Title: Beyond Wonderland
Disclaimer: All I own is the plot.
Summary: The past has a way of returning. Rasey.
Spoilers: Series finale for Jungle Fury and (set after) Serenity for Firefly.
Casey hated the core.
And he hated Inara for dragging him into this.
… Fine. He didn't hate Inara, but he really was not a happy camper with the situation. From the looks she kept shooting him, Inara knew it as well. Casey smiled politely as another man passed by then tugged at his collar.
How he got sucked into this was beyond him. Last he heard, he was being paid to be Serenity's pilot not a bodyguard. Now he was stuck on this god-forsaken core planet playing escort/bodyguard.
"Could you at least pretend that you're enjoying this?"
Casey forced what he hoped was a happy grin to his face as he bit out, "I hate these gor'ram clothes."
Inara rolled her eyes. "You're as bad as Mal." She reached up and fixed the white collar of his coat. "Remember, you agreed to accompany me. So, suck it up."
"I hate these clothes. I feel like such a dork in them."
She sent him a curious look. "A what?"
Casey just shook his head. "Nothing."
"Well," She began, "I think you look very dashing." Inara gave him a once over, obviously happy with her handiwork.
He sent her a genuine smile. "You are usually very much a better liar than that." His hand started to snake its way back up to his neck, only to be slapped away by the companion. Shooting an annoyed look at her, he reached up again, this time readjusting his glasses. He didn't necessarily need them but people tended to underestimate him when he wore them.
"Don't mess with it."
He gave a heavy sigh which was returned with an amused look.
"We have two days before the captain returns with Serenity to pick us up. If you want to look like you fit in, then you'll have to get used to it." Inara couldn't help but be amused by his pained look. In the seven months he had been working on Serenity she had come to realize that he was scared of very few things (what he was scared of Zoe called 'suicidal tendencies') but apparently Core society was one of them. "This party is only for a few hours. Then you'll be free to hide in the shuttle all you want."
"Thanks." He plastered a pleasant smile to his face as she took his arm and forced him out from behind the pillar. Casey was immediately overwhelmed with fluffy skirts and bad hair-dos. Classical music came from the orchestra and the dance floor was full of people dancing stiffly.
Did he mention that he hated the core?
"There he is."
Casey glanced up from his drink, something frilly and weak, shifting a little as his gun into his back. Inara sat beside him, staring out into the crowd. "Who?"
"The new Chancellor of New Melbourne." She was standing up smoothing her skirts. "He's the friend of Sadari's that she wanted me to introduce myself to." She mentioned her fellow companion, who was originally supposed to attend this party as the Companion Guild's emissary. Unfortunately, since she was unable to she asked Inara.
He followed her gaze and found it pinned to the back of a man's head. The man seemed a little familiar, but he couldn't place him. Brown hair was cropped short to his head and he wore a black and gold jacket with black pants.
The man turned and in that moment time seemed to stand still.
"Inara, what did you say that man's name was?"
She frowned as she took in his pale complexion. "Requiem, I believe was his first name. Chancellor Requiem Finn."
He had been hoping that he had been wrong. That his eyes were playing tricks on him. Unfortunately, no such luck on his part. Instead he was about to come face to face with someone he hadn't seen in over two-hundred years.
Unnecessary panic filled him as he did what seemed to be the most logical thing to do at the time.
The Tiger Master bolted.
When Inara found him about half an hour later Casey was sitting in the building's garden. He jumped as a hand landed on his shoulder.
She slid onto the bench next to him. "What's wrong?"
"It's nothing. I just…" He took a deep breath and stared at the fountain. "I know-- knew him."
He nodded, not looking at her. Casey could feel her questioning gaze on his face and chose to ignore it. His hand drifted up under the neck of his shirt, fingers tracing just above his collar bone where he knew a faint set of teeth marks still rested after all this time.
Inara made a noise but seemed to have decided not to push the issue, yet anyways. If it had been anyone else, Mal especially, he knew he would have been pushed for answers. He was grateful to her for this. A sigh came from her. "Well, the party's almost over. We should make our exit."
Casey seemed to perk up at the thought of getting out of those clothes and into some of his own. "Let's go." He jumped up and held out a hand to her, which she gratefully took.
Maybe it was too much to hope that he could avoid it that easily. That could just sort of slip away from the party then disappeared back into the 'verse with no one the wiser.
The two had made it to the empty hall, almost to the door before a voice called out to them.
Casey froze, recognizing the voice immediately. Still, he refused to turn around even as the companion beside him did.
"I was hoping to catch you before you leave."
The voice sent shivers up his spine, warmth spreading through him at the same time. It had been so long since he had heard that voice. His hand tightened into a fist as he fought off turning.
"Ah, I don't believe I've met your escort."
Don't turn around.
To Ma Duh!
"Actually, we've met." Casey took a deep breath and turned, coming face to face with the man. "Hello, RJ."
The Chancellor of New Melbourne, Requiem James Finn, paled considerably, his eyes going wide. He took a step forward and Casey barely stopped himself from moving away. But when RJ reached out to touch him and this time he did move back. Casey didn't want that touch, that moment of connection. That would be all it would it take for him to fall again.
The next moment Casey found himself pinned to a wall, a familiar body pressed against his. Warmth spread throughout him where the body pressed against him. "Wha--?" His question was cut off by a set of lips on his own. The warmth immediately shifted into something hotter, more undefined. He could feel the tiger under the surface, wanting to be freed, wanting to play with his wolf once again. The instinct was pushed down. A hand found its self buried in his hair and he felt himself trail his own hand up to slide through the wolf's. Skin brushed against his neck, followed by warm breath. A shiver slid through him.
"Wuo duh tian ah."
That incredulous mutter brought him back to reality. Casey pushed RJ away from him and scrambled away. He slid behind Inara, who was shooting him a stunned look. Not that he was hiding behind her. No, that wasn't what he was doing at all. "Casey?" Her voice asked.
"Casey?" RJ's voice echoed.
Casey looked up at the man. He could still feel the warmth from him, body sliding against his. It brought back memories of a time long past, when he would have willingly moved into the touches instead of shying away. He ran a hand through his hair, making it even messier than before. He should have known better. You can't run from your past forever. "Inara, why don't you go back to the shuttle? I'll be there soon."
"Are you sure?" Concern shined from her eyes, making him smile.
"I can take care of myself." He forced a grin to his face. "You know that."
She looked as though she wanted to say something else, but didn't. Instead she just shot him a questioning look that Casey nodded to. Inara turned and left, still seeming unsure.
Casey watched her leave, not sure that staying behind was the greatest of ideas. Especially alone.
But he still shifted his attention back to the Wolf Master. "We need to talk."
RJ nodded. "Come back to the party with me." He held out his hand to the tiger.
His reply was a weary look shot his way.
Rolling his eyes, the Chancellor shot him a reassuring look. "I'm not going to jump you--."
"Again?" Casey finished, cutting him off.
"Fair." RJ nodded at him. "I promise. We'll just talk." His hand stretched out towards him. "Please?"
Indecisiveness filled him as Casey eyed the hand. Trust didn't come easy to him. Decades alone in the 'verse had seen to that. Doing this, taking his hand, would be a show of weakness. Was it worth it?
He hoped so.
RJ seemed pleased to have Casey beside him as they re-entered the ball room. He had his hand locked on the tiger's shoulder. It seemed that he was afraid that if he let go Casey would disappear.
"How… How have you been Casey?" The wolf master's voice was tentative, unsure. Now that he had the man with him it seemed RJ wasn't sure just what say.
"Decent. As well as can be expected I guess." He shrugged.
"Obviously." RJ looked him up and down, taking in his outfit.
It was the height of Core fashion, Inara had made sure of that. The outfit was expensive and showed wealth, but that was something of a necessity. For him to be accepted by those at the party he had to look and play the part. It was petty and conceited and completely not Casey. RJ apparently thought that Casey was a core-worlder as well. He honestly never thought that he was that good of an actor.
Small talk continued. Gradually he relaxed, talking more and more openly to the wolf who returned the favor. By the time the party was completely over, Casey was surprised he had held of the façade for that long. He smirked in amusement; he was playing the part far too well.
"So how did you come to be the Chancellor of New Melbourne?" Casey leaned back in the chair. The room was mostly empty, save a few stragglers like themselves.
"Chancellor? Chancellor Finn?"
A pained look settled on RJ's face before it became shuttered. All relaxation evaporated from his form, leaving him stiff and proper, shooting to his feet. In one moment, RJ turned into every core-worlder the tiger had been introduced to that night.
Casey followed the wolf's gaze, standing up as well, seeing a slightly out of shape man hurrying towards them. The badges on his outfit helped Casey place him. Unless he was mistaken it dictated Senator. He didn't think he had been introduced to him before, though.
"Chancellor Finn, I'm glad to have caught you. I was hoping that you had a chance to think over…" The man's voice trailed off as he saw Casey. "Hello there." A smarmy smile crossed his face as he held out his hand. "Senator Harkins of Newhall."
Casey groaned inwardly and wondered if there was a way that he could artfully make an excuse and scram. "Hello, it's a pleasure." He forced this lie past his lip, purposefully leaving out his name, shaking Senator's hand. The senator didn't want to seem to want to let go and Casey practically had to yank it back. The feeling to wipe his hand off of his pants was strong and he clinched his fist to stop himself.
"Yes, I believe I saw you before. With the companion." The man was openly leering now.
"Who I should probably be getting back to." Casey backed away, making a move to slide past RJ. "Senator, nice to meet you." He sent RJ a small smile and a nod. "Chancellor." As he moved past, RJ's hand shot out and wrapped around his wrist. He barely caught himself going for the gun tucked in his pants.
"Don't go." RJ's words were soft, quiet and pleading.
"Yes, don't go. I was hoping we could get to know each other better." Senator Harkins moved closer towards Casey. Only Casey was gone moments later, having been yanked backwards by the wolf.
RJ's free arm wrapped around Casey's waist and the tiger had the distinct impression that the wolf master was glaring at the Senator.
Senator Harkins frowned. "Now, Chancellor, it's polite to share."
His eyes widened at the Senator's words. A growled came from beside him, ghosting over his ear. "My kitty. Go find your own."
The arm tightened slightly as Harkins made a move to step forward. The man seemed to think twice about it though and settled for just staring at Casey. "Come see me when you get bored of this… man. I'll make it worth your time." He spun, slinking away.
Casey couldn't stop gaping, wondering what the hell had just happened. The arm disappeared from his waist, instead reaching to spin him around. The tiger gasped as the older man grabbed the back of his neck and pulled him into a swift kiss. The kiss remained chaste, however, and ended after a few seconds. "…Huwah?"
The only reply was laughter from RJ. He leaned in forward, right beside the tiger's ear. "I believe the man thought you were something akin to a companion yourself."
"What?!" Casey jerked back, the grip not letting him get too far. "But… how?" He looked down at his outfit. "I don't…"
"No, you don't."
Casey found himself being pulled forward once again.
The kiss was soft and gentle, at least for the first few moments. Then RJ pulled him closer, tilting his head to get a better angle and opening his mouth to lick at the tiger's lips. Casey complied with his wishes and allowed the wolf's tongue into his mouth. There was a small duel (Casey believed that since it was his mouth, he should be in charge of what happened in it; RJ disagreed) before the younger let out a moan and allowed him to plunder his mouth.
He realized vaguely that the wolf was sliding a knee between his legs and whimpered, grabbing his jacket quickly. The man merely smirked and pulled him closer, sliding his hand down his side to his hip, then around to rest on his butt. When the tiger let out a squeal of surprise and pulled back, lips parting with a wet smack, the RJ's smirk grew absolutely feral.
"You're trying to seduce me." Casey said indignantly.
RJ's head lifted, eyes roaming over him. "Yes, I am. Is it working?" His voice- a low, teasing caress- disarmed Casey. His hand was spanning the tiger's throat, his thumb brushing tenderly across his neck, sending flames licking along the skin.
Casey smiled in spite of trying not to. "No, not at all."
The word brushed across his neck.
"Come home with me tonight."
It was beeping that woke Casey. He rolled over in his bed, frowning at how comfortable the bunk seemed. Light hit his eyes as he blinked. That wasn't right. Actually none of this was right, the bed was too soft, there was too much light and the beeping wasn't the sound from his alarm. That was his portable. He clinched his eyes shut as memories of the night before rushed back.
Casey felt a shift in the bed and opened his eyes. There next to him laid his mate. His mate. That wasn't a term he had really thought about in a long time.
The beeping continued.
It was coming from his pants. He slid out of the bed, careful not to wake RJ. The portable was in his back pocket and he flipped it on, turning the sound down. But instead of Inara, or even one of the other crew's faces, he saw a text message flash across the screen.
Meet Inara at the shuttle.
We're leaving. Now.
Whatever heist Mal had planned while they were gone must have gone south.
He bit back a groan and glanced back at the bed. RJ was still dead asleep, content look on his face. Casey slid his pants on, slipping into his dark red shirt. His coat was going to have to be left behind since he really didn't have time to search. He quickly typed back a message before flipping it to vibrate and tucking it in a pocket. This movement caused his shoulder to move, sending pain from above the collarbone. He glanced over in the mirror and blinked. The teeth marks that had been so faded the night before we're freshly re-made. It wasn't bleeding but it would definitely scar again.
A sound came from the bed causing him to jump slightly. Turning quickly, he realized that RJ had shifted on the bed. The man was now stretched out with his arm tossed across the area that Casey had vacated. Casey gave a small smile, shaking his head. He reached out and gently brushed his fingers through the hair above the wolf's ear.
In his sleep, RJ whimpered and leaned into the touch.
He didn't want to leave.
Casey was stuck by the sudden thought. It rolled around in his head for the moment before he realized that it was true. He wanted to crawl back into that big comfy bed and curl up against the wolf master.
There was buzzing against his leg and he pulled it back out realizing that it was Mal once again. He sighed, shutting it off.
"Alright, alright. I'm coming."
Casey turned and left, pausing momentarily at the door only to shake his head and leave the room, the building.
On the bed, RJ stretched his arm out, frowning in his sleep when it registered the fact that he was along.