10th Crew Member
Member No.: 12
Joined: 2-May 06
The Black Somewhere Outside Greenleaf Airspace:
Serenity hung against a brilliant sun, a silver shadow on the face of an uncertain future.
From their adventure on Greenleaf, Zoe and Book have returned, and with them, Jingo Gage has come along. The trio hold few memories of the events on Greenleaf, each slowly coming convinced that they left the children with authorities there.
Inara has gone on to Sihnon and the Companion's Guild, to stand with her sisters and brothers of soul in their moments of farewell for the matriarch they have all alternately feared and loved.
Inside Serenity, conflicts rage. Emotions are raw and worn. Eyes stray to River's empty place at the table with shadowed glances. Sorrow. Worry. Anger. Relief. Like solar waves, radiating through the ship, and through her walls, reaching out to the cold distant planet where they've left their albatross, radiating warmth and fire.
And Mal slips up to the bridge and closes the door, sealing it shut. Knowing Wash will check the logs, he covers his tracks, backing out of the S.O.A.R.S. system and sending the wave using a long-unused alias account.
The voice he heard sent a shiver down his spine, begged him to smile, even though he knew his tendency to make light would go unappreciated in the moment. The picture cleared, and Inara's face, devoid of make-up, her hair down, eyes slightly reddened, appeared. He returned her nod with a polite, "How's Sihnon?"
"Sad." Inara answered truthfully, "And hopeful. If that makes any sense."
"You get what I wired?" The real reason for his call. The reason he wasn't ready to let the rest of the crew know about. Not yet.
Inara grimaced now, dark eyes narrowing, "Yes, but I don't understand. If that's dirty money, I don't want..."
"It ain't." Mal interrupted, holding up a hand, "You always think the lowest of me."
"No," Inara's deep brown eyes rolled as she interrupted this time, a touch of a smile on her lips, "I've just learned to anticipate it."
"That money belongs to River." Mal clipped, getting the words out while he still could, "I got no way to keep it safe. You do. You can store it away, put it where it'll maybe gain some interest, even. She came on this ship with nothin', not even the clothes on her back." Malcolm shook his head, "I don't want her leavin' the same way."
Inara's smile lit the universe that stretched between them, and Mal didn't know why it mattered so much that she approved. It didn't. Did it?
"Be careful, Mal." Inara leaned close to the screen, her lips nearly touching the lens, "I'm going to start thinking you have a heartbeat under that chest somewhere."
"Huh. Just don't tell Jayne. He still thinks we're gettin' paid." He clicked the connection closed before she could see him smile.
Shepards and Whores, Mechanics and Mercenaries, Surgeons and Soldiers: Each carries a story in their hearts, in their futures. And Serenity holds them close. Those remaining within her walls, she cradles them with steel and ceramic and her churning engine hums them to sleep. And those without, she transmits her heartbeat through the void of space, angel wings to their hearts.
What does the future hold for Serenity? Will her children all come home again? Or has her family been split up, never to return? These are the questions every mother must ask at some point. The Universe is an uncertain place. Will lovers find love? Will fighters find peace?
There are few things she knows for certain. There will always be another job. There will always be another challenge. And there will always be love.
Because love keeps her in the air...