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AMDOBELL

HELLBOUND SERIES: 33. "Uninvited"
Tuesday, November 6, 2007

"Jayne and Book find more than they bargained for on Barclay. Inara worries about the Captain and an unexpected visitor throws the crew into turmoil."


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1038    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

TITLE: "UNINVITED" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Canon pairings RATING: G. STATUS: SEQUEL to "DOCTOR'S ORDERS" ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: AlisonMDobell@aol.com WEBSITE: None. All "Firefly" stories archived at Fireflyfans.net

SUMMARY: "Jayne and Book find more than they bargained for on Barclay. Inara worries about the Captain and an unexpected visitor throws the crew into turmoil." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.

"UNINVITED"

"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

It was very quiet, almost oppressively so, when Jayne and Book exited Inara's shuttle. Had this been a water rich planet they would have tried to land near trees and shrubs where they could break off branches and at least try to hide the shuttle. But there was no vegetation to speak off and although there was soil it was hard with rocky intrusions making it very hard to dig. The oubliette was as Jayne had left it, one wall crumbled down and stamped on until it formed a steep uneven slope back to the surface. Book peered down into the dark hole then slanted a look up at the mercenary.

"That was a smart thing to do, Jayne."

Pleased, the big man grinned at him. It wasn't often he was praised for anything and Book was one of the few people whose words could touch him. "I ain't *yuchun*."

They took a cursory look around, Jayne scanning the ground to see if anyone had been over the ground since he left. Satisfied that it was safe he gave Book a nod.

"Come on, I'll show ya what I found." "I think one of us should keep a look out."

Jayne scowled. "Ain't nothin' here, not for gorram miles around."

"Even so it wouldn't be wise for us both to go down. Leave us at a disadvantage."

The mercenary wanted to argue but Book had a point. Wasn't no point in taking risks if they could be avoided. Had been in lots of situations that looked safe only to find they weren't. He gave a reluctant nod. "Careful as you go down Shepherd, gets a bit slippery where the rock gives way to soil. I tamped it down much as I could but was in a hurry to get out, *dong ma*?"

"*Wo dong, xie xie ni*."

Then Book was half sliding, half easing his way down the steep decline, one hand on the rough side of the oubliette. As he disappeared from view Book's voice floated back up to Jayne.

"It is a little dark down here, Jayne."

Smirking, the mercenary took a slimline torch out of his back pocket, switched it on, then tied it to a roll of string he had in his top pocket. Unwinding the string he lowered the little torch down to his friend, his smirk becoming a smile at the pleased sound the Preacher made when it reached him. "Seems you've thought of everything." Book told him with a laugh.

"Not everythin'."

Jayne froze, the voice behind him was deep and low. Man was maybe inches away by the sound of it but if Jayne spun to hit him and miscalculated he could be joining Book down the hole with more ventilation than God intended. The barrel of the gun nudged him between his shoulderblades but didn't stay there, not giving Jayne the option of spinning ground and grabbing the barrel to wrong foot the man. Whoever had the drop on him was taking no chances.

"Now move real slow, put your hands out where I can see 'em. Your hand touches metal an' that hole'll be your grave."

"Jayne?"

Jayne ignored Book's worried voice and did as he was told. Cursing himself seven ways from Sunday for dropping his guard. Book had been right. Just 'cause a place looked deserted didn't mean it was.

* * * * *

Inara was concerned but managing to hide it. Simon said the operation was a success. The fracture had been caught in time and once he had sealed and pinned the bone he made neat work of stitching his patient back up. It would leave another scar to add to the Captain's collection but would save his hip. That is, if they could keep the *wangu* man off his feet long enough to allow nature to heal it. At times Simon felt less a doctor than a damage control expert, and even that was being kind.

"How long will he be unconscious?"

The doctor looked at Inara. "He's likely to be in and out of consciousness for the next few days. I've given him something for the pain. What the Captain needs now is rest and plenty of it."

The Companion nodded then looked up as Zoe appeared.

"How'd it go?"

"Very well. The hip joint has been immobilised, sealed and pinned it. If I can keep him off his feet for a few weeks he'll be fine."

Zoe gave Inara a gravely teasing look. "That would be your department, *dui*?"

Inara laughed and shook her head. "The Captain couldn't afford my rates."

Zoe raised her eyebrows. "You'd charge?"

"What do you think?" Inara never got to find out what Zoe thought as Wash's voice came over the com. "We've got trouble."

Zoe hurried to the bridge, Inara hesitating.

"You can sit with him for a while if you like." Simon had finished putting his instruments in the sterilisation chamber and was wiping his hands on a clean towel. "It might be as well if there's someone here when he wakes up."

"Aren't you going to be here?"

"I need to check on River and depending on what the problem is we may have to hide."

"This isn't Alliance space."

Simon gave her a wry look. "Anywhere the Alliance choose to go is Alliance space and I don't need to remind you than River and I are still wanted fugitives."

* * * * *

Jayne turned slowly, his mouth dropping open in surprise. He had been expecting some *wangba dan* from the outfit that had set them up with the job not the local law enforcement. Seeing the shiny badge did little to comfort him though. The Sheriff was not alone. Behind him and spread out to provide cross fire were at least three Deputies. Jayne didn't know if that was all of them but right now it didn't matter. They had the drop on him and he couldn't count on Book for help. His hands rose in the air, palms outward, his look of affected innocence not cutting him any slack. No one could ever accuse the mercenary of looking like a choir boy.

"Now," said the Sheriff in an easy drawl "what're you doin' pokin' around on Barclay?"

Before Jayne could think of a suitably snippy reply, Book's voice came sailing clearly up from the oubliette. It sounded like the man was climbing out of the hole. Jayne closed his eyes and inwardly cursed. Immediately a Deputy moved to cover the opening with his rifle. As Book's head cleared the top of the hole he paused and looked around with genuine surprise and some confusion. "Is there a problem here?"

The Deputy let him come right out and exchanged a look with the Sheriff. The Sheriff glanced from Jayne to Book. "You two are together I take it."

"My order is celibate, Sheriff." Said Book in a warm calming tenor.

The Sheriff's lip twitched but there was no smile and no cigar. "What are you doin' here?"

"The truth?"

The Sheriff reassessed Book, then nodded. "*Qing*."

"My name is Shepherd Book, I am from Southdown Abbey and wanted to see a little of the 'verse so I took passage in a transport ship. This man is Jayne Cobb and a member of that crew. Until recently Jayne was incarcerated in this hole by some ill intentioned thugs who set them up with a bogus job. Jayne wanted to show me where he was imprisoned."

The sheriff did not look impressed. "*Weishenme*?"

Jayne opened his mouth to say something but at a look from the Shepherd closed it again. Book decided to err on the side of truthsomeness. "Jayne was convinced the hole was lined with... gold."

This time the Sheriff could not help himself. He glanced from Jayne's scowling face to Book's serious one and laughed. After a moment or two he caught his breath. "That has to be the biggest load of *fei hua* I've ever heard, no offence Preacher."

"None taken. I don't expect you to believe me Sheriff."

Again, that look of assessment. "Then why say it?"

Book shrugged. "You wanted the truth. I never said it would make sense. In fact, were I you I would take a look and establish whether I am speaking a lie or the truth. It may make your decision as to what to do with us a mite clearer."

The Sheriff frowned. "If this is a trick..."

"No trick, just wanting to establish the facts."

The Sheriff nodded to one of his men. The man didn't look happy but walked over to the hole and peered down. Book held up the small slim torch Jayne had given him. "This might be of some help. It gets dark down there. If you shine it around the walls you will see the glitter."

The deputy looked at the Sheriff. The Sheriff shrugged. Jayne didn't like the way this was going. Didn't want no rutting lawman taking his gold even if as Book asserted it weren't the real thing. Had fooled him, might be good enough to fool someone else. Could still maybe make some coin out of it. As the Deputy carefully descended the steep decline, Book decided to find out more about the men holding them at gun point. "I didn't catch your name, Sheriff...?"

The man turned his head and spat out a plug of tobacco. "Didn't give it."

The Deputy's voice carried loud and clear up out of the hole. "*Wei*, he's right. There's somethin' gold an' glittery in the soil."

The Sheriff raised his eyebrows and swung his rifle up onto his shoulder. The Deputies kept theirs levelled at the two crewmen. "Seems you were bein' truthful about that at least."

"I try to be."

The deputy emerged and climbed out, then wiped his hands down the sides of his pants. The Sheriff scratched the back of his head for a moment. "What would be the name of your ship?"

"Serenity."

The Sheriff nodded and muttered something under his breath, laughed then smiled. He waved a hand to his deputies and they relaxed. "Might have known it would be Captain Reynolds' ship."

Jayne looked surprised. "You know the Cap?"

"I almost arrested him. He stole a consignment of medicine from a train on Paradisio."

"You're that Sheriff?"

The man smiled and offered Book his hand. "Sheriff Bourne. An' these here are my Deputies Davy Brook, Phil Cotton an' Robby Brand. I think we need to be havin' words with the good Cap'n."

* * * * *

It was a bit like moving through sludge. Thought and movement heavy and langorous, sound a long stretch of yawing syllables not amounting to much but a miss match of noise. Light was a harsh glare but then the scent. The perfume impinged on his sluggishly returning consciousness about the same time he realised someone was holding his hand. No, not someone. Inara. He tried to open his eyes and ended up squinting, the lids at half mast. The light still too bright to see. He heard the murmur of voices, one light and musical the other a quiet male tenor. The light dimmed and he managed to open his eyes all the way. Inara was smiling down at him. He blinked. Inara. Smiling. At him. Huh, how did that happen?

"Am I dreamin'?"

Instead of Inara's voice answering he heard Simon. "No, Captain, just returning to consciousness. You'll be happy to hear the operation was a complete success."

He turned his head to locate the voice. "Operation?"

Simon nodded and gave a cautious smile as if wary of how the Captain would receive the news. "*Qu*, I needed to immobilise that hip. It might only have been a fracture but it was a long one and too near the neck of the femur. It would only take a nasty jar or heavy jolt and it would have broken."

The Captain took a moment to take that in. "So, not broken now?"

"No. I sealed and pinned it. In a few weeks time you'll be good as new."

He turned from Simon and looked up at the ceiling. After a moment he realised Inara was still holding his hand. Felt good having her hand in his, he gave a little squeeze - just to test the waters. As if he had operated some remote control Inara's face appeared above him, a question in her eyes but a smile on her beautiful lips. "How are you feeling, Mal?"

"*Lei*, which is gorram confusin' seein' as I've just woke up."

"That would be the after affects of the anaesthetic." Simon explained. The Captain was still staring up at Inara. Funny. Her lips hadn't moved. Simon's voice droned on like background clutter, the Captain only half paying attention, mind still gripped in a thick muzzy fog. As if from a great distance he caught the end of what Simon was saying. "Some people get queasy and are sick but you're doing well, Captain."

Noticing his patient's blank expression Simon considered upping the medication thinking the Captain was in pain. A little spark of cognition lit the dull sheen of Mal's eyes and Simon paused. His focus completely on his patient, one hand casually moved to the pulse on the Captain's right wrist. Inara still gripping Mal's left hand. Mal opened his mouth as if to say something, his eyelids fluttered, mouth sagging as his eyes closed on a sigh. Inara shot the doctor a look of concern. Simon let go of the Captain's wrist.

"It's alright, he's just sleeping."

Something clicked in her brain. "You're keeping him sedated."

It was not a question. Simon didn't admit it in words. "I'm giving his body the chance to heal. I'm a doctor, it's what I do."

A smile eased some of the lines of worry from the Companion's beautiful face, a twinkle of humour in her eyes. "He won't say it so I will. *Xie xie ni*."

Inara paused, looked at the Captain for a moment then gently put his hand on the bed. Simon raised an eyebrow but Inara motioned that they should go outside. Quietly they left the infirmary, Simon closing the door softly behind him.

"What's going on, Simon?"

"Oh, that." Simon turned his head to glance through the window at his patient. The Captain was still unconscious. He turned back to Inara. "We had a hail from Barclay." His lips twitched. "It seems the local Sheriff caught Jayne and Shepherd Book."

"*Shenme*? Are you saying they've been arrested?"

The smile that slid over Simon's face looked incongruous and for a moment Inara could not understand why he would find this amusing. "Not exactly. It seems they told him why they were there, the Sheriff looked into the claim and..." He broke off to laugh then sobered up again at the look on her face. "He wants to speak to the Captain."

"The Captain you sedated?"

"Um, yes."

Inara closed her eyes for a moment. Why did everything connected with Malcolm Reynolds tie their lives up in such knots? It didn't matter that the Captain was not at fault somehow she knew the blame lay at his feet. She opened her eyes and shook her head. "What are we going to do?"

"*Fang xin*. Wash said the Sheriff knows Mal, asked for him by name."

"What about Jayne and Book?"

Simon chuckled. "They should be docking any minute now."

Inara looked stunned. "The Sheriff let them go?"

"Not exactly. My understanding is that he's coming with them."

Inara glanced through the infirmary window. "Can you wake him?"

"I'd rather avoid that for a while." She looked at him with smile. "Coward."

"The Captain isn't going to be happy when he wakes and this way I live to fight another day."

"Id rather not fight at all."

There wasn't really anything he could say to that. Just then they heard the clatter of boots on the metal staircase and Kaylee's face came into view, her eyes alight with excitement and curiosity. "Shuttle's dockin'. What d'ya suppose Jayne did?"

The clang and little shudder a second later told them Inara's shuttle had docked. Inara began to move towards the shuttle bay, she could already hear the others making their way there. Kaylee hung back until she could walk with Inara. The Companion paused to look at Simon. "Perhaps you and River should stay out of sight. Just to be on the safe side."

Before Simon could respond River's face appeared upside down where she hung from the railing above their heads. "Isn't looking for us."

Simon indicated for Inara and Kaylee to go ahead and looked up at his sister, worry lines appearing as concern gripped his heart. "Why take the chance, *mei mei*? He may not be looking for us now but I don't want him to see our faces. The next Alliance bulletin he sees could change all that, *dong ma*?"

Her face fell a little but Simon was right. "You're no fun, Simon."

"I'm just trying to keep us safe, River." He reassured softly, his eyes full of love and a silent plea for her not to make this more difficult than it was.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*yuchen* = stupid *dong ma* = understand? *wo dong* = I understand *xie xie ni* = thank you *wangu* = stubborn *dui* = correct *wangba dan* = fucking bastard *qing* = please *weishenme* = why *fei hua* = nonsense/garbage talk *wei* = hey! *qu* = yes (lit. go) *lei* = tired *xie xie ni* = thank you *mei mei* = little sister *shenme* = what *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart)

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