Eliza, Simon and Kaylee's four year old daughter was wandering around the ship. Most of the crew was busy doing things to keep the Serenity running and this left Eliza with basically nothing to do. She'd been playing with her 'cousin' Hobie and his dinosaurs until he had to do some school work with 'Uncle' Mal.
She knocked on Inara's doorframe, because she couldn't reach the chime button quite yet. The door was ajar, and the lights were up in the room, meaning she had no company. The scent of paint and tea were coming out the door and the little girl thought she had smelled almond cookies when she and her mother had brought Inara a breakfast tray that morning.
"Ayu 'Nawa, May I c'me in?" the dark haired little girl with chubby cheeks smiled to herself, remembering her manners. She stood up straight and remembering how Inara smooths her dresses as she rises to her feet, the little girl tugs at the sides of her overalls trying to emulate the dark haired lovely lady.
"Come in little one...did your mother send you to collect the tray?"
"No.... I'm..." She sat down in a chair and didn't move for a moment and then acted out a huge yawn. "Unca Mal is doing stuff with Hobie...no dinos."
"You want something to do?" The older lady smiled."Are Ayu River and Zoe and your ma and pa busy?"
The little girl nodded."They finished loading cats for 'nother planet."
"Cats?" The Companion hmmed."Did you see inside their crates?"
The little girl nodded and smiled."One Mama is feeding her baby kittys, an' Uncle Mal says cats need lotsa space so I gotta leave the babies alone but I can look no touch."
Inara giggled at the little girl and then gestured to where she had set up her easel."Want me to pull out an easel for you and then you can paint your favorite kittens so you can remember them?"
"Yeah!" The little girl nodded. Inara slipped over to her closet as well and pulled out a large man's shirt.
"You get that from Unca Jayne?"
"No... I bought it and a couple others to keep you and Hobie's clothes clean for when you paint. It's called an Artist's Frock."
"Fwock?" The little girl nimbly picked the size of canvas she wanted from a corner crate and held it on the edges as Inara set up the easel."Zatsa nudder name for dress right?"
"Yes it is." Inara added."I'm wearing a frock and an apron, which are protecting my clothes. I'd have to fold an apron a few times to fit you if you want to wear one too?"
"Naw. I' fine with Artis' fwock." The little girl picked up a small brush and closed her eyes, and opened them before dipping the brush into black paint.
"Kitty ears are tri'a'gle." She made two triangles fairly neatly and carefully swished the black around leaving space for 'white fur and a place for eyes, then washed the brush out in Inara's water."Need pink!"
"Yup, one baby kitty has pink nose and inside ears. Nudder one is Owinge gonna do that one next to bwack kitty."
"So you'll need orange after the pink?"
"Yeah. an' geen for eyez." The little girl paused in her painting to look at what Inara was doing. She saw flowers on one edge of the canvas, brilliant red petals outlined with thin darker red lines and the faces of two men coming alive under the gentle swishings of the brush held by the Companion.
"Who dey?" The girl looked up at the dark haired lady who had stopped painting and was checking on her tea, as the pot had started whistling yet again.
"Friends that are lost but for their memories."
"Tell me 'bout them?"
"Well this one is Hobie's dad... His name was Hoban Washburn..."
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