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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Why you should never call a woman a whore more than three times in one night.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 4838 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Wash and Kaylee stood in the foyer of the Belladonna House – at least Wash was standing up for the both of them. Kaylee swayed in the nonexistent breeze, one hand wrapped around the pilot’s arm to anchor herself. Wash looked as uncomfortable as a man who is happily married to a cold-blooded killer could be in a whorehouse. But he was also a professional.
There were certain duties that one had to one’s crewmates while in port. It was basic, unwritten space law, as old as rocket fuel, stuff you learned in flight school or picked up through your skin your freshman cruise: You never failed to buy a round when your turn came up. You never failed to loan up to fifty credits when a crewmate came up short, no questions asked. No matter who threw the first punch, you backed a crewmate up -- even if you were the only two in the bar. If a mate needed bailing out, you did it even if it meant hocking something or breaking a date.
And when a crewmate needed to get laid – and there was no doubt in his mind that Kaylee needed it, bad – you did what you could.
It was common decency.
Wash occasionally felt a twinge of guilt at the fact that he, Zoe, and Inara were the only ones aboard with a bona fide shipboard sex life – and it really didn’t count for Inara. But then he thought about Zoie naked and didn’t give a (rat’s ass) about what the others thought. The last few years with Zoe made this the best cruise he had ever landed, even with the constant danger, petty bickering and abject poverty. Despite a sneaking suspicion that his lady wife might not approve of his actions, he knew where his duty lie.
The Belladonna had never been grand, but the madam of the establishment had done a credible job giving the non-descript building a shabbily opulent interior. It looked, Wash thought, what Inara’s shuttle might look like on a really restricted budget. Plush pillows, overstuffed chairs with thin upholstery, faded oil paintings done, no doubt, by talented local amateurs, some elegant but equally amateurish calligraphy – and, of course, the ubiquitous beaded doorway back to the parlor. A slow, sultry number was playing softly in the background, and the air was sweet with incense, cigar smoke, and burning hemp. There was a faint and completely fake female giggle coming from the back of the house.
Yep, thought Wash nervously, it’s a whorehouse.
The madam appeared before the tinkley little bell stopped. She was about forty-five standard, with a pleasant face and a long silky cascade of jet black hair hanging down her back. A little plump, but not unpleasantly so – rather fetching, especially the way she carried it. Generous boobs, supported by an amazingly intricate embroidered green raw silk dress that Wash swore hid an antigrav device. There was no other way they could just hang there like that.
Stop it, your married, he chided himself.
She moved with the practiced grace of a dancer. And she didn’t falter when she saw the two of them.
“Good evening, folks, and welcome to the Belladonna. I’m Miss Elizabeth, your hostess. What can I do for you this evening?” Her voice was a smooth alto, and she managed to make the introduction sound sincere. Wash liked her at once.
“Hey, uh, hello. Good evening,” he stumbled. “I’d like—we would like to talk to you about, um, arranging some--”
“Yes, entertainment. Exactly.”
“We have several ladies free this evening that would be happy, for a slightly higher fee, to cater to both of you.”
“No! No, thank you, I’m married.”
“Well, sir, I’m sure you and your wife—” she said, motioning towards Kaylee.
“No, no, she’s not my wife. I’m not married to her—”
“Not a problem sir, we get this surprisingly often, especially in a town this size. We do have rooms available for clandestine encounters – complete discretion is assured, and—”
“Wait, hold on there, Miss Elizabeth, let me back up a bit and explain,” Wash said, his face bright red. “I,” he said, pointing to himself exaggeratedly, “am not a potential client, because I’m married to the most beautiful, kind, and sexiest tigress of a woman who can also snap my spine with her thighs if she feels like it. I don’t have needs that need to be, you know, fulfilled. My lady friend – completely platonic shipmate friend who just happens to have two X chromosomes through no fault of her own – she is feeling a little, uh, frustrated—”
“Shorny!” Kaylee said, then doubled over in a helpless fit of giggling. “Tell her I’m ‘shorny’!” she whispered loudly, not looking at Miss Elizabeth.
“Because she likes this doctor but she hasn’t been able to seduce him and – oh, it’s all very complicated but basically we need to get her . . . needs taken care of before she does something unnatural and possibly illegal and certainly hilarious.”
‘I – I see,” Miss Elizabeth said, biting her lip. “Well, I regret to say we have little call for that sort of thing, ordinarily, but I never turn away a customer unsatisfied. Let’s see, I know little Willow has entertained that trade in the past before, if your lady friend – what’s your name, sugar?”
“Kay—lee,” Kaylee sang shyly. She was now swinging her and Wash’s combined hands in a way that clearly would have ignored him if he wasn’t already so gorram uncomfortable.
“Kaylee, that’s a sweet name. And aren’t you the cutest thing? Here, why don’t you,” she said, putting a hand gently on Wash’s swinging arm, “go into the bar and have one of the house specials, on me. Let me take care of your friend here.”
“Aw, would you? Because I’m married, and I’ve been in a whorehouse before with my wife but that was when we were killing a bunch of thugs for a bunch of whores and that didn’t go real well, so I’m just going to have a drink at the bar and let you take care of her, OK?”
“That would be best, dear.”
“OK, I’ll do that, then.” Wash slunk off, casting a last look towards Kaylee over his shoulder before he went behind the beaded curtain.
Wash went slowly enough to eavesdrop on Elizabeth and Kaylee for just a few moments, just to make sure. Zoe would have liked that.
“So, sweetie, let me get you a drink, and then you can tell me about this doctor . . .”
“I think this is doable, if—” Simon said, raising one finger defiantly in the air, “and ONLY if – we can get our hands on a TR10-22 production catalyzing compounder. A small one, that is. You can find them in larger medical facilities, hospitals and such, where they are used in pharmacies to custom dose certain medicines.”
“One of those expensive?” asked Book.
“Very. And not real common in Rim world hospitals. From what I’ve seen, they mostly do their dispensing by hand. Any facility that does have one is going to be using it non-stop, too. This project will take up quite a bit of a TR10’s capacity. They’re going to have to shift most of their dispensary work off it while it’s being used. If we can’t convince them to do that, there’s no real point.”
“That may take some . . . delicate negotiations,” said Book, doubtfully.
“How ‘bout we steal one?” asked Mal. He was studying a list of hospitals in this part of space.
“What do you mean?” asked Simon.
“Well, we are criminals,” he reminded them.
“You are criminals,” corrected Book. “I am merely your chaplain.”
“You Holy folk are always sticklers for technicalities, ain’t you?”
“You know,” Simon said, cutting off Book’s inevitable snappy retort, “I keep forgetting that. And it is somewhat refreshing – if the Alliance wants me dead anyway, then I don’t really need to worry about how a little larceny beforehand is going to affect the outcome.”
Mal grinned. “Liberating, ain’t it?”
“But you just don’t steal a four ton piece of industrial equipment,” Simon reminded. “This isn’t like the Ariel caper. You can’t go into a medical facility guns blazing, slide a TR10 into your pocket, and make a clean getaway.”
“If you recall,” reminded Mal, “We actually went into the hospital nice and quiet, like. We came out of the hospital guns blazing. Or, at least you did.”
“I can’t believe we’re arguing the merits and nuances of a tactical assault on a hospital,” Simon said, shaking his head in wonder.
“You ain’t been to a doctor lately, have you?”
“Which does nothing to detract from my earlier point, we just can’t ‘steal’ one of these.”
“Wanna bet?” Mal drawled.
“Considering I have virtually nothing in the world, no. But I would like to hear your idea.”
“There’s more than one way to steal, Doc. There is the guns-blazing variety – which Zoe and Jayne and I are fairly adept at – but then there’s the quiet kind of stealing. See, back in the War, supplies were kinda hard to come by, sometimes. Well, all the time. When we signed up, we got our coats, a helmet, a rifle, a blanket, home-made body armor, and not much else. What supplies they did have they were stingy about. So Zoe and I had to steal them. From the Alliance when we could, from our own side when we had to.”
“I begin to see where you’re going with this.”
“Yep. I remember once on Hecate, our platoon had been without a supply drop for two weeks. We were out o’ everything but spite. So Zoe and a few of her hand-picked fast-talkers did a little skulking about, got a Corporal with some college learnin’ to pretend to be an Alliance officer, and commandeered two trucks of grub and supplies right out of their quartermaster’s store. Didn’t fire a shot.”
“Which is my preferred method of operations.”
“Yep. So, what can we do to convince the Alliance to part with one of those there TR10s?”
“It’s an interesting question,” Book said, thoughtfully.
“Yes, it is,” agreed Simon.
The three of them thought for a while, until Simon started to ask questions and make notes on the pad in front of him.
He kind of enjoyed this criminal mastermind thing, he thought, when he caught himself humming.
Wash was still at the bordello’s small but cozy bar, waiting on Kaylee and trading one-liners with the lovely bartender, who persisted in flirting with him despite his wedding band. Good practice, she said. Her name was Kim, and she was beautiful, but wasn’t working the floor tonight. Wash had just told his tenth or twelfth lie about his adventures in space when Miss Elizabeth sidled up and was served without having to order. Wash raised his eyebrows.
“So, uh, you’re taking care of my friend?”
Elizabeth looked at him, amused and sorrowful. “Aw, sugar, she’s got it bad.”
“You think? I don’t notice that sort of thing much, being a MARRIED MAN, and all.” The bartender snickered.
“Real bad. It’s driven’ her crazy! We had a nice talk, and I made her some tea, and we discussed her options.”
“I was hoping you’d help out. How much for the device? My treat,” he said, reaching for his wallet. Zoe would understand.
“Oh, I didn’t get her a BOB,” the madam said. When Wash looked at her oddly, she giggled and explained. “Battery Operated Boyfriend. That wouldn’t really help her out, long term like.”
“You didn’t?” Wash said, amused and mystified. “Then—”
“She’s upstairs right now, getting the silliness pounded out of her by one of the local corn-fed farm boys.” Wash choked a little on his drink.
“She’s what—?” he gasped.
“Nice boy, name o’ Nathan, it’s his first time. Daddy’s been coming here every week for years, as nice a gentleman caller as you could ask for. Wanted his boy’s first time to be special, and trusted me to see to it.” She finished off her drink. “So I killed two birds. Your friend gets her ashes hauled, works out some o’ that pent up frustration, and my customer gets a ride he won’t ever forget, with an exotic spacer woman who he’ll never see again.”
“And that’s a good thing?”
“They let you get married with what you know about sex? Your wife must be a very patient woman!”
“You have no idea. Let’s go back to the part about Kaylee and this hayseed having a tumble,” he said, alarmed.
“It’s good for both of them, sugar, trust me. Kaylee’s as sweet a thing as you could want for your first time, and in Buck’s mind, for the rest of his life, she’s gonna be the most beautiful woman in the ‘verse. If he saw her after this, that image would be tainted, and it could make him bitter. Rather not take that chance on a potential regular. Even if he did one of my regular girls, he’d still have occasion to see her, and that would detract from the experience.
“And Kaylee, she gets a young and enthusiastic solid slab of farmboy – all eleven inches of him. He’s a sweet boy too, speaks softly and kindly, very sensitive, always a gentleman at church and dances, and he deserves as pleasant an introduction to the world of love as I can provide. I’d take him myself, but in my experience I find a much older woman can scare a boy unnecessarily, cause problems later on in life. Mother issues, sometimes – and we don’t want that. I guess it’s a matter of professional pride, wanting my clients to benefit and grow in their pursuit of the erotic arts. And Lord knows, it’s better for their wives if they get a solid education before they’re wed. I guess you could say I’m trying manage the quality of Wisdom City’s erotic sphere.”
Wash was almost speechless. “You—eleven inches, you said?”
Elizabeth nodded, giggling like a schoolgirl. “Yep, inspected the equipment myself – I insist upon that with all my clientele. Gives me a better idea what they need.”
“And,” he said, suddenly remembering why he was there, “just what did you charge, uh, this Buck monster? And Kaylee, too, for that matter?”
“On the house, sugar, relax. I didn’t make a whore o’her. Slow night, see. Wouldn’t feel right charging Buck for his first – though his Daddy’s proud to pay – and with Kaylee, it’s a pure mercy, what I’m doing. Besides, she’s helping me out.”
“Uh, OK. Just let me know when she’s ready to go. State she’s in, don’t want to leave her at the mercy of the mean streets of Wisdom City.”
“Sure thing, sugar,” Elizabeth said with a smile. “Oh, let me get that,” she said when the door chime tinkled in the front room. Wash didn’t even have to ask for another drink – the bartended anticipated. He was starting on it, wondering if he screwed up so badly tonight that bedding Zoe when he returned would be out of the question, when a familiar form slunk onto a barstool next to him.
“Ah, gimme a beer and all is right with the ‘verse,” said Jayne enthusiastically.
“What’re you doin’ here?” Wash asked, alarmed. He had hoped to handle this matter discreetly, without Kaylee’s activities becoming public knowledge. That sort of thing could be bothersome in tight quarters over many months in space.
“Tearin’ me off a piece. What’re you doin’ here? Getting’ some greener grass?”
“What? Hell, no! I don’t have a death wish! I’m a MARRIED MAN,” he said loudly to the room. “I just . . . I heard tell this was a good bar. Thought I’d have me a drink.”
“A married man who drinks in a whorehouse. Yep.” Jayne sipped his beer. “I’d stick to that story if I was you.”
“Don’t think I wont!”
“Hell, I don’t care what you do. I just had the softest, sweetest piece o’ cooze I been into in months! Oh, she was good, a real lady. When I first took off my pants and she saw—”
“If you don’t stop right there,” Wash insisted, holding up his hand and catching Jayne with his eyes, “I’m going to have to kill you in cold blood.”
Jayne looked a little confused, but further thought on the subject was interrupted when the beads parted and two scruffy-looking fellows wandered in.
They were spacers, not locals. And not particularly prosperous ones by the shabby look of their clothes. The taller of the two, a muscular man in his thirties, had a patch over one eye, greasy black hair, and wore an ancient flightsuit, complete with multi-pocketed flight vest and shoulder holster. If he had seen a razor in the last week he hadn’t stopped to chat.
The other one may have been five years older, twenty kilos heavier, and he had an impressive assortment of spacer tattoos on his arms and face. He wore a moth-eaten long coat of off-green and a bandolier of pouches across his chest. A grubby looking cap crowned his head, and he had a wicked-looking knife at his belt.
On the shoulder of each was a homemade circular shoulder patch depicting a poorly-rendered black spider in a lopsided web, the Chinese characters for “Dangerous predator” and “Helpful Friend” in red within the web, and the name ARACHNE’S REVENGE * SALVAGE AND EXPLORATION on it. It was supposed to look menacing; instead, it looked like a logo for an exterminator.
“Make way, make way, Captain Morgan is here,” bellowed the one-eyed man. “Bring me and my crew a whore and a drink!” The swagger, the bravado, the flamboyant manner – it took real restraint to keep Wash from breaking out in hysterical laughter. Jayne just stared in sneering contempt. Jayne really was a cold-blooded mercenary space pirate – these guys were just trying to act like it. Still, they moved down the bar and gave the newcomers space to get served. No need for trouble.
“So you headed back to the ship?” Wash asked nervously. “I just saw Book, he was headed that way.”
“Nah, just givin’ my pecker a rest before round two,” he said with a belch. “My meter’s still runnin’.” He glanced briefly at the newcomers, who were debating with Miss Elizabeth about their choices for the evening.
“Always the romantic, you,” Wash said with false affection. Jayne utterly missed the sarcasm.
“That’s what they say. Always had a rep as a ladies man.” He sniffed and looked up at the stairway, then froze. His eyes got wide, and his jaw hit his chest.
“What’s Kaylee doin’ comin’ downstairs in a whorehouse?” he asked, dumbfounded. Wash’s heart sank as he turned around and saw the Serenity’s engineer.
“Well, from the way she’s glowing, I’d say she was fixing their reactor,” he said.
Kaylee was glowing, her face red and her eyes dreamy. Her hair was rumpled, and the buttons on her shirt were mis-matched. She approached the bar without really seeing them, and ordered a large fruit juice with some spirits in it.
“I hurt my head,” she said, as she turned towards Wash. “Headboard.”
“I’ll speak to the management about it. Kaylee? You okay?”
“Oh, my. Yes, yes, very okay.”
“I see. Here’s your drink,” he said, passing it to her.
“Thanks,” she said, her unfocused eyes not leaving a spot on the floor.
Wash was glad she was done – maybe he could get her out of there now. But then the worst happened: Jayne opened his mouth.
“Y’mean, li’l Kaylee just got her some?” he asked, astounded.
“Uh, yes, and thank you for handling it with such grace and tact, Mr. Ladies Man.”
“Hey, don’t bother me none,” he said, holding up his hands defensively. “Best thing in the world for her, you ask me. ‘Course,” he said, a sly grin coming to his face.
Oh, God, thought Wash. Here it comes.
“She coulda saved her coin, y’know,” he said slowly.
Please don’t, you crude monkey’s ass, Wash begged internally. She’s vulnerable!
“I mean, back on the ship, all that long, lonely space we went through, she coulda been sating her needs,” he said, relishing every word.
If you say what I think your going to say, Wash vowed to himself, I’m going to push you out an airlock!
“’Cause we all got . . . needs – even li’l Kaylee here—”
Why must you torture me so? Wash asked himself.
“And it’s right natural to wanna, y’know, take care o’ that,” he continued.
Will you just say it you moronic ape?
“And I think we all know who’s capable of handlin’ that kinda—”
“I want that one, there!” said a rough, nasty voice behind Wash. It was too loud to ignore, especially with the grubby hand stuck over his shoulder and pointing to Kaylee.
“I’m sorry, Captain,” Miss Elizabeth said soothingly, “She’s not working. Perhaps Katie can—”
“Whaddaya mean, she ain’t workin’?” he demanded. “Lookit her! She done been had!”
“Really, Captain I think Katie—”
“I done had Katie, and Brenda, and Wulei, and all yer other whores about a thousand times, now,” he said harshly. “I want the new whore now, afore she gets that used up look!”
“Is he calling me a whore?” Kaylee asked, mystified.
“Yep, sure did,” Jayne said, torn between a grin and a scowl.
“It’s just a misunderstanding,” Wash said. “I’ll take care of it.”
“I said, she ain’t for trade. Now, Captain Morgan, you are familiar with our offerings here. You can take your pick of any of the girls on duty, just like always.”
“I said, I want the new whore!”
“That’s twice,” Jayne said, torn still further.
“I said, I’ll handle it!” Wash whispered. He turned around. “Captain – Morgan, is it? You must have made a mistake. You see, this here lady, she’s a friend of mine. She’s with me right now.” He put a protective arm around her.
“You mean, you got her next?”
“No, not—Yes, yes, that is exactly what I mean.” He pulled Kaylee tightly to him. “She’s mine!”
Kaylee was not amused. “I ain’t a whore,” she said, evenly. Her eyes were glowing for an entirely different reason, now. “Not that I’d be ashamed if I were!”
“If you say so, that’s fine. I’ll wait my turn.”
“I said, I ain’t no whore!” Kaylee shouted drunkenly. “I’m a ship’s engineer!” Her manner was so intense, so wild, that the Captain backed down.
“Okay, okay, whatever. You ain’t a whore.” He turned back around to his mate – which revealed that both men had the initials of their company stenciled on the back of their flightsuits: A*R*S*E. Wash felt himself choke off what could have been the loudest and most satisfying laugh of his life.
“You come into a place to have a good time,” Kaylee said to herself with more than a trace of bitterness, “and there’s always some (asshole) to mess things up.”
“Relax, sweetie buns, relax. Just a misunderstanding, is all. He – quite obviously – saw how pretty you were and naturally assumed—”
Kaylee looked up, a trace of tears in her drunken eyes. “You think?”
“I do, I do. He was blinded by your beauty. Now finish your drink, and we’ll head back to the ship.”
“Oh-kay,” she said with mocking exaggeration. Just then, two things happened in rapid succession, almost simultaneously. The first was the arrival of three more grubby spacers with A*R*S*E stenciled on their coats. The second was one very tall local boy in his father’s suit, shock of blonde hair, bright blue eyes and a clean-looking lantern jaw, coming down the stairs. Wash had to stare. Kaylee had done well.
Kaylee thought so, too. She smiled up at the boy and waved him over. “Buck! Buck! Come meet my friends!”
Jayne whistled, loud and low. “I ain’t sly or nothin’ but that is one pretty boyfriend you got there, girly!”
“Ain’t he though?” she said, kissing the boy on the cheek as he arrived. “Buck, this is my friend Jayne, and my friend Wash. Wash, this is—”
“Eleven inches, I know. Hear a lot about you, son.”
“Miss Kaylee spoke quite highly of you too, sir,” the boy said, eagerly pumping his hand.
“Sir?” Wash asked himself. “Am I a ‘sir’ now?”
“Eleven inches?” Jayne asked Wash.
“I have it on highest authority,” Wash stage-whispered back. Kaylee was oblivious to their banter.
“Ain’t he a sweetheart?” she asked, grinning widely. “So big ‘n tall, ‘n nice, ‘n completely covered in muscles,” she said, dreamily. “You were tremendous, Buck, you really were!”
“You’re just sayin’ that on account it was my first,” Buck said, blushing furiously. “But thank you, Miss Kaylee!” It was a sweet moment, the adoration that a puppy-love-struck boy had for his first real woman, the type of memory one cherishes. Wash was hoping desperately that Jayne wouldn’t hump it up by speaking.
He didn’t have time to. From over his shoulder came that too-loud voice again. “I knew it! She IS a whore! ‘Lizabeth, you been holdin’ out on me! I got her next!” He grabbed Kaylee’s arm possessively.
“That wuz three – wasn’t it?”
“Yes, but don’t start anything! There’s six of them now!”
“I ain’t got no beef,” Jayne said, innocently. “I just wanted to know for sure, for when I tell the story later.”
“MISS KAYLEE AIN’T NO WHORE!” the farmboy was yelling, standing toe to toe with the Captain. “YOU TAKE THAT BACK—”
“She done you, she’s about to do the old guy in the ugly shirt. I just want my turn is all,” the Captain said, taken aback at the strength of her defense.
“Miss Kaylee is a wonderful, beautiful monument to womanhood, and I will not have you sully her name!”
“Back off, manure-foot,” Morgan warned. His crewmates filled in protectively behind him.
“Calm down, calm down, Buck, son, he didn’t mean anything by it,” Wash tried to say, at the same time Miss Elizabeth appeared carrying an elegant but serviceable walking stick, saying “I don’t need this noise disturbing my other customers, Milo Morgan, so I hear you raise your voice in my establishment one more time I’ll send you down to Min Lo’s and you’ll never darken my doorstep again!”
For a brief, quiet moment, no one said anything. Apparently the threat of Min Lo’s was enough to get Morgan to back down. Not so with Buck.
“He called Miss Kaylee a whore,” he accused. “An’ she ain’t!”
“Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” Kaylee assured her benefactor drunkenly. “Some of my best friends are whores. Lot of respect for the perfession. It was the way he said it,” she said. “He made it sound all dirty.”
“Ain’t no call for that, Morgan,” Miss Elizabeth said sternly. “I cater to all kinds of clients, for all kinds of services. You, I service as long as you behave. I run a respectable house, and I don’t need bullies in here, you know the rules. I don’t care how long you been in the Black, or how much coin you got jinglin’, you got no right to start trouble here!”
“And he called me old!” Wash added, shaking his finger at the Captain.
“I didn’t mean anything by it,” Morgan said. “I saw a woman in a whorehouse. Natural to think she’s a whore. Not tryin’ to start nothin’.”
“Glad to hear it,” Miss Elizabeth said, guardedly.
“I mean, all women are whores to some extent. And when I see her come downstairs with ‘jus-been-had’ hair, messed up buttons, and walkin’ funny, it’s just natural to think,” he turned slowly around to face Kaylee. Wash had a sudden sinking feeling. “That this . . . lady . . . is . . . a . . . whore!”
“Oops, that’s four,” Jayne pointed out.
Kaylee slapped him with her open palm. In her drunken state it only half-landed. All of the ARSE crew laughed hysterically, including Captain Morgan. That’s when Kaylee hit him with her right hand – the one that concealed a wrench. It took him on the point of the jaw, spun around his neck and head, and caused him to spray teeth and blood all over his crew. He looked up, stunned.
“I said I ain’t no gorram whore!” Kaylee said defiantly. There was pure fire in her eyes.
Then all hell broke loose.
She had done it. Kaylee had thrown the first punch. As shipmate, Wash was now obligated to follow protocol. He grabbed the shirt of the nearest spacer and slammed his hand into his flabby face. Then he shook his hand, remembering belatedly how much it hurt. He was no stranger to barfights. That didn’t mean that he was any good at them. He ducked under another punch and drove his elbow into the man’s groin. That was the kind of fight he was good at.
But Jayne was also here, and this was the kind of nastiness he excelled at. He didn’t hesitate – he put down three of the spacers before they could even throw a punch. Having a hundred kilos of love-crazed farmboy wasn’t so bad, either – Buck was hammering at one of the crewmen with both meaty fists. And Kaylee – sweet, innocent, warm Kaylee – was crouched on Morgan’s chest, repeatedly punching him in the face, a maniacal gleam in her eyes, her abundant hair floating around her head like a sinister halo. She was using her upper body strength well, punching from her shoulder, not her elbow or wrist, concealed wrench adding mass and support for every blow. Wash had to stop for just a moment between dodges to admire her work.
Zoe would be so proud of her.
Two hours later, Wash and Jayne were helping a bruised, bloody, and exceedingly jubilant Kaylee up the ramp of Serenity. She was singing something in Chinese, but the ‘verse only knew what. She stumbled and pulled her way in, passed a thoroughly confused Mal – who she stopped to peck on the cheek.
“I had a wunnerful time,” she said. “We need to come back here.”
“Kaylee, you’re drunk,” Mal noted. “And . . . have you been fighting?”
“Yep!” she said proudly. She held up a spider patch that had been roughly torn off of a flightsuit. “We won! Prize o’ war!”
“Your taking trophies now?”
“Earned it fair,” Jayne said proudly as Kaylee stumbled off to her bunk. “You shoulda seen her, Cap: bloody knuckles, pullin’ hair, throwin’ glasses, screamin’ like a woman – well, I guess she is a woman – would have made you proud!”
“Wash, she was with you?”
“Kinda started out that way,” the pilot admitted. “But the evening got . . . festive.”
“So I see. Am I going to have to talk to a constable in the morning? Or shall we get off world right now?”
“Just a portside scrap, Captain, nothin’ to worry about. Aw, and Jayne was incredible, sudden death in both hands, hitting those guys with laser-like precision—”
“You weren’t doin’ so bad yerself, flyboy,” admitted Jayne. “I saw how you stomped on the plumbs of that big fella when he was down. That kind o’ treachery is a rare talent!”
“I learned from the best,” Wash admitted. “You don’t think I’m old, do you?”
“Speaking of squashed plumbs,” Mal said, glaring, “I believe your wife wants a word with you in your bunk. She’s kind of annoyed at the lateness of the hour.” There was no mistaking just how unpleasant that encounter should prove to be. Wash didn’t seem concerned. He straightened his Hawaiian shirt, smoothed back his hair with bruised knuckles, and appeared as dignified as he possibly could.
“Captain, I just made a man cry for his momma like a little girl. You can’t take that away from me.” He wandered off to an uncertain future.
“Go to bed, Jayne,” Mal said, giving up. “We can figure out what happened in the morning. As long as I don’t have to worry about the law tonight.”
“Nah, nah, Captain, it wasn’t like that. The sheriff came, it’s true – but Miss Elizabeth talked them out of binding us by law, as she testified to the belligerent, inciteful, and pro-vocative nature of the other guys. They are now sleepin’ it off in the jail, those what didn’t need a medic first. Be there at least a day or two.”
“Who were the other guys?”
“Just a bunch of arses.” Jayne looked around, then back at Mal. “And Cap? Can you spare me another hour or so?”
“I guess. I was just going to make a few waves before I buttoned up for the night. Why?”
“’Cause after that fight I’m feelin’ kinda, y’know, randy, and I got me a sweet little whore back at the house who said she’d give me one free if I got back there afore midnight. On account a how cute I looked when I was bustin’ up all them heads.”
“Take off. Wait—your saying that all this happened at a cat-house?”
“Yessir, the Belladona House, two streets over from the ‘port entrance.”
“Kaylee and Wash were in a whorehouse with you? And you got in a fight?”
“Yessir. But I didn’t start it.”
“The arses did?”
“Nah, Kaylee hit ‘em first. As pretty as you could ask for, too.”
“Why did Kaylee—”
“On account as the head arse called her a whore.”
“Yessir. A whore. Four times. That was the ‘inciteful’ part o’ the charges. So she naturally had to hit him. Had to defend her honor. An’ she done us proud.”
“Naturally,” Mal said, confused. “You . . . enjoy yourself. We’ll sort this out in the morning.”
“Thanks, Cap! You’re a good captain, y’know?” He ran off into the night.
“I guess I am at that,” he said, still confused, and shut the hatch.
Saturday, July 30, 2005 2:30 PM
Saturday, July 30, 2005 2:50 PM
Wednesday, August 03, 2005 10:39 PM
Friday, August 12, 2005 3:35 AM
Sunday, August 28, 2005 8:22 PM
Tuesday, March 28, 2006 4:20 AM
Friday, April 01, 2011 2:04 AM
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