Blue Sun Job, Part 5: Life That Was
Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Mal's and Zoe's relationship now and backstory are explored. Lots of sexual potential with lots of no-sex taking place. And a small G-rated nod to some of the slash fic I've run across.


Blue Sun Job, Part 5: Life That Was

Sequel to the Truthsome series (link is to part 1)
Blue Sun Job, Part 1: Plans and Schemes
Blue Sun Job, Part 2: Into the Lion’s Den
Blue Sun Job, Part 3: Going Smooth
Blue Sun Job, Part 4: Return to the Core


No critical dialog using actual Chinese characters

哎呀 = Ai ya = damn
混蛋 = hwoon dahn (hundan) = bastard
他妈的 = ta ma duh = f*ck, or motherf*cking

Blue Sun Job: Life That Was
靑日 Job: Life That Was

“Whew...” Mal let out a long, sighing breath he felt like he’d been holding since stepping off Serenity as he closed the door of their hotel room behind them. “哎呀, but that was creepifying.” He’d never dreamed checking into a hotel could be so gorram scary. Trying to look casual and in-character while hunting for familiar faces in a place where they had more than a little history of the could get them thrown in jail kind... And the hotel seemed be having a 他妈的 Fed convention. Almost rather face Reavers. At least the smarmy little bastard at the desk took their looking-over-their-shoulders unease for paranoia at being lovers sneaking away from her husband--apparently a specialty of the hotel now. And how, exactly, had Inara known that when she picked the place? Never mind. Not a thing to ponder on. Hmmph... there’d been a Companion promenading through the lobby like she was the queen of Sihnon, with a fawning ape of a 混蛋 Fed at her side grinning like he’d just won the gorram lottery.

Dropping his bag, Mal immediately dug out a Cortex link. Prying off the back, he pulled out a Kaylee add-on to the gadget. Carefully he began sweeping it over the room, paying particular attention to anyplace a camera, sensor, or any other type of bug could be placed. Zoe checked the room more broadly--vents, windows, pictures and mirrors.

“Oooh! Do you see that tub?” she said. Mal rolled his eyes and continued working. The sound of water running started immediately. He glanced up. The tub was huge--big enough for... well, more than one. It was also out in the open in the room on a raised, tile platform opposite the bed. Zoe apparently decided to focus her security concerns on the potions she was dumping into the water. A scent of lilacs filled the room.

“And the bed...” Zoe said, flinging herself down on it as Mal ran the scanner over the headboard and checked underneath. “You could fit half the crew in this bed.”

“Which brings to mind,” Mal commented distractedly, “the eerie-ass question of which half?”

“Yeah.” Zoe grinned. “Guess that’s a place best not gone.” She added, with a impish twinkle in her eyes, “though Simon’s kinda purty.”

Mal glanced at her, scowling. “Ick.”

With his scan complete--no bugs, no sensors, place was as good as its disreputable, sleazy, cash-paying reputation promised--Mal straightened up and actually looked at the room itself for the first time. The ceiling over the tub was mirrored. “Dang. Ain’t up to Inara’s standards, but more than a tetch smutty lookin’ anyhow.”

Zoe stretched out on the bed and sighed. “Ain’t it though. I wish Wash were here.”

“Well, I’m glad as hell he ain’t. Don’t fancy watching the two of you goin’ at it the next couple days.”

Mal crossed to the window and stood staring out over the city. Twilight darkened the sky and brightened the glow of the gas giant that hung on the horizon to the far left. The view was made to order--right out over the industrial district. Smarmy-boy at the front desk had smiled knowingly when they’d insisted they wanted a room at the back of the hotel. Quiet and private, not one with the nicer view out front.

Behind him, the water stopped. Could have probably filled Serenity’s tanks with as much as Zoe’d just run in that tub.

“There it is,” Mal said quietly. Zoe stepped up beside him. “Right there,” he said, pointing. “There’s a new building on the one side, but the warehouse is still on the other.” They’d known that in advance, had researched the area, but it was still a comfort to see it as it had been, unchanged.

“Different fence,” Zoe commented, “and guard towers.”

Mal nodded. “Meant to keep folks out, not in.”

They shared a long look that said volumes. Zoe turned away. Mal pulled a small binoculars out of his bag and began studying the area in detail. The old prison appeared much the same. Different paint job--Blue Sun logos plastered all over it. Same structure, though. He traced the surrounding streets in detail, noticing the positioning of sentries and patrols, watching the flow of traffic--escape routes and choke points.

“So, what’s with the dress?” Mal asked, still studying the soon-to-be crime scene.

“Didn’t you notice the other women?” Zoe asked.

“What other women?”

All the other women,” Zoe said in her ‘you idiot’ tone.

Mal lowered the binoculars and let his gaze roam over the city. “All I saw were a whole helluva lot of Feds. Every damned place I looked. Feds.”

Zoe chuckled. “Well, there were other folks about, too. And all the women were wearing dresses.” She paused and added, “They have an ordinance.”

The growing twilight outside caused the interior of the room to reflect in the window. Mal could see Zoe standing at the edge of the tub platform, tugging at the lacings of the dress.

“You mean they’d arrest a gal for wearing trousers?”

“Yup. Crappy planet then. Crappy planet now,” Zoe said lightly. It was the kindliest term Mal had ever heard Zoe use to describe this gorram world. She’d used some mighty powerful terms in the past, and with good cause. She’d also threatened to nuke it from orbit as soon as she could lay hands on the weaponry. Fortunately, that had been a private conversation or she’d still be locked up. Truthfully, he wasn’t entirely sure she remembered that--she’d been pretty drunk and he’d been careful not to remind her.

Zoe undid the last lacing. Mal closed his eyes and grimaced. “You know I can see you in the window.” He looked again. Zoe stared over. Meeting his eyes with a smirk, she let the dress fall to the tiles.

Sighing, Mal looked back over the city, sparkling now as lights twinkled on across it. Some might have thought it a pretty site. He didn’t. Ignoring the splashing sounds behind him, Mal watched Alpha rise. The moon was a small disk in the sky, so coated with lights on its night side that it glowed brighter than the day side. Rich, prosperous, life-sucking sons of... Mal had to look away. Which brought him right back to a bubble-coated Zoe.

Not particularly looking, and not particularly not looking, Mal crossed to sit on the edge of the bed. Pulling off his boots, he propped up some of the pillows and leaned back. Zoe stretched a leg up, letting soap bubbles stream down off it. She moaned happily.

“Your husband’s gonna kill me, you know,” Mal said dryly.

“Oh, you’re a much better shot than he is. You could take him,” Zoe said.

“That’ll be a comfort in the ten seconds I have until you kill me for taking down your husband.”

Grinning, Zoe said, “Wouldn’t take me ten whole seconds. I’m much faster than that. Don’t worry. He’s on a strictly need-to-know basis on this mission.”

“This damn well better be a thing he don’t need to know,” Mal said. He watched Zoe thoughtfully. “Helluva lot seems like you don’t think he needs to know.”

Zoe turned to study him. “And I mean it to stay that way.” She turned back, squeezing a large sponge out over her head. “Wash is another life. Another lifetime. He’s bright, and fun, and happy and he makes me feel positively joyous and shiny. Don’t need a dead and buried history blackening the shininess.”

“Yeah?” Mal said quietly. He was part and parcel of that history. Zoe didn’t seem to comprehend just what she’d said to him there. Or maybe she did. “I think you’re making a mistake. Some of that history is gonna come up and bite you one of these days and Wash may not forgive you for keeping it from him.”

“Well, he’s my husband, not yours,” she said a bit tersely. “He knows there’s history I ain’t told and he loves me just the same. And just how much have you filled Inara in on? Hmm? Or anyone else for that matter?”

“I’m just sayin’...”

“Well, don’t.”

Mal sighed. “Coming here was a mistake.” He rubbed his eyes. “Never should go back to a place you left in the dust.”

Zoe sat up and leaned on the near edge of the tub. “Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. Remains to be seen. Maybe we’re both crazy beyond repair, but I got a burning need to win one over these bastards, just like you. Unfinished business. Old scores.”

“I hear that,” he said. “You know that wasn’t my intent. The job. Didn’t mean it to be a strike. Just a job. Then everyone keeps talking at me on how the war was over and it came to me that this was an unfinished battle. A 他妈的 chance to win one. Even if they never know we did.” He paused and added judiciously, “Actually, I hope they never do know.”

“ ‘Cause that’d mean we got caught.” Zoe chuckled. “Ain’t gonna happen. I just got a feeling this one’s gonna go smooth.”

“I surely do hope you’re right,” Mal said.

Zoe contorted, trying to reach the dripping sponge to her back. “Come scrub my back.”

Mal groaned, expressing in an old, colorful, and extremely inappropriate-in-public Chinese phrase from their army days just exactly what she could do with that notion, and with herself. He pulled the pillow down and rolled over, closing his eyes.

* * *

It would have surprised those who had even an inkling of his history, but most of Mal’s dreams were pleasant ones. Maybe it was through force of will, or wholesale psychotic denial, but he tended to dream about the good times, with people alive and happy and whole in places tranquil and untouched as they were in the life-that-was, in the before. In a way it made it worse. In a big way. Waking up was the nightmare. To be forced to remember what had become of those people and places, to know they were gone far beyond reach or redemption.

Now he dreamed of Zoe, the first time he’d seen her, and the only other time he’d ever seen her wearing a dress. It had been blue, as well, and simple of cut. She’d been the prettiest, wildest filly he’d ever laid eyes on. Shadow was a blur in the background of the dream, other faces indistinct. Only Zoe’s face stood out clearly, as she danced in the firelight. It was Shadow’s Founding Day celebration... the Alliance would be there to tromp them down soon, coloring the brown, dusty ground with red. No, that was later. Right now Zoe’s sparkly eyes met his and a flash passed between them...

Mal woke abruptly, on full alert. He stayed still, sussing out the situation. Alpha was high in the sky, glaring down at him--must have been asleep about two hours, judging from the moon’s position. Someone was in the room. Then he heard Zoe’s voice, calm, untroubled. Okay. All was well.

Rolling over, Mal watched Zoe close the door, pulling the service cart further into the room.

“We ain’t here on some gorram holiday, you know,” he grumbled, rubbing his face and struggling to sit up. “How much is that gonna cost?”

Zoe sat down on the foot of the bed and started opening lids over the food. “Don’t make any difference,” she said, sounding a mite snappy.

“The hell it don’t.”

Zoe glanced over at him. “It doesn’t. If we make it, we’ll have plenty of coin. If not,” she shrugged, “this trifle wouldn’t pay the lawyering bill no how.”

She had a point. Still and all, he’d lived frugally for so long--forever, really--that the notion of squandering money was an alien one. 哎呀, stuff all smelled good. Guessed he was hungry after all.

Sliding down to the end of the bed, he settled down beside Zoe, picked up some chopsticks, and started eating. Mal glanced sideways at her. She wore a plush white robe that covered her completely, her hair down and still wet. Sitting beside her to dinner in a room they were sharing... It all felt very easy and comfortable. Familiar. Like missing pieces falling back in place to rebuild an old picture. That easy familiarity suddenly gave him a serious case of the uncomfortables, far more than her tub act had done. Wash had no worries on that account--any heat between Mal and Zoe had burned out lifetimes ago. He’d seen Zoe every which way there was to see her; clothed or unclothed, sick, wounded, well and spitting feist and fire, covered in blood and gore, slitting throats with stone cold death on her face... But this casual domesticity... In sickness and in health... Now why the hell had those words suddenly popped into mind?

Mal set down his chopsticks abruptly, turning to face Zoe, lips poised to make words he really didn’t mean to speak. She faced him. Her eyes went into him, like they’d always done. He closed his mouth. Words weren’t needful. Never really were. Hard to tell if it was his thoughts or hers he was thinking, his memories or hers, or even if there was any difference...

* * *

Life That Was... five years earlier...

There’d never been any discussion on the matter. Not then. Not later. Not ever. They walked out of the Alliance prison on Beta side-by-side. It was the moment they could have shaken hands and went their separate ways. Instead they turned a corner in unison and continued on together then and ever. Even the times they were apart or off in different directions for a spell, there was no questioning that it was temporary and the other would step back into place at any time. He hadn’t led and she hadn’t followed. They’d gone on their path together.

Next: More Life That Was with Mal’s and Zoe’s backstory and relationship twined with the events of the Blue Sun Job
author’s note: I clipped this section into two parts so as to post this part sooner


Tuesday, June 1, 2004 12:33 PM


Gorrammit, this is so shiny I need sunglasses to read it. Can't wait for the next part and more glimpses into Mal and Zoe's backstory. Very well written and just begging for more, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, June 1, 2004 5:00 PM


I continue to be amazed, keep up the excellent work :)

Wednesday, June 2, 2004 3:37 AM


That was fantastic! Why is my life so busy I rarely get time to read other people's writing? Well, it ain't ever gonna get so busy I don't follow this story. Loved it. Damn near tore my heart out with all that M/Z UST. Shiny, shiny. And so happy and sassy too.

Thankyou. Must go back and read the rest....

Wednesday, June 2, 2004 6:36 AM


All caught up now, and much the happier for it! What a writer you are. Marvellous. Deep insight into the characters, great plotting, funny and touching. I am in awe.

Friday, September 30, 2011 9:10 AM


Sooo shiny!! All good, but I especially love this part: There’d never been any discussion on the matter. Not then. Not later. Not ever. They walked out of the Alliance prison on Beta side-by-side. It was the moment they could have shaken hands and went their separate ways. Instead they turned a corner in unison and continued on together then and ever. Even the times they were apart or off in different directions for a spell, there was no questioning that it was temporary and the other would step back into place at any time. He hadn’t led and she hadn’t followed. They’d gone on their path together.


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Blue Sun Job--A Sequel: It Means a Thing
Post-Serenity, Mal & Zoe share a moment, or two. And then some. Story takes place in the context of the "Blue Sun Job" scenario. COMPLETE One-er.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 39: Into the Black
The conclusion of the Blue Sun Job.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 38: Shadow
Mal & Zoe's past smashes into the present. Everyone on the crew gets an earful, especially Wash.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 37: Plan B
There's a dead Shepherd on the floor, a bunch of angry live ones, and Mal, Zoe, and Simon in their midst.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 36: One Down
Return of the "Blue Sun Job"! First of the last four chapters of this story.

Blue Sun Job, Part 35: The Worthier Part
Book's more nefarious, Mal's less crazy, and Zoe is dangerously pissed.

Blue Sun Job, Part 34: Of Many Books...
Book's nefarious. Mal's crazy. And Simon is bewildered.

Blue Sun Job, Part 33: Light and Shadow
Mal has just had his big tell-all session with Book concerning his and Zoe's history. Now landed at the Shepherd's Sanctuary, they have to deal with the fallout and with Book's mysterious past and plans.

Blue Sun Job, Part 32: Revelations
Mal and Book talk about some Big Damned Things.

Blue Sun Job, Part 31: The Heart of the Matter
Tales & stories come out into the open--more than a little dark. But not to worry, Jayne, the philosopher, also explains women.