Deja Vu Ain't What It Used To Be (part 3)
Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Slow dances and surprises. Third in a four-part episode-style story set during Firefly.



"Jayne," Kaylee said. "Jayne, look at me."

His wide, unfocused eyes darted around the dimly lit entrance hall, sweat shining on his temple. Kaylee’s hands cupped his cheeks and turned him to face her.

"Breathe," she said. "Just breathe."

Jayne blinked, focused on her, then puffed out his cheeks with two rapid exhales.

"This is lan-dan jiang next to some o’ the places Inara goes," Kaylee said. "And Mal’s right outside. Ain’t nothin’ to fret over." His expression was unfocused again, but at least his breathing had steadied.

"You shiny?" she asked.

He stared ahead blankly for a few seconds, then pumped out another two quick breaths. "I’m goin’ in," Jayne blurted out. He bolted toward the entrance to the D.A.I. club, then stopped suddenly and looked over his shoulder. "You got my back?"

"We ain’t stormin’ enemy lines," she said. "Just get in there."

Jayne grimaced, swallowed and entered the club with Kaylee taking his arm. Double doors opened.

They found themselves in a large square room with no light except for the walls themselves, which were all backlit a clean, uniform, fluorescent white from ceiling to floor. This turned the talking and dancing forms in the club into featureless, tangled silhouettes and hid the identities of anyone more than a few feet away - no doubt by design.

Glass shelves filled with crystal sculptures lined one of the illuminated walls, shattering the light from that side into sparkling shards.

On the other side of the room, a spotlight shone on three Chinese musicians. A man plucked at the silk strings of a zither, while another punctuated the music with the hollow percussion of a zhu. Beside them, a girl played a haunting melody on a globular flute.

Kaylee looked up at the man on her arm. He was staring at her, and he no longer seemed frightened.

"Ya look..." Jayne started, then stopped and seemed to have something catch in his throat.

She self-consciously examined the dress Inara had given her. Deep green silk hugged her body up to the waist, and the loose top half hung precariously from one shoulder, exposing most of her back and sides. Amber hair slid over silk and skin as she took inventory. It always felt like the thing was on the verge of falling off, but it all seemed to be in place at the moment.

Her attention returned to Jayne, traveling up pleated pants to a black coat and gray vest. His white shirt glowed softly in the fluorescent light, and crystal-splintered shards played across his face. "Swai," she smiled.

"Well..." he said. "Reckon we should get to findin’ the buyer."

Kaylee smiled wider. "Let’im wait. Let’s dance a while."

Panic set in. "Ain’t there some enemy lines we could storm instead?"


"I do wish I could have seen that," Simon said, joining the chorus of laughter in the cargo bay. "He didn’t remember anything?"

"Not so much," Wash continued. "But, oh boy, did they remember him. There was the one girl who kept notes on all of his scars-"

"Okay!" Inara said. "He doesn’t remember what he did! We don’t need a moment-by-moment description of the whole..." They had stopped laughing and were staring at her. There was a short silence. "I just fail to see what’s so funny about it," she sighed.

"I did mention the thing about the scars, right?" Wash asked no one in particular.

"I think we covered that part," Book said solemnly.

A voice rang from the shadows. "You know what makes something really funny?" Saffron emerged, pistol in hand. "When no one sees it coming."

The cargo bay had somehow become even more quiet.

Saffron’s eyes darted to each frozen face, then to the second level, where River was peering down. "Good," she smiled. "Everyone’s here."

Zoe strode forward. "You come here to do roll call?"

"Just protecting your crew," she said innocently.

"How do you figure that one?" Zoe replied. "Anyway, you got what you wanted. Thought you’d be long gone by now. Ain’t that your style?"

"I found your captain too late," Saffron sighed. "He had already delivered the documents. We could have avoided all of this," she waved her gun around. "But the stubborn man wouldn’t tell me who bought them. I mean, I showed him a good time," Saffron smiled. "I drugged him, I sweet-talked him, I beat him senseless..."

"I wonder what qualifies as a bad time," Wash muttered.

"Somehow I think we’re about to find out," Simon whispered back.

"So now here we are," Saffron said. "Waiting for my dear husband to unknowingly lead my associates to the documents. In the meantime, it’s just you, me, and the feds."

Simon’s eyes widened.

"Oh, they’re not here yet," she continued. "But all I have to do is hit a button to call them."

"And where exactly would this button of yours be?" Simon asked.

"Wouldn’t you like to know," she purred. "It's close enough. I’ve also wired all of the ship’s hatches to a second automatic signal. If any of you tries to leave the ship or even lays a finger on me-" her eyes darted to Zoe "-I’ll have the Alliance on you faster than you can say ‘harboring fugitives.’"

Saffron stopped. She wasn’t sure, but she thought she caught River mouthing an exchange of words to one of the others.

There was a long pause.

"So... what exactly are we supposed to do?" Simon asked.

"I’d suggest you get comfortable," Saffron replied.

Another few seconds of silence.

"It’s not working," Wash said.


Kaylee couldn’t believe how easy this was.

The dance was slower, more intimate; not as formal or rigid as the one she’d seen on Persephone. But that didn’t make it any less surprising to watch Jayne perfectly match her movements, their hands tracing each other through the air. "Look at you," she marveled. "It’s like... it’s like it comes natural."

Jayne seemed to be deep in concentration. "Doc showed me," he managed.

A nearby wall of light cast her confused look in sharp relief. "Simon? But he doesn’t dance..."

They slowly turned, and shards played across Jayne’s face, flashing over his eyes. "He knows what t’do, though - even knew what kinda dancin’ they’d be doin’. He’s got the book smarts. Just can’t make everything move right. It all turns to go se when he tries t’ put it together. But I can do his steps and such."

He looked down and saw her eyes locked on him, the soft white glow settling over the smooth skin of her face and neck, green silk always threatening to lose its tenuous grip on her shoulder.

Jayne quickly looked away. "S’like with me," he said in a rush. "Sometimes it’s - it's like I got something stuck way back deep. Can’t get it out, don’t matter what-"

Kaylee winced. "Ya ain’t gonna spit again, are ya?"

The dance changed, bringing them together as one silhouette.

"Nah, it ain’t like that. It’s..." Jayne stammered. "I know the words. Got’em all here in my head. But when I put’em together... it all..."

Her arms circled him, and she laid her head on his chest. "Then maybe ya shouldn’t talk," she said quietly.

Kaylee closed her eyes and felt his unsteady hands gently settle on her bare back. She listened to the pounding of his heart, felt every practiced movement of his body. One silhouette.

And she danced with Simon.


Saffron’s hips pushed forward on Simon’s lap, only a few layers of clothing between them. Her body strained against her leather top as she wiggled closer, and her breath touched his face as she spoke. "I said don’t move."

His protests died in his throat, and his hands returned to his sides. All of the others were sitting right there in the common room beside them, watching while she amused herself by humiliating him like this. The silence was painful. Every creak of leather was a declaration. His sister was watching.

She followed his eyes to River, who was staring at them. "You don’t like it when I do this, do you?"

River’s expression remained blank, and she spoke evenly. "You’re a liar and a whore, but it’s better that way."

Saffron lifted an eyebrow, and her interest shifted like a cat that had discovered a new toy. "What do you mean ‘better’?" she asked.

"Better than her," River said, pointing toward Inara. "She wants to be a whore, but she can’t. Not enough of her left. Just ashes, burnt up in atmo and spread across the black."

Inara seemed lost in a distant world, her eyes fixed on nothing. Saffron laughed.

"River!" Simon said, starting forward. "You shouldn’t say things-"

Saffron shoved him back into his seat. "I said don’t move."

"You’re right, Simon," River continued. "I should pay my respects to the ashes. This is the time to tell nice lies." She turned back to Inara, who was looking her now. "You’re a whore."

Inara burst into tears and ran from the room. Book immediately rose and started to follow.

"No one moves," Saffron said, and she slid off Simon and trailed Inara into the hall.

A figure was standing in the shadows outside the door, facing the wall. Her back shook with sobs, and there was the wet sound of crying.

"That was entertaining," Saffron said, striding up to her with a smirk.

The figure turned, and Saffron thought it looked very little like Inara. Especially the eyes. Her meticulous makeup had smeared black, ringing a desperate gaze and giving her a distinctly psychotic appearance. All sign of Academy training was gone. "I – I can’t do it anymore,” she gasped, her chest heaving. "I can’t... pretend... try to love... Who am I?!?"

Saffron backhanded her hard. Inara’s face whipped into dark hair.

She spun back, bleeding from the corner of her mouth, and looked up at Saffron through wide, shining eyes. Her jaw trembled. "Show me," she breathed. "Please... teach me how to be like you... how to have your strength." A single tear rolled down one cheek. "I’ll do anything you say. Anything."

Saffron smiled. "Prove it."


A hand tapped Jayne’s shoulder.

He and Kaylee parted and faced a striking young woman who was looking at them expectantly. She was shorter than Kaylee, with a dark complexion and long black hair falling over an elegant dress that matched deep blue eyes.

There was a pause. She seemed to be waiting for something.

"Well? May I cut in?" she asked at last.

"Oh. She and I was kinda..." Jayne stammered, looking back and forth between the two women.

Kaylee looked away. "No, it’s... shiny. Just - just have fun. I’ll..." she pointed away and then followed her finger.

The girl immediately leaned in close to Jayne. "Just pretend we’re dancing. Pretend you like me."

Jayne stared at her, confused. "Okay." They began to dance.

"You represent Malcolm Reynolds, do you not?" she asked.

He stopped dancing. "But how’d ya know-"

"Keep dancing," she said urgently.

They began to move again, and she took one of his hands and moved it to her backside. Jayne’s mouth fell open beneath wide eyes. A few feet away, Kaylee was watching with a matching expression.

The woman continued. "My husband" - he briefly stopped dancing, then quickly started again at a look from her - "hired Mr. Reynolds."

"The buyer," Jayne said.

"Shh!" she said. "You’ve been followed. Set up."

"Oh, well hell ya shoulda said somethin’," Jayne said loudly. Ignoring her whispered protests, he stopped dancing, turned away, and pulled a com out of his vest pocket.

"Mal? Mal, can ya hear me?" There was no response.

He looked up and saw Kaylee standing stiffly as men flanked her and produced guns. He looked behind him and saw his new dance partner with her hand on her forehead, looking exasperated, as someone put a pistol to her back.

There was a click of a weapon being cocked next to Jayne’s ear. He turned to face the wrong end of a revolver.

"Don’t s’pose you’re lookin’ to cut in?"


Part 4, finale/epilogue


Wednesday, November 9, 2005 9:22 AM


More good stuff :)

Leaps and bounds!

Wednesday, November 9, 2005 10:27 AM


First of all: Kaylee smiled wider. "Let’im wait. Let’s dance a while."

Panic set in. "Ain’t there some enemy lines we could storm instead?"


Second of all: And she danced with Simon.


Poor Jayne! Not even realizing Kaylee's thinking of someone else! *Angsts*

*grin* Other than the trauma of Kaylee pretending he's Simon, I love! And actually, I even love that, because... I love angst and complication and this is chock full of it! Plus y'know, the adventure and the suspense and all.

I can't believe I missed Saffron all this time.

Bring on the rest! (And make Kaylee stop thinking of Simon when Jayne's bein' all sweet on her!)

Wednesday, November 9, 2005 12:15 PM


"Don’t s’pose you’re lookin’ to cut in?"

brilliant :P

Thursday, November 10, 2005 1:10 AM


Very good though I was exasperated at Jayne for not taking his cue at the end though his reaction was totally in character. So many great bits, the only performance that felt off was Inara's. And that Saffron? She is one mighty bad dude. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, November 10, 2005 2:55 AM


Hey great story. But Kaylee dancing with Simon? I go with the consensus.

Thursday, November 10, 2005 10:32 AM


"the only performance that felt off was Inara's"

Hopefully you'll change your mind about that when you read part four.

Friday, November 11, 2005 8:57 AM


*slaps forehead* JAYNE!!!


Saturday, November 12, 2005 9:54 PM


This is really great Cub. When I read Inara I too had simliar thoughts of Ali, but then I figured the story wasn't quite done yet.

Sure enough, your repsonse makes me now hit the next.

I'm hooked! :) Great job so far!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011 6:48 PM


And she danced with Simon.
^^^^AWWW I *loved* that!! Very shiny story!!:)))


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