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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Multi-part story. Inara goes to the ball on Persephone, but Mal hears some disturbing news ... Feedback, good or ill, makes my day (honestly!).
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1585 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“I hadn’t realised,” Inara said, fixing the tremblant in her hair, turning her head to make sure it caught the light. “It’s been several years since I went to the ball, not since the fight with Atherton, and this will be the first time I’ve been able to go as just me.” She smiled at Kaylee’s reflection.
“Wish I could go again,” the young mechanic said wistfully. “I had a good time, ‘til the punching.”
Inara laughed. “Just as long as it doesn’t end up that way, I’ll be happy.”
“Won’t they be surprised?” Kaylee sighed. “At you goin’ alone, I mean.”
“I can’t take you, mei-mei,” Inara said. “The only reason I’m going at all is because, as Sheydra pointed out, I have a standing invitation.”
“The only reason?”
Inara laughed again. “No, not really. It will probably be the last time I’ll be able to, so I … I’d like to enjoy it.”
“S’pose so,” Kaylee said longingly.
“I’ll try and bring you back some strawberries,” Inara promised, rewarded by a wide grin on the mechanic’s face.
“Almost makes up for it,” Kaylee said, hugging herself. Then her personal light seemed to fade a little. “Did … did you and Simon have a good time?” she asked.
Inara turned, surprised. “Kaylee, you’re not jealous, are you?”
“No, no,” Kaylee insisted quickly. “Course not.” She sighed. “Only you … you ain’t said why you wanted him with you.”
“And he hasn’t told you?” Inara sat down next to the young woman.
“Did you ask?”
“Well, no,” Kaylee admitted. “I didn’t –“ She stopped herself.
“You didn’t want to know the answer?” Inara supplied.
“Oh, I know it ain't nothing like that,” Kaylee said hurriedly. “Not you and Simon. I mean, I had notions of him and Freya once, but that was just … you know, being pregnant and all.”
“Are you sure you’re not pregnant again now?”
Kaylee shook her head. “No. At least, not as of this morning.” She sighed. “It just ain’t happening yet.”
“Give it time.”
“That’s what Simon says.” Kaylee bit her lip. “So what was he going with you for?”
Inara put her arm around her shoulders. “Kaylee, I can promise you, it was nothing that will ever hurt you. Or anyone else on board. I needed someone with me, and I asked him.”
“But why him? Why not the Cap? Or … or Zoe?”
“Because I …” Inara paused, wondering just how much to say, then contented herself with, “Because he’s my friend too.”
“You ain't gonna say, are you?”
Inara smiled softly. “Not yet. But I will, one day.”
“You told him stuff you haven’t told us, ain't that the case?”
“Yes,” Inara agreed. “Yes, I have. And he’s promised he won’t tell anyone else, not until I say, so you’re not to go nagging him.”
“I don’t nag!” Kaylee declared adamantly, then grinned suddenly. “Well, maybe a little.”
“It won’t be long, mei-mei,” Inara promised, standing up. “Then I’ll explain everything.”
Kaylee sighed. She knew she wasn't going to get anything more out of her friend, and watched her finish getting ready, wondering just how she was going to get the information out of Simon.
“Mal?” Hank leaned over in his chair to look down the corridor. “Got Badger on the vid for you.”
Mal stopped on his way into the galley. “Is he apologising?”
“Um, I don’t think so.”
“Just so’s I know.” Mal strode up the steps and sat down in Hank’s vacated seat. He pressed receive. “Badger. What can I do for you?”
The little man appeared on the screen. “It’s more what I might be able to do for you,” he said, glancing to the side as if he was afraid someone might be listening in.
“That’s be a first.”
“Nah, don’t be like that, Captain,” he grinned. “That were business, with Yvette.”
“Redhead? Not too tall? Great pair of –”
“Yeah.” Badger smiled. “Coulda really got together with ‘er, if she’s given me a chance.”
“Badger, I hate to say this, but you’re better off without her.”
“Maybe. But that’s all water under the proverbial, ain’t it?” The grin on his face faded. “And don’t go thinkin’ I’m anythin’ but business.”
“Badger, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“It ain’t that I feel sorry for yah, except for Freya getting’ herself tied up to yah, and from what I ‘ear gettin’ herself knocked up too, but I ‘eard somethin’ else you might wanna know.”
Mal took a deep breath, holding the swearing behind his teeth. “And what was that?”
“She ain’t my Companion, Badger.”
“Whatever. Someone’s after ‘er.”
Mal sat up, glancing quickly at Hank. “Who?”
Badger shrugged. “Don’t know. All I heard. Just passin’ it on. Oh, and whatever it is is goin’ down soon. Like tonight, maybe.” He looked embarrassed.
“I …” Mal had to say it. “Thanks, Badger.”
“We’re even, now. That’s all. And tell Freya she has my sympathies.” Badger looked off screen and sat up a little. “So if you’re around in a few days, might ‘ave a job for yah.”
Mal nodded, understanding someone had come in. “We’ll be here.”
“Good.” Badger reached out and switched off the vid from his end, and the screen went to static.
“Do you think he’s on the level?” Hank asked, leaning forward from the co-pilot’s chair.
Mal shook his head. “Don’t think we can take any chances.” He reached up and flicked on the com. “Zoe, get everyone in the dining area. We’ve got a problem.” He looked at Hank. “Take the mule, see if you can head her off.”
“On my way, Mal,” Hank said, jumping to his feet and running off the bridge.
“What the hell are you doing out of bed?” Mal asked as Freya stepped into the galley, dressed in her usual clothes, even if the buttons were straining a little over her belly.
“You wanted everyone here,” she pointed out.
“I didn’t mean …” He stopped and took a deep breath. “Just sit down.”
She did as she was told and looked around, asking, “Where’s Hank?”
“Looking for Inara.”
“She’s at the ball,” Freya replied then as Mal looked at her she felt a thrill of ice down her spine. “What’s going on?” she asked.
Mal quickly went over what Badger had said.
“Do you trust him, sir?” Zoe asked.
“About as far as I can throw him, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why he’d lie to me over this. And I didn’t go to him – he came to me.” Mal shook his head. “I’m just hoping Hank can get to her before –” He stopped as the com unit he’d brought from the bridge buzzed.
“Mal?” came Hank’s rather tinny voice.
“Did you get her?”
“She must already be inside. And they won’t let me in. Or even confirm she’s there.”
“Tah mah duh.” He squeezed the unit. “Any way you can get in without being seen?”
“Not gonna happen, Mal,” Hank said regretfully. “Security’s locked it up tight.”
“Stay put. If you get the chance, even if it’s only half a chance, you get in there. Dong mah?”
“Got it, Mal.” He signed off.
Mal smashed his fist down onto the wooden table top.
“Mal,” Freya said softly, and he lifted his face to look at her.
“Can’t just leave this, Frey.”
“I know. But there might be a way to get someone inside.”
He stood up. “How?”
“Well, it isn’t going to be you, not from what I heard,” Freya said, smiling slightly. “But I might be able find an invitation.”
“You ain’t going either.” Mal shook his head. “So don’t even begin to think about asking.”
“As if I would.”
Her smile grew. “Well, maybe a little.”
“So how? And more importantly, who?”
“An old friend …”
“… so I would be grateful, Dillon.”
“No problem, Freya. I’d be honoured to have a friend of yours accompany me, no matter what the reason.”
“Thanks. But won’t Breed be disappointed?”
The man on the vidscreen laughed. “Breed will just have to get over it. A perfect opportunity to sulk and throw things. Besides, we weren‘t going anyway. Too many boring people, just like last year. And the year before that. I have to see them all the time, so why should I spend my leisure with them as well? I only buy the tickets to support their charities.”
“Still, if you’re going now … pass on my apologies, will you?”
“Certainly. And I’ll be there as soon as I can. Fifteen minutes all right?”
“Perfect.” Freya smiled. “Thanks again, Dillon.”
“My pleasure. Entirely.” He smiled and the screen turned back to static.
“Seems very friendly,” Mal commented, sounding as if he didn’t mean it at all.
“So you two were close?”
Freya turned in the pilot’s seat and looked at Mal, idly stroking her stomach, a habit she seemed to have acquired. “Are you jealous?”
She tried to hide the smile that swept across her lips. “Mal, Dillon is sly. His partner, Breed, is a man I've know for a long time. In fact, I introduced them.”
Simon, standing at the back of the bridge, stirred. “I didn’t think Persephone looked kindly on all-male couples.”
“Well, they don’t. But when you’re as rich as Dillon, they tend to turn a blind eye.”
“How rich?” Mal asked.
“How come I’ve never heard of him?”
She just smiled at him.
“As much as this is fun,” Simon said, “it isn’t exactly helping Inara.”
“No.” Mal stood upright. “So is she ready?”
“I imagine so. I think River’s helping.”
“Your sister still not able to tell who might be after Inara?”
Simon shrugged. “She still can’t be sure anyone is.” At Mal’s look he went on quickly, “But she’s still trying.”
A short while later Mal was waiting back in the cargo bay. No-one ever set foot on board his boat without him meeting them, and by extension he didn’t intend to let Zoe out of his sight without meeting the man who was going to do it.
A hover cruised up and the door slid open. A tall, thin man with a polished bald pate climbed out, followed by a man in a fancy suit, the one from the vid screen.
“Captain Reynolds, I presume?” he said, striding up the ramp, his hand extended.
They shook, and Mal noted the firm grip as he studied the man in front of him. Older than himself, maybe ten years or so, black hair brushed back from a strong face, he was tall, fairly muscular, and gave the impression of being able to handle himself.
“I am,” Mal said.
“I'm Dillon Malfrey. Freya has mentioned you to me.”
“Really. I have to say she’s neglected to do the same about you.” Mal hitched his thumbs in his gunbelt.
“Well, that’s probably because there was nothing much to mention.” Dillon smiled, albeit briefly. “I'm afraid I have nothing to tell you regarding your Companion, though.”
“She’s not my Companion,” Mal said quickly. “She don’t belong to anyone.”
“A figure of speech only, Captain.” Dillon stepped a little further into Serenity’s interior. “But my contacts have been unable to find anything out. Which means any threat is either being kept exceptionally quiet, or is being orchestrated by someone off-world.”
“Do you think that’s likely?”
“Anything is possible, Captain. Particularly as we’re not sure what the threat itself is yet.”
“Or even if there really is one,” Mal agreed.
“Indeed.” Dillon shook his head. “Now, where is the young lady I am supposed to be escorting?”
“She’s all ready, Dillon,” Freya said from the catwalk. “And if I do say so myself, Mal, you are going to be somewhat surprised.”
They both looked up, and Mal in particular felt his jaw drop. As much as he loved Freya, and would never think of his first mate in anything except the best of terms, what Zoe was wearing seemed to hit him right between the eyes. A dress of such a dark blue it seemed to be almost black, except when she moved, when all around the hem where it swept the floor to a point just below her knees were little points of brilliance that put Mal in mind of nothing less than space, of stars in his sky, out in the black. It fitted her like a second skin, following the contours of her body perfectly, before flowing out from the points of her hips. It had full length sleeves and a high collar at the back, but a plunging neckline at the front, which would have opened to well below her navel if it wasn’t laced up to between her breasts. The laces continued up to the neck, but revealed more flesh. Her hair, released into its curls, just seemed to frame everything. She looked … luscious.
“Zoe …” he managed to say, telling his body that this was his friend, that he was a married man, that …
“Do I look okay?” she asked, glancing down at herself, smoothing the fabric over her hips and giving Mal palpitations.
“I … Wash would’ve loved to see you in that slinky dress,” he admitted, telling himself that he was only a man, and had to expect these kind of things. ‘Sides, he wasn't dead yet.
She smiled. “I think he would.” She stepped down into the cargo bay.
“Where … I don’t seem to recall …”
“It’s mine,” Freya said quickly, following her friend. “I bought it a while back, just never had the opportunity to wear it.”
“You should have,” Mal said softly, and she grinned at him, well aware of the thoughts and physical responses that had been cruising through his head. Mutterings and intakes of breath pulled Mal’s attention for a moment to the doorway down into the common area. There were Jayne, Simon, Kaylee and River, all staring. “Looks like we have an audience.”
“Oh, Cap’n,” Kaylee complained. “Just wanted to see Zoe in all her finery.”
“Well, now you have, it’s time she got going.” He turned back to Dillon Malfrey. “This is Zoe,” he said, unnecessarily.
Dillon bowed low. “And may I say how fortunate I am to be taking such a lovely woman to this ball? You’re going to put the rest of the guests to shame.”
“Is he always like this?” Zoe asked Freya.
She laughed. “Always.” She stepped forward. “Hello, Dillon.”
“Freya.” He swept her hand to his lips. “You look enchanting. I have to say that I wish it were you going with me, nevertheless.”
Freya stroked her hand over her stomach. “Not sure my doctor would approve.”
“Or your husband,” Mal put in quickly. “And it’s Inara you’re going to that fancy shindig to find, not to have a good time,” he said to Zoe, taking his thumbs from his gunbelt so he could cross his arms, making a statement of it.
“I'm well aware of that, Captain“, Zoe said pointedly. “And it’s time we left for that very shindig.”
“Yes, yes. Time we were going,” Dillon said, nodding to Callum who opened the door of the hover.
“We’ll be along, outside,” Mal said, stepping closer. “If there’s any likelihood of something wrong, let us know.”
Zoe nodded. “Oh, I will, sir.” She followed Dillon out to the hover, about to get in when she realised Hank was standing next to her, having run through the cargo bay. She looked at him, her eyebrows raised in surprise.
“Jun ta ma gao min. Joo-ee,” he said quietly, reaching forward quickly to place a kiss on her lips.
She smiled at him. “I will,” she said softly, touching his face gently before climbing elegantly into the hover and being whisked away.
“We following?” Jayne asked, stepping into the bay.
“That’s the notion,” Mal agreed. “It ain’t far – we’ll walk it. Freya, keep on the com. Simon, with us.”
“You think there’s going to be trouble?” the young man asked, surprised at being included.
“Best to be prepared.” He glanced at Freya. “And I don’t have a good feeling about this.”
She shook her head slightly in agreement with him.
to be continued
Wednesday, January 10, 2007 1:36 AM
Wednesday, January 10, 2007 2:19 AM
Wednesday, January 10, 2007 8:01 AM
Friday, January 12, 2007 4:32 PM
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