Ripples - Part I
Sunday, March 22, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. Planning to spend a little time on Lazarus, the crew settle in, and River advocates talking. NEW STORY


“Are you sure he’s going to be all right?” Inara sat at the dressing table and tried to pin up her long, lustrous curls, but for some reason this morning her fingers wouldn’t obey her.

Sam Nazir, sitting on the bed and lacing up his black leather shoes, glanced across at her. “You know he is. You spoke to Kaylee.”

“I know.” She let go of the silver comb she was attempting to wind into her hair, but a long strand escaped and slithered down her neck. In frustration she pulled it all loose and tossed the comb at the mirror. It clattered and fell to the table top amidst her make-up and brushes.

“Would you like me to do it?” he asked gently.

She looked at him in the mirror. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“I do. It’s Mal.” He stood up and crossed to stand behind her, picking up the brush and running it through her hair.

“I mean, he’s been hurt before, and I've not been there. Why should I get all … jittery now?”

“Is that what you are? Jittery?”

She raised an eyebrow at him. “What would you call it?”

“You love him.”

Her mouth dropped open slightly. “Sam, that’s not –“

“Like you love Kaylee. And River. And Freya. All of the crew. Perhaps more, but …” He leaned down and whispered into her ear. “I'm not worried you’re going to run off with him, by the way.”

She had to laugh. “No?”

“No. Besides, Freya would probably have something to say about that.”

“Oh, I know she would.” Inara could remember previous conversations, when the green-eyed monster otherwise known as jealousy had reared its ugly head. “What I feel … about Mal …” She wasn't usually lost for words, but this time she had to think consciously about what she wanted to say. “I don’t want him, not any more. Not like that. Not like I did. But he’s still Mal.”

Sam tried not to smile, as it would only annoy her. “Inara, I understand.”

“Is that the therapist talking, or the man?” she asked sharply, nevertheless.

“Both. The therapist knows that you’re trying to be honest with me, but the man knows you’re afraid I might not believe you.”

“Don’t you want me to be honest?” She turned on the seat so she could look into his olive face directly.

“Of course. But Inara, my darling, there’s nothing to be honest about. I know you. I know your feelings don‘t run that way any more.” He smiled now. “And don’t you want me to carry on brushing your hair?”

“Don’t try and change the subject.” But she turned back around. “Well?” she asked, raising a perfect eyebrow.

“Yes, madam,” Sam said, the smile widening to a grin as he began his work again.

The repetitive action seemed to soothe her, and she slowed her breathing as she‘d been taught so many years ago back at the Training House, when the ‘verse was still a closed book to her, and something wonderful and magical all at the same time. Her eyes roamed across the accoutrements on the table, then down to her hands and arms. Now, though, sometimes she wondered if she didn’t know too much. After all this time the physical scars from her ordeal with Anthony Han were virtually invisible, but the memory could still make her tremble faintly.

Sam noticed. “Thinking of the Monster?” he asked quietly.

“Mmn.” She shrugged lightly, the movement elegant as always. “Sometimes thinking about Mal seems to come around to … him.” The man who’d killed countless young women, who would have killed Noni, and Inara herself, executed when Mal came to rescue them.

“Another reason you fell into bed with me. I gave you back to yourself.”

“In which case I should have bedded Freya,” Inara pointed out. “Since she started the process.”

“I'm glad you didn’t.”

“So’s she.”

Inara’s tresses were shining now, slipping between his fingers like oiled water, but he kept brushing. “He saved your life.”

“So did you.”

“Not physically.”

“I don’t know about that.” Inara picked up a lipstick and began fiddling with it. “There’s no way of knowing what would have happened if you hadn’t come to treat me.”

“Not that.”

“Sam, what he did, what that man …”

He tugged on a curl and she made a moue of pain. “Sorry. But sometimes you make me want to put you over my knee and spank you.”

“Is that what you advocate for some of your clients?” she asked, her lips twitching.

“On occasion.”

Her eyes widened. “If you’re joking with me –“

“No joke. But I never did it. Just recommended that a little light corporal punishment might do wonders for their marriage.”

“All right, now I know you’re joking.”

He grinned. “Of course I am. But what people get up to in the comfort and safety of their own home is up to them.”

“I have.”

He froze for a moment, then gave himself time to compose himself by putting down the brush and picking up the comb. “You still have the capability to shock me, Inara.”

“There was one occasion -”

“I don’t want to hear.”

“But you were playing the therapist card,” Inara insisted playfully. “And all that sort of thing is grist to your mill.”

He’d had enough. Moving round her so he could look into her face, he dropped to his knees. “Inara, I don’t need to hear. I love you. For you. Not for - or in spite of - what you used to be.”

“So you don’t want to know about the paddles, and the whips, and the -”


She looked into his dark eyes, and wondered why what she felt for this man was so different to what she’d ever felt for Mal. Then, as always, she realised that was the very reason she had been able to give herself completely to Sam, with no fear that he would ever call her a whore. “I love you too,” she whispered, leaning forwards to place her lips on his. She added, “My hair?”

He shook his head and got to his feet. “What did your last slave die of?” he asked.

“Boredom.” She grinned at him in the mirror as he twisted her hair into a complicated knot and fastened it securely with the comb. “How do you do that?” she asked, turning her head this way and that.


“On who?”

He put his hands on her shoulders. “A great many beautiful women.” Leaning down he nuzzled her neck. “Of which you are by far the most beautiful.”

“You say the loveliest things.” She looked at him in the mirror, his olive complexion, the long black hair pulled away from his face to hang in a single ponytail down his back. “Maybe I should repay the compliment.”

He smiled against her skin. “What, and tell me I’m handsome?”

“Oh, you are. But I meant your hair.”

He glanced up. “What about my hair?”

“I could … cut it for you,” Inara suggested diffidently. “I mean, if you’d like. We’ve got time.”

Sam was surprised. “Don’t you like it?”

“I love it,” she said quickly, getting up and putting her arms around him. “I just thought perhaps you’d like a change.”

“I’ve had my hair like this for years. Since Dhira was born.” He smiled at Inara’s look. His daughter and his lover had a somewhat prickly relationship.

“Then perhaps it’s time for something different.” She picked up a pair of gold-plated shears. “Sit down.”

“Inara …”

“I won’t take much off. And it will grow back if you don’t like it.”

“I don’t know about this.”

“I’ll stop when you say so.” She snicked the scissors. “Trust me.”


Zoe stepped out into the warmth of the Lazarene sunshine, and smiled. Hank had landed them in their normal spot, not far from the house, and it felt good to be home. Well, maybe not home. That was on board the ship behind her, and always would be, but close.

“Going to our rooms, Auntie Zoe,” Bethie called out, running past her, Fiddler barking as he raced on ahead. The other children were following hard on her heels, and they quickly disappeared through the front door.

Sam, who had been about to greet the new arrivals, quickly moved to one side to avoid being mowed down. The last, young Master Reynolds, slowed.

“Uncle Sam,” Ethan said formally, his arms full of his cat Maoli.

“It’s good to see you, Ethan.”

“And you.” There was a shout from upstairs. “I have to …”

Sam nodded. “Of course.”

Ethan put Maoli down, then followed the sound of fighting. The cat, a sleek grey slip of a thing, meandered up the hall towards the kitchen, a far more enticing place than anywhere else, at least judging from the marvellous smells emanating from inside.

“Anyone would think they were glad to be here,” Sam muttered to himself, smiling as he stepped through the door. He could see Zoe standing just a little way from the Firefly, her eyes apparently closed as she enjoyed the fresh air. As yet there was no sign of any of the other adults.

Sam walked through the orchard, the soft grass springing under his feet, and he’d thought his steps were silent, but as he got closer Zoe spoke without even looking at him.


“Zoe.” He had to ask. “Does anyone ever creep up on you?”

“It has been known to happen.” She opened her eyes. “River, mostly, now.”

“And Hank?”

“Oh, I can always tell when he’s coming.”

Sam laughed. “Where’s Mal?”

“Complaining because Simon won’t let him walk to the house.”

“Is he that bad?”

“No. Simon’s perhaps being a little over protective.”

Sam smiled. “Ever the doctor.”

“Mmn.” Zoe tilted her head slightly. “You seem to have something of a new look.”

Sam ran his hand through his newly short hair, feeling the ends standing up slightly. Inara had gone a little bit overboard, saying that the first cut was an accident but she had to carry on now. “I suppose I have to move with the times.” He didn’t add, but could have, that he felt like a shorn sheep.

“I like it.”

He was surprised. “You do?”

“Yes. It makes you look younger.”

He laughed. “Then maybe I’ll keep it.”

Zoe nodded and looked past him. “Where’s Inara?”

“Making sure all the last minute preparations are well in hand.”

“I’d’ve thought she’d be chomping at the bit to make sure Mal ain’t going to die on us.”

“Chomping isn’t …” He paused. “Actually, that’s a pretty good description. But I think she’s indulging in a little displacement activity.”

“If I knew what that was, maybe I’d agree with you.”

“Put me down.” Mal’s voice from inside the Firefly sounded more than a little irritated.

“Nope. Doc says we carry you, we carry you.” Jayne this time, laughter bubbling in his throat.

“If you don’t put me down I’ll –“

“What?” Hank spoke. “Put us out of the airlock? And stop wriggling, you’ll fall off.”

“I ain’t an invalid!” Mal was apparently not in the mood to be trifled with.

“Yes, you are.” Simon’s cool voice drifted outside. “Gentlemen, if you wouldn’t mind …”

There was some more grumbling, but a few moments later Hank and Jayne stepped out into the light, a stretcher between them carrying one very grumpy captain. Simon was close behind, his medical bag in his hand. Freya was a pace or two further back, but ready in case of emergency, such as Mal taking it into his head to try and be stupid.

“You need some help, honey?” Zoe asked.

“No, no,” Hank said, making a lot of huffing noises. “We got this.”

“I can walk,” Mal insisted.

“Yeah, like I could walk that time.” Jayne chuckled. “Little thing like a brain op and doc here says I ain't to be trusted under my own steam.”

“By the way, did he ever find it?” Hank asked.


“Your brain.”

“If I didn’t have my hands full …”

River sauntered down the ramp and slipped her arm through Freya‘s. “No killing the pilot,” she admonished. “Not yet.”

Jayne grinned at Hank, showing all his teeth.

“No-one’s killing anyone. Not ‘less I say so,” Mal said firmly.

“You’re incapacitated,” Simon pointed out. “I doubt you could stop them if you wanted to.”

“Zoe, stop ‘em from killing each other,” Mal ordered.

“I’ll try, sir.” She smiled, then looked at Sam. “Where do you want him?”

“Inara’s made up the back drawing room as she did with Jayne.”


“You’ll be nice and cozy,” Jayne teased.

“I coulda stayed on board Serenity.” Mal shook his head. “Didn’t need to have any of this fussing.”

“Of course you did,” Freya said, moving closer so she could take his hand. “You know you like people fussing over you.”

“Yeah, when I can walk away from it!”

“Then we’ll fuss in a rota. Give you some fuss-free time every so often.”

“You promise?”

“I’ll write it up myself,” she promised.

“Well, okay then,” Mal grudgingly gave in. “Only came here for Mrs Boden’s food, anyway.” His eyes softened for a moment. “Steak and mashed potatoes. With gravy.” He was almost drooling with anticipation.

“We’ll see,” his wife said.

Hank shifted his grip on the stretcher slightly. “Look, can we get moving? Otherwise Mal’s gonna end up in the dirt and I’ll be looking for another job.”

Sam chuckled. “This way, then.” He led the way towards the house.

The others followed, leaving only River and Zoe standing outside Serenity.

“Aren’t you coming?” the young psychic asked.

“Not for a while. I kinda feel like taking some time to be by myself.”

“Kaylee’s still on board. She’s started her overhaul. Perhaps you could help her.”


River looked into the older woman’s eyes. “I know things can’t be changed. I would be a young woman, married to a successful financier in the Core if that were the case.”

“That’s what you’d want?”

“No. But if I hadn’t gone to the Academy, that’s what would have happened. And I would be bored. Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored, bored, homicidal, bored, bored -”

“Bored. I get that.”

“And you wouldn’t be you.”

“I know.”

“But you don’t believe it.”

“River -”

“Talk to Sam. Take the opportunity. Become sane again.” She started to run towards the house. “One of us has to be.”

to be continued


Sunday, March 22, 2009 7:30 AM


Loved this follow-on story from the last one. Typical of Mal to hate being carted around like an invalid - even when he is one. LOL. And I liked River's quip to Zoe at the end. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, March 22, 2009 10:37 AM


Loving River's last line. Its just so .. River! Lol. x3

Sunday, March 22, 2009 10:54 AM


Bored bored bored homicidal bored....

Okay, now that is a great line!!!

Sunday, March 22, 2009 11:40 AM


love it.. personalities to a T.

Is it me or is moonbrain making sense?

Anxiously looking forward to much more.

Sunday, March 22, 2009 2:36 PM


I can hear all the crew clearly. And Inara (glad to see her again) cutting Sam's hair is priceless.

And River's glimpse into her life if she hadn't gone to the academy and her advice was right on.


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“Then do you have a better suggestion? No, let me rephrase that. Do you have a more sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve us getting lost and freezing to death?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little standalone festive tale that kind of fits into where I am in the Maya timeline, but works outside too. Enjoy!]

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"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

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Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

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“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

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Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

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[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

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Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

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He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

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“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]