Eidolon (Chapter 6)
Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Misery. Hurts. Bad dreams and steel angels. They bombed Lindalino. Lights of ships moved in the fairway, a great stir of lights going up and down. And further west in the upper reaches it was marked ominously on the sky." (Conflicts)


Osirius: judge and god of the dead. From the ancient Earth-That-Was civilization that settled on the banks of the Nile.

If he hadn't known better, he might have thought someone at the Blue Sun Corporation had a sense of humour.

When the mega-conglomerate moved its headquarters from Sihnon decades before, it had generated widespread panic. Blue Sun is the Alliance, many argued, and without help from the government, the entire economy might have collapsed. The public never quite realized the extent of the truth. Several unusually honest and astute members of Parliament ended up mysteriously dead, and the scandal they had uncovered, precipitating the exodus, was conveniently forgotten.

Little more than five years ago, a middling to high level Blue Sun manager from the wealthy, respected Tam family found out his employers had a dark side. He was black-mailed into secrecy, generally terrorized, and forced to enroll his daughter into a special school to ensure his compliance.

The family estate on the outskirts of Capital City was vacant, the parents taken into custody. Papers and glass strewn over the imported hardwood. A capture in the master bedroom of a girl, twirling in a pale yellow dress, was eternally frozen behind a broken picture frame. Lives interrupted.

The labs underneath the headquarters were similarly emptied. But he knew where they were now, and he would find them, and all the others who had disappeared just like them, no matter how often they were moved. He would deal their tormentors the fate they deserved.

All he needed was the right weapon.

- - - - - The silence of his absence was a balm, inevitable and disappointing, but a relief all the same. A few deep breaths and the diffuse light gentle on her eyelids were almost enough to convince Inara through the frustration. Sometimes she longed for indifference, for a day when he could no longer affect her, when they would no longer fight.

Or better yet, the day he was completely dumbstruck by her. That was a cheering thought, the affectionate amusement of imagined friendly banter. In her fantasy, they didn't say hurtful things and there was nothing to hold her back. She would win through teasing, surprise him with flirtation. Then, when he asked, cautious and shy, lonely and wondering, she would surprise him even more.

In any case, he would return, barging in as usual, feigning innocence and pretending like he was just passing by. She sighed; leave it to Mal to find her a room that looked like the adobe chapels in ancient times where crusading knights might come to pray.

The captain would not think to fetch any of the crew to give her a proper welcome and update in the meantime. Which posed another problem: she was not as lacking in clothing as she had thought when she accused Mal of abducting and undressing her. A rare display of chivalry, leaving her his coat was hardly an improvement over just the bedsheets.

Not that there anything chivalrous in how the sleeves had slid almost lovingly down to her lap when she sat up before, too alarmed then by him to notice. Choosing not to acknowledge the mortifying blush across her suddenly burning skin, she kicked the leather garment away from her legs, then held it up, worrying her bottom lip as she considered.

Could she? Should she? The feel around her, indulging in the embrace of his intoxicating scent… But, no, she couldn't give him the satisfaction, couldn't allow him any sort of claim over her. She briskly folded the coat and set it at the foot of the bed, resolving to return it as soon as possible.

Although, if he never found out… Scarcely thirty seconds later, she was having trouble with the last button when a knock on the wall startled her. What to do? She could pull the incriminating evidence over her head and toss it in the corner, be underneath the covers in less than a second.

No. She would receive her visitors with as much dignity as she could muster. She quickly composed herself and crossed two steps over to the bed, settling down onto the mattress.

"Knocking is unnecessary," noted the unmistakable and promisingly lucid voice of a sighing teenaged psychic.

"Hey, 'Nara! It's us!" Kaylee called, effervescent as ever and almost drowning out Simon's attempt to explain to River that announcing oneself was only polite.

Her friend's enthusiasm was as contagious as ever. "Qĭng jìn!"

The girls exploded into her room like a sunburst, and before she'd half-way risen, River took her hands and spun her around, dancing lavender. "You look lovely, méi méi, is that the dress I gave you?" The teenager barely had time to nod before Kaylee pounced, a happy floral print blur hopping up and down in make-up and ballet-laced flats, her russet bouffant brushed to a high gloss; remnants of an interrupted tryst.

The other half of the couple had dressed down, a simple blue pullover and slacks, and the two had met somewhere in the middle. "We've really missed you," the dark haired doctor explained, with a small nod and a smile that was partially for his sister.

"I can see that," Inara answered, laughing with the exuberance of the greeting. She turned in Kaylee's hug to catch River as well, and the three of them fell back together onto the mattress. After a few moments she extricated herself from the giggling tangle, a little breathless herself. "But what happened? Serenity crashed?"

The sunny mechanic flapped her hand as though shooing away concern, quick to confirm what had already been said and observed. "Don't worry none about us, we're all just fine! Zoë an' Jayne are outside, and, well, guess ya saw the captain already." Inara nodded, she didn't really need the reminder. "He got most banged up of alla us on account of him bein' the one to crash 'er. But that was only 'cuz of Niska's people shootin' us down after I got snatched an' Cap'n killed him," Kaylee chirped, finishing with a megawatt smile that belied the story and a lingering trepidation.

All speech abandoned the companion. "You're staring," River informed her, then reversed their usual roles and began playing hairdresser to long black curls.

Eventually, they explained all the details, about how the sadistic crimelord hadn't harmed Kaylee because he wanted the captain to give up without a fight, about how Mal nearly did and had to be rescued by everyone else. It was a joke for them, or at least they had tried to make it one, but it wasn't really funny, how close they'd been to dying.

It was best to not think about, and Inara rubbed a worried crease away from her forehead. "So we're crashed on…"

"Ezra, about twenty miles from the capital," Simon supplied, with a somewhat pained expression. "My condolences."

She shook her head, careful not to dislodge River's work. Nothing to be done about it, she was here now. "You all look well," she commented instead, glad considering all they'd gone through.

"Yes," the doctor agreed melodramatically, "it's taken my every effort." His sister stuck her tongue out at him, then started over on the elaborate twist she had been attempting.

"I doubt it's been too much of a chore," she chided, arching an eyebrow at him and nudging his date, who grinned back mischievously. Simon blushed and busied himself with the box of syringes he'd left out, trying to avoid further inclusion in all the female excitement.

Kaylee jauntily patted down the leather lapels. "Lookin' pretty good yourself," the bubbling girl teased. "I asked around and got some clothes together for ya, but maybe you don't want 'em?"

Inara took a deep breath, steadying herself and trying to remain unaffected. "I do, thank you. Much as I appreciate Mal lending me his coat," a smile, perfectly communicating that she meant 'not at all,' then an airy shrug, "I'm afraid it does nothing for my figure."

"Bet the captain wouldn't think so," Kaylee insisted. Misunderstood, again, the gentle dissuasion, the wordless plea. "Oh, 'Nara," she breathed, "if only you'da seen, way he first looked atcha…" Simon made a choked objection from where he was leaning against the primitive counter, having abandoned all pretense of not listening in. She simpered, gave him an apologetic glance. "Sorry. It was real sweet is all. Guess it didn't last too long."

So they heard. "We always fight," she reminded them, and with not a little admonishment directed at herself. "I said some things that perhaps I shouldn't have, but you know how he is." Distrustful and unwelcoming, and capable of provoking her more than any other person she'd ever met.

Her confidant looked disappointed, but it was River who spoke, her hands stilled mid-styling, her melancholy voice imitating a rustic accent. "He's just umbragey," she murmured, eyes wide and unfocused, "Not your fault. You come from the core lookin' all glamour an' smarts, but out here on the rim it's just us. Sometimes can't see across the distance, why you'd even wanna be out here."

The girl pulled away from outstretched arms, drifting waifishly. "River…?" Simon asked, uncertainly.

"Misery. Hurts. Bad dreams and steel angels. They bombed Lindalino. Lights of ships moved in the fairway, a great stir of lights going up and down. And further west in the upper reaches it was marked ominously on the sky." She straightened, tensed, as though struck, then slumped. "So tired."

"It's withdrawals," the doctor assessed. "You'll sleep better if we wait until tomorrow." River gave her brother one of her looks, not needing the explanation, but her other comment had him too worked up into full protective big brother mode to notice. "Are you having nightmares again?"

Kaylee hopped off the bed, and reached an arm around the smaller girl, who gratefully leaned into the support. "It's okay, I'll sit up with her for a while," she announced, exchanging a look with Simon like she wanted to say more, then helped River off to bed.

Simon watched after them, visibly suppressing the urge to follow, then approached with a penlight and sat on the bedside cushion. "How are you feeling?"

Her lashes flicked away, somewhere outside to a lone soldier keeping vigil against the moon. A half laugh, half sob managed to escape through her fingers. "I don't know, I thought I'd never see any of you again, and now..." Emotional turmoil. Her affection for them struggling with her distress that distance could no longer protect them, with the heartbreak her staying would cause. "I don't know why I'm here."

The doctor shifted awkwardly. "Actually, I meant if you're feeling anything odd, any nausea, or numbness, lingering side effects from waking up." He glanced towards the hall, then lowered his voice, full of sympathy. "You don't recall anything? Not the cryochamber?"

"No," she answered. The light moved back and forth in the usual ritual-like medical examination, and she watched obligingly, trying to distract herself. But she needed to hear. "How long have I been gone?"

"About a month," he told her gently, though it was impossible to soften the blow of the news.

Her eyes misted and she buried her face in her hands. "Everyone is going to know…"

"At least you won't have to tell the captain again," he offered supportively, the pen light clicking off. "I can't even imagine how hard that must have been."

Her chin lifted and she blinked, her tears too alarmed to fall. "A-again?" she coughed.

"Well, yes," Simon sounded uncertain despite the affirmation, as though realizing his error, "He was bad after you left, sulking and snapping at everyone, but he's been more subdued recently." At her stricken expression, he hurried onward. "After the crash, Mal didn't wave you to ask you for help, and when I asked him why… He knew, and he accused me of keeping secrets."

Despair and Mal were an association Inara was well accustomed to. When had he found out? How? As long as he didn't know, she could fight back, and feel alive and strong. Now it would become real. She couldn't bear to face his pity, his emptiness and loss.

"What am I going to do?" she whispered.


Saturday, June 25, 2011 5:19 PM


Embarrassing shippiness!

*Cough* Yeah, I go overboard.

But, yeah, this is how my story goes most the rest of the time. Bursts of action interspersed mostly with LOOONG stretches of character interaction and study.

I kinda like exploring both the relationships that got a lot of attention on the show, but also the ones that didn't, and that's actually probably what I focus most on, just fit to a loosely defined plot.

Saturday, June 25, 2011 7:53 PM


I am entirely in favor of embarrassing shippiness. As much as you want to write.

Liked Inara's thoughts as she works up to putting on Mal's coat.

Sunday, June 26, 2011 6:13 AM


Yeah... That was the embarrassing part.

I'm... not good at cute. Or steamy. Or action. Or horror. Or pacing. Or tension.

I'm GREAT at angst! :D

Sunday, June 26, 2011 11:18 AM


Inara should give herself a break and not be mortified that Mal already knows. After all, that means she won't have to tell him - always supposing she ever meant to. I am glad Kaylee and the crew brought her up to speed about what had happened and the ship crashing etc. But ouch, I did wince when Simon told her how long she had been gone. Hoping for some shiny happy coming along any time soon. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Sunday, June 26, 2011 12:12 PM


Well, I wouldn't say so much that Mal knows, but rather that he has two guesses and that there's been some accidental miscommunication shenanigans going on.

As for Inara, I'm not sure she ever intended to tell Mal. There's two important angles that Inara is working at, that Mal doesn't blame himself and that Mal doesn't run off and do something crazy to try to save her. Both of which would conflict with telling him.


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Eidolon (Epilogue)
Someday, she knew they would visit the graves of Serenity Valley and not hear the howl of the ghosts. Someday, they would walk across the green prairie of a restored world and watch the rain. (Glimpses)

Eidolon (Chapter 40)
Clouds were blossoming in the distance, promising rain for the city later. The crew of Serenity and the badlands around Eavesdown Docks to the south would probably see only a harsh windstorm. Two different worlds, she mused, caught between them. (Deliverance)

Eidolon (Chapter 39)
The question seemed to hit her hard. In the mirrors of her eyes, he saw himself, forced to see her lose more ground every day. Hurt more, because of him. Saw her watching him back as she pulled him out of a nightmare. (Try)

The Gift
They don't have much. But they have each other. (Just a little holiday story from the Firefly verse. Belongs to Joss)

Eidolon (Chapter 38)
The girl processed that response. "He brought the medicine? He saved us?" Inara nodded, considering her own inclusion in the question. (Renewed)

Eidolon (Chapter 37)
A wind clear and sweet stirred the air, humming as a shimmering, ever-shifting blaze of color flashed from one horizon to another. The breeze carried with it a distant song, rising over the hills and through the vales like a soulful hymn from his childhood. (Flight)

Eidolon (Chapter 36)
"I cut the strings. They were never yours anyway.”(Liberation)

Eidolon (Chapter 35)
A few twists of a little turnscrew and the mechanic was stripping wires and rerouting circuits in moments. (Break)

Eidolon (Chapter 34)
Stars scattered in the night, coalesced from the stellar dust from a far away sun and others that came before. A spark, scintillating into a network, a stream, like the lights and streets of a city. (Cascade)

Eidolon (Chapter 33)
"Put me back in that place," River said, "Little bluebird singing in a cage, puppet on broken strings." (Capture)