BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

DRACONUS

Children of the Academy: Shopping
Sunday, November 5, 2006

As Mal and Zoe meet with Badger, most of the crew goes shopping.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2310    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Chapter 8. Thanks to BEB and J for beta-reading

-------------------------

Mal stepped onto the catwalk and made his way down the stairs. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught Brian and River playing some sort game that involved slapping each other’s hands. Shaking his head, he moved over to the controls for the airlock to open and lower the ramp. Three days the boy had been on his boat, and everyday he and River were playing some new game.

First, it was dancing lessons, which hadn’t been so bad, until they managed to get the rest of the crew involved. Then came the fighting.

It had scared everyone to see the two psychics battling it out, even Jayne. And despite Brian’s promise that it was just a friendly workout, Mal still had concerns.

Up until the staring contest. At which point, he gave up trying to understand what the young couple was doing, and just let them have their fun.

Chuckling softly, Mal stepped out onto the open ramp and gazed out at the dusty dock of Persephone.

Hearing footsteps behind him, Mal turned to see Inara and Kaylee coming through the doorway to the common area. The girls were taking River out shopping, having decided that River needed to ‘dress the part’ for her new boyfriend. Mal hadn’t understood exactly what all that entailed, but he’d agreed to Inara’s request.

He hadn’t had much choice in the matter, to be honest. The things that woman could do with her body never ceased to amaze him. And she had used some of those tricks to get him to consent to their little shopping spree.

Just remembering the night before was putting him in a stupor. And when Inara looked up, she caught him staring at her. She raised an eyebrow, and had to smile. She knew she’d had an effect on him, but to see the battle-hardened Malcolm Reynolds in a trance-like state was quite amusing. She hid a chuckle behind her hand when Mal managed to shake himself loose.

Turning to see Jayne and Zoe coming down the stairs, Mal asked, “We all set?”

Zoe nodded her head. “Ready, sir.”

“Good.” Reaching into his pocket, Mal pulled out a money pouch and tossed it to Jayne. “Jayne, you go and get supplies. The standard stuff, nothing fancy.”

Opening the pouch, Jayne counted the money, then looked up. “Uh, Mal? This seems a mite smaller than usual. Don’t know if I’m gonna be able to get everything we need.”

“It’s smaller because you ain’t buying foodstuff this time,” Mal said as he tossed another pouch to Brian.

Brian opened it up, and after a quick count, nodded his head, then turned to Jayne with a grin. “Looks like the women aren’t the only ones going shopping.”

Jayne just scowled. The two of them hadn’t been on friendly terms since the incident with Boba, and the only reason it hadn’t come to blows was because Jayne knew he would lose. Brian had almost seemed to take a liking to the big oaf. Either that, or he enjoyed mercilessly torturing the big man, no one could really tell.

Looking around Jayne, Mal saw Simon leaning against one of the random boxes that always seemed to occupy the cargo hold. “Doc, you got any plans for the day?”

Simon perked up. “Uh, no. Actually. I was just gonna stay here and relax. Why?”

Mal grinned. “Cause I need someone to get us fueled up, and since everyone else is busy, looks like you just volunteered.” Mal tossed another small money pouch at the Doc’s feet.

Simon looked at the money on the floor, then turned back to Mal. “Cap’n, I’m not sure…”

Kaylee came rushing over to Simon’s side. “Ahh, you’ll do fine sweetie. It ain’t that hard. All you gotta do is make sure that they attach the hoses in the right spots, and that they don’t skimp us. Oh, and make sure that they use P-357, I don’t want none of that D-232 floodin the system. That fei-oo causes the filters to rust, and I don’t want to have to replace them any time soon.”

Kissing the now speechless doctor, she ran out to join Inara and River as the made their way down the street. Mal watched Brian and Jayne take off in the mule, just to be sure there weren’t going to be any problems, then followed Zoe to meet up with Badger…leaving Simon in the bay, dazed and confused, with nothing but a money pouch to comfort him.

*****************

“You’re late.” Badger said.

Mal looked at Badger as he strolled through the door. “Think we already established the fact that we’re late, seeing as how we told you we were going to be late when we waved you.”

Badger sneered from his chair behind the desk. “Don’t mean I have to be happy about it. So, again, I say, you’re late.”

Mal sighed. “How much?”

Badger leaned forward and picked up a few documents. After checking them for a few minutes, he said, “40%.”

Mal jerked, while Zoe raised her eyebrows. He took a step forward, and said, “Deal was 20.”

Badger stood up and walked around the desk. “And your being late inclines me to raise the price. So now it’s 50.”

Mal looked at Zoe. She inclined her head slightly, and raised her shoulders just a fraction, which he took to mean ‘It’s your call, but we could use the money.’

Shaking his head he turned back to Badger and said, “25.”

Badger started walking around Mal and Zoe, saying “Now, Captain Reynolds. Surely you don’t mean to insult me like that. I mean, after all, we do have such a history together.”

Mal followed Badger as he continued to pace around them. “Well, given our history, we might could part with 30%.”

Badger stopped a step in front of Mal. “Make it 35, and you’ve got yourself a deal.”

Mal nodded his head. The crew wasn’t going to like the cut, but there weren’t a lot of options available right now, so they would have to understand.

Done negotiating, Badger walked back over to his desk, and picked up a document. When he handed it over, Mal saw that it was a police document, stating something about illegal goods. Looking it over more carefully, he noticed that it stated not only what the goods were, but where they were being stored, for how long, and how much it would cost to retrieve them.

Handing the parchment over to Zoe, Mal looked up. “Let me guess, you want us to retrieve something you lost.”

Badger frowned. “One of my crews was transporting some cargo, when the local police decided to do a little investigating. Seems one of the crewmembers was wanted for several robberies. A little fact they failed to mention when I hired them.”

Mal nodded. “I could see how that might cause some problems.”

Badger stared at Mal for a minute, waiting for the Captain to say more. When Mal didn’t, Badger smiled and continued on. “Yes…well, givin’ the nature of that par-tic-ular crew member, they done decided that a full search of the ship was in order. So not only did they find stolen goods, but my cargo as well, which is why I called you.”

Having read all the details, Zoe handed the document back to Mal. He folded it up, and placed in his pocket. “So you want us to swoop in, pick up the wayward cargo, and return it to you. That about cover it?”

Badger nodded his head. “Sound as a pound, you are. Once you’ve nabbed the goods, you get ’em back here. Soon as I get me hands on the cargo, you get your coin.”

Mal nodded his head. “Then I guess we better get going.” And he turned to leave, Badger’s smile following him all the way to the door.

*****************

Simon had struggled all afternoon to get the ship refueled. He’d had to argue with the dock master incessantly about which fuel they were supposed to use. The fact that Simon couldn’t remember exactly which fuel Kaylee had said had only made things more difficult, so by the time Mal and Zoe walked back from their meeting with Badger, Simon was only just finishing the job.

“All done, Doc?” Mal asked as he approached the ship.

Simon turned around. “Captain. Uh, we’re, uh, not quite. But we should be done in the next few minutes.”

Mal smiled. “Good. We got a job to do, and I want to get to it.”

Simon checked the fuel meter, just to insure they got what they paid for, then turned back around. “Well, we’re almost done, but I don’t think the girls have come back yet. And I haven’t seen Jayne or Brian either, for that matter.”

Mal turned his head to look at the crowd, as if to find his missing crewmembers in the moving throng. “What’s takin ‘em so long?”

Zoe spook up. “Sir, you did tell Inara and Kaylee they could have the whole day to buy River some clothes. And it is Jayne we’re talking about here.”

Mal just shook his head. “Alright, but I wanna take off the minute they get back. We’ve dawdled enough on this planet for now.”

Leaving Simon and Zoe, Mal headed into the ship to start planning the job.

After checking the fuel again, Simon turned to Zoe. “He really has no idea how long it takes for women to shop does he?”

Zoe just shook her head. “You should see him complain when I go shopping.”

Simon chuckled. “How long do you think it’ll take before he decides to go looking for them?”

Zoe turned to him, and said. “Oh, I don’t think that’ll happen.”

Simon looked puzzled.

Zoe smiled. “If there’s one thing the Cap’n knows, it’s to stay away from women while they’re shopping.”

Simon raised an eyebrow. “I think there’s a story behind that statement.”

Zoe chuckled. “Oh, there is, and it’s a good one.”

*****************

Hearing laughter coming from the bay, Mal left the dining table to see who it was. Sure enough it was Inara, Kaylee, and River. All three women had several bags on each arm, and form the way they were walking, it appeared as if they had had a few glasses of wine along the way. Shaking his head, he made his way down to the cargo bay floor.

“It’s about time” Mal said as he made his way down the stairs.

Inara looked up at him, then back at River and Kaylee and said, “See what I mean?” This caused Kaylee to start giggling, while River just smiled.

Shaking his head, Mal made his way over to Inara in order to help with her bags. Seeing Zoe and Simon coming from the door to the common area, he asked, “Either of you seen Jayne or Brian?”

Helping River with her bags, Zoe just shook her head. Simon took some of the bags Kaylee was carrying, and said, “No, Captain. I haven’t.”

Slightly worried, Mal looked out the open cargo bay door. “I wonder what’s taking them so long.”

Kaylee started looking worried. “You don’t think something’s happened to ‘em?”

Mal tuned to look at her. “I’m sure they’re just fine.”

*****************

It took another hour before Brian and Jayne showed up. The mule was full of supplies, and Jayne and Brian were already unloading them by the time Mal and Zoe showed up.

Making his way over to them, Mal was about to start griping at them for taking so long when he noticed the injuries. Both men had several cuts and bruises, and it looked like Brian was favoring his left leg, while Jayne seemed to be having an issue with his right side.

Hearing the rest of the crew start to make their way into the bay, Mal turned to see Simon and Kaylee stroll in. Kaylee took one look at the two men, and let out a gasp.

Turning to Mal , she asked, “What happened?”

Mal turned back around to stare at the two men. “That’s what I’d like to know. Jayne?”

Jayne stopped moving crates long enough to throw his hands up. “Hey, I didn’t do it.”

From the other side of the mule, they heard, “It was my fault, Captain.”

Leaning over to see Brian still unloading crates, Mal asked. “You care to elaborate on that?”

“I was bargaining with one of the merchants over some food supplies,” Brian said, continuing to work. “He refused to see any reason, so I had to use some aggressive negotiations.”

“What exactly do you mean, ‘aggressive negotiations’?” Inara asked from behind Mal.

“He hit him.” River said as she slid past Mal to make her way over to Brian.

Zoe raised an eyebrow. “You hit him?”

Brian stopped working, and came around in order to address everyone. “He wouldn’t budge. And there’s no way that turnips could cost as much as he was asking. He knew it, I knew it, so I hit him.”

Mal glanced between Brian and Jayne, who had moved around the mule in order to hear the conversation. “So what about you?”

Jayne shrugged his shoulders. “Once the fightin got started, I jumped in. Couldn’t let him have all the fun.”

Mal turned back to Brian. “So there was fighting too?”

Brian nodded his head. “Once I hit the merchant, I got jumped by a couple of security guys. And things just sort of escalated from there.”

Mal shook his head. Starting fights was Jayne’s department, he didn’t think Brian was that sort of guy. Deciding to give the same speech he gave Jayne, Mal was about to speak up, when River lightly slapped Brian on the right leg.

Brian instantly crumpled against the mule, a look of pain on his face. After a few seconds, he got his breath back, and asked, “What was that for?”

River leaned down in order to be eye to eye with him. “That was for starting the fight in the first place.” She thrust a finger into his face. “And for letting yourself get hurt. You’re better than that, so why’d you do it?”

Brian smiled sadly. “Because sometimes a man just needs to hit something and get hit back.”

Looking at Jayne, Mal saw a look of slight amusement on the man’s face. Maybe the two of them were going to get along after all. Turning to Simon, he said, “Doc, why don’t you get these two to the infirmary and get ‘em patched up. Zoe and I’ll take care of the rest of this stuff.”

*****************

Brian was in the kitchen cooking dinner. It was Jayne’s night to help, but the big man was sitting at the table polishing his knives. Neither one of them had said a word since being released from the infirmary.

Simon had examined Brian’s leg, and confirmed that it was fractured, which is exactly what Brian said before they had even turned on the machines. But leave it to doctors to not listen to their patients. So Simon had stitched up the worst of Brian’s cuts, then put a cast on his upper leg, which was making getting around the kitchen difficult.

Jayne on the other hand, had merely bruised a few rib bones, so aside from a few bandages, Jayne’s only real treatment was a wrap around his chest. Which didn’t seem to bother him too much.

Brian checked the contents of a very large pot, then hobbled over to continue mixing ingredients into a bowl. After a few slow strokes, he said, “I’m sorry, Jayne.”

Jayne stopped polishing for a second, then continued, never looking up. “Weren’t nothin. Kinda fun, actually. Anyways, I’ve had worse.”

Brian smiled slightly, continuing to stir. “Well, I appreciate what you did, but…”

Jayne set interrupted him. “You’re a good fighter. Any man can see that. Probly coulda taken out all those men on our own if you’d a wanted. Hell, they wouldn’t have even been able ta touch ya unless you’d a let ‘em.” Jayne set the knife he was holding down and picked up another. “But what you said was right. Sometimes, a man just needs to hit somethin and get hit back.”

Brian just shook his head. “Thanks, but, that’s not what I mean. I mean, that is what I meant, but that’s not what I mean. I mean...” Brian stopped stirring and took a deep breath then continued. “What I mean is, I’m sorry about what happened with my sister.”

Jayne just stopped moving. Everything went silent, but for his heavy breathing, and the scraping of Brian’s spoon against the bowl.

After a few minutes, Jayne laid the knife on the table. Using his elbows to lean on the table, he said, “Don’t know if I can ever forgive ya for that. Ain’t sayin I don’t understand your reasons for it, or what it took for you to do it. I just don’t think I can ever trust a man who can do that to his own kin. I just…can’t.”

Brian sighed, and nodded his head. “That’s alright, Jayne. I understand. I guess I’ll just have to prove you wrong.”

For the rest of the evening, Brian concentrated on his cooking, leaving Jayne to wallow in the memories that had constantly plagued him for the last few days.

*****************

“It’s dinnertime people! If you ain’t in your seat in the 30 seconds, then Jayne gets your share!”

Most of the crew was in fact already on their way to the kitchen, but Brian’s announcement caused them to quicken their pace.

When Mal arrived, Brian, River, and Jayne were laughing hysterically, of course. When Simon and Kaylee showed up completely out of breath with their clothes all in shambles, it was all the three could do to just stay upright.

Scowling, Mal took his place at the table. Tricks were all good and fun, so long as they weren’t on him.

Looking down, Mal saw that the table was already set. In fact, everyone had a plate with food in front of them already, though Mal couldn’t tell what it was, since it was covered. But before he could lift the cover, Brian moved in between Zoe and Jayne, and said, “Don’t even think about it.”

River moved in between Kaylee and Inara, and with a nod of Brian’s head, they bent over and proceeded to remove the covers off of everyone’s plates. And just about everyone instantly started drooling.

Kaylee just stared at her plate. “Is that?”

Jayne shook his head. “No way...”

“Ai ya! Hwai leh!” That would be Zoe.

Mal looked up at Brian. “How did you afford this?”

Simon and Inara glanced at each other and smiled.

River sat down and actually squealed. “Stuffed lobster!”

Brian sat down. “Well, don’t just sit there and stare. Eat up.”

Mal continued to look at Brian. “How? When? Why?”

Brian chuckled and ticked off the answers to Mal’s questions on his fingers. “With the money I had saved. After the fight, while Jayne was distracted. And because I wanted to do something special for all of you for allowing me to stay. Now eat.”

Which everyone finally did. And aside from the occasional groans of satisfaction, or the scrape of someone’s chair as they reached for some bread, or the bowl of vegetables, all was quiet.

It wasn’t until several minutes had passed, after everyone had slowed down enough to enjoy their food, that Simon finally said, “Well, at least they’re not pink and yellow polka-dotted.”

Mal looked up at him in confusion, then over at Zoe, who had all of a sudden decided to pick up her pace. Kaylee and Inara were trying to swallow their food and not choke, while River and Brian stoically continued eating. Jayne, however, looked just as confused.

The look of horror on Mal’s face when he realized what Simon meant sent most of the crew into fits of laughter. In fact, for the next few days, most of the crew had a hard time looking at Mal without laughing.

Except Jayne. Who was totally and utterly confused.

------------------------- Chinese translations

fei-oo = garbage

Ai ya! Hwai leh! = Shit on my head!

COMMENTS

Monday, November 6, 2006 2:30 AM

BLACKBEANIE


Awesome, I love River and Brian's relationship. It's funny and sweet.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 11:05 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


I beta'd this thing..and I am still out to lunch about Simon's joke:(

Still...mighty glad to see this up here, Draconus:)

BEB

Tuesday, November 7, 2006 11:52 AM

DRACONUS


Ok, so the joke isn't as clear as I intended. Still, the clues are there as to what its about, if a litle hard to find. But if you can't manage to figure it out, don't worry, I am going to tell you in the next chapter.


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