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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Action! Romance! Mal does some thinking, and Jayne delivers a lecture on sexual morality.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2237 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
(02) ADVENTURES IN SITTING
Follows (01) A LION’S MOUTH. Precedes (03) SPARKS FLY.
Action! Romance! Mal does some thinking, and Jayne delivers a lecture on sexual morality.
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* * *
“That’s the last of ’em, Mal,” Jayne said, as Mal secured the last three crates to the back of the mule. He climbed into the seat.
“Take us back to the ship, Zoe.” Mal climbed aboard as well. “I hope Inara’s ‘appointments’ are moving through her bed quickly,” he said with a bitter tone, unable to avoid thinking of the ‘short interval.’ “Won’t be long before we’re loaded up and ready to fly.”
She’d spent most of the day lying naked on her back moaning, Inara thought, staring at the ceiling. Unlike Dr Sakurai’s, Dr Schneider’s room had a scalloped pattern on the ceiling. In her line of work, Inara had had cause to contemplate any number of ceilings. Ceilings reflected purpose. Square tile ceilings in square tile offices. Rich red draperies in her shuttle. Denticulations, egg-and-dart, bead-and-reel, pineapple cornices in the storied academic world. Fat, naked rococo cherubs painted in the playrooms of the Core wealthy. Ordered geometric patterns, tessellations extending to infinity and beyond, in the hilltop palaces of the powerful. Here, the scalloped turnings reflected waves, waves of pain that washed over and through her as Dr Schneider worked the complicated machine. Lots of prodding and probing, a few needles and cold exam tables. Dr Schneider’s serious, severe face reflected sympathy for her patient. No one enjoyed amelioration therapy.
A while later, Inara sat up on the exam table in a hospital gown. Without any conscious effort, she managed to look beautiful even in a shapeless paper dress, but by this time of day she also looked more than a little drained. She tuned her attention to Dr Schneider’s speech. “…and schedule your next treatment as soon as you know you’ll be planetside.”
“That could be weeks,” Inara said.
Dr Schneider’s face reflected serious concern. “It’s your health and safety, your career—and even your life—at stake. You’ll need at least two more treatments within the next eight weeks.”
After seeing Fergus and the lads off, Saffron left Muirhouse and stopped in at the cache. She changed into appropriate clothing, and gathered her equipment. Saffron’s mission was not that difficult, given the right tools. She always made a point of bringing the right tools to do the job. Whether it was a filament stripper, adhesive fusers, or sedative lipstick, she knew it was important to be prepared. She did her homework. This time she had some new toys, ones she hadn’t ever been allowed to play with before. She smiled, with sly triumph. Few people got to play with these toys, especially these days.
The timing was critical. To win the game—really win—she had to time it perfectly. To win the game she had to beat the clock.
Simon stood in Serenity’s cargo bay with his hands in the air, while the thuggish cops frisked him for weapons. And roughed him up. One of the bruisers held Kaylee. She was too fearful to struggle, but Simon wouldn’t stop talking. It was his best option.
“Officer, you’re making a mistake. There is no current warrant for my arrest. If you’ll allow me to get the notice of rescindment…”
“You’re not going anywhere. In fact you’ll be settin’ in a nice jail cell for a good long while. You been on the most wanted list for more ’n a year.”
Simon became aware of River slowly, silently stepping onto the catwalk. She had an absent air, but Simon knew without looking that she was assessing the situation, doing the math. Careful not to acknowledge her presence, Simon continued his rant. “That warrant’s out of date! Haven’t you been listening?” Keep the man riled, keep his attention on you, Simon thought. Luckily, he had a natural talent for antagonizing people. It was easy, really, to let his words and body language imply that he thought this officer was, at best, incompetent. “You’d be making an unwarranted arrest.”
“Look here, you 流氓谁的话太多liúmáng shéi dehuà tàiduō. I don’t know what you mean with your ‘unwarranted warrant’ but you better get your 屁股 pìgu moving—now!”
Simon stood his ground. “Show me the warrant.”
As the mule pulled away from the warehouse with the last crates aboard, Mal’s earwig crackled to life. He listened to the brief report, then spoke to Jayne and Zoe. “That was River. Seems we got ourselves a situation back on Serenity.” Zoe sped up, while Mal and Jayne readied their weapons.
She was bold, she was stealthy, she was fearless, she was strong—she had no head for heights. 糟糕 Zāogāo. Don’t look down. She grabbed the bar, tried to pull herself up, scrambled to a foothold, and used her legs to propel herself upward. Don’t look down.
“Show you the—?” repeated the thug.
“I’ll come with you, but first show me the warrant.” By now, Simon had figured out this “policeman” wasn’t legitimate, and he spoke with a bold assurance.
Fergus was a little off-balance. He’d been prepared for some resistance, but nothin’ he couldn’t overpower, weak fella like this. But all this talking. He had no idea what to make of the man’s apparent cooperation.
“I’m not resisting arrest. I just need assurance that you’re acting within your jurisdiction. Why don’t you have your badge on display?”
Fergus barely had time to register one “huh?” on the thinking scale before Simon spoke again.
“Why didn’t you do a retinal scan to ID me? Isn’t that standard procedure? How do you even know you have the right man?” Simon was aware of River’s silent movements along the catwalk, as she positioned herself above the spot where Kaylee was held by the bruiser. Keep their attention, Simon thought. Keep their attention here, or on Kaylee. “You haven’t read me my rights. In fact, you haven’t followed standard police procedure in any way.” The head thug and his bruisers were getting nervous. Simon judged it was about time to act, and chose his moment as one bruiser made a threatening motion toward Kaylee. “You leave her alone! You’ve got no business with her, if I’m what you came for.”
This was sufficient distraction. The head thug and all the bruisers momentarily looked at Kaylee. Simon punched and kicked his man, just as River swung down from the catwalk, quickly knocking out the bruiser holding Kaylee. The other bruisers reacted, attacking River, who knocked them out almost simultaneously without looking, with one kick behind her and a punch to the side. With his thug distracted by the action behind him, Simon was able to get the advantage, and used his medical knowledge rather than brawn to render the man unconscious. Just as he dropped his man, Mal, Zoe, and Jayne tore up on the mule, sprung off it with weapons drawn, and fanned out up the cargo ramp in covered positions, like the perfectly trained assault team they were. They held their positions for a moment, contemplating the four thugs sprawled out cold on the deck.
Mal finally spoke. “Looks like the situation is under control.”
It required some very rapid work, and split-second timing. She got it done. That girl is a wonder. She gets it done. Hanging from the lowest rail, she dropped to the ground and rolled out of sight. Mission accomplished.
Or at least phase one. Time to clean up.
They disarmed and tied up the unconscious thugs, who began to stir as they finished loading on the cargo. Mal addressed a few choice words to the thugs, to encourage them to do the right thing, and as he was well-supported by Zoe and Jayne, bristling with weaponry, the fellas took his message to heart. “…Now get the hell off my ship,” Mal concluded, and Serenity took off, leaving the thugs in the dust of Pedro Docks. Soon Beaumonde was far behind them, and most of the crew gathered in the dining room as River piloted Serenity through the black.
“Inara made her appearance yet?” Mal asked the room in general.
It was Kaylee who answered. “She’s still in her shuttle, resting up and making herself presentable after all her appointments.”
Mal scowled at the reminder of Inara’s “appointments.”
Jayne spoke up. “Speakin’ o’ which, hey, Doc. Need you to give me more of them pills. Gonna get sexed next time we hit planetside for longer ’n a four hour drop—”
“Jayne!” admonished Kaylee in a shocked voice.
“—spent half of it sittin’ on our 屁股 pìgu in a gorram office building, no chance to get me some—”
Simon rolled his eyes. Zoe exhaled with a snort.
“What? Don’t you think I know how to behave decent?” Jayne demanded, turning on Simon. “Didn’t your momma never teach you that a decent man don’t go around the ’Verse plantin’ his seed in women what aren’t willin’ to have his child?”
“No, Jayne, I didn’t say—” Simon began.
Mal was quite amused by this bit of theatre. Jayne, settin’ himself up as the lecturer on sexual responsibility and morality.
“My momma always said, it’s a man’s responsibility to protect the woman he’s with. It’s just common sense, not to go givin’ nor gettin’ no STD’s. And if a man ain’t plannin’ on stickin’ around to be a father, he ain’t got no call to be makin’ no babies neither.”
“Always the responsible man you are, Jayne.” Mal folded his arms and rocked back on his heels, letting his amusement show in his eyes but not on his face.
“Damn straight. Responsible and considerate. I ain’t no monster like that fella Burgess what knocked up that whore at Heart o’ Gold, when she weren’t lookin’ to be a mother…”
Mal blinked from humorous to humorless in an instant, with a very dark look shadowing his face at the mention of Burgess. Memories of Nandi and a feeling of crushing responsibility for her death weighed upon him. Zoe immediately noticed.
“闭嘴 Bìzuǐ!” she hissed to Jayne.
With her eyes, Zoe directed his attention to Mal. The Captain threw his empty mug down on the dining table and stalked out of the room, heading down the corridor towards his bunk.
“Weren’t talkin’ about Mal,” Jayne said to the silent glares of the remaining three.
Mal sat heavily on his bed and exhaled roughly. He had a way of getting people killed. Nandi, for one. He tried to help. She’d trusted him. His protection amounted to saving her business at the cost of her life. Wash. Book. Both had relied on him to make the right decisions, and both ended up dead. Everybody he cared about ended up dead. He’d spent the night with Nandi. Should have been with Inara, but she wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole. She knew better than to have to do with him. People who got close to him ended up dead.
Inara. What did she mean? What did she want from him? After Miranda, he thought she’d come a little closer. She’d fought alongside the crew of Serenity. When he asked, she didn’t want to go back to the Training House. She hadn’t shown any interest in taking clients…until today. He’d almost thought….Well, didn’t matter much what he thought, now, did it? None of it meant a damn thing.
Thing was, he couldn’t leave it there, not anymore. He wanted it to mean something. He wanted…he wanted everything. Wanted to give her everything he had. Expected everything in return. There were times when he thought it might work, when he thought she understood. But more often, he felt he’d been a fool for even cherishing the meager hope that she’d stay on Serenity. That she’d not leave again.
He looked over at the desk. One corner of it was occupied by a little clutter of objects, each insignificant on its own, each one loaded with meaning for him. A button from one of her gowns that he’d found in the cargo bay. A folded scarf he’d filched from the trunk of sundries she’d left behind, covered in her scent. A scrap of paper he’d salvaged from the recycle bin with calligraphy in her hand. And a capture Kaylee had made, when Inara was packing to leave. He picked it up, held it in his hand, and let it play through, feeling the bitter stronger than the sweet. “That man doesn’t know what he wants,” Inara-in-the-capture said. But he did know. He wanted a serious relationship. The kind that led somewhere. Not just fun and games—well, okay, he wanted that too—but not just romping and a quick roll in the hay. He wanted a partner in life, a mate. Someone to share the bad times as well as the good, someone to love and protect and cherish, someone who would put up with him—mean, ornery, bad man as he was. Who would see him through when he got shot and stabbed. Who would stand by him, even when he was wrong. Someone he could love and honor and respect. To have and to hold. ’Til the final parting wrought only by death. He wanted marriage. And he wanted Inara.
Were those two irreconcilable? he wondered. He’d never heard tell of a married Companion. Then again, he reckoned he didn’t really know so much about the life-ways of Companion folk. Most of what he knew of Companions he’d learned from Inara herownself, and he knew enough by now to figure that Inara wasn’t a typical Companion. If she was, she wouldn’t never have been on his ship in the first place. She was a Companion, but she was also a woman. All those years of Companion training hadn’t removed the woman at the core of her. The essential woman was still there—he knew it, he’d caught glimpses. But how to reach her—wrapped up as she was in all those layers of Companionship. How to find the way through that carefully constructed wall, that was the problem. Ought to be possible, to reach the woman inside. And women—women loved, married, raised families all the time. Weren’t impossible. Besides, hadn’t he done the impossible before?
He felt mighty, at least he did for long enough to climb the ladder and reach the cargo bay, and there he paused, gazing out over the crates that filled the vast dark space. If the bridge was his place for thinking and his bunk was his place for brooding (sounded better than sulking), the cargo bay was his place for truthsomeness. It was as he stood on the lower catwalk leaning on the rail, that the truthsomeness of the situation hit him. What kind of crazy 傻瓜 shǎguā was he, thinking marriage thoughts about Inara? What could he possibly say? “Marry me and I’ll try not to get us blown up in the next month.” Or how about, “Marry me, and you can share my jail cell next time I get pinched?” Or maybe, “Marry me, and I’ll see to it you won’t starve—for this week anyhow.” He snorted with self-derisive laughter. What the hell was he thinking? Inara wouldn’t ever marry him. He didn’t have nothin’ to offer. Let the word “marriage” pass his lips and like as not she’d pack up and get gone afore he could even complete the sentence. Marriage was not never an option.
And then there were those clients. Or those gorram appointments, or whatever the 地狱 dìyù she was callin’ ’em now.
As he stood there leaning on the rail, the shuttle door slid open. Mal looked up and saw Inara haloed in the light, looking beautiful, vulnerable, and…innocent. He caught his breath and his heart beat faster. How was it she could do this to him? She smiled at him, and suddenly nothing else mattered.
“I understand I missed some excitement.” She descended toward him, still smiling.
“You missed a bit of action,” he replied, a smile in his voice. “It seems flying legal cargo is just as dangerous as smuggling.” Then he remembered her appointments. His unhappiness descended with a thud. When he next spoke, the sarcastic edge in his voice cut through the smile. “How were all those appointments? Have fun? Were they rich young appointments with stamina?”
“I wasn’t seeing clients, Mal,” she explained patiently. “It was Guild business. And honestly, they were awful. Painful, even. Not an experience I want to repeat. Though I think I’ll have to,” she added, almost to herself.
Mal was surprised. She was trying to explain, instead of just telling him to mind his own business. Did she feel…? For one unguarded moment, wild happiness showed on his face. Inara gave him a penetrating glance. Quickly he reigned in his happiness: wouldn’t do to appear happy she was in pain. “The appointments were awful? Sorry you had to…” he blathered in some confusion.
“Mal,” Inara began, “I may need to leave the ship. I…” She hesitated.
Last time, Mal had let her speak her piece. Nandi died at the Heart of Gold, and he had let Inara go, to his great regret. He wouldn’t let it happen again. Decision made. He’d risk it all. He cut her off. “Don’t.”
“Don’t leave.” He broke eye contact, looked down a moment, and raised his eyes to hers again. “I…I don’t think I could take it, losing you again.” Inara said nothing, but gave him a look. What he saw in her face gave him enough encouragement to go on. “When you came back, Inara—back to Serenity, before Miranda—I told you that I got no rudder, that you spin me about. But that ain’t quite it. You spin me the direction I need to go. You are my rudder, keep me from bein’ on the drift. Inara, you make me a better man. I’m asking you to stay.” He took her hand and said, very quietly, “I don’t think I could go on without you.”
It was hard to read Inara’s expression. Joy and sorrow, mixed together. But not anger. Not scorn. So he kept talking. “You know who I am, what I am…”
He was watching her as he spoke and saw uncertainty cross her face. “Mal, I— ” she began.
He interrupted again. “I know I’m not any kind of catch…Hell, all I got is this ship and what you see in front of you. But everything I got…everything I am…” His throat felt constricted, it was hard to speak, but there was no way he’d leave it unsaid. “My heart, my love—it all belongs to you…if you want,” he added, humbly.
She took his other hand in hers, and said simply, “Oh, Mal!” but it was accompanied by such a look as he would never forget. They moved closer as naturally as the force of gravity draws two heavenly bodies into orbit round each other, and their lips met in a promise of love. Their first kiss was passionate and heartfelt.
哎呀 Āiyā he missed Shepherd Book. Shepherd woulda had wise words to say, when Mal bolted outta the dining room. Woulda known what to say to Zoe about Wash. Woulda known what to do ’bout River flyin’ the ship, when it was clear as daylight she was a crazy killer woman belonged in a bughouse. Woulda known how to knock the Doc down a peg or two, pretendin’ to be all proper and above it all when him and Kaylee were doin’ the hot monkey love on every flat surface of the ship. But most of all, Jayne missed his weightlifting sessions with the Shepherd. Man always was willin’ to spot him a few sets. Always had somethin’ to say that was worth hearin’ even if he wouldn’t spill about his mysterious past. Wasn’t all preachy like you’d expect from a preacher. Jayne wished Book was here right now. Jayne tossed a towel over his shoulder and crossed the dining room. Fat chance, he thought, but he asked anyways. “Anybody want to spot me a few sets?”
Nobody said a word, but he nearly ran into Zoe, who was blocking his way to the cargo bay.
“Jayne!” she warned, in her commander voice. “Don’t go down there.”
“Wha—huh?” Why the hell not?
“Not now, Jayne,” she said, with a significant look.
They’d barely moved, but they’d traveled far. From their first pledge of love, they scaled heights of passion, knowing each other with lips, hands, and tongues. They were alone in the ’Verse, together and complete, kissing, kissing, kissing.
Simon sat next to Kaylee in the dining area lounge and watched in awe as she performed her own brand of surgery on the portable diagnostic lab. It looked like an operation gone haywire. The patient’s electronic guts were spread all over the low table, hemorrhaging microchips. She inserted an IV line of wiring. Choosing carefully from her array of surgical tools, she connected a motherboard that she had reconfigured herself. She stanched the flow of silicone oil, snapped the casing shut, and turned to Simon with a smile. “That oughta do it.”
Simon began to rise from his seat. “I can’t wait to try it. I think I’ll go right down to the infirmary and—”
“Stay with me, Simon,” Kaylee said invitingly, not moving from her seat in the slightest.
“Shouldn’t I check it out?” He should, right? She’d just fixed it up for him, right? He should show his appreciation by using it, right?
“Don’t be such a boob,” Kaylee said. “You’re stayin’ right here.” She pulled him right onto her lap, and he abandoned any thought of going anywhere.
Kissing, touching, locked in an embrace that constantly shifted yet never was broken, Mal and Inara had somehow managed to migrate up the catwalk stairs to Inara’s shuttle door. He cupped his hands gently around Inara’s face, tenderly kissing her forehead, eyelids, cheekbones, fluttering a row of kisses along the line of her jaw as she sighed his name over and over. Her hands moved over the muscles of Mal’s back, exploring the contours of his shoulders, running up and down his spine, her electric touch making him shiver. Nuzzling his neck, she placed her hand over his heart, and felt its rapid pulse, beating for her. He kissed his way down to her clavicle, tracing the neckline of her dress with his lips. His hands explored the small of her back, moved downwards. One of them tripped the switch that activated the door, and it slid shut behind them with a soft hiss. The music of the starry black sky filled their ears.
River looked out over the softly blinking flight desk and listened to the music of the starry black. Her face reflected pure happiness. Joy. Serenity.
流氓谁的话太多liúmáng shéi dehuà tàiduō [talkative jerk]
屁股 pìgu [ass]
糟糕 Zāogāo [Crap]
屁股 pìgu [asses]
闭嘴! Bìzuǐ! [Shut up!]
傻瓜 shǎguā [idiot]
地狱 dìyù [hell]
哎呀 Āiyā [Damn]
Thursday, June 2, 2011 8:55 AM
Thursday, June 2, 2011 10:55 AM
Thursday, June 2, 2011 11:08 AM
Thursday, June 2, 2011 11:49 AM
Saturday, June 4, 2011 5:17 PM
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