Playing Parts - Part XVII
Thursday, November 15, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Trapped in the basement, Mal and Saffron try to find a way out, while the play continues above them. NEW CHAPTER


Act VII cont – Borodin

“Spying.” Zoe glared. “Care to enlighten us?”

Theo shook his head. “She’s mistaken.”

“No, she ain’t,” Jayne rumbled.

Etta touched her husband’s arm. “Tell them.”

He looked at her. “Etta –“

“Just tell them.” She looked like she was about to cry.


“There must be something you can do,” Saffron said, pushing her arm into one sleeve of Mal’s shirt and tying the other around her. “You’re the man here.”

“Glad you’ve noticed.” Mal sat down on the step and watched her. “But I figure it’s just a waiting game until my people come for us.”

“What if they don’t know something’s wrong?”

“They know,” Mal said confidently. Frey, you’d better know, he thought, somewhat less so.


“Mikel is … was something of a thief,” Theo began. “I found him one night trying to break into the safe on Cressida. He’d got as far as opening the door.”

“I take it you didn’t turn him in.” Zoe crossed her arms.

“No. After speaking to him, I … well, I found out what his life had been like. Offered him a second chance. He took it, and he’s been with us ever since.”

“That doesn’t explain what he’s doing, nor why he's been caught,” Simon put in.

“What’s he pinching?” Jayne picked up one of the knives from the table, and checked its edge.

“Information,” Etta said.


“Well, if rescue doesn’t arrive soon I'm going to die from pneumonia.”

“Any chance of that happening sooner rather than later?” Mal was trying to think.

“No-one’s coming.” She spoke as if to a child.

“Then we’re gonna have to get ourselves out of here.” He was concerned that he hadn’t been able to contact Freya, but then, they’d not actually tried it that way before. It had always been her dropping thoughts into his mind, not the other way around. After all, she was the psychic, not him.

“And how do you propose we do that? The door’s locked.” Saffron pointed to it.

He stood up. “Come on. There’s bits of this place we ain’t seen yet.”

“Bits of … It’s a basement, Mal! What do you expect to find?”

“A gag?”


“Bose is holding information that will … well, someone needs it.”

“He was Alliance,” Zoe said slowly. “Who’d be willing to pay you to get it?”

“There’s no money involved,” Theo insisted. “This is a favour.”

“Must be a damn good friend.”

“He … you have to understand, this is for the greater good.”

“You know, that’s just what the Alliance said, all those years ago. Trying to unite all the planets for their greater good.” Zoe’s tone was dark, matching her eyes. “Funny how that kind of thing leads to war.”

“This isn’t for the Alliance. Almost exactly the opposite.”

“Browncoats?” Hank stepped forward, glancing at his fiancée. “You saying you’re stealing … whatever this is … for the Independents?”

“They don’t exist any more,” the first mate said.

“You’re here. So’s your captain. And his wife. That’s three. You think that’s all there is?” Theo dropped his voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “There are some influential and powerful people out there, my dear, and they didn’t like what happened about Miranda. They’re willing to try and break the Alliance hold even more.”

“And Bose? What part’s he playing in all this?”

Theo stepped back. “I’m not sure. Not really. But he owns a great many companies, has a finger in even more pies. All I was told was that the information was to be found in his safe, right now. And that it will be gone tomorrow.”

“No wonder you were so all-fired certain of getting here on time,” Jayne growled.

“But if Mikel’s been taken along with your Captain, they’re in danger. Bose isn’t a man to cross easily.”

“I think we worked that one out on Santo,” Zoe said softly, knowing Theo was holding something back, but realising it wasn't the time to push. At least, not yet.

The actor sighed. “My dear, I am really sorry you got involved in this. If my ship hadn’t broken down, there would have been no need for us to take passage with you, and –“

“Theo,” Etta said urgently. “Our cue’s coming up.”

“We have to carry on as if nothing’s happened.” He adjusted his costume. “If Bose suspects –“

Zoe nodded. “Go.”


Mal half-pulled, half-chivvied Saffron along, listening to her complain with every step.

“You’re hurting my arm,” she claimed, tugging back and taking a layer of skin off his unprotected wrist.

“Then keep up.”

She walked into him. “Well, I would if you were still going,” she complained.



“Quiet. I'm listening.”

“What to?”

He moved his head, trying to pinpoint something not quite right, and his eyes came to rest on a flight of metal stairs running past a lower corridor and leading down into unlit gloom. “Come on.” He walked over, going down the steps before he yelped, and jumped back.

“Afraid of the dark, sweetie?” Saffron asked, just dripping sarcasm.

“Water,” Mal said unexpectedly. “And gorram cold.” He went down again, carefully this time, reaching into the shadows until his fingers made contact with liquid. Raising his hand to his face he sniffed it, then touched his skin with his tongue.

“Mal, that’s gross!”

He looked down at his feet. Lapping sounds, that’s what he’d heard. So the water was moving. And it was creeping up towards his toes. “Basement.”

“Yes.” She looked at him as if he was going crazy. “So?”

“So that means we’re below ground level.”

“That’s where basements usually are.” She rolled her eyes at him. “Why?”

“Because that means we’re below sea level too, and that water’s salty. Worse, it’s rising. I’d say the tide’s coming in.”

“God, this must be why he said what he did.” Saffron moved higher, almost to the limit of the chain.


“About us not being flushed with success.”

Mal stared at her, then realisation dawned. “And you didn’t know he could flood the basement? Get rid of the trash that way?”

She shrugged. “He’s made a few improvements since I was here last.” She tugged on the chain. “Come on. We have to find another way out of here.”

“Where else do you suggest we look?”


It seemed to be taking an age. She hadn’t been able to leave the stage for more than a couple of minutes, had to at least look as if she was enjoying the play within a play, when all she could think was that last time it had been Mal playing Philostrate, not this man she’d never seen before. Yet every time she tried to find him, to use her not inconsiderable skill to talk to him, it was like she was hitting a solid barrier. Finally she decided it had to be the influence of the audience, all concentrating on the words, the magic of the play, seeping into her brain.

Thou wall, oh wall, oh sweet and lovely wall, show me thy chink, to blink through with mine eyne.”

Yeah, right.


“Why didn’t you just marry him?” Mal asked peevishly as they trekked through the various corridors to the left of the water-filled stairwell.

“I tried.” Saffron sighed heavily. “Only he had me checked out first.”

“Found you weren’t the honest, innocent and truthful girl you were pretending to be?” He chuckled. “Man might be considered to be having foresight.”

“Well, he also tried to have me killed. I mean before this. Can you believe that?”

“No.” Mal managed shocked astonishment quite well. Must be all the actors rubbing off on him.

“And he holds a grudge.”

“Seems like you two were made for each other,” Mal said dryly. “’Cept it seems the height of stupidity to decide to try and steal from a man who hates you.”

“He doesn’t hate me.” She sighed. “He just doesn’t understand me.”

“Him and half the ‘verse.”

She tugged on the chain at his wrist in annoyance.

“So … what, you decided to get your own back?”

“Something like that.”

“Well, I guess like attracts like.”

This time the tug was harder, scraping some more of the flesh from his wrist, and it was now smarting. He tugged back, pulling her to face him, her arm caught behind her back. “You do that again and I’ll knock you out,” he warned.

“But then you’d have to carry me.” She turned on the charm, slithering closer to him, moving her body in undulations against his. “Seems like old times.”

“Think I recall telling you once before that we don’t have any old times. And stop that.”

“Why? Don’t you like it?” She pressed harder.

He looked into her eyes for just a moment, then swung his free fist. It connected with a satisfyingly solid sound, and she collapsed back over his arm. “That was worth it,” he muttered shaking his ringing hand. “Even if I hafta carry you.” He lifted her up over his shoulder and carried on along the corridor.


“Stop fidgeting.”

“Ain’t my fault. Want to be doing something. Knocking heads, maybe.”

“There’s nothing we can do until the play’s over. If we try someone’s gonna get hurt. Could even be me.”

“You’re saying that like it’s a bad thing. And he ain’t nowhere near as good as I was.”

“You think?”

“He can’t roar, that’s for sure.”

“He does this for a living, Jayne.”

“That mean he’s any good?”

Zoe glared at the two of them, one the man she planned to marry, the other the man she planned to kill, and sighed heavily.


Saffron’d come to by the time Mal realised there really wasn't another way out in that direction, turning around and backtracking, but it didn’t stop her bitching away at him. It hadn’t helped that he’d dropped her unceremoniously at the bottom of the steps leading up to the basement door.


“You’ve been awake the last coupla minutes. I ain’t carrying you any further.”

“I didn’t ask you to hit me in the first place. I've probably got concussion.” She adjusted her clothes as much as possible.

“Good. Water’s getting higher,” Mal mused. “Quick, too. Lower levels are already flooded.”

“So I can see.”

He looked at her. “No, you don’t get my drift. If there’s only one entrance for the water it wouldn’t be rising as fast as this. It has to fill all the little nooks first, so … there’s another entrance. Least one.”

“And that helps us how?”

Mal tried to control the almost overwhelming urge to hit her again. “It helps because we don’t know how many levels there are.” He nodded towards the water. “You want to go down and see if there’s a pipe leading out into the sea?”

“Only if you go first.”

“Thanks, but I’d really hate to leave you behind.” He looked along the corridor to the right, a drop of about three feet from the one to the left. “Only one thing to do.” He stepped down into the water, the surface coming up to his mid thigh. “Tzao gao, but that’s cold.”

“Colder than last time you tried it?” Saffron asked bitingly.

“We’ve got to try and find another way out,” Mal said, looking up at her, then back along the corridor.

“If you think I’m going to go along there … Mal, it’s half flooded!”

“If you don’t you drown. Thought of that?”

“And if I do I drown!”

“Fine. I’ll wait until you do and then go that way anyway. How long does it take to gnaw through someone’s wrist, would you say?”

“You’d let a poor defenceless woman die like that?”

“Saffron, never in a million years would I ever say you were defenceless. And the only reason you ain't hit me in the head is because you need me to get you out of here. Oh, and the fact that we’re chained together.” He tugged on the chain and pulled her into the water. “Come on.”

She slipped and submerged for a moment, then came up spluttering. “You’re a pig!”

“Now, darlin’, it ain't nice to insult the man who’s trying to save your life.”

“You hit me!”

“And I’ll repeat the performance unless you play nice.”

to be continued


Friday, November 16, 2007 1:07 AM


I really like Mal not taking any of Saffron's *fei hua*. As for Theo I could cheerfully set Jayne on tearing the *tamade hundan* limb from limb. Even knowing all the danger he has plunged Serenity's Captain and crew into he is still lying, still clinging to his own agenda as if it is the only thing that matters. I rather side with Cade Foster in "First Wave" when he said, "I don't want to live in a world where one life doesn't matter." Best line? Mal hoping to find a gag for Saffron. LOL! Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, November 16, 2007 2:26 AM


Ah, more Mal/Saffron banter for a Friday morning! Can't beat that! :D

Friday, November 16, 2007 2:40 AM


Saffron is about as annoying as a person can get. Hope they find their way out of the basement sooner rather than later. So much like Mal to decide to go through the obstacle rather than away from it.

Friday, November 16, 2007 8:51 AM


I am so loving this - you're great at characterizations, dialogue, AND intriguing plots! (One question though, b/c I'm trying to visualize everything - how long is the chain btwn Mal and Saffron?)


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“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]