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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Following on from Interval, with more on Inara and Freya. Feedback would be excellent!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2133 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
It was going to be difficult, dangerous. Not a mission she’d take on lightly, but it had to be done. Could end up with someone lying in a pool of blood on the floor, and knowing the way her luck was going lately it would probably be hers, but … she had to do it. She knocked.
Freya stepped through into the Companion’s shuttle, noting the incense, not unlike that she used herself. “Inara?”
The woman herself moved gracefully from the small bridge area into the room. “Freya!” She was surprised. “What can I do for you?” She held herself upright, distant, not wanting to provoke another confrontation.
Freya took a deep breath. “I … we …” She swallowed. “Can we talk?”
“What about?” Inara asked curiously.
“I … wanted to apologise.” There, she’d said it.
This broke through the Companion’s reserve. “Apologise? What for?” When Freya just stood, her mouth working but showing no signs of being able to even get her words out, Inara added, “Please, sit.”
Freya sank down onto the sofa gratefully, and Inara joined her, not close, but a safe distance away. Freya’s lips twitched and she sighed. “I ain't gonna bite, Inara.”
“I think I've had enough of that for a few days,” Inara agreed, her hand going to touch the bruise turning yellow on her face.
“Yeah, well, that’s what I wanted to apologise for.”
“Why? You didn’t hit me.”
“No, but … I was annoyed, Inara. You lied to me about those men, and I …” She stopped. “If you’re in trouble, I want to help.”
“It isn’t anything you can help me with,” Inara said regretfully.
“Why don’t you tell me and let me be the judge?” Freya smiled.
Inara was taken aback. She’d tried, attempted to make friends with Freya after the incident with … them, but she’d turned her back. Now Freya seemed to be making overtures herself.
“Has Mal told you to come in here?” she asked.
“No.” Then Freya raised her eyebrows. “Oh, you think I’m being friendly because he told me to,” she realised.
“Funnily enough, no.” She shook her head, leaning forward so her elbows were resting on her knees, her face down. “I’ve watched you with the others, Inara. Kaylee in particular, River and Simon, even Jayne.” She looked up. “You’re more than friends with them. You’re family.”
Inara held back the astonishment that raced through her. “And that means …”
“I like them. I’m friends with them. And …” She shook her head. “Gorramit, Inara, I’m pretty sure I like you too.”
Now it wasn’t astonishment, it was shock. “What?” she asked, trying to get her breath.
“Before all this, with Mal, I …” Freya licked her lips. “I knew how you felt, how I feel, but I thought we could be friends.”
“And I ruined that? Trying, in my heavy-handed way, to bribe you?”
“Well, didn’t help.” She smiled. “And it wasn't exactly your best plan ever. You ain't meant to get things that way: you’re more … diplomatic.”
“Well, I wasn't that day.”
“But I'm not blaming you,” Freya added quickly. “If anything, we’re equally responsible.” She shrugged. “Or we could blame Mal.”
“That’s a distinct possibility,” Inara agreed. “He started all of this.”
“What, by being born?”
Inara bit back the laugh that rose in her throat. “I was thinking more of coming to my rescue, inviting me back onto Serenity.”
Freya considered. “Nope, I think I was nearer the truth the first time.” She nodded wisely.
“I was right,” Inara said.
“You are a good woman.”
Freya laughed. “And I told you I'm not.” She leaned back. “But I can pretend.”
“Is this pretending? You being here?” Inara asked, suddenly unsure.
“No.” Freya looked at her. “You’ve had training. You know when people are lying to you. And I'm not.”
“So we’re going to be friends?”
“Well, “ Freya said, pursing her lips. “Not sure we’ll be lifelong buddies, but …” She grinned, an action that lit her entire face. “Friends.” She held out her hand.
Inara nodded, taking it in her own. “Friends.” They shook, then both laughed. “Can you imagine what Mal would say if he saw us?” she went on.
“He’d think we’d finally come to our senses and allowed him to be captain on his own boat,” Freya said. “Got someone to do what he’d ordered for once.”
“And that doesn’t happen as often as he’d like.”
“No, no it doesn’t!” Freya nodded.
“Would … I was just going to make some tea. Would you like some?” Inara asked.
The other woman smiled. “That would be … yes, please.”
As Inara busied herself with the bowls, getting her teapot ready, Freya studied her, from the dark hair piled on top of her head, kept in place with jewelled clips, down the slip of deep red gauze over a black underdress, to the surprisingly comfortable looking slippers on her feet.
“What?” the Companion asked, not looking at her, but aware she was being scrutinised.
Freya didn’t say what was always in the back of her mind, that there was no way she could ever compete, but instead said, “You are an extraordinary woman, Inara.”
Inara looked over her shoulder in surprise. “I’m … what?”
“I think I shall enjoy being your friend.”
“I … I hope so.”
“So why don’t you tell me what those men really wanted?”
Inara dropped one of the bowls and it rolled away under the bed. “I … I told you. It was a simple attempt at robbery.”
“It wasn’t a simple anything.” Freya stood up and crossed the shuttle. “If you don’t tell me, I can’t help you.”
“But you did, when you made them leave. They won’t be back,” Inara insisted.
“That’s not what they said.” Freya put her hand on the Companion’s arm. “Inara.”
Inara looked into Freya’s dark eyes then sat down suddenly on the bed, the good-humoured atmosphere of a moment before now dark, threatening. “They wanted information,” she said quietly.
“Information? What kind of information?”
“Where someone will be at a certain time.” Inara studied her hands. “A client.” She looked up. “That sort of thing is confidential. I could be barred from ever taking clients again if I did that, brought up before the Guild board, worse … it’s totally against Guild rules.”
“It would be,” Freya agreed. She sat down next to her. “Who was it? The client?”
“I don’t know,” Inara admitted. “You came in just as they got to that point.”
“Don’t be,” Inara said, putting her hand on top of Freya’s. “I don’t doubt they would have got more violent when I refused.”
“And you would have?”
“Oh, yes. I would never give out anything like that.”
“They might have killed you. Or worse,” Freya pointed out.
“I know.” Inara swallowed, her mind skirting around the images her imagination was laying bare for her to see.
“Did they say why?”
“No,” Inara said unhappily. “And that worries me. It could be an assassination attempt, a robbery … anything.”
“Assassination? Your clients are that important?”
“Some of them. Most are just people.”
“Are clients exclusive? I mean, do they use more than one Companion?”
“Freya, everyone’s different. Some do only see a particular Companion, others like some variety.” Inara sighed. “I just don’t know which one it could be.”
“And you’ve been wondering whether to contact them all, warn them,” Freya said.
“How … how did you know?” Her eyes were wide.
“Warn them about what, Inara? That someone might, at some point, be going to do something?”
“I did think I should –“
“Which ones? Just the important ones, or all those little people who needed some companionship?”
Inara closed her mouth. “I hadn’t really thought that far.”
“Inara, if this is what those men wanted, that you’ve told me everything –“
“Oh, I have!” Inara insisted.
“Then I don’t see what else there is to do. I imagine you have a pretty big client base, and there’s no guarantee it’s one you see anyway. Supposing they had word that a potential client had something they wanted. That you – or another Companion – were going to make an appointment.”
“You mean they can look into the future?” Inara asked, scoffing slightly, and Freya smiled.
“Well, maybe not that. I doubt they have a psychic around like us. But … Inara, it’s up to you. Maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to contact any who are wealthy … although that’s probably most of them, considering your rates … so any you feel might be vulnerable. Or, better yet, contact the Guild. They can warn any they feel might be in danger. But don’t lose any sleep over it.” She smiled, and patted the Companion’s hand.
“And if they come back?”
“Then we’ll deal with them. Inara, you’re with family. We won’t let anything happen to you.” She looked stern. “And don’t go turning off your comunit just because you’re in the middle of some steamy session.” A thought occurred to her. “Maybe we should get Kaylee to install an emergency button somewhere. You know, someone gets too … eager and you can call for help.”
“If I can’t take care of myself, I'm not a Companion,” Inara said firmly, standing up. “Now, where’s that bowl got to?”
She leaned over and started searching.
Two minutes later Mal passed the entrance to Shuttle One, and heard laughter coming from inside. Being nosy, or being captain as he preferred to call it, he glanced inside, moving the curtain slightly to get a better look. There was Inara and Freya, on the floor, each trying to reach something under the bed, and almost in hysterics. He smiled. At least some things were back to normal.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006 8:06 AM
Tuesday, September 26, 2006 9:09 AM
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