BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Communication - Part VIII
Thursday, March 15, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Back to the plot. Inara contacts Serenity, and Mal and Freya have a little chat ... quite close to the airlock. Please leave feedback!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1792    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Inara closed the door and turned to the girl. “What the tyen shiao duh are you doing here?”

“Helping.” River walked around the room, running her fingers over the expensive furnishings.

“Helping. How, exactly?” Inara was angry now. “This is nothing to do with you.”

“You’re going to find your son.” River stopped and fixed her with a stern eye. “You should have told Mal. Face to face.”

“He’s in the middle of … and it’s nothing to do with him either.”

“He’s your friend.”

“He’s got enough to worry about.”

“And now he’s worrying about you.”

Inara glanced at her then dropped onto the sofa, exhaling noisily. “River, I have to do this.”

“I understand. But you don’t have to do it alone.” River joined her, taking her hand. “It isn’t safe.”

Inara looked at her sharply. “Safe? How is it not safe?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“Sometimes …”

“I know,” River said airily. “Everyone feels like that about me occasionally.”

“Don’t you care?”

The girl laughed. “It’s much more fun to keep people guessing.”

“But running off and not telling anyone …”

“Exactly.”

Inara glared at her. “Did you tell them where I was going?” she asked, not wanting to admit she had done anything in the least bit foolish.

“No. That’s up to you.”

“And how did you –“

River put her head on one side. “You were very loud. And you promised to help me get ready for dinner with Jethro. And I don’t have a dress to wear.” She sighed. “He is not going to be pleased we’ve had to put this off another day.”

“That’s nothing to do with me!”

“No?”

“Oh, River.” Inara sounded so exasperated that the young psychic smiled. “And don’t look so happy about it. I can only imagine what your brother’s going to say when he hears about this.” She glanced towards the Cortex link and sighed loudly. “Well, I suppose I’d better let them know you’re not floating around some moon somewhere.”

“Captain Branscombe wouldn’t have done that.”

“No, but I might.”

---

“… so it looks like River’s with Inara,” Mal finished, looking around at his crew. “Hank’s trying to figure out where she’s gone, then we’ll get after them.”

Simon rubbed the bridge of his nose, trying to get rid of the headache that seemed to have settled permanently there. “My sister is going to be the death of me.”

“Quite possibly,” Mal agreed. “If’n you don’t get to doing it yourself first.”

The young doctor glared at him. “I’m cutting it back.”

“I’m making sure of that, Cap’n,” Kaylee put in.

“Good.”

“Cutting what?” Jayne asked, his eyes narrowed as he looked from one to the other.

Mal ignored him. “I don’t see Inara taking River by choice, so my guess is the girl picked up on what she was planning and decided to tag along.”

“Why would she do that?” Jethro asked. “Without telling anyone?”

“After a while, you’ll start to understand my sister doesn’t see things quite the same way as the rest of us,” Simon said tiredly, feeling Kaylee take his hand and squeeze it gently. “And sometimes I wish … I just wish I could let her get on with it.”

“No, you don’t,” his wife said softly.

“Oh, believe me.”

Jethro wouldn’t let it drop. “But she’s –“

“Safe,” Freya said soothingly. “Which is a good thing.” She looked back at Mal. “But it still doesn’t explain why you want to cross half the galaxy to stop Inara doing something she’s decided on. She made a choice. She wants to find her child by herself. You should respect that.”

“And River?” Mal asked, glaring at her. “You think I should just leave her to follow blindly?”

“River’s twenty-one - old enough to make her own decisions too.”

“Now, I have to disagree on that,” Simon put in. “Age doesn’t really mean a thing when it comes to –“

“And Inara’s a big girl too,” Freya said over him.

“Are you jealous?” Mal asked, his eyes wide in surprise. “I thought you’d gotten over that.”

Freya blushed. “I have. But you’re chasing her like she’s …” She clamped her lips tight, and looked away from him.

“Like what?” he asked softly.

“Sir, I have to agree with Freya,” Zoe said unexpectedly. “Inara made a choice. We should honour that.”

“She’s a member of this crew,” Mal explained, feeling as if he was being betrayed. “Don’t that mean a thing to you people?”

“Of course it does,” Kaylee said, not sure about the sudden atmosphere that had developed. “And of course we want to help. We all do. We’re family.”

Freya got awkwardly to her feet. “Yeah. Family.” She swung her crutches under her arms and hobbled out.

“Did I just miss something?” Jayne asked.

“I'm not sure,” Kaylee admitted. “Cap?”

Mal was standing perfectly still, his arms crossed, radiating anger. Then he looked up. “We’ll find your sister,” he said to Simon. “Get her home. Then we’ll figure out what else to do.” He turned and strode out of the galley.

Kaylee watched him go. “Zoe, I don’t –“

The first mate shook her head. “Leave it for now,” she advised. “Some things ain’t meant for us.”

Mal stomped down the stairs into the cargo bay, where Freya was sitting on Jayne’s workout bench.

“You care to explain what that was all about?” he asked.

“I don’t have to explain anything.” She was staring down at her hands, at the bareness of her ring finger.

“Last time I looked I was still captain.” He stopped next to her. “About time you obeyed a direct order.”

“Fine,” she said, looking up at him. “The Captain wants to know? Okay.” She struggled to stand. “Inara decided to go look for her son. On her own. For whatever reason. She’s a grown woman. That tends to mean she can make her own decisions.”

“She’s crew.”

“She loves you.” Immediately she said the words she wanted to drag them back, but the amazed look on Mal’s face was enough to make her skin burn again.

“Is that truly what this is about? You think I'm chasing her because I want her?”

“No, I … I didn’t mean …” She sat down heavily again, jarring her back and having to swallow a moan. “I know you don’t.”

“Then what?” He went down onto his heels next to her, know the pain she was feeling was more than just physical.

“It was just … talking to Dr Yi … remembering all the things I’ve done, all the things I'm capable of …”

“You think that means I shouldn’t love you?” He lifted her chin so he could look into her face. “You think it means I should want her instead?”

“She’s …” Freya closed her eyes.

“No. You look at me,” he demanded. He waited until she complied. “Now, Inara’s my friend. And yours. But I am fed up to the back teeth with this jealousy of yours.” He felt her stiffen but went on, “There’s no grounds for it. I love you. I want you.” He pointed towards their temporary home. “Our son is lying asleep in there right this minute, and I wouldn’t want anyone else for his mother. Dong mah?”

“I know.”

“But you don’t believe it.”

“I thought I did.”

He sighed and sat next to her on the bench. “You know, this idea of going to see Dr Yi … it was kinda yours. I didn’t want to. Didn’t see the need to get all my neuroses out into the light of day. And now, even more, I think it maybe wasn't such a good idea. Particularly if this is how it’s gonna take you.”

“Yes it was. And Simon thought so too.” Freya sniffed.

“That young man has enough troubles of his own at the moment, without going and putting more on other people. Kaylee’s got him on such a short leash I’m surprised she’s letting him out of their bunk.” Mal put his arm around her. “Frey, honey, truth is I am royally pissed at Inara for walking out on you right now.”

“On me?” Now it was her turn to be surprised.

“On you. When you need your family around you, help you get over the rest of this.”

“Mal, I have you.”

“And you ain't gonna be rid of me. But this … what Inara’s doing ... she should be here, for you.”

“I’d be doing the same, Mal. Hell, I did do the same.” She laughed unexpectedly, pointing to the cargo bay door. “I walked out of here and into Wing’s trap to find my son.”

“Yeah, but –“

“But nothing.” She leaned against him a little. “And it was my choice. Just like this is Inara’s.”

“You really think I'm going to just walk away and let her deal with this by herself?” His blue eyes gazed into her dark ones. “Even if I’m only chasing her to tear her off a strip?”

“I … suppose not,” she conceded.

“Frey, I’d do it for any one of those people up there.” He glanced towards the galley area.

“I know.”

“Even Jayne.”

“You let him leave.”

“It was his choice.”

“Exactly.”

Mal sighed. “You are a most infuriatin’ woman sometimes. And … yeah, okay, you got me on that one. But maybe it’s because I don’t think Inara’s as capable of dealing with life out here in the black as easy as Jayne can.”

“She was doing fine before you took her on board.”

“Fine. You think she was doing fine. So it was fine that she lost the man she loved, that her baby was taken away from her, that –“

“All right.” Freya’s voice cut through his. “So I’m a fool. What else is new?” She hung her head, staring at her hands again.

“No, you ain’t.” Mal said softly. “You’re Frey.”

“I can’t help it, Mal,” she replied, shaking her head. “I know there’s nothing between you. That there will never be, not on your side. And I love you all the more for it.” She looked up into his face. “But you have to know that this green-eyed monster is going to raise its ugly head once in a while. It’s part of me. A part I can’t exactly control all the time.”

“I know.” He kissed the tip of her nose. “And I'm sorry for making such a fussing over it.” He put his arms around her and hugged her close. “See, told you all this talking to other folks wasn't necessary. We talk.”

She sighed. “Yes, Mal.”

“Is that, yes, Mal, I understand and agree with every word you’ve just said?”

“No.”

“Then is it, yes, Mal, you’re the boss and what you say goes?”

“No.”

“Then I figure it’s, yes, Mal, but whatever you say I'm just gonna go ahead and do what I want anyway?”

“Pretty much.”

“Oh, what it is to be married.”

“Give and take.”

“Hmmn. Think we might have had this conversation someplace before.” He sighed again, this time dragging it theatrically from the soles of his boots, and was gratified to see her smile. “So are we good?”

“I guess.”

He shook his head and grinned at her. “I suppose that’s the best I'm gonna get today.”

“But you’re not going to get out of going back to see Dr Yi,” Freya said suddenly.

He jumped. “I don’t recall ever saying –“

“Mal.” Just one word.

“Am I gonna have to put you across my lap and spank you for looking into my mind?” he asked in exasperation.

“Mal.” Jayne was calling from the top catwalk. “Hank says he’s found somethin’.”

“Found what?”

---

Hank grinned up at the captain as he stepped onto the bridge. “That message was sent by someone called Aaron Halliday. He’s down in the Cortex as an investigator.”

Mal nodded. “Inara said she’d employed someone.”

“Well, his credentials are impressive, if nothing else.”

“Wave him. See if he’ll tell you what he told Inara.”

“Already done.”

Mal looked down at his pilot. “You’re beginning to get a mite too efficient for my liking.”

“I’ll stop, if you like.” Hank’s grey eyes were sincere but didn’t hide the streak of mischievousness.

“No, just … look, I kinda got an idea what you should be like, and if you go surprising me too often, I get somewhat apprehensive.”

Hank laughed. “Can’t have that. Tell you what, I’ll surprise you only on days with an ‘r’ in.”

“Fine.” The com beeped. “Halliday already?”

“No,” Hank said, checking. His head went up in surprise. “Mal, it’s Inara.” He got up quickly, letting his captain slide into his place. He brought up the transmission.

“Hello, Mal.” Inara smiled at him, the image a little grainy.

“Well, well, if it isn’t Miss Serra,” Mal said, feeling unaccountably relieved but determined not to show it. “Long time no see.”

“Don’t be like that.”

“Like what?” Mal raised his eyebrows. “I wasn't the one went gallivanting off into the black without a by your leave.”

“I do not gallivant.”

“What would you call it then?”

“Necessary.”

“I ain't in the mood for playing word games.”

“Neither am I. I just called to let you know River is with me.”

“River?” Simon’s voice came from the back of the bridge and he crossed to look into the viewer. “Is she all right?”

“She’s fine,” Inara assured him. “In fact she’s enjoying herself.” She glanced over to where the young woman was going through the contents of the desk.

“What did you think you were doing, taking her with you?” he asked, curtness entering his tone.

“I didn’t, Simon. She stowed away all by herself.”

“Now I can’t believe –“

Mal put his hand up. “Much as you two having a slanging match would be fun to see, I'm a mite more interested in where she is. And you.”

“We’re on board a liner heading for Greenleaf. If you want to follow, you can pick up River there.”

“And you’re just going to drop her –“ Simon was getting angrier by the moment.

“Which liner?” Mal interrupted.

“Does it matter?”

“Humour me.”

“SS Marrakech.”

“Okay. We’ll meet you there.”

“There’s no need for –“

“I said, we’ll meet you there.” He killed the connection.

“Mal, I wanted to speak to River,” Simon said somewhat petulantly.

“You will.” Serenity’s captain sighed. “Why can’t things go smooth for a change?” he asked no-one in particular, then looked at Hank. “How quick?”

“Without emptying the fuel cells, three days.”

“Okay. Then get us to leaving.”

“What about your next appointment with that doctor?” Hank asked, already inputting the code.

Mal stood up and straightened his shoulders. “Some things are just more important,” he said as he walked off the bridge, but there was just the suggestion of a smile on his lips.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Friday, March 16, 2007 8:26 AM

AMDOBELL


Loved River in this but Frey is right, Inara is old enough to make her own decisions but I also agree with Mal that she isn't exactly as able to look out for herself as Jayne in the Big Bad 'Verse. I hope Frey gets over that green eyed goddess long enough to put her trust in what she has got. And Simon's reactions, so accurate it made me smile. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, March 16, 2007 12:18 PM

TAMSIBLING


Good ol' River - causing trouble! I just love her. I agree that Inara is old enough and adult enough to make her own decisions and go where she wants and with who, but I am a mite worried that this is all going to end badly.

I really loved the end of the Mal/Freya bit - So is that .... No. ... Is it ... no. That was priceless!

And isn't it two-bite Friday? I'm hungry!

Friday, March 16, 2007 1:04 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Hmm...a rather spirited debate topic, I must admit. Inara IS old enough and of sound mind, so her decision to find her son should be respected; however, she is still not quite to old-hand level when it comes to dealing with all the various scum buckets inhabiiting the 'Verse and I get the feeling that more than a few will arise to affect Inara's search;)

Still...a brilliantly written chapter here, Jane0904! Definitely could imagine Mal and Freya (well...whoever would have gotten tapped to be Freya had Joss & co done an eerily similar idea if the BDS had been allowed to run for several years) having this kind of debate. Get the feeling though that Freya will have some choice words for Inara about how she still can get Mal to come running when she beckons:(

BEB

Saturday, March 17, 2007 12:02 AM

SWEDISHMYSTERY


It\'s funny - Inara went by herself because it was her journey and she didn\'t want give the crew more problems. Now it\'s the opposite because River wanted to butt in. Now again everything is Inara\'s fault. I know River followed out of concern but if I were Inara I would get as far far away from Serenity as possible.

Still, it makes a great story and as usual I\'m hooked :)


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