BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Thin Ice - Part VIII
Thursday, May 31, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. A decision is made over the puppies, and Serenity is finally good to go ... more coming, some angst beginning to build (but it might be a little slow, just to tease). I love to read your comments, all of them!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1708    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

“I’d be glad to see her, Anthony.” Inara smiled at the man on the Cortex. “Will you be accompanying her?”

“I thought I might … if it’s not too much trouble.” He was handsome, dark hair swept back from a high forehead.

“There’s plenty of room, and it would be nice to talk to an old friend.”

“As long as you’re sure.” Anthony shrugged. “I don’t know what’s got into her. First refusing to go ahead with the marriage, now insisting on … well, I really think someone needs to take her in hand.”

“Anthony, if Rosette doesn’t want to get married, that is her choice.”

“I know, Inara, but … he’s a good man.”

“Was he your selection?”

“I … might have suggested … look, she did say she loved him.”

“Then I think that gives us a starting point.” Inara smiled. “When will you arrive?”

“Three days. I have to do a little business first, if that’s okay.”

“Three days is perfect. It gives me a chance to get everything ready.”

Anthony had already visibly relaxed. “Thanks, Inara.”

“I look forward to seeing you soon.”

He smiled and the connection broke.

Covering the screen over with the red silk throw, Inara turned around. “What …” she began, startled.

“Auntie ‘Nara?” Bethany stood in the doorway, her toy dog tucked in the sling.

“What is it, sweetie?” Inara took a calming breath and sat down. “Did you come all this way on your own?”

Bethany nodded. “Wanted to talk.”

Inara smiled. “There seems to be a lot of that around.” She patted the sofa next to her. “What do you want to talk about?”

“Daddy says we’re going soon.” Bethany scrambled up, her cast making it awkward.

“So I understand.”

“I don’t want you to be lonely.”

“Oh, honey, why should I be lonely?”

“’Cause you ain’t got a puppy.”

“Haven’t got,” Inara corrected automatically. “Well, no, that’s true.”

Bethany looked down at her shoes. “Uncle Mal doesn’t want two puppies.”

“I’m sure he didn’t -”

“I heard him telling Uncle Hank.”

“Were you peeking?”

Bethany shook her head. “Peeking’s bad. I heard with my ears.”

“Eavesdropping can be as bad as peeking. You hear things you’d rather you didn’t.”

The little girl sniffed. “Don’t want them to drown them,” she whispered.

“Drown -” Inara was horrified. “When did Mal say he’d do that?”

“Not Uncle Mal. But Mommy says people do that when they don’t want puppies.”

Inara put her arm around the little girl. “Oh, Bethany, that won’t happen.”

Bethany let all the worry and fear out, tears rolling down her face to stain Inara’s dress. “Don’t want the puppies drowned.”

“Sweetie, we won’t let anyone hurt the puppies. Dong mah?”

“But if Uncle Mal says -”

“It doesn’t matter what Uncle Mal says.”

“He’s captain.”

“That doesn’t give him the right to …” She paused. “Well, I suppose it does, but he’s not going to … Bethany, he wouldn’t. Do you have any idea what Freya would do to him if he even suggested it?”

“Kill him?”

“And then some.” Inara hugged the little girl. “Don’t worry.” She moved back a little. “Is that all you’re worried about? Because you know he wouldn’t hurt them.”

Bethany wouldn’t meet her eyes. “’S,” she whispered.

“Bethie, you can tell me.”

The little girl shook her head. “Peeking’s bad.”

“Has someone else upset you?”

“Maybe I should only have one puppy,” Bethany suggested diffidently, determined to change the subject. “Then I could look after him better.”

"Only one?” Inara looked down into those great big eyes, successfully sidetracked. “But what would you … oh, no, Bethany.”

“Please?”

---

“Mal, we have a proposition to make.” Inara stood in the cargo bay doors, Bethany holding her hand tightly.

Mal stood straight, easing his back. “Better make it quick, Inara. Serenity‘s back up and running, according to Kaylee, and now there’s the prospect of seeing her folks …” The look on Bethany’s face registered. “What’s up?” he asked.

“Bethany is afraid you’re going to drown one of the puppies.”

“Drown …” Mal’s jaw fell open. “What … when did I ever … I would never …”

Inara looked down at the little girl. “See? I told you he wouldn’t.”

Mal went down onto his heels. “You thought I would do that?”

Bethany hid behind Inara’s skirts. “Scared.”

“Of me?” Mal shook his head. “Come here.” He held out his arms.

She ran into them, holding his neck tightly. “Scared,” she repeated.

He stood up. “Bethie, I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you, you know that.”

She nodded. “’Es.”

“Yeah, I’m beginning to get the notion two dogs may not be such a good idea, but I’d never ever hurt one of ‘em either.”

“’Kay.”

“’N’ you know that. Is there something else worrying you?”

“No, Uncle Mal.” She sniffed slightly. “Only the puppies.”

“Which sort of brings us back to our proposition,” Inara said, her heart aching at the sight of this man holding a child with such tenderness.

“Proposition?” Mal repeated.

“Don’t want Auntie ‘Nara to be lonely,” Bethany explained.

“Lonely. Inara.”

“I might get lonely,” Inara said quickly. “In the long winter months. When there’s deep snow on the ground and nothing to do but crochet.”

“Crochet?”

“It’s like knitting, but with only one needle.”

“You can knit?”

“I could learn.” She waved her hand. “Anyway, what Bethany is suggesting is that I take on one of the puppies.”

“You’d …” Mal couldn’t help it. He burst out laughing.

“Not funny, Uncle Mal,” Bethany reproved.

“Sorry, squirt. It’s just the idea of Inara here with a …” He coughed, trying to control himself. “So you’re going to take on one of the pups.”

“Bethany has … persuaded me.”

“Feminine wiles?”

“Let’s just say I’m not immune either.”

“So which one?”

“What?”

“Which puppy? Fiddler or Giselle?”

Inara was taken aback. “I suppose that’s up to Bethany.”

Mal looked into the small face. “Well, squirt? Which one do you want to keep?”

Bethany leaned her head against him. “Fiddler,” she whispered. “Because you gave him to me.”

Mal felt his chest expand a little with pride. “That I did. You sure about that?”

“Fiddler,” Bethany repeated, nodding.

“Well, ‘Nara, looks like you’ve just become the proud mother of a bouncing baby girl,” Mal laughed.

“That’s fine. I think a little girl puppy would be perfect.” She stepped up to the pen and looked down. “They do look adorable together, though.”

“We’ll be back this way, ‘fore long,” Mal promised. “Ain’t nothing gonna keep Bethany away, not now.”

Inara leaned over and picked up the small bundle of black and white fur. “She is so sweet.”

“Mal, we’re good to go,” Hank called from the top catwalk.

“That that no good pilot of yours?” Jayne thundered, heading out of the common area. He glared upwards.

“Hi, Jayne.” Hank waved a little.

“You gan ni niang’n ezri san zhi jiao mao lu!” Jayne pointed up at him. “You wait until I get my hands -”

“Jayne.” Mal’s voice cut across him.

The big mercenary glanced across, then noticed Bethany in Mal’s arms. “Aw, hell, that ain’t fair.”

“You just remember who might be listening,” Mal warned. “And you ain’t gonna do a thing to my pilot.”

“But Mal, he -”

“Shuttle?”

Jayne subsided somewhat. “Shit.”

Bethany waved her finger at him. “Bad Uncle Jayne,” she said. “No swearing.”

“I second that,” Inara agreed, stepping forwards. “I think maybe you need some lessons in control too.”

“Good idea.“ Mal looked up. “Get her warmed over, Hank. We’ll be leaving as soon as Inara and her friend get off.”

“On it, Mal.” Hank grinned at Jayne and ducked back through the doorway.

“Her friend?” Jayne asked, seeing the puppy in Inara’s arms. “What’s goin’ on?”

River stepped silently behind him. “Inara needs company, so Bethany is letting her look after Giselle.”

Jayne’s face fell a little. “You mean you’re giving her away?”

Bethany reached out for him, and Mal handed her over. “Auntie ‘Nara might be lonely.”

“Lonely?” The big man’s face softened. “You think?”

“Maybe.”

“And I won’t be now,” Inara promised.

“Well … that’s good.”

“And don’t worry none,” Mal put in. “We’re keeping one of ‘em.”

“Keeping one what?” Simon and Kaylee were heading down the stairs.

“We heard voices,” Kaylee explained.

“Keeping one puppy,” Jayne said. “Seems Inara might need company.”

“Oh, that’s nice.”

“Are you sure?” Simon asked, trying not to let his relief show too much.

“I’m sure,” Inara smiled. “It will be fun. And she might even help with my clients.”

“I ain’t even gonna ask how,” Jayne muttered.

The vibration through the hull indicated Hank had the engines running.

“We gotta go, people,” Mal said.

Kaylee hugged Inara, stroking the little puppy at the same time. “Gonna miss ya,” she said.

“Next time perhaps you can stay longer. And we can spend more time together,” the ex-Companion said, kissing her cheek.

“Had to get my girl back up,” Kaylee said brightly.

“And is she okay now?” Mal asked.

“She’s shiny, Cap.” Kaylee grinned. “Serenity’s A-ok.”

“Good to hear.”

“Do you want to say goodbye?” Inara asked Bethany.

“Yes.” She sniffed loudly.

“Aw, come on, squirt. Still got one pup,” Jayne said, carrying her across.

“I know.” Bethany leaned over and stroked the puppy’s ears. “Bye bye, Giselle. Auntie ‘Nara’ll take good care of you. Don’t be sad.”

“I’ll look after her,” Inara promised. “And she’s still yours.”

Bethany smiled, then hid her face in Jayne’s neck.

“’S okay, squirt,” Jayne said, stroking her back.

“I’d better get going,” Inara said, smiling at everyone. “I’ll talk to you soon, I’m sure.”

“Ain’t not much doubt about that,” Mal said, walking with her to the ramp. “And take good care of that one.” He ruffled the little dog’s head, getting a lick on his fingers.

Inara smiled and kissed his cheek. “You too, Mal.” She walked towards her house, waving over her shoulder.

“C’n Fiddler sleep with me tonight?” Bethany asked from the depths of Jayne’s shoulder. “In case he gets lonely and misses Giselle?”

“I don’t know about -” Simon began but Kaylee interrupted.

“Course he can, sweetie.”

“’K’you.”

Simon looked at his wife. “You do know we won’t be able to pry that dog out of her room now with dynamite.”

”It’s only a puppy, Simon.”

Mal grinned as the cargo bay doors closed. “You ain’t gonna win, doc. Not when they use feminine wiles on you.”

---

Inara watched the Firefly take off, her arms holding the little dog.

“Madam, shall I take it to the outhouse?” Mrs Boden asked. “There’s a pen that would do for a home out there.”

Inara looked at the little black and white face, and the tongue that was trying desperately to lick her nose. “No. Do we have a basket somewhere?”

“I believe so.”

“Then I think we’ll put it in my bedroom. Next to the bed.”

“Is the dog to sleep there, Madam?”

“She is.”

“Very good, Madam. I’ll make sure there’s plenty of paper up there as well.”

Inara nodded, letting the dog take a single taste. “Well, it looks like it’s just you and me, Giselle.” She smiled. “You know, you don’t look like a Giselle. You look more like a Jayne to me. Something to do with the eyebrows …”

---

Freya stepped out of the infirmary, doing the buttons on her shirt back up.

“Hey,” Mal said.

“Hey.” She smiled at him as he came down the steps from the cargo bay.

“We’ve taken off,” Mal said softly, putting his arms around her.

“I know.”

“Thought you might want to say goodbye.”

“We don’t. Not any more.”

“Your jealousy under control?”

She shook her head. “Not as long as you’re in my bed.”

“Guess I’m gonna have to live with that. But you and Inara …”

“We know where we stand. And I can live with that.”

He smiled. “So what were you doing in there?”

“Resting. Simon was running some tests and they were …” She shook her head, chasing the admittance that she was aching away. “He’s doing his best to find out about the limp.”

“Good.”

“You do know it isn’t anything, don’t you?”

“Sure.”

“Liar.”

“I just want to make sure, xin gan.”

“I know. And I love you for it.” She kissed him, her lips soft on his, eliciting a mild groan from the man.

“You know,” he said when he could breathe again, “you’re looking a little tired.”

“I feel fine,” she protested.

“Then maybe it’s me who needs a lie down.”

“Don’t you have captainy things to do?”

“Oh, I think the crew can manage for a spell.”

“Aren’t you afraid murder will get done?”

“Well, if it is, I’m sure someone will call.”

“You’re a bad man.”

“It’s been said.”

“Maybe I am feeling like a lie down.”

“Good idea.” He moved her towards the stairs. “You know we’re only a one dog ship, now.”

“Really?”

“Bethany thought Inara might …” Their voices faded away.

Simon watched them walk up the stairs, arms locked around each other, just the trace of a limp in Freya’s gait. Better get back to analysing those results.

COMMENTS

Thursday, May 31, 2007 12:53 AM

AMDOBELL


Loved this and I actually think that Bethie's solution - giving Inara one of the puppies - will do Inara the world of good. It is always theraputic to have someone to look after and a little puppy will be just the thing and they will be company for each other. Plus the puppy can't tell tales out of school. I did smile at the way Bethie had Mal wrapped around her little finger when she said she would keep Fiddler because Mal had given him to her. Ahhhh. Now though I am worried about what Simon may have found in his scans of Freya's leg. Fingers crossed that whatever he finds he can fix. He is, after all, one of the Big Damn Heroes too. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, May 31, 2007 2:57 AM

KATESFRIEND


Nice to see Mal firmly in control of his ship again and Bethie making the hard choice for all involved. Jayne and Hank are great together in this episode. Bethie's use of her wiles on Mal is precious, especially when he doesn't even know it. Great job!

Thursday, May 31, 2007 9:26 AM

NCBROWNCOAT


Bethany sure is developing those feminine wiles. She does have Mal and her father wrapped around her little finger. I'm worried too about the scan.

Thursday, May 31, 2007 10:06 AM

SLUMMING


Lovely chapter. I think that Bethie's gonna be a killer sure enough when she grows up! Worried very much about what she's hiding though. Doesn't portend good for the crew!

Thursday, May 31, 2007 12:42 PM

TAMSIBLING


This was terrific! I love Bethie making the deal with Inara to keep one of the dogs. And of course, she chose to keep Mal's. She knows which side her bread is buttered on.

I have to say though - I'd really love to see Bethie interact more with her parents. It seems that all of the other crew gets to hug her and laugh with her and play, but not Simon and Kaylee. I know Simon is better for things than just patching up skinned knees. In fact, I bet he'd make a heck of a pirate king!

Really loved Inara in this - but I am mightily worried about Freya. Something tells me this is what Bethany was crying about. I think Simon is going to have his work cut out for him.

Thursday, May 31, 2007 1:10 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Hmm...definitely getting the feeling that little Bethie's taking up her mama's habit of not being all that forward with her feelings in the name of keeping people happy. Cuz I still maintain there's more to her crying from chapter 7's end than thinking Mal's gonna drown one of the puppies. Personally? I think that she saw something involving Inara getting hurt or killed because of her being separated from the crew, so she decided to kill two birds with one stone by giving up Giselle so Inara will have something to protect her from harm when she grows up.

However, the best part of this chapter was Bethany using her feminine wiles on Mal, Jayne and Simon to keep everyone happy. Though it's no surprise when Kaylee's her mother and she's got Inara for an aunt;)

BEB


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