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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
Action, adventure and really wild stuff
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1001 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
13. Wicked Game
Mal makes it up the stairs, swearing blood and vengeance. Finds Zoe, looking as confused as he does. No alarms sounding, but the ship is pushing fast as she’ll go.
“Thought you said that crazy liu mang couldn’t fly the gorram ship?”
“He can’t, and you know it.” Zoe’s checking her gun automatically as they go.
Mal curses again, swings himself into the infirmary.
“What’s happening, Captain?” Simon’s collecting up scattered items from the floor. One of ‘em‘s Kaylee. “Why did we take off in such a hurry - have we got trouble?”
“We have. Your sister’s done taken it into her head to try some aerobatics, and I think she may have company persuading her.”
Simon does on occasion swear.
Simon runs up the stairs to the bridge, comes back out through the doorway near as fast, with a pistol at his nose. It’s Jayne has a piece trained on him.
“One squeak to stop her an’ I stop you. Tell ‘em, girl.”
Mal finds himself looking to River. Girl could feed Jayne his own arm without blinking, but she gives him a swift glance, slight move of her head, ‘no’.
“Use this launch window or we lose the optimum proximity. Orbital trajectory indicates...three hours, full burn. Got to go now, Captain.”
“Went and rescued Inara - how’s that different, Mal? An’ don’t tell me she was crew, ‘cos she never was. Went and got her ‘cos she was your woman. Well, Larji’s mine. Tried asking reasonable, an’ you laughed at me. You wanna laugh now?”
“Do I look like I think this is funny?”
“Hell, you can ruttin’ well shoot me when we land, but I’m putting this on you. You get her safe, Mal.”
Zoe’s edging round, trying to get a line on him. Mal gives the word, she’ll drop him. Gun twitches.
“You get your hands where I can see ‘em, Zoe.”
There is a moment when it could all go to hell. Someone is going to end up with a bad case of dead, and Mal don’t want to see anyone go down. Jayne’s eyes are cold, unblinking...red-rimmed and pain in the grim set of his jaw. The big man looks like to lose it, and bullets in the bridge are gonna get them all breathing a whole lot of nothing. Zoe would take him down in a beat, but there’s been enough blood on this floor.
Mal stops fighting it. Thinks on Ilargia, tough and funny, sitting at ease in their kitchen, cooking in her own. Jayne ain’t happy without her.
“Zoe, fall back.”
Time enough to look like an idiot later. River is rarely wrong, if rarely coherent. Jayne wavers. Behind him River sways again. Can’t tell if it has happened or if it will happen. Trying to hold onto time and place, and fly several hundred tons of complaining metal.
“No guns.” River sounds distant. “She needs us.”
“Stand down.” Mal makes a move towards her, checks as the gun swings his way. “We ain’t got so many friends in the ‘verse we can afford to have people troublin’ them. Kaylee, go get what you can out the engines. Doc, we made need to call on you...” If only to dope Jayne up.
“We’re going?” Only thing holding Jayne upright seems to be the grip he’s got on his gun.
“We’re going. Go an’ get some sleep before you fall down.”
“I can’t sleep...”
“No use to her if you’re a wreck.”
But he won’t go. Props himself against the wall back of the bridge, still tweaked. Won’t believe them until he sees it.
Zoe puts her gun up. Relief under the stone. Mal had said, she would have shot him. But it would have been something to trouble her, the times she does let the demons out of their cage. They got three hours travelling, she’s gonna get some sleep, even if Jayne don’t.
Mal looks at River. Seen Jayne do a lot of dumb things, and pulling a gun on her is right up there. But...she let him do it.
“What the hell is going on?”
“Giri. Tanaka-san was embarrassed, angry that his hospitality was abused, shamed that you knew of it. But you sent a subordinate to deal with it, saving his face. So he must do you a favour in return.”
“That...still makes precisely no sense.”
He’s missed his little albatross. Strange little girl is his compass, steering him through dangerous waters. Missed her sweet smile, her screwy little perceptions.
“I’m not a fortune cookie.” Missed that scowl of hers, too. The one that tells him he’s being a dumbass.
River tries not to smile. She knows that this is the right thing to do. Can feel it, in the place where the needles live. Still has bad days, but she can walk between the shadows now. Touches the minds around her for reassurance. Feels Mal’s confusion.
“Why did you let him do this?”
“Why did you?” River asks back. She looks at him, and something moves in her expression. “Doing something stupid to keep the woman you love nearby, even for a little while...well, that’s the kind of stupid I don’t mind.” Eyes focus again. “You know it, Captain. It’s in your head.”
Mal does know it.
“Just fly the boat, River.”
Heading into who knows what, with a lust-crazed idiot holding a gun on him, and his little crazy person at the helm.
Just another day on Serenity.
Jayne does go to sleep, eventually, sprawled against the back wall. But he’s still armed, and Mal knows better than to try and wake him suddenly. Man has good instincts, but he’s also got no reason to be nice to anyone, ‘specially Mal. Not after the last few days.
“Not one of your soldiers. He never had to stay, never had to follow. Wanted a place to belong.”
“He tried to turn you in, River.”
“He was trying to protect you.” Has he never seen this? No, he hasn’t. “I wasn’t crew, then. Only one strong enough to do what might have to be done.”
(Another secret. This is theirs.
“If...I go crazy again, on Serenity, would you shoot me down?”
Blue eyes are cold, clear and honest.
“In a gorram heartbeat, girlie.”
“He’s a gorram fool.”
“He’s a man.” River smiles. “More than dirt and bullets, Captain.”
Hitting atmo, and the ship buffets. Hecate’s a mean bitch and she’s pitching a fit. Jayne comes awake, to his feet and gun level in one movement.
Scariest thing. River’s face goes blank for a second. Only Mal sees her lips move...
“Like a leaf on the wind...”
Body language changes. Jaw sets, eyes slightly narrowed, flips three switches without looking. Mal has never believed in possession, doesn’t want to start now. Glad as all get Zoe ain’t on the bridge. But Serenity levels, and a teenager with no flight training is taking them flat down through hellish weather like she’s never done anything else.
Jayne loses his tight stance, looks just spooked. He crowds up the back of the co-pilot’s chair. (Not until later, that they discover that he’s gripped so hard, chair back’s broke.)
Ship kisses dirt, like a feather drifting. For a second River gives Mal a cocky grin that he knows, then she slumps over the controls with a gasp.
“We’re down.” River (again?) Eyes snap open, stark terror, and she turns to Jayne. “Run. They burn witches.”
Somewhere out in the night, there’s an explosion.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006 1:14 PM
Thursday, May 18, 2006 3:58 AM
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Wednesday, June 14, 2006 10:33 AM
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