Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust
Kaylee came out first. "Capt'n, I was so worried! Kept tryin' to radio you, and there was nothin' but silence. River and I thought you was dead." She paused and shot them all a double-take, noticing Jack and his crew for the first time. "Who are all these people?"
"Met up at UNIT. Bad news is, we didn't get the money. Good news is, kid's got some device that's apparently worth a fortune. How'd everything go here?"
No one spoke for a moment. It had been six months since Wash had died, and they all knew Zoe didn't want to hear about what had gone on back on the ship. Wash should have been there, should have been helping. Or at least panicking, right along with Kaylee and River. Like she so often did, she brushed past them and headed back into her quarters, alone.
Zoe had always been a very private person. Even during the war, Zoe had kept just about everything to herself and their platoon had always joked that she should be the sargeant since she was clearly the strong one. As he often did during the war, he worried that she was keeping too much to herself.
Kaylee shoved her hands in her pockets and asked, "Everything go all right?"
"We were duped," Mal said, as everyone followed him back into the ship. He pressed the button that would close Serenity up again. "Shoulda listened to Zoe, but the money was just too good."
"Yeah, bad things happen when we don't listen to her," came Simon's voice from the corner. He was leaning against a large crate, arms folded in front of him.
"How rude of me," Mal said, ignoring him. "I need to introduce my crew, don't I? Kaylee's our mechanic."
"Nice to meet you," she said, smiling and practically skipping up to Jack and the rest of the Torchwood crew.
"And that guy over there's Simon. He's the doctor."
Simon gave a small wave but didn't smile or walk away from the crate.
Then River walked in, bare foot and wearing a pink dress. She walked right up to Jack without waiting for an introduction. Then she squinted and said, "You're like a cat. And you're sad. Like a cat who doesn't have a window to look out of."
There was a long pause until Jayne said, "And she's our resident crazy person."
"Actually, she's our co-pilot. And her name's River," Mal said, clearing his throat.
"Pilot," River said.
"Well, I wouldn't go that far."
"So that's everyone, then," Mal said loudly, ending the argument.
There was a voice from above them. "You forgot me." Inara stood on the top of the walkway, holding on to a banister. "Can't say I'm surprised."
Jack looked up to where the voice had come from. The woman walked down the steps, long pink robe billowing out behind her. "I'll save him the trouble. My name's Inara."
Jack came towards her and she held her hand out for him to kiss it. He did so, and introduced himself. His crew took turns giving their names.
"She's our resident... companion," Mal said. It looked for a moment like he was going to say something else, but didn't. They looked at each other instead, until Inara looked away. Jack figured there was something going on between them, but didn't pry.
As she started to turn away, she said, "I have an appointment to keep. An appointment that, as I said before, will ultimately get you money. Are we leaving soon?"
"River's on the bridge."
"Good." With that, Inara walked up the stairs again and down the hallway.
"Right, then," Mal said, after she left. "Got five of you, seven rooms. One's free, so you'll have to fight over that one. The rest of you get roommates. Oh, and we eat in the canteen at seven each night. Everyone's there for that." He left the room then, and everyone started to go their separate ways. Very brightly, Kaylee skipped forward. "So, anyone wanna take a tour of Serenity? Best ship in the 'verse, you gotta see her up close and personal."
"No thanks," Jack said. He wanted to speak to Mal. So far, he was the only one who seemed to know how to get them home, and he needed to make sure that was taken care of.
Martha, on the other hand, volunteered immediately. "I'd love to see a space ship up close!"
"Great. Anyone else?"
Gwen said she was too tired, and Mickey decided to follow Jack up to the bridge. Jack knew Mickey was eager to see how one of these things flew. Ianto said he'd take the tour later and that he wasn't feeling well.
"So it must be fun, living on your own spaceship like that," Martha said, following her tour guide around. The ship was kind of cute, in an odd sort of way. There were boxes and crates everywhere, but she could see where the people on board had added their own personal touches. Kaylee's door was decorated in bright colors with her name on it, and there were pillows and blankets piled on one of the couches. Plates had been left out on the table in the canteen. It wasn't the TARDIS, but this place looked more like a home.
"Can be. Also a lot of hard work. Not somethin' I thought I'd do when I was a girl, but I love it. Love the feel of a wrench in my hand as I work on Serenity. She's a good ship." Kaylee smiled, and Martha saw a genuine fond expression on her face.
"You know, I was on a ship for a bit. Well, sort of. A TARDIS."
"What's a TARDIS?" Kaylee asked. "Never heard of that kind of ship before."
"It's not really a ship, I guess. It stands for Time And Relative Dimensions In Space." She found herself explaining, without going into too much detail, about an alien species that could turn their ship into anything they wanted it to look like, and how this TARDIS happened to look like a police phone box. Kaylee stared at her, transfixed.
"What's a phone box?"
Martha found herself explaining all about London, back on Earth. Evidently they'd heard stories of Earth, but had never been there before. Kaylee asked her lots of questions about myths she'd heard about 'Earth-That-Was', and if they were true.
They ended up in the back, in the living area. Martha and Kaylee sat down on one of the soft couches in the back corner, and Kaylee grabbed a pillow and hugged it. "We can trust Jack, can't we?"
Martha frowned, caught off-guard by the question. "Why wouldn't you be able to?"
"You seem all right. Most people just walk in, guns blazin'. And you seem sweet." Kaylee looked off to the side, then back at her. "It's just - the Captain's been burnt a lot lately, and I don't think he can take no more."
After everyone had left, it was only Jayne and Ianto, standing next to the crates. After a few moments, Jayne drew a knife out of his belt and began to polish it with one of the rags lying on the floor. He sat down on one of the crates, and Ianto followed his lead.
"So. Jayne's an interesting name," Ianto said, after an awkward moment.
"What of it?" The other man growled, not looking up from his knife.
"Well, where I'm from, there aren't a lot of men named Jayne."
Jayne looked up at this, and Ianto noticed the knife was now pointed at him. "It's a man's name, all the way. 'Cause it's got a 'y' in it."
Much to Ianto's relief, the knife was no longer pointed at him. Jayne went back to polishing his knife without another word.
"Oh," Ianto said, simply.
Jack eventually found himself drawn to the bridge. Much to his surprise, the door had been left open, at least for the time being. He'd missed this. It had been a long time since he'd had a ship of his own, and that one had brought him to World War II, and that's how he'd met the Doctor and Rose.
"Mind if I join you?" he said, mostly to River, who was carefully pushing buttons and steering. She didn't turn around at first.
"I have a rule about people comin' into the bridge when they're uninvited," the Captain said, turning around and glaring at Jack.
"It's okay," River said soothingly. She pulled a lever and turned around to look at him, finally. "You're lost." "I'm not. I figured out my way all by myself."
"No, you still don't know your way. It was dark and lonely and you felt like you were going to die, but you're never going to, no matter how much you want to. And you've been betrayed. You should meet my brother. He's kind. You'd like him."
Jack felt dizzy, uncertain. Was she talking about what had happened with his own brother so many months before? If so, how could she know all of that? Her dark eyes were looking into his, examining, trying to read him. After a moment, the intense glare softened and Jack wondered if maybe she was just crazy and had gotten a little bit too close to home with her gibberish.
"Yeah, well," he said, lamely.
Mickey entered a moment later. "Wow, this is so neat!" he said. "Never seen anything quite like this before."
"Okay, you two are distracting my co-pilot," Mal said.
"Pilot," River said, with a small smile.
"Co-pilot. Do you even have a license?"
Suddenly, a small screen flickered on and a young brunette appeared. "Sorry, Reynolds," she said. Jack noticed she was wearing a military uniform, much like the ones UNIT always wore.
"Better late than never," Mal said dryly. "Talitia Johnson. To what do I owe this not-so-much-of-a pleasure?"
"I can explain. What happened on New London is unforgivable."
"I'll say. Now I've got a hungry crew, and I don't take that lightly."
"I hear you'll be touching down on Persephone soon. If that is indeed, true, I'd like to meet you at the bar on Grinwold Street so we can talk."
"Think we're a bit beyond talking at this point."
"Nothing I can do can make it up to you?"
"You got money?"
"Something can be arranged."
"If I get duped again--"
"You won't be. Trust me."
"I don't trust you, not one bit, but I'll give it a go. I ain't gonna be happy if it happens again, and I can't promise you and your men are gonna get out of it safely if I ain't happy."
The screen flickered off, and the bridge was silent as they soared off into the sky.