Hello all! I'm SO sorry this took me so long! Just like the past couple of chapters, I had nearly the whole thing written, before changing my mind and starting COMPLETELY over! I hope you all like it!
I own nothing!
"Dinner is served!" Wash hollered as he charged down the hallway between the galley and the bridge banging on an empty pot with a wooden spoon. "Come and get it!"
Jayne poked his head out of his bunk and charged up the ladder. "Little man, if I waddint so hungry I'd be hitting you over the head with that gorram pot!" He growled shoving the pilot out of the way and hurrying towards the table.
"I don't understand why I have to be the one to take you to the dress shop." Simon was complaining to Kaylee as they took their adjacent seats. "Why not Inara or Zoe?"
"Because Zoe hate shoppin' and 'Nara's goin' with the captain to the aquarium." Kaylee explained.
"What kind of dress do you want?" The doctor sighed, finally relenting to his girl's request.
"Somethin' shiny to meet 'Nara's mama in!" Kaylee smiled at Inara as she sat across from them. "I think we all need to make a good first impression. Her allowin' us into her home an' all."
"Good thinkin Lil Kaylee." Mal lifted his mug of water in a toast towards the young mechanic. "We all need to look our best for Ms. Serra." He gave Jayne a glare.
"That's really not necessary Mal." Inara patted his hand before going back to her meal. "My mother is surprisingly laid back. She actually tried to get me into a few sports when I was a child, but I always said I wanted to be a Companion like she was."
Mal's eyebrows lifted, he always loved hearing about her childhood. "Sports?" He gave her a tongue-in-cheek smile.
"Yes, I participated in some leisurely games in my youth." She pursed her lips at him before continuing. "But polo was too dangerous, swimming in a pool nearly ruined my hair, and lacrosse was too messy." She shrugged as she sipped her water.
"Your ma didn't want you Companioning?" Wash inquired.
"She didn't want me leaving home to train was the main thing." Inara explained. "I had to go to Madrassa when I was only thirteen and I was only able to visit two weeks out of the year. That was difficult for a mother of one."
"I could imagine." Zoe nodded. It was hard for her to even IMAGINE sending her and Wash's future daughter away at such a young age.
"But I learned the world early on, and I got to meet some amazing people." She made eye contact with Mal, assuring him that she wasn't referring to her clients. "And that made it worth it."
"What about your Pa?" Kaylee asked. "Was he okay with jus' sendin' you away?"
Inara's eyes dropped to her lap briefly before she quickly composed herself and smiled at her young friend. "I never got the opportunity to officially meet my father." She replied matter-of-factly. "He was my mother's last client, for obvious reasons, and all I ever received from him were tiny trinkets for my first few birthdays and some credits to assure my future was well taken care of."
"Sounds like someone earned himself a father of the year mug." Wash muttered.
"I'm sorry 'Nara." Kaylee felt bad for bringing up a sore subject.
"There's nothing to apologize for." Inara's smile turned genuine. "I had a wonderful life. My mother gave me enough love to make me feel as though nothing was missing."
"She sounds like a fine lady." Shepherd patted the former Companion's hand.
"Yeah, I can't wait to meet her!" Kaylee beamed.
"Okay, everyone I know you're all excited about meetin' 'Nara's mama, and hearin' loads of embarrassing stories from her childhood—lord knows I am—but right now we need to be focusin' on our tasks tomorrow."
Inara smiled as Mal spoke up. She knew he changed the subject for her benefit. As she watched him divvy out assignments to his crew, she couldn't help but fall in love with him even more than she thought possible.
The sun had set later than usual that evening. Sihnon was strange like that; it didn't have a routine pattern like most planets. Things happened when they happened. While most found it irritating, Inara loved it.
She was playing in the field that looked out over the beach below. Before leaving for the day, Madame had encouraged her young student to practice with her new cross bow, but the weapon now laid forgotten in the grass as Inara spun Delphina—her favorite doll—around by her hands.
She wanted to be a Companion more than anything in the world. She wanted to be able to help others like her mother did. She wanted to meet tons of new people and see the universe.
She did not want to kill. She detested the thought of training to harm another human being. And though her mother hated it just as much, she insisted that it was a compulsory skill to know before entering any training house. It was for her protection.
Wandering over to a large bolder that sat on the edge of the cliff, Inara climbed on top of it and laid down on her belly to watch the large orange sun sink behind the grey sea. Resting her chin on top of her hands she sighed and watched the seagulls fly overhead, heading towards the horizon—unaware of how lucky they were.
River watched the woman who was once so poised and confident, walk stiffly into the galley. She didn't have to be a Reader to know what the former Companion was feeling. The agony was written in her knitted brows and pale skin.
She didn't let the older woman know she was there. It was very early, and Inara had intended to be alone and unseen as she made herself some of her special tea—an herbal remedy to soothe her inner and outer wounds.
Sitting down, she stared into her steaming mug of Sage Apple Tea and sighed. Taking a liberty she knew that Inara would not permit, River probed her mind just a bit—out of concern.
She was in a great deal of pain, but of course that was to be expected. She was feeling guilty for turning Mal into a worrying Muquin Muji (which was ridiculous to the young reader because hens did not act nearly as frantic over their young as their dear captain did when it came to Inara).
The girl's heart felt that rare feeling of sadness as she watched her Jieh-Jieh cry into her untouched tea. "Please don't cry Mei You." River whispered, letting a small tear fall from her own eye.
Yes, another adventure'less chapter. I just want to have a bit more before things turn exciting for our heroes again! It will pick up I promise!
If there is anything you all would like to see, please let me know! I only have a shell of the next chapter started, so I can still add to it.
Muquin Muji—Mother Hen
Mei You—Beautiful Friend