The New 'Verse - Chapter II
Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Miranda Wave has been sent out, and life still goes on out there on the raggedy edge. Now, Inara helps Simon as only she can. S/K, hints of M/I.



They were alone in the cargo bay, now – River and Mal were up on the bridge, the rest of the crew devoted to their own tasks. Simon’s focus was entirely on Inara, watching the way she moved in response to him. His actions were hasty, he knew – it had been too long since the last time he had done this. Too much energy wasted, while hers were quick, smooth, well-practiced. When he brought himself forward, she answered him perfectly, bodies moving around each other until their positions were reversed, eyes still intent on each other. She smiled at his enthusiasm, obviously glad to be putting some of her training to use.

When they broke apart after their first interchange, Inara cast a reassessing eye over the young doctor. “You’re surprisingly good at this, Simon. I never would have guessed at this hidden talent of yours.”

Simon beamed at her praise. “I haven’t done this in… well, in a long time. Certainly not since I put everything aside to try and rescue River. I’d almost forgotten how much I’d enjoyed it.”

“It seems like you’ve had some real education in this art. Where did you learn?”

“Well, there was a girl at my secondary school – we dated for a little while when I was about sixteen. She was the year ahead of me, and, well, she was good. Extremely good. After classes in the afternoon, we’d go down to the gymnasium and she’d teach me. Even after she graduated and we broke up, I could usually find someone to practice with. There was never a shortage of partners at the MedAcad, either – it’s one of those things that we snobby Core kids all seemed to learn how to do.”

“Well, it’s a shame that you haven’t had a lot of opportunity out here. Staying in practice can be surprisingly useful when the need arises.” Simon was good, but he didn’t have the confidence or precision of a true expert, Inara decided. The conversation was distracting him, she saw, and she took the opportunity to get under his arm. He flinched slightly when he felt the touch on his leg.

He smiled sheepishly. “Hmph. Guess I’m still a little rusty.”

“A little?”

“Ok, a lot!” he laughed. “It’s a bit more complicated than riding a bicycle, I guess. I’m just glad you’re willing to help me get back into practice.” Simon relaxed his shoulders and brought his full attention back to Inara.

There were no more words for a few minutes, and when Simon finally pulled back he was surprised to find himself breathing heavily and pushing wet hair back and out of his eyes.

“You all right there, Doctor?” Inara teased. “Hope I’m not wearing you out.”

“In my defense, this particular form of exercise is well known for its qualities as a rigorous cardiovascular workout – and I promise that I’m not at the edge of my endurance just yet.”

The two of them smiled at each other again, their verbal sparring a counterpart to the movements of arms and hips and feet. “Besides,” he continued. “Like you yourself said, I haven’t had a chance to do this in more than a year, whereas you have kept… well, more in practice.”

The exertion had brought spots of color to Inara’s cheeks – made all the more prominent by the fact that she had foregone her usual makeup. “Ah. I take it that Mal told you about our little ‘training session,’ then?”

“Well, he certainly didn’t tell me, but yes, the captain seemed truly impressed.”

Inara’s lips twisted into a slight pout. “He didn’t seem too pleased at the time,” she confided.

“Well, you know how he is – far better than I do, I’m sure! The man would cut off his own nose just to spite his face. When he was telling Zoë about it, though, he couldn’t keep the admiration out of his voice.” Simon paused for a moment to catch his breath – it was getting harder to move correctly as little-used muscles protested their ill-treatment. “I happened to overhear. That was a while ago – we just never seemed to have the time or the opportunity for me to ask you since then, is all.”

Inara and Simon nearly jumped through their skin when they heard a voice from above. “My ears were burnin’ – figured it was somefolk discussin’ me,” Malcolm Reynolds said. He looked down at the pair in front of him, taking into account their current state of dress and their breathlessness, and continued with a certain sense of irony. “Though why I was the topic of conversation while you two were… doing that…” he said, waving his hand at them, “is entirely beyond the scope of my comprehension.”

Simon glanced at Inara and saw the argument brewing, but he was trapped between them. “We were just comparing how well Simon is doing compared to your own attempts in this particular arena,” she said sweetly. “I have to say, Simon is making your own efforts seem rather pathetic.”

“Is that so?” Mal gave the doctor a glare, and Simon would have been perfectly happy to melt into the deck plates. “It appears that our medic is a man of many talents. I do seem to recall doing pretty well for myself, however – little thanks to your expert advice.”

“Well, Mal, perhaps if you’d actually listened to my expert advice rather than have your head firmly embedded in your huang xi pi gu, it might have gone better for all involved.”

Mal opened his mouth to retort when he was interrupted by Simon. The doctor had spotted Kaylee passing by up top and called out to her with the desperate hope of a drowning man reaching for a life preserver. “Kaylee! Good to see you!” he practically shouted.

“Simon!” Kaylee said, glancing back over her shoulder. “What’re you doin’ down there with… um, with Inara!?”

The doctor felt his face starting to heat up. There was no getting out of the whole crew knowing about his activities, now. Still, it was better than being caught in the middle of a full-blown verbal brawl between Inara and the captain.

Kaylee then did a double take and turned around to examine the two of them fully. “And what’re you wearin’!? Not that you don’t look, ya know, nice in those, um, tights, but… is that a sword?”

Simon looked down, embarrassed. He was wearing a gray fencing jumpsuit that was a little small for him, though still far too large for Inara – he was lucky she happened to have the extra suit. “Yes.” He twirled the lightweight blade around his hand, feeling awkward. “Yes. I was thinking about what River said, about how she wanted to be able to protect herself, and she’s right – she and I have been helpless too many times, and that’s put everyone else at risk.

Simon looked the captain in the eye. “And as you well know, I haven’t demonstrated any degree of proficiency with guns.” Simon gestured with the weapon, a well-balanced but blunt rapier designed for training. “Back at the MedAcad, however, I fenced quite a bit to stay in shape, and I did fairly well. Inara was kind enough to loan me her training equipment – thought I’d try and get back into practice.”

“Also, someone needed to teach Simon the variation between fencing for sport and dueling for your life,” Inara added dryly. “There is a slight difference.”

“I can vouch for that,” the captain interjected, feeling a phantom pain from the scar on his abdomen. “Getting hit by one of those blunt things hurts a lot less.”

“The fencing foils weren’t nearly as heavy as these things, either,” Simon said, rubbing his triceps where the burning muscle told him he’d be sore tomorrow.

Mal crossed his arms. “Anyways, that’s a very noble thought, Doc, but I don’t see how practical it’s going to be. Unless we end up rubbing shoulders with more rich folk on Londinium or Persephone, people just don’t fight with swords any more, and you walking around with one of them fancy pig-stickers on your hip is just gonna attract us more attention than we need.”

“Regarding the first,” Simon replied, “people might not fight with swords the way Inara and I are, but they still fight with knives, clubs, and fists. Three feet of sharp steel might dissuade some thug from attempting to introduce your face to a pool-cue. Also, didn’t you say the Operative carried a sword?”

“Yeah, but he was just as crazy as River, in his own well-meaning, homicidal way. That’s not a point in favor. Besides, he had that bag of his, kept it well-hidden – the kind of pretty weapon you’ve got in your hand doesn’t do so well with the camouflage.”

“I’ve thought of that, too. Look, it was a bit of a fad when I was in secondary school for rich young men – and women, too – to have some measure of ‘self-defense.’ Remember, it’s illegal on the Core Worlds to carry a gun unless you have a special permit, which is very hard to get. Instead, they’d carry a ‘gentleman’s companion.’” Simon laughed self-deprecatingly. “Even my father had one, though he’d never allow me to own one while in secondary school, and by the time I’d made it to MedAcad, the fad had passed.”

Mal’s glance flicked over to Inara, who saw the gesture and allowed herself the luxury of rolling her eyes. “Wrong kind of Companion, Mal,” she said impatiently. “A gentleman’s companion is a sword, kept in a small compact cylinder you could wear on your belt, attach to a bag or even keep hidden inside a dress jacket. One press of a button and a long, slender blade extends out. You’ve probably seen them and not recognized them – do you remember that Alliance commander who picked us up from the ship that had been hit by Reavers? He had one in his belt when he conducted our ‘interviews.’”

“I haven’t exactly spent any of my share of the last several jobs,” Simon continued, grateful for the explanation, “and I think I can just about afford one. The next time we pull into a relatively…” He almost said “civilized,” but bit his tongue and quickly changed the word. “Um, relatively prosperous world, I’ll be able to buy one at a shop that sells toys for the rich.”

The captain remained unimpressed, but he shrugged. “How you spend your coin is your business, Doc, but it seems like a waste of good money to me.”

With that, Mal took his leave and headed back up to the bridge. Behind him, he heard Kaylee tell Simon, “Well, I think it’s a real good idea, havin’ some means of keepin’ yourself safe. You do have a sorta knack for attractin’ trouble…” Simon’s reply was indistinct, but it sounded like agreement. Mal rolled his eyes at the pair of ‘em. Couple of kids in love, nary a clue between them.

It wasn’t until he was on the ladderwell past the crew’s bunks that he realized that Simon and Kaylee had very neatly derailed his argument with Inara, and that everyone had left on friendly and peaceable terms. He wasn’t sure whether to be irritated or grateful.

When he got back up to the bridge, he plopped down into the copilot’s seat and stared out at the Black. “Your brother is fixin’ to purchase himself a sword, Miss River,” he said. “But then again, you probably already knew that.”

“I knew,” River said solemnly. “Simon wants so badly to be strong. Doesn’t want his mei mei to have to fight, doesn’t want Kaylee to be hurt while he is helpless, ever again. Also,” she added with a small, sad smile, “big brother wants to keep some little pieces to remind him of his old life. Of course, Father never let Simon have a weapon, but now Daddy says ‘do what you want.’” She looked at him with huge eyes, and Mal felt distinctly uncomfortable.

“Thank you,” she said simply.

“You know,” Mal said sharply, “Sometimes I think you’re just a crazy as before. I ain’t your daddy, and I certainly ain’t your brother’s.”

River blinked, hurt, and seemed to shrink a little bit back into herself. “Sorry,” she said in a very small voice. “Language, metaphor, the girl finds it is still hard to always be clear. Didn’t mean it like that. River knows that she and Simon don’t have a daddy anymore.”

After that, the bridge was silent, and Mal suddenly felt very much like a mean old man.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006 5:20 AM


Oh, this was so well done! I love that Simon wants to cling to a bit of his old life while using that to protect himself and those he loves.

>Yeah, but he was just as crazy as River, in his own well-meaning, homicidal way. That’s not a point in favor.

That was SUCH an excellent comment from Mal.

Really, all of the dialogue ran very true to the characters. And you don't find that very often. Well done!

>Didn’t mean it like that. River knows that she and Simon don’t have a daddy anymore.”

This just pulled at my heartstrings!

>Mal suddenly felt very much like a mean old man.

He's not heartless, he does care about the siblings. This was a perfect place to end this chapter!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006 8:31 PM


Ooh...Mal probably feels like an ass right now, though I can understand his hesitancy in River's use of the endearment "Captain Daddy" or "Daddy" when it comes to himself. Probably not too comfortable in thinking of his ownself being a good father:(

Still...loved the fencing scene being veiled in a gutter test way;) Definitely jumped to the right conclusion immediately...but it was still fun to assume Simon and Inara were getting their groove on;)



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The New 'Verse - Chapter II
The Miranda Wave has been sent out, and life still goes on out there on the raggedy edge. Now, Inara helps Simon as only she can. S/K, hints of M/I.

The New 'Verse - Chapter I
The Miranda Wave has been sent out, and life still goes on out there on the raggedy edge. Now, River is trying to piece together the broken parts of herself. S/K, hints of M/I.