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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE
Zoe/Wash; Silee and, per popular request, MORE Mal/Inara
The new passengers shake things up, and the BDM continues to haunt Serenity’s crew (*spoilers*). It’s Joss’s verse--I just borrow it.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 3406 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Bedlam: Part 4
Zoe pressed her face into the curve of his neck, feeling the familiar Hawaiian shirt beneath her cheek.
“Thought you were gone,” she whispered. “Thought they killed you.”
“Oh, they did. Used a big ruttin’ stake.” He laughed.
“But how are you here? How are you inside me?” she asked, because suddenly he was. Now she wore the Hawaiian shirt, just the shirt, and Wash was on top of her.
She exhaled, gasped in another breath as his hands stroked down her hips, lifted her up to him.
“ ‘Cuz you want me here. ‘Cuz you need me.”
They were on the bridge now. He sat in the pilot seat and she stood behind, the sky falling fast as he flew Serenity in for a landing.
“Didn’t think my Zoe needed anyone,” he said as they slammed into ground. “Thought she was invincible.”
“I’m not a robot, husband,” she said. They were back in their bunk, beneath their blankets. Safety. Sanctuary. She nudged her back against his chest, pulled his hand around to cup her breast.
“But you are, sweetie.” His mustache tickled her neck before he pushed her on her back, slid on top. “Didn’t shed a tear when the reavers gored me.”
Zoe woke shaking, sobbing.
Simon stood in the doorway, blocking Mal’s entrance to his passenger dorm.
“Doctor Tam,” Mal responded, half-amused.
“If you make her cry again, I’m gonna have to…hit you…Captain,” Simon announced, as though deciding just then.
“I make Kaylee cry, I figure I’ll let you hit me.”
Simon nodded and moved aside so Mal could enter.
“Hey, Lil’ Kaylee. Okay if I sit?”
“Cap’n, I’m sorry about….” Suddenly she stopped, her voice gathering strength, losing the teary quality. “No, wait.” She punched him in the shoulder. “You’re the one should be doin’ the apologizing.’”
“That was essentially my intention,” Mal said, rubbing his arm. “No call for me speakin’ to you that way, Kaylee. God knows I don’t deserve a good thing like you. Got no right talkin’ to you way I did last night.”
She appraised him through narrowed eyes, considering. Then she leaned over and kissed him smack on the mouth.
“I love you, Cap’n.” She rested her head on his shoulder. “Don’t be forgettin’ it no more, or else.”
Mal looked at Simon, watching them from the door. He seemed unsure whether or not to smile at the sight of his girlfriend kissing his captain. Mal held up a hand to block his face.
“Don’t hit me, Doc,” he said. Kaylee hooted a laugh. Simon grinned.
“Alright, kids. I got captainy stuff to attend to. As a courtesy, ‘haps you could wait’ll I’m outta earshot for you start tearin’ into each other.”
“Gideon,” River said staring dreamily into her oatmeal. They were sitting down to a late breakfast, having spent a good portion of the morning plotting a relatively discreet course to Beaumonde. “I knew a boy once named Gideon. Pushed my face in the dirt and made me kiss the worms.”
Gideon looked up in surprise, gazing uneasily over his coffee cup.
“I’m fairly sure that wasn’t me.”
“River.” Simon patted her shoulder. “Don’t you think its a little early for worm stories?”
“The story’s not about the worms,” River said, confused. “It’s about the boy. Gideon. Later I kissed his lips under an apple tree.”
“Also, not me,” the current Gideon said quickly.
“Gideon means powerful warrior,” River told him.
“Hey, do me!” Mal said. “What’s Malcom mean?”
“Please don’t use the phrase ‘do me’ when addressing my sister,” Simon requested.
“So you thought about baby names yet, Cora?” Kaylee said grinning. “Was so excited when I heard. Wouldn’t it be fun havin’ a baby on Serenity, Cap’n?”
“Oh, regular laugh riot,” Mal muttered, grateful Zoe hadn’t joined them that morning. Hardly surprising as she tended to keep to herself these days.
“Oh, well, I--” Cora began.
Jayne’s eyes widened, and he grinned wickedly.
“Wait a minute. You knock her up, Mal?”
“Yes, Jayne,” Simon muttered. “In the twenty-four hours Cora’s been on board, the captain managed to impregnate her.”
“I didn’t impregnate nobody!” Mal glared at Simon.
“I was just trying to help Jayne understand how unlikely it was that you—”
“It isn’t his,” River interrupted. “Poor Captain. Hasn’t gotten any since--”
Mal covered River’s mouth with one palm.
“You--keep the mind-readin’ to a minimum. And you--quit bein’ so helpful!” he said to Simon, who was staring, somewhat horrified, at his sister.
For awhile, everyone ate in silence.
“So,” Simon said after a few moments. “Do you know when the baby’s due?”
“What baby?” Inara stepped into the kitchen. Guiltily, Mal kept his eyes on his plate. “Kaylee? Mei mei, you’re not…?”
“Oh! Gosh, no. Not yet anyways.” She chewed her lower lip, sneaked a quick glance at Simon.
Simon choked on his tea.
“Yet?” Mal thought he saw the boy actually squirm. “Kaylee definitely isn’t…I mean she’s not…not….”
“I think they gets it,” Kaylee said dryly. She jerked her hand away when Simon tried to lay his atop it on the table.
“I didn’t mean—” he tried.
“Cora’s having the baby. We’re pretty certain it isn’t the captain’s,” River supplied pleasantly.
“Mei mei.” Simon laid his hand lightly over his sister’s. “Remember we talked about provoking the man with the big stick up his…temper?”
“Don’t forget all the guns,” Mal offered, getting to his feet. “Coffee, Inara?”
Inara’s eyes widened, her ever-present grace temporarily faltered, but she regained composure rather rapidly.
Inara shaped her lips in a smile.
“From one companion to another,” Jayne muttered. He may not o’ been the brightest star in the ‘verse. Still, didn’t take no psychic genius to see the tension ‘tween these two.
“Jayne,” Mal warned.
“It’s fine, Malcom,” Cora said. “I’m not ashamed of my job. Even though it isn’t my job any longer. A companion can’t exactly be a mother, can she, Inara?”
“Inara? You want the damn coffee or not?”
“You’re offering to get me coffee?” She raised a delicate eyebrow in Mal’s direction. “What’d you do?” she teased.
“No touching!” River stood up, eyes on Mal. “It isn’t very fair!” She flung Simon’s hand from her wrist and ran from the room.
“Is she alright?” Cora asked, glancing inquisitively at the others. “She seems...perturbed. I hope my presence isn’t upsetting the child in some way.”
“She’s not a child,” Inara said, watching Mal curiously.
“But she’s always like that,” Jayne said around a big bite of cereal.
“Yeah. Sure it ain’t you,” Mal said, sitting down again after slamming Inara’s coffee cup, rather unceremoniously, at her place. Her wide brown eyes studied him quizzically.
“If you’ll all excuse me, I’ve some things to attend to in my room.” Cora stood, pushing in her chair, and rested a hand on Mal’s shoulder. “Did you ever imagine it back on Shadow, Malcom? Me, somebody’s mama.” She smoothed her hair behind her ears and carried her tea cup to the sink.
Simon found Kaylee in the engine room, tinkering under Serenity’s great rumbling belly. When she slid out, she saw him watching her, blew a strand of hair out of her face.
“Oh, it’s you,” she muttered.
“Yup, it is I. Dr. Simon Tam, the Lord Byron of breakfast banter.” He cleared his throat. “That didn’t even merit a giggle?”
“Mm…nope.” She rustled around for a wrench in one of her toolboxes. “Lord who?” she asked under her breath.
“Tough crowd. Listen, I propose an amendment to our relationship.”
Kaylee bit her lip. She would not start bawling.
“You wanna end it?” she whispered, turning to face him.
Simon looked baffled a moment. Then the smile spread over his features. What had he ever done to deserve her? Sweet, open girl, watching him wide-eyed with engine grease on her nose.
“Not end it, amendment,” he said patiently.
She frowned at him, made a face like she still might cry. He put his hands around her waist and tugged her against him hard, kissed her in a way that would have made him blush a couple months ago.
“That a little clearer?” he asked when she broke off to suck in air.
“Clear that you’re horny,” she said, still a little sullen. Her face was pink though, her voice breathy. “But I’m still mad at you, so you’re not gettin’ any till after dinner at least.”
He grinned, delighting in her, and sat back in the hammock. And fell on the floor.
“Oh, rutting hell!”
“Simon!” Kaylee was laughing now, bent over with it.
“Now she thinks I’m hysterical.” He shook his head. “Falling on my ass is comedy genius.”
Kaylee helped him to his feet, rubbed his bottom lightly where he’d hit the ground.
“More hearing you say ruttin’. Aw, honey, you okay?”
He trailed a finger over her temple and down to her ear, tucking her hair back there.
“Now I am. So can I tell you my amendment?”
“Sure.” Cheerful again, Kaylee turned back to the engine. “I get all hot inside when you use them big words.”
“I propose that, once a week, I get a free pass to say something asinine. And you have to realize I’m choking on my feet and forgive me.”
She raised an eyebrow.
“Like the thing ‘bout me not havin’ your baby?”
“Um, yeah. Like that.”
“Uh huh. And what do I get outta this deal.”
Simon whirled her around, pushed her up against the wall.
“That,” he said, sliding his hand down her body until she whimpered, “is up for negotiation.”
In the evening, Inara sought out River, who hadn’t put in an appearance since that morning’s breakfast outburst. She found the girl in Simon’s room, sketching cross-legged on his bed.
“Inara.” River smiled. “A ray of light descended from Heaven.”
Inara’s lips curved.
“And what does River mean?”
River made a face like Inara should know better than to ask.
“I see,” she said, amused. “Well, if you ever get lonely while Simon’s...otherwise engaged, you’re welcome to visit me in my shuttle. I could brush your hair, if you like,” she said, lifting a strand.
“He’s lonely, you know. That’s why he did it.”
“No,” River smiled down at her drawing. “Simon’s not lonely any more. The Captain.”
“Mal?” she asked, breath catching in her throat.
“Kissed her to stop the guilt, stop the lonely. But it just filled him up with it, rose higher and higher till he sank.”
“He’s sorry,” River said sadly. “Just wanted to be young again, be a boy.”
“All men are boys,” Inara said, rising slowly from the bed.
“She’ll be gone soon!”
Inara hesitated at the door, turned back to look at River, head once again bent over her artwork. She looked up, as though feeling Inara’s gaze.
“Don’t you know he doesn’t want her here?”
Mal knocked at the door of Inara’s shuttle, entered without waiting for her to grant him permission.
“Can I come in?” he asked as he dropped down on her sofa.
“Please do.” She sat at her dressing table, combing her hair in long, smooth strokes. “Would you like a cup of tea?
Oh, this was bad. That cool, impenetrable companion charm was a sure indicator of fury.
“Nah, I’m shiny. What’re you doing?”
“Preparing myself. We working women must look our best. I’m sure your former sweetheart would agree.”
“Right. My sweetheart.” The Cora he knew died in the war, same as everyone else. Same as he had. Laid down dead in those godforsaken trenches, ‘cept his body insisted on walkin’ about, talkin’ and breathin’ ‘gainst his will.
Inara sighed, softened. "You feel guilty. For the life she chose,” she said when he raised an eyebrow at her in the mirror. “The girl who disappeared when you didn’t come home for her.”
“She was just a kid.” A beautiful, hopeful, innocent kid. They were the both of ‘em hopeful. “Didn’t know better ‘n to believe me ‘bout comin’ back for her.”
“Perhaps you didn’t know any better.”
“Look, I came here lookin’ to explain some things.”
Laying down her brush, Inara came to him, sat beside him on the sofa.
"You don't owe me any explanations, Mal. You aren't my intended."
Mal studied his hands.
"No," he said. "Don't 'spose I am."
"A few hasty gropes on the bridge doesn't make you betrothed to me."
"I imagine it don’t."
"It was just..sex," she said.
"Like hell it was."
"Okay, it was more like foreplay that didn’t progress into...more.”
"That ain't what I meant, Inara."
“It’s alright, Mal, really. Everyone needs comfort from time to time. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
“You think I’m ashamed?”
She raised an eyebrow.
“Well, okay. But not about the...comfortin’. Gorramit, woman, you’re deliberately misapprehending me.”
"Forgive me, Mal, but no one knows what in the name of Fo zu is going on inside that head of yours.”
"So I ain't much for the articulatin’."
"You're fog wrapped in a smoke screen.
He played his fingers over the thick waves of her hair.
"You're beautiful." The words were out before he could stop them.
"Th-thank you," she said, confused. "Mal, I--"
And then he was kissing her, pushing her down on the sofa, or maybe she was the one doing the pulling.
"You’re kissing me," she said helplessly, the words dancing over her breath as she exhaled. He caught her lips again, slid his mouth down her neck, trailing it along the soft skin, pleasuring her, torturing her.
"Ta ma de, you're exquisite."
"You shouldn’t be doing that," she whispered. She fisted her hand in the soft brown of his hair, ran the short, silken strands through her fingers. She kissed his cheek, his temple. Finally she found his lips again, soft and pliant, so unlike the man. She spread her hands over his chest felt his tongue flicker against hers.
He cupped her face, wanting to see into her eyes, wanting to escape them. Achingly soft, almost reverent, he unclasped the back of her dress, put his hand inside without breaking eye contact. He slid his fingers over her breast, felt her heart beat against his hand as her skin responded to his touch.
She whispered his name, wanting to sob it, and rubbed her cheek against his.
Did she do that for the others? Make them feel like gods for pleasing her. Was she skilled in glazing her eyes over with desire, shuddering in ecstasy?
"Do you feel like this when they kiss you?" he murmured helplessly, hating himself for saying it, for tarnishing this "Do you quiver when they touch you here? Or, how 'bout here? Ai ya.”
"Don't, Mal." She pushed him away. Her eyes blazed with an unspeakable pain, but her voice was quiet, resigned. "It always comes back to the whoring for you, doesn't it, Mal?"
"I know I got no right meddlin’ in your business, Inara, but, I--oh, hell. We've danced 'round this long enough. I can't bear thinkin’ ‘bout others touching you, having you for hire. I--" He wanted to say more. But he'd already said too much. He couldn’t seem to edit himself around her. She invaded his mind, seeped under his skin. And in his twisted, embittered brain, that very quality, her damned allure, justified his insulting her. Was a reason he called Inara a whore but censored himself when it came to Cora. He wasn’t quite ready to explore the true meaning of that reason.
“Are you asking me to quit?” she said softly.
“Got no right to ask you that. No right askin’ you to give me that when I don’t know that I can....” He didn’t know if he could give her anything. He didn’t know if he had anything to give.
“I think you should go now.”
"So where's that leave...this thing?" He'd almost said us, but in the end the word curdled on his tongue.
Inara looked at her hands, folded in her lap.
"Lost in the woods."
She crept down his ladder after midnight, the skirts of her robe rustling around her legs. Wide awake, he watched her descend like a fantasy falling from heady dreams, a vision landing smack in the middle of his reality with the light click of her straw sandals.
“Am I having that dream again? ‘Cuz, hell, that would be a might embarrassing.”
“The one where you’re in my bunk, and…you know, it’s not important. What are you doin’ here, Inara?”
A trace of a smile graced her lips.
"I was restless. I thought your inchoate chatter might lull me to sleep."
"You want inarticulate, you came to the right place."
He held back the covers and she slid, hopeless, aching into the bed beside him.
He hadn't slept beside a woman, just slept, side by side, in a good long time. He didn't remember the last time he'd cuddled one.*
At six, she crept back to her room. He woke feeling the warmth where her body had been.
“Hey, little witch. How’s she flyin?”
Mal sat beside River, watching her cruise. Her body appeared fluid, at home over the controls.
“Sometimes bumpy. She rocks and dips, takes false turns. But she’ll land smooth. Just have to wait it out.”
“Peachy. You know its not nice to poke around in people’s brains.”
“Some people’s brains aren’t nice,” River admitted.
“You seem to like mine well enough,” he muttered, tugging on her hair.
She met his eyes, all serious now.
“You’re so sad. Sometimes it hurts me.”
Mal blinked, broke the stare. Then he saw her approaching.
“Inara. Good to see you.” He stood so she could sit in the co-pilot’s chair, pulling her down with a force that made River giggle. “You win.”
Inara rolled her eyes inclusively in River’s direction, bringing her in with that way she had, before turning back to Mal.
“I win what?”
“The somewhat dubious honor of accompanying me on a job.”
“Oh, so you’re going to make me a criminal like you. I’m touched.”
“Don’t fawn, Nara. You’re makin’ me blush.”
“And how did I merit a role in your latest thievery?”
“I need a wife, or a shiny mistress least. Don’t think the Doc’ll let me take Kaylee, and Zoe’s...well, she’s got her own things.”
“Why don’t you take Jayne?” she asked sweetly.
“He don’t look so good in a dress. Not good as me, least.”
“So you thought of me last? How complimentary.”
“I could be your wife.” River looked up from dinosaurs she’d been engaging in soft conversation. “I’d make a good wife.”
“Sure you would, lil albatross. But I’d prefer you not discuss my deflowerin’ with the dignitary. Or mention it ever, ever again.”
“You were cute.”
“Albatross....” Mal warned.
She made a face.
“A dignitary, huh?” Inara said, taking pity on him. “You’re moving up in the world.”
“We’re movin’ up, Mrs. Reynolds. Wait, bad memories there. ‘Haps you should keep your maiden name, darlin’.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. So where does that shiny new crime take place? A reception? A ball?”
“The Beaumonde Inn, in Beaumonde City.”
“Y-you want me to go to a hotel with you?” Inara glanced at River who was watching intently now.
“They’re gonna do it,” River sing-songed lovingly to the tyrannosaurus, in a tone clearly not her own.
“Bi zui, Wash,” Inara murmured. “You want us to spend the night at the Inn?”
“Well, not spend the night so much as help me look respectable enough to unload the cargo we picked up on Persephone. Buyer’s a might twitchy.”
“What kind of cargo?” Inara asked, narrowing her eyes.
“Not particularly consequential what the cargo is. All’s you gotta do is help me unload it. Oh yeah: and wear something shiny.”
TBC in Part 5. Mal and Inara check into the Beaumonde Inn. Need I say more? Okay, I could. But you’re gonna have to read it to find out. Leave some gorram comments!
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