BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

MAL4PREZ

The Fish Job: Chapter 19 (the end!)
Monday, February 6, 2006

So long and thanks for all the… well, you know


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 4369    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

Chapter 1.

Back to Chapter 18.

* * * * *

Mal stretched lazily. Why in the hell did he feel so good?

He was sprawled on his back under warm covers, eyes closed, still half-asleep, wondering if there was something he was supposed to be doing. A contact to make, goods to deliver, or maybe just a little old-fashioned bossing around of his crew. Ah hell, he figured, it could wait. He was too warm and comfy to get up. He rolled to his side, bunched up the pillow under his cheek, and pulled the soft blankets tighter around his shoulders.

It felt like a couple of hours later that he approached waking again, dimly surprised that no one had come knocking at his bunk or hollering over the comm about whatever impending disaster the new day brought. Maybe it was time for him to check in. Well, almost time, he decided. He rolled to his other side, planning to curl up for another hour or two, but he felt something in the bed that wasn’t quite right. He opened his eyes and lifted his elbow to find a slender white arm. Huh. He slid back a bit, his gaze followed the arm to a shoulder, a mass of curly dark hair, and a pretty sleeping face. Inara?

Mal was suddenly very awake. And very aware of being naked in soft silky sheets. “Shensheng de gaowan!” he swore as he sat up.

“Mal?” Inara looked up sleepily. “Oh, I must have drifted off.” She rubbed her eyes.

He threw his legs over the side of the bed, clutching a blanket around his middle, and looked around with eyes still fuzzy from sleep. “Where’re my clothes?” he asked.

“Next to the bed.” She gave him a confused look.

Mal realized that “next to the bed” meant next to Inara’s bed, not his own. “O, zhe zhen shi ge kuaile de jinzhan,” he muttered as he grabbed his pants and tried to pull them on without losing the blanket.

“Mal, it’s all right…”

“No.” He held a warding hand out toward her and shook his head. “No no. Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.”

“Know what?” Inara sat up and frowned.

“What the gui happened here. And I don’t want the crew knowin’ either. Gorramit!” Mal gave up his efforts with the blanket. He turned away from Inara, threw off the blanket, and yanked his pants up as quickly as possible with a muttered “Ow, damn!” He fastened his fly and grabbed his shirt from the floor. “I don’t need to deal with all their, ya know…” he waved a hand in the air in front of him as he tried to come up with the right words, “looks and comments and feihua.” He finished by punching his arms into the sleeves of his shirt.

“Mal, nothing happened.”

“I. Was. Naked.” He told her, then he grabbed his boots and went to the sofa to put them on.

Inara rolled her eyes. “Nothing like what you’re thinking happened.”

“I got enough grief over Saffron,” he grumbled.

“Saffron? That comparison’s not insulting at all.”

“We are just gonna pretend this never happened. Dong ma?” Mal stood up, banging his leg against the table. A little black box fell to the floor and white pills scattered all over the rug. He swore, stepped over them, and strode to the door.

But the hatch never opened. Inara shifted to sit on the edge of the bed, straightened her robe, and waited.

A long moment later Mal came back in. He leaned against the wall, folded his arms and stared at the floor. They were both still and quiet for a spell.

“It must have been nice to forget it all,” Inara finally said.

“Be nicer if I didn’t make an ass of myself.”

She smiled and didn’t argue. “So you feel better?”

Mal raised his head to look at her. “I feel fantastic,” he said, sounding a little surprised. He went to the table and crouched to collect the spilled pills back into the box. “Powerful stuff, this,” he said, holding one up.

“Indeed.”

Inara rose and went into the shuttle’s head; he heard water splashing. Mal was grateful for the time to gather his thoughts. He set the pillbox on the table and sat on the sofa, replaying what he could remember of recent events in his head. Ai ya, there was a lot that needed sortin’ out.

Inara returned with her face glowing from cold water, her hair neatly pinned back. She didn’t join him on the sofa, but sat on the edge of the bed across the room from him.

“How long was I out?” he asked.

“A little more than a day.”

“A day?” He looked at her in disbelief.

“I brought you in here yesterday afternoon; it’s almost dinner time now. Kaylee and Book have been cooking up something special. I came in to see if you were awake, and I guess I drifted off myself.”

“A whole gorram day,” Mal repeated to himself.

“You really needed the sleep.”

“I did at that.” Mal looked thoughtful. He cleared his throat before continuing. “Inara, if I recall it right, you did Campanion-y things. After I told you not to.”

Inara took a deep breath. “Actually, you phrased it as more of a request…” she gave up that argument at the look he gave her. “Mal, you needed to feel good. You needed to feel safe.” She met his eye for a second, and then they both looked away. Mal had no reply to that, and Inara suddenly became very interested in one of her thumbnails.

After a bit, Inara broke the silence in a small voice. “I hope you did,” she said, “feel safe.” She glanced at him then returned to her nail inspection.

“Well, I felt…” Mal didn’t finish that thought. “Ah hell, Inara. This ain’t my thing, talkin’ ‘bout all this. But I came in here a mess, needin’ rest, and I got it. I got it in spades.”

“So you’re not mad?”

“No, I ain’t mad,” he said softly.

Inara smiled and moved on to a pinky nail. Then her smile took on a worried edge. She peaked at him one more time before she asked uncertainly, “You do understand that I wasn’t ‘playing’ you, right?” Mal watched her, thinking how odd it was that a professional could look so innocent. And the thing was, he had a pretty strong feeling that she wasn’t acting.

“Yeah, I know that.” He watched the relieved smile that spread across her face, then he dropped his head and ran his fingers through his sleep-mussed hair. Time to start sortin’ things out, he thought. “Inara, I think I owe you a few apologies.”

She looked up in surprise. “There’s no need - ”

“Yeah, I’d say there is.” Mal interrupted in a voice that was maybe a bit too forceful. This was not his forte. But he took a breath and forged on. “I’m sorry about being such a hunqiu the past few days, and just now. All the stuff I was sayin’ when I woke up.” Inara didn’t reply while he paused to scratch his cheek. “And I’m sorry ‘bout the other day. Pointin’ a gun in your direction and all.”

“You weren’t aware of what you were doing.”

“Wasn’t much of a comfort to the bunch a’you at the time, was it?”

“No,” she admitted.

“And…” This was the tricky one, he thought. “I’m sorry ‘bout last night.”

“About what last night?”

Mal had to clear his throat again. “I’m afraid I took advantage of you.”

“Mal. I drugged you, undressed you, put you in my bed, and gave you a sponge bath. Just how did you take advantage of me?”

“Well, when you put it that way.” Mal grinned for a few seconds, then he looked uncomfortable again. “Actually, I, uh, feel I might’a crossed a line. When I kissed you.”

“Oh.” Inara chewed her bottom lip, then noticed she was doing it and stopped. “You remember that?” “Not likely to forg– Uh, yeah, I remember it. Thing is, you were very clear ’bout respectin’ my… honorable… modesty, and kissin’ was not the right thing for me to do.”

Inara surprised him by jumping to his defense. “Mal - I know about those pills. I know that, when in that state, kissing is…” She was, for once, at a loss for words. “Let’s just say I’m glad you got to experience it.”

“Ya are?” Mal asked doubtfully.

“Yes.”

“But… you weren’t in that state and I should’a thought ‘bout that. Especially after what you told me. About those pills. What they’re for. And you needin’ to take ‘em.”

Inara plucked at her robe thoughtfully. Then she smiled. “Mal, you have been through hell in the past week and don’t need something else on your overburdened conscience, so I’m going to tell you this.” She looked up at him and her voice turned stern. “But I never want to hear another thing about it, all right?” Mal looked perplexed but nodded agreement. Inara took another minute to think about it, then she continued. “You kissing me was… not entirely unpleasant.”

“Really?” Mal’s face lit up.

“Yes.”

“Huh.”

“Now… go do… Captain things.”

“Not unpleasant,” Mal repeated to himself with a chuckle as he stood up. Inara busied herself straightening the bedding. It was going to be impossible being on this boat with Mal now, she thought, but at least he was less likely to shoot anyone.

She heard him cross the room behind her and the hatch opened. Then he said softly, “Inara?”

She paused in her bed making but didn’t turn toward him. Kewu de man always has to have some clever last word, she thought. “What Mal?” “I’m ‘specially sorry I ever called you whore. I ought not’ve done that.” He left before she could reply.

The thing Mal ought to be apologizing for, Inara thought, was kissing her like he had when she wasn’t on a sex drive suppressing drug.

It would indeed be difficult living on the ship with him from now on.

* * *

Mal felt a powerful need for a clean-up and some fresh clothes, and, more importantly, a little time for his mind to catch up. His understanding of the world he was living in had undergone some drastic shifts of late.

He slipped unnoticed past the hatch to the dining room and climbed down into his cabin, where he sat on his bed, thinking. Remembering. Drawing lines between the real and the not real. He was relieved to find that the lines seemed to be staying put. Maybe he could make sense of things.

Not real:

Inara’s cold rejection.

Jayne’s betrayal.

Book’s condemnation.

Zoe and Wash’s desertion.

Mal shifted to lay on his back on the bed. He felt a knot growing in his chest, a sob of relief that threatened to force its way out. No one would see it here in the privacy of his bunk, but he suppressed it anyway. He didn’t like to break down; once he started, he might not stop.

I never told about River and Simon.

I never went back to Serenity Valley.

The ship is whole.

Kaylee…

He rubbed his hands over his face, barely holding his calm. Stubble scratched at his palms. Gotta get cleaned up, he thought, grateful for a task to focus on.

He went to the sink, hung a small mirror on the wall, and lathered up. He had to take a few deep breaths to steady himself before he picked up the razor. He didn’t meet his own eyes while he shaved.

The ship and crew were safe; he understood that now. Safe not only in terms of their well-being, but in terms of deserving his trust. He was less sure about himself. The Alliance hadn’t put all this feiwu in his head, they’d just pulled it out into the open. He’d had to look right at it, and his gorram crew was bright enough that they’d figured a lot of it out too.

I deserve no better than to be played, betrayed, damned, and abandoned.

He had to set down the razor as the thought went through his head. Was that really what he believed?

The people on this ship depended on him. Their lives were in his hands, and now they knew as well as he did just how shaky his hands were. These troubles in his mind made him weak, made him vulnerable, and made him dangerous. He had to do better. He had to conquer this.

Mal finally looked himself in the eye, determined to stare down his self doubt. But he didn’t make it long before he noticed something that had him leaning over the sink and laughing good and long. Wo de ma, had he just talked hard truths with Inara with his hair sticking straight up on one side of his head?

If Inara could take him seriously when he looked like this, maybe the crew could cut him some slack for having a few issues. Stranger things had been known to happen.

* * *

Once he put himself in order, Mal quietly climbed out of his bunk. He paused to look into the dining room at the crew. The table was set for dinner, but everyone was still scattered, doing their own thing. Zoe and Wash were sitting on one side of the table with their heads tipped together, talking in low voices. Jayne and Simon were at the far end of table, engaged in a tense game of cards.

In the kitchen, a giant stew pot was leaking curls of steam around the edges of its poorly fitted lid. Book lifted the lid to peek inside while he chatted with Kaylee. She stood next to him stirring something in a small saucepan.

Mal stepped through the hatchway. River was laying across a chair in the sitting area, her hair trailing on the floor as she examined the dining room upside down. She lifted one hand to wave at Mal.

All the conversations stalled when he came down the stairs. Everyone looked toward him but no one spoke; they seemed too unsure of his frame of mind to venture a comment. Mal focused his gaze on Kaylee, who nodded to him with an uncertain smile and returned to her saucepan.

He walked directly to her, took the spoon out of her hand, and set it on the counter. Unmindful of the silence and curious looks from around the room, Mal gathered his li’l Kaylee in his arms. She wrapped her arms around his waist and buried her head in his chest, and he set his cheek against the top of her head. The room was quiet while they stood like that, rocking a little, Mal gently rubbing her back.

After a bit he kissed the top of her head and tipped his own to try to catch her eye, but she turned away from him with a self-conscious smile, wiping her cheeks. Mal smiled back and fluffed her hair, then went to take his seat at the head of the table.

Zoe was watching him with a smile of her own. “You feelin’ better Captain?” she asked.

“I am feelin’ a great deal better.” Mal sat back in his chair and put a hand on his stomach. “And I’m hungry as a gorram horse.”

“Worked up an appetite with ‘nara, did ya?” Jayne asked with a suggestive grin. He and Simon had set aside their cards, and Simon had gone to help in the kitchen.

“Jayne!” Zoe admonished.

“All right, here we go,” Mal started, “Before any a’ this nonsense gets goin’, y’all need to know that nothin’ happened. I don’t want to be hearin’ any -”

“It’s all right Mal,” Wash interrupted. “Inara explained at breakfast. That she slipped you a sleepytime pill. And I seem to recall her saying that anyone who gives you a hard time may find themselves feeling the adverse effects of certain other medicines.” Wash gave Jayne a meaningful look. “I believe the term she used was ‘long term limpness’.” Wash demonstrated with a floppy hand, then wiggled his fingers at Jayne.

“A man can’t help but wonder,” Jayne replied defensively.

“But a man can keep his trap shut,” Zoe said.

They were interrupted by an unusual sound from the kitchen, a soft hollow pop. Mal turned to see Simon holding something he’d not set eyes on in quite some time: a wine bottle.

“Who’d like to do the honors?” Simon asked. Mal was too dumbfounded to respond, but Wash held up his mug eagerly and Simon poured him a splash of red wine. Wash made a show of holding the opaque mug up to the light and staring at the bottom of it, then swirling, sniffing, holding it up again, swirling and sniffing once more, slurping, swishing, gargling, and finally swallowing the wine down. The crew waited for his judgment.

“Kaylee?” Wash said.

“Wha’?” Kaylee responded from the kitchen.

“You’re not allowed to use this to clean engine parts.”

Kaylee guffawed in response, and Wash held up his mug for a refill. Simon ignored him and went about things in his own order, filling Mal’s cup first with a quiet “Welcome back, Captain.” Then he moved on to Zoe, Kaylee in the kitchen, the mug in front of Inara’s empty chair, and finally the last little bit in the bottle went to River.

“Never fear,” Simon said with a smile, and he went to a box in the kitchen for another bottle.

Zoe figured it was time to explain to Mal. “Gift from the Prefect. He was awful sad that he never got to meet you, sir, but he sent a case of vino along to show his regards.”

“Huh.” Mal said, sniffing at his mug.

“It’s an excellent vintage, from Chateau Allechante on Londinium,” Simon said as he examined the label. “Must have come from his private cellar.”

Mal took a sip. “I like this Prefect,” he declared.

Zoe sipped from her own cup and shrugged, “I still ain’t entirely sure what the man’s up to, but this does go some way toward winnin’ me over.”

“We’re just glad to have you back, Captain,” Book said, and set a plate in front of Mal.

Mal sat still, his face frozen in shock as he stared at his plate. He looked around at the crew, then needed another long stare at his plate. River took his mug from his hand and set it on the table before he could spill it.

Finally Mal managed to put a few words together. “What the hell is this?”

Jayne smiled proudly that he knew. “Lobster.”

“I know that, but…”

“Bonus pay from Ricky,” Zoe said, then she added dryly, “He’s real sorry ‘bout what he got you into, sir.”

Book had also set a little bowl next to Mal’s plate. Mal looked into it. “Is that butter?” he asked. “Is that real melted butter?”

Kaylee followed Book with a larger bowl. “And this is a salad, with tomatoes and carrots and cucumbers. Your baked potato will be right up.”

“Sour cream?” Mal asked doubtfully.

“Of course!” She tucked a napkin in the neck of Mal’s shirt and kissed him on the cheek. “Better get started Cap’n.”

“But do y’all get…” Mal’s question was answered when Book brought two more plates of large red shellfish, setting them in front of Zoe and Jayne.

“Turns out,” Book said, “Jayne here is quite good at negotiating.”

“Gorram straight I am,” Jayne replied. He glanced at River. “Like this?” he asked, then he held his lobster up in front of him and tore in half.

Simon, who had finished pouring wine and was just sitting down across from Jayne, dodged the spray of lobster juice and bits of shell with a fairly mild swear word. Kaylee congratulated him, but then suggested something stronger he could have said instead.

“Just aim toward your plate and you’ve got it,” River told Jayne cheerfully. She was dismantling her lobster with neat precision.

Jayne grinned as he explained to Mal, “These here were easy to get,” he held up the top half of his lobster to make it clear what he was talking about. “They had piles of ‘em at the market. But I knew a man like Ricky’d have connections with local farmers and such, so I got us lots a’ good veggies. And the dairy stuff too.”

Simon made a disgusted face and griped, “But you should see what he got us for lunch tomorrow. It’s hideous.”

Jayne gave the doctor an offended look. “You could try bein’ a li’l grateful. It’s called manners.” Simon opened his mouth in shock at having his etiquette corrected by the man-ape, but Jayne turned back to Mal. “You ‘member the first time we went through the market?” Mal nodded and Jayne continued, “Well, I figure any fish ‘at looks like part of the Cobb family has gotta be good, even if it’s a funny color.”

Mal was too busy pulling his dinner apart to reply, but he remembered the blue bearded fish from the market. He had his doubts as to how tasty it was likely to be, but wasn’t about to complain.

“I have never seen an uglier fish in my life,” Wash commented as his own dinner arrived. “Who gets to cut its head off?” He raised his own hand to volunteer.

There were soon lobsters and side dishes all around, and Kaylee and Book sat down to join the feast.

Mal was in the middle of tearing open the lobster claw with his teeth when Inara made her appearance, formally dressed and fully made up. There was no visible smirking from the crew, but no one missed the quick but warm look that passed between her and Mal.

Mal noticed the sudden silence. He wiped his face and turned to Zoe. “So, what else did Ricky have to say for himself?”

Zoe explained the budding partnership between Ricky and the Prefect. “The folks on these worlds got themselves a mess to deal with, but maybe those two will work a few things out.”

“And it was all about some group gettin’ guns? On some far out little world?” Mal asked.

“Appears so.”

“And they’re rippin’ up people’s minds for that,” Mal said softly.

There was a short silence before Simon asked hesitantly, “Captain, do you remember a lot?”

“Simon, don’t bug him ‘bout that now!” Kaylee admonished.

“It’s all right Kaylee,” Mal said. He took a drink from his mug of wine. They all waited as he thought for a minute, then he looked up. “I remember a lot a’ very… odd things happenin’.” He glanced around at his crew. “But for the life of me I do not know why I believed it.”

“It was a construct of your own mind.” Simon answered. “They took every doubt, every unreasonable little fear you have and they amplified it. You had no choice but to believe it.”

Mal picked at the last of his salad. “And you say they’re doin’ this to people all the time?”

“You’re probably the only one who’s ever remembered what happened.” Simon said. “But yes, they had people plugged into that imager ever since it was built.”

“Mm-hmm, and I got away. Makes me think they might be wantin’ to talk to me some more.”

“That’s not something you need to be concernin’ yourself with,” Zoe told him.

“Is that so?” Ma asked her. For the first time in a few days, it occurred to him to wonder: “So, just where exactly are we, and where’re we goin’?”

“We’re stayin’ deep in the black until we get out this quadrant.” Zoe replied. “We got full fuel tanks, a few spare parts, a bunch of chow, and a little cash left over. And that’s all you need to know right now.” She realized too late what she’d just said to Mal. “Um… Sir.”

Mal frowned at her for a moment, then he shrugged. “Okay.”

Zoe turned to Wash to make sure she’d heard that right. Wash looked as perplexed as she did.

Mal drained the last of his wine and continued, “But only because I’m stuffed full of good food and wine and I’m tired.”

“Tired?” Kaylee asked. “Already?”

Mal smiled. “Yeah, believe it or not,” he said, “I think I could use some more sleepin’.” He pushed back his empty plate. “Thank you kindly for making dinner, Kaylee, Book, Simon. And good work with the deal-makin’, Jayne. The bunch a’ya put together a quite a meal.”

Mal stood up, but then he paused and turned back with a grin. “In fact, I’d have to say it was, uh… not entirely unpleasant.” Mal flashed a wider grin at Inara, then he turned away with a self satisfied chuckle. Inara dropped her head in her hands.

Everyone but Inara looked at each other in confusion after Mal left. “Ya think he’s still crazy?” Jayne asked.

“No, he’s not,” Inara answered. “Mal is definitely Mal again.” She took her plate to the kitchen to start cleaning up.

“Door’s shut, no monsters,” River declared. “But Simon, just to be safe, no playing with wires.”

“Pardon me?” Simon asked, but River picked up her plate and went to help Inara.

* * *

A half hour later, Zoe climbed down the ladder to Mal’s bunk, a box balanced on her hip. The bright overhead light was on, but Mal was stretched out on his stomach on the bed, fast asleep. He was fully dressed, like he’d barely made it there before passing out.

She set the box of guns down, then paused to study the Captain. He appeared peaceful and unburdened in his sleep, and younger than he’d looked in some time. She glanced around the cabin. All the blankets in the room appeared to be trapped under him, so she picked up his coat. He didn’t stir when she spread it over him. That surprised her; he probably hadn’t slept that deep in years.

She dimmed the lights before she headed to bed herself. Wash would be waiting.

* * * * *

shensheng de gaowan: Holy testicle Tuesday O, zhe zhen shi ge kuaile de jinzhan: Oh, this is a happy development feihua: nonsense gui: hell hunqiu: fink kewu de: horrible wo de ma: mother of god

* * * * *

If you're interested: Long winded commentary.

COMMENTS

Monday, February 6, 2006 3:24 AM

BURNANDBOIL


I was so worried something was going to happen at the end! I was perhaps overly tense...hmm...I'm going to read it again incase I missed something! Excellent conclusion to a fantastic series.

Monday, February 6, 2006 3:26 AM

JAYRO


Fantastic stuff, Mal4Prez. A benchmark fic!

Even while working flat-out on my own story, I've been keeping up with this one. Perfect characterisations, and a twist-and-turn storyline - for a long time I wasn't sure what was real and what wasn't, just like Mal.

Now, what else you got in the locker for us? *bounces up and down expectantly*

Monday, February 6, 2006 3:43 AM

BURNANDBOIL


Maybe he was adding a new, special ingredient? O.o ... Okay that was just gross!

Monday, February 6, 2006 3:44 AM

CAPERCAILLIE


I always like the dinner room scenes - glad you put in such a good one.

Thank you for all the work you put into The Fish Job. It has been such a "pick me up" these past weeks.

Thanks!

Monday, February 6, 2006 3:46 AM

HOMESPUN


Thanks so much for this fic; I enjoyed every twist and turn, and love the warmth of the ending, particularly the very end. Well done.

Monday, February 6, 2006 4:11 AM

ELOISA


hurray! Thank you for writing The Fish Job and sharing it with us. I hope the literary bug bites you again sometime as you're very good at this...

Monday, February 6, 2006 5:22 AM

SAFEAT2ND


Very, very good story!

Thank-you for sharing!!

As far as I'm concerned, our little series is one episode richer.

Monday, February 6, 2006 6:02 AM

ARTSHIPS


A satisfying conclusion to an enjoyable story. Thanks!

Monday, February 6, 2006 6:50 AM

BROWNSPARROW


This has been an excellent story. As a relatively new Firefly convert, I've been scouring the web for fanfiction to give me my fix. This is definitely a favorite. Everyone was kept very in character (everyone outside of Mal's head, that is), and I particularly loved the interactions in this chapter as the dining room scenes with all the characters always make me warm and fuzzy. Like safeat2nd said, I think this was a wonderful "episode," and even justified a reason why Mal was a little bit darker in the movie. Thanks for all your hard work!

Monday, February 6, 2006 8:04 AM

AMDOBELL


Brilliant, I loved this fic to itty bitty pieces and then some. Such a lovely way to round it off but oh I am so sad the journey is over! As Book would say, "It's how you get there that's the worthier part" and this is so gorram worthy! Well done and thanks for a shiny story. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, February 6, 2006 8:24 AM

TAYEATRA


Thank-you for a great series. Strange how seeing each new chapter atomatically made me smile.

Looking forward to your next project!

Taya

Monday, February 6, 2006 8:35 AM

VERA2529


Great finish! Mal4Prez, you are very talented and you had better write more, soon. Please accept my apologies for missing peak and peek as your beta! oops. Even us beta readers get caught up in the story sometimes. Great work, keep it up.

Monday, February 6, 2006 12:21 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


I have to say right off the bat, mal4prez, that it was an honour to beta for ya, if only for the first half of this magnificent tale. Sorry I kinda crapped out on the job, but RL took a bite outta me :(

Now...onto the story! This is definitely Jossian. Yep. Can't offer a bigger complement I think than that. It has all the hallmarks of Lord Whedon, especially since overall it reminds of me of the episode of Buffy (can't recall the name right now) where Buffy thinks she's a patient in a mental hospital and being the Slayer's a dream she has.

On a final note, have to chime in too about hoping for some more goodness with our BDHs in the future from ya. And hopefully this time, I will be able to stay the course with beta-reading if you'll allow the honour;)

BEB

Monday, February 6, 2006 5:19 PM

RINNYPJ


There seems to be just enough loose ends to warrent a sequel... *grins*

Am I right? Please?

This whole story was wonderfully crafted and I'm in complete awe. Great work!

Monday, February 6, 2006 5:37 PM

LEEH


Well, I've been checking the site daily (or more often) for this chapter, and it was worth the wait. I'm just sad the series is over.

Favorite line:
“Mal. I drugged you, undressed you, put you in my bed, and gave you a sponge bath. Just how did you take advantage of me?”

I swear, sometimes you are channeling The Master himself--you write lines that sound like something out of an episode.

I love how you end with a feast, the classic happy-ending scenario (other than a wedding) that brings everyone together and heals rifts. This one was particularly delightful, although I shudder to think of 9 lobsters being boiled in that kitchen.

Most of what people recommended for my Picky Reader thread fell flat; I skimmed and dumped about 90 percent of the stories. This, on the other hand, was a gift. Thank you for sharing your creativity and talent with us.

Monday, February 6, 2006 8:13 PM

PREACHERSSON


What can I say that hasnt allready been said. I waited to read the last few parts up until they were all posted. And even with the tension of waiting... It was soooo worth it. Im eagerly awaiting your next installment/qhatever. Just dont stop!

Tuesday, February 7, 2006 1:23 AM

BOOKADDICT


Great ending to the story. I agree with Rinny looks like there could be a sequel in the making?

*beg, beg*

I love Jayne's lobster eating method.

“Door’s shut, no monsters,” River declared. “But Simon, just to be safe, no playing with wires.” love this line.



Tuesday, February 7, 2006 1:53 AM

SHINYTALENT


I'm sorry it's taken me so long to read this but mal4prez that was AWE-INSPIRING!!
I reiterate every good thing myself and others have said about your series, and times it ten-fold.

If I ever meet you- I owe you chocolate brownies

Thursday, February 9, 2006 6:47 AM

SURPLUSIMAGINATION


Great ending. What a wonderful story. Thank you!

Thursday, February 9, 2006 5:21 PM

OTHROMAS


Stupid thing didn't let me log in--last commend was othromas.

Sunday, February 12, 2006 3:27 AM

AGENTROUKA


Aww, a happy ending!

And it feels so deserved, too, after all the torture and heartache and adventure. Good food and family. Awwww. *g*


Also, I cannot decide what is funnier. Mal's little freak-out or his smugness later on. Hee! Inara, she puts up with so much... *g* But oooh, he apologized...

So pretty! Lovely ending to a wonderful series!



And yay, you're going to write more! Happiness abounds!

Friday, March 31, 2006 7:00 PM

AZHEA


I printed all 19 chapters, as sitting at a screen reading such yummies kills a bit o' the joy for me, and I'm only at 14, but I just HAD to post a comment here.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book. It kept me captured right along with Mal.

Thank you. I'll be lookin' up more of your workin', you're a craftman of a hight order.

Thursday, July 13, 2006 2:01 AM

RIVERISMYGODDESS


*So long and thanks for all the… well, you know*
-BWAHAHAHA !!

All of the Chinese in this chapter is really funny, I have used a couple of those myself in my fics.

Mal had to clear his throat again. “I’m afraid I took advantage of you.”
“Mal. I drugged you, undressed you, put you in my bed, and gave you a sponge bath. Just how did you take advantage of me?”
-Yeah, Mal got that one completely backwards. Good exchange between the two though.

All of Wash's words and actions at the dinner were classic, and hi-larious as well.

“You could try bein’ a li’l grateful. It’s called manners.”
-LOL @ Jayne admonishing Simon for manners

Thanks for rectifying the situation with the Prefect as well.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006 1:56 PM

GIRLFAN


How perfect - the whole thing. Not a foot wrong ever, through the whole 19 chapters.

Thursday, August 21, 2008 12:24 PM

JOLY


Okay, I saved up all my comments for the last chapter, because quite frankly, it was a roller coaster ride from hell..... In a good way. I haven't been this excited about a series in a while. And though it was heart aching and terrible at times for the characters, it was still one of the best stories I have ever read. It was amazing. It was Mal as Joss imagined him, and you still gave him a way out. Which was beautiful. Just lovely. I have to read more, so expect a comment when I reach the end of the next series.

Joanna


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OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR

Back Stories Book 3, Chapter 25
Zoë nodded. “I’ll bet there’s a little committee of suits back there trying to figure out how best to lie.”&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp

“Or how to tell some horrible truth,” Inara replied softly.&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp

“Or how to make the most effective use of medical waste incendiaries to get rid of our bodies,” Wash chimed in.


Back Stories III, Chapter 24
Mal returns to a few familiar places.

Back Stories III: Chapter 23
The BDH’s find themselves enmeshed in too damned many OCs. But hey, they’re necessary. Plottiness and all.

Back Stories III, Chapter 22
Inara tells the story of why she left the Core. Well, half of it anyway.

Back Stories III, Chapter 21
The battle with the Reavers continues, and Mal makes a choice. All decisions have consequences.

Back Stories III, Chapter 20
Finally a little Mal POV, but it doesn't last long.

Back Stories III, Chapter 19
The trials and tribulations of an older, wiser River Tam.

Back Stories Book III, Chapter 18
The aftermath of an unexpected encounter. Except—not all of the crew are accounted for…

Back Stories Book III, Chapter 17
A lovely day in the mountains: friendly locals and fresh air under a clear blue sky. What could possibly go wrong?

Back Stories Book III, Chapter 16.
Zoë tells of her soiree with terrorists on Oeneus.