Bed and Wine: Part 13
Sunday, February 5, 2006

Mal meets Inara's "dead" father. Simon sees a ship about a girl. BSB continues its pursuit. It's Joss's verse; I just borrow it.


Bed and Wine: Part 13 By Kaynara

*** The word *father* seemed to flip a switch in him. Mal spread his legs a little, bumped Inara from between them with a gentle push, and sprung to his feet. “You’re Inara’s father,” he repeated dully. “That’s right, Mr. Reynolds.” But he was staring at Inara, his gaze ripe with what could only be termed need. “Her dead father. One ate his own gun?” “I only have the one, Mal.” He turned, as though remembering her presence. She stared at the older man, her beautiful eyes expressionless. She wasn’t so successful in governing her lips. The softly-painted mouth, still warm from his kisses, quivered as she looked into the eyes of a dead man. What did she see there? “Mr. Reynolds, you captain a ship called The Serenity, correct?” Mal blinked. “I’m sorry, can you just hold on a second...? Sir.” He touched a hand to the small of Inara’s back. “Inara. Are you here?” he said more softly. “Take me home, Mal.” “But, ah.” He shot a swift glance at her father. “It’s only the first date.” “Please, Mal.” She slipped a hand through his arm, gave him a soulful stare, only half-affected. “Inara. My sweet gypsy girl. Just let me--” She shrank back, as though Death himself stretched cool, clammy hands toward her flesh. In the moonlight, her face appeared unnaturally pale. Mal stepped forward, set a firm hand on the older man’s shoulder. “Whoa, now. Let’s all just keep our hands at our sides, dong ma?” “They came to me in the night: three men from BSB. They told me you were dead.” She sank as one boneless into Mal’s chair. “You let them.” “I had no choice, bao bei.” “There’s always a choice,” Inara said sadly. “Letting your only daughter think you dead is the coward’s one.” “I promise to explain, Inara. But this is neither the time nor the place.” He turned to Mal, the look in his dark eyes a plea. “Perhaps we can continue this conversation on The Serenity, Mr. Reynolds?” “Well, sir, that would be the lady’s call.” Mal knelt on the ground and brought his wine glass to Inara’s lips, murmured for her to drink. “It’s just Serenity,” Inara said calmly, without meeting her father’s gaze. “You live with Captain Reynolds?” “Well, we live together on the ship,” Mal answered when Inara just stared into his wine. “But she’s got her own bunk! And I’ve bunk....” He trailed off, unsure as to why he was defending himself to Inara’s newly-ressurected father. “So Mr. Reynolds isn’t a client?” Vern asked, still trying to catch his daughter’s eye. “Uh, no, he surely ain’t,” Mal informed him. “I didn’t mean to imply...Forgive me, darling.” “Actually, Father, I don’t believe I can.” She rose slowly, her eyes as ice. Mal wondered how long until the ice melted, sending a warm cascade of tears flowing over rounded cheeks. “When next you deposit Blue Sun credits in your bank account, try not to think too hard on the fact that your lifelong employers sent assassins after us.” Without waiting for a reply, she turned and strode toward the exit. “Ren si de fo zu.” Vern closed his eyes. “They came after you, bao bei?” “Well, expect they were gunnin’ for me,” Mal said, removing Inara’s wrap from the back of her chair; she seemed to have left it in her hasty departure. “Nara ain’t exactly the sort makes a lotta enemies. She’s...well, she’s a cherry blossom. ‘Course, you’d know that. Anyway, this was...well, was interesting, I reckon. Think I best be gettin’ your daughter home now. Walk her to her door, and the like. You, uh, you enjoy your stay on Beaumonde, Mister Serra.” “A moment, Captain.” Mal turned reluctantly. “Do think our girl’s eager to be on her way, Sir.” “Unless you take me back to your ship, Mr. Reynolds, neither you nor my daughter will be going anywhere.” Mal scratched at the back of his head, shot a quick glance at Inara before approaching her father. “Would that be a threat, Mr. Serra?” he asked, voice low. “Are you a father, Captain?” “No, Sir. Got a little niece though.” “Then I don’t need to ask whether you’d intentionally put her in harm’s way.” “What exactly am I to infer at this juncture?” “BSB. My employers chased you halfway across the solar system, Mr. Reynolds. They sent me here to collect you, landlock your ship. In exchange for my efforts, I’d be allowed to take away my daughter. “Jen dao mei,” Mal muttered. “They said you kidnapped and brainwashed Inara, destroyed her career.” Mal gave a short laugh. “Sir, you really believe I could make Inara do that which she wasn’t already set on, you don’t know your girl at all.”

** “Right decent bunch o’ folk,” Mal said as the three stepped into the cargo bay. “Simon’s a fine medic--top three percent, he’ll have your know. And Lil’ Kaylee--that’s his wife, legal and lawful--she serves as ship’s mechanic. River’s Simon’s lil’ sis, regular genius. Trainin’ to be our pilot. Than there’s Zoe, been with me since the war. Well, not with me, with me--we’re just friends is all. And she’s got a little girl, Baby Raven, by her husband. Late husband...Right little angel, she is though. My sister’s visitin’ now, too. Yessir, that’s my crew. All ‘bout family and babies. You know we even had a preacher on board for awhile?” “Mal!” Inara dug her fingernails into his arm hard enough to have him wincing, pulled him back so they could converse in private. “Ow,” he said pointedly. “Stop it.” “Stop what?” “He’s a liar, Mal. He isn’t stupid.” “I’m just tryin’ to be friendly, darlin’.” “You’re sounding like a gorramn soldier.” “I was a gorramn soldier!” he protested, a little hurt. “Well, he isn’t your commanding officer.” He wasn’t dead neither. And sooner than later, she’d have to deal with that fact. But he suspected they’d all do better on a few hours shuteye. For now, Mal just slid an arm about her waist, pressed a kiss to her temple as the moment seemed to call for one. “Just gonna get your daddy settled in one o’ the passenger dorms. Why don’t you go on to bed, slip into some snuggly-sorta sleep wear.” “I don’t want him here,” she said softly. The vulnerability creeping into her eyes made them appear all manner o’ youthful. He wanted to take her in his lap, hold her till she smiled again, flashed that coy, couth look that was always a sucker-punch straight to the gut. “Ain’t too keen on the notion myself. Still, you don’t want Serenity grounded now, do ya? That’s a good girl. Have a cup o’ that swanky tea you’re so fond of, and I’ll be down in a bit.” He followed Inara into the kitchen, stopped short when she did, nearly crashing into her. A few paces to the left, Vern Serra stood, unmoving. All three watched wordless as Simon balanced drunkenly between two chairs, stepped swayingly onto the kitchen table. Across the room, Jayne leaned against the counter, swigging whiskey straight from the bottle while encouraging Simon to get his ass-end up there. “Uh, Doctor?” Mal asked when he finally found his voice. “What the hell you think you’re doing?” “I love you, Mal, but bi zui!” Mal gave a short laugh. Inara recognized it as his “I’m just about outta patience so y’all best duck ‘n’ cover” laugh. “Excuse me?” he said darkly. Simon neglected to answer, perhaps preoccupied with the task of finding--and keeping--his footing on the table top. He walked carefully to the far end of the surface, spread his feet to better his balance. Then he let out a yell, half-moan, half-demand. “KAY-LEE!” Inara jumped back, her shoulder blades striking the wall. From the corner of her eye, she saw Mal do the same. “KAY-LEE! KAYLEEEEE!” The sound of shattering glass punctuated the last scream. Jayne had dropped his bottle of whiskey, the remaining amber solution spilling out onto the floor. He hardly noticed, boozy eyes fixed on the doctor, clearly stunned that the sophisticated Simon could muster so much noise. “KAYLEE. KAYLEEEEE!” “Mal, do something,” Inara hissed under her breath. “You mean like take captures?” He shrugged innocently when she glared. “What would you have me do, darlin’?” “Well, perhaps you could hit him *gently,*” she suggested, cringing as Simon swayed violently near the edge of the table. “I really don’t think Kaylee needs to see this.” “Gently,” Mal repeated. He shook his head, but started toward the table. “Simon?” Too late. Kaylee climbed the last few steps from the passenger dorms, her brown eyes narrowed and puffy, hair mussed from sleep. Weary, Mal folded his arms over his chest, waiting for the explosion. “KAYLEE!” Simon lowered his voice, some part of his inebriated brain realizing they were in the same room. “Kaylee.” “Aw, Simon. What happened to ya?” She glared at Mal, who held up his hands in protest. “Hey, don’t even think o’ lookin’ at me!” “Simon, let Mal help you to bed,” Inara coaxed, slipping a soothing hand through Kaylee’s. “Won’t that be a treat,” Mal muttered. “Kaylee,” Simon started. He glanced at Jayne for support, received a reassuring albeit drunken nod. “You--you--you never close your eyes anymore when I kiss your li-ips.” “Oh, good God,” Mal murmured. “There’s no tenderness like before in your fingerti-ips.” Inara clapped a hand over her mouth, bit her lip hard enough to draw blood. “You’re trying hard not to show it,” he warbled, paused dramatically and gestured to Jayne. “Ba-by.” The merc remembered his role, belting out the two syllables in a low baritone. “But baby, baby I know it.” “Tyen shioa duh.” Kaylee gawked, wide-eyed, openmouthed, at the spectacle that was her husband. The polite and proper, extremely cultured Dr. Simon Tam was dancing on the dining room table, serenading her with the Righteous Brothers. He even looked kinda swai, his white button-down open to the waist, revealing the undershirt below, his hair all wild and in his eyes. She couldn’t even move, just stood rooted to the floor. “You've lost that loving feeling/ Oh-h, that loving feeling /You've lost that loving feeling/ Now it's gone, gone, gone--” “Whoa-oh,” Jayne sang loudly, this time without waiting to be cued. Mal shot him a dirty look, glanced uneasily at Inara’s father. The older man seemed rather taken aback. Mal cringed, wondering just how many notches he’d lost on the captainy credibility belt. At the least the doc wasn’t stripping; that was something. “It makes me just feel like crying, ba-by.” He held out his hands, eyes mournful as he sang the words especially for her. “'Cause ba-by, something beau-ti-ful's dying!” He went into the chorus again, and Kaylee felt something tug at the corners of her mouth. She’d been with more than her fair share of men, and not a one of ‘em done and serenaded her before. It was both thoroughly embarrassing and incredibly touching. Her honey didn’t have much in the way of vocal cords. He must love her somethin’ fierce. “--now it’s gone gone gone. And I can’t go-o on--” “No-oh-oh,” Jayne sang. “Simon.” Kaylee took a step forward, deciding this had gone on long enough. In the morning, he’d have a murderous hangover that’d pale in contrast to the humiliation he’d be facing. “That was real sweet, honey, but don’t you think you oughtta--” “Baby, baby, I get down on my knees for you!” And that was where Sexy-Singing-Simon lost it, Inara realized after. When the doctor tried to kneel, he slipped, went careening cartoonishly off the edge of the table and landed in a heap on the floor. “Simon!” Kaylee squealed, dropping to the floor at his side. “Oh, baby,” she murmured, gathering his head in her lap. “Kaylee?” A moment later he was sleeping the deep and restful slumber of the seriously cockeyed, a fine trickle of blood running down his temple where he’d grazed it in the fall. “Huh,” Mal said loudly, breaking the silence. “Quite an interesting crew you have, Captain Reynolds,” Vern observed, taking a step out from the wall. Mal shook his head ruefully. “And he’s the dull one. *** Jayne passed out on the couch shortly after Simon. Mal tossed a blanket over him, then helped Kaylee carry Simon to bed, dropped the doctor face-first on his mattress. “Don’t envy the headache he’ll have come mornin’.” Kaylee sat on the bed, smoothed a hand through Simon’s rumpled locks. “Cap’n? My a total moonbrain for findin’ that sorta romantic?” Mal hesitated, lips curving against his will. “Okay, yeah,” he admitted, nodding. “Still, boy’s got a pair. Croonin’ love songs with a voice like his...takes guts, that’s for certain.” “He loves me,” she said softly. “That he does, Lil’ Kaylee.” Mal patted her shoulder. “You gonna be okay now?” “Think I am, Cap’n.” “That’s my good girl.” When he was gone, Kaylee closed the door to their bunk, for that’s what it was: theirs. She stripped down to her underthings and slid under the covers, curling against her husband’s warm torso. She fell asleep clutching his arm between her breasts. Tonight, she wouldn’t dream. *** River didn’t feel well. She couldn’t pinpoint a specific malady; nothing ached or throbbed or stung. Her head simply felt heavy, overly full. She slipped out of bed and dressed in the dark, wandered barefoot down the hall. The infirmary was silent, save the steady beat of Gideon’s heart monitors, the hum of the heat pouring in through the grates. Once, she’d hated this room. Now it just reminded her of her brother. Simon. No one understood her like Simon; no one bothered to unravel her twisted analogies, decipher her little word games. They accepted her as one of them, and she was grateful. Still, they didn’t see. Into her damaged brain, lithe warrior-body, they projected their own notions, fears, desires. Inara saw a girl in need of guidance, Jayne a fierce weapon. Simon just loved, even when she did things that seemed unlovable. He loved the precocious five-year-old as fiercely as the broken teenager. And now he loved the new River, the one who saw too much, had seen too much. Missing him was a physical ache when she was away. Gideon, and sometimes Mal, expected her to resent Simon and his poking, his steady stream of pills. But you didn’t resent love. Even the Captain, who feared love, didn’t resent it. River carried the chair over to Gideon’s bedside, curled up with her legs beneath her. She lay her leaden head on his chest, letting the steady rhythm soothe her, squelch the nausea roiling in her belly. She’d been in his place before: the one sick, healing. It was after Jubal Early; her panic attacks turned excruciating, so severe as to prevent any semblance of normality. Simon tried every drug he could lay hands on. The others took turns sitting up with her nights. Inara read to her, racy passages that Simon blushed to overhear. Kaylee and Wash dropped by together, filling her in on the day’s gossip, constantly interrupting each other with boisterous corrections. Even the captain visited once or twice, held her slender hand between his bigger, calloused ones while he told stories from his childhood. It was his descriptions of the lush Shadow landscape, combined with Simon’s medicines, that finally had the panic attacks subsiding, the nightmares receding into long-remembered sunsets of orange and gold. She would do for Gideon, speak to him in the dark place. He was her crew, just as she was Mal’s. *** He found her lying flat on the bed, dark hair splaying over the clean sheets like seaweed on a white sand beach. She wore only a robe, the midnight blue fabric a sharp contrast to her skin in the lamplight. Balancing on one arm, Mal used his free hand to lift her neck by the nape, tilt her face toward his for a kiss. “Reckon there ain’t much point in askin’ how you are.” “I’m fine, Mal. Or I will be once we’re off this rock. I’ve decided I don’t much like Beaumonde.” “Yeah, she ain’t the friendliest little pseudo-Earth,” he said, recalling a certain unpleasant stay at the Beaumonde Inn. “With any luck, though, we’ll be flyin’ pretty this time tomorrow.” Sheathed in the Black. “Why do you trust him, Mal?” He shrugged, ran a finger absently down her forearm. “I don’t trust anyone, Nara. Still, the man came here to save you. If he’d an ambush in mind, ‘spect I’d be gettin’ poked and prodded aboard some Alliance cruiser nowbouts.” “He’s a liar.” “Well, yeah. Not sure that makes him any worse ‘n the rest of us.” “That’s...that’s different,” she said stiffly. “We don’t lie to one another.” Didn’t they? He stroked a hand down her cheek. How many days did you and me dance, Nara? Wasn’t each heavy silence just another form of mendacity? Even now so much went unsaid. Every time he bedded her, he thought on how it could be the last. He knew eventually they’d whither under such heat or else freeze when it turned to frost. She’d be the one to walk away; somehow he’d compel her to go. No way was all this softness his for keeps. “Where are you?” she asked, hovering over him. Her robe fell open at the neck, a blood-red stone dripping down from her throat. He reached up to finger the glowing ruby that once belonged to his mama. “You kept it,” he said, clearly pleased. “I love it,” she said simply. He grabbed her wrists, giving her no choice but to fall forward onto his chest. “Mal!” she protested, lips curving in a smile. He traced their line with his index finger. “I’d buy you a thousand bits o’ shiny if I could.” “Then you’d have to buy me a new closet,” she teased. As it was, her narrow storage space was rapidly filling. When she arrived at the training house as a girl of fourteen, she’d seen the accomplished companions, envied them their fine dresses and rich baubles. Now, over a decade later, she lay on a twin bed with a man who wore suspenders. Voluntarily. And she wanted him more than all the gowns and jewels in Capital City. “Kiss me, Mal.” He did, pushing her down into the pillows, nudging apart her knees to settle in the hollow between. When he kissed her, he cupped the sides of her face, warmed her lips with his before stroking her tongue. She slid her hand over the bulge in his pants, pleased when he groaned. Then he was pulling back, pulling away. “Think it’s time I be gettin’ back to my own bunk, darlin’. What with this bein’ the first date and all.” She raised a brow. “Since when are you a stickler for tradition?” she asked curiously. “Oh, I can be plenty old-fashioned. Especially with your daddy sleepin’ just downstairs.” “You’re joking.” “Wish I were,” he admitted, eyeing the vee where her silky robe dipped down between her breasts. “Just don’t think I can, well, take you, knowin’ he’s on board.” “Okay,” she said slowly, rising to her knees in the center of the bed. “Then I’ll take you.” “Oh, ho, ai ya, wo mun wan huh, ain’t we?” He let her tug her back against him, those small, skillful hands sliding over his back, slipping lower to cup his butt as her mouth worked some witchcraft against his. “Mmm, I want you, Mal,” she whispered, taking his ear lobe between his teeth. “I want you inside me.” He felt her breasts press his chest as his hips strained into her. “Whoa now!” With more than a little effort, he detached himself from her embrace, took a deliberate step back. “You are invoking those tricky wiles again, aren’t ya?” “Seriously, Mal; this is ridiculous. We’re both adults--mostly. And you’ve slept in my bed every night this week.” “Go to sleep.” He pressed a chaste kiss to her forehead, started up the ladder. “Thanks for the date, Miz Serra.” Not to mention the hard-on he’d be stuck with half the night now. Inara flung herself down at her dressing table, began to brush her long hair with violent strokes. She ripped off her aquamarine earrings and tossed them on the dresser. One way or another, that man would be the death of her. *** Simon wished he was dead; the only part he couldn’t quite remember was why. Moving very slowly, he lifted a hand to his aching head, felt a sticky hardness in his hair that could only be dried blood. He found it only a tad disturbing that he could now identify dried blood by feel. His mouth felt scorched, his tongue swollen and awkward. He tried to shift into a sitting position, realized his desire for water didn’t outweigh his want to keep his head in one piece. He was about to give up, slip back into an uneasy sleep if possible. Then he felt something press against his lips, wetting them. Oh, Dear God, was he dreaming? Cool, quenching water slid deliciously down his throat. He opened his stinging eyes to the most precious sight in the ‘verse: Kaylee sat straddling his hips in her underwear, a bottle of super-strength painkillers in her hand. *** Mal wore his good suspenders to breakfast, figuring he oughta dress up a bit for his sorta-girlfriend’s recently resurrected father. Even if he didn’t entirely trust the hwoon dan. He strolled into the dining commons to find Inara, Zoe and Jayne sitting in companionable silence. Raven was considerably less silent, shrieking and banging a spoon against the table. Mal dropped a kiss on her chubby cheek, sticky from dribbled milk, and tickled her under the chin before taking his seat beside Inara. “Are you sure you should sit there?” Inara asked under her breath. “You might accidentally succumb to my wicked wiles.” “Just be sure to keep your wiles in your lap, darlin’, and we’ll all be shiny.” She rolled her eyes at him, reached back to rub a creak in her neck. She hadn’t slept well last night. How strange that she slept best while being crowded by a six-foot-tall ship’s captain who stole all the covers. She glanced up as Simon and Kaylee entered. “There he is!” Mal said loudly, pleased when Simon cringed. “Be nice,” Kaylee hissed, taking her seat across from Inara. The look in the younger girl’s eyes said she was healing, moving toward acceptance even if she wasn’t quite there. “Oh, no,” Mal said, when Simon tried to sit. “Entertainment staff eats at the counter.” Jayne snickered, had the grace to look guilty when Mal shot him a death glare. “Thank you, Captain Malcom Vontrap,” Simon muttered, pouring coffee for himself and Kaylee. He added sugar and milk substitute to Kaylee’s, passed her the marmalade jam he knew she favored. “Did he just insult me?” Mal paused, mug halfway to his mouth. “Ain’t exactly sure,” Zoe admitted, a smile tugging at her lips. “I think it was an apt analogy,” Inara congratulated. Simon rewarded her with a grin, which quickly faded to a look of regret. “While I have you all here, I’d like to apologize for my behavior last night. I don’t on table tops...or sing.” “How ‘bout the stripping?” Mal asked devilishly. “That part o’ your usual repertoire?” “I-I took off my clothes?” “No!” Kaylee kicked Mal’s ankles under the table. “Ow!” he protested. “Weren’t no stripping, honey,” she assured, kicking Jayne once for good measure. Something told her the mercenary wasn’t exactly innocent here. “Hey!” “Oh, thank God,” Simon murmured, running a hand through his hair. “Well, much as it’s fun tormenting the doc, we do have some matters need discussin’. First is we’re leavin’ Beaumonde a mite ahead o’ schedule.” “How far ahead, Sir?” Mal glanced at Zoe. “Departure time’s oh-ten-hundred.” “Captain, we’re scheduled to pick up cargo this evening.” “I’m aware of that. You wave Wyatt and explain the job’s off.” “He won’t be pleased, Sir.” “Hell, he’ll be downright pissed, Mal.” “I can’t believe I’m lobbying for crime, but we do need the credits, Captain. The infirmary’s running low on several items, particularly plasma.” Simon had worked in clinics that didn’t go through plasma so fast. “Serenity could use a few new parts in her too, Cap’n.” Mal slammed a fist into the table, compelling even Inara to jump. “Listen up now: in two days time, this planet’s gonna be crawling with Blue Sun Workers.” “River,” Simon murmured, his eyes gone wide. Mal knew what the boy was thinking. He’d only just got his sister back. He couldn’t lose her again so soon. “Your sister’s safe and sound in her bunk, Doctor; just checked in on her myself. And I aim to keep her that way. Only reason we didn’t leave last night is hasty 3AM departures tend to arouse suspicion, make our presence known to the local lawmen. This morning we fill up on fuel, procure some food stuffs. Then we get the hell off this rock, dong ma?” “River see this, Sir?” “Shuh muh?” “Ain’t like us knowin’ stuff ahead a time,” Jayne muttered. “Boot to the groin’s usually first sign o’ trouble.” “Yeah.” Mal glanced at Inara, failed to meet her gaze. “Yeah, maybe our luck’s finally changing.” Kaylee beamed. “Had to happen someday, Cap’’n.” “Good morning.” They all glanced up as the older man entered the kitchen. He’d dressed for the morning meal in Inara’s style, or more accurately Simon’s, his pants neat and tailored, his blue wraparound shirt richly embroidered. “Mornin’,” Jayne responded evenly. Then, voice lowered, “Want I should shoot him, Mal?” “Jayne!” Kaylee shook her head, disapproving. “You don’t even know him!” “Lil’ Kaylee, when’s the last time we had a guest didn’t need shootin’?” Even Simon had to acknowledge the truth in that statement. “Have a seat, Sir,” Mal said loudly. “Don’t pay no attention to my crew; I never do. Sit down here next to your beautiful daughter. You a coffee-black sorta man, Mr. Serra?” Inara rolled her eyes and nobly ignored them both. “Please, Captain; call me Vern. And yes, I’d be most grateful for a cup.” “Hey, Raven.” Jayne poked the squealing baby between the ribs. “Your uncle get beamed with an ass-kissing stick last night?” “Let’s keep a civil tongue, Jayne,” Zoe said amused. “You teach my baby to curse and I’ll have to beat you with your own limbs.” “Ain’t that just a charming breakfast image,” Mal muttered, pouring coffee. “Serra,” Simon said suddenly. “You’re Inara’s father?” “Actually, son, we met last night,” Vern said, tone dryly amused. Simon opened his mouth, closed it again and lowered his face over his breakfast, though not before flashing Inara a look of sincere apology. “I knew you looked familiar-like when I saw you last night.” Kaylee squinted appraisingly at father and daughter. “Somethin’ ‘bout the mouth.” “So that where Nara gets her mouth?” Jayne muttered into his juice. “Uh, Mal? Perhaps now isn’t the best time to be taking on guests, what with our current travel plans.” Mal opened his mouth but Vern cut him off. “Dr. Tam, is it?” He waited for Simon to nod. “Doctor, I’ve spent the last twenty years working for the people who hurt your sister.” “I--I don’t understand.” “Blue Sun Brigade, also known as BSB. They sent me here to landlock Serenity, hand over its captain and return River Tam to the Academy for--” Simon and Jayne were on their feet before he could complete the sentence. “Zoe,” Mal murmured. She clamped a hand on Jayne’s shoulder, pushed him forcefully into his chair. “Sit, Doctor,” she added stiffly. Reluctantly, Simon lowered himself to his seat. “This is not my intention, Dr. Tam. I came her to assuage my fears regarding my daughter’s happiness and well-being.” He raked his gaze over his daughter. “It would seem she’s found a home.” “Damn right she has,” Kaylee said fiercely. Inara graced her friend with a warm smile. “At any rate, I intend to help Captain Reynolds evade my employers. To accomplish this, I’ll require your absolute trust and cooperation. The influence of BSB is far-reaching. When the organization learns of my betrayal, the Blue Hands will come looking. Fortunately, I know where they’ll look.” “How did you find me?” “Inara?” When she spoke again, her voice was steady, clear as the Persephone sky at midday. “Serenity had only been docked on Beaumonde a few hours. You not only found the ship, you located Mal and me at a particular sidewalk café.” Vern smiled, reached over to brush back a strand of Inara’s hair. He trailed a finger over the aquamarine square in her ear, pretending not to notice the way she shrank from his touch. “These are very lovely on you.” “They belonged to Mother. After she died, they sent me her things at the training house.” “They did so on my orders. First, they installed a microscopic tracking device behind the stone. The solar system is a big place, my child. I never wanted to lose sight of you.” “So you traced me,” she said quietly. “Until Sihnon. You left in something of a hurry, no? For months, the stones lay immobile in a storage room.” “Until we picked up them and the rest o’ your sundries at the post station.” Mal shook his head, half creepified, half impressed. “You were fortunate I wore my teal gown to dinner, Father.” Inara stood slowly, pushed in her chair. “Imagine your inconvenience if I’d gone with the pink?” She left the room in a huff even Mal had to admire. *** Jayne stowed away Mal’s last-minute purchases, working quickly so as to be out of the cargo bay by takeoff. Little witch tried, but she weren’t Wash. Her departures still had that stomach-twisting quality to ‘em, especially after a night of respectable drinking. Jayne finished loading the hold, rolled out the kinks in his neck. Damn if he weren’t all manner o’ tense these days. He wondered what the Shepherd would prescribe. Meditatin’? Weight-liftin’? Directin’ his energies toward that mysterious other? Jayne didn’t know ‘bout none o’ that. But he was feelin’ desperate enough to try something wacky. “Not sayin’ I believe in you.” Hell, if he thought hard enough on the subject of God, he’d likely realize he hated the bastard. In that case, not believing might be the lesser evil. “But if’n the Shepherd was right, and you ain’t the vengeful sort, ‘haps you could do me a favor. I know I never prayed before or nothin’, but ‘haps that’s ‘cuz I was holdin’ out for somethin’ big: savin’ my credits if you will. And actually, God, this is an easy one. Ain’t askin’ for interplanetary peace or nothin’ loopy. Just one thing I want, Lord. Please see fit to get that gorramn witch outta my head.” If the bastard was feelin’ especially generous, he wouldn’t let Jayne dream on her. ***

TBC in Part 14. Feedback gets a girl writing!


Sunday, February 5, 2006 6:01 PM


Oh, Simon. Such a boob. Hee!

A shiny chapter, can't wait to see where this is going!

Sunday, February 5, 2006 6:18 PM


OMFG. Simon drunk, on the tale, singing. With Jayne as backup and the whole crew as an audience. Gotta give Kaylee credit for accepting it. My wife woulda just knocked my drunk ass off the table and let me sleep it off on the floor.

That was amazingly funny. Jayne's half-assed prayer at the end was perfect.

Sunday, February 5, 2006 7:24 PM


I think I am seriously afraid of your brain. The Simon serenading scene was perfect because I was both cracking up and utterly mortified for him!

Favorite exchanges:

“Her dead father. One ate his own gun?”
“I only have the one, Mal.”
that is so very Inara.


“Let’s keep a civil tongue, Jayne,” Zoe said amused. “You teach my baby to curse and I’ll have to beat you with your own limbs.”

It was great as always, you're building to another suspenseful season ending I can just tell. Can they trust Inara's father? What will happen when BSB comes after them? What will happen when Gideon wakes up? You'd better write fast as I'm addicted to this story!

Sunday, February 5, 2006 7:31 PM


The image of Kaylee straddling Simon's hips holding painkillers is such a wonderful image.....

Nice job. Waiting eagerly for the next part.

Monday, February 6, 2006 3:18 AM


Why is it that I trust Vern about as far as I could pitch him? Up-hill? Against a stiff wind? Thought Mal's puritanical streak is... well a real mood killer.

Monday, February 6, 2006 4:00 AM


Simon? Righteous Brothers? I was giggling so hard I was gettin' looks.

Very witty chapter. Don't trust that Vern very much but poor Inara. First her dad and now she gets no nooky? Pfft, ship is gonna be ripe with frustration *lol*

Monday, February 6, 2006 7:29 AM


This was brilliant! Loved everything in it especially a drunken Simon **singing** no less with Jayne adding his little quarter cents worth on the table top! That image will live in my brain until the cells in it give up and die. As for Inara's Dad it was so creepifying when he explained how he kept track of Inara through her mother's earrings. Just what is he really up to? Is he trying to save them for her sake or just setting them up for an even bigger evil to step in? Hope the next part is up soon, this was super shiny! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, February 6, 2006 1:19 PM


wow everything i was gonna say was already said....bummer....
just read all the comments again and that'll be my opinion!! hehe!

Hurry and write up the next one! I can't wait!

Monday, February 13, 2006 9:56 AM


“You teach my baby to curse and I’ll have to beat you with your own limbs.”
interesting visual there...


Saturday, February 18, 2006 6:16 AM


I LOVE Jayne's little prayer at the end!!!


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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....