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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Staying with fluff, everyone goes shopping, only things don't quite go to plan. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1793 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Here?” Jayne and Hank spoke together as Freya stopped outside a somewhat upmarket store.
“What’s wrong with here?” she asked, arching an eyebrow at them and trying not to smile.
Mal looked into the window. “Now, I can just see you in something like that.” He pointed to an outfit that seemed to be made entirely of gold leaf. “Maybe the pair of you. Kinda like bookends.”
Jayne threw him a glare. “Ain't wearing that.”
“I wasn't suggesting you do,” Freya said placatingly. “And this is far too expensive. I just wanted to take a look, see what sort of things were in fashion at the moment. It’s not like I get the chance every day.”
“I didn’t think you were interested,” Simon put in.
“Just because I wear the same kind of clothes all the time doesn’t mean I don’t … well, yes it does, but it makes a nice change.”
“I think you always look meili,” Mal said gallantly, putting his arm around her.
“Well, I don’t wanna look like a dog’s dinner,” Jayne said pointedly.
“Nor me,” Hank agreed. “Zoe’d die laughing if she saw me standing in front of the Preacher wearing that.”
“I told you, I …” Freya looked at the pair of them, stubbornness radiating from every pore. “Oh, come on.” She sighed heavily and strode off towards the cheaper stores.
“Is it wrong of me to be wishing Frey had got them dressed up in those suits?” Mal murmured to Simon as they followed along at the back. “You know, just to see what they looked like? Just this once?”
“Only if it’s wrong that I agree with you. I think we could have been blackmailing them for a long time to come.” He patted the capture maker in his pocket.
“Oh, that’s pretty,” Kaylee said, fingering the green gauze of a tiny dress hanging up.
“Momma …” Bethany whined, swinging the bag in her hand from side to side. “How much longer?”
Her mother looked down at her. “Just ‘cause we got something for you real quick doesn’t mean we can’t still look. And we still have to get a dress for Auntie Zoe.”
“Auntie Zoe doesn’t want to,” Bethie pointed out.
“Auntie Zoe don’t have the choice.” Kaylee lifted the dress down and held it in front of her daughter. “Maybe I should have …” She put her head on one side and let her thoughts wander.
“Got it!” River said, bouncing up.
Kaylee immediately came back to earth. “Got what?”
“That other shop.”
“Been so many,” Bethie grumbled.
Kaylee ignored her. “But you ain't even looked hard at anything.”
“I saw what I wanted and bought it.” She lifted up a plain brown paper bag with string handles.
“Um, River, don’t you think we oughtta take a look and see what you’ve actually bought?”
River pulled it out of her reach. “I like it.”
“I just think –“
“Where’s Zoe?” River asked, trying to change the subject.
“Trying somethin’ on. Real nice, but I ain't sure we shouldn’t go and sit down and have a drink somewhere before she tries on anything else. She’s been getting more than a little –“
A roar of rage erupted from the back of the shop, and Bethie sighed. “Still can’t get back for the pressies,” she said softly.
Inara sat in the cargo bay, watching the world go by and scratching Fiddler’s belly where he lay on her lap. The little dog was kicking one of his legs out in enjoyment, panting heavily. She knew there would be a damp stain from his breath on her dress when she stood up, but it was pleasurable to just be sitting, with the prospect of doing nothing for the next hour or so.
Ethan had the other children in the nursery, and was telling them some gruesome tale involving pirates and dinosaurs, and Inara could hear his voice occasionally as he got to a grisly bit. Luckily he didn’t know how to make things truly horrific, and the babies were laughing at his antics.
Inara smiled. There was definitely something to be said for having a family. Then a hat outside the ship caught her attention. A familiar, orange and white one. “River?”
“Hello.” The young woman almost skipped up the ramp. She appeared to be on her own.
“Where are the others?”
“At the local Alliance station.”
Inara’s jaw dropped. “What?”
“In the Cormoran Triplex. Kaylee asked if you could go and get them out.”
“Get them …”
“There was some bother in one of the shops. The owner called the Feds.”
“Then how are you –“
“I hid.” She pulled off Jayne’s hat. “Even in this disguise they might have recognised me.” Putting her bag down on the deck, she shook out her hair. “Cormoran Triplex. I’ll watch the children.”
“Right.” Inara got to her feet and handed Fiddler to the young woman. “Will I need to make bail?”
River shrugged. “Possibly.”
With a worried and somewhat annoyed frown, Inara headed for her room and purse.
“You take that thing outta my face ‘fore I forget I'm a gentleman and push you through the window,” Jayne growled.
Simon backed away. “I just wanted –“
“I know what you wanted. And you ain't taking pictures of me.” Jayne held the curtain up over his lower regions.
“Well I wouldn’t have even considered it if I’d known you weren't wearing underwear.”
“You’re not …” Freya stepped forward. “Tell me he’s wrong.”
Mal peered around the curtain. “No, sorry to say, he ain’t.”
“You don’t go out trying on clothes without …” Freya couldn’t finish, just reached into a bin and pulled out a pair of check shorts that looked about the right size. “Put these on. Now.”
Jayne held them up, unfortunately dropping the curtain at the same time. Mal grabbed at the fabric at the last minute, preserving the big man’s dignity. “But I don’t like ‘em.”
“Tough.” She handed them over and Jayne retreated back into the cubicle, muttering obscenities. She shook her head. “I can’t believe …”
“I can,” Mal said.
“It’s like dealing with a load of children.”
“Hey, I'm just standing here minding my own business,” he protested.
“Me too,” came Hank’s voice from inside one of the other fitting rooms.
Freya ignored him, still glaring at Mal. “You could help.”
“How? You want me to go in there and dress him?” He shuddered slightly. “And don’t go taking that as an honest suggestion.”
“Hey!” Jayne’s voice sounded loudly. “These ride right up my –“
There was the flash of a capture maker, and Mal closed his eyes.
“In here, miss,” the young Federal said, almost bowing at the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
“Thank you,” Inara said, smiling warmly at him, and watching the tide of embarrassment surge inexorably up his face.
“No … no problem.” He held the door open and she wafted past him, his senses almost numb from the subtle perfume that accosted him and made him want to lay his coat down in front of her.
She smiled again as the door swung to behind her, amused at the reaction she knew she was having. Still, better that than … “Kaylee?” She stopped, surprised.
“Oh, hey there, Inara,” Kaylee said, smiling at her from a long bench against the wall. Bethany was on her lap, her head resting on her mother’s shoulder, seemingly asleep.
Inara looked around the small office. “Are you …”
“Bound? No. Wasn't me making the fuss. That was Zoe.”
“Yeah. She came over all … unnecessary.”
“We are talking about Zoe Washburne here, aren’t we? Soon to be Zoe Mills?”
“I know, kinda makes the world seem all topsy, don’t it?” Kaylee grinned.
Inara sat down next to her. “So has she been charged?”
“Nope. I think the Fed’s talking the owner out of pressing charges. He’s kinda nice, actually.”
Inara managed to look shocked. “And you a married woman.”
Kaylee grinned. “Don’t mean I can’t look.”
“So what happens now?”
“Not sure. Probably have to pay for the dress she ruined, but –“
“She did what?”
“Didn’t River tell you?”
“No, she didn’t.” Inara made a mental note to have a word with that young woman, pregnant or not.
“Well, see, the dress wasn’t exactly made for someone of her … build, and it split. Right down the back seam.”
“Zoe’s not fat.”
“No, but she’s got broad shoulders, and muscles, and it had tight sleeves, and … it just split.”
“Auntie Zoe got mad,” Bethany said sleepily. “Called the owner a –“
“Yeah, well, we don’t repeat that kinda language in public,” Kaylee said quickly.
“So all this was over a ruined dress and some name calling?”
“Well, no. That wasn't too bad. ‘Til she threw a punch.”
Inara couldn’t help it. She started to laugh. “Zoe?”
“It ain't funny, ‘Nara!” Then Kaylee’s lips twitched too, and before long they were both giggling like schoolgirls, Bethany along with them.
“Did she … hurt the owner at all?” Inara asked when she could breathe again.
“Nah. Pulled it at the last moment, so it weren't much more’n a love tap.” Kaylee wiped her eyes. “But he got all uppity and called the Feds. I got to River and told her to fetch you.”
“You think I should maybe have called for Mal?”
For a split second Inara had the picture of Mal’s face if she had, and the kind of comments that might come rolling out, and then possibly Zoe not pulling another punch … “So she’s a little stressed?”
“Think that’s a kind of understatement.”
“But she wants to marry Hank.”
“Oh, course she does. But I remember the days leading up to marrying Simon. If I could’ve punched someone, I probably would.”
“Except I wouldn’t advise it,” came a voice from the doorway, and they both turned. An Alliance officer was standing there, something of a smile on his lips. “And I take it you’re Ms Serra?”
“I am.” She stood up, automatically smoothing her dress.
“Darnell. Jonathan Darnell.” The smile widened. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“And I yours.” They shook hands and Kaylee was right, Inara decided. He was rather nice looking.
Kaylee grinned. “So? How is it?” she urged.
“Well, Keeble isn’t going to press charges,” he said, leaning on the wall. “I pointed out a few minor infractions to him, so he saw reason.”
“And the dress?”
“Paid for. By the way, you owe me ten.” He grinned.
“Oh, yeah.” Kaylee tried to move Bethie around enough so she could get to her pocket, but Inara was quicker.
“Here. Let me.” She opened her purse and pulled out a note, handing it over. “Thank you.”
“No problem. That makes this yours.” He passed her a bag.
She glanced inside at the oyster fabric. From what she could see it was rather stunning. “Thank you.”
“Just take your friend and get gone. And tell her the next time she gets the idea of going shopping, to leave her gun behind.”
“Waving it around in the store. It doesn’t exactly give a good impression.”
“Oh. Yes, I will,” Inara promised fervently.
Kaylee put Bethie on the floor and got to her feet. “So where is she?”
“Waiting by the front desk.” Darnell smiled at the two women. “And I’d take it as a kindness if you’d get her out of her quickly. My men say she’s making their trigger fingers itch.”
“No problem.” Kaylee went to walk past him, then suddenly reached up and planted a kiss on his cheek. He looked so surprised she grinned. “See you,” she said, hurrying out.
Inara resisted the temptation to follow her friend’s example, and merely shook hands, although the look in Darnell’s eyes suggested he wouldn’t have minded. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” He laughed. “Anything not to have to do the paperwork on this one.”
She smiled back and hurried after Kaylee. “You didn’t tell me about the gun,” she hissed, catching her up.
“Yeah, well, gotta keep some juicy bits for later,” Kaylee replied, equally quietly.
Darnell was right. Zoe was waiting by the front desk, her face expressionless except to those that knew her.
“Shall we go?” Inara said, linking her arm through the other woman’s and not taking no for an answer.
Outside in the fresh air, Zoe didn’t speak for a long while, until they were well on their way back to the Docks. Then … “We never – NEVER – talk of this again, right?” she said, her eyes threatening all kinds of violence if crossed in this.
“Sure,” Kaylee said, holding Bethie’s hand as her daughter dragged her feet. “Not sure anyone’d believe me anyway.”
“Inara?” She looked at the ex-Companion.
“Of course. Although I have to say the dress would have suited you down to the ground.”
“Don’t even –“
“The dress!” Kaylee stopped suddenly. “We still ain’t got you a dress!”
“No.” Zoe was very firm. Immovable, even.
“But Zoe –“
“Don’t even think about finishing that sentence. I’m not going back there.”
“But there are other –“
Inara stepped between them quickly. “We have a dress.” She held up the bag.
“But that’s torn.” Kaylee peered inside. “It is real pretty, though.”
“It doesn’t fit me.” Zoe crossed her arms.
“Then we’ll make it fit.” Inara smiled. “We have needles and thread back on the ship, don’t we?”
“And I don’t sew.”
“Course you do,” Kaylee said. “Seen you mending stuff.”
“That’s not the same.”
“Well, why don’t we go home and we can take a look at this dress. See what needs to be done. Who knows, maybe we can make something wonderful.”
Zoe still didn’t look convinced, but allowed herself to be chivvied along.
As they approached Serenity, it was obvious they were the last back, as Mal was waiting on the ramp.
“Get what you want?” he asked as they approached.
“Sure did.” Kaylee sounded far too bright. “Got a real pretty dress for Bethie, and something for River and –“
She didn’t have a chance to carry on as the Firefly’s first mate strode up the stairs towards her bunk, her feet reverberating on the metal staircase.
“There something happened here I need to know about?” Mal asked, staring after her.
“No, no,” Kaylee added quickly. “I think we’re all just a little tired.”
“Momma, can we get the pressies now?” Bethany asked, her head on one side and her hands on her hips.
“Wash up first,” her mother said. “Then presents.”
“Oh …” The little girl couldn’t have looked more dejected if she’d tried as Kaylee led her through towards the lower quarters.
“You wanna tell me what happened?” Mal asked, turning to Inara.
“I could set Frey on you,” he threatened.
“And I still wouldn’t say.” She put her hand on his arm. “Mal, we’re all safe, sound and not in Alliance hands. I think that’s all you need to know, don’t you?”
He narrowed his eyes at her, but was prevented from pushing further by an irate mechanic shouting at him.
“Cap’n, why has Simon got a black eye?” Kaylee demanded, standing in the doorway to the common area.
Mal exhaled loudly. “I'm locking it up!” he said, banging his hand down on the door control, then onto the com. “Hank, get us into the air and over to Southdown. And if anyone’s got the sense they were born with they’ll forget this afternoon ever happened.”
Serenity touched down outside the Abbey walls, glowing warmly in the evening sunshine. Built from local sandstone, it was inviting and welcoming, particularly as the large wooden gates were open, and a man wearing Preacher’s garb was waiting for them.
Mal walked out first, Freya beside him, Jesse on her hip. “Shepherd Seymour?”
“That I am.” Older than he first looked, his face was tanned like leather, and his hair was almost bleached colourless.
“I'm Captain Malcolm Reynolds. And this is my wife, Freya.” They shook hands.
“I'm very pleased to meet you,” Seymour said, clasping hers in both of his, then chuckling the little girl under her chin. She hid her face in her mother’s shoulder. “All of you,” the Preacher added.
“Thank you.” Freya looked around. “It’s very beautiful here,” she added.
“It’s beauty is God-given, and helps us contemplate his work,” Seymour replied, then smiled. “And you’re right on time. We’re just about to sit down for our evening meal. I assume you haven’t eaten yet?”
Mal shook his head. “No, we haven’t, but we don’t want to put you to any trouble –“
“It’s no trouble, let me assure you. And we would welcome you to our table.” His pale green eyes sparkled. “And where are the two happy couples?”
River and Jayne strode out onto the short grass, Hank and Zoe following. Hank had close hold of Ben’s hand in case he took it into his mind to wander off.
“This is them. They. Whatever,” Mal said.
“And which is Mr Cobb?”
Jayne stepped forward. “That’s me. Jayne Cobb.” He almost looked ready for a fight if one word was said about him having a girlie name.
Seymour understood and simply said, “There’s someone who’s been waiting for you.” He moved to one side.
A figure came out of the gates, her dark dress moving in the slight breeze, her white hair almost glowing.
Jayne’s jaw dropped. “Ma?”
to be continued
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 4:07 AM
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 1:09 PM
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 2:56 PM
Tuesday, January 15, 2008 7:18 PM
Wednesday, January 16, 2008 6:15 AM
Wednesday, January 16, 2008 12:59 PM
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