Honest Run: Dance
Friday, November 26, 2004

Peeking in on the rest of the crew...


She was a picture of beauty. Wash stood there admiring his wife as she watched most of the crew down below in the cargo bay from one of the catwalks above it. She had just gotten the wave from Mal half an hour ago. She had been quiet since. The captain and the doctor were just beginning to descend into the planet. According to what Zoe had just told the rest of the crew, everything and everyone was fine. “So,” Wash pulled gently on Zoe’s arm, “What did the captain say?” Zoe snared Wash’s wrist sharply, before abruptly letting it go. “Ow,” Wash took back his hand, “That’s a bit painful for foreplay, dear.” There was an apology in her eyes, but it didn’t make it to her lips. Wash offered his hand back, “It’ll be hard to do what I do, but you can have it if you want it…” The statement couldn’t bring a smile to Zoe’s face, but there wasn’t one on Wash’s either. The offer was genuine, if a little macabre. “Thanks, honey,” Zoe said, “I’ll let you know.” Unsatisfied with the response, Wash leaned over with her, “You want to talk about it?” Zoe didn’t look at him. She wasn’t looking down below either, “About your hand?” she asked. “No.” Wash said seriously, “About this thing with you lately. Somethin’s on your mind,” he said sharing with Zoe the particular piece of hull that had earned her scrutiny, “Been on it since the captain got the bug to do this job with the doctor.” “And?” Zoe clearly wasn’t in the mood. “Nope.” Wash said, “Not going to do it,” he laid his hand, slower this time, on her shoulder, “I’m not going to let you push me away. Not by making me mad at least,” he smiled, thinking of a joke, but having the control to keep it to himself. He banished the smile in quick order too, “I know that I’m not Mal, but being the other half’s gotta count for something…” The confession was hard, but it did the job. Zoe turned her head, “It does, honey. It does. But I don’t understand it myself. I couldn’t explain it to Mal either.” “Its just a feeling?” Wash said, “Intuition?” “Something like that,” She said, “But it doesn’t let go. I can’t not think about it.” “Is it just the responsibility?” Wash asked, “The responsibility of the ship and the rest of us? Of looking after us?” Zoe thought about it, “Mal’s done it before…” “He has,” Wash turned around and leaned on the railing, “But it’s happening a little more often, isn’t it?” “Maybe.” “Is it that he’s sharing his trust with someone that’s not you?” Wash asked suddenly. Zoe blinked. Is that it? She wanted to instantly deny it, but she couldn’t, “So the captain’s opening up?” she asked Wash, “Is that what you think?” “Could be that he’s tryin’ to relate to the doc, somehow,” Wash leaned back to look in her dark eyes. “I don’t think he planned it that way,” Zoe conceded, “But could be…” “Is that what’s bothering you, Zoe?” Wash asked, “The captain’s trust is coming on the market?” “Could be the captain’s just getting careless,” Zoe said, “And instead of chopping off his legs and handing them to him, I have to sit here and watch him do it. Wash whistled, “Can’t say those kinds of threats are heart warming, dear.” “Weren’t meant to be, honey.” Wash was starting to think that he had done all he could, but he wasn’t going to give up that easily, “Good news, Zoe,” he changed the subject, “It’s Book’s turn for chow.” “Not much the man can do with what’s left in the kitchen,” Zoe said, “But he’s had less. Don’t suppose you’ve heard the sermon about feeding the masses with a couple loaves of bread and single fish have you?” “I do believe I caught the end of that debate with River and Book.” “Debate?” “‘Groundless hyperbole,’ as River was to say it,” Wash said, “And there was a string of incoherent logic afterwards.” “Was it really incoherent?” Zoe asked. “Well, no,” Wash told her, “River seemed to know what she was sayin,’ I just didn’t quite follow. ‘I leave when the talk gets philosophical,’ as a great man once said…” “What great man?” “Tracer Bullet, dear.” “Never held of him,” Zoe dismissed it, “Then River seems to be doing fine…” “Counted the kitchen cutlery twice, honey.” “She’s comin’ off the meds, Wash. Simon said it would be good for her.” “How good is it going to be for us?” “I’m hoping for soup in the hair,” Zoe confessed. “Aren’t we all?” The blonde man continued to lean up against railing, “Alright, then…” he glanced down, “Wow. Inara teaching Jayne to dance.” “Brave woman,” Zoe commented. “No kidding. Have you seen that man’s feet?” “Honey?” Zoe said, a bit of a smile on her dark exotic features, “Are we going to have to talk about you kissing other men and staring at their naked feet? It’s not a talk I look forward to having…” “I haven’t seen Mal’s naked feet,” Wash protested. “But you’ve seen Jayne’s?” Wash turned up his face indignant, “A man just can’t help but notice these things,” he sighed, “You just wouldn’t understand.” Zoe laughed, “That’s why I married you.” “I thought it was because I was hot in bed.” Wash said straight-faced. “Well…” Zoe led on… “What?!!” Wash said theatrically shocked, “It wasn’t for the hot sex?” Zoe took him by the chin, “That’s just a bonus, dear,” she kissed him briefly.


How was she going to tell them? Inara asked herself this so many times that she couldn’t bear to think of it any longer. They would think it them. They would think it was something they did, something they said. That they had driven her away. Mal especially. Nothing could be further from the truth. If anything, they had enriched the time she had had among them. She loved each and everyone of them so earnestly that everything else that she had known everything that she had been taught had paled in comparison. But what could she do?

“I can take it,” Inara Serra said, “I’m a big girl.” The fluttering of her long lashes wasn’t lost on the doctor; he cleared his throat and tried to assume a serious stance. He was an older man, probably not unattractive in his youth, but the years in such a profession had worn away most of those features, “Miss Serra…” “Inara,” she said, “Please call me Inara, Doctor Stanton. We really don’t have to stand on decorum, do we?” She smiled then. But underneath she was in absolute turmoil. What had begun with a few anomalous results on a check up weeks ago here on Ariel had become a more intensive follow-up. None of the technicians that she had had told her what they were looking for. They told her what the tests were named in dry technical terms, but that had yielded little information. But there had been a glance or two that spoke of something that Inara had rarely experienced. Pity. The doctor smiled tightly, “I would like to maintain it, if possible, Miss Serra. The tests have come back with conclusive results…” “What do they tell you?” Inara asked, a trace of uncertainty in her voice. “They tell me…”

Jayne took Inara’s offered hand, “‘Nara, why are we doing this for?” His grip was fierce for a minute, “I don’t wanna…” Inara smiled, “Relax your grip, Jayne,” she instructed, “Kaylee wants to learn how to dance on Persephone…” “I don’t see how this…” Jayne placed his other hand on her bottom instead of the small of her back, “Has anything to do with Kaylee goin’ to a dance.” The smile never left her face as she pulled his arm up to the proper position before putting her hand on his shoulder. “Oh.” Jayne said, “Sorry,” And shock of shocks, it was genuine, “Used to being a little more familiar, if you catch my meaning…” The confession was startling for Inara, who thought the brute coarser than anyone that she had had the fortune of spending any amount of time with, “It won’t be one of those dances, Jayne,” Inara looked to Kaylee, who was giggling despite of herself. She was in her coveralls, sitting on a crate in the main cargo bay. In her lap, there was a curious device that she had secretly cobbled together in the latest weeks. “What are you laughing about?” Jayne demanded, “It ain’t funny!” “Come on, Jayne,” Kaylee said cheerily, “It’ll be fun. We’ve got to go this year…” “I still don’t know why I have to learn how to dance,” Jayne grumbled, “It’s not like anyone’s gonna ask me to dance no way. Not if they know what’s good for ‘em,” He looked down at Inara, “What about that fluff that stabbed the captain last time? Won’t he be there?” “The captain humiliated Atherton, Jayne,” Inara said, “No one has seen him since.” “That don’t mean he ain’t stewin’ for a next time,” Jayne retorted. “Start the music, Kaylee,” Inara sighed, “Atherton has fallen out of favor, Jayne. That means that he won’t be at the party. It’s by invite only.” The engineer nodded, pressing a button on the device in her arms. Classical music painfully piped through the worn speaker. “The captain and Kaylee got in,” Jayne led as the music started, “Ain’t no one invited them.” “It would be unacceptable for Atherton to even try,” Inara insisted, “He has lived by the rules of the gentry so long, he knows little else.” “Whatever,” Jayne stared at his feet as he and Inara continued to dance, “I think he’s going to be there. Man’s got an axe to grind meaning that he’s gonna put it in the captain’s back if you got me…” “Then you should be there anyway, Jayne,” Kaylee said, “Watch the captain’s back for him.” “Ain’t no one needed to watch the captain’s back so far, ‘cept Zoe,” Jayne said aloud, but quietly to himself, he said, “Can’t imagine he’d feel wholesome having me watch it any way.” Inara blinked, but said nothing. What was that about? If the mercenary thought anything else of it, it wasn’t on his face. Even as Jayne’s attention was fixated on his feet, Inara found him to be an instant learner, “Jayne,” she said, “Stop staring at your feet. You really are doing quite well.” Astonishingly well, actually. Inara found that he only barely misstepped and when he did, the mercenary needed very little guiding other than a subtle lead here or there. And then a thought occurred to her, “You are staring at your feet, aren’t you?” The alternative being him staring down her dress, which, knowing Jayne the way she did, was extremely probable. Man liked women, and it wasn’t a secret. “Inara.” He looked into her eyes, “I got me some fierce clodhoppers and I don’t want to crush those pretty feet of yours.” And a compliment. Where was her Jayne Cobb? “You won’t.”

“…what type of condition that we have here.” Stanton told her. That a veteran practioner of the medical profession was at such a state of unease worried Inara. What did they find? “A condition?” Inara mouthed slowly, “It’s a condition?” “The reason for all the testing was to confirm what we had earlier thought an impossibility. You have had checkups on an annual basis as a Companion, and we have those records… Now that we look back on them, we can see the how we nearly missed it this time…” The doctor couldn’t bring himself to come to the point, which, of course, flagged several more alarms in the companion’s mind. “What is it?” Inara asked. Stanton sighed, “Its cancer, my dear…” “Cancer?” Inara’s heart seized, “I don’t understand…” “It’s hard for us to realize it either. By and large, you have done all the preventive care to avoid such a thing. From what I see of your family and their records, what we have of them, there is no history of it.” Inara felt extremely uncomfortable, “You are sure of it?” “This report,” Stanton brandished a manila folder, “Confirms it beyond a doubt.” Aware of her body, Inara asked, “Where?” “The location is cerebral.” “A brain tumor?” she asked. “Yes,” Stanton replied, “But I would be doing you a disservice if I was to allude to there only being one. There are several, actually, seeded throughout the organ, therein lies the trouble.” “But I’ve had no symptoms,” Inara told him, “Shouldn’t I have had some symptoms with a condition of this sort?” “Normally, yes,” the doctor sat beside her, close enough to offer support, far enough to be unobtrusive, “But we attribute that to their size. You may have had symptoms but they would be relatively minor. A headache. Some brief dizziness…” Feeling desperately vulnerable, she folded her arms together, “Is there a treatment?” “There are several avenues to pursue…” “Surgery?” Inara asked. “Yes.” “Radiation?” “Yes.” “Medication?” “Yes.” “All of them?” she asked. “At the very least.”

“Uh-huh,” Jayne forced himself to look at the companion’s face, but his eyes drifted down on occasion, “Kaylee ain’t dancin’ with me is she? I reckon that the doc would clean up pretty well. Hell,” Jayne said, “Fancy dude like him should cut the rug and take it home with him.” “Simon and River have to stay on the ship, Jayne. There’s too much of a chance of high ranking Alliance officers being there.” Kaylee sighed, “Book’ll be with them just in case.” “In case of what?” Jayne asked, “In case of trouble?” “Yeah,” Kaylee said, “But that’s okay. I think between me and Inara, we can get you handsome enough for a dance or two.” There was a terrified glimmer in Jayne’s eye, “I don’t do good in no monkey suit, ‘Nara.” “Mmm?” Inara had rested her head in his shoulder for an instant, “What was that?” If Jayne had thought anything about the incident, he certainly didn’t say. Which was a sure thing, because the mercenary usually said what was on his mind at any given time, “I don’t wanna dress like no girly dandy, ‘Nara. Ain’t natural being in tight pants and chokin’ on a silk noose.” “We will see won’t we?” Inara said mysteriously. Jayne dipped her back. Astonished, it was Inara that lost her footing. With strength to spare, Jayne brought her up without mishap, “What?” he asked her, assuming the fault was his, “What’d I do wrong?” “Jayne Cobb!” Inara said sternly, “You are a charlatan!” “I did not,” Jayne dropped her then, confused. Inara fell gracelessly right on her backside. “Jayne!” Kaylee exclaimed. She put down the musicbox and went to Inara’s side. “What?!” Jayne was bewildered, “I didn’t do nothin’.” He pointed at Inara, “She was the one that got all fidgety and started in on the name calling. What d’ya call me anyway? A shartan?” he tried to phrase it out, “A shar-lee-ton?” Inara stood up with Kaylee’s help, “A charlatan. I called you a charlatan.” Jayne clearly had no idea what that was, “Why’d you do that for?” “Inara?” Kaylee asked, “What’d he do?” she shot Jayne a withering glance. Well, from anyone else it would have been a withering glance. It was a tactical strafing with marshmallows from Kaylee. “What?” Jayne folded his arms, “I didn’t do nothin’.” “You know perfectly how to dance,” Inara accused him. “Oh,” Jayne looked away, “That.” “I thought you were teaching him,” Kaylee said to Inara before turning to the big man, “Jayne?” “Well, I…” Jayne rubbed the back of his neck, “I just know what my mom taught me. And it was a long time ago. When I was about as tall as her, you know… I thought it was going to be all fancy and stuff. I thought that… well… I thought…” “Your mother?” Inara asked. “Yeah?” Jayne said defensively, “What of it? Made her happy,” he rubbed his backside, “Kept her from chasin’ us around with the paddle all the time.” The companion didn’t have a hard time at all believing that Jayne had been a handful in his youth, it was the other thing… But now, she could picture it, “She was a very good teacher,” Inara said soothingly. The tips of Jayne’s ears reddened slightly. Oh my God, he’s blushing. Inara glanced over to Kaylee and saw her positively glowing. Knowing the engineer the way that she did, Jayne was in for a Kaylee special. He saw it coming but couldn’t avoid it, “Kaylee, what…” But sure enough, Kaylee had latched on to him, “Aren’t you just sweet.” “Am not,” Jayne tried to push her off, “Leggo.” There was a catcall from above. “Aaaaa,” Jayne finally pried the engineer off of him, “I’m goin’ to see what crazy River’s up to,” he backed up, “Maybe she’s started playin’ with knives again,” he glanced behind him so as not to back into anything, “Sure will beat all this dancin’ and huggin’.” The girls watched him go. Inara smiled openly, “He’ll do fine.” Kaylee smiled back, “I think so too.” But the doctor was still holding back. “Your opinion, doctor,” Inara stared back at him with steel in her eyes. This wasn’t the end, she told herself. It wasn’t. “All matters of treatment that I can suggest at this time are aggressive and invasive, Miss Serra. There is a large possibility that you will not survive them.” “Is there no hope?” “We would know more after a biopsy, Miss Serra, and I do recommend that we at least go that far.” “An operation?” Stanton nodded, “A procedure that would secure a tissue sample of one of the growths,” he looked into the file, “Perhaps remove an entire growth by the size of them,” he laid a hand on her shoulder, “There would be a minimal risk and a the evidence surgery would be easily concealable.” “And it’s purpose?” Inara discarded the man’s touch. “To reinforce the data we already have.” “Then how would you know more?” “I’m sorry?” “If the surgery would reinforce the data, then you are looking for nothing new, correct?” “I see your point, Miss Serra.” “So it is your opinion that a biopsy would be a waste of time. That even though the risk is minimal, it is unnecessary.” “Yes.” “Then my case is terminal.” “If you choose to do nothing,” Stanton said, “Then, yes.” “But if I choose to do nothing, I can continue to live my life the way it is?” “Yes.” “How long do I have?” “Best estimates are two to three years based on the growth pattern that we’re seeing.” “And the end?” Inara asked, “What will it be like?” “I’m not sure, but it will be relatively sudden,” Stanton said, “A month, maybe two.” “And the alternative?” “Starting today, you will be hospitalized. You will spend a year in and out of one, going in and out of radiation treatment and surgery.” “Chance of recovery?” Inara asked. Stanton opened the file and turned several pages before stopping at one, “Fifteen percent chance that the tumors will be fully removed, significant chance of brain damage,” he continued to read, “There is a forty one percent chance that most of the tumors will be removed with little or no brain damage, extending your life for a possible six years. Total removal with little to no brain damage,” he closed the file, “Less than one percent.”


Friday, November 26, 2004 1:10 AM


I'd seen this idea float around the message boards, so I thought that it would make for a great complication/explanation for Inara's leaving.

I live for the comments, so let them fire.

Happy Thanksgiving all,

And most of all,

Keep flyin'

Friday, November 26, 2004 3:46 AM


You do all the hard people - Jayne and Zoe - with depth and perception, bringing something fresh out of them. Very professional, very good.

Friday, November 26, 2004 11:33 AM


Very good. I'll have to come back and read it again when I'm not so tired! Is there a part one that I missed somewhere or is this the begining of the tale?

Friday, November 26, 2004 2:40 PM


Excellent job jack!! Zoe and Wash were right on. Loved the interaction between Inara and Jayne more than words. I torment several people by alluding to Inara/Jayne ship so I was gleeful to see this fic.;)

Fine job all around. Can't wait to see more.

Sunday, November 28, 2004 4:29 PM


Very much enjoying this story! I went back and reread the first part that you'd posted a ways back. Looking forward to seeing all the parts and elements come together.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 9:42 AM


Excellent but ow, poor poor Inara. And I can only imagine the shock the others are going to feel once they find out, if she even tells them. Great story and I just loved bashful Jayne! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, December 11, 2005 8:54 PM


I'm with the anonymous poster, I liked the Calvin&Hobbes reference. Wash as Spaceman Spiff, though... I don't know about that quite so much but it's within the realm of conceivable.
Anyway, I'm new but liking the story so far.Good work.

Sunday, June 11, 2006 4:59 AM


Really good. So sad for Inara, but so sweet with Jayne secretly being able to dance, and Kaylee being so happy about having someone to dance with....

Beautifully written, CastIronJack!


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Honest Run: Daring
Another round table discussion on how to get the captain out of trouble.

Honest Run: Dilemma
Honest Run?!? He's still writing this?!?!

Honest Run: Derelict
Zoe and the crew finish their part of the deal, running across a bit of history along the way.

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Mal has another one of his barroom confrontations.

Honest Run: Distraction
Comets, comedy, and confession. Another day on Serenity.

Honest Run: Delusions
Things get a little more resolved. Simon's mind begins its downward spiral.

Honest Run: Deal
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Honest Run: Detail
What is it with Jayne anyway?