The Two Companions Illustrated Ch. 03byrondori©
(In which River presses her attentions on the new Companion and winds up on her backside)
Inara and Jorge came down the steps into Serenity's cargo bay to face the scrutiny of the crew assembled in a rough semicircle to gawk at the new arrival. Zoë, Simon and Kaylee were there in friendly curiosity while Jane stood with his arms crossed in annoyance that the companion was a male while Mal was just plain annoyed that here was another non-paying mouth to fill with food and air.
Mal opened with "Great, other useless, broke, fancy pants, core-worlder on the run; just what we need."
Kaylee interrupted. "Now wait a minute Captain, I'm sure that he has his good qualities." Less sure of herself, she added "You do, don't cha? By the way, I'm Kaylee Frye, ships' mechanic."
"Hello, I'm Simon Tam, ships' doctor. Are you from Shinon, like Inara?"
Jorge responded "My name is Jorge Mayweather. It's true that I came from House Madrassa but I was born in space. My people were spacers since before we left Earth-That-Was. Mayweathers were ship's crew on the colony ships. My family took our flight and settlement bonus and built and operated some of the first 'verse' transport ships."
Jane was obviously not impressed. "Mayweather, eh; no wonder ya turned out sly."
Jorge gave a small grin. "It's Jane isn't it? No, I am defiantly not sly. You of all people should know that what your name is or what you do as part of your job does not define who you are. But I am highly qualified in that aspect of my profession if that is what you are interested in."
"Bull, Mayweather, sly is as sly does no matter what." Jane responded with his hands tightening on the bulging biceps of his crossed arms.
"Jane, I can tell that you did time. Is what you did there define what you are now?"
Jane suddenly flushed in embarrassment. "Who told you about that?"
"You just did." And the bay erupted in laughter. Jorge reached into his rucksack to produce a bunch of fresh plantains and a bottle of 60 year old rum. "Let's continue this in the galley and then you can decide whether to space me or not."
After Jorge had prepared a delicious meal of plantains and saffron rice, they started eating and passing around the rum.
Zoe spoke first. "I'm Zoe Washburn, First Mate. Are you any kin to the blockade running Mayweathers of the 'Cutty Sark' what got hulled over Shadow at the beginning of the war?"
Jorge was suddenly very sober. "Yes, that was my family and I was the only survivor. My cousins and siblings used to have races to don our EV suits and I always won. I wished I was slower for a long time afterwards. The feds picked me up out of the wreckage and then sold me into slavery because I was too young to go into the detention camps."
The table went silent as everyone acknowledged that here was someone else who had suffered as the result of the war. Zoë just reached over and silently hugged Jorge.
Kaylee broke the silence. "Slavery, how did ya get outa that?"
"Well, I always was a good cook. A traveling recruiter from House Madarassa tasted one of my meals at a rim world tavern and promptly bought out my contract and brought me back to cook at the House. It was only later that I tested for Companion."
Mal spoke up. "Ok, Mr. Mayweather, I'm glad to shake the hand of anybody from the Cutty Sark. The way those hun-dans drilled your ship without even a warning shot was what got me to join up with the browncoats in the first place."
Jorge reached over. "And I'm proud to shake the hand of anyone who was at Serenity Valley. Is it true that you jumped into that hellhole?"
"Jumped? Zoë and I were pathfinders. We HALO (High Altitude-Low Opening) ed from 20 klicks up and opened or chutes at just under one third klick to get under their radar. We set up the beacons for the first space-borne wave of the Overlanders to take the high ground at the Valley. Our motto was 'Fall like a cannonball, strike like a bayonet."
"20 klicks?" Jorge exclaimed. "Don't you need oxygen for that?"
"Nah." Zoë answered. "If you just hold your breath in a head down, streamlined attitude, terminal velocity at over 300 KPH will get ya into breathing air before you have to take another breath. We were jumping Fireflies back then and that's why the Cap here bought Serenity after the war."
Jane interrupted. "Oh great, more space-borne stories, pretty soon Mal n' Zoë are gonna be singing "Blood upon the risers and doing parachute landing falls off the galley table!"
"Oh no, they won't!" Simon interjected. "The last time that happened, I used up all of my sprain medicine and we were fixing furniture for a week."
Mal spoke up. "If you were a rebel and Inara was for Union how did you wind up friends with her?"
Inara laughed. "You should have seen the fights we had!"
Jorge quipped "I still have scars from the things she threw at me!"
Just then River stepped down from the cockpit "Not just fights but hurts deeper than scars."
Inara suddenly lost her gaiety but hid it with her drink.
Mal turned. "And this little mistress of the non sequitur is our pilot River Tam, lucky albatross and little sis to the Doc."
Jorge looked up and the sight caught him like a blow; this was the superwoman that so many Alliance agents had been seeking until Miranda had changed the 'Verse'. She was so small and lovely and yet her bearing and grace spoke volumes to the dancer and martial artist in him. Jorge was a natural empath, being able to read emotion in clients and opponents as well but here was sensitivity itself. Mal and Zoë were warriors but here was Kali and Shiva in the flesh. He was Scarlatti to her Mozart and he knew it. Her combination of innocence, genius, beauty and the promise of her ripening sexuality set of a wave of desire in his subconscious. Her next words completely floored him.
"Maestre, will you dance to the birimbau and the tam-tam with me some time?"
On River's part she saw the good looks and read the dancer, fighter, lover and adventurer within but the images, sounds and smells of lovemaking that flitted through his brain and the desire that flooded out of his subconscious produced a resonance which flushed her skin and made her nostrils flare. An older and more experienced woman would have recognized these feelings and ascribed them to just lust and infatuation. However, lust and infatuation were new emotions for River and though she understood them emotionally and had eavesdropped on them in other peoples skulls, this was the first time that she owned the emotions and they rocked her to the core. Unfortunately, her unfamiliarity with the emotions provoked flight or fight responses. She picked Caproerea out of his psyche; the images and memories intrigued the dancer and martial artist in her and thus the challenge.
Mal, Jane, Kaylee and Simon didn't notice anything in the exchange but Zoë did and she folded her arms and considered shooting Jorge on general principle while Inara just murmured into her drink. "Oh Lordy, here we go."
The next afternoon, ships time, the crew was gathered around to watch the entertainment on the clear area of the ship's cargo deck. The betting in ship chores was running heavily on the ships favorite: River, but Inara was backing Jorge even though she was unsure of the outcome.
Inara consented to play the birimbau and Jane's experience on the bongos was put into use on the tam-tam after Jorge taught him the beat. After preliminary ceremonies and stretches River in tight t-shirt and drawstring pants and Jorge in just pants began dancing and weaving around each other with mock feints in order to judge each others' responses. River tried to 'read' Jorge but all she could see was her own self in his eyes along with a vague sense of loving protection and a desire to push her limits.
River opened with a backwards spinning roundhouse kick at his head but Jorge just dropped under her arching foot and swept her supporting leg with his foot. Only her superb balance and pre-awareness allowed her to spin in mid air to land in a crouch. She came back up with a lotus kick and he responded with an arching backwards summersault. River advanced with a series of muy-thai punches, straight and scythe kicks but he just faded like smoke before her onslaught dancing just out of reach to the rhythm of the music. Once, she almost caught him with a combination punch and roundhouse kick but he turned a graceful cartwheel that caught her behind the leg and sent her of on an awkward cartwheel of her own.
She began to analyze the sound of the birimbau and she realized that Inara was 'suggesting' various openings and Jorge was creating tactical 'gaps' that were dictating her attacks. River responded by trying to goad Jorge. "Why don't you attack? You're the Maestre!" She panted.
"Attack requires planning, you're a reader. You'd know it before I did. I'm better off just responding to your initiative, besides I'm just lazy." He grinned.
The sight of his grinning face and the light sheen of his ebony skin vs. her reddening skin and dripping sweat provoked her into launching a screaming flying crane kick that switched from left to right foot in mid flight. Jorge merely leaned to the side and his hand appeared from out of nowhere to grab her ankle and send her crashing to the deck.
The crew gasped but River caught herself on her out spread fingers and toes, caporea style. "Excellent save, little albatross!" The Maestre complemented her.
With a roar born of humiliation, rage and frustration, she came off the deck in a ferocious head-butt aimed squarely at Jorge's solar plexus. Instantly his ebony six-pack turned into a padded brick wall as he tensed his abdomen. River bounced off his mid-section to land stunned and sitting on the deck rubbing her skull and neck. "Ow, that really hurt!"
Everyone expected Simon to rush up in protective outrage to comfort and defend his little sister; instead he commented. "It serves you right, River." And turning to Jorge he explained. "You don't know how many times River did that to me when we were kids and she lost her temper and knew I couldn't hit her back."
The hold erupted in laughter and Jorge announced: "Magnificently played!" He then produced another bottle of rum and passed it around to congratulatory toasts from all. "I hereby give you the Caporea babtismo name of 'Alcatrazista,' long may you fly!"
As they were leaving the hold, Simon noticed that Jorge was limping. "Mr. Mayweather, were you injured back there?"
"Please, just Jorge. No, this is just a souvenir of my last encounter with bounty hunters. I caught a ricochet and I was able to treat it but it's still lodged near my femur."
Simon blanched and hauled Jorge into the infirmary. "Ricochets are often jagged and that's near your femoral artery."
Half an hour later, Jorge was lying face down and prepped on the operating table while Simon was administering a local into his spine and Inara was assisting in the surgery.
Jorge looked over his shoulder. "Thanks for the local, Doc. I don't trust being unconscious around Inara. The last time I got drunk with her and her friends I woke up painted green."
"Well it was St. Patrick's Day and you made a lovely leprechaun."
"Is that why you painted my nuts gold?"
"Sure and begorra, every leprechaun needs a pot of gold at the end of his rainbow. Oh look, we've gone and made the Doctor blush!" Inara then apologized to Simon for their rowdy companion humor. "After all, you come from a refined background."
"I didn't have time for much but studies and later 16 hour shifts in the ER as an intern didn't leave much time for anything but sleeping...alone!" Simon added. After a tense silence, he managed to remove the jagged bullet in one piece. Astonished, he remarked. "Maybe you do have the luck of the Irish, half a millimeter closer to your femoral and I'd be doing your autopsy rather than stitching you up."
Jorge looked up "Maybe you could paint a bull's eye on my butt, it might improve their shooting."
Inara laughed "With a butt that sticks out like yours, who needs a bull's eye?"
Simon interrupted "When I was growing up, I thought Companions were much more sophisticated than this. When they came to our house, I thought they were so refined and graceful. Every anniversary my parents would contract a Companion and there were a few times I secretly wished that I was the product of one of those encounters."
Inara and Jorge just looked at each other.
The next day as he was recuperating, Jorge limped down to the engine room where he found Kaylee lovingly ministering to her 'girl' and fighting her endless quest to keep her in the air and not on the drift. Jorge offered to assist and they began to talk spacecraft.
"You know, this takes me back, I practically grew up in an engine room, I wasn't born in one but I do know that I was conceived in an engine room." Jorge remarked looking around the environs of Serenity's beating heart.
Kaylee looked at him in surprise. "You mean...your parents? I thought because I was turned on by engines that it was just something that made me a freak."
"No Kaylee, in my family, being conceived in the engine room was the mark of a real spacer, what we called a boomer. As we saw it that type of start was lucky and kept you from harm on the ship. We kids would sneak through the ductwork to watch and I think that was the beginning of my sexual education and my fascination with the art and poetry of sex."
Kaylee laughed "I guess that I've been one of River's instructional aids. But then again, it's gorram hard to keep anything from that girl. I don't know why Simon even tries but he's alla time looking over his shoulder when we're lovin' and it's getting on my nerves. Course he'd still have to know what he's doing. Gorramit!" as a wrench slipped and she barked a knuckle.
As she sucked on her knuckle she looked at Jorge. "Say, you're a Companion and a male, do you think you could give Simon some pointers? I love him and all but as his sister says, he's a boob when it comes to women n sexin'."
"Of course, besides, I owe him my life now." Jorge thought a while. "Aren't we putting down on New Kashmir next week? I've got a cousin in Nuevo Bahia who was going to shelter me in the restaurant he built after the war. I'll borrow Inara's shuttle and take you two to dinner."
"Really?" Kaylee replied "But me, 'hick girl', out with two sophisticated core-worlders at a fancy restaurant?"
Jorge laughed "The Doc is just as lacking in social graces as anyone else. He's just a nerd who spent all his time fixing bodies the way you fix engines. And I'm just an old boomer masquerading as a sophisticated Companion. You'll do fine."
"But how's all this gonna improve Simon's sexin skills?"
"Well, since Simon, like most surgeons is a visual-kinesthetic learner, I doubt that anything I say will have a chance to sink in without demonstration and supervised practice. I'm afraid that once again you will have to serve as an instructional aide.
Kaylee's eyes widened as the thought sank in. She blushed and then grinned. "Shiny!" was all she said.
TO BE CONTINUED...