BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

GORRAMITGIRL

Still Flying - Part IV
Saturday, July 11, 2009

Next in the Keeping On 'Verse. Mal, Zoe, and company continue to adjust and keep flying, even as trouble appears to be brewing on the horizon. Part IV: Mal, Zoe, Jayne, Lilah, and Monty pay a quiet little visit to an Alliance-friendly bar on Unification Day.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1972    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Still Flying - Part IV

Disclaimer: Firefly, Serenity, and all related characters are copyright 2002-2005 Mutant Enemy, Inc., Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Fox. This is a work of fanfiction. No copyright infringement is intended.

***

Mal and company waited in the cargo bay. Simon was pacing, waiting on River to get back. Kaylee was nowhere to be seen, having taken off straight for the engine room. Mal just wanted his two errant crew members back on ship so they could leave and do their job.

Badger and River finally showed up and it was all Simon and Mal could do to not rush River and start checking her for bodily harm.

“See, Captain Reynolds, I told you I’d have her back in one piece. Nothing to fret about.” Badger said, smugly.

“Thanks for the lovely evening.” River said, mimicking his accent.

“Any time you want, Lovie.” Badger said. “Well then, I’m guessing you have a job to do now, right?”

“We surely do. How’s about you take yourself off and let us get to it?” Mal said tightly.

“Will do.” He turned to River, kissing her hand. “Until next time, Lovie.” He smiled, and then left.

“Are we ready to go?” River asked Mal, in her normal voice.

“We’re just waiting on Jayne to get back now.” He sounded somewhat irritated. “You okay? He didn’t hurt your anything, did he? He kept his hands to himself, right?”

River rolled her eyes and looked at Mal as if he were an idiot.

“I’m fine. It was a nice evening. If he’d tried to hurt me he would be dead.” She said. “I can take care of myself.”

“Don’t you go rolling your eyes at me like that. You put this crew through a lot of worry, sneaking off like that. I don’t want this happening again, dong ma? You’re growing up, and there ain’t a one of us who are gonna fault you for that, but even if those warrants are defunct now, there are still people in this ‘Verse who want you back in that Academy. You’d better go and see to your brother. He’s been beside himself since you took off.” Mal said.

River hung her head and dutifully walked to the infirmary, Simon following her.

“Just don’t know what I’m going to do with that girl.” Mal muttered.

The rest dispersed; Jayne knew how to take care of his self and he’d get back to the ship just fine. Mal waited though, wanting to make sure that Jayne wasn’t going to be in a foul mood during the week it would take to reach Bellephron. Usually Jayne’s little visits to certain establishments that Mal avoided took care of his foul moods, but Jayne hadn’t been acting quite right for a while.

***

Jayne was whistling to his self as he made his way back to the ship. He had at least another half an hour before he had to be back, but he figured that there wasn’t any point in delaying the crew and irritating Mal. ’Sides, I could use a good night’s rest after the day I had. Woman done wore me out.

Coming up to the ship, he noticed that Mal was waiting for him. He sighed. He hoped that Mal didn’t have a stick up his ass or anything. Dealing with an irritated Mal was exhausting and not very high on his things to-do list.

“Y’all right there, Mal?” He called as he came up the ramp.

“Yeah, I’m shiny. How about you?” Mal asked. “Get whatever it was that was buggin’ ya out of your system?”

Jayne smiled. “Yeah, I’m feeling pretty good right now.”

Mal tired his best not to grimace – Jayne’s penchant for whores wasn’t any great secret.

“Good. We’ll be heading to Bellephron now. Last thing I want is my crew in bad-” He was cut off by Lilah over the com system.

“Captain, you have a wave from Monty. He’d like to speak with you.”

“Jayne, lock the ship up. We’ll be leaving shortly.” Mal took off for the bridge and Jayne did as he was told and closed up the ship, still whistling.

***

Mal came up to the bridge to find Lilah and Monty in the middle of a spirited discussion. He cleared his throat, wanting to interrupt.

“Oh, Captain, you’re here. Well then, I’ll just leave you two to talk.” Lilah said, getting up.

“Don’t go too far. We gotta be on our way to Bellephron.” Mal said.

“I already have the course set to be laid in. Just let me know when to come back.” She left, closing the bridge doors.

Mal sat down in the pilot’s chair and focused on the screen before him. Monty’s jovial face stared back at him.

“Monty! How’ve you been? Everything going well?”

“I’m good. Things are going well and I can’t complain.” Monty said. “How’s she doing?”

“Lilah? We’ve had an issue or two, but we’re hoping that it’s all behind us.” Mal said. “She caused a big stir about a few weeks back.”

“Oh? She didn’t break Jayne’s hands or nothing, did she?” Monty asked.

“No, it had to do with Wash.”

“What did Wash have to do with it?”

“Apparently he flew for the Independents during the War. He was in Lilah’s squadron. We uh, we didn’t take to well to that news.”

“Wash? Flew for the Browncoats? He always said he didn’t have anything to do with the war. Why would he lie about that?” Monty asked, confused.

“We don’t rightly know. But it caused a stir and Zoe kind of lost control and gave Lilah quite a shiner. We had her tied up and everything before we cleared it all up.”

“Huh.”

“You’re telling me. I still don’t think that Zoe’s quite over it yet.”

“She took a shiner from Zoe and she’s still on the ship? Wouldn’t have figured that.”

“She’s something else, alright.” Mal said. “And the woman knows how to fly, there ain’t a doubt about that.”

“Did I here you say you were off to Bellephron?”

“You certainly did. Got a shipment of art we’re supposed to be delivering in the next week and a half.”

“Think you can spare a few hours one day next week? I know of a quiet little bar on Aberdeen and I’d love to stop and have a drink with you and Zoe. I got a few crew what would love to have a drink too.”

Mal pondered his words before a wide smile broke across his face.

“I suppose we can manage a few hours. I reckon Zoe wouldn’t mind. Or Lilah, for that matter. And we all know that Jayne’s usually up for a good drink in a nice bar.”

Monty grinned. “This coming Thursday, then?”

“Oh, you can count on it.”

“Good.”

Mal suddenly remembered something that he had to talk to Monty about.

“Monty?”

“Yeah?”

“Why did you tell Lilah that River was a Reader? It ain’t exactly the kind of thing that we want broadcasted.”

Monty sighed.

“She heard you and Zoe joking about it when we were last on Persephone. She asked and I couldn’t rightly not let her know. Lyin’ ain’t exactly the best way to begin a new relationship, Mal. If she hadn’t asked, I wouldn’t have said a word, but she did and I couldn’t lie to her. Why? Did she make trouble?”

“No, she didn’t seem to mind at all, but she did put an end to any notion I might have had about having River read her. I was just upset that you’d told her, but I understand why you did. Some people would have left, knowing that there was a person onboard who could read their minds, but she didn’t seem to care. She just made it obvious that she really didn’t want River poking around in her head.”

“I figured that she’d be a good fit for you all. You ain’t getting sweet on her, are ya Mal?” Monty asked.

“Oh, no. Ain’t nothin’ like that between the two of us. I like her just fine, but in no way do I feel the slightest bit of sexual interest in Lilah.” Mal said sincerely.

“I suppose that’s a blessing. Woman would run you ragged in under a month. Plus Inara would probably have both your heads.” Monty chuckled.

“Inara don’t seem to like her too much.” Mal agreed. “She still hasn’t warmed up to her.”

“Girls will be girls.” Monty advised.

“Yeah. There’s an awful lot of women on my boat right now.” Mal lamented.

“Well, at least Jayne’s butch enough for three men all own his own.”

“That ain’t wrong. So, see you on Thursday? You can send Lilah the coordinates and everything. She’s good with that.”

“Will do. Take care, Mal, and tell Zoe that I said hi.”

“Yepper.”

The wave ended and Mal sat back, smiling. He was in a good mood now. He was going to go and bother Inara.

***

Inara was just finishing up with another wave to her House Mistress back on Sihnon. Everything seemed to be going according to plan and Inara was tentatively hopeful. She still hadn’t told anyone what was going on; she didn’t want to show her hand too soon. Sooner or later she was going to be found out and she wasn’t sure how she was going to handle that. She needed more time.

“Inara?”

Mal.

Inara steeled herself and took a deep breath.

“Please, come in.”

Mal did so, looking for all the ‘Verse like he’d just been appointed the ruler of Londinium.

“What brings you to my shuttle, Mal? Would you like some tea?”

“Oh, just figured that it’d been a while since we chatted. Tea? I could do tea.”

“Then please sit and make yourself at home.”

“Will do.” Mal was rather proud of himself for not mentioning that it was his home, technically – he owned the shuttle, after all.

He watched her as she moved gracefully around her shuttle and he couldn’t help but admire her. Every move she made had purpose and every move she made was beautiful. It was nearly hypnotizing, the way she moved.

“Mal. Mal. MAL!”

“I’m sorry, what?” Mal asked, shaking himself out of his reverie.

“You take two sugars, correct?” Inara smiled.

“Yepper.” He watched as she poured his tea and added the sugar. Her hands moved delicately, almost complementing the fine china which she was holding with utmost care. She handed him his cup.

“Thank you.”

“You are welcome. Is everything alright with River? I’ve been very worried about her.”

“I reckon she’ll be okay. I just…I can’t understand why she’d go and do something like that. I don’t know…maybe it was the draw of something from her old life or maybe she just wanted to be useful. I don’t rightly care how bad off we are, there ain’t no need for her to go and put herself out like that. The idea of her going and talking with Badger just kind of makes me more than a little upset in the stomach.”

“It’s understandable. He’s not a very nice man.”

“But you didn’t see him, Inara. You didn’t see them in his office. He gave her an apple and he touched her bare arms and he was smiling at her like she hung every star in the sky. It’s as if he’s…sweet on her or something.”

“He did take her to dinner and the ballet. And when he brought her back he treated her with perfect courtesy. He was almost a gentleman about it. But the way he behaved, their body language in general, it was more…friendly than it was romantic.”

“Please tell me you ain’t jokin’ about that.”

“I’m almost positive, Mal.”

“If I still thought that God was worth thankin’ I’d be thankin’ him right about now.” Mal said. “So, the Guild still okay with your little break from business?”

“As a matter of fact, yes. I was speaking with my House Mistress before you came in. They’ve been extremely supportive. This isn’t the first time a Companion has taken such a leave. They understand far better than I could have hoped.”

“Are you ever going to…get back to work?” Mal asked awkwardly.

“I…I don’t know.” Inara answered. “I can’t say right now, Mal. I just…regardless of what happens, I need time to myself.”

“I can respect that.”

“I’m assuming that we’re on our way to Bellephron now?” Inara asked, daintily sipping her tea.

“Yeah. We’ll be making a brief stop on Aberdeen on Thursday. Monty’ll be in the area and we’re going to meet at a bar he knows of.” Mal smiled.

“Indeed.” Inara commented dryly.

“It ain’t what you’re thinkin’, Inara. It’s just going to be a few friends getting together for a quiet drink. Ain’t a thing in the ‘Verse wrong with it.”

“Of course. And I’m assuming that you and Zoe will just happen to be wearing brown coats?”

“And Lilah. She’ll probably be coming as well. Jayne’s most likely coming too, brown coat or not. Man loves a good drink.”

“So your little trio has expanded to include Lilah, then?” Inara asked, somewhat stiffly.

“Eh, I figure she’d like the chance to see Monty again. You should have seen them before I sat down to talk privately with Monty. Those two were talking up a storm.”

“She did seem very fond of him. Perhaps she fit in well on Monty’s ship.”

“Monty likes to take in strays. And maybe she did fit in well over there, but it don’t matter. She’s crewing with us now and she’s likely to say. She said as much herself.” Mal wasn’t fooled at all by Inara’s tone.

“Did she? That’s fortunate.” Inara said blandly.

“I think so. It’s nice to have a proper pilot again. Just wish you two got along better.” Mal said, giving her a look.

“We get along just fine, Mal.” Inara insisted.

“You two barely talk to each other. You don’t trust her, you said as much yourself.” Mal said, annoyed.

“I don’t know her.” Inara said. “Once I get to know her I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

“Any chance of that happening any time soon?”

“Mal, she and I are both big girls. We’ll do just fine without your interference.”

“Just…just try to get to know her and get along with her. She’s not that bad, Inara.”

“I will, Mal. I will.”

“Good. Don’t much like it when my crew don’t get along.”

“I’m crew, Mal?” Inara asked, touched.

“If you want to be, yeah.” Mal said, smiling warmly.

Inara smiled at that and continued to drink her tea.

***

Hey, Doc?”

Simon turned around at Jayne’s voice. He was straightening up his infirmary to take his mind off of his sister. He surprised that Jayne had sought him out, and then remembered where Jayne had been earlier. He opened a drawer and began prepping an innoculation.

“The usual?” Simon asked.

“Oh, yeah, right.” Jayne took a seat on the infirmary bed and dutifully held out his arm.

“Feeling better?”

“Yeah, a bit.” Jayne answered. He did sound more relaxed than Simon had heard him in a while. “It’s late, why are you still in here?”

“I needed to take my mind off of River.” He felt for a vein and then swabbed a small area of Jayne’s arm. Then he stuck him with the needle, and began injecting.

Jayne was silent, then,

“She get back okay?” He asked quietly.

“Yes, she’s fine. At least, that’s what she told us. She said it was just dinner and then the ballet and nothing bad happened.”

“That’s good. It’s good that she’s alright.” Jayne murmured distractedly as Simon removed the needle and pressed a cotton ball on the still bleeding area.

“This place you went to, was it…clean?” Simon asked delicately.

“Yeah. Good clean place and the girls are treated well. Wouldn’t go to it if it weren’t the case.”

“Jayne…have you ever, has one of the women you’ve ever been with-”

“I ever knocked one up?” Jayne asked. “Naw, I’m too damn careful. ‘Verse is bad enough without me adding to it.”

“You’re sure?”

“As sure as I can be.”

“And what if you had?” Simon asked.

Jayne heaved a sigh. “I probably would have settled down and done the right thing by her, if she wanted me. Why?”

“I’m just curious. I had a friend in medical school that used to take up with prostitutes. He ended up withdrawing when it came out that he’d fathered a child by one of the girls he’d been with.”

“He settle down?”

“No,” Simon said, sounding disapproving. “He threw a bunch of money at her and then enrolled in law school.”

“Sounds like a real bastard.”

“You’re not wrong. I’m going to head off to bed.”

“Thanks, Doc.”

They departed, each occupied with his own thoughts.

***

Lilah was laying in the course for Bellephron when Mal came back to the bridge.

“Lilah?”

“Yeah?” She asked, not looking back.

“We need to make a brief stop on Aberdeen this Thursday. Monty’ll be in the area and wants us to meet him for a drink. Think you can swing it?”

“Yeah, I can pull that.”

“Good, good.”

“Is that everything you needed?”

“Yep. Going to bed anytime soon?”

“Yeah. Sleep sounds amazing right now.” She said with a yawn.

“Good night then.” Mal said, leaving for his bunk. It had been a long day and Mal was worn out. He slept fitfully, images of River and Badger dancing around in his mind, along with visions of a darker, more hardened Wash taking orders and flying a jackrabbit, while a torn and crying Zoe sobbed, watching him take off.

***

When Serenity sat down near the little town on Aberdeen that Monty had specified, Mal informed River that she needed to wait on the bridge, in the case that a grand entrance was needed. River looked put out that she couldn’t go with Mal, Zoe, Lilah, and Jayne, but finally relented.

Mal made a quick trip to Lilah’s room.

“Lilah?” He knocked on the door.

“Yes?” She called back.

“If you uh, have a brown coat with you, you might want to wear it.”

“Okay, then.”

Mal, Jayne, Zoe, and Lilah met in the cargo bay and headed off to the little town where Monty would be waiting. Mal, Zoe, and Lilah were all wearing their brown coats, and Jayne was wearing his usual jacket – he was just along for the prospect of a good fight.

They met Monty outside of the bar, and the group, ten in total went in, all but Jayne wearing brown coats. They ordered drinks and took a large and quiet table in the back. They sat for a couple of hours, telling stories and jokes and talking about their experience in the War.

Mal related his story of Tracy and their commanding officer’s mustache. Monty, a few drinks in and feeling particularly jolly, told the story of how he and Zoe and Mal first met. Mal grumbled good-naturedly, stating that it was the flying rock’s fault, not his.

“What about you, Lilah?” Dexter asked. “What was it like for you?”

“I’d rather not talk about it, Dexter, if you don’t mind.”

The others shared a look.

“I flew for the Browncoats and then was discharged. There’s not much more to it than that.” Lilah insisted.

Thankfully the tension was broken by an Alliance supporter toasting Unification Day and pissing on the Independents. Looking back, no one would quite be able to remember just how the fight started, but everyone did remember the fight itself. It was as if the bar had exploded into chaos.

A group of five men made the mistake of trying to take on Monty and by the time he had finished with them, the men were crawling towards the back door. Zoe was clubbing people with her mare’s leg, occasionally giving a head-butt or two. Jayne was in his element, taking on any and all challengers. Mal and the others were throwing punches and eventually made their way outside of the bar, where somehow Mal managed to call for River to bring Serenity around.

He was surprised to see Lilah getting into the fight. She fought like Zoe: hard and somewhat dirty. He briefly remembered that she had brothers and had mentioned rough-housing with the local boys while growing up.

The fight escalated to the point where the purple-bellies drew their guns on Mal and Monty’s little group of Independents. And just as they were about to fire, Serenity rose into the sky behind the Independents and they heard River call

“This really isn’t the best time for bravery.”

Mal and Monty’s group bid a lazy retreat onto Serenity and Mal smiled his ‘eat-shit’ grin and waved merrily to the Alliance supporters. The ramp closed and Mal couldn’t help but laugh..

“It ain’t winning the War but it’s nice to beat the livin’ go se out of the purple-bellies.” Monty said.

“Nothin’ like a good tussle.” Jayne agreed.

“Where’s Lesley? Wasn’t he a Browncoat?” Lilah asked, looking around.

Monty sighed.

“I had to put him off ship about a week back. He was causing problems and he was acting awfully strange. He was a good worker, but I can’t have attitudes on Dorothy. Speaking of Dorothy, any way you-all can drop us off? We’re about a mile or so out of town.” Monty said.

“Yeah, I’ll get on it. It’s about time I got back on the bridge.” Lilah said, nodding to Monty, then Mal, and making her way up the stairs and up to the bridge.

Monty’s crew was dropped off and the crew left for Bellephron, intent on making good on the lucrative deal that Badger had arranged.

***

I hope you enjoy! Questions, comments, and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated!

GG

COMMENTS

Saturday, July 11, 2009 10:10 AM

BRIGLAD


Had a feelin it was U-Day....

Saturday, July 11, 2009 11:04 AM

KATESFRIEND


So what's up with Inara? We know with Zoe that Mal can do platonic, or is something else going on?

Saturday, July 11, 2009 6:17 PM

NUTLUCK


Just glad to see you put up another chapter, Hopefully we won't have to wait as long for the next one.

Saturday, July 11, 2009 11:33 PM

JANE0904


Why do I feel as if Lesley is going to come back up in the story? And I agree with Katesfriend - what *is* up with Inara? She's not making an effort, and that's unusual for her. Hopefully you'll be having the big talk between them soon ...

Thursday, July 30, 2009 10:32 AM

MAINEAXE


Loved it.. want MORE!!! Im thinking theres a little Rayne in the forcast?? Good to see her coming into her own.. Lilah is Mahvelous.. simply Mahvelous.. :)

Yes Please!!!! May we have another???


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