Twice As Nice - Chapter 5: Problems
Friday, October 28, 2005

This was written REALLY late at night, so sorry if it's complete go se, but anyway...Mal's got problems


Author’s Note: in case anyone’s wondering, this takes place AU where the series has happened but the BDM probably won’t (I like my Wash alive) * * I neither own nor hold any claim to any characters or associated articles of Firefly. Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy do that. I am just a humble fan who is very scared of lawyers and has no money. * * Feedback is shiny in the nth degree and will be received with open arms and a mug of hot chocolate (but you only get marshmallows if you comment *glares*) * * Bridge, Serenity, 1546hrs

It was nearly a full three standard weeks since Jaine Williams had joined the crew of his ship, and Captain Malcolm Reynolds was finally allowing himself to relax. He figured if she was fixin’ to do somethin’, she’d’ve done it by now. She was a nice girl. No, nice woman. She was 34, same as him. It was amazing, really. She looked too damn young. He’d asked her about it and she’d said somethin’ ‘bout life bein’ easier on the skin in the Core. He’d also asked her how she found him, how she knew he’d remember her, but she hadn’t heard. Or pretended not to. She was nice enough, helped out when she could, got on with the crew didn’t ask for much. But there were still a lot of unanswered questions floating around his brainpan. Like how’d she managed to track them down? How’d she known it would be them? That he would remember her? And there was the issue of her past employ. He just wasn’t comfortable having a bounty hunter on his boat again, whatever she might say. Not that he was too comfortable the first time round It wasn’t that he didn’t trust her, like her, even. She was friend; someone who’d saved his and Zoë’s lives time and again. Then again, Jayne’d done all that, too. He heaved a sigh. He was sitting in the pilot’s chair, watching the ‘verse drift by and thinking about a problem he had. They’d lined up a job for tomorrow, when they landed on Beylix. It was a minor drop, but enough to keep the crew alive and have enough left to buy a few of the spare parts Kaylee was hankerin’ after. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was the planet itself, a god-forsaken lump of rock used and inhabited primarily by those involved in clandestine dealings. And those inhabitants were renowned for changing terms of business at a moment’s notice, usually without taking the care to inform those unfortunate enough to have to deal with them. So, they needed guns and people to fire the guns. It was already decided that he, Zoë and Jayne would make the drop, that was the way of it. But they were only three. Fact was, they needed more muscle and the choice was limited: River was a bundle of surprises and much with the craziness; Kaylee was needed to keep Serenity runnin’ hot should they feel the need to make a hasty exit; Inara was hardly crew an’ therefore outta the question; Wash got their sorry asses from one of the ‘verse to the other an’ his wife had a mean roundhouse; the doc was the only one could patch said sorry asses up, effectively eliminatin’ him an’ the Shepherd refused to shoot another man, ‘less it was to smash his knees – not really much use if you only needed one hand to aim an’ fire a gun. So Jaine really was their only option. She’d helped them on a coupla small jobs in the past, but this was the first time both she an’ Jayne’d actually be present while the money changed hands – mostly they’d shifted cargo while he an’ Zoë went shootin’ folk. He knew Jaine was a good shot, as good as, if not better than Jayne. Which worried him some. Kinda hard not to be worried by the ex-bounty hunter who could kill ya without aimin’, ‘specially if you were trustin’ her not to take the coin an’ run. Making his decision, he pushed himself from the chair and headed in the direction of the cargo bay. Jaine would go with them, he’d just have to keep her and Jayne separate and his fingers crossed. He emerged onto the catwalk and surveyed the scene below. Jayne and the Shepherd were doing bench presses in the corner, Wash and Kaylee tinkered with the charred mule while Jaine lazily stretched through several configurations that looked both graceful and painful at the same time. He wondered idly if any were included in a Companion’s training. Zoë’s soft footsteps approached his left shoulder as he leaned on the railing. “Sir? Meet’s set for tomorrow at 10, some place called Kenny Sue’s.” “Shiny,” he murmured, then raised his voice. “’Kay, people. We got a meet, a fence an’ the goods t’match. Jaine, you, Zoë and Jayne’ll be goin’ with me.” Raising a hand, she gestured vaguely and descended into a graceful split. There, problem solved. He hoped. * * Shuttle 1, Serenity, 1703hrs Inara pulled the brush through Kaylee’s hair in gentle, rhythmic strokes. The action was familiar and soothing to both women. She’d only been back on Serenity an hour when they’d come to her, seeking refuge from the overtly masculine world outside. For that’s what she was: an island of femininity in a sea of testosterone. River lay on her bed a few feet behind them, her bare feet resting on the pillows as she played with the ends of her hair. The girl brushed the dark frond across her cheek and hummed a lilting tune. Kaylee and Inara were discussing life on Serenity during her absence. “A month you was gone. A whole month! Beginnin’ t’think ya’d left us!” Inara stiffened slightly at the girl’s words. River stopped humming and rolled onto her stomach to look at them, her eyes rapidly batting between them. The sudden silence was deafening. “Mei mei, I…” She stopped, not entirely sure what she was about to say. Her heartbeat drummed in her ears and her mouth was suddenly arid. Kaylee turned slowly in her seat to look at her, eyes wide with unasked questions. At that moment, the shuttle door opened. Grateful for the distraction, Inara whirled, suddenly irrationally angry. “Mal! How many times must I – Oh!” she broke off in surprise. For standing just inside the doorway was not the captain’s large frame, but a young woman, roughly half a head taller than River. Clad in an olive jumpsuit similar to Kaylee’s but with a holstered service revolver in place of sewn-on patches, she was as incongruous as Jayne in, well, anywhere civilised really. Overcoming her initial surprise, Inara stepped towards her. “I don’t believe we’ve met, I’m – “ “Inara Serra, registered Companion. Kaylee told me.” She wiped her hand on her trouser leg and extended it. Her left hand, Inara noted. “Name’s Jaine.” Clasping her hand, she smiled at Jaine warmly. “Life on Serenity has taught me not to expect surnames.” Jaine grinned at that, but it didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Ask no questions, tell no lies,” she said. “But since ya mention it, Williams.” Inara smiled again, and gestured to the two girls. “Would you like to join us?” she asked. Kaylee’s eyes sparkled with excitement. “C’mon, it’ll be shiny! ‘Nara’s real good at makin’ a body all pretty.” Jaine seemed to consider this. Though her face body language gave nothing away, Inara could see a complex interplay of emotions in her large hazel eyes. Curiosity; the suspicion so familiar in Mal; oddly, fear, and something else she couldn’t quite place. The next moment, she looked up at her and they were gone, replaced by an impassive acceptance. “Nah, just here t’ask where the hydrospanner is,” she said with another not-quite smile. Kaylee’s shoulders drooped and she sighed. Inara got the feeling that the mechanic had been attempting to entice Jaine into activities such as this with similar results. She had to admit, she felt a twinge of disappointment. Jaine had delicate features that would take her ministrations well: defined cheekbones; bee-sting lips; a straight, unbroken nose; large, wide-set eyes with long dark lashes; good jawline and smooth alabaster skin. A thick mane of dark brown hair coiled into a loose bun balanced her features out. She wasn’t a raving beauty. Visually striking, certainly, and, once the time was taken to notice her and look at her properly, pretty in her own way, but not jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Kaylee’s voice pulled Inara back to reality. “Next t’the grav boot, red box.” “Xie xie,” she said, moving towards the door. “You’re always welcome here, Jaine,” she reminded her. Nodding once, she pulled the door closed again. Inara turned back to Kaylee and River. “River, would you like me to wash your hair?” The girl leapt up from where she had apparently dropped off to sleep and replaced Kaylee in the seat at Inara’s vanity table. After setting up a basin of water behind River’s head, the Companion casually probed Kaylee about Jaine. “How long has Jaine been travelling with us?” she asked carefully. “’Bout a month now, since just after ya went off with your client. Picked her up on Persephone. She’s a friend’a the cap’n an’ Zoë’s.” “Is she bringing…business with her?” “Kinda, she’s gotta job for us. An’ she’s payin’ for a ride home.” Inara turned at Kaylee’s wistful tone. “Do you miss your parents, Kaylee?” she asked softly. “Yeah,” she sighed. “Just wish I could see my family again, y’know? Mean, ain’t like anyone else takes time t’think on lil’ ol’ me.” The mechanic scowled half-heartedly and picked at a loose thread on her thigh. “Dare say someone thinks on you some,” came a decidedly male voice from the doorway. Inara started and knocked the basin of water over as she whirled towards the now-open door, giving a surprised cry at the sight of the captain in her shuttle. “I’m thinkin’ on you when I wonder why you’re in here yakkin’ when ya should be workin’,” Mal continued. Kaylee scowled with a little more heart. “You seen Jaine anywhere?” he asked Inara without preamble, trying not to look at River, who was staring fixedly at his chin. “You’ve just missed her,” Inara bit out through clenched teeth as she stooped to pick up the fallen vessel. “She’s in the engine room.” “Xie xie, ‘Nara,” he said blithely and headed the way he had come. Then he stopped. “By the by, I’d take it as a kindness if y’all didn’t make a habit o’ throwin’ water ‘round my ship,” he smirked before stepping through the door. Kaylee picked up a pillow and threw it at his retreating back. “Men,” they said in disgusted unison. * * Cargo Bay, Serenity, North Beylix Spaceport The Next Day, 0900hrs Zoë stood near closed bay doors, trying to hide her smile as she watched Mal try to start the mule. As she watched, she went over the plan in her head. She, Mal, Jayne and Jaine would take the mule into town. They’d drop the mercs at the edge of town and make their way to Kenny Sue’s, Mal wasn’t overjoyed about this part, but she was least likely to sell him out and/or shoot him. While she and Mal checked out Kenny Sue’s, Jayne and Jaine’d go along the main street then double back and provide back up if the drop went south. Mal eventually gave up and kicked a tyre in disgust. Leaning over, she reached under the dash and twitched a pair of wires. The engine roared to life and Mal stared at her. “How’d you…?” A clatter from the stairs drowned out the last part of his question. Turning, Zoë rolled her eyes heavenward as Jayne walked over, rubbing his own eyes sleepily. “Don’t see why we gotta get up so gorram early,” he grumbled. “Everybody’s got sense’s still asleep, dreamin’a sunshine an’ daisies.” “Well, that explains why we’re up,” chimed in Wash, slipping his arms around his wife. Zoë smiled and leaned against him. “Also explains why Zoë married your sorry ass,” Jayne sneered. “Yeah, but at least I’m pretty.” Wash planted a kiss on her neck and she smiled again. A smile which got all the broader when Jayne’s scowl deepened as he realised he didn’t have a comeback. “Shut up, little man,” he growled and slung his gun onto the mule. She turned to Wash for a final kiss. “I know I tell you this every time, but zhen ta ma yao ming. Zhu yi, ‘kay?” He searched her face for reassurance. “Wash, fang xin. I’ll be fine, stop worryin’.” “Can’t, bao bei. It’s the curse of being non-violent: instead of helping, I get to worry.” He smiled crookedly. She kissed him once more, smiling against his mouth, before moving to open the doors. As she did so, Jaine brushed past her and hopped onto the mule beside Jayne. “Well, look at you, all dressed up,” Wash teased her. Zoë gave her a cursory glance. Instead of her uniform jumpsuit and combat boots, she was wearing knee-high black boots, tight black pants, white vest and a short khaki jacket. Her long brown hair was braided into a french plait behind her head. On the end of said plait, was a delicate steel butterfly set with a heavy jade stone. All her clothes looked well worn and the only thing to distinguish her in a crowd was the butterfly. She grinned at the pilot. “If only I had someplace special t’go,” she answered. Mal also looked her over, if a bit more appreciatively. His gaze settled on the hair ornament and he reached out to touch it. “What’s with the…ooh, spiky.” He drew his hand back sharply, as if stung. Jaine flashed another grin. “My secret weapon.” Then an odd look passed across her face and she whipped around to face Jayne, drawing her pistol as she went. “Don’t even think it,” she growled. Zoë saw Wash’s eyebrows shoot up and heard his whispered, “She’s good.” Jayne simply stared at the revolver levelled at his head, glanced at Mal and then thought better of whatever he’d had in mind. Allowing herself a small smile, Zoë embraced her husband one final time before jumping up next to Mal. Then, trailing dust, they set off for Kenny Sue’s, whatever the hell that was. * * Kenny Sue’s, Northville 0936hrs Along with no imagination, Beylix residents also had no taste - Kenny Sue’s turned out to be a seedy tavern just off the main street of Northville. Mal strode through the doorway with Zoë close behind. After a few steps, he stopped short. The fence was a repulsive little man named Bertram Fletcher and he happened to be sitting at a corner table with a good view of the door. As soon as he saw them, he gestured to two men at the next table. He supposed they were men, they looked more like Jayne on drops. They looked over at him, sized him and scowled. Apparently they didn’t like it when customers showed up early. They got to their feet and lumbered towards them. “You Malcolm Reynolds?” the first Jayne asked. “Might be. Who’s askin’?” “Mister Fletcher don’t wanna be kept waitin’,” the second one stated, pushing him forwards. They reached the table a few moments later, after being manhandled across the bar. Fletcher looked up. “Ah, Captain Reynolds.” His accent immediately identified him as a native of the Dyton Colony. “And this must be the lovely Zoë.” They glanced at each other, both asking the same question. How did he know that? Mal looked at Fletcher again. He looked vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t quite place him. “Sit down, take the weight off your feet.” He gestured to two empty seats. As they complied, Zoë glanced at him again. He knew exactly what she was thinking. Clever move, sitting us in the only two seats without a clear view of the room. “Now, glad you two showed up early. Gives us a chance to discuss business.” Another glance. “There’s been a bit of a change in plan.” He leaned forwards. “See, I’m runnin’ a bit low on cash, mate.” “Uh-huh.” The name was just out of reach, floating around the edges of his thoughts. “An’ how does that affect us, ‘xactly?” “You know them crates you got in your hold? Well, they’ve got what you might call ‘valuables’ in ‘em an’ you know what I can do with valuables?” “Do a square dance?” Fletcher gave a short laugh. “Funny, I like that. But no, ain’t gonna with ‘em. I’m gonna sell ‘em, mate. An’ you know what you’re gonna do? You’re gonna give ‘em to me without a fuss, for free.” “An’ why, ‘xactly would I wanna do that?” “’Cause you’re a good person, mate. An’ also, if you don’t, they,” he gestured to someone behind Mal. “Are gonna blow your bloody ‘ead off.” With a gnawing feeling in his stomach, Mal turned in his seat. Next to him, Zoe mimicked his movement. Every person in the room was pointing a gun at them. “Ta ma de!” he swore. “See,” said Fletcher in his ear. “They don’t like smugglers, an’ you two, you’re what you might consider smuggler types.” “Not t’put too fine a point on it, but ain’t y’all smugglin’ folks, too?” “Yeah, yeah we are, same as you. No difference. An’ that’s why you’re doin’ this. ‘Cause you don’t wanna see fellow smugglers goin’ hungry. It’s what’s called solidarity. No difference ‘tween us an you.” “Nah,” drawled a voice. “There’s a difference. Mighty big one, too.” “Oh? An’ what’s that, then?” “I make this thing look good,” stated Jaine over the barrel of her gun. * * mei mei = little sister xiao mei mei = little little sister xie xie = thank you zhen ta ma yao ming. zhu yi = watch your back gou shi = crap


Friday, October 28, 2005 3:41 PM


Very shiny. I want to hear more.

Although I'm getting mildly tired of women beating up Jayne...Joss does have a thing about that sort of thing (hence Buffy and River) but the man deserves some self-respect.

Saturday, October 29, 2005 5:47 AM


Oh yeah, loved Jaine getting the drop on that slimey scum bag Fletcher. Sounds like he must be a close relation of Badger's. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, October 29, 2005 12:14 PM


*fang xin*, jayne will have his moment(s)


Monday, January 16, 2006 8:48 AM


"i make this thing look good"




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