Bed and Wine: Part 2
Sunday, December 25, 2005

A continuation of the Bedlam series. Inara’s back on board, and Baby Raven’s keeping the crew up nights. As always, there’s sex and violence (not at the same time though). Serenity *spoilers.*


Bed and Wine: Part 2 By Kaynara

A continuation of the Bedlam series. Inara’s back on board, and Baby Raven’s keeping the crew up nights. As always, there’s sex and violence (not at the same time). Serenity *spoilers.*

*** They touched down after sunset, left the ship on a dusty stretch of desert and headed for town. When they reached the main square, River tied her hair back and took up her axes. Gideon helped her adjust her belt, securing the guns there. “Our sources say they landed three hours ago. Probably resting now. Full.” “No.” River shaded her eyes from the last glares of red and gold, squinted across the common to the small, white church. There. That’s where they waited. “They never stop. Nothing satisfies the hunger.” “One ship. Shouldn’t be more than ten.” “And still they killed half the town.” Gideon had to sprint to keep up with her now. She ran over the cobble-stoned road, tore open the church doors. He aimed his gun, watching from the corner of his eye as she attacked two with her axes. She took them down one after the other: a clean, slicing arc over the female’s neck, a fatal blow to the male’s chest. Gideon found himself unable to look away, mesmerized by her movements, so graceful as to be almost a dance. He didn’t see the one come at him from behind, sink teeth into his shoulder. He screamed. River turned, taking a glancing blow from a Reaver knife. She felt the blood drip down her arm, ignored the pain and put a bullet to the guilty party’s head. She leapt over two human bodies like a creature of flight, landed next to Gideon. She drew his attackers away, teased them as she inched closer, stepped just out of reach. She killed them both with their own swords, letting them fall together at her feet. Then she went back for Gideon, extended a hand. He took her slender white fingers, let her pull him up. “You’re hurt. Need a doctor.” “I’ll be fine,” he said. He watched as she tore off a slice of her skirt, used the fabric to bandage his neck and shoulder. “You’ll live.” “I will.” He smiled. “This rutting town has to have an Inn or some such. Let’s sleep a few hours in real beds.” She followed him out of the church. *** Whenever their cash flow flowed a little lighter than normal, the first thing to go was the heat. Inara shivered, hurrying into her clothes, or River’s more accurately. She stepped into black leggings, pulled one of River’s flowy dresses over her head. With the bodice let out, it fit well enough. Inara twisted her hair back from her face, studied her reflection in Kaylee’s mirror. One thing was certain: no one would mistake her for a companion. She didn’t look like a woman of restraint and grace and mystery, a well of passion to be tapped at appropriate intervals. She looked like a girl who lacked the good sense to choose both friends and wardrobe. How was it this place felt like home again? Perhaps because Serenity never stopped feeling like home, even after Mal made her leave.

*** Kaylee jumped out of her seat at the baby’s cry, rousing Zoe who was half asleep at the table, head on her forearm. “I’ll get her!” “Oh, no you don’t, Kaylee!” Inara left her tea cooling on the counter, prepared for a battle. “You’ve taken her the last three times.” “Aw, c’mon, Nara. I love when she’s all sleepy and cuddly. Aunty Kaylee just adores you--ain’t that so, Raven?” She glanced over to the spot in the common area where Mal and Jayne had set up a cradle. Zoe shook her head, amused with them. Why was it no one fought over her daughter at 3AM? “Best let Kaylee take this one, Inara. Think the captain wanted to see you.” “Right now?” “He said for you to head on down to his bunk soon as possible.” “Did he say what this was regarding?” Zoe shrugged. “You know the captain and explanations. He doesn’t really do ‘em.” Inara smiled at the baby, whimpering softly into Kaylee’s neck now. “Next one’s all mine,” she said playfully, kissing Raven lightly on the head. “Zoe,” Kaylee said when Inara was gone. “Did the cap’n really wanna see Nara?” Zoe smiled and took Raven from Kaylee, settled the baby at her breast. “Course he did, Kaylee--I’m no liar. Believe he also mentioned somethin’ bout gettin’ in a nap ‘fore dinner....” Kaylee grinned. “Raven, your mama’s a real badass.” Zoe smoothed back the baby’s hair. “She knows.” *** An hour to clear his muddled brain--that’s all Mal Reynolds wanted. He wouldn’t make any decisions about their next job till he thought on it awhile, preferably after an hour or so’s shuteye. His head hurt, ached from trying to ration food and fuel for six grown-ups and a tiny screaming thing that kept them all up nights the past few weeks. He felt for Zoe. Woman prolly didn’t have the slightest notion what she was gettin’ herself into. Mal was surely surprised plenty. Back on Shadow, he hadn’t exactly spent much time around babies. Shadow. Rutting hell, he didn’t want to go back to that flat farmland. Too many ghosts. Still, it was a job, and these days jobs were scarce. He could hardly afford to discard good work. When his half sister waved him, hinted she had a job that might suit his crew, his first instinct was to refuse. He loved Caroline in his way--she’d always been good to him growin’ up, even though she was ten years older, married most of his childhood. Still, he’d made excuses each of the last five years she’d invited him home. The Malcom she’d known was dead and buried. She’d been stunned by the new one, the shell that returned home to heal his broken arm though not his broken heart shortly after the battle of Serenity Valley. He’d spent two weeks there, feeling the hurt and disappointment every time she looked on him. Finally he’d waved Zoe, left in the middle of the night without a word. He hadn’t been back since. Mal pulled his shirt over his head, unclasped the top button of his trousers. Shadow wasn’t their only prospect. He could always go crawlin’ back to Badger, take his scavenging gig. But Mal wasn’t much for crawling. Also he wasn’t entirely sure he could refrain from punching the funny little Irishman when next he saw him. Hwoon dan had sold them out more times than Mal could count. He lay back on his bunk, grinning at the thought of putting his fist to Badger’s face. Only one problem with that scenario. Well, two if he counted getting shot at by Badger’s associates. No, the main thing was River. He couldn’t exactly trust any information Badger happened to hand his way. The night River left the ship, Mal swore to any god who was listening that every job he took would be a part of bringing her home. But to get his albatross back he had to find her. And gorramit if the girl weren’t makin’ that hard as hell. Still, he’d heard the talk from Shadow, bits and pieces gleaned from his sister, from various contacts of his and Zoe’s. His home planet was an interesting world, far enough from the Core to be out from under the Alliance’s wing, backwater enough to escape their interest. Yet the land was flat and fertile. They’d turned enough of a profit in recent years to make some technological advances. About a third of the people had access to a cortex. By now, most of ‘em had seen the Miranda broadcast. And rumor had it, the folk there were plenty riled. Failing to take heed of the trouble brewing on Shadow would be a foolhardy move on the Alliance’s part. Most everyone there lost relatives in the War and weren’t likely to forget it anytime soon. Mal figured he’d run it by Zoe, when next he saw his first mate awake. Maybe he’d be real soft-headed and offer to get up with the little chick tonight. Muttering about ships and babies, he fell asleep. *** Inara knocked briefly on Mal’s door, pushed in the ladder and started to climb down. It felt strange to be back in Mal’s room. Or perhaps it felt too familiar, and that was the strange part. Sleeping in Kaylee’s room, she was painfully aware of her closeness to him each night. She wondered if he was aware of it too. But then they weren’t speaking, hadn’t exchanged more than the barest necessities since their dialogue in the cargo bay almost a month ago. The silence was the most disconcerting of all. In the old days, she and Mal were at least always arguing, trading jibes and insults. In a way, the squabbling was a comfort; at least it was a constant. Now when she saw Mal, she hadn’t the slightest notion of what to expect. She certainly wasn’t expecting to find Mal half-dressed, drooling into his pillow. Inara wondered briefly whether she’d been set up. “Mal?” She considered leaving, decided she wasn’t going through all this again. She took a step forward, laid a tentative hand on his bare shoulder. “Mal.” Oh, this was a good dream and getting better by the minute. He was on Shadow in the rainy season--he’d always loved it best then, everything green and new. They lay under the canopy of a willow tree, protected from the downpour. He rested his back contentedly against the tree trunk, Inara straddling his lap. He took her face in his hands, cupped her neck and kissed her long and slow. No complications, no time constraints. Just him and her, there in that garden, everything living, alive. He felt her fingers stroke the bare skin of his back--what happened to his shirt? Ye su, he didn’t care. He rolled over in the wet grass, pulling her under him. “Mal, perhaps I should come back later....” “Inara.” Before Inara could respond, she found herself trapped under Mal’s body. His warm, very aroused body. He kissed her without opening his eyes, a soft exploration, almost sweet in its innocence. His lips grazed over her neck, his mouth sucking at the base of her throat. She felt his hands knead her breasts through the thin fabric of River’s dress. “Mal-” she tried. But it had been so long. And her body knew what to do, even if she was lost. She felt her knees parting, giving him the space to settle between. The first press of his pelvis felt like coming home. She raised her hand between them to push him off, instead found herself spanning her fingers to feel the muscles of his chest. She brushed her thumb over his nipple, felt him shudder. “Oh, God, Inara,” he groaned into her ear. “Inara?” He opened his eyes, blinked at her a couple times as though he wasn’t sure what was happening. The sound of the ‘com made them both jump. “Wave for you, Cap’n.” Kaylee’s voice, bright and sunny. “I’m sendin’ it on down.” Before either of them could move, a woman’s face filled the screen. A pretty brown-haired woman with Mal’s eyes. “Malcom, I--” The woman hesitated, eyes widening. “I’m sorry, Brother. I didn’t know you were otherwise engaged.” Her lips quivered with barely-disguised amusement. Mal ears were turning a new shade of red. “Caroline, ‘haps I could, uh--” “Perhaps you should wave me later this evening. Nice meeting you, darling,” she said to Inara before the screen went white. Silence. “I didn’t know you had a sister,” Inara said finally because it was the first thing she thought. “Yeah, well she didn’t know I was a lecherous hump. See all the stuff people are learnin’ today?” He raised himself off of her, glanced down at the front of his pants and grabbed a pillow. She should have stopped him--what was wrong with her? Was she some sort of sadist? Oh, but maybe this was good, maybe he’d changed. Perhaps they were both capable of change. “I’m sorry.” Mal raked a hand through his hair, took another step back. Ta ma de, he’d practically attacked her--what in the ‘verse was wrong with him? “I didn’t mean--I mean, I wouldn’t intentionally have--” Suddenly she had the acute desire to slap him again. “I’m sure you couldn’t help yourself,” she said cooly. “Silly of me to sneak up on a man in the throes of...sleep.” She emphasized the last word deliberately, her gaze icy. She thought she saw hurt flash in his eyes but maybe it was just anger. “Ain’t kosher-like, entering a man’s room without knockin’,” he muttered, tugging a t-shirt over his head. “I should have knocked?! You of all people are saying that I should have--” She closed her mouth, realizing the futility of this particular argument. “Did you want something, Mal? Because, in truth I didn’t come down here to be manhandled.” “I said I was sorry for that!” He took a breath, forced his tone to level. “Do have some things to talk on. First off--the matter of your shuttle. You know we picked her up ‘fore leavin’ Sihnon, but she ain’t exactly the picture of health.” “I noticed,” Inara said, crossing her arms over her chest. “Kaylee promised to fix her up good and proper, but everyone’s been a mite busy with the little one.” “It’s fine, Mal. Kaylee’s loaned me her bunk for the time being. She’s moved her things in with Simon.” “Then they’re...the two of ‘em, that’s...?” “Seems fairly official,” Inara said, enjoying the way he was stuttering. “Ren si de fo zu, I hope the doctor was payin’ attention on sex ed day at the med acad. Last thing we need’s another infant on board.” “I’m sure Kaylee knows what she’s doing, Mal. She is a grown woman.” “I ‘spose that’s so.” Mal shook his head. “Can’t help but see her as that wild child I took on my ship couple years back.” Inara huffed out a breath. “I can’t imagine you asked me down here to discuss Kaylee’s love life, Mal.” “No. Surely didn’t. Listen, I’m sorry about your shuttle and you not havin’ your clothes and stuff,” he added, taking in her oddly-assembled outfit. “But I’ve been thinkin’ some and seems best you stay on Serenity.” “I sort of gleaned as much when you kidnapped me.” “Okay, someone oughta teach you the difference ‘twixt kidnapping and lifesaving, sweetheart.” “They wouldn’t have killed me, Mal.” “Clearly you ain’t had much experience with angry mobs.” “And its clear you’ve had quite a bit,” she said sweetly. “Inara.” He sounded tired. “Can we quit warring for five minutes?” She curved her lips in a smile. “Five whole minutes?” “I just wanna know you’re okay here, not completely, you know, miserable or nothin’.” “Serenity was my home for a long time, Mal. Those people upstairs are my friends. Well, most of them.” “She’s still your home, Inara. I may be the captain of this boat, the one with the papers on her. But she ain’t been just mine for a long while. If you wanna live here, I ain’t got call to stop you.” “But you don’t want me here. You’d rather I was elsewhere.” He raised his head, met her eyes. “I’d rather you stayed breathin’.” Inara lowered her gaze. “I can’t afford to pay you what I was, Mal. I’ve a little money in my account, but teaching dance isn’t quite as lucrative as my former occupation.” The occupation she’d devoted her life to: the one he cost her. “I don’t want your money, Inara.” She softened. “You need it, Mal.” “Let me worry on that. Sides, someone with your training’s bound to come in useful on all sorts of jobs. Never know when I might need a lesson on holding my tea cup proper or using the right spoon at a fancy shindig.” “I’m not going to stay on as your ward, Mal.” “Inara.” His expression turned serious. “You think any o’ those people upstairs payin’ room and board?” “That’s different. They all have jobs, roles on the ship.” He met her eyes, straight-faced. “You could always give me those dancing lessons.” She rolled her eyes, started up the ladder. “Have a nice nap, Captain.” “Come on, just the fox trot?” She pulled his ladder closed by way of response. *** Mal stepped into the infirmary, nodded at Simon who was weighing Raven on a small scale. “Doctor.” “You know, Mal, I do have a name.” “Wait, don’t tell me; I know this one.” Simon rolled his eyes. “Can you take her for a second?” Mal narrowed his eyes but accepted the squirming bundle. Not no one was eager to relinquish the baby when she was all sweet and quiet-like. Even Jayne seemed drawn to the little chick, offering to hold her earlier while Zoe ate dinner. “What for?” he asked suspiciously while Simon rummaged through some drawers. “I need someone to hold her still while I give her a few nocs.” “In that case, no chance.” Mal laughed shortly. “I’m not gonna be the one help’s the mean doc poke her with stuff.” He glanced toward the door to make certain no one was spying, brushed his lips over Raven’s downy black hair. “Your Uncle Mal ain’t got nothin’ to do with this, Little Chick,” he murmured before handing her back to Simon. “Did you want something, Mal?” “Uh, well.” He winced as Simon cleaned a spot on the baby’s thigh. “Nothin’ urgent, just have a job in the works, wanna run it by the crew. Come on up to the kitchen when you’re through here.” *** “So that’s all I can tell you right now. If you’re willing, I’ll wave Caroline in a bit, tell her we accept and get some more details. Sound like something this crew can handle?” Mal glanced up, waiting for response. From the look of things, he’d be waiting awhile. Gorram people weren’t even listening. Simon had Raven in his lap, making stupid faces at her while Kaylee looked on, laughing. Inara was staring clear across the room at something fascinating and apparently invisible. Jayne was shoveling the remains of Raven’s birthday cake into his mouth--Kaylee had insisted a newborn with no teeth needed a birthday cake--and Zoe was nodding off again. Mal sighed. “Zoe. Zoe!” She raised her eyes. “You say something, sir?” “Oh, nothing important.” He cleared his throat. “Go get some sleep, you’re no good to anyone this way.” “Mal.” Inara snapped back to attention in time to shoot him a disapproving glare. “I’ll keep an eye on the little chick tonight. I want you somewhat rested when we land on Shadow in a few days.” Zoe yawned. “We’re going to Shadow?” “Hey, shiny,” Kaylee piped up. “Ain’t that where you’re from, Cap’n?” “Okay.” Mal stood up, deciding this discussion was good and finished. “Anyone wants to spend some quality time in the airlock, by all means stay right here in my kitchen. The rest of you, get goin’, sure you’ve things to do. We’ll go over the plan tomorrow at breakfast.” Kaylee lifted Raven, kissed her soft cheek and settled her in Mal’s arms. “You have fun with your Uncle Mal tonight.” She grinned, kissed Mal’s cheek as well. “No matter what he says, he’s nothin’ but a big pushover when it comes to pretty girls.” They left him alone with Raven, who took their absence as an invitation to start bawlin’. Mal sighed, looked down at the baby clutched to his chest. “Oh, this is just perfect.” *** “This is perfect.” River smiled, pushed open the door to Room 1B. The Inn was deserted, just like every other building in the square. Anyone who was able likely made for the outskirts when the Reaver ship landed. Some survived, would return tomorrow to collect their dead. The two of them wouldn’t be bothered tonight. Gideon followed her inside, taking in the whirling ceiling fan, floating particles of dust that danced in the lamplight. He sneezed, watched River bounce twice on the bed, lay back against the mattress. “Not too hard, not too soft.” She sounded pleased. “You sound like Goldilocks,” Gideon said, sitting beside her. She frowned. “Who?” “Never mind.” He sounded tired, weary. River unwound the makeshift bandage, examined his neck wound. “Needs washing.” “I know.” He let out a breath and moved to the window, peering out into the darkness. “Restless soul,” she said. “Sleep now, Gideon the Warrior.” In the window pane, Gideon could see River’s reflection. He watched her peel off her armor, her dress, slide between the covers in her undershirt and leggings. He leaned forward, resting his warm face against the cool glass. “I can’t sleep,” he said quietly.

*** “You’re not the least bit sleepy, are you, Little Chick?” Mal lay back on his bed, careful to keep an arm on either side of the baby squirming on his chest. “Well, I’m gonna let you in on a little secret, darlin’. Uncle Mal is havin’ a tough time keepin’ his eyes open.” Mal watched the baby blink at him, probably wondering where the hell was her mama. “Not that you ain’t good company, Raven. Sweet as sugar and cute as can be, though don’t tell the others I said so--I’d never hear the end of it.” Mal decided this baby-sitting deal wasn’t such a bad gig after all. She didn’t argue, didn’t second-guess his decisions or accuse him of being a stubborn hwoon dan. Little Chick just looked at him with those big blue eyes of hers, blinked and moved her tiny fists against his shirt. Mal hoisted her up against his knees, watching her eyes take in the unfamiliar setting of his bunk. “You know, darlin’, I can see you becoming my favorite member o’the crew. Well, once you stop this ‘cryin’ all night’ business. That’s a mite wearying. Still, you don’t seem near so crazy as your aunts is. Take your Aunt Inara. Now she’s one to drive a man to drink. Feminine wiles, I tell ya. Don’t you go developin’ none of those, Little Chick.” Raven blinked at him, her lids starting to go heavy. “This is a good talk,” Mal told her. “If I tried to say any o’this to Kaylee or Inara--wo de ma--they’d go on about me bein’ the one to blame. Kaylee’d say I pushed her away, same as I do with everyone else.” Mal lifted the baby, held her against his chest. He bent his head to brush lips over her hair, inhaling the fresh, powdery smell of her. “You understand, don’t you, Little Chick? If she didn’t end up like Wa--like your daddy--then I’d be the one hurtin’ her in the end. I ain’t wrong ‘bout that.” He bounced her lightly in his arms. “I ain’t wrong.” “Malcom.” Mal jumped, startling the baby who began to whimper again. “Caroline.” He faced the cortex. “I really meant to wave you back before.” “You seem to have your hands full.” Mal glanced down at the baby. “Oh, you think...this bundle of joy ain’t mine, Sister.” “She doesn’t look much like you. Doesn’t exactly resemble your lady friend either.” “This is Zoe’s little chick. And that, my lady friend from before, ain’t my lady friend. I mean to say, she’s a friend mostly, and she’s a lady, of course, but--” Caroline was laughing. “Don’t even try to tell me the two of you aren’t lovers, Malcom.” “I don’t...You know, you can’t interrogate me ‘bout this stuff anymore. I’m a grown man, Carly.” “But you still blush like a teenager when caught with your trousers down.” “I--my trousers were exactly where they belong. Anyway, don’t you think this conversation is a mite unsuitable for a impressionable young ears?” Caroline smiled. “Are you coming home, Brother?” Mal met her eyes. “I’m coming back to Shadow.” It wasn’t home, hadn’t been since before the War and never could be again. “I’ll wave you when I know more. They’ll be thrilled, Malcom. The work you’ve done--well, you’ve impressed them.” Mal snorted a laugh. He didn’t know who them was, but they’d be the first. “Should be there in three days, four at most.” “I’m happy, Brother. I look forward to meeting her.” “Yeah...wait, her?” But he was speaking to a blank screen. Mal glanced down at Raven, asleep now, the weight of her tiny head on his shoulder. “Darlin’, I surely hope she was talking about you.” Because if Caroline meant who he thought she meant...ta ma de, this visit could be all sorts of uncomfortable. Mal lay the baby in her cradle, dragged it over to the side of his bed. He fell asleep rocking her. *** I think I’m as addicted to writing this thing as (I hope) you all are to reading it. Leave me comments, feedback, suggestions, etc. ~Kaynara


Monday, December 26, 2005 1:58 AM


Awww - this is so sweet!
And Raven's a perfect name - and she seems so adorable!

Keep up the good work!

Monday, December 26, 2005 2:19 AM


Loved this, and wasn't that sneaky of Zoe sending Inara down to Mal's bunk knowing the poor man was dead on his feet from lack of sleep? And then for Kaylee to put the wave from Caroline through without checking first... Seems his whole crew want to make it their life's work to make him uncomfortable. And River and Gideon and the Reavers? Woah, think our little Albatross needs to head for home. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, December 26, 2005 5:31 AM


Ahhh, there's gonna be all sorts of uncomfortableness when they get to Shadow, ain't there? And not just for Mal...

Such a stubborn man... I wonder how long he'll be able to hold out with temptation walking the same halls...

I love Mal with Raven, and Kaylee's remark about him being a pushover with a pretty girl.. tee hee!

Monday, December 26, 2005 5:47 AM


Aww, Mal and Raven are so cute together! And River, wow, scary. Do continue quickly, please!

Monday, December 26, 2005 9:54 AM


Ah the ladies are fighting over the baby. but like Zoe was thinkin, she's only cute when its not 3 am eh eh? (lol)

Highly doubt Mal and Inara can resist the temptation to fall back into their old patterns. mwhaha

Should be some fun with Mal's family meeting the crew.

and what the duece is going on with River...I've got chills thinking about what that girl could be up to

great chapter!

Monday, December 26, 2005 10:43 AM


Oooh, excellent funny part!

The baby... adorable. I love seeing them all interact with it, and Mal's convesation at the end was the best. Let him pretend there's a girl that will side with him, before little Raven learns how to speak and contradict him, hehehe.

My favorite image, though, was the lush Shadow landscape you described, and the sensuality it lent to Mal's dream. Wet green life. That was a really clever and gorgeous way to carry the soft, unguarded, sexy mood of that sequence.

Poor Inara and her wardrobe, though. Ouch.

Can't wait to see more of Mal's half-sister and learning the family history!

Monday, December 26, 2005 1:36 PM


Great story. Keep up the good work! Can't wait to see what'll happen next. One little thing that I noticed though - Badger is definitely not Irish - not with that Cockney accent!! But I suppose he's not technically English either, as England and Ireland are both back on Earth That Was. Anyway it's a minor point but seeing as I'm Irish it jumped out at me. You've really got a talent for writing these characters, I look forward to reading the next installment.

Monday, December 26, 2005 2:07 PM


Yeeeaaahh!!! I'm already ready for the next chapter! It's definetly going to be interesting when Caroline meets Inara! I love how you potray the characters, because they act exactly the same as they would on the show!! Mal is soo funny! Can't wait till the next installment!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005 10:17 AM


awwwww!!! mal with baba raven!!! *cute coma!*


Wednesday, January 18, 2006 9:09 AM


Please hurry up with next installment, your loyal fans are waiting.

Keep it coming!

Thursday, September 28, 2006 6:42 PM


Any more coming??


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