Strange Bedfellows
Monday, November 14, 2005

Extended ending for War Stories Multiple POV; Mal/Inara, Simon/Kaylee A little bit of fantasy but, hey—“We live on a spaceship.”


It’s Joss’s ‘verse; I just borrow it.... ___________________________________________ Inara pressed her warm face against the cool infirmary door. From her position in the door frame, she watched Simon work. He moved with his sister’s grace in this room, feet dancing over the floor as he acted as needed, clear-headed and competent, never hesitating here. He jumped when he saw her standing in the doorway. “Lao-tyen.” He took a breath. “Shuh muh. I’m sorry.” “And Kaylee said you never swear, doctor.” She smiled but it was forced. Even though he was exhausted, legs aching and fingers cramping from hours of surgery, Simon could see the red streaks in her eyes: the ones she tried to hide behind thick dark hair that waved halfway down her back. Usually she was flawless, a heady male fantasy materialized in flowing gowns and shining jewels. Today her dress was blood-stained, crimson marks she hadn’t bothered to wash out, memories from earlier when they’d carried the captain on ship. “Sorry,” he said again, but she wasn’t listening. She’d drifted over to Mal, who lay sleeping on the table. “How is he?” She stared down at him, careful not to touch. He looked unnaturally peaceful, childishly innocent. How odd that the end result of hours of torture would be this: the restless captain finally resting, dreaming morphine dreams while the doctor did his work. “He’s…well.” Simon appeared at her side, adjusting a tube in Mal’s arm. “Amazingly well, considering….” Considering what that monster had done to him. But Simon left the last part unsaid. “So no permanent damage?” She watched his chest inflate and sink, soothed. “Everything seems to be in tact. And I gave him a pretty thorough examination while he was out.” “Perhaps you should refrain from mentioning that when he wakes up, doctor. Mal’s…well, Mal. Vulnerability’s not his strong suit.” “I’ve noticed. Anyway, he’ll be sore for a week or two. Bruises, dehydration—I’m giving him intravenous for that, plus something to ease the pain. But he came through surgery nicely.” Inara met his eyes, employed her working smile. She could be very good. “You’re an excellent surgeon, Simon. We’re very grateful to have you.” She smiled again. “All of us.” Simon tapped a syringe, plunged the contents inside the tube feeding Mal’s hand. From the corner of his eye, he watched Inara watch the captain. The pleasant countenance of the skilled companion paled at this angle. He could see the grief and maybe something more. “H-how’s Wash?” he said to break the silence. “I could give him something…to sleep, I mean…?” The smile reappeared and she was charmed again, charming again. “Zoe says he’s fine. He’s sleeping in their bedroom. Actually, that’s why I came for you. They’re waiting at the table. Zoe called a crew meeting.” “Oh. Alright. I think things are under control here. Let me just wash my hands.” As the water pounded in the sink, Inara took a step back from Mal, then another. Even halfway across the room, her gaze locked on the heavy black stitching and hot red skin surrounding his left ear. She remembered the last time she’d seen it, curled like a dead thing in the palm of Simon’s hand. She turned fast on her heels and followed Simon out of the infirmary. *** The others were already seated at the table when Inara and Simon arrived. Jayne was eating an apple off a switchblade. Kaylee seemed distracted, offering up only a faint smile when Inara squeezed her shoulder before sitting beside her. “He looks better, mei-mei,” Inara murmured to her under her breath. “The doctor believes he’ll be fine.” Kaylee smiled but her eyes were on River, curled silently in the chair beside Jayne, watching something invisible on the ceiling. Simon was studying River as well. “River? What are you looking at?” “Pictures in the sky.” The others exchanged glances. “What do the pictures show you, River?” Simon asked after a moment. “Jayne eating an apple.” “Well, if she ain’t a regular genius.” Jayne waved his switchblade around before taking another bite. “That’s a mighty smart little crazy girl you got there, doc.” “It was the last apple, way down at the bottom of the barrel,” River continued, eyes on the ceiling. “Jayne got the last one. No one else wanted it, on account of the worms.” “Ahh!” Jayne released the knife, and it clattered down on the table. “Gorrammit!” River laughed and grabbed the discarded apple, removing the switchblade. “You’re such an easy mark,” she admonished Jayne and ran from the room, giggling, fruit in her fist. “Why that little—” “Shut up, Jayne.” Zoe’s arms were folded, business-like, before her. She nodded toward the Shepard who wandered in as River was leaving, leaned his back against the counter top, before beginning her speech. “Okay, so with the captain under the weather, I’m the one left in charge.” “Big shock there,” Jayne muttered. “You two be tighter than half the womenfolk I—” “Jayne, finish that sentence, and I’ll hurt you. Now, Kaylee and I been talking. Apparently we’re a bit low on fuel, not to mention funding, what with Niska having most of our profits from the Ariel job. Now, ordinarily, I’d say we hang about these parts a week or two, do a few jobs if we can. But we got two men down, and I’d like to put more than a little sky between us and Niska’s space station. No guarantee he won’t see fit to come after us.” “I’ll second that,” Inara chimed in, shivering a little. “Kaylee, you just come from the engine room. What’s the status report on Serenity?” Zoe asked. “She’s runnin’ fine, but she’s runnin’ low. Next fuel station’s a ways from here, and if Zoe says we’re low on fundin’, I ‘spect we oughta be conservin’.” “Meaning what, exactly?” Simon asked. Kaylee moved her shoulders. “Meanin’ we don’t push too hard. Turn the heat down some, maybe all but off in a few rooms.” “That still won’t be solvin’ our cash flow problems,” Jayne interjected. “True enough, but we still got some medical supplies left over. We’ll try to sell them when we get where we’re goin’.” “Assuming we get there,” Simon added. “Assuming we get anywhere.” “Which is why we’re gonna cool things down in here, doctor,” Zoe continued. “So first thing’s first: we’re gonna have to double up on bunks. Easiest way I see it is to shut down all the passenger dorms, take the civilians into the crew quarters, least for tonight. We’ve got some cots and some pretty warm army blankets. Shouldn’t be too terrible.” “We’ll I ain’t got no problem bein’ noble,” Jayne spoke up. “You’re welcome in my bunk any night, Zoe.” “Touching. Jayne, you’re gonna host the Shepard, if’n he’s agreeable.” “Jayne and I will be fine, Zoe,” Book said with a nod. “That’s shiny, then. Now, the Captain’ll sleep in his own room, and maybe you’ll stay with him, doctor….” “Uh, that’s not going to work, Zoe.” “You got a problem sharing quarters with the captain, doctor?” “No, of course not. Normally, I’d be eager to have a slumber party with Mal, as we’ve grown so close these past few months. I mean, he hasn’t punched me in the face in, oh, at least a week and a half.” Kaylee and Inara exchanged amused glances. All that operating must have left him punchy, Kaylee thought. She’d never seen him quite so...ironical. “I’m gonna think on hitting you, if you don’t get to the point, doctor,” Zoe warned. “And I’m gonna laugh when she does it,” Jayne added. “Don’t laugh; you’re next,” Zoe advised. “My point,” Simon said slowly, “is that the captain just came out of surgery. He’s unconscious and sedated. I suspect he’d have some trouble navigating his ladder in this state. So unless you want to drop him down on his head—hey, we can drop the IV stand right on top of him.” Zoe sighed. “Doctor’s right. Okay, Inara. I know that shuttle yours, and we don’t have the right to impose guests on you, but….” “Of course Mal can stay with me, Zoe. Although I don’t imagine he’ll be very pleased with that arrangement.” “Mal expressing displeasure?” Simon muttered. “No! He’s such an agreeable sort.” “I’m acting captain; he can come to me if he’s got a problem. Doctor, can you help get Mal set up in Inara’s room? Then you should get some sleep yourself. You get sarcastic when you’re overtired.” “And where exactly am I to sleep?” “Simon’s welcome stay in my bunk,” Kaylee piped up. “I-I mean, if he needs a place. Close to everything, so you can check on the captain in the night.” “Well that there’s mighty generous of you, Kaylee. That’s one giving girl, ain’t she dotor?” Jayne asked. “That one be always giving, giving, giving….” “Jayne.” This time Inara and Zoe spoke in unison. “Actually, I think that’s a fine idea, Kaylee,” Zoe continued. “Thanks for offering, honey. That work for you, doctor?” “I don’t want to impose on Kaylee. I mean, wouldn’t that be a little…a little….” He looked around the table for help. Inara dropped her gaze pointedly to the tabletop. Jayne just smirked. “What about River? Where is she to sleep?” “The captain’s room, of course,” River announced from the doorway. “He has soft pillows.” Barefoot, she moved gracefully across the floor, set the pilfered apple, now just a core, in front of Jayne. “Yummy worms,” she said and giggled again. *** Simon took River to the captain’s room first. “Careful on the ladder,” he warned as her small frame descended behind him. He glanced around Mal’s room, sighed. “Well. This is just…four-star. Don’t touch anything you don’t have to, mei-mei.” “Sharp?” “No, just….” He skimmed a slender surgeon’s finger over the surface of a shelf. “Dirty.” River rolled her eyes, muttered something undistinguishable in Chinese. She bounced twice on Mal’s bed before falling back against the pillows. “Well, I don’t see any loaded weapons lying around. Don’t kick off all the blankets tonight, okay? Kaylee says we have to turn down the heat to save fuel.” “Mmm, I like it in here. It’s very comfortable. Left or right?” Simon hesitated at the foot of the ladder. “Sorry?” “Gotta choose your side of the bed. I hope you’re wearing clean underwear.” Simon felt his face go warm, a sharp contrast with the already cooling air on board. “River.” “I’m very sleepy, Simon,” she said cheerfully. “Go away now.”

*** Inara’s shuttle was perfectly still, utterly silent. It was also freezing. She huddled beneath the blankets—more soft and silky than functional in actual cold—and stayed carefully on her side of the bed. Once, she made a bet with herself that the captain would never end up in her bed. Clearly, that was a bet she’d lost. Lying on her side, face cupped in one palm, she watched him sleep. Mentally, she traced his features: the strong, imposing nose, the mouth for once quiet, at ease, the shadows his lashes cast on his cheeks. Simon had wheeled in the IV stand to the corner where it stood now, a harsh reminder of the circumstances that brought him to her bed. Not that she needed reminding. She could see the bruises by the star light.

*** They lay shoulder to shoulder, unmoving in Kaylee’s narrow twin bunk. Pressed against the wall, Simon shifted to get more comfortable. The length of his arm brushed hers. She felt like cool, aquamarine silk. “You know, I really don’t mind sleeping on that cot,” Simon said quickly. “Naw, course not, Simon. That wouldn’t be…proper,” she teased. “Proper. Right. Is this what you always sleep in? I’m sorry, forget I said that.” “You like it?” Kaylee flushed a little, pulling at the fabric of her bodice. “‘Nara gave it to me, said it didn’t fit her right anyways. Too big probably, she bein’ so tiny and all.” “It doesn’t look too big for you. I think it fits you perfectly.” Kaylee raised her eyebrows. “You callin’ me fat, Doctor Tam?” “What? No, no! I didn’t mean—I just—I only—” She threw her head back, laughing. “Aw, Simon. You’re just so easy.” Simon sighed, dragging his eyes away from the spot where lacy blue nightgown dipped down to meet skin. “So you’ve said.”

*** She’d overheard Wash telling Zoe about the torture room. What must Mal have thought when they left him there, left him to Niska? Did he think he would die? That they’d abandoned him? Did he lose hope? She stared at his hand, the one resting on his abdomen, tubes feeding him medicine, wellness. She wanted to bring that big hand to her face, feel the warm fingers spread over her cheek. She wanted to trace his palm lines with her lips, hold his hand in hers, assure him he was saved, safe. She wanted him to kiss her and move those strong hands down the sides of her body. She wanted to feel the full weight of him on top of her, pressing into her. Just the two of them, there, everything else vanished. She didn’t particularly want him to wake up. “Inara.” He could smell her incense before he could make her out in the black. “Yes?” He glanced around, eyes adjusting to the darkness. He finished assessing the room, returned his gaze to her. She flushed as his eyes traveled over her red nightgown, settled on her face. “I knew you’d find a way to get me in your bed.” The sleeping Mal-child disappeared. The captain was back. “Gorrammit, woman, if you aren’t 100 percent predictable.” “Yes, Mal it was all a plot. I just had to have you. You idiot. You know, you can leave any time—” “I knew it,” he was saying, as thought she hadn’t spoken. “And I’d make it worth your while, goin’ to all that effort just to bed me, except just now I can’t feel my legs.” She felt her stomach drop. “I’ll get Simon.” She threw off the blankets, started to reach for her robe. “Inara.” He grabbed her wrist, and she shivered at the contact. “I’m kidding. Not a part of my body I can’t feel right now in way too shiny detail,” he said. He readjusted himself on the pillows, wincing. Why did he have to fight with her? What made him do it over and over? She disentangled her arm and flung the robe back in disgust. “You’re psychotic.” “You’re the one wearin’ some flimsy scrap of lace when it’s cold enough to grow penguins in here. When did my ship enter an ice age by the by?” “We’re having a small fuel crisis. Kaylee and Wash felt it would be best to conserve heat, shut down some rooms entirely. We all drew bedfellows. Somehow I was fortunate enough to host you.” “One lucky girl. Who’d Jayne get?” he asked, curious. “He’s sharing with the Shepard.” “I’d pay to see that.” “You don’t have any money, Mal.” “Ain’t that the gorram truth. Where are the doc and lil’ sis?” “River’s in your room. She seems to like it there; you may have trouble getting it back. And Simon’s with Kaylee.” “Oh, wo de ma!” He felt an odd sensation, not quite anger, in his gut. “Whose jing cai idea was that?” “Kaylee’s, actually. And I for one am thrilled. I lent her a nightgown.” “I’m sure you did.” “And what does that mean?” “Don’t mean nothin’. All I’m sayin’ is she ain’t you. Shouldn’t be prancin’ about in some low-cut, see-through slinky thingamajig.” “But it’s alright for me to wear them?” “Oh, I sure as hell didn’t say that.” It wasn’t, surely not. “But at least you’ve got some sense in that head. Lil’ Kaylee don’t know any better than to follow that doctor around like a lovesick puppy dog.” “I’m quite sure Kaylee knows what she’s doing, and that she’s done it a time or two before.” “I don’t need be hearing that. I’ve said it before, Inara. Shipboard romances are a bad idea.” “Did you tell your wife that before she kissed you—I’m sorry, poisoned you, that is?” “Hey, now. I thought we weren’t gonna bring that up again.” “And I thought Simon’s drugs would last longer!” “You know, I ain’t the only one fell for Saffron’s wily charms. As I recall, you shared a moment with my blushin’ bride as well.” Inara sniffed. “Like she could play me. She wishes.” “Then why’d you faint?” “I kissed you, you idiot!” Once again, silence descended upon Inara’s shuttle.


Trying to be subtle, Kaylee snuck glances over her shoulder. Simon lay on his side, facing the wall. She found her eyes drawn to the spot where his hair dipped down to tickle the nape of his neck. She wanted to put her lips right there, slide her arms around his middle. And in a perfect, shiny ‘verse, he’d grab her hands and hold ‘em tight against his chest. She threw her head back down, disgusted. He’d been in her bed—she checked her watch—twenty-eight minutes, and still nothing. Okay, so, he was Simon. Not exactly Mr. Spontaneity. She hadn’t expected him to rip off her borrowed nightie and jump her or nothin’. But he coulda had the decency to brush up against her a time or two. What kinda guy didn’t even feel a girl up under the covers? Simon decided River would soon be known as the sane Tam. At least, that’s what would happen if he spent another five minutes staring at the wall of Kaylee’s bunk. He should be exhausted. He should be dreaming a deep, satisfied sleep, resting calmly after a job well done. So what was wrong with him? Why couldn’t he sleep? Perhaps because she’d just brushed his foot beneath the blankets. “Sorry,” she muttered. “No, I’m sorry,” he said quickly. She hesitated. “You are?” “I—what?” “Forget it.” She rolled to face the other way. “Right.” He said it under his breath, exhaled. His eyes found the cracks on the wall that resembled Jayne’s face. Groaning, he started to turn. “Kaylee—.” “Awww!” She’d turned at the same time, and their heads hit. And then he was bleeding from the nose all over her pink and blue teddy-bear-print sheets.


“Inara.” “Bi zui. Just shut up, Mal.” “Didn’t your mama teach ya to be nice to one-eared freaks?” Inara’s gaze dropped, softened. “Well, lucky for me, you still have the two.” Mal raised his hand to grope at the side of his face, as though he didn’t quite believe her. “Huh. How’dya like that? The doctor do this? Didn’t figure our infirmary had the supplies needed for this sorta handiwork.” “It didn’t. The councilor had a few connections.” Mal met her eyes, held them a moment. “I’m sure you can find some way to thank her for me.” “I’ll do that,” she said, the sweet smile contrasting sharply with her tone. “Shiny.” Mal felt the tension roll over them in waves, let it roll out before continuing. “Kinda too bad, though. Woulda been fun to torment Kaylee, chase her around and make her look on me way I was.” “She was upset, Mal. She cried when they brought you on board.” Mal was silent a moment. “I don’t need be hearin’ that. I got no desire to see that girl hurt.” “She wasn’t the only one who cried.” Mal reached out a hand as though to brush off the tears from hours earlier. Halfway to her cheek he stopped, dropped his hand to the bed. “I’m half glad I don’t remember. If I kissed you once, I don’t ‘spect I’d stop.” “Mal.” “Hey, how was I, anyway? I mean, me bein’ unconscious and all weren’t really fair. Why is it I’m always wounded when you and I wind up in compromising spots?” “You were fine, if a bit unresponsive.” “Not what you’re used to, I’m sure.” The words were out before he’d though them through. “Why do you insist on tormenting me?” Inara demanded. “You don’t do this with the others. Why must you always fight me?” Mal was quiet a moment. When he spoke his tone was low, the teasing edge dead. “Because you meddle inside me,” he told her. “Because when I’m with you, I can’t breathe quite right.” Inara turned to stare at the ceiling. *** Continued in Part 2~


Tuesday, November 15, 2005 3:34 AM


This is great!!

The whole getting them into bed thing is kind of... well, cheesy, but I'm going to let you get away with that. Because it's so great!!!

Continue! I can't wait for the next chapter!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 3:51 AM



Now that Kaylee's nightie is bloody, I'm assuming it's coming off... lol

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 7:37 AM


Yow, what a place to stop, gorrammit! I wanted to hear Inara's reaction to Mal's softly spoken confession. And Kaylee and Simon had me in stitches. The whole thing is shinyness personified, now hope you hurry before our BDMs run out of fuel and life support awaiting the next chapter! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, November 15, 2005 2:47 PM


Wonderful! More More!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 1:38 AM


Very moving! The plot device is cheesy, but I don't care. Your story echoes some of the thoughts I've had about Mal in War Stories, for instance what he felt when he was left behind with Niska; how horribly alone and abandoned and helpless he must have felt. Keep writing!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 1:55 AM


EEEEEEEEEE!!!! why oh why did you stop there you evil person?!?


Wednesday, November 16, 2005 9:41 PM


So good, I love sarcastic Simon. Also you really made me want to smack Mal. Good Job :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005 11:37 AM


“I’m half glad I don’t remember. If I kissed you once, I don’t ‘spect I’d stop.”

That's it, right there. You've got it.

Thursday, September 21, 2006 11:48 PM


loved it


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