The Cook - Part II - Bring on the Peril
Friday, March 4, 2005

What happens when Hat goes visiting . . .


Harriet set down her carpetbag with a suppressed groan as the huge men barrelled towards her. Any one of her brothers could have given Jayne a run for his money in height and breadth and, indeed, Jonah had, about a year previously, whupped Jayne’s ass over a whore.

“Hey Jonah, hey Jake, hey Ged!” She said, forcing as much enthusiasm into her voice as she could muster, “how’s Pa?”

“He ain’t doin’ too well at present, but he’ll be awful glad to see you right enough” said Jake, “It’s good to see ya, little sis”.

Each of her brothers joined in the greeting, roughly hugging her to them as Hat tired not to breath in the overpowering odour of unwashed clothes, tobacco and old sweat. She would have been far more appreciative if they hadn’t been practically carrying her towards the kitchen as they talked.

“We stocked up on provisions” Jonah said, “so’s you can get to the cooking with no delays.” He shushed her eagerly with his hands onwards towards the stove. Harriet told herself she’d asked for this really, reached down her Ma’s old apron from the back of the kitchen door and got right to work. Without another word, but exchanging significant glances, her brothers melted contentedly from the kitchen. They knew from experience that good ol’ Hat worked better if not disturbed.

*** Mal ambled to the stove; one had searching for the coffee pot as he examined a piece of the cargo with the other.

“I ain’t saying as its illegal, Zoe, I’m just saying as it don’t look entirely legit, is all.” He held out the small square of plastic and welding, a random computer part stamped with a corporate logo.

“Yeah, I know what you mean, Sir. That Blue Sun don’t look too well defined. I’d say we’re talking counterfeiters.” She nodded.

“Well, then its best this stuff don’t stay on Serenity any longer than needs be. Go tell Jayne we’ll be moving out in around a half hour, just as soon as I’ve had a decent cup of coffee . . . Gorramit!!” Mal spat out a mouthful of the evil brew he’d just poured from the hob “who the hell made this? . . . Harriet!!” he yelled in anguish.

“She ain’t here, Sir, ‘member? She’s gone too see her folks.”

“‘Course I remember! Me sayin’ “Harriet” was more like a cry for help. . . See, this is why I don’t make a habit of letting her go visiting. Everything goes to hell when she ain’t here . . . “

“I’m guessing Jayne made that coffee, Sir, he has a certain feral attitude to food preparation, that just ain’t playing fair”.

“Ever considered making coffee yourself, Captain?” Asked Inara shrewdly, stepping into the galley and beginning to prepare tea.

“Ah, now that, I think you’ll find, would be in the nature of keeping a dog and barking myself, wouldn’t it?” said Mal.

“Who’s the dog?” asked Wash, sneaking up behind Zoe and wrapping his arms around her.

“Harriet is, apparently” said Zoe, with a sharp glare at Mal.

“Oh that ain’t nice,” said Wash, “no dog I ever met could cook like her.”

“That ain’t what I’m saying” said Mal exasperated, “I just meant . . . oh to *diyu* with what I meant! Is it too much to ask for five minutes peace to drink a cup of coffee?”

“Here” said Inara, “I’ve made tea, have a cup of that.” And she placed a steaming mug in front of him.

Mal sniffed it suspiciously “Is it herbal?”

“A fine blend mixed to my specific specifications. Lost, I suspect, on a petty thief, but there you go,” sighed Inara as she left, balancing her own tea on a tray.

“Meet you in the cargo bay in five then, Sir” said Zoe as she headed towards the cockpit followed by Wash saying excitedly “ohh, you’ll be amazed what I can do with a whole five minutes”.

Mal sipped his tea somewhat reluctantly. He was more than a little annoyed with Harriet. These kind of things always happened when she went away. Little things, that it was stupid to make a big fuss about, but got you down. Nothing was as much fun or as cosy-feeling without her. So, she’d stocked the freezer and left little notes pinned to the top of various dishes and tubs with dinner instructions on them, but it just wasn’t the same. Things tasted better, when you knew that you had someone to argue the toss with. It was so funny to watch those bright green eyes spark with anger and listen to a witty retort. He brought himself up short. How the hell did he know what colour eyes Hat had? Now that he thought about it, he couldn’t even remember Inara’s eye colour and she was far more attractive than that diminutive, blond harpy! He shook his head and set his lips in a hard line. He’d never been one for creature comforts, but Hat appeared to be one of those comforts he’d gotten used to having, waiting in his ship after a deal. Still, she’d been gone for two days already, only two to go, he thought. Scaring himself with how much he missed her, he forced himself to laugh softly and headed heavily for the cargo bay.

*** “I already told you!” Harriet was all but yelling now, “I can stay until tomorrow and then I gotta get back. If’n I don’t they’re as like as not to take off without me!”

“And if they did?” said her Pa from his seat by the fire in the deep-winged chair from which he hardly now ever arose, “its sounds to me like they ain’t much of a loss. A whore, who, I might add, turned down Ged. . . ” (“Companion” said Harriet under her breath.)

“A mercenary,” went on her father, “a couple of rebels and a preacher! Don’t sound to me like you’d be missing out on much if you did stay here”.

“Pa, you know I hate to argue with you, don’t lets ruin my visit. . .” Hat tried in a softer tone, but Jake cut in:

“Take a look around you girl! Don’t ya care about your kin? We don’t got no one to do for us and it t’aint right for us to do for ourselves, we’re men, Gorammit! We all works hard of a day to keep this ranch goin’! A man needs home fires to come back to and the warmth of a woman’s touch.”

“Hey! Hang on one cotton-picking minute,” said Hat “you ain’t getting no women’s touch for me, you inbred *hundan* AND I AIN’T”, her voice rose almost to a squeak, “gonna sacrifice my life for you useless bunch of reprobates. I came here, didn’t I? I sure as *diyu* didn’t have to! I’ve cooked for you, cleaned a bit and filled the freezer, but that, big brother, is your lot! So I suggest you get used to the feel of a cooking pan in your hand and fast!”

“Oh, believe you me,” said Jake, suddenly leaning in close and leering menacingly at her, “Jonah’s already a dab hand”.

He was looking at something behind Hat as he said this, and as she swung round, Hat heard or rather felt a sharp crack on her skull and then the stars and the black came rushing up to meet her as she fell like a sack of potatoes. Jonah, ever a lover of mindless violence, brandished a large, food encrusted saucepan and sniggered at Jake, the brains.

“Took you’re sweet time, didn’t ya, Jonah? *Tamade*, but that girl’s got a mouth on her. Dunno where she learned to jaw like that tho, I’m certain it’weren’t from Ma. Right, I got a plan all mapped out, but first I’m fixing to sort out our little sis as should have been done long ago”.

*** Kaylee and River were playing jacks and Book was exercising in the cargo bay when the Captain strode in swearing profusely in Chinese. He was followed by Zoe, who was sniggering gently and Jayne, who looked rueful.

“*Tamade* Jayne, even when a scheme’s goin’ smoother than it has any business to, you just love ta wreak havoc, don’t ya?”

“What happened, Cap?” asked Kaylee, getting up form her game, “did we get the coin?”

“We surely did, Little Kaylee,” said Mal, swinging a leisurely arm round his mechanic and pulling her to him, “despite Jayne’s best attempts to get us SHOT” the last part of the sentence was yelled across at Jayne, who hung his head, muttering something unintelligible that sounded like “I din’t know she weren’t professional”.

“But I aint fixing to talk about that anytime soon”, shuddered Mal. “Its time to get us gone. . . Wash”, he yelled, just as Wash appeared on the walk way above, “is everyone aboard? Put us in the air, now”.

Behind him he could hear Zoe, in a stage whisper filling Kaylee and River in and it was making him feel all kinds of uncomfortable.

“So,” whispered Zoe, “it turns out she’s Felix’s only surviving daughter and, don’t this just cap it all? She’s only 13! Jayne’s lucky he got a way with his manhood intact!”

Meanwhile Wash was saying, in a nervous voice as though waiting for the shoe to drop, “uh, Mal . . . we ain’t quite all aboard as you might say . .”

”Huh?” “We just this minute got a waive come in from one of Hat’s folks, you all might wanna come up and see it.”

*** “Huh!” was all Mal could find to say. They were all clustered round the com on the bridge listening to the waive from Ged, Mal thought it was. He’d never rightly been able to keep Harriet’s brothers straight. Still, wouldn’t need to now.

Ged’s gist was that Harriet had taken pity on her family and decided to stay. She was sorry not to say goodbye but was real busy. If they could just parcel up her stuff and send it on from wherever they next made landfall, they’d be mighty grateful.

Mal was livid. Hat might be feisty, but she had a good heart and was known to take pity on small, weak things, which she fed and nurtured and then cried about when they (as they invariably did) died. So she’d decided her duty was to look after her good for nothing brothers, had she? Well, that was just shiny. She’d better not be fixing for Mal to talk her out of it ‘cos he wouldn’t do it. Her choice, her bed to lie in. (He winced as an image of a sleepy Harriet snuggled cosy and safe in her cabin bed, came unbidden into his mind).

Everyone was looking at him expectantly. He pushed himself away from the console. “Well, you heard the man. Wash, get us out of here. Kaylee, you’ll pack Hat’s stuff up, have it ready for when we reach Persephone. We’ll send it on form there. Now you can all stop looking at me like I killed your puppy. Harriet’s made her choice and I don’t see any call for us to be interferin’ in family business, which ain’t no business of ours! You all got jobs to do, I’m thinking, so get doin’ them. “ With that, he stalked out of the cockpit, amazed by how hurt he was that she hadn’t even said goodbye.

Kaylee watched him go. Tears shone in her eyes as she turned to the others, “she wouldn’t just leave without saying goodbye. Harriet ain’t like that. She’s just not!” She looked pleadingly at Simon to back her up. Simon, who had watched the whole scene unfold with his mouth slightly ajar, shook his head.

“I don’t know, Kaylee, maybe she just couldn’t face it . . I don’t know” he shook his head again. “No” said Zoe suddenly, from her position leaning on the back of Wash’s seat, “Kaylee’s right, that’s just not Hat’s way. There’s something not quite right about this whole thing and I’m betting I know what it is.”

Without another word she stalked from the room, following Mal, with the others trailing after her. All except Wash, who’s plaintive “What about me, shall I put us in the air or not?” echoed behind them. Book turned as he left.

“Better had, Wash, you know how the Captain gets when he’s crossed.” Wash nodded and reached to press the buttons above his head.

*** “You upset her, didn’t you, Sir?” said Zoe accusingly, leaning confrontationally across the galley table. “You said something crass and insensitive and now she ain’t never coming back. Ain’t that they way of it, Sir?”


Saturday, March 5, 2005 7:52 PM


I really like what you are doing with this story. Hat fits right in and you have all the other characters right on. Hope there's a part 3 soon.

Monday, March 7, 2005 9:16 AM


Hat really does fit right in with the rest of the crew. I interested to find out just where Mal's feelings take him in regards to Hat. More!

- Soul

Friday, March 11, 2005 5:21 AM


You've got a very interesting story going on here. I can't wait to read more!


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All my fanfics tidied up and gathered together into 4 neat little parcels.

Come! Witness the amazing genesis from the caterpillar of crapness to the cocoon of "hmm! that's OK" culminating in the butterfly of "woa! Similes" ...

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The Cook Saga - 3 of 4
All my fanfics tidied up and gathered together into 4 neat little parcels. Come! Witness the amazing genesis from the caterpillar of crapness to the cocoon of "hmm! that's OK" culminating in the butterfly of "woa! Similes" ... Oh, and it's what would have happened if Mal had only hired that cook (Out of Gas)...

The Cook Saga - 2 of 4
All my fanfics tidied up and gathered together into 4 neat little parcels.

Come! Witness the amazing genesis from the caterpillar of crapness to the cocoon of "hmm! that's OK" culminating in the butterfly of "woa! Similes" ...

Oh, and it's what would have happened if Mal had only hired that cook (Out of Gas)...

The Cook Saga - 1 of 4
All my fanfics tidied up and gathered together into 4 neat little parcels.

Come! Witness the amazing genesis from the caterpillar of crapness to the cocoon of "hmm! that's OK" culminating in the butterfly of "woa! Similes" ...

Oh, and it's what would have happened if Mal had only hired that cook (Out of Gas)...

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Apologies - this has been a long time coming - you might wanna review the series (They Take Such Looking After) unless you have an exceptional memory!!

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The future throws River a curve ball ...

Feedback always welcome ...

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River re-writes the future

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