BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Indigo - Part XIX
Saturday, July 16, 2011

Maya. Post-BDM. So he's alive, but Jayne wants answers. Mal contemplates folks not listening. NEW CHAPTER (and apologies again for the long delay!)


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2497    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

Indigo hadn't changed that much. His hair was a little longer, caught back in a ponytail tied with a strip of greasy leather, and white now instead of the dirty blonde Jayne remembered. His moustache was still luxurious enough for him to chew if he wanted, although his face was thinner. In fact his whole body seemed more wiry than before.

“You look like shit,” Jayne said conversationally.

“Getting shot does that to a man.”

“Yeah.”

Indigo started to turn, but the pistol pressed firmly into the base of his skull grated on bone.

“Stand still,” Freya ordered.

“I feel like I'm at a disadvantage,” Indigo said calmly, like he was at a tea party being introduced to the mayor. “You know me, but I don't think I've had the pleasure.”

“Not likely to’ve, either,” Jayne said. “You ain't anywhere near being in her league.”

“Your girl?”

“Captain’s wife.”

“Nice to meet you.”

Freya didn't respond.

“Now all the pleasantries are out of the way,” Jayne said, carefully taking the rifle from Indigo’s hands, his thumb slipping the safety back on, “you wanna explain how come you ain’t decaying six feet under in the cemetery?”

“Not particularly. And surely not with a gun to my head.”

Freya jabbed with that very gun, the force almost making Indigo take an involuntary step forward. “Is that it?” she asked, but her question was to Jayne. “Is that the Sharps?”

He looked down at the rifle, at the heavy stock, feeling the odd weight distribution. “Yeah. This is it.”

Freya leaned forward, her breath making Indigo’s hair vibrate. “Do you have a single excuse for why I shouldn’t just shoot you now?” she asked, her voice low, almost normal. Unless the person hearing her knew her.

Jayne did. “Uh, Frey, ‘part from anything else, the bullet might go through him, and I’m kinda standin’ in the line of fire.”

“Then move.”

“You shoot me,” Indigo said, equally quietly but with utter conviction, “and your kids ain’t gonna be safe.”

Hwoon dahn.”

This time the shove was enough, and Indigo staggered forwards. He reached for the Sharps rifle, then at the last moment withdrew his hands away, letting himself fall to one side. He rolled onto his back, coming to rest staring up at Freya’s gun and ... “Is that Maud?” he asked.

Jayne shook his head, just a little, not letting his aim wander. “Betsey.”

“Been a while since I’ve seen either of ‘em.”

“It’ll be less.” The muzzle didn’t waver. “Unless you explain. Now.”

Freya’s fury was radiating off her like heat. “Are you threatening our children?” she demanded, her neck taught, her finger very close to pulling the trigger.

“No, ma’am,” Indigo assured her, his hands up. “Just warning. And it ain’t me you need to be scared of.”

She glared at him, then her gaze faltered and her grip relaxed, just a micron.

“Frey?” Jayne had seen, recognised the signs from his own wife when she was peeking, accidentally or not.

“I think we all need to get home,” she said, not looking up.

Jayne didn’t argue. He gestured with Betsey. “Indigo, you’d better get dressed.”

“Not gonna shoot me?”

“Looks like you’ve got a reprieve. For now.”

“Hey, I ain’t gonna look a gift horse in the mouth.” He got to his feet and went to move past Jayne to his clothing, but the big man was quicker.

“No.” Jayne blocked his way. “I’ll pass you your stuff.”

“Don’t trust me?”

“I know you.” Jayne picked up a pair of worn boots, removing the knives from the custom sheaths down the outside of the old leather. “It ain't that I don’t think Freya could blow you apart afore you could even blink, but better safe than sorry.”

Indigo nodded. “Don’t worry. I ain’t gonna make any trouble.” He caught the tossed boots, tugging them on over his stocking feet.

Mallory was confused. “What’s going on?” she asked, moving in from the doorway and watching Jayne remove a variety of weaponry from Indigo’s clothing before handing it over. A small pile was growing on the bedclothes.

“It’s okay, Mally,” Indigo said, taking his t-shirt from Jayne’s outstretched fingers and pulling it over his head, hiding those disturbing tattoos. “You stay put. Josh’ll be home soon, and it won't do for him to find you gone.”

“I can call Cutter.”

“No!” Three voices, and all of them saying the same thing.

Indigo smiled for her. “No, Mally. Not a good idea. And Jayne ain't gonna kill me.”

“He’s a mercenary.”

“So’m I. We ain't that much different.”

“You're not the same at all,” Freya said, her gun still trained on him.

“It’s okay,” Jayne said. “Indigo ain't gonna make trouble. Are you?”

“No. I want to talk to you all, about ... things.”

“Like trying to kill Hank,” Freya pointed out.

“That’s ...” Indigo stopped. “Nope. I think that’s a subject for later.”

Freya lifted an eyebrow, but didn’t put her gun away.

Jayne glanced out at the falling snow, as yet still just flurries, although the sky looked like it had a lot to dump. “How do we get him back?” he asked. “The Tanners are likely watching the ship, and they ain’t gonna be happy to see Indigo’s alive.”

“I'm not sure I care.” Her words, though, were tempered by an uncertain tone in her voice. “But we don’t need to worry. Transport’s on the way.”

He concentrated, and could feel someone getting closer. “Riv?”

“And the shuttle.”

“That a good idea?”

“It wasn’t mine.”

Mine, he heard in his head. The only way to get him on board without Frey shooting him.

You think she might?

Hank’s her friend. She helped persuade Zoe to give him a chance. There was the sound of engines overhead, but whatever it was didn’t land.

Jayne tried and failed to find it. Where are you?

In the hills behind the house. She placed her location delicately into his mind. There’s no-one watching. Apart from a mountain lion.

What about the ATV? It won’t fit on board.

“I’ll drive it back,” Freya said, ‘hearing’ the conversation but her mind obviously divided.

Indigo glanced at her sharply, then back at Jayne. “There something going on here I don’t know about?” he asked, pausing in the act of shrugging into his heavy jacket.

“Not so’s you’d notice,” Jayne said, settling the Sharps into the crook of his elbow. “Least, on our side. I figure maybe you’ve got a lot to tell us.”

“We’ll have to see about that.”

Jayne looked at Freya. “You be okay driving back on your own?”

“Contrary to popular opinion – and Mal’s in particular – I am capable of taking care of myself.” Freya’s expression was perhaps a trifle more waspish than necessary.

The ex-merc grinned. “Just so long as he knows it was your choice.”

“Don't worry. I’ll explain. With pictures if needs be.”

“You know, there are times I’d kinda like to be a fly on your wall.”

“Pervert.”

“So Riv keeps tellin’ me.” He pointed with the Sharps. “C’mon, Indigo. We’ve got a ways to walk.”

The tattooed man nodded but didn’t speak, just giving Freya one last, very thoughtful look before walking out, Jayne at his back.

Mallory still stood next to the bed, rubbing her hands together, over and over. “Where’re you taking him?” she asked, worry lining her face even more.

“Our ship,” Freya said, smiling enough to indicate friendship but not enough to look patronising. “Don’t worry. He’ll be safe.”

“You ain’t gonna shoot him?”

“No.” At least, not yet, Freya added mentally. “We just need to talk to him. Find out what’s going on.”

“Someone tried to kill him, that’s what’s going on!” Mallory said loudly, a flush of ferociousness darkening her features.

“I know.” Freya had seen the puckered scar, still raised and pink with new flesh, right through the centre of an image of a naked woman on his back, although in the placement the effect was of a Chinese umbrella, so maybe he was planning on blending it in. “Did you look after him?”

Mallory blushed, a strange reaction for one in her previous occupation, but she nodded as well. “Addie got Doc Thorson to come out to see to him on the pretext of me needing some medical attention. Told everyone she’d found him on the road leading to town, that he’d died trying to get help.”

“What about the Tanners? Weren’t they suspicious?”

“No. Addie and Harrison arranged the funeral and the headstone pretty quick, and old Mordecai did the burying, so nobody was any the wiser.” Now it was no longer a secret, Mallory obviously wanted to talk. “Indigo ... well, I didn't think he was going to make it for a long time. He had a fever, yelling and shouting about how they shouldn’t be doing it, and I thought he was going to die. I couldn’t even rest my hand on him, he was so hot. Then it broke, and ...” She swallowed, the memories overwhelming her for a moment.

Freya understood. All too often she’d been the one sitting by Mal’s side, praying to whatever God that might be listening to not take him from her. “You love him.”

Mallory shrugged. “He’s been good to me.”

“Right.” Freya could see it, the emotions boiling around her like one of the snow-filled clouds outside, but she didn’t push it. “What was he talking about?” she asked instead.

“What?”

“Indigo. In his fever.”

“I don’t know.” Mallory sat down on the edge of the rumpled bed. “I asked him, when he woke up, but he said it was just a nightmare.”

“Where did it happen? The shooting.”

Mallory looked guilty again. “Just outside of town,” she said, her hands starting to roll again. “On his way back from me.”

Freya sighed, then said gently, “You’re an awful liar. And Indigo’s going to tell us anyway.”

“He doesn’t remember.” Mallory shook her head. “Honestly. He has no idea of who or where, or what he was doing.”

“But you know. Part of it, anyway.”

She looked down at her hands, trying by an effort of will to keep them in her lap. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“Yes you do.”

Mallory closed her eyes, then nodded. “Okay. He hadn’t been here.”

“Go on.”

“I found him. A ways from here. I was out looking for pittens, and –”

“Pittens?”

“It’s a kind of fruit, early. A bit like strawberries, I guess, only they don’t grow here. Soil’s all wrong, or something. But Josh loves ‘em, ‘specially baked in a pie.” A smile flitted across her face, then she was serious again. “I thought he was dead, there was so much blood. Then he groaned.” She shuddered. “I tore off a bit of my dress and packed the wound, then tried to get him back here. I managed to get him to the road, then Addie came by on her buckboard. She ... took over.”

“Where did you find him?” Freya pressed, but already sure what the answer was going to be.

Mallory didn’t disappoint. “Near to the old Alliance camp.”

---

Mal was on the bridge, staring out into the falling snow. It had already gotten heavier, and was starting to coat the town laid out in front of him. His thumbs were jammed into his gunbelt, his hands in tight fists otherwise.

River had told him about Indigo as she ran to the shuttle, not giving him a chance to object, or tell her to be careful, or any of the other thousand words that ran through his mind. Not that she would have stopped – his young gan nu er had a mind of her own, even if it was cracked. Even their conversation from earlier hadn’t done much to dampen her enthusiasm, but at least this time she actually told him where she was going.

He exhaled as his mind went back to his musings of earlier in the day, and the wondering what his life would be like without the complications of crew and family. Whether he’d be sailing the ‘verse unencumbered by hindrances, or – as he tended to end up believing – mouldering six feet under somewhere. If he’d stayed on Shadow, been the rancher everyone expected, he’d be dust for sure, and Zoe, Simon, Frey ... hell, even Jayne had saved his life time and again. He had a wife and children, something he’d spent long years thinking were beyond him, with prospects of maybe surviving to see his son and daughter grown with kids of their own, but sometimes he did wonder if it might just be easier if he travelled the Black alone. Or at least if they gorram listened.

“Shouldn’t swear.”

He turned to see Bethie standing in the doorway, Fiddler sitting at her feet, scratching his ear. “And you shouldn't be peeking,” he admonished mildly. “A man’s thoughts should be his own.”

Bethie put her head onto one side and, with an altogether too adult expression, said, “Auntie Frey walks through yours.”

“That's different. She’s my wife.”

“So when I'm married I can peek as much as I want?”

He smiled. “You thinking on getting wed anytime soon? And does your Pa know?” The idea of Bethie announcing at the dinner table that she was engaged, and the purple apoplexy Simon would be sure to exhibit, was almost worth suggesting she try it.

“Uncle Mal.” Bethie shook her head sadly.

“Short stub, what did I just tell you?”

She sighed. “Not to peek.”

“And are you ever gonna do what you're told?”

“Might.” She rolled her foot.

“You’re getting all too much like your Aunt River.” Then he added at her grin, “And I ain't being complimentary.”

Bethie giggled. “And I'm never going to get married,” she said firmly.

“Really.”

“Yes. I'm going to have lots of dogs instead.” She looked down at Fiddler, who had finished scratching and was now investigating his rear end with teeth like clippers. “Or perhaps cows.”

He crossed the bridge and went down onto his heels in front of her. “I thought you were gonna be a mechanic like your Momma.”

“That too.”

He smiled. “Yep. No need to be tied by convention.”

She looked into his blue eyes, her own so like her mother’s. “Auntie Frey’s coming back now.”

“Is she?”

“Mmn. She’s cold.”

“That the case.”

Yes. It was Frey, her presence solidifying in his mind. Very cold.

And why would that be, ai ren?

Because I’m getting snowed on.

He sighed, both physically and mentally. You driving the ATV back?

Yes.

You know, if River’d waited, I’d’ve come, and we could’ve built snowmen together.

Her low laugh vibrated in parts of his body it wasn’t appropriate to think about with children around. I know you, Mal. Us, alone, nobody in sight ... we’d have got colder than ever.

He felt a phantom finger caress his jawline at the same time as he saw the resigned look on Bethie’s face. Uh ... hold that thought ‘til you get back. And if you get into any difficulty in the snow, you let me know. I ain’t that enamoured of the old vehicle that I won’t come get you and leave it behind.

Yes, Mal.

His eyes narrowed slightly at the unnaturally meek tone of her mental voice, but didn’t comment. Instead he looked down at the little girl in front of him.

“Thanks for coming up and telling me,” he said to Bethie. “But you’d best be getting back to your room – we’re about to have company.”

“I know. But that wasn't why I came.” She screwed up her nose. “I can ... feel something.”

“Feel?”

She pointed out of the bridge windows. “There.”

“Cason’s Point?” Mal remembered what Freya had shown him, how the town was sick because of some of the people in it.

“Yes.”

This time it wasn't just an exhale, but an angry sigh. “Bethie, didn't Frey talk to you and Ethan?”

“What about?”

“About how it ain't good to ... well, to do what you're doing.”

“Peeking?”

“Yeah.” He shook his head. “Seems like maybe she didn’t get the chance yet.” He sat down on the top step and pulled her around so she could perch on his knee. “Bethie, I don't want you or Ethan to try and see what’s going on out there.”

“Why not?”

“’Cause it’s dangerous, and I don't mean ...” He paused a moment, wondering how to put it. “You kids, you’ve all seen things you shouldn’t, things a grown man ain't happy about, and I sincerely wish it wasn’t the case. But on a boat like ours, that’s life sometimes. Except that ain't all it is, because you and Ethan, you can use your talents to look outside, to try and see the badness coming before it gets here.”

“We want to help.”

“I know. And I’m glad that you do, but ... Bethie, your aunts are keeping an eye on things. You don't have to.”

“But Auntie River –”

Mal interrupted. “Your Auntie River is a grown woman, and even then I ain’t happy with her ... well, that’s between her and me,” he added quickly, aware he was mirroring Freya’s observations on their resident psychic. “I don’t want you trying to look into places that might bite back.”

She opened her mouth to argue, but obviously saw the strength of his intent. “Yes, Uncle Mal.”

He couldn’t help the slight smile. “Maybe you’re too much like your Auntie Frey, too, trying to be all meek and make me believe you.”

“We’ll try,” she assured him.

He felt the shuttle reattach, every vibration in his home familiar to him. He put her down onto the floor. “Good. Now you go look after your brothers and sisters, and tell your Ma she might like to join us in the kitchen.”

“Yes, Uncle Mal.” She turned and ran, Fiddler at her heels.

He called out to her just as she was about to turn the corner. “And I’m sorry for being sharp with you earlier. When the sheriff was here.”

She grimaced. “I didn’t like him.”

“Me neither.”

Her grimace turned to a grin, then she disappeared.

For a long moment he sat, wondering just how he’d gotten into the position of having to talk to kids who were more intelligent than him, and when they were going to figure it out. With a sigh he stood up, his boots loud as he strode towards the shuttle.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Sunday, July 17, 2011 12:30 AM

AMDOBELL


Fabulous! I long suspected that Indigo's death was not all it appeared, good to get that face to face between him and Jayne, and I liked that Frey kept her gun on him ready to fire if he tried anything. And Bethie, just wanted to hug her, but now I am worried about what she saw that Mal stopped her telling him. Hope it doesn't come back to bite them in their *pigu*. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Sunday, July 17, 2011 4:37 AM

BYTEMITE


Probably should have listened to Bethie, but it's also wise to spare her from some things.

Sunday, July 17, 2011 5:52 AM

FREEVERSE


Is Zoe going to let Indigo live long enough for him to become an ally? Tenterhooks!

Thursday, July 21, 2011 4:07 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


WOW! Haven't lost your touch. Love the angst between Jayne, Frey, and Indigo...


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