Parents, Preachers, & Pistol Skinners
Sunday, July 6, 2008

The New Haven Series; Post BDM; M/I, S/K: Letters will pepper the story, and it's time for a barn dance.


Well here we are for the new week. I actually still don't have a beta, but there are fourteen chapters done with only a few more left to wrap things up, so here we go.... ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My Dearest Inara,

It has been so long since our last cortex letter, I hope all is well with you and you still even keep this account. I fear you may have fallen from grace as a rather miasmal rumor has reached my ears back home. There is talk of you being in trouble in the legal way and fleeing the maiden house on Greenleaf, possibly falling for a pirate.

I pray that this is not the case, for certainly I have raised my daughter, who is groomed for great things, with more sense than that. Digressing, I wish to hear and see from you soon, for two years abroad is far too long. If you are well, please respond to me and visit. In case you are without means I have taken the liberty to set up an account with Royal Transport. All you must do is go to a dock that Royal Transport uses and check in with your name, from there you will ride to Shinon in a first class suite, where I can have you brought home.

Best Wishes, Mother


‘Well I met a boy from Grassy Branch Fine as he can be I met him at the big barn dance And he took a shine to me

He’s got blue eyes A big white smile And tall as a sycamore tree He’s real smart with a real big heart And he’s gonna marry me…’*

In winter, Shadow partied. There was little else to do, with the snow heavy and impeding work, draped thickly over Shadow like quilt batting on a toy town. So, the towns found the best way to cure the winter blues were barn dances. Folk put together parties, and everyone in the county was invited as long as they brought food or spirits to contribute to the nighttime festivities.

There were a lot of spirits at the barn dance.

All of Pryor was there, and it was a grand barn dance if there ever was one. It was at the Double J Ranch, about five miles out of town. The Dodgbees, owners of the ranch, had put on a mighty shiny shindig. They had a good sized pond right next to the barn, near the tethered horses and waiting wagons and carriages. At the pond, the younger generations played. Many had skates, carving across the ice either with wobbly feet or well seasoned ones. Those that didn’t, as the barn’s outdoor spotlight allowed proper light for the fun, either skid on their knees or, if they had the balance, on their boots. And those that just didn’t have it in them built snowfolk, forts and sipped hot cocoa and stuffed their little maws with homemade sweets.

As the children shrieked with joy on the frozen pond and played in the surrounding area, the adults celebrated in the barn. Against the west wall was a collection of tables, mostly ones lent. They were laden with food; deer, elk, bison and pheasant brought from hunts, stir fried vegetables, skillet potatoes, cookies, cakes, sweet breads, cured fruits, and a huge pot of rice as the centerpiece of it all. Three of the stables were bars, covered with alcohol, mostly the homemade kind. It was strictly a self served affair, with a few mugs and mostly mason jars as the glasses. There was a band up on a stage made of lumber posts and deconstructed fruit crates, a mismatched group that consisted of a pianist, fiddler, guitarist, a man with a harmonica, and Cash and Sissy Hayden, who were the best crooners out of the lot and the only ones in the hemisphere with steel guitar, banjo and the fingers to play them. All in the middle of the enormous barn, people danced. Though Pryor and all if Switchfork Valley had seen much death, many people who had died had already been replaced in number by the heirs to their wills or pioneers buying their homesteads, so many were in attendance and dancing, celebrating the life had. They had gone from free form to the more customary folk line dance of Shadow. The men were in their best trousers, shirts, boots, and suspenders; hair slicked or hat adorned. The women in dresses, their twirling skirts looking like a flurry of flowers from up above. Everyone always dressed well at barn dances, it was tradition, and barn dances were a large venue to find and woo a proper girl to settle with. Not everyone was dancing though. To the back, where a thermal heater was placed to keep those who weren’t warm from dancing well heated, people who were less inclined to step fancy talked, drank, and played cards and darts.

That was where Malcolm Reynolds was. He enjoyed the nostalgic barn dance as he sipped cherry wine from a mason jar and watched his kin have a good time.

Zoe was actually off on her own, one of the few women without a dress on, but Mal knew she wasn’t ready to loosen up that much. She had made some friends, some old browncoat supporters who liked to talk weaponry, battlefields and politics. She had a little jar of hot cider as her constant companion, a bit of liquid courage for she was a touch introverted and still recovering from Lilac Syndrome.

Kaylee and Simon were out on the dance floor. Kaylee was wearing a dress a shade of gaily teal, with a little extra petticoat underneath to keep her legs warm from the wagon ride over. She had dragged Simon along, he in his good boots, a pair of espresso colored trousers neatly pressed and a white shirt with a tealish waistcoat to match Kaylee. In the beginning of their involvement with the dance, he had protested with many ‘ums’ and ‘oh Kaylee, I dunno…’, but had been won over by puppydog eyes and a ‘puhleeeese’ that could tear down any wall. So he had gotten on the floor with her, and since he was a surprisingly apt dancer, picked up on the steps quickly. As their mason jars of strawberry flavored alcohol and mixed berry wine were sitting on a stable wall, Simon lifted Kaylee up by the waist and twirled her in line with everyone else, and she grinned with sheer delight.

Wren and Pike were also out dancing, having a grand time as a couple and enjoying leave. They had liquor of an unknown type, and Wren was a might tipsy and giggly on it as she and Pike stepped and laughed in a dress she had bought for herself and he decked out similarly like the other doctor.

Jayne wasn’t at the barn dance. He was at his outpost, snowed in and having to keep watch even if he wasn’t trapped in the cabin. They all doubted he was disappointed, because the last wave sent by him had background noise in the form of a soft female voice. So Jayne was in good company.

Mal looked over at Inara. She was dressed down, because her silks and fine things would be too out of the ordinary. So, she was in a cotton dress, simple and red with a v-neckline and sleeves of three quarter length and buttons down the front. She did look every the bit the part of a prairie woman (a sexy one, Mal told himself), talking to the few women she knew and dared to converse with regardless they were not her class nor intellectual type. Meilin was being passed around the small gaggle, dressed in soft daisy yellow and with a cap that had little ears and soft blue stripes on it so she looked part tiger cub. He got an, idea, as Meilin was yawning, and went over to Inara. Draining his mason jar and setting it on a nearby table before he reached her, he then placed his hand on her shoulder.

She turned to see his smiling face, smiling the way a clever fox with a chicken feather in its mouth smiles.

“Ladies, I must pull this lovely woman from the group and ask you ta watch our babe. Seems she owes me a dance.” He pushed her away from the pack of women and paid no heed to her startled eyes.

“Mal,” She appeared to feel incredulous towards his abrupt actions.

“For a woman schooled in the art of conversation, ya looked uncomfortable with the Shadow hens.” He explained. “Figgured a break was in order.”

Her smile, touched that he was thoughtful to relieve her from the ongoing conversation of housewifehood, children, and ranch (tiring her for she was certainly not a housewife, knew little of the ranch and didn’t think their children were comparable to her own), radiated as her hand took his. “Though I know nothing of this dance.”

“Only trained in the finest core steps?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“Pity, I think you’ll catch on quickly to the customs of us skippin’ country folk. Simon did, and he wasn’t the dancin’ kind by assumption.”

Mal led Inara out to the dance floor.

"I fear your assumptions are horribly misguided." She followed his lead with little effort. "The Tams are high society Core people, of course they sent their son to cotillions and balls."

"Well ain't you just techy."

"I wasn't deaf to you teasing him all the way over."

"Ya know, as fine as a dancer as he is, twirlin' and tappin', boy doesn't know what in creation he's getting her for Yuletide."

"I know, it's quite endearing with how much thought he puts into it."

Mal wrapped her up and unfurled Inara into a spin, then took her hands again and they walked in a circle with the other dancers. "He asked me what I thought."

"Really," she arched a sleek brow, face amused yet concerned "please tell me you gave an honest answer."

"You know it pains me you conclude I tricked him." He feigned disappointment before quickly switching to biting obviousness "Of course I gave an honest answer, I told him that he needs ta tell her three words."

"Three words?"

"Yeah, and on some worlds the custom involves a ring... or a necklace or a pressed flower... I know on one planet ya give a horseshoe... then there's that weird one where you present a gosling."

Inara was surprised. "Marriage?"

"I know, a gosling? Funny huh."

"No, no, you told Simon he should propose to Kaylee for Yuletide?" She asked, looking as if he was back to wearing his pretty little floral bonnet.

Mal shrugged his shoulders, lip jutting out in non-chalance. "Well yeah, he's too gorram proper to think that way. He's all about savin' money and buyin' a house. Hell the time he accomplishes that on this little dustbowl Meilin'll be ropin' cattle. They're both as crazy in love as a pair of rabbits, might as well make it legal. Plus then if they do a churched shindig Kaylee can wear that cupcake again, I know she's still got it hidden somewhere."

"Urging Simon to propose... I never thought of you as the romantic."

"Neither did I, but then again I romance the hell outta you every now and again now don't I Miss Serra?"

Inara laughed. "I suppose so, although now I wonder what you're going to get me for Yuletide."

"Well I'm goin' on a cruise with ya ta meet your Ma."

"That's it?"

"That's it? You know, I don't know of too many brigands that would trim themselves up and polish their buckles ta meet some girls folks. You obviously don't know how lucky you are."

Knowing his sarcasm, she smacked him on the arm as they stepped in a circle.

"Hey! I didn't have ta even do this." He whispered back, though there was a playful gleam in his eye that mixed with the actual dread of what he was going to do. "You weren’t even gonna invite me along, you were gonna haul yourself and Meilin five planets away to visit a woman who’s mentioning brings you to a state of unpleasantness. Now you were going to do that all on your own, loads of stress piled on ya."

Inara let out a false sigh of reluctance. "I guess that's enough of a gift... though to even the level of gift giving I suppose I can always not buy the teddy I was going to wear for you."

Mal stared at her with wide, caught in the headlights eyes as his mind danced to the thought of her in something so... miniscule.

"I mean it's merely a waste of coin.. Frivolous..." pursing her lips thoughtful, playfully, she shrugged her shoulders.

Recovering, he let out a sigh to fuel the banter. Nodding his head musingly "It would be an awful waste a' coin, I think you just all," He let go over her hand to gesture grandly "displayed on the bed wearing nothin' but my brown coat would just be the shiniest thing ever, dontcha think?"

Inara gave a tight lipped chuckle. "That's quite a tall order."

"Well now, that's what Yuletide's all about, goin' above and beyond with the giving... plus there's somethin' I think in it regarding a baby Jesus."

*** *** ***

*** Lyrics are ‘Marry Me’ provided by Dolly Parton***

****As always, the writer appreciates all comments whether they be positive, negative, or suggestions.**


Sunday, July 6, 2008 4:08 PM


"Well ain't you just techy.":)
on the money as always T. ilove fics that mess with form - so i'm looking forward to the 'letters etc'.
enjoyed this chapter - one thing though, it seemed a little short (IMHO?) like you coulda put this and the following chapter together.
anyway - it was mighty fine:)

Monday, July 7, 2008 7:53 AM


I'm intrigued about where you are taking this. Inara's mother sounds interesting...

Monday, July 7, 2008 8:39 AM


Pirate Children is a fic gem. I really love the attention to detail and the depth Inara's background is given. Not too many people revist Inara's history to that extent, but then again Inara is difficult to canon, imagining her past in a way that is believable can be even more difficult.

Thanks for the feedback.


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