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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE
Mal talks to Inara, and River startles Jayne.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2176 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Life's Too Short- Part Two
Disclaimer: yeah, yeah, the characters aren't mine.
Author's Note- wow, I'm really on a roll today. I've added a little J/R, for those of you who like that, and set up a job on Whitefall. Adventure, yipee! *Please commment*
“Got a job for us, sir?” Mal swung around to face Zoe, who'd just climbed out of her bunk. He studied her face for a second.
“Yep. We'll be landin' on Whitefall in nine hours.”
“Whitefall, sir? Seems I recall a few bullets chasing us last we left Whitefall.” Her eyes were steady and tired.
“We need the work. 'Sides, she only shot me once.”
“She tried for twice. If that horse hadn't been there-”
“But the horse was there, Zoe. I can handle Patience.” He clapped her on the shoulder. One dark eyebrow rose. Her eyes. The light that used to shine there was down to a mere flicker. Mal wanted to bring it back, just for a moment. Just for a moment.
“I was thinkin', maybe you and me could find a bar on a friendly planet near Whitefall. Ain't lookin' for trouble, I just...”
“A bar, sir?”
“You remember the time Wash dared me to sing the buttercup song?” It was risky, saying the name. He wasn't sure it was wise to mention Wash, but no one else on the gorram boat would. And it wasn't like Mal was ever known for his wisdom, right?
“I surely do,” Zoe replied softly.
“Well, as I recall, we sort of had to leave that bar before I could get drunk enough to carry through.”
“We got thrown out of that bar, sir.”
“True, true,” Mal said, a rambling note in his voice. Then, he straightened and put a hand on her arm. “I intend to follow through with that bet, Zoe, an' I want you to be there. As witness. Wash never woulda believed it otherwise.” A muscle twitched in her jaw, and Mal held his breath.
Then, a faint smile.
“All right.” It wasn't much, but it was more than he'd hoped for.
O' course, now he was stuck with singing the stupid song.
Mal let go of his old friend's arm and moved to continue his search for Inara. What he was going to say to her he wasn't sure, but he wanted to say something. As he did so, Zoe cleared her throat.
“Thank you, Mal,” she said clearly. Mal nodded, and moved off.
* * * * * * *
Inara was in her shuttle. She was scanning the Cortex, but not really paying attention to what she was seeing. Stay or leave? Stay or leave? She wanted... she didn't know what she wanted. Inara missed her girls at the Training House. She missed their chatter, the motherly concern she felt when she looked at them, the rumors about her and her pirate.
Her pirate. But he wasn't hers, not really. The girls didn't know that, though. Maybe that was why she had been able to survive there. She'd been able to cloak herself in their rumors, in the belief that she was some sort of romantic figure. Pretend that Mal was... well, hers.
But he wasn't. He never would be. He would never be able to get past her job, and she would never be able to get past his... his what? Everything about him. The love, the loyalty, the fierce bond that made him willing to die for her, for anyone on his crew. She would be tied to him, more than she already was. And then, she would lose her Companion status for sure. Maybe that's what frightened Inara the most. Being a Companion was more than just her job, it was her way of fulfillment. How she helped people. Without it, she didn't know what would be left of her. The secret Inara, the one she kept so deeply hidden that even she didn't know, would have nothing more to hide behind.
There came a rap at the shuttle door.
“Qin jing,” Inara called, switching off the Cortex, but Mal was already standing in the doorway to her room. Well, at least he'd managed to knock. Even if it was after he was already inside.
“Hey,” he said, looking slightly sheepish.
“Hey,” she replied, and he noticed that even slang sounded pretty when she said it.
“I, um, wanted to... fe hua.”
“I mean, I wanted to say... I was sorry.” Mal was gonna regret this. He just knew it. River's little speech about time and time running out was messin' with his brain, makin' him crazy. First the song, now apologizin' to Inara?
“You- you what?” She looked shocked. Mal folded his arms, feeling a little defensive. Surely it wasn't that surprising for him to say he was sorry?
“Yeah. For what I said back at the bridge.”
“Oh. I- I'm sorry, too,” she managed, her brow furrowing.
“We're landin' on Whitefall in about nine hours,” Mal said. Inara stood before she could stop herself.
“You what! Mal, Patience shot-”
“This happened last time, too. Everybody making a fuss,” he muttered, more to himself than to her.
“That's because she shot you!”
“Didn't shoot me last time.”
“But she missed,” Mal stated, rather illogically.
“What does that have to do with anything? Oh, why do I bother?” Inara turned in a huff and began setting out incense. She heard a clink and turned again, barely managing to remain graceful. Mal had a small stone carving of a fat Buddha, and was balancing it on top of the larger one that sat on her bedside table.
Inara strode over to him and took the smaller Buddha out of his hand, ignoring the tingle that came with touching him. She was almost getting used to it.
“Must you touch everything I own?”
“Come now, I ain't touched everything,” Mal said defensively. They both froze for a millisecond, realizing what he'd just said. “Anyway-”
“Well, I'll-” They both spoke at once, trying to cover the waiting silence. Both broke off, and there was that silence again. It, like the tingle, was getting familiar. As if the air itself was waiting, waiting for them to step closer, waiting for his arms to go around her and-
“Have you seen Kaylee? I wanted to ask her something,” Inara said swiftly, backing up. Mal ran a hand through his hair.
“Um. She's in the engine room, workin' with Simon.” Again, the vague double entendre hit them both at the same time. Inara blushed, and Mal bit his lip. “Not- that- I mean to say, she's- they're- she's in the engine room,” he finished up awkwardly.
“Thank you,” Inara said quietly, and walked quickly out of her shuttle. Mal stood in her room, a little bewildered. That had been... strange. Not bad strange, though, he thought with a grin. Not bad at all.
* * * * * * *
Jayne was sitting on the floor next to the weight-lifting bench, pieces of Vera spread around on the bench. He spat on her barrel and rubbed with the corner of his faded T-shirt. He hadn't used the weights since Miranda. Didn't seem right without the Shepard spottin' him. Shepard had been gone for a while before Miranda, gone to Haven, but the weights had always reminded Jayne of the preacher-man. Now, though, there was never any chance of Book comin' back an' philosophisin' with him again.
“Two by two,” Jayne heard from behind him. He leaped up and spun around.
“Gorrammit, you moonbrained girl, don't you sneak up like that!” River stood there, in a blue dress that clung to curves he'd only just begun to notice. It had started when the doors opened on Miranda, an' she'd stood there all bloody and strong, Reavers lyin' dead all 'round her... ta ma de, but that had hit him hard. Sexy and dangerous all at once, and Jayne still had dreams about that moment. 'Course, she only had to say something for him to remember that she was just a moonbrained kid.
“Two by two,” she said again. She was lookin' at him with those big eyes, a little smile on her face. Last time she'd said that, she'd been a terrified child, her mind humped over by those hun dans in the Alliance. Now, she was a woman, lookin' at him in a way that was all kinds of disturbing.
“Get, you hear? River, I said get!”
“Can't stop the future, Jayne.” He spat on Vera's barrel again.
“I look up after I count to five an' you're still there, gonna find out just how painful the future is.” There was no real menace in his voice, though, and he knew it. Damn it, why couldn't he be a bad man around her anymore? Oh, he knew the moves. He played them, put on the face, but his heart wasn't in it. It wasn't just the sexy new River he'd seen on Miranda. It was Wash, and Book, and everything. Just didn't feel right bein' mean. Not now.
He turned away from her, and started counting. At four, hands reached around and covered his eyes.
“Guess who. Get it right, you get a surprise.” She giggled. Jayne sighed and slammed Vera's barrel down on the weight bench.
“River, if'n you-”
“Right,” she whispered, and turned him around to face her. “Want your surprise?”
“No.” The girl laughed, and her eyes were dancing. Made him feel good to see her happy, though he'd never admit it. She held out her hand, and she was holding something. He couldn't quite see what, but it was something small.
“Here.” He shook his head and held out his own palm, and River dropped something in it. Jayne looked down. It was a tiny wooden carving of a woman's head and shoulders, painted carefully. Jayne peered at it, and then his jaw dropped.
“How the hell did you do that, girl?” It was his mother, in every detail.
“Missing her. Wish you could see her, let her know you're all right. Let her know it was you what spread the word, you and your ship. Make her proud. She is proud, Jayne Cobb.”
“That's a bunch of go se,” Jayne spat, and, gathering up various parts of his favorite gun, he stormed out of the room.
But he took the carving with him, held tight in his hand.
Friday, March 24, 2006 10:33 AM
Friday, March 24, 2006 10:40 AM
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Saturday, March 25, 2006 2:34 AM
Saturday, March 25, 2006 6:05 AM
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