Bedlam: Part 12B
Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My attempt at a season finale--this is part 2. Sex, humor, and all manner o' mayhem. This one's dark, kids!


Bedlam: Part 12B

My attempt at a season finale--this is part 2.

*** It’s Joss’s verse--I just borrow it. *** She was just a girl, a pretty, big-eyed, wild-haired girl. A laughing girl who played with Kaylee, teased her brother merciless, nicked food from Jayne’s plate. A brilliant girl who meddled in minds, saw the future. A dangerous girl who stood before them now, blood on her hands, her dress, the tips of her hair. A sad, beautiful girl who looked at Mal mournfully, as though he could somehow fix this, make it better. He couldn’t do a gorram thing. “Good God,” Gray murmured. He moved toward the closet. “God ain’t no where near this,” Mal muttered. He watched as one of the troops gestured with his gun for River to sit on the floor, knelt gingerly to shackle her hands. Gray stepped out of the closet, cleaned his palms on a handkerchief from his pants pocket. “Lord in Heaven, its true.” He stared at the small, shivering figure of the girl on the floor. “She’s the one.” “Didn’t have to put her through that to prove it,” Mal said, voice low and furious. “This ain’t the first time she’s cleaned up an Alliance mess.” “It was rumored to be so.” Gray knelt by River, brushed a strand of wet hair out of her face. “I had to be sure, Captain Reynolds. A great many lives depend on my being sure.” “Well, you found your assassin, Agent Gray. Can’t say I agree with the Alliance usin’ innocent little girls to do their dirty work. What do they want her for anyhow? Rub out some political rivals? Squash a rebellion on a border moon? What’s a man like you consider just cause for torturin’ teenagers?” “Captain Reynolds, do you know what your problem is?” Mal snorted a laugh. “Which one?” “You gave up on humanity long ago. Was it the War that did it? Or did it happen after, when life insisted on going on after the Browncoats failed?” “At least I don’t have to look in the mirror and lie to my own self to get through the day. Ain’t lyin for nobody else neither.” “What is truth, Captain? You have your truths, I have mine. You believe people are hopeless; I believe there’s hope. Perhaps Miranda was a tragic blunder, perhaps we acted rashly, on too grand a scale. But none of that changes the basic premise. A world without war, a peaceful world, is still a righteous ambition. You fought at Serenity Valley, didn’t you, Captain? I would think a man like you would understand the work I do, the ends I seek.” “Alls I understand is 30 million dead folk and 30 thousand others be better off dead.” “Perhaps that’s all you see. And perhaps, for you, that justifies the damage you caused in broadcasting that recording.” “People deserve to know the truth.” Mal felt his eyes drawn to the girl on the floor, damp hair curtaining her face, hiding her pained eyes. “Oh, and we’re back to that word again! Captain Reynolds, the only truth I care about its the truth that more will die because of your actions. When Simon Tam broke into that facility and took River Tam away, he set into motion a chain of events that spawned suffering and death on a far grander scale than you can imagine.” “Might not wanna speak to my ability for imagining suffering and death. And, after what your people did to that girl, I know you ain’t one to point fingers.” “Captain Reynolds, I’ve neither the time nor the inclination to justify myself before a man like you. And, in truth, you and I have other, more pertinent matters to discuss.” He turned, enraged, unable to resist. “Didn’t you ever wonder as to the purpose behind River Tam’s training? She isn’t merely some government assassin, some toy we created to eliminate our rivals. River Tam was selected and educated for one, precise goal: the elimination of the Reavers.” Mal’s face changed, his jaw going slack, then cementing again. “Now you must be insane. Ain’t no way one girl, even one of River’s considerable talents, can wipe out a whole fleet of cannibals.” “Not on her own, no. There are others.” *** A big, hulking man led them up the stairs, herded them into the dining area. He considered the open space, the long table. Apparently satisfied, he snapped his fingers, motioned for a pair of troops to take watch at either exit. “Take your seats, folks,” he declared, strolling casually around the table. Zoe and Jayne exchanged pointed glances. Clearly he was the one in charge in Gray’s absence. That made him the first hurdle. “I thought we were going to the passenger dorms,” Simon protested. “Think I’d prefer you here where I can keep an eye on y’all. If that’s okay with you, son.” The big man laughed, squeezed Inara’s collarbone, making her cringe. “Don’t worry, sure Gray’ll be along soon to take you off for questioning.” “Questioning?” Kaylee whispered, eyes wide. Simon shifted his shackled hands into her lap, squeezed her fingers under the table. “Sounds like a regular laugh riot,” Jayne muttered. “Let’s hurry and get started with that.” “You ever been tortured, Jayne?” Zoe asked. “Walked in on the cap’n showerin’ once.” Jayne shuddered. “There’s a day I’d like to forget.” “You think that’s bad?” Simon whispered back. “I’m the one who has to see everyone on this ship naked. Every time someone gets shot or stabbed or tortured, to bring up current events, I--” “I’m so sorry to interrupt, but, children? Perhaps we can stop bickering for five seconds and work out a rutting plan.” “Inara, did you just say ruttin’?” “Think she did, Jayne,” Zoe commented. “Actually she said ‘rutting.’ With a ‘g’,” Simon offered. “Bi zui! Nara’s right.” Kaylee took a breath. “Now, don’t mean to be ruinin’ all the fun, but we need a plan. So. Who’s got one?” “Thought the plan was sit here and shut up so they dont beat on us,” Jayne muttered. “For once, Jayne might actually have a decent plan,” Zoe murmured. “Are you kiddin’, Zoe? We’re just gonna wait for whatever’s gonna happen to...happen?” “Just sayin’ ‘haps we should wait on the cap’n, Kaylee. Don’t have no orders.” “And what if that order never comes, Zoe? What if Mal never makes it up here to tell us what to do?” “Simon!” Simon ignored the hurt in Kaylee’s voice, the alarm Inara failed to conceal, and pressed forward. “Until Mal walks through that door and starts yelling at us in his usual genteel manner, you’re the captain. You’re the one who needs to make decisions, Zoe. So make one. Help me save River.” Zoe hesitated, feeling a powerful urge to hit the doctor for what he’d said, hit him because he may have been right. “Diversion could be worth a try. Jayne, think you can get the pair on the left if the others are distracted?” Jayne shrugged, grinned widely. “Be fun to find out.” Zoe watched the hulking man sniff at the bowl of egg nog, party leftovers no one bothered to stow away. Was it really still Christmas Eve? Kaylee followed Zoe’s line of sight, leaned over the table conspiratorially. “So what are we thinkin’? The old poison-the-nog routine?” “Is that actually a routine of ours?” Simon asked. Kaylee shrugged. “Sounds more promisin’ if we pretend like it worked before.” “This is one sorry bunch of outlaws,” Jayne said. “And if we die, I’ll miss at least a couple of ya.” “I have poison in my shuttle,” Inara said. “Nothing here, I’m afraid.” Zoe smiled, thinking how proud the captain would be if he could hear her. “I’m not, uh, packing poison. But I did tape a dope gun under the sink,” Simon offered. Jayne shook his head, clearly impressed. “Doc, if you wasn’t all the way ‘cross the table, I mighta had to kiss you.” “Then the seating arrangement’s a Christmas miracle,” Simon suggested. “So? What’s our diversionary tactic?” “Nara? You’re closest to the sink. Think you can go for the doper if I distract the others?” “I can certainly try. How do you plan on distracting them?” Jayne grinned. “Gonna hit ‘em over the head with this ruttin’ pot.” “That should divert their attention,” Inara admitted. “We move on my count, people,” Zoe said. “What are you gonna do?” Jayne asked. “Trip the fat one,” she replied. “What should I do?” Kaylee whispered. Simon shrugged. “Pray?”

*** Well, least they’re still alive. That was Mal’s first thought, as Gray’s men ushered him unceremoniously into his own dining quarters, shoved him roughly up against the wall and shackled him to a pipe. His second was: Which of ‘em came up with this bright idea? “What in the name of Ye su happened up here?” Gray demanded. Mal took in the scene with some amusement, trying to work out the details. Best he could figure, Jayne had hit one of the troops on the head with a cast-iron skillet. That sorry son of a bitch lay sprawled bleedin’ all over Mal’s newly-shined floor. Damn. By the way another soldier was clutching his ribs, Mal assumed Jayne’s next shot had gone to the man’s stomach. Rather impressive for a man with both hands literally tied behind his back. Course, that’s when the carefully-constructed scheme seemed to have fallen apart. At least, Mal guessed it had, if Jayne’s fat lip was any indicator, not to mention the guns bein’ held all ‘round the others. Still, the diversion must have worked, at least for a moment, while the second set of soldiers raced to help the first. Clearly someone found the time to go for the dope gun, shoot the big fella with the muscles in the neck ‘fore the standing soldiers caught on, caught him. Or her. Mal glanced at the burly figure of the man passed out on the floor, shot Inara a look of respect before turning to the others. “And you’re always criticizing my fine plans,” Mal admonished, shaking his head at the group. Simon met Mal’s eyes, his own a question, and mouthed a single name. OK, Mal mouthed back, hoping it was true. She was alive, though. That was something. “Who’s your next in command, Captain?” Gray was asking. “My ship, they’re all just the help.” “I’m second in command, Agent,” Zoe spoke up, raising her manacled hands. “Not after I demote her,” Mal muttered as one of the soldiers grabbed Zoe by the elbow, pulled her to her feet. “Damned bunch o’ insubordinates, I tell ya.” “She’s the one who tripped me,” another muttered under his breath, rubbing at his kneecap. “So you’re...Zoe Washburne? Is that correct?” Gray used his laser pen to note something on his portable source box. “Was her. Ain’t anymore.” She stared straight ahead, eyes expressionless. “If you aren’t she...who are you, then?” “Not rightly sure.” “Uh huh.” Gray motioned for one of his men to step forward. “I see you share the Captain’s cooperative streak.” He lifted Zoe to her feet, pushed her against the soldier. “The others are searching the ship,” he murmured. “Take her to one of the dorms. There’s someone who wishes to question her.” “What am I supposed to be keepin’ quiet ‘bout, sir?” Zoe asked loudly as two men nudged her down the stairs. “Don’t rightly know. Whatever you do, don’t let on we was Browncoats.” Mal grinned at Gray. “Think they frown on that.” “I’ll keep it in mind, sir,” Zoe called back, her voice fading as she disappeared around a corner. “She ain’t able to help you none,” Mal told the agent. “I’m the only one worth dealin’ with here.” “For their sakes, I hope that’s true.” Gray removed his jacket, hung it over the back of an empty chair. “Make yourself comfortable, Captain Reynolds. We’ll see how well you truly know this crew of yours, and perhaps discover how well they know you.” *** The soldier brought Zoe to Simon’s bunk, threw her down on the bed and left. Surprised, Zoe sat up, took the time to roll the creak out of her neck. Leaving her alone on her own ship. Not exactly a bright move on Gray’s part. Granted she hadn’t spent a great deal of time in the doctor’s room since he joined the crew. But this hadn’t always been Simon’s bunk. Once, what seemed like a long time ago, Wash had slept here. Yes, Zoe had spent a number of very interesting nights in this room, in this bed. She and Wash, lying in the dark afterwards, staring up at the ceiling. There was a grate in that ceiling which opened into a handy if slightly narrow passageway to the outer hall. They’d discovered that crawl space one night when Mal knocked on Wash’s door at a very inopportune moment. A naked moment, as Wash would have said. Thank you, Baby, she mouthed, and started searching for something to break her shackles.

*** “Seven people. Seven, very different people living together, surviving together, functioning as a crew.” “About melts your heart, don’t it, Gray?” “You do seem to inspire a certain loyalty, Captain. Of course, loyalty can only get you so far. My men are searching this ship as we speak. They will acquire the names of every one you’ve ever dealt with, contracted with, met for a brew. And one way or another, I will learn what you know.” “Agent Gray, you seem to be operating under a misapprehension or two. My part in this story is over, ain’t leadin’ nobody’s revolution?” “Do you honestly expect me to believe that? There are certain border moons, back-alley townships where the name Malcom Reynolds means something, where people would rally around the name, rally around the man.” Mal frowned, a few seconds late in hiding the surprise. “Jayne’s the one with the town named for ‘em. Don’t imagine the folk from my own back-alley township still remember the name Malcom Reynolds.” “You may not find this deception a terribly wise policy, Captain Reynolds. Simon Tam. Dr. Simon Tam. Do you know, son, I feel for you.” Gray strolled over to where the doctor sat, slapped him on the back. “I’ll bet you do,” Simon said dryly. “You just radiate compassion.” “You were just a young man, a brilliant young doctor, doing what he though was right, however foolhardy, however wrong.” “I don’t believe saving my sister from government-sponsored torture was wrong, Agent Gray.” “You trusted the wrong people, fell in with worse ones. And now you’re banded with a man who aims to start a revolution, lead his fellow Browncoats as he failed them once before.” “I--are we doing that? Forgive me, Agent, but I’m always the last to know anything around here.” “I can see you’re the funny one.” “Him?” Mal snorted. “Oh, he’s surely not the funny one.” Gray made a note on his source box, pulled up another screen. “And you: Miss Frye, I take it? You never did an illegal thing in your life before meeting Malcom Reynolds.” Gray knelt on the floor by her chair, patted her knee reassuringly. “Just how did a sweet little girl like you get mixed up with a bitter ex-Browncoat?” “Oh, jeez! I wasn’t that sweet.” Kaylee shrugged, blushed a little. “Drank some and went around with boys. Stole a lipstick once from the general store. Just the regular kind, not the sort knocked the cap’n unconscious.” “Thanks, Kaylee,” Mal muttered. “We don’t bring that up near enough.” “Childish pranks, raging hormones,” Gray said dismissively. “That’s hardly explains your decision to join up with criminals, face a life of deprivation and danger out here in the Black.” “Well, we wasn’t exactly livin’ the rich life back home,” Kaylee muttered. “My daddy hardly made enough to feed us all half the time.” “Life can be a hardship. And Captain Reynolds offered you an alternative, didn’t he?” Kaylee raised her chin. “Gave me a job, not to mention a real home, even if its floating.” “I understand your loyalty, Miss Frye. An impressionable young girl and a handsome older man....” “Oh, for God’s sake,” Mal burst out, having had just about enough of this line of questioning. “Handsome? Wait, you think the cap’n...that me and him was...?” Kaylee started to giggle, laughed so hard her shoulders shook. “Oh, that’s just too shiny!” “Miss Frye, there’s nothing amusing about being guilty of treason against one’s government.” This time both Jayne and Simon lost it. “Oh, Christ,” Simon managed. “We’re going from heroes to martyrs. Jayne’s a gorram martyr.” Inara was biting her lip to keep from smiling. Truly, it wasn’t funny. They were probably all going to die. Inara didn’t want to die, but if it had to happen...well, she was glad to be here, with these people, on this ship. “Mr. Cobb, is it?” Fed up with Kaylee, Gray moved over to Jayne, rested a hand on the bigger man’s shoulder. “Now here’s a wrap sheet more fitting of a man who makes his home with common criminals.” “Yeah, we’re mighty proud of him,” Mal said helpfully. Gray ignored him, scrolled through several screens of information. “Violence. Theft. Attempted murder.” Attempted? Mal mouthed. Jayne shrugged. “...public nudity. Drunk and disorderly conduct. Shall I go on?” “Your dime, Agent.” “You didn’t fight in the War, didn’t join up on either side. Is there a reason for your neutrality, Mr. Cobb?” “Guess I ain’t much of a joiner.” “Or you didn’t give a damn,” Gray suggested. “Yeah,” Jayne admitted. “That too.” “And yet you chose to help Captain Reynolds broadcast a very damaging message.” “Guess that’s so.” “You didn’t always follow the captain so devotedly. At one point, you attempted to turn in the fugitive Tams.” Jayne glanced at Simon, shrugged. “Things is different now,” he muttered stiffly. “Yes, Mr. Cobb, they certainly are. I’m guessing you’re the companion. Miss-” He glanced at his source box screen- “Serra, is it?” “Inara.” She smiled. “And I’m no longer with the Guild, Mr. Gray.” “Inara. Rex, then. Am I to take it you’ve gone...independent? Following in Captain Reynold’s footsteps, perhaps?” “I haven’t taken up whoring, if that’s your question, Rex.” Inara kept up that cool, dazzling smile, the one that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “And I’ve never made it a point to emulate Captain Reynolds.” “My dossier indicates that you and he have developed a, shall we say, personal relationship.” Kaylee caught her breath. Simon looked politely at his hands. Jayne was gaping. Inara couldn’t see Mal’s face, but she could guess what was going through his head. Not visions of sugar plums. More like murder. “I’ve offered the captain my services on occasion, yes. He was in need of, shall we say, companionship and able to pay.” She met Gray’s eyes, glad she couldn’t see Mal’s. “We’re all in need of comfort from time to time, aren’t we Rex?” “I imagine you speak the truth, Inara. And really, no one would blame the captain for accepting your offer. You’re a singularly beautiful woman.” “Thank you for the compliment.” “I’m sure men have lost their heads over you before. Their hearts, perhaps their tempers.” Gray forced himself to go on, hating this part. Still, it could be useful. “I-I suppose.” She was slipping. Careful, Mal warned silently. He didn’t like where this was going. Hell, he didn’t much like where it had been; so much for keepin’ some measure of privacy. “Wasn’t there one man in particular, Inara? A man whose greed for you nudged him over a delicate line?” She hesitated a moment and when she spoke again her tone was soft but cold. “That line isn’t terribly delicate, Mr. Gray.” Mal felt a cool sickness spread over his belly. He tried to catch Kaylee’s eye, but she was staring at the table. She already knew, he realized. “Deacon Marshall was the man’s name, is that correct?” “I...that was all a very long time ago.” “You were hardly more than a girl. Seventeen?” Behind Gray’s back, Mal used his head to gesture. Jayne finally looked up, caught the movement. Mal raised his eyebrow, jerked his head at Inara. Jayne kicked her under the table, hard enough to make her startle thought not so hard as to call attention. She seemed to understand. “Nearly.” She’d regained some modicum of control. Her voice was steadier now, her back straighter. “But then that’s all in your dossier, isn’t in Agent Gray?” “Didn’t we agree on Rex? And I’d prefer to hear your version, Miss Serra. I’m sure everyone’s interested.” Kaylee made a sound like a whimper, started to object, but Simon grabbed her hand under the table. He shook his head, no, eyes on the men with the guns. “I don’t see how this matter is relevant. It was resolved long ago.” “Humor me, Inara.” “Ta ma de hun dan!” Kaylee burst out, missing the way Simon tensed beside her. “I suppose that’s true, Miss Frye.” Gray’s words were wistful. “Sometimes, in my job, I’ve call to be a bastard.” “No call for what you’re doin’ now,” Kaylee said, voice full. Inara had told her this story, told her after Early when she couldn’t sleep nights. “It’s all right, Kaylee.” Inara met the girl’s eyes, employed all her talents to make the gaze confident, reassuring. “If Mr. Gray wishes to hear a story, I see no reason not to oblige him. I warn you, Rex, this tale isn’t very pretty. But perhaps that’s the sort of story men like you, powerful men, prefer? The night before my seventeenth birthday, I accompanied my House priestess to a ball at the Rosemont Hotel in Capital City. You see, I went to live with the sisters at fourteen, but spent my first few years learning, training. A companion doesn’t service client’s before her eighteenth year. This ball was to be my introduction to high society. I was to dance with all the important men, have my hand kissed by their sons. The idea was to garner a following, an advanced clientele. Truly, the attention was overwhelming, dizzying even. Never in my life had so many men....” She trailed off, as though lost in the memory. “The ball went on for hours. Around midnight, my House priestess claimed her feet were aching, decided to rest on the sofas. I should have gone with her, but I was too excited to sit still. All the attention, the glamor...I made the rather foolish mistake of accompanying one of the city officials to his room. A man named Deacon Marshall. He’d spilled wine on my dress. I knew the priestess would be angry, as it was one of her favorites. He was very gentle and kind. He said his serving girl would help me wash the stain before it set. But once we got upstairs...well, there was no serving girl.” Mal closed his eyes as his stomach sank. “At first he tried to offer me money, his wife’s amethyst ring. When I rejected his advances, he... stepped over that delicate line of yours, Mr. Gray.” The last she said with an ironic bite, a sadness that made Mal want to gather her up, hold her tight against him. “Then he took sexual advantage of you, Miss Serra?” “No.” Inara let out the breath she’d been holding. “He didn’t get that far. Fortunately for my sake, another man heard us from the hallway, saw the state of my...attire...and shot Mr. Marshall. A doctor was summoned, but by then it was too late.” “That’s quite a tale, Miss Serra.” “As I said, it was all a long while ago. If you’ve any more questions, I’m sure you can find the answers in Guild records.” “Oh, I’m sure your story holds true with Guild record.” Gray rested his backside on the edge of the table, reached out to brush a strand of Inara’s hair behind her ear. “Of course, there’s a maid at the Rosemont in Capital City with a slightly different take on the tale.” “I don’t know what you mean, Mr. Gray.” “She’s getting on in years now. Still, her memory seems lucid enough. She remembers a young girl, an exquisite young girl--I’m quoting now. She says she heard shrieking, shouting, then a single shot. She ran into the room to find that lovely young girl half-dressed, crying, gun in hand, and our Mr. Marshall dead on the bed. A second later an older gentleman, gray-haired and distinguished, barged in, took the gun from her and said he’d done it, he’d shot her attacker, saved her. Is this coming back to you now, Miss Serra?” Even Jayne was staring off now, embarrassed for her. She almost smiled, surprised he was capable of the emotion. “We can’t always trust our memories, nor our perceptions of events, Mr. Gray.” Inara raised her eyes from the table, having carefully quelled the tears they threatened to spill. “Human recollection is rarely pristine.” “A Mr. Trevor was your reputed savior, yes?” “He’s a good man, one to whom I owe a great deal.” “That wouldn’t be your last encounter with Mr. Trevor, would it Miss Serra?” “I saw him again, saw him often in fact. He’s the brother of one of the priestesses.” “Curiously, I’m aware of that fact as well, Miss Serra. I’m also privy to certain information from the Allied base on Sihnon. Apparently, you saw Mr. Trevor just hours before you left the Guild House, for good it would seem.” “Unless the law’s changed, there’s nothing illegal about speaking to a man, Agent Gray.” Inara curved her lips. “As I mentioned, Mr. Trevor is a dear friend.” “A friend you agreed to meet in a Blackout Zone your last night on Sihnon.” *** Zoe had the shackles off, was halfway up the grate when the door opened. She tried to shimmy up but strong arms grabbed her around the waist, hauled her back down on to the bed. She rolled over, ready to strike, and found herself looking into a set of familiar, ice blue eyes. “Hello, Zoe.” “Gideon,” she said with a slight nod. Barely pausing a beat, she drew back and slammed her fist into his jaw. “You should have stayed gone.” *** Gray was not a happy Alliance special agent. His superiors expected two ends from this mission. The first was the girl, stowed away in the cargo bay. The second was a full report on the man called Malcom Reynolds, the men and women who made up his crew, and everything they knew about possible Independent uprisings. The insufferable man wouldn’t even acknowledge the revolution, let alone admit to leading it. “This is pointless,” Gray murmured to one of his soldiers. “They’re too united as a group. We need to separate them, take away their fearless leader.” He rolled his eyes, raked a hand through his closely-trimmed beard. “Yessir. Should I take Captain Reynolds down to one of the passenger dorms for questioning?” “Please do.” “Will you be joining us, Agent Gray?” “No.” He sighed. “I’ve another matter to attend to.”

*** River had killed her, the snapping Reaver female. Now she killed them: the two men guarding her. Two quick movements and it was done, hardly had to expend an effort. She glanced down at her hands, saw the blood. Oh. Oh, oh, oh. “Simon,” she whispered, then remembered he was gone, taken. He needed her; they all did. She knelt on the cold floor of the cargo bay by the bodies. One gazed up at her with dead, staring eyes. She thought she might be sick, forced herself to breathe slowly through her mouth. When she was calmer, she found the keys to the shackles, flung off the cuffs. “The light blinds,” she murmured, moving silently, swiftly. “In the dark, we can finally see our true paths.” *** Zoe made for the door, but heard Gideon’s gun cock behind her. “Have a seat, all right? I don’t want to hurt you.” She turned slowly, lips quivering in amusement. “You think you could?” Gun trained on her chest, Gideon took a tissue from Simon’s neat box on the dresser, dabbed at his swelling lip. “You have a hell of a punch, Kid,” he said softly. “Of course, having experienced the touch of your lovely hands in other settings, I can’t say I’m surprised at their skill.” “Well, you surprised me, Gideon. Not many do. I figured you for a snitch after what you did to Simon and River. But an Alliance snitch? Didn’t know you aimed so grand.” “I’m not a government informant, Zoe. And believe it or not, I thought it might do Simon and River good to see the Tams.” And then they could have taken her there, avoided all of this. Gideon didn’t care about Gray’s feared revolution. He had a single prerogative. “And you’re interested in doin’ good for the boy and his sister?” “What can I say? I have a soft spot when it comes to parents.” He glanced pointedly at Zoe’s belly. “Probably because the Reavers ate mine.” Zoe looked away. “For someone with a grudge ‘gainst the Reavers, you’re in an odd line of work.” “I know the Alliance is responsible for them. I also know they’re the only ones who can destroy them. But not alone, Zoe. Not without trained killers, smart enough to anticipate their actions. Killers like River. Like me.” Zoe hesitated, thrown once again. She didn’t like being disconcerted, didn’t care for the way this boy had of disconcerting her. “If you know the way that girl suffered and still see fit to hurt her more, then God have mercy on you.” “I don’t want mercy, Zoe. I want revenge. I think that’s something you can understand.” He took a step forward, rested a hand on her arm. “I want to see them all dead.” “I’d advice you to remove that hand.” “You and I are a lot alike, Zoe.” “You’re a fool, boy. A government drone, brainwashed into propagating their lies. Probably brought you in like River, a brilliant little boy with no sense to know better.” “I didn’t get tricked the way River did. I wasn’t forced into that training program. I helped create it.” “You’re a special kind of monster, Gideon.” She took a step back toward the door. “I want to protect her.” Gideon moved toward her and tilted her chin up, forced her wide brown eyes into contact with his. “If you let us take her, I promise I’ll do everything in my power to keep her safe. And if you cooperate with me, I can keep the rest of you safe as well. They only want her and Mal.” She wished she was Inara then, wished she had the younger woman’s uncanny wiles, as Mal called them. As it was, she’d have to rely on her own. “Ah, Zoe.” For a second, he sounded like Wash. “You’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.” Funny, if she didn’t know him to be a liar, she’d be tempted to believe that. She let him stroke her face, run his hand over her hair. Then she brought her knee up between his legs in a move the captain had taught her their first week of boot camp. When he doubled over, she brought her hand down on the back of his neck, sent him sprawling sleepily to the floor. “Good night, lover,” she said quietly. She stuffed his gun in her belt. *** Mal burst out of the room he’d been locked in at the same time Zoe left hers. She ran smack into his chest, and he had to grab her shoulders to keep her upright. “Hey.” He held on a minute longer than necessary, relieved to see her alive and standing. “Sir.” She nodded, surprised, and glanced over him quickly. Black eye, knife wound on the shoulder. Still, it looked like a flesh wound. He’d live. “How did you...?” He released her and held up his hands, metal bracelets still clinging to each wrist but the adjoining chain cut clear in two. “Threatening your captive with a laser cutter ain’t always the smartest notion.” Zoe smiled and started down the hall. “Dead?” “Let’s just say he’s in no condition to sing Christmas carols. How ‘bout you?” Mal asked, jogging to keep up with her. “Sir, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

*** River crept along Serenity’s floors. Like Moses, she found she could walk on water. Soundless, serene, she padded down the halls. “There’s clarity in the Black,” she whispered. The engine room was empty, though it carried Kaylee’s scent. Engine grease and sweet-vanilla perfume. Kaylee. Kind Kaylee, so good for her brother, patient with his bumbling. Smiling, River opened the fuse box, big eyes scanning the row of neatly labeled switches.

*** Mal didn’t have the key to this cabinet. There was only one, and the doctor generally carried it. He broke the glass with his elbow and reached inside, shuffling through bottles of pills and immunization kits. He found the gun easy-enough, swaddled in layers of gauze. Unfortunately it shot dope instead of bullets. Still, he couldn’t risk trips to the cargo bay or kitchen, where they’d hidden the more serious weapons. He stuck the gun in his waistband as Zoe tore off a piece of her sleeve, tied in like a tourniquet around his bleeding elbow. “Figure this might come in handy if we’re gonna launch an attack.” “Go for the doctor first?” Zoe asked, meeting his gaze. Mal nodded, hoping the boy would still be standing when they got there. He watched Zoe edge toward the door, sleek and graceful as ever. “, uh, you’re okay, right? Everything’s still...okay?” “Captain, I hope you aren’t plannin’ on treating me like a girl now on account of my bein’ in the family way.” Mal cleared his throat, edged along the wall behind her. “Wouldn’t dream of it.” “Glad to hear it, sir.” *** They’d taken the cap’n and then they went and took Simon. He’d mouthed something as they led him away, met her eyes for a single instant before disappearing down the stairs. She thought he’d mouthed, I love you. Kaylee glanced at Inara who looked up, offered a sad smile. She was still so shook up, Kaylee recognized. Mostly Nara hid it well, but having all that come out in front of everyone, in front of the cap’n....Kaylee longed to hug her but she couldn’t, couldn’t do nothin’ ‘cept sit in the gorram chair. She looked at Jayne, brooding across the table. He was prolly feelin’ insulted, angry to be left with the girls when all the other men--and Zoe--got taken. She and Nara weren’t ‘xactly the cavalry. Hell, she didn’t even know what the cavalry was. She leaned back in her chair, ready for some heavy sulking. Then somebody killed the lights, plunging them all into darkness.

*** “I’m fine,” Simon said, running a hand over his hair. The boy sounded like he was surprised his own self. “He just asked questions about River, her routine, her nightmares, whether she still experiences...bad days. He was a scientist, actually.” “I get laser cutters and he gets polite conversation? Oh, this is just....” “There are nonviolent manners of resolving conflict, Mal,” Simon said. He nearly tripped on the stairs, grabbed the railing to break his fall. “How’d you knock him out?” Zoe asked, hiding a smile. “I, uh, stuck him with a tranquilizer when his back was turned. I always keep a few in River’s room, just in case....” Mal rolled his eyes at Zoe, started to follow Simon up the stairs. Then he nearly tripped his own self as the world suddenly went black. “Go back,” Simon whispered. It was River, he knew instinctively. Somehow she’d gotten free; now she was trying to save them. “I’ve got a few illumination sticks in the infirmary.” “Like a gorram boy scout,” Mal muttered, but started back down the stairs. *** The kitchen went strangely silent. Inara felt her skin crawl. Of all the rooms on Serenity, the dining area was never still. “What the hell’s going on?” one of the soldiers demanded. “Hell if I know.” Jayne leaned across the table, so far Inara could feel his breath heavy and warm on her cheek. “This is it, ladies. I’m gonna try to take ‘em out. When I give the signal, you run like hell.” “What’s the signal?” Kaylee whispered back. “Them screamin’ like girls.” Inara heard Jayne shift in his seat, lift something from the table. Then she heard the crash. Without waiting to hear more, she stood, whispered for Kaylee to do the same. “The stairs, mei mei. Go,” Inara guessed, trying to make out Kaylee’s shape in the starlight. They heard a piercing war cry, feet pounded on metal. Jayne seemed to be chasing off their guards. Inara turned to follow Kaylee down the stairs. Then something grabbed her ankle and she gasped.

*** Zoe stood at the door, gun poised to attack, as Mal and Simon ransacked the infirmary, trying to find the illumination sticks in the dark. Simon located one at last, flipped it on so the beam shot straight into Mal’s eyes. “What now?” Simon asked “Not rightly sure,” Mal admitted, pushing the light down. He blinked to clear his vision. “With all the fun we’s been experiencin’, I haven’t exactly had time to plan.” “Not to be...pushy, Mal. But we need one of your crazy plans here. You know, the kind that always goes horribly wrong and yet somehow works it out in the end. My sister’s life may depend on it.” “Your sister’s fine, Simon.” The voice drifted down over the ‘com, floated into Simon’s ears like music. “River? Where are you?” “Come to the cargo bay. I’ll be there.” Mal handed Simon his dope gun. “Go find your sister.” Zoe met his eyes. “Sir?” “Gonna go see who’s still in the kitchen.” *** He was awake. Inara fell forward, her knee slamming painfully into the floor. She kicked wildly and crawled forward, trying to escape the grasping fist. The dope gun was on the counter. If she could just reach it, put him to sleep again. She tried to crawl under the table, escape the meaty hand and the hulking man to which it belonged. But he was too strong. She grabbed for the table leg, but he pulled her out, lifted her to her feet and shoved her back against the wall. She felt her brain go fuzzy, her vision blur in the darkness. “That wasn’t playin’ very fair, darling, stickin’ me with that doper.” He shook her by the shoulders, making her head spin. “None of your friends play fair, do they, whore? You think this is the way I prefer spendin’ my holidays?” “I suppose not,” she answered, wondering whether she’d lose consciousness first, wondering whether she wanted to. “A pious man like yourself must have had other plans for the eve of your Lord’s birth.” He slapped her, but it hardly hurt. She felt her knees buckle, felt herself going to sleep. His hand grabbed at the front of her dress. Weakly she reached behind her for a weapon, something sharp or heavy which which to hit him. Her hand grasped emptily at the air. *** Kaylee raced down the stairs, clutching the railing so she wouldn’t trip and break a leg. “Almost there, Nara.” Silence. “Nara? Inara?” She hesitated, darkness coming at her from all sides. “Wash?” she whispered. “Wash, can you hear me? Help me,” she murmured softly. Silence. Inara. She had to go back for her, no matter how scared she was. She took two steps up, stumbled in the dark. She reached out and grabbed the ledge to break her fall. Her fingers fumbled, brushed metal. She lifted the gun Jayne had taped there, tucked the pistol in the waist of her coveralls. The lights fluttered, came on full blast, illuminating her path. “Thanks, Wash,” she murmured and ran up the remaining stairs. She could see everything now, too much. Inara struggled wildly as the big man tried to tear the front of her dress. When he heard Kaylee’s footsteps, he whirled around. Kaylee didn’t think. She raised the gun and shot him three times, one after another. He collapsed back on the table, rolled off to the floor. She was still holding the gun when Mal appeared at the top of the stairs. She jumped when he took the gun from her, slid it in his holster as his eyes took in the scene. Funny, but she’d never seen that look on his face before. Not so strange. His heart had been broke long before she met him. She just never thought she’d see it break again. He squeezed her shoulder once and then went to Inara, reached out a hand and waited for her to take it. “You’re okay,” he said, as though reassuring himself. “I’m okay,” she said because he needed to hear the words from her lips. “Where’s Gray?” he asked gently. “I-I don’t know. He left shortly after you did.” “You’re hurt.” Understatement of the year, he thought. He stroked a hand lightly over her hair, resisted the urge to gather her up, hold her safe against his chest. But he couldn’t keep her safe, knew that now. “Stay here.” “I’m going with you.” He shook his head wryly, leaned her against Kaylee who was hovering nearby. “Why’d I figure as much?” he murmured before starting back down the stairs, the girls close behind. “We’re walkin’ into a battle, ladies. If you wasn’t both so damn hardheaded, I’d tell you to lock yourself somewhere not the cargo bay right now.” “We’re goin’ with you cap’n,” Kaylee said. “And if you wasn’t so hardheaded yourself, you wouldn’t have to ask.”

*** It wasn’t a battle, it was a standstill. They didn’t call her a genius for nothin’, Mal thought. Girl was too gorram smart for her own good. She knew she didn’t have to take them all down, didn’t even have to try. All she had to do was turn the gun on herself, hold it to her head. She was taking a hostage of herself: the most precious cargo on the whole damn ship. “River.” Simon stood beside Zoe, nearly hysterical. “River, put the gun down.” “I can’t, Simon.” She sounded sad and too rutting old for her eighteen years. “This is the way it has to be.” “River, you don’t want to do this,” Gray tried. He’d returned to the Prowler to wave his superiors. River Tam found. Will return with her and Captain Reynolds. Crew knows nothing. Three, simple statements. The last was a lie, but Gray didn’t care. If he told that lie, he could live with himself. And they’d have the girl, the solution to their problem. That was the important part. Without the Reavers, the Browncoats had little with which to stir up their rebellion. But now.... One psychic genius, five feet tall and holding the fate of millions. Holding it in her hand, the one pointing the gun at her head. “Not about want, Agent Gray.” River smiled, eyes watery. “Some things are about need. Send all your men back to the Prowler. You stay.” “I don’t make it a habit to take orders from teenage girls.” River cocked the trigger. “Go.” Gray motioned for his surviving soldiers to board the ship. “Him too,” River said, though Gideon was behind her, limping a little after his encounter with Zoe’s knee. “Take the warrior on board.” “You!” Mal muttered accusingly when he saw the tall, blond-haired boy watching from the doorway. Gideon sighed, tried to catch Zoe’s eye. “If it comes to it, I’ll keep my promise,” Gideon murmured. He stepped past Mal and continued on the path to his own ship. “Are you ready to deal now, Agent Gray?” River smiled, gun still in place. “I’ve learned a lot about trading from Captain Reynolds. First rule: always honor your trades.” “River, if you and Captain Reynolds come with us, I give you my word the others won’t be harmed.” “She’s not going anywhere,” Simon spoke up. “River, walk to me, mei mei.” “Simon, shh.” She looked at him tearfully. “I love you Simon, don’t make this harder.” “River?” Gray held out a hand as though to shake. “Do we have a deal?” “Captain Reynolds stays.” “River, I can’t--” “You know what?” Mal stepped away from Kaylee and Inara. “This whole discussion’s a little on the pointless side ‘cuz the girl ain’t goin’ nowhere.” “Mal, stay out of this,” River ordered, eyes still on Gray. “Excuse me? Since when are you the captain?” “River, please,” Inara burst out, unable to bear the speed with which the situation was whirling out of control. “Come here, sweetie.” “Sorry, Inara. This is the way it has to be.” “River, I don’t think you want it to go down this way.” Gray took a step forward, hands reaching for his ‘com. “Do you have any idea what a bullet in the brain feels like?” “Not bullets. Fingers, poking prodding. Cold needles....” Mal took a step toward Gray. “I think you wanna be gettin’ the hell off my ship now.” From the catwalk above, a gun cocked. Jayne’s face appeared, rifle pointed at Gray’s head. “No, Jayne,” River said softly. “This isn’t your mighty victory.” Gray was getting desperate. One slippery trigger finger and this whole thing could fall apart. He’d rather explain the loss of Captain Reynolds than the death of River Tam. “If I let him stay, let them all’ll come with me?” “River, no!” Simon shouted. “That’s the trade,” she said softly. “Over my dead body,” Mal declared. The sound of the gun shot rendered them all silent. And then he felt the bullet. His Little Albatross had shot him. Mal marveled at this as he fell to the the floor, his shoulder on fire. Inara rushed forward to help him, break his fall. Things were happening too fast, the pain was blurring his brain. Hazy, he watched River run off with Gray, slamming the doors behind them. He saw Simon rush past, try to pry them open, Jayne close on his heels. The banged furiously, in vain. Gray had used a heat strip, sealed the lock. Inara lowered him gently to the ground. She stroked his face, mouthed something that looked like his name, but his hearing was going out. Damn that whole blood loss thing, he could recall thinking before everything went white.

*** Mal woke in the infirmary with a dull ache in his shoulder and a powerful urge to go back to sleep. Something was very wrong. The moment he opened his eyes, it came back to him, came in waves. He tried to sit up, spring to action. The only thing that moved was his stomach, and he thought he’d be sick. “Take it easy, Captain.” The doctor, groping at his wrist for the pulse. Mal tried to fling his arm off, but felt Inara’s cool hand stroke his forehead, skim through his hair. “Mal. Rest now.” He felt himself going under again. *** When he woke again, the doctor was gone. Inara was washing his good shoulder--knife wound, not gun shot--with a cool cloth. She startled when she saw him watching her. “You’ve been out awhile,” she observed, her voice soft, reassuring. He coughed, tried to raise his head. “River?” Inara looked down, busied her hands with her work. “No word. Zoe’s been on the cortex all night, contacting everyone who might take awhile, Mal.” “I promised the doc I’d protect he.” He sat up stiffly, taking the cloth from her hands. “I promised her.” “She made a choice, Mal. She’s not the child you and Simon would like to belive.” “Don’t mean she ain’t innocent.” He reached out a hand, touched his fingers gently to the bruise spreading over her temple. “I wish I’d gotten there a second before Kaylee. Woulda liked to be the one to kill the tyen-sah duh uh-muo.” Inara shrugged, took his hand from her bruised face, brought it to her lips. “It’s over now. Past. Everything said at that table is past.” “You shoulda told me, Inara. Not that you owed me explanations, ‘cuz surely you didn’t, dont. But you shoulda told me.” “Mal, neither of us is much for dredging up the past.” She smiled, kissed his black eye. “You’re not exactly an open book.” “No, I guess that’s so.” He shifted so his legs hung off the side of the table, pulled her between them. “I want to take you to bed, if you’ll have me there.” He tugged her closer to him, felt the ache roll through his shoulder and winced. Inara stroked sympathetic fingers over his cheek. “Perhaps we should check with Simon to see if this is okay?” she suggested, her lips curving in a coy smile. Mal shook his head at her. “You’re lucky I only got the use of one arm, darlin’.” *** Later he’d see to Kaylee, work out a plan with the doctor and Zoe. They’d need credit, friends in certain circles. They’d call in favors, threaten all sorts of mayhem. But it would wait. Now it was still Christmas. He had a present for her. He retrieved the box while she showered, washed off dirt and blood and handprints not his. She came out all warm and glowy, hair wet and skin soft with the lotion she favored. A fresh, clean scent, like spring and lilacs and life. He took her in his lap, admiring the smooth brown silk of her nightgown, the way it dipped like a V between her breasts. She was kissing him slowly, taking her time with it. She smoothed his hair and pressed her lips to his neck, feeling him go hard beneath her. “Hey, hold up there, darlin’. Got something for ya.” He took the box from his pocket, pressed it in her hands. She looked surprised, as though she’d forgotten the holiday. Probably it was a Christmas she’d rather not remember in shiny detail. “Mal.” She looked up, met his eyes. “Now, don’t embarrass yourself and start cryin’, Inara.” She smiled and opened the box, caught her breath. She lifted the slim gold chain so she could see the stone, red as blood and dipping down like a tear drop. “Was my mama’s. She was born in July too. What do they call those again?” “Ruby,” she said softly. She twisted her hair back with one hand. “Will you?” He fastened the chain around her neck, lowered the tear drop between her breasts with one hand. “Looks real good on you.” “Make love to me, Mal,” she said quickly, taking his hands. “Girls and baubles,” he murmured, shaking his head, but pressed her back against the pillows. The undressed each other with the lights on, savoring the images, the whisper-soft brushes of hands against bare skin. The ruby glowed in the lamp light as he made love to her, stroking gently, slow enough to find her lips and linger there. He sped up when she started to whimper, felt her tighten around him, her climax driving him over the edge. When his breathing finally slowed, he realized he was probably crushing the girl, tried to shift off of her. “Stay.” She met his eyes, her own like smoke. “Stay inside me.” He knew after, as he watched her sleep, hair strewn over the pillows, one delicate hand resting on his chest. She wasn’t River, wasn’t a child. She was strong, nearly a decade his junior and yet years ahead of him in wisdom, in mettle. But when it came to him and her, whatever they were doing...they were both as children, lost in the woods. She’d never be satisfied with what he could give, and he couldn’t bear the pain of disappointing her, failing her. He wasn’t Zoe. He couldn’t watch her die and go on. Mal lay his hand over hers, touched when she threaded his fingers in her sleep. He’d wait until morning. He didn’t have the strength to do it tonight. *** He waited until she was dressed, combing her hair in front of the mirror. Gorramit, he wanted to wait longer, wanted to take her back to bed, hold her just a few more moments. He was being a coward. At first she thought he was joking. Then, realizing he wasn’t, she seemed stunned. In the end, she was just angry. “We’ll fly you wherever you want to go. I know you’ve got friends, hundreds of ‘em prolly. You take some time, but make the decision.” “Mal, you can’t just throw me off the ship.” “You can’t afford the shuttle.” For a moment she was silent, at a loss. “Wow, Mal. I thought even you couldn’t be this much of a hun dan.” “Dammit, I can’t keep you safe.” He couldn’t keep any of them safe. “So you’re just gonna drive us all away? Send us all off one by one until you’re alone with your ship and your sky?” “Made a promise to the doc, and I intend to keep it.” He’d promised Wash he’d take care of Zoe, be there for her if she let him. Kaylee, Little Kaylee who held a gun yesterday, killed a man, even if he’d been barely that. But Kaylee had no where to go, had nothing to go back to since her daddy died, elsewise he’d send her there. He didn’t worry so much about Jayne. Jayne could take care of himself; he always did. “Mal. Let me help you.” “Inara...can’t no one help me.” She saw the darkness in his eyes, knew she couldn’t light the way for him. “This isn’t what you want, Mal,” she said softly. No, it surely wasn’t. “Some things ain’t about want.” “The first night we were together...I told you I wouldn’t take orders from you if we were lovers.” “Then it’s a good thing we ain’t that anymore. I want you off my ship, Inara.” He left her alone in the room, the better part of his soul in her hands. *** He’d given her his gun. One glance from those big damn eyes of hers, one plaintive murmur of his name: Jayne. He handed her the pistol he’d taken off one of the soldiers, set it right in her pretty little hand. And before he could regret it, ask for it back, she kissed him. She was so gorram small, had to stand on tip toe to reach his shoulders. But she curled those small, lethal hands behind his neck, tickling the sensitive flesh there. And she pressed her soft lips over his. It was a chaste kiss; she only opened her mouth at the very end. Then she pulled away, amused. “Kissed boys before, but first time with a man. How’d I do?” Jayne had opened his mouth, then closed it again. He didn’t have any words. Apparently unoffended, she giggled. She tucked his gun in the bodice of her dress, offered him a sad smile. “Thank you, Jayne Cobb” she said softly, and was gone before he could stop her, taking his illumination stick, leaving him in the dark. Now she was gone for good.

*** From her room on board the Alliance Prowler, River Tam watched the universe fly by her window. Serenity was leaving her, moving farther away with each passing second. She would do as they asked her. Maim. Kill. Like her namesake, she’d wash away the dirt, cleanse the sins of others. And she’d some form or another. She worried about the crew. Simon. He was hurting, bleeding as he sewed up the others. Mal, hurt on the inside, the outside, all over. The look on the captain’s face, realizing he’d been shot, realizing who pulled the trigger. River cringed as though she could feel the bullet tearing through her own flesh. He was getting it all wrong. She’d feared he would, feared he’d use this as an excuse to push them further away, push Inara away. Still, life had a way of changing, forcing a person to change with it. Captain Reynolds would be facing many changes in the coming months. Thinking about those changes, River Tam smiled. *** END

Thank you all for your kind words and suggestions on the Bedlam/Bedfellows stories. After the BDM, I felt that our heroes needed some resolution, and I’m glad you gave me the opportunity to write it for them. But now I seem to have un-resolved things more, gorramit! If people are still interested, I do have the beginnings of another season in mind. Tentatively titled Bed and Wine, it picks up about five months after the season finale. As always, I heart the Browncoats! -April (Kaynara)


Wednesday, December 21, 2005 7:09 PM


Please continue this is to good to just stop. More please!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 8:54 PM


You have to write a sequal! There is no way thstory can just end here! Mal and Inara not together, River leaving, Kaylee killing someone! You have to write about how everyone deals! Pretty please?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 10:07 PM


I LOVE THIS STORY! It's funny and scary and so absolutely true to character. Please post your sequel soon. I HAVE to know what happens!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 11:05 PM


OH WOW!! I just finished this whole thing and it was sooooo gooood!! You definantly need to do a sequel or something cuase holy-plastic-dinosaurs I need MORE!! Please, thanks.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 3:00 AM


You can't end it like this SEQUEL

Thursday, December 22, 2005 3:50 AM


IF people want a sequel? What do you mean IF?

In this series you've made me swoon with the prettiness, gasp at the twists and giggle giggle giggle with sheer delight at your excellently funny character voices (Sarcastic Simon being a huge favorite!), PLUS fascinating plot!

In this part alone you have Mal sliding down that eternal ferris wheel slope *again*, Kaylee growing beyond herself, Inara touching on about every high and low she could imagine, Zoe defining just what "strong" really is, Jayne and Simon... well, you just really captured their best sides here, resourceful and gentle each in their own way, and then... gah. River! What in the name of Santa is she up to?

I'm very much addicted! *g*

So, yes... bring on the "Bed And Wine" second season.

Thank you for 12 episodes of lovely entertainment so far, too. :)

Thursday, December 22, 2005 5:33 AM


*hits floor*


fantastic ending, i loved it! (demanding a sequel of course, along with everyone else :-O) Was ready to shoot Mal but it is so likely to have happened...

River... assassin...yikes...

Thursday, December 22, 2005 7:59 AM


No way can you leave it like this. So much unresolved and up in the air, as for River thinking her going with Gray would release the others to a life without the threat of the gorram Alliance hunting them down that proved pretty much an own goal, just accelerating the break up of the family rather than keeping them together. Reckon Mal's little albatross needs to reassess her plan and get back to where she is needed most. Not nothin' in the 'verse should stop her. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, December 22, 2005 8:32 AM


Okay, first of all, hating you for making Inara leave. Hating moment over.

Second of all, loving you for being such an awesome storyteller, with your awesome plot twists, your awesome take on the characters (sarcastic Simon is -very- sexy), and just...your awesomeness.

Third of all, begging you for a sequel, because gorramit, the pairings are awesome, I need to know how this rutting ends. Yes, rutting, with a g.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 12:14 PM


Got to put my voice in here too, Kaynara, and ask you to go on with Bed and Wine! I'll be waiting on every part just as anxiously as I have been with Bedlam! Great, great story!

Thursday, December 22, 2005 5:32 PM


Gah! You take River off the ship and ask if we want more? Are you insane?

You'd best hurry it up. I smell a rescue mission that needs doing.

Oh, and chalk up another vote for sarcastic Simon. I love him when he's being all smart ass.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 8:00 PM


I've been reading this fic and I really like it. The dialogue is sharp, the interaction between the characters. Mal and Inara are hot and Kaylee is sweet as a button even when she's in bed doing things that aren't... the sweetest. But what really makes this fic stand out is that, aside from the romance and the character interaction, you have a strong plot. Kudos to you for that. It's hard to do in fanfiction. So, please, keep writing. I'm really excited to see what happens next.

Friday, December 23, 2005 2:40 PM


ow. that hurt. more please. (i'm a sucker for punishment)


Friday, December 23, 2005 6:20 PM



To add my humble little voice to the glorious cacaphony your tale has stirred up, GIVE US A RUTTIN' SEQUEL!!!

Also, I have to say this....I bow down to you preternatural literay abilities, cuz you took what could have been a short bridging piece between "War Stories" and "Trash" and made into a completely believable continuation and completion of Season One!

Keep pushing the Signal and have a Happy Holidays!


Friday, February 10, 2006 3:33 AM


*wah!* Meanie. Made me cry. Usually only Joss does that.

I love what I've read so far, and am now on my way to the next 'season.' Please keep up the stellar work!


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Water, Water Everywhere
This is a sort of companion piece to the first section of Two Times They Were Wet and Cold. It's also sort of crack!fic. While Mal and Inara were having a pleasant dialogue in the cargo hold, Kaylee and Simon spent some time getting to know each other in a broom closet. Takes place during the series. PG-13.

Stumbling Along
Post-BDM. Mal makes a delivery on a familiar moon. Inara reflects. M/I. PG-13

Two Times They Were Wet and Cold
Two things that never happened to Mal and Inara. X-posted to LJ for the Truthsome Ficathon.

Shore Leave or That Youthful Feeling
Post-BDM. The crew visits a drinking establishment on Beaumonde—no, not that one. Shameless Mal/Inara fluff ensues.

One-shot set after OIS. Kaylee/Simon. Response to the prompt: “Simon bent Kaylee over....”

Past and Present
Fluff-angsty little standalone. Post-BDM. Mal/Inara. PG-13.

This is a standalone set preseries (no Simon, sorry, Leiasky). I have no idea what kind of introduction to slap on this thing, so I'll just say, enjoy! Special thanks to Ann for curtailing the worst of my rambles. NC-17. Comments are love!

Just Another Day
Just another day on Serenity. Preseries. PG-13. Happy September 30th.

Standalone. Prompt: Leather. Simon, Mal/Inara. PG-13.

Bed and Wine: The Epilogue
Huh. That went well....