Deja Vu Ain't What It Used To Be (part 2)
Sunday, November 6, 2005

The pieces start to come together. Second of a four-part episode-style story set during Firefly.



In the forgotten crevasses far below New Dunsmuir’s distinctive silver spires, darkened city streets swelled with life. The writhing carpet of humanity wound its way through a world of noise and neon Chinese signs. Shadowy figures met and parted, and from every corner a new temptation beckoned.

"Ooh, is that a toy store?" Wash asked, peering into an alcove.

"Of a sort," Zoe replied, ushering him onward through the crowd with a hand in his back. "Sir, where exactly are we going?"

Mal didn’t answer because he didn’t know. Not only was tracking himself an unsettling experience, it wasn’t altogether easy. Over the years he had cultivated a low profile and a selective memory, and both were working against him now. This time he had even kept the identity of the buyer to himself. But the corner ahead looked familiar, as did the dark passage beyond. Images like glimpses from a dream guided each step. "Just stay close," he said.

The trio ducked into the alleyway, which led to a wall.

"Dead end?" Zoe sighed.

"That sounds so... final," Wash grimaced.

Mal pointed to the wall. "No, there’s a-" He cut himself off and turned to Wash. "Wait, why in hell are you here again? I mean, I’m lookin’ around and I don’t see much to fly down here."

Wash smiled reassuringly. "Well, I - I’d never leave my lovely wife to fend for herself in the streets of..."

Zoe crossed her arms and looked unamused.

Wash turned back to Mal and shrugged. "Okay it’s mostly to laugh at you," he admitted in a rush. "There was already the whole thing with Inara-" He fought back a smile and hastily continued. "-which I’m told was very solemn and not funny in the least... but you know it can only get better from there."

His eyes bounced between two stone faces.

"I’ll laugh quietly," Wash said.

"That’d be a good idea," Mal said, looking back to the wall. "Last thing we wanna do is draw attention to ourselves."

His hands found a latch, a passageway opened, and he stepped inside with the other two close behind.

Mal took a few steps, pushed aside a beaded curtain, and found himself in some sort of bar that was nearly as dark as the alleyway behind him. Scattered about the room next to reclining figures were small, ornate glass devices that glowed a dim violet through the smoky haze.

"Opium den," Zoe whispered. "You sure this is the place?"

The captain made his way across the room to a man behind a small bar. Mal could see the man watching him intently as he approached, hollow eyes set deep in gaunt cheeks.

"’Scuse me, uh, sir," Mal started carefully. "Have we... Have you seen me before?"

The man studied him for a moment, his long mustache twitching. Then he began to laugh. Loudly.

"Everyone!" the man exclaimed, still laughing. "He wants to know if I’ve seen him before!" Lazy giggles back drifted from the darkness.

"See, they’re allowed to laugh," Wash said to Zoe.

"They’re on drugs, baby," she replied.

Mal’s lips bent into a confused grin, and the man’s expression suddenly hardened. "I can’t believe you had the nerve to come back here," he said.

A slender hand slid over Mal’s chest, and an Asian girl’s face emerged from behind him with a sleepy smile. "Leave him alone, you shu ma nyaow," she said to the man, then began brushing her lips over the captain’s neck.

"Malcolm Reynolds, I thought I’d never see your face again," she cooed as her hands began to wander. "Or that scar on your chest. Or the one on your-"

Her hand found a sensitive region and Mal jumped away.

"Oh! Kay. Let’s rein in this little trip down memory lane." The captain focused on the man behind the bar. "What exactly happened when I was here before?"

"You’re serious, aren’t you?" he replied in disbelief. "Jin tzahng mei jong-duh captain of nothing, leave now, and take your craziness with you. And don’t come back in two hours and ask me what I said." He gestured toward the door.

Mal’s face tightened.

"Seen that look before," Zoe said.

There was a flash of steel in the purple glow, and the man was pulled across the bar with a revolver in his face. "Listen, I’ve had a real, real bad night," Mal said with a disarming chuckle. "I been slapped, groped, left in the dirt, and forced to talk to all sorts o’ unsavory people. And the night ain’t over. Now all I want’s a little information, but I’m afraid one more bad thing happens, I might just snap." He cocked the trigger.

Wash appeared at Mal’s shoulder. "I’ve seen it. It’s not pretty. The face gets all red, and there’s this vein that bulges – and then the killing. Just unpleasant all around."

The man gulped and quickly began talking. "You came in a few hours ago – paranoid - but that’s nothing new around here. You just got a drink and said someone was following you, something about the D.A.I."

"D.A.I.?" Mal interrupted.

The man flinched at his voice, then continued. "Gentlemen’s club." He pointed up to the spire above.

The captain looked over his shoulder at Zoe, who shook her head. He turned back to the man at the bar. "Keep going."

"After a few minutes you walked away from the bar. Then she showed up and waited by your drink. You came back, finished the drink, and then everything started getting crazy – but mostly you."

"Let’s back up to the she," Mal said.

"Your wife," the man replied. "Saffron."

The captain staggered for a moment. "Sweet Lord almighty, tell me you didn’t say that."

"I – I didn’t say that," the man cowered.

Wash’s expression fell. "All a lot less funny now."

The captain searched his glimpses of memory. "She must've put something in my drink while-"

A palm cracked across Mal’s face and the Asian girl reappeared. "Tah mah de! You didn’t tell me you were married!"


Inara dragged a cloth across her face and quickly composed herself. "Cheeng jeen," she said to the door.

"You weren’t at dinner so I brought you a little something," Book said to her back, placing a tray near the door and waiting beside it.

Inara spoke carefully and properly without turning to face him. "If memory serves, you’ve catered my shuttle before. I appreciate your kindness, shepherd, but I wasn’t hungry then, and I’m not now."

"On that other occasion," Book said, lingering at the door, "you told me that our captain is a man who enjoys being lost in the woods."

There was no reply.

"I find that I disagree," the shepherd continued. "I believe he knows the way home, that it’s nearby, but he doesn’t know if the door’s open to him. He’s simply too afraid to find out."

This time the silence lingered.

"He’s stubborn," she muttered.

"Yes," Book agreed. "Much like someone who would let a homemade meal sit and grow cold because she refuses to admit she’s hungry. Hypothetically speaking."

A wistful smile touched Inara's lips.


"-and then she slapped him because he was married," Wash finished, as laughter erupted across the common room.

The captain entered, and the laughter was quickly subdued. "What?" he said.

"Nothin’, captain," Kaylee said, digging into a bowl of food. "There’s nothin’... funny."

Jayne was the only one not wrestling with a grin. "I’ll say there ain’t. I didn’t raid a outpost and steal those papers just so’s you could get felt up by some whores. Where’s our ruttin’ money?"

"Pipe down, you’ll get your money," Mal said.

"I better," Jayne mumbled. "Or at least some whores."

"Speaking of which," Wash said, "any idea where we’ll find Saffron?"

"Several. But we’ll deal with her soon enough," the captain said as Zoe entered the room behind him. "First we gotta get in touch with the buyer, let him know what happened. I’m led to believe we can find him up in one of those spires, inside a little gentlemen’s club where he likes to soiree."

"I see a ‘but’ coming," Wash said.

"We still talkin’ about whores?" Kaylee asked, looking up from her bowl.

"But," Mal pointedly continued, to a look of realization from Kaylee, "we can’t just walk in. Shepherd called in a favor from an old acquaintance to get two of us inside, but once we're there we'll have to do it quiet and classy."

"So why’re we sittin’ here talkin’?" Jayne asked. "Go tell’im."

"Can’t," Mal said. "They got an eye on the streets down there and I been marked, so they’ll never let me up. Same for Zoe and Wash. Can’t chance it with the doc or his sister, and shepherd’s made it plain he’s got other acquaintances here he’d rather not reacquaint."

"Inara?" asked Kaylee, who was now paying very close attention.

"Ain’t bringin’ her into this," Mal said quickly. "That leaves you, Kaylee. And your gentlemanly escort, o’ course. Just remember – quiet and classy."

Jayne and Kaylee turned to look each other.

Wash raised his hand. "Is it okay to laugh yet?"


Simon turned a page and began reading the next line of text. His eyes stopped and left the book as they found the figure standing in the doorway to his room.

"Can I help you with something?" Simon asked.

"Yeah, I think maybe you can," Jayne said, slowly moving forward. "I think we need to have us a little talk."


Part 3


Sunday, November 6, 2005 9:14 AM



"Is it okay to laugh yet."

Can't wait to see Jayne and Kaylee out on the town together!

Sunday, November 6, 2005 9:26 AM


excellent :)

Sunday, November 6, 2005 10:02 AM


"I see a ‘but’ coming," Wash said.
"We still talkin’ about whores?" Kaylee asked.

hee. *grins*

can't wait to see kaylee and her "gentlemanly escort"


Sunday, November 6, 2005 10:25 AM


Good stuff.Keep it coming.Can we all join in and write a paragraph?I think I might be lost,but I thought maybe this was one of those stories the fans take up and continue by each writing a paragraph.....................reckon I could be wrong.

Sunday, November 6, 2005 10:32 AM


I like this.

Sunday, November 6, 2005 10:33 AM


Wow. I wonder what Mal actually -did-.

Sunday, November 6, 2005 1:13 PM


Quiet and classy? Oh that's hilarious. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, November 10, 2005 12:07 PM


Just started reading this one and have to quit for now. Grr. BUT. I wanted to say I really love what you are doing with the initial descriptives. It's very crisp and clean. I'm going to be taking lessons from you n smithie.

Saturday, November 12, 2005 9:41 PM


This is good Cub! I'm making my way onto the rest, as it's hooked me also. Very nice and clean. Really enjoying your story telling.


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