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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE
Hoopball is a game of unexpected twists.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1444 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Chap. 4 Part II-
Jayne was everywhere. Every time Simon turned around the big man appeared: he didn’t even have to hit the doctor- only stand his ground and Simon would knock himself over trying to move the immovable object that was Jayne. Watching it was like looking at waves pounding against a rocky shore.
Wham! Simon’s momentum bounced him off Jayne’s chest yet again and the big man retrieved the ball, passing it to Zoë who scored neatly. There was a groan of sympathy for the young doctor’s obvious pain and then a cheer for Zoë’s hoop from the deck where Inara and River watched the game.
Calling a hasty timeout, Kaylee hurried over to help Simon off the floor with one hand. The two joined Wash in a corner of the bay stacked high with crates. Wash handed an old water bottle to the doctor with a sympathetic wince when he met Simon’s eyes.
“That last one looked like it hurt.” She heard Wash tell the doctor.
Simon nodded a little wildly, “Aren’t there any fouls in this game?” He asked, sounding almost desperate.
“Well,” Kaylee told him, reluctantly, “it’s not like he’s hitting ya, exactly . . .”
“He’s just- there.” Wash finished for her, “And we’re losin’ nine to twelve. They only have to get three more hoops.” He glanced over at Mal, Zoë, and Jayne in their corner, already glowing a little with their impending victory. “I don’t suppose anybody’s got a notion as to how we might turn this thing around?”
“Get more hoops?” Kaylee suggested.
“Don’t play his game.” Advised a voice above them. Glancing up they saw Inara and River standing on the deck above them. Inara sat down with her usual grace to dangle her legs over their heads. Straightening her skirt with one hand, she gave them a small, mischievous smile. Beside her, River leaned over the railing and moved her head side to side, setting her hair to swaying as she looked down at them. “Your problem,” Inara told them, “is that you’re practically giving the ball to them every time you pass to Simon.”
“Thwack!” River agreed, slapping her hands together, with a big grin at her brother.
He gave her a grimace, “Of course, this is funny for you.”
She just smiled, not bothering to disagree.
Inara continued, “Just accept that Simon is never going to take a step without getting knocked down and use him to keep Jayne busy. Then-” She nodded to Wash and Kaylee, “you two just have to deal with Mal and Zoë.”
Wash exchanged a look with his teammates, “It’s worth a try.”
“Why’re you takin’ sides, all of a sudden?” Kaylee asked with her head tilted to the side, curious. Generally, Inara just watched and cheered both sides indiscriminately.
Inara’s smile turned mysteriously, “River and I have a weakness for underdogs,” She and the girl shared a sly sidelong look, “and the captain is particularly insufferable just after he wins a game.”
Their new strategy (courtesy of Inara) really was worth a try- it worked. By keeping the ball moving between Wash and Kaylee, while Simon kept Jayne busy they were able to bring their score up to twelve. And as long as the doctor didn’t have the ball, Jayne didn’t hit him. They were not tied- Zoë had managed to snag the ball away from Wash for a quick hoop- but with a score of twelve to thirteen, they certainly felt better about their chances.
After Kaylee managed to slip away from him to score the twelfth hoop, Mal called an angry time out. Wandering over to their corner, Simon glanced up and caught Inara smiling, even smirking a little at the aggrieved sound of the captains’ voice. When she caught the doctor’s eye, Inara smoothed the expression out into something more becoming of a companion but couldn’t hide the gleam in her eye.
Lowering himself down onto a crate carefully, Simon sighed a little as something made a small popping sound. Jayne may have stopped knocking him down but that didn’t stop the bruises he already possessed from achingly abominably. Glancing over at Kaylee, he saw her wince as the captain demanded to know what Jayne was doing sticking so close to a player with no ball. She looked over with sympathy at the big man getting the sharp edge of Mal’s tongue and Simon announced suddenly, “I’ve got an idea.”
The mechanic jumped a little at the abrupt sound of his voice and turned away from watching Jayne to look at him. Wash also looked up from where he was tightening his boot strap. “I once had an idea for an automatic back-scratcher that would double as a hair brush but-” he paused as the other two turned to look at him. “But this is not the time to reminisce on the past and the strange turnings of fate and chance. Oh no, now is the time for athletic endeavor and wily cunning to combine- what’s your idea?”
A bit discombobulated by Wash’s little tangent, Simon shook his head briefly as though to clear it and told them, “The captain has all but told Jayne not to stick so close to me- let’s use it to our advantage. You keep the ball moving between you, like you’ve been doing and lure Jayne away from guarding me. When the opportunity comes up, I’ll give a signal and you can pass it to me.”
Wash and Kaylee nodded seeing where he was going with it.
“It’ll only work once.” Wash observed.
“But it’s worth a shot,” Kaylee said with a little grin and Wash bowed his head to her, conceding.
“Okay,” Simon said, “when the moment comes, I’ll yell-” He paused, “What should I yell?”
Wash suggested, “Olley-olley-oxen-free?”
“How about ‘now!’?”
Wash shrugged, “That could work, too.”
Having a new plan and seeing Book wave them over, the three stood and made their way back toward the hoop.
After another fifteen minutes of play the score was fourteen/fourteen and everyone was breathing heavy. Wash, Simon, and Kaylee had fought hard to keep the other team down to that one point gain- Kaylee had actually had to throw herself at the captain to prevent him from getting off a shot. Unfortunately, Zoë with her usual lightening quickness had been right there to snatch up the rebound and make the shot Mal had missed. Through quick thinking and a lot of luck, they managed to gain the two points that tied both teams with just one point to go.
“Now!” Simon shouted and Wash faked away from Zoë, to flip the ball to the doctor. Seeing Simon completely unguarded, Mal hurried to try and snatch the ball away from him but at the last moment he threw it to Kaylee standing almost right underneath the hoop. Time slowed. Mal, unable to stop himself with so much momentum behind him, crashed into Simon sending them both to the floor. Zoë had slid around her husband but was too far away to stop Kaylee. Only Jayne, ten steps away on the other side of the hoop had any chance at stopping the mechanic. Turning away from the train wreck on the floor, he threw himself at Kaylee just as she raised the ball over her head to make the shot. On the upper deck, Inara held her breath and River smiled a small knowing smile. Just one step before he could reach her, Jayne stumbled his toe catching on the deck and he fell- flat on his face with a resounding thud that put Simon and Mal’s collision to shame. The ball flew, leaving a silver arc across the eyes of everyone who watched- to land just on the edge of the ring and then fall through.
Wash yelled, “Yes! Yes! Ooh, ho, ho!” He turned a giddy circle before rushing over to sweep Kaylee up in rough hug. He lifted her off her feet and turned her in a dizzying circle. She threw back her head and laughed, the cargo bay lights shinning on her hair and in her eyes.
Mal rolled off of Simon with a groan and the doctor got to his feet- unsteady from the fall and the sight of Kaylee glowing with victory as Zoë gave her a quick hug and a congratulations. He watched as Book and Inara took their turns as well before he staggered over to offer his praise and to receive some of Mal’s good natured threats about a re-match. Throwing one arm around his sister’s shoulders and then Kaylee’s, Simon suggested that everyone should take the impromptu celebration into the mess. It was agreed and a merry crew marched deeper into the ship in two’s and three’s: Wash and Zoe wrapped around each other and bantering easily, then River, Simon, Kaylee, then Shepard Book, Inara, and the captain.
In the cargo bay, Jayne got slowly to his feet. Walking across the cargo bay he picked up the ball and saw in his mind Kaylee screaming and laughing over her victory. Simon and his heavy arm on her shoulders intruded on the happy image and Jayne scowled fiercely.
The doctor didn’t want to play by the rules?
That was fine by Jayne.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006 7:30 AM
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