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Grey Skies: Chapter One, part Two
Sunday, May 1, 2011

Introductions, awkward moments. I can be mean sometimes.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 948    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Grey Skies: Chapter One, part two

So that's my prologue. As I write this, River is looking over my shoulder. Kaylee WAS looking over my shoulder too, but she got pissed off as soon as I called Serenity a piece of shit.

She didn't even care that I also said the boat was elegant, oh no! She didn't care about the rest of my description, either. All she did was latch on to three little words and that's it. Women.

Heh, that little rant was worth it. Now River is giving me dirty looks as she lithely and purposefully steps from the room. Not even mentally broadcasting my sincere appreciation of her legs is bringing her back.

So much work for a little peace and quiet while I write. I'm going to catch hell for this later. Totally worth it.

I guess I should tell you a bit more about myself. I'm Caucasian, five feet and eleven inches tall while standing, and I have dark green eyes that rest a bit further back into my head than most people's. It makes me look intelligent and mysterious.

Or at least, that's what I tell myself every morning.

I have a small beard-thing that I keep restricted to my chin. This makes my chin look a bit more squared, and more importantly, makes me look a bit older than I am, which is never a bad thing when you're only twenty-one.

So, back to River, Kaylee and the rest. The introductions that day were interesting.

Once I had let my employers know that I was leaving, and gone into town to retrieve the goods that I was to deliver, Zoe gave me a tour of the ship.

First, while heading towards the galley, we crossed paths with Inara Serra. I pegged her for upper-crust material the moment I saw her. She seemed to be trying to hide it a bit, wearing plain, serviceable clothing, and using small words, but her breeding and training were all too obvious.

Also, although her clothing was plain, it was too well-cared for, and she was just too clean.

I thought I understood the reason for her presence when we went to the infirmary and I met the doctor. Simon Tam had that same polished feel to him, and his speech seemed to be even more cultured than that of Inara's.

When I asked Zoe how long they had been married, she burst out laughing. When she could stand up without holding her sides she said, "Never, ever, if you value your life, say anything like that in front of the Captain. Inara would laugh, Simon would blush, and the Captain would kill you."

"So the former Lady and the Captain...." I let my voice trail off.

Zoe nodded, but said, "It's not what you think. They're married proper."

I shrugged, "It's not like it's any of my business. I have very few... sensibilities."

Zoe smiled and said, "Good.", and led me on.

On our way past the bunks, I met Kaylee. She was so sweet, kind, cheerful, and radiant that I wanted to puke. This is partially because I'd never before met someone who acted like her and meant it. However, it was also because mean-hearted assholes like me love the company of our own kind more than anything else.

Let it be known far and wide that there is only one reason either Jayne or I would ever say something mean to Kaylee. That reason is the intense desire for peace and quiet.

So far, it looked like Jayne would be the most interesting company on this boat. The thought made me sad.

Then I met River.

It was after I'd arranged my bunk to my satisfaction. It would be several days until we got to Blackwater, and I wanted to be as comfortable as possible for every minute of it. When I was done with that, I hurried to the galley to be on time for the evening meal.

As it turned out, the meal was ready, and most everyone was already at the table. I sat, and closed my eyes for a moment, then dug in.

What? I'm a jerk, not a heathen.

Unfortunately, Kaylee had noticed.

"So you're a Christian?" she asked.

I nodded. It was sort of true. "Just enough to keep me honest is all."

The Captain eyed me. "My wife's a Buddhist. She's pretty gorram honest."

"Mal..." Inara chided.

I just shrugged. "Whatever works."

He seemed mollified by the answer, but a new voice came through the doorway.

"Does it?", said a girl in a serviceable blouse with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows, work pants, and combat boots. Her long dark hair and the thin white scar on her forehead, as well as several on her forearms made her look nothing short of iconic.

Her presence was larger than she was, however. She couldn't have weighed more than ninety pounds soaking wet.

I paused with my food halfway to my mouth.

"Pardon me?" I asked.

"Your unquestioning yet vague belief in an unproved higher power, or deity, is irrational. The myriad beliefs surrounding the omnipotent being are most often based on myth, and self-contradictory. If I were a consciousness of unfathomable power, I wouldn't leave so many of my holy scriptures open to such wildly differing interpretations."

At this, everyone else at the table looked profoundly uncomfortable. Even the Captain, who hadn't been overjoyed at Kaylee's mention of my, admittedly sparse, Christianity, looked like he'd rather be somewhere else.

After a split second, I rallied. "I doubt that I have a lot of influence in the celestial realm, but if I get the chance, I'll pass your opinions along."

By this time, I'd eased out of the hick accent I'd been using, and spoke in my normal tone of voice.

River just smiled. "Irrational or not, your lack of aggressive dogmatism is a good sign. I like you."

With that she walked (danced? floated?) over to me and planted a quick kiss on my cheek. Then she moved over to her own chair and sat down and declared quite plainly, "He's mine."

Everyone sat stunned, myself included. Normally, when a girl lays claim to me, and she looks as stunning as River does, I really don't mind. Some guys get scared by women who are honest about what they want.

Not me. It really just makes my life easier, after all. However, this girl, although she looked more than capable, also had a certain vulnerability to her. Sometimes I'm just slow, but my self-preservation instincts are good, and they went into overdrive at her pronouncement.

It was obviously unexpected, and a terrifying thought for at least three of the people in the room. If I had to guess, she was related to at least one of them and was probably this ship's "mascot, so to speak."

I broke the spell by casually stabbing my food and eating as if this unknown girl hadn't even walked into the room. Most of the others did the same.

I noticed that the Doctor looked even more pale than he had before.

Once he had regained a slice of his composure, he tentatively asked, "River? Mei-mei, do you want to talk to me about..."

He never finished his question, because Mal interrupted explosively, "Aww, hell no, Doc. You better have the birds and the bees talk elsewhere."

Jayne asked, "Weren't it the birds and the wasps?"

Once everyone around me had finished silently mocking Jayne, River put her hand up to forestall any more questions. "I'm not a girl anymore. I know what I'm doing."

I put as much hesitance into my voice as I could, doing my best to indicate that I did not intend to take advantage of this situation, and said, "River, right? Do I have any say in this matter?"

She looked at me as if I was an idiot.

Mal looked at me approvingly, cleared his throat, and changed the subject.

******

Back in my room, I struggled to relax. I checked and double checked all possible entrances to my room, not because I didn't trust the Captain or his crew. We were beyond that now. I mostly wanted to make sure River couldn't get in, in case she was as serious as everyone else seemed to think.

It looked to be a very long voyage indeed, and I decided to distract myself with training.

I don't mean physical training, I save that for mornings. I am pretty good at hurting people. I'd be a shitty courier otherwise. But I have a little edge, something that very few people have ever discovered, and most of them are dead.

I brought out a box which contained perhaps one-hundred small steel beads. I concentrated, splitting my conscious mind into separate parts as, with moving a muscle, I began to lift the beads into the air, moving some in complex patterns. Others, I merely pushed and pulled around at random.

I'm not exactly psycho-kinetic. It's one of the things I can do with a sort of inner will or energy. Hell, call it my chi, if you want. I'm not certain what it is, I only know that I have it, and that I can do some pretty cool stuff with it.

It has limits, of course, but in my line of work, any advantage you can get is worth something. And as this advantage is hidden, it is exceedingly useful.

I sank deeper into the calm that comes when you've set your mind to a pointless task that takes all your concentration and leaves no room for introspection, self-doubt, or worries about possibly disturbed, hauntingly beautiful young girls who, as it turns out, happen to be flying the transport ship that you're on.

Just as I was reaching full relaxation, the intercom crackled and River's voice came over the speaker. "The beads are pretty."

I groaned. "On top of everything else, you just had to be a fucking reader, didn't you?"

She laughed.

COMMENTS

Sunday, May 1, 2011 11:33 PM

JANE0904


This is fun. Always nice to see the crew from an outsider's perspective, and River claiming him is interesting, to say the least. Although I can imagine a number of conversations about to go on with several members of the crew attempting to persuade her otherwise.

Monday, May 2, 2011 2:04 AM

AMDOBELL


Hmm, don't think anyone is going to get a chance to influence River once her mind is made up. Having a telekinetic on board could be very interesting and of course River would know it! Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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