A/N: Don't ask me where this came from, I'm not entirely sure. I think it was looking back over some of my old AU Buffy fics in which I made all the characters regular teens. I just wondered if it would work for Firefly and this happened... Its a one shot right now, but if you're interested in reading more, please review and tell me so. I have enough ideas to do more, but I'm not sure if its really worth it yet...
Disclaimer: Firefly and all recognisable characters belong to Joss Whedon and other important persons that aren't me.
"Well, here we are, Zoe. Senior Year" said Malcolm Reynolds proudly as they walked in through the gates of Firefly High.
"Feels good to be top of the food chain for a while" she agreed with a nod, "Still, I'm not lovin' the idea of bein' back here, with Principal Niska breathing down our necks"
"Zoe, we survived three years of the old hwun dahn" her best friends assured her, "One more is cake, and who doesn't love cake?" he grinned happily, despite the fact Zoe looked less than impressed.
Before she had a chance to say anymore, her attention was taken by the loud booming of a car stereo and the squealing of tyres. She knew what she would see before she turned her head, even long before the vehicle ever came into view. Everybody knew the sound of that engine, the music, the comedic horn, as tyres squealed into the parking lot, drowning out the fits of giggles from within the car.
"Oh great, the boyfriend's back" Mal said flatly, as a smile quirked Zoe's lips.
He had a lot of respect for his best friend, hell, they'd been hanging together since Kindergarten, and it had never bothered either of them that when they started dating it was not each other. Friends was all they'd ever be, it suited the both of them, but what didn't sit well with Mal was Zoe's particular choice in boyfriend since last year.
Still, when she headed over to see her man, he dutifully followed. Didn't want to seem rude or nothing.
"Hey, kids. How's life been treatin' ya?" asked Wash as he leapt out of the modified convertible, straight over the door that didn't open so well.
"Kids?" scoffed Mal, "We're Seniors, remember, little man? Say, aren't you only a Junior?"
"Don't be so mean, Mal" said the girl who had just hopped out the passenger seat, "Y'know well and good enough what he meant"
"S'posin' I do, little Kaylee. Don't mean I have to like it any better" he said, in a childishly grumpy way that made her laugh.
"I've missed your sense o' humour this Summer" she rolled her eyes as she reached up to plant a peck on his cheek before turning to walk away, "Hey Wash! I'll meet ya back here at three" she called over her shoulder, sure she knew why his answer was delayed.
Zoe had him up against the side of the car already, making up for lost time. They hadn't seen much of each other over Summer break, since her family took her away on vacation for the most of it. Wash had stayed home, mostly hanging out with next-door neighbour Kaylee and working on his car. It really never bothered Zoe much that her man had a girl for a best friend, at least not half so much as Mal sometimes bothered Wash, but right now he wasn't thinking about that. It was incredibly hard to concentrate on anything with a woman's tongue so far down your throat!
Mal turned away from the PDA with disgust, only to come face to face with a fistful of cash.
"Hey, those are pretty pieces of paper" he declared, eyeing the bills with a smile, that expression fading to a frown as he followed up the owners arm to a grinning face he knew too well, "Jayne, please tell me you didn't just rob some Freshman's lunch money, 'cause that's ruttin' low, 'specially on the first day o' school..."
"Geez, Mal, what you take me for?" his friend protested as he counted his cash into his wallet, "Ain't terrorising folk, I'm the protector of the people" he chuckled, "Told a couple of pansy ass Freshmen kids I'd be their bodyguard"
"Bodyguard?" Mal's eyes went wide at the idea, "That's the dumbest thing I ever heard of"
"Hey, they're dumb enough to pay me, I ain't gonna argue" the Senior in the combat jacket shrugged his broad shoulders, "'Sides, gotta have a hobby in my last year, right?"
"Your hobby oughta be passing this year, or you ain't gonna graduate with the rest of us, Jayne" said Zoe with a pointed look as she and Wash joined them, hand in hand.
"Ah, who needs schoolin'?" he shrugged, "I can make money just fine without it" he showed his friends the cash he'd already got after being on school grounds just a few minutes.
"Wow" Wash dead-panned, "A few more dollars and you can retire already"
"You wanna go, little man?" asked Jayne in a low voice that was supposed to be scary.
"Sorry, spoken for" the smaller guy beside him pointed out, lifting his and Zoe's joined hands as evidence, apparently completely unfazed by Jayne's attitude as they turned and walked into the building.
"Little Bei Be Shiou Ren...." he muttered, but was mostly blotted out by the sound of the first bell ringing long and loud, signalling that the first day of school had all but begun.
* * * * *
"All I'm sayin' is, seems a might odd to me that we got a priest teachin' us English, is all" Mal complained as he and Jayne headed towards the cafeteria at lunch.
"Seems smart enough to teach" his friend shrugged, more concerned about getting to his food than listening to Mal go on and on, "Don't matter to me none what God he prays to or whatever, so long as he don't ram it down my throat"
"Who's ramming what down whose throat now?" asked Wash curiously as he and Zoe met the two guys at the cafeteria doors.
"Ain't even like that" Mal rolled his eyes, as he explained what the conversation had actually been about, "Just think it's weird we got us a Preacher for a teacher is all"
"What I hear, Mr Book is as qualified as anybody for the job" said Zoe as they joined the lunch queue, "Though why he'd wanna leave his quiet little abbey for a school full of rioting kids is beyond me" she added with a smile that quickly turned to a frown as Jayne practically knocked her out of the way to reach the piece of pie he wanted.
They were soon headed over to a table, each with a reasonable portion of food, and Jayne with at least three people's portions, though he didn't seem to notice that the others were staring because of it. They hadn't been seated long when Kaylee appeared with a stranger at her side.
"Hey, everybody" she grinned, waving and looking cheery as ever, "I'd like you to meet Firefly High's newest and smartest Junior" she gushed, "This is Simon Tam" she introduced the pale-skinned, dark-haired young man beside her, who looked just a little too smart and well-kept to be in such a school.
"Hello" he said stiffly, nodding his head once at the group, then going right back to looking all around the packed cafeteria.
"We met in Biology class" Kaylee continued to enthuse as she sat down, grabbing Simon's arm and dragging him down with her, "Simon's gonna study hard and be a doctor or somethin"
"Where's he gonna do that? Pansy-Ass Academy?" Jayne asked Mal quietly, which may have made him laugh were it not for the fact he got sprayed with a fine layer of cake crumbs in the process.
"Simon!" said Kaylee, tapping his shoulder til he turned around and paid attention, "This is Jayne, Mal, Zoe, and that's my next-door neighbour, Wash" she introduced each friend with a smile as she pointed along the table at them.
"It's very nice to meet you all" insisted Simon, "I'm sorry if I seem distracted, I'm just, I'm looking out for my sister... she's only fifteen"
"Oh, right" nodded Kaylee as she stole some fries from Mal's plate and ignored him when he glared, "Simon's sister is named River, they both transferred today. Ain't that shiny?"
"Wonderful" agreed Zoe, though she was hardly so enthused.
It was clear Kaylee was head over heels for the new boy, though he seemed less than interested in her right now. Course, it was his first day and he had more to think about than getting a girlfriend, she wouldn't wonder.
"So, Simon" she called for his attention, deciding that if she could help Kaylee out with the guy she really should, after all it was mostly down to her that she and Wash were together and so happy, "How do you like Firefly High so far?" she asked, feigning interest as she picked up her fork and made a start on her lunch.
"Er, well, it seems like a good kind of a school" he said, paying attention to the group rather than the rest of the room for a moment at least, "I have a meting with the Guidance Councillor later, though I honestly don't know why I need to attend..."
"Trust me, you'll wanna attend when you see her" said Jayne with a leer that came out a little wrong around his mouthful of food.
Off Simon's baffled (and somewhat disgusted) look, Kaylee explained.
"Ms Serra is kind of a hottie, for an oldie" she said, jumping violently when Mal immediately snapped at her.
"She ain't old!" he was indignant in his response, surprising Simon but not so much the rest of the table who knew he fancied himself in love with the woman who was nigh-on ten years their senior.
"Well, not old old" said Wash carefully, "but older than us" he clarified, "Of course, if you believe the rumours, that doesn't matter much to her" he said with a look that spoke volumes, at least until Zoe surprised him by shoving a potato chip into his mouth.
"We don't know any of that's true" she said, with a glint in her eye that told her boyfriend to leave that particular subject alone right now.
Clearly Mal was unamused as he jammed his fork into his food over and over, without ever once bringing anything to his lips. Simon looked from Mal to Jayne, to Zoe and Wash, and finally Kaylee. He really wasn't sure what to say to any of them, and though he appreciated the help he'd received so far from his new friend, he was very concerned about his sister.
"I'm sorry, but I really should go and find River" he said as he moved to get up, eyes still scanning the room beyond their table.
"What kind of a dumbass name is River anyhow?" said Jayne, a thought spoken aloud more by accident than anything else.
"No more dumb than a boy named Jayne" a voice behind them answered and the whole table turned around to see the slight figure of a pretty young brunette stood there, hugging books to her chest and smiling.
"How'd you know my ruttin' name anyhow?" asked Jayne, the rest of the table waiting for a much worse explosion to follow - their friend was more than a little touchy about people making fun of his somewhat girlish name.
"That's a secret" the stranger smiled wider with a glint in her eye that amused the others to no end, "Hello, brother" she said then as she shifted her gaze to Simon and moved to sit down at the head of the table.
"River, I was worried" said Simon, all full of brotherly concern, "How was your first morning?"
"Problematic" she admitted, "but not impossible. I have been making friends, as you have" she said, glancing around the table at all the new faces.
"Yes, we're just... getting acquainted" Simon explained, feeling awkward as he always did in new company.
River said not a word about it. She knew her bother well enough to know how unhappy he was here in this social situation. Glancing at Kaylee she smiled, instantly certain that the girl was friendly and nice, and pretty certain she had a crush on Simon. That might help some, since River was also sure these new 'friends' were not entirely convinced her brother was there kind of person.
"I won't be accompanying you home this afternoon" she said in the awkward silence that followed, catching everyone's attention all at once, though she only really looked at Simon's dumbstruck expression.
"What? Why?" he asked immediately concerned that something untoward had occurred.
"I joined an after school club" she smiled, "I will not allow my training to suffer, Simon" she added more seriously when she saw her brother open his mouth and knew he would be arguing if he spoke.
"Training?" Mal spoke up then, curious about what kind of training a pretty little Sophomore girl would be wanting.
"Er, River studies martial arts" explained Simon with a smile towards the sister he was so proud of, "and dance actually. She's very good"
"Skinny little thing like her?" Jayne scoffed at the very idea, glaring at the girl in question as her hand snuck across the table and stole a cookie from the edge of his tray of food.
"Jayne, we girls have been known to pack a punch too, y'know?" said Zoe then, clearly offended at the idea only guys could fight.
"You maybe" her friend conceded easily, "Nothin' of her..." he added, as he glanced back at River and watched her smile in the oddest way at him.
"Looks can be deceiving" she said simply, though the look in her eye suggested she meant more by that than was obvious, "I have to go now, my own friends to sit with" she said vaguely, barely paying any mind to the rest of the people at the table as she practically danced away.
"Weird girl" muttered Jayne, causing Simon to look affronted.
"Jayne!" snapped Kaylee on his behalf and though he responded to her yelling at him by looking up, he seemed entirely at a loss as to what he'd done wrong.
The only person less aware of the conversation than him seemed to be Mal, but then Zoe had already spotted what her friend's trouble was. An elegant woman of some beauty glided into the cafeteria, spoke briefly to a student and quickly exited the way she had come. As always, Mal's eyes never left Inara's form and it was no surprise to any of his friends when he rose from his seat and made an excuse to leave.
"Ms Serra" he called just the second he cleared the doors, though in all honesty he hadn't a clue what he was going to follow with when she turned to look his way.
"Malcolm Reynolds" she sighed, "What is it this time?" she asked as if she were tired of his bothering her, but the truth of it was, she didn't mind the attention, especially from him, however wrong it may seem to the outside world.
"I was just wonderin'..." he began as he walked across the hall to where she was hovering just outside her office door, "Well, did you have a good Summer?" he asked her, a generic question but it would start a conversation and that was all he really wanted right now.
"Yes, thank you, Mal, I did" she smiled amiably, "How about you?" she asked in kind, "I'm sure you must have had a wonderful vacation with your family or friends?"
"Well, I..." he began only to find himself suddenly dragged backwards from her by the bottom of his coat.
The surprise made him stumble rather than the force by which he was pulled and he knew immediately who was there behind him, before he even opened his mouth.
"Mr Reynolds" he sing-songed, the way only Principal Niska could, "Why each time I see you must I remind you not to harass Ms Serra. She is busy woman"
"He really wasn't bothering me, Principal" said Inara with a polite smile, though she was quick to excuse herself into her office the very next moment.
Mal watched her go and sighed, sad that he'd missed another chance to really talk to her, and pissed at Niska for getting in his way one more time. If there was trouble, the Principal always started with Mal when looking for the perpetrator of the crime. Though he was often involved, a guy could only take so much finger-pointing before he got bored.
"It is new school year, Mr Reynolds, your last here at Firefly High School" Principal Niska pointed out, "Let us try to make it through without any problems, yes?"
"Sounds like a plan, sir" the way Mal said the last word was less than respectful, but just this once the Principal let it slide, since he'd just spotted two boys fighting further down the hall and loved the idea of handing out detention so early in the school year.
"Strike out with the beautiful Ms Serra again?" said a voice behind Mal and he turned around with a scowl on his face to see Wash and Zoe stood behind him, both trying not to smile so much.
"You stick to keepin' your own love life straight, and don't worry so much on my account, dong ma?" his friend said with somewhat of a sneer, though no offence was particularly meant or taken.
The bell ringing over head meant lunch was over and the gang had to head off to class. Something that clearly didn't thrill Jayne as he exited the cafeteria still shovelling a brownie into his mouth.
"This day just keeps on gettin' better" sighed Mal as he turned to head off down the hall, "See you guys later" he called over his shoulder with a half-hearted wave.
"Cafe Persephone, after school?" Zoe called to him, receiving a half-hearted positive response before he disappeared around the corner.
"Ah, just another joyous day at Firefly High" her boyfriend sighed, making her smile.
There was no way to argue with that.
The End ???
A/N2: Opinions are vital. If you want more of this please say so, or more may never come. Maybe its the wackiest idea I ever had... but that dosn't mean you can't like it, right?