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Takes All Sorts
Takes all sorts to make a `verse. My mamma used to say that. I reckon she was right. Don't reckon she rightly approved of it though. There's folks here on Serenity that she definitely wouldn't have approved of. Not until she got to know them real well, saw them as they really are.
Inara for one. No way would mamma have approved of me `sociating with a Companion. She'd have called her by that harsh name I've heard the Captain use once in a while when he's not pleased with something she's done. Inara has her own ways, her own life to lead. And sometimes it does seem that she's part of this crew when it suits her to be and when it doesn't well then she's Inara, the Companion, and we're just a means of getting her from A to B.
I think about her a lot. We're so different you see. She's. perfect. Beautiful. Desirable. I'm just me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not selling myself short here. I know my worth. Give me an engine, a machine and I can fix it, figure it out. Maybe even make it work better. People like me. Need me, need what I can do. They just don't. want me. Not the way they want her.
Not the way I want her.
But that's an alone-time thought, a night-time thought. I'd never dare say anything to her openly. I know she'd be sweet and kind about it. She wouldn't hurt me, not on purpose. But it would hurt us, our friendship. And that ease I have with her - losing that ain't worth coming clean with how I really feel.
She told me once how Companions used to be called Geisha and were part of something called the Floating World. Real life was not supposed to touch them. That's how I would like it to be for her. Anything I can do to make that easier I will. She doesn't have to ask.
No one knows. Except River. And she won't tell. I think she loves Inara too in her way. And she loves me. She knows it is a secret. She understands. She might tease me about it but not where anyone else would hear.
Not that I'm afraid the others would think badly of me. I'll always be the Captain's mei-mei no matter what I did - and no matter what his own feelings for Inara which are pretty strong, I know. He wouldn't say much either way. Wash and Zoe would be happy for me as long as I was happy I reckon. Simon - I reckon Simon would be relieved. He's scared I keep making a play for him. Jayne would be disgusting about it, but not hurtful. He would want to watch. I `member how he was when Inara had a female client that time. As I said, disgusting. And Book - he's a preacher and I reckon the Word would have something to say about two women together as it has something to say about most things. But there's the Word and there's Book and one ain't necessarily the other as we keep finding out.
So I'm down here in the crawlspace between her shuttle and Serenity because a light keeps telling me there's an integrity problem but it all looks fine to me. I have to be sure though. And I hear the hatch open and I freeze. All she'll see of me is my feet and my legs and I know how ridiculous that will look but if I come out my hair will be full of dirt and my face and hands covered in grease and I'll look about as far from a proper young lady as it's possible to be.
I can just see her feet, her elegant shoes just peeping out under the hem of her dress. "Kaylee, that you under there?" she asked.
"Yep," I say, not moving, not wanting her to see me all mussed up. "Nothing to worry about, just a glitch on the board I'm checking out."
"'Kay," she says and continues along the corridor. Then I hear her stop, come back.
"Yep," I say again, wondering if she can tell from my voice how nervous she's making me.
"When you're done, do you want to come to my shuttle for a while? My Client on Foss made me a gift of some preserved peaches in honey and wine. I thought you might like to try them. I know how much you like sweet things."
None sweeter than you, I thought. "Uhh, that would be nice, thanks, when I get cleaned up. I'm a mite. mussed up right now." A hoyden ragamuffin with smuts on her face and dirt on her clothes. Mamma would be horrified if I went in polite company dressed like this. She wanted a proper daughter. Got me.
Peaches preserved in honey and wine did sound mighty fine though. And the company too. I tried to bring my mind back on the repair, but I knew she was still standing there, watching me. I reached up into the coupling that secured her shuttle to Serenity, couldn't detect no leaks no matter what the board told me but I sprayed the sealant around just in case. Couldn't hurt none.
I heard the engine noise change, the vibration that I could always feel alter slightly not in anyway I could describe to anyone just a way of knowing, I guess. Wash must have put us on a new course, the engines were drawing more power. I patted the bulkhead. "Good girl," I praised her softly. "You just get us where we're going." I told the Captain we'd need to set down somewhere with a proper yard soon. There were repairs I could make and repairs that I could fudge but we were way past the time for a proper overhaul of Serenity's systems. "You're still my lady, you know, always will be."
I eased myself out of the crawlspace and found Inara looking down at me. "So she's my rival for your affections," she said lightly.
I know I was blushing, I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks. "Sorry," I said. "Habit."
"Don't apologise," Inara smiled. "You take care of her and she takes care of us. You do right to treat her sweet." She patted the bulkhead gently. "I've become quite fond of her myself."
The vibration of the engines changed again. I could swear the old girl was purring.
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