A Lost Art - Part 7
Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Post-BDM; A letter or two (or five) were sent out from Serenity's crew and suddenly, they seem to find themselves in danger. It's all Joss's characters and 'verse, i'm just borrowing it for a spell... As always, comments are so extremely welcome!!!


No air had ever tasted sweeter after the pungent stench of Wardy's den. Jayne coughed a few times and spat, trying to remove the taste of the acrid and stale reek from his mouth and nose. Mal took it all in stride, but secretly wished he could scrub the place from his clothes and body before speaking to civilized people again. Hell, before speaking to uncivilized people again. Despite the man's affection for anything that could be smoked and his deep-rooted hatred for open windows, Wardy had the best prices on all manner of merchandise - and the best connections in the quadrant. Mal could always count on a tip for a job, should he pay a visit to the smoke-filled hole in the wall. And because Mal never mentioned the stench - unlike some other smugglers Wardy had dealt with - the old coot felt an odd affection for the Browncoat and gave him the best tips and haggled less enthusiastically over prices on supplies. This time had been no different. Wardy had even noticed Mal's right arm never left the pocket of his duster (Mal had opted to not use the sling, so as not to appear a walking target) and threw in a fresh crate of meds and bandages. The old man gave the smuggler a name that might prove profitable in the future as he lit another clove cigarette, and then offered a word of caution. "There's men looking for a Firefly," Wardy wheezed softly. "Offering the shiny coin and pretty little promises to those with directions." "I know how tempting that coin can be," Mal said slowly, searching the man's face for a hint of worse news. "Not as tempting as continued business with my friend Reynolds," Wardy grinned, his yellow teeth showing the start of decay. "A shiny coin does me some nice now, but what happens when my friends cannot trust me to deal honestly? Who offers me shiny coins then, I ask you?" "Who indeed," Mal mused, his respect for the man increasing. Badger would have taken the coin in half a heartbeat. "If I was on a Firefly, though," Wardy went on. "I'd be extra careful. Those men asking ain't to be taken lightly. Seemed hard-pressed to find the right one and they don't seem the type to let up easy." "Not many people do," Mal nodded. They finished business and shook hands before going separate ways. Now he and Jayne finished checking the mule's straps and left for cleaner air. Mal's arm was throbbing by now, but he continued keeping a sharp eye for any hint of being followed. They were safe, though...nothing chasing, no shadows darted in or out of buildings... They were safe...they were safe. "Lao tien ye," he cursed, the reality of the situation setting in. "Get us back, now!" "What?" Jayne asked, twisting to see any shadows following them. "They weren't lookin' to gun us down," Mal shouted over the air rushing past them as Jayne sped up. "They just wanted the baby!" "We knew that!" Jayne shouted back. "You heard from Zoë?" "No," Mal shook his head. "And it's too familiar a silence for my own comfort!" *** Serenity sat alone in the dying light, void of any sign of life. Jayne slowed the mule as Mal adjusted his hold on his revolver, awkward in his left hand. "Sure ain't easin' any concerns none," Jayne muttered softly against the whine of the mule's engine. Mal stepped from the mule, willing his heart to slow down. Visions of Inara's pale form, accented with the bright red of fresh blood, threatened to invade his sight. This was why on-board relationships were dangerous. This was why they shouldn't have... "Door's open," Jayne commented, sending Mal's thoughts to the four winds. "Whaddya say we find out if anyone's still home?" He didn't say what they were both thinking. He just moved, focused on finding answers. Mal pushed his other thoughts aside and nodded. They entered the ship, guns ready, eyes watchful. *** "You see?" Vincent gloated to his team as he entered the shuttle. "Flash some coin, make some promises, and rely on your wits and you find yourself on just the right rock when a Firefly lands. The only thing could've made this sweeter was if I could slice the throat of that pompous, foul-smelling merchant and watch the smoke pour out of his dried up old lungs, knowing his tight-lips did nothing to save them." Several of his men chuckled as he made his way to the three on the floor of the richly decorated shuttle. It had to belong to the Companion...smugglers didn't hang velvet curtains or burn the expensive incense, by and large. "Where is the baby?" Vincent asked, his words as soft as a purr. Inara sat by River's side, holding her hand as Simon administered to the re-opened wounds. They had been shot down in their flight from him and, with the absence of a baby onboard, Vincent readied himself for the joy of torturing these three. Outside, more of Vincent's team waited by his ship for orders. Meanwhile, he stroked Inara's hair gently as he watched the doctor work silently. She tensed, but did not pull away. Good little Companion, he thought with a smile. "What did you do with the baby?" he asked again, re-phrasing the query. When they continued to ignore him, he wrapped his hand around the Companion's neck and squeezed until he could feel the pulse under her skin. She looked at him with hateful eyes, but refused to cry out. "I was told I could tend to my sister," Simon insisted, his eye already swelling from where the boys had struck him as they had entered the shuttle. "Can't your questions wait until she's stable?" "She'll never be stable," Vincent sneered. "I've read all about her little descent into madness. And after the trouble she's caused, consider yourself lucky I even let her live this long." He tightened his grip on Inara's neck. Her eyes widened involuntarily. "Let her go!" Simon demanded suddenly. "Where is the baby?" he repeated himself. Inara's hands released River's as she began pulling at his wrist. "You're killing her!" Simon's voice was insistent as he moved to stop Vincent. The large man behind Simon prevented him from even standing, though. He tried to wrench free unsuccessfully. "I won't ask again," Vincent said, watching the Companion's eyes blink as she tried to break free from his hold. Her mouth opened as she tried to get air into her lungs. It was tempting to taste her, but one thing at a time... "The baby died!" Simon lied. "He wasn't strong enough!" "Now, we both know that's untrue," Vincent said tiredly. "That baby had all the genetic coding to survive any situation." "Even bullets from sadistic kidnappers?" Simon snapped. He really hoped he could pull this off successfully. Vincent's eyes sharpened ever so slightly. "No one would have shot the baby," he said quietly. "They shot without looking carefully," Simon went on. "You say you've read our files, you honestly think River would have let anything happen to her nephew? Look at her!" Vincent relaxed his grip on Inara's throat. Her hands were slipping from his wrist. He gazed at the unconscious form on the floor at Simon's knees. "You think she would have let bullets stop her if my son was in danger?" Simon asked. "She loved him. She came into my room, sensing your men's approach, and she took him. She was running with him when they shot her. The bullet..." He paused for breath and effect. Most of what he was saying was true. They shot her from behind, the bullets tore through her body... He hung his head. Vincent released Inara, throwing her from him in the same movement, and stood. He looked at the three men waiting on his orders, all of them trained to track, hunt and kill - but kill when necessary. Inara coughed and gasped for air behind him, pushing herself to a sitting position again. "You stupid wang be dan," Simon half-laughed. "Haven't you done enough to us? To me?" "Where did you bury the child?" Vincent asked, his back to the trio on the floor. Simon blinked as he scrambled for an answer. "You want to take him...dead?" Simon questioned, stalling for his brain to come up with something - anything - to say. "Your father will not accept my word any more than I will accept yours," Vincent turned and watched the doctor's face. Simon stared vacantly at River's unmoving hand. "Track down the other shuttle," Vincent ordered his men. "The child is still breathing and had better be when presented to me! Do it now!" Simon's shoulders slumped slightly as they hurried to follow Vincent's orders. Inara's eyes finally caught his...he could read the sadness there as plainly as a book. He resumed his work on his sister's wounds in silence. *** "No one's on board, both shuttles been launched," Jayne said, finding Mal in the engine room staring at the space thoughtfully. "Mal! You hear me? No one's here!" Jayne repeated. Mal held up his left hand, motioning for quiet. A few seconds ticked by quietly. "Where's Kaylee's hammock?" Mal asked, his words soft. "What?" Jayne hissed. Mal looked at where it usually hung, his hand still mid-air. "I nearly missed noticing it myself, but...why would she take it down?" *** "How's the baby doing?" Zoë asked Kaylee as the mechanic numbly sat in the shuttle's copilot seat. "He's sleepin'," Kaylee said softly. "Do you think they got away?" "I don't know," Zoë replied, her voice matching Kaylee's. "Let's hope they did." "D'you think the Cap and Jayne got back yet?" "They should be returning soon," Zoë answered. "Less Wardy wanted to share a pipe or some such." She risked a glance at the young mother sitting next to her. Kaylee's stare was hollow and her face pale with worry. "They'll know to look for us," she promised. Kaylee nodded slowly. "Hope so," she replied. An alarm went off on the consul. "Zao gao," Zoë breathed. "They're behind us. Better get back there. Lie low and keep quiet as long as you can." She glanced again at the unmoving woman. "Kaylee?" "I'll take it with you," she said softly. "You need to keep Hobie quiet," Zoë ordered. "We went over this. I'll get them as far off track as possible, same as Simon and 'Nara are doing, but you need to take Hobie and--" "Ain't here," Kaylee breathed. Zoë stopped breathing. "What?" she managed. "He's in the back, strapped in like we decided...ain't he?" "Nope," Kaylee said, her dead eyes staring straight ahead. "You said we'd most likely get boarded. I ain't gonna let them have him. They ain't gonna take him to folks like that. I don't care if they are his grandpa and gran. They ain't gonna find him." "Kaylee," Zoë said, her heart breaking as she formed the question. She knew the answer, but had to ask anyway. "Where is your baby?" *** A small gurgle erupted from somewhere inside the engine. Mal and Jayne stared at each other and ran toward the sound simultaneously. There, bundled in his mother's hammock, Hobie drooled a toothless grin at them. Mal reached in and delicately extracted the child and hammock from the enclosure. It did not escape Mal's attention that had they not found the child before starting up Serenity's engine, the boy would be dead - and his death on Mal's head. He clutched the child to his chest, trying to steady his breathing...somewhere between finding him and holding him, the Captain's lungs had stopped working properly. He was almost relieved to see Jayne sag against the engine as well. "If you hadn't seen--" "I know," Mal cut off Jayne's sentence quietly. Kaylee had taken down the hammock, hoping her Captain would notice and wrapped the baby in her smell to keep him warm and quiet, should the ship be searched by those who wanted him for dishonest reasons. It was the stupidest and yet most intelligent thing she could have done. Hobie squirmed against his shoulder, reminding him that they had to move - and quickly. "Take him," he instructed. Jayne readily took the child and also crushed the child to his shoulder, showing the big man had a soft spot for the littlest one. Mal used his good arm to pull himself to a standing position before taking the child back. "Get the mule on board and close up tight. You see anyone you don't recognize, you shoot 'em." "Funny how the little one knows when t'stay quiet, ain't it?" Jayne puzzled as he left. Mal nodded, looking into the large eyes of the little one in question. "Let's keep his talent a funny little secret for now," Mal suggested. Jayne went without argument as Mal made his way to the bridge. He spoke softly to the yawning face in his arm as he walked. "We're gonna go get your Momma," he murmured. "And we're gonna get your Daddy, your Aunt River and your favorite Aunt 'Nara and then we're gonna ask your godmomma Zoë what the hell she thought she was doing to let you mind the ship all by your lone self. And maybe, for good measure, we're gonna ask that same question of your idiot parents." He sat at the consul and, once Jayne confirmed all was on and no dead bodies necessary in the act, switched on the engines. "But first, we're gonna kill some folk," he concluded. *** Jayne was making his way to the bridge when he saw it: a small scrap of paper that had fallen from the folds of the hammocky-bunting. He glanced at it quickly, then ran it to the Captain, his heart pounding in his chest. Cap, Please be you that finds him, and find him before you try to find us. We went two ways, Nara in her shuttle with Simon and River and a bundle one way, Zoë and me in the other. Zoë don't know I'm leaving him here. She knows we're gonna be boarded, but she's hoping to keep them off so I can get away. I ain't taking him. You have to. Keep him safe from everyone. You done it with River and Simon, you can do it with Hobie. Just fly...his life is more important than mine. Kaylee PS - don't forget the stabilizer needs repairing before long, it won't go more than a few days now


Wednesday, June 6, 2007 5:15 PM


This is SOOO good. The suspense keeps you on the edge of your seat. Looking forward to next installment.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007 6:18 PM


Wow, really lucky Mal's being observant. Would Kaylee really have done something that risky with her baby? I guess if she thought the alternative could be worse... wow.

And that last line, her telling Mal to remember the stabilizer needed to be replaced, that's just perfect! Even in a letter like that, she's still thinking of her "girl".


Wednesday, June 6, 2007 8:39 PM


Wow - this went in a direction I totally didn't expect and I LOVE that! I think Kaylee would do something that risky, if she truly did believe the alternative was worse. I too am very glad that Mal found Hobie though and I just loved his little chat with the guy - "your idiot parents" - ha!

I feel terrible for Kaylee as I know she has just got to be completely bereft. She has no idea if her son's all right or her husband. Yikes. I see much more angst in their futures!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007 11:58 PM


I loved this to bits! What particularly impressed me is you showing that Kaylee has smarts too and not just towards mechanical things. She is thinking clear and putting the baby first which was awesomely done, trusting her Captain to keep Hobie safe. Personally I think Mal should find a safe bolt hole with folks that can be trusted and would not be known to Simon's parents before going after the rest of the crew. Can't wait for the next part, this is so shiny! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, June 7, 2007 4:49 AM


This is simply excellent. I didn't expect at ALl what kaylee would do and had NO idea when the mention of her missing hammock came up, that she'd wrap her son in it. Very nice twist.

The best conversation had to be Mal and Hobie. Idiot parents and first, killing some things. Just perfect! Kaylee's letter came in a very close second to being my favorite part of this.

Loving the tension and I hope they're all together again soon. Can't be easy for new parents to be separated from their baby.

Thursday, June 7, 2007 4:53 AM


Oooft *lets out breath she was holding*

That was amazing, and I loved that Kaylee was so smart and determined enough not to let the evil grandparents get Hobie, that she thought of hiding him on the ship. Now I just hope she and Zoe don't come to too much harm when those hun-dan realise that the baby's not there.

Also really liked the last line about Serenity, it's typical Kaylee. And Mal's line too - "but first, we're gonna kill some folk". YAS!

Excited about the next part, woo!

Thursday, June 7, 2007 10:42 PM


Ohhh...this was just all kinds of brilliant, kacidilla! I was utterly floored by your idea of having Kaylee hide Hobie in the engine room, betting on Mal being observant enough to notice her hammock missing and take a close look at the compartment in order to find the little one. Oh..and Mal's conversation to Hobie? Hilarious and totally Mal;)


Monday, September 17, 2007 7:01 AM


Yep, I totally love how Kaylee would mention "her girl" after telling the Cap'n to keep her boy safe! You know she couldn't resist writing that.

"'But first, we're gonna kill some folk,' he concluded."

That's classic!



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