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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - MYSTERY
Mal's trying to adjust. Inara's trying to adjust. Book's journey takes him in an unexpected direction. And someone ends up dead.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2386 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Disclaimer: This story is in no way meant to infringe on the rights of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, or 20th Century Fox. Just wanted to have a bit of fun with these characters is all. Please don’t sue me.
Thanks for reading. Feedback is always welcome. Cool with me if you want to archive this; just lemme know where.
The lyrics to Jayne’s song are from “I Love This Bar” by Toby Keith. They’re his property, not mine.
I want to thank everyone for their positive feedback. Special thanks to Kispexi2 and ScrewtheAlliance, whose talent I find inspiring.
Rated PG-13 for violence and implied sexual content. This story takes place after the events of my own fic “Point of No Return,” which in turn takes places weeks after “Objects in Space.” I won’t waste your time with tedious exposition, but you’re more than welcome to check out PoNR if you’re so inclined. To summarize – our BDHs have spent more than two weeks docked at the port of Rochelle for repairs, and Inara has left Serenity for good. Or so it seems.
Enough chit-chat. On with the story.
“Heart & Soul, Part 1”
“You are a companion.”
“And you were based for years on Sihnon. It’s only been in the last year that you’ve been shipping out with the crew of the Serenity?”
“It’s just Serenity. And that’s correct. In a few weeks it will be a year.” She paused.
“Why is this important?”
“I’m just trying to put the pieces together,” said Harken. “It’s a…curiosity; a woman of stature such as yourself falling in with…these types.”
The officer didn’t notice the lady’s jaw tighten.
“Not in the least,” came her response. “It’s a mutually beneficial business arrangement. I rent the shuttle from Captain Reynolds, which allows me to expand my client base. And the captain finds having a companion on board opens certain doors that might otherwise be closed to him.”
“You knew the captain before you entered into this arrangement?”
Harken stared at her a moment. Her credentials were sterling; there was no reason to believe she was bluffing. Still, it was odd…
She smiled again.
“Is there anything else?”
“No…I think that’s all. Thank you, Miss Serra.”
Joseph St. Julius slowly opened his eyes to the daylight floating lazily in through the glass patio doors, bathing his room in milky satin glow. He groaned a little as he stretched in bed – age was finally catching up with him. St. Julius was much older than he looked (the term polite people used was “well-preserved”), though even now, at age 56, he was in good physical condition. The secret, he often joked with friends, was vitamins, water, and exercise.
And good sex. Lots of it.
He rolled over – and realized she wasn’t in bed with him. His heart sank before he remembered her telling him said she had an early engagement this morning. She’d be back, she promised. That was after she’d accepted his invitation. Of course the lady had other appointments to keep; that was the life of a companion, he understood. That didn’t change the fact that he missed her terribly right now. Ah well; she did agree to attend the charity benefit with him, and that was special. He was looking forward to it already…
Joseph got out of bed and headed for the washroom. As he approached, he heard the sound of running water, and could faintly smell the fragrance of fresh cherries.
A smile ran across his face as he entered the washroom. She was still here, drawing his bath. Her back was to him, her long dark curls cascading down her bare back like a sensuous waterfall.
“Inara!” he said. “I thought –”
“Shhh,” she whispered, and then she rose and stepped into the water, turning her head ever so slightly in an inviting gesture.
Joseph wondered. Was it some new game? Perhaps a sort of tease? Or maybe a cleansing ritual; he wasn’t sure. But he was enthralled by her mysterious charm, and followed her into the pool. He touched her hair, whispering her name into her ear. She tilted her head back ever so slightly as he leaned in to kiss her neck —
He saw the blade gleam just before the warm steel plunged into his chest. He felt the blood and air rush out of him as she pulled the knife away, then stabbed him again. And again. He gasped, his mouth and nose full of blood and water. And the last thought Joseph St. Julius had, just before her blade went straight into his skull, was that it was more than age that had finally caught up with him.
Mal bounced his leg under the table as he absently tapped his empty glass. His eyes darted around the bar, taking in the scene. It was early afternoon, but Jayne had already had way too much too drink, and was currently leading the other patrons in a verse of some old drinking song.
“I seen short skirts, we got high techs/ Blue collar boys ‘n’ rednecks!
We got lovers, lots o’ lookers/ I even seen dancin’ girls an’ hookers…”
Mal rolled his eyes. He was getting restless. But not from any lack of trade in Rochelle. He and Zoe were able to find plenty of folk interested in what parts they were able to salvage off Hecate, and willing to pay good coin too.
No, what unsettled Mal was knowing there were strangers. On his boat. Running around. Likely tearin’ out all manner of parts and gizmos and widgets any one of which might cost a small fortune to replace, assuming they could find something to replace it with. Of course he knew he didn’t really need to worry so long as Kaylee was overseein’ ‘em. Still. They were strangers. On his boat. Running around.
Wasn’t just that, either. They’d been on this rock ‘bout a week longer than he liked staying in any one place. Mal ached to get back in the sky, and for more than one reason — namely, the Tams. Rochelle was busy enough for them not to be noticed (as long as the crazy one didn’t call undue attention to herself) and far enough out on the Rim for the Alliance not to care, at least for the time being. He had them keep a low profile for the most part, but he knew it was in their best interest they get moving soon as Serenity was able.
Which, according to Kaylee, would be another three days or so.
He could wait another three days. He looked to Jayne.
“Hmmm hmm hmm hmmm, I looove this baaarrr!”
Maybe. If he didn’t shoot the big man first.
Mal got up and stepped outside for a breath of fresh air. He looked around at the docks. Lots of ships coming and going, but none as beautiful as his precious Serenity, and none with a crew half as great as…
“Waitaminit,” Mal muttered to himself, craning his neck to see. “Is that…Shepherd Book?
“With a suitcase?
“Getting on board a ship that ain’t Serenity?”
He jogged over just as the older man stepped onto the ramp. “Hey, preacher!” Mal shouted. “You want to explain to me what you’re —”
“Believe me, captain, I wish I could,” the Shepherd shook his head sadly. “But I can only say there is a matter of great importance that requires my immediate attention.”
“It can’t wait three days? They’re ‘bout done with the refit.” Mal couldn’t believe it; he was actually trying to convince the preacher to stay. He wasn’t entirely comfortable with what Book represented, but still…
“I apologize, but I have to go on an…errand that’s very urgent.”
“’Least you could’ve told me.”
“ I left a note. I didn’t have time to try to find you. Now if you please —”
Mal clasped Book’s arm, firmly but not violently. “What’s this about, preacher? You in some kind of trouble? Cause I ain’t about to let —”
“It’s not about you, Mal,” Book hissed, pulling his arm away from the captain. The old man looked grave, and his voice took an almost pleading tone. “I don’t want your people getting themselves caught in a situation that’s got nothing to do with them. I need to be gone a while. See some old friends. Take care of some things.”
The captain considered…and nodded. Man had a right to his own business, after all. Book started back for the transport ship.
“Hey preacher,” Mal called after him. “How long do you think you’ll be?”
“Not long,” Book replied. He turned and boarded, asking God’s forgiveness for lying. Truth was, he wasn’t expecting to come back to Serenity.
At least not alive.
Inara gave the sponge a final squeeze, letting the last bit of water roll down her neck, making a river between her shoulders and down into the slender curve of her back. It swept away all guilt and worry, bringing a calm to her body and mind. She felt pleased. Or at least she thought she did. Her life could never be normal. It never was. But she’d been worse. She had steady work now, and things were stable, if uneventful. Not like life in space, shipping out…
No, don’t do this to yourself, she thought abruptly. She stood up, covered herself in a velvet robe, and started clearing her things away.
It had been close to three weeks since Inara left Serenity at Janus. It felt much longer, considering that it only took her two days to arrive at Donah, find an apartment, and resume business as usual. But it was important that she get back into a familiar routine. It eased the transition.
One doesn’t spend more than a year on a ship with eight other people and not become attached to them.
Inara sighed as she checked her schedule for the next day. She had one appointment at midday, with Mr. Gregory Turner; charming man about her age, but somewhat lacking in common sense. The rest of the evening was booked for an engagement – ah, the charity banquet. She was looking forward to it; surely she’d meet some old friends and do some networking.
It was also an opportunity to find leads.
That was one of the more difficult things about rooting herself on Donah as opposed to traveling on Serenity: these opportunities presented themselves less often if she stayed in one place. But it’d be worse if she’d gone back to a House. Though the priestess’ invitation was more than generous, she couldn’t go back to Madrassa because…well, perhaps it’s best not to dwell on things past…
There was a knock at the door.
“At this hour?” Inara fussed as she went to answer. Through the peephole she saw three people. One of them was holding a badge up for her to see.
“Mrs. Inara Serra?” a female voice came from the other side.
Inara opened the door, her surprise and concern written over her perfect brow. A short Asian woman, probably in her thirties, was dressed in plain clothing with an overcoat. With her were two men in police uniforms.
“Detective Inspector Sam Lee,” said the woman. “We need you to come with us, please.”
“What…what’s this all about?”
“Inara Serra,” Lee said. “You are hereby bound by law.”
The companion stared at the detective as if she suddenly had two heads. “I don’t understand…Why am I charged?”
Lee eyed her coldly. “For the murder of Joseph St. Julius. Come with us, please ma’am.”
Wednesday, September 28, 2005 6:59 AM
Friday, September 30, 2005 7:54 AM
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