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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
After New Ties and Kaylee's Journal, the next step in Freya and Inara's relationship. Feedback etc. Oh, and thanks to BlueEyedBrigadier for the hint.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2117 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Freya,” Mal called from the bridge.
“What?” she said, stepping out of the kitchen into the corridor.
“We got us a job.” The captain of Serenity came down the stairs towards her.
“Santo.” He stopped as he reached her. “Only we have to leave before nightfall.”
“Shiny. I’ll go set the co-ordinates.” She went to move past him but he put his hand on her arm.
“Inara ain’t back yet,” he said.
She looked into his blue eyes. “And that matters how?”
He ignored the slightly obstinate tone and just said, “We were planning to pick her up day after tomorrow. This job’s gonna take ‘bout a week.”
Mal looked at her from under his eyebrows. “So, she’s not answering our hails. Kaylee says she thinks it might be something wrong with the comunit on the shuttle. So you’re gonna go tell her.”
“What?” Freya looked surprised, then shook her head. “No, no, Mal. Look, I … why not get Jayne to go? He’d probably appreciate some fresh air.”
“Because I’m telling you. ‘Sides, I think you and her need to have some time alone together. Talk things through.”
“You think we need to?”
“Frey, the atmosphere around here is so thick you can almost see it. Kaylee’s even been wondering if it’s the purifiers. You need to get this sorted out.”
“No. Decision’s made. It ain’t far – ‘bout an hour’s walk.”
“Walk? Mal, can’t I take the other shuttle? Be there much quicker.”
“Which is why I’m saying walk. Give you a chance to think on things yourself.” He shook his head. “I ain’t having it like this. Bad enough we got people out there wanting to encourage us to meet our maker, without me having to be concerned you two are going to start killin’ each other at the dinner table.”
“Not at the dinner table,” she assured him. “I’d never interrupt food. How about the old mule? Still give me time to think.” She knew she wasn’t going to get out of it.
“No. You walk. Then Inara can drop you back if she needs to stay.”
“You really think this is going to do any good?”
“It had better,” Mal said, heading back towards the bridge. “Otherwise you spend the next six months confined to your quarters. I ain’t having you two pussy-footing around each other any more.”
She watched his back, her mouth open, about to say that he was the reason they weren’t talking, but nothing came out. No point. He was, as he had pointed out on a number of occasions, captain. She sighed. Best be getting going, then.
“Inara? Inara, are you in –” She stepped through the open door into the shuttle. “Oh, sorry, am I intruding?”
Two men, dressed in identical grey suits, stood in the centre of the room, looking at her, their hands close to their chests. Inara sat on the sofa, her face frightened, a bruise already forming on her cheek. A little blood trickled from a split in her lip.
“Freya,” she said, something like relief in her eyes.
“Do I detect something in the air?” Freya asked.
“Just leave,” one of the men said. “T’ain’t none of your business.”
“But it is. Inara is my friend, and I don’t like to see friends in trouble.”
“There’s no trouble,” the second man said, his voice higher than the first. “Just conducting a little business.”
“Didn’t think you took on twosomes, Inara,” Freya said. “Or were into getting beaten up.”
“I’m not,” Inara said, her voice strained.
“Then what are you gentlemen doing here?” Freya asked, moving further into the shuttle, keeping her eye on them. “And why should Inara here have a split lip?”
Inara touched her face. “Freya –”
“Or did you just walk into a door?” Freya went on. “Or maybe this vase leaped up and attacked you.” She bent down to pick up a couple of pieces of broken pottery. “Pity, I quite liked this one.” She dropped the pieces onto the couch next to Inara, who realised she had, quite naturally and carefully, moved between her and the men. “So, care to enlighten me as to what’s going on?”
“Like I said, nothing for you to be concerned about. A little business, is all,” the second man said.
“But it seems to be the kind of business that involves getting physical, and I don’t mean sex,” Freya said, then her eyes narrowed. “Unless that was the next step.”
“If it was, you think you could stop us?”
Freya laughed, but there was little humour in it. “You don’t know me, so you wouldn’t know just how stupid a thing that is to say.”
“We weren’t going to rape her,” the first man said, sounding a little tired of it all. “We had a proposition to put to her.”
“And I said no,” Inara put in.
“Then that’s it, gentlemen,” Freya said. “So unless you’d like to stop lying to me –”
“They were just leaving,” the Companion interrupted.
“No, we weren’t.”
“I believe she said you were.” Freya drew herself up, keeping her right hand loose, close to her gun. “I don’t like men that beat up on women. Particularly women who won’t – or can’t – defend themselves. Now I’m not saying Inara is in either category, but that doesn’t mitigate the fact that you hit her. And I don’t care which one of you did it – you’re both culpable.”
“You don’t even know who the hell we are,” the taller of the men sneered.
“No, I don’t. And I don’t care to. Because you’re just gonna leave.”
“You gonna make us?” the other asked, moving his hand inside his jacket.
“Oh, I know you’re armed,” Freya said. “But I’ve taken out half a dozen like you before, with less provocation and more determination. It wasn’t pretty, either. Lots of shouting, and screaming. And that was those that survived.”
He looked at his partner, suddenly unsure.
“You’re lying,” the first man said.
“You’re positive about that, are you?” Freya asked. “Willing to stake your lives on it?”
“She’s telling the truth,” Inara asserted. “I’ve seen her do it.”
“You’re not that fast,” the first man said, but nowhere near as adamantly as before.
“It’ll make niou-fun of this shuttle, though,” Freya went on, looking around as if considering the situation. “Blood won’t show too much on the red, o’course, but still …”
“You’re crazy,” the second man said. “Fong luh.”
Freya smiled at him, her eyes cold as the stars. “Oh, more’n likely. Caused me a whole heap of problems back in the day. You two gonna cause me problems right now?”
For a moment it could have gone either way, could have ended up with broken bodies and the acrid smell of gunpowder. Then …
“We’ve made our point,” the first man said. “No need for this to get violent.” He dropped his hand.
The second man did the same, something like relief in his eyes. “Yeah. No need.” He looked at Inara. “But this isn’t over, Companion.”
“Yes. It is.” Freya still smiled, not moving her hand one inch.
“Come on,” the first man said, backing away.
After flashing Inara another look, the second man joined him and they left the shuttle.
After a moment Freya released the breath she had been holding and crossed the room, closing and locking the door.
“What isn’t over, Inara?” she asked as she turned around.
“Nothing.” The Companion was standing, and was picking up the pieces of the broken vase.
“Didn’t sound like nothing. Thought you were more careful about the clients you took on?” Freya asked, reaching out to touch Inara’s lip, checking it wouldn’t need stitches.
She pulled back. “They weren’t clients. They were waiting for me to finish with my last one, then barged on board as he left.”
“And your client left them here?”
“He was young. He didn’t understand – and frankly, neither did I.”
“What did they want?”
Inara looked down at her hands. “Money.”
Freya’s eyebrows drew together. “Money? You sure? It didn’t look like a shakedown to me.”
The Companion looked back up. “Just money.” She touched her face. “They got a little physical when I told them I didn’t have any here.”
“What kind of trouble are you in?” Freya asked.
“I’m not in any kind of trouble.”
“That hoe-tze duh pee-goo wasn’t joking, Inara. Something’s going on here, and I want to know what it is.”
“Nothing!” Inara shouted, then took a deep breath to calm herself. “Gwon nee tze-jee duh shr.”
“My own business? Yeah, sure, Inara. Next time two men threaten you I’ll just walk away, shall I?”
“Why didn’t you?” Inara asked, hotly, angry now. “Might have solved all your problems.”
They faced each other, barely a foot between them.
“You think? I doubt Mal’d see it the same way,” Freya said.
“You could have told him anything. That you’d got here too late. Found me dead.” Inara’s face was pale.
“You really think I’d do that?” Freya asked quietly.
“I don’t know! I don’t know you!”
They glared at each other, then: “I guess you don‘t,” Freya said finally, a trifle sadly. “So they just wanted to rob you?” she asked, letting Inara have her little lie. “You should’ve given it to them, Inara. Whatever you had.”
“I was going to,” she said quickly. “But you came in instead.” She looked at the other woman. “Why are you here?”
“Message for you from Mal. We’ve got a job on Santo, won’t be around the time we were supposed to link back up.” She glanced towards the small bridge. “By the way, your comunit doesn’t seem to be working.”
“It’s switched off,” Inara admitted, standing up and heading for the controls. “I didn’t want to be disturbed.”
“Could have been worse than that, Inara,” Freya said, following her. “Those men weren’t likely to go away without something. And if it was something you didn’t want to give …” She stopped.
Inara nodded. “I know.” She looked into Freya’s dark eyes. “Companions have been known to be attacked before, that’s why we’re taught self-defence techniques.”
“Didn’t work this time,” Freya pointed out, indicating Inara’s lip.
“There were two of them,” Inara said weakly, leaning over and switching the comunit back on. Immediately Mal’s voice filled the small room.
“Serenity to Shuttle One. ‘Nara, you there?”
Inara took down the comlink. “I’m here, Mal. So’s Freya.”
“She found you, good.” There was relief in Mal’s voice. “And why weren’t you answering?”
“I was working, Mal,” Inara said, a little asperity creeping into her tone. “You know, that thing you don’t approve of?”
“Ain’t got no problem with people working, Inara. Just what some of them call work.”
Inara sighed. “Well, I think I’m finished for the day. I’ll bring Freya back. I gather you’ve got a job of your own?”
“On Santo. Freya told you the situation?”
“She did. And I think I’ll be coming with you.”
“No clients want the pleasure of your company?” he asked, his voice surprised, and both women could imagine his eyebrows raising.
Inara touched her face again. “Not … no. Maybe I’m losing my touch.”
“I doubt that most sincerely. Well, see you in a few.” He signed off and Inara hung the comlink back up.
“I thought you had a full dance card this time around,” Freya said.
“Looking like this?” Inara shook her head. “I’ll make my apologies. Most of them are gentlemen, they’ll understand something came up. And those that don’t probably shouldn’t be on my list anyway.”
“Yeah.” Freya glanced back into the body of the shuttle for some reason. “Well, best get going.”
“Yes.” Inara slid into the pilot’s seat and activated the shuttle’s engines.
“Inara? Are you all right?” Kaylee asked, watching her friend come towards her along the catwalk.
“I’m fine. I just had a little trouble with a door,” Inara assured her.
“It wanted to go one way, I wanted to go the other. We sort of clashed in the middle.”
Kaylee laughed. “I get the same problem with that input valve. Number of times it’s nearly squashed my fingers.” She peered at the small amount of blood still on Inara’s lip. “Still, better get Simon to look at it.”
“I will,” Inara promised.
“Best get back,” Kaylee said. “Got the main atmo feed spread out on my workbench at the moment, and I don’t think the Cap’n’d take kindly to finding out there ain’t no oxygen if I don’t fix it.”
“That he wouldn’t,” said the man himself, coming towards them down the bridge stairs.
“Just going,” Kaylee said brightly, scampering towards her engine room.
Mal stopped next to Inara, tilting his head to look at the bruise forming on her cheek and the split lip. “What happened here?” he asked, glancing at Freya behind her.
“Nothing, Mal,” Inara insisted. “I had a little trouble with … Freya took care of it.”
“You sure it wasn’t Freya who was the trouble?”
Inara smiled then winced. “No, honestly.”
“Well, good. But get the doctor to take a look.”
“I’m on my way now.”
Mal tuned to Freya. “Get us to moving. Might as well be at the rendezvous early – make it look like we’re keen.”
“Yes sir,” Freya said, pulling a smile up.
“And you get to the infirmary,” Mal added to Inara, walking past them down into the cargo bay.
Freya turned to head up the stairs, but Inara stopped her with a hand on her arm. “Why did you do that?” she asked.
“Help me. You could have just walked away. They told you to.”
Freya turned so she could look the Companion directly in the face. “You’re crew, Inara. Part of Serenity.”
“That doesn’t mean much to anyone but the Captain.”
“It means everything to everyone on board.” Freya shook her head. “No matter we’re having problems, it ain’t anyone’s fault but ours. You’re crew.” Freya stopped, as if there was nothing else needed to be said.
“No problem.” She started to leave but Inara still wouldn’t let her.
“No, I mean it. You’re a good woman, Freya.”
Freya shook her head. “Not that, Inara. And it doesn't change anything."
"What do you mean?" Inara stepped forward. "You told those men I was your friend."
"Words, Inara. And we both know they lie when we want them to."
"Why can't we be friends?" Inara shook her head. "Mal isn't the only one who doesn't like this. I know it's been upsetting Kaylee, and even Jayne -"
"I don't know," Freya admitted quickly. "We'll have to see."
"And if Mal makes a choice?" Inara prompted. "What then?"
"He ain't showing a sign of it as yet. And if he does ... well, I guess one of us has to live with it." She sighed. “Go on. Get your face seen to. I need to get us going to Santo before Mal starts shouting.”
“Yes, that’s not a pretty sight.”
Freya nodded and headed up towards the bridge, wondering just what the Companion had gotten herself involved in.
Inara walked slowly down the stairs, thinking all the way.
Monday, September 25, 2006 4:09 AM
Monday, September 25, 2006 6:41 AM
Monday, September 25, 2006 6:43 AM
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