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"You taking on passengers?"
The gentleman who I immediately knew to be the captain glanced down at me from the loading bay. "T'weren't planning on it. You have a pressing need to be somewhere?"
"Anywhere but here."
"I have some cashy money. Also fairly fresh foodstuffs."
"Shiny. Welcome aboard the Serenity." He offered me a hand and I took it politely. "Let's take you to the guest bunks--"
"I know where they are. You don't need to escort me, and I'll certainly stay out of your way and mind my own business."
"I recognize you, sir, and for me, you are a sight for sore eyes."
"If you say so. Go on then."
"Aye, aye, Captain." Demonstrating my knowledge, I wheeled my bicycle carefully through the cramped loading bay, toward the medical office, and which preceeded the guest quarters. On the way, I passed the mechanic, and passed her the small bag of fruit, and kind smile on my face.
She stared at me as I passed, and then jumped ahead, presumably to speak with the captain.
The guest room was cramped but homely, and I locked up my bicycle against one wall, on the far side of the bed from the door. I set my bag down, and my head soon followed it to the pillow.
I woke to the sound of engines ramping up, and the grav drive kicked in with a small lurch. I smiled to myself. The ride was a bit rocky, but I had little fear that I would soon find myself anywhere but where I left off. I let myself drift back into a restful sleep, feeling safe for the first time since I left my apartment.
I joined them in the kitchen for dinner, bringing my bag with me and sharing freely. The crew chattered and laughed through inside jokes, and I felt myself joining in, telling a bit of my own story, which seemed to sound pretty incredulous to them.
"You're not a witch, are you?"
"Jayne, be nice."
I laughed, failing to take any insult. "Not unless I became one without noticing."
The pilot, the same tiny slip of a girl who spotted me first, laughed with me, shaking her head. "Was it a vision or a waking dream? Fled is that music..."
"Do I wake or sleep?" She and I finished the final line together. "Keats. Yeah, I've had some pretty realistic dreams, but I've become rather adept at discerning them from wakefulness. I'm awake."
"Maybe we're the ones that are dreaming," the engineer offered, savoring a bite into a particularly large strawberry.
"Nothing would surprise me anymore."
At that, a deep whirring sound overrode any further conversation, and half the crew stood suddenly, drawing their pistols. It faded at the sound of a gong, and my jaw dropped, recognizing the source.
"No freaking way."
All parts of Only Sweeter.