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Heartbroken: Meili Long - Part 3
Thursday, November 30, 2006

Just how much can a captain take before he finally loses his cool? The events of Heartbroken and Melili Long from Rene Cariveau's point of view, and Simon gets a little foretaste of what is to come.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 3384    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Heartbroken: Meili Long - Part 2

All Firefly characters are the property of someone else. All original characters are copyrighted by yours truly. This is not in any way, means or intention meant to infringe on anybody.

This takes place after the events of Heartbroken, which takes place between Objects in Space and Serenity: The BDM.

The MIGHTY BIG APOLOGY still stands for anyone who can read and speak French, Cajun or Chinese. The translations as I understand them are included, except the more vicious Chinese swearing. Any browncoat worth their salt knows all those anyway, or at least where to find them.

I don't speak the langauges I'm dabbling in, so if my use of syntax is offending the French/French Canadian/Cajun speakers out there, then PLEASE, save me from myself!

French/Cajun Me maudire pour un coullion - Curse me for a fool C'est le temps pour se coucher, Fre - It is time to go to bed, brother Oui. Dormir maintenant. Dormir seulement seulement--aucun rêver - Yes. Sleep now. Sleep only only - never dream Très astucieux - very astute

----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Heartbroken: Meili Long - Part 3

"Deux par deux, les mains de bleu." Just about every night when he was sending his prayers up to Providence, Rene Cariveau had only a few clear-cut requests. That his lover--correction, his wife--and son and crew remain healthy and strong; that Zirondelle hold together and continue to faithfully serve her crew; for peace to continue to reign true in the 'verse--for better or for worse--and that once, just for once, a cargo run could go smooth. "Deux par deux, les mains de bleu." Apparently, that last request was too much to ask. Since the Fall of the Independent movement and the end of the war, their troubles had generally been running more along the lines of mechanical difficulties. Zirondelle's mechanic would surely take exception and exchange blows with anyone who said a word against her, even her captain, but she was no longer a young ship and had definitely seen better days. This time had been decidedly more eventful than most. What began as a simple protein stock run from Persephone to Beaumonde had become a rescue mission gone wrong, culminating in an exercise in personal self-restraint when the ailing Zirondelle was found by Serenity. Having to cow-tow to another captain to obtain aid for his passengers and crew was immaterial, and was in fact Rene's obligation as captain. Having to do it with the captain of the Serenity, however, turned into another matter entirely. The name Malcolm Reynolds had become nothing less than galling to Rene over the years, particularly on Unification Day, when the beloved mother of his son would leave Zirondelle and go on her own to the nearest tavern to raise a glass or two in honor of the man. Meeting him face to face, Rene had fought a fierce impulse to shoot Reynolds outright and put him out of his misery--Rene's misery, that is. The absolute last thing on his mind was to form any manner of alliance--pardonner le terme--but Reynolds had proven his mettle and protected the Sayabec refugees in the process. In the end, Rene hadn't much choice but to consider Malcolm Reynolds a friend. Of course, Rene privately reserved the right to reconsider. "Deux par deux, les mains de bleu." One trip. Just one smooth trip, that was all he asked. Rene guided his oldest friend down from Serenity's engine room and across the cargo bay catwalks as discretely as was possible with forty or so people casually observing. Word would get around before dinner that Armand had to be taken across to Zirondelle, and the ensuing theories would be vast. If Rene was lucky, they wouldn't find out that Armand had to be confined to quarters under lock and key until breakfast tomorrow at the earliest. That was the drawback of transporting a boatload of Acadians whose favorite pastime was gossip. Then again, it wasn't as if word would get out to anyone important. Acadians would sooner cut out their own tongues as say word one to a Fed. The Sayabec, in particular, would suffer all manner of torture and pain of death first, given that about a third of the town's population had given their lives for the gorram cause. "Deux par deux, les mains de bleu." Rene realized Armand was still speaking. Now that they were away from Reynolds, however, the words had changed. Instead of incomprehensible fragments about brown eyes and green eyes and the like, he kept repeating that same phrase in French; two by two... hands of blue. Dr. Tam's sister, River, had said something like that in Zirondelle's engine room, just before Reynolds got her out. I hadn't made sense then and it certainly didn't now, but the fact that Armand was saying it at all was puzzling and more than a little eerie. Fortunately, Armand didn't put up a fuss while he was being summarily hauled away. Being under Rene’s size by about eight inches and thirty pounds had never stopped Armand from frequently trying to take a piece out of Rene's hide when they were growing up. For the moment, however, Armand seemed too far gone to care one way or the other as to what was being done to him, and for that Rene was grateful. Armand hadn't just tried to get Reynolds to shoot him, he'd outright asked him to shoot--Rene was certain of it. Recalling just moments ago when he saw Armand's eyes change and Reynolds all but pulling the trigger, the moment in Zirondelle's engine room when Armand nearly put a kitchen knife through his throat rushed to the fore. Do it... You know you can... finish it now... une fois pour toutes... Rene felt bile rise to the back of his throat and swallowed it quickly back. The voice, or whatever it was, had a very dark, seductive tone and the intent had been very clear. Not so much that Armand wanted to die, but that he could force Rene to kill him. Rene remembered standing in his own engine room, watching Armand put the knife to his throat, yet he also remembered seeing only black eyes and a sinister, even mordant snarl. When Rene flipped his gun back and pulled the trigger, he remembered thinking for a split second that a bullet to the center of Armand's chest would indeed put an end to whatever misery his boyhood friend was in. He put the bullet into Armand's shoulder instead, for the selfish reason that he had no desire whatsoever to face Siobhan and tell her that Armand had died at his own hand. Me maudire pour un coullion. "Deux par deux, les mains de bleu." Lost in his own thoughts, Rene was only incidentally aware that they had made it down the catwalk stairs and halfway across Zirondelle's access tunnel before the call came from behind. "Captain! May I join you?" Looking over his shoulder, Cariveau saw Serenity's young doctor hurrying to catch up. He was carrying what looked like a loaded medicinal hypogun in one hand and wore a very determined expression. "I don't know if that is wise, Doctor Tam," Rene replied, using a tone that was supposed to convey absolute authority. Naturally, he didn't listen. Rene hadn't met a doctor or healer yet who ever did. Rather than heed a simple request, Rene heard the staccato sounds of shoe leather on metal deck plates that indicated Doctor Tam was ignoring him and following them into Zirondelle's central corridor. "I'm sorry, Captain. The tranquilizer should have lasted longer." At that, Cariveau shortened his strides so the doctor could catch up. "Reynolds did say you were keeping him snowed." "That's true. Siobhan brought him to me and asked me to help so she and Cezar could get some sleep. I put him in empty passenger quarters, but there's an inveterate virus among the passengers that’s been keeping me busy, so I wasn't able to monitor him. The fault lies with me." Rene shook his head to dissuade the younger man from his presumed accountability. "I am not looking to place blame, Doctor. Just trying to make sure you have a little less business to attend to." Cariveau took Armand down to the right hand set of stairs, up to the bridge and crew quarters corridor, and finally to the first bunk on the right. "Deux par deux, les mains de bleu." "What is he saying?" Tam asked. His voice was tinged with anxiety. "I thought perhaps you could tell me," Rene said. Fixing Dr. Tam with a serious stare, he gave the young doctor a nod. "First, you do what you came here to do, then I expect some answers." "He should lie down first," Tam advised. "The sedative will have an immediate effect and I doubt you want him dropping two meters in an unconscious state, no matter how much trouble he's been." Doctors. Rene narrowed his eyes at this one and wondered what manner of man it took to inspire both gratitude and fury. Turning to Armand, Rene decided the best course was to speak to his friend as he would to his own three-year old son. "C'est le temps pour se coucher, Fre." "Lit?" Armand looked at Rene, then glanced uncomfortably at Doctor Tam. "Oui. Dormir maintenant. Dormir seulement seulement--aucun rêver." Armand moved to climb down into the crew quarters. Rene followed right after and heard Tam descend on the ladder right behind him. Armand went directly to the bed, lay down on his left side and pulled his knees up, practically curling himself into a compact ball. "Dormir maintenant," he said again, his eyes staring unfocused at some far distant point. Doctor Tam moved past Rene to administer the sedative. Pressing the hypogun to Armand's neck, he pulled the trigger. Watching his friend closely, Rene saw Armand's gaze suddenly clarify and switch upward briefly to meet the doctor's eyes. "Les mains de bleu," he whispered, then his eyes fluttered closed and he was out. Straightening slowly, Doctor Tam stared down at Armand, then turned haunted eyes to Rene. "It means 'hands of blue' doesn't it?" "Très astucieux," Rene said with a nod. "Except it doesn't mean anything more in French than it does in English, except I suspect, to you. The young doctor's eyes closed on a grimace. "I'm not entirely sure what it means either," he admitted. "River says it sometimes when we're near the core, but not every time. I think it has to do with what happened to her before..." Letting his words trail off, the doctor looked up at Rene suddenly and seemed to realize who he was talking to and what he was saying. "Before. Um, before I found her. She had been away from home, you see. A runaway. It took us four years to track her down and--" "Doctor, you are by far the worst liar I have ever come across," Rene said. He decided to put a stop to the pitiable attempt before Tam strained himself unduly. "Your captain would only say that River is challenging and nothing more. Armand is displaying character traits that I've never seen before--one of which happens to bear some similarity to something I overheard River say. I don't need to know your sister's life story, only the facts." Relaxing a bit, Tam took a long, deep breath. "I was able to perform a comprehensive scan of her brain that revealed a multitude of unnecessary but very specific surgical procedures. Suffice to say, what I know for sure is that consequently she feels everything all the time. I also know it's irreversible and any attempt to rectify her condition would kill her. Others of the crew have observed a degree of clairvoyance, as I have. What I don't know is why it was done to her, or whether she will ever be able to control it. If I had to render an opinion, I would venture to say that identical procedures had been performed on Armand except for one major disparity." "And that is?" "River hasn't had any facial reconstruction," Tam stated. "She looks very much like she did when I last saw her five years ago. Older, of course." "And how do you know she is not some stranger with River's face?" Rene asked. "Because the preliminary steps of the tests I ran included a full DNA screening," Tam said. "I have her DNA profile from when we were children. My father had us both profiled in the event of a possible kidnap attempt. There are some amendments that I think had to do with some genetic re-sequencing, but on the whole, the basic sequence is identical. She is River." "I see." They really are THOSE Tams. Rene recalled the Cortex bulletins he'd seen in the past few months and had to wonder what in nine hells Reynolds was thinking, deliberately harboring Alliance fugitives. "Then the next question is, what can be done?" "It's already being done,” Tam said. “Monitoring him, interaction with you and his parents, a sense of stability and routine. It helps her... it will help him focus on what is real and what isn't." "And is there a treatment?" "Not yet," Tam answered. "I've been working on a chemical inhibiter, but the results thus far have been offset by severe side effects." Rene nodded and his gaze fell on his unconscious friend. "How did he put it? Reynolds said that Feds have science that we don't know anything about, oui?" Tam nodded. "River was in an Alliance Academy, supposedly an institution of higher learning. She has certain abilities and skills now that I know for a fact she didn't have before. I used to worry that she was off alone somewhere, defenseless. Now..." Tam shook his head. "Now I don't know what to think." "And that, above all other things you just told me, is what probably creepifies me the most," Rene said. He took a long breath, considered all the knowledge he had and decided that of all people, Tam was the best one to share it with. "I can rely on doctor/patient confidentiality, oui? What I am about to tell you absolutely cannot leave this room." Tam studied him for a moment and perceived Rene's absolute sincerity. He may also have taken it as another avenue to render aid for his sister--whatever the reason, he finally gave a solemn nod. "Yes, of course." "Armand has never been defenseless," Rene began, and then the words simply tumbled free. "He has never been afraid to strike out and deliver an eye for an eye whether it was warranted or not. He also has a photographic memory--words were like water for him to drink and he was able to completely understand concepts and theorems that took me days to barely comprehend. Armand could have gone to the finest schools in the core and he could have been awarded full scholarships. There were days I wished he would, but now I think he preferred to stay where he was. Not because of any love or family connection, but because he enjoyed the notion, in fact, that he was smarter than all of us combined. I think he would have challenged me for control of my father's ship when the time came, but the war happened first. He joined the Independent infantry forces because he did not approve of Bernardo's preference to run the blockades. He had to strike out and I believe he did more than his fair share of it. I would also lay odds against any notion that your sister has ever spent time in prison, oui?" "Well... no," Tam said, somewhat perplexed by the question. He was frowning again, seeing things from Rene's point of view and perhaps discovering a perspective he hadn't considered before. "Armand did two years for manslaughter on Whitefall when we were about twenty," Rene began. "Whenever he got into a fight, he never knew when to stop. We got into it almost daily as boys, but Cezar or my father were always there to pull him off me. Then one day he beat a man's head in with nothing but his fists and the magistrate decided to put him away. He was somewhat calmer after he got out, but his temper was always quick to flare. Now, if he has been changed in the same way as your sister, then he may possess the same abilities and skills that she does--whatever they may be. The disparity there lies in the fact that Armand has the knowledge to use them and, more crucially, the sheer force of will to see how far he can go." Tam's eyes had grown round as saucers, like a child hearing a ghost story. Turning, he looked at Armand again and Rene saw the doctor's jaw muscles work as he processed everything he'd just learned. When he met Rene's gaze, it was with the same inflexible fortitude that had brought him across from Serenity. "I can't keep him under indefinitely," Tam said definitively. "I don't have the narcotic stores to give you to do it yourself either. Even if I did, there are laws against it. What I gave him just now can't even be obtained by anyone who doesn't have a license to practice medicine. And as we came in possession of it through less than legal means, I can't risk the slightest chance of you getting caught with it and having it traced it back to us." More than that, it went against his very grain to do it, Rene could see that plainly. So he pushed a little harder. "Back in your engine room just a few minutes ago, Armand tried to get your captain to kill him, or at the very least, shoot at him. Armand was standing directly in front of Serenity's engine. If Reynolds had fired, at point blank range, the bullet would have gone through him and we would be space dust by now." Tam's dark eyes focused on him, showing stark shock. Rene took it one step further. "If he could manage that with someone like Malcolm Reynolds, what more could he be capable of?" A higher level of concern appeared in Tam's eyes than Rene would have expected. Some manner of brotherly protectiveness for his sister and what Armand's condition might reveal for her future--that had been more along the lines of Tam’s sensitivity, based on what Rene had observed of the reserved younger man. This was decidedly different. More along the lines of a man who had suddenly been made aware that the one person he treasured most in the 'verse had been threatened. It was the same look Reynolds had in his eyes when he first learned Inara had been stabbed. "I'll take care of it," Tam said. There was an ominous tone in the young doctor’s voice now that inspired a bittersweet sense of relief. Rene returned a nod that confirmed the doctor's decision and acknowledged the compromise he had been forced into. "Merci." Turning away, Tam headed for the ladder and climbed easily up into the corridor. Rene stood for a moment in the relative silence of his ship, watching Armand sleep and harboring an inescapable feeling that even in an unconscious state, some part of Armand’s brain was aware. Taking a long breath, Rene turned to climb out and closed the hatch firmly behind him. Moving to the keyboard at the rear end of the corridor, he quickly keyed in the locking code, isolated crew quarters number four and engaged the sequence. Only when he saw the light over Armand’s quarters go from green to red did he start for the bridge. About five feet from the entrance, Rene heard a male voice speak. “And so we have found the new land...a great and plentiful land. And we shall call it...the New Land!” Rene grinned. Adair liked to sing when she was up on the bridge all by herself. She had quite the memory for music and was often humming when he came up to check on her. Being AngloSino, she could sing just about anything in English or Chinese, and did so beautifully. Once in awhile she would try something in French, but to say that her accent left something to be desired was being entirely too kind. Except, perhaps, when she sang C'est si bon in the privacy of their quarters as she artfully removed the silk robe he'd given her when Jordain was born. Needless to say, the absolute last thing Rene paid attention to was her accent, particularly when she very seldom made it past the first verse. Washburne--or “Wash” as he preferred--apparently needed more interactive distraction than simply hearing his own voice. Watching Serenity's pilot move plastic dinosaurs around on the console as he growled in different pitches--to differentiate one dinosaur's voice from the other, obviously--Rene moved up behind the pilot's chair, and casually rested his right elbow on the chair's tall back. Wash froze, acutely aware that he was no longer alone. Turning his head slowly, he peaked over his left shoulder, and grinned sheepishly when he saw Rene. "Hey, Captain. So how's things on the other side?" Rene smiled. "I would say quiet, but I'm not sure if the status quo is always as hectic as it has been since Serenity came across our bow." At that, Wash let a burst of laughter erupt and shook his head. "Oh, if those bulkheads could talk." So, what Adair said was true. Reynolds did have a penchant for both attracting and creating trouble. Obviously, they were going to have to swap stories sometime, Rene decided. "All is well here, I trust?" "Well and happy. This old girl runs like a top when she's got all her parts and pieces," Wash declared. "Most A-40s her age would have developed a little propulsion shimmy at LS-112." Rene blinked, realizing Wash had said something in pilot-speak that had absolutely no basis in any of the four languages Rene knew. As far as Rene was concerned, it merely sounded like English and that was the extent of it. Adair had been teaching him some of it, and he knew enough about flying the ship to sub for her from time to time. She also had the most adorable smile as she indulged her captain by speaking in more colloquial terms. Sometimes he pretended not to understand her just so he could see it. "But she's got a nice comfy little vibe going," Wash was saying. "Cezar must sleep down in your engine room too. Kaylee actually sleeps in Serenity's engine room more than her own quarters. Pretty sure that's how come Serenity works so well. Kaylee's got a personality anything would respond to, if you know what I mean?" Rene was nodding in absolute agreement and gave an au fait wink in response to Wash's suggestive eyebrow waggling. "Cezar does not sleep up there now, but when I was a boy I thought he lived in our engine room. Now he says his old bones can't handle sleeping in a hammock anymore, but personally I believe he prefers a soft bed with his wife." "Well," Wash gave an unequivocal shrug. "I mean, who wouldn't?" When the pilot's gaze fell to Rene's hands, Rene realized he'd been turning the platinum ring on the third finger of his left hand. Wash was grinning when he looked up again. "It's something, isn't it? Feels right but a little weird at the same time?" Wash asked. Just thinking of it made Rene smile. "It is going to take some getting used to," he admitted. Looking again at the brushed surface of the weighty ring that once was a permanent fixture on his father's hand, Rene took a long breath and murmured. "C'est si bon." Exchanging another look with Wash, Rene shifted that hand back and hooked it into the rear pocket of his trousers as he asked, "I'm told we're only hours away from Trahan?" "Yup, got the proximity call about ten minutes ago. We're set to dock on the sunny side, berths A-19 and A-20. We should be on approach in about eight hours or so." Turning around, Wash checked a read out on the console. "Seven hours, forty-one minutes, actually, so I'd say you've still got about four hours left of your honeymoon." Wash turned around to give him a look that only another married man would comprehend. "Better enjoy it while it lasts, dong ma?" Wash asked and added another eyebrow waggle for good measure. Rene chuckled. "I don't think I will argue the point, but if Reynolds asks where I am, do me a favor and make something up, will you?" "No problem--far as I'm concerned, you're doing something important and captain-y." "I appreciate that." Rene gave Wash's shoulder a pat before turning around and heading out into the hallway and directly to the first quarters hatch on his left. Shifting the access way open with one foot, he looked down the ladder chute and was surprised to see there was a light on. Climbing down, he paused to take in the sight that the bedside lamp's small, low-watt bulb illuminated. Adair Cariveau nee Quan was laying on her side, facing away from the access way. Barely covered by the sheet, the curve of her spine was left partially in shadow, her skin gilded by golden light. As he watched, she lifted a hand to tuck an errant strand of hair and relaxed again. She was listening to French music and simply enjoying the quiet, which was a true rarity even on calm days on board Zirondelle. As a pilot and a mother, Adair was generally on duty twenty-four hours a day, so her moments of solitude were all but nonexistent. Consequently, Rene was almost loath to interrupt--the key word being almost. When Adair turned her head to look over her shoulder at him, Rene watched her gaze travel over him from head to foot and back again. For a moment, he thought she meant to dismiss him to maintain her precious solitude. Then she shifted over to face him and calmly informed him, "You're overdressed." It didn't take long to rectify the situation, particularly with her watching every move he made. Adair helped him get his boots off, then his trousers. In time she rose up to bring her mouth to his and guide him back with her, turning him around so that he could sit down. Smiling, she moved onto him and Rene watched her rise above him. As she found the leverage she needed, Rene found it easy to set aside any and all of his worries as he was summarily and thoroughly lost in the woman he loved. Some time later--and well into the four hours Wash had given them--as they lay quietly facing each other Rene ran his lips along the point of Adair’s shoulder and down. He had asked her once how she kept her skin so soft, only to be told that it was a family secret that could be revealed only at pain of death. "Where did you go?" she asked. "I thought I should check in on the other side," Rene said. "I also helped Kaylee Frye win Franco's latest betting pool. She picked the closest time to when I would come up for air." Adair chuckled. "Seems Kaylee knows her captains." Rene grinned. "We're less than eight hours from Trahan—or we were. I’d say we've got about two hours before prep for the disembark." Rene moved one hand down the curve of her hip to shift the sheet aside, and heard her give a little purr. "Wash advised me to enjoy my honeymoon." "I knew he was a smart guy," Adair said. She pulled her leg up easily over his hip and tipped her head just enough to bring her lips to his. "Mm... by the way, that isn’t cinnamon and rum I’m tasting, is it?" Rene blinked and made a note to call down and order up an entire pan of brownies if he had to. "I don't know what you mean." It made her smile, and return for another taste. Her lips were against his when she whispered, "Gone only about twenty minutes and I missed you like it was twenty days." She grinned. “Must be love.” Une fois pour toutes... Rene went still, his eyes snapping open as he tried to determine if that was real or just a memory. Feeling the change, Adair shifted back a bit to look at him. Her delicately curved brows pulled together slightly, easily sensing his unease. "What is it?" He looked at the woman who completed his soul, and invariably thought of Jordain as well. What would Armand be capable of if he ever got his wits about him again? Could he have the wherewithal to differentiate between a woman and a boy who meant him no harm from an armed individual who most definitely did? Rene was not willing to place the safety of his family on that difference. Pas absolute. "Rene." Adair lifted her hand to his face, compelling him to focus. He wasn't aware he had looked away from her until he lifted his gaze to look into eyes as black as space itself, where he often imagined losing himself for an eternity or better. She was worried now about what he wasn't saying, so perceptive of his moods that she could tell that he was intensely troubled. "I didn't want to ruin this," Rene said. He took a strand of her hair between his fingers. "It's your honeymoon too." Adair raised that eyebrow that warned him he was headed for trouble. Watch that eyebrow, boy, Bernardo said once. Hellfire is sure to follow. Rene surrendered. "Armand went into Serenity's engine room while I was over there," he said, and set that strand of hair behind her ear. "Siobhan and Cezar left him with Dr. Tam." "I thought he was being sedated," Adair said. Rene shook his head. "No, but he is now. I brought him back and the doctor gave him something that put him under but I can't..." Out of frustration, he rolled onto his back, away from her and ran one hand through his hair. She followed to lie half across him, her gaze intent. "I can't escape the notion that we haven't seen the worst of him yet." Looking down, Rene focused on her. "I had to shoot him in our engine room." She nodded. "I know. You said you had to stop him." "Now I think I should have let him do it." Adair scowled at him. "You don't mean that." "Don't I? No one knows what he's capable of better than me. No one out there has seen the rage that was in his eyes while he threw his fists into my face--and I was his gorram friend." Extracting himself from her, Rene swung his legs off the bed and sat up. He would have gotten to his feet too, if she hadn't put a hand firmly on his shoulder to stop him. Just a simple touch and his temper eased of its own accord. It had always been that way between them, and the way she could soothe him just by being there was like nothing he had experienced. Rene sat still as Adair moved to him. She shifted a leg on either side of his hips, folded her arms around him, one over his shoulder and one from underneath and pressed herself against his back. Like the moment in Inara's shuttle, it reassured him tremendously and this time he did tip his head back until he came to rest on her. They sat together like that for some time until Rene felt a single tear escape and let it stream down his face. It must have touched her too, because she kissed the spot at the base of his neck and pressed her cheek against it. "I will kill him if it comes to it. If he did anything to you or Jordain..." Rene couldn't finish the thought. He felt the hand that had been moving up his chest go still. "I don't want you to be the one," she whispered. Rene took a ragged breath. "Neither do I." * * * Beaumonde. Trahan Orbiter Docking Ring. Berth B-26. The Rembrandt's medical officer was one hell of a good kisser, no qualms on that score. He was no slouch in the casual intimacy department either. Give a woman enough to leave them wanting, but not enough to stay. Tasting the precious tomatoes from what the captain called "the landing breakfast," Fa-Zhou Rowan pulled back and gave Andrew Van Gant a sultry smile. "You do know how to show a girl a good time, shuai nan hai." White teeth flashed brilliantly against his mocha-colored skin in a deceptively boyish grin. "I think you've got that turned 'round," he said with a charming twist on a Dyton accent. "Seems you're the one showed me a good time, yeah?" She grinned and leaned up to give him one last light kiss. "Sweet talker." When she pulled back, Rowan took in the length and breadth of him again, recalling their last grapple in his quarters, just as the disembark call came. They'd had to hurry to finish before the ship arrived at the orbiter, but that was no never mind so far as she was concerned. It didn't matter so much to her that the deed was graceful, only that it got done and Andrew had a remarkable attention to detail. "I'll be seeing you around," Rowan said, and pulled back. She let him hold onto one hand and stopped when he tightened his grip. When Rowan turned to look at him, she thought he might ask her to stay, but they had a deal. Service for a service; he'd help her get a paramedic certification through a Cortex course, providing both the coin needed for the course and the hands-on training it required. In return, Rowan made certain the four-week trip from Shadow was anything but dull. Now that the trip was through, she had places to go, people to see, trouble to cause. A man to hunt down and kill. "You ever see us dock, you look us up," Andrew said finally. He let her go then and tucked his fingers into the pocket of his black trousers. "If I hear you're in port and don't find me, I'll be well put out." Rowan smiled and figured it wouldn't be so bad to see him again. Except that she never looked back. She had to keep moving forward. The past only brought pain and heartbreak. "See you around," she said again, and turned to pick up her bags. She only had two; a small duffel that contained her meager collection personal items, and a matching attaché that held something considerably more vital. Her only other piece of luggage was the slim, black titanium cue case, which she wore on a Kevlar strap diagonally across her torso to prevent any possible chance of losing it. Rowan could handle losing the attaché before the cue case. Stepping out into the public docks of the Trahan Orbiter, Rowan only had to cast a single glance around before she caught the eye of a tall, dark hulking type who jutted his chin out at her in acknowledgement. This would be Jasper, waiting as promised. Boss Kang had his plethora of quirks, but he knew how to conduct serious business. No doubt about that. Turning in that direction, Rowan walked away from the Rembrandt. She knew Andrew was still there, hoping for a final lingering glance only to be denied. It was time he learned that sentiment wasn't worth much in the black. Few things, in fact, were worth anything in the black or anywhere else for that matter. "Fa-Zhou Rowan?" She stopped in front of Jasper, leaving a good meter or so between them. Rowan had to tilt her head back to meet his bronze-colored eyes. She could pick out messenger boys and thugs from at least ten meters and harbored very little regard for either one. They served a purpose for whoever was paying them, end of story. Rowan added a sultry smile anyway and looked up from under her lashes as she gave him the barest nod. Jasper got the same gleam in his eye that most men did when she smiled at them that way, but held to his duty. "Mr. Kang is waiting."

To be continued...

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Thursday, November 30, 2006 2:47 PM

AMDOBELL


It feels like forever ago since the last part in this story, almost a shock to see you posting again but in a good way! Why do I keep thinking of Saffron when I think of Rowan? I hope the next chapters come closer together. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, November 30, 2006 3:03 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh boy...things just continue to get wacky, don't they? Get the feeling Rowan's eventual confrontation with her target (been awhile since I read the series, so the detail of who she is hunting is vague....Armand?) will be all kinds of not-fun:S

Great to see ya back in the saddle again, Channain! Been a while since you've posted a chapter of this...February 25 or so, according to your profile;D

BEB

Friday, December 1, 2006 6:51 AM

CHANNAIN


Ali, thanks, as ever, for your comments. Rowan has a certain Saffron-like quality in her - the headstrong female on a mission sort of quality. She uses her wiles much the same way - as a means to an end. Rowan does have her own motivation, but we'll get to that.

BlueEyedBrigadeer, I don't believe I've had the pleasure of making your acquaintance, but as has been noted, I've been gone awhile. Thanks for reading my little story, and for your comments. There are definitely confrontations aplenty in store, and all kinds of not-fun. Wouldn't be Firefly fan fic without those two elements, now would it?

I just LOVE feedback!

Friday, December 1, 2006 8:55 AM

SOULOFSERENITY


Yay!! Finally!

Been waiting a long time for this, and I wasn't disappointed. I can't wait to see what happens next!!

- Soul


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