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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Inara leaves Serenity. Follows NIGHTINGALE and before angst ... Please, please feedback. I prostrate myself before you ...
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1989 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Inara watched Serenity take off, her thrusters tilting as Hank smoothly eased her into the sky. For a moment she seemed to hang, facing the house, and then dipped forward into an obvious bow. Inara laughed and waved, convincing herself she could see Hank through the bridge window, grinning widely, Mal standing in his usual place, Zoe just behind him, in hers …
Then she was gone, hauled up into the blue become black, until she was just a pinpoint of light that disappeared in the blink of an eye.
Inara sighed. She was truly on her own now, and it scared her a little. She’s said as much to Zoe.
“You? Scared?” Zoe looked at her, as if she’d just admitted she was an alien.
“I’ve never been on my own like this before.” She picked up the cushion from the sofa and held it in front of her. “When I left home it was to go to the Training House. Out here, on this ship, all of you around me … I was still a Companion, under their protection.” She went on quickly, seeing the look on the other woman’s face, “Yes, I know, as misguided as that was. But now it’s just me. Here.” She dropped the cushion. “All on my own.”
“On your own?” Zoe smiled. “You’ve got that Mrs Boden and her husband, and at least three other people I’ve seen. Hardly counts as being on your own.”
“You know what I mean.”
Zoe nodded. “No family.”
“’Nara, we’re still out there. Just ‘cause we ain’t gonna be in each other’s back pockets don’t mean we’re not family.”
“I’m just going to miss you.” There was a catch in her throat.
The first mate stepped forward and wrapped her arms around the ex-Companion. “And I’ll miss you too.”
Kaylee had been more honest. “Who’ll I talk to now?” she wailed softly.
“I thought you respected why I’m doing this,” Inara pointed out gently, watching the young mechanic sitting under Serenity’s gently turning engine.
“I do! ‘N’ I’m being selfish here, and I don’t care.” Kaylee stuck out her chin. “But who’s gonna brush my hair and tell me I’m pretty if you ain’t around?”
“Simon should be telling you every day you’re beautiful.”
“Oh, he does.”
“But he’s my husband. He has to say that.”
“No he doesn’t. He’s Simon. I don’t think I’ve ever met a man more capable of putting his foot in it because he’s said what he thought.”
Kaylee’s lips twitched. “He does a bit, doesn’t he?”
“Mei-mei, he thinks you’re the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. All you have to do it teach him how to use a hair brush.”
“And if it’s female-type things you need to talk about, there’s still Zoe and Freya.”
“Yeah, but Zoe’s gonna be all tied up getting ready for the baby, and Frey –”
“Kaylee, they both love you. Like I do. And Freya’s very good at listening.”
“And I’m only a wave away.”
“Not sure the Cap’ll be happy if I’m on the Cortex all hours of the day and night.”
Inara smiled. “He’ll just have to get used to it. It’ll get him ready for when Ethan’s a teenager and calling all the young women he’s made friends with.”
“You think that’ll happen?” Kaylee asked in delight.
“Sure to. I think he’s going to be one very good looking young man.”
Kaylee giggled. “Don’t think the Cap knows what he’s letting himself in for.”
“What’s so funny?” Simon asked, coming up behind them.
His wife got up and shook her head. “Nothing much. Just wondering what Ethan’s going to be like as a man.”
“With any luck just as bad as his father.” Simon smiled and looked at Inara. “I just wanted to let you know I’ve left those medical supplies at the house. There’s a bit of everything, but if you need more just let me know.”
“Thank you,” Inara said sincerely. “I really hope I don’t have to use them, but with the town quite as far as it is …”
“Well, you got that nice new little hover,” Kaylee said, leaning on the wall next to them. “I got her tuned up real well, so she’s running sweet.”
“And I'm grateful. But that’s really only for emergencies. Once I get the horses –“
“Horses?” Bethany barrelled out of the galley and straight into her father’s legs. “You’ve got horses?” Her little face was bright with anticipation.
“Not yet, sweetie,” Inara said, picking her up, feeling the weight of her on her hip. “Soon, though.”
“Can I come ‘n’ stay?”
Inara laughed. “Whenever you like.”
“When it’s convenient,” Simon amended quickly.
“When?” Bethany demanded.
“Soon,” Kaylee said soothingly. “Soon.”
“So what are you planning on doing?” Hank asked, picking up one of the dinosaurs from the floor and repositioning it on the bridge console.
“I’m really not sure,” Inara admitted. “Although I had thought, with my skills, I might be able to make girls ready for society.”
“What, you mean make sure they know they lift their pinkie when they drink tea?”
She laughed. “Something like that.”
“Well, it sounds like a plan. Easy, too.”
“It’s just an idea. I’ve put out a few feelers, amongst my many acquaintances.”
Hank nodded. “No, sounds good. And I’m sure you’re gonna be popular. Hell, you were before, don’t see why taking the sex out should change that.” He realised what he’d said, and coloured a little. “I didn’t … that wasn't what I …”
“I know what you meant. And you’re right. It shouldn’t change how I can help people.”
He coughed slightly, getting his composure back. “And I’ve told Zoe, when she’s ready to drop, we’re coming here.”
“You’ve told Zoe? Shouldn’t you be telling Mal that?” Inara smiled.
“Oh, I will.” He grinned. “Probably after he and Freya have been holed up for a few days, and he’s drunk.”
“Good idea. And if you don’t want me to tell on you, you’d better plan for me to be godmother.”
“Oh, you were first on the list,” he insisted. “I mean, you’re the closest to being legal of all of us.”
Jayne carried the last of the bedposts up the stairs and stacked it in the bedroom. “Ain't you gonna use the one Mal and Frey had?” he asked, surprised.
“I don’t think so,” Inara said, looking around. “This room’s nice, and it’s bigger.”
“Yeah, but it ain't got that bathroom that got Frey all hot.” Jayne unpacked his tools, ready to reassemble the bed.
“I can still use it, and when they come to call then they’ll feel at home.”
“I guess.” He stripped off his shirt. “You okay if I start now? It’s just I said I’d take River for a walk after.”
“No, please.” Inara glanced briefly at the dressing on his chest. “Only should you be doing this? I mean, I thought you were out of action for a while.”
Jayne grinned. “Far as the others know, I am. Hell, ‘Nara, I been shot before. It hurts, it heals, then I get shot again. Kinda got used to it. ‘Sides, I need to be doing something. Carving those little animals for Bethie’s all very well, but I gotta do something a bit more …”
He nodded. “And since there ain't a whorehouse around –“
“Jayne, as if you would,” she interrupted, smiling at him.
“Well, maybe I wouldn’t,” the big man admitted. “But I still gotta work up a sweat.”
“If you reopen anything, don’t come running to me.”
“Okay.” He laughed and set about laying out the bed. “Bet this’s seen a lot of action,” he commented, his face turned away so he didn’t see her blush.
“Um, a little.”
“Only, that was something I kinda wanted to ask you about. ‘Fore you left.”
“Oh?” She waited warily for the mercenary to continue.
“See, River’s … well, she’s asked me to court her, and I … I ain't exactly got any idea how.” He was still looking down, but she could see his ears were turning just the palest shade of pink. Sunburn, she decided charitably.
“You’re going to court River?”
“That’s what she wants.” He finally looked at her. “Can you … how the diyu do I do it?”
Inara sat down on the edge of the armchair. “You’re taking River for a walk?”
“Yeah. By the lake.” He looked confused. “Why?”
“Well, because that’s a good start. And flowers are always appreciated.”
“She’s making a garden on Serenity.”
“Then perhaps some seeds. Love-in-the-mist, something like that.”
“That’s a plant?”
“It is. And buy her something pretty to wear. Or perfume.”
He shook his head. “’Nara, I don’t know about things like that.”
“Then, since it’s River, perhaps a gun.” She was being facetious, but the look on his face made her think she might actually have given him an idea. “Jayne …”
“So it’s that kinda thing?” He put his head on one side. “Just bein’ nice?”
“More or less.”
“And when she’s ready?”
Jayne stood up, despite his words favouring his chest a little. “’Nara, I want her like I wanted nobody else. I dream about her at night, with me, under me, and … I ain't gonna make her do anything she don’t want. But when she does … when she’s ready …”
“You want it to be here?”
Jayne nodded slowly. “Not on board, with everyone listening. I know that’s what kept Jethro from performing, and ‘though I won’t have that problem, I kinda know what he meant.”
“And if she doesn’t want it?”
He sighed, a sound that seemed to come from the very soles of his boots. “Then I’ll live with that too.”
Inara smiled at him, this new version of a man she’d never really met before. “I don’t think you’re going to have any problem with courting, Jayne. Just carry on the way you’re going, and you’ll be fine.” She laughed. “And you’d better hurry up with my bed. You don’t want to keep her waiting.” He still looked at her, and she realised. “And yes, Jayne. When she’s ready, you can come here.”
He grinned and went back to work.
Inara watched from the doorway to the common area as River and Freya walked up the ramp, Bethany running on ahead of them, Ethan in the young psychic’s arms.
“The sooner he learns to walk, the better, he’s so heavy,” the girl said, setting him down on the cargo floor. Immediately the little boy was off, crawling towards the cages at the back. “Although I can’t keep track of him now …” She chased after him.
Freya watched her indulgently, a soft smile on her lips.
“I'm sorry,” Inara said, stepping down into the bay.
Freya raised her eyebrows. “For what?”
“Everything I've done to upset you.”
“Is there anything new? That you’ve done lately?”
“Not that I'm aware of.”
Freya smiled. “Then there’s no need to apologise. What’s past is past. We move on.”
“You could always come and stay. You know, if Mal had a job in the area, he could drop you for a few days. We could talk. You could swim.”
“Sounds fun.” Freya looked at her. “You’ll be fine, Inara. This is just a touch of cold feet. That’s all.”
“Do you really want to get rid of me?”
Freya glanced down at her hands. “Not get rid of.”
“But you don’t want temptation.”
“No,” Freya admitted, looking up. “Inara, I know I don’t have anything to worry about. And I am going to miss you so much. But …”
“There’ll always be that ‘but’, won’t there?”
“Let’s just say … absence makes the heart grow fonder, shall we?”
River crossed the bay back towards them, Ethan struggling in her arms. “He found something unmentionable,” she said. “He was just about to touch it.”
Freya laughed and took her son, his thrashing ceasing immediately he felt his mother’s comfort around him. Inara experienced a flash of jealousy, which she instantly repressed, but the glance Freya gave her said it wasn't quick enough.
River looked from one to the other. “Sisters,” she said, sighing. “So alike, and so fragile. Tender shoots to be nurtured, not controlled.”
“What are you talking about?” Inara asked.
“Us? Tender shoots?”
“Well, maybe I was exaggerating.”
Inara stared at her, then at Freya, and they both burst out laughing, River joining in with them.
“We’ll swing by in a couple of weeks,” Mal said, stepping out into the sunlight. “See if you’re okay.”
Inara followed. “I’ll be fine, Mal. But that would be nice.”
“And you should let Kaylee know if you need anything. I mean, we’ll be more’n happy to drop off any supplies you need. If we’re in the area. Around. You know.”
She smiled at him. “You don’t have to.”
“No, I know. But you’re family, ‘Nara. Gotta remember that.”
“I do. And I'm grateful for everything you’ve done for me.”
“What, getting you into trouble all the time?” He grinned.
“And getting me out. I know I wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn't for you.”
He almost blushed. Almost. “Yeah, well, that’s …” He looked up at the house. “It’s a good place. You’ll be happy here.”
“I hope so.”
“I know it. You’ll make it home ‘fore you know.”
“’Nara, I think you can do anything you set your mind to.” He smiled at her, and she felt the warmth of his friendship flush though her.
“You’d better go,” she said softly, looking past him to the woman standing in the cargo bay doors. “Freya’s waiting for you.”
“She don’t trust me,” Mal joked. “Afraid I’ll stay here with you instead of wandering off into the black with her.”
“No.” He smiled, his blue eyes crinkling. “My home’s with her. Always will be.”
“You know, I think you two deserve each other.”
He laughed. “You insulting me or not?”
“That, my dear captain, I will leave up to you to decide.”
And now they were gone, and she was left standing alone outside her home.
As she started to go back inside, a bird began to sing, high up in the sky. She looked up, trying to find it, seeing nothing but blue. She searched, her eyes beginning to ache, then suddenly there it was, just a speck of brown, wings beating frantically. A skylark, its song filling the air with passion and freedom.
“Madam?” Mrs Boden, her new housekeeper, was standing behind her.
“There’s a wave for you from a gentleman. He says he knows you, understands that you’re no longer a Companion, but he wondered if you could help his daughter …”
Inara smiled. Maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad after all.
Monday, April 23, 2007 4:32 AM
Monday, April 23, 2007 10:33 AM
Monday, April 23, 2007 12:32 PM
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