"Peregrin Took!” nl pounded on the door to his “private” suite. The self proclaimed “tallest of hobbits” was taking his sweet time getting ready for the red carpet. Nl and Mal had been bathed and dressed for a good hour now but enough was enough. “If you don't get out here in one minute, I won't be held responsible for the consequences of Mal's actions.”
Mal, being the chivalrous captain that he was, took out his gun and shot the lock from the door, then kicked the smoking remains open. He grinned then bowed, allowing nl in first.
Pippin was nowhere in sight...but there was the lingering smell of gunpowder that wasn't from Mal's pistol. A loud boom came from the balcony, followed by raucous giggling.
“Excellent! Let's get another one!” Pippin, his tartan tuxedo covered in black powder darted into the room. He skidded to a halt when he saw nl and Mal...and Mal's smoking gun. “Opps...”
“Took! What's taking you so gorram long? Are you making the thing?” Jayne stormed in from the balcony, holding the remains of a shattered firework. “Well, that does put a dampener on things.”
“Pippin, you are supposed to be walking the red carpet, not setting yourself on fire.” nl sighed and began rifling through his matched luggage for a replacement suit.
“I was almost ready...when I heard the festivities outside and well...you know my weakness for fireworks.” he hung his head, but the grin was still there.
“I also know your weakness for food...so if you don't get your butt onto that carpet and wow the judges, there will be no mushrooms, no apples, no tomatoes, not bacon, salted pork...or Longbottom leaf!”
Pippin face fell at the phrase “no mushrooms” and he was tearing his clothes off and putting the suit nl held up before their eyes. “Ready.” he announced, shining his shoes on the backs of his trousers. There was nothing nl could do about the wild hair, but she did hand him a damp flannel that Mal had fetched, bless the man.
“Okay, let's.....go.” But Pippin was already running down the hallway, slid down the bannister, scaring the herd of horses in the courtyard and sauntering up the red carpet almost before the MC could announce him.
“Jayne, are we going to have a problem?”
“Hey, let's direct this conversation in a not-Jayne's-fault direction. I didn't make him do it. He was all...”Let's set the inn on fire and blame the varmits.” ” Jayne grinned ferally.
“Is that the direction you want this conversation to go in?” Mal asked, loading more ammo into his gun.
“I just don't like taking a lashing for what I ain't the cause of.” Jayne said, shrugging. “And shouldn't you be keeping an closer eye on your contestant? That one is more trouble than River ever was...which I kinda like.” Jayne popped a stolen cigar in his mouth and headed out of the suite.
Nl sighed. “he's right, Pippin warrants more than two eyes on him. So let's make sure he doesn't start anything we can't talk our way out of?”
Mal extended his newly washed arm for nl and led her downstairs to the red carpet entrance. There they saw Pippin somersaulting down the carpet and landing in front of the judges, a red rose clenched between his teeth. His hair was a frightful mess but no one seemed to care.
“okay, so he isn't without his charm.” nl admitted grudgingly.
“That's why you chose him this time around. And it's entertaining to have a rascal on our hands for a change...” Mal smiled winningly as they followed the irresponsible Pippin into the food hall. A loud scream was heard followed by a smashing sound.
“Well, it certainly won't be boring.” she agreed.