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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Since there had been a huge gap between chapters 3 and 4, and since there are those (myself included) that prefer self-contained big stories instead of a bunch of short stories spread out, I figured I could have all chapters in one big story. Feedback appreciated.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1802 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Before I begin telling the story of my latest gig to whoever is reading this, I should probably give some info about me.
For all intents and purposes, let’s just call me Shooter. It’s part of my business name, so I don’t mind people calling me that. Some people complain that it’s too intimidating, but it suits me fine. People fear and respect you more when you have an intimidating sounding name. What they don’t know is that the jokes on them. They think of me as some gunslinger, when in fact the only thing I shoot with is a camera.
I’m a videographer. I mostly do weddings, when I do find people who are actually getting married. With the way things are, the idea of marriage, let alone the sanctity of is something only found in baroque works. But call me a romantic. I like being there when two people celebrate their commitment to one another. It’s certainly more lighter and interesting than what I used to do.
See, I grew up on one of the prairie planets. New Saskatchewan to be exact, part of the New Canada system. It’s literally a dirtball in the middle of nowhere, with some of the most bizarre weather patterns on any of the terra-formed planets. Just like the Saskatchewan on Earth-That-Was, according to my dad. We were farmers, just like everyone else. But I wasn’t content on following in the family business. I was always more interested in movies. Yes, they still exist here in the future. But I always liked the ones that were made when the format came out. The first hundred and fifty to two hundred years of “cinema”, as some folks put it. After that, everything got so recycled and censored by the different governments that the format wasn’t really producing anything worthwhile. But I wanted off that gorram dirtball, so when I heard of an opening in the media department of the Alliance, I jumped.
I did every kind of job there could be on a film set. All we were really producing were commercials, remakes and news broadcasts. But I didn’t care. I just loved being on set and being part of a crew. But that changed about eight years ago. After doing some satisfactory work for the Alliance, as well as a few small films of my own, I was hired by them to make a feature length war documentary for them about the Battle of Serenity. During the fight between the Alliance and the Independents, I remained neutral. Like all other artists, I hated politics. So I approached this like a regular job. God, I was so naïve. I saw the Alliance, my employers, mow down these helpless soldiers, whom all they wanted was to govern themselves and enjoy democracy. I saw all the horrors and futility of war, which I only had seen on archaic film footage and in the junk files on the Avids in the newsrooms I worked in. This was no gorram film or simulation. This was reality. How could I not be involved with it?
When I cut the film together, I couldn’t stop feeling angry towards my bosses. I was helping them shove shiong mao niao and lies down the throats of the public. I knew how the people at Fox News felt like almost 500 years ago, under the despotic Republican Party and that idiot/menace Bush. I decided that after this, I was quitting. I didn’t care if I couldn’t find another job, or if I had to go back to manual labor. I just wanted out.
This is apparently what the Alliance had in mind as well. Citing “conflict of interest”, which is another way of saying “we didn’t like to final product you gave us, so we’re going to re-cut the picture and hire someone else to take your job who shares our politics”, they fired me. Which was all right by me. I made a shitload of money working for them, and I had just enough to buy old versions of one main camera, a few small cams, and a pair of eye cams, as well as a portable edit suite and enough stock to last me for a long time.
So I decided to become self-employed. I put the word out through the proper channels, made myself a few business cards with a moving cartoon on it and traveled the ‘verse lookin for work. I’ve managed to keep myself in business. When you have dozens of planets, and nearly 1 trillion people on all of them, it’s easy to find work all year round. The Core Planets is where the big money is, but for variety and excitement, the Outer Rim planets are where you’d want to be. They really know how to make the wedding ceremony and reception afterwards interesting. I was once on a planet where the ceremony was held on a hover craft high up in the atmosphere. And after their ceremony, instead of taking a shuttle down to the surface, the bride and groom skydived off the platform. And while they were in the air, they had to consummate the marriage before they had to pull their chutes. I never had so much fun trying to capture that. Some consider it crazy, but trust me. After seeing the horrors of war, and doing six weddings for arranged marriages in a row on Persephone, Osiris and Ariel, where you had to pay for the food they were serving, and in portions that in total would be too small for my coat pocket, I’d do a skydiving wedding/porno any day.
So, eight years later, I was back on New Saskatchewan. I had helped out with the harvest, and business was slow anyways. I had spent most of my cash getting there, and now I couldn’t get off. I had only enough to get me some new stock and pay the drycleaning for my good clothes (I never leaned how to iron).
So here I was, flat broke with nowhere to go. All of a sudden, I hear a familiar voice behind me say “Lucas?” (Lucas is my first name.)
I look behind me, and who could it be, but Kaylee Frye herself. “Kaylee!!” I rush up to her and hug her, even though she was already on her way to doing the same to me. She was a cousin of a friend of ours who’d always visit from Newhope during the summer. And we all liked her since she saw the positive in everything. Come to think about it, she always was a bit over-friendly. Not that anyone ever complained about it.
“Gu Nian Zhong!! How the hell have you been?”
”I’m shiny. I’ve been the mechanic on a ship. Been traveling the ‘verse for the last 8 years or so. How about you? I havn’t seen you in ten years.”
“Are you on shore leave?”
“For a few hours, yeah.”
“Let’s get some coffee and catch up on old times.”
“OK” she said in that infectiously happy voice of hers. God, she could’ve commited mass genocide, and you’d still love her.
We go over to the nearest saloon and take a corner booth in the back. We then proceeded to talk each other’s ears off. I tell her of my business and travels as a videographer, she tells me of her adventures on Serenity, the ship she’s a crew member of. We also talk about our pasts here and our uncertain future. After about her fourth cup of coffee, she leans back and smiles again.
“What?” I ask.
“It’s a funny thing, you saying that you videotape weddings. If you’re looking for work, I actually know someone who’s getting married.”
“Really?” I say as I bring my coffee mug to my lips. “Who?”
“Me.” She said merrily.
Immediately, I spew coffee all over the table in shock, like something out of a broad comedy. I sputter and cough for a minute as I regain composure and process this bombshell through my head.
“You!!! Kaylee??? Miss Crush on Every Shirtless Guy Except for Me. You’re about to tie the knot?”
“Yep, and in a more elegant, less coffee stained dress, I might add.” she said beamingly.
“To who? Not that Jayne guy you were talking about. Who the hell gives a guy a blatantly girl’s name anyways?”
She blushed again, trying to suppress a laugh and failing. “No, it’s to the doctor. Simon. He and his sister’s been with us about two years now. After we fuel up, we’re going to be married two days from now out in space.”
“Where you headed to?”
“Oh, nowhere in particular. Maybe one of the beach planets for our honeymoon.”
“You know, maybe a good gig and some beach time would be good after eating dust and chaff for about a month.”
“We can’t really pay, though. Most of our cash goes to fixing the engine and supplies. This won’t be really fancy.”
“Hey, I like things stripped down to the bare minimums. And I’ll wave my usual fee in exchange for you guys taking me wherever.”
“We’ll just have to talk to the captain about that. Let’s go.”
We both got up, and I wiped some of the spewed coffee up as she paid the bill up front. It took us a while to find her ship, but when we did, I couldn’t be more impressed. Her ship was an old Firefly transport. In comparison to other ships, it was a rust bucket. A relic. But if she could get that thing to fly, then I knew that this was something special.
“Capt’n” she yelled to a man standing near the bay doors. He turned around and smiled.
“Kaylee. Bout time you showed up. We were just about to take off without you.”
She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. “I love my capt’n.” she said in that cooing voice of hers.
He looked over to me with a look of curiosity. “So what stray did you bring us this time? Part’s salesman? Weary traveler? Space monkey trainer?”
Kaylee stood between the both of us. “Captain. This is Lucas Anyong, aka The Wedding Shooter. Lucas, this is Captain Malcolm Reynolds.”
I held out my hand and he shook it. Firm handshake. “Just call me Shooter. Everyone else does.” He looked at me with resolve. I got the sense that he trusted Kaylee sense of judgment, but he wanted to see for himself if I was the kind to give him trouble.
“So what’s your business with Kaylee?”
”She’s a childhood friend of mine, and she’s
offered me work on this ship.”
“And what kind of work might that be?”
“I’d videotape her wedding and edit it into a legit movie as compensation for a traveler’s fee. I can do some other grunt work around the ship, if any is needed.”
“Well, it’s a nice business proposition, but I’m afraid we’re going to have to pass.”
He started walking away towards the ship, but Kaylee soon followed him, trying to talk him into it. I could tell they were arguing about me, and whether or not I was of any real use and not a hangeron. I then noticed something strange happening.
As Kaylee was giving him an earful, I noticed a very luscious and elegant woman appear on deck. Very out of place. For a second, I thought I was hallucinating from the fumes all around me. But then I saw the captain look up to her. She gave him a small nod. He looked over, and with a look that was a mixture of reluctance and amusement, he walked towards me. “Shooter. Welcome on board.”
I shook his hand again as I gathered up my stuff. “Thanks, Captain Reynolds.”
“Please. Call me Mal.”
Malcolm Reynolds. Where have I heard that name before.?
After setting up my editing bay in one of the shuttle, I decided to take a look around the ship and meet the crew Kaylee had raved so much about. I learned that the ceremony itself was to be held in the cargo bay, since it was obviously the largest room on the whole ship. They had a makeshift altar already set up, with an aisle and seat markers taped on the floor to indicate where everything was. I thought the chair idea was a bit redundant since there would be roughly about six people sitting for the ceremony. I set up where my tripod and my smaller cameras would be as Kaylee taped some second hand wedding decorations around the railings of the stairs and catwalks. After setting up, and arguing with her about the choice of music for the final film, I walked around the ship and met with the different crew members. Kaylee wanted the video to be just as much about them as it was of her and Simon, so I spent the remainder of the day visiting.
The first person I met was the pilot, a guy named Wash. I liked him a lot. He was as friendly as Kaylee, he really knew how to fly and navigate, and he loved the Classic Rock Movement of the mid to late 20th Century. I’m really into that kind of music, even though it’s about 500 years old. Not that many people nowadays know about the The Beatles, The Band, Bob Dylan, The Who, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Barenaked Ladies, Tenacious D, AC/DC, U2 and the likes. But he really got a kick out of listening to some of the old mp3 discs that you’d find in the old CD stores. He then introduced me to his wife, Zoe. When I saw her, I thought “Man, I would’ve loved to have been at their wedding.” As she explained her capacities on ship and how she and Wash had met, I couldn’t help but think that right there was an example of how love can confound expectations. Before them, I had never seen an interracial couple, where it was white dude/black chick. Usually, it’s the other way around. She looked like the kind of gal that if a guy ever tried to come onto her, she’s have his lower member removed faster than an order to a bartender. But they had something going on between them, and I was happy to see that.
“So” I asked, “what are you two going to bring or do for the wedding?”
“Well” Wash said surreptitiously “I do plan on unveiling my musical talent at the ceremony.”
“Really? What do you play?”
“Well, it’s a-“’
“It’s a gorram piece of plastic he found in a junk pile on some backwater outpost planet.” I heard a rough voice emerge from the doorway to the bridge and saw a big bearded guy, brandishing a knife, leaning against the frame of the bridge doors. This obviously had to be Jayne.
“For your information, it’s a kazoo, and since it’s the only instrument we have on deck, it’s what were hearing when our two lovebirds get married.”
“Gorram waste of time and money, if you ask me.” He then started to pick his teeth with that huge knife of his. I kept hearing the opening chords of Black Sabbath’s “Iron Man” in my head as he did that. Zoe then looked at him suspiciously.
“Jayne. You’re pickin your teeth.”
“So? Our guest here won’t mind. Not like I’m ‘entertaining him, like ‘Nara would.”
“That aside, there isn’t anything edible on this ship worthy of teeth picking. Nothing involved with the wedding at least.”
Jayne then froze. I got the sense that he had just been caught with the proverbial hand in the cookie container. He then walked away, muttering to himself something about a last marriage.
“What’s his problem?” I asked them.
“He’s an idiot” Wash replied.
Seemed like a good enough answer for me. “What’s this about a kazoo?”
He then told me about how when he was in prison during the war for dodging the draft on his planet, the only way he survived was by entertaining the other prisoners. Usually these would involve shadow puppets and plastic children’s instruments they would receive from different inmate’s children. This is why I love the Outer Rim. You’d never meet an interesting character like Wash on a Core Planet.
When I was done with them, I walked around a bit and headed to the cargo bay. I noticed Jayne moving some gym equipment with an older black dude up the stairs. “He must be Book” I thought as I watched in amusement.
As Jayne muttered to himself about his “invasion of privacy”, the older man beside him just smiled. He stopped and put the equipment down.
“Ahh, so you must be the enigmatic Shooter.” He said as he held out his hand. I shook it and said quietly to him, “Just with a camera, but don’t let the big guy know that.”
He smiled to himself. “Oh, he’s quite harmless actually. So you’ll be immortalizing us on dv.”
“Yep. Just doing my job, just like you’ll be doing in two days time.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you’re a Shepherd. You’ve probably wed plenty of couples in your career. Why shouldn’t you do this one?”
“I’m not sure. Usually it’s the captain of a ship that marries two people. I’m just a passenger. I haven’t wed a couple in nearly thirty years.”
“Well you should. It would be interesting and more dramatic to see you wed the mechanic and doctor of this ship."
“I’ll keep that in mind. Could you help me with this?”
“Oh, ok then.” I pick up the other end of a weight bench and start to carry it through the hallway. “So by your name, I guess you’re an avid reader? What are you reading nowadays?”
“Right now I’m reading some of The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer.”
“Really, Preacher. I figured you wouldn’t be one for pop culture drivel.” He looked at me with a puzzled look. “It’s a private joke. Personally, I could never really wrap my head around his style. Sounds like Tolkien after a few rounds.”
“I suppose in comparison Shakespeare is a coked out rapper.”
“I’m not sure about the rap, but he’s a hell of a lot more coherent. And sweeter on the ear.”
We spent the next half hour talking about books and religion as we hauled a lot of the stuff in the cargo bay out to some of the other rooms. I liked him. He reminded me of some of the old gospel and blues singers. Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Ray Charles, that dude from The Staples, those kind of guys. After we were done with moving the stuff around, I followed him to Jayne’s bunk. Jayne and Book had a chat about something, which I was too busy setting up my camera to pay attention. After Book left, I peered in and noticed a few guns hanging on his wall, just above his bed. “Hey” I shouted down into his bunk. “Mind showing me some of your guns?” He seemed to think about this, and then he smiled. “Sure. Lemme introduce you to Vera.”
Now I know what your thinking. How the Hell did I , a total stranger to this mercenary, manage to get him to open up in front of the camera and even talk to me without threatening to cut my balls of. It’s real easy. First, you get them talking about something they’re really into, in this case his unhealthy obsession with guns, all the while stroking the interviewee’s ego. And then you slowly steer the conversation towards the subject matter. When we got around to talking about the wedding, he seemed to tense up a bit. Clearly, if there was anyone who had trouble with this union, it was him.
“Seems like a gorram waste to me. They’d be too busy being all gooey with each other that neither of them’ll get anything done around here. You throw in that moonbrained sister of his in the mix, and you know that that’s a real good combo right there. Don’t get me wrong, the doc’s a good boy in the infirmary and real smart, but Kaylee’s…..” he trailed off there. When I zoomed in, he had a look on his face that seemed to me that he was thinking. Maybe this was making him sore for other reasons. I immediately changed the subject.
“So you don’t agree with Wash’s choice for music?”
“Yeah. Stupid piece of plastic. When he got that, he couldn’t shut up about that thing. Gorram screwball pilot. He thinks he’s funny and cute, but he can be a real pain in the ass. I mean, why would a grown man still play with plastic dinosaurs? Just gonna ruin this whole thing.”
“Maybe you should do something about it.”
“My daddy once told me that if there’s something that’s going to happen that don’t sit right with you, instead of just bitching about it, go out and change it. That’s what I’ve done all my life. Maybe you should do the same.”
A strange glint came over his eyes. He looked down at a black metal box in the corner of the room. I looked over and saw it just sitting there, and collecting rust. I got a weird chill when he looked at that, and then at to me. “You know what?” I said as I got up, “I think I’m just gonna go. Find some of the other crew members.” I climbed up the ladder fairly quickly. Before I pushed that to the back of my mind, I though “Oh shit. I hope he’s not going to do something stupid.”
* * * * * * * * * * *
I walked back to the cargo bay to make sure everything was set up in the right place. I had four egg-pan cams set up to get some overhead shots from different angles. They’re just like the old egg cams that people had as a function for their computers, but they had motion censors on them that panned whenever there was movement, and I could make some hand gestures towards individual cameras to zoom in or out if I wanted to go from a wide shot to a close up. After doing a systems check, I heard voices from the infirmary. I followed them and saw a guy and a girl, roughly about the same age, talking to each other. The guy was preparing to give an injection to the girl, who seemed both distant and bored by the moment. This had to be Simon and River, the fugitive duo. Won’t bother telling you what they’re charged with, since it’s a bullshit charge anyhow. Simon was everything Kaylee described him as. Despite being on the run for two years, he carried himself with a sense of dignity and proper behaviour. Even in jeans and a sweat shirt, he acted as if he were under a social microscope. His sister, on the other hand, seemed a bit off. She wore regular attire like her brother, but her vacant stares and stringy hair reminded me of some of the shell shocked soldiers. I pushed this aside in my mind and introduced myself.
“Hi. Name’s Lucas Anyong.”
“Yes, you must be the childhood friend Kaylee talked to me about. So you’ll be-“
“Filming the wedding.” I looked over to River in surprise. “Film. 24 frames a second. 24 divisible by numbers 2 through 6, except five. Five is a prime number.’ She trailed off for a bit. Despite Kaylee telling me all about River, how she was this genius before the Alliance cut up her brain and that now she’s on the level of an idiot-savant, I still couldn’t help but feel a bit weirded out by the whole thing. She sensed it and then made a pose for me, like a runway model. I chuckled at this and indulged her for a few minutes, filming her as she made these poses. After a while, she seemed to lose interest and ran off. Simon just looked on with a smile on his face.
“So how do you want to do this?” he asked.
“Well, how about you just stand or sit somewhere, and I’ll just interview you about you and Kaylee. Tell me about how you two met and what she means to you.”
Simon then sat down on the operating table and started talking. He talked about how they really met there on that table. Some fed shot her in the stomach, and he was there to patch her up and save her. He chuckled when he mentioned that when she was in shock, she asked if he wanted to dance with her. Being on the run for protecting his sister from my fascist employers was a bit lonely for him at the beginning. Of course, dropping everything you’ve known and worked for to save a sibling had that effect on him. He was grateful that Mal had taken him on board as the doctor. But Kaylee was the one who made it feel like a home for him. For the first few months, there was an attraction between them, and like most guys, he had said some stupid things to put her off of him, despite her obvious attraction to him. But over the course of the next year and a half, there mutual admiration for each other turned into love. And despite the fact that they were literally from different worlds and that he was technically a con, they decided to tie the knot anyways. I couldn’t really place a band or a song with him, though. Coldplay was the best I could come up with.
“So I’m guessing that you’re not going to write your own vows?”
“No. I’m fine with whatever Book or Mal has me repeat.”
“Still, it’s always nice whenever the groom makes an effort in professing his love to his bride. At least for me anyways, for the video. You don’t mind that your own folks won’t be here to see you tie the knot.”
“Maybe my mother would like to be here, but maybe not my dad. I imagine Kaylee isn’t the kind of girl he would’ve liked me to ‘continue the Tam name’ with. But that’s his problem. It’s weird. After two years of on the run, living off protein and trying to heal my sister, I actually consider this place to be more of a home to me and this crew my real family. In two days, I’m just making it official.”
I nodded and put the viewfinder back in place. “This is good.” I said to him. “Hey. Parents are the ultimate form of authority. If you’ve been figuratively giving the finger to the Man for the last two years, then maybe marrying Kaylee would be the ultimate fuck you to your dad and to the establishment.” I laughed at this while Simon looked a bit offended at this at first, but then he soon started laughing. I guess Kaylee was loosening him up after all. “Yes. Yes I think that would be considered the ultimate act of defiance.” After the initial wave of humor died down, I got up and left the Doctor to his thoughts. “Talk to you later.”
After talking to Simon, I figured I should get some more shooting done. I usually like to get establishing shots of the place where the ceremony takes place. Problem is, I didn’t know how to work the shuttle I was staying in. And going outside in a suit was something I had no desire to do, unless there was a very long cord attached to me. And that would just ruin the shot. So I decided to try the other shuttle. I knew someone lived there, separate from the crew. Maybe they’d be kind enough to fly me around the spaceship so that I can get some shots. I knocked at the door. I was busy with the camera, setting it up to film, so I didn’t immediately see who was there to answer. “Hi. I’m sorry to-“
I stopped talking when I looked up. I almost did a double take. The elegant woman whom I thought was a hallucination when I first saw Serenity was now standing in front of me. She didn’t seem surprised or annoyed or anything like that. It was like she was expecting me. “Hello” she said very calmly. “Hi” I said slackjawed. “I’m-“
“Shooter. Kaylee told me about you and what you do. It’s always nice to see a new friendly face on board. I’m Inara Serra.”
She took my hand and shook it. I then realized that she was the Companion Kaylee told me about.
“Nice to meet you ma’am. I know you’re a Companion and all, and I don’t have two credits to rub together, but do you think you could do me a service?”
She stood back and looked at me with a straight face. “And what might that be?”
“Well, I usually like to get some establishing shots of the place where I’m doing my latest wedding. And I was wondering if you could fly me around the ship in your shuttle a couple of times, just to get those shots.”
Inara then settled down, somewhat relived. “Of course. Please come in.” She stood aside as I stepped into her shuttle.
“Wow, you’ve really done up the place real well.” She closed the door and smiled back at me.
“Thank you. I like to make my habitat as warm and comfortable as possible.”
“You didn’t think I was here to- Oh No. Definitely not. I don’t think…what you supply…should be something you pay for.”
“You sound a bit like the captain.”
“Well I didn’t mean it that way. You’re a business woman. You supply something people want and need and you make your living off of it. Oddly enough, you and I are the same businesswise. We use our talents for economic survival. Only difference is that I have what my clients do on tape.”
“I suppose your right, in that aspect.” She powered up her ship, and radioed Wash, telling him what I had asked her to do. Wash gave the OK, and we took off. We kept talking as I filmed the ship from one of her windows. I asked her to turn the lights off, so that there wasn’t a glare on the window. It’s moments like these when I love being a filmmaker. Filming the ship as she hovered around filled me with a sense of awe and hope. Every filmmaker loves sci-fi, and capturing this magnificent ship out in the ocean of space was a dream come true for me. They are gonna love this. After I was done filming, we docked and continued our conversation.
“So are you excited about this wedding? I imagine you’ve attended a lot of these functions on the Core Planets.”
“Not as many as you’d think. But yes, I am a little eager about the ceremony happening in two days. I’ve come to think of Kaylee as a little sister to me. Never had someone look up to me in awe and inspiration before. And the doctor is a good man. I imagine River might feel a little excluded, though. He’s spent so much time trying to improve her. Make her the way she was. But I think she’s happy that her brother has some happiness in his life. And I know Kaylee will help out any way she can.”
“What about you? Aren’t you a bit envious of Kaylee? I mean, she is going to tie the knot with someone she loves who loves her back. Don’t you wish you had that in your life as well?”
She paused. A look of uncertainty and protection came over her. As if she had been called on something she couldn’t avoid, but wanted to. After a few minutes, she looked back at me and said “At times, I do. But I’ve been raised not to let my emotions get in the way of my decisions.’ She said that with sincerity, but I got the sense of her putting on an act. After interviewing many people over the years, you get adept to reading body language. I was about to change the subject, when I heard a knock on the door. Inara stood up and walked to the door. She seemed relieved when Kaylee appeared at the door. Truth be told, so was I. She told Inara that dinner was ready and Inara thanked her for telling me this. She walked away gracefully, and I caught up with Kaylee. As I told her that I got to know most of the crew well, I couldn’t help but think of Inara. For some reason, “Killer Queen” by Queen was playing in my head as I sat down with the crew for a protein dinner.
After dinner with the crew, I decided to head back down to the cargo bay to do a test run on my cameras to see if they’re working properly. Running a motion capture camera set is a complex thing that requires a lot of practice, timing and instinct to get it right. I was in the middle of testing the cameras out when I notice River peering out from one of the doorways.
“Hey” I replied. “What are you doing here?” She stepped out gingerly and looked around.
“I like to wander the ship at night. Its secrets speak to me in the dim of the evening. Also, Kaylee and Simon spend all their nights together. Don’t want to burden them. What’cha doin?”
“I’m just testing out my cameras for the ceremony. I like to have everything working in order before the big day.”
She nodded and stared back at me. “What are these?” she asked in a puzzled tone, mimicking my movements.
“Oh these are hand signals for my cameras. Come here.” I motioned towards the center of the floor, where the aisle would be and she complied.
“You see the cameras up around the handrails of the catwalks?” She nodded. “Everyone of them is pointed at us. But I can change their focal point and framing with a few simple hand signals. I just point at a specific camera,” I then pointed at Camera D, which is the bottom left hand camera of the square I set up, “and then I make a signal about what kind of shot I want. If I want a wide shot, I do this.” I put my three middle fingers up to make a w with them. “If I want a medium, I do this.” I inverted the w to look like an m. “And if I want a close up, I do this.” I make a c with my hand. I hear the whirring of the camera and see River staring up at it. “You understand?”
She nodded and looked back at me. “Yes. Interesting system. Silent, yet effective. Like sign language. Or a conductor. Or war commands.” She looked around a bit, looking a bit nervous. I decide to change the subject.
“Kaylee tells me you like to dance.” River looked back to me with an excited look. “If you want me too, I can play some music for you to dance to. I need a subject matter other than me to test out the cams.” She nodded eagerly to me, urging me to play it. She set up into a pose as I accessed the mp3 on my computer.
It was an old song from Earth That Was. A jazz/rock tune ironically done by a doctor. His name was Dr. John and the song was ‘Such a Night”. I played it, and a strange thing happened. At first, she seemed a bit off. Maybe she was expecting a ballet tune or something. And I was about to turn it off when she started dancing to it. And not just some bad two step improv thing, but a complex ballet/waltz thing that perfectly conformed with the notes of the piano and the horn section. I joined in on my own, pointing at the cameras to capture River at different angles and set-ups, while singing along to the repeating chorus. When the song ended, she took a bow and smiled at me. I bowed back to her as well, and we both burst out laughing.
A while later, after I agreed to let her work some of the other cameras during the ceremony (hey, I never had an assistant before, and if she was supposed to be this genius, I figured she could help me out), we ended up back in the spare shuttle I was set up in. I edited the stuff I had of her dancing into a short little three-minute thing, which delighted her, and I put on one of my movies for her. Well, not mine per se, but an old documentary from Earth That Was called THE LAST WALTZ. The song I played for her was from that movie, along with other songs from some legendary musicians. She loved pretty much all of them, which I could tell by the way she banged her head to the music.
About halfway through the film, she started to get a bit tired, but we kept playing the movie. By the time we got to “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, she seemed to be fast asleep. Of course, by that time, the captain himself had joined me in the shuttle. Without knocking, like Inara said he would. It was weird, when the song did play, and as he watched Levon Helm beat the shit out of the drums while singing a song about a distant war, a strange look appeared on the captain.
As if he were remembering being in that same battle. And that’s when I remembered where I heard that name before.
“Serenity Valley. You were there when the Independents lost.” He seemed to snap out of it when he heard that. He looked at me with a strange look.
“Now how would you know that?” he asked.
“Because I was there was well. Regrettably, I was on the Alliance side, filming the battle for them for a documentary they wanted me to make.”
“You were Alliance?”
“I was, until that day. Before the war, I was neutral. Didn’t want to get involved. But after seeing what they did to you guys and having my stuff re-edited into propaganda, I wanted out. Didn’t want to be on the wrong side anymore. You can understand that, right?”
“Yes, I can. Glad to see Kaylees instincts proved right. Can’t say I approve of her wanting to get marriage, though. It’s my experience that marriage isn’t for everyone, though.”
“Yeah, I heard about that Sapphire chick. She really played you, though.” I couldn’t help but laugh as he face went from defensive to irritated.
“God, how many ruttin’ times do I have to say it? I was conned. We were never married to begin with.”
After I calmed down, I put on as much of a straight face as I could and told him “Don’t worry. If anyone can pull off getting married, it’s Kaylee. As for you, I’ll make sure you look good.”
“Thanks”, he said and headed out. He turned around as he got near the door and said something I never imagined him to say. “For the record,” he then pointed to the right side of his face, “this is my good side” and then left.
As I pulled a blanket over River who was curled up on the floor, and turned everything off, I smiled to myself. Yep. This was turning out to be a very interesting gig.
I woke up eager on the day of the wedding. I’m always excited on the day of the ceremony. I am never happier than when I have a bunch of shots planned in my head and have the opportunity to bringing them to life. I spent all of yesterday just going over every square inch of the cargo bay, just to get ideas for the video. I blocked it all out in my head beforehand, but I really wanted to see if there was an angle I hadn’t considered. For some reason, I really wanted to make sure everything I had in mind would work. Maybe it was the fact that what I ended up with was the only thing that would keep them from throwing me out the airlock. Maybe it was the fact that I really wanted to impress Kaylee. I always had a bit of a crush on her. And despite the fact I was filming her official day of unavailability, I still wanted to impress her and make the right impression.
And there was a third reason I wanted everything to work. I had only been on this ship for about two days. But even though I was just another passenger to them, I couldn’t help but feel like a member of the crew myself. After I was sacked by the Alliance, I had always been the lone man on the outside looking in. And for the most part, I was perfectly OK with this situation. But there were a few times that I wished I was part of a group. That I fitted in with the people I was filming. I certainly never got that with any of the Core Planet weddings. After I filmed the last shot, I was usually asked to leave, so I never got to stick around and enjoy myself. And on the Outer Rim weddings, they were OK with me sticking around afterwards, but after a while, I still got that sense of me not really belonging there and that my welcome was overstayed. But on the day before the wedding, after I had combed the cargo bay storyboarding what I would shoot in my head, I had nothing better to do than just converse with the crew. And in that time, I felt as if they were old friends that I had known for years. I spun old mp3 discs with Wash and River, I told war stories with Mal and Zoe, I discussed books and religion with Book, I learned more about Simon and Kaylee’s relationship as I helped her in the engine room and him in the infirmary and I conversed with Inara about the insipid social structure of the Core Planets. Heck, I even helped Jayne as he cleaned his weapons. Afterwards, I tried (and failed) to teach him the basic rules of chess. I still couldn’t figure out what he was planning to do for the wedding. This sense of camaraderie and family was refreshing, heck inspiring for me. I now know why Kaylee wanted this movie to be just as much about them as it was about her and Simon. And gorram it if I wasn’t going to do my best work for them.
So I got up and I got dressed in my best clothes. I usually wear a simple white collar shirt, tie, black jeans and black polish able shoes. I carry my black felt outback hat with me just to keep up the gunslinger image. I of course don’t wear it during the ceremony, but I like having around with me while I shoot. I feel like the maverick I proclaim to be. I walked out to the cargo floor. They had set up the podium, altar and chairs the night before. I would open the film with a really good shot of the ship itself, and then I would fade into a shot of the makeshift chapel that they had there. I panned over it with my main handheld camera and then panned down to the infirmary. This was the designated place where the men would change into their formal wear.
When I arrived, I found Book already in his best Preacher clothes, Wash in a suit (he looked out of character wearing something that wasn’t a Hawaiian shirt), and the Captain wearing a suit that seemed like something he wore once a long time ago. It seemed a bit tight on him, and he moved around in a way that seemed like he was trying his best not to rip them. I guess that was why Kaylee nicknamed him Captain Tightpants. Simon was sitting on the operating table trying to tie a tie and fumbling with it. He seemed a bit hung over, like Wash and the Captain were.
Last night (if there is such a thing in space), we had docked at a spaceport and surprised Simon with a bachelor party at a strip joint called Barbarellas. Mal, Jayne and Wash had wanted to celebrate Simon’s last night of bachelorhood, even though Simon had a look of shock and horror mixed with unease throughout the night. They had each gotten a bit plastered as the night went on, even though Simon looked like he wanted to be anywhere else in the world except staring at a nearly naked, genetically perfect woman. I enjoyed myself soberly and helped Book drag them back to their bunks in the ship.
So it was Book that helped Simon finally tie his tie, as well as make sure everyone else looked good.
‘Thank you, Book. I seem to be a bit off.”
“That’s perfectly understandable, son. You’re about to be wed in the eyes of God.”
“What about the state? The second the wedding forms are processed, the Alliance will be crashing your honeymoon.” I interjected.
“Don’t worry about that.” Mal said to both Simon and me. “With Book’s connections, and a little forgery on our behalf, you and Kaylee’ll be legally bound as well as by God.” I noticed he said the God part with a bit of resentment.
“So who’s going to officially do it?” Wash interjected.
“Well, normally it would be my responsibility to marry a couple on my ship,” Mal said matter-of –factly, “but I think Book here should do the honors. You up to it?”
“I was getting friendly with some choice scriptures while Jayne was getting overfriendly with the girls with a few choice slogans.”
“Speaking of which, has anyone seen him yet?” Wash asked.
“I ran into him earlier. He said that he wanted to change by himself. Said he had a surprise for us.” Mal answered. We all looked at him with a look of reluctance. “He ain’t gonna do anything stupid. Not if I have anything to do with it.”
I decided then that that was enough for this segment of the film. I left them to talk amongst one another, and for Wash to practice his kazoo. I heard the beelike hum of a gaelic tune as I walked from the infirmary to the engine room. Despite the fact that it was a cramped and potentially dangerous place, Kaylee decided that she wanted that to be the dressing room for her and the women. I guess that’s why I was helping her clean up in there yesterday.
When I arrived, it was your normal bride and bridesmaids getting ready clutter. Makeup kits were strewn around, a divider was set up for them to change behind and the hint of different perfumes tinged the air. Inara was putting makeup on River, who was fidgeting like a five year old getting her picture taken, Kaylee was looking at her dress in a mirror that was set up in the corner, and I heard the grunts of Zoe behind the divider.
“Inara, you know that I’m about two sizes bigger than this ai ya gou tsao de dress, right?”
“I know, but I had to make some alterations to the dress. You and Kaylee don’t share the same body type.”
“We don’t share the same tastes as well. How hard is it to get a slinky dress?”
“Slink is out of place in a wedding. Besides, you look fine in that dress.”
“I look like a gorram layer cake. I can’t even breathe in this stupid thing.”
Zoe then steeped out from behind the divider, and I had to do my best not to burst out laughing. She was wearing this horrid frilly pink dress that looked like something from a bakery. The bell part of the dress was obviously altered so that it didn’t get in the way of everything where she walked. Most of the frills on the torso part were removed, but it still didn’t diminish the obviously sour look on her face. As I finally surpressed my wave of laughter, Inara stood aside for River to look. A look of amusement and joy came over River as she started to laugh uncontrollably. Zoe just grimaced at her.
“I think you look adorable.” Kaylee interjected as River’s laughs began to subside.
“That’s easy for you to say. This was your dress two years ago before you got that bit of white silk.”
“Notwithstanding” Kaylee said with a grin. She looked back into the mirror and twirled. She was wearing a regular white wedding dress that seemed to be handed down from a few decades. It was a bit faded, and in places it had to be sown up from the numerous rips, but she just loved it. I like it when the bride looks like she’s enjoying this. I usually like to focus on the bride when I do a video, since this whole day is really about her. If you think this is sexist, just keep this in mind. You never see a guy planning a wedding, do you?
“All in white. White symbolizes purity. Cleanliness. Beginning of new life.” River interjected as she stared at her. “You look beautiful.”
“Sie-sie, River.” Kaylee smiled to her and nodded. “You look nice as well.”
River looked down at her dress. It was a simple thing that looked like one of Inara’s old dresses. She was dressed simply, and had a little makeup on her that oddly enough blended in with her face. Her hair was done up nicer and didn’t look stringy.
“Just for today. The clothes and mask will come off and I’ll still be me. But you will be different afterwards. So will Simon.” She seemed a bit saddened by this. Inara stood back as Kaylee came to her.
“River, mei-mei. I’ll still be the Kaylee you know. And Simon’ll still be there to help you like he’s been doing these last two years. It’ll still be the same as before. We’re just making this official. You understand, right?”
River looked up at her and smiled. “I understand and comprehend.” Kaylee smiled at this and hugged her. “Take care of him, will you? He needs so much looking after.” River explained. Kaylee laughed at this and hugged her some more. I decided to leave then since that was exactly what I needed.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
I went back up to the cargo bay and placed my camera on my tripod. Book, was already there, bible in hand and smile on face. Wash was already seated, with kazoo in hand, looking around the cargo bay with a smile on his face. I heard footsteps coming from the lower hallway from the engine room and I saw Zoe emerge holding up the slimmed hoop skirt of Kaylee’s old dress. She had ditched her combat boots for heels, which she had a hard time walking in as well. This was obviously not going to be her favorite wedding she attended. Wash looked over and did his best not to burst out laughing. I did my best to not get her, since she obviously wouldn’t want to be immortalized in celluloid wearing that.
“Husband. You have something you want to say?”
“Well, not really say. More like hum.” He brought the kazoo to his mouth and started to play the first few notes of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Her face soured even more, to which Wash caught onto and stopped. She sat across from him in the women’s section of the row of seats. I looked back down to the infirmary and I noticed Mal and Inara standing there, looking like they were waiting to begin.
“Well, are we going to start this now, Preacher?”
“I suppose we can. Wash?”
Wash stood up and cleared his voice. He began to play the gaelic tune I heard earlier. I could tell that he was clearly enjoying this chance to reveal his musical talent. After the first use of the chorus, the procession started. First there was Mal and Inara walking arm and arm up the “aisle” towards the podium. As I zoomed in on their faces, I could see that while they were trying to be as straight as possible, I could tell in their eyes that they were slightly enjoying this, and on more than one level. Despite their vocal abhorrence for each other, maybe there was something between them. I pushed this out of my head when they reached to podium, split and took their places. Inara was obviously the bridesmaid while Mal would be the best man. Simon and River then followed, with River carrying a basket of rose petals. She might’ve been a bit too old to play flower girl, but there was a giddiness to her. She sprinkled the ship’s floor with these little red petals, and her satisfaction with this task was obvious. Simon couldn’t help but look content seeing his sister whom he had sacrificed so much for finally be happy. Before they split, River whispered something to him in what I thought was Latin. He smiled to himself and took his place as she sat down next to Zoe, whose mood had only slightly improved.
And then it came. The big moment. My favorite part of the whole day. When the bride makes her dramatic enterance and wows the crowd. She emerged from the port door, beaming more brightly than I, or anyone else here, had ever seen before. I swear she was about to go supernova. And then the oddest, most unexpected thing I had ever seen happen at a wedding happened. I heard bagpipes.
At first I thought Wash had hooked up an audio feed of a bagpipe cover of the same gaelic tune he was playing on the kazoo. But he looked as surprised as I was with the music. He then looked up to the catwalk and gave a look like something out of the old monster movies he loved. I looked up as well to see what he saw, and I nearly stumbled.
Jayne Cobb was up on the catwalk and descending down the staircase, playing a set of bagpipes. An old set of bagpipes that wheezed as he played the tune Wash had been playing. He wasn’t bad at all. On the contrary, he was a better musician than Wash was. And he really went the whole nine years on this. Not only was he playing the pipes, but he also had on a Scottish beret, a black buttoned jacket and even a kilt that went down to his knees, exposing a lower set of hairy legs. Kaylee had stopped in her tracks when she saw this. When he finally reached the floor, he indicated with his eyebrows to keep going. Kaylee regained composure as she finally walked down the makeshift aisle, holding a bouquet of paper and plastic flowers as Jayne followed behind, finishing up the song he was playing. Kaylee took her place in front of Book and across from Simon as Jayne sat back down two seats away from Wash. He sat there, like nothing was out of place. Everyone was just staring at him for about ten seconds, before he caught on to this.
“What? I’m wearing boxers underneath. Let’s get this going.”
This seemed to snap everyone out of their shocked gaze, and after a few moments in which he composed himself, Book began the ceremony.
“Dearly beloved. We are gathered here today to join our doctor and our engineer in the bonds of holy matrimony. For me, it is an honor to be the one who brings these two people together in the eyes of God, and unofficially the state. I have gotten to know these two a little bit better in these last few months. And I can say that this is a unification that will outlast any governmental decree and only be strengthened in time, instead of weakened.”
Book went on a little more about what the Bible and God had to say about marriage as well as some other famous quotes about love and acceptance. I’d supply a transcript of the speech, but I just don’t have the energy. I was too busy anyways trying to get different shots of the crew members and their reactions. River was a real help, doing the hand signals with a fluidity of a conductor. Finally, after a few more words and a prayer said aloud by the crew (which I figured was the least favorite moment of the Captain), Inara came to the podium to recite a poem I had heard on my first ceremony, called “Why Marriage?”
Because to the depths of me, I long to love one person
With all my heart, my soul, my mind and my body
Because I need a forever friend, to trust with the intimacies of me
Who won’t hold them against me, who loves me when I am unlikable
Who sees the small child in me, and who looks for the divine potential of me
Because I need to cuddle in the warmth of the night, with someone who thanks God for me
With someone who I feel blessed to hold
Because marriage means opportunity
To grow and love and in friendship
Because marriage is a discipline
To be added to a list of achievements
Because marriages do not fail
People fail when they enter into the marriage
Expecting another to make them whole
Because knowing this, I promise to myself
To take full responsibility
For my spiritual, mental and physical wholeness
I create me, I take half the responsibility for my marriage
Together we create a marriage
Because with this understanding
The possibilities are limitless.
Kaylee mouthed a simple ‘thank you’ to her as Inara walked back to her place. Book took his place again and resumed. After another monologue about the responsibilities of marriage, he asked for Kaylee and Simon to face each other. Simon then took out a sheet of paper from his coat pocket. He took a quick scan of this paper and tucked it back in. I guess he did decide to write some vows of his own.
“I know that while I may have been in the top three percent in my class and considered a gifted individual when it comes to addressing the physical heart, we all know that my ability to address the heart with words is something I have proven over and over again is something I am not good at.” A small chuckle arose from the crew members. “But I will try to do my best this time around. You were my first patient here on this ship. Even though I bartered with the Captain with your life, I knew I wouldn’t let you die. Being a doctor is more than a job for me. It’s is my code. It is my philosophy. It is my purpose. These last two years have been the most exciting, dangerous and heart breaking years of my life. But they have also been the most life affirming. And it’s all because of you. In my darkest moments, you have been the light that has saved me in more ways than you’ll ever know. So on this day, in front of our family and a few feet away from where we really met, I would like to make a promise. I will be there to patch you up, both physically, mentally and spiritually. I will be there to assist you at your strongest and help you at your weakest. I will cherish every single moment I am in your presence, and I will be there for you until the end of our lives and afterward.”
A smile came across my face then, and I knew right there. She had made the right choice. When I reviewed the film of the other crew members for their reactions to that speech, they all had that same look on their faces. Even the Captain and Jayne, the hardened cynics to the idea of marriage, had a look of amusement and realized admiration on their faces. At this point, Kaylee herself was already in tears of happiness. I always like it when the bride gets all blubbery. You wouldn’t believe how many stiffs I had to watch at the podium to finally appreciate it when a bride gets all emotional. I knew River got the right angle and frame on Simon, so now it was my turn to get Kaylee just right.
“Simon. I have known many men in my lifetime. I have explored the spectrum of men, guys and boys. But you were the first gentleman I knew. I was attracted by your intelligence, your occupation, and maybe a little bit by your looks. But over the last two years, I fell in love with your dedication, your drive to better everyone around you, especially your little mei-mei. But mostly, I fell in love with you. Your kindness, your consideration, your chivalry and how you treated me. Made me feel like this goddess, even though I had grease smeared on my clothes and oil in my hair. I promise to love and honor you. To take care of you and treat you like you would treat me. To make you feel as if you mattered just being there. To give you that home you lost by doing the right thing.” She smiled again, even though tears were cascading down her rouged cheeks and into the corners of her quivering mouth. They then turned and faced Book, who was obviously enjoying every moment of this.
"Do you, Simon Tam, take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife. To love, honor and obey in sickness and in health for as long as you both shall live?"
"Do you, Kaywinnith Lee Frye, take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband. To love, honor and obey in sickness and in health for as long as you both shall live."
"I do and even longer than that."
"The ring's please."
The rings were then given to Kaylee and Simon by Inara and Mal. Simon repeated Book’s lines and slipped on her ring on her left hand quite effortlessly. Kaylee took a little longer than usual, since she said every word in between a sob, and her hand was shaking when she put the ring on Simon’s hand, which I think was a bit to small for his finger. But that was excusable, under any circumstance.
“And so, by the power invested in me by God and the Alliance, I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
Simon leaned in and lightly kissed Kaylee on the lips. Kaylee wrapped her arms around him and practically squeezed him as she rammed her tongue down his throat. The crew then burst into an applause as they cheered them on. As Jayne hollered, Kaylee raised her fist in the air like an athlete that had just won a race. After they broke the kiss, Book brought out some legal looking documents and him, Simon, Kaylee, Mal and Inara took a few minutes signing them. Afterwards, Book said one last prayer, with each of the crew members with their heads bowed down. I zoomed in on Simon and Kaylee holding each others hands, a signature shot of mine I always like to fit in. Afterwards, they marched down the aisle for the first time as husband and wife as Inara and Jayne followed, playing his pipes again. Inara was to take them out in her shuttle as they did whatever it is that newlyweds do between the time they got married and when they arrived for the dinner. After the three had boarded the shuttle, and as Jayne went to change out of his kilt, we all started taking down the podium and chairs to set up for the banquet that was to be held there as well.
As we were moving the stuff around, I went up to Mal, who was just standing there, staring up at the port to Inara’s shuttle. “What’s on your mind?” I asked.
“This is the first time since we started flying that I was witness to something good happening on this ship. I expected something to go wrong, but nothing did. Not even Jayne’s strange revelation.”
“Same here. Everything went off without a hitch, which is a first for me as well. This is like that feeling you get when you first fly.”
“Yes. I believe it is like that.”
* * * * * * *
As Inara took Simon and Kaylee on their flight around the ship to do whatever it is newlyweds do, the rest of us set up the banquet table in the cargo bay. We had striked the makeshift chapel and now we were setting up for the banquet and the dance afterwards. It took us a while for us to move this big mahogany table they had in the kitchen down to the cargo bay, but we were able to fit it all in. While the rest of them were setting the table and bringing the food (actual food and not that protein go-se), I helped Wash set up an old DJ/jukebox on the bridge and had it wired so that he or I could request a song into a com-link and it would then play on all the speakers on the ship.
We waited about another ten minutes after we had set everything up and changed into some more informal attire. Zoe was back to her old maroon t-shirt, brown pants and combat boots, Wash was back in his Hawaiian shirt, and Jayne and Mal were back in their respectable Blue Sun t-shirts and red shirt and suspenders. Only Book, River and I were still in our same wedding clothes.
“You have any idea about how Jayne knows how to play the bagpipes and has a kilt in his wardrobe?” I asked Mal.
‘I’m just as curious as you are.”
Before we could discuss this further, I heard the familiar sounds of a shuttle docking with the ship. I hurried up the stairs and catwalk to the door and got there in time with my camera to capture the newlyweds emerging. The crew cheered as the two walked back out into the cargo bay arm in arm. I was walking back to get them as they walked forward, when I accidentally tripped on some stairs and nearly fell. When you watch the movie, you can see the jiggle of the camera and the brief looks on their face of watching an accident. I kept it in there anyways because I like those accidental moments. It makes the whole thing seem natural.
When they finally touched down on the cargo bay floor, the whole crew came to them to shake their hands and congratulate them. The women of course were all over Kaylee, who was loving every minute of it. Wash was very enthusiastic about finally not being the only married man on board and let Simon know it. Book and Mal’s congratulations were a little more reserved. And Jayne just game him a single pump handshake and say “Congrats, Doc.” They all then went to the dinner table, and after a quick prayer from Book, we all sat down to eat. Even me. First time I was asked to sit at the bridal table.
The food they had there wasn’t much. But after eating protein for a few days straight, this was a feast fit for a king. They had managed to get a 20 pound turkey for the main course, along with corn, peas, mashed potatoes, gravy, and even a wedding cake. It was only one layer, and looked a little bit stale, but Simon had managed to get a little bit of caviar to give it a bit of distinction and high class from what they normally ate.
I had my eye cams on, which is a camera system where they looked like regular glasses, but the lenses were actually made of fiber optics, so it’s literally a POV shot. All they while, they talked with one another and even included me in the conversations. It was mostly small talk, but we all found out about Jayne learned to play the bagpipes and have a kilt stashed away. Apparently, before Jayne met up with Mal and Serenity, Jayne and his old gang were planning a heist. It was at a rich guy’s house who was big into the Scottish culture of Earth-That-Was. So as part of their cover, Jayne had to learn the pipes and wear the costume as well. The ironic thing was, Jayne’s cover was blown once the alarm was tripped, so he spent all that time learning how to play the bagpipes for nothing. “I heard what Shooter here told me, and I decided to bring Maggie back out of retirement.”
“I though Maggie was the AK-47.” Mal asked.
“That’s Maggie S. I was playing Maggie G. She’s my fave of the two.’
“Hmm. Outside of Vera, I didn’t think you had favorites.” Wash interjected. “And on that note, if all of us are finished eating, I’d like to get to the toasts. Get the speechifyin over before we dance the night away.” Wash pulled back from his place at the table and sat up. It was obvious he would be MCing this part of the day.
“Howdy y’all. You all know me as your intrepid pilot, and I’ll be MCing this portion of Simon and Kaylee’s big day. We all wrote a few speeches for you two, so we’d better get started. I’ll start off by saying that it’s a great sight to see you two finally get married. Not only because you two deserve each other, but because we were starting to get a bit sick of the whole “will you/won’t you” thing you guys had going on. In fact, some of us actually had a bet going on to see how long things would go on between you two before becoming serious. But seriously, marriage is a tough thing to work on. I can tell you from experience that there will be times where the bad can outweigh the good, but you’d just have to work with living with those moments. We all know Zoe and I have had some arguments over many things. Some trivial, some huge. But if you’re honest with each other, and can rationally talk things through to it’s resolution, then anything you come up against can be licked. Now I know the idea of rationality in a marriage is considered an oxymoron, but there it is. So I’d like to propose a toast.” Wash raised his glass along with everyone else. “A toast to the newlyweds. May whatever problems they have be resolved quickly and legally. And that the crew doesn’t get sick of their new affection for each other too soon. I pass the torch on to you.” The crew said all their “Hear hears” and sipped the bad wine in silence. “And now, to represent the bride’s side of the family, here is a man who needs no introduction.” Wash sat down. For a few seconds, there was an awkward silence. Wash then nudged Mal and said “Mal, get up there.”
Mal realized that it was his turn and sat up rather quickly. He took out a few rumpled notes out of his shirt pocket, looked at them and then stuffed them back into his pants pockets. “Uhh, I’m not much for speech makin myself, but when Kaylee asked me to write something about her for Simon and all of you guys, it took me a while to come up with this, so bear with me. I thought that it was weird that I was asked to represent Kaylee’s side of the family. I always thought of myself as her Captain, and not like a father or a brother. But after thinking about it, I suppose I could consider myself a surrogate older brother for Kaylee. Bein an only child myself, I never really had the experience of having a younger sister. And having one now, I now understand what Simon had to put up with, even before the Alliance did what they did to her. She was bratty, she was playful, she was insubordinate, she made me look ridiculous and at times annoyed the hell out of me. But like any older brother, I put up with her and her little trysts with our doctor. Like that time she and Simon were “fixin” the engine. Wash asked me “How could she break off a connecting node with her knee?” The crew laughed at this. “I told him “No way was it a knee.”” They laughed even harder with this. “But seriously, I could think of no better person for our doctor to get hitched too. Smart, talented, funny, pretty and kind are but a few words out of Book’s thesaurus that describe Kaylee. She can keep you flyin, like the ship itself. I can see she’s starting to unwind you already. And she can make this feel like home to you, like she’s done with all of us. So as your Captain, I order you all to raise your glasses for Simon and Kaylee. May they have a prosperous union. But no kids yet. This is a spaceship, not a nursery carpool.”
They chuckled at this as they raised their glasses and drank the bad wine that seemed to get worse with every sip.
After Wash drank some water to get the taste out of his mouth, he stood up and cleared his throat. “Thanks, Mal. And also, I know perfectly well how one can break off important parts of the engine with ones knee. To speak on behalf of the groom’s family, we have Simon’s sister, River.” As Wash sat down and River stood up, Jayne gave a roll with his eyes. I heard a thump underneath the table and a poisoned look from Zoe as she cleared her throat.
“I once traced our lineage back 600 years ago to our relatives from Earth-That-Was for a school project. We were frontiersman, looking to make our fortune in a place called California. There was a Gold Rush going on then and our great by twenty grandfather made his fortune in the gold he found in the rivers there. I imagine people said to him that he was crazy when he set out. “You’ll never find it” they must’ve told them. “The odds must be mathematically impossible.” But he went there and found it. He then invested it into the building of a new device called ‘the automobile’. People said that was a dumb idea as well, but it paid off. For hundreds of years, we Tams have invested in things that may have seemed crazy and foolhearty, only for it to pay off. Simon has done this twice. First time, it was with me. Just the fact that I’m speaking coherently for the first time in a long time is proof of that. And the second time is with you, Kaylee. Simon never really had a girlfriend, or anyone other than me while we were growing up. Some thought he was sly, but I knew he was just afraid. Of rejection, of intimacy, of giving offence, of everything every man is when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex. I think that by giving up everything he had for me, he finally got the courage to also go after you. And that you allowed him into your heart has made the greatest difference to Simon. More than our upbringing, more than his studying, even more than me. Please raise your glasses, everyone.” Everyone did so. “To Kaylee. Welcome to the family. Your presence in our legacy will outshine any monetary payoffs this family has ever seen.” Everyone drank the wine one more time, before bursting out in applause. Kaylee got up to hug River once again, only now there were tears of happiness in River’s eyes.
After things had quieted down, and everyone had taken their seats, Wash stood up again. “That was beautiful, River. And now to wrap this up, we have the newlyweds ourselves, Simon and Kaylee.” The table applauded as Simon and Kaylee stood up.
“Thank you very much, all of you.” Simon started out. “Well, we finally did it. And this whole union really couldn’t have happened if not for all of you guys. So to all of you, I’d like to say a few thank yous. Thank you Wash and Zoe for all the advice you’ve given us about married life on a ship. There have been a few times where the advice you’ve given us has really helped us out. Thank you, Mal for giving me permission to marry your mechanic. Thank you, Book for not only binding us with God, but also by the State. Thank you, Inara for the books and herbs to help us out with ‘that”. They will most definitely come in handy. Thank you, River for your patience and support in this. And even thank you Jayne for keeping your end of the deal. Thank you all, in fact, for helping us find each other and getting us here to this point. It’s been a great ride, and I can only imagine it getting better.” The crew applauded again with this eloquence from the newest married man on board. After the applause died down, Kaylee cleared her throat.
“Hi. Simon pretty much covered everyone here, so I just have a few more things to say and then we can hit the dance floor. I’d like to thank Book as well for doing this for us, as well as finding this food that we’ve feasted on. I’d like to wish you all the same happiness that we’re feeling right now. And I’d particularily like to thank our only guest here, Shooter.” This took me by surprise. I’ve never been thanked for what I do during the toasts. Usually I try to be as invisible as possible in shooting, so often go unnoticed. “It’s been a pleasure in not only having you here on our ship as our only guest, but also having you film our wedding. I know that you aren’t being paid for this, and that if anyone else other than us were to watch this, it would be considered incriminating evidence, but it’s such a thrill to see you work, to pore over every small detail and to make sure that our day is captured flawlessly. You are a true artist, and Simon and I thank you.”
I was still a bit dumbfounded by this revelation when Kaylee called for a last toast for me. I could only think of one thing to do. I put my hat back on, tipped the front end of it off to them and said thanks. They then placed their glasses on the table. Simon then looked over to Kaylee and said something I don’t think any of us expected. “When we first really met, you asked me if I was asking you to dance. Well, now I am. Would you, Kaywinnith Lee Frye, like to dance?” He held out his arm to take. She hooked her arm underneath his and smiled. “I would love to, Simon Tam.”
As the two then walked out to the open space on the dance floor, I started up the com-link to the DJ/jukebox and said Shania Twain “You Got a Way”. I know it’s been a staple at weddings for 500 years plus and that to start off with that would be contradictory to Wash’s and my plan to have an unconventional selection of music for the dance part. But you can never go wrong with her. She has a voice that can melt away all the anger and tension a person can have. Whenever I thought of Kaylee, Shania Twain always seemed to go alongside my memories of her. I had my main camera back on and I circled them as they danced in the same spot over the course of the song. They were talking, but I couldn’t figure out exactly what they were saying. Just as well. What I was getting was magic. I had done this shot for every single one of my videos, but this time it really seemed magical. After that song finished, I yelled out that everyone else was to get out there as well. And as I requested The Band and Emmylou Harris’s “Evangeline”, Wash and Zoe, Mal and Inara and Book and River all came out and started to dance to this old Cajun waltz.
For Simon and Kaylee, they were the only two people in the verse at that moment. For Zoe and Wash, they tried to keep up with the beat, even though they both sucked at this. Mal and Inara seemed to be doing well. Inara moreso than Mal, although he seemed to be able to keep up with her and adapt. Book was able to glide effortlessly across the dance floor as River obviously lead him in an effortless waltz. And Jayne just sat there in one of the chairs helping himself to the leftover cake and wine, scraping off the caviar that was probably hard to come by. When the song ended, I knew I had just filmed the perfect shot that summed up the entire crew, both as individuals and as a group.
For the rest of the evening, Wash and I alternated in choosing songs for us to dance to. We had covered almost every classical genre, as well as some new hybrid music as we kept trying to keep at least two people on the dance floor. I’m sure everyone danced with each other during the course of the night. I had gotten everything I needed, so I alternated between talking with the men on the sidelines while dancing with each of the women on the dancefloor. I asked Mal how soon we’d land on a planet. “In about three days, we’ll be touching down on Anubis. While Kaylee and Simon are sunbathing, I’m sure we could pull off a few deals unbeknownst to them.” “Good.” I replied. “I’m sure I can find another gig pretty quickly.” We talked a little more, before I decided to tango with Inara. It was a chore to keep up with her, but it was definitely worth it. Afterwards, I went to the sidelines again as I chatted with Book about history. When I asked him about whether he fought alongside the Independents or the Alliance, he said that he was neither. That his profession kept him neutral to all the political struggles of man. But he told me that in due time it wouldn’t matter.
“Throughout human history, every major autocratic government has fallen. The Egyptians, the Greeks, Alexander the Great, the Romans, the British, the Russians twice, Nazi Germany, the Japanese, the list goes on and on. If dictatorial governments worked, why aren’t these great parties of rule still around? So I wouldn’t imagine a system like the Alliance to last long. It could fall tomorrow or in a few decades, but it will end.”
I mulled that over that as I watched River trying to teach Jayne a simple two step routine, with him trampling over her feet as they moved. I decided then to cut in and save her from being in more anguish than she was in.
“You looked like you needed it.”
We danced a little more, with me trying to keep up with this obvious pro.
“That was a pretty speech you made back there.”
“Thank you. I meant it.”
“Never crossed my mind that it would be otherwise. I just have one question."
“You said something to Simon during the ceremony. What was it?”
“Latin. Incepio ut amor enim aliquis novus. Learn to love someone new.”
We danced a little more before the song ended and we stepped off the dance floor. I walked over to the table and helped myself to a few more drinks. My feet were getting tired, so I sat down in one of the chairs to relieve myself and to just watch. I thought of the footage I had shot and what to keep and what to throw away. Most of the other crew members were mulling around the fringes of the cargo bay, talking, drinking and laughing. The only two still dancing were Simon and Kaylee. I noticed Jayne by himself looking at the dancing couple. That look that he had a few days before when he was talking about Kaylee was on his face again. I saw it then. It was perfectly obvious that he had a thing for Kaylee. And it was killing him to see his victor parade his affection for her in front of him. I walked over and sat down next to Jayne.
“You wish that it was you up there.”
“What? Don’t be stupid, boy.”
“I ain’t stupid. You don’t have to be psychic to figure out that you have a thing for her.”
Jayne must’ve realized that I could see right through him, so he went from looking defensive to looking beaten.
“I can understand that. Truth be told, I feel a little like that myself. Nice, down to earth girl that makes you feel like a million in platinum. Any guy would want that. But I learned that instead of gettin jealous, you should congratulate the guy that managed to get her. Trust me, it’s much healthier and you can sleep better.”
“Yeah, you got that right. I’m still gonna pull a little prank on him, just to even the score. You want in?”
“No, I think I’ll leave it to you. I like bein surprised.”
I got up and patted him on the shoulder. I was getting a little tired, and I wanted to have a good nights sleep before editing the whole film together. But before that, I went onto the dance floor and asked if I could cut in. Simon relinquished, and now it was just me and Kaylee on the dance floor.
“You having a good time, Shooter?”
“Yeah. As a matter of fact, this has been without a doubt the best weddings I’ve been to.”
“That’s nice. How long will it take to make all you shot into a movie?”
“About two days. The last day I’m on here, I’ll set up a screen and I’ll show you guys my latest opus.”
She smiled and we danced some more. As I looked into her eyes, I was treated to all her goodness. I’ve said before about how she had that quality to her that people found irresistible, and I know that I will do my best in portraying her beautifully. But I think for anyone to really fully grasp the divine angel of grace that is Kaylee Frye, you’d have to be dancing with her and just look into her windows for her soul to fully feel her spiritual power.
“Thank you again, Shooter, for doing this. It really means a lot to me that you’re doing this.”
“Are you kidding me? I’d do this again in a heartbeat for you. Any man would. As I remember, as a kid you had a whole army of boys following you around trying to impress you.”
“I don’t remember that. I always remembered you and how you loved telling stories.”
“That I remember. And I should be grateful for you and your crew in allowing me to tell your story and for one for myself.”
“You’re very welcome.” And she gave me that smile of hers that would melt the snow on the coldest planets. And in my mind, I cursed and praised Simon for being the luckiest gorram doctor in the whole ‘verse.
I stuck around long enough for the bouquet and garter toss. For the garter toss, it was only Mal, Jayne and me there. Amazingly enough, I actually caught it. When you watch the video, you can se my hand in front of the camera as the garter belt actually go right into my hand. For the bouquet toss, only Inara and River were there, and River was actually standing in the right spot to catch it. Must’ve been her psychic intuitive. I said goodnight to all of them, and got the final shot of Simon and Kaylee walking towards their room. I can say with absolute certainty that this was a perfect day.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
I spent the next two days locked to my portable edit suite as I took the hours of footage I shot from various angles and edited them together into a legitimate looking feature film. On the last day that I was on the ship, I took the sheets that were being cleaned from laundry and strung them together to make an amateur screen for us to watch the movie on. That evening, after I had helped with some of the chores and grunt work on the ship, we all sat down to watch my latest creation. As expected, everyone liked what they saw and were pleased with the way they came off and how if the final film were to leak that it wouldn’t betray them. The one comment in particular that stuck with me was from Simon. He said that seeing his sister dance to that old song I played for her filled him with so much joy and relief. I recommended to him that music can be very therapeutic for helping patients with major psychological trauma, and that an Allen One guitar could do wonders for her mental and spiritual health.
“She’d be bored with it after twenty minutes. Any musical instrument she touches she can master easily without one lesson or even sheet music.”
“Not with this one. And Allen One guitar has a switch on it so that it can change from an electric guitar to an acoustic to even a mandolin. And with Washes old music to listen to, she could try to learn how to play like the masters. Hendrix, Richards, Clapton, Plant, the list goes on. Give it a try, Doc. I think she’ll like it.”
The next morning, we finally touched down on Anubis. It’s a desert planet with half the planet covered in water, which makes it a popular place for people to vacation on. Simon and Kaylee would hit the beaches. Wash and Zoe would follow once they fueled up and got another deal going on with Mal. Inara would meet with a client. And Jayne, Book and River would stay behind on the ship.
As for me, I parted ways with them again at the space dock and headed out to the saloon where I’m writing this now. Will I see this intrepid crew again? Probably not. Will I get off this rock soon? Possibly. The bridal shop I saw a block away from here looked busy. And with rich folk in there, so I can get paid this time. But would I do this any other way? Can’t imagine doing so.
But oh how I wanted to stay there and see her children grow.
Friday, December 03, 2004 7:27 AM
Friday, December 03, 2004 8:56 AM
Thursday, December 09, 2004 7:06 AM
Monday, February 21, 2005 3:54 AM
Sunday, October 30, 2005 12:07 PM
Tuesday, January 03, 2006 5:52 AM
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