Bedlam: Part 7
Tuesday, December 6, 2005

The usual pairings and a couple that aren’t. Mal finds a buyer for the Persephone cargo, and we learn more about Inara’s past. Serenity *spoilers*


Bedlam: Part 7 By Kaynara

*** Mal woke in Inara’s bed just before five. He groaned, realizing his side hurt more ‘n a little where the knife had sliced sensitive flesh. Inara stirred when he slid out from under her. “Mal?” Her hair was sleep-tousled, the strap of her nightgown slipping down to bare a single smooth shoulder. “Best I be gettin’ back to my bunk, ‘fore the others wake. Don't wanna be causin’ any rumblings amongst the crew.” “Of course.” Inara lay back, her hair strewn over the pillows. “Wouldn’t want to arouse...suspicion.” “They all know, huh.” “Simon, Kaylee and River at least. Zoe, I’m certain. Possibly Jayne. Probably.” The air felt frigid, the floor icy beneath his socks-clad feet. Mal rubbed his hands together. He watched Inara, snuggled under the covers, her body warm from sleep and achingly inviting. “Couple more hours won’t kill nobody.” Mal climbed back into bed, tugged Inara into his arms. He pulled her under him and rested his head on her silk-covered stomach. He fell asleep that way, her hand playing in his hair. *** He didn’t look like Wash, not really. The coloring maybe, the pale, cornstalk hair, skin the color of a peach, eyes that recalled the sky, and not the black one she saw every day. But he was pounds lighter, years younger. So really, the vague resemblance didn’t explain her taking him into her bed. If anyone asked--not that she planned on advertising, not that she wanted to admit it--she would have said she was lonely, both in body and mind. That was true enough, though still not the real reason she invited him down to her bunk, undressed them both in the dark, let him climb on top of her. Then they made love except it wasn’t that at all. Wash had called it that, a term she’d never before tied to the act, so coarse and gritty and primal. Somewhere along the line it must have stuck in her head, become a part of her vocabulary. But Wash was dead. No one would ever make love to her again. Still, rutting was better dreaming. In the dreams, his body made love while his words ripped at her soul. River told her Gideon meant powerful warrior. Zoe could recall a time when she’d been one of those.

*** Was best to do some things ‘fore you were awake enough to know better. Not remotely certain what he was about to say, Mal knocked at her door, shoved in the ladder. “You decent down there, Zoe?” “If I say yes, you gonna come in?” Taking that for acquiescence, Mal descended the steps. Zoe sat on her bed, tying her boot laces. “Little early for social calls, sir.” “Yep, the others’ all asleep. I got lonely all by my lonesome.” He sat beside her. “Really? No one else more...willing for you to be botherin’ just now?” “Don’t quite know what you mean by that, Zoe.” “Of course not, sir.” She concentrated on her left boot so he wouldn't see the smile twitching her lips. “Don’t know why I’m gettin’ all this lip. I even brought you tea, on account of the no coffee rule.” He held up a thermos. “That’s gotta be a might painful. Used to warn Wash not to look at you ‘fore you had your second cup.” He was pushing, testing her to see what was okay. He felt relief slid over him when she smiled, accepted the thermos. “Ain’t it a bit early for you to be so cheersome, sir?” “Feels like a good day.” “Jayne shoulda told me what was going down yesterday. Wasn’t right, them all keepin’ me in the dark that way.” “Woulda sent you a wave, but I was a little busy.” “Wasn’t right, sir. Wasn’t right, Inara having to do that.” “No, don’t imagine anybody thinks it was. Listen, Zoe, I ever thank you for bandagin’ my arm that time? “Which time was that, sir?” “Serenity Valley.” “Gonna have to be more specific, sir.” “Upper arm, rights about here.” Mal pushed up his sleeve, revealing a faint white scar. “I ever say thanks after that?” “You stopped bleedin’, sir. Figured that was your way o’ sayin’ it.” “Wouldn’t o’ made it through those weeks without you, you know.” “I know.” Mal stood, leaned against the wall. “That kid you’re hatchin’--not gonna be too ugly, I’m guessin’. Gonna have to give her a gun to fend off the overeager ones, teach her to shoot.” “Please don’t buy my daughter a gun, sir.” “Not till she’s older least. I’ll try not to corrupt her morals till she’s outta diapers. Though ‘haps....” “Sir?” “Never woulda thought this way before. But maybe, because of her daddy and other folk like him, she wont’ have to live in the world that we do.” “You sure you’re shiny, sir?” “Told ya, it’s a good day.”

*** They left Beaumonde at noon. Gideon took off early in the morning, his departure as quiet and unobtrusive as his stay. Mal bid Cora goodbye in the cargo bay. “I’m just glad that hun dan’s dead.” She stood on tip toe, kissed his cheek. “You lead quite an interesting life, Malcom Reynolds.” “Could say the same.” He put a friendly hand on her stomach. “You take care, the both of ya, hear?” “I will, Malcom.” He pressed a coin bag into her hand. “And soon as you gets where you’re goin’, send us a wave with where to reach ya. Things didn’t go ‘xactly as planned last night. Otherwise, there’d be more....” Cora smiled gratefully and lifted her duffel. She slung it over one shoulder, descending down the ramp. She paused at the bottom, turned back with a toss of her short blond hair. For a moment, she looked the way he remembered her. Young and lovely and innocent in the morning light. “That Badger man might be the disreputable sort, but still I feel rather indebted to him.” She smiled, shrugged a shoulder. “At least I got to see you. Now I can know you’re...well, I know you’re standing. I owe him for that.” “Yeah, me too.” Badger. Huh.

*** Shooting Inara a don’t-you-dare-laugh look, Mal emptied the cargo from the Persephone job on top of the kitchen table. A mosh pit of wobbly-headed geisha dolls stared up at him. “Aw, shiny, I love those! Can I have one, Cap’n?” “Sure you can, Kaylee.” Mal lifted one of the brightly-painted, colorful kimono-wearing dolls and slammed her neck into the edge of the table until the head popped off, rolled over to jar Simon’s tea cup. Inara and Kaylee jumped. Even Simon looked rather stunned. Mal handed the head to Jayne, reached inside the belly and pulled out a tightly-rolled plastic bag. He tossed the bag on the table and took the head back from Jayne, popping it on backwards. He gave the doll to Kaylee who looked down at her sorrowfully. “Mal.” Inara reached for the bag, held the blue-green leaves up to the light. “Is this what I think it is?” “Grade A government contraband Everlift, fresh from bootlegged bonsai trees, stolen right outta top-secret Boros greenhouses,” Mal said, taking it back. “Try sayin’ that thrice fast.” “Wo de tian a, the Cap’n scored us lift?” Kaylee dropped the dismembered doll, whose head fell to the floor, and tried to grab the bag. Mal held it over her head. “Uh uh. This is to sell to poor folk, hear me? Poor people. Do right by the less fortunate.” “We’re pretty unfortunate,” Kaylee pouted, leaning back in her chair. “You got a buyer lined up?” Jayne asked. “I know a fellow might be interested.” “Expanding the family business from petty theft to drug trafficking. Quite an exciting day for you, Captain.” “Always good to broaden one’s horizons, Doctor.” “Simon,” Inara corrected. “You know Everlift leaves are mostly harmless.” “That’s what they said about Earth-that-was.” He waited patiently for the laugh that never came. “I take it none of you’ve read Douglas Adams.” “He one of those fancy poets you like, sweetie?” Kaylee curled an arm around him. “He wrote science fiction, eons ahead of his time. Said all a space traveler requires is a copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide and a good towel...? “That’s just ruttin’ dumb,” Jayne expressed. “Least need a gun, maybe couple grenades. Hey, so who’s this buyer, Mal? He takin’ all of it?” “Not rightly sure. Old buddy from the war got hisself made mayor of a township on Silverhold. The man throws the most wild parties this part of the sky. Think he might take most of it off our hands, and for a fair price.” “Hell, that rock ain’t more ‘n a few days ride from us.” “But, Jayne, seein’ as he’s a friend of the Cap’n’s...don’t ya think we should try out the merchandise ‘fore we go sellin’ it?” Kaylee asked, eyes all innocent. “Yeah, Mal. I wanna do what’s right,” Jayne agreed, seeing where she was going. “What you’re all sayins you wanna be morally sound drug dealers.” Mal appraised them over his coffee mug. He sighed and held up his hands. “Fine. You wanna rot your brains, be my guest.” Kaylee and Jayne exchanged glances, as though waiting for Mal to change his mind. He just sat, arms folded. Jayne grabbed the bag, started for the door. “I’ll get a flamer.” Kaylee hesitated, raised her eyes at Simon. “Oh, come now, Doctor,” Mal said, looking for an ally in the kid. “You can’t tell me you’re a proponent of such things.” “W-well, not a proponent, no. But, once in a while for...recreation....” Mal raised an eyebrow. “Simon, you’ve actually...” Kaylee gaped at him, wide-eyed. “Well, when I was in university a few of us tried it a...a few times. Not since then.” “What’s that, Doc, three whole years?” Mal muttered, hiding a smile in his coffee. “More like four,” Simon corrected sheepishly. “Kaylee!” Jayne’s voice boomed impatiently down the hall. “Get some gorram paper for a wrap and let’s move already.” Kaylee held out her hand to Simon who took it, with an uneasy glance at Mal. “This is gonna be so shiny!” She kissed him on the lips, open-mouthed and long enough for Mal and Inara to exchange glances. She fairly skipped out of the kitchen, forcing Simon into a jog to keep up. Mal and Inara were left at the table with about twenty-five drug-smuggling geisha dolls between them. Mal groaned inwardly. What was with his gorram crew? Always hoverin’, invadin’ his privacy, even his brain in certain cases. Then, the one time he coulda done with a little company, all of ‘em head for the hills. He glanced at Inara across the table. Funny, things felt simpler when she was snappin’ at his throat steada touching her lips there, nuzzling and licking with featherlight brushes. Okay, new topic. “So.” Mal tapped a little rhythm on the table. “So,” Inara agreed, her expression still one of amusement after Kaylee’s display. “You know I’m inclined to think Lil Kaylee might have a point.” Mal lifted one of the stern-faced geishas, turned her over in his hands. “’Haps it is best to try some--just a speck, mind you--’fore we pass it on to the good folk of Silverhold.” “You do have your reputation to consider,” Inara said, straight-faced. “Right. Man like me garners a certain respectability over the years. Can’t be compromisin’ that.” “We wouldn’t want your criminal colleagues to think any less of you.” “I’m glad you’re with me on this, Inara.” “Wait...with you?” *** Jayne ambled down the hall singing a song whose words he couldn’t quite remember. So he invented his own, a pleasing little melody about a working man, a commoner. He’d nicked a couple of Mal’s music discs while the captain was off not screwin’ Inara. Lift always left him with a powerful musical urge. Jayne headed toward his room, passed Kaylee’s bunk. He paused to listen outside her door, resting his arm against the wall. He jumped when he heard the crash, stumbled back and almost tripped. A high-pitched shriek dissolved into giggles. Jayne heard the doc’s voice mumble something low and insistent. “Ohhh. Simon,” Kaylee groaned. “What do ya know? Lil’ Kaylee finally managed to mellow the doc out. It’s a gorram Lift miracle.” Jayne meandered back to his bunk, in no particular rush. Truth be told, he felt a little lonely. Not that he wanted anyone’s company in particular--hell, he barely liked most of ‘em--but still, he was a little, well, bored. Things was different when Shepherd Book was alive. Then he always had someone to talk to, lift his weights. ‘Course that was all over now. Preacher was dead--to linger on it was as good as bein’ dead hisself, and Jayne Cobb sure as hell wasn’t dead. He was very much alive. Resigned to spending the evening with his own self, Jayne settled down on his bunk, switched on the music. “Lennon, eh,” he read off the cover of Mal’s disc. “Who the hell’s he?” “A Russian revolutionary.” River slid out from under his bunk so fast he nearly screamed. “Also, a Beatle.” “Never mind no foreign bug singer! What you doin’ in my bunk, girl?” “Not in, under.” River smiled, sat cross-legged on the floor. “Precision of speech is key to avoiding confusion.” “Aw, can’t you go confound some other folk? I was feelin’ mighty good till you got here.” “They’re acting strange, laughing when nothing’s funny.” “That’s ‘cuz they’re toasted, crazy girl. Why don’t you go on to bed? Sure you’re brother will be back to his usual dull self by the time you wake up.” “Gonna sleep in here with Jayne.” “ ‘Give peace a chance?’ That’s one crazy Russian, you ask me. I--wait a gorram minute, what’d you just say?” “Gonna sleep here. Feels safer here.” “Like hell you are.” “You’re lonely.” “Ain’t lonely, gorram mind-reader.” “You call me a witch.” “Didn’t a bunch o’ folk with pointy sticks try and burn you at the stake?” “The witch makes you hot inside.” “Huh?!” “You think I’m pretty.” She smiled sweetly, a little sadly, and knelt on the floor up by his pillow. “Gotta say your prayers before bed, Jayne Cobb.”

*** “My father wasn’t a cruel man, Mal.” She felt the smoke sting her eyes as the drug clouded her brain. “I wasn’t some innocent child sold into sexual slavery. I wasn’t River, kidnapped by evil torturers.” “Go sui. How old were you when he let them take you?” “He gave me the choice. I was fourteen when she returned for me, young and yet not a child. Karina--that was her name--explained what a companion’s life entailed, and I chose to go with her. My father wouldn’t have forced me if I refused.” “He sounds like quite the humanitarian. Want Jayne and me to pay him a little visit? The kind with grenades?” “You’re a little late, Mal. He took matters into his own hands, about five years ago.” He’s eaten his own gun, just days shy of her twentieth birthday. Mal looked away. “ ‘Bout your mama?” “My mother passed away the year before him. I think she found out about the agreement he made with Karina. She drank before I....” Inara shrugged a shoulder, reached for the wrap dangling from Mal’s fingers. “She turned worse after I left home. In the end she drowned in expensive champagne and the finest imported vodka.” Inara inhaled long and hard, started to cough, then started to giggle. “In some ways, I was very lucky, Mal. I enjoyed the benefits of a classical education because of the contract my father made. Learned and experienced a great deal more than if I’d stayed in his house. ” “Hell, give the bastard a medal.” “I learned history, languages, literature. We studied the arts--music and dance--though, to the House Madame’s chagrin, I lacked my mother’s natural aptitude in that forum.” “I’m sure they got their money’s worth in other ways.” He inhaled, breathed out a cloud of smoke. “Artists visited the Guild, taught the girls sketching, painting. They taught us basic sciences. I learned to fence, to make charming dinner conversation, to read anyone and to please him. Or her.” “Her, huh? How many more hits it gonna take ‘fore I can hear a her story.” She elbowed him lightly, and for several moments they laughed together, laughed until they were gasping. Mal giggling. She never thought she’d see the day. “I don’t pity myself, Mal,” she said when they grew quiet. “When my father entered into that bargain, I gained something extraordinary. My years at the Guild taught me many invaluable lessons.” “Bet they didn’t teach you how to kill.” She wanted to be angry, be offended. Her brain couldn’t quite manage it. Instead, she took back the wrap, breathed in the blue-green plant’s fragrant aroma and giggled. “No, Mal. I don’t believe that was on the syllabus.” Mal grabbed it again, stabbed it to death in the tin mug they were using in place of an ash tray. She held her hand in front of her face, as though the lines of her palm fascinated. Then, as though realizing where she was, whom she was with, she smiled her sad, graceful smile: the one that beguiled, the one that concealed. “That man was unconscionable and twisted. None of us would have been safe, so long as he was breathing.” “But you’re still hurting.” She looked up at him through the smoke haze. “I don’t regret putting the knife in him, Mal. I’d do it again.” “I know you would. ‘Cuz you’re strong, Inara. Still, nothin’ wrong with lettin’ on that it hurts. You always feel it hardest your first time.” For her there wouldn’t be a second time. Not so long as he was breathin’. Inara stood up, twisting her hands. “I need some time, Mal,” she said, looking down at him. “Thought you might.” “I’m grateful you were with me last night. Believe me, I don’t know that I would have made it though if you hadn’t.... But now I-I need space, time to think and clear my head.” Time to cleanse and renew. “You take all of it you need. Only, Inara?” She hesitated at the door, turned back to him. “Don’t take too much.” Head spinning, Inara made her way back to her shuttle. She hadn’t lied to Mal exactly. He’d assumed, and she hadn’t corrected him. What happened in that Inn, what she did to Niska--it hadn’t been her first time. There was another. ***

TBC in Part 8. No pulled punches next time. Mal and Inara spend a night somewhere in that fuzzy zone ‘twixt R and NC-17.

Dedicated to the memory of John Lennon, who was killed twenty-five years ago this Thursday.


Tuesday, December 6, 2005 5:21 PM


no pulled punches? sweettttt. fuzzy zone ‘twixt R and NC-17? excellent

love the lennon references in this one :-D shiny And the smoking of the drug was interesting because how you showed how it affected each character.

that and '“Please don’t buy my daughter a gun, sir.”' sounds very much like a zoe-mal exchange ;)

Tuesday, December 6, 2005 5:38 PM


I love the Douglas' Adams reference...he is one of my favorite authors, but still, he HaD to be smoking SomEthing.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005 10:13 PM


THere are so many twists and turns, this is turning into its own season-long plot. I love it!

Wednesday, December 7, 2005 1:00 AM


You absolutely made my day with this part! The crew on "Everlift".. priceless! Mal and Inara all giggly-serious, Kaylee and Simon... and how happy-greedy they all got just hearing about it, I loved it!!

I don't think that's ever been done before, either. Wonderful twist. *g*

The conversation between Mal and Zoe was beautiful, too. Zoe, isolated and strong, and Mal trying to share some of his rare giddiness. Heartbreaking, between these two.

And then that lovely beginning. Cuddling and the eternal question of warm bed vs. imaginary discretion... hmmmm... hard choice...

Cora aside, this is one of the most entertaining, original and surprising series I've ever read in this fandom. *g*

Wednesday, December 7, 2005 7:59 AM


Oooh, unexpected. I never thought those wobbly headed dolls could be so intoxicating. No wonder Mal said, "Hey, people LOVED those dolls!" when Inara was accusing him of being petty. Loved this, very fine. Can't wait for the promise of more Inara/Mal goodness in Part 8, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, December 8, 2005 7:01 AM


um, so how much is it for a doll?
*grin* always wondered what a stoned crew would be like. and now i know!!!


Saturday, December 10, 2005 11:08 AM


Love this. Fave part was Zoe and Mal talking in her cabin while she laced her boots. Talked about the baby "not gonna be too ugly" lol and her bandaging his arm but never thanking her. 'you stopped bleeding, that was thanks', lol.

Nice work.

Monday, October 9, 2006 10:39 PM


They were all FUCKING STONED!!! LOL!!!!!!! I loved that!!! LOL!

Also loved the Lennon reference. I didn't think they had rock & roll anymore.

"DOn't buy my daughter a gun sir" Loved that too.


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