Blue Sun Job, Part 25: In Trouble
Thursday, August 26, 2004

Mal & Zoe... and Simon gets to have an odd interaction with Mal & Zoe


Blue Sun Job, Part 25: In Trouble

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


No critical dialog using actual Chinese characters, just exclamatory expressions

他妈的 = ta ma duh = f*ck (used for all variations)
狗屎= go-se = crap

Blue Sun Job, Part 25: In Trouble
靑日 Job: In Trouble

Zoe wasn’t too surprised to see Mal sitting alone on the catwalk in the cargo bay. A bottle of Kaylee’s homebrew, with only about a third left, sat beside him.

Mal gazed out over the empty space of the cargo bay, staring into the nothing, deep into the heart of the his own internal Black, she knew. It was good to be back, to be home. Mal would be feeling that too, but Zoe also knew he had to have a touch of trepidation at embracing it too near, having come so close to losing it all. When Harken had told them Serenity was gone Zoe had felt his reaction smash into her as hard as though it were her own, and in a way it was. Now he’d be all kinds of reluctant to let anything or anyone get too close again lest it all get yanked away from him once more. She’d been so pleased to see him hug Kaylee so close--she’d been afraid he’d push the girl away, so he wouldn’t have to face the possibility of losing her again.

No doubt about it, it had been a close one. But, of course, they got away… survived… pulled off the damned heroic last minute rescue… Didn’t they always? What colors they flying? A gorram jolly roger this time, Zoe thought. No damned colors but their own.

He couldn’t have heard her bare footsteps, but must have felt her presence arrive behind him, stepping into her place beside him. With the merest trace of a smile, Mal regarded her. Zoe let the sense of their connection lap over her like waves, soothing her even as it threw her a little off balance.

“What are you doing down here?” he asked.

“Same as you I imagine,” she said, settling down beside him, feet dangling over the edge. The freedom to swing her bare feet in the air like a kid on a swing, the rush of air between her toes... Now that was a curious thing to notice, that was. “Bunk just seemed a little…”


“Um hmm.” Confining. Enclosing. Dark. Restricting. When Wash had finally fallen asleep he’d draped his arm over her waist in an unconscious gesture. Zoe thought the constricting feel of it might suffocate her. It was no wonder Mal had sought out the largest open space on the ship too.

Zoe gave the near-empty bottle a long look. “You drink all that so far?”

Mal gave her a soft chuckle and a sideways glance. She knew he recognized her deceptively mild fretting-in-an-official-capacity tone of voice. “Nah. Ain’t even had a drop. This is all the liquor I could find left on this boat. It’s not near enough.”

Zoe examined him critically. “How are you? Really?”

“I’d rather not answer that,” he said, a smile barely twitching the corners of his mouth. “Flat-out lies are still giving me the crawlies.”

He looked wholly exhausted. Sleep, she had no doubt, was not behaving in a particularly restful way just at this very time. She hadn’t even tried to sleep, just faked it until Wash gave up on the fighting and fell asleep himself.

“Well,” she said carefully, giving a small sweep of her hand to encompass the expanse of Serenity’s cargo bay, “guess I’m glad to find you down here and not up on the bridge flying us out into the nothing.”

“Subtle,” he said with a low snort. “Don’t worry. I ain’t gonna do anything that crazy. You know… probably. ‘Sides,” he added, “Wash locked the controls.”

Zoe scrutinized him hard. “Now I don’t know which disturbs me more, that he did that without permission, or that you were at the controls and found out they were locked. Or…”

“That you didn’t think of it yourself?” He finished her thought. She nodded. “Let’s just pretend he did it on account of River and her newfound flying skills and let it go at that.” Mal flashed her a quick, mischievous grin. “And I put in a backdoor override on the lockout long ago.”

Smiling, Zoe said lightly, “And I’m back to being disturbed.”

Thoughtfully, Mal said, “That’s a good crew we got. Never would have figured that exact set of ‘em for pulling off a major rescue op like that. I truly thought we were done for.”

“Me too. And, yes, they are. Loyal. Watching our backs. Jayne most surprised me,” she said.

“You and me, both.” Mal said. “That whole work-in-progress thing’s making him to be a bit more… complicated than he used to be.”

“Yeah. ‘Complicated’ could be one word for it,” Zoe said, scowling. “He had the damnedest things to say after you left the table.”

“Do I wanna know?”

Zoe shook her head. “I’m not sure. It was weird, but not wrong.”

“Well,” Mal said with a sigh. “It’s been a Jayne-weird sort of day. What dazzling insights did he come up with?”

“You’d have liked the newest chapter in the Legend of Vera. Inara couldn’t get back most of what was confiscated, but she did buy Vera back. Cost a pretty penny, too. So now Jayne says, ‘a high-priced whore thought so much of his weapon that she bought him the best gun in the ‘verse.’ Inara hit him again.”

Mal laughed. The sound made Zoe smile with a hint of relief.

Her smile faded. “But that was after he got done taking you and me apart. He was in rare form, I tell you. And ‘insights’ is just what it was,” she said, swinging her feet back and forth off the edge of the catwalk platform. “He figures we’re both crazy on account of the war. But that you’re extra-special crazy ‘cause you ain’t really a thief at heart yet you’re doin’ all this robbing.” She shook her head and chuckled. “I dunno… I guess maybe he figures me as a natural-born crook.” She glanced over at Mal, puzzled. “Did I lead you astray?”

“Many a time,” he said with a quick grin. “But, no. I came to the thieving on my own, and you know it.” He gave her a sudden, serious look. “But you didn’t never try to talk me out of it.”

She shrugged. “Anyhow, just when the preacher was pushing the notion that you ought to give up this life of crime--no surprise there--Jayne puts out his brilliant theory to solve all your problems.”

“I shudder to ask, but…”

“Jayne says, and I do quote, the captain just needs to ‘get drunk, and get laid.’”

Mal choked. “The man is a poet. And I take back the ‘complicated’ comment.” Picking up the bottle, he sloshed the contents. “Ain’t enough of the one,” he scanned around the ship, “and ain’t no candidates for the other, so I guess I’ll just have to stick with the crazy for a while.”

Zoe hesitated, then said, “Well… there’s Inara…”

“I can’t afford her rates,” Mal said tersely.

Gazing over toward her shuttle, Zoe chose her words carefully. “Just a hunch, but I’m thinking she might not be adverse to…”

“What? A sympathy 他妈的? No thanks.”

“Mal… it wasn’t me she was working so hard to save.” He aimed a ‘stow it’ look at her; a direct order delivered with just a flick of his eye. “Yes, sir,” Zoe relented. Doomed though she believed any long term relationship between Mal and Inara would be, for now, just temporarily, as a stress reliever…

Mal studied Zoe a moment, then turned back away to the open space of the cargo bay. “Speaking of which, sorta figured you to be all hot and heavy into the make-up sex ‘bout now.”

Zoe let out a sigh. “Not so much.”

“Anything you want to talk out?” he asked.

With another sigh, Zoe said, “Talkin’ it out is just the very problem.”

“Oh. So… you tried telling him… things. And he didn’t take it well?”

Zoe shook her head. “It was going good for a bit. He seemed all straightened out and okay about what happened with the Feds and us on the verge of getting sent away to prison and all--and I’ll tell you, that was Jayne again got him squared away on how that all went down--but then Wash was asking me about the job, being so sweet and easy about it, you know, just all the ‘wacky fun’ we had, and what went on while we were down on Beta… in that hotel, with just that one big ol’ bed and the nice tub…”

“他妈的 hell, Zoe!,” Mal burst in. “That’s where you decided to start with the whole confession thing? And they all think I’m crazy? Did you get to the ‘captain didn’t touch your wife any wrong way’ part or did you leave it at the cuddled up in bed together part?”

“Well…” she stammered a moment, then, “I tried. But we’d got into the shouting by then and he got going off on Shadow…”

Mal went cold and dark as he looked sharply at Zoe. “What about Shadow? That was more than a mite unsettling what he said before there on the bridge.”

Zoe turned away, trying to compose herself again. Her toes curled tight and the free, easy kid-feeling fled. “Somehow he’d gotten a hold of the intel that you and me did know each other back then. Before the war. And what with all the other stuff we’d been arguing about, Wash just kinda jumped to a whole new set of conclusions…”

Right conclusions?”

Zoe squeezed her eyes closed and nodded rapidly. “Somehow, through the yelling, I did, kind of, admit that the knowing each other was, you might say, biblical.”

Mal groaned long and slow. Zoe couldn’t look over at him.

“Perhaps not the best way to drop that little piece of history on him, I’m thinking,” Mal said.

“I know,” she moaned. “I’m… I’m sorry, Mal, I just… I been thinking on it. All of it, these past couple days. They were working on me, too, you know. Chained up there alone, in the dark, worrying on what they were doing to you and… the others. And we’d just been back on that cursed moon and all the recollections it brought up back. Hell, you know that. You know… I’m supposed to be so strong, but I listened to that disk, and…”

“Hey,” he said softly. “I know.” He barely touched her hand with one finger before withdrawing it. Zoe thought she might shatter. Mal pulled the disk out of his shirt pocket and twirled it slowly between his fingers. Zoe’s eyes fixed on the silver disk as it caught and reflected the lights. Mal heaved a sigh. “Crap. I was fretting on that. Worrying on you listening to all what I said to Harken. I don’t recollect everything clear, but there’s parts… You think you’ve got it all buried nice down deep in the dark, then something yanks it up and out and there it is, smacking you in the face and… and…” He trailed off.

They were both silent a long time. Then a simultaneous glance flicked between them. Understanding.

“I was working on the notion of putting this thing out one of the airlocks,” Mal said, dropping it back into his pocket. “Somehow didn’t get that far.”

“I never heard you talk about a lot of that stuff before,” Zoe said, reaching for her own control by shifting her focus of concern back to him.

“Best you never did,” Mal said with a small frown “I sure as hell didn’t want to. Didn’t have no choice. And there’s... so much. It’s kinda overwhelming to have to deal with all at once on top of everything else.” He looked away from her.

“What was it you were thinking about when I first came down here? Specifically?” Zoe asked.

With a dark glare, he said, “Taking your turn at playing shrink? Just can it, Zoe. You got enough to deal with yourownself, don’t go lookin’ to borrow my problems.” He met her eyes, his expression softening a touch. “I’ll be fine. Getting through this… it’s… This is just something I gotta do for myself.”

“No. No, it’s not,” she said decisively.

Mal gave her a disgusted scowl. “You know, one of these days you are going to have to give me this list you got of things I do and don’t gotta do for myself.”

Zoe chuckled. “Oh, no, sir. Figuring that out is something you gotta do for yourself.”

He rolled his eyes, but gave her a small grin. “I’ll tell you,” he said, peering back out over the cargo bay, “it’s the damnedest thing, with all the 狗屎 that’s been going on and all the bad old days brought to mind it, and a whole bunch of new ones thrown on top, but I was sitting here pondering on a Fed. A dead one, no less. One we didn’t even kill. Never even met, actually.”

“Private Ytteroy,” Zoe whispered, suddenly glad he hadn’t gone near one of the airlocks.

Mal stared hard at her. “Now that is as purely eerie as it could be. You learn mind reading from River?”

She scoffed softly. “You know I’ve been able to read your mind for years. And I was remembering that one too.”

“It was thinking on that gal who got hanged,” he said. “The one you tell me didn’t look like Kaylee... and that’s still giving me a shiver right to the core that I can’t recall that straight. Anyhow, there’s that little private, one of our own, and I cannot call her name to mind for the life of me, but a Fed I never even met... that name stuck.”

“A Fed who killed himself years after Serenity ‘cause he couldn’t take the remembering,” she said, scared through and through that this was what Mal was down here pondering, alone.

“Hmph. Ain’t that something? They were the winners. Had the ‘verse by the tail. They were getting welcomed back as conquering heroes while we were losing everything there was to lose and then some, getting the 狗屎 thrashed out of us ‘cause we lost, locked up not knowing if they’d ever let us out, our own still dying and getting killed around us,” Mal scowled at her, “and that Fed couldn’t live with the memories.”

“Can you?” Zoe asked abruptly. Hopefully--probably--she was reading too much into this, but she had to be sure. Had to.


“Live with it?”

Mal spread his hands out. “Seem to be.”

Zoe hesitated, then decided that it was time to push the matter. Seven years they’d held the silence between them about the crushing moment when they lost the battle, and the war, and every other damned thing, and Mal had lost even more than she had. Sometimes unspoken understanding wasn’t enough.

Though it was difficult for her, Zoe held Mal’s eyes as she said, “I heard you tell Harken to put a bullet in your brain if he managed to get you to tell him about Serenity Valley. And later on, you did tell him. Convince me you’re fine with it. Convince me it ain’t eatin’ at you. That you ain’t seeing it all over again in your head each and every minute. Convince me.”

Zoe read cold truth in his eyes before he broke away. “Let it go, Zoe. I’ll manage, like I always have.”

“No, sir. I ain’t letting it go. Not this time. It’s not just you and me anymore. We can’t just fall back to drinking ourselves senseless and… other things.” A guilty glance flicked between them. “That wasn’t ‘managing’. That life was just a suicide mission being run out in slow motion. And we just happened not to hit the big damn end point because somehow you had enough wits about you to get a hold of this ship and fill it with people like Wash and Kaylee. And now you just had the responsibility for their lives, or deaths, smacked in your face again right along with the forced remembrance of all the others who… Mal, there’s other folks now that need you to really be okay, not just pretending while it all eats you alive inside.”

“Zoe,” he said, not hiding his irritation from her, “I told you not to go borrowing my troubles and I mean it. I’m back on my own boat, home and free. Everyone is alive and more-or-less well. I got the comfort of knowing there’s good folks around me watchin’ my back when I didn’t even know they were. It’s all good. Not like it was those years back. Not dwelling on none of bad stuff. Not really. Leastwise not for more than this one night of contemplating on why some gorram Fed couldn’t live with winning. I’m telling you, convincing you, that I am not pretending to be okay. I am okay.”

“Liar,” she said. “I saw that shudder. This Serenity didn’t undo what that Serenity did--we took that with us and always will. It’s like those Feds said, we never leave.”

With an angry look at her, Mal said, “Well enough, then. What the hell do you suggest? Huh? What is, is. Can’t go back and rewrite history to make it all purty and shiny.” He let out an exasperated sigh. “All right… I never could lie to you any good. And sometimes that is purely frustrating as hell. Fine. Yes. You’re right. I can’t get it out of my head and it’s like to drive me crazy… er.” His voice dropped and she saw him look inward. “They had me to the point of hallucinating there with the sleep deprivation and all the damned drugs,” he said, shaking his head and Zoe knew he was seeing the images again. “But sleepin’ weren’t no better, what with the nightmares coming back and Kaylee and River getting featured roles in some of the worst of them...” He shivered, then looked at her with a wistful smile. “But that’s life--my life, sad to say. And there’s no cure for living but to… live. Unless you got some other bright notions.”

Tilting her head, she decided to throw the he-was-never-gonna-take-it suggestion out first. “Well… there are things Simon could give you that…”

“他妈的 no! Let that quack do to me what he does to River? I have had more than my thorough fill of strange chemical 狗屎 getting pumped into me these past few days. No. Hell, no.”

“Then we talk it out,” Zoe said resolutely. “No more denial. No more avoidance. No more you-know and I-know so we just don’t say the words. We talk.”

“You’re turning around and doing to me what I told you to do with Wash,” Mal said. “And look how that’s turned out.”

Zoe nodded slowly. “Yes, it’s tough, so far, but,” she looked up at him, “you weren’t wrong. And it’s got to be easier between you and me ‘cause there’s no secrets. No hidden history.”

Mal studied her a long time. “You think this would help you, too, don’t you?” he asked quietly.

Holding his eye, she couldn’t remember the last time she felt this vulnerable. No, she could remember, and it was Mal that saved her then. “Yes,” she said.

* * *

“Well this here is just a scenario chock full of the guilties waitin’ to happen,” Mal muttered low to Zoe as she stepped into the largest of the unoccupied passenger dorms. “I still think this is a bad idea every which way it can be, Zoe.”

“It’s comfortable and private. No one would think to go lookin’ for us here,” she said tossing an audio player down in the middle of the double bed.

“Right,” Mal said sarcastically. “’Cause no one who’s already got suspicions roaming through his head would think to look for us in an out-of-the-way place with a big ol’ bed in it. Nor jump to every manner of wrong conclusion if’n he showed up.” Still, he stretched out on half the bed while Zoe sat with her feet tucked under her on the other side. Wrong thinking though it may be, he couldn’t help but feel at bit more at ease again. Now, if she’d just stretch out near by--didn’t need no touching, just the nearness--he might just be able to catch a few hours of truly peaceful sleep.

“Got the disk?” Zoe asked.

Mal reached into his shirt pocket and flipped it to her. “Should have put it out a lock whilst I was thinking of it,” he said. “Revisiting all this…” He shook his head. “I don’t know, Zoe… you truly think this is a good thing to do?”

Zoe hesitated as she moved to put the disk in the player. “I do.” She took a deep breath. “For better or worse, here we go.” She hit the play button.

Scowling, Mal wondered if she’d actually heard the words she’d just said.

“River Tam on Londinium,” Zoe snorted a few minutes later as they listened to the beginning portion of the recording. She glanced up at Mal. “Does the word ‘lame’ mean anything to you?”

“Hey, it worked.” He frowned at the recollection. “You know River’s ‘two by two, hands of blue’?” Zoe nodded, hitting the pause. “I think them fellas were there.”

Zoe stared. “You serious? That’s a real thing she’s going on about?”

“Yeah. What’s more, they’re the ones gave Harken that drug. Now, I couldn’t read the label, but I sure as hell saw the Blue Sun logo,” Mal said, more pieces coming together for him even as he spoke. “And Simon told me--and this part is creepifying me every which way--that blood tests he did on me, when I was out earlier, came back looking like ones he’d done on River.”

“Eeww,” Zoe said.

“You said it,” Mal said. “And there’s more. I thought of this when I saw Jayne at dinner, in that Blue Sun shirt--you recollect what he was wearing when River whacked him with that butcher’s knife?”

“Blue Sun, again,” Zoe whispered. “And the cans she took all the labels off of…” She looked up at him.

“And we got in this deep Fed trouble ‘cause it was Blue Sun property we was smuggling and they’re Alliance contractors. ‘Old battles and Blue Sun’ was one of Harken’s themes. What’s more, the preacher called ‘em war profiteers. Now, I don’t know about that, but he sure as hell might,” Mal said.

Zoe shook her head, looking lost. “I don’t even know what to do with all this. Don’t know what it all means. Or what we could do about it if it does mean anything.”

Giving a shrug, Mal said, “I don’t either. It’s sure something to keep in mind, though. And just maybe a whole shiny new batch of enemies to steer clear of.”

“Yeah,” Zoe said, giving him a wry grin, “’Cause we was running short.” With a shake, Zoe moved to forward the recording. “Let’s skip that part for now--though I did enjoy the part when you told them all just exactly what you thought of them and the Alliance. Very poetical. Stupid, to the extreme, considering you were sitting in an Alliance cruiser getting hit by fellas who already didn’t like you. But entertaining.”

“Glad you liked it,” he said.

They listened a moment more. “You killed three Feds in the Shadow revolt,” Zoe said softly, more to herself than him. “Three and three and three…”


She looked over at him. “It’s nothing. Just… I remember the first three I killed too,” she said softly. “After that…” She shrugged. “Lost count.”

Mal remembered her first three too. He hadn’t seen her first, killed when her daddy’s boat got boarded by the Alliance. The second she’d ‘finished off’ in that complex, and the third had been a trigger’s pull away from taking Mal out when she sunk her blade into his chest. If Zoe noticed they shared another ‘you-know and I-know so no words are needed’ looks, she didn’t comment on it, and wasn’t that just the point of this little exercise, Mal thought, admiring the irony despite himself. Zoe hit the play button again.

Harken’s voice, “You didn’t need to leave the port on Delta to drop off the Companion. Yet I know you spent several days on Beta. At a hotel. A somewhat unsavory hotel. With your first officer. The woman married to your pilot. Did you sleep with her?”

“Yes. What the 他妈的 business is it of yours, Harken? Screwing ain’t illegal that I know of… ‘less it’s in a public park.”

A laden glance flicked between them.

“No, it’s not.” Harken’s voice. “But it does show me a crack in the loyalty of your crew. About your pilot. And your first officer. And do you love her?”

“No.” Mal’s voice.

“He’s lying.”

Out of the long strained silence that followed Zoe hitting the stop button, Mal suddenly smiled brightly at her and mockingly asked, “So, how’s that whole talkin’ it out thing working for you so far?”

“Asshole,” she answered fondly.

“Score one for avoidance,” Mal said.

She regarded him long and thoughtfully. “And do you?”

Mal stared at her coolly. “Lie detectors ain’t foolproof,” he answered steadily.

Zoe chuckled, but with a hint of bitterness. “And there’s one for denial.”

Reaching over to hit the play button again, Mal hesitated, his hand hovering over the button. “And that little moment got me dragged off to be chained in the dark, shot full of 狗屎 to keep me awake, freaked out and hallucinating some scary-ass crap, while Harken promptly trotted off to chat with your husband about it.”

“And Wash hit him,” Zoe added, a touch of pride in her voice.

Mal smiled for real at her. “You know, you gotta make things right with him. He really is a keeper.”

She smiled back. “Thanks. Thanks for saying. After that 狗屎 he was spouting on the bridge, I wasn’t so sure you’d be thinking too kindly of him.”

Mal gave her a thoughtful look. “I was upset about that part about Shadow. Still am, truth be told. But… he said something else, too.” Mal hesitated, then shrugged. “You really thinking about having a baby with him?”

“Yes,” she said softly, her eyes playing over him in a measuring way. “How would that sit with you?”

Shaking his head slowly, Mal studied her closely. He knew her so well, had known her so long, yet, still… “It would be strange, no denying. Would you… um… you figure you’d be leaving the ship, in that case, I suppose.” He couldn’t quite manage to ask it as a straight forward question. “I guess you really couldn’t, you know, do that and still stay here, with me.”

“Mal,” Zoe said, her hand reaching to lightly touch his arm, “I’ll stay. Forever,” she said. “That’s the whole point. I’ll never leave.” Zoe looked up at him with her gentle, reassuring smile. “Not even if you and Wash… What? What’s wrong?”

He stared at her, trying to piece together fragments of memory. “There was something…” Mal frowned, concentrating. “Something Harken said. I was kinda going in and out, not sure what was real or not.” He glanced at the player. “How does it end? Harken say anything about you right as they’re taking me out the last time?”

“No,” Zoe said, studying him closely. “He just said they could shut down, that they were done. Why? What are you remembering?”

He scowled and rubbed his temple, the effort to remember renewing the throbbing. “I’m… I’m not sure I should say. I just don’t know if it’s real or something I was hallucinating.”

“Tell me,” Zoe ordered.

“Harken said something about ‘she’s pregnant’ and ‘doesn’t know it herself’ and ‘interesting timing’.” Mal looked at Zoe imploringly. “Zoe… is there any chance…?”

Zoe stared back at him with a stunned expression, like she’d just taken one between the eyes. “Ummm…” She shook her head but looked uncertain. “I… I suppose there’s a chance.” Zoe looked over at Mal. “We have to find out. Now.”

* * *

Simon woke to the knocking at his door, shaking off the grogginess with the speed of an E.R. doctor used to being awakened at all hours. He slid the door open, surprised to see the captain and Zoe standing before him. What could be wrong? He hadn’t heard any gunfire.

Shaking himself, he rubbed his eyes. Mal and Zoe appeared disheveled, both uncharacteristically barefoot, shirts untucked, and both more than a touch flushed and flustered-looking. And wasn’t that a new thing to see on this cool pair.

“What is it? Is something wrong?” Simon asked, automatically adding, “Is it River?”

“No, doctor,” Mal answered. “We, uh… need you to do a pregnancy test.” He blurted it out.

Simon looked from Mal to Zoe to Mal to Zoe to Mal…

“For Zoe,” Mal added, giving Simon a nudging look.

…to Zoe. She nodded. …to Mal.

“Now,” Mal said.

…to Zoe to Mal…

And will we be needing a paternity test with that?

“Right,” Simon managed to make the word happen out loud. “Uh… meet… meet me in, uh, the infirmary. I’ll be right there.” They slid the door back closed as they turned away.

“Huh,” Simon said profoundly to the closed door. Of all the possible problems to appear at his door in the middle of the night, and of all the possible combinations of people on the ship to appear at his door with this exact problem, this was right at the top of the not-on-the-list list.

Kaylee would have been proud of the cursing Simon managed under his breath as he splashed some water on his face and pulled on a shirt.

When he arrived in the infirmary, Mal was finishing closing the blinds on the windows. Simon took the cue and closed the door behind him, latching it closed. Zoe sat perched on the edge of the exam table somehow achieving a look that was both utterly Zoe-warrior-cool and womanly uncertain all at the same time.

The captain took a station by the exam table, standing rigidly with his arms folded across his chest. He had his best inscrutable expression firmly locked down on his face.

As he prepped his equipment, Simon said to Zoe, “I’ll need you to remove your lower clothing.” She promptly started to strip. Simon glanced at Mal. “You might want to wait outside, captain,” he said urgingly. Mal didn’t move and Zoe didn’t stop undressing.

He didn’t think he was dreaming, but Simon did consider the possibility he’d woken in some strange alternate ‘verse, as he began to examine Zoe. He must have hidden his reaction well at what he found for two questioning sets of eyes stared hard at him when he finally looked up.

“No,” he said simply, to Zoe.

Blue Sun Job, Part 26: Interactions


Friday, August 27, 2004 1:34 AM


Oh wow, don't I just love this story to pieces? You write so well and all your Zoe and Mal dialogue is absolutely brilliant. Love how the tangle of what Harken did to them is such an absorbing piece of ongoing drama. I really hope Wash sorts himself out though because if he doesn't he could lose his *bao bei* for good. Very shiny, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, August 27, 2004 6:16 AM


That was brilliant, Guildsister. A very satisfying conclusion to an excellent story. Hope an epilogue forces itself out of you showing how well Wash comes around.

Friday, August 27, 2004 7:05 AM


Nope--not the conclusion, but it's on the not too distant horizon--that's galactic horizon and using light years as a measurement ;-) I'm not rushing toward it--rough estimate at about the 3/4 point with about 25,000 words left (this chapter was 5000--most have run 3000 to 6000). Still have the preacher's story/backstory to deal with, Inara, River, Wash, and a whopping big chunk of Mal/Zoe backstory that impacts the ongoing Wash story.

Friday, August 27, 2004 9:34 AM


awww, it was great.

Friday, August 27, 2004 9:34 AM


awww, it was great.

Saturday, August 28, 2004 5:23 AM


As always, there is so much to adore here.
Let me list a few precious bits:

"No damned colors but their own." I love this because - to me - it's what Firefly is all about. Existentialism an' all. But so neatly expressed in FF-ese. And then, just as I was munching on that one, here comes:

"He couldn’t have heard her bare footsteps, but must have felt her presence arrive behind him, stepping into her place beside him."
Her place. Yeah!

And you have that Whedon touch when it comes to comedy. Kind of bitter, kind of tender, utterly realistic.

"Score one for avoidance ... One for denial."

And the plot! The way it brings out each character little secrets. Wow. And wow again.

Oh, yes. And thanks for explaining the Jayne-slashing and label-ripping to me. I had my own ideas about the latter but could never think of anything plausible for the former. I stand, ofcourse, convinced by your take on both.

Saturday, August 28, 2004 5:51 AM


as always fabulous. Was wondering when the pregnancy issue was gonna come back to slap the heroes in the face. So now was it hallucination, kaylee, or something else.

Fine chapter of wrapping up some plot lines and letting Mal/Zoe work out the issues of the disk somewhat. Looking forward to seeing the next twist you give us.

Loved the bit about Vera by the way. Hmm, maybe all my jokes about a jayne/inara pairing aren't so wrong? LOL

Saturday, August 28, 2004 11:16 PM


Meant to comment on the three and three. Echo from the previous chapter, yes. But I'm thinking the trinity and death of absolute authority. Is that reading too much into it?

Saturday, August 28, 2004 11:37 PM


Kispexi2--No, not reading too much in. I've been running some religious symbolism in throughout, particularly the trinity aspect. No distinct plot-point meaning, just a general thematic reinforcement (the recurring buried/grave/rising from the dead aspect).

Monday, August 30, 2004 10:54 AM


Amazing story, so well written and plotted, so many wonderful moments, such dead-on characterizations.

Absolutely stunning work, Guildsister.


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Blue Sun Job--A Sequel: It Means a Thing
Post-Serenity, Mal & Zoe share a moment, or two. And then some. Story takes place in the context of the "Blue Sun Job" scenario. COMPLETE One-er.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 39: Into the Black
The conclusion of the Blue Sun Job.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 38: Shadow
Mal & Zoe's past smashes into the present. Everyone on the crew gets an earful, especially Wash.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 37: Plan B
There's a dead Shepherd on the floor, a bunch of angry live ones, and Mal, Zoe, and Simon in their midst.

Blue Sun Job, Chapter 36: One Down
Return of the "Blue Sun Job"! First of the last four chapters of this story.

Blue Sun Job, Part 35: The Worthier Part
Book's more nefarious, Mal's less crazy, and Zoe is dangerously pissed.

Blue Sun Job, Part 34: Of Many Books...
Book's nefarious. Mal's crazy. And Simon is bewildered.

Blue Sun Job, Part 33: Light and Shadow
Mal has just had his big tell-all session with Book concerning his and Zoe's history. Now landed at the Shepherd's Sanctuary, they have to deal with the fallout and with Book's mysterious past and plans.

Blue Sun Job, Part 32: Revelations
Mal and Book talk about some Big Damned Things.

Blue Sun Job, Part 31: The Heart of the Matter
Tales & stories come out into the open--more than a little dark. But not to worry, Jayne, the philosopher, also explains women.