BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

GUILDSISTER

Blue Sun Job, Part 7: ...and Robberies That Were
Tuesday, June 8, 2004

Mal's & Zoe's entry into a life of crime. And, hey, it's a Firefly story so someone has to get shot.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 3345    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Blue Sun Job, Part 7: ...And Robberies That Were

Thanks to all of you who’ve left such kind comments about my stories. It’s much appreciated.


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
Blue Sun Job, Part 5: Life That Was
Blue Sun Job, Part 6: More Life That Was


Chinese:

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
狗屎 = go se = crap
懂吗? = dong ma? = do you understand?

Blue Sun Job, Part 7: ...and Robberies That Were
靑日 Job: ...and Robberies That Were

Jayne had moved on to his second assigned position, near the railing of an outdoor cafe. Good boy. A different woman laughed and fawned opposite him. Mal always knew this was a freakin’ bizarre planet. Jayne spotted them. Mal gave the pre-arranged signal that the job was on for tomorrow night. With a bare blink of acknowledgment, Jayne started to turn coolly back toward the woman, then his eyes snapped over to Zoe and his mouth fell open.

Something between an outright leer and falling down on the ground laughing with hilarity flooded over Jayne’s face. Hard pressed not to laugh out loud, himself, Zoe’s fingers biting into his arm warned Mal just how dangerous that would be. Mouthing a “no” to Jayne, Mal urged his dress-wearing first officer off down the boulevard.

Zoe stared downward, shaking her head and muttering as they continued on toward the hotel. Disconnected words like “kill” and “never forget” mingled with what sounded like the names of various torture devices. Mal chose the cowardly part of valor and said nothing.

“Whoa!” Mal jerked Zoe back, shoving her into the alley next to the hotel.

“Gonna throw me against the wall now? To get even?” Zoe asked, annoyed and amused.

It was Mal’s turn for the ‘you idiot’ tone of voice, coupled with a nice ‘you idiot’ look of disgust. “No. Just a familiar face out front of the hotel”

Zoe leaned cautiously out around the corner. “More like a familiar fat ass,” she said frostily.

Mal let out a long breath. “And he will remember us. You at least. Well, you from the neck down. Don’t think he ever actually looked higher than that. Or at me at all.”

“Don’t underrate yourself, sir” Zoe said, still peering around the corner. “I think he leaned both ways.” She grinned at Mal’s expression. “Got any ideas?”

“Well...” He snuck a peak around the corner, then scanned the street and alley to see if they’d been noticed. “You up for some sneaking about? What say we try this?” He held up an electronic key.

Zoe’s grin broadened. “You still have a pass key to the hotel? I can’t believe you kept that all this time.” She laughed. “Will it still work?”

Mal shrugged. “Hard to say. I perused their security system a tetch, such as I could without being too obvious, anyhow. Same gorram system. Only less. Didn’t look maintained too good. Half the sensors and cameras are out.”

“Might be part of that catering to folks stepping out on their spouses. Wouldn’t do to keep too good of surveillance.” She grinned again. He could see she’d been primed for action tonight and was a mite frustrated that it had been thwarted. “Let’s have a go. This could be fun.”

Creeping through the alley, they chose a particular route to avoid sensors and cameras, one they’d studied out five years back and used only once. It was a weird combination of fun and creepifying time travel, like two ends of life; that what was and that what is, were reaching out to touch each other.

“Code’s changed,” Mal said as he slid the key into the slot on a side service door. “But the basic format is still the same...” he added slowly, studying the readout on the lock. “Got the tools?”

“Yeah..” Zoe pulled a small tool kit out from beneath her cloak, holding it open for him even as she scanned about behind them, keeping watch.

Fully absorbed in his task, Mal put all security concerns off on Zoe. She had his back. Working quickly, yet carefully, Mal bypassed the code, working his way into the system. Too smooth... got in quickly and loaded the new pass code onto the key. Slick as spit.

Grinning, he glanced up at Zoe. “They haven’t learned a thing,” he said.

“And we have,” she said with a hint of menace.

With a meaningful nod, Mal replaced the lock cover and slid the pass key back into the slot. The door obediently clicked open.

“Want to snatch anything while we’re about it?” Zoe asked, backing in to make sure they weren’t seen.

“Tempting, but best not. Don’t want to raise any alarms until the job is done.” He looked thoughtfully down the service corridor under the hotel. “Be nice to rob that fat bastard blind, though.”

“Again,” Zoe added.

* * *

Five Years Earlier...

Menial work didn’t bother either of them. They’d done more than plenty, in the army and long before. Zoe clung to the dishwashing job--let her stay in a corner brooding rather having to deal with the leers of Alliance officers who patronized the hotel. That suited Mal well enough--didn’t want her ripping the arms off any Fed as dared lay hands on her. And it gave him a better chance to scout around, get they lay of the land, so to speak. He didn’t have anything particular in mind, just wanted to be prepared for any new troubles that might come their way. Hell, troubles would be coming. Only question was when and how.

The boss, a fat, slothenly bastard with a perpetual leer on his face, explained their status in no uncertain terms. “You’re only here because the little lady there sweet-talked me.”

Mal blinked, hiding his reaction behind a bland poker face. ‘Little lady’? Zoe? ‘Sweet-talked’? Zoe? In what bizarre alternate-’verse was that? Death with both hands Zoe? And the fat bastard still lived? With all his parts intact? 哎呀. This was indeed a curious and serious state of affairs.

“One slip and you’re gone,” the boss said, clearly relishing his power over the former Independent soldiers. Sure as certain this feller’d never seen combat. How many of those who favored Unification had even the remotest grasp of what it meant to those folks it was inflicted upon? Or had been willing to put their own cushy lives on the line to fight for what they thought was right?

“We won’t give you any trouble, sir,” Mal said sincerely. “Just want to do an honest day’s work and live as upstanding citizens of the Alliance.” Fatso bought it wholesale, Mal noted with satisfaction. The knack of lying convincingly was another thing he’d have to thank the Alliance for. Never had need of it before, nor the upbringing or inclination to do so.

The room Zoe acquired was in a run-down tenement in the area the service people lived, out of sight of the finer districts. Well, well... so not everyone on the Core planets was rich and soft. Indentured servants and slaves aplenty took care of the dirty work with little reward and no thanks. Funny, how the gentry managed not to see the dazzling inequalities. Now, Mal had nothing particular against rich folks, but the thing that stuck in his craw was the absolute way the Alliance controlled and contained the under-classes, making damned sure they could never rise up to any better place or life. He and Zoe were under the unders.

A shared bed in a tiny, not too clean room--better than many a berth and resting place they’d known--each managing to be utterly alone even when they were together, with barely a word spoken by either. Three days passed with strict compliance on their part with the many rules and restrictions placed upon them. They understood discipline from army and prison and could simply let themselves go blank and just take what they had to take. Zoe was off in a broody place and Mal had his own shadows to explore as they learned their new existence. They’d been trained in patience as well as compliance and now bided their time, watching and scouting, waiting for an opportunity or option to present itself that would let them flee this wretched world. Things appeared bleak, indeed. They were a part of the lowest of the lower classes--lower in many ways than the slaves, not owned but entirely controlled. Through Zoe’s enterprise, however, they were better off than most of their colleagues.

Zoe sorted dishes methodically, devoting her attention to trying to work a plan to get out of their situation. They were firmly and completely under the heels of their conquerors. It was only a matter of time before one of them broke and killed some 混蛋 and got killed or--worse--locked up again. Right at this moment, Zoe wouldn’t care to bet on which of them would crack first. Mal concealed that wants-to-murder-them-all expression more and more poorly every day. As for herself... she had a notion of where they needed to go and what they ought to do, but it was Mal’s call. He had to come to the decision himself.

“Reynolds. Zoe.” The boss’s assistant called to them sharply. Everyone--every damned one--treated them like they were the lowest of roaches just waiting to be squashed. “Report to the boss’s office at once.”

“Yes, sir,” Mal said complacently, but Zoe could see the look in his eyes as he marked the twerp into his ‘some day’ book.

“I’ll be right along,” Zoe said. She was just about to process another batch of dishes.

When she arrived at their fat-ass boss’s office, it was to the sight of Mal up against the wall being searched by an Alliance police officer. The hotel’s security chief stood back, giving her a look of smug satisfaction. He’d never liked them being there. In a moment she was against the wall beside Mal, being frisked with excessive thoroughness. A black look passed between her and Mal.

“What’s this about?” she demanded.

“You know damned well,” the hotel security chief snapped. “Just tell us where the money is and we’ll see if we can’t cut you some kind of deal.”

“What money?” She gritted her teeth as the officer searched and re-searched an area he shouldn’t properly be touching at all.

“Don’t play games. The money stolen from the petty cash fund right here in the boss’s office.”

Zoe glanced at Mal. They hadn’t talked, but she knew he’d been scouting the place. He barely shook his head. He hadn’t done it. They were suspects right off the tick solely because of who and what they were.

“We didn’t do it,” Mal said, not keeping the anger out of his voice. “You can’t arrest us without any evidence.” Now, Zoe didn’t know if that was true or not.

“They’re Independents,” one of the police officers said, poking those 他妈的 ident cards in one of their 他妈的 scanners. “That’s certainly enough to hold them until we come up with evidence.”

Neither bothered to protest further. What would be the use? In fuming, helpless silence they were hauled on back to the jail.

* * *

Mal paced the tiny space. There was nothing else to do. Three gorram days locked in total isolation, not knowing what was going on with Zoe. How long could they hold them without charges? Or evidence? Hell, they could manufacture all the evidence they wanted. Probably keep them locked up forever, as they chose, without evidence.

Finally the door swung open. “Out,” the guard ordered curtly. Mal didn’t ask and the guard didn’t say where they were going, so he was surprised when a door opened onto the lobby and Zoe was waiting near the door.

Not like to argue with being released, and not even remotely expecting an apology from the 混蛋, Mal looked to Zoe for an explanation. Her face was a set mask, as cold as he’d ever seen her, and as coiled to strike.

“Let’s get out of here,” she said, setting off rapidly down the street.

“When’d you get out?” Mal asked, pressed to catch up to her.

“Yesterday.” Her tone suggested it would be wiser not to question further, but he needed the intel.

“How...?”

“Hotel dropped the charges. Made me an offer, using you to pressure me to take it. Eventually admitted there was no evidence,” she said shortly.

“Hey, ease up here,” Mal caught her arm. They stopped in the shade by a sidewalk café with a low wall around it. Mal sat down on the wall, looking up at Zoe. “Well... you were right.”

“Thanks for say-- right about what?”

Mal gave a bitter laugh. “About them. About how they regard us.” He saw the question on her face. “We’re not soldiers to them. Not now. Not before. Not ever, even when we were in a war fightin’ ‘em. They never did truly see us as soldiers. We’re criminals, pure and simple.”

Zoe shook her head with a small laugh. “That was over two years ago I said that.”

Mal shrugged. “I had to think on it a bit.”

Zoe gave a genuine laugh and started to say something but chopped it off with a groan. Mal glanced up to see two Fed police officers approaching them. He groaned too. Presenting their ident cards as ordered, they were back at the jail in minutes.

Even the desk sergeant was astounded. “Loitering?! They haven’t been gone from here even five minutes. They couldn’t have been loitering long.” His lieutenant strode over.

“Lieutenant,” one cop protested, “Their idents are tagged. We got orders to arrest their kind at all times on any cause.”

“So,” Mal inserted, “we’re required to show those gorram ident cards, but if’n we do, we get arrested. That so?”

The lieutenant scowled at him. “I’m taking responsibility for dropping this charge. Let ‘em go.” He stared at them coldly. “It still goes in your permanent profile.”

As soon as her hands were free, Zoe seized her ident card off the desk and tried to destroy it. It was tougher than she was, though. The lieutenant watched her mildly for a moment, then said, “It’s thirty days plus a fine for destroying an Alliance ident card, miss. And then you have to pay for a new one.”

Mal clamped his hand on her wrist and pulled her hard toward the door. “We’ll bear that in mind. Thank you kindly, sir.”

“It’s probably illegal to cuss in public, too,” Mal interrupted Zoe half a block away when she was still going strong with the colorful tirade. “I finally got it figured.” She simmered down and looked at him. “Um hmm,” he said, nodding. “They’re herding us.”

“Herding us? Where?”

“Now that I don’t know. They got the drovers out and they’re herding us along. But whether it’s to a corral, or off a cliff, I couldn’t say.”

Zoe sighed. “I think we get to choose. The hotel offered me a deal. Good money. Enough to get you off Beta now, and me some time later.” She paused glancing at him. “A five year indentureship.”

He went icy still. “Doin’ what?”

“House whore,” she said. “Oh, they had a prettier name for it, but the work’s the same.”

Mal smiled in a deadly way. “I ain’t even gonna ask what you told ‘em.”

“Probably wise,” she said. “Let’s just say I didn’t pick the corral.”

“So, off the cliff it is, then.”

“Seems like.”

He pondered a moment. “You know, that’s what these fines for all this petty 狗屎 is about too--building up a debt we owe ‘em until they can force us into that corral. Indentureships...” He gritted his teeth. “I’d go to hell first. Wonder how many of ours they’ve lassoed that way.”

“You two. Stop there.”

Now what? Breathing too much 他妈的 Alliance air? They stopped and turned around. It was the lieutenant from the police station. He approached them with an trace of wariness, Mal noticed. The Fed had no backup and his weapon was holstered.

“Yes, sir, officer. How may we be of service?” Mal hid none of his contempt or anger in his tone or manner. Did the cop know he was dealing with people so close to the edge of the gorram cliff they’d be perfectly willing to take him into the abyss with them?

“At ease, there,” the lieutenant said, making a non-threatening gesture with his hands. The cop was a military man. Mal regarded him darkly. That earned him no points. “I’m looking to do you a favor, okay?” the cop said. “I’m getting sick of this 狗屎 too. You people were decent fighters, even though you were dead-ass wrong in your reasons.” Such sweet talk. Mal didn’t dare look at Zoe. He held the Fed’s eye silently. “Just some advice,” the lieutenant went on, “and this--” he held out a small paper map and some tube tokens. Mal took them, looking questioningly at the cop. “--get out of the city. There’s a black out zone not far off the end of this tube line.” He pointed at the map.

“We’re not allowed in black out zones,” Mal said blandly.

“Exactly,” the Fed said.

Mal smiled suddenly, favoring the Fed with a disarmingly pleasant look. “Much appreciated, sir. Closest to a kindness we’ve known in many a year.” Maintaining the smile, Mal held out his hand, a touch surprised the lieutenant shook it.

As he and Zoe turned away down the street, Zoe asked, “Think it’s a trap?”

“Absolutely,” Mal said. “But at least we know where one of these black out zones is now.”

When they were well away, Mal asked softly, “You get it?”

Zoe twitched the edge of her coat open, showing him the cop’s wallet. “Easy peasy,” she said with a sinister smile.

* * *

Zoe fired with an unhurried, steady rhythm with the carbine she’d just bought with the Fed lieutenant’s money. Every shot landed where she intended on a different portion of the Alliance ident card she’d attached to the wall of the ruined building. Mal wasn’t firing; didn’t have ammo enough to waste. He just practiced landing the pistol in the correct position, without looking, then checking down the sights to see if he was on the mark.

When Zoe let up, he glanced over at her. Only one small fragment of her ident card remained. “Feel better?” he asked.

“Damned straight,” Zoe said. “Good to have a weapon in hand again.”

“That it is,” he agreed. Holding her eye, he whipped his pistol out to the side and fired without looking. With an icy smile, he turned to sight down the barrel. The last fragment of Zoe’s ident card had been blasted cleanly away.

“This building’s been bombed,” Zoe commented, looking around. “Lots of these have.”

“Yeah,” Mal said. “I noticed. Don’t know of any battles on this world. Civil insurrection maybe?”

“Bombed out their own people? Wouldn’t put it past ‘em.” Zoe sighed. “So, now what?”

Mal sighted down the pistol barrel again. “Crime.”

“Crime?”

“Yup. Rob the bastards blind and sleep well after,” he said. “You in?”

“Always,” Zoe said, a smile creeping over her face.

Mal shook his head, landing the gun barrel in position yet again. “Don’t know what my momma’d have to say about her boy turning into a criminal.”

Zoe met his eyes. “Momma Reynolds would ask what took you so damned long.”

* * *

Now...

Mal and Zoe exchanged a quick smile as the door to the hotel room closed behind them.

“No thieving, this time, more’s the pity, but some nice sneaking about.”

“I’m thinking we should leave that way tomorrow night,” Zoe said.

Mal stood at the window, looking out at their target, as he unbuttoned his shirt. “Sure. Less chance of being spotted going out the side door, too. All that walking about out in the open on that street--especially that street--was making me twitchier than a cat in room full of rocking chairs.” Water running sounded behind him. He glanced over. “You are gonna turn into a fish,” he said as he tossed his clothes aside and pulled the bedcovers back.

“Right,” Zoe said sharply. “Wouldn’t want to take even a minute of pleasure on this gorram world.”

“Hmmph... I think Jayne’s handling that department for all of us.” He rolled onto his side, slapping the light off as Zoe slid into the water with some downright unseemly moans. “I’m going to bed,” he said, more than a mite terse himself. Tension of the job, that was it. The worrying about the others, and themselves, in this sea of Feds. That’s all it was.

* * *

Darkness. Smothering, suffocating darkness. Silence of the grave. No feeling. Utterly alone. Buried alive...

Mal woke with a start. Pitch dark. Didn’t know where he was. Just knew it was bad. Sat up abruptly. Nightmare to waking blurred. Then a soft, drowsy voice in the dark steadied him. Salvation reaching out into the nothing--a lifeline.

“Sir?”

Zoe.

She hit the light on her side of the bed and he could see the room around them; knew where they were and why. And why he’d had that particular nightmare--not so much a dream as a sensation, crawling over and through him. Overwhelming dark oppression.

“Are you all right?”

Mal leaned forward. Buried his face in his hands, breathing hard.

“Jesus God Almighty.”

The bed shifted slightly as Zoe moved. Very softly, she said, “That sounded like a prayer.”

Mal gave a tight laugh. Trying to steady his breathing, he glanced upward, then over at Zoe. “More like blasphemy,” he said with a twitch of a smile. “Best get back clear of the lightning bolt.”

Zoe chuckled. Her gaze probed him. Their eyes met with full communication between them. “I’ve been having some bad ones, too,” she said quietly. “It’s the being here. What was this one about?”

Mal shook his head. “I don’t even remember.” He did. Could still feel it crawling over him like the hands of death. Zoe didn’t believe him. That was clear. “You can stop fretting,” he added, rubbing his eyes. “I’m fine. Go back to sleep.” He lay back down, staring up at the ceiling, not real eager to close his eyes. Zoe watched him a minute more, then reached for her light.

“But...” Mal said. Zoe stopped her hand. “Don’t... leave...” He hesitated, then bit the words out, “Don’t turn out the light. It’s too dark in here.”

Slowly, Zoe said, “I’ve never known the dark to bother you.”

He shook his head. “It doesn’t. I don’t let it. Can’t.”

Zoe didn’t say anything. He didn’t expect she would. Instead she dimmed the light down to a warm glow. The bed shifted as she moved. Mal turned his head toward her in surprise when he felt her touch on his arm. She slid down beside him, drawing him close.

“Zoe...” he started.

“Sssshhh.” Slowly, almost methodically, she wrapped herself around him.

After a moment of hesitation, he put his arms around her. Mal closed his eyes and the darkness didn’t bother him... not so much, at least. Her breath was warm on his neck. The even rhythm of her breathing soothed his own still-ragged breaths. Though twined as close together as two people could be, there was nothing even remotely sexual about it. It was a thing deeper and stronger than mere passion.

“Your husband...” Mal felt obliged to say.

“Ain’t here,” Zoe murmured. “And we’re doin’ nothing wrong.”

Both were silent a long time. Then Mal said, “I ain’t even been thinking about it.” He didn’t explain the ‘what’ of it. Zoe knew. The eternal weeks--months--he’d been locked in that dark cell beneath the prison. Contemplating on all the death, all the loss, in that tomb. He took several deep breaths. Zoe’s grip tightened around him. “It just never quite goes away. None of it.”

“Never will,” Zoe said in a bare whisper. “We live with it. And go on.”

“You really should get some sleep,” Mal said, trying to sound normal--well, normalish--and captainy. He wasn’t real keen to sleep himself, not with the dark still so close, but he ought not trouble Zoe’s rest.

“Not really wanting to,” Zoe said. “Got a good set of my own nightmares just waiting to happen.”

“Yeah? You can force good dreams, if you work at it enough,” Mal said. Mostly he could. Though dreams of good times made the morning less easy they made the nights more tolerable. “Being here, though... it’s making it hard.”

“I hear that,” Zoe agreed. “Impossible.”

“Well, then, think on some of the good times here,” Mal suggested.

Zoe pulled back slightly, staring at him. “Weren’t any I recollect.”

“Come on. There had to be.”

They fell silent, contemplating.

“I got nothing,” Zoe said after a minute.

Mal pondered a bit longer. “How about that first big job. The prison guard’s payroll. That was pure and utter goodness.”

A soft snort from Zoe. “You got shot.”

“Yeah, but we got the money.”

“You almost died.”

He frowned. “Okay. But, you see, I don’t really remember that part too clear. Just that we got the money and got away clean.”

“They hunted us for weeks,” Zoe said, her voice rising a touch.

Mal nodded thoughtfully. “Again, not too clear on that part. I just remember the good parts.”

Zoe said curtly, “Let’s see... when you weren’t delirious with fever, or nearly blinded with pain, you were unconscious. The unconscious must be the good part you’re latching on to.”

“I do recollect the you getting snippy part,” Mal said. It was a curiosity how they could manage to argue while still holding each other without slacking their grip even a bit.

Zoe relaxed again in his arms and chuckled. “Well, you scared me.” Then, so soft he barely heard the words. “Couldn’t have stood to lose you.” He squeezed her tighter. That was more than mutual.

* * *

Five Years Earlier...

Mal leaned on her heavily as Zoe half-dragged him into their small room. Dumping him down on the bed, she moved quickly toward the window, carbine in hand as she scanned the street. A loud groan burst from Mal as he tried to lay down.

“Quiet,” Zoe snapped. He chopped the groan off, gritting his teeth and panting. She moved to the other window, watching and listening.

“Looks like we’re okay,” she said, still studying the street. “For now.”

Setting her gun down on the table within easy reach, she pulled Mal’s pistol from her waistband where she’d tucked it, setting it by one of the windows, ready to use. A quick, steadying breath and she turned toward him.

“Well, let’s see how you are,” she said, keeping her voice light and unworried. His eyes squeezed tightly closed, a sheen of sweat glistened on his face. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she eased away the hand he had clenched over his side. It trembled slightly in her grip. He opened his eyes and she saw a too-familiar vagueness start to cloud them.

“Hey,” she said sharply, giving him a smack on the cheek. “Stay conscious.” He blinked rapidly and she could see him fight the creeping darkness. If he went into shock she wouldn’t be able to pull him back. Grabbing a wash cloth, she wiped at the entry wound. “It’s not bleeding too bad,” she said. She ran her hand over his side. He flinched and groaned. No exit wound. “Bullet’s still in there, though.” She leaned over and pressed her ear against his chest. Lungs sounded clear, near as she could tell. Probably not bleeding internally. Hell, he’d be dead by now if he was.

“How bad?” he asked.

Zoe pressed the cloth to the oozing bullet hole, moving Mal’s hand over it. “Press,” she ordered. She stood, moving to check the windows. “You’ve survived worse,” she said distantly. But not without any sort of medical care. They had no drugs to ease pain and halt infection. No tools to pull out bullets and stitch up wounds. No disinfectants. No bandages. They had nothing. It retrospect it was an obvious oversight in the plan. Even in the crudest, roughest of battlefield conditions they’d had more and better than they had now, save for that last week at Serenity Valley. And there would be no evac here, except to a jail and possibly on to a gallows.

“You need a hospital,” Zoe said. “At least a doctor.” Mal didn’t answer, just gave a short laugh that turned into a long groan. “You’re not like to bleed to death, but if that bullet doesn’t come out and the wound get cleaned, you’ll probably die of infection.” She said it so coolly and analytically. Just another battlefield death. Just one more. Don’t look at the face. Don’t notice the ‘who’ of who it is. Just a dead body. An object. Nothing more. Pile it on the fortifications and never mind the blood pouring out.

“Then you gotta get the bullet out,” he said. It wasn’t really an order. He wasn’t ordering her to do it. She sort of wished he would. Then she wouldn’t have to decide which way he should die, from a festering bullet wound or at her hand through clumsy battlefield surgery.

Still looking out the window, she said tiredly, “We’ve got no supplies. Nothing for pain.” She glanced at him as he watched her with bright, serious eyes. “You’ll be in for a gawdawful time of it.”

“There’s no kind of choice,” he said, pausing to close his eyes and breathe heavily, fighting a spasm of pain.

Zoe made the choice. “Well,” she said brusquely, “then it’s got to be right now. ‘Cause they’ll be coming after us--to here--sooner or later. They didn’t I.D. us, but you know we’ve got to be on the short list of suspects, just because of who and what we are.” He nodded. “You’re gonna be a lot worse off before you’re any better. So we’re gonna have to do this thing, and then move soon as possible. 懂吗? He swallowed hard, then nodded.

She crossed to sit on the edge of the bed again. Zoe reached to brush back his hair with a fond gesture, stopped herself, instead laying her hand on his forehead, feeling already creeping heat of a fever. Ramming all feelings deep down within her, Zoe shut them off, moving to do what she needed to for the injured man on the bed. He wasn’t nobody. Just another object needing to be dealt with.

Next: Blue Sun Job, Part 8: Zoe's Tale The backstory of their first big robbery and ultimate escape

COMMENTS

Wednesday, June 9, 2004 7:46 AM

AMDOBELL


Absolutely rutting awesome! I adore the glimpses of Mal and Zoe's relationship, the things that bind them the deeper for being unspoken. Beautifully written and just begging for more. Very shiny! *Xiexie ni*, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, June 9, 2004 9:21 AM

RELFEXIVE


I gotta say... this has all been shiny stuff... definitely top three percent material Can't wait for the rest of it!

Friday, June 18, 2004 12:46 AM

KISPEXI2


I am applauding here, clapping gleefully. I love, love, love the way you write. Light and playful but gripping and emotional at the same time. Damn fine!


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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.