin had left Jayne with.


“You really are a screwed up bunch,” River scolded to herself. “Hummingbird’s freedom, the Wicked Witch, and the copy…Soon….You really are a screwed up bunch, you know that?” “What’s that?” Mal asked, coming up behind her, having only caught her last sentence. “Echo of an imprint of words from the future,” River explained knowingly. “Won’t be forever, now…” “Right, then. Got a job for you,” Mal told her. “Recon. I want you to see how hard this vault is gonna be to break into. ‘Nara’ll accompany you, seein’ as she’s a full-blown criminal now,” Mal scowled. “Always was,” River corrected him. “Anyways, what’s with you and Jayne?” Mal broached the subject hesitantly. “There is no me and Jayne,” murmured River in reply. “What about last night?” Mal demanded. “Did he…What happened?” “I decided it wasn’t time. Mad at me, be even madder when my mission arrives,” replied River sullenly. “Wish it weren’t so. But happily-ever-afters only exist in fairy tales, Cap’n. He might not forgive her-me. And she so badly craves his forgiveness, craves the way he lets her be her instead of a lab rat. Instead of a girl in a test tube. She is not delicate….Ugh, and she is also not fond of talking about herself in third person.” Mal smiled softly and wrapped an arm around her, pulling her back against his chest in the hug that he usually reserved for Kaylee. “I beginnin’ to think it’s you I maybehaps need to worry about takin’ advantage of my mercenary,” Mal told River, and River let out a small scream of despair. “Albatross, it’ll be alright. Ain’t ever been a time when we couldn’t bounce back from whatever gets thrown at us.” “Don’t want to take advantage of him. Want him to be happy. But have to break his heart to complete my mission,” River mumbled softly. “What mission, Li’l Albatross?” Mal asked hesitantly. “None of your concern. If all goes well, it won’t be,” River told him. “Leaving now to go find out what I already know about the bank.” “Well, if you find out somethin’ new when you go there with Inara, best come tell me,” Mal said, as River trudged away, somewhat less graceful than usual. Inara came up to stand beside Mal, almost but not quite leaning into his side. “Well, I’ll be glad when we’re off this place. Newly terraformed planets have started to give me the creeps,” laughed Inara gently, and her eyes grew sad. “I suppose that’s because of Miranda. Anyway, remind me why we’re stealing from a bank that was established two months ago?” “Can I go?” demanded Saffron, appearing out of nowhere and keeping a close watch for her handlers. “How’d you get out?” asked Mal, somewhat unsurprised. “Picked the lock. It’s getting kinda boring in there, and your mercenary and your pilot are seriously scary,” Saffron shuddered, glaring at Inara, who gladly returned the gesture. “You aren’t coming with us,” Inara shook her head firmly. “Please, I probably have more criminal experience than you do,” returned Saffron. “Experience doesn’t make you better than me. Unless you’ve forgotten that ‘silly little gun’,” Inara reminded her. “Girls, girls, there’s no need to fight over me,” joked Mal. Inara glared at him. “Do not tempt me, Mal,” she warned him, and he didn’t doubt the serious harm that could possibly befall him if he made any jokes about her. “Please hurry, Inara. Taking on passengers today if we are punctual,” River’s voice came floating towards them, and Saffron squirmed uncomfortably. “Jayne will watch you, don’t squirm. He is not in any mood to mistreat you….Her fault, all her fault, gave him her heart and yanked it back.” “Can you make her go already?” growled Jayne from nearby. “Is this Complain Around the Captain Day?” whined Mal. “I believe so. I even scheduled it on my calendar,” Inara told him mock-confidentially. “Okay, I’m angry, uh, I’m annoyed, and, um, I’m armed. So go,” he ordered grumpily and River snickered. “Going now would be better.” Inara turned away and followed River, Saffron waiting for Jayne to come and lock her, more securely, into her room. She sighed, frustrated, and let herself get dragged back into her prison. “I am so ignored,” she muttered to herself. “You’re tellin’ me,” grumbled Jayne.


Inara and River wandered into the bank, Inara keeping a watchful eye out for danger when a well-dressed, harried looking young man popped out of nowhere. “Excuse me, but do you perchance happen to be passengers on board that Firefly out there?” “Why do you ask?” asked Inara, the image of politeness even when she was brushing someone off coolly. “I need a lift,” he explained. “We can’t help you,” Inara told him graciously. “Yes, we can. Have to, ‘Nara. Already written in the stars, and the fates will be very angry if we do not obey,” River informed her. “Huh,” came Inara’s Mal-ish way of reply. “It’s up to our captain to decide.” “Thank you so much,” the man thanked them profusely. “What’s your name?” Inara asked him, resigned. “Oh, Ares.”



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