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14 February 2006 @ 10:16 pm
Title: Big Damn Archer
Author: calliopes_pen
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Take Firefly, add the legend of Robin Hood, and stir thoroughly. This is the result. The pairing is Mal/Inara. Basically, the personalities and names transplanted into the Robin Hood legend.
Beta Readers: seandc
Notes: Written for noneofyours for shinyhearts. Thanks go out to littledetails for helping with the historical accuracy. Since this is Robin Hood and Firefly mixed together, expect strange things. For example, Jayne is Little John. So be prepared to hear him called Little Jayne. And there will be cursing in Old French rather than Chinese due to the time period.

“In this time were many Robbers and Outlaws, among the which, Robert Hood, and little John, renowned Thieves, continued in woods, disploying and robbing the goods of the rich. They killed none but such as would invade them or by resistance to their owne defense.”

--excerpt from the introduction to The Adventures of Robin Hood.



A bow, with a string pulled taut. The arrow tip glints in the light, as the serious man pulls and fires. The arrow is released—only to fly a mere three feet before falling to the ground with a somber and pitiful thud. Malcolm Reynolds was not a man who knew how to handle a bow and arrow.

“Arrows—why does it have to be arrows that I can’t shoot?! Why not…a spear?” Those were the words of a man so frustrated that he was grasping at straws. Very short straws at that.

Finally realizing that he was under the amused scrutiny of his fellow thieves, Malcolm Reynolds plodded onward. He merely raised an eyebrow at a few snickers before anyone could actually comment.

“Okay, everyone. Let’s go steal somethin’. Rumor has it that a caravan of rich folks is takin’ a bit of a detour through our pretty little stretch of woods. Thanks for that bit o’ craftsmanship, Zoe. It really messed up their regular path.”

After a brief moment in which Zoe nodded to acknowledge the compliment, Mal continued on. Jumping up, Mal shouted to everyone, “Get ready, grab yourself a horse and gear! We leave to steal in ten minutes!”

While everyone was grabbing things, Mal continued on. “Let’s get a few things clear now, folks. First of all, no tights. Brown pants, ‘cause they blend in better. And we all remember what happened the last time someone here wore those girly tights, right?”

They had vowed to never speak of it again—they hadn’t vowed to never hint at it, though. Mal was happy with that, since it allowed him to torment everyone for the rest of their lives. The fact that Wash had picked a pair of tight tights during what came to be known as The Great Tights Affair was frightening in itself. The fact that those selfsame tights had ripped right down the middle as they had all been in the middle of stealing from a very rich caravan was equally embarrassing.

It had also caused quite a few stares from the women of the caravan. Soon after, Wash’s mustachioed image was plastered on half the trees in forest. Along with a very close artist’s rendering of the torn tights. Thus was the cause of Wash deciding to remain clean shaven for the rest of his days.

Pulling himself out of that frightening image, and seeing that Wash was blushing redder than a strawberry, Mal continued on. “Now, then. Don’t anyone be tryin’ to get me to fire the arrows. Don’t rightly know why, but everyone seems to think I’m the best archer in this region. Truth is, I can’t shoot worth a lick!”

Of course I know the reason why—but I can’t let the others know that I got plastered one fine day, and stepped smack dab in the middle of an archery contest. ‘Tween the beer everyone was drinkin’ and the fact that I had drunk less than them, I won. Recollections of that day are fuzzy—so either I’m good when I’m drunk, or they’re worse n’ me!

Before he could open his mouth again, Little Jayne interrupted with his trademark kindness. “Enough speechifying! Let’s go get us some loot—and a woman or two!” Not even a glare from Mal could make him hold his tongue.

“Little Jayne, they’re not all prostitutes—would be nice if it was. It’s guards, loot, and one lady of that profession. Grab one if ya want on the way through, I don’t care! Of course, if there’s a good archer, run for the hills. Don’t wait around to get shot in the behind like last time!”

When they finally ran across the caravan, it was unanimously decided that the plan was that Little Jayne, Wash and Zoe would attack from one side as a distraction, whilst Mal would opt to swing down from a rope, and grab the money in the confusion.

It was a relatively reasonable plan—except for the fact that the aforementioned rope was not the sturdiest, and the limb which Mal was standing on was neither the strongest nor the healthiest. It was with a horrific crack that the limb snapped, and crashed to the ground. Fortunately, he landed upon the back of a horse. Unfortunately for all concerned, the horse also seated a guard. Due to the shock of the impact, the horse reared; Mal found himself seated on the forest floor.

Mal let loose a string of curses, and then looked up to see a woman staring down at him from the horse upon which she rode. A man stood beside her, looking ready to pop a vein in his forehead from his fury.

For just a moment, both the outlaws and the caravan were stunned into silence.

Of course. I had to do that in front of a woman. Just my luck. Ow, did I break anything? Nope. Just a whole lotta pride…

After the silence dragged on for about a minute, the woman muttered “Oh, no! Should have expected something like this…” The guards looked ready to kill him, until Friar Book suddenly rushed in with a distraction. While the guards were confused about just why a man of the cloth was lecturing them in the middle of Sherwood Forest, the others grabbed what they could and fled.

Mal was the last in the line of outlaws fleeing, and limped as fast as he could. He thought he saw Little Jayne carrying someone, but didn’t think it could be true. That was sarcasm, when I suggested he take ‘er! O’course, the man is a moron…

-------------------------------------------

Entering Sherwood Forest with armed escorts on one side and Sir Atherton Wing on the other did not allow Maid Inara to feel even the slightest bit safe.

The fact that she was a highly prized courtesan drew the interest of her guards, as well as quite a few glances filled with lust which she recognized and merely chose to ignore. The knowledge that she was also an excellent archer (and kept quite a few extra arrows in the folds of her dress) was more than enough to keep the guards from acting on those selfsame thoughts—and managed to keep any crude comments at bay.

Sir Atherton Wing, on the other hand, was a complete and utter bore. He obviously hoped to gain respect and wealth from keeping her to himself. He was greedy and repulsive, and she could only hope that he would tire of her quickly, and allow her to get out of his clutches.

Supposedly hired by royalty, Sir Atherton Wing was likely no more than a man who sold himself to the highest bidder. In exchange, of course, for the rest of the kingdom overlooking his more mercenary activities. The man had even had the gall to tell her that she was to be his “private property.” Every time Maid Inara thought of that braggart stating that in her hearing, she quietly fumed. While being his “private property” meant he would lavish her in luxury, she would never feel any form of love for the man. Why, this is like being a servant—no, servants get more respect than I get from him! There isn’t even an ounce of respect in him.

It was then that she heard the sound of a tree branch breaking somewhere nearby, followed by a few moments of confusion as a man plummeted from a tree, hit the horse of a guard, and was thrown by the selfsame horse. Partly amused, partly embarrassed for his sake, Inara could only stare. And, above all, she was completely stunned by the fact that this was even occurring. When the moment passed, however, and everyone else went for their weapons, Inara grabbed for an arrow hidden within the folds of her skirts. Before she could draw it back within the bow, she was grabbed from behind and, of all things, blindfolded.

After an attempt to kick and bite whoever was holding her, she heard cursing followed by someone shifting her around to get a better grip. In that position, she couldn’t do anything but wait until she was able to see again.

------------

Once Maid Inara had been spotted over Little Jayne’s shoulders, she had quickly been unbound and the blindfold swiftly removed. Once she had regained her footing, she had sat down upon a nearby rock and merely watched the explosion of movement as everyone reacted differently to her presence.

With an outraged and incredulous shout, Mal “Robin Hood” Reynolds went to throttle Little Jayne once they were back at camp safe and—mostly—sound. He pulled back before he could do more damage than merely shoving him roughly. “Why the devil did you take that lady?! We're outlaws enough without being hung for kidnapping, too! What were you thinking?!”

“She's got arrows in her skirts, Mal!" The insane explanation sunk in, causing almost everyone to go silent, and Wash to snicker quietly.

After a moment of trying to figure that out, Mal made the attempt to think of something to say to that. When he couldn’t, he turned to Inara. “Right. And I'm the King of England—welcome to our little world of insanity, Miss...”

“I am known as Maid Inara, and I was on the way to a quiet place with Sir Atherton Wing.” After a moment, she leaned back on the rock she had settled on and smirked. “Your friend was right, though.”

“There’s arrows in your skirts?!”

Cocking an eyebrow, Maid Inara just stared at him for a moment. “Yes, I hide arrows in my skirts. Pray tell, where else could I hide them?” It seemed that she would deign to ignore the possible jab at him not believing Little Jayne. Of course, she was their prisoner or guest—at this point, nobody was quite sure. “And why exactly should that be good cause to kidnap me?”

As one, Mal and Maid Inara turned a glare on Little Jayne. For once, the man had the good sense to go hide in his tent. Mal could only hope that the fool would not return until after everything had settled. “Now, then, where were we?”

“Little Jayne either wanted a woman very badly, or he wanted someone to teach me how to shoot…a bow and arrow.” The last part was said so sheepishly that Maid Inara could not help but quietly smile a little at this strange man.

While she obviously didn’t know whether or not this small band of thieves was friend or foe, she couldn’t help but wonder if she should allow herself to grow attached to them. Still smiling slightly, Maid Inara voiced the idea which had just occurred to her. “So…all this was merely an attempt to find an instructor? Then why attack my caravan?”

Rubbing the back of his head, Mal attempted to answer. “Well…it might be a sign that Little Jayne wants me to learn how to shoot an arrow…or he’s just an idiot. You decide.” This was obviously an attempt to stall so he could endeavor to think of something intelligent. Maid Inara merely crossed her arms and waited. In what seemed like a melodramatic pose, Mal finally responded with, “I steal from the rich.” Inara’s curiosity was piqued as she inquired, “And give to the poor?” The look of horror which crossed the thief’s face at the notion was almost comical. The thought of giving money away would have caused his heart to stop if he were a frailer man.

However, in this case the outlaw had managed to regain his composure quickly. With a smirk, he answered with “Are you joking, woman? The taxes around these parts are maddening—why else would we live in the middle of the forest?” Inara couldn’t help but laugh at that. Seeing this, he continued in a jovial tone. “Of course, when we have more than plenty, we might share the bounty with the poorer people.” The sound of Miss Kaywinnit coughing pointedly caused Mal to jump back guiltily and the courtesan to quietly chuckle at the sight.

“Ah…thanks, Miss Kaywinnit. The rest of the crew gets a fair share, too.” When the rest of the band laughed at the fact that he was so nervous around an outsider, Mal merely rolled his eyes and went on without missing a beat. “Aw, hell. Just call them my Merry Men—and Women if you want to stick with the melodrama of it all.”

Suddenly remembering an argument with Sir Atherton, Inara realized that this man must be the infamous Robin Hood. Obviously, all of those stories about his invulnerability were merely lies told by the richer populace in an attempt to cover an ego bruised by theft.

Inara quickly looked Mal up and down while he was distracted. The legends had also claimed he was…taller. Somehow she managed to retain her composure, although it was a struggle.

In what seemed a sudden realization that she would be stuck with them for at least a few days, Mal looked into Inara’s eyes. “Miss Inara…would you care to be shown around our humble camp? You’ll be safe at my side.” While the last was said with a twinkle in his eyes, Inara knew that he was trying to keep her mind off of going home—at least for a while.

Maid Inara silently vowed to forget about Sir Atherton Wing for a few days—even if it meant he might be furious once he found her. She would rather be here with these people for a few days, rather than be with that bricon of a man. When Mal offered her his arm while he showed her around the camp, she accepted. And with that, introductions were made.

---------------

Three days passed, with both Mal and Inara slowly waking to the realization that each had feelings for the other. While each vowed to keep it a secret from the other, the rest of the band saw what was as plain as day.

Whenever they were face-to-face, awkward silences steadily grew. Occasionally Mal would cover these silences with an inappropriate comment. These times often earned him nothing but a slap to the face.

When a week had finally passed, and Maid Inara had neither left the camp nor sought to go with her feelings, others decided to take matters into their own hands. And so it was that Miss Kaywinnit and Friar Book came to have a pact. They agreed to force the pair to see that they loved each other. Albeit with a tenacity of will that would drive lesser mortals to madness. Miss Kaywinnit agreed to take Maid Inara, whilst the Friar would attempt coax Mal into admitting the truth aloud.

This mission is what led Miss Kaywinnit to enter the bedroom of Maid Inara under the cover of darkness. When Inara was awakened from a sound sleep to see her face hovering over her, she couldn’t help but utter, “It’s midnight! Vos saucisses sont inférieures, et vos pâtisseries sont comme les planches en bois moites!” When Miss Kaywinnit only reacted with confusion to the French, Inara waved away any attempted explanation and continued on. While they had talked at length during her stay in Sherwood Forest, she was unsure if the girl was here on business or pleasure.

“Why are you here? You’re job is tending to the horses, oui?” When she received a nod, she simply waited for an explanation. “So…why are you here? Has something happened? Has Mal sent you?”

Before Inara could think of more than the possibility of Atherton coming to reclaim her, Kaywinnit (or Kaylee as she had once said she preferred to be called) finally spoke up. “Maid Inara, please don’t throw me out. I just think that you’ve been denying your feelings…and from what everyone’s seen you and Mal share romantic notions for one another.”

When Inara stated “Tu dérailles!,” she was promptly ignored. Finally giving up the protest, she admitted it was true. “Then tell him! What harm can it do?!

“Yes, I do have feelings for Robin Hood—Mal, or whatever he wishes himself to be called. But--”

Before she could list the reasons why it could not happen, Kaylee grabbed her arms, drew her up from the side of her bed, and shoved her out the door. She quickly turned back around to run back inside, but the door had quickly been closed and latched. She sighed, pulled her nightgown around herself more securely and looked around just in time to see Mal get thrown out of his own room as well. When he caught her gaze, he grinned, rubbed his neck and said something which surprised her. “That was the Friar. He was trying to convince me to tell you—that I love you.”

Suddenly nervous she asked, “Was he right?”

After a long pause, “Yeah. Yes! I love you.” Mal seemed half terrified of what her response would be if he made an attempt at anything.

They bent down to kiss, only to be interrupted by Kaylee shouting into the night from Inara’s room, “And neither of you can come back in until you at least hold hands!” By the sound of it, Miss Kaylee could no longer hold in her giggles.

Mal and Inara looked at each other for a moment, and began to laugh. When the laughter died, they tried to start over. Partly amused, Mal finally said, “Now, then. Where were we?” Inara’s answer was quick and succinct. “You were just about to kiss me. And I was just about to say I loved you, too.”

And once the shock of her actually sharing his feelings was over, they kissed.

-----

Later the next morning, everyone in Sherwood Forest was happy if a little sleep deprived. Before things could go further, however, there was still the unfortunate fact of Sir Atherton Wing still being out there. He could find her any day now—possibly even sending an onslaught of guards to slaughter her.

Her worries were all for naught, however. Little Jayne had gone hunting for wild boar that very morning, and had come upon the corpse of a man. After much examination, it had been determined to be Sir Atherton Wing’s. The man had been gored to death while fleeing from a boar—the selfsame boar had been found nearby, impaled on a sword. This was the final clue as to whom the person once was, as he had engraved his initials upon the blade years ago. He had bragged about his sword many a time.

Inara thought it a fitting death for him, and was secretly pleased. Mal was not so secretly pleased, as he thought it called for a celebratory feast.

In the midst of a scrumptious feast of wild boar (it seemed fitting) and chicken, Mal surprised her with a kiss. Her surprise grew when he asked her to marry him—and she accepted.

Nobody else among the Merry Men and Women were the least bit surprised at this turn of events. Many had expected it. Yes, even Little Jayne.

---

And so it was that Friar Book was called in to bond Maid Inara and Malcolm “Robin Hood” Reynolds in marriage. It took naught but a few minutes, as they did not need extravagance. Sherwood Forest was their home, and they agreed to live there for the rest of their days in matrimony.

And with the ending of the ceremony, Malcolm Reynolds suddenly lifted Inara off her feet, threw her over his shoulder, and spirited her out of the Friar’s hovel. They needed privacy for the upcoming festivities, and he wanted to start things as soon as possible.

The last thing either of them heard as they fled the scene was Little Jayne making his regularly heard comment of “I’ll be in my tent.”

With a glint of wicked humor in his eyes, Mal turned and shot back, “We’ll be in ours, too—don’t expect us back for at least a week!” Inara’s shocked laughter was the last that was heard from them as Mal resumed his pace.

And—ignoring their periodic lovers’ quarrels and the occasional slap to Mal’s face—they lived happily ever after.

Finis




List of Old French translations:

bricon = blackguard

Vos saucisses sont inférieures, et vos pâtisseries sont comme les planches en bois moites! = Reality and you don't get on, do they?

Oui = Yes

Tu dérailles! = You’re out of line!
 
 
 
agent_rouka on February 15th, 2006 07:11 pm (UTC)
Heh! I love the humor of this, and... Jayne taking a pro-active stance about his boss's ineptitude with medieval arms. ;)

“And give to the poor?” The look of horror which crossed the thief’s face at the notion was almost comical. The thought of giving money away would have caused his heart to stop if he were a frailer man.

Soooooooo right on, hehehe!!


A very sweet tale!
van on February 16th, 2006 09:30 am (UTC)
Not written for me, and I'm not even fond of Mal/Inara outside of the context of the show, but I thought this was adorable. I loved "I'll be in my tent." I think using French instead of Chinese is ingenious, too. :D Mal stealing from the rich and keeping it? So terribly fitting. I love it. So, great job. :D
(Deleted comment)
calliopes_pen on February 20th, 2006 02:18 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. So glad you liked it.

And it made sense to use Old French, since most people wouldn't know Chinese in the era of Robin Hood.