The Burden Of Fair Women
Disclaimer: The characters depicted are the property of their respective owners who are not me.
A/N: All futures are possible. The universe offers limitless options. Here are some of them. Only a slight cross over.
This is just a bit of frivolity to get through the crippling writers block, so that I can finish The Promise.
The idea arrived after reading “A Ballad Of Burdens” by Algernon Charles Swinburne
This story is un-beta-ed, please forgive it its many faults.
Reviews are manna.
The Burden Of Fair Women
“Gorram hell! Woman, I though I told you I’d best never be seeing you again!”
Of the all the things for the ‘verse to throw at him it would have to be her. Again. Her.
Same sunset coloured hair and amber eyes. Same knowing glare and curving lip. The hair is streaked with paler strands now, almost white and the treacherous lips are now paler. She’s still lovely and undoubtedly venomous.
It’s been year, a decade and a half, at least, since their last encounter.
“Don’t you hello me!”
He’s in a docking station orbiting Lumos, as far away from civilization as one can get. Of all people he gotta is…well it would just be his luck for it to be her. She slides the beer across the counter to him. It’s a practiced motion and he wonders how long she’s been a barmaid. He smile is still that smile that swindled him twice.
“Not like I planned on seein’ you again either. Dragged myself to this whole, respectable businesswoman now.”
He looks around surprised and click in his head that this is her place. Stranger things have happened.
They eye each other warily, cowboys ready to square off. In some minute instant it dawns on him that they are no longer enemies. He grumbles.
“I’d have thought you’d be spending you later years in some nice alliance jail.”
She laughs, and the youthful crystalline quality of it is at odds with her face, beautiful still, but clearly marked by the passage of time.
“Could say the same for you. Thought you’d have gotten yourself dead by now.”
The beer goes down smooth and ice cold.
“Can’t say I haven’t been trying.”
They stay silent a while. Mal’s eyes sweep the tavern and its rugged patrons. He notices a less than legal exchange in the corner. Her eyes laugh at him.
“Old habits…you miss the heists Mal?”
Her tone is mocking, but soft. He lets the remarks go, if he were to answer he would reveal too much of himself. And if he learned one thing from Saffron it was never, ever trust her with any information.
“Gotta say, never figured you for a bar maid.”
Her eyes grow cold for an instant and then the studied smile is back. He forgets she’s had companion training.
“A proprietor of a respectable establishment.”
He smirks and raises his glass to her.
“Sure. Just never saw you settlin’.”
He drinks until the last drop of foam slides into his mouth. He nods to her and lays his money on the bar.
Her voids catch him unawares, but he smirks companionably.
“Be seein ya, Saffron.”
She doesn’t tell him she stopped using that name long ago. She watches him walk away. A fight is breaking out in one corner and picking up a broom she moves to stop the idiots before they destroy her bar. A couple of good thwacks and they’re back to buying drinks for each other.
There is a lot they could say to each other, she and Mal. But what she doesn’t say, never will not even to herself, is that beauty fades and flesh looses its suppleness and then a girl has nothing to trade.