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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
(*MOVIE SPOILERS*) With all scores settled, Mal is making good on his promise to Inara, and Serenity has embarked on the long journey to Sihnon.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1981 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
So here it is: Chapter 10, the last in the ‘New Prospects’ story. I've rated it NC17, since the second segment contains a bit of post-coital S/K, just for Leiasky!
Serenity fled silently through the infinite night, an amber glow scudding across deepest black.
Those of her crew that could sleep did so like the deceased. Sleep had been a scarce commodity in the forty-eight hours past, and fatigue could only be staved off for so long. So the internal lights were powered down, and a suitably serene hush had descended on the little Firefly, punctuated only by the quiet bumping noise and breathless gasping that emanated from the bunk with Kaylee’s Room painted above the door in swirly script.
Mal stuck his pillow over his head in a vain attempt to block it out. Some people, it seemed to him, needed to rest less than others. He contemplated thumping on the dividing wall, but Kaylee was already doing more than enough of that for both of them.
Jayne snored on, oblivious. In the morning he would wake to the usual patch of drool adhering his cheek to the pillow, but for now his sleeping face wore a contented smile. A score had been settled, and all was right with his world. Tomorrow, he might even tackle some laundry.
Zoe slept better than she had in weeks. She dreamed of her husband, as always, but he was different this time – the gaping hole in his chest was gone, and he was just Wash, her Wash, all tousled hair, twinkling blue eyes and cheesy grin. He came to her and held her close, and whispered in her ear the words that she had longed to hear.
Inara, dressed once more in her customary silken robes, had dozed off on the common area couch: head resting on her hands, body curled up with feline ease. River contemplated waking her, so that she could go to her shuttle and sleep in her bed, but thought better of it. She looked so peaceful, and her dreams were of her Sihnon home and her sistren at the Companion House, and it seemed a shame to break them for something so trivial as a bed.
River didn’t feel at all tired. She had lain for a while in her dormitory room but her mind was too restless, too full of tangled thoughts and voices past, and she knew what this meant – if she slept, she would go to the unpleasant place, and be reminded of things she longed to forget.
She left the common area behind and wandered lazily through the darkened passages, trailing a hand along the walls to feel the rumbling, comforting pulse of her ship. She did this often, and it relaxed her more than any sleep could.
The metal decking was cold and hard underfoot, but even this sensation had come to mean something else entirely – it anchored her; told her that the ship was real, tangible, and not a figment of her erratic imagination. There were places where the deck was a little warmer, directly above underlying atmo feeds, fuel pipes and electrical lines, and she had learned and memorised these narrow pathways, and could follow them blindfolded now.
Her fingers toyed distractedly with her newly-braided hair as she walked. Inara had done it for her, after River complained of it becoming matted and tangled far too easily, and having it washed, brushed through and plaited by such expert hands had been an agreeable experience. She hadn’t previously considered that a Companion’s repertoire might also contain hairdressing.
Her legs carried her up to the dining area. Like the rest of the ship it was in near-darkness, but that was fine: her eyes had long since adjusted to the low light and she was able to pluck a fresh apple from the bowl on the table as she passed. She and Jayne had liberated a whole bushel of them from the wretched Osaki Chen’s stores, and many other things besides – the shuttle was fairly groaning with loot when they departed Trinity Station.
River munched contentedly on the fruit as she continued on up the stairs and past the living quarters. She was careful to seal her mind against the strong waves of sensation that pulsed from beyond Kaylee’s door, lest she be overwhelmed. She often found herself wondering how Kaylee could survive such an intense event. It made her curious, and she had enquired of it to Simon before, but he had just looked awkward (embarrassed, she’s my sister) and asked that she try not to eavesdrop on their private time.
Ten steps led up to the cockpit. She knew Captain Reynolds wouldn’t like it if he knew she was on the flight deck unaccompanied, but she had no designs on any of the controls. The little dinosaurs awaited her return, lit by the soft glow of the active navicomp that was guiding the ship toward Sihnon.
She slid silently onto her chair, selected two of them – a blue stegosaur and a brown allosaur – and held them up in her hands.
“Now then,” she murmured, regarding them with a faint smile. “Where were we?”
Kaylee nestled her head into the warm hollow of Simon’s neck and smiled contentedly. This was much more like it. No death ships, no vengeful gangsters, no ticking clocks or perilous space-walks. Just her, and her beau, and a single bunk.
The atmosphere in the room could best be described as sultry. She had done her best to set a romantic mood – she had only two small candles lit, and their tandem flickering created a tawny, dancing glow – and she had certainly succeeded. The sweat cooling on their bodies was more than testament to that.
“I hope I didn’t hurt you,” he whispered. “Your arm, I mean.”
In truth, the cumbersome cast had done its best to intrude on their fun, but the dull, deep ache supplied by her mending arm had proved no match for a good solid orgasm. Not much ever did, in Kaylee’s view.
“No," she murmured lazily. "I’m a-okay.”
“It’s just that clean breaks can take some time to knit properly. And I don’t want to do anything to complicate the healing process…"
She lifted her head and propped it against her good hand, so that she could afford him a reproving look. He smiled sheepishly.
“Sorry. Force of habit.”
“You’re off duty, Doctor Tam. My bones can look after themselves for a time. You look after me, instead.”
“I thought I just did.”
“Oh, I need lookin’ after more’n once,” she grinned, teasing her foot up and down his leg.
She leaned forward and kissed him, lightly at first, and then long and deep, breathing his musk like air. Simon responded to the delicate little tabs of her tongue, and she made an approving sound in her throat… and then, to his disappointment, drew away, smiling mischievously.
“But not just yet.” She shut her eyes and snuggled down against him, seeking to share his heat, although her belly was still aglow with the embers of the fire he had stoked in her. “Need to nap first. Think it’s those medicines a’ yours makin’ me dozy.”
“Well, drowsiness is one side-effect of Prepoxin, certainly. You see, the body breaks it down fairly slowly, and that causes…”
“Simon,” she sighed, “I’ll poke you in the nethers. I swear I will.”
“You keep tellin’ me that.”
“And I mean it every time.” He shifted onto his side, so that they were nose to nose. “I just wish I knew how to say the right things to you. I know I’m clumsy with words, but it hurts every time I mess up.”
He looked so mournful, she had to chuckle. “Sweetheart, believe me: when you’re in me, you ain’t no clumsy.” She stroked his cheek lovingly. “But you gotta figure that sometimes, sayin’ the right thing means sayin’ nothin’ at all.”
“That’s very profound.”
“Oh, I got all kinds a’ deep. Ain’t just a pretty face.”
“You’re not pretty. You’re beautiful.”
She grinned fondly. “See, now – that was the right thing to say.”
They lay in comfortable silence for a while, and gradually the sounds of the ship came to their hearing – the ping and creak of Serenity’s structure flexing; the low, distant rumble of her drive. For now, everything was as it should be.
Simon studied Kaylee’s peaceful face, and thought for a time that she had drifted off to sleep, but then she murmured, “River saved my life, you know.”
“She was amazing… She carried me the whole way, there an’ back.”
“I’m very proud of her.”
“When we were separated, I could hear her, even with my radio out. I didn’t even know she could do that. I mean, I know all ‘bout her bein’ a reader an’ all, but puttin’ her voice in my head – that’s new.”
“She’s learning all the time.”
“She told me to keep calm, stay where I was, an’ she’d come find me. An’ she did that.”
Simon sensed that Kaylee had something on her mind, and that she was building up to confessing it. He stayed quiet and let her talk.
“You know what I was scared of most, before we went out in the black? Weren’t the walkin’, or the suits. It was the thought that she was gonna turn on me, or leave me out there. We were meant to be a team, but I couldn’t trust her after what you said, an’ that wasn’t fair on her.”
Her eyes were still closed, but there was a hint of wetness now at the corners. “She never let me down. Not once.”
“Bao-bei, what I said… when I told you that I was worried about her, I was just being cautious. I still am. Don’t upset yourself – you were right to be mindful. Nothing’s ever absolute with River. I can’t draw any sound conclusions about her condition until I can find some way of examining her neurology again.”
“I know, but… it ain’t like me not to have faith in anyone. Don’t like what it says ‘bout me that I didn’t.”
“Shhh…” Simon gently brushed the wetness away. “Just rest now. I know you’ll feel better about it in the morning.”
She nodded imperceptibly, and shifted a little closer to him. After a few minutes, he felt her body settle, and her breathing slow to a deeper rhythm. He was glad: a good sleep was just what she needed.
His eyes strayed to the pastel pink jersey hanging over the back of the wooden chair, and decided that she was right. Sometimes, saying the right thing meant saying nothing at all.
This was the furthest into the Core that Mal had ever been, but he was trying to mask his qualms for Inara’s sake. He’d seen the sparkle in her eyes as she gazed out of the windshield at her home world, the planet she had not seen in over a year, and he didn’t want to spoil her return.
As requested, River had brought Serenity in on the night side of Sihnon. Inara had spoken often of the ‘ocean of light’ that the capital, Lu’Weng, became after dark, and she had expressed a desire to show it to those who might be interested. Mal didn’t number himself among them, although little Kaylee had been transfixed – she kept exclaiming, “Wow!” and, “Shiny!” at every illuminated temple and glowing spire they flew over.
Downing had proved less trouble than he had anticipated. Inara’s dialogue with her people had resulted in a priority landing pass, and his ship was now parked up on a meticulously clean pad.
Mal couldn’t help but note that Inara still seemed to hold some sort of major sway here. Immediately they had put down, she was ‘waving her people, requesting machinery and assistance to fix up Serenity’s cargo bay doors, which still wore the collar from the ill-fated Decamerone’s dock-and-lock. It looked like Jayne’s goatee, and Mal was keen to get it removed as soon as possible.
He stood at the periphery of the lowered ramp and watched Kaylee busying about with a team of port mechanics, orchestrating the repairs. She seemed delighted to have five strapping workmen under her charge.
Other technicians were refilling Serenity’s fuel tanks, cleaning out her thrusters, overhauling her engine, and patching up her electrics and hydraulics. It was nothing short of a full service, and it had all been brought about by Inara’s influence.
Made him wonder just who she was, in this place. And what had driven her to leave it behind.
Right on cue, he heard a trundling sound behind him and turned to see her walking gracefully down the ramp, in swishing red robes and a bejewelled headdress. A tall, silk-suited young man was with her, towing her luggage on a small grav-trolley.
“Who’s this shwie wong ba duh?” He hadn’t even seen him come on board, which irked him somewhat: he made it his business to about everyone who set foot on his ship.
“This is Joleon,” Inara answered smoothly. “He’s from my House. He’s here to accompany me and transport my things.”
“Oh. That so.”
“Yes. Joleon, go on ahead – tell Saul and Minette that I’ll be along shortly.”
The young man nodded wordlessly and left them alone. As soon as he was out of earshot, Inara’s look became apprehensive.
“Mal… I need to know I can trust you not to start any trouble here. This is my home world, and let’s face it, your past record on Core planets is not that great. I want this to go smoothly. That won’t be helped by you causing a political incident.”
“Ain’t no need to fret. Promise I’ll be good – won’t even step off-ship. Got no business here my own self, ‘cept gettin’ Serenity fixed up.”
“Thank you.” Inara gazed around at the teeming port, all lit up scarlet under the night sky. “And thank you for bringing me here. I know you didn’t want to come this far into the Core. I appreciate that you have on my account.”
“Well, all this is recompense enough,” he said, gesturing to the work going on around them. “She’ll feel like a new ship after.”
She smiled. He smiled. River, watching from the gantry, rolled her eyes. Just tell each other, she thought.
“Well,” he said. “Guess this is good luck.”
“You should go, if you’re to catch your young feller up.”
Inara held his gaze for a few seconds. Waiting.
“Yu len shwen fuhn,” he said finally.
She smiled again and turned away, partly to step off the ramp, mostly to hide her look of pain. She cursed herself, and him, for the dance they always seemed to find themselves in.
He watched her a moment, then spun on his boot and walked up the ramp toward the cargo bay. As he reached the top, he heard her call his name, and turned to see her looking at him.
“You will come back for me, won’t you?”
He nodded. “Every time, ‘Nara. You just call me when you’re ready.”
Mal didn’t hear River descend from the gantry, but he knew she was there behind him. She had a way of making her presence felt. He turned to see her seated on the side of the hover mule, in her favourite brown shawl, red dress and bare feet, gazing at him distractedly.
“What’s on your mind?”
“What’s on yours,” she replied. “You should just come out with it. Tell her what you want from her. She’s a big girl now. She might even say yes.”
“River Tam, you stay well away from that. Ain’t none a’ your concern.”
“Yes, it is. You catch cold, we all sneeze.”
“Joo koh, little one. We ain’t havin’ this discussion: not now or never. When did you turn into my ruttin’ conscience, anyways?”
She cocked her head. “When you stopped listening to your ruttin’ own.”
“Huh. Seems to me you need to talk less an’ work more,” Mal said bitterly. He didn’t have to take emotional guidance from a seventeen-year-old, gifted or no. “Didn’t I give you a job to do, recalibratin’ the navicomp?”
“Already did it,” she sighed, swinging her legs, kicking her heels against the mule’s battered yellow bodywork. “And I helped Kaylee finish up on the co-pilot console, and then I fixed the airlock seal regulator on Shuttle Two. And I washed the dishes. Everything’s satisfactory now.”
“Well… good. But it’s a big boat. Million an’ one more things to go awry. Sure you can find somethin’ else in need a’ fixin’?”
She smiled at him, meaningfully.
“I meant: other than me.”
“You’re the captain, Captain,” she shrugged. “I’m just the genius.”
“So, be on with you. Go get geniusin’ on somethin’. Ain’t nobody sits about on my boat; not no more.”
“Kuh-ooh duh lao bao-jun,” she said, poking out her tongue. She hopped down nimbly and moseyed off toward the gantry steps. Mal watched her go, shaking his head. He wondered if he’d preferred it when she didn’t talk sense.
“Take us outta the world, River.”
Serenity wheeled away from the landing platform and headed skyward, borne aloft on her two chubby thrusters.
“Nice an’ easy now. Try to fly polite, for ‘Nara’s sake.”
“How do I do that, exactly?”
“You’re the genius. You work it out.”
Mal ruffled her hair and made to exit. As he reached the doorway, he heard her say, “Captain.”
“Yeah, little one?”
“You’re leaving me alone.”
“That I am.”
“Shoo-uh. Is that a problem?”
“No,” she said, after a careful pause. “No problem. Just wanted to make sure you knew.”
“Take us out, then,” Mal said impassively. “No more discussions. I’ll be down in the cargo bay. Call me if anythin’ comes up.”
She nodded, and a smile blossomed onto her face as she turned back to the controls. Mal clattered down the steps and strode away along the corridor before his doubts could get the better of him.
What she doesn’t need is her captain second-guessing her all the time. Has she ever let you down?.
And Inara was right: River had never let them down. She had saved their asses twice, once single-handed against a battalion of Reavers. She wasn’t a passenger anymore, and it’d taken him too long a time to recognise that. She was a part of his crew, and an essential part at that – just as valuable as Zoe, Kaylee, Inara, the doctor, and Jayne. Well, he reflected, maybe more so than Jayne.
So, he had to trust her to solo his ship sometime. He owed her that much. Here seemed as good a point to start as any.
Serenity soared on, into the silent black.
yi lu shwen fuhn = good journey, bon voyage
shwie wong ba duhn = handsome s.o.b.
joo koh = stop talking
kuh-ooh duh lao bao-juhn = horrible old tyrant
mei-mei = little sister
shoo-uh = affirmative
'New Prospects' was written on a Packard Bell home computer, using Microsoft Word for Windows XP and a lot of coffee.
Monday, February 13, 2006 4:02 AM
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Monday, February 13, 2006 6:54 PM
Monday, February 13, 2006 7:43 PM
Thursday, January 11, 2007 7:18 AM
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