Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Day is done, everyone’s whole, and dinner is served. Some observations are made.


Title: Undercurrents Author: Ana Sedai Rating: PG Character(s): BDC (Big Damn Crew) Prompt: 039 - Dusk Word Count: 998 A/N: 14/100 for M/R Joss100. Yes, I'm still here, and desperately wishing the end of the school year will hurry up already. I do want to get these done before I turn old and gray. ;)

Summary: Day is done, everyone’s whole, and dinner is served. Some observations are made.


A dinner that wasn’t protein pack-based was a rare event on the ship, and usually only took place right after they’d gotten paid. Naturally, everyone tended to be in a good mood on such occasions.

Simon and Kaylee had scoured the local market for some halfway decent meat. Kaylee had pounced on the strawberries the second she’d seen them. They’d even managed to get their hands on some fresh vegetables. In short, it was the best damn meal the crew had enjoyed in quite awhile.

The conversation flowed better, too, and this time the subject happened to be their earlier meeting cum job offer.

“…So Badger’s tryin’ to get River alone for a little ‘conversation’. Nice as you please, the Cap’n asks him if he’s at all attached to the hat he’s wearin’ or the head that’s wearin’ it, ‘cause both were about to be riddled with holes.” Zoë always relished it when someone what deserved it got the what-for. “Badger just winks at River and saunters away, though I must say I’ve never seen a saunter at such high speed before.”

Mal, of course, tried to play it down. “I didn’t say that! I jus’ felt that I should give the man a little friendly warning, is all. Didn’t care to see our payday get unsmooth if’n he took it in his head to take on our little warrior woman here.”

Never mind that he’d wanted to rip the twitchy weasel a new one all throughout the entire exchange. He put the brakes on that particular train of thought right away.

River pursed her lips at him and sat up all prim and proper-like. “He was quite polite. Never tried to cheat, even though he could have.” She lifted one eyebrow. “Didn’t feel like fighting over territory today.”

Mal almost choked on his steak. What the...territory?!

Zoë slapped his back and wryly suggested he might want to avoid trying to swallow a whole cow at once. The subject shifted to how they were going to pull off this latest caper that Badger’d talked them into after fronting them half of what looked to be a very promising payoff.

Mal stayed out of it. He silently scowled at River in retaliation for her (he knew) deliberate salvo. Wasn’t any reason to be making fun of him for trying to keep an eye on her, was there? She raised her eyebrow at him again, and he could practically hear her voice in his head. No, but was that all you were doing?

He grimaced ruefully. She had him there. Rather than dwell on this line of thinking, he sent River an, admittedly, half-hearted grin of apology. She nodded her head with a superior-looking curve of her lips, as if saying; I forgive you, but don’t get any ideas. Both of them looked away and dove back into the conversation

But their silent exchange hadn’t gone unnoticed.

Kaylee saw the glances that passed between them, and felt a little smile work at her lips. Well, well. River and the Cap’n. She’d had her suspicions, but who’d a’ thought it? She snuck a peek at Simon to see if he’d spotted them, but he was butting heads with Jayne over something or other. Just as well. No sense in a perfectly good dinner getting all tense ‘cause he started feeling overprotective again. What she’d told him was true. Captain’d look after River right well.

Inara saw them too.

She had been trained from childhood to notice the things people said with their movements and expressions, as well as their words. More than that, she was a born observer. Mal hadn’t come crashing through her door once since she’d come back. They hadn’t fought, either. At first, it had been something of a relief. Their verbal sparring had always left her feeling wrung out and flustered afterward, which was not a state she particularly enjoyed. Her peace of mind was important to her. Lately, though, she’d found she was missing his impromptu visits. After all, they didn’t always fight, and she did take pleasure in their civil conversations.

So, she’d gone looking for him. He’d been on the bridge, giving River one of her flying lessons. Inara had been about to call out to him, but then had hesitated. She’d looked more closely. They’d seemed…comfortable, at ease with each other. It wasn’t often that she’d seen either one of them relax like that. It didn’t seem right to disturb something they all had far too little of, and so she’d backed away and let them be. A niggling thought had sprouted in her mind as she’d done so, but she had dismissed it as ridiculous.

Now, though, seeing them trade looks back and forth as though they’d been communicating wordlessly for years, she wondered if maybe she had been too hasty.

The last person to take notice of the non-verbal tête-à-tête was arguably the one with the most mixed feelings.

Zoë’s observational skills were honed not by Companion training, but by war, which necessarily placed more emphasis on threat evals. It hadn’t escaped her attention that her captain had gone a mite broody of late. She wryly acknowledged that this wasn’t earth-shattering news, as he always tended to be broody about something or other, but this was a different type of broody. There was less self-flagellation, and more something that almost resembled uncertainty, which wasn’t like him at all.

During the day he was all-business as usual, but recently during her nighttime vigils she’d caught him staring out the cockpit window, his mind a million miles away. They both of them preferred to deal with things their own way, so she’d left him alone. She’d started watching him more close, though. And tonight, a glimmer of understanding started to shine. So it was River, was it? A corner of Zoë’s mouth quirked up a bit. Well, wasn’t that interesting?

Jayne continued to shovel food into his mouth. He had his own priorities.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006 8:16 AM


This is good stuff :). Post more soon, dong-ma?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 8:26 AM


Excellent, loved everyone's reactions and am wondering how Simon will take it once he gets an inkling. Thought it does not sound as if either River or Mal have acted on their deepening friendship. Can't wait for more! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 9:33 PM


Well now...this was some delectible fic here, Ana. All manner of interesting in the various opinions on the burgeoning relationship between Mal and River:)

Though I have to kinda disagree with Anonymous about Inara. She isn't thinking evil revenge thoughts, but I get the niggling feeling she is lower on the acceptance scale about a possible Mal/River relationship than Kaylee seem to be, though she's more accepting that Simon would be;) Still...great insight here.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006 11:25 PM


I'm thrilled that everyone thinks I got the characterizations and gradual attitude adjustments pretty well. I always feel like I'm either going too fast or too slow, so feedback (of *any* kind) is extremely helpful to me.

reaverman - Have no fear, I'm working on the next one as we speak.

Ali - No, they haven't acted on anything yet. River knows what she wants, but Mal's a tough nut to crack. Besides, it's important that they be more friends at first.

Anon. - Glad you think I'm handling this well. Inara was a tricky one.

BEB - You're right about Inara's acceptance. I tend to think that she'd reserve final judgment until she had more data, though. As for Simon, well, the man is no idiot, so they can't avoid him forever.

Thanks, everyone! :)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006 7:26 AM


This was very nicely done all the way through! I thought you captured the characters thoughts realistically.

My fave line: "Jayne continued to shovel food into his mouth. He had his own priorities."

Absolutely brilliant!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006 8:38 AM


bring on the holidays!!!



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