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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
“Wait, I’m sorry, could you repeat that? It sounded like you just ordered me to help you rob a bank.”
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1510 RATING: 8 SERIES: FIREFLY
By Fish and RSB
* * *
“Wait, I’m sorry, could you repeat that? It sounded like you just ordered me to help you rob a bank.”
Captain Malcolm Reynolds looked down at the apple slice in his hand, then back up at Simon Tam and shook his head. “Well, I don’t believe ‘rob’ was quite the word I used. We’re going to the bank to make a completely legitimate withdrawal. Our employer provided us with a key and everything. Just a simple pick-up and delivery. That’s all. Was there anything else you might’a misheard?”
“How about the part where… you ordered me to come?” replied Simon, raising his eyebrows and leaning back in his chair.
“No, you heard that part right,” Mal said casually, wiping his hands on his shirt. “Figure your company might turn me into more of a respectable gent.”
At the other end of the table, Zoe stifled a laugh. “Unlikely.” She paused, and then added, “Sir.”
“Appreciate the support,” Mal returned. He stood up and gave Simon a blunt look. “I’m going to go get changed into something more appropriate. Be ready to go in a half hour.” He stopped halfway out of the mess and turned around. “Did you need me to repeat any of that?”
Simon put his head in his hands and muttered, “How about the part where you ordered me to come?”
Mal tugged irritably at his collar, squinting slightly in the afternoon sun. Glancing over at his companion, he noticed that Simon wasn’t much watching where he was going, too busy scanning the streets for Feds. Although Semele was closer to the Core than Mal preferred, it was far enough that there was relatively little Alliance presence. Pulling open the bank’s heavy brass doors, he gestured politely for the doctor to enter ahead of him. Simon kept his head down nervously as he stepped into the bank, but his eyes snapped up as a tall man plowed into his shoulder, sending him reeling back against the doorframe.
“Sorry, I didn’t realize I was in your way,” Simon grumbled to himself, rubbing his arm and staring at the retreating man’s back. Mal watched curiously as Simon’s eyes brightened in belated recognition and the color slowly drained from his face.
“Friend from the country club?” Mal asked innocently.
“What? Oh, ah, no. I mean, yes, I think I know him, but-“
“But,” Mal interjected impatiently. “This is all fine and good, and maybe you two can catch up and chat about the good old days, after we finish the job, okay?”
“Right. Finish the job,” Simon repeated absently. He hesitated, feeling a little flustered, and Mal gave him a subtle push into the bank. The captain looked around the cavernous lobby in bemused interest, his recently polished shoes echoing across the marble floor.
“Welcome to our Semele branch,” a voice said smoothly in Mal’s ear. Startled, Mal resisted the urge to spin and shoot the bank employee who had managed to sneak up on them. Instead, he turned on the charm.
“Thanks. Nice place you have here,” Mal commented, making a show of looking around the room.
“That we have here, you mean. After all, we do have an account,” Simon corrected hastily, giving Mal a covert glare.
“So we do,” Mal replied, reaching into his pocket and producing a platinum key card. Waving it at the employee helpfully, he added, “We’d like to make a withdrawal, if you don’t mind.”
“Right this way,” the man replied, extending his arm towards a pair of gigantic steel doors at the rear of the room. He motioned them forward with a little bow.
Mal and Simon followed him towards the rear and stepped into an elevator bound for the high security vault beneath the bank. After a brief, silent ride the elevator slowed to a halt and stopped with a cheerful tone. The attendant led them to a computer terminal and asked for their key card. Mal handed it over and waited patiently as the attendant summoned the appropriate deposit box from within the vault. The box arrived with a soft whirr and Mal picked it up carefully.
“Is there somewhere we can examine this privately?” he asked, tucking the box securely under his arm.
“Of course, this way, please.”
They walked a short distance down the corridor and entered a small, comfortable, parlor-like room. The attendant moved to shut the door, saying, “Will you be needing anything else?”
“Naw… I mean, no. Thank you. I think we’re set,” Mal said awkwardly. He turned and placed the box on the coffee table and sat down on the couch as the man left. Inserting the key card, he heard a small click as the latch released. The lid popped open, revealing a palm-sized rock. “Well, how about that…” Mal said slowly.
“That’s granite,” observed Simon.
“Yes,” Mal agreed. He reached in and took out the rock, looking it over. On the reverse side, a word was carved into it. “’Goodbye’,” Mal said, reading the inscription.
“The rock,” clarified Mal, holding it up. “It says goodbye.”
“The rock says goodbye,” Simon repeated.
Mal looked from the rock to Simon and back again. He dropped the rock and grabbed Simon’s collar, diving behind the couch and dragging Simon with him. After a few moments, the two peered cautiously over at the box.
“Is something supposed to happen?” a confused Simon asked.
“I was kinda expecting a big explosion…” Mal said, sounding a bit disappointed. There was loud tick from the box. “That’s it!” he exclaimed triumphantly, ducking again. A deafening roar filled the room and a wave of heat and force threw the couch into them. Mal’s head connected painfully with the wall behind him and his vision blurred. He became aware of Simon calling his name and pushed himself up groggily. Surveying the damaged room, Mal nodded to himself, trying not to looked shocked that the entire front wall was reduced to rubble. “I think its time we left,” he said decisively. “Let’s get out of here before the authorities arrived.”
“What’s wrong?” Zoe asked as she strode into Serenity’s cockpit. She wasn’t absolutely certain that something had gone wrong, but when didn’t it?
“Oh, it’s nothing. Except maybe, the uh, the bank blew up,” explained Wash, using his dinosaur to point at the controls.
“Well, not the whole bank. But a large part of it. Like, most of it…” Wash trailed off and shrugged. “Anyway, I’m sure Mal and Simon were nowhere near the bank when it happened. They probably went in and got whatever they were supposed to get and left. And then the bank blew up. Coincidentally.”
“Do you really believe that? Don’t be an idiot, dear. Come on.” She started to leave.
Wash got to his feet and followed after her. “I’m not an idiot,” he argued lightly. “More of a… Well, I’m more of a pilot.”
“My point exactly.”
They passed through the mess where the rest of the crew was gathered. Shepherd Book tapped a line of text in his Bible and patiently explained, “No, River, it was not supposed to be taken literally. It’s an allegory.”
“It doesn’t make sense,” River insisted.
“Sure it does,” piped up Kaylee. She rubbed at the trinket in her hands with a rag and shrugged. “Just don’t think too hard, is all.”
“Not a terrible problem fer either a’ you, is it?” Jayne said, disassembling one of his guns.
“Ignore him,” Kaylee said, sticking her tongue out at Jayne. “He doesn’t bother to think at all.”
“Too much thinkin’ ain’t a good thing,” retorted Jayne. He set the pieces of his gun on the table and began cleaning them. “You might turn into that fancy doctor of ours.”
Kaylee opened her mouth to argue, but Zoe cut her off saying, “Wash and I are going down to the bank. Jayne, try not to break anything.”
“What? Why?” Kaylee asked, straightening. “Did something happen to the captain? Or Simon?”
“No, no no no no,” Wash reassured her. “They’re fine. We’re just going to see about opening a line of credit. You know. Normal bank things.”
“You two interested in settling down?” Book asked disbelievingly. “Thinking of taking out a mortgage?”
Wash nodded. “Something like that. We’ll be right back!”
Zoe discreetly took Wash’s hand and led him out of the mess. “Time to go, honey.” Wash managed to wave goodbye as he stumbled out after his wife.
In a squalid alley a few blocks away from the bank, and the authorities, Simon was taking a look at the gash running above Mal’s eyebrow. “You’re going to need stitches for this,” he said, stepping back.
“It was supposed to be an easy job,” Mal was saying. “We go to the bank. We pick up a box of… something. We take it to the employer. We get paid. Easy money.”
“So, we weren’t expecting that explosion?” Simon asked.
“But no, things never turn out the way they’re supposed to. No easy money for us,” Mal continued to rant. He kicked a piece of trash, ignoring Simon. “One of these days…”
“One of these days, you’ll… what, exactly?”
“I’ll, I’ll… I need stitches?” Mal said, finally processing Simon’s words. Simon nodded, and Mal reached up gingerly to the cut. His shoulders slumped, and he rolled his eyes. “And instead of getting paid, I’m getting stitches!” He started towards the other end of the alley.
“Where are we going?” inquired Simon, hurrying to catch up. He stepped in something sticky and resisted the urge to look down.
“Back to the ship. I need to have some words with our employer.” Mal stopped and kicked at another piece of trash before stepping onto the street.
“I’m so glad I came,” Simon sighed, hopping awkwardly over a puddle.
“Oh my,” Zoe breathed as she caught sight of what was left of the bank. She felt Wash stiffen beside her.
“So much for opening an account,” he commented lightly. Zoe spared him a tight smile as they approached, glancing nervously at the Alliance barriers that had been erected around the damaged building. There were several ambulances still at the scene, although Zoe assumed that most of the injured would’ve already been taken to the nearest hospital. Putting a hand to her temple, she sighed; the last thing they needed was for Simon to be treated by Alliance personnel. Squaring her shoulders, she approached the nearest paramedic, Wash trailing a few steps behind her.
“Excuse me,” Zoe said neutrally. “I’m looking for my friends. Two men. Can you tell me where I might find them?”
“I’m sorry, I can only disclose that information to family members,” he replied, and Zoe felt her anger rising at his indifference.
“One of them happens to be my husband,” she said, hearing Wash clear his throat to cover his surprise.
“Yes…my brother-in-law.” The medic eyed them suspiciously, and Zoe resisted the urge to skewer Wash with a glare.
“I was adopted,” she explained. Quickly changing the subject, she asked, “Do you know where they might’ve been taken?”
Although the medic still looked skeptical, he nodded and said, “You’ll find them at Jackson Memorial Hospital. They’ve either been taken to the emergency department, or to the morgue.”
Zoe didn’t want to think about the second possibility. Instead, she asked, “Do you know what caused the explosion?”
“I’m no expert, but I’ve heard that the blast seems to have been focused from what used to be a safety deposit box…although I understand it’s in so many pieces now,” he answered with a little shrug. Zoe struggled to keep her emotions in check as she nodded her thanks and led Wash away from the scene.
“Wait, which one are you married to?” a voice whispered in her ear, and she couldn’t help but smile.
Mal stalked up the ramp onto Serenity and headed for the cockpit, still grumbling about stitches and not getting paid. Kaylee unsuccessfully tried to stop him, but was brushed aside by a “Not now, Kaylee”. Simon tried to keep up, but stopped by the infirmary to pick up his kit. He found Mal hunched over the com, speaking to their employer.
“Oh, Captain Reynolds. What a… pleasant surprise.”
“D’aulaires,” Mal greeted dryly. “Or would that be an unpleasant surprise, considering how you tried to kill me?”
D’aulaires’s eyes widened and he hastily explained, “That would be a misunderstanding on your part, Captain. I sent you to withdraw an item of considerable value to me. In fact, I expect whoever planted that explosive was trying to kill me.”
“And we just happened to get there first. Lucky us, eh?”
“Quite lucky,” agreed D’aulaires, nodding. “Seeing as how you’re more or less in one piece.”
“Well, not so lucky for you, seeing as how someone pinched your goods,” Mal went on.
“Yes, well, I assume that you would prefer to receive payment, and I’d be willing to increase my original offer by twenty-five percent if you were to retrieve the item in question with all expedience,” D’aulaires offered.
“Forty percent,” Mal haggled. “And I want to know what it is.”
“Thirty percent,” returned D’aulaires.
D’aulaires relented. “Thirty, and I’ll tell you.”
“I’m all ears,” Mal smiled politely.
“It’s a chemical formula for a highly experimental, and lucrative, drug that my company is researching. Apparently, a rival company has learned of its existence. Although I couldn’t say for certain which company that would be.”
“I reckon you’re lying. As a matter of fact, I think you know exactly who’s taken the formula,” Mal said. “Now, if you don’t want to tell us, it’s going to be mighty difficult for us to find it for you, and it could cost you a bit more than you’d be comfortable parting with.”
After a lengthy pause, D’aulaires said, “A pharmaceutical company belonging to Johnathon Martes.” Behind Mal, Simon stiffened and dropped his kit noisily.
Mal looked over his shoulder at Simon and then nodded to D’aulaires. “I think we’ve reached an agreement. Should make everyone happy. Pleasure doin’ business with you.” He cut the transmission. “So tell me, you’ve been acting a bit more jumpy than usual. Is this the fella you bumped into at the bank?”
“Yes, I believe so,” stammered Simon, picking up his kit. He was surprised to find Kaylee kneeling down beside him to help.
“What are you doing here again?” Mal asked Kaylee, just as surprised to see her. “Where’s Zoe?”
“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you,” Kaylee huffed, getting to her feet. “She an’ Wash went out to look for you.”
“Oh,” Mal said. He stopped to think for a moment. “Well that complicates things. Guess we’re going to have to go out and find them. Simon, you come with and tell me everything you know about this guy Martes. Kaylee, get the ship prepped for launch. I want to leave the moment we’re back.”
“Ok, cap’n,” Kaylee said, waving goodbye as Simon and Mal left.
“What about that cut?” Simon reminded Mal, as they made their way towards the cargo bay.
“What about it?” replied Mal without breaking stride. They stepped off Serenity and started down the street. “It’s not going anywhere.”
“I want to ask the questions this time,” Wash announced as he and Zoe walked into the hospital emergency room.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea-“ Zoe began, but Wash ignored her and strode purposefully up to the front desk.
“We’re looking for her husband,” he announced to the nurse on duty, gesturing towards Zoe. The woman gave him a confused look, so Wash helpfully elaborated. “My brother-in-law.”
“He was adopted,” Zoe added, trying not to roll her eyes. “Can you tell us where we he is? He was injured in the bank explosion.” She decided that it was best not to bring up Simon just yet, in case it drew any unwanted attention from the Feds.
“I’ll need a name and a description,” the nurse said, turning towards her computer.
Zoe glanced over at Wash. “His name is Malcolm Reynolds. Light brown hair, a bit taller than…” she faltered for a moment, “my brother. Looks to be in his late 30’s and-“
“Mrs. Reynolds,” the woman interrupted delicately. Zoe’s stomach dropped as she caught a flash of sympathy in her eyes. “I’m afraid you’d better head down to the morgue. We have several unidentified bodies matching that description.”
She swallowed. “Unidentified bodies,” she repeated. “In the morgue.”
“I’m very sorry,” the nurse said. She pointed towards a bank of elevators. “Sublevel 3. There are arrows to point you in the proper direction.”
“Thank you,” Zoe said as she turned away, deliberately calm.
“I’m sure it would take much more than a bomb to stop Mal,” Wash said reassuringly. Zoe didn’t reply. “Right?”
“Right,” she answered uncertainly as they stepped into the lift.
“I told you, I’m fine,” Mal insisted, fending off another nurse. “All I wanna know is where people from the bank explosion would be. That’s all. I don’t need anyone to take care of my head. Because its fine.”
“Sir,” the nurse began respectfully. “It’s bleeding.”
Mal touched his fingers to the gash. “Well, fancy that. So, where would I want to be going again?”
“That depends on who you’re looking for and how close to the blast they were. Could be you want the morgue, could be you want the emergency room. Which is where you should be,” the nurse replied.
“The morgue it is, then,” Mal declared, a little too cheerily. “Thank you kindly for all your help, ma’am.” He took a step away, and then turned back. “Which way is it, anyway?” The nurse pointed towards a sign, and Mal thanked her again, Simon trailing in his wake.
“You know, you really should get someone to take a look at that,” Simon said, indicating the cut on Mal’s brow.
“But that’s why I keep you around,” Mal explained, pushing open the doors. He saw Zoe and Wash standing over a corpse, and crept up behind them, peering over their shoulders at the body. “Hey, it’s the bank guy. Oh, that’s a shame.”
“Sir!” Zoe exclaimed, startled. Momentarily at a loss for words, she looked him over and finally said, “You’re bleeding.”
“Could we forget the bleeding for a moment?” Mal asked impatiently. “We need to get back to the ship. Before our money gets away with the guy we’re after.”
“We’re after a guy now?” Wash asked.
“Long story,” Mal said, hustling them out of the morgue. “Tell it to you once we’re back on Serenity.”
As they left the morgue, Wash looked back towards the body, then at Mal. “So, you’re not dead, right?”
“Right,” Mal agreed.
“I figure that our man has already skipped planet by now,” Mal announced as his foot hit the ramp. “Wash, take us up as soon as we’re ready.”
“It would be helpful if I knew where I was going,” Wash replied, glancing over his shoulder at Mal.
“The good doctor here will tell you.”
“I will?” Simon asked, surprised. A thoughtful look passed over his face. “Yes, I suppose I will.”
“Good,” Mal said. “I’ll be up in a second.” He turned down the hallway for the mess, snagging a napkin from the table as he entered. Walking over to the sink, he held the cloth under the water for a moment before wiping the blood from his temple and cheek. Checking out his handiwork in the small mirror, he nodded in satisfaction and headed for the cockpit.
“Quite a crowd,” Mal commented, upon seeing Wash, Zoe, Simon, and Kaylee all crowded around the ship’s controls. “Where is it that we’re going?”
“A space station in orbit around Hestia,” Simon replied, glacing up. “Biomedical offices that have been largely taken over by Martes Pharmaceuticals.” Giving Mal an appraising look, he added, “You should really let me take a look at that.”
“But it’s not bleeding anymore,” Mal said, sitting down in the unoccupied chair next to Wash.
Simon took his kit from the top of console where he’d left it earlier and unzipped it. “Running a dishrag over it does not mean it’s clean.”
“So, do you want to explain to the rest of us what’s going on?” Wash asked, engaging the main drive.
“Yeah, how do you know this guy?” Kaylee added.
“Oh, uhm, we had chemistry,” Simon said distractedly, as he injected a local anesthetic into Mal’s forehead.
“You didn’t mention that part,” Mal quipped, watching Kaylee’s jaw drop.
“How nice for you,” Wash said, carefully.
“Wow. Chemistry,” Kaylee managed, blushing.
“Together!” Simon amended. “We had chemistry… together. Class! In medical school. We had a class on organic chemistry. Together.” He began disinfecting the cut.
“Oh. That kind of chemistry,” Wash said. “How nice for you.”
Zoe patted her husband on the shoulder. “Yes, dear, that kind of chemistry.”
“We competed a lot in school,” Simon went on. “Afterwards, I went into clinical medicine, while he decided to pursue research. He always was a bit unscrupulous. Didn’t mind cutting corners to get results.”
“Which would explain why stealing isn’t beneath him,” agreed Mal.
Simon frowned. “Yes, although I had hoped murder was. Apparently I misjudge him.”
“What got stolen, exactly?” asked Zoe.
“Some formula,” Mal shrugged. “I spoke with our employer, and he’s offering an increase in pay for us to go get it back. We can catch up with Martes at the station. Zoe and Kaylee, you’re coming with me and the doctor here.”
“Wait, I’m sorry, could you repeat that?” Simon asked, tying off the sutures and clipping the extra length. “It sounded like you said I was going with you?”
“What do you need me for?” Kaylee asked.
“Just in case,” Mal assured her. He reached up to fidget with his new stitches, but Simon pushed his hand away. “How long till we get there, Wash?”
“About an hour or so,” Wash said, checking the instruments.
Mal stood up and stretched. “Fine. In that case, I’m going to go get some shut-eye.”
“There’s a biophysio…bio…there’s some sort of conference going on,” Wash said, glancing at Zoe over his shoulder. Raising her eyebrows, she turned and hit the intercom.
“Captain, we’re on approach to the station. Apparently, they’re hosting some sort of conference.”
“Does that mean there’s nowhere to park?” Mal asked, his voice thick with sleep. Zoe suppressed a smile.
“No, but they’re asking for our credentials,” Wash piped in.
“Okay, lie, I can do that,” Wash muttered to himself as he turned back to the controls. A minute later, he announced, “We have docking clearance.”
“Good. Zoe, get Kaylee and Simon and meet me in the cargo bay,” Mal said, and Zoe could hear a click as he shut off the intercom. She leaned over and kissed Wash on the cheek.
“Don’t be an idiot, dear,” Zoe said as she got to her feet. As she left, she could hear Wash mutter, “Where’s the fun in that?”
Mal studied a directory and found the listing for Martes Pharmaceuticals. He started off down the corridor with Kaylee, Simon and Zoe in tow, passing several well-dressed physicians. One of them stopped Mal.
“Excuse me, doctor, can you tell where Doctor Carter’s lecture on the use of epinephrine in cardiopulmonary resuscitation will be held?” he asked.
“Oh, I think it’s… that way,” Mal pointed down an adjacent hallway, after a moment’s consideration. Behind him, Simon bristled.
“Thank you, doctor.”
After the man had left, Simon said accusingly, “You didn’t even understand more than two words he said.”
“He asked where the lecture by Doctor Carter was,” Mal replied defensively. “Besides, if he gets lost, he’ll find someone to point him in the right direction. No harm done.” He started again towards Martes Pharmaceutical’s offices.
“Nice place, doctor,” Mal commented amiably as a startled Johnathon Martes hovered uneasily in the doorway of his rather ostentatious office. He nodded to Zoe, who closed the door after pushing Martes in the rest of the way. Mal propped his feet up on the thick mahogany desk and leaned back in the comfortable leather chair. “Lots of fine things you have here, all legitimately acquired, to be sure. However, it has come to my attention that you have something in your possession that was not so legitimately acquired.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Martes said nervously, straightening his tie.
“Of course you do,” Simon said conversationally, stepping into Martes’ view. “In fact, you were willing to kill innocent people to cover your tracks after you stole it.”
“Ah, Simon Tam,” Martes said disdainfully. “Although I had heard that you were having trouble with the law, I never imagined that you would resort to associating with Se-niou such as this.”
“Yes, well, as touching as this little reunion is, why don’t we get back to the part where you give us the formula?” Mal said before Simon could retort.
Martes’ face hardened. “The formula belongs to me. I developed it, and after our disagreement, D’Aulaires stole my research and developed it without my consent. I am merely taking my share of our mutual assets. I assure you, this was all very legal.”
“Except for the part where you stole and murdered, you mean,” Simon cut in with a glare. “You haven’t changed.”
“You and D’Aulaires were business partners?” Mal asked, shaking his head. “You’d think he could’ve mentioned this.” He shrugged. “Still, he’s the one payin’ us to pick up this formula, so I’m afraid I’ll have to insist.”
Martes stepped neatly to one side as the door slid open, revealing five security guards. Mal tried to scramble to his feet, but the angle of the chair instead caused him to topple over backwards. “On the contrary, I’m afraid I must be the one to insist.”
Despite the situation, Mal could still hear Zoe laugh.
The security guards marched the crew through the corridors brusquely, while Martes followed along behind, baiting Simon as they went. “So, even though you graduated ahead of me, it looks like I’m going to be quite a bit more successful, wouldn’t you say? I mean, there’s a reward to collect and all. No hard feelings though, right? Its only business.”
“Great, he’s gonna talk us to death,” Mal muttered. He looked up as a commotion arose from further down the hallway. It was the doctor Mal had given directions to earlier.
“Hey, you! Ching-wah tsao de liou mahng! I missed Carter’s lecture entirely! All the money I wasted to come to this conference to hear Carter, and you gorram idiot ruined it!”
Kaylee looked at Zoe and mouthed ‘ching-wah tsao de liou mahng’, surprised by the creativity of the insult. Zoe merely smirked.
The angry physician marched up past the security guard and started yelling in Mal’s face. Martes tried to reassert control. “Excuse me, sir, but these people are under arrest. Please, get out of the way.”
“Serves you right, you…” the doctor began muttering another string of invectives under his breath, but Mal put a hand on his shoulder to stop him.
“I just want to say thank you,” Mal explained. “And to apologize for this.” He shoved him towards the nearest security guards and then turned to launch a short jab at the one behind him. Zoe threw herself at the guard bringing up the rear, quickly rendering him unconscious. After subduing the remaining guards, Mal and Simon cornered Martes.
“I think now would be a good time for you to hand over the formula. No hard feelings. It’s just business,” Mal suggested.
“Maybe you ought to think twice before you do this, Simon. I know you’re a wanted man. I can call the Alliance down on you and that sister of-“ Simon angrily drew back his arm and landed a solid blow to his jaw. Martes collapsed against the wall and slid to the floor. Simon reached into Martes’ coat and produced a data chip, handing it over to Mal.
“Ah, just what the doctor ordered,” Mal said, pocketing the chip. “You know, doctor, you’re starting to get the hang of this.”
Simon shook his head as they hurried back to Serenity. “Don’t remind me.”
“I can’t believe we actually got paid fer a change,” Jayne said as he speared a plum with his knife.
“Don’t complain,” Kaylee warned as she carefully scrutinized a strawberry before popping it in her mouth.
Mal strolled up behind Jayne and plucked the plum from the tip of the blade before he had a chance to take a bite. “Who’s complaining about our good fortune?” Mal asked around a mouthful of fruit. Jayne glared at him before honing in on another plum. “I think we should be makin’ a habit of it.”
“What, getting paid or being presumed dead?” Simon asked from the other end of the table, where he and River were playing a card game.
“We never thought you were dead, sir,” Zoe said, resting her elbows on the table.
“See, now you’re lyin’ to me, Zoe,” Mal replied. “I saw the look on your face when we walked into the morgue. You looked like you’d just seen a ghost.”
“Well, it’s true that we expected that if we found you in the morgue, we’d never see you walking out of it,” Wash said as he entered the mess, leaning over to kiss Zoe. “Inara’s shuttle just docked,” he told Mal, who stood and ran a hand through his hair.
“I hope she’s not mad at me,” he said. “Being late and all.”
“She’s always mad at you,” Zoe commented. “Sir.”
Mal glared at her as he snagged a peach out of the fruit bowl. “Thanks for the vote of confidence.”
Mal offered the peach to Inara as she stepped out of the shuttle. “Greetings, ambassador. Sorry to be so late. Hope it wasn’t too much of an inconvenience.”
“Not at all,” she replied smoothly, accepting the fruit. “I take it this was actually a paying job?”
“Quite well, in fact.” They headed back towards the mess. “Might be a good omen. Better times headed our way.”
“We can only hope,” agreed Inara. “So everything went smoothly?”
“Smoothly?” Mal repeated. “Well, I wouldn’t say that. But everything turned out alright in the end, which is just fine by me.”
“I’m glad,” she said. “Although next time, I would appreciate if you tried not to forget about me.”
“It wasn’t my fault!” Mal objected. “I was presumed dead!”
Inara stopped, the peach halfway to her mouth. “I’m sorry, could you repeat that?”
Monday, May 10, 2004 1:45 PM
Monday, May 10, 2004 2:21 PM
Thursday, May 13, 2004 12:02 AM
Saturday, July 17, 2004 5:50 AM
Tuesday, April 04, 2006 6:48 AM
Wednesday, April 26, 2006 11:05 AM
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