Bed and Wine: Part 10
Sunday, January 22, 2006

Mal and Inara try to overcome old fears and insecurities. The crew visits the post station and finds a package in need of delivery. (No, it’s not a body.) R-ish. Serenity *spoilers.*


Bed and Wine: Part 10 By Kaynara

*** Mal and Inara try to overcome old fears and insecurities. The crew visits the post station and finds a package in need of delivery. (No, it’s not a body.) R-ish. Serenity *spoilers.* *** It whirled about in her memory: pretty snippets. Heavy breath and long sighs, fluid kisses and heated flesh. “Why, darlin’. I do believe you’re blushin’.” “You were staring.” “Can’t quite help myself.” “You’ve seen me without my clothes, Mal.” “Inara...I was lookin’ at your eyes.” They were back on the bed now; she vaguely recalled ending the night on the floor. How had they wound up there in the first place? Did they fall? At one point, he’d tugged her to the foot of the bed, dangled her legs over the edge and put his face between her thighs. After, she was boneless, wrecked. Perhaps she sort of slithered off then, or maybe he’d pulled her, gathering her on the floor in his lap, their bodies entwined. Then they just, stayed, made love on the cold hard floor, as if either of them noticed the surroundings. In the light, they’d both have bruises. Merciful Buddha--just remembering made her want him again. How long this time? How long before it hurt? Little jabs, unforgivable barbs. And in the end, he’d run. The first time he rejected her--sent her away from him, from Serenity--left her weary and listless, so low that she literally sank to the floor, lay curled there crying with one hand pressed to her mouth to stifle the sobs. She’d understood, but understanding didn’t ease the pain. Would he always push her away? He was so afraid of losing he wouldn’t let himself have. And if it were simple as that, they’d be okay. Perhaps they’d have always felt the tension, a certain quickening when the other was near. But they could have survived it. If they’d only accepted the impossible, it might not have consumed them. Now they’d waste away, devoured by their own demons, their doubts and their insecurities. A career courtesan in love with the Abominable Snow-Captain. She’d have laughed if she weren’t so close to tears. A voice in her brain kept screaming for her to leave. Get out, it wheedled. Elsewise, you’ll regret it. Still, some parts were lovely. He made her laugh: that puritanical streak he kept hold of even into his thirties, even after war, after years in the Black. And those terrible, wonderful pet names. She knew he did it just to irk her, wished she could keep from smiling each time he fashioned a new one. Cupcake. She supposed he’d called her worse. She’d certainly crafted a few unflattering terms for him over the years. Why did they anger each other so? Maybe all their snippy insults, their sneering abuses were advanced retaliation for crimes not yet committed. They knew they’d hurt each other, anticipated the suffering and struck out against its cause. He was deep in sleep, head mashed into the mattress, facing her on his side. She studied his face, torn, knowing if she woke him he’d open his mouth. The talking part was typically where she and Mal got into trouble. Still...if she lay here all morning she’d surely work herself into a frenzy. When it came to her and Mal, thinking seemed nearly as hazardous as speaking. She hesitated, sprawled beside him, just inches from his naked body. Wuh de tyen ah, she still felt giddy. Wanting to hold on to that feeling, bask in it while she was able, Inara slid her hand under the sheet, reached around his torso and stroked a single, slender finger down his spine. She waited, wondering whether he’d stir. The man hadn’t exactly gotten much sleep that night. Feeling distinctly mischievous--she’d never have been so bold with a client--Inara repeated the gesture. He snagged her wrist, fingers encircling bone so fast she jumped. Mal groaned, murmured something that sounded suspiciously like ‘sex kitten’ and tugged her back spoon-style against his chest. He slid one arm under her neck, nuzzled his face into the curve of her throat. “I do believe you’re tryin’ to kill me,” he murmured. His free hand stroked lazily over her belly. Warm male flesh. She felt him press against her with increasing urgency. Ai ya, he was cuddly when he woke. She hadn’t forgotten that so much as put out of her head. Now she welcomed it, reveled in the intimate early morning touching. She reached around to cup the back of his head, felt his lips encircle her earlobe. He nibbled at the delicate flesh, breathed gentle puffs of air until she shuddered against him. Deliberately, she shifted her body, creating a pain fully-pleasant friction between her bottom and his hips. “Oh, tyen shiao duh....” Spreading a wide palm over her abdomen, he anchored her against him. “You are pure evil, woman.” “Too much for you, sweetie?” she asked innocently. He was right--pet names could be fun. “Baby, you ain’t hardly seen nothin’.” His fingers kept up their slow and torturous exploration. He cupped her breast in his palm, stroking the nipple between two fingers. She dug her hands into the sheets, squeezing so she wouldn’t writhe against him. He let his fingers dip lower, slide over her rib cage and down into the region between her legs. She caught her breath on a gasp, had to bite her lip to keep from whimpering. His touch felt feather-light at first, a single fingertip barely making contact with flesh. Then it was two, petting and stroking, slipping in an out, surprising, arousing. She felt the tension intensify, heard herself moan softly. “Inara.” He had the need to say her name, taste its shape on his lips. “I love makin’ you feel this way. I love knowin’ I can.” He slid inside her then, used his hand to guide himself. He made love to her from behind, his legs brushing the backs of hers with every stroke, his fingers slipping between her thighs to tease, push her higher. He felt her shiver, overwhelmed by the sensations, and nearly lost control his own self. He pressed his face into the heaviness of her hair and rocked against her, his caresses unrelenting. He felt her tighten around him as the climax rolled over her in waves. In a spontaneous gesture, he grabbed her hand, laced his fingers through hers, finding serenity in her hold. He fell back to sleep that way, utterly destroyed. She woke an hour later, curled in his arms like a security blanket. “Nara?” “Hmm?” “You, feel like havin’ a date?” *** Kaylee and Simon made up; that much was clear. The doc was feeding his new bride bits of cinnamon bread whilst Jayne rolled his eyes in disgust. But this morning their saccharine breakfast display didn’t bother him overmuch. He felt sorta syrupy his own self. “Mornin’.” “Hey, Cap’n,” Kaylee called cheerily. “Sir,” Zoe said, nodding shortly. Jayne just nodded, sorta hesitant-like. “Good morning, Mal.” Inara met his gaze over her tea cup, eyes almost shy. “Sleep well, Captain?” Simon asked, tone only mildly snarky. “That I did, Doctor.” Even Simon couldn’t get a rise out of him this morning. He strolled over to Inara’s chair, bent down and kissed her on the cheek. “Look nice today,” he said lightly. “New blouse-y thing?” “” Inara realized she wasn’t saying anything, closed her mouth. Mal noticed the others gaping. “Chew,” he reminded Kaylee, who had a mouthful of toast. “Cap’n, you eat today? You actin’ a little lightheaded.” “Don’t know what you’re talkin’ ‘bout, Zoe. I’m right as rain.” “Simon, ‘haps you should do a physical,” Kaylee suggested. “I do have some time this afternoon,” Simon offered. “You’re all hilarious. Truly, I got me a gorramn funny crew.” “Cap’n...we don’t mean nothin’ by it.” Kaylee smiled. “Just that you’re actin’ a little...loopy.” “Hell, he’s actin’ like Kaylee,” Jayne muttered. “What about you?” Mal looked at Inara. “You think I’m crazed?” “Not crazy so much as...happy.” “Is a little out of character, Sir,” Zoe admitted. “I ain’t allowed to be in a good mood? Kiss my own girlfriend good-mornin’?” Inara choked on her tea. She and Kaylee exchanged a single, blatant glance. Girlfriend? Their eyes conveyed their disbelief. “Really, Captain.” Zoe shook her head with mock severity. “You’re scarin’ the crew.” “I’m just tired of game-playin’. And ain’t like the lot of you didn’t already know Inara and me was...was fighting less often.” “You and Simon fightin’ less too,” Jayne commented. “He your girlfriend now?” “Well, I for one think it’s shiny,” Kaylee said, clearly pleased. “Nice to see you finally puttin’ all that burnin’ sexual tension to good use.” “Uh huh. Way it is is the way it is.” He rested a hand on Inara’s shoulder. “Surely ain’t nothin’ to be ‘shamed of.” Amused, Inara raised a delicate brow, touched a hand to Mal’s wrist. “Kiss me for real, Mal,” she requested. He swallowed, looked distinctly uncomfortable. “ front of them?” *** Jayne hesitated at the entryway to the bridge, cleared his throat. “Uh, Mal?” “Yeah?” The captain turned from the cortex, clearly not thrilled by the interruption. “Was hopin’ you and me could have words.” “Don’t exactly got a bucket of time just now, Jayne. Be settin’ down at the post station come morning.” “Just pickin’ up packages, ain’t we?” “Generally, that’s what goes on in such establishments.” “Well, then, ain’t like we’re plannin’ some brilliant caper. Alls I’m askin’ for’s five minutes.” Resigned, Mal turned, folded his arms across his chest. “Speak your piece.” Jayne glanced at River’s chair, empty as always. He forced his gaze back to the captain. “Mal, I know you and I ain’t great war buddies or some such. Didn’t pull bullets out of each other’s asses in Serenity Valley or share stories with ribcages and exploding produce. And I know our relationship started out a little on the rocky side.” “You were tryin’ to kill me, Jayne.” “That’s what I meant by rocky. Listen, Mal--” “Jayne, I do got things need attending. Could we make our best friends’ scrapbook later maybehaps?” “Gorrammit, Mal. I’m tryin’ to talk to you, man to man. I got something to say.” “What is it, Jayne? Don’t believe I got any more relatives for you to take to bed with? Gonna start in on the crew?” “Well, thanks, Mal. You all but painted my point. Maybe we ain’t never been close, not like you and Zoe or you and Kaylee or even that humped-up relationship you got with the doc. But I did think us friendly-like. If’n I wanted a game of horseshoes or a relaxin’ brew, thought I could count on my pal Mal for conversation. But ever since it came out ‘bout me and your sister, you’re actin’ like I don’t exist. Hell, Mal, if you wanna take a punch at me, figure I don’t got rights to stop ya. But ain’t kosher-like, you pretendin’ I ain’t even here.” “Jayne.” Mal shook his head, the anger building. “How exactly did you envision our relationship changing when you took my sister into your bed? You figure I’d slap you on the back, say ‘welcome to the family’ or some such? Ai ya--is that what you thought, Jayne?” “Well, ain’t that how it was with the doc?” “Jayne.” Mal lowered his voice, knew if he didn’t the whole gorramn crew’d be up here in a minute. “You keep some of that Everlift stashed away? Because your brain seems to be on a bank holiday. In what mother-humping ‘verse are Simon and I the best of bosom buddies? Also, point of interest, Kaylee ain’t my sister.” “Bullshit, Mal. Lil’ Kaylee’s as much kin to you as Carly, and you know it. Don’t see much difference ‘twixt sexin’ this sister or that. Leads me to believe the part that really grinds on you is that it’s me doin’ the sexin’. So, if you wanna hit me, hit me; sure I got it comin’ one reason or ‘nother. Just quit treatin’ me like I’m dead to ya. Got enough corpses on this ship, if you read me.” Both men glanced at River’s chair, empty as Wash’s now. “You wanna know what the difference is, Jayne?” When Mal spoke, his tone was low, deadly. “Difference is the doctor loves that little girl. He don’t always say it in human language, but it’s evident in everything he does. He loves her sumthin’ fierce, and I do believe he’d die for her. Would you see fit to die for my sister, Jayne? You got those sorta feelings for her? Or is she just a convenience?” Mal shook his head at Jayne’s silence. “That’s what I thought.” He moved past Jayne, started down the stairs. “You’re a gorramn hypocrite, Mal.” Jayne’s voice followed him down the steps. Mal hesitated, one hand resting on the rail. “You tell Inara you love her yet? Or did you tell her the truth, admit that the part of you capable of actual feeling died in a ruttin’ trench. You gonna tell her that, Mal?” *** The bazaar was loud and garish, just as Mal remembered. Jayne snatched the little chick from Zoe’s arms, muttered somethin’ ‘bout her bein’ the best company in the bunch and wandered off into the crowd. Zoe just shrugged, let Caroline lead her away in search of baby clothes. Mal slipped his hand through Inara’s, pleased when she squeezed back. “Might wanna stay by my side, darlin’. Man with the megaphone seems to think there’s aliens about.” “Aren’t we the aliens? After all, this isn’t our world. None of these world are our own, at least not originally.” “Well, yeah. ‘Cept aliens are scaly things eat Reese’s Pieces and pop outta a man’s stomach singin’ showtunes.” “You and Simon have to stop falling asleep in front of the cortex.” She smiled affectionately. “All those old sci fi waves are going to your head.” “Simon! Look.” Kaylee’s voice, close behind. “They’re holding hands!” “Kaylee, I’m thinkin’ on mailin’ you to Londinium in a crate,” Mal mused thoughtfully. “She’s just a bitty thing, can’t cost much to post.” “And here I thought it was all that tension makin’ you ornery,” Kaylee said, shaking her head. “Nope, I’m ornery all on my own,” Mal assured. Kaylee rolled her eyes. “C’mon, Simon. Buy your new bride an ice planet. See ya, Nara.” “Be back by rendezvous,” Mal called after her. “It would seem the honeymoon isn’t over yet,” Inara observed, watching Kaylee snuggle into Simon’s chest as he dug out coin for a chocolate-covered strawberry. “Yeah, makes me all toasty inside.” Mal waved as a familiar face came into view. “Amnon, what’s the news?” “Malcom Reynolds.” Amnon hurried over, took Mal’s hand in his and pumped. “Young man, it is an honor to handle your post.” Mal glanced at Inara, wondering if she were in on the joke. “Hey, Amnon, I’m mighty apologetic ‘bout that whole corpse situation. Hear you got in a peck of trouble over that. You got my word won’t happen again.” The older man shrugged as though the matter was of no importance. “Malcom. Captain. You are a great man.” “Yeah, I got my moments. I know the lady here would like me better if’n you got a package with her clothes back there.” “Miss Serra, correct? Here it is, To Inara Serra, care of Malcom Reynolds.” He indicated a largish box in the stack. “You must feel very safe, my dear, in such a man’s care.” “I--he has a lot of guns,” she agreed innocently. “How much do I owe ya, Amnon?” “Oh, Mr. Reynolds! I cannot take your money.” “Sure you can.” Mal reached for his billfold. “Everybody else does.” “Mal, may I....” Inara decided he was otherwise engaged, reached into the front pocket of his trousers for the switchblade. He jumped a little at the feel of her fingers, raised a brow. She just smiled, knelt to open the long-awaited package. “Mr. Reynolds, word of your mitzvah is far-reaching, spreading even to my humble township.” “You heard about my...mitzvah?” “The world--all worlds--needed to see that recording.” He lowered his voice, met Mal’s eyes. “People need to understand the evils of unchecked government.” “They understand,” Mal said quietly. “They just don’t comprehend.” Wo de ma, he was starting to sound an awful lot like his albatross. Ai ya, River, where are you? “You’re too humble, Malcom. People on worlds you never heard tell of are chanting your name.” “People who worship, be it Gods or idols, tend to spend a whole hell of a long time waiting. Ain’t nobody to save folk save themselves. The sooner they learn that, the better off they’ll be.” He felt Inara touch his leg, released the breath he was holding unaware. “Think I feel like one of those ice planets after all. You want one, Nara?” “I’m with River; those things are impossible.” Inara stood, returned Mal’s knife. “Perhaps you should take this along. In case you run into any old friends.” She smiled sweetly. “If the aliens take you, don’t count on me for a rescue.” But he tucked the knife back in his pocket. “Don’t wander off now, cupcake.” She rolled her eyes, turned back to her package. Sundries, Mal would call them. But, oh, it was good to have them back. She’d only left a few items with Ginny, some personal effects she couldn’t store in her tiny room in town. A necklace that belonged to her mother, some gowns she had little use for as a dance teacher. She fingered a long sweep of a skirt in apricot silk, let her hands linger over a beaded corset. And beneath it all--lingerie. A little ornate, perhaps, but clean and new and just her size. She trailed a loving finger over a push-up bra, nearly sighed. “Miss Serra?” Amnon handed her his clipboard, indicated that she should sign for the remainder of the packages. “I fear I’ve upset him. It wasn’t my intent.” “Mal’s just....” She sighed. “He doesn’t like when people expect something of him. He’s afraid he’ll have to deliver.” “He’s a born leader,” Amnon remarked. “Yes. Yes, I imagine that’s his problem.” *** Zoe let Caroline nudge her from booth to booth, lingering over miniature dresses in pink and white taffeta, tiny patent leather shoes with shiny silver buckles. Caroline held up a pair of baby-sized underwear with ruffles on the butt, and Zoe smiled. She wasn’t one for frill and flounce, but she could see Wash coming home with that sort of thing. He’d enjoy envisioning his girl a little princess. A good daddy, her mister would have been. “Dung ee-miao.” Mal appeared between them, a dripping ice planet in one hand. He handed the oversized globe to Zoe, lay a friendly arm over his sister’s shoulder. “Carly, just what does my two-month-old niece need with froofy undies?” “Wait and see, Brother.” Caroline smiled. “She’ll grow up so fast your head’ll spin.” “No boys till she’s thirty. We’re makin’ that rule right?” He looked to Zoe for support. She bit her lip to hide a smile. “Whatever lets you sleep nights, Sir.” She wandered off to look at winter coats, taking Mal’s ice planet with her. “Hey!” he protested, but he wasn’t too perturbed. Ruttin’ things were hard to eat. “Listen, Carly. ‘Haps you and me could speak on some things.” “If this is about Ella....” “No, no, ain’t about her.” “That’s good. I’m well aware Zoe’s little girl ain’t mine.” “You don’t tell me how to handle my ghosts, for the most part. ‘Spect I owe you the same courtesy.” She kissed his cheek the way she’d seen Kaylee do it: an affection he usually tolerated. He allowed it, but she could tell he was unaccustomed to such displays from anyone but the little mechanic. “Maybehaps you and me shoulda talked this out sooner.” He lifted a miniscule green and white striped ski cap, shook his head worriedly. Ai ya, little chick would be needin’ a lot. “Guess I couldn’t quite locate the words. I know what that farm meant to you.” Caroline took the ski cap from his hands, gave it to the watching merchant with a few coins for payment. “It was just a house, Malcom. Walls and a roof.” “Was more than that, and you know it.” “The house wasn’t my ship, Brother. My Serenity wasn’t so tangible.” “You had a life there. You belonged.” “Does Zoe let you throw these little pity parties? Woe is Mal and everyone he touches. I can’t imagine Inara puts up with that go suh.” “ just swore.” “Bi zui, Malcom. This is tiresome. And insulting. I made a choice after that godforsaken war.” After the Alliance killed her husband, took her baby girl. “I made it my life’s aim to assist the Independent movement, used John’s good name to keep me in good standing with the Alliance. It was risky work, but I put my faith in Jesus, trusted him to show me the way. And he did.” “Maybe he leads you around with a light stick, but I’m still wandering in the dark.” “You like it that way, Mal. Never would let yourself be led.” “I never intended to be nobody’s savior, Carly. Saw something that had to be done on Miranda, and was the only one around to do it. Ain’t more or less.” “Whether Jesus lights our path or we just stumble upon it, the choice to act, or not, is still our own. You keep making that choice, than cursing the God who gave you free will.” “You know, Caroline, it’s a tragedy you didn’t meet up with us sooner,” he muttered caustically. “I know a certain Shepard woulda loved you to bits.” “Malcom.” Her voice softened. “You came out of that war alive. You could have a life now, make babies with that girl, teach them to fly. You could be happy.” “I am trying, Carly,” he said quietly. She smiled sadly. “I know you are. And Zoe’s little girl helps, doesn’t she? She’s light in the darkness.” “She’s gonna be spoiled rotten is what she is,” he commented, observing the growing pile of baby clothes on his sister’s arm. “You been a real help, you know. All the crew likes you fine. You could find a place here, if it suits you.” Caroline smiled, watched her brother rifle through a bin of plastic dinosaurs and select three at random. Both Jayne and Kaylee had stopped by the same bin. That little girl would have a dinosaur army by day’s end. “Malcom, I’m not you. I need grass, sunlight. I know the Black soothes you, but it makes me antsy. I’ll be getting back to the world soon as I choose one.” Mal nodded, surprised at his own disappointment. Was sorta nice-like havin’ his sister aboard. “And Jayne? Thought you two were, uh....” She shrugged. “I owe Jayne a debt of gratitude. I’d forgotten I could feel that way, feel so alive and--” “I get it.” Mal held up a hand. “Don’t need the gory details.” “Still, he isn’t really mine.” Caroline smiled wistfully. “He belongs to another.” *** He found her in her bunk, adding to her wardrobe with obvious pleasure. Pretty soon her fancy duds would overflow Kaylee’s narrow closet space. He had a sinking sensation of where they’d end up next. “So what are the chances of me gettin’ any o’ your attention now that you got your sundries back?” “Mm, very slim,” she teased. “Yep, figured as much.” He cleared his throat. “Just wanted to tell you we’re headed for Bellerophon again. That friend of mine--Mayella? She’s got a package needs deliverin’. Offerin’ a fair rate if we drop it down. Shouldn’t be stopped more ‘n a couple hours.” Inara straightened, dangled an intricately-beaded gold corset under Mal’s nose. “What do you think of this?” “Depends. What part do you wear it on?” She smiled, selected a black silk and lace nightie instead and held it up for his approval. “Sweet Ye Su. This...this is a damn good game.” “I might be persuaded to try it on--if you help me with the zipper.” “Wo de ma, do I wanna help ya with that zipper. There’s just a few things I gotta do first.” She stood on tip toe, leaned in so her body brushed the length of him. “You’re a busy man,” she agreed, kissing him softly. “I’m sure you have many tasks that need doing.” “Surely I do.” He tilted his head, allowing her better access to his neck. She pressed gentle kisses to his flesh, breathed warm air over the wet. “Ai ya, I’m gonna be mayor of the special hell.” He lifted her up and carried her to the bed, sank them both down into the pillows. “I can’t think when we’re together this way.” He hovered above her. “I forget how.” “I know,” she assured. “I feel it too.” “There’s so much to be done, and I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout that milk run on Bellerophon tomorrow. We’ve all of us got a ways to travel.” “But you needn’t make the journey in one night. Rest now. Just enjoy yourself.” “Inara.” He looked embarrassed. “That ain’t in my nature.” “Well,’re fortunate it’s in my nature to show you the way.” She stretched up her hand, stroked his face. “Close your eyes.” He lay with his head between her breasts, let her smooth his hair. *** In the cargo bay, Mal strapped on his holster, made sure his weapon was secure. “You ready, Zoe?” “I ain’t goin’, Sir.” “I’m sorry, did I give you the day off?” “Raven’s sick.” Mal felt something in his chest tighten, recognized the sensation as worry and fought the urge to go find his little chick. “She okay? Simon look at her? Doctor!” He started toward the infirmary. “Ai ya, where the hell’s the doc?” “Just a low-grade fever, Captain. The Doctor gave her some meds to bring it down. Still, think its best if I stay on ship today.” “She need anythin’ in town? Orange juice? Soup?” “She’s a baby, Sir,” Zoe explained patiently. “Doesn’t eat soup.” “Right. No soup. What about one of those fuzzy animals she likes? I could get her one of those.” “I’d rather you didn’t, Captain. My bunk’s beginning to look like a toy store.” “Hmm,” he said distractedly, looking over Zoe’s shoulder as though he could see the little girl, asleep in the infirmary. “Sir?” Zoe smiled, amused by him. “Don’t you have a job waitin’?” “Yes I do,” Mal agreed. “Tell Jayne he’s comin’ with. If Kaylee still intends to ride in for supplies, she best get a move on. Mule leaves in ten, and I ain’t waiting for stragglers.” *** Mal flew the mule toward town, gliding over sunswept hills, fields heavy with their summer crop. He didn’t want to be here. Bellerophon and the Reaver attack that wasn’t now held a single, searing significance: the breakdown of something undefinable in River Tam’s brain. What did it mean for a psychic to be wrong? Was something crumbling on the inside, something even the doctor with all his fancy schooling couldn’t understand well enough to repair? Kind of experimenting the Alliance subjected her to--no one knew the long term effects of such torture. Did they take too much, impart irrevocable harm with their meddling? Inara was right; River was no child. But she was a part of his crew, and that made him responsible for her. Ever since he discovered her hidden away in that box, curled fetal, sick, sleeping, she was his in every way that counted. She wasn’t a child anymore, but she was his to protect. And so far, he’d failed miserably at keeping her safe. But that was why he was here, back on Bellerophon to deliver Mayella’s supplies. This job--every job--brought him a few coins closer to finding his albatross. Malcom Reynolds learned early on that most men understand the language of platinum. If he had to, he’d buy the witch back. They were nearing the town common. Mal parked in the lot this time, preferring to avoid a run-in with his favorite sheriff. He hopped down, reached up to help Kaylee. “Stick to the general store yonder, we ain’t gonna be here long enough for browsin’.” “Yes, Daddy.” She rolled her eyes, peeled down the top of her coveralls to reveal a pink belly-baring top. “Okay, you and Nara really gotta stop that Daddy business.” He helped Jayne hoist Mayella’s package off the mule. “It’s all manner of disturbing.” Kaylee grinned, reveling in the sticky summer heat. “Nara calls you Daddy?” “Get lost. Pick up some duct tape while you’re at it. Gotta do somethin’ ‘bout that mouth,” he muttered. “That’d be Mayella.” Jayne noted, squinted off into the distance. “Good, I ain’t lookin’ to hang around here all day. Why don’t you give Kaylee a hand with the groceries?” “Sure you can handle this?” Jayne asked. They watched Mayella pull up in her rider. Her hair was loose today; the humidity had it sticking to her face. “Malcom!” She shrieked and started toward him. “Twice in one month, ain’t I just the luckiest lady this side of the ‘verse?” “Oh, think I’ll manage,” Mal muttered under his breath. “Mayella! How’s your world?” “A whole heck of a lot better now that you’re here.” She kissed him on the lips, pulled back to cup his face in her hands. “You look tired. Bet you could use an afternoon of rest and wellness and Mayella’s Sweet Leaf Spa.” “One of these days, I’m surely gonna take you up on that.” “But not today,” she said poutily. “Well, we got another appointment after this one, see. You know how it is: work, work, work.” “Good works. These supplies...they mean so much to--” “Mayella.” His eyes were soft. “Ain’t askin’ for details.” “Right.” She smiled. “My daddy misses you. He and Ma would love you to stop in for dinner one o’these days.” “One of these days,” Mal agreed. “How’s Webber’s wife and kid--they gettin’ on alright?” A warm, muggy wind played through his hair. He glanced toward the general store, hoping Kaylee was nearly through. He wanted to be back on Serenity before the rain came. “My sister-in-law is a strong woman. She’ll hold.” “He loved them somethin’ fierce, would talk your ear off ‘bout that little boy of his.” “That sounds like my brother.” She smiled. “You take care of yourself, handsome. And thanks for the package. Hard as hell gettin’ post out here.” “Any time, Mayella.” He accepted the coin bag she pressed into his hand. “You get on home now. Looks ready to storm, and someone sweet as you is sure to melt.” *** Three world away, River Tam woke sweating. She slipped out of bed, hurried barefoot into Gideon’s room. He opened his eyes to see her hovering above him, dark hair plastered to her face, worry lines marring her forehead. She often came to him when she couldn’t sleep, never seeking physical comfort after that first time. He suspected that had been more for his benefit than hers. Perhaps she was curious, attracted to him on some cursory level. But she seemed to know he was aching, needing release. She knew too damn much. “What’s wrong?” he asked immediately, sitting up. “He went back. He thought she was broken!” “Not she,” he reminded kindly. He rubbed gentle circles on her back, accustomed by now to her nightmares. “Me,” River admitted. “Thinks I'm broken. Brain isn’t defective, just different. New bits, hard to sort out. See more now, see farther. Oh, she doesn’t want to see things so soon!” “Who thinks you're broken? Captain Reynolds?” “Went back to Sweet Leaf, Bellerophon. Arrived in time for a massacre.” She was laughing now, her throat choked with sobs. “ ‘The many men, so beautiful!/ And they all dead did lie:/ And a thousand thousand slimy things/ Lived on; and so did I.’” “Serenity’s back on Bellerophon.” Gideon pushed River’s hair from her eyes, tried to make her look at him. “Reavers?” River looked frightened. “Not yet.” *** “Kaylee, are these sugar O’s? Gorrammit, what did I tell you ‘bout buyin’ that go suh?” “That you like the marshmallow kind better. I’m sorry, Cap’n, they was all out. But....” She held up the back of the box, triumphant-like. “This one comes with a mini lassiter.” “Does it work?” Jayne asked, intrigued, trying to grab the box from Kaylee. “Yeah, Jayne, they’s gonna give little kids workin’ weapons with their breakfast cereal.” “That’s Blue Sun brand, ain’t it? Those people ain’t right. I’m a criminal, sure, but even I got my limits. I’ll steal and kill and all that, but Blue Sun workers--” “Sheriff!” Mal sent Jayne a warning glare, nodded at the law man. “Hot today, huh?” “I remember you.” “Really? ‘Cuz I think I got one of those faces.” “You were here few weeks back with your new bride. Pretty thing, ‘bout yay high.” “Right! Two weeks ago. Those were good times. Anyway, Sheriff, what can I do you for? My double parked or somethin’?” “You’re Malcom Reynolds, correct?” “You know, some days I wish I wasn’t.” “My boys saw your ship land few miles west o’ here. Firefly transport Serenity. Heap of luh suh, if ever I saw one.” “You wish you had a ship that shiny!” Kaylee declared, always quick to defend her baby. “Shut up, Kaylee. You got some cargo to move?” Mal asked hopefully. “Three prisoners. I’ll likely find me some more when I search your ship.” “Oh, now, wait a minute,” Mal protested. “What are the charges?” “Someone’s smuggling cargo to the underground movement here. Ship parts, weapons. I’ve authority from Bellerophon City to search every suspicious transport vessel that docks.” “You’re makin’ a mistake, Officer. My operation’s clean.” “Hope that’s true, son. In the mean time, you won’t mind sittin’ with me a few hours, give my boys time to do their job.” The Sheriff’s office was a dusty and antiquated structure set next to the general store. The lawman ushered them inside, motioned that they should sit on the bench for processing. “Cap’n?” Kaylee leaned close to his ear. “What is it, Kaylee?” “I ain’t never been arrested before.” He snorted. “Well, lucky for you, your first time’s with a couple pros.” “Ain’t funny, Cap’n. I’m married now. Gotta be actin’ respectible-like.” “Doctor Fancy Pants ain’t exactly one to talk, being a fugitive and all,” Jayne muttered. “What’s wrong with Simon’s pants?” Kaylee demanded. “Ain’t even tight like the cap’n’s, and you all gotta be teasin’ him merciless--” “You think my pants are too tight? Did Inara say something?” “They’re glorious, okay, Mal? Can we get to the plannin’ part already? I wanna kill the sheriff and get the good gorramn outta here.” “You’re gonna kill him?” Kaylee frowned. “That don’t seem right, Cap’n. He’s just doin’ his job. And he seems real young, hardly more than a baby.” “Hell, why don’t we just invite him on board? I mean, if Kaylee thinks he’s swai...” “Can you two shut up for ten seconds?” Mal requested. A man couldn’t think straight with all that racket. The next he heard was bloodcurdling screams. Mal and Jayne exchanged rapid glances, raced outside with the sheriff close behind. He only saw four. Mal took comfort in that knowledge as he shoved the others back inside, pulled the door closed behind them all. “Sweet Jesus,” the sheriff murmured, watching through the window. “Gorrammit, Mal, let’s go for the mule.” Jayne’s voice was a plea. “I don’t wanna stay here.” “We’d never make it. Mule’s clear across the common.” “Oh, God.” Kaylee wrapped her arms around her shoulders, unable to cut off the tears welling in her eyes. “We’re all gonna die, ain’t we?” “Over my dead body,” Jayne said fiercely. Mal would have laughed, but his eyes were on Kaylee, shaking like a frightened animal. She pulled away from Jayne’s touch, went back to the bench. “They won’t never stop, won’t show no mercy. Oh, Simon, we never even got a proper honeymoon.” “Jayne, you and Sheriff Short-Pants block the door.” “I’m going out there.” The lawman loaded his gun, clicked off the safety. “This is still my town.” “You ever seen a Reaver attack before, son?” Mal asked quietly. “The town was hit when I was a boy. I-I’ve heard stories.” “I guarantee you, this is worse than a story.” Mal left the lawman to contemplate that, crossed the room swiftly and grabbed Kaylee by the shoulders. “Kaylee.” He forced her to meet his eyes. “I need you to hold together awhile longer, mei mei.” “Cap’n.” She touched his face softly. “You’ll shoot me first, won’t you? If it comes to that, you’ll shoot me ‘fore they--” “Jesus, Kaylee.” He forced himself to swallow, to breathe. “We ain’t givin’ up just yet, you hear me? That’s bullet proof glass, ain’t it?” She followed his gaze to the jail cell in the back room. “Y-yes. I’d guess so.” “What would it take for them to break it?” “I-I don’t know. You’d need special tools, ones with diamond tips. Or could freeze the whole sheet.” She stopped sniffling, her brain going into mechanic-mode. “But axes and pistols won’t make a dent?” “Shouldn’t.” Mal nodded. “Good girl.” *** TBC in Part 11. I love feedback!


Sunday, January 22, 2006 6:14 PM


This is the best chapter yet, I was giggling like crazy for the bulk of it. I don't know which is worse, the fact that you put a Space Balls reference in here, the the fact that I got the reference almost immediatly, lol. Great job, please don't keep us waiting too long for the next one :-)

Sunday, January 22, 2006 8:54 PM


Spaceballs does seem to lend itself to Firefly, doesn't it?

This is good, keep writing.

Sunday, January 22, 2006 10:01 PM


Don't know why it posted ^up^ there that I was anonymous but I ain't....
LLLLLOOOOOVVVVEEEEE the story. Update soon. Update alot.

Sunday, January 22, 2006 11:34 PM


OH Your just evil! here i am a loyal fan sneaking online to find this gem (thanks for posting by the way i was dieing for this) and my parents are on the room next door. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY TIMES I GIGGLED ALMOST LOUD ENOUGH TO BLOW MY COVER!? Well neither do i but it was alot of times! humph! LOL GOOD JOB i even feel like a geek to for right of the bat knowing the spaceballs ref as well... obviously you atract a certain crowd. I loved this post plenty the who mal and inara bits were great. and its good to know he is well know through out the verse. My god this is great i am just so giddy from how great and so on the edge of my seat waiting to see how the crew gets together again after a reaver attack... or during. I am also hopeing Mayella kinda dies in this bit cause mal is goram spoken for you here?! lol sorry got about out of hand there she wont have to die but i dont like that mal has not made it know to her he is taken. Also i love you Jayne he is great fun, and i love the way the crew interacts with raven. ok this is all i have to say and i hope you can understand it i am kinda sleepy and giddy all at once so i am not able to write to coherently.

Monday, January 23, 2006 12:35 AM


Absolutely brillo pads! I adored the Mal/Inara interaction, you write them so beautifully and the scenes are so lovingly crafted it just makes my heart sigh. And all those little teasing moments, and Zoe and the baby with the whole bunkfull of baby toys and then, oh no, REAVERS! While I love it that the Captain won't give up on finding River, I am mightily disturbed at what it might cost them all. And why isn't River helping? She could get Gideon to do something, anything, rather than just weep and wail about impending death. Gorramit, hanging on by my fingernails here, write the next part SOON! Mighty fine myth, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, January 23, 2006 2:01 AM


You are my favourite person ever in the whole wide world ever (an extension will be made to this feeling on delivery of a new chapter)


Monday, January 23, 2006 9:28 AM


Okay, we have our space western... and the psuedo-Indians(a alegory I just saw) came riding into town. The jail is now "Fort Apache." Now the question is how far out is the Champion? Can you say, "Cavalry"?

And I don't know... something about Gideon is growing on me. That or I just can't see a Jayne-River relationship working.

Monday, January 23, 2006 4:00 PM


Oooooh that was soo good!! I especially loved the ending - a great cliffhanger.

The Mal and Inara scenes were excellently written, I like the way their relationship is progressing slowly but surely.

I don't like seeing Mal so mad at Jayne though, afterall it's hardly the worse thing he's ever done to Mal. I loved Kaylee asking Mal to shoot her first, made me think of the mule/skiff chase in the movie, when Jayne says the same thing "I won't get ate". As usual I'm anxious for the next chapter...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006 6:12 PM


*GASP* CLIFFHANGER!! Now I'm gonna be in a perpetual state of panic until your next installment....

Keep it up! I love to whole series! Your characters are perfect!

“She need anythin’ in town? Orange juice? Soup?”
“She’s a baby, Sir,” Zoe explained patiently. “Doesn’t eat soup.”

LMAO!! Absolutely WONDERFUL!

Monday, February 6, 2006 9:13 AM


“Sweet Ye Su. This...this is a damn good game.”
mal, articulate as ever...and YAY!!! i come back after a few weeks away and i find shiny kaynara goodness!!! what could be better?



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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.

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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....