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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1189 RATING: 0 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Mal, I’m only saying that you might be overreacting a bit,” Inara said refusing to back down.
“No, I’m not. And there’s no point arguing this, it’s over. We stop at Medea and he gets off. Period. End of story. End of problem.”
Mal, Inara and Jayne had been up in the bridge for the better part of an hour going over the ‘problem’. Mal was being hardheaded and refusing to even hear any of Inara’s points. Jayne, enjoying the show, was silent on the subject. He honestly didn’t care one way or another what they did with Wash. Jayne was just waiting for the word from Mal on what should be done. After all, Mal paid the bills around here.
Inara continued to give Mal the look she seemingly reserved just for him.
“What difference does it make where he’s from? He’s been on the ship now for nearly a year. He’s saved us all how many times?”
”It the principle of the matter Inara. He should have told me. Should have been honest from the start.”
Zoë entered the bridge with Kaylee quietly slipping in behind her. Mal looked over to her for an update on the current situation.
“Dr. Kellerman is expecting us within the hour. I’ve resealed the crate; they shouldn’t know we opened it.”
Mal nodded his approval and then asked where Wash was.
“In his bunk,” Kaylee interrupted, “said he needed to be alone. He doesn’t look good.”
“Doesn’t matter, he’s not staying,” Mal began again, “Jayne…”
Jayne perked up at the mention of his name, but Inara quickly intervened.
“You’re just going to throw him off the ship? Just dump him at Medea?”
Suddenly it dawned on her. Not even Mal was this rash; Mal wasn’t stupid, he knew exactly what he was doing and why. This wasn’t so much about honesty as it was about other things.
“So, for this one think, just this one thing, you’re going to kick him off the ship?” she asked steeling a glance at Zoë.
He knew what she was alluding to, but this was not the place for that argument. He wasn’t getting into that. Hell, he wasn’t even sure there was a that to get into. However, wanting it or not, Mal now had an audience. Everyone looked at him expectantly, even Jayne.
“Having never done anything suspicious before,” Inara continued.
“That’s not the point.”
“Then what is?” Kaylee asked.
“The point is that he lied. I don’t like being lied to and I don’t like having to explain myself.”
Everyone continued to stare at him.
“For all we know he works for the Alliance.”
Kaylee and Inara both laughed. The thought was absurd. Jayne even rolled his eyes. The only one who remained unchanged was Zoë.
“Zoë,” Mal turned to her, “help me out here.”
Now it was her turn to have an audience.
“I think you should talk to him.”
Mal had expected it but was not really ready for it. For weeks he’d known something had been going on between the two of them. Maybe it was nothing serious, maybe it hadn’t even begun yet, but there was something there, and Zoë just confirmed it. She didn’t want Wash to leave. Part of him knew now that Inara was right, he had just wanted him gone and it didn’t matter why. He just hadn’t realized it.
“Fine,” Mal said meeting her eyes, “I’ll talk with him.”
Zoë nodded and left the room with Inara and Kaylee soon following.
“Jayne,” Mal said before the man could also leave.
“Keep an eye on him once we land on Medea. If he does do anything suspicious you know what to do.”
Mal reluctantly found his way to Wash’s room. His first thought on seeing him was that Kaylee had been right, he didn’t look good. He was paler then before and sweating profusely.
“We need to talk,” Mal said flatly.
“I’ve already packed,” Wash said waving him off and taking a seat on his bunk, “don’t bother with the speeches okay.”
”Come on, we both know why you’re here. I’m not stupid. I’ll be done by the time we land.”
“That’s not why I’m here.”
“Then why? What do you want?” Wash said wiping his brow.
“Come to hear your side of the story.”
“Zoë didn’t tell you herself?” he said letting out a snort, his voice containing a hard edge, “Or what, you want to hear me tell it, make sure I’m telling you the same lies I told her?”
Mal shook his head. He knew this wasn’t going to be easy.
“Why don’t you just tell me so we can get this over with.”
”Fine” Wash said sighing heavily. He was more tired then he wanted to admit and it was taking most of his energy to just focus on staying upright. “You want to know why I didn’t mention Demeter before?”
Mal just nodded, refusing to move from his spot near the exit.
“Okay. I didn’t mention it because I knew you wouldn’t hire me if I had. I’ve worked for independents before Mal, and they all had one thing in common. Not a one of them would hire a man they thought came from anywhere near the interior planets. Didn’t trust them. Wouldn’t trust them. Wouldn’t even give ‘em a chance. You going to tell me you’re different?”
Mal didn’t argue the point, he knew it was true.
“You know, there are reasons people leave those places and it’s not just because of over crowding.”
“Then tell me why you left?”
”Why’d I leave?” Wash said his eyes glazing over slightly. For a moment, Mal thought he might pass out but he didn’t. “I left because of my father.”
For a few moments Mal just stared at him, expecting more.
”So you left Demeter because what, you and your father didn’t get along? Coming out here, shuttling brown coats your way of getting even with daddy. Is that what you’re trying to tell me?”
“My father…” Wash started getting to his feet surprisingly quick considering his condition, his eyes fixed on Mal and at the moment full of hate, “My father was a good man. If I’m lucky, I’ll be half as good.”
For a few minutes more they stood in silence. Wash suddenly leaned into the wall, hard, convincing Mal he would actually topple over. But he didn’t and managed to stagger back to his bunk and sit again. For half a moment Mal thought about getting Zoë down here to look at him again, but held back. He wanted to hear him out.
“They put him in prison. He was found guilty of ‘plotting rebellion’. I was probably thirteen or fourteen at the time.”
Wash stopped and looked over to Mal who had finally sat down.
“You know what ‘plotting rebellion’ amounts to on Demeter?” Wash asked with seriousness, his voice no longer sounded hard.
“Have an idea.”
“Yeah, I guess you would,” Wash nodded in agreement.
“So what was it?”
“You heard of orphan mills?”
Mal shook his head.
“It’s mostly an interior thing. You see, on the really crowded planets couples can only have one child, and then only once the get a license. Can take years if you don’t know the right people or have the money. The big problem is, it doesn’t really stop people from having kids, can’t really stop that. It just stops them from keeping them. So what are you going to do with all the stray kids running around? Orphan mills. Put them to work. Make them earn their keep. Free labor for the Alliance.”
Wash paused and rubbed his head. It was really pounding now, but he felt compelled to continue.
“My father had grown up in one. Never talked about it really. That’s probably why he adopted me from one. By the time my parents got their license they were too old to have children of their own. My mother was indifferent but my father always wanted kids of his own. Anyways, there was a fire in one of the local mills. They never had a chance really. Most of the doors were locked from the outside. Bodies everywhere, something like a two hundred and twenty total. Burnt like you wouldn’t want to imagine.”
He paused again. It really had been a long time since he’d thought about any of this and with good reason.
“All he did was say, ‘some one should have done something,’ to the wrong person. That was it,” Wash said growing angry, “That was it. Didn’t protest. Didn’t riot. It was just a thought really. And because of that he was sent to the mines for ten years. More free labor for the Alliance. I never saw him again.”
Mal didn’t know what to say.
“I stayed on Demeter until he died. He’d served seven years at the time. I was twenty-one and old enough to leave without a permit of travel, so I did. Didn’t look back.”
“So that’s it then.”
Mal gave him a hard look.
“I might as well tell you everything right? This will really tan your hide, but since your kicking me off regardless, it doesn’t matter. You should do us both a favor and kick me off now. Why waste time landing. Maybe it’s just the fever talking, but I just don’t care anymore.”
Now Mal knew he’d need Zoë. Quick. Wash sounded off, even by his standards.
“You know where the ministry placed me?” Wash asked slurring most of the words.
Mal made his way to the intercom only partly paying attention to him.
“Zoë. Need you at Wash’s.”
Wash either didn’t notice or chose to ignore Mal’s request for help.
“They made me a cadet.”
Mal turned sharply but it was too late to question him. Wash had passed out.
Mal shook his head and paced the room ten times angrier then before.
“I knew it,” he muttered.
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