Swinging (part 2)
Friday, December 2, 2005

River’s hiding, but Jayne keeps pointing at her. Mal’s at wit’s end, but Wash has plenty to go around. Collaborative with Cub; link to part one inside. First fanfic.



Inara always felt like she was smothering in the fencing uniform, and here she was entombed in it again, struggling to dissect her sparring partner’s defenses through the mask’s grids, her figure engulfed in the traditional head-to-toe protective garb, her arms and legs taut and heavy from endless parry, thrust, feint, thrust and parry.

The smell of sweat and talcum powder made Inara a little dizzy, but she was too busy battling her faceless opponent to ask why she was back in the academy, in the athletics hall, learning again the swift dance of blades. The sweat soaked her hair, making it stick to the sides of her face, and dripped down the back of her knees, but she was too focused to notice. She had to impress the fencing master with the precision of her technique, her feet in the right place always, her back in the proper angle, her blade flicking out rapidly like the tongue of a snake but a controlled movement as if the blade were part of her arm instead of this foreign metal she gripped with aching fingers. Her arms became snakes, and she danced, smiling a smile that was skin-deep.

Mallory Stanton sat on the edge of the bed, sighing, watching Inara’s eyes move frantically under their closed lids. He had given her more of the serum, pushing her to the edge of insanity to pump out more information in the hopes of salvaging this wreck of a job. Billy Evisse, the cro-magnon who planned this hunt for a fugitive woman-child, was shot dead by the Firefly captain’s enforcer. The men who stormed the Firefly, gracelessly he thought, did not report back, and the group who wanted the fugitives didn’t really care if the truth serum fried the brain of this woman, registered companion or not. Mallory freed a few locks of her hair from the stickiness of her flushed, sweaty face and pushed them back above her temple, noticing the tension in her jaw, her cheeks, her lips, wishing he could stop the pain that marred her features.

Mallory always had the cleanest fingernails of anyone he knew, and he noticed details, the cut of a cravat, the crimp of a collar, the hem of a lady’s dress. He also had the inclination to make his pretension of wealth a fact. So he had taken what scraps he could from menial scams and waited for his moment, keeping his fingernails clean, his face unscarred and comely, his light blond hair tamed, short with a bit of curl.

This job of minor espionage in Braggadocio was a gig he thought he could sink his teeth into, except that right now he’d rather sink another part of him into something of hers. Only there wasn’t time, not with everything going to hell. Listening to the woman’s shallow, rapid breaths, he wondered if this was going to be as close as he’d ever get to a companion.


"Well, this day’s gettin’ stranger by the moment," Mal said. "Ambushed on the ship and planetside, Jayne gets himself thrown in the pokey, prelude to hangin’ and our secret little fugitives here don’t seem too secret no more."

"Jen dao mei," Simon sputtered, looking across the table at River, whose expression was strangely neutral.

Mal squinted, his hands mussing up his damp hair, as he addressed what was left of the crew in the dining room. The warm glow of the lamp on the dining room table contrasted with the coldness he felt, both from the hasty end to his bath that left him drying slowly in soggy clothes and the feeling the ‘verse had turned against him, more so than usual.

"So much for a simple job on the rim,” Wash snorted, continuing with the game of Solitaire. "So, was the trip across town to jail a come-as-you-are affair, or did they at least let him have his dignity?" He stopped briefly, his eyes glowing with mischief before he continued in a slightly higher pitch. "Oh, right, this is Jayne we’re talking about."

"Sounds like this was a frame-up, sir," Zoe offered, pretending not to have heard Wash. "There’ll probably be a welcoming party at the rendezvous point. Too bad Jayne’s otherwise occupied. We’re gonna miss him in Kowloon."

"Miss him?" Kaylee was wide-eyed, incredulous, as she sat up. "What’s that mean? We’re not gonna just let him swing..."

"Nah, we’ll never fail our dimwit in distress," Wash mused. "We’ll slay the dragon or," he paused, slapping down the jack of diamonds on top of the queen of clubs, "whatever needs slaying, if anything does. Or maybe we can even outthink the dragon."

"Dragons don’t really exist," River commented, twirling a strand of hair with her index finger. "They’re creatures of fable, early Earth-That-Was, used to symbolize the power of nature."

"Now’s not such a good time for an Earth-That-Was history lesson," Mal said, folding his arms over his chest and leaning back in the dining room chair. "What we need’s a plan. Jayne’s supposed to swing at dawn. We’re gonna keep that noose off his neck by hook or crook. And I think we have hook and crook aplenty."

"I can gum up the works," Book ventured, his eyes closed as he plotted a course through potential pitfalls. "We can demand a trial, delay them as long as we can in order to bring the pieces together."

"Good. Pieces together is good. Because things are put-near falling apart." Mal stared down at the table, unseeing, as he mentally put things in place. "Zoe and I’ll go to the job in Kowloon, primed for menace. Simon and River, you’ll go with Book. The people coming after you won’t expect fugitives from the law to be in the house of the law. Dong ma?"

Simon ventured a pained smirk. "Your wisdom leaves me breathless, Captain."

Ignoring Simon’s qualms, Mal zeroed in on his next pieces of the puzzle. "Wash and Kaylee, you two can do some spyin’ from the usual spots, the markets, the saloons - but keep your nose clean and your ear to the ground. Last thing we need is more people in the pokey."

"Ya can’t keep your nose too shiny if your ear’s to the ground, but we’ll try," Kaylee grinned, eager to drink, hear some tall tales and forget some of the chaos the day had brought.

"And Wash, time for Shenanigans," Mal winked.

"Shenanigans ahoy, sir," Wash saluted, rising from his chair. "I’ll warn Inara."

"What exactly ... ?" Simon stammered, looking to Mal.

"I’ll explain Shenanigans later," Book put his hand on Simon’s shoulder. "Right now, we have a man needs defending."


A bonnet. Braids. A dress many sizes too big. This is where I hide my River, River smiled as she made her way down to the cell, swaying in the nonexistent breeze. She looked out of the corner of her eye to Simon, who was dressed as much like Book’s twin as possible, a shepherd, hiding under a wig of medium-length, sandy hair, but Simon’s eyes betrayed him as Simon, wild and hunted. Simon always had a problem with the fanciful, the make-believe, not knowing that it is the same kind of craft as sewing people up.

Crafting. Being crafty. Freeing your statuary creation from the block of wood it is now. Even if it is a block you might want to keep unmade. It is a strange thing, River thought, whittling that man, Jayne, out of a death sentence. Especially when he’s all ... firm.

"Gorram it, doc. Would you stop your sister from lookin’ at my stiffy?" Jayne glared at Simon from behind rusty bars. "It ain’t bad enough I got a noose callin’ for my neck. Now I get to be drooled at by folk, including this gal who ain’t seen one this mighty big and up close."

"River, please don’t make the condemned naked man whine," Simon sighed, finding a nice patch of peeling paint to look at, anything to keep his eyes from the spectacle of an angry, nude man called Jayne.

"Well, tell him to stop pointing at me!" River sassed, arms on her hips. "It’s an ugly thing to do. Not polite."

"I ain’t pointin’. It does what it wants without me havin’ a say," Jayne defended, looking down at the accused appendage. "And you better not be calling this here thing of beauty ugly. It’s prettier than you."

Book looked like the lunch he didn’t eat was giving him heartburn. "I know everyone’s feeling a bit… vulnerable. But could we please maintain some decorum?" Book glanced at the brother and sister beside him, trying to regain control of a situation that was sliding into the infantile. "And you two may not want to call each other by name so loudly."

"Right, right," Simon scratched at his faux hair, still keeping his eyes on the wall.

"So what’s the plan? When d’ya bust me outta here?" Jayne hissed, getting his face as close to the bars as he could without them impeding his speech. "First there’s a trial, of sorts," Book offered. "Tomorrow, we have thirty minutes to argue to an angry mob why you should not swing. There’s also a rather odd addendum involving fake mustaches-"

"And if they’s keen to make me swing?" Jayne whispered.

"Then the village herbalist will use your still-warm parts for poultices," River smiled. "After you hang, of course. The blood of the condemned is particularly useful..."

"Tian xiz shou you de ren dou gai si! Why’d ya have to drag Miss Crazybritches along?" Jayne hollered, his face a broiling magenta.

"She’s aiding your defense." Simon bit his lip, trying not to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

If Jayne were capable of foaming at the mouth, he would have been. "For ruttin’ sake, what kind of half-assed thing is this?"

"Don’t worry. We don’t put much stock in a fair trial in these parts." Book spoke softly, emanating calm to combat the worry pouring off of Jayne.

"I sure as hell hope there’s a Bust Jayne Outta the Pokey plan, ‘cause I’m not overthrilled by my prospects," Jayne snarled, grabbing onto the bars on the sides of his face as if he’d like to rip them apart.

His unlikely trio of defenders looked at each other.

"I’m sure we’ll think of something," Simon shrugged.


If The Painted Lady Saloon was an actual lady, it would be the kind you don’t take home to mother, or yourself for that matter, Wash surmised as he stepped across one creaking floorboard after another, unless you like your women rode hard and put up wet. And you are also fond of strange rashes on your private parts.

The saloon had a used-up feel about it, from the dirt on the floor, to the cloudy glass of the fluorescent dope lamps to which a couple of vacant-eyed locals were tethered, to the cushioned bar stools whose ripped fabric couldn’t hold in the decomposing fluff that puffed out whenever someone sat down.

The Painted Lady Saloon would be just the right kind of lady for Jayne, Wash smiled as he sat down at the bar, inhaling the pungent dust that drifted on the air.

"Well, this ain’t too shiny. But I guess it beats drinkin’ at home," Kaylee sighed, elbowing up to the bar.

"Don’t get too cosy in here," Wash whispered. "After what happened today, I get the feeling someone wants us all for lunch. And not to share a good meal."

"Gotcha. Ain’t much in the way of cosy goin’ on here yet anyway," Kaylee frowned.

Wash sighed and tried to get comfortable on the lumpy barstool seat. He stared vacantly at the smudged, well-used glasses hanging above the bar that vaguely reminded him of an Alliance science lab. Besides the dual gunbattles that had greeted the crew of the Serenity earlier that day and the mercenaries who somehow knew their big secret, Wash was nursing another worry – the silence from Inara. She hadn’t responded to his wave about Shenanigans: the code word for the booby traps Wash was sometimes asked to set aboard Serenity. He and Kaylee had even waited a bit, long after the others had set out, for a confirmation. Nothing.

Wash figured she didn’t spend the entirety of her appointments on her back and, in fact, usually gave him an idea of when she would rendezvous at Serenity. But he chalked his worry up to paranoia. A registered companion was free from most of the non-amorous schemes of men, he knew, because no one is crazy enough to risk angering The Guild. Inara was likely in the arms of some handsome, rich client, safer than any of the rest of them could ever be.

Strong hands jerked him from his reverie and scooped him up by his shirt. He found himself face to face with a very large woman who was looking him up and down and smiling in a way that wasn’t at all humorous.

"Ain’t you a little cutie, all clean and unbroken. Won’t be for long, though," she growled, tearing his shirt as she pulled him closer. "Cause tonight, you’re all mine."

Yes, Inara’s definitely safer.


Click here for part 3



Friday, December 2, 2005 9:31 AM


Is it just me, or do we seem to have a rash (pardon the pun) of fics that feature Jayne without his pants?

No, I'm not complaining. Pantsless Jayne is hilarious.

Friday, December 2, 2005 10:16 AM


I really dig the way you did your scene introductions. Really pulls you into each scene:


Inara always felt like she was smothering in the fencing uniform, and here she was entombed in it again...


"Well, this day’s gettin’ stranger by the moment," Mal said.


A bonnet. Braids. A dress many sizes too big. This is where I hide my River.


If The Painted Lady Saloon was an actual lady, it would be the kind you don’t take home to mother.


This is an interesting little story you came up with, too. Great job on your first fanfic.

Friday, December 2, 2005 11:57 AM


agree with manicgiraffe: pantsless jayne = hi-larity of the best kind
love this line: Yes, Inara’s definitely safer


Friday, December 2, 2005 11:58 AM


I'm really fascinated by Mallory! Poor masquerading for rich, the fingernails and the lack of conscience. Great character!!

And thast was some great River voice.

And then Wash at the end! We rarely ever see him by himself, so this is a treat! A hilarious one!

I loved the whole chapter, looking forward more!

Friday, December 2, 2005 12:36 PM


This is getting more and more interesting as it goes along. Love the way you have worded the story and the little insights into the crew along with some shiny dialogue. Bravo, waiting eagerly for more! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, December 2, 2005 3:51 PM


Fascinating reading. I'm getting dragged into this story good and proper. Keep up the good work.

Friday, December 2, 2005 5:01 PM


Jayne "pointing", and River staring with Simon trying not to look. Nearly had soda coming out my nose.


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Swinging (part 4, finale/epilogue)
Big finish of the collaborative with Cub. Each of us wrote about half of this final part. Link to part one inside.

Swinging (part 2)
River’s hiding, but Jayne keeps pointing at her. Mal’s at wit’s end, but Wash has plenty to go around. Collaborative with Cub; link to part one inside. First fanfic.