Be Careful What You Wish For - Part One
Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Serenity is off to a job on Greenleaf and Kaylee and Simon share some news. 10th fanfic featuring post BDM characters and a few of my own creation. Grateful thanks to BluedEyedBrigadier for the beta. Having feedback is like charging my battery, please comment. Part 1 of 2.


Their most recent munitions order fulfilled and delivered, Mal had told River to plot a course to Greenleaf and they were nearly there. They had a delivery to pick up for Kostova – not quite legal and definitely on the quiet. So quiet, that Mal did not know what the cargo was, which worried him more than a little. Bane had requested picking up parts for Monty’s next order and he had decided to get that done before they met up with the contact, as they might need to get away quick. Monty’s orders got larger each time, they did not know who he sold to, but the grenades and putty were much in demand. Mal was glad he had more standard and mostly legal work, although munitions was highly illegal, but it was regular. It made life a little more predictably safe, and unfortunately boring. They had all lived on their wits for so long, that when there was nothing to keep the adrenaline pumping, he felt there was something missing. Mal had managed to find time to wave Inara. He had done some apologising and they had made up. Inara was keeping something from him though, but he could not get her to tell him what it was. Mal wished she would change her mind and return to Serenity. Whatever it was that kept her away from him; fear, complication, independence – he no longer believed the excuses. She may be able to handle not being with him for months on end, but he could not. He wondered if they had not finally succumbed to each other at Christmas his feelings would not be tearing him up like this. The idea of knowing her now in that way and not being with her was too much like being in limbo. ~ * ~ Over the last couple of weeks, Simon had seven failed attempts at asking Kaylee to marry him. Each time something had come up or they had been interrupted. Now, as he walked to the engine room, he was determined to get it right this time. No fancy dinner, no perfectly planned situations – just to come out with it. He smoothed his hair self consciously as he stepped into the engine room. He could only see Kaylee’s legs under the engine and, as the engine was currently rotating, it was a pretty risky position to be in. “Kaylee?” When there was no answer the first time he tried again. She heard him. “Hang on, Simon,” she said, her voice muffled. She wriggled out very carefully, and erotically, from underneath causing Simon to take a sharp intake of breath. She had her overalls tied around her waist and was wearing what had once been a white vest. There was a dark smudge of grease along her collar bone and her hands and arms were covered as well. He helped her up and then wiped his hand on his trousers. She kissed him, not caring that she wrapped her dirty arms around his neck. He put his own arms around her waist and pulled her closer, having the feeling of melting, like chocolate. Aware that he was getting distracted, he pulled away and looked at her. Her face was as familiar and dear to him now as his own reflection. “Will you marry me, Kaylee Frye?” he asked lovingly and without a single stammer. Kaylee opened her mouth with joy and Simon braced himself for a shriek, but it did not come. “Yes, Simon Tam, I will,” she kissed him again, and then pulled away with a naughty look. “How long you bin tryin’ to ask?” Simon smirked self-consciously. “Since before the Pye wedding.” Kaylee giggled. “And in the diner on Persephone?” “Yep,” he replied sheepishly. She looked at him with her heart and emotions totally open to him, as she always was. “’Til I met you I never thought I wanted to be marryin.’ I reckoned life’d be much better if I could pick an’ choose. Trouble is, I kept pickin’ you, my proper little doctor.” “Little?” he protested softly. “Well, I don’t mean there,” she giggled. “You’re very -“ Simon kissed her words away and lowered her to the floor of the engine room. Not the best place to consummate a marriage proposal, but he was more than a little beyond caring. ~ * ~ Karl and Bane had even less luck than Simon when it came to trying to pick up their small flame of attraction. Bane’s time over the last few weeks had been completely taken up with filling Monty’s order. When they finally found themselves a moment alone, someone always interrupted, with Jayne often being the guilty party. Bane knew that it would have been easy enough to just go to one of their bunks to be alone, but she was not ready to do that yet. They had a whole ‘Verse of time now that she was free. Today she hoped to find Karl up in the galley after she had finished getting the workshop back to rights again. She tried not to refer to it as ‘her’ workshop, but Mal had as good as told her that, as long as she was on board making munitions, then it was her place. She was standing on the desk cleaning the shelves when she heard the hatch opening. She sighed and wondered who it was this time, Karl was the last person she expected. He crawled in and then stood up. Even without the crates the place was tiny, like a cupboard. Karl looked up at Bane standing on the desk. “Thought I would come and find you. Any way of locking this thing from the inside?” Bane looked down at him and pointed. “Slide that lever down.” As Karl did so, she crouched down and sat on the desk, her legs dangling. “Is Jayne likely to come lookin’ for us?” Karl faced her, the space between them was virtually nothing. She almost shivered in anticipation. “Tucked up tight in bed. Zoe too. Mal and River are in the cockpit and Simon and Kaylee somewhere else, hopefully together.” Bane reached up and stroked his moustache. “I like this. It’s much better than the yeti-look you used to have.” Karl laughed and wiggled his lip. He had looked like a yeti, but since his brief jail time, he did not miss the long hair or beard at all and had begun to take more pride in his appearance. Possibly something to do with the woman sitting a nose’s breadth in front of him. He could feel his heart beating faster, knowing that they were not going to be disturbed was all the more exciting. They had been a long time coming to this moment. “You remember when we first met?” asked Karl. Bane had been staring at his mouth, but now focussed on his eyes again. Why was he prolonging the moment, she thought impatiently? “You were unconscious the first time we met,” she stated. “The time after that.” Bane tried to recall, finding it difficult to remember anything in this close proximity. “Seems our first couple of meetin’s took place in the Med Bay, if I recollect.” “That’s right. First time I opened my eyes after that Reaver attack, I found you starin’ at my body,” he smirked. “I was not!” Bane protested mildly, and then smiled. “I thought you looked like a Viking from the Earth-that-was,” she confessed. Karl laughed, and placed his hands on the table either side of her causing Bane to tilt her neck further upwards, exposing that slender neck of hers. He was enjoying himself – a lot. For the first time, she was sitting still and not going dashing off anywhere, falling asleep, or getting herself arrested. He was savouring every gorram moment. “Complete with bloody battle scars. I was at your mercy. But, you’ve never been a damsel in distress, have you?” he asked. Bane swallowed, she was having more than a little trouble concentrating. Did he really want to stand there and just talk? “I dunno know, I’ve had my moments. Usually have to be unconscious though.” “Bit like tryin’ to get you to sit still?” Karl smirked wickedly. “You’re enjoyin’ this ain’t you?” said Bane, annoyed. Karl’s eyes settled on her lips. “You realise that last week it’d been a year since you got hired on?” “Run-tse duh-fwotzoo! Will you just kiss -“ and he did. * * * * * * * * * * “The contact we gotta meet is called Thornberg,” said Mal, noticing Kaylee wriggling in her seat. “I’m told he’ll be wearing a red scarf.” She was at it again, and he tried to ignore it. “Man’s wanted by the Feds, but he’s got some – Kaylee! You need to leave the table, you go right ahead! You ain’t a schoolgirl no more, so don’t wait to be excused.” Kaylee, who wasn’t interested in the drop details because she probably would not be going anyway, answered. “I don’t need ta go, Cap’n. I got some news.” “More important than us earnin’ a livin’?” asked Mal. Kaylee looked at him like he was an idiot. “Well, o’ course it is, Cap’n. Simon asked me to marry him.” Before Mal could reply to argue her point, everyone else started talking at once. Zoe stood up and gave her a hug and started a trend. Mal was slower, but as it was obvious he would not get back to the plan until it was over, he joined in. It was good news and he tried not to think about what the future held for them, what with Simon having a price on his head and all. Bane slapped Simon on the back. “Finally got round to askin’, did ya?” “Yes,” said Simon grinning, “Was a bit worried I’d approach old age before I’d get the chance.” “’Nother weddin’ – I like the sound of that,” said Jayne smiling broadly. “Where you plannin’ to have it?” asked Karl. Kaylee looked at Simon and he came over to her. It was not something they’d talked about yet. “Wherever Kaylee wants to,” he confirmed. Mal took charge again. “Now all the congratulatin’ is over, can we get back to the job?” Simon let go of Kaylee’s waist and they all sat in their chairs obediently. Mal waited for them to settle. “As I was sayin’ before the future Mrs Tam interrupted … Thornberg is wanted by the Feds and he’s real protective of his freedom. I promised we’d make sure we can meet and create a distraction. I want a setup similar to the Beaumonde job,” he said, looking at Bane. “You’ll be going in and be sort of scoping out the place.” “Alone?” asked Bane, flicking a hopeful glance at Karl. Mal had been about to say Karl’s name, but he caught Bane’s look and because he was just a little bit psychotic… “No, Jayne,” he answered, trying his best not to smirk. Jayne opened his mouth and then bit into a roll. He chewed and grinned, not a pretty sight, he remembered the Beaumonde job too. Bane said nothing, he was the Captain after all. “Does he know who we are, Sir?” asked Zoe. “Koz gave him a description of you an’ me. Told him I had a good team about me who’d look out for him.” “We lookin’ out for Feds then?” Bane asked. “No, you’re creatin’ a distraction to keep the Feds and everyone else happy. Jus’ keep ‘em busy.” “How?” Jayne queried. Mal threw some cloth at him. “Cos you’re gonna be Thornberg. They’re all gonna be checkin’ you both out. Bane, you wear something -“ he tried to think of a word. “Distractin’? I get it, Cap’n,” she answered, rolling her eyes at Jayne’s leer. Then Jayne frowned. “Won’t the Feds arrest me?” he queried. Mal smiled, wondering when Jayne would catch on. “Man’s bin in hiding for years – they don’t have a proper description of what he looks like. They’re apparently after what he has as well. What he is delivering to us.” Jayne still looked puzzled. “Won’t they arrest me anyway at the end of the night?” “You ain’t flagged. Jus’ carry some ID papers for when they do stop you. Worst you’ll do is overnight in the cells for wastin’ their time.” Mal looked at Karl, now he had a good excuse for not sending him. After the Beaumonde job, Karl had escaped from jail, he was therefore wanted by the Feds as well. “Is this tomorrow night?” asked Karl. “Yep. Bar called the Easy Lady in the ass end of Oaktown. Want you there too, but not knowin’ these to. Watch their backs, but leave ‘bout thirty minutes after me and Zoe. That’ll be the signal for you two to wrap it up.” Karl nodded, and Jayne did not look so comfortable all of a sudden. Mal did not care, he just wanted to be there to see it, that was how psychotic he was. “We’ll need to leave pretty quick after we get our package, so you make sure you’re back at the ship afore two a.m. at the latest.” ~ * ~ Bane had just come out of Kaylee and Simon’s quarters where Kaylee had loaned her a black bikini top for the following night. She would not have heard them on account of trying to think on her munitions shopping spree the next day, but she heard Jayne say the word ‘kissing’ and her name. She walked quietly to the hatch by the gym area. “You’re plannin’ on kissing her then?” asked Karl, not entirely comfortable with the notion. Jayne was in uncharted waters, the Captain had just ordered him and Bane to be all kinds of distracting, and in front of her – well, whatever Karl and Bane were at the moment. “Well, not if you don’t want me too. I’ve a strict rule ‘gainst kissin,’ you know that. But I gotta make it look good, otherwise they’ll figure somethin’ wrong.” Bane, still listening and trying not to smile, could not imagine what Karl’s expression was. “Captain says he wants it just like Beaumonde. Means you’ll be fondlin’ my girlfriend in fronta me!” Bane put her hand over her mouth to smother her surprised laughter at his use of the word ‘girlfriend’. Jayne was defensive. “Whaddya wantin’ me ta do? Ya wouldn’t havin’ no problem if you was in my place and she wasn’t your lady.” “It’s different now,” Karl protested, and Bane decided it was time to intervene. “It’s no different than before, both of you,” she said. “So there’ll be kissin’?” asked Jayne, unable to keep the hope out of his voice. Bane struggled to keep the smile off her face and act professional. “Listen, both of you. You want rules? Jayne gets to nuzzle my neck, paw and fondle me – over my clothing. There’ll be no kissin’, less’n I think it necessary.” Jayne thought he must be dreaming. “Hell, yeh,” said Jayne, liking the boundaries. Unlike Karl, who was not liking the boundaries one little bit. “Well this is an interestin’ conversation,” said Mal standing in the cargo bay, eavesdropping as well. “Just sortin’ out all the sexin’ for tomorrow night, Cap’n,” explained Jayne, and then he looked at Karl with a grin. “I won’t enjoy it, I promise.” “They’ll be no sexin’, Jayne,” Bane said tightly. “An’ if you try anything I’ll slap you.” “No you won’t,” said Mal, walking towards them. “You’re his trophy for the night, you’ll put up with whatever he does.” Mal turned to the grinning idiot, Jayne. “An’ you’ll treat Bane with respect. You’re putting on an act, not makin’ a porn capture.” He looked at Karl, “Are we going to have a problem?” Karl stood stiffly and then glanced at Bane. “Apparently not,” he said roughly and walked off. She watched him go and then looked at Mal. “If I dint know better, Cap’n,” Bane said, equally as stiffly. “I’d say you were enjoyin’ this.” The side of Mal’s mouth turned up, but he spoke seriously. “Man’s gotta learn that you ain’t exclusively his,” Bane flushed a little, “Oh, yes – you two been circlin’ each other awhile, it ain’t hard to see. I’ve no issue. As long as it don’t interfere with the job.” Bane looked at the Captain, swallowing her embarrassment, she was not fooled. “Fine words, Mal. I wonder if you’d be so keen if it was Inara sexin’ it up with Jayne for your viewing pleasure – for the sake of the job.” She saw her words had hit home and she left to follow Karl. He had gone to ground in his quarters, but not shut his hatch so she climbed down the ladder without knocking. He was sitting at the desk playing with some leather. “Reckon I know what you’re gonna say, so don’t bother.” Bane was a little hurt by his tone, but she did not leave, instead she sat in the other chair. “You remember the Beaumonde job, don’t you?” “You know I do.” “Try an’ forget what’s happened ‘tween us since then an’ just think about that night. How we acted – how I acted.” Karl remembered a lot about that night, but it had got twisted a lot in his mind since. They had been a team, a working unit, scoping out the bar for potential danger. She had got valuable information from a smelly dock worker by using the skills Mal was asking her to use tomorrow. “That’s different, he was a stranger.” “But you weren’t. You touched me and fondled me – and nibbled my ear, if I recall.” She saw a small smile appear. “It was business then an’ it’ll be business with Jayne – even if he does have his own ideas.” “That’s what I’m worried about,” said Karl. “You think he would jeopardise losing his friends over a little sexin’?” asked Bane. Karl gave her a disbelieving look, but had to admit she was right. Jayne never fought over a woman, there were too many others to choose from. But he would try and push the boundaries, just because he was a little bit insane. Like them all, he mused. Karl put down the leather holster he was holding and faced her, a little more cheerful. “I remember bein’ tempted, specially when you went and threw back your head over the railings.” She went over to him and massaged his neck, which he seemed to like because his head tilted back. She bent and kissed him, lingering, and then moved to sit on his lap. “I’d like to think that you could tell the difference,” she said with her arms around his neck. “From how I am now, to how I act up for a mark.” “I’ll make sure to take notice this time,” he answered warmly, not wishing to talk further. * * * * * * * * * * Picking up machine parts on Greenleaf was a sight more easy than on Persephone. People did not seem to care what you were buying in bulk. That was because although the planet was civilised, it was well away from all the other core planets, in fact it was the last civilised planet before the Outer Rim. Serenity usually just stopped at the planet to refuel or pick up supplies. Bane took Kaylee with her shopping and she had even more fun than the other times. It was never easy to not be forthcoming with Kaylee, especially when they were spending the whole afternoon together. “So did you want to go home to get married?” asked Bane. Kaylee sat behind her on the mule. “I’ve thoughta Serenity as my home for a long time now. But I reckon my ma and pa would like to see who I’ve hitched myself to - for their peace o’ mind.” “How d’you think they’ll take to Simon?” “My folks’ll love him when they get ta know him. Reckon my brothers’ll have some misgivin’s though.” Kaylee sniggered at the last bit. “Brothers?” “Got three. They’re all older and very protective. Last letter I had from Ma said they’d all returned home as there was work there now.” “Does Simon know?” “Probl’y better he don’t til the time comes,” said Kaylee. Bane turned her head so she could see Kaylee’s expression. It was all kinds of naughty. “You are a very wicked woman, Kaylee Frye.” Bane found herself talking about lots of things, until she started having a strange feeling they were being followed. Kaylee was not one to be able to hide the expressions on her face, so she did not tell her. Bane left her side at one point, making up an excuse, so she could circle around and try and find out who was following them. It was no good, the streets were full of people going about their business and everyone looked disreputable. Maybe she was just being paranoid. She had been living under assumed names for so long she was bound to be jumpy. Later in her quarters, Bane got ready for the night. She had gone through this routine many times in the past and it was kind of her own preparation for battle. She had opted to wear her many-buckled pants. They looked good, but would hopefully deter anyone getting too familiar and she included Jayne in that description. Bane put on the black bikini top and tied it securely at the neck and back. She then put a top on over it. She would tie it round her waist later or stuff it into Jayne’s coat. She pinned her hair up in two buns and then tied red ribbons around them, leaving the ends dangling. She was a living doll tonight. Next she paled her face with some powder, re-emphasised her eyebrows and put on some red lipstick. It contrasted very well and disguised her normal face. She drew round her eyes with some black liner and tied a black ribbon around her neck. The transformation was complete. Bane went to find if Jayne was ready. He was playing cards with Karl at the table in the galley, sporting his new red scarf. Apart from an overcoat slung over the back of his chair, he was still dressed the same as earlier. Kaylee was there as well, fixing something to eat in the kitchen. “Jayne, put this grenade somewhere on your person, just in case.” They both looked up at her without speaking, blinking silently in wonder at how different she looked. “Ah, Bane! You look like a second-hand China dolly,” said Kaylee. “That’s what I was goin’ for,” she replied, grinning and spoiling the look. Bane put the grenade on the table when Jayne did not take it from her. “Not too much?” she asked. Bane draped herself on Karl’s shoulder and faced Kaylee, tilting her head and looking vacant. Kaylee laughed, amazed at the transformation – she had never seen Bane at work. It was kind of scary how she had altered. “Oh no. You hardly look like yourself. Very much the tchen wah.” Karl and Jayne were still staring, still not talking. River walked through the galley towards the cockpit. “They don’t want the China doll, they want you,” and she was out of the room. “Huh?” said Kaylee. Bane looked at both the men again. “What is it?” she asked, a little annoyed. When they did not answer Bane walked out of the galley with Kaylee and her plate of food, muttering about men. Karl looked at Jayne, but it was Jayne who spoke first. “Long as I live I will never get women,” he said. “I have enough trouble gettin’ to grips with one personality, let alone twenty. I’m just glad she ain’t mine.” “Not sure she’s mine either,” answered Karl, still bemused. ~ * ~ Karl watched in amazement at Jayne keeping his audience enthralled while Bane hung on his shoulder, her breasts looking like they would dance out of that bikini top given the right music. Jayne was acting like he was the King of all Londinium and holding Court, with Bane as his white-faced jester. The Feds were watching from a concerned distance, easy to spot. He could tell Bane was working hard as well. Every time Jayne seemed a bit stumped Bane cosied up to him and whispered in his ear, getting Jayne back into things. Least he hoped that was what she was doing, it was difficult to tell, which is probably why she was so good. Her face was devoid of its usual spirited animation – there was nothing of the Bane he had come to know so well. All he could see was the expression of the character she was playing. She had been right about it being business, but it still did not stop him from wishing it was him down there with his hand on her waist instead of Jayne. Mal and Zoe stood in a dark corner of the Easy Lady also discretely watching the Jayne and Bane Show and waiting for their contact. “Jayne ain’t bad at this playactin’ stuff,” observed Zoe. “As long as he’s got something to hold on to – be it a gun or a woman – he’s pretty good in any situation.” Zoe smiled to herself, it was not often that Mal was seen to compliment the merc. Not that Jayne was really considered a mercenary any more. He would not still be serving on Serenity if he was – pay was too cheap and erratic. He was family, though it still grated on her some to consider it. She caught someone’s eye by the door and nudged Mal. “We’re bein’ beckoned, sir.” They walked over to the door and back out onto the street, following the man Zoe had seen. They crossed over and walked down a few narrow alleys before they were drawn towards a lighted door. They were wary but experienced, no one would have led them into a trap to bump them off when they could just have easily have done it in a dark alley. Mal and Zoe came into a room with six people. Mal spoke first. “I’d like to make this quick as it’s my people drawin’ all the attention off you at the moment.” One of them stepped forward and held out his hand. He was a nondescript blond man, a little older than Mal. “I’m Elias Thornberg. Thank you for coming.” Mal and Zoe were on guard at his words. It was an odd thing to say, when all they were supposed to be doing was making a drop. “What exactly are you thanking us for?” asked Mal. Elias stood aside and a young girl came out from behind one of the other men. Mal and Zoe looked at each other. “This is my daughter, Kira. I need you to take her to Kostova on Boros.” Well this was a whole different kettle of worms, thought Zoe. “Your daughter?” said Mal. He did not disbelieve the man, they looked too alike for that. “Why exactly can’t you take her yourself?” “Koz told you I’m a marked man, Captain. I reckon I can get away, but it’s gonna be all kinds of tight. We can’t escape together an’ I ain’t goin’ without her. I need to know the Feds ain’t gonna try and use her as a bargaining tool.” “We can leave tonight,” said Mal confidently and Elias nodded approvingly. “Our crew should be heading back to the ship as we speak.” “That’s some crew you’ve got,” Elias said. “I saw some of the floor show. Your munitions genius is very multi-talented.” Mal stopped smiling. “How’d you know about her?” “We ain’t quite the Rim out here. Her face’s been plastered all over the cortex an’ she was buying up a parcel o’ goods yesterday – she was noticed. Might be some here who want a piece of that talent.” “Thanks for the warning,” replied Mal, keen to get going. He watched impatiently as Thornberg said goodbye to his daughter and they left with haste. ~ * ~ “She’s a real good dancer too, ain’t yer, Delilah? Show the nice men how good you are on any pole, not just mine,” Jayne said suggestively and slapped her ass hard. Bane showed a giggly acquiescing face and pouted. “Aw, I don’t wanna dance front of all these people,” she said. Jayne had run out of ideas for conversation and had hit this one when one of the monkeys sitting next to him had asked about her. Least it would keep everyone’s attention on Bane, instead of expecting him to rutting talk them to death. “Do what you’re told, sugar,” Jayne said, more harshly. Bane, alias Delilah, leaned down and bit his ear whispering “You’ll pay for this,” before sashaying her way to the platform. The place was really busy, but she knew Karl was out there watching them. She had never done a pole dance before. Bane had been in enough bars where women were doing it, so she knew what pleased the crowd, but most definitely would she not be stripping down any further. She stepped up to the empty podium, spun around the pole and lifted herself upside down, scissoring her legs open. I think I’ll call this move ‘shoving putty up Jayne’s ass and watching it explode,’ she thought to herself. Karl watched in a kind a sweaty shock. The only way he could tell that Bane had not been happy to go up on stage was when Jayne flinched slightly as she whispered in his ear. Otherwise she looked like any other vacant space harpy. He was more than a little turned on and could not look away now for all the platinum in the ‘Verse. He had no idea she could do that with her body. The tattoo on her back shimmered in the half light of the bar, she was sweating. He began to see little signs of her weaknesses, or rather her realness coming out. She was used to playing up to one mark, not a whole bar full. She did not know where to focus her attention, so she just concentrated on the pole. Her routine was therefore more acrobatic than sexual. Kind of like he had seen at the Pye wedding – except that had been all kinds of sexual, but she was missing the look of joy and exhilaration on her face. Not that any of these idiots would notice the difference. Jayne’s mouth hung open and when he realised what he was doing, he shut it quickly. Bane had placed her hands at the bottom of the pole and grasped one ankle and then lifted the other leg way up, so it touched the pole again. Jayne moved uncomfortably in his chair as Bane kept her legs split vertical and parallel against the bar, but now lifted and twisted her body up to hold the higher ankle. “Wuh duh ma huh tah duh fong kwong duh wai shung,” said one of his table companions in wonder. Jayne thought it was an understatement and again moved uncomfortably in his chair. Bane’s muscles ached and she knew she would not be able to move in the morning, not being as supple as she had once been. The dancing at her brother’s wedding had loosened them a bit, but that was over two months ago now. She was glad that she had chosen small slip-on shoes to wear instead of her big clumpy boots, otherwise the look she was going for on this pole would be totally ruined. Enough was enough, she thought. She finished off by showing the audience her back while wriggling her ass from side to side, moving up and down the pole. She then braced her legs, bent over backwards so she nearly touched the floor and fixed Jayne with a look, letting go of the pole with her arms. Jayne got the message, stood up and started clapping, which prompted everyone else to do the same. He noticed Karl walk out of the bar which was the signal for them to pack it up and leave too. When Bane returned obediently to his side he gave her a squeeze. “Time I got you home, I reckon,” he said, nuzzling her neck for the benefit of onlookers. He would be going straight to his bunk when he got back to Serenity. It was not as if he could go bragging to his best mate that his girlfriend had nearly made him pop his load right here in the bar, front of God and everybody. As they walked out a couple of Feds blocked their path. “I.D. please,” one of them ordered, not even looking in Bane’s direction. Jayne fished out his cards. They scanned them. If they were forgeries they were good ones. “Your name’s Cobb? Not Thornberg?” Jayne looked at them like they were missing heads. “Does ever’body have two names on this planet? Name’s Jayne Cobb. Print me, if you like. I’m just in for the night before goin’ back out to the Rim. Hoping to have me some more hospitality afore I go,” he said, squeezing Bane’s shoulders. “Where’d you get the scarf?” the Fed pointed. “Found it in that alley way over there,” he pointed across the street. “Been a mighty lot of people admirin’ it tonight. Bought me drinks an’ ever’thin’. S’how I picked up this little dolly here,” he chuckled and took the scarf off, handing it to one of the Feds. “You wanna go? Guaranteed to bring you trim.” The Feds looked at each other, aware that the man they were really looking for was a ghost. From the vague descriptions they did have, this man-ape did not match. “You can go,” one said. Jayne and Bane moved off slowly towards the docks. When they were clear she put her top on, smudging some of her makeup. She pulled Jayne into an alley and shoved him against the wall. “Have fun, didya?” she shouted angrily. “Jus playin’ the part, girly – like you,” Jayne retorted genially. “What if I hadn’t been able to do all that stuff on the pole?” Jayne gleefully reminisced that particular moment. “That was somethin’ to watch an’ no mistake, keep my dreams spiced up for months. You ever get tired of Karl, you let me know,” said Jayne, only half joking. Bane let go of him with a growl and started walking down the alley. She was real mad and close to hitting him, but she could wait until they were back on Serenity. “Reckon I might jus’ let Karl beat you up when we get back,” she muttered acidly. “Oh, so now you want him bein’ all jealous and manly?” “Qingwa cào de liúmáng!” said Bane angrily, and turned to find Jayne had stopped. “What?” Jayne had halted halfway down in the alley. There was a group of four men blocking their way at the end of the alley. The two of them closed ranks instinctively, issues forgotten. Jayne looked behind him, his hand resting on his holster. “Zhu yi,” he said. Bane glanced back, there were another three men behind them at the other end and they were all armed with guns pointing at them. It was an awful lot of men for a simple mugging and they both knew it. “Where’d you stash that grenade I gave you?” Bane whispered. “Inside right coat pocket,” muttered Jayne, keeping his eyes on the men in front. “When they get closer, hug me an’ I’ll set it off. Least we’d have a fightin’ chance.” Jayne looked behind them again. Two against seven and no guns. Do-able, but not easy. “What’s the problem, boys?” said Jayne loudly, “I’ve just spent all my credit on gettin’ this little harpy lubed up.” Bane pretended to look up at Jayne adoringly. “Give us the girl and we’ll be on our merry. No one needs to get hurt.” They were close enough. Jayne hugged her shoulders against him and Bane put her arms around him, inside his coat. Jayne carried on talking. “You can have her, but wait your turn. I done forked out a lot for this ‘un.” “You have no idea what you’ve got, idiot,” said another man, but someone hushed him from speaking further. Bane activated the grenade and the EMP pulse was sent out silently. They both heard seven or more clicks, as the guns trained on them deactivated. Before the men realised they had been disarmed, they both ran in the direction of the least amount of men – behind them. The steam roller effect was not completely successful. Jayne brought one man down immediately, Bane ducked a thrown punch and kicked out at crotch level. Now she wished she had on her big clumpy boots. The others caught up too quickly though and both of them were fighting for their lives. When punching did not work for Bane she bit, scratched and screamed like a banshee, hoping to attract some attention. Jayne had competently downed three more, but they just seemed to keep getting up. There were too many of them. Finally someone hit Jayne over the shoulders with a metal pole and he was felled. He attempted to get up but they were on him, kicking and stamping. “Jayne!” Bane shouted when she saw him fall and she lashed out again, coming loose in the grip someone had her in. “Sha ni zu xian shi ba dai,” she yelled, her voice getting hoarse. A hand clamped over her mouth and she bit into it, still kicking wildly. At last they got frustrated and slugged her unconscious with a gun butt. Someone kicked Jayne in the throat as he tried to will his body to move, but they kept kicking until one of them commanded firmly. “Leave him. We have the woman.” “Don’t worry,” another voice said close to his ear. “It’s not her pole dancin’ skills we want her for, shee-niou.” Jayne heard right before he blacked out. ~ * ~ Mal and Zoe nervously awaited the others in the cargo bay. The girl was tucked away safely in one of the compartments until they broke atmo. She had not been too compliant either, wanting to stay with her father. River stood in front of the same compartment at the bottom of the stairs, concern on her face as well, as Bane, Karl and Jayne were way overdue. Mal and Zoe both worried that something was seriously wrong. Mal visibly sighed when the door opened. They rushed forward as they realised it was Karl struggling to support Jayne. Zoe shouted for Simon as Karl tried to walk him towards the Med Bay. Mal took the other side. “What happened? Where’s Bane?” asked Mal. “Someone’s got her,” said Karl. “They didn’t want the China doll, they wanted her,” said River to herself, finally understanding the phrase that had popped into her head earlier. She followed the group to the Med Bay, feeling Jayne was hurting, but it was not all from his injuries. He was feeling guilty for making Bane go up on stage, making her so visible. You boob, Jayne, thought River, she was noticed way before then. Jayne spoke, his voice barely a croaking whisper. “Made her pole dance -“ “You made her what!” interrupted Mal, but Zoe nudged him to silence. Jayne was in considerable pain and making him explain every part of the story was not helping. Kaylee stood beside River, taking in the news. “We were clear,” he gasped again, “Jumped us in the alley. Thought they were tryin’ to rob us, but too many of them.” They could all see he was struggling, but he persevered. “Bane set off a grenade and we tried fightin’ our way out.” He closed his eyes and Mal thought he had blacked out. But Jayne was not done, causing Simon to concernedly hover over the larger man. “They were after Bane – they knew who she was.” He was done. Jayne’s body relaxed so much that Kaylee gasped in horror. Simon examined him closely. “It’s alright - he’s just unconscious.” Simon turned to Mal. “He’s bleeding internally; likely he’s got several broken ribs as well. Man’s as stubborn as an ox, but even Jayne has his limits.” Simon could see he had his work cut out and the distraction of Mal now questioning Karl was not helping. He ordered them outside. Jayne was also bleeding heavily from a gash on his head. Simon quickly placed some monitor pads on his chest once he had cut away his clothing. “What’s the plan, sir?” asked Zoe. “I’m still thinking,” snapped Mal. “We should be going out to find Bane, Cap’n. Not standing here decidin’ anything,” argued Kaylee. Karl agreed with her. “We got cargo to deliver. Precious cargo at that,” retorted Mal. “More precious than one of your crew?” said Karl. The question went unanswered as Karl saw the strange girl walk into the seating area. “Go look for her,” said Kira Thornberg. “Get back in the panel,” ordered Mal. “Who’s this?” asked Kaylee and Karl together. Zoe intervened. “This is our cargo. We need to get her to Boros or she’ll be used as barter.” “I ain’t gonna be -“ Kira started, along with a few others who started talking as well. Mal was about to tell everyone to shut up when Simon’s monitors started beeping loudly. They rushed to the doorway. Jayne looked like he was having a fit. “Hold him!” commanded Simon. Karl, Zoe and Mal all came forward. Jayne was one big man to hold down, but they managed it between the three of them. “What’s wrong?” asked Zoe. “His airway’s collapsed. He can’t breathe.” Simon already knew what he had to do. He grabbed his scalpel and cut into Jayne’s throat swiftly. The others were too horrified to ask what he was doing. Simon scarcely heard his own breath as he gently parted the skin and inserted a tube. Jayne stopped struggling and a harsh gust of air flowed noisily through the tube. Simon attached a proper breathing tube and taped it down. He glanced up at their concerned faces. “Looks like someone kicked him in the throat. All that talking made it swell up.” “If they treated him like this, Mal, what d’you think they’ve done to Bane?” said Karl angrily. Mal took charge again. “Probl’y nothing ‘cept take her to wherever they are based. Like Jayne said, if they need her for her skills, they ain’t gonna be killin’ her anytime soon.” “You can’t be seriously thinkin’ to leave without her?” shouted Karl, “After all that pì huà about the trial -“ “Bi zui!” said Mal. “River, fire up the engines and get Serenity ready to leave. Zoe, get that troublesome girl back behind the panel -“ Before Karl could interrupt again, River spoke. “She’s gone.” Mal swore and ran with Zoe back into the cargo bay. Their back door was wide open. The plans changed again and Mal ordered River to go with Zoe to find Kira Thornberg. Mal and Karl went to look for traces of Bane. They retraced their steps to the alley, but it was no good. Finding footprints in the dirt of uncivilised planets was one thing, finding it over concrete and metal was a whole other story. They took an end of the alley each and scouted around as best they could. After ten minutes Mal shouted to Karl. “One of her ribbons,” he said, presenting the evidence to Karl. He looked ahead of them. “They could have gone anywhere from here. This is the kind of place where people don’t take much notice of strange things going on.” Karl could see Mal was right but it did not stop him from arguing. “We can’t leave her again.” “We didn’t leave her before. She was arrested and we got her back. We’ll get her back again.” “I’ll stay,” Karl said, “Might be I can pick up some word.” Zoe’s voice came on the com announcing that they were back at the ship with Kira. Mal shook his head at Karl’s words and started to walk back to the docks. “Bane can take care of herself – she was doin’ it long before we came along. She’ll be makin’ munitions and likely make somethin’ to get herself outta wherever she is. She knows who to call, she ain’t alone in the ‘Verse.” Karl could not believe what he was hearing. “Thought all the crew was important?” “She’s a grown woman and that girl ain’t. Her daddy’s entrusted me to get her away from this planet to somewhere safer.” Mal could see this argument was not going away. Karl was every bit as right as well, that was what rankled most. In any normal circumstances Mal would not hesitate. This was not a normal situation. They reached the ship and Mal opened the door to Kira’s screaming and writhing in Zoe’s very annoyed grip. River had her hands over her ears. “Gorram it, Zoe, will you shut her up.” Zoe was tight-lipped and annoyed. Short of slugging her, which was real tempting, she was at a loss as to exactly how to do that. Mal looked around to close up the ramp and found Karl was not behind him. He paused long enough to utter a few Chinese curses and then hit the button. “River, get us outta here, ma-shong,” he shouted over the noise. River ran to do the task. When the ship lifted Zoe let go of her screaming charge and strode over to Mal. “You wanna explain to me why we’ve just left two of our crew behind for this nyen ching-duh? “We can get back soon enough to pick them up. Karl wasn’t comin’ away without me knocking him senseless – fortunately Jayne is already senseless – and we need to get her to Boros.” He turned to his passenger. “You can stop your screamin’ or I’m gonna have no issue about tying you to a chair for the duration.” Kira stopped ranting and was silent which made everyone a bit less on edge. “Where’s Karl?” asked Kaylee, coming into the cargo bay. * * * * * When Serenity was finally in com distance to Boros, Mal waved Kostova. They were still about two days away, but he had to do something. “Mal! Have you got the package?” he asked, worried. “Yes, we have the package. She’s been a precious lot of trouble though. You might have told me she liked to start fires, as well as being mighty ungrateful we rescued her. I very nearly threw her out of the airlock.” Kostova tried not to smile, not very successfully. “My goddaughter is a bit of a handful.” “Handful, ain’t the word, Koz. Look, there’s another reason I waved you. Bane was taken by some hun dan that wanted her munitions skills. I need to you contact Thornberg to find out who. Tell him Karl’s in Oaktown trying to trace her.” Kostova’s smile had already disappeared. “I’ll do what I can, but the man’s real difficult to contact. See you in a couple of days.” Kostova broke the connection. “Sir,” said Zoe, who had been listening to the conversation. Mal looked at her, feeling real weary. He waited for her to speak – to disagree with him. Zoe could tell that Mal had little sleep in the last few days. “If Bane’s wanted for her munitions skills then Monty’ll likely hear about it sooner or later. You could wave him.” Mal relaxed a little. “Already tried – reckon he’s out in the Rim at the moment. I’ll keep tryin’ though.” Zoe sat down in the co-pilot’s chair. “What’s the plan, sir?” “The plan? The plan,” Mal repeated in agitation. “You know sometimes I get tired of all the plans. Does that mean I’m getting old?” “No,” said Zoe, “It just means that you’re gettin’ a little fed up with unpredictability.” Mal nodded. Could be true, but it was not too long ago he had been finding predictability boring. Be careful what you wish for, he thought ruefully. “Well, they’ll be no more plan-changin’. We drop off our bundle of joy with Koz and then we’re straight back to Greenleaf. Gotta get our crew back.” “Good,” agreed Zoe getting to her feet. “I’ll tell the rest of them.” “Thanks,” said Mal gratefully, but then added, “Don’t go to telling Jayne anything yet. Longer I can keep that man in bed the better. He’ll be all kinds of cantankerous if he finds out I left his two best friends planet-side.” Zoe nodded. She went the stairs to the Med Bay. Jayne had woken briefly the day before. He was still fairly doped up and she was not surprised. A good part of his face and upper body was now purple with bruising. River had described him as a ripe plum and Zoe reckoned he had two shiny big ones to withstand that kind of beating. She looked at Simon and indicated that she wanted a word. He stepped out and they went into the cargo bay. “How’s he doing, Doc?” “He’ll recover but it’s gonna be slow. He’s got all sorts of injuries. Most of all he thinks it’s all his fault.” “Cap’n says to keep him in the dark a bit longer.” Zoe explained the plan. Simon was not comfortable with it, but could kind of see the reason. “As soon as he’s able to walk, he’ll have to be told.” “I know it… but let’s just keep the peace for a while longer. Dope him if you have to.” ~ * ~ Kira was dropped off with Kostova without a backward glance. Mal would be glad if he never clapped eyes on the girl again and it was the same for all the crew. Even Kaylee had sworn at her at one point. Kostova had been unable to contact Thornberg as the man had already left Greenleaf. The balance of Serenity was out of kilter and Mal could feel it. He felt real vulnerable without Karl, Bane and Jayne and he was not afraid to admit it - to himself. Mal glanced at River who was steering the ship out of atmo. She probably knew how he felt too. River did not look around. “I don’t know where Bane is,” she said. “But she’s a survivor. Soon as she gets free, she’ll let us know.” Mal gave her half a smile even though he knew she could not see it. “When did you become my councillor?” he said. River shrugged and plotted the quickest route back to Greenleaf. “You did what you had to do to get the job done, now you need to look to your own.” “My own,” Mal repeated. He was about to say something else when the com started beeping. That will be Monty, he sighed with relief. It was not Monty. “Captain Reynolds! I’m so glad I’ve finally got through. I’ve been trying to contact you for days.” It was Sheydra, Inara’s friend. “What is it?” he asked, feeling more than a little sick to his stomach. “Inara’s been expelled from the Guild. She has been asked to leave the Training House.” “Why?” “I don’t know – she’s refusing to say, and the Guild is keeping it top secret. Mal, I told her to call you, but she’s said she can handle it without you being bothered.” Mal relaxed a little. “She probably can. She was born on the planet, after all.” “All her assets have been confiscated, her accounts frozen. I tried to help, but I’ve already been warned to stay away from her. She’s got nothing.” He watched as Sheydra look behind her and then she cut the com link. “Tianna, gu zao de!” he shouted at the blank com. He leaned on the panel, his hands on his head. Mal composed himself before speaking to River again. “How far to Sihnon?” “Same as the distance to Greenleaf,” she replied quickly. “Problem, sir?” said Zoe walking into the cockpit. When she saw his face she knew that there was. “Gotta make a choice that I never thought I would have to. Inara’s in serious trouble.” “What kind of trouble?” asked Zoe. “Enough to have her expelled from the Guild and stripped of her assets. Gorram it, why didn’t she tell me? She’s as good as on the street if we don’t get to her.” Zoe could see that it was tearing Mal up inside. Should he choose to go get Inara, or return to Greenleaf to rescue Karl and Bane?


Wednesday, June 13, 2007 10:59 PM


Please please post your thoughts as (good or bad) it inspires me to keep writing.
For a quick synopsis of crew members Bane Pye and Karl Jacobsson, see my log.

Monday, June 18, 2007 2:37 AM


161 sodding times this has been looked at and no one's rated or reviewed!?! Fine bunch of people you are, making Paula feel unapprecaited!


Much as I am biased - being the beta and all;D - I think this was a fabulous first half here! Lots of action and interesting character moments (with lots more to come!) and I think you've captured the agonies of command with Mal's struggles to do the right thing when it came to leaving Bane and Karl behind on Greenleaf and debeating over who to return for now that the job's done:)


Tuesday, July 10, 2007 8:36 AM


I just popped over to try out some of your stuff and wasn't sure where to start. This is where I jumped in. I don't know the back story with your OCs, but this is still very interesting. I enjoyed your action sequencing, really nice. Fast-paced without being choppy.
Think I'll have to dig back and find some of the back story, before forging ahead.


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