BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE

RIVERGODDESS

Have Wings, Will Fly Chapter Six: Spa Treatment
Sunday, January 1, 2006

Second day of vacation, and the crew decides to pamper themselves a little bit. Can their calm last for long? Honestly, is that even possible with our heros? Didn't think so.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2174    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Have Wings, Will Fly Chapter Six: Spa Treatment This goes without saying, but everyone’s comments are greatly appreciated. Anyone who has posted a fanfic has to admit to checking it every five minutes to see if someone has commented, right? No? That’s just me? Anyway, thanks again, and without further ado, chapter six! A/N I don’t think I put this on any of my other chapters, but this ‘verse ain’t mine, it’s Joss’s. All hail the great Joss for giving us these shiny characters to play with, though!

~*~*~ The night grew late and the stars slowly appeared like diamonds on velvet. Delmar was certainly pretty at night, seeing as the populace was relatively small and there were virtually no lights. Jayne’s strumming on his guitar became soft plucks as he began to nod off on his seat. River was asleep on Inara’s lap while Inara played with River’s soft, dark hair absentmindedly. Kaylee, too, was far gone with her arms wrapped possessively around Simon’s waist. She smiled and nuzzled into his stomach. Arden was slumped over, his head resting on his chest and snoring quietly.

“Zoe, I hear there’s a rather quaint spa in town. Nothin’ much, but I also hear they give mud baths…” Wash smiled sweetly at Zoe, who was busy poking more kindling in the fire.

“Mm, sounds inviting. How about it, Sir? Nice relaxin’ day in town tomorrow?” Zoe turned to Mal, who was teetering dangerously on his box seat.

“Huh? Sure, sure, Zo. Sounds…” and with that, Mal fell off his seat, sound asleep.

“Saw that coming.” Inara chuckled and shook her head.

“Well, we best be gettin’ off to bed now. My baby needs his rest!” Zoe leaned over and kissed her husband.

“So? Who gets to carry me to my tent?”

~*~*~ Inara and Mal laid River down to sleep.

“She looks so cute like that. Especially since she didn’t just kill any folk.” Mal grinned at Inara and looked fondly at his little albatross.

“Mal, I do have to get to an appointment next week, you know. This vacation is pleasant, and much needed, but I do have my work. You understand.”

“Yeah. Gotta be doin’…your work. Understood.” Mal turned to leave the tent, and hesitated.

“Inara, if you, y’know, aren’t busy tomorrow, mind joining me for lunch? Zoe told me this little town has a café. Figured it’s the closest we can get to any fancy joint on this moon.” Mal scratched the back of his head and snuck a glance at Inara. Inara paused. Was the man asking her out…to lunch? Surely the salty air was messing with his senses!

“Sure, Mal. That’d be enjoyable. Good night.” She flashed him a brief smile before bending down to cover River up.

As she settled in for bed herself, Inara couldn’t help but smile and shake her head again. Must be the air.

~*~*~ The night was thick with silence save for the light chirping of crickets and the sounds of the waves washing the shore. Arden, however, was not so calmed. He was dreaming of the days he spent in confinement at the holding center. When he wasn’t in complete darkness and silence of his cell, he heard the screams of others both outside and inside his own head. It frightened him something fierce, though he wouldn’t be readily admitting to this newfound fear. On Ariel he was an average, carefree boy. He fought with other kids, got his knees scraped, played with toy rockets, and enjoyed his life. His parents were always supportive of him and his dreams to be a pilot. His mother was always warm, and he considers her his influence for his adventuresome spirit. His father was stricter, but loving, nonetheless. They were the owners of the most respected shipping company this side of the ‘verse. His father’s dream was for his son to pilot his cargo ship and become a great flyer and businessman.

Now, at 18, Arden considered himself a man. He had felt the need to break free and explore on his own. His drive for greatness turned out to be his greatest weakness, as it made him blind to deception. Arden regretted ever meeting those men with the blue hands-which he thought was odd, and should have been a warning sign-and now was paying for his actions. Could he ever go back home and face his family, friends, and hometown? Time can only tell so much.

Arden twisted under his covers; his eyes squeezed shut as his dream took a turn for the worse. Coldness, sterility. He saw faceless men, blurry, and felt the hard heaviness of the helmet as they placed a neural receptor over his scull. They were testing him. Capability, reaction timing, and endurance…to everything. Thoughts, images, situations, problems, all appeared in his mind as the receptor helmet whirred to life. No, not again! Arden, in his dream, heard himself scream as his memory enfolded.

Suddenly, the dream Arden, strapped to the chair with a helmet holding him in place, felt a slender hand stroke his cheek.

Arden awoke with a start and grabbed at his cheek. He was surprised to find the same slender hand clasped tightly in his own. River knelt next to him, concern filling her expressive face.

“Shh. You were dreaming. And nothing good can come of them, now can they?” River gave a sympathetic smile and squeezed his hand before wiping sweat that had beaded on his brow. Arden wasn’t sure if he wanted to speak or not, and to answer his question River placed a finger to his mouth. “I’m Simon, and Simon says rest.”

“This must be what your brother does regularly, huh?” Arden asked weakly, still dazed. River nodded and covered him up again.

“Thoughts. They all come to me when people sleep. Or walk. A mind rests, and is easy to penetrate. I can read you.” River stared at Arden, making him slightly uncomfortable. “I know you’re scared.”

Voice slightly quavering, Arden asked, “What will happen if they find me again?”

River blinked and moved her gaze to a blank spot on the green canvas wall of the tent. In all honesty, she didn’t want to think about that. Her memories of the Academy were jumbled images and sensations. She knew many things with her psychic abilities, and before the Alliance had stripped her of her amygdala she could enter and leave minds just as easily as stepping in and out of a room. Now, people opened and closed her door, entering her thoughts without her consent. She had awoken when Arden’s dreams had turned frightful. Being somewhat of a psychic himself, Arden’s senses heightened when she was around him, and vice versa. They simply felt more.

“One can never be sure of the future. We, the mind readers, can know things. We reach out and touch people, or they touch us, but their grasp can be lost as soon as we drift and spin away from them. Distance. The closer we are, the closer we see. I do not know what will become of us.” River turned back to Arden. She smiled and laid her head down next to his. Before Arden could voice his opinion on her curious resting spot, River had drifted off to sleep herself. He took off his blanket and used it to cover her. Not thinking about much else, Arden soon found himself asleep. No nightmares this time, either. Only the serene sound of breathing and waves.

~*~*~ Inara awoke in the early hours of the morning and suddenly felt cold. Reaching blindly to her left, she felt nothing. No River. Startled, Inara quickly wrapped a blanket around her shoulders and unzipped her flimsy tent. She scanned the beach and saw nothing. She did, however, see footprints leading out of her tent and into another. She quietly unzipped the tent to find a sleeping Arden. Next to him was an equally peaceful River. She had her hand clasped in his. Oh, this should be interesting. Grinning, Inara zipped up the tent. She felt it was better for that issue to be left for when the crew awakes.

~*~*~ “Gorram…monkeys. Stop eatin’ my food…bastards…what are ya doin’ with that…AHHH!” Jayne woke up from his rather colorful nightmare. He wasn’t the only one, however. Hearing Jayne’s loud roar, Simon came running with Kaylee in tow. He hurriedly unzipped the tent to find a bewildered Jayne shaking his head and rubbing his eyes. Jayne looked up at Simon.

“They…” Jayne sounded shocked and his eyes were out of focus. “…hit me…”

“Well, if you say so.” Simon shrugged and slapped Jayne.

“Gorrammit, it was them ruttin’ monkeys, luh-suh for brains!” Startling out of his post-dream haze, Jayne stumbled out of the tent, sending up a spray of sand. Kaylee was rolling with laughter.

“Monkeys!” Kaylee sputtered.

“What in the name of the great and fluffy Buddha is goin’ on here?” Mal poked his bed-tousled head out of his tent.

“Just space monkeys, sir. And Jayne.” Simon said before breaking into a string of snickering.

“Jayne’s a monkey? Wha?” Wash yelled from his tent. Zoe unzipped their tent flaps and stuck her head out, too.

“If those words ain’t truer, then I must be dreamin’” Zoe said, a large smirk spreading over her lips.

“Mind sortin’ out your monkey troubles elsewhere? A man needs sleep!” Mal looked out towards the sea, the sun beginning to glimmer on the horizon. “Honestly, do we need another shiong-mung duh kwong-run in this crew?” Mal soon regretted saying this, as it was certainly derogatory towards their little River. He sure hoped she was still sleeping. Seeing as he was already up, though, Mal figured he’d get dressed.

“Are we still on for the spa-thing today?” Wash asked.

“Say, now! That sounds excellent! How ‘bout it, Simon? Maybe we can find that hot tub you were mentioning back at Marina.” Kaylee winked and pulled Simon closer as they stood on the cool sand and let the breeze sweep over them.

“Sure. Maybe River can join us too. She seems to enjoy the water, and I can keep an eye on her. Is she still asleep?” Simon asked.

“Hold on, I’ll check on them.” Kaylee stepped over and peeked into Inara’s tent. “Where’s River? Its just Inara in here. I’m surprised she slept through that racket.”

“What? Where did she go? She isn’t with any of you, is she?” Simon glared at Jayne, who held up his hands.

“Don’t look at me. Crazy as she may be, I don’t think she’d wanna be in here.”

“Not that anyone would…” Wash whispered to Zoe, who giggled.

Turning simultaneously to the only undisturbed tent, Mal strode over and unzipped it. The rest of the crew crowded together, except for Wash, who was left sitting, and poked their heads into the tent. River and Arden were still sound asleep, her hand still in his.

“Huh.”

Before Simon could react, Kaylee roughly pulled him away from the tent. She had seen that murderous glint in his eyes, and decided to take action.

“Now, Simon. There comes a time in every girl’s life when--”

“No! No, Kaylee, please don’t tell me what I think you’re going to tell me. My sister--” Simon covered his ears and looked bewilderedly at the open tent.

“Is fine Simon. She’s just, oh, mornin’, River!” Kaylee took River by the hand as she emerged from the tent and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. Simon’s chest swelled, and they both knew he was in for a shouting match. Again, before he could so much as speak his piece, River said,

“Nothing happened. Nightmares. Woke me up. We talked, and I fell asleep. Nothing happened.” River met her brother’s eyes unmoving. Simon hated that. When they were little, she was so good at intimidation that he would never stand a chance at winning an argument.

“But mei mei,” Simon began, pleading. It broke Kaylee’s heart and amused her at the same time, which she scolded herself for. She needed to be maternal-Kaylee, now.

By this time, Arden was being dragged out of the tent by Mal, and thrown to the sand not too gently. Mal looked mighty angry, and so did Jayne, oddly enough. Looks like protectiveness wasn’t only the older brother’s responsibility.

“Now, Sir, don’t you think you’re being rash?” Zoe asked, hands on her hips.

“He is being too rash.” Inara stepped out of her tent, her gold satin nightgown billowing around her knees as she met the morning air.

“I let him on my ship, without askin’ much questions as to his past or intentions, and he’s here…sleepin’ with my pilot!” Mal’s eyes blazed. He looked to Inara, who’s stare was just as fiery. Seconds of sparks later, Arden’s meek voice rose from the ground,

“Look, Mal. If it weren’t for River, I’d be in a place no one deserves to be. Last night I had…certain dreams about that place and River must have sensed that. She only came over to my tent to see what was the matter, and then she fell asleep. If I did anything to her, then let God strike me down right now.”

Jayne looked heavenward. “Damn.”

Inara carefully eased Arden to his feet. “I think we’d better have a nice, civilized talk.” Inara looked accusingly at Mal, who shrugged.

~*~*~ “Huh, sounds like me when I was a kid.” Wash said between mouthfuls of oatmeal. Arden had just finished telling a few stories of his childhood and the events leading up to his entrance to the sect of the Academy. He also told them a little about his family, and his uncertainty about the future.

“I’m a good pilot, though. If you ever need any help in that department, I’m your man.” He said.

“Maybe you can teach the little one here to fly not so terrifyingly, huh?” Mal gave a sweet smile over to River, who just rolled her eyes. “She may be a super genius, but sometimes her flyin’ ain’t so good for the digestion.”

Mal was beginning to warm up to Arden since the morning. It was now midday, and the crew was a little slow to start. They planned on hitting the spa in about a half an hour. Arden wished he could say the same for Simon. As much as he enjoyed River’s company, Simon scared him a little. Big brothers always took so much looking out for, as Simon’s gentle nature was surely a cover.

Kaylee, thank God, did an excellent job of keeping him in check, though the crew wouldn’t wish to know her methods of taming him.

“Well, thanks for the chow, you two,” Wash nodded towards Kaylee and Arden. “Now, since those runners Kaylee set up earlier to get me around in this sand didn’t quite work so well, would anyone be so kind as to carry me and my trusty wheelchair to the mule parked on the hill?”

Mal and Jayne groaned. The lifted Wash and his chair high on their shoulders and began to trudge through the sand.

“Ah. My loyal subjects. Do not fret, as this is a most noble task, and you will be rewarded in the afterlife. But for now, MUSH, YOU DOGS!” Wash cackled.

~*~*~ Later, in town, the crew took their separate ways. Delmar was similar to Marina, but on a smaller and less grand scale. The houses were similarly fashioned with soft whites, tans, blues and yellows commanding the majority of the town. If there was a bar, it was concealed well behind pastels. They had an open, airy feeling, with assorted vines and creepers lacing around the buildings and houses. The spa was apart from the other buildings and had a fair amount of greenery adorning the entryway. Jayne picked off a leaf as the crew entered. Several men and women draped in clothing that seemed to flow over them began fussing with the crew’s coats and boots.

“I don’t like the idea o’ this. That guy over there’s lookin’ at me funny.” Jayne whispered to Zoe. He eyed them small shaven-headed man reaching for his coat.

“Relax, he only wants you to take all your clothes off.” Zoe smirked and turned to Jayne, who’s look of suspicion turned suddenly to alarm.

“No ruttin’ way! I’m keepin’ my clothes on today!” Jayne shuffled out of reach. Soon, a stunning woman with golden hair approached him and slowly peeled his coat off his shoulders.

“Sir, I’m here to give you your massage. You won’t be needing this.” She said smoothly.

“Well, then. On second thought…”

~*~*~ On the other side of town, Mal led Inara to a tiny two-story corner café. They decided to sit outside on a veranda. The height gave them a clear view of the twinkling sea far down the hill. Inara was dressed in a flowing mint-green dress that stopped just below her knees. Mal was in his usual captain-y clothes, but at least had the sensibility to put on a nice black dress shirt. They chatted about the city, and the funny people dressed in outfits fit for a monk’s monastery as tea was served to them in elegant china cups.

“You know, Arden’s a possibility for a good pilot if you just gave him a chance.”

“You don’t like little albatross’s flyin’? Sure she’s a might--”

“Mal, Don’t lie. I’ve seen the look on your face when she lands your baby. Look’s like you’re about to give birth!” Inara chuckled.

“Well, I wouldn’t use that exact phrasin’, but I’m glad I’m not the only one t’ notice. I guess I could, y’know, watch him fly for a spell. See if he’s of use.” Mal considered this for a moment. No more fear of landings and takeoffs. God, he missed Wash’s flying, as nuts as that sounded. For now, he was stuck with a crazy genius that sometimes rubbed soup in her hair. “It’s not that I’m complaining…well, okay, I am a little… but lately she’s been off in her piloting. She’s good when nothin’ is distracting her, which I’m guessin’ is almost never.”

“Poor thing. Both of them being so young. I just can’t imagine people doing that to innocent children. Defense deployment…” She looked into her tea. Inara knew River was always a trouble to the crew, and the stress of having Arden on board was starting to get to Mal, who as far a she was concerned was never very good at venting stress.

“Well, fortunately, you don’t have to imagine. Your nice’n tidy government has taken care of that.” Mal said with a hint of bitterness.

My government? Why is it always mine? I never asked them to do that to the people on Miranda, or River! And when, recently, have I been abiding by them, anyway? In case you haven’t noticed, I’m an outlaw, too. Thanks to you and your less-than honest escapades.” Inara said composedly. She hadn’t meant to add that last part, but something cold and dry within her forced it out of her lips.

“I didn’t pick the shuttle.” Mal said.

“No, you just pick the jobs.” She retorted. Mal hesitated, opened his mouth to reply, and closed it again. Best let these alone. Why, why couldn’t he keep his big mouth shut? Or, while we’re still on this issue, why couldn’t she not try to pick a fight? Mal thought.

They sat in silence for several minutes, making a point staring at the semi-busy street below them before Inara said, “Maybe we should check on the others I don’t trust Jayne.”

“Yeah, I seem to have lost my appetite, anyway.”

~*~*~ Back in the spa, the rest of the crew relaxed outdoors in a lush courtyard on day beds. The crew had changed out of their worn and dirty clothes in exchange for similar toga-like uniforms the staff wore in various colors. Jayne, dressed in a soft pink (“Gorrammit, it’s a light red!”) was having his back massaged by the same woman who took his coat. Simon and Kaylee, both in a matching green, were having their hands and feet massaged, while Zoe and Wash had smooth, warm rocks placed on various points on their bodies to relieve tension through heat. They would have taken the mud baths, but it reminded them too much of Canton. River had a minor freak out when they offered acupuncture to the crew, but she managed to calm down when she saw the inviting hot tub. Arden had truly wished to join her, but the look on Simon’s face made him use his better judgement and get a back massage. He got the bald man, though. They were certainly enjoying themselves.

“Mei mei, don’t stay in there too long, you’ll get all wrinkled.” Simon said from across the courtyard to River, who was blowing bubbles in the frothing water.

River looked slightly puzzled. “Not old! Won’t happen for many years, silly.” She said and resumed her bubble blowing.

Kaylee laughed. “Oh, Simon. Even in a fancy spa you gotta be all over-protective. It’s cute,” She said, “Really!” She added after she received a frown from Simon. He smiled and closed his eyes as the woman attending to him lowered his feet into a porcelain tub of hot water. Kaylee’s attendant did the same as she picked out the color nail polish she wanted. She decided on a hot pink. Another half-hour went by, and then Kaylee saw Mal and Inara enter the courtyard looking disgruntled. Their scowls turned to smirks as they saw the rest of the crew’s attire.

“Well, Jayne. Always knew you was just a big fuzzy teddy bear at heart.” Mal tried to say this without laughing, but was unsuccessful.

“Pink really isn’t your color.” Inara added.

“Black’n blue’ll be your colors if y’all don’t shut it.” Jayne retorted.

“Back so soon you two?” Kaylee asked, her eyes silently asking Inara Was he being a jerk?

Neither answered. Instead Mal asked, “You all almost finished?”

“Need to get wrinkly first, Captain.” River answered from behind a tower of soap bubbles she dumped into the hot tub.

“Uh-huh. Well, when you do, meet me back at camp.” Mal turned and left the spa. Inara walked over to Kaylee and Simon and sat down next to Kaylee.

“What happened, ‘Nara?” Kaylee’s voice was concerned for her friend. She knew Mal wasn’t always the subtlest man, but Inara looked worse than she usually did after an argument with the captain.

“Oh, Kaylee, everything’s fine. Mal just…well, I just got carried away a bit.”

“What, you insult his suspenders again?”

Not wanting to offend Kaylee and mentioning the criminal argument, Inara just answered, “Something of the sort.”

“Well, no matter what it was, you know what you gotta do, right?” Kaylee looked Inara in the eye. Inara couldn’t help but say yes to that look on her face.

“Good. I expect we’ll join you two in a little bit. I’m getting my nails done. She held up the little bottle, and Inara just smiled at the color. Definitely Kaylee.

~*~*~ Later, back at the beach campsite, Mal sat at the top of the rock formation Simon and Kaylee spent their time the other day. He watched as the sun began to set on the clear horizon and listened to the waves crash the rocks. He figured it was the best way to clear his head, but it turned out that the sea only made him think harder. He just couldn’t be a gentleman for one day, could he? Why should I have to be? People should take me as I am. I ain’t lookin’ to make false impressions. He sighed and poked at the water in a glistening rock pool beneath his feet. Inara watched him from across the shore. It took her several moments of debate within her own head before she decided to join Mal. She climbed up the large rocks and kneeled behind him. He didn’t even notice she was there until she cleared her throat. He jumped, nearly falling off the precarious perch. Inara grabbed his arm to steady him.

“Thanks. Quite a drop, there.” Mal said, a little shaken.

“Look, Mal, I’m sorry--” Inara began, but stopped when Mal turned to face her again.

“No. No, Inara. I--” He paused, staring into her eyes. Inara looked at him expectantly. Mal raised his hand slowly and brushed the back of his fingertips on Inara’s cheek. Surprised and a little taken aback, Inara shuddered at his touch and pulled away. Mal looked, for once, hurt, and dropped his hand suddenly. Inara guessed he thought she shuddered because she repulsed him, but that was far from what she had meant. Mal had never…not like that. She smiled and placed her hand atop his. Their understanding was mutual and wordless as they turned to watch the sun change to red on the horizon.

~*~*~ The crew returned later, still dressed in the ridiculous getups. Zoe, Simon, and Jayne set Wash down in the sand. They searched the camp for Mal and Inara, and paused when they saw the two on the distant rocks. Kaylee grinned.

“The sea does them good. Soft hands, soft hearts.” River closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Arden tried to make sense of what she had just said, but gave up when she took his hand in hers again and lead him towards his tent. Simon and Jayne both started towards them, but Kaylee slapped both her hands on their chests. She gave them a warning glare, quieting their protests.

“Well, today was certainly uneventful, huh, sweetie?” Wash said sarcastically to Zoe.

“Usually is,” She said, still looking at the rocks. She shook her head and smiled.

~*~*~ End chapter 6.

Translations: shiong-mung duh kwong-run—violent lunatic

I can’t wait to write chapter seven! This chapter took me a long time to finish. I just couldn’t get some things right, and I’m sure I still didn’t but whatever. More funny, and more action in the next installment!

COMMENTS

Sunday, January 1, 2006 8:52 PM

2X2


Awww... I love Mal and Inara watchin' the sunset together!

Sunday, January 1, 2006 9:24 PM

MANICGIRAFFE


BWAHAHAHAHA. Kaylee's gotta wrangle every male on the ship. Simon's big brotherness is spreading. “Now, Simon. There comes a time in every girl’s life when--" Perfect.

Sunday, January 1, 2006 10:06 PM

SHEPARDGHOST


putting jayne in a pink toga was priceless.

Monday, January 2, 2006 1:17 AM

AMDOBELL


You can't wait to write Chapter 7? I can't wait to read it. So... more of the waiting then. I really liked this and especially liked Kaylee giving Inara a nudge in the right direction to mend things with Mal. Looks like River and Arden are going to become an item - wonder how Simon will deal with that. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, January 2, 2006 4:02 PM

SHINYGEEKET


You had me laughing all through this chapter. I especially loved Wash getting toted around by Mal and Jayne :) Oh and Jayne in his "light red" toga, perfect!

Friday, January 6, 2006 7:34 AM

BELLONA


“Ah. My loyal subjects. Do not fret, as this is a most noble task, and you will be rewarded in the afterlife. But for now, MUSH, YOU DOGS!” Wash cackled.

somehow, i always figured wash for a cackler...

b

Thursday, July 13, 2006 4:50 PM

STEAMER


For the longest time I've been wanting to read a fic where River meets somebody special - somebody not Jayne. And this is a very well-written piece, I say! I love your S/K moments and the M/I bickering in this chapter - spot-on. Very cool idea, the rescue of another Academy victim who's getting overly friendly with River. ;) One of these days Simon will just have to learn to let it go, and I'd be interested to see how other writers handle his inevitable confrontation with River when that time comes.

You're an excellent writer and I love the Washline you've added to the fic. Uncle Joss doesn't know how much fun he's missing without the poor guy. ;)

But where's Chapter 7??!?!!? Can't wait to see it!!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008 5:17 PM

SERENITYSMYSHIP


i absolutely LOVE the way you write jayne and wash. waiting impatiently for chapter seven!!


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