Finding Our Way: Chapter 2
Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Searching for jobs on a wealthy Border world takes an unexpected, yet pleasant, turn. Simon meets a mysterious woman who insists that he deliver cargo to her homeworld of Osiris and things, as usual, don’t go as planned.


Chapter 2

“All right kiddies, we all know our jobs?” Mal tugged at the cravat tied neatly around his neck and shifted uncomfortably in the overly tight pants. He truly hated fancy functions.

“Captain,” Simon stepped into his line of vision, dressed to the nines in his fancy Core fits. The black tailcoat hugged his body just right, and matched perfectly with the red patterned vest and white mandarin shirt beneath. “I don’t think River–“

“She can be of use. She’s going. That’s final.” Mal turned to Wash and Jayne, who were similarly uncomfortable in their fancy clothes.

Shepherd Book, the only one remaining on the ship, rested a reassuring hand on Simon’s shoulder. “She’ll be fine, son. Didn’t you tell me she always loved to dance?”

Simon nodded slowly. “She loves to dance.”

“Well then, just think of this as a –“

The soft clink of delicate shoes on metal could be heard from above and five sets of eyes turned upward to see the ladies leaving Inara’s shuttle.

“Ta ma duh.” Wash stared at Zoe, resplendent in a traditional Chinese dress, as she led the ladies down the metal staircase. He stepped forward and took her hands. “Wife, you look good ‘nuff to eat.“

“You can do that when we get home, husband.”

Simon’s breath caught and his heart turned over in his chest when he saw his mei mei, the beautiful silk clinging to curves he hadn’t wanted to admit she even possessed. The happy smile on her face nearly made him forget that she was deeply disturbed and emotionally traumatized girl. She hopped off the steps with the grace of a dancer and flung herself into his arms.

“Mei mei, you look beautiful,” he whispered into her hair.

“Can’t wait to dance, Simon. It’s been so long. You’ll dance with me, right?”

Simon’s eyes were tender as he cupped her cheek. “Of course I will dance with you.”

Kaylee followed River, her eyes falling hopefully on Simon. But his attention was elsewhere, his swai smile turned on his sister as he looked at the beautiful red dragon-patterned silk that clung to the younger girl’s thin body.

Inara noticed the crestfallen look on Kaylee’s face and lifted a delicate hand to the younger girls shoulder. “Give him time, mei mei. He’ll see you.”

Kaylee’s eyes filled with tears and she forced a smile to her lips. “He doesn’t have to.”

Mal and Jayne stepped up to their ‘dates’ giving an approving nod as their eyes took in the beautiful traditional dresses that hugged every sensual curve.

River babbled excitedly behind them and Simon brilliantly fielded every question, assuring her that she would be able to dance.

Jayne was oblivious to the hurt in Kaylee’s eyes but Mal noticed and followed her gaze to where Simon was standing with his sister. He leaned forward. “He doesn’t deserve you, lil Kaylee. Do you good to remember that.”

Inara swiped Mal in the arm, her eyes shooting darts at him. “We all know how you feel, no need to repeat it.”

Mal scowled at her and turned to his crew. “All right then. Let’s go. We’ve got jobs to get and this ball is a veritable wish list of ‘em. Simon, remember your alias for this little adventure. Brandon Jin and your cousin, Sarafi. Don’t blow it an get us all killed.”

River grabbed Simon’s hand. “Names mean nothing.” She flattened her hand against his chest. “What’s in here that matters.”

“Yes, mei mei, I know. I love you too.” He hadn’t understood and she didn’t know how to explain. Simon took her arm and laced it through his, the only man among them looking every bit the formal gentleman.

“I want to dance!” River exclaimed excitedly as they walked down the ramp ahead of everyone else.

Kaylee glared at Jayne as he mimicked Simon’s moves, clumsily attempting a motion that Simon had executed with flawless grace.

Mal did a bit better as Inara offered him her arm. And Wash simply allowed himself to be led down the ramp by his amazonian beauty.


The ball was an elegant and splendid affair taking place in the largest building on the planet. Marble lined the walkways, and silk tapestries hung from the walls. Dignitaries and the wealthy from around the Core were in attendance, laughing, socializing and conducting business beneath the finery of a state affair.

As soon as they’d entered the spectacularly elegant building, River immediately pulled Simon toward the dance floor. He smiled nervously at the attendant as he announced them and then allowed his cousin to pull him into a jovial reel.

Jayne left Kaylee by the buffet table with the excuse that he was going to troll the room for jobs. And she was more than happy to let him go so she could stare sadly at the table filled with more delicacies than she had ever seen in her life. She plucked a strawberry from the tray and turned toward the dance floor, her eyes searching for Simon and River.

Wash and Zoe disappeared into the crowd, Zoe eager to get on with business even though her husband wanted to enjoy the fancy digs.

Mal left Inara’s side to fetch some drinks and when he returned they found themselves beside Kaylee at the buffet table. “Jayne abandon ya already?”

“Business, y’know?” Kaylee said sadly.

“Why don’t you dance with Mal,” Inara suggested with a smile.

Mal began to protest that he had business to conduct but Inara silenced him with a glare.

“Oh, no, he’s your date. An – well, you know the steps.” Kaylee’s eyes never left the dance floor, where she’d finally caught sight of Simon and River perfectly dancing in tune with the music.

Inara followed Kaylee’s eyes and smiled gently. “If you ask him, I’m sure he will teach you.”

“Oh, no, he don’t wanna dance with someone like me. Don’t know the steps.”

Inara smiled sadly at her mei mei. She’d been so excited to wear a fancy dress and attend another ball, one where Simon would be in attendance as well. Inara knew the girl had fantasies of him sweeping her off her feet and twirling her around the dance floor like she was his princess.

As the dance ended, Simon bowed respectfully over River’s hand and led her off the floor. Seeing Inara he directed River toward them, all the while listening politely to his sister’s begging him to dance again.

“Let me get you something to drink first.” Simon left her beside Inara, completely ignoring Kaylee as he searched for the fountain. “I’ll be right back.” He squeezed River’s hand and moved away, dodging the dancers who had just started a slow waltz.

Mal disappeared into the crowd and Kaylee tried to blend into the buffet table as she stared at Simon from beneath her lashes. Inara pushed her untouched drink into River’s hand. “Here, dear, take this. I’ll get another.”

River’s attention was riveted to the dancers and the drink in her hand was forgotten as she began to sway to the music, humming the familiar tune.

Kaylee watched Inara approach Simon, who had just reached the drink fountain. She gave her complete and undivided attention to the buffet table, picking out another strawberry, as their eyes turned to search for her.

She could sense them returning, weaving around the dancers to make their way back to the table. But Kaylee was so nervous she rounded the table and disappeared into the crowd before Simon had returned with Inara.

“Dance again!” River exclaimed and Simon had to take her hands and whisper soothingly to calm her down. It would not do to bring unwanted attention.

He took the drink out of her hand, set it on a nearby table and led her once again out onto the dance floor. He cast an apologetic look back at Inara who smiled gently in understanding.

Soon, they disappeared into the throng of dancers, waltzing to the elegant music.

Inara turned and walked around a nearby column. “He was going to ask you to dance, you know.”

Her sad, pained voice nearly broke Inara’s heart. “Don’ wan him to ask me just because you nagged him.”

“Oh honey, River’s demanding more of his attention than usual tonight. And he’s encouraged that he’s seeing more of the normal girl he knew. Give him time. He’ll make it over to you.”

Kaylee shrugged as a well-dressed man approached and bowed over Inara’s extended hand. He asked for a dance and she reluctantly agreed, leaving Kaylee leaning against the marble pillar, her eyes filling with tears.


As the evening progressed, Mal’s mood changed as he negotiated a deal to carry crates of seeds to settlers on several Rim worlds. He approached Inara with a glass of wine, toasting his superior negotiation skills.

Zoe and Wash joined them, each also carrying their own glasses of wine. They’d procured a job carrying a few hundred small puppies to a Border world, supposedly to wrangle herds of much larger animals. Secretly, Zoe believed they would be slaughtered for food once full grown.

Kaylee returned with her own glass of wine as Zoe and Wash moved away to attempt a dance, falling into step with Simon and River as they danced yet again.

“Stop starin’ after that boy, Kaylee. Ain’t nothin’ gonna pry his attention away from that crazy girl t’night.”

“Mal!” Inara slapped his arm none too delicately and he scowled at her.

Kaylee’s whispered, “I know,” was lost as the dance ended and the crowd applauded. She moved to the other side of her pillar again as Simon approached with River, a bit winded after that last dance.

River excitedly tugged at his coat, begging to dance again. “You need to sit this one out, mei mei.” Simon said sternly, reaching for the glass he’d left on a nearby table. He pulled out a chair and indicated she plant her backside into it. “And I need a break.” He forced an exasperated smile at Inara who simply nodded in pity at his predicament.

Inara, noticing Kaylee had disappeared once again, pulled Mal over to where Simon and River sat. “Mal is going to watch River for a few moments while we dance.”

Simon shot her a pained look and she simply laughed and extended her hand. She wanted to talk to him and on the dance floor, where he could expertly complete the moves without having to concentrate, was the best place.

As they began to steps, Simon exhaled deeply. “I don’t remember ever dancing this much. I imagine I’ll be sore tomorrow. “

“Well, the more you practice, the less sore you will be.” Inara smiled kindly at him and was none surprised as he led her expertly across the dance floor.

“But – if River’s happy and – I haven’t seen her this happy since – a little pain is worth it.”

“Yes, I suppose it is.” Inara said sadly, forcing herself to watch her partner and not search Kaylee out of the crowd.

Simon sensed the subtle change in her demeanor. “Is something wrong?”

“With me, no. I’m having a lovely time.” Inara smiled sweetly at him and she suddenly understood why Kaylee was so smitten. Simon had the loveliest eyes she’d ever seen. Wide and full of expression if one looked carefully enough.

“Then what –“

Who would be more appropriate.” Inara hoped she wouldn’t have to spell it out for him.

A look of confusion passed across his face and Inara felt irritation creep along her spine. Could he be so dense as not to realize he hadn’t seen, or even said one word to, Kaylee all evening?

Suddenly, understanding flickered in those deep blue eyes. “Kaylee.” His eyes fluttered closed and he exhaled deeply. He muttered beneath his breath, “ai ya huai le.”

Inara nodded, thinking that perhaps the good doctor wasn’t as clueless as he appeared.



Wednesday, March 1, 2006 4:10 PM


Finally the boy gets a clue! Why are the pretty ones always such boobs?

Looking forward to more!

Wednesday, March 1, 2006 5:20 PM


I like this idea a lot - all of them going off to get jobs and working the room. Poor Kaylee, could Simon be any more dense? I mean, a little, you look beautiful would go a long way - even if River did continue to monopolize his dancing time. Keep going, I want to see if Kaylee let's him ask her to dance!

Wednesday, March 1, 2006 6:57 PM


About time man, ask her already!

Wednesday, March 1, 2006 8:27 PM


Poor Little Kaylee! If Simon doesn't do something about Kaylee then I hope somebody hits him. J/K (but kinda not). Can't wait for your next post!

Thursday, March 2, 2006 9:33 AM


You really just want to slap him don't you.

Friday, May 26, 2006 2:02 AM


*procured a job carrying a few hundred small puppies to a Border world*

LOL, the black market beagles, the ones with the smallish droppings!

Yay for a happily dancing River (she needs to make Mal get up to dance with her, or maybe that's coming soon)


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