Blue Sun Job, Part 14: Two By Two
Saturday, July 10, 2004

Mal tries to divert the creepy blue-hand guys.


Blue Sun Job, Part 14: Two By Two

Warning: Some uncensored, strong English curse words herein

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
Blue Sun Job, Part 7: ...and Robberies That Were
Blue Sun Job, Part 8: Zoe’s Tale
Blue Sun Job, Part 9: More of Zoe’s Tale
Blue Sun Job, Part 10: Going In
Blue Sun Job, Part 11: Home Again...
Blue Sun Job, Part 12: Waiting
Blue Sun Job, Part 13: Bushwhacked Revisited


No critical dialog using actual Chinese characters

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

Blue Sun Job, Part 14: Two By Two
靑日 Job: Two By Two

Zoe wasn't scared. She was furious. One look into Wash's eyes in Serenity's cargo bay and if she'd had the means she'd have been willing to take out every one of the 他妈的 right there and then regardless of the cost. But she didn't have the means and that layered frustration on top of fury. As angry and hate-filled as Mal could get, it wasn't a patch on the dark place Zoe could go--she had years and years more practice at it. And fewer inhibitions leftover from gentler times to overcome.

It's him... Zoe chewed over the comment the Fed made before they dragged the captain off and out. Why had they targeted Mal so exclusively? The math was off. Something wasn't adding up here. Zoe paced the cell, such as it was, ignoring the discomfort of the metal grate beneath her feet. They hadn't done anything to her yet, not really. Mal would be bearing the brunt of it. That was always the way of it, though, wasn’t it?

The captain... sarge... Mal... Sir... She rarely called him by his name. It was a distancing thing, in part. Party, military and ship-board formality melded into habit. The ‘sir’ thing bugged Wash even though he’d probably have been just as annoyed if she referred to the captain more familiarly. Maybe more.

Familiarity was the problem between the three of them, wasn’t it. And--at the same time--a lack of familiarity. Too much between herself and Mal, and not enough between her and her husband. But could Wash bear the full load of the history between Zoe and the captain? Could Wash ever be secure enough in her devotion to him to accept all that had been? Or was his insecurity because she was holding back and he knew it?

Zoe ran her hands over the walls, pulling on the rings and brackets mounted on it. She pushed at the door even though she knew it was locked solid. They were caught in a trap and it was a dandy. Continuing a circuit around the small room, Zoe hunted vainly for a way out, knowing it was futile but unwilling to surrender.

It’s him... What did it mean? Did it mean anything at all? Always, always the hunt for meaning. Zoe leaned against a corner, sighing out the frustration she couldn’t release through a nice relaxing bout of violence.

None of it means a damn thing. She’d said that to Mal once and later he’d turned around and said it to her; had come to believe it. Everything had a meaning, he’d once told her. A meaning, a purpose, a season for each thing. He didn’t believe that any more. Didn’t believe in a lot of things any more. Goodness and mercy. Zoe felt responsible for some of it. But, then, none of it meant a damn thing, did it?

Closing her eyes, Zoe backtracked, edging away from the black hole of memory around which she now tread. It was the place, the One Thing, that stood squarely and permanently between her and Mal, the thing that separated them even as it created an unbreakable weld joining them for all time.

Red reflected from silver. The valley of the shadow of death... Mal looked up at Zoe. Her expression as icy cold, she knew, as her heart felt within her, Zoe held the chain out toward him, the plain, flat cross spinning, catching the light and flashing it.

“You can have this,” she said, hearing the chill in her voice and not caring.

Reaching out, she let it drop into his waiting palm. His hand closed around it. “This means something, you know. Faith. Hope. Trust. Promises made and fulfilled... Love.”

“No, it doesn’t,” she said, looking away from him.

“I’d have been true to you,” he said very softly. She turned back to regard him. “Still would. Still will. I’ll never betray you,” he added. “If you just have faith.”

“I’ve got nothing to have faith in,” she said. “None of it means a damn thing.” As she turned away, she added. “You won’t see me again.”

As she strode away, she thought she heard him whisper. “Yes, you will.”

Zoe stared up into the harsh lights behind the ceiling grid. How--how--could she tell Wash about thing she couldn’t even think on herself? How could she talk to her husband about things that had happened between her and Mal that they themselves never, ever spoke on?

He had been true to her. As good as his word for all time. This time might be different. They were caught bad. Zoe slammed a fist back into the wall. She wouldn’t--couldn’t--give up. Not yet. They’d come through worse. Far worse. Couldn’t count Mal out. He’d hold out and somehow manage to turn things around to save them all. Just had to have faith in him...

* * *

“Do you know where River Tam is?”


Shit! Oh, fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

He’d just signed all their death warrants.

Just blurted it out before he could even think. 哎呀. No blurting. Think fast but talk slow. Crap… how could he backtrack from this? Had to stall. Puking remained a viable option. He had to think fast.

Hell… no, he didn’t. He just had to think faster than Harken. Huh. That whole ‘calm’ thing rode on in and joined the ‘relaxed’ they’d drugged him into. Morons. Outsmarted themselves on that. Couple that with years of practice at lying straight-faced to the Feds. For all that he’d been on the verge of panic inside, Mal knew he hadn’t so much as twitched on the outside. Said ‘yes’ but gave ‘em nothing else. He could read it all over Harken’s face.

Holding his expression, Mal let his gaze drift away from Harken. The walls. The ceiling. Just appear uninterested and unconcerned about what he’d said. If he could just control the impulses fighting it out in his head, maybe, just barely may-perhaps-be he had a chance to hold out and not get them all killed. Or dissected. Or whatever the hell other nasties the 混蛋 had in mind.

It would be like walking a knife’s edge. Had to stick as near to the truth as possible. Get caught in one flat-out lie and they’d decide everything else was a lie too. Then they’d dig and dig until they got what they wanted. A dangerous game. He might have to give them some things he’d rather not, just to cover the greater risk. A war game. Played for real and for keeps like all war games he’d ever played. Some sacrifice on one front to win on another. ‘Cept which fronts had the Independents ever won on?

“Hmmm?” He actually had missed Harken’s question. Man seemed annoyed. Must not have blurted out anything more. That was good. Keeping the control.

“Sergeant Reynolds. Pay attention. I asked, do you know where River Tam is?”

“Yeah. Sure ‘nough do.” Mal drawled the words out. Might be a nice, easy Shadow, border-world accent could come in handy in this here case. Them Alliance boys usually talked all fast and clipped. Some of them even pronounced Chinese like it was still a tonal language.

Where is River Tam?”

Mal squinted at Harken. “Londinium.”

Harken gave a fast shake of his head. “Where on Londinium?”

“The capital city,” Mal said, adding a touch of irritation to his tone. “What’s going on here? Didn’t you never get no schooling? You drag me in here to give you a geography lesson?”

“What? Just tell me everything you know about River Tam.”

And there was the opening to barrage them with a huge diversion. “Well…” Mal said, talking as slowly and lazily as he could manage, “as I recollect there’s this big, fancy river what runs on through the capital city on Londinium. Never have been there myself, of course. You can bet your ass no ex-Independent soldier’d ever be ‘lowed to set down on that gorram rock. Seen pictures, though. 他妈的 Feds swarming around every damned place acting like they own the ‘verse…”

Harken shook his head and leaned forward, trying to interrupt Mal. “What are you talking about? Tell me about River Tam.”

“…which, I suppose in point of fact, the 混蛋 do seeing as me and mine didn’t manage to kill near enough of you…” Mal ignored Harken and launched off on a long discussion of the nature of the Alliance and those in it. It was a sweet--if mind-bogglingly dangerous--opportunity to finally tell the 他妈的 just exactly what he thought of them, in case they’d missed the point back when he still was shooting at ‘em. Seeing as it was like to be his last chance, in this lifetime, he decided to make good use of it, pulling out every bit of the nastiest things the Independent soldiers ever said about the enemy, plus more than a fair bit of his own opinions on the subject. Mal could feel the Alliance MPs around him tense at some of the comments, knowing they wanted to wallop him, and enjoyed heartily how he was managing to rile them. Harken tried over and over to interrupt and get him back on the questioning track, but Mal knew from experience--which was blatantly clear Harken lacked--how an interrogation with this truth drug went. Mal knew how hard it had been to keep the fellow on track if asked open-ended questions or ‘tell me about’s. Harken didn’t have a Zoe on hand to keep the subject properly focused.

“Ow.” Mal stopped talking. Okay, they’d figured that one out.

Harken looked to be at his wits end, more worn than Mal felt. Mal stared at him with a blank expression, as if completely unaware he’d just mortally insulted Harken and every other Fed in this room.

Creepy suit guy leaned over and whispered in Harken’s ear. Harken nodded, glancing at Mal.

Captain Reynolds,” Harken said and Mal noticed he’d been promoted out of war-time rank and status to present day. Trying to keep him from diverting off on another Independent versus Alliance tirade. The suit guy had to be watched. Not just creepy, but dangerous. Were they the ones after…? No, don’t even think the name.

“Captain Reynolds,” Harken said again, “When I searched Serenity, the last time we met, were River and Simon Tam hiding in your ship?”

“No.” True enough. But, damn, Harken had gotten clued in to the trick of asking very specific questions. Harder to divert them. And the impulse to answer quickly, and truthfully, was still there. Stronger, in fact. Was the antidote wearing off? Or his own tiredness working against him? Breaking down barriers? It was like a pressure right on his brain.

“Tell me…” Harken stopped and rephrased, “Do you know where River Tam is?”



“Londinium.” Mal focused hard so as to not appear to be having too much fun with this. Now that he’d nailed his angle on this point of questioning he could fly Harken in circles all damned day.

After a few more go-‘rounds one of the other Feds--Mal took him to be Harken’s aide--made a small sound and a look of revelation spread across his face. Leaning over to Harken, he whispered in the commander’s ear. Harken rolled his eyes and sighed.

“Captain, do you know where the river Thames is?” he asked with clear exasperation in his tone.

Bingo, you bastard. “Yes.”

“Captain Reynolds. What is the name of the river that flows through the capital city Londinium?”

“Tam,” Mal answered, utterly straight-faced. Truth be told, he could only barely hear the difference in the way the two words were pronounced by Harken, and then only because he’d spent more time that he cared to amongst Core world folk. Tam. Tem… Nuances of pronunciation. Harken did add a faint hiss of an ‘s’ to the end, but border folk routinely dropped off those pesky last consonants.

“Gentlemen,” Harken said to suit-guy, “You can plainly see this line of questioning is going no where. As I told you before we began, I had searched this man’s ship months earlier and did not find your fugitives. And in the past day we have torn that ship apart top to bottom…” Mal cringed inwardly, but was careful not to visibly react. “…and while we found quite a number of dubious and/or extremely illegal things, we found no indication--not even down to some DNA trace evidence samples taken--that the Tams were ever aboard that Firefly.” Harken straightened and sounded admirably officious. Mal was mostly surprised to find himself rooting for a Fed. “So if there will be nothing more, I suggest you take your leave and let me get to the real reason this man was taken into custody.”

The creepy fellow gave a short bow and exited Mal’s field of view. Or did he hear two sets of footsteps leaving? That sense of pressure lifted as the door slid closed behind him. Them? Whichever.

No matter… he was out of the frying pan…

“So, Sergeant Reynolds,” Harken started, his voice turning suddenly very cold, “do you recall me saying to you that for some the war would never end?”

“Yes,” Mal answered--fast and truthful--and he felt a sudden twitch of fear reach in and tweak him.

“Things happened in the war that might make a man on the wrong… on the losing… side want to go back and refight one of those old battles.” Harken leaned forward and stared at Mal intently. “Now, sergeant, we are going to have a little talk about old battles, and Blue Sun.”

…and into the fire.

Blue Sun Job, Part 15: Give the Devil His Due


Sunday, July 11, 2004 6:22 AM


Now that was good to read. Never saw it coming. More reccollections all for it. You rock

Sunday, July 11, 2004 7:15 AM


Yowzer, poor Mal, well and truly out of the rutting fire pan into the gorram fire! Also like the brief piece of introspection with Zoe. Can't wait to find out what happens next, shiny shiny fic. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, July 11, 2004 9:05 AM



Sunday, July 11, 2004 4:38 PM


Loved it, especially the part where Mal is acting dunb while being interrorgated. Keep the great work.

Sunday, July 11, 2004 7:29 PM


As if being jailed wasn't bad enough. So nice to have so many more questions asked than answered. Can hardly wait to read more.

Sunday, July 11, 2004 11:15 PM


oh, oh, oh! And Oh! again. You lured me into this story with all those funny, smart-ass early chapters and now you're setting about pulling my heart right out of my chest with the Mal/Zoe/Wash anguish - and now this!

Damn it, but I love it!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004 6:25 AM


Sorry, that anon. post was from me. Didn't log in for some reason.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004 2:47 PM


Ahhhhhhhh......perfect fix for my fanfic withdrawal! Feel my mood evening out even as I type. Very good job. Loved the interrogation...although i never realized that was how Thames was pronounced. Doh.


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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.