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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Jobs and envelopes
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1152 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Mal welcomed Mr. Flaherty back onto Serenity. He was surprised at the change in the man. For three weeks he’d barely spoken. Now he was all smiles and wouldn’t stop talking.
“Captain Reynolds, you have not idea how difficult my trip with you was.” Flaherty grabbed Mal’s hand and pumped it vigorously.
“I’m sorry to hear that, Mr. Flaherty. We’re no cruise ship, but we do try to make our passengers comfortable.” Mal was beginning to worry about working with this man. His exuberance was overwhelming. Mal was sure the combination of this man and the heat outside would be the death of him.
“Oh, no! Don’t apologize. It wasn’t you or your ship, which is a nice one if you don’t mind my saying.” Flaherty could barely contain himself. His eyes danced around, looking at everything. If he’d been a child, he would have been skipping. “It was my own, self-imposed silence that was nearly the end of me.”
Mal led Flaherty to the galley. He hoped Flaherty would sit down and explain what he wanted, in that order. That brief stint in the heat had affected Mal more than he had thought, and he really needed to sit down. To his relief, Flaherty plopped down in a chair at the table. Mal settled into a chair across the table from him.
“Captain Reynolds, I spent the last three weeks observin’ you and your crew. You were recommended to me for this job, but I needed to check you out for myself.” Flaherty shifted in his chair and Mal was afraid he would get up and start pacing. Instead, he leaned forward and continued. “We have product that needs to be delivered to a few customers and we’d like you to carry it.”
Pleased that they had finally started talking about business, Mal sat back and crossed his arms. “That won’t be a problem. I’m sure we can accommodate you.”
Flaherty stopped moving and looked Mal in the eye. “Without Alliance paperwork.”
Mal blinked. First, that phrase usually led to trouble. Second, he wasn’t interested in trouble right now. “There was a time I’d take a job offer like that and not ask anything about it. However, things now are…complicated.”
Flaherty smiled and looked in the direction of the infirmary below them. “Yep. I’ve seen your complications. You should really die her hair or somethin’. Recognized her the first minute I saw her. Didn’t even need to see that brother of hers to ID her.” He turned back to Mal and waited.
“So, I’m askin’. Are you wantin’ us to carry anything of a human or medicinal nature?” Mal was used to dickering, so he didn’t show any concern for what the answer would be, especially as he needed the job. He really didn’t like to ask questions, but Niska had made him more selective.
“Nope.” Flaherty didn’t seem surprised by the question.
“Then I think we can work somethin’ out.” Mal said. He began to wonder who had recommended Serenity for this man’s job. He planned on finding out.
“Good!” Flaherty slapped his palms on the table. Rising from the table, he continued. “I want to show you a little of our operation. I’ll be back just before the sun sets and give you the grand tour. Your crew is welcome to spend the evening in town.”
Flaherty reached into a pocket and pulled out two envelopes. “Please give this envelope to Wash. Let him know there’s a surprise waitin’ for him and Zoë.” He chuckled while placing the envelope in front of Mal. “And please give this one to Shepherd Book. There are some folks here wantin’ his services.” He placed the other envelope next to the first and walked out of the room and off the ship.
Mal slumped back in his chair, exhausted. He wasn’t sure if he was looking forward to spending more time with this exuberant former passenger.
* * * * * * * *
Shepherd Book was just finishing his daily devotions when Mal delivered Flaherty’s envelope. He knew it made Mal uncomfortable, having religion openly practiced on the ship, but he didn’t rush to finish when Mal poked his head into the room. He calmly finished his prayer and put his Bible on the shelf. He then braced himself, mentally, for his visit with Mal. Book admired Mal. He even liked the man. However, conversations with him were often a trial he wouldn’t wish on an enemy.
Mal, standing in the doorway, leaned further into the room and held out an envelope to Book. “Got a message for ya from Flaherty.”
“Thank you, Captain.” Book took the note, opened it, and read it. He then looked up at Mal, who was leaning against the door with his arms folded. “Seems some folk want to get married,” he said. Book enjoyed officiating at weddings. “How long are we here for?”
“Well, Shepherd. We’re just here for the night. Inara is having shuttle troubles and we need to get her to her next job.” Mal smiled slightly. “That won’t be a problem, will it?”
Book laughed his rich, chocolaty laugh. He hadn’t heard that phrase in a while and surprisingly enjoyed the memories behind it. “No, I don’t believe it will, Captain.” Standing up, Book reached for his jacket and Bible. “I’ll just head over to town right now and get things started.”
“Uh, Shepherd. It’s hot out there. Really hot. You’d probably do best to leave the jacket behind. You might also want a hat or somethin’.”
Book looked at Mal and noticed the slumped shoulders and the pale skin. He knew Mal, Zoë, and Jayne had been outside earlier and realized Mal was not joking. “Thanks, Captain. I’ll get something. You should probably get some rest and fluids, if you don’t mind my saying.”
“No, Shepherd, I don’t mind. I think I’ll be doin’ just that.” Mal straightened up and headed for the infirmary.
When Book reached the air lock door, Jayne was opening it. Jayne looked at the Shepherd and began to laugh. He laughed until tears rolled down his cheeks and he had to sit on a crate. Book, mildly affronted, looked calmly at Jayne until the laughter subsided.
“Lookin’ pretty shiny there, Preacher.” Jayne chuckled and wiped his face with the back of his hand. “I especially like you’re parasol.”
Wednesday, November 2, 2005 8:41 AM
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