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EBFIDDLER

WHAT BEGINS WITH AN APPLE (11) Part (11)
Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Confrontation, torment, and snark.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 3657    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

WHAT BEGINS WITH AN APPLE (11)

Part (11)

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Follows TWO BY TWO BY TWO (10). Precedes ENDS WITH A HORSE (12).

The series so far:
A LION’S MOUTH (01)
ADVENTURES IN SITTING (02)
SPARKS FLY (03)
EXPECTATIONS (04)
BREAK OUT (05)
THE TRIAL (06)
SHADOW (07)
ONE MAN’S TRASH (08)
BANDIAGARA (09)
TWO BY TWO BY TWO (10)

Confrontation, torment, and snark.

A/N: Where I live, we've had storms, we've had an extended power outage, and the internet is still down, but I made my way to my sister's house today, and she has internet, so I'm able to post this chapter on schedule. Enjoy!

* * *

One minute later, Saffron, fully dressed, slipped out of her cell, closing the door on the oaf who lay sprawled out cold on the floor. The sedative would last a good while, but she needed to move quickly and quietly before anyone else on the ship knew she was on the loose.

After a quick stop in the shower room to pick up her tools, she made a silent tour of the cargo bay. She selected three of her favorite toys from the hidden compartments of the chicken crate, and pocketed them. She also took the time to examine Malcolm Reynolds’s cargo thoroughly. She worked her way systematically through the rows of crates from Holden Brothers—eighteen, nineteen—. Voices from above caused her to slip through the door to the empty passenger lounge and wait in the shadows until the coast was clear to the engine room.

She’d studied the Class 03-K64 Firefly in great detail, and it was the work of a second to glide silently through the door, locate the target, and position one of her toys—the adhesive was already prepped and the timer already programmed. She slipped quietly back to the threshold just as Kaylee became aware of her presence.

“Lookin’ for something?”

“Oh!” Saffron exclaimed. “I thought this was the way to the dining room.”

Kaylee narrowed her eyes at her, clearly not believing the innocent act.

That 所有的妓女的母亲在地狱 suǒyǒu de jìnǚ de mǔqīn zài dìyù Saffron had clearly made her way to the engine room in order to perpetrate an act of sabotage, and Kaylee was determined not to let her do it. She’d already had enough of that 泼妇 pōfù hurtin’ her girl—like the time she crossed the drive feeds and sent Serenity straight into the net—and the other time, on Bellerophon, when she stripped the filament in the grav-dampener—had to land, that time. No way was Kaylee gonna let it happen again. “Don’t take another step into my engine room,” she said, raising the wrench she held in her hand in a threatening gesture.

Saffron didn’t back away. She was gathering information, collating data, adding it to the crew interactions she’d observed earlier. She decided how to play this one. “Don’t get too worked up, honey. It’s bad for the baby.”

“What?!” Kaylee was truly thrown. She was only eight weeks along; she couldn’t possibly show yet, particularly in a jumpsuit. How could that 恶棍 ègùn know?

“Oh, it shows, sweet-pea,” Saffron cooed. “Your hair and fingernails, a certain glow in your skin. Perfectly obvious to anyone who’s looking. So,” she continued conversationally, “things have been going well for you since I last visited. You and your boyfriend have been busy. Funny thing, out here in the Black, there’s not much choice of partners—even the bottom of the barrel begins to look good.”

“Simon ain’t the bottom of the barrel! Not by a long shot!” Kaylee was wrathful.

“I wasn’t referring to him, pumpkin.” She paused to let the insult sink in.

“Why, you—”

He doesn’t have much choice out here—which is why he’s willing to settle for the likes of you. Man like him, highly educated, cultured, from a Core family of high status—he could have his pick of the most beautiful, well-educated and intelligent women in the Core—well-connected women, whose influence could promote him to the top of his profession, instead of acting as a ball and chain.”

“I ain’t no ball and—”

“No, of course you ‘ain’t’,” Saffron mocked nastily. “Out here, what does it matter? There’s nowhere for him to go. Just sit here and stagnate. Might as well get some play in, procreate, find a willing female who’s good for a 戳 chuō when he gets the urge.”

“How dare you!”

“Too bad the only available 雞白 jībái is an uneducated hick with engine grease all over her face.”

“Oh, 肏你祖宗十八代! cào nǐ zǔzōng shíbā dài!” Kaylee’s response was a really bad insult, but it was accompanied by tears, and Saffron felt she was close to winning. Time to play the next card.

“And so here you are, all knocked up and no husband.” Saffron sighed theatrically, shaking her head. “The shame of it…”

She hadn’t expected the little mechanic to show such spirit. But there she was, flipping the bird, giving Saffron the finger…wait. Not that finger. The one next-door. With a ring on it. An engagement ring. 糟糕 Zāogāo. How had she missed that? She was sure it hadn’t been there before. She’d specifically looked when they were all assembled in the passenger lounge ragging on their Captain—none of the crew had sported wedding or engagement rings. But Saffron was nothing if not flexible in her game plan, and she was already making her next move when Simon came striding down the hallway, calling out, “Kaylee, have you seen—”

“Oh,” he said, taking in Saffron’s presence at the threshold of the engine room, and Kaylee’s furious look.

“Doctor,” Saffron said brightly, “congratulations on your engagement to this young…” She trailed off, waving a hand vaguely. Kaylee huffed angrily at the insult of omission. Simon immediately noticed that he’d come upon a kind of stand-off, but he hadn’t yet picked up on the extreme degree of hostility between the two women.

“Thank you,” he said stiffly, as he began to wonder what was up.

“You have quite the picture of wedded bliss to look forward to,” Saffron continued, in a honeyed, cultured voice. “You and your lovely country lass, in perfect domestic harmony.”

“Ye-es,” Simon answered, uncertainly. What was this 不悔恨的 潑婦 bùhuǐhènde pōfù up to?

“Don’t listen to her, Simon,” Kaylee admonished. “She’s a lyin’, hurtful, mean old 狐狸精 húli jīng—”

“Language, cupcake, tsk, tsk,” Saffron tut-tutted. She addressed Simon again. “I wish you hundreds of fat children.”

“Um—” Simon began, unsure whether to respond with civility to this dirty 脱空汉 tuōkōnghàn or not.

“And congratulations on getting started with the family.” She winked at Simon and spoke conspiratorially. “She’ll make a good mother.”

“Of course she will,” Simon answered. He was beginning to see what Saffron’s game was. Neither confirm nor deny, he said to himself.

“She’s getting a good head-start,” Saffron remarked.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Simon answered coldly.

“Oh! I’m sorry, did you not know?” Saffron responded, all feigned concern. “Then is it not yours? Which of the other gentlemen is the…” she trailed off again. “Perhaps that thin, tall young fellow—about your age, Doctor, but not quite as handsome. Not everyone has discriminating taste.” She let her eye stray to Kaylee.

Simon locked eyes with Kaylee. He wasn’t always the best at communicating with women, and he often said the wrong thing to Kaylee, but he recognized the bitch act Saffron was pulling perfectly well. He’d seen enough society women pull it on Osiris, and it reminded him again of how lucky he was to have found someone like Kaylee to live his life with. He couldn’t imagine Kaylee ever pulling a bitch act on anybody. There wasn’t a mean bone in her body. It was time to put a stop to this.

“You’re supposed to be confined to your room, Saffron. What are you doing here?” he asked, coldly.

“Just came for a chat,” Saffron smiled, insincerely.

“I’ll thank you not to…‘chat’…with my fiancée,” Simon replied. “I’ll escort you back to your quarters.” When Saffron did not move, he gestured, with polite rudeness, for Saffron to precede him down the hall, back toward the passenger dorms.

Kaylee watched their retreating backs, and the tears ran down her face. She knew it wasn’t right, to let that 妓女 在 地獄 jìnǚ zài dìyù get to her like this, but the 贱货 jiànhuò had chosen her barbs well, and insecure feelings she had thought she’d put to bed long ago burbled up to the front of her mind to plague her. Maybe she really was all that was left at the bottom of the barrel. Simon had chosen her. She didn’t doubt the sincerity of his proposal, only a few hours old, but maybe he was just making the best of a truly limited situation. It wasn’t like he had any kind of choice, not really. The only women on this boat were his own sister, a new widow as wasn’t lookin’, the Cap’n’s truelove, and her…and—他妈的 tāmādē!—Saffron. If Simon had a chance to look around in the wider ’Verse, would he still choose her? Or was it true, that if he could, he’d dump her and her simple Rim-world ways for a smarter, more educated, more sophisticated, better woman? As she cried miserably, Kaylee knew that part of it was just her pregnant hormones talkin’, but she couldn’t set aside the nagging worry that Saffron was right—at least someways right. Simon was with her ’cause she was the only thing he had.

* * *

Saffron didn’t give up easily, and she kept talking at him all down the hallway, picking at his relationship with Kaylee, trying to find the chinks. She was determined to ruffle his feathers. Simon finally decided to take the offensive.

“You know, back on Osiris, I could have had my pick of Core beauties.”

“You certainly could have,” she answered.

“High society girls, rich, well-connected. I’m of a good family; I was a prodigy at my profession. You might say I was the one being courted. Lots of parents of young women wanted me for their son-in-law.”

“And clearly you never let this go to your head,” she replied blandly.

“Oh, never,” he rejoined, sarcastically. “I hired a secretary to review the applications for the post of Wife of Dr Simon Tam. Only the top three percent of applicants were allowed to date me.”

Saffron realized she was being toyed with, and got meaner. “And that’s why you want to tie yourself to an uneducated hick from a backwater moon with no indoor plumbing.”

“The state of the plumbing on Harvest is neither here nor there, since we live on this spaceship.”

“And when her parents get turned out of their lodgings, because they can’t pay the rent, they’ll move in with you.”

“They don’t rent lodgings,” he corrected, a stickler for accuracy.

“When they lose the farm because they can’t make mortgage payments—”

“Her father runs a machine shop,” Simon informed Saffron, in an annoyingly helpful voice.

Saffron refused to be thrown by his interruptions, and counted it as a plus that he was revealing information. The gleeful note in her voice shone through as she painted the picture of his future. “When the agents come to repossess his shop, they’ll move in with you and your bride, and you’ll have to listen to their uncultured voices talking about hog-calling and who won the pie-eating contest at the last country fair. They’ll be mighty glad to have a doctor in the family. You can take care of Aunt Binny’s bunions and the boils that cousin Jed got when he followed a skunk through a nettle patch in hot pursuit, thinking to catch a good dinner. You can take care of Uncle Barty Babyface, the village idiot—result of too much cousin-to-cousin inbreeding. Every evening after dinner, when Poppa Frye’s stomach begins to trouble him, he’ll give you organ recitals, and Momma Frye will regale you with tales of the quilting bee and all the latest gossip from the church ladies’ butter-and-egg fund committee.”

“And that will be so much better than my own parents’ gossip about the scandalous occurrences at the d’Arbanville’s ball,” Simon retorted. “And certainly a step up from my parents’ friends buttonholing me at cocktail parties in an attempt to get a free consultation. People are the same, all over the ’Verse; the only difference is the context they’re in.”

Saffron wasn’t ready to give up. “And then your wife will beg you to let her no-account brother live with you, just until he gets back on his feet, and she’ll never notice that his drinking is a problem.”

“And that will be so much better than my father’s younger half-brother coming to sponge off us for weeks at a time—just until he completes his detox program—again—at an exclusive private clinic—only the best celebrities detox there, you know. Just what are you trying to scare me with, Saffron? Do you think I can’t tell a good woman from a bad one?”

* * *

When Simon opened the door to Saffron’s room, he found Jayne knocked out cold on the floor. He immediately knelt down and felt for a pulse. Good, pulse was steady. He looked up abruptly to find Saffron much closer to him than he had imagined she could get in such a short time, and he stood up quickly and stepped away. The woman was truly dangerous. He spoke into the comm. “Saffron has knocked out Jayne. I need assistance in the passenger dorm.” He turned again to find that Saffron, somehow, had moved again, and he didn’t know how she’d gotten so far, so fast. Clearly, even the few moments he’d been distracted by—oh, let’s see—making sure Jayne wasn’t dead and calling for help, were enough for her to try something devious. Clearly she needed to be watched like a hawk.

“Go stand with your hands up against the wall,” he ordered, brandishing his pocket pistol. He didn’t know if that was a good idea but he’d seen it done on cop shows on the cortex. He felt like a complete and utter fool inside, but tried to keep up a tough, hard-boiled façade. He knelt down again, located Jayne’s pulse, and began assessing his injuries, all the while trying to keep watch on Saffron as she stood against the wall and keep his gun pointed in a safe direction. 天啊 Tiān ā, it felt strange to be examining a patient while holding a pistol.

Simon had run out of things he could do for Jayne without the further resources of the infirmary or at least his medical bag, so he waited for back-up. “So what did you use to knock him out?” he asked Saffron.

“Am I allowed to speak?” she responded, still facing the wall.

“Yes, if you answer my question.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She turned her head and looked at him with defiance.

Simon looked at her with complete skepticism.

“I have no idea how he got there,” she said, looking down at Jayne.

“I see. And I suppose you have no idea how you got to the engine room either?”

“I was looking for the dining room.”

狗屁 Gǒupì,” Simon retorted, surprised to find himself using such strong language, but it just seemed appropriate to the situation.

“Good on ya, Doc,” Mal said, entering the room with his gun drawn. “’Bout time you learned to use appropriate language. Alright, Saffron, what kind of 奸詐的jiānzhàde evil 狗屎 gǒushǐ you trying to pull this time?”

* * *

Mal and Simon pulled Jayne out of Saffron’s room, locked her in, and carried Jayne to the infirmary for treatment. As soon as she was alone, Saffron opened her secret stash and got to work. Besides the tools and toys already collected there, there were the ones she’d retrieved from the chicken crate on today’s excursion, minus of course the ones already concealed in the engine room and deployed elsewhere along her way. Fortunately no one had thought to search her again before locking her in. She carefully concealed the electronic door opener that she’d taken off Jayne at the beginning of today’s escapade. It would come in very handy.

* * *

*

*

*

glossary

所有的妓女的母亲在地狱 suǒyǒu de jìnǚ de mǔqīn zài dìyù [mother of all the whores in hell]

泼妇 pōfù [shrew, bitch]

恶棍 [bully, villain (lit., “evil stick”)]

戳 chuō [poke]

雞白 jībái [vulgar expression for a female body part (lit. “pure chicken”)]

肏你祖宗十八代! Cào nǐ zǔzōng shíbā dài [F--k your ancestors to the eighteenth generation!]

糟糕 Zāogāo [Crap]

不悔恨的 潑婦 bùhuǐhènde pōfù [remorseless harridan]

狐狸精 húli jīng [vixen, bitch (lit., “fox spirit”)]

脱空汉 tuōkōnghàn [liar]

妓女 在 地獄 jìnǚ zài dìyù [whore from hell]

贱货 jiànhuò [despicable creature (lit., “cheap goods”)]

他妈的 tāmādē [damn it]

天啊 Tiān ā [God]

狗屁 Gǒupì [Bullshit]

奸詐的jiānzhàde [devious]

狗屎 gǒushǐ [crap]

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COMMENTS

Wednesday, July 4, 2012 9:30 AM

BYTEMITE


This woman is the most frustrating... And people over on fanfiction think Inara's bad.

She makes me want to shake her really hard and she's fictional.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012 11:33 AM

NUTLUCK


Who knew Simon would be the next best for dealing with Saf, though being River's brother at least some of it had to rub off on him and make him good at something other than being a doctor though. Looks like this is going to be a longer than normal story for you, which is good. Since by the time this one is finished I expect not only the next one but the next two to be written so I can read them. :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012 12:11 PM

AMDOBELL


Shoving Saffron out of the airlock is looking more and more appealing... Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Wednesday, July 4, 2012 5:46 PM

M52NICKERSON


Does it make me a bad person if I'm hoping someone riddles that women with holes?
Don't answer that.

Good chapter EB!

Thursday, July 5, 2012 5:38 AM

EBFIDDLER


Saffron is pretty good at making herself unwelcome, isn't she? The character you love to hate. I was sorry to make Kaylee feel so bad about herself, but it was a necessary part of the story. I always knew Simon's tremendous power of snark would be a good defense against Saffron. Nutluck, this is my longest story so far, and will finish posting sometime in August.

Thursday, July 5, 2012 12:44 PM

BYTEMITE


Makes you wonder if it's self-sabotage or if she can't help it. Probably the later, but you never know.


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