BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

GUILDSISTER

Blue Sun Job, Part 24: The Wrong Side of Normal
Friday, August 20, 2004

Jayne takes a stab at amateur pyschoanalysis.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 3929    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Blue Sun Job, Part 24: The Wrong Side of Normal

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
Blue Sun Job, Part 14: Two By Two
Blue Sun Job, Part 15: Give the Devil His Due
Blue Sun Job, Part 16: The Edge
Blue Sun Job, Part 17: Going Through the Motions
Blue Sun Job, Part 18: Never Leave
Blue Sun Job, Part 19: The Bottom
Blue Sun Job, Part 20: Countdown
Blue Sun Job, Part 21: PS1467
Blue Sun Job, Part 22: X1823
Blue Sun Job, Part 23: Fallout

Chinese:

No critical dialog using actual Chinese characters, just exclamatory expressions

他妈的 = ta ma duh = f*ck, or motherf*cking
狗屎= go-se = crap


Blue Sun Job, Part 24: The Wrong Side of Normal
靑日 Job: The Wrong Side of Normal

As she climbed up out of the captain’s quarters, Zoe was deeply shaken. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Wash staring at her from the bridge--seeing her leave Mal’s bunk. She froze a moment, then turned away as though she hadn’t seen him, away from her husband, and strode off down the corridor and around the corner toward the cargo bay. She couldn’t deal with another fight with Wash just now. She couldn’t deal with Wash at all just now. Not. Just. Now. It was the problems of the other one that threatened to overwhelm her.

Stopping near the head of the stairs, she leaned against the bulkhead, dropping her head down. Oh, God… When he’d said he wanted to fly the ship out into the Black past the point of no return, she’d been a touch concerned. She knew he’d be troubled and off-balance by everything that had happened. But their conversation had been fine, or near enough to it, until the very end. Mal’d been sorely rattled by the realization that his memories were screwed up, but so was Zoe. Damn it! Mal was strong. He’d get through this. But he needed her now; needed her near and constant.

And she needed him.

This was the problem that drove Wash to his current bout of bloody-minded assholeness. It wasn’t Wash’s fault, nor even his problem--well, not entirely. It was hers. She had too many husbands. And she was hell-bent on keeping them both.

She’d listened to that recording, though a few times she’d had to stop it and still her own trembling reaction. Wash thought she was so strong… if he could see what mere words could do to her... Zoe’d always thought that it would do Mal good to talk out the things he held inside, but now she wasn’t so sure. Harken had led him through every step of the war, but Mal had resisted hard talking about the worst of times. She sure as hell didn’t want him listening to it again, not yet, and not alone. Maybe she should have taken the disk back. No… she wasn’t his keeper and he wasn’t stupid. Well, not usually.

Closing her eyes, she could hear the echo of his words as he spoke about her, and Shadow, and their sometimes contorted life together. He’d told about what had happened to her, when he’d rescued her, in a way she’d never known he even thought about. God… she’d felt her own cold, stony wall slam into place while she listened to that part. The wall of ice was the only thing that would keep her steady, and she had to be steady and strong now because Mal was in trouble and she was the only rock he had to stand on.

But what about her? Who would support her? Wash? He was her husband. But what did that mean? They laughed. They loved. They pleasured each other in exhilarating ways. He was brightness and light and joy--well, not so much right now, but generally speaking. What he wasn’t was her support in the darkness, the one who understood and could sustain her in the nothing. The one who was true to her… loved her?… was loyal to and sustained her when she was cold and deadly and downright unlovable. That was Mal.

Wash was her other half. And Mal was her other half. Three halves. And, unfortunately for them all, the math just didn’t work.

“And do you love her?”

“No.”

The first flat-out lie Harken had caught him on.

“Zoe, darlin’, why are you still arguing this? We’re gonna get hitched and that’s just the way of it.”

“Don’t you go orderin’ me around like I’m some hired hand. I don’t answer to you. And why? Do you love me so much, huh? Tell me you love me so much you want to be with me forever. You ‘pect me to stay here on this ranch? I don’t figure you flying off ‘round the ‘verse with me for the rest of forever. We’ve had some fun romps but that ain’t cause to go throwing your life away just ‘cause you feel guilty.”

Mal gave a frustrated sigh. “You are the most purely confounding female critter I have ever met. Listen… There’s more to being married than… well, what we was doin’. And I don’t feel guilty. Well, okay, I do, but that’s not the point. Getting hitched to someone ain’t about the fun and games and the laughing and the… the rompin’. It’s about being true to another soul, loyal to ‘em in the no-matter-what even if you don’t happen to particular even like ‘em at the time.”

“Like at this very time?” Zoe stared at Mal a long time. “You still ain’t said you love me. So why you wanna do this?”

He stumbled for the words a moment, then looked away. “’Cause it’s the right thing to do.”

With a sigh, Zoe pushed herself upright, feeling weary to the bone. Too many grenades too close to the fire… one was bound to blow pretty soon. Starting down the stairs into the cargo bay, she had no destination. She considered, and dismissed, the idea of the very confessional chat with the preacher she’d tried to push Mal into. The unknowns about the man, and the religiosity, stood as a barricade. Who else was there who could serve as her sounding board? Inara? There was a laugh. She’d lap up every word about the captain, but Zoe couldn’t breach Mal’s confidences to her. That was his choice to do, or not, as he saw fit, just as Mal didn’t breach her confidences to Wash.

Zoe ran through the rest of the list as she trudged downward. Kaylee? The captain’s little ‘mei-mei’? Troubled herownself about having left three Feds on that doomed shuttle? Uh, uh. Jayne? There was some warped humor waiting to happen--though he’d no doubt enjoy the naughtier parts of the tale. River? Hmm… already crazy, knew what it was like. But, no. She was just a child. Simon? Despite all his smarts and learning he was still too young and ignorant in the nastier ways of the ‘verse. No… as it always was, the only one who could understand and accept, usually with just a shared look, was Mal.

It was funny, Zoe thought, running her hand lightly over Serenity’s bulkhead. The others didn’t question that the captain could be all brooding and troubled at times, but she was expected to be calm, happy, and serene, though she’d lived most of the same nightmares he had, and a few he hadn’t. The crew only saw the Zoe that Wash had made.

Good, and now the ‘guilty’ was back joining the ‘upset’.

What was this? Zoe’s hand caught on a misaligned panel. It was one of the small smuggling caches that littered Serenity. Damn… Feds had found this one. Which others had they found? Or more significantly, not found?

More pleased than she could admit to herself to have found some task to occupy her, Zoe set about on a methodical inventory of the ship. If you couldn’t manage denial, there was nothing quite so good as avoidance.

* * *

Mal tossed the disk over into the tangled mess on his desk without looking at it. He knew why Zoe didn’t want him listening to it, at least not yet. She figured he was too freaked out off his nut to cope with hearing all that 狗屎 again.

She might just have a point, he thought, gulping down a sudden swell of the willies.

A shrink might have something dumb to say about a need to scrub down good, but Mal really just wanted to get the Fed-contaminated feel and smell of jail, and Alliance off of him. Drying off, he put on the cleanest clothes he could find. Pure coincidence it was his uniform trousers and a brown shirt. Really.

Then he set about straightening up the cabin, taking note of what was missing and would need to be replaced--mainly the weapons. They hadn’t taken much of the personal gear, just gone through it all. Touching everything. He sorted out a couple photos, carefully restoring them to their place over his bunk. Mal’s fingers lingered a moment over one of an old woman by the tree…

Quickly, he turned back to tidying until he reached the desk. Damned disk again. Zoe’d listened to it. Muddled though his recollections were at points, some was vividly clear. She’d heard him talking about her, saying things she’d always just wanted to leave well and thoroughly buried. Now here it all was back up from the dark, buried depths right in their gorram faces. And they couldn’t just go out, get blind drunk, punch out and rob a couple Feds, and wake up nekkid together to get over it.

Though, just maybe, all things considered, that hadn’t really ever been the best of coping strategies.

Standing in the center of the cabin, Mal turned around slowly. There was nothing left to do and he was all kinds of restless. His head still hurt bad. But he was also craving some coffee and some not-aloneness… even though he also kind of dreaded having to deal with the others. Couldn’t put it off forever, though.

Without even a sideways glance toward the bridge, Mal climbed out of his bunk and headed for the dining area. It was straightened up, mostly. Some things disarrayed, some damaged, and some missing. But--damn--it was still here. It was still Serenity and it was still his ship. Right down to the absurdly cute flowers painted on the walls.

Mal felt a flicker of a smile. He supposed Kaylee was about somewhere. Then it occurred to him that he really didn’t know who was about. He’d seen Zoe and Wash, of course, and Book, Simon and River. He reckoned Kaylee had been with Book. That left…

“Jayne!” Well. Who’d’ a thunk it--that the big-ass mercenary would still be around at all, much less grinning at him like he was actually happy to see him.

“Hey, cap,” Jayne said, stepping down into the dining area. He carried a canvas bag, and wore a shiny new Blue Sun t-shirt. Something about that gave Mal a twitch.

“Fancy meeting you here,” Mal said carefully as he picked up a pot off the stove. Opening the lid he sniffed. Coffee. The real stuff and reasonably fresh. Pouring a cup, he crossed to sit at the end of the long table, keeping one eye warily on Jayne the entire time.

Jayne’s grin faded. “So,” he said, striding over toward Mal. “As I hear it, in the area of ratting people out to the Feds, I’m guessing someone is gonna be a little less judgmental.”

Mal glanced up over the rim of his cup, giving Jayne The Look until the big ape flinched and broke eye contact. “Yeah, okay…” Jayne muttered, clearly irked that he hadn’t won that round. He dropped the canvas bag on the table and opened it up. There was money inside. A pretty damned fair amount of money. Mal looked up at Jayne, baffled, startled, and a touch greedy.

“What…?” Mal started.

“It’s what’s left from the job,” Jayne said, pulling out a chair and sitting down. “Ain’t near what I started with, but there was… expenses.” He grinned at Mal again. “You’re a pricy bastard to bail out of a fix.”

“You mean you…?” Mal didn’t seem able to complete a sentence coherently. Maybe it was the headache. Or maybe he had gone totally off the deep end and he was just imagining Jayne was here giving him money and talking about having helped rescue him from the Feds. Jayne?

Jayne scowled. “What? You didn’t think I’d go all out to save your sorry ass?”

With absolute flat sincerity, Mal said, “I never doubted you for a minute, Jayne.” He held Jayne’s eyes unwaveringly until Jayne grinned again. Mal took a quick gulp of coffee, hoping the burning hotness of it would cover the shudder he could no longer repress. Damned drug. When would the last traces of it wear off?

Dropping his eyes, Jayne’s expression turned a little glum. “Yeah, well, Mal… you wouldn’t have been wrong if’n you had doubted me. I did myownself. But just for bit,” he added defensively. “See, ‘bout the time you was getting your ass hauled off to that Fed cruiser, I was sitting pretty with a truck-load of cash and the gorram Feds falling all over themselves to please me, thinkin’ I was really some highfalutin high-roller.”

Mal scowled, concentrating. “You should have been back to Serenity before us. How’d you not get caught?”

Jayne actually blushed. “I was kinda flush with all that cash there at that casino. You know, where I was laundering the coin. There was liquor and women. And I was winning at the gambling!” He looked down, like a contrite puppy dog caught puddling the floor. “And there was a lot more liquor… and, uh, I kinda missed the meet. Guess I started a fight. Or finished one, I dunno. Passed out and woke up in some fancy-ass jail with them all apologizing to me for locking me up.” Jayne looked sternly at Mal. “You know them Feds ain’t such bad fellers, you stay on their good side.”

“Yeah, they’re real sweathearts,” Mal said. “So, what, then? You contact Book or he contact you?”

“Huh? Oh, hell no, Mal. Ain’t nobody told you? It was Inara pulled it all together,” Jayne said.

It was a good thing Mal was sitting down already, he thought. “Inara? But she…”

“Is still here,” a soft voice sounded. Mal looked up as Inara swept down into the dining room. Mal gaped. Jayne snorted with amusement.

Watching as she crossed to the kitchen, acting like she’d never left and like nothing had even happened, Mal said, “What the hell…?”

“I went on over to her high-priced whorehouse--” Inara scowled at Jayne but he just gave her a wink and kept talking. Mal felt like he was in some bizarre fun-house dream sequence. “--and got the ball rolling on getting you and the others out of that fix.” Jayne looked at him intently. “I did, Mal.”

“He really did,” Inara said quietly, pouring herself a cup of coffee, grimacing at it, then poured it back and started to fix herself some tea. “I knew you’d been arrested but didn’t know what I could do about it. Jayne started everything going.”

“And the best part,” Jayne said eagerly, “I had to hide out in that there Companion house for a couple days.” He grinned broadly, then leaned over to whisper--loudly--to Mal. “I had me a Companion,” he said, giving Mal a comradely smack on the arm.

Mal rubbed his arm. It hurt. His eyes flicked from Jayne over to Inara as she swept over to the table.

“Not. Me.” Inara said, managing to make each word drip with more contempt, disgust, and venom than Mal would have thought humanly possible… less’n, of course, she was talking about him. And yet the look that passed between Jayne and Inara wasn’t at all hostile, more friendly and conspiratorial.

“Yeah,” Jayne said, “Not ‘Nara. One of the other gals.” He leaned back close again and whispered--again, loudly, “I’m telling you, Mal. Them Companions… they got techniques.” Then even louder, giving a significant glance at Inara. “Techniques. Ow! Whatcha hit me for?” Jayne growled at Inara.

“It’s one of the techniques,” she said sternly, but, again, the look between them was nothing but, well… Mal could say ‘companionable’, but he didn’t.

Jayne grinned. “Anyhow, cap, you can just figure I already spent my cut and then some. I won’t be needin’ no more of a cut.”

When had the ‘verse turned itself completely upsidedown and on end? Mal couldn’t even manage an answer, just nodded vaguely. “So… um… What…?”

Inara gave him a soft smile. He had to glance away.

“Commander Harken told me Serenity had already been sold. How…?” Mal gestured around.

“I bought Serenity,” Inara said very softly.

Mal stared at her. He blinked. “You bought my ship.”

Inara grinned at him, a touch wickedly if he was reading her right. She reached into the folds of her robes and pulled out a leather folder, sliding it down the table toward him.

“I bought your ship,” she said smiling. It was way too obvious she was enjoying upsetting him.

“That’s… um… why you’re still here?” He asked. She bought his ship. Her ship. What was that notion about getting dropped off at a Fed station to confess all? Or was this just part of the having gone totally off his tracks.

“Of course,” Inara said. “Can’t leave my own ship.” Then she softened her taunting expression into seriousness. “Mal… you’ve got a clean set of updated registration documents there in front of you--good to use at any Alliance checkpoint we might pass. But the actual change of ownership didn’t go all the way through. Serenity’s still yours.”

He swallowed. It was all a lot to take all at once, on top of everything else. “How…?” Couldn’t think straight. Couldn’t talk straight. Mal glanced at Jayne. “How the hell much money you make at that casino?”

“Not enough to buy the gorram ship,” he said.

“Mal, I fenced the Lassiter,” Inara inserted.

Mal dropped his head into his hands, wishing the throbbing, and the shocks would just quit coming.

“And it’s a damned good thing she did,” Zoe’s voice came from behind him. Mal turned to see her step down into the dining room. “Feds found the cache where it was hidden.” Zoe sat down at a chair down the table a ways. She looked over at Mal with a measuring meeting of their eyes. “I told Inara where it was before we headed out on the mission. I asked her to fly cover for us, if worst came to worst. And it did.”

Mal stared at Zoe a minute more. “That it did.” He looked away, shaking his head. “Well… good… It’s all good.” He picked up the leather folder, more to have something to do than any interest in reading the documents. “Fine.” He looked up at Zoe, Inara, and Jayne. “We’re gonna be hashing some of this out later on, but for now… well, let’s just say I’m grateful to each and every one of you and leave it at that.” Mal stared at the document, then stared again. Huh? “琐细,” he said, looking up at Inara. “Suoshee. 琐细. You named my ship ‘Petty’?”

Inara had the grace to blush. “I was in a rush and it was just the first thing that came to mind.”

If anything, the headache was getting worse. Mal took a deep breath. “So… we’re out and free, and not fugitives, and that ain’t nothing. But it cost us the score from the Lassiter, and most of the damned Blue Sun loot.” He peered in Jayne’s canvas bag of cash. It looked to be good for about one good refuel and refit, but they still had to resupply and rearm, plus replace and repair whatever else the Feds had taken or destroyed. “So our net loss…”

Kerthunk!

Mal stared blankly at the familiar damned engine part that had been dropped on the table in front of him. He tilted his head up, a warm smile coming over his face. “Kaylee, mei-mei.”

She wrapped herself around him, squeezing hard. He squeezed back just as hard. Kaylee slid herself down onto his lap, holding on tight. “I was so scared, cap’n,” she whispered in his ear. “So scared I’d never see you or Serenity again.”

“Me too, honey,” he whispered back. He nudged her back a touch. She stood back up, keeping a hand on his shoulder. He covered that hand with his, giving a small sigh. Inara and Jayne, even Zoe, were giving ‘em kinda melty looks but he didn’t much mind at this very minute.

“So, Kaylee,” Mal said briskly, patting her hand. “Don’t tell me we’ve blown another catalyzer. ‘Cause even I don’t believe our luck could be purely that bad.”

“Ain’t,” she said with a grin. “Look closer. You wouldn’t want to hook that one up to Serenity’s engine, cap’n.”

He stared at the part, then at Kaylee, then at the part again. “Platinum?” he whispered, hardly daring to say it out loud.

“Yuppers,” Kaylee said, beaming. “Seems the gorram Feds didn’t think a crate of ratty old Firefly parts was worth confiscating. Got a whole bunch more down below.”

“I’ll. Be. Damned.” Mal said. “Looks like we just might break even on this whole mess. But now, y’all gotta fill me in on just what-all transpired here. How’d we get from being hauled down to a Fed prison to ending up back here on Serenity…”

* * *

Zoe sat quietly and listened as the others drifted in--all save Wash who still seemed to be busy on the bridge--and they all told the tale. Shepherd Book prepared dinner, adding his inserts from the kitchen as he worked. She’d heard the parts, but not the whole. Good bunch, she thought. Damned good bunch, pulling together when it would have been a helluva lot easier and safer just to have run.

Jayne had truly started it all, by contacting Inara and shoving her into action. She had the contacts and connections while he had the money for bribes. Book had contacted Monty and coordinated getting his Alliance nephew onto Harken’s cruiser and thereby to control the records of the interrogations, and--to an extent--control the content. And to arrange the intercept of the police shuttle.

Mal scoffed. “Bastard didn’t let me lie about anything ‘cept Monty.”

“He was in a precarious situation,” Book said. “He couldn’t let his own position be compromised.”

Zoe watched Mal study the preacher. “And how the hell did you get ahold of Monty? Even to find him, much less talk to him? Monty’s a sweet fella, but he’ll shoot first if’n he thinks his people are in peril. And he ain’t ever met you.”

Book smiled. “You asked me to keep an eye on Kaylee. I did. That let me identify two of Monty’s crew, and, well, one thing led me to another which led me to Monty.”

Staring at him, Mal said, “That still don’t tell me how you convinced Monty you was on the up-‘n-up.”

Giving an odd little gesture with his hands, Book merely shrugged. “I guess he trusts Shepherds.”

Zoe stared. Then she turned to stare at Mal. He held her stare. He’d seen it too. Shepherd Book had just flashed them one of the underground’s recognition signals.

“Yeah,” Mal said evenly. “I’m sure that’s it. Monty’s kind of a religious fella at heart.”

Zoe sat still, letting the implications sink in. Book… part of the underground? Or an infiltrator? Or something else? The signal had been an older one. Argh. Every answer led to more questions. Was he even really a Shepherd? It had been easy enough to dismiss what Simon told them Jubal Early had said. The statement of a psychopathic bounty hunter was not exactly unimpeachable testimony. Book had certainly done them nothing but good so far.

They went on with the story while Book served dinner. Harken’s aide had been bought off--burying the records of the charges and convictions for them; keeping the matter out of the central databases and hiding the evidence from Harken himself. Inara had tweaked the judge advocate with a hint of Companionly blackmail to get him to cede to Harken’s plea arrangement, and the authorities on Beta--Inara’s ‘high cover’ connections she’d established from the start, also destroyed records at her behest.

Mal sighed as Book set a plate down in front of him. “Seems like half the folks putting us through hell were actually on our side,” he said. Zoe saw his gaze turn inward. He fell silent.

When she didn’t offer to fetch her husband, or at least take him a plate, Book gently took the matter in hand, fetching Wash in from the bridge. He sat silently beside her, as remote from her as if they were strangers. It tore at her. Speaking of going through hell...

If any of the others noticed that Mal was about half a second behind on some of the laughter, or that neither she nor Wash laughed at all they didn’t say anything about it. In fact, the overwhelming sense around the table was one of relief.

Zoe saw Mal visibly cringe when they came to Kaylee’s part in the shuttle rescue. “Rigged the engines to blow while Monty’s co-pilot set an auto-trajectory and ran a distress call. Feds should think it was a malfunction and they couldn’t pull out of the gas giant’s gravity well.”

It was going to trouble the girl, Zoe knew. And by derivation, it was going to trouble Mal on her behalf, that she’d killed those three guards just as surely as if she pointed a gun at them and pulled the trigger. Zoe saw River flick an odd glance at her. Three and three, Zoe thought. For herself, she’d lost count long ago.

Angry and brooding though he was, Wash couldn’t contain himself from participating in the story of River flying Serenity. Zoe tried to share in the amusement as they bantered back and forth about her relative flying skills, or--in Wash’s opinion--lack thereof. River didn’t seem insulted and Wash didn’t seem upset with her. Somehow those two had formed their own little bond battling over the controls of the ship. There was also a new chumminess between Jayne and River, as well, that seemed to have improved Simon’s view of Jayne too.

The dishes had been cleared and the conversation around the table had split off three different ways, with only Zoe and Mal silent, in their own private, isolated bubbles.

“Well,” Mal said out of a brief gap in the conversations. He gave a little shake and stood. “Sorry to leave this fine evening so early, but I am dead tired. I’ll… see you all in the morning.”

The conversation resumed in a low murmur until they all heard the captain’s bunk hatch thunk closed, then a silence drifted down over the gathering.

“Is Mal alright?” Inara asked quietly. Every eye turned toward Zoe for the answer. Why’d they all expect she’d have the answer? She felt Wash’s annoyance beside her.

Before she could frame any sort of answer, Jayne cut in with, “Hell, no, he ain’t alright. What’d you think? He’s crazy as a freakin’ loon. More’n normal.”

“Jayne!” About three voices at once admonished.

“What?” Jayne said defensively. “Don’t tell me you all are so damned stupid you don’t see it. Course the cap’n’s crazy.” Zoe thought she ought to say something, stop him, but for the life of her, he had her stumped as to what to say. Stunned, she just sat and listened as Jayne dissected Mal… and her. Accurately.

“Listen… Mal and Zoe ain’t the first Browncoat vets I run with. They ain’t even the most screwed up. Half the outlaws roaming the ‘verse are their kind and every damned one of ‘em is squirrelly one way or another.” He leaned forward. “Cap’n just spent three days living his worst nightmare. He’s scared enough of getting locked up by the Feds hisownself…”

“Cap’n ain’t scared of nothin’!” Kaylee interrupted defensively.

Jayne looked at her solemnly and Zoe was again flabbergasted that this was Jayne who was accurately, if crudely, describing the situation. When did Jayne become insightful?

“The hell he ain’t, lil’ Kaylee. He knows better’n you and me what them bastards can do. And he ain’t said, and he ain’t gonna say, but you know they was doing some serious shit to him these past couple days.” He looked around challengingly at them all. “Don’t you all get it? He ratted out Zoe to the Feds. He’d rather 他妈的 die than do that, and you know it. What the hell you all think could bring Mal to the point where getting him and Zoe locked up for half their lives was the best thing he could do?”

There was an uncomfortable stirring around the table. Zoe didn’t--couldn’t--look over at her husband, but she felt the intensity of his attention on Jayne.

“Cap’n is terrified right down to his very soul of being locked up by the Feds, yet was willing to do it to save your sorry ass--” he stabbed a finger at Wash “--and yours--” at Kaylee. “And River and Simon and every other damned one of us at this table. Cap’n’s got exactly a dozen different worries gnawing at him all the time and I can name each and every one of them.” He pointed around the table. “There’s us. There’s this ship of his. There’s his own freakin’ crazy self. And the Alliance.” Jayne leaned back, looking a touch smug.

“That’s eleven,” Wash inserted.

Jayne gave him a filthy look. “Yeah, well throw in your twisted-ass attitude about him and your wife and that comes to an even dozen.”

Zoe heard Wash’s sharp intake of breath, but Book cut him off before he could launch a counter-attack. “That’s all strangely perceptive, Jayne,” Book said calmly. “But how do you figure the captain is, as you put it, ‘crazy’. A lot of people fought in that war. And survived things as horrific as those Mal and Zoe did. Surely you’re not saying they’re all mad?”

Jayne shrugged. “Haven’t met ‘em all. I only met the ones turned crook, and to a one they’re nuts, and that includes the cap’n and Zoe.” Am I even sitting here, Zoe thought staring at him astonished. “Mal’s crazy ‘cause of the war. But he… what’s the word…? manifests that crazy by being a crook. ‘Cept he ain’t a crook. Well, he is, but he ain’t, and that’s the problem.”

“I’m not following you, Jayne,” Book said.

Waggling his finger at Zoe, Jayne said, “You ‘member what Badger said that one time? ‘Bout how the cap’n ain’t a thief. He’s a ‘man of honor’ or some such 狗屎. Well Badger hit that nail right on the head. Cap’n’s still a soldier but he’s doing all this thieving and something about it don’t never sit quite right with him. So he’s crazy.”

“It’s troubles his conscious, you’re saying?” Book asked.

“And that creates an irresolvable conflict,” Simon inserted.

“So,” Book said intently, “What is it you think the captain should do?”

Jayne snorted. “Get the hell over it. He’s damned good at thieving when he puts his mind to it. Hell, he just took down the friggin’ Blue Sun treasury and got away with it cold. Course he got caught at something else and that’s got him more messed up than normal just now, but that ain’t the point.”

Book seemed to be suppressing a smile at Jayne’s attempt at psychoanalysis. “Wouldn’t it make more sense for the captain to give up this life of crime?”

“And do what? Knuckle under to the Alliance? He ain’t gonna do that. He’s still fighting the damned war. And he will ‘til the day they kill him.”

Blue Sun Job, Part 25: In Trouble

COMMENTS

Friday, August 20, 2004 5:01 PM

JEBBYPAL


“I had me a Companion,” he said, giving Mal a comradely smack on the arm.

LOL! So Jayne! So very Jayne. Love the way this all played out and loved how it reflected the beginning of this series. Will be interesting to see how you have the wash/mal/zoe triangle play out.

“Suoshee. 琐细. You named my ship ‘Petty’?”

LOL! Almost as many great one liners in this story as in Joss's! Can't wait for more

Saturday, August 21, 2004 2:52 AM

AMDOBELL


I absolutely adored the fact that it was Jayne that hit the nail on the head about Mal and told one and all in no uncertain terms why the Captain was so rutting crazy and incidentally putting Wash in his place without getting in his face and nasty about it. Very well done and can't wait to see how the dust settles in the Here-After. Excellent story all the way through and always begging for more, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, August 21, 2004 12:44 PM

RELFEXIVE


Wow...

More more more!

Tuesday, August 24, 2004 10:38 PM

KISPEXI2


Now I want to cry. With joy, with admiration ... and a little with envy. Damn it but that was good. I love the little asides that root this tale well and truly in the FlyVerse. And the carefree way you use them, making no big thing of it. "Three and three". Wow!

Funny, moving, and even uplifting this time. What about that Jayne? Marvellous.
" Half the outlaws roaming the ‘verse are their kind and every damned one of ‘em is squirrelly one way or another." Pitch perfect.

*genuflects*

Thursday, August 26, 2004 9:30 AM

LANDRY


You manage to keep me reading and checking all the time to see if you've posted the next installment. Well done.

Thursday, August 26, 2004 9:24 PM

CASTIRONJACK


Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I said something around Blue Sun 2 similar, but I absolutely mean it. Everyone had their moment, even as it was focused on Mal and Zoe. A true ensemble effort.

/bow

Keep flyin'

Monday, January 3, 2005 4:15 PM

CAPNERIC


I've spent the past 4 hours reading it all to this point. It's all fantastic and that's the worst I can say.

My only critique is above where Jayne names River and Simon. He never says their name in the show. He only calls Simon "Doc" and only ever addresses River as "you". 'Course, this could be a turning point in their relations....


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