Chapter 1: Testing the Waters
Captain Malcolm Reynolds was on the verge of begging for a single morning where he didn’t have to worry about how his crew was going get paid, let alone eat. It seemed that no matter how many jobs they were taking on, they were always running into trouble that somehow they were losing the entire amount promised, or even just a percentage. They couldn’t afford it. Struggle after struggle, and even when they were able to manage with their funds, it was only ever for a short amount of time; a week or so, not even a month.
Stepping up and out of his room, Mal finished his attire by slipping his suspenders over his shoulders. He sighed as he looked around to see if any of the crew were around; not a one. He shook his head and made his way to the brain of his ship.
"What’s our status, Wash?" he inquired as he stepped into the cockpit, ignoring the sounds of scrambling as Hoban Washburne set aside his dinosaurs.
"Oh, Captain!" the red-tinted blonde chuckled as he fiddled at his buttons. He glanced over his shoulder before looking through the glass ahead of him. "We’ll be landing in Persephone shortly. No worries at all."
"I should hope so," Malcolm hummed, hands on his hips as he glanced at the planet they were approaching. "Kaylee is gonna stay with the ship along with the doctor and that sister of his. I want you and the shepherd to take a look around for any one in need of a ride out of here."
"And, you’re gonna find us a quick ‘n easy job, Sir?"
Stepping back, eyes trained on the sky, Mal slowly exited the room, his voice carrying as his last words for the moment were, “One can try, Wash.”
The descent was slow, a bit rocky but mostly smooth. Once docked, the Serenity crew made their way to the loading bay, and once gathered, the doors to walk upon Persephone opened.
"All right," Mal started, adjusting his brown coat with a single tug of both hands at the lapel. "We all have our jobs. Get to ‘em. We meet back in an hour. Not a second more."
"Hey," Wash whispered as he wrapped an arm around his wife’s, Zoë’s, waist, hand cradling her hip, "stay safe. We haven’t exactly had the best times here in recent dates."
Zoë looked up into the eyes of her husband, giving him a crooked smile in an attempt to soothe him from his constant worries. She gave a tug of his chin, placing a kiss to his lips, she gave a soft chuckle, “Don’t think about it so much. ‘Sides, someone needs to keep the Captain’s back safe from Jayne.”
"Well, who’s gonna keep your back safe?"
"You can when I get back," she smirked.
Wash’s brows rose for but a moment before Jayne’s crude voice cut in like a rusted knife. “I thought we was headin’ out,” he grumbled, fingers twitching next to where he kept his gun.
"Jayne’s right," Malcolm sighed, restraining himself from shaking his head at the scene. Lately, Wash was getting more restless than usual about Zoë heading out on jobs. It was getting to Mal’s every last nerve as it was attempting to interfere with their income. He turned right round, looking out into the docks of Persephone with squinted eyes. "Like I said, one hour or-Jao Gao.”
"Sir?" Zoë stepped beside him with a puzzled brow as to why her commanding chief paused with the most perplexed look on his face.
However, instead of answering his first mate, Malcolm turned on his heel, looking to Wash and Book who stood idly, waiting for the man to take the first step forward so they could all begin their separate missions. “Shepherd, Wash, do you see that woman over there?” he asked, sounding a bit on the edge.
"What woman?" Wash exaggeratedly looked over his captain’s shoulder outwards with high brows, though his eyes obviously not taking in much as he put on a show.
"That one," was the hissed response as he nudged his head backwards. "The one with the blue hair."
"You mean the one staring straight at us?" Book rose a laughing brow.
Jayne scoffed, “Not very subtle, if you ask me.”
"I don’t think she’s goin’ for subtle," Wash murmured in response.
"I don’t care what she’s goin’ for," Mal looked between his men with agitation. "One of you, head over there and look into it."
"I said it’s the Shepherd and yours job to get us some travel-folk. See if she’s itchin’ to travel."
With a sigh, Book shook his head, arms uncrossing as one hand slid into one of his pockets. He didn’t hesitate as he made his way forward, where a young woman stood beside a pole.
The woman in question was dark tinted, a shade more-so than Zoë, and her large dark brown eyes were glued to Serenity and her crew. There wasn’t much notable about her beside she being a bit on the thin side and her extraordinarily dark shade of turquoise curls, long to her mid-back even when kept up in a ponytail. Her midnight trousers were kept tucked in her eggshell boots. She wore an open tunic the color of sand, and underneath a long-sleeved button-up matching the shade of her hair. A single sack was slung over her shoulder, and she beaming a bright smile.
"Hello, miss," Book returned her smile with one of his own. "I can’t help but notice that you’re staring at my ship."
“You’re the captain of this piece of go shi?” she laughed, adjusting the bag on her shoulder while a hand slid into her back pocket.
"Oh no," the preacher gave his own chuckle as he kicked at the dirt and shook his head. "I’m just a shepherd who resides on Serenity, our ship. That man over there," he gestured over his shoulder towards Malcolm who still had his back facing where the two stood, "is the captain."
With a crooked smile, the young woman waved over at the unusually stationary group. Wash waving back until he received a look from his wife that made him flinch slightly. “So, why is it that the captain of such a…well to do ship…sends a preacher to talk to a possible client?”
Raising a brow, Book inquired, “Are you looking for transport?”
She nodded, “I told myself that no matter what, the next ship to dock right where you did was going to be my ride out of here.”
"Oh, really?" he looked back over to the rest of the crew, all waiting impatiently with crossed arms of anxiety. "Excuse me, Captain!" he called out, and Malcolm turned around quickly, trying to keep a straight face. "Could you join us for a minute?"
Book could see the tensing in Serenity’s captain’s jaw as he grumbled something under his breath before straightening his back and walking over. It seemed as though both the preacher’s smile and the young woman’s grew just a tad much as he joined them, hands about his waist as he gave a small polite smile in greeting. “Hello, there,” he nodded in gesture.
"Why, Captain, it appears you think of me as some Wei Shian Dohn Woo,” the blue-haired being cocked her head to the side with a chuckle.
"What?" he faked a laugh. "I would never! Not a reason to!"
"Shiny!" she held out her hand. "My name is Vamira Evim, and I wish to board your ship in safe passage."
"Is that so?" Mal looked at her hand for a moment before taking it and shaking it once. "My name’s Malcolm Reynolds. I have to warn you, we may not be goin’ in the direction you’re wantin’."
"Captain, I’ll be clear. I’m more in a hurry to get off this Yi Da Dwei Bun Chou Roh than I am to get to my destination.”
He chuckled, “And, where are you headin’ anyway?”
"I plan to eventually find my way to Sihnon."
“Sihnon?” Mal looked to Book who only shrugged. “My dear, we don’t head over there very much.”
"I’ll pay you."
"I mean it when I say there won’t be enough-"
"How much? 30?"
Malcolm snorted, “It’s-“
A brown brow rose. He inhaled. Thinking on it a bit. He met her dark eyes, then looked up into the sky. He exhaled, “All right. I’m here to look up on somethin’. Dependin’ on how long it’ll take me, I’ll give you the estimate of your drop-off time. It could even take us a few months.”
"I mean it when I say I don’t mind, Captain," she smiled before extending her hand once again. "Deal?"
Creating a pause for dramatic effect, it was but a few minutes before Malcolm shook her hand once more, “Deal.” He gestured to Serenity. “Now, head on in. There’ll be a few members of my crew inside waitin’ for ya, and they’ll set you all up.”
"Thanks, Captain," she beamed, gripping tightly onto her bag before nodding in thanks towards Book and then rushing over to where Zoë, Wash, and Jayne stood, all seeming a bit surprised until she started to explain the situation and introducing herself.
"Now, tell me, Captain Reynolds, as to why you wanted me to be the one to talk to just a simple young woman?” the preacher was trying not to grin at how strange the situation all was.
Crossing his arms, the ex-browncoat was examining the scene as Wash took Vamira into the bay, seeming to call Kaylee out to show her around. “When someone stares that intently at my ship, you don’t think I’m gonna think they’re part of the Alliance?”
"She doesn’t even look the part of someone in the government."
"Neither did that last one that snuck on with you and the doctor," Malcolm replied, a bit bitter in his response as he stepped away, calling out to his crew. "All right! Zoë, Jayne, let’s head out! Wash, you git goin’ with the shepherd." At this point, in the far dark corner of Malcolm Reynolds’ mind, only the hope that not even one more delay in the day popped up. However, the man’s gut was telling him not to even bother.
Chapter 2: Heard Any Good News Lately?
“Oh, thank the stars and galaxies of the big black skies~!” Wash sang out as while he and Book were returning to the ship – with several men behind them ranging between late teens and mid-forties – Malcolm and the rest had just arrived as well. While Jayne had made his way into the bay, Malcolm was listening in on Kaylee’s bantering of the blue-haired woman from earlier; Zoë by his side. Wash opened his arms wide, his smile radiant as he mock-wept while sweeping his wife into his arms.
At first, Zoë’s lips twisted into a frown, before a chuckle overcame her as butterfly kisses descended onto the flesh of her skin. Her eyes took in the men as Book led them into Serenity behind her husband. She pulled away from him, eyelids lowered as her gaze met his warm and affectionate one. “So,” she twisted her fingers over the shell of his ear, “you’ve collected some wanderers?”
With a shrug, the pilot turned his body so that he and Zoë could follow the group in. He smirked, “I have my charms, y’know. Book helped a bit.”
“A bit?” she rose her brow with a teasing grin.
“Y’know, a bit. As in, most. Save for one.”
“Ah, I see,” she turned herself to look over her shoulder. “Captain, are we all set?”
Malcolm glanced up for a moment before he waved the affirmative and continued his speaking with his mechanic, the two following in tandem and the captain’s brows seeming rather unnerved. Zoë frowned, and Wash was quick to notice. The blonde draped his arm about his wife’s shoulders and placed a kiss to her neck, vulnerable while she looked over her shoulder. The second-in-command quickly turned her attention to her husband, eyeing him with a tease of a warning that usually got his blood boiling.
“All right, everybody,” Malcolm shouted, now speeding past the couple with a gruffness in his voice, Kaylee scampering behind him as she closed her parasol. “Let’s get this ship in the air! Oh! Wash,” he turned to his pilot, “you and the shepherd did a bang up job on finding those passengers. Thanks.”
Wash gave a lopsided grin as he bobbed his head in acknowledgement to the praise, “Thanks, Mal. Though, it was mostly Book’s doin'.”
“Then, give my gratitude to the ol’ man when you see ‘im. I’ve got somethin’ I need to check on,” his eyes fell to Zoë who quickly recognized the meaning of her superior’s words. “Also, are we good on fuel? Are you sure? I don’t want us to end up dead in the water.”
“We’re all good, Captain. I trust our plans on a job haven’t gone south?”
Malcolm didn’t reply verbally, merely smirked before gesturing to Zoë to follow him. She obeyed, placing a quick kiss to her husband’s lips and following the hurried steps of her friend. Wash sighed, the door beginning to close and the smallest thought of returning to the wheel came to mind.
Well, better get to work.
Chapter 3: Evening Meal
The day was winding down. Not much was happening and Wash’s stomach was screaming at him. He still hadn’t heard the news of any jobs, though Mal made it seem as though there was something worthwhile. He fiddled with his commands for the wheel to steer in auto-pilot before he trudged down for dinner. He just rounded the corner in the hallways when he accidentally bumped into one of their passengers.
Wash blinked as he sputtered a sorry, then realized it was the young woman from earlier. The one with the turquoise hair. The ponytail was turned into a tight bun, and she changed into a plain indigo halter styled bikini top and checkered sweats of off-white and lilac. Her feet were bare and there was a tattoo on the right side of her hips. A white horizontal lemniscate with a red line crossing through it evenly.
It was odd, but Wash’s eyes were quick to jump up to her gaze. “Sorry,” he repeated, rubbing his neck awkwardly. “Didn’t see ya.”
“That’s okay,” she smiled at him politely. “I was just looking around this place since I’ll be staying a while.”
“Yeah,” he blinked with his brain trying to figure out what to do next.
She rose a brow at him, “You’re Zoë’s husband, right?”
“Oh, yeah,” he held out his hand to be polite, “Wash. What everyone calls me.”
“Vamira,” she shook his hand with delight. “I was actually trying to find someplace where the food might be?”
“Oh, the galley?” Wash’s face grew alight. “I was just heading there, too! Come on. You’re headin’ the wrong way.” He extended an arm as he pointed in the direction in which their destination lied. Vamira was quick to follow, her smile seeming imprinted on her face as she walked a half-step behind Wash, following him. The red-tinted blonde glanced over his shoulder before back ahead, “So, you’re staying with us for a while?”
“Looks like it,” she hummed.
Wash glanced once more at her attire. He noticed that she had a range of colors on her person and he wondered if she was of high money. He should make a note to ask Mal how much she was paying for the ride. He slipped into the mess where the Shepherd and their other guests were sitting down, nibbling on some supper. Wash gestured to a chair for Vamira to take as he clapped a hand on Book’s shoulder. The other guests were three gentlemen.
The first was a youth who sat beside Book, a young man in his later teens, dark hair and dark eyes with bronze tinted skin. His nose was straight and angular, his jaw rigid and speckled with his dark roots. His burlap colored sleeves were rolled up and his dark brown vest opened due to broken buttons. His hair was on the verge of growing out, creating a small wave against his brow. His dark eyes looked up at Vamira, and he smiled as he sipped at his spoon.
The fellow further at the corner of the table was a bit older. Perhaps twice the youth’s age in his thirties. Pale with brown curly hair and pristine blue eyes. A short sleeved tunic of amber on his torso, a dark sleeve tattoo on his right arm filled with geometric shapes. He ignored Vamira as he was focusing on a thin book that sat beside his bowl while he ate.
Last was the man at end of the table where Captain Malcolm Reynolds would usually be seated. A man in his mid-fifties, he was as pale as the previous gentleman, dark brown eyes and sandy blonde hair. Thick despite his aging, with an equally vibrant beard on his jaw. He quietly ate, eyes hard and down as they stared into his soup. His mind perhaps focused on a thought that plagued him. A duster encompassed his body, buttoned up and weathered like his flesh.
“Wash,” Book looked over his shoulder with a smile, “have you gotten a chance to get to know our new shipmates?”
“Well, you know what,” the pilot spooned some soup into a bowl, “I’ve had so much time to do that while driving this ship through vast space.”
The Shepherd chuckled, shaking his head, “Well, I was just speaking with them before you stepped in.”
“I’m Anup,” the youngest man rose a hand in greeting to the blonde before turning his attention to Vamira. The woman rose a brow at him, but said nothing. “Anup Bulsara.”
Wash paused before continuing with a second bowl, “Uh, hey,” he glanced over and waved awkwardly, “Wash. Pilot.”
“Shepherd Book was telling me about some of your journeys,” the youngest of the room was beaming. “It almost makes me regret that I’m only using this ship to get home.”
“Oh, trust me, kid,” Wash walked over and placed a bowl in front of Vamira who took it with a quiet thanks. He nodded to her and sat between her and Book. “This ain’t a picnic. In fact, we pretty much never get picnics.”
“Still, the adventure-“
“You have to have guts,” Jayne stepped in with his gruff voice thick with a manly inhale as he stepped into the room. “A runt couldn’t handle the work we do.”
Anup frowned, feeling a little embarrassed to be called something so demeaning. Wash rolled his eyes as Book whispered to him to ignore the ship’s pet.
“And, you are?” Vamira glanced up at Jayne from her soup with a rather displeased gaze. She certainly wasn’t impressed with the way he was carrying himself.
“Jayne, ma’am,” he was smiling at her, smug to the point it made her blood boil hotter than her dinner. “Jayne Cobb. I’m the muscle o’ this ship.”
“Seems like that’s all you have to offer,” she mumbled with a shrug of her shoulders.
Wash snorted, nearly choking on his soup and Book slapped at his back to help. “Oh, wow!” the blonde coughed to clear his throat. His voice was light with a few giggles. “Wow, Jayne.” He turned in his chair to better look at the man. “She’s got you pegged.”
There was a chuckle from Anup while Jayne rose an irritated brow. He snarled at Wash, “Watch yerself, little man.”
Wash held his hands up defensively, but laughed nonetheless. He looked to Vamira who was softly smiling to herself. At least the food was good.