Deja Vu Ain't What It Used To Be (part 4, finale/epilogue)
Friday, November 11, 2005

The upside of memory loss. Final part in an episode-style story set during Firefly. Link to part one inside.


Back to part 1

Part 4:


There was a bang, and the darkness was split by a blinding beam of sunlight.

"Close that door!" yelled a gaunt man with a long mustache. He started from behind the bar then saw the familiar face of a large man with a pistol. "Oh it’s you. Just take’em back there." He nodded to a room behind the bar.

Light streamed in once again, and more men entered. Between them, bound figures were arguing.

"-shoulda had enough sense not t’spring it on me like that," a man’s voice barked.

"From the brief amount of time we’ve known each other, Mr. Cobb, I’ve been able to determine that you’re not an expert on the use of subtlety," said a woman in a blue dress.

"I was just on edge’s all," Jayne shot back. "When a man’s trying to dance it ain’t no time to be gettin’ all... subtle."

"Can we talk about this after they kill us?" Kaylee pleaded.

Jayne’s voice was suddenly gentle. "Nobody’s gonna do nothin’ to ya. We got cut off from Mal, but he’ll find us. Cap’n, he’s got a way o’ makin’ things right in the end."

They had reached the door to the room behind the bar. A man flung it open, and the sunlight peeked in. A beaten, slumped figure tied to a chair lifted its head and faced the light.

"Hi," Malcolm Reynolds said brightly.


The girl had ambition, at least.

Seducing a shepherd? It took guts, in addition to the usual body parts.

Saffron was so surprised that she had hesitated allowing Book into the hallway to "console" Inara. Then she realized how much fun it would be watching her try.

So after Book left the common room, Saffron slipped back into the hallway to eavesdrop. Inara was already in the middle of a verbal dance that Saffron new well. Inara’s face was no longer chaos; it was now an instrument she was playing like a virtuoso.

"...been to my shuttle before," Inara said, close enough to Book that Saffron had to strain to hear.

"That was entirely different," he replied. "I was bringing you food."

"And now I need help of a different kind," she said, putting her hands on his chest. "I’m in a... delicate situation, and I’m asking for your help. Whether or not you enjoy it, that’s between you and God."

Saffron smiled.

"Yes," the shepherd said. "Yes, it will be." He looked over his shoulder and spotted Saffron, then rushed back to the common room.

Saffron emerged and walked toward Inara. "That was... proof-worthy," she said.

"I still have a lot to learn," Inara said, the calm confidence failing.

"Looked pretty educated to me," the other girl said.

"It was all a bluff," Inara said, her eyes misting over again. "How do you do it? How do you love without loving? It seems that I used to know, a long time ago. Before..." Her chin fell and her face twisted.

Saffron considered her for a moment. "Maybe we have time for one more lesson."

Inara raised hopeful eyes.

"Let’s go to your shuttle," Saffron said.


"It’s all starting to come back to me," Mal said.

"That’s reassuring," said the woman tied to the chair behind him.

The captain remembered now. He had been hired by her husband, an Alliance official, to steal documents that proved he was an browncoat sympathizer. He had already delivered the papers at the club when he ducked into this Opium den to lose Saffron.

But the barkeep here was the one who spiked his drink - he must be on Saffron’s payroll. There were a hazy few hours when he remembered a swirl of faces, including Saffron, who kept asking him the same questions. He also remembered her walking him to the foot of Serenity, hitting him with the butt of a gun, and knocking him out. She must have kissed him while he was unconscious.

Now he was tied next to the man’s wife in a dark room, with Kaylee and Jayne in the same fix in a room next door.

"At least my husband left with the documents," the woman said. "Of course, once they discover that, they’ll probably kill us."

"Look on the bright side," Mal said. "At least you ain’t tied up with Jayne."


Jayne was trying to speak, but his voice kept failing him.

"I know I ain’t too clever," he said. "Or all slick or fancible or... whatnot. Hell, most people ain’t too keen on bein’ around me for more than a few minutes. Truth be told, I feel the same ruttin’ way ‘bout them. And them’s my friends."

"This all comin’ in to dock anytime soon?" Kaylee asked.

The mercenary fought to wrangle his thoughts, which had rebelled and scattered in every direction. "I just don’t want ya gettin’ the wrong idea’s all. That ain’t the way I wanted things to go down back there. I wanted it... to be diff’rnt."

"You ain’t to blame,” Kaylee said. "Besides, the dancin’ was... real nice." He could hear her smile. "You say you ain’t clever, but I don’t believe that."

The room was silent, and both were lost in their own very different worlds.

Kaylee’s eyes were closed, and her voice sounded distant when she broke the silence. "You did Simon’s dance real good."


There was a crack of light, then the sound of the door closing. "Who’s there?" Mal asked.

"That ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng barkeep... thinks he owns the verse," someone muttered. Then the Asian girl’s face appeared in front of Mal. "I’ll help you - on one condition."

The captain raised his eyebrows. "Ma’am, I will give you the grand tour of my scars-"

"I just want to ask you a question." She crossed her arms and looked at him. "What’s my name?"

Mal groaned and began sifting through the whirl of faces and sounds from the first time he was here.

"Oh, God, you don’t know it, do you?" the woman tied behind him said.

"Just gimme a second," the captain said. "It’s been a long night." After a few moments, he looked up and smiled. "Anastasia."

She stared at him. Then she returned his smile, leaned forward, and untied his hands. Before he could move, she had pressed her mouth to his.

"What exactly did we do before, Anastasia?" Mal asked when she came up for air.

"Jinny," she said, stealing another kiss.

"And what exactly is that?" Mal chuckled.

"It’s my name. My name’s Jinny, not Anastasia," she said.

The captain looked confused. "But you said... then I said-"

Jinny shrugged. "Close enough."


The man with the long mustache cowered under the bar as gunshots cracked and exploded around him. Wet glass sprayed onto his back and tinkled to the floor on every side. Wood splintered and screams died.

After an eternity, there was silence. The man raised his head, his hollow cheeks looking paler than usual. Four figures were standing, and one was walking toward him with his gun drawn.

"Malcolm Reynolds," the man exclaimed with what he hoped was convincing glee. "You remember me."

"I surely do," Mal said. And he punched the man in the nose.


"Just remember: It’s not real," Saffron said, her eyes locked with Inara’s. "It’s just fun."

Inara’s fingers traced Saffron’s cheek, over her nose, across her lips.

Saffron’s eyes closed. "It’s not real," she repeated. "It’s just fun."

She could feel Inara’s warmth as she closed the space left between them. Inara’s hands moved down her body, then up her sides, long raven hair brushing against her neck. Incense and sweet perfume filled her senses.

Inara’s hand slid into her leather top.

"It’s not real, it’s just fun. It’s not real, it’s just fun." Saffron kept breathing the words, but she was no longer sure who they were for.

There was a tearing sound, and Inara ripped away the signal button that River had told her about in the cargo bay when Saffron arrived. "You’re right," Inara said loudly. "This is fun!"

Saffron scowled and landed a kick to her midsection, staggering her, then pulled out a pistol and took aim.

A hand smacked the pistol away then grabbed her wrist. "I’m afraid you were right, Inara," Book said as he held Saffron’s wrist. "I’m probably going to enjoy this too much."

"You’re a shepherd," Saffron grinned. "You wouldn’t hit a lady."

Inara rose in front of her. "Neither would I." The companion’s right cross sent Saffron into unconsciousness.

Book was already on his way to tell the others.

There was still the matter of the automatic signal. Inara weighed the possibilities. Surely Saffron would keep some sort of override nearby just in case... She threw herself on top of the unconscious girl and began to tear away her clothing.

There was the sound of footsteps ringing through the cargo bay, and then Wash’s head appeared in the shuttle. "I was able to disconnect the auto-"

Inara turned, still mounted on top of a half-naked Saffron.

"If this is a bad time, I could come back now," Wash said.


The first thing Saffron remembered was waking up in the crowded streets of New Dunsmuir sometime near dawn. How did she get here? And why was she naked?

The mustachioed man beside her was also naked, but his gaunt form was getting far less attention.

Serenity rose into the air overhead. Her brow knotted.


"It’s so shiny," Kaylee said, running her hand over the green silk. "You got so many pretties."

Inara smiled from her shuttle’s bed. "You know you can wear them whenever you want."

Kaylee dropped the hem of the dress she had been admiring, and her eyes followed it to the floor. "I know," she said. "I can’t have’em, though. Not really."

Inara crossed the room and put a hand on Kaylee’s shoulder. "What’s all this about?"

"It’s just sometimes I wish I didn’t have t’ borrow pretty," Kaylee said. "Just wish I could be somebody else. Somebody like you, just for a little while."

Inara turned her around and held both shoulders. "Simon doesn’t."

"I dunno if-" Kaylee began, but Inara stopped her, cutting her eyes to the shuttle doorway.

"Hi," Simon said. "I was hoping we could talk."

Inara prodded Kaylee toward him, and she approached tentatively.

"We ain’t broke atmo yet," Kaylee said. "Might be a sunrise to be seen if we hurry."

Simon watched her intently. "I like the view from here," he said softly.

Her eyes came to life.

There was the sound of a throat being loudly cleared, and Jayne brushed past Simon into the shuttle, spitting on his knife.

"What are you doing?" Inara glared.

Jayne never looked up. "Cleanin’. A man's gotta have somethin' t' do. I know it ain’t fancible..."

She continued to stare at him.

"What?" Jayne asked, wiping off the knife. "Oh, I just come here to... uh..." He pointed toward the door with an accusing finger. "Well, shepherd’s standin’ outside listenin’!"

Inara sighed. "Shepherd?"

"Yes," came a voice through the door.

"What are you doing out there?" she asked.

"I’m respecting your privacy," said the preacher’s voice, as River wandered in, examining the walls.

"What privacy?" Inara asked.

"Still thinkin’ ‘bout that sunrise," Kaylee smiled to Simon, both of them seemingly oblivious to the chaos.

"Well we can-" Simon began.

Jayne’s knife slammed through red cloth and into the wall of Inara’s shuttle. The companion went wide-eyed and watched in stunned silence.

"This gorram planet!" Jayne yelled. "Can’t talk right, no whores – present company excluded, o’ course - and I ain’t even get to kill nobody. Then there's the gorram dancin'..." he trailed off, half looking at the floor, half at Inara. "Shoulda been diff'rnt," he muttered.

"Out!" Inara said, coming to her senses. "Everyone out. Right now."

Kaylee and Simon beat a hasty retreat. River smiled and followed.

Inara glared at Jayne and waited.

"You mean me, too?" he asked.

"Out!" she yelled.

Jayne almost ran into Mal as he made his way through the door.

Inara threw up her hands as Mal walked in. "What?!?" she snapped.

Mal hesitated, glancing back to the door. "Wash said you wanted to see me... back before."

"Oh," Inara said, recalling her plan to confront him about their destination. That seemed like so long ago. Before the sudden invasion of her shuttle, before Saffron’s ambush, before her talk with Book...

"Mal," she said, approaching him and resolutely lowering her defenses. "I want you to know something." She looked up into his eyes. "I don’t know how much sanctuary I can offer, but if you ever need it, I’m here. My door is always open to you."

"Well, I – I’m not... I mean-"

She looked over his shoulder to the entrance, where River had reappeared.

"He wanted to say thank you. Thank you for all the stars," River said to Inara. "He told me to do it, but I forgot." She disappeared again.

Mal watched, confused. "Oh! Back in the infirmary... the dream and the... stars." He suddenly became very aware of sweet perfume and incense, and he cleared his throat. "Well, no sense dwellin’ on crazy talk. So... was there something else you wanted to tell me?" Mal asked.

"Yes," Inara whispered, lost his eyes.

"Well?" Mal asked.

A pause.

"I don’t remember," Inara lied.

"That so?" The captain’s eyes searched hers. "It does seem to be goin’ around lately."

He smiled, then turned and left. Inara half awoke from her trance and drifted toward the dresses Kaylee had admired. She heard voices from the hallway outside.

"Wash, get us outta the ruttin’ core and back to a little less civilization."

"One road less traveled coming up."

Inara ran her hand over green silk and smiled.

Something in the corner of her eye caught her attention. There was a large man standing in her room. She jumped.

"Forgot my knife," Jayne said casually, pulling the weapon out of the wall. She glared at him. "My kni – I forgot my knife!" he pleaded desperately.






Friday, November 11, 2005 12:02 PM


Some really good lines in this, I did enjoy it. I particularly loved Inara getting one up on Saffron. Oh yeah, payback is a bitch - or at the very least a Companion. Shiny, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, November 11, 2005 12:23 PM


Mighty fine story all around. Thanks for the good time!

Friday, November 11, 2005 2:58 PM


"Thanks for the good time!"

Call me!

Sigh. They never call.

Friday, November 11, 2005 3:26 PM



God I enjoy this. Jayne fumbling with his emotions.

I love everyone invading Inara's shuttle, and her not understanding at all what they're doing there. Just classic.

And Jayne with his knife.

Jayne, Jayne, Jayne...

No! I'm not fixacated at all.

Friday, November 11, 2005 8:08 PM


I do believe Jayne is having some anger management issues. Poor, defenseless tapestry....sometimes you just feel for the guy. He's a lunk, but a loveable one.

Did we just see Simon say something right? Sometimes the boy actually picks up a clue.

That was a fun read.

Saturday, November 12, 2005 10:08 PM


One of the many fav lines: "Look on the bright side," Mal said. "At least you ain’t tied up with Jayne."

You write all the characters well Cub, but I especially like how you handle Mal. :)

Sunday, November 13, 2005 7:43 AM


"My kni – I forgot my knife!" he pleaded desperately.

i can just imagine the terrified look on his face...hee!


Tuesday, November 15, 2005 12:18 AM


AHHH I LOVED IT! I loved it! thank you good job! i love how you did mal and i love alot of how you did inara. oh and i love in one of the past chapters the way you wrote zoe. aw hell it was all good! write more!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 4:53 PM


To quote a line from an old, old, old video game I believe was called called "Tai Pe"...

Good Joss!

Friday, December 2, 2005 8:14 AM


I started reading it awhile agon, but it took me awhile to get back to it. It was a lot of fun, and really well done. I enjoyed it very much, thank you. :)


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