BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

FIGHTON4GOD

"Relativity" - Part Three
Sunday, June 5, 2005

Part Three of Three. When Mal and crew get an unwanted partner in crime, some things don't go as planned.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1407    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

Relativity

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Part Three of Three

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Part One

Part Two

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“Aww,” Jo groaned, eyes slowly blinking open. Her head was throbbing viciously. She reached up and felt her forehead. A large gash was on her forehead, and needles of pain slashed through her head when it or the area around it was touched. Someone must have hit her hard with something. She propped herself up on her elbows and looked around. It was a large dark cell, a door visible with a small, barred window on the top of the door. Jo looked up. A circular opening was high above her, the same type of rusty metal bars going across the large circle. Jo figured the cell must be underground. She got to her feet and stumbled to the door. Her sense of balance must have been knocked around by her hit on the head. She had to stand on her tip-toes to see out the barred window that was only a small rectangle no bigger than a book. “Hello?” Jo shouted through the bars.

She heard nothing in reply except a few small animals scurrying through the seemingly endless, winding tunnel that Jo was now looking at.

Jo groaned and set herself flat down on her feet again, glaring at the door as she held onto the rusty bars. A rock fell down the circular opening above and hit the ground behind her. Jo jumped in surprise, turning and reaching to her boot instinctively for her dagger. Damn! Her dagger was gone! Somebody had taken her dagger! She glared upwards to see where the rock had come from. Her eyes widened when she saw a familiar face. “Reynolds?” she asked incredulously.

“Nice goin’, kid, you got kidnapped,” replied Mal, resting his hands on the bars of the opening as he looked down at Jo.

“Thanks for the news,” Jo called back up, going over so she was directly under the circular window. “Did you get the cargo?”

Mal blinked. “Cargo?” His reaction sounded as incredulous as Jo’s initial reaction to him.

“Yeah. Y’know, the cargo the from the settlement?”

“You got kidnapped!”

“Yes, I’m aware of that! But maybe this was just a distraction so you guys could get the cargo!” Even Jo knew that sounded stupid.

“Oh, so you got kidnapped intentionally?” Mal asked, feigning belief in the ridiculous statement.

Jo glared up at him. “How about you stop playin’ smart-ass and go get the cargo, Reynolds?”

“Oh, yeah, wouldn’t want to waste your great distraction.” Mal dodged a rock that was hurled at his head.

“Get away from my holding cell!” protested Jo.

Mal looked down the hole again. Jo’s arm was poised to throw another rock. Mal held a hand up to stop her. “You know where the entrance to the place is?” asked Mal.

Jo pointed to the large gash on her head. “What do you think?”

“We’ll find it eventually,” Mal said before disappearing from Jo’s view.

“Hey!” protested Jo, looking up. She threw the rock in her hand. “Don’t leave me! Bring me a gun! And get the cargo!” she shouted up at the hole. She groaned in an exasperated manner before going to the door. She called out the bars a few more times before sighing and turning around. She leant back against the door, sliding down so she was sitting on the ground. She hugged her knees and looked up through the circle opening far above.

---

“Vic!” Jo’s eyes snapped open. She must have fallen asleep. She looked up at the window in the door where the voice had just come from. The voice spoke again, saying, “Vic, the girl’s gone!”

Jo hugged her knees closer to her to try and get some snips of conversation from the bandits.

Another voice, probably Vic, could be heard saying, “What?! You’re kiddin’, right?”

“Vic, she’s gone! I don’t see her!”

Jo reached over and grasped a rock, hurling it upwards. She heard one of the men yell, and Jo jumped up. She saw one man holding his eye.

“Why, you!” the man with the hurt eye yelled, reaching his hand inside the cell and groping around for Jo. Jo stepped back out of his reach. Some other men that stood outside the cell pulled the man back. The first man’s eye was puffy. They looked like bandits: dirty clothes, guns strapped to their belts, and rather unhappy looks on their faces.

Jo gave a smirk and waved. “Hello, boys,” she said.

“How’s your head, darling?” the one called Vic asked, giving Jo a sarcastic smile that contained a few missing teeth.

“Bleeding,” answered Jo sweetly. Her eyes stayed locked on Vic’s face, though she saw something out of the corner of her eye. A waving gun from around a corner. Mal. Jo kept her gaze fixed on Vic. “But I was bored when you guys didn’t come.” She kicked the wall, her combat boot causing a few rocks to fall from the walls of the cell. She picked up two rocks and threw one in the air, getting the other one going until she was juggling the two rocks. “Throw me another rock,” she told the bandits.

The bandits stared at her. Jo could tell these four were more brawn than brains. One of the bandits picked up a rock and threw it through the bars at her. Jo ducked her head as the rock whizzed past her hair.

“Gorramit, why don’t you make your aim a little worse?” Jo shot sarcastically. The bandits looked at each other hesitantly before one of them opened the door a little. The other three had their hands on their guns. The one who had opened the door, the one whose eye was still hurt, picked up a rock and tossed it lightly to Jo. Jo swiftly incorporated the rock into her juggling act, now juggling three rocks. She juggled them for a while before she said, “One more rock!”

The bandits guffawed, and one of them threw one more rock to Jo. They were fully engrossed in Jo’s act now, standing in the open doorway of the jail cell. They were all four blocking the doorway, so there was no way Jo could make an escape attempt, though none of the bandits’ hands were on their guns anymore. Jo juggled for a while more, humming some music to keep the attention on her. “One last time!”

A gun flew over the heads of the bandits, Jo dropping the rocks she juggled so she could grab the gun. The bandits blinked, looking like deer in headlights. Jo fired a few shots while the bandits scrambled for their weapons. Three of the men went down, though one got his gun and fired a shot at Jo. Jo gritted her teeth as she moved, the bullet still grazing her arm. She popped one last shot out, the last man going down.

Jo lowered her gun to see Mal, Zoe, and Jayne standing in the tunnel. Mal’s arms were crossed, and all three of them were looking at her. Jo had to look at Mal and admit, “Nice throw.” She threw the gun back to him.

Mal caught the gun and replied, “Nice shots. You’ve killed people before?”

Jo searched the four bodies on the ground until she found her own weapons. “Wanna talk semantics?” she asked, replacing her guns in her coat and her dagger in her boot.

“Nevermind,” returned Mal.

“Then let’s go get some cargo,” Jo said, walking past the three. Zoe and Jayne looked at Mal, Mal shrugging and walking off after Jo. Jayne and Zoe followed.

---

Jo, Mal, Jayne, and Zoe had gotten back to the ship a while ago. They had gotten the mule from the ship and gathered up quite a load of cargo. As it was, the bandits had stayed to slaughter all the settlers and keep everything for themselves, form a little bandit settlement. They probably would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for that meddling kid and her juggling.

When the four got back with the cargo, the crew proceeded to have a little party in the dining room after the ship was on its way back to Persephone. Simon was one of the last to leave the dining room, leaving only the youngest crew members sitting in the dining room. Jo was laying in one of the comfy chairs, Kaylee sitting in one beside her while River sat at a chair by the dining table. Kaylee grinned over at Jo. “Tell it again.”

“Kaaay-leee,” Jo groaned. “I don’t wanna tell it again.”

“Just tell the part about the juggling!” persisted Kaylee.

“I’ve already told that part four times!” returned Jo. River smiled a bit from her chair.

Kaylee pouted but shrugged. “You know, Cap’n came and told us after you got taken.”

Jo looked surprised. “Did he, now?”

Kaylee nodded. “Yep. Told us that bandits got you and that he and Zoe and Jayne were gonna got get you.”

River spoke up, saying, “Told us we couldn’t come. We wanted to. Captain said it wasn’t safe.”

Jo’s face was hard to read. Her expression was one that said she was touched that the girls wanted to help in the search, but relief was also apparent there. “I’m glad you didn’t come.”

Kaylee and River both looked at Jo. “What?” asked Kaylee.

Jo shook her head. “Are you guys crazy?”

Outside the dining room, Simon stopped on his way back in. He sunk back behind the door frame so he could listen to this conversation.

In the dining room, Jo continued. “These guys were bandits. I’ll bet you my ship that they were only keeping me around so they could find out where my ship was. If they would have known that, they would have killed me, I know it! If you guys would have come to help, what makes you think that they wouldn’t have kidnapped or killed you? I’m glad you didn’t come, because Reynolds was right. It wasn’t safe out there, no way. I don’t want you guys getting hurt. Hell, I don’t want anyone on this crew getting hurt.” Kaylee and River were silent.

Outside, Simon leant against the wall and thought about this. So that was the truth. That was how Jo really felt. He was silent for a while before he walked into the dining room and looked at Jo. Jo looked back at Simon and waved slightly. Simon looked at the gash on Jo’s forehead and the cut on her arm. “Jo, come down to the infirmary. I want to patch up your head and arm.”

Jo frowned. “Doc, I don’t need patching up . . .”

Kaylee intervened. “No, Jo, you should go. Your head looks bad. Come on, River, we should get to bed anyway. Night!” Kaylee bid with a grin before going off to her room.

River, Simon, and a very reluctant Jo headed off downstairs, River making a detour to her room as Jo followed Simon into the infirmary.

---

Jo blinked in pain as the ship’s doctor put a bandage over the large cut on her forehead. Jo wasn’t exactly used to other people treating her wounds for her. “Doc, I’m fine,” she assured Simon as Simon went for the skin graze on her arm. She pulled her arm away from Simon’s doctor grasp and felt the bandage on her forehead. She had to admit it, Simon did good work. “Really, doc, I’m okay. I’ve had worse.”

“You’ve had worse?” repeated Simon, looking at Jo.

“My uncle shot my foot once. Never did find out if that one was an accident.”

That made Simon smile slightly. He could easily picture Badger shooting a niece of his in the foot. He examined Jo’s eyes to check if she had a concussion, the two staying silent for a moment. “River is a genius,” Simon said after a while.

Jo looked up at the doctor. “What?”

“She’s a . . . genius. And when she was fourteen, we heard about an academy.” Simon stepped back from Jo to cross his arms and lean back against the counter opposite Jo. “She wanted to go there. We were reluctant, I mean, my family hadn’t even heard of this place.” He looked up at Jo to gauge her reaction.

Jo nodded. “Go ahead,” she assured him.

Simon continued, “But River chose there, and we thought she should be able to go where she wanted. We sent her there. At first, you know, she was good at keeping in touch with us, but . . .” Simon sighed. “It stopped. For so long, we didn’t get word from her.” He was silent for a moment, as if hesitant to go on.

“Go on, doc,” Jo urged gently.

Simon glanced at Jo. “Then she sent me a letter that made . . . no sense. Turns out, it was a code. She said they were hurting her. That she wanted out. So after a while, I finally managed to break her out of the academy.”

“Wait, hurting her?” asked Jo, listening intently to the story.

Simon nodded. “Yes. They were . . . playing with her brain. So we eventually found this ship.” Simon laid his hand affectionately on the counter he was leaning on. “Serenity. We found our home here. And River likes it . . . She likes it all except this room.”

“I’ve noticed,” Jo said with a nod.

“This is where I’ve tried to help her. I’ve tried to give her treatment. It seemed to help a little. She’s more lucid than she was at first. But I think they just . . . they damaged her brain too much. Now I’m afraid she’ll never be the same. And now we’re on the run from the Alliance, which is why we are overly cautious about sharing our story.”

Jo hopped off the infirmary table and looked at Simon. “You’re a smart guy, Simon.” Simon looked up at the first time Jo called him by his name. “Your sister’s smart, too. She’ll get better. It all will.”

Simon gave Jo a little smile as he stood. “We should get to bed. I’m sure everyone will want to hear more about your adventures tomorrow.”

Jo smirked as she and Simon walked out of the infirmary. They looked up to see Mal coming down the stairs by them. Simon looked at Jo. “You sure you’re okay?” he asked. Mal walked over and sat on the couch in the common room.

“I’m fine, Simon. Promise,” Jo assured the doctor. She gave him a light shove before leaning against the doorframe of the infirmary.

Simon gave a smile and walked toward his room. He stopped and turned back to Jo. “We’re all glad you’re back, Jo,” he said. He turned back and went inside his room.

Jo watched Simon before shaking her head. “Everyone on this boat’s gettin’ way too gorram emotional for me,” she told Mal without looking over at him.

Mal chuckled. “I feel the same way.”

Jo smiled softly, looking over at Mal. “But I think I’ll jump on the bandwagon for a minute. Never got a chance to thank you for helping me outta there.”

Mal thought about this. “Well, my crew likes you. Most of them, anyway. Figure you can’t be all bad.”

“Glad you finally noticed,” said Jo before she started off toward her room.

“Is your real name Josephine?” Mal asked after her. Jo stopped in her tracks and was silent for a moment before she turned to look at Mal. Her skin was slightly pale.

“What?” Jo asked in a slightly shaky voice.

“You were named after your mom, weren’t you?” Mal continued. Jo stayed silent. Mal looked at her. “Do you know why you went to live with Badger?”

Jo slowly made her way over to a chair, sitting down. She shook her head. “They left. They just said they needed to go help with something . . .” She shook her head. “But I’m beginning to think everyone on this boat can read my mind . . .”

Mal nodded. “They fought in the war.” Jo looked at Mal. “The Unification War, to be exact. They were Independents, Browncoats.” He was quiet to let Jo absorb this information. “They fought next to me and Zoe.”

“How long have you known?” asked Jo.

“Zoe and me recognized you from a picture your parents used to show us.”

Jo pulled her knees to her and hugged them close, finding this all hard to grasp. “A picture?” Mal nodded. “Listen, I want to know something.”

“Name it.”

“What happened to them?” Mal looked at Jo. Jo looked back at him. “I want to know how they died. All I was told was that they were in some kind of explosion. No one told me a gorram thing other than that.”

Mal looked down before looking up to meet Jo’s stern gaze. He sighed. “They went to see if they could ambush some Alliance, all by themselves. Zoe and I tried to protest, but you must’ve gotten your stubbornness from your parents.” Jo didn’t smile, which she would have if that comment would have been said in any other situation. Mal shook his head. “They didn't make it very far before they were hit with a grenade.”

Jo shook her head, looking down. A silence fell over the two for a while. “I’ve lived with my uncle for eleven years. Ever since my parents left. I never did get why they would just leave me. Life with Badger wasn’t bad. I mean, it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t too bad. I became a thief when I was about eight. After I turned eight, Badger decided I could fend for myself. Hell, I knew I was capable. I didn’t do jobs for him, though. I just did little thieving, breaking into houses to steal money. Petty stuff.” Jo looked up at Mal to see how he was taking this.

Mal gave a small nod, signaling that Jo should go on.

Jo looked down as she continued. “When I was eleven, I got word that my parents were dead. So I decided it was time to go on my own. I pulled one of Badger’s clients aside, asked the guy to teach me how to fly a ship. No way this guy was going to teach me. So I offered to pay him. Then he was in. Taught me the basics of flying a ship. So I found a ship, use it to do my jobs and to live in. Now I only come to Badger to do jobs. I go other places for jobs, too. But that’s my life. Glamorous, huh?” Jo gave a sad little smile.

Mal was silent before he asked, “Why isn’t your name Josie? That was what your mom liked to be called.”

Jo gave another small smile. “I used to be called Josie. Badger still calls me Josie sometimes when no one else’s around. I’ve threatened to take his life if he ever called me Josie when we were around anyone else.”

“Why?”

Jo laughed a bit. “It was hard enough to get someone to hire an eleven-year-old for a job. Add the name Josie to my credit, and I would have ended up on the streets. Jo sounds better in our line of work. And it’s stuck ever since.”

Understanding, Mal nodded, a small smile on his face. “I believe you.” Another few moments of silence passed before Jo let go of her legs and stood from the chair. She crossed her arms.

“Um, I’m going to go to bed . . . Listen . . . thanks for telling me . . . Mal.” Mal looked up at Jo, who gave him a small smile before turning and heading off toward her room. She closed the door when she was inside her room, listening to Mal go upstairs toward his own bunk. When Jo was sure no one was around, she leant back against her door and let herself slide down until she was sitting on the floor. She closed her eyes and hugged her knees, burying her face in her knees and letting tears roll silently out of her eyes.

In the room across the hall, River’s ear was against the door of her room. She could hear the silent tears in Jo’s eyes.

---

Jo covered a yawn with her hand as she walked into the common room. Kaylee and River looked up from their seats on the couch and smiled. Jo waved. “Hi,” she said, looking around. “Man, I must’ve slept late,” she said, sinking down into the chair by the couch.

Kaylee nodded. “Yeah, you must’ve been tired.”

Jo nodded. “It was a wild day.” Jo felt that it was better she didn’t mention the fact that she had cried herself to sleep the previous night after her and Mal’s little talk.

An understanding noise was heard from Kaylee, her head nodding. “I bet.”

River got up from the couch, as if a thought had struck her, and rushed inside her room. Kaylee and Jo exchanged a questioning glance. River stepped back out of her room, holding three apples. She held them out to Jo. Jo blinked. “Teach me to juggle, please,” requested River.

Jo looked at River then at the apples before nodding. “Um, I’ve never taught anyone before . . . And it’s not like you can just learn in a day. It took me a few weeks, maybe more.” She took two apples from River and bit her lip, trying to remember how the man that had taught her had put it. It had been so long since she had learned, nearly four years. It had just come naturally after she got it down. “Um, okay,” she said, sitting on the edge of the chair. River sat cross-legged on the couch, both her and Kaylee watching Jo. “Well, it’s good to start with just one apple.” Jo set one apple down and tossed one apple back and forth in her hands. “Then you need to take the other apple and just toss them back and forth,” she continued, demonstrating.

River shook her head. “Just show us,” she said, nodding. Jo exchanged a glance with Kaylee, who shrugged. After a shrug from Jo, three apples were being juggled. River grinned, eyes following the apples. She held out her hands after a while of watching. “I’ll try now.”

Jo had to catch the apples to keep from dropping them on her head. “Try? River, you’ve just been watching me - ”

“I’ll try now,” River insisted again. Jo looked at River before throwing the apples to her. River caught the apples and began the juggling, the apples flying through her hands swiftly. Kaylee’s eyes got a little wide. Jo’s mouth fell open. River grinned and caught all the apples after a minute of juggling. “Gotta show Simon,” she said, slipping off her seat and running up the stairs.

Jo looked at Kaylee, pointing up the stairs after River. “How . . .” She let her hand drop to her side. “She really is a genius.”

Kaylee nodded. “Yeah, she is.”

---

A few days later, Inara and Kaylee laughed at Kaylee’s joke, Inara sipping her tea. Kaylee shook her head. “But then the guy just walked away!”

“Walked away?” asked Inara with an amused grin.

Kaylee nodded. “Walked away! Just turned around and walked off!”

Before Inara could add something else, River and Jo walked into the dining room where Inara and Kaylee sat. Inara looked at Jo and Jo’s hair, hair that still contained dirt from the kidnapping. Inara gave a small laugh. “Jo, honey, your hair is absolutely dreadful.”

Jo looked at Inara and blinked. She grabbed a few strands of her own hair and looked at it. “It’s not that bad . . .” she said, looking at the auburn color of her hair that was darkened by dirt.

Inara shook her head, putting her teacup away and going over to Jo. “Come on, let’s see if we can do something with it, okay?” she asked, leading Jo toward Inara’s shuttle.

“I’m coming, too!” Kaylee said with a grin, hurrying after the two girls. River glided after the three.

---

The four girls laughed after Jo’s comment. “No, I’m completely serious, I couldn’t understand a word they were saying! They didn’t speak English or Chinese!”

“And how many of them were on your ship?” asked Kaylee, grinning. River was smiling quietly as she listened to Jo tell her story.

“Fourteen on my little ship! All related and babblin’ like I can’t describe! Never did figure out what language they were speaking . . .” Jo sat in front of Inara, Inara brushing Jo’s hair. Not something Jo was used to, that’s for sure. “Okay, so I finally got them to their planet, but the head of the clan would not let me leave!”

“Why not?” Inara asked.

“Well, I had no clue until I found someone who spoke English. He translated for the people, relayed back to me that they had mistaken me for one of the relatives. The guy straightened it out, told the clan leader that I wasn’t a relative. And the people still wouldn’t let me leave!”

“Still?” Kaylee asked.

“Still!” confirmed Jo. “I asked the translator guy, and he told me why I couldn’t go: The clan leader wanted me to marry one of his sons!”

“Oh, my gosh!” Inara said as she, Kaylee, and River laughed. Inara started braiding Jo’s hair, Jo not noticing. The girl was so into telling her story that she didn’t notice what was happening with her hair.

“Yeah! Said that I was one of the first people not related to them to visit in so long, they wanted me to marry one of the boys!”

“What’d you say to get out of it?” asked Kaylee.

“At first, I tried just refusing,” said Jo, laughing slightly. “But they were not taking no for an answer. So eventually I had to get out my gun to get the pay for the transport and get out of there.” Jo buried her head in her hands as she laughed. “Oh, it was a disaster.”

Kaylee was laughing so hard that she was almost crying. “Oh, Jo, that must have been so weird!”

Jo nodded and removed her smiling face from her hands. “Oh, you have no idea, Kaylee.”

Inara leant a little closer to the girls and dropped her voice. “But was the guy good looking, Jo?”

A smirk was on Jo’s face as she looked at Inara then at Kaylee and River. “Well . . . maybe just a little,” she admitted. Kaylee giggled, and Inara and River grinned. Jo shook her head. “But he didn’t even speak English, and I’m a gorram thief! It never would have worked out,” she said with a small smile.

Inara finished Jo’s braid and let her go. “There you go,” she told Jo with a smile.

Jo looked a little lost until she felt her hair. She blinked before smiling. “A braid? Wow, I haven’t had a braid since my mom was around . . . Thanks, Inara,” she said sincerely, looking around at Inara and nodding.

Inara nodded, she and Jo standing up. “No problem,” she said with a smile. Jo smiled again before walking out of Inara’s shuttle with Kaylee and River.

---

“Hello, Wash.”

Wash had his hands linked behind his head and his feet crossed up on the controls, carefully avoiding vital buttons and dials that could cause something fiery and unwanted to happen. He looked over to see Jo walking into the bridge. “Hi, Jo. Hey, can I call you Joey?”

Jo looked over at Wash as she sat herself down in the co-pilot’s chair. “Um, if you want . . . Uncle Badger calls me that.”

“Nevermind then,” said Wash cheerily, removing his hands from his head and his feet from the controls. He looked at Jo. “Did you change your hair?”

Jo shook her head. “Inara changed it,” she said, fingering the braid on the back of her head.

“Oh,” Wash said, nodding. He looked over to Jo, who was looking at the controls of the ship. “Ever driven a Firefly before?”

A little laugh came from Jo. “Never.”

Wash clasped his hands together and looked ahead of him. He couldn’t get Jo’s kidnapping out of his mind, how Zoe would have been the one being kidnapped if Jo wasn’t there. “Want to try?”

Jo jumped slightly with surprise and looked over at Wash. “Are you joking?”

Wash shook his head. “Nope. Go ahead, take the controls.”

Jo gaped at Wash before swallowing and looking at the controls. She nodded and hesitantly took the controls, guiding the ship. They were silent a while before Jo glanced over at Wash. “You gonna teach your kid to drive this thing?”

“If we have a kid,” said Wash, linking his hands behind his head and putting his feet up on the controls again.

“If?” Jo asked, arching an eyebrow.

Jo caught a little sigh from Wash. Wash shook his head. “Zoe wants a kid, but I’m not sure . . .”

“Why not?” Jo asked, flipping a switch above her before looking back at Wash. “You afraid you wouldn’t be a good dad?”

“I’m a thief. It wouldn’t exactly be a normal life for a kid.”

“And Zoe’s a war goddess, but you don’t see her hesitating. You and Zoe would make great parents. And it’s not like the kid wouldn’t have a bigger family than just you and Zoe. The crew would all help, and this ship is a great place to raise a kid.”

Wash looked at Jo, straightening his back a little. “You really think so?”

“I know so,” confirmed Jo. “You guys would be great parents, trust me. I’m sure a kid would love it growing up on this ship. You’re funny, and Zoe’s smart. You could teach the kid to fly a ship, and Zoe could teach the kid to fight. It would be a great life.”

Wash mulled this over before asking Jo, “What were your parents like?”

A tough question for Jo, Wash could tell. Jo was silent as she flipped another switch. “Honestly, I don’t remember.” She gave a sad little laugh. "Isn't that horrible?" Jo shook her head. "I mean, I guess I remember parts, but they're mostly fleeting details, only bits and pieces. I just remember them being . . . great. They used to tell me stories about when they were kids. They used to tell me stories about . . . anything. I remember Dad being funny. He had your kind of humor, make a laugh out of things to lighten the mood.” Jo sighed. “I remember them leaving . . . . But Wash, I grew up a thief. If you think that’s a bad life for a kid, you’re wrong. I mean, there are better lives, but you meet some pretty interesting people when you’re a thief. How do you think I learned how to juggle?” she asked with a smirk over at Wash.

Wash laughed and looked ahead of him. “Hey, we’re going to be coming up on Persephone soon.”

The news hit Jo like a ton of bricks. "Persephone?" The synapses in her brain tried to connect the information with some piece of information that was familiar to her. Badger. "I gotta go. Take the controls," Jo said, standing and walking off the bridge. Going back to Badger? Saying good-bye? Jo wondered how much she would have to pay Mal before he let her stay on Serenity. No! No, Jo had a job to do. She had a job to do on her own. She couldn't stay here, it wasn't her place. It wasn't her crew. Jo sighed and shook her head as she headed to her room to gather up her things.

---

And at last, Serenity landed down on the Eavesdown Docks of Persephone. The trip back, or so it seemed to Jo, had lasted much shorter than the trip to the settlement. Wash made his way down to the cargo bay where everyone was gathered already. Jayne was sitting on the mule, cargo attached to it and ready to take to Badger. Kaylee was hugging Jo, Jo smiling a bit sadly and hugging Kaylee back. Jo nodded. “Okay, Kaylee, don’t get sad on me now. Take good care of this ship. And keep bein’ happy, okay?” she said.

Kaylee gave a laugh and gave Jo another squeeze before letting the girl go. “Visit!” she told Jo. “Keep in touch!”

“I will, Kaylee.” Jo turned to the next person she had to say goodbye to, River. She gave River a hug, and River hugged her back. As Jo let her friend out of the hug, Jo said, “River, take care of your brother.”

River looked over at Simon, both of them giving a small smile. River looked back at Jo. “I do,” she said. “Trust people,” River told Jo. “Trust is good.”

Jo gave a little smile and nodded. “I know, River.” She turned around, now facing Book. Jo extended a hand, the Shepherd giving her a handshake. “Shepherd, keep . . . bein’ Shepherdly.”

Book gave a small smirk. “Been quite a trip.”

A small laugh was uttered by Jo. “That it has, Shepherd, that it has.” She let go of Book’s hand and turned around to see Inara. “’Nara,” she said. “Keep bein’ the ship’s conscience. And keep . . . Companioning,” she finished.

Inara smiled. “Oh, come here,” she said, hugging Jo. Jo laughed a bit, hugging Inara back before they both let go. Inara told Jo, “Don’t be a stranger. You’re always welcome.”

“Thanks, Inara,” said Jo softly. She looked around to see Wash. She smiled. “Wash . . . stop being scared of stuff. Take a chance once in a while.”

Wash rolled his eyes. “Yeah, yeah,” he said, ruffling Jo’s hair. “Hey, I never got a chance to ask you: Why don’t you talk like Badger?”

Jo grinned. “Well, i’s an acquired thing, the no’ talkin’ like I was brough’ up to talk,” she said with Badger’s accent. She waited a moment before dropping the accent. “But how many people do you know with that accent? It associated me with him.”

Wash nodded. “Okay, thanks for not doing it too long,” he said nervously. Jo smirked and turned around to Simon. She smiled slightly.

“Doc.” Then Jo thought better. “Simon.” Simon looked at her. “You’re still smart. Just keep fixing everyone. It’ll all turn out okay.”

Simon nodded and extended his hand, Jo giving him a handshake. “Stay out of trouble, Jo,” Simon told her. Jo nodded and let go of Simon’s hand as she looked over. Jayne’s turn.

“Jayne,” Jo said with an inclination of her head. “Bye.”

“Yeah, same to you,” grumbled Jayne.

Jo looked at Zoe and smiled. “Zoe . . . keep Mal in line. Make sure Wash doesn’t get too scared of stuff.”

“Hey!” protested Wash.

Zoe ignored her husband’s comment and looked at Jo. “Don’t let your uncle push you around,” she told Jo. Jo nodded.

“Don’t worry about that, believe me.” She smiled and looked around at her last person to say goodbye to: Mal. She sighed softly and looked at the ground as she stepped over to him. She looked up at Mal. “Take care of your crew, Mal.” She swept another look over the crew of Serenity before looking back at Mal. “They deserve it.”

Mal looked at Jo before extending a hand. Jo smiled and shook his hand, nodding. “Watch your back, kid. Something tells me this isn’t the last time we’ll be meeting.”

“Something tells me you should leave the psychic stuff up to River,” Jo retorted, letting go of Mal’s hand and picking up her bag from the floor. She swung her bag over her shoulder as the hatch opened to the outside. She waved at everyone before heading out, Mal and Zoe following her, Jayne coming out on the mule. The rest of the crew looked out after them, Jo turning and waving at them one last time before the ship closed up. Jo sighed. She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to see Mal, who looked a bit sad as he smiled. Jo nodded and walked next to Mal toward Badger’s den.

---

Jo caught in one hand the bag of money that had been thrown at her. She stood next to Mal, Zoe and Jayne standing behind the two. Jo opened the bag and took out some of the money before handing the rest of the money to Mal and putting her money in her pocket.

Mal took the money bag, frowning at Jo. Jo looked at him and gave him an affirming nod, signaling that he should take the money.

Badger watched the two with a suspicious look. “Your ‘ead looks like ‘ell,” he told his niece.

Jo looked at her uncle and stuck out her tongue.

Mal smirked. “Well, if we’re done here, we’ll be going.” He looked at Jo. “Bye, Josie,” he told her quietly. Badger caught the remark, and his eyebrows went up. Jo smiled and waved at the three as they left. She looked back at Badger, who had a very accusing look on his face.

Jo walked over to Badger and took his hat off his head, leaning back against the desk so she could look at him and put his hat on her own head. She smirked. “Don’t give me that look.”

The End

COMMENTS

Sunday, June 5, 2005 9:03 AM

MANATREE


So shiny to see the whole story posted! I still love it!

Sunday, June 5, 2005 9:04 AM

KIZZIECSTARS


shiny!

nuf sed.

Monday, June 6, 2005 12:53 AM

FREDIKAYLLOW


I really liked this story. Jo is such a character. I hope to be seeing more from her in the future. A sequel would definitely be good.....

No Power In The Verse
XOXO-FREDIKAYLLOW-XOXOX

Monday, June 6, 2005 5:50 AM

FIGHTON4GOD


Xie-xie, everyone! And yes, a sequel is in the works. Trina, we better get crackin' if we want to please the people! Stay tuned for more of our favorite crew with some more Jo-ey goodness added. :-D

Keep Flyin' Under the Radar!
Anna


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