Over The Hills and Far Away - Ch 8
Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Set after OIS. Much to Inara’s chagrin, Mal accepts a job offer that takes Serenity far away from New Melbourne and to an unremarkable moon called Three Hills... Simon and Kaylee, Jayne and his whore, Inara and her House Mistress...


Ch 8

Simon had always had a tendency to brood when he didn’t like the way things were going. His mother always told him that he did this because he was shy. She said she wished he’d talk more about his problems with other people instead of letting them bottle up inside. Sitting on the couch outside of Serenity’s infirmary, Simon felt like cursing her advice just to spite her. It was half her fault that he was in this mess. If she had just believed him, if she had just gotten River home….

Then there was a part of him that wondered how different things really would be if Regan and Gabriel Tam had pulled River out of the Academy when Simon showed them the letters. Would the Alliance have let them? Probably not. Simon would have probably still had to venture into the blackout zone. He would have probably still spent a fortune getting his sister back. Or maybe his parents would have done it, and Simon would be stuck on Osiris, forced to continue working at the hospital as if he didn’t know what was going on.

Or perhaps they would have sent River back, but she would still have been damaged. His parents wouldn’t have known what to do. They would have tired to reason with her. They’d become frustrated. It would drive them away from River, away from each other. Maybe they’d even try to push Simon away from her, leave her in the care of servants, or send her away.

Sighing, Simon rubbing his aching forehead. As much as he hated to admit it, his mother was right. Brooding never had done him any good.

“Good afternoon,” he heard Kaylee say. Simon turned towards her voice to find her walking towards him, a protein-filled plate in each hand. She smiled and sat down on the couch next to him. “Brought some food for ya.” She handed him the plate.

“I…thank you,” Simon said, balancing it on his lap. “I… I just realized that I haven’t eaten yet today.”

“Lucky for you, protein is ‘bout as good a cure for hunger as you can find in the ‘verse, even if the taste is, well, a bit bland,” Kaylee said, taking a bite.

“Yeah,” Simon agreed, mimicking her. The texture of the protein felt good in him mouth even though the taste was so familiar that it made him want to vomit. Simon sat still for a few moments after he swallowed. The little weight in his stomach was already making him feel a bit better and having Kaylee so close – now, that really did make things better. He smiled at her. “I’ve just been so worried about River. I guess I forgot to eat.”

“Well, that ain’t good,” Kaylee said. She looked at him thoughtfully. “’Haps I should take you to dinner, then.” When Simon remained silent, she kept talking. “It could fun. Cap’n said there’re a few places in town… well, there’s a bar, if nothing else. An’ we’ll keep away from town hall and the like, so we won’t have’ta worry ‘bout you gettin’ caught or nothing….” She trailed off. “What’dya say, Simon?”

She was looking at him with a half-smile on her face, like she was a little bit nervous that he was going to hurt her. Immediately, Simon was filled with remorse, regret for all the little things he’d said, the little things he’d done over the near-year he’d been on Serenity that might have given her that impression that he didn’t know how special she was. Kaylee’s hair was illuminated by the blue lighting of the infirmary. She looked like a fairy from the storybooks Simon had read when he was a child. Kaylee was so beautiful. At last he managed, “I think that I should take you.”

“What?” Kaylee asked, biting her lip in confusion.

“Kaylee, you’ve been so patient with me since I came on board Serenity. I don’t think that you should take me,” Simon said, reaching for her hand, “I think that I should take you.”


Simon watched as her smile blossomed, making her all the more radiant. “Yes, really,” Simon told her. “What time do you want to go? Maybe around seven?” Simon knew that perhaps for the first time since he’d met Kaylee he had managed to say something right.


Jayne grinning as he lay in Adelina’s bed. They had spent the last two hours making sweet, sweet love. Adelina was a wild one, very energetic, just the way Jayne liked his womenfolk. Sleeping with the prissy ones or the submissive type just wasn’t any fun. They didn’t like participating all so much, so while they were certainly able to satisfy Jayne’s manly urges, there wasn’t anything fun about sleeping with them. No, he needed himself a strong woman – at least in bed. He didn’t know if that would work so well if he ever did get to taking a wife. When it came to that, a submissive one might be best. But Jayne had no plans of settling any time soon, probably not ever. So, until then….

“Wanna go another round?” Jayne asked, kissing Adelina on the neck.

“Oh, Jayne. Now that is an invitation….”

She rolled on top of him, sucking the skin on his chest and nibbling it with her teeth. Jayne could feel himself starting to get hot again. This woman was an animal. Adelina started making her way down his body, her kissing reaching lower and lower….

A loud knock on the door interrupted their lovemaking. Adelina quickly climbed off of Jayne and drew a sheet over both of them. Before Jayne had the chance to tell whoever it was that was coming to piss off, Adelina’s bedroom door was opened and two boys walked in, each with Adelina’s fiery brown eyes.

“’Howdy, boys. Did’ya have a nice time at school?” Adelina asked, showing no signs of embarrassment.

“It was fine, mama,” said the taller one, “’cept that peewee kept tryin’ to run away from me when we was walkin’ home.”

“Hey,” Adelina said, looking at the younger one, “what have I told you ‘bout listenin’ to your brother?”

The shorted one kept looking at Jayne, and Jayne didn’t like it at all. Adelina sighed and said, “Jayne these here are my boys. Older one’s Tuck and the younger one’s Lenny. Boys, this here is Jayne.”

“Jayne’s a girls' name,” the younger one, Lenny said immediately.

Jayne could feel a growl forming in his throat. “You shut your mouth, boy,” he spat immediately. The little boy’s eyes went wide. He hid behind his brother. Out of the corner of his eye, Jayne could see Adelina smiling at her sons.

“You boys get to the kitchen, let your mama and her guest be for a little while,” she commanded. The boys nodded, scampering out of the room and shutting the door behind them. Adelina immediately threw the sheet back and climbed on top of Jayne. “Now, where were we….” He looked at her like she was a mad woman. She probably was.


January 7, 2510. Sihnon. Living quarters of House Mistress Aiko Sato.

Inara knocked softly on the door. Sometimes, she didn’t know why she still did this. She’d been having tea every morning with House Mistress Sato for almost three years. It had started was she was only eighteen, and still fairly new to living in House Madrassa. After she’d recovered from her illness, the day she saw Abaddon Jiang for the first time, Aiko Sato had invited her for morning tea. They’d been had tea together ever since.

“Come in, Inara,” rang Aiko Sato’s voice. Inara stepped inside. Aiko Sato’s room was different from all the other’s girls’ rooms. Sato had a three room suite – a bedroom, a parlor where she could entertain, and an office where she could take care of her administrative duties. Inara and the others only had their bed chambers, which were fine, as the bedchambers were quite spacious, providing them with more than enough room to perform all their duties.

Aiko Sato was sitting in her parlor on a large, satin pillow. Her tea was already laid out on a short table before her, the tea poured in anticipation of Inara’s arrival. Inara gave her elder a small bow before taking a seat on the pillow across from Sato.

“Wedding or funeral?” Sato asked, her eyes sweeping over Inara’s simple white dress.

“Funeral,” Inara answered softly. “A client of mine – Casimir Moldovan – was found dead in his apartment three days ago. I…” Her voice trailed off. She looked down at the tea on the table, watching as her white fingers curled around Sato’s jade green tea cup. “I feel so badly for his family,” Inara continued, her voice light, barely there, “he was telling me… I saw him just days before he died… that his brother had lost his life on a battle on Harvest. It does seem right that a family should have to lose two sons so quickly, war or not.”

“Rèn gù shì… tā men shì āi chóu, child,” Aiko said in comfort. She took a sip of tea. Her eyes were focused on Inara. “I can see why this is so unsettling for you. Living on Sihnon… we truly are far away from the war, away from the battle. Sometimes, I get the feeling that half the girls here have forgotten it entirely.”

“Oh, not entirely,” Inara said, her voice heavy, cynical. “Not when the war has had such a big effect on imports. They… I rarely hear anyone speak of the loss of life, but the changes in the economy….”

“So is the way of it,” Sato agreed, taking a second sip. “Is something wrong with you tea, Inara?”

“My tea? Oh. No I just…” Inara took a hasten sip, “I was simply distracted. I mean no offence.”

Sato flashed Inara a smile. “None taken, dear. None taken.” She poured herself more tea. Inara knew what was coming next. It was a Friday morning. Inara was expected to have her clients for next week booked and confirmed. Aiko Sato would as her to list them, and most likely comment on each one. Inara truly did enjoy hearing what the older woman had to see. When she talked with the other girls about clients – even when she was talking with Nandi – the conversation always turned into an excuse for everyone to try to out-do each other, a giant game of, ‘Oh, you’re seeing a banker? I’m seeing a Senator.’ Inara didn’t like that game. It was petty and wearisome. “And now, onto more pleasant matters, I think,” Sato began. “Have you finished booking clients for next week?”

“Yes, I made my final confirmation yesterday evening,” Inara said, smilingly brightly despite herself. “I have an afternoon appointment on Monday with a new client – Thomas Yu – and an evening appointment with Amrita Kapoor…”

“Ah, Amrita,” Aiko interjected. “You haven’t seen her in a while.”

“She has been living on Osiris for the past three months attending the Shipping Negations,” Inara explained. “Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be engaged with Bulger McTavish…”

“Two days with Bulger McTavish?” Aiko Sato questioned. “Inara, you are feeling alright, aren’t you?”

Inara chuckled lightly. “I know, I know. On the surface it looks rather… masochistic,” Inara said with a grin, “but really, everything should be fine. We’re going to a resort on Ariel. Bulger wants to play golf and visit his grandkids. I imagine he’ll be leaving me alone in the room a great deal. But even if he doesn’t, Dougray Bonamici is traveling with him, which should make things easier. He’s to be engaging Lady Anjeannette from House Nagarjuna, a woman I know from the Academy… If they weren’t coming, I would have turned the job down. But…”

“But they are coming, and Bulger McTavish isn’t stingy. I understand,” Sato said. “I’ve engaged him myself, on two occasions, when he was a younger man.”

“Yes. He mentioned that in his solicitation, actually,” Inara said. “On Thursday night I’m going to the Hosakawa Family Charity Ball with Clement Dupree…”

“Another new name,” Sato commented.

“Yes,” Inara acknowledged. “He’s the brother of one of Nandi’s favorite clients, Dorian Dupree, so we’ll all be attending together… and then on Friday I’ll be spending the evening here with Abaddon Jiang.”

“Abaddon Jiang, now, that’s a name I haven’t heard for quite a while,” Sato commented. “When did you see him last… November, was it?”

“He travels,” Inara explained.

“Yes, yes, I know,” said Aiko Sato. “He’s been a very loyal patron of this establishment for… it’s coming on three years now, isn’t it? And I must say that’s due entirely to you.”

Inara blushed. “He has seen other girls besides me.”

“Yes… he did some experimenting, but since last August, I think, he’s been exclusive to you.”

“Yes. I’ve been seeing him a little over a year now. He is among my most loyal clients,” Inara acknowledged. It hadn’t been love at first sight, she and Abaddon. She remembered thinking that he was nice, one of her more pleasant clients. He was quiet. Unlike so many, he had no desire to unburden himself to her, but he liked to talk about literature, about music. His voice was soft. She got the sense that he was afraid of something, though he didn’t speak of it. Mostly, though, he was just… nice. Being with him had been nice.

Abaddon had come back to House Madrassa four more times between March and August, once to be with Inara, the other three times to sleep with other girls. This cycle ended two days after Inara’s nineteenth birthday. Dougray had come to see her. He said that he needed her to see Abaddon again, that he needed her to let Abaddon see her exclusively. Inara asked him why this was, but Dougray’s answer was evasive. He would only say, “Because I trust you, Inara.”

Inara still, nearly eighteen months later, did not know why Dougray had asked this of her, or why he was so insistent about it, but she did have a guess. The more time she spent with Abaddon, the most certain she was that her guess was on target. Abaddon still was not in the habit of talking about his past, but the things he did say about it didn’t ring quite true. He told her that he was from Bellerophon, but the way he sat when prayed when he was in temple made her sure that he was from Jiangyin. There were several reasons Inara could think of for Abaddon to lie about his home world. People did it all the time. However, only one reason made any real sense.

When she first guessed the truth she had been surprised, shocked, even a little bit frightened of him. Now, she wasn’t frightened of Abaddon anymore, but she was frightened for him. She was afraid of saying goodbye to him. Every time he left, Inara was terrified that he wouldn’t come back. She knew his secret, and she would carry it, keep it safe for as long as she could.

“Well, I certainly can’t blame him,” Aiko Sato said with a suggestive smile. “You are one of our best, Inara.”

“Mistress Sato, you flatter me….”

“No, I don’t Inara,” Aiko Sato cut her off. “You’re not like the other girls. You stand out. You… you have real potential.” She looked down at the tea cup in Inara’s hand. “Aren’t you going to finish your tea?” Inara smiled and downed it quickly. “I should best be off, Inara,” Mistress Sato said, standing up. Inara followed in suit. “I have much business to attend to. You don’t mind?”

“Not at all,” Inara assured her. She gave Sato a small bow before leaving her House Mistress’s chambers.


An hour’s reprieve had calmed Inara’s nerves considerably. She’d finished crying long ago. She’s made herself some tea and taken a sponge bath. Now she was sitting on her bed, still dressed in her bathing garment, an old book of William Blake’s poetry in her hands. She’s reread “The Lamb” and then “The Tyger” and was now skimming through some of his other poems. She had them all memorized once and could still recite the ones she liked best, but it had been a long time since she’d been in the Guild Academy, a long time since she’d taken the time to analyze them.

“The Lamb” was written to sound like a child’s song. It was a child’s question that, like so many questions that children… that children asked, it was both innocent and profound. The lamb itself is a symbol for Jesus Christ, the saint Shepherd’s followed. Inara had never really felt much of a connection to the figure. On Sihnon temples tended to be more dedicated to Buddha and his teachings, though she had been taught the Ten Commandments from an early age, and a few saint’s prayers here and there. Jesus, she had come to understand, was suppose to symbolize peace, renewal, life after death, atonement… most of all, he was a savior.

Was that what Heather Zagorska had been trying to evoke? Did she consider herself the savior of Three Hills Moon? If she did, Inara had to say that she was doing a fairly poor job of it. The display at the Landowner’s Lunch had been cringe-inducing, but on a planet where lambs are routinely eaten, Inara did not find the display overly effective. And the graffiti she had had Mal spray across the walls inside the factory was a nuisance, it could easily be fixed. The damage wasn’t lasting, not truly threatening.

Yet, Heather had ordered the killing of animals, and as ineffective as if was given her situation, it was not a point to be ignored. The killing of animals was a symptom of several psychological ailments, the worst Inara could think of being antisocial personality disorder. Of course, it could be that Heather was simply raised to think of lambs in a different way because of her environment. Or it could be that she did have qualms about killing them, but decided that the possible gains of her actions outweighed whatever moral qualms she was feeling. In that case, she would be a good leader. Maybe that was why Mal liked her. He could sense within her a bit of himself.

None of this changed that fact that Inara simply did not like her.

A soft knock on the door interrupted Inara’s internal monologue. Her heart froze. Mal. Inara had been half expecting him to barge into her shuttle since she left him calling her name in the kitchen. She felt trapped. He was going to have questions that she couldn’t answer. Or if she did answer them…. Oh Merciful Buddha. Oh God… now her heart was racing, hands beginning to shake. Oh God….

Inara took two quick, deep breaths to calm herself, silently reciting the verse she’d just read. When she was finished she stood up, walked to the door, and opened it. Gilbert Crane standing before her, dressed in khaki colored pants not dissimilar to the captain’s and an aging black t-shirt. “Gilbert,” she exclaimed rather gracelessly. She smiled, quickly composing herself. “Is there anything I can do for you?”

“Inara…” he trained off, then cleared his throat. “I was… well, I was wondering if I could just come and talk with you for a while.”

“Of course,” Inara responded, stepping away from the door. “Please, come into my shuttle.”


Mal promised himself that he’d wait at least an hour and a half before he went to Inara’s shuttle, knocked politely, and asked her what was going on. She’d been nearly in tears when she stormed out of the kitchen, and that didn’t do Mal’s mood any good. Mal didn’t much like seeing the woman upset, especially when he wasn’t the cause of her… upsetness. At least if Mal started it, started a fight, made her crazy, her knew that he could make it stop. Mal had no idea where this was coming from. He had no idea what had happened to her five years ago, who she had almost married, who this other guy was, where they were now….

It was at the twenty minute mark that all of Mal’s not knowing began to drive him wild. He went down to the passenger dorms, asked the Shepherd if he was in the mood for any exercise, and spent the next thirty minutes pretending that the fact that a man of the cloth could out bench him didn’t bother him in the least. At that point, Book had excused himself, citing that he needed to talk to Simon about going back into town the next morning. Mal allowed him the retreat, frustration coursing through him when he realized that he still had forty minutes left to wait.

After unsuccessfully scouting the ship for Zoe or Wash – Mal gathered that they were in their bunk, a place where he refused to disturb them – Mal retreated to the bridge and sat down in the pilot’s chair. It really wasn’t smart he conjured, leaving the bridge unattended during a job, even when everything seemed mighty peaceful. They could get a wave any minute telling them to go ahead with something early, or that something fell through, or… no, it wasn’t a good idea.

Mal couldn’t think of any particular way to fix it, though. He couldn’t demand that Wash stay in the cockpit all the time. He supposed he could divide them into shifts, but then, to be fair, he couldn’t exempt Jayne or Kaylee, maybe even River now that she was getting to be one of them, from taking a watch, and they’d be quite useless. Simon would be all right, but he would be a gorram pain in the ass about it, no doubt. Mal sighed. Things were always simpler when they were in the air.

Secretly, Mal hoped that they never sailed again. He didn’t want her to go.

Mal checked the time again. Ten more minutes. He considered forgoing them and marching to her shuttle then and there, pounding on the door, maybe not even pounding, maybe throwing it wide open, and… Mal wasn’t sure what he could do after that. There didn’t seem to be any nice way to phrase his question. Inara was a free woman. He couldn’t demand her life story, however much he would cherish it, especially when he knew he wasn’t prepared to offer his in kind. He thought briefly of waiting twenty minutes.

Mal’s thoughts were interrupted when the consul before him began to beep. A wave was coming through. Of course, it would come right now, right when he didn’t want to deal with it. Mal quickly flipped the three switches and let the wave come through. Heather Zagorska’s face appeared on the monitor. “Heather,” Mal greeted, infusing his voice with false enthusiasm. “Anythin’ I can do for you?”

“I need to talk to Gilbert, Mal,” she said quickly. “She’s with your companion.”

“With Inara…” Mal questioned, confused. Inara hadn’t said anything about…

“Yes, her,” Heather said quickly. “I need to speak with him, now.”

“Oh…. of course. I’ll patch you through.” He quickly rerouted her call to the shuttle, where no doubt Inara would answer it. Mal sat back, his head spinning with two questions: What did Heather want? And why in the name of all things holy was Gilbert Crane on his gorram ship?

. . . . . Translation: Rèn gù shì… tā men shì āi chóu ~ Such tales… they are sorrowful

Surprise! Chapter eight way ahead of schedule.

So yeah… I couldn’t sleep last night. It was really annoying, but a great opportunity to write fan fiction. I’ve actually been on kind of a role lately. Lots of things are coming together…. I swear, though, this really will be the last update until I get back to school next week.

I’ve mentioned that I want to keep this fic as consistent with canon as possible. I want to mention now that while I intend to try to do this with the Big Damn Series, I’m not trying to use this story as a bridge to the Big Damn Movie. I mean, if I were trying to be canon with both Firefly and Serenity, I couldn’t kill anyone off at the end, and what fun would that be? *evil grin*

I started a Mal/Inara fanfic recommendation thread 1) because the “why is there so much simon/kaylee fanfiction?” thread pretty much ended up turning into the “*sigh*, I would much rather read M/I” thread and I figured, hey, since the sentiment is strong, it should have its own home, and 2) because I’m a bit lazy, and would much rather have someone give me a link to their favorite M/I story than sort through the Blue Sun Room. So, feel free to post your favorite M/I fics here:

Until next week, peace.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006 5:46 PM


Damn dude, I love me my Mal/Inara fic, and you are one of my top 3... or is it 4 now? lol, anyway one of my favorite authors on here, keep up the shiney writing, and PLZ KEEP THIS STORY COMEING!!! lol

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 9:43 PM


OMG! Good Job Simon! I love where you are going with Jayne and Adelina, hope she will fit in later with Jayne!:D

Secretly, Mal hoped that they never sailed again. He didn’t want her to go.

AWWWW, I don't want her to go either! Great job and am looking forward to your next post!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 12:10 AM


I am not liking the ominous tone of Heather's waving Serenity and like Mal, what the good gorram is Gilbert doing on his boat? I also don't want Inara to leave. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, March 22, 2006 3:07 AM


Thank you for posting another chapter before the short hiatus!

This one's delicious. All that lovely backstory. Abaddon and Inara... a love story the way it can only start up involving Companions and War.
I loved the small details you put in, Inara's regular meetings with Aiko Sato, the flow of their conversation, the subtle way you build up a more complete picture of the Companion world...

And the nature of that companion world, too. You treat the profession with respect, not introducing any strange secret machinations of oppression. Just quiet dignity, human failings and the mundane reality of working.

It's a real delight. :)

And.. Gilbert. That was quite an ominous place to fade out. Practically anything could be happening and I'm right along there wondering with Mal, especially after Heather's wave. She seems nervous...

Mal's little odyssey through Serenity, the mental fidgeting, the awkward killing of time was such a bitter-sweet Mal thing to do. You have such a lovely way of just watching the characters, in a way. Letting them do their thing. It's a joy to read.

Looking forward to the 30th!

Saturday, April 1, 2006 4:50 AM


I read your amazing mini-essay on Inara's profession and Mal/Inara over at the community section, which brought to mind this marvelous story....

How much longer until this lovely series is continued? *G*

What do you mean, shamelessly greedy??


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