Thursday, May 3, 2007

Mal and the crew have a new enemy, and things go as they generally do: not smooth.


All characters but the panther belong to Joss Whedon. The panther belongs to Alison Dobell, from her "The Pursuit Series", borrowed with permission.

I'm just writing as it comes to me, so I have no idea yet where we will end up--it's a journey for me too! Trying to slow it down a bit, as requested. Feedback is very, very shiny, good or bad, please be gentle! Thanks for reading!!


Inara’s slippered feet made almost no sound as she walked the metal planking and grating that made up Serenity’s corridors and walkways. It wasn’t that she was trying to be stealthy, it was merely her own innate grace honed by her companion training. Hers was the grace of a lady—or a whore, as Mal thought of her profession—whereas Zoë’s was more akin to Blackie’s and River’s was that of a dancer.

Serenity had her own grace, although Inara didn’t know how to classify it. Maybe it derived from the man who’d made her a home. He had a predatory grace of his own. Yes, perhaps that was the answer. On the ground, the ship looked about as graceful as a fish out of water, but in the air, well, that was different.

Mal was like that, too. Oh, he made a show of bumbling through life sometimes, but when it came to protecting those people or things he considered his to protect, Mal was more like his panther than even he probably noticed.

Inara shook her head clear of such thoughts. She had appointments to keep on Persephone and Beaumonde. She would just look in on Mal in the infirmary, then go to the bridge to consult Zoë about their timetable.

Simon was just leaving the infirmary when she arrived, and looked surprised to see her. “Inara!”

She smiled at him. “Hello, doctor.”

“Was there—is there something I can do for you?”

“No, no; I just wanted to visit the captain for a moment. How is he?”

“He’s not here. He left a little while ago.”

Inara lifted an elegant brow. “Excuse me, doctor, but didn’t you say that he had a concussion and quite a bit of blood loss? I wouldn’t have thought he’d be up and around yet.”

Simon’s skin took on a reddish hue that she kindly pretended not to see. “He shouldn’t be, that’s true, but he was lucid when he regained consciousness, and I saw no reason to keep him.”

Which actually meant, Inara deduced, that Mal had overridden the doctor and simply ignored what Simon thought best. She couldn’t say she was surprised. Mal was stubborn, and the young doctor simply didn’t know how to circumvent Malcolm Reynolds’ will. Only Kaylee seemed to have that particular ability. Zoë’s will was as strong as her captain’s, if not stronger, but even she picked her battles with him carefully. Kaylee simply wore him down. To Mal, she was like a beloved little sister, and, with that advantage, she could usually get around him, depending on his mood.

Smiling warmly, Inara courteously thanked Simon and continued toward the bridge. Hopefully, Mal had had the sense to go to bed and she would be talking to Zoë.

Hope was dashed: Mal was on the bridge. He sat in the pilot’s chair, booted feet on the console, one hand rubbing his temples as he pored over the cortex. He looked so tired that she started to turn away, but he’d seen her. “Somethin’ troublin’ you, ‘Nara?”

Sighing quietly, she stepped fully onto the bridge. Up close, Mal looked utterly exhausted, and she frowned with immediate concern. “Mal, why don’t you go and get some rest? You look like you could use it.”

“I will, soon enough, but your concern, gratifying though it is, ain’t what got you up on my bridge. Speak your piece.”

In the face of his obvious pain and fatigue, Inara promised herself that she absolutely would not argue with him, no matter what he said. “I was wondering what time we’d be landing on Beaumonde tomorrow?”

“We ain’t gonna be on Beaumonde tomorrow. I aim to stay right here until I find the bunger who put a hole in me, and then I aim to put a few in him.”

“Here, on St. Albans? But, Mal, I have appointments to keep!” So much for that promise. Well, she was a companion, not a saint.

“Reschedule. We’ll get there eventually.”

“Eventually? Mal, you’re being ridiculous! How do you expect me to run a business on ‘eventually’?”

Both feet hit the floor, and Inara had a second to realize that this Mal was not the one who enjoyed sparring with her. This one had had too rough of a day and was in far too nasty a mood because of it. He stood to lean over her, blue eyes hard and angry. “I said you’re gonna have to reschedule, Inara, and that’s final! I got nine people on this boat I gotta protect, including you and me, and I can’t do that if I don’t know what the hell is goin’ on! I don’t know if this mess is gonna follow us, and it’d be mighty unpretty if one of your clients got caught in the crossfire, wouldn’t it?” He glared at her, and when she said nothing, he turned on his heel and left her alone on the bridge.

Only River, unseen by both of them, saw Inara’s tears.


This time, Mal went to his bunk. As always, he regretted the conversation—argument—with Inara, but he was damned if he would apologize.

Between the bad leg and pure fatigue, the ladder down was problematic, but he managed it. Once down, he gave consideration to turning off the com, but knew it was a bad idea. He also knew that no one would use it unless it was an emergency anyway. He did, however, turn off the cortex. He didn’t want any calls right now; all he wanted was sleep. He didn’t even bother stripping down, just fell into bed fully dressed, and was asleep within moments.


Kaylee turned from the stove, pot in hand, placing it on the table. “Supper’s up!”

“ ‘Bout time,” Jayne groused, first at the table as always. No matter what else went on, if there was food or money involved, Jayne was ol’ reliable.

Wash glanced around. “Where’s Mal? I know he left the infirmary…”

Jayne shrugged indifferently, piling food on his plate. “Don’t know. If’n he don’t get here, he’s gonna miss out.”

“No, he won’t,” Zoë said firmly, with a hard look at the big merc. Jayne subsided, grumbling as he was wont to do on most any occasion. Zoë turned her eyes to the mechanic. “Kaylee, make the captain a plate, please. I’ll go find him.”

Kaylee nodded. With a smile and a touch for her husband, Zoë went in search of her captain.

It didn’t occur to her to check his bunk until she’d already been to the cargo bay and the bridge. It probably should have been the first place she looked, given the day he’d had, but he generally spent so little time there, she hadn’t thought of it. But, by process of elimination, if he wasn’t in one of his usual haunts, that was where he had to be.

It was confirmed when she saw the green lights on the keypad beside his door. The only time it wasn’t locked was when he was in there. She knocked. “Sir?”

The hatch had been rigged with a rope for the sake of the panther. She simply pulled it when she wanted out, and that was who opened the door now. Climbing down, Zoë patted the big feline’s head, and was rewarded with an abbreviated purr. “Captain?”

There was no response, so she made her way carefully across the dimly lit room to the bed. Mal was sleeping soundly, one arm tossed above his head, the other resting across his abdomen, one knee pulled up. Even in sleep, he looked drawn and tired, and Zoë suddenly realized how rarely it was that she saw her friend truly relaxed. With an almost tender motion, she reached out and touched his hair, then laid the back of her hand against his forehead to check for fever, knowing that Simon would ask. He didn’t seem unduly warm, and he didn’t stir, so she let him be, deciding he needed rest more than he needed food. Quietly, she withdrew from the bunk and returned to the dining room.

“So where’s Mal?” her husband asked.

“Sleeping,” the first mate replied. “Figured it’d be best to let him be.”

Kaylee looked up, openmouthed. “But, Zoë, captain’s gotta eat!”

“Kaylee,” Inara said gently, “the captain was very tired, and I have no doubt he didn’t feel very well either.”

“All the more reason! Simon, tell ‘em!” Kaylee entreated. Simon looked up at her expectant face. “Uh, actually, Kaylee…I think the captain needs the sleep more.”

“Simon!” she wailed. Book patted her shoulder. “Don’t worry, Kaylee, Mal won’t starve from missing one meal.”

She subsided unhappily as Simon looked to Zoë. “I suppose he’s all right? No sign of infection or fever?”

“No fever, doctor. Just ordinary fatigue. Figure he oughta sleep through the night.”

Simon nodded. “I’ll check on him later.”

No one noticed when River slipped away.


Monday, May 7, 2007 8:49 AM


Well now...gotta say Inara kinda had that coming to her, since at this point in things? She doesn't realize how much danger she would be in that the Guild either couldn't or wouldn't protect her from. Though Mal could have been a tad less harsh:(

Still...lovely work here! Definitely wondering what River's up to...and if she knows who wants Mal dead.



You must log in to post comments.



Mal and the crew have a new enemy, and things go as they generally do: not smooth.

Mal and the crew have a new enemy, and things go as they generally do: not smooth.

Mal and the crew have found a new enemy, and things go as they generally do: not smooth.