BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE

HERMITSREST

Ships in the Night - Part One
Saturday, April 21, 2007

It’s Christmas 2519 and Serenity has been invited to St Albans by Tracey’s family. Elsewhere Inara and her friend Sheydra are off to a warmer climate on Delaware. But even with the best laid plans, things can go wrong. 5th fanfic featuring the usual post BDM characters and a few of my own creation. Constructive criticism and feedback is always welcome. Part 1/3.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2041    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Inara was bored, so bored of the daily routine of teaching and it had only been six months. There was a time when she had loved it, the way the girls’ faces lit up in their eagerness to learn. But it held no thrill anymore and she could not believe this was all her life was to be now. She put the brush down roughly, annoyed with herself again, annoyed because there was only one place that she had the kind of thrills she missed – on Serenity. There was a soft knock at her door. “Ching jin.” It was Sheydra. Like Inara she had tried going solo in the border worlds, but had also fled back on Sihnon. Although fled was maybe too strong a word, Sheydra had been onboard a vessel like Inara, but after she had left them to service a client they had been hit by Reavers. She had been with them for more than two years and it had struck her a hard and upsetting blow. After that, she too returned to the Training House to try to escape the grief. “Evening, Inara. How are you? I haven’t seen you all day.” Like many Companions, Sheydra was graceful both in appearance and stature. Inara held out her hand indicating that she should sit down before getting up to prepare some tea. It was a ritual they did for each other almost on a daily basis. “One of my classes was cancelled, so I came back here,” she replied. Inara had no secrets from her friend and so could not hide her obvious blue mood. “Do you want to talk about it?” Sheydra asked, giving her a penetrating look. Inara smiled, knowing that to a fellow Companion, there was no chance of hiding things. “I’m feeling guilty for being so bored.” Sheydra laughed softly and then took the preferred cup of tea from Inara. It was an unusual blend of lemon and mint that was interesting, but not her favourite. Sheydra loved strong Russian tea that could stand up on its own. “Still missing the exciting life of the Border Planets?” Inara sat down again with her own cup and took a sip. She looked at Sheydra over its rim. “The truth is I just don’t know. It’s been so long that all I can remember are the good times. I forget that it was dangerous, unpredictable and downright insane sometimes.” “Sounds like you are describing someone rather than something,” replied Sheydra, teasing ever so gently. Inara’s dark eyes glittered, she coloured slightly, and took another sip to hide her expression. Sheydra was not fooled, like Inara she was always immaculately presented, her blond hair partially piled on her head with perfectly coutured side curls that shaped her face attractively. “Well, I can’t offer you danger or insanity, but do you fancy a trip to Delaware?” Inara was surprised and her eyebrows raised artfully. Sheydra went on to explain. “My father has sent a transport for me to visit him again.” “The annual Christmas visit?” said Inara smiling. Sheydra’s father always insisted on an annual visit and would not take no for an answer, hence sending the transport for his daughter. Inara thought about her offer and then answered. “I would enjoy the change of scene. Are you sure I won’t be intruding?” Sheydra laughed. “Not at all. He only does it now for a formality, as he is always working anyway. I go to see my mother and spend a little holiday in the warm, rather than wrapped up in blankets here. It’ll be nice to have your company.” * * * * * * * * Mal came out of his room and into the common area of the small apartment on Boros. He had just received a wave and needed to discuss it with Zoe. She was sitting in the only armchair, her eyes closed. She was not asleep, but making the most of the sunlight coming through the window and warming her face. He sat down on the sofa and she opened her eyes, knowing exactly where he was in the room. “Had a wave from Tracey’s parents. They want us to pick up some supplies they’ve ordered here on Boros an’ then spend Christmas with them on St Albans.” “Sounds logical – our tune up’ll be finished in a couple of days,” reasoned Zoe. “Always slim pickings this time of year.” Mal fiddled with one of his braces which was wearing a bit and needed mending. “It may be Christmas, but it doesn’t mean we have to spend it freezing to death on a planet that spends nine months under snow,” said Mal. Zoe shrugged, to her one planet was as good, or bad, as any other. “Question is whether we can afford it?” she put the statement to him. After their profitable job with Badger and the later drop with Monty, he had finally agreed to Kaylee’s pleadings and booked Serenity in for her first full service in about five years. Although it was Kostova’s busiest time of year, he managed to squeeze them in, which had been largely down to Kaylee’s powers of persuasion. None of the crew could live on board while this was done, but Koz, in his infinite generosity, had arranged for some apartments for them at a low cost while the work was done. Kaylee, and Simon, had been put up by the man himself, in a spare apartment at the shipyard, so she could be nearby to oversee everything. None of them had seen much of Kaylee since they landed but she was the boss for this one. The tune up and fittings Mal had ordered were expensive, which is why he had not been able to do it before, but like Zoe said, the pickings were small this time of year. “Reckon we could manage. Better we’re holed up somewhere than spendin’ money every time we start the engine.” Zoe had enjoyed the last week while Serenity had been in dry dock. She and Mal had an apartment separate from the others. One of the privileges of rank, she smiled to herself. Jayne, Karl, River and Bane were cramped in another apartment the same size, just across the hall. There had been several arguments and fall outs, mainly involving River being disgusted with Jayne’s living habits. “I’ll go and see Kaylee an’ Koz today to ask them when it’ll be complete,” finished Mal. “Likely Kaylee will want it to last as long as possible. By all accounts she’s ordering everyone around like a general, including Koz,” she replied. Mal laughed. “Well, I don’t plan to pay for two apartments and my ship for much longer.” “Bin nice though,” put in Zoe. Although Mal had allowed himself to relax as well, he was not in total agreement – he always felt most comfortable when on Serenity and nowhere else. Mal put on a jacket and left Zoe sitting in the sunlight. He had arranged for Koz and Kaylee to organise another secret compartment to be built which was going to be a very small workshop. It had been easy to pick the spot, as there was a lot of corners on Serenity. He had arranged to take the corner off the guest common area opposite the Med Bay. The hard part was getting the metal to look the same distressed and old metal as the rest of the ship. Although it would be used by Bane as a munitions workshop, it would also have other purposes, should she ever decide to leave. He had made sure that access to the alcove was not in the same place but on the other side, through a panel in the gym area. ~ * ~ The two men given the task of escorting not one, but two Companions to Delaware stood watching as the women came aboard the vessel. They were both quite exquisitely beautiful and, of course, completely unattainable. Sheldon Macrone was the veteran, having worked for Sheydra’s father since before she was born. Sheydra greeted Mac as she always had, friendly but formal. Her father insisted he always came on these trips to Sihnon, but it was his co-pilot’s first time, and he had already had to tell him to close his mouth twice. They had a smooth run in the week it had taken to arrive on Sihnon and he did expect to have any problems on the way back. Once their luggage was onboard they broke atmo shortly afterwards. “Nice transport,” said Inara when they had settled in. It was small but luxurious and Sheydra knew it was fast too, any other ship would take twice as long to get to Delaware. “My father uses it for all his interplanetary trips. It’s nice, isn’t it? Custom-made,” replied Sheydra. There was not much room with all their luggage, but it was very plush. Inara’s stomach was getting used to space travel again. She was beginning to wish she had not been so keen to come with Sheydra, as they would be a week in this small space together. The passenger area was about the same size as the shuttle she had on Serenity, but it was fully kitted out with kitchenette, bathroom and fold out bed. “It’s interesting,” she replied, looking around and Sheydra laughed. “Just wait ‘til we get to Delaware – you’ll have all the space you’ll want.” “I can’t imagine what the crew quarters are like.” “Even smaller.” “Are you settled in, Miss Sheydra?” came Mac’s voice on the com. Sheydra leaned over the sofa and pressed to reply. “Yes, thank you Mac. Have you any stops scheduled on the way back?” “No,” came the answer. “We did all those on the way over. We’ll try and get you back home as quick as possible. I think Wilson here wants to try for a record.” Inara raised her eyebrows and Sheydra laughed. “Funny guy,” said Inara. There was one small window, but nothing to see but black and stars. It was like they were in a cocoon of cushions. “I’ve known Mac all my life. He’s my father’s personal chauffeur,” she fluffed up one of the cushions and sat down. “Once we get home we can spend all our time relaxing. Delaware is hot in winter, as I said before. I hope you brought your bathing suit.” “I bought little else,” laughed Inara. She untied a pocket on her bag and drew out a packet of cards, “Now, how about I teach you some poker to pass the time? I had some real good teachers.” Sheydra drew her feet underneath her and took up the challenge. “So did I.” ~ * ~ Everyone had joined in the game of hoops that was going on in the cargo bay. Serenity hoops rules were fluid, that is, there were not really any. When Bane caught the ball Jayne picked her up at the waist and swung her around, making her drop it before she could throw it to one of her team mates. She yelled in frustration and stamped on his toe, just after he had bounced the ball to Mal. Jayne howled, but quickly moved under the hoop to receive a pass from Mal. Zoe intercepted Mal’s pass to him, elbowed him out of the way and passed to Karl who threw a perfect shot from five foot away, without hitting the sides of the hoop. Jayne caught the ball coming down from the hoop and passed it to River who spun away from Simon’s attack and threw to Kaylee. She squealed in delight at finally receiving the ball, but then yelped when she lost it, as Bane bounced it out of her hand. They were all exhausted, hot and sweaty and eventually they had to concede that Zoe’s team had won. “Seems you’re a bit of a ringer, Karl,” Mal managed to say after they had finally stopped, all out of breath. Karl laughed, he was bent over with his hands on his knees. He had discarded his shirt after just ten minutes of playing and it was still sopping wet when he retrieved it from the railing. “Played a lot in prison – not much else to do.” All of Karl’s shots at the hoop had gone through first time. “We won’t get the element of surprise next time,” said Bane breathlessly. She had collapsed on the floor beside Kaylee and Simon. River was the only one who did not seem out of breath. She was now hanging upside down from one of the railings, and flicking Jayne’s head when he had collapsed on the floor below her. He was too tired to object. Zoe, sitting beside Mal, was also breathing heavily. The game had been fun but exhausting and she found that she was a little unfit, thinking that maybe she would have a couple of sessions in the gym - maybe tomorrow, come to think of it. Simon lay on his side with his hand resting on Kaylee’s leg. He had seen a new side to her this last week on Boros, one where she had been the one in charge, and the one everyone deferred to and he had kind of liked it. With Mal and the others away, Koz had tried every bribe in the book to try and get Serenity’s expert mechanic for himself, even offering to get Simon a job in the local hospital. Kaylee looked down at Simon and tousled his hair thinking that she really was very fond of him. He was a complete ham sometimes, but that was part of his appeal and she had learned to deal with his awful slips in vocabulary. She tried never to think of what the future might hold for them and just live for the moment and treasure what she had. In her happiness she wanted everyone else to be happy as well. But for that Inara had to come back so Mal could become whole again. She could not wish for Wash to be alive, though at least with Karl’s presence, Zoe could be remember him without despair. She looked across at Bane and realised she still had not made her mind up whether to try and fix her up with Jayne or Karl. She liked to see people settled, it was just the natural way of things. But River was the one who posed the biggest problem. “Too young to marry off yet, sister,” stated River, who Kaylee saw had been starring at her all this time. Kaylee flushed. fortunately she was still red from her exertions playing hoops. Jayne tilted his head and looked up at River. “Just make sure I’m not in the vicinity when you are ready, Moonbrain.” “You’re far too young to get married, mei mei,” Simon explained to her unnecessarily. River, still upside down, rolled her eyes and blew a raspberry, making the others laugh. Mal, who had now recovered his breath and the feeling in his knees, got to his feet. “Well I’ve had enough of lying around. Auto-pilot alarm will be going off soon.” Bane got up too. “My shift at the wheel, I think, Captain,” she said. She got up and headed to the shower before she had to take over. Mal shook his head in amusement, the woman seemed to have more showers than meals. “When we due to get there, Cap’n?” asked Kaylee. “Tomorrow morning, if all goes well,” he replied. Zoe used the railing to pull herself up. She had a mind to use the gym right now. “Your turn to make dinner, Karl,” she said. Karl groaned, it was one of the chores he really disliked, having never properly learned to cook. He wished Serenity had protein bars again, then at least he would not have such a difficult time when it was his turn. He had Bane to thank for that, she could make a plate of food as soon as breath and it was really annoying. He stomped off grimly towards the galley. “Annoying isn’t the word you will always use,” whispered River after him. She considered that she was getting the hang of not blurting out peoples’ secrets thing. It was actually kind of fun sometimes being the only one who knew and seeing the scenes play out before her eyes. ~ * ~ Three days into the trip and Inara was getting serious cabin fever. They had done the various cards games to death and now all there was left to do was read or tell stories. Inara had already decided that she would not do this trip again unless it was on a bigger ship. Sheydra was feeling the same, as she did every time she had made this trip, but was glad of company for this journey as normally she had to do this trip alone. She was the one trying to keep Inara entertained and not thinking about how the time was passing. “So, I know it’s against the rules to do this, but who’s the worst person you’ve ever serviced,” said Sheydra. Inara smiled and rolled over onto her belly. Sheydra was right, it was against the rules, but there was not much else to do around here. “Just between us?” she asked. “Just between us,” Sheydra confirmed. Inara considered and realised it took some thought. “You first,” she said finally. Sheydra giggled. “Okay – but you better have a good one. My worst, let’s see. No names, agreed?” Inara nodded and she continued, “Well, it was early on, near the end of the war. He was young, handsome and I thought he would be perfect.” “What happened?” “He was allergic to my body oil. He started blistering while we were in the middle of it. It was pretty gross. He refused to stop until he was done though. I had to call the paramedics,” she explained. Inara’s mouth had dropped open. “If I hadn’t got him a doctor when I did, he would have died.” “That’s awful.” “Ever since then I have always checked clients for allergies,” she gave a little shudder at the memory. “Now, your turn.” Inara sat upright and leaned against the sofa arm. “It was about four years ago, I was on Osiris–“ The ship lurched violently throwing the both of them to the floor. Inara recovered first and ran over to the com. “What’s happened?” Something hit the ship and they both lost balance again. It was a luxury transport, so there was nothing with which they could strap themselves in, and there was no answer on the com. Sheydra had reached the door to the cockpit but could not open it – it was sealed. The ship was out of control and Inara shouted to her friend to brace herself and hang on. Inara clambered under the fixed table and reached out her hand for Sheydra. Sheydra tried to make her way to Inara and then the ship swung upwards so she fell towards Inara, who managed to grab on to her when she slid past. Now the ship nose-dived and spun, completely out of control. Inara pulled one of the cushions off the sofa and stuffed it behind them. Sheydra pulled down another cushion and they padded themselves in. They were too winded and shocked to scream, and could only look into each other’s eyes of terror, praying to their gods that it would be over soon. It lasted and lasted until there was violent impact and then blackness. In the darkness and silence, the first thing they became aware of the other’s breathing. Then Inara felt pain, and as she became more alert, the pain got worse. She groaned and then bit it off. Sheydra shifted herself. “Are you alright?” she said. “It’s my arm,” Inara managed to say, before Sheydra accidentally moved against her causing Inara to cry out. Sheydra crawled out from under the table and got to her feet. From the small window she could see nothing but darkness. There was no light or power, and then she remembered that she had some candles in her bag. She tripped over several unseen objects and then felt the item she had been looking for. The cabin illuminated in a macabre half light. Sheydra shined the light over to Inara and her free hand covered her mouth in horror. Inara’s arm was broken halfway between the wrist and the elbow in a horrid v-shape. “Wu de tyen ah,” was all Sheydra could manage to say. Inara cradled it as best she could. Of all the places she could break a limb, this exact spot would have been most susceptible. As a nine year old she had broken it in the same place doing gymnastics. The memory of how painful it had been then, was no comparison to how painful is was getting now. She had not felt the break happen, but the throbbing was getting worse. There was no med kit on board and no supplies, other than enough protein bars for the trip. Sheydra put the candle down on the table and went to try to open the door to the cockpit. The door was still stuck but she carried on pulling it, until finally it gave and Sheydra fell backwards. She got to her feet again and went to the open door. There was no cockpit anymore, just snow. * * * * * * * * Bane let River back at the controls for the landing on St Albans. In River’s hands the landing was smooth despite the fierce blizzard outside. Bane was not exactly thrilled to be spending Christmas freezing her digits off. At least Boros the weather had been cool but manageable. There was an up side, she had a shiny new workshop in which to make tricks in, but until right this moment, there had not been the time to explore it. When they had all re-boarded Mal and Kaylee had delighted in showing her how the panel lifted open, propped up by one of the weights from the gym. Inside there was room to put crates and sit at a desk, with plenty of shelves above the desk to store tools and such. It was dark, claustrophobic and downright beautiful, she thought. Bane crawled back out into the gym and replaced the panel and the weight so that there was no indication anything was there. Karl and Jayne were already wrapped up warm and waiting to disembark. They were looking forward to hot meals and women that needed to be kept warm at night. Before they could open the door it was opened from the outside. A woman stepped in, all wrapped up in fur and wool. When she pulled down her hood they saw that she was very concerned. “We had a distress call. Are you alright?” “Shiny,” said Karl, “It wasn’t us who sent the distress call.” He looked at Jayne. The woman, who was middle aged, was now more concerned. “It was serious. We only picked up one word of the garbled transmission – Reavers.” Mal and Zoe had been coming down the stairs. At her words, Zoe immediately turned around and ran to the cockpit, knowing that the first thing Mal would want to know was if there were still any Reavers about. “Were you able to track them?” Mal said. “No, it’s no good on this planet in winter. But for us to get the transmission they had to be within a fifty mile radius of our settlement.” Zoe re-appeared at the top of the stairs. “No Reavers on the scope, Cap’n.” Mal looked up and nodded. “We know they patrol in orbit sometimes, but Reavers have never attacked St Albans,” said the woman, “For some reason the weather puts them off.” “Yeh,” agreed Jayne, “They prob’ly prefer their eatings hot not frozen.” “If Reavers have them, then there’s nothing we can do,” explained Mal. The door opened again and Tracey’s parents, Brenda and Michael Smith stepped in. They were surprised to see their friend there as well. “Yeta! What are you doing here?” said Michael. Yeta explained to them. Michael shook his head. “Then there’s no hope for them, whoever they were. If the Reavers didn’t get them, then the snow will,” said Brenda sadly. Mal agreed with her, there was little they could do. Even if they did try and search it would be useless at night, in a blizzard, in mountainous terrain. Although he went with the flow of being welcomed into the settlement at St Albans, there was something still knawing at him. The eatings at the Smith house were top quality, their fallen comrade’s parents were good people, but Zoe could already tell that they would not cope with them all for the whole winter – they would literally eat them out of house and home. She had tried to communicate that to Mal on several occasions, but his mind was elsewhere tonight. However, she reasoned, there was no need for them not to enjoy the first night. Kaylee was flushed with happiness. If her mother had been there she would have said that she was over-excited. She sat on Simon’s lap and fed him bits of roast chicken. All his attention was for her tonight and she could not get enough of it. He had seemed so quiet and withdrawn lately, feeling left out, he said. But not now, she had a wicked thought about sexing it up in the snow, never having tried that before. She caught River’s eye and grinned. River grinned back. When Michael Smith started to play his guitar, River remembered the last good party she had been to. The Pye shindig on Aberdeen. In milliseconds her genius brain ran through all the memories of that night and following day, right up until the point where Stan had leaned over from his great height and kissed her softly on the lips. That was her secret, her first kiss, and she had not even told Kaylee. “You look like you’re remembering something nice,” said Bane perceptively. River tilted her head and gave her a small half smile. “Just remembering the good times on Aberdeen,” she replied. “We just sat around the camp fire,” said Bane, misinterpreting which time on Aberdeen River was referring to. Despite the roaring fire, Bane was still freezing. Even as a child she had hated the snow and cold. The minute they had stepped off the ramp and were blasted by the wind she had fished Jayne’s woolly orange hat off his head and now it was not coming off hers without a fight. She stretched out her boots to the warmth of the fire. “Don’t set your feet alight,” warned Karl sarcastically. Bane stuck out her tongue and sunk her neck into the scarf so it covered her lips. Karl was encouraged to tease rather than be put off, so he came and sat the other side of the fire. He was still wearing a hat on account of his still short hair, but had stripped down to his t-shirt like Jayne in the warmth of the Smiths’ house. “What’s wrong? These eatings not up to Pye standard?” He had not seen her eat anything all evening. “Not hungry,” came the muffled answer. “Just cold.” “How are you coming along with Monty’s latest order?” he suggested, thinking the best way to get warm was not to constantly thinking about it. “I’ve done the two crates of putty, but I’m only half way through the grenade order,” she snorted quietly, “Seems I’m finally learning to sleep and build, so I don’t spend days awake at a time.” “I suppose you weren’t used to doing it so regularly before you came on board.” “True,” Bane answered clearly this time, having pushed the scarf away from her mouth. She thought about how to word a question she had been wanted to ask Karl for a while. She looked around to see if any of the others were listening. “How have things been going with Zoe?” Karl glanced around to see that Zoe was talking to Brenda Smith across the other side of the room before answering. “Strangely enough, things seem better than they were before it came out that I am Wash’s older brother. She tells me things about him that I don’t see her sayin’ with others. I suppose I like gettin’ to know my brother through her, an’ I think it’s helping her accept his death as well, I guess,” he shrugged. “You’re a sight prettier now as well,” she joked. Karl grinned, he had never been vain, but he could admit he was rather proud of the handlebar moustache he now sported. He kept it trimmed neatly and regularly, and it was now being part of his morning routine. The dinner and socialising went on until quite late. Instead of going back to the ship to sleep, Brenda insisted that they stay in their house, and they brought out copious amounts of furs and rugs for them all to bed down in the main room of the house. Mal did not decline, at least not this first night, as the idea of going back out into the cold was not appealing at all. They settled down around the still roaring fire and Brenda and Michael Smith left the crew of Serenity and went upstairs to their own bed. ~ * ~ Inara waited for what seemed like hours for her friend to come back. With her good arm she had tried to help clear some of the snow in the cockpit, so they could find the floor hatch that Sheydra had said was there. She was sure that the crew would have further uniforms, other than what they had been wearing, which they could wear. Neither of them had a warm scrap of clothing between them, as Delaware was hot in winter. They avoided talking about the two dead men, still strapped in their seats, nor did they try and clear them of snow. Sheydra could not bear the thought of seeing what terrible injuries Mac might have and with Inara injured, it was up to her to stay in control and try to get them out of this situation. When she finally returned up the ladder from the crew quarters, arms laden, Sheydra could already feel the temperature had dropped significantly. When her friend’s head popped up through the hatch Inara sighed with relief. “Merciful Buddha! You’re alright. I was getting worried.” Instead of having to carry so much, Sheydra had put on some of the clothing. The uniform the crew usually wore was grey wool and she had put on some pants and one of the short jackets. She also had two pairs of boots slung around her neck. “I’m nothing if not resourceful,” she replied cheerily. They came back into the passenger quarters and shut the door again. She could see Inara starting to shiver and could not help looking at the horribly unnatural bend in her arm. She imagined it must be extremely painful, but other than a slight tension, there was no change in her facial expression. “Here, I’ll help you dress.” It took a significant amount of time to help Inara dress, especially to put on the jacket and overcoat, but they were both much warmer by the time they had finished. They used scarves and other bits of their own clothing as belts and to keep the clothing from becoming too drafty. “I guess we better get going,” said Inara reluctantly. Although Sheydra was positive it would be better to leave the ship and try and find help, Inara could not help feeling that they should stay where they were – at least until morning. She grabbed what protein bars there were left and stuffed them into her pocket. They went back into the cockpit and climbed out of the front window, Sheydra helping Inara when two hands were needed for climbing. The blizzard whipped up the snow around them and it was difficult to see, other than to distinguish from dark sky and snowy land. Inara pulled one of her thin scarves to cover her mouth. The only advantage of being in the cold was that her arm hurt less and was getting more numb by the minute. “Come on, this way,” urged Sheydra. She hooked her arm into Inara’s healthy one and they walked side by side with their heads down against the oncoming wind. They must have walked about two hours before the chill that had numbed her useless arm found its way to the rest of Inara’s body and she was getting groggy. She thought she was seeing things. There was a flash of Shepherd Book’s face, his grey hair perfectly blending with the snow and she heard his kind laugh. She smiled and then remembered he was dead and grew sad. There was Kaylee, grinning from ear to ear, and then all the crew of Serenity. She frowned, where the hell was Mal? Probably with that Saffron tchen wah or Nandi. But no, wait, Nandi was dead. Wasn’t she? She wished River would stay still, she was whipping acrobatically around and ahead of her. The somersaults and flips were making her dizzy. “You take care of them Mal,” she murmured. Sheydra heard Inara speak, but not what she said. She stopped walking, they had been trudging for some hours it seemed and were still no closer to having any idea where they were going. She was beginning to think Inara had been right in wanting to stay with the ship. Now they had stopped Sheydra heard Inara still muttering to herself. She grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her. “Inara. Inara! What’s wrong?” Inara’s eyes finally focused on her friend and she came back to reality. “I’m so tired, Shey. Can we not go back to the ship?” Sheydra was seriously concerned about Inara. Her words were slurring as if she was drugged or drunk. She knew they would never find their way back now though, they had to keep going. She went to the edge of the path they were on and tried to see through the snow falling. She thought she saw a light or two, but maybe she was now seeing things. The valley dipped away below them, but the path they were on kept going upwards. Inara lifted her heavy feet and walked towards Sheydra. She had to stay alert, she knew that now. Something told her she had hypothermia or something. “Let’s carry on,” she said more lucidly. All she got in reply was a scream as Sheydra dropped out of view. Inara screamed too and made her sluggish feet move as fast as possible to where she had been. Sheydra was gone, her friend had fallen off the mountain. Inara fell to her knees. After a while she edged closer to look down and see if there was any sight of her. The snow was falling in big clumps now and masked any view she might have of the valley below. She must keep going and find help, they have to help her find Sheydra. She clambered onto her hands and knees, forgetting about her broken arm. The scream that came from her mouth was loud enough to set of an avalanche. “I need you, Mal,” she gasped, trying not to cry. She must not cry, she must carry on and find people. Inara took time to get to her feet, finding that to her, everything was running in slow motion. She stumbled and then continued walking on the path they had both been on. It was so cold, and the snow flakes kept getting in her eyes making them water. She did not know how long she had been walking before she started seeing things again. It was Mal who appeared this time, not dressed for snow, but instead in his usual brown pants, worn shirt and braces. He was grinning stupidly at her. Inara pursed her lips, trying not to grin back – now was not the time or place – but it was infectious and she could not help it. Damn the man, why did he always smile like that? Mal held out his hand to Inara and she took it. His other hand came around her waist and they were dancing, gliding and laughing. She tilted her head back to look at him and he leaned down to kiss her, in light delicate snowflake kisses. He was cradling her further and further backwards until she was lying down. She was safe in his arms, always safe – and warm. Mal was hovering over her, smiling. She reached up and tried to touch his feathery brown hair, but her hand must be cold because she could not feel it. She could feel him touching her face. His touch was so soft. The blankets around her were furry white and warm next to her skin. He was taking care of her, stroking her with those light touches. Inara let the sleep take her, with Mal’s last kiss melting on her lips.

COMMENTS

Saturday, April 21, 2007 10:23 AM

AMDOBELL


Good gorram, you can't let Inara die! Now would be a great time for River to pick up on the necessity to find Inara and tell the crew something is very wrong. Come on Mal, Inara needs you to be a Big Damn Hero! - Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, April 22, 2007 1:48 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Holy crap! You can't let her die! River needs to get the crew up and moving ASAP!

Definitely some addictive work here, hermitsrest!

BEB

Monday, April 23, 2007 6:30 AM

HERMITSREST


For newcomers to my fics, here is a brief synopsis of my other Serenity crew members.
Bane Pye: First contact with Serenity shortly after BDM when Mal contracts her for a heist (Hun Dan). Doesn’t get taken on as crew until the following year (Humped). Like Mal and Zoe she fought in the war but did anonymous sabotage work blowing up Alliance facilities with her mother. She can conjure up an alias as sure as breath. She can also conjure up a bomb in the same way.
Karl Jacobsson: Signed on to Serenity in November 2518, after Hun Dan. Skills: Gun-hand and muscle like Jayne. Criminal past like Jayne. You can imagine why they get on so well. Karl does think about the bigger picture more and after Ghosts in the Past, he has a major secret of his own revealed.
My stories lean to seeing Serenity and the crew through Bane’s eyes but there is still plenty on our BDHs – otherwise I wouldn’t be doing this!


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