Snowball - Chapter 5
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Our BDH’s finally do some skiing, well at least most of them do. It’s the chapter that inspired the whole epic. The fifth of eleven chapters, which you can find out all about it in my blog.


Set six months after the BDM, with standard pairings: Simon and Kaylee, Mal and Inara angst.

If you haven’t read from the start, I would recommend going back to chapter 1 -

Of course - Its Joss’s world and his characters, but I sure enjoy playing with them.

Thanks to Mal4prez for the wonderful beta type advice and thanks to my sweet husband for catching all the typo’s.


Snowball Chapter 5

Jayne bent his left knee and leaned forward ever so slightly as he made the turn in the ankle deep powder. The snow sprayed up and brushed past his face, making him smile. He planted his pole and bent his other knee, attacking the slope with vigor. The snow below him sparkled in the bright morning sun, the air was crisp and cool, and there was no one else around. It was a perfect morning.

It had been years since Jayne had strapped a pair of telemark skis to his feet, but his muscles remembered. Bend, lean, turn: once you learn you never forget. Growing up in the mountains of Alderna, he had often worn skis. In the winter, it was skis or snowshoes if you wanted to go anywhere; he had always had somewhere to go and skis were faster and a whole lot more fun. Mostly he had gone hunting, bringing home meat for the stewpot had been his responsibility since he was eleven.

On rare occasions, though, he had strapped on skis just to get away. Out on the snow, he didn’t have to listen to his sisters bickering, or watch his mother struggling to stretch what little resources they had to feed all seven of them. He loved to listen to the silence found only in the mountains. He enjoyed seeing the sparkles of the sunlight on untouched snow. There was a peace in the mountains that was hard to find anywhere else, even in the Black. It was during those occasional retreats that he had taken a fondness to carving fresh tracks down steep forbidding slopes.

Back then, he had to work hard for an hour of bliss and speed. These resort people had the right idea. There was no need to strap on skins and spend most of the day trekking up hill just to be able to reach the bowls. This morning all he had to do was attach his pass and step onto the gondola. Twenty minutes later, he was at the top of the mountain. At this rate he’d be able to carve the entire mountain several more times before the day was out, if he wanted to go all the way to the bottom. Perhaps though, he should just stay up here in the bowls. He was fairly certain there was a mid mountain chair lift just down the way.

He reached the end of the wide steep bowl, entering a thin path etched between the trees. Inara’s shuttle may have fit into the small space, but Serenity never would have. The wind tickled his face as he flew down the hill. Bend, lean, turn; the powder flew behind him like bullets sprayed from an automatic rifle.

He was so glad he hadn’t given in to the guilt trip Kaylee had laid on him about staying with the group. If Simon and River wanted to give up a day of speeding through fresh powder to teach the others to stay upright, that’s their business. But for him a chance like this was once in a lifetime. With the life he lived, he doubted he would ever get the chance be on skis again; he wasn’t going to waste this day on the bunny slope.

Besides, if there was trouble they all had transmitters. Although now that he was up here, he realized a transmitter wasn’t likely to work on a mountain like this; there were too many valleys. He emerged from the trees into a wide open clearing, in the center of which was a small shack and the bottom of a lift. It seemed he was in the right place. He smiled as he remembered River’s comments just before he’d left the group. Sidling up to him, holding her bright blue skis, River had thrust a map in his hand. “Fly down double diamonds, yellow lines better than a hike.”

Mal was right, the moonbrain was cryptic, but Jayne had figured out what she meant. The gondola had been a yellow line, the only yellow line going all the way from the bottom to the top of the slope. That’s why he had chosen it. The slope he had just been on was a double diamond, and that suited him just fine. Now he was at the start of another yellow line, which should take him back to the top of the mountain.

He stopped at the end of the short line of skiers, watching intently how they lined up and prepared to get on the flying chairs that would take them back up the mountain. When he felt he could imitate them reasonably well he got in line to wait his turn for a ride.

“You single?” a soft female voice said.

Jayne turned around; the voice belonged to a nice-looking woman whose long, blond hair fell down her back from under a black wool hat. Her baggy black pants, black jacket, and brown vest were covered in snow. She wasn’t smiling, but didn’t look angry either. It seemed odd to Jayne, but this was a fancy place, maybe it was just customary to ask if one was married before talking to them. Core worlds always seemed a bit off, if you asked him.

“Are you riding up as a single?” she asked again, a little louder, as if he hadn’t heard her.

“Huh, uh yeah,” Jayne replied, sort of catching on to the gist of her question.

“Mind if I join you? Singles make the lines long. Name’s Adria.” She slid into position to catch the chair with him.

“Jayne,” he replied. His concentration was thrown by her presence next to him. If she had been a whore he would have paid good money for her.

The chair came quicker than he expected, taking him unawares, knocking his knees out from under him and slamming him into the seat, throwing his arms out wide. His left hand, the one grasping his poles, caught the bar of the chair lift and kept him from falling. His right hand landed on the chest of his pretty companion, and since he was there anyway he gave it a squeeze. After all, he needed some leverage to get himself settled onto the chair.

“Thing came round a might quick this time,” he said to her.

“Sure it did,” she replied, obviously not believing that he hadn’t grabbed her on purpose.

“What’s it say on your vest?” Jayne pointed to the spot he had just squeezed. “Can’t tell with all the snow.”

“Ski patrol,” she replied. “You’d never believe the number of worthless people that try and sneak into The Cottonwoods on phony passes, especially up here at the edge of the backcountry. I can usually spot them though; they just don’t quite fit in.”


As far as Mal was concerned, all six of them were lined up like sheep on a firing line. This was the stupidest plan Simon had ever come up with. There was no way in the ‘verse that they were going to pass themselves off as guests of this resort, even in these fancy new cloths Inara had swindled for them. There were other people on this easy slope, but most of them were young children with their parents or with instructors. The crew of Serenity stood out.

Of the three of them who had never been on skis before, Zoë looked the most comfortable. Perhaps it was because she had not moved since she found her balance, but how she could look intimidating strapped to a pair of sticks was beyond him.

River stood just to her right, demonstrating how they should hold their bodies as they went down the hill. Not that there was much of a hill, he’d seen more of a slope on the prairies of New Kansas on Shadow.

Simon stood holding onto Kaylee’s waist. She couldn’t keep her balance to save her life. She had fallen three times so far and each time she laughed harder and harder, which only made her attempts at standing worse. Simon tried to help her with an arm around her waist, but when she fell again he went down with her, a faint hint of a smile grew across his face in response to Kaylee’s burst of laughter.

Inara was on Mal’s left. Even dressed in four layers of fleece and gortex she managed to look alluring. Everyone noticed her; he watched several men turn their heads and stare at her as they passed them. Distracted, one of the oglers crossed the front tips of his skis and tumbled down. Served him right for gawking, Mal thought with a soft chuckle, but then the distraction almost made him loose his balance and fall himself. He recovered quickly though; no one noticed.

It seemed to him that Inara was a might twitchy this morning. She had looked over her shoulder at the oncoming skiers four times in the last couple of minutes. It might seem that she was straightening her jacket or hat, but he knew fright when he saw it. What in the world would be scaring her, he wondered. Why here, why now? What did she know that he didn’t?

What he did know was that they couldn’t stand here all day and make fools of themselves. They’d attract attention for sure.

“We best get goin’ if the idea’s to blend in with the masses,” Mal said. He grabbed Inara’s hand and attempted to inch forward on his skis. “Seems we’re one to one, those of you who know how to do this fong luh sport and those of us that don’t. Partner up.”


“You’re doing well, Mal,” Inara said to him as they slid slowly away from the others, none of whom had moved. “Now bend your knees and lean forward into your boots, as if your shins were squeezing a pressure catch to prevent some large explosion.”

Mal looked at her as if she was crazy, and immediately toppled over, just barely missing her as he fell. It took him several minutes and Inara’s hand to regain an upright posture, and a few more before he tried moving forward again.

“This time, turn your feet so that your skis make a pie shape,” Inara said to him, demonstrating.

Mal watched Zoë and River approach him. Zoë had the hang of this already. Damn her.

“Zoë,” Mal shouted to her as she neared him. “You a liar; you’ve done this before, either that or your channeling some skiing genius.”

“No, sir,” she replied. “It’s just not that hard.”

“Not that hard? Chasing jackals through the plains of Ariset was easier than this.”

“If you say so, sir,” Zoë responded gliding past him with ease.

“I do say so, you crazy snow...” He gave up thinking of an insult, it was obvious she couldn’t hear him anymore anyway, damn her.

He bent his knees and forced his skis into the required pie shape. And waited.

“Why ain’t I movin’?” he eventually asked Inara.

“Scooch!” she said.


“Scooch, give your body a little momentum, and you’ll start moving.” She demonstrated and started slowly sliding away from him.

He tried to move his body the way she had. He started moving but could only just barely keep his balance. Somehow, Inara turned around and made her ski pie with the back of her skis. He wasn’t sure how she avoided crashing, but somehow she got right in front of him and was skiing backwards, holding her arms out towards him.

“’Nara, I take your hands, and you crash into a tree, where does that leave me?” he asked taking hold of her hands.

“Were not going to crash Mal; this is the beginners slope: wide, flat and empty.”

“Yeah, well that’s not going to stop us from crashing,” he replied. He lost his balance again and let her stabilize him. “You see Kaylee?”

She glanced up the slope where they had just come from. “She’s finally standing, oops, there she goes again. At this rate we’ll be able to lap them.” Inara looked at him with the faintest hint of a smile, before yet again glancing around at the rest of the skiers.

“What – you makin’ sure there’s no one you know out there?” Mal asked her. “You embarrassed to be seen with someone unfamiliar with the finer points of strapping sticks onto one’s feet and calling it a sport?”

“Yes, Mal, that’s exactly it.” Inara was tetchy; he’d better watch his sarcasm.

“Now we are going to try a turn,” she said, regaining her composure. “I want you to put your right ski a little in front of your left ski and lean to the left.” Mal started to wobble as he attempted to follow her instructions, but she kept him upright. Sure enough, they turned. They were now headed straight for the trees on the side of the slope.

“Inara, I hate to downplay this fine turning experience, but we seem to be headed straight into those trees.”

“That is why we are going to turn again.” Her words came out patiently, as if she were speaking to an exasperating child or River during one of her fits. “Now you are going to put your left ski just ahead of the right and lean to the right.” They turned so that they were now headed across the slope to yet a different collection of trees.

After the sixth successful turn they reached the bottom of the hill.

“So now what?” Mal asked. “We take off these contraptions and hike back to the top? Ooh, this is a wild sport, you got me doin’.”

“Don’t be silly Mal. We grab a hold of that cable and it pulls us back up. When you get the hang of it, we’ll take the chair lift to something a bit more challenging.” She pointed to a cable suspended about three feet in the air just through the trees. Several children were holding on for dear life as it dragged them on a narrow track back up the hill. When they reached the top they found Simon and Kaylee about ten feet from where they had left them. Kaylee was on the ground, laughing so hard there were tears coming out of her eyes. Simon was standing nearby, trying very hard to look patient.

“Great sport, yah got here Doc. I can really feel the excitement.” Simon almost sneered at Mal as he made this comment, but chose instead to focus on getting Kaylee to her feet, again.

It took two more runs with Inara skiing backwards, guiding him, before he tried letting go of her, and another two runs for Mal to make it to the bottom of the slope without falling. Finally, Inara said it was time to move on to something a little steeper.

They ran into Kaylee and Simon again almost at the bottom of the slope near the turn off to the chair lift. Simon was laughing just as much as Kaylee and they were both covered head to toe in snow. Mal considered interrupting their lovebird hi-jinks and suggesting that Kaylee and he switch instructors, but decided against it. He was cruel, but not that cruel. Besides, it was kind of nice having Inara give him her full attention for a while, even if she did seem a mite twitchy.

They did three great runs down a slope the map called ‘Easy Rider’ and showed as a green line. He was almost offended that ‘Easy Rider’ seemed to him to be not easy nor a good ride. But, he was enjoying himself and each run was getting just a bit less challenging. His interaction with Inara had gotten easier over the course of the day as well. They had not fought all day, and he wouldn’t swear to it, but he almost saw her smile a few times.

As they boarded the chairlift for what was to be their last run before lunch, they had fallen into a comfortable chatter.


Simon felt the cool clunk of the snowball grazing his left ear.

“What was that for?” he asked the perpetrator, whose sparkling eyes reeked of mischief.

“For being able to do this yuben de sport!” Kaylee replied from the ground. She had actually made it ten whole feet before falling this time.

“Don’t feel bad,” Simon said as he reached out his hand to help her up yet again. “Some people just need a lot of practice to get the hang of it.”

“Some people were just never meant to do it,” she muttered. “Tell me again where we’re going.”

“We’re going to that big brown building, the lodge, where we can buy hot chocolate and fresh fruit.”

“Right.” She smiled, and a new determination filled her voice. “And they’ll have strawberries?”

“I think they just may have strawberries,” he repeated for what seemed like the fourteenth time.

“Ok, here I go.” Kaylee took a step forward on her skis, as she slid her left foot forward to take a second step, her right slid back to its previous position. Taking pity on her, Simon gave her a gentle shove. She went 20 feet before the skis got too far out in front of the rest of her and down she went.

“Perhaps, we should just take these off and walk to the lodge,” Simon said, smiling at his sweetheart, so glad that he could still call her that. He popped off his skis with ease, and helped Kaylee out of hers. It took only a few minutes to walk the fifty some odd yards to the lodge. Doubtless, had they remained on their skis it would have taken half an hour.

The café inside the lodge was opulent both in decoration and in the variety of food served. Kaylee found a place to sit near the roaring fire in the corner while Simon went to the counter to get them each a hot chocolate and a large bowl of fresh fruit, complete with strawberries, which he charged to Inara’s account. Only in the Core, he thought to himself, could he just put down his account code and have it accepted by a trusting staff.

Juggling the fruit and drinks, he began weaving his way through the crowded room toward Kaylee and the warm fire.

“Simon,” he heard his name coming from somewhere on his left; but because there was no way anyone in this place would ever know him, he ignored it.

Then he heard his name again. He looked; the speaker had stood up and was in the process of making her way towards him. She was shorter than he was, a fact she could not hide in her designer ski boots. Her short dark hair was carefully quaffed and had obviously not been subjected to a hat even on a chilly morning such as this. She was here to be seen, not to ski.

Simon felt a rock drop into the pit of his stomach; his heart started beating faster than Jayne’s in a whorehouse. He wanted desperately to drop his food and run – not that he could move easily in ski boots – but Kaylee was over by the fire waiting for him and her fresh fruity reward. He glanced at her; she was chatting animatedly with couple sitting next to her. Of course she would make friends, even here.

“Why, Simon Tam.” The woman had finally reached him. “I have to say that you’re the last person I would have expected to see here at The Cottonwoods.”

“Cassandra,” Simon replied, trying not to look too uncomfortable. He really didn’t want to talk to this woman.

“Last I heard, you and River had run off together and were hiding somewhere deep in the black. When did you get back to the Core? Have you made a social début yet? River never did have her coming out party.”

“And she never will either,” Simon let the statement hang, trying his hardest to look devastated. It seemed Cassandra took the statement the way he had meant it; her posture changed to express pity and shared grief, but because she was Cassandra her eyes showed the happy lilt of someone who had almost won the lottery.

“I’m so sorry to hear of your loss Simon.” She was a doing an excellent job of faking grief. “You two were always so close. Is there anything I can do? Where are you staying? I should like to come by and hear the whole story in private.”

I bet you would, Simon thought.

“That wouldn’t work well, Cassandra. I’m here with someone.”

Simon could see the anger in her eyes, though it was quickly hidden under layers of haughtiness.

“Here with someone?” she said, her voice dripping with sugar. “Oh, I’d just love to meet her. I don’t see why I’m always the last in the family to know everything.”

“She’s over there,” Simon replied, pointing discreetly at Kaylee sitting near the fire talking to yet a different couple. “But, you mustn’t tell anyone you saw us together. My father and hers are competitors. He would never forgive me if he knew I was dating Mr. Treye’s only daughter.” The way the lie flowed of his lips was almost a little scary; he had come along way since he had last seen Cassandra.

“If you’ll excuse me, I must be getting back to her.” Simon extracted himself from the conversation and continued to make his way toward Kaylee and the fire. He didn’t even turn around to say good-bye to Cassandra. As he reached Kaylee, he still thought he could feel his cousin glaring at him, but when he turned to look she was gone.

“Kaylee, we’ve got to leave, now,” he told her as he reached her.

“What d’ya mean leave? You just got here with our drinks and the Fitzgerald’s here were just tellin’ me….”

“We’ve got to go.” He set the drinks and food down on the nearest table, grabbed Kaylee’s hand, and pulled her to her feet.

“Does this have somethin’ to do with that lady I saw you talkin’ to just now? I thought we had agreed that it was just fine to talk to other people, just, you know, not flirt in front of each other. You weren’t flirting – I could tell.”

“Yes it is because of her,” he said, “and yes we did agree. But we’ve got to catch the resort transport shuttle back to the ship.”

“What’s Seren…..”

Simon cut her off, she couldn’t be allowed to say Serenity’s name in public, especially standing next to him. “Yes, in a few days we must catch a shuttle to the space port for our trip.” He tried to cover up her blunder. “Come on, there’s another door just to your left.”

Instead of walking, Kaylee planted her feet into the ground. “Who was she Simon Tam?”

“That was Cassandra Tam-Osan, my cousin.”

“Your cousin?” Kaylee’s voice sparkled with excitement as she spoke. “Where’d she go? I want to meet her; I’ve never met any of your family, except for River of course.”

“I’m sure she’s on the nearest cortex screen, hailing whatever authorities she can think of. Now come on!” Continuing to hold her hand, Simon started walking, pulling Kaylee toward the exit.

“But the food –” Kaylee said, reaching back for the fruit bowl and hot chocolate left abandoned on the table.

“Leave it! We need to get out of here now.” Simon tugged her toward the door again. She followed him reluctantly, only silent because she was mourning the loss of the strawberries.


Wednesday, January 2, 2008 3:17 AM


still enjoying this! dialog flowed real nice.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008 2:19 PM


Ski patrol! Sheep on a firing line! LOL! Ohh, this is so very good!

I was looking forward to Simon and Kaylee spending a little alone time in the lodge! Interesting twist to have his cousin show up!

Thursday, January 3, 2008 5:06 AM


Why does this remind me of my own family trying to ski... ? I think it's Kaylee laughing and continually falling LOL!

I really that love that Jayne knows how to ski. It's not what I expected, but it totally works. You've done a great job of incorporating the BDH's into the ski scene. Not easy worlds to blend!


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Our BDH’s finally do some skiing, well at least most of them do. It’s the chapter that inspired the whole epic. The fifth of eleven chapters, which you can find out all about it in my blog.

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