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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Zoe puts her name down for office, and Mal takes Freya for a walk. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1072 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“This is not a good idea,” Freya said, walking along with her hands in her pockets.
“We’re just honest citizens,” Mal pointed out. “All we’re doing is accompanying a prospective candidate to the Election office.”
Zoe, half a pace ahead of them, glanced over her shoulder. “You don’t have to come, sir.”
“And have you sneaking off? I don’t think so.”
“I don’t sneak.”
“And I don’t think that’s what Freya was talking about, sir.”
“I wasn’t,” the woman in question agreed. “I meant your plan.”
Mal smiled. “Frey, honey, we’re just taking a walk. Besides, this place needs its pomposity pricked.”
The night before, he’d explained what he and Zoe had been planning on their walk back from Lacey’s and their meeting with Leo Gunn, and for a moment, just as he was at his most vulnerable by getting naked, he thought she was going to get angry with him. Instead she just sighed.
“Mal, why can’t we just let Kaylee do her thing, let Zoe do her thing, and leave?”
“Because this is my thing.” He’d slipped under the covers and pulled her to him, feeling her body relax against him, her chin resting on his chest.
“Your thing is getting shot,” she pointed out.
“Most of the time.”
“No, now, that’s not –”
“Do you want me to get River to work out the math?”
He looked down at her, her face lifted towards his, her eyes dark in the dim glow of the night light. “Is this ‘cause I had me a drink?”
She dipped her head, laying it back in the crook of his shoulder. “Maybe.”
“I only had a couple.”
“Then what’s the ... oh.” He realised, albeit belatedly, as her fingers traced the scar on his chest. He put his hand on hers, holding it steady. “Frey, I wouldn’t do anything stupid. Well, not any more stupid than normal,” he revised quickly. “I stopped taking those pills Simon gave me half a week back, and he said I could have a drink again. So I had a couple. That’s all. It ain’t gonna kill me.”
She didn't speak for a long moment, then she whispered, “I worry about you.”
He squeezed her tighter against him. “It’s right you should. You love me. That kinda goes with the territory. Just like I worry about you.”
“All the time, Frey. All the time.”
“And that worrying’s gonna make sure this plan of mine works the way it should, dong mah?”
She looked up at him, one eyebrow raised a little. “You’re sure about that, are you?” He laughed, and she could feel it through his chest.
“Xin gan, I’m positive.” He leaned down and ran his lips across hers, intending to show her just how sure he was.
Now, though, as they walked through the clean and tidy streets amongst people hurrying about their own business, she had that look on her face, the one he knew all too well.
“Wanting to prick a whole planet’s pomposity is one thing, Mal. Getting bound is another.”
He shook his head. “Not intending that, Frey.”
“Is that your usual hmmn?”
“Oh, good.” Freya didn’t have time to comment on the irony in his voice before he nodded ahead of them. “Leo’s already here.” He sounded almost surprised.
A man stood outside the Election office, under the banner billowing from the windows. “Morning!” he called as they approached. “And who’s this beautiful young lady?”
Freya couldn’t help the slight smile. “Mr Gunn, I presume.”
“At your pleasure.”
Mal stepped forward. “This is my wife, Freya.” He put more than necessary emphasis on wife.
Gunn shook his head. “Gorramit, how come all the pretty ones are taken?”
“Do you try that line with everyone?” Freya asked, letting her mind just touch his aura.
“Only if they’re female.” Gunn grinned. “Don’t seem to work with the men.”
“I wonder why.”
Gunn laughed at her dry tone then looked at Mal. “Got the deposit?”
Mal nodded. “We’ve managed to scrape it together.”
“Like I told you, you get it back at the end of proceedings.”
“Just so long as we do. Cash don’t exactly grow on trees.”
“Things that bad out in the borders?”
“For some.” Mal paused, once more wondering about this man, then went on. “We’ve got friends, put some work our way, and some enemies who do the same. But it’s getting tighter all the time.”
“Yeah, I heard about the extra patrols and stuff the Alliance is putting on. Some of it’s okay, a’course, like the new relays. Makes it easier for folks to keep in touch. But the new cruisers coming off the line … Not too good for smuggling, eh?”
Mal fixed him with a serious eye. “We’re not smugglers, Leo.”
“No. Course not. Sorry I suggested it.” Except he didn’t look sorry at all. Quite the opposite, in fact, as if he’d learned something new and interesting.
“We’re just a transport. Nothing else.”
“Sure.” He scratched his cheek. “Not like I'm gonna be telling no-one anyway, one way or the other.”
“Shiny.” Mal took a step towards the door to the Election office, but Leo put up a hand to stop him.
“No, you stay outside. There’s no need for the pair of you to come in too.”
“Not even for moral support?” Freya asked.
“Better not. They might not take kindly to a whole procession traipsing into the offices.” Leo twinkled slightly. “Might think you’ve got something to hide in the safety of numbers. Which you ain’t, of course.”
“Of course not,” Mal agreed, mentally crossing his fingers. “And we do have a couple of errands to run.” He looked at his first mate. “See you back at the ship.”
Something in her voice made Gunn put his head onto one side. “Look, if you don’t really wanna do this you only gotta –”
Zoe interrupted. “Oh, I do.”
Gunn chuckled. “Ain't had a woman say that to me in a long time. Not since my wife up and left me for another man.”
“When was this?”
“’Bout fifteen years ago. But I still miss her. Mainly when I have to do the cooking, the cleaning …”
“Then I think this planet needs me,” Zoe said, settling her shoulders. “Shall we?”
“No problem.” He held out his arm, crooked at the elbow, and with some reluctance she slipped her hand through it. He patted it. “Don’t you fret none,” he added. “This is the easy part.”
He didn’t answer, just grinned and led her inside.
“We’ve got errands?” Freya asked, turning to her husband.
“Thought we might perhaps go and see about opening a bank account.” He smiled.
“What?” He looked at her with his wide-open, innocent blue eyes. Yeah, right. “Just wanna take a look.”
“As long as that’s all it is.”
“You know, you’re not as much fun as you used to be,” he complained, walking away from the offices.
“You mean since I had two kids and got married?”
“Wrong order there, ai ren.”
“Mal, the things we’ve been through in the last months … I'm honestly surprised we’ve all survived, and I don’t think we should be putting ourselves in the way of more danger.”
“And in the last few months we’ve seen Niska dead, Mara Tam stopped –”
“Simon up to his elbows in your chest,” she put in.
“And we’ve even had some fun,” he finished, ignoring her interruption. “Seen Matty get married, Kaylee bein’ pregnant again … It kinda evens out.”
“Then can we not tip it the other way?” Freya implored.
He glanced around to make sure nobody was listening. “That’s pretty much why I’m looking at the possibility of getting a little cash behind us. If we can maybe settle someplace for a month or two, not have to look for work, it’ll give Kaylee’s babe a good start in life, and mean we can rest up and recuperate. But we can’t do that without funds.” He watched her think about it, and could name the exact moment when she realised he was right. He grinned.
“Just because I can see your point doesn’t mean I think it’s a good idea,” she said, poking him in the belly with a straight, hard finger.
“Frey, I promise, I ain't gonna do anything unless it looks right.”
“That the same hmmn as before?”
He laughed, tugging her towards him and wrapping his arm around her waist. After a moment her hand settled on his other hip. “So,” he went on as they headed towards the proudly named First National Bank of Jericho Wells, just a couple of hundred yards off. “What did you think of him?”
“Actually, he sort of reminds me of you.”
He managed shock very well. “I'm insulted.”
“Don’t be. I don’t mean physically or anything, but … he has a rather fluid approach to ownership.”
“You mean he’s a thief?”
“No. Not …” She was finding it hard to put into words.
He led her to a bench under a tree, the sun making dappled patterns on the painted wood. “You just tell me what you saw, and I’ll try and make sense of it,” he suggested, understanding her from long experience.
“I’ll try.” She sat down, waiting until he joined her, watching the people pass by. They seemed well-dressed, well-fed, all intent on getting from one place to another, with as little personal interaction as possible, and it grated on her psyche. Some of the border moons might lack amenities, might be starving or running dry, but at least everyone looked out for each other.
“So?” Mal encouraged.
She didn’t know where to begin, so just let the words flow. “He’s … unique. Everyone else is so tightly controlled it … well, it hurts. Not just walls, but broken glass along the top, and landmines around the base.”
Despite the fact that she sounded like River on one of her off days, Mal nodded supportively. “But Leo’s not like that.”
“No.” She went over the impressions she had got from the older man. “Maybe it’s because he wasn’t born here, but he’s retained something of a rebellious nature.”
“I kinda got that from speaking to him for five minutes.”
“He was telling the truth about not fighting in the war, but I think he gave some other kind of support to the Independents. And he’s not above jerking the establishment’s chain once in a while.”
Mal grinned. “Sounds almost familiar.”
“Mmn. I did wonder if there was a Reynolds in his background at all.”
“Not intending to ask.” He sat back, his head slightly tilted so he could feel the warmth of the day against his face. “Anything else?”
“He’s honest. At least in as much as you can trust him over this.”
“How far?” When she didn’t answer immediately he turned to look at her. She was biting her lip slightly. “Frey?”
“I don’t know. I don’t think he’d hand us in, but I’d be careful.”
“Kaylee thinks he’s a good man.”
“Kaylee thinks everyone’s good, until they come up and prove otherwise.”
“True.” He took a deep breath, holding it, then slowly letting it out through his nose. “Okay. We keep him at arm’s length. Don’t get him any more involved than he is already.”
“I think that’s wise.”
He chuckled. “Hey, I can be. Once in a while.” He stood up and held out his hand. “Still got to get to the bank, xin gan.”
“Leo, what the hell are you doing here?” asked the man behind the desk in the relative shadows of the Election office.
Gunn cleared his throat. “I'm here to nominate someone.”
The man rather impolitely laughed. “You are? I thought you hated elections.”
“I do, Cromwell.” Leo drew himself up to his full height, still a head shorter than the woman standing next to him. “But I felt like maybe I should do something right, for once. You know, before I shuffle off this mortal coil of ours.”
Cromwell obviously didn’t believe him. “You planning on doing that any time soon?”
“Not if I can help it. But there comes a time when a man –”
Cromwell interrupted him. “That’s all very well, but you know I don’t like things being done in this manner.”
“I know. But the law’s the law. And it states a person can be nominated by any member of the community up to and including not less than –”
“I know the law, Leo,” Cromwell interrupted. “That still doesn’t mean I approve.”
“Got no choice.”
“No.” His eyes travelled to his companion. “And you are?”
She took half a step forwards. “Zoe Mills. I’m the one wanting to stand.”
“What for?” He looked her up and down, noting the workmanlike clothes, the stoic expression on her face, the air of menace about her, and it made him wonder if she was a screamer.
Zoe felt like she wanted to go and shower, or perhaps punch someone, preferably him, but maybe this was the best time to start as she meant to go on. “Women’s rights.”
He pulled his eyes away from her and checked his system. “Looks like you’re in luck.”
He glanced up, not sure whether she was being facetious or not, but decided to give her the benefit of the doubt. “ID?” She hooked it from the pocket of her waistcoat and passed it across. He slid it into the reader on his desk, then said sharply. “You were in the war?”
“Someone had to be.”
His expression veered towards the unpleasant. “We don’t like trouble on Jericho. Particularly not Independent trouble.”
“I don’t intend to make any. But I'm within my rights.”
“And this doesn’t give a permanent place of residence. I'm afraid I can’t –”
“Yes, you can,” Leo put in quickly. “You know Jericho considers anyone as touching the ground during elections is a resident. Don’t matter about whether they were born here or came down accidental. So there’s no reason not to put her name down.”
Cromwell glared at Gunn, then tapped the screen again. “You’ve never claimed the pension.”
“Never wanted it,” Zoe said, keeping her voice low.
“You should consider it. You’re entitled.”
It was difficult not to say what she really wanted to shout into this jumped up little official’s face. No-one she’d ever met had claimed the pension, at least not on the brown side of the war. They knew it meant the Alliance would be able to keep track of them, knowing what they were doing, when they were doing it, and quite probably why. They might have lost, but some things were going too far. “I’ll think about it,” she finally responded.
“Good.” Cromwell obviously decided he’d had enough of these two, and rummaged in the desk drawer to pull out a flimsy. “Here’s the schedule of meetings. You’ve already missed –”
Cromwell shook the paper. “Of course. You have to put your case before all interested parties, and that won’t be easy, not with only a few days to go.”
Zoe took the leaflet, staring down at it. “Right.”
“In fact, first one’s tonight. It won’t take me more than ten minutes to fill in all your details, then you’re ready.”
“That’s it. Down at the town hall. I imagine it’s going to be pretty full, considering.”
Cromwell laughed, but it wasn't nice. “Oh, I think you’ll find out. And I hope you’ve got a damn good speech written. We’ve very fussy about these sort of things.”
That I figured already, Zoe thought to herself, and wondered if it was too late to persuade Mal to have the operation after all.
to be continued
Thursday, May 21, 2009 8:21 AM
Thursday, May 21, 2009 4:15 PM
Thursday, May 21, 2009 4:42 PM
Thursday, May 21, 2009 6:57 PM
Friday, May 22, 2009 12:46 AM
Friday, May 22, 2009 12:48 AM
Saturday, May 23, 2009 11:03 AM
Sunday, May 24, 2009 10:29 AM
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