Heart & Soul, Part II
Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Book is visited by a mysterious man from his past and gets in a fight. Meanwhile Inara, ever calm, ever graceful, finds herself on the raggedy edge.


Disclaimer: This story is in no way meant to infringe on the rights of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, Universal Pictures, or 20th Century Fox. Just wanted to have a bit of fun with these characters is all. Please don’t sue me.

Thanks for reading. I appreciate the feedback – as well as your patience. Sorry I’ve been gone a while, but when Uncle Sam calls…

Rated PG-13 for a little bitty fight scene and some good ol’-fashioned Chinese cussin’.

***** *****

Inara was very tired. It had been a long night, helping Simon look after Petaline, and today…well, today was going to be hell. There was still work to be done, and the poor girl needed some fresh water and clean towels. She headed down the hall to check – And suddenly Mal was there, shirtless, coming from her room. He started. “Um…” “Well,” she said, looking away. “I was just, um, I had to tell Nandi about the…it’s near time to…big fight today.” Inara seemed surprised, but not shocked. “Mal, please.” “Hey no, I’ve got, I’ve been up thinking…” “So you took to bed with Nandi. I’m glad.” “Thinking and pondering the…” He was suddenly confused. “Glad?” “Yes!” Inara said emphatically. “She’s a dear friend and probably in need of some comfort about now.” Mal was caught completely off guard. “Well, I…” She cut him off, a practiced half-smile tugging at the corner of her face. “One of the virtues of not being puritanical about sex is not being embarrassed afterward. You should look into it.” “Well I just…didn’t want you to think I was taking advantage of your friend.” “She’s well worth taking advantage of. I sincerely hope you did.” “So, you’re okay?” Mal asked, then shook his head. “Well, yeah. Why wouldn’t you be?” “I wouldn’t say I’m entirely okay,” she said. Mal looked at her. “I’m a little appalled at her taste!” And with that, Inara brushed past him, ever cool, ever graceful, and continued on around the corner, into a side closet, and quietly closed the door behind her. She stood there, calm, for several minutes, in the silence of the morning. Then she felt her chest rise and fall, faster and faster. Her breath escaped her, and suddenly she was in a vacuum, her heart as empty as the outer edge of space. And when the tears finally came, everything else came crashing down around her.


Krimbo’s eyes slowly scanned the crowd of people on the platform as they got off the shuttle. Arthur checked his watch. Not that he had anywhere else to be, other than where the boss told him to go. It was just a nervous habit. Krimbo tapped him with the back of his meaty hand and tilted his head at one of the exiting passengers. “Is that him?” Arthur raised his eyebrows. “The old geezer? He don’t look like much.” The big man glared at him from under a thick mane of dreadlocks. “Don’t be a fool,” he said slowly. “First rule: never underestimate a man like that. Besides, you should have some respect for your elders.” “Whatever,” said Arthur. “Let’s just do this.” The two of them began to make their way through the throng, following the white-haired man in the black sweater as he dragged his case on its wheels behind him. He weaved through the lines at the food court, then turned into the luggage concourse. They had to push through the crowd to keep up. “For an old guy, he can sure move,” Arthur muttered. Then he stopped and looked around. “Hey, where’d he go?” Krimbo turned quickly to catch a glimpse of movement out of the corner of his eye. A door closing. “There,” he said, and moved to the door, Arthur right behind. They entered and went down a couple of steps. The walls were lined with monitors and flashing dials and buttons, and towers of circuits stood in the aisles as cables hung overhead like jungle vines. The room was silent, but Krimbo knew there was someone else here. Slowly they crept into the computer maze. “Guai-guai long de dong!” Arthur squeaked. “He ain’t in here. There’s nobody can…” “Ssh!” Krimbo hissed, and stayed stock still. Something clattered in the back of the room. “What was that!?” Arthur wheeled around. Krimbo turned to him angrily. “I said shut the –” And suddenly he felt cold metal whack him across the back, bringing him to his knees. “Hey, hey, Grandpa, knock it off!” Arthur instinctively lunged for the metal pipe in the old man’s hands. Which turned out to be a mistake. Before he realized what was happening, Arthur was upside down, spinning in the air, before landing on the cold concrete flat on his back. “Wait!” shouted Krimbo, putting up his forearm just in time to block another blow. The old man swung again, but Krimbo snatched the pipe from his grip and tossed it aside. “We’re not your enemy, Shepherd.” “Then who are you?” he demanded. “They’re my friends,” said a voice from the door. “You can trust them.” The white-haired man squinted, then his lips drew into a smile. “Then if that’s so, how can I trust you?” he asked, chuckling. An older gentleman stepped into the room. He was well-groomed, but his clothing was simple. He extended his hand, and the Shepherd grasped it warmly. “So, it’s ‘Book’ now, isn’t it?” He nodded. “I understand you go by Huxley these days. It’s been a long time.” “Not long enough,” spat Arthur bitterly. “Xiong meng de kuang ren…” Book sighed. “I owe your men an apology. Please forgive me for being jumpy. I suppose I’m a little…on edge after getting your message.” “No harm done,” Krimbo assured him. Arthur made a face. Book turned to Thomas Huxley. “Do you know what happened? Who…” “Let’s not discuss this here,” Thomas cut him off. “First we must make sure I’ve not been spotted. Follow me, quickly.” The Shepherd grabbed his belongings and they filed out the service door, Krimbo up front, watching. Huxley followed, then Book, and finally Arthur taking rear guard. They went down to the parking level where Thomas’ car was already running, waiting. The two older men ducked inside quickly. Arthur and Krimbo loaded up quickly, and then they were off. After Arthur rolled up the sound screen between the front and rear passenger seats, Huxley turned to his old friend. “I do apologize for the cloak-and-dagger act. It’s cliché, I know. But I fear the circumstances necessitate a certain level of discretion…and security.” Book looked at him hard. “Just what is going on?” Thomas pulled a red envelope from his coat pocket and handed it to him. Book pulled the tab with the photo sheet attached and pressed the button to play the video. “This security footage was taken yesterday morning at the Al Baher Hotel. That’s Joseph’s room. Coroner puts the time of death at about 0815 – about the time this was taken.” The Shepherd watched as the hotel room door in the photo slowly opened. A dark-haired woman, wrapped in silk robes and a sleek overcoat, stepped out quietly, then shut the door behind her. As she did so, the camera caught a glimpse of her face. She was a picture of beauty, the very emblem of grace, and there was no mistaking her. “You are sure?” Book asked, his voice heavy and grave. Thomas nodded. Book returned his attention to the photo screen. Moments later a hotel maid entered the room, only to run out screaming seconds later. She returned, followed by police and paramedics. And then Book watched as they carried out a stretcher with a bleeding body of Joseph St. Julius, bleeding from several stab wounds. They covered his face and carried him off. Book stopped the picture and lowered his head. “My men,” said Thomas Huxley, “say they spotted some shady characters back home on Beaumonde.” “Beaumonde is full of shady characters,” said Book sadly. “At any rate, it looks we’ll soon reap what we’ve sewn.” He sat back and put his fingertips together contemplatively. “But you’re not telling me this just as a warning. You could have done that in the WAV.” “Somewhere along this road we took, things got complicated,” said Huxley, smiling a tragic smile. “Things are only as complicated as we let them be. We’ve made our choices in life…” “Stow the sermon,” said Huxley, his tone not malicious, but firm. “I know who you are and I know who you were, so you can drop the pious act. Now, I’m not asking you to do anything that runs contrary to your nature. I just thought, given our history, you would be able to…ask some questions.” “You’ve got men.” “Yes, but that’s just it. They’re my men. Employees of a tenured Parliamentary Official. The less they know the better.” “So you throw me to the wolves.” “You’re already involved. Whoever’s behind this has already got to Magnus – er, Joseph St. Julius. But they are coming for me, and they will come for you. Now you can sit there on your high horse and let them come and mow you down like a dog in the street, or, we can help each other.” Book frowned with head bowed and eyes closed. He thought. And he prayed. And then he decided. He pressed the replay button on the photograph and took a still frame of Inara’s face as she left the murder scene. Huxley looked on. “You know her, don’t you?” “Apparently not as well as I thought I did,” the Shepherd said. “Oh, Inara…” he whispered, feeling the confusion rise within him, “what have you done?”


“Nothing!” she said forcefully. “Fei hua. What benefit would I get from his death? Joseph St. Julius was a client and a friend.” “Who favored you almost exclusively upon your return to Dohan,” said Inspector Lee. “And I also understand you contracted with him on more than a few occasions while you were at House Madrassa.” “What business is that of yours? That’s hardly relevant.” “It establishes that you had a prior relationship with the deceased. I do find it a little strange, Miss Serra, that you would choose a knife. Indicates a personal grudge. Whatever it was between you it must’ve gotten way past words.” Up to now Inara had been trying her best to keep calm. Throwing tantrums was hardly an effective tool in any situation, let alone under accusations of murder. But, Inara thought that if she were to kill anyone, it would be Detective Inspector Samantha Lee. There was just no talking to her. Even Mal, single-minded as he often was, wasn’t a total pien juh duh jiou cha wen like her. And just when the Companion thought she could suffer Lee’s attitude no more without slapping her into next week, the door opened and a sharply dressed young man entered. He acknowledged Inara, then pulled Lee aside. Inara sat down and tried to regain her center of composure. She opted not to listen in on their whispered conversation. “What are you doing here? We already have the tape.” “The time stamp on the video and the clerk’s testimony don’t match up. He says she left a full half hour before the tape says she does.” “That’s not any kind of alibi. She was alone with the victim for hours. She could’ve done anything to him in that span of time.” “That won’t hold water. Plus you’ve got no murder weapon. Double plus, you’ve got a registered Companion in here, bound by law and don’t let her call a gorram lawyer? Are you trying to get this thrown out?” “I don’t care if she’s the rutting Queen of Hearts, if she…” “If she doesn’t sue the department for harassment or unjust detainment it’ll be an act of mercy.” Eventually Lee and the young man returned. “Ms. Serra, my name is Daniel Morales. I work for the District 12 Federal Counsel’s Office. Have you had a chance to seek personal counsel prior to this interview?” “No.” Morales shot a dirty look at Lee before continuing. “Then please let me be the first to apologize on behalf of the state of Dohan. We are not in the habit of denying any citizen to right to fair representation or due process. You are free to go, and I can assure you that this particular incident will not go on your permanent profile.” A wave of relief swept over Inara. Finally, someone sane. She rose to leave, but he held up a slender hand. “There is just one thing, I’m afraid. Since you are the last known person to have seen Mr. St. Julius alive you are indicated as a ‘person of interest’ in this investigation. As such your license to practice as a Companion is temporarily suspended, in accordance with Federal Statute 600-23d, pending the outcome of this investigation.” Inara’s blood ran cold. “And how long will that take?” Morales and Lee exchanged glances. He stood aside to let her pass. “We’re working on that.” And in that moment, she was once again a vacuum, an empty object floating in the inky void. Still, she was calm. She went on her way, ever cool, ever graceful, down the metallic gray halls of the police station to the transport pad as she waited to be taken home. She was the very essence of serenity, her face impassive as she got out of the car and went into her apartment building. So focused was she that when she got to her door, it barely registered with her that it had been left slightly open, so when she opened it, the sight that came to her was a complete and total shock. The place had been ransacked. Literally turned upside down and inside out. Her furniture had been overturned. A few, but not all, items of precious jewelry were gone. She checked her computer; her schedule and client database had been hacked. They’d even rifled through her personal makeup shelves. She righted her couch and replaced the cushions, then sat. Everything had come tumbling down, just as before, except now she was alone. Mal was worlds away, and this was not his fight. He was not the one responsible. She was. Inara went to a secret compartment in the headboard of her bed. They’d missed her secret box. She opened it to check; it was still there. The black vial, and the syringe. Good. She lay down to catch her breath. She felt dizzy, but she would not cry. Not this time. She would go to the one responsible for ruining her life, and she would make her pay.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007 12:45 AM


awesome I can't wait to read the next chapter

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 9:31 AM


Please come back to write the rest of this story? It is so promising! It was great!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 7:53 AM


Very nice work and I just discovered this story, so I'll have to go back and read your other work.



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Heart & Soul, Part II
Book is visited by a mysterious man from his past and gets in a fight. Meanwhile Inara, ever calm, ever graceful, finds herself on the raggedy edge.

Heart & Soul, Part I
Mal's trying to adjust. Inara's trying to adjust. Book's journey takes him in an unexpected direction. And someone ends up dead.

Play It Again, Tam
The doctor reveals a hidden talent that touches Mal in a way he didn't think possible. A one-shot.

Point of No Return X, The Conclusion
Serenity is disabled, left without communication, and cornered by the Reaver ship. The only way out is for a member of the crew to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Point of No Return, Part IX
He's lost everything and everyone he's ever loved. Now he's faced with a choice: resist the urge for blood and rebuild his life, or descend deeper into that black madness, beyond the point of no return...

Point of No Return, Part VIII
A bad situation becomes desperate. Kai relives his troubled past, and Wash takes a dangerous risk. Plus: Mal and Monty's great escape.

Point of No Return, Part VII
The crew take on a new job, thanks to Jubal Early. Book gives Simon a helping hand in his investigation; Kaylee and Mal find themselves in a deadly situation; and Wash realizes they're not alone.

Point of No Return, Part VI
The day that Inara has been dreading for weeks finally arrives. Simon can't understand the connection between his sister and the Reaver, and the controversy continues over Serenity's newest crew member. Plus: River gives Mal a startling prediction.

Point of No Return, Part V
Jayne's plan backfires big-time; Kaylee is rescued by an unlikely hero with a troubled past; Book and Wash have words; and Mal considers a change of heart.

Point of No Return, Part IV
Simon tries to figure out River's relationship with his newest patient; Mal has a hard time trying to figure Inara out; and a simple job goes south in a hurry.