BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

KIRIKA

Sad Eyes Chapter 2
Friday, February 10, 2006

Post Serenity. The past year has been hard for Zoe. Life without Wash seems empty, and just when she is ready to leave the ship. A man from her past comissions the crew to be his transport, but can they trust him


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Chapter 2: Trust

The sun was just starting to set when Mal finally made up his mind. Trust was a tricky thing after Miranda. There just weren’t many folk left that Mal trusted. A long time ago, he would've said that Kyan was the kind of man that wouldn’t stab him in the back, but there weren’t much left of the man Kyan had used to be. Judging by how empty Kyan’s place was, he didn’t think that between Jayne, Zoë and himself there’d be too much of a problem gettin’ out if they needed to. Simon…well, they’d see to it that the doc made it out okay too. Still, he was a little leery about havin’ the entire crew under the roof of a man he didn’t really trust. Then again, River wasn’t no hindrance in a fight. Sides, it couldn’t hurt none to have the girl get a feel for the man.

“Zoë, radio Serenity. Have River and Kaylee get ready to come out for the night. I think we’re gonna take advantage of Kyan’s hospitality,” he said running a hand through his hair.

“Yes, sir,” she replied emotionlessly.

Mal watched as she started the mule. He wondered if she was still holdin’ a grudge over the way Zol’d treated her before. Even Mal had to admit that he had some questions on that score, but now wasn’t the time for that kinda thing.

A pair of “upstanding” gentlemen was led out of the house by Sly. One looked more’n a mite frustrated. Business must not of gone his way, Mal concluded. Neither of them spared him a glance as they passed. Probably thought he was just one of Kyan’s hired men. Sly didn’t say a word to the men, either. He stood at the edge of the porch and watched them mount their horses.

“Your boss’s friends?” Mal asked.

Sly shrugged. “Don’t rightly know, and it ain’t my place to care. I don’t deal none with their sort…don’t deal with your sort neither. I take care of the ranch. Only reason I am in the main house ‘tall right now is cause boss’s assistant is out doin’ somethin’. Won’t do you no good to ask me nothin’.”

Mal nodded. “How long you been workin’ here?”

“Comin’ on six years now. Boss come and buy the place from a widow wantin’ to get off this rock,” Sly explained. The rancher gestured out to the pasture. “Got some cattle and do a little growin’. There ain’ near enough of us to do much more. Boss does whatever boss does, and there ain’t a man around with half a mind to ask what that is. He pays well, treats us fair decent.”

“More’n a lot of men can say,” the smuggler agreed. He saw Jayne and Simon walking back up to the house. He’d sent the pair off to “ take a walk.” Simon had to be nudged a tad to get his meanin’, but he knew the merc knew what he was doing.

“Boss man got a mighty good lookin’ stretch of dirt,” Jayne commented. Simon must have felt out of place, because he kept fidgeting. “Very nice cows.”

All Mal could do was roll his eyes. He didn’t think the citified doctor would ever make much of a criminal. Gorram, he had a way of muckin’ things like this up. Mal didn’t have time for his inept attempt at lower class social skills. “I got a mind to talk to your boss, if he’s finished,” Mal told the older man.

Sly shrugged once again. “I’ll go ask him.”

“Well?” Mal asked impatiently when Sly was in the house.

Jayne shrugged. “Nothin’ but a ranch. I noticed a nice little hidin’ spot down over the hill but it don’t appear to be anythin’ but a hold for his goods. Counted four workers, and none o’ them are fighters.”

“How do you know that for sure?” Simon asked. “They all were wearing guns.”

Jayne laughed. “There ain’t a man on this rock ain’t wearin’ a gun. Did ya get a look at them things? Ain’t been cleaned properly since their granddaddies had ‘em.”

Mal had to admit that the merc wasn’t much for brains, but in somethin’ like this, Jayne had a way. Man knew more about guns than any soldier he’d ever known.

Sly appeared in the doorway again. “Boss wants a word with yer doc. Says you can come too, ifn ya have a mind.”

Simon cast Mal a nervous look. His eyes seemed to be begging Mal to remember that he was a wanted man. “Me?” the doctor squeaked out after a full minute.

Sly didn’t reply.

He led the men to a different room this time. The parlor they stood in was one of the finest looking rooms Mal had ever seen. Expensive Persian rugs covered the floor, and there were many jade statues around the room. The darkly upholstered chairs in the room alone must have cost Zol a small fortune. It seemed there wasn’t a detail about this house that wasn’t carefully designed. Mal wondered why it mattered so much to a blind man. Then again, he remembered that Kyan was a man who valued appearances more than most. He reckoned some things never changed. The thought did cross his mind that him and Inara woulda gotten on real well. God, he hated that thought.

Mal forced himself to focus on the job.

Kyan nodded when they entered. “Gentlemen, I do apologize for the interruption earlier.”

“How’s business?” Mal asked taking a seat.

Kyan smiled. “Oh, business is better than ever. There’s a lot more money in being the middle man than there ever was in arms deals.”

“So why is that you wanted to see me?” Simon blurted out. He flushed slightly when he realized what he’d said. “I…uh…what I mean is…”

Kyan sighed. “It’s a wonder you haven’t gotten yourself killed, Dr. Tam. That in itself is a talent. Yet what really astounds me about you is that you made it in and out of an Alliance facility almost as easily as I did.” Simon sunk down in the chair beside Mal. That had certainly gotten everyone’s attention. Even Jayne’s interest was peaked. Mal was the one who asked: “Just what were you doing there?”

“That’s an easy question to answer. I was there for the money, and to settle a personal score,” he said plainly.

“Yes, but I don’t understand. I assumed that River was among the first to have been experimented on.” Simon’s eyes were wide with confusion, and Mal wasn’t too far behind.

“That’s what you get for thinking, Dr. Tam. You see, the Alliance has been up to this sort of thing for years. Even on Earth that was, governments tried their best to harness human potential at the cost of the people they experimented on. You’re very naïve to believe that your sister was special in that regard.” Kyan paused.

“You gonna explain all of this?” the captain demanded roughly. He might have some of the same ideas about the doc’s thinkin’ but that didn’t mean he’d sit there and listen to Zol. There was something big goin’ on here, and insulting the doc wasn’t it.

“Very well,” Zol began again. “Eight years ago—as you already know, Mal—I was doing rather frequent shipments to the Independent forces. Not long after we met, I was contacted by a splinter cell within the Alliance wishing to steal one of the Alliance’s new toys for themselves. The deal was to get in and out with the weapon without being identified. I had always prided myself on my stealth and my efficiency, and the challenge perked up my interest. The fortune offered as payment only sealed the deal. I was informed of a facility hidden in the Core. Over time, more facts started to come out, and I was beginning to develop a bad feeling about the whole thing. It wasn’t until I learned that the weapon was actually a child that I realized the full weight of it, and by then…” Kyan shrugged. “I did the job, but I was reluctant to hand the girl over to them. God only knows what they would have done to her. I paid for my actions, but Thalia has become indispensable to me. I hope you realize what this means?”

Mal rubbed his temples, and swore under his breath. Oh, he knew what it meant alright, and judging by the look on Simon’s face, the doc got it too. After a moment of silence, Jayne grunted. “Got a problem?”

Simon swallowed hard. “She could affect River’s mental state, and it seems Mr. Zol is unwilling to leave her behind.”

“Is that all t’gether non-negotiable for this deal?” Mal asked. He already knew the answer.

“I’m afraid it is. You will find that Thalia is almost completely normal as far as her mental state goes. She has her quirks, but she isn’t the time bomb that your little one is.”

This just keeps getting’ more an’ more fun, Mal thought sarcastically. Was the money really worth all of this? “Define quirks.”

“She has her fixations, almost like a patient with OCD….”

“OCD?” Jayne cut in.

“Obsessive compulsive disorder,” Simon supplied. “River has those too.”

“Thalia’s are generally small things. She strives for balance in patterns, that sort of thing. Also, she does have a tendency to become irritated with anyone who disturbs her patterns, and so I do suggest that you try your best to see that doesn’t happen. Other than that, you can expect to have very little interaction with her. She doesn’t care for strangers.”

Mal swore violently under his breath. “I ain’t said we were takin’ the job yet.”

The blind man only smiled. “You will.”

“How you so sure ‘bout that? Seems to me I am the one makin’ the calls on my boat,” the captain said sternly. “I’m sure we’d find a way to make due without you.”

“Do you?” Kyan challenged. “Mal, your crew hasn’t been paid in months, and from what I understand your ship is falling apart. Don’t be stupid. I can keep you in the sky for a long time even after I am through with you. I’m being more than fair with you. Besides, there is another reason you want me on that ship.”

“If there is, I don’t see it.”

“You wouldn’t, but I’m sure the good doctor does.”

Mal whipped around to face the younger man. Simon’s face was pale, and he was frowning fiercely. There was no doubt he was still thinkin’ about River. If this girl had something in her head that triggered River… He didn’t like to think about that. River was a force to be reckoned with, and he knew there weren’t no way to put her down once she was riled. This would be like puttin’ a match to a barrel of gasoline. No, he didn’t like this one bit. He grimaced. “Simon?”

The doctor bit his lip. “Well, he does have a point. In seeing Thalia, maybe I can find a way to help River.”

Kyan stood. “Dinner will be served whenever Zoe returns with the rest of your crew. Talk with your sister, Dr. Tam. Thalia should be back by noon tomorrow, and she is never late.” With that, he strode out of the room as if he could see every gorram thing in the room.

Mal clenched his jaw. “You really think this girl will get you a better understandin’ of River?”

Simon nodded.

“What if it makes her go off again? You think of that?”

Again, the doctor nodded. “I think of it every time we get into a scrape, believe me. I don’t ever want to see River like that, and not only for her sake. I do understand what she is capable of…well, as much as anyone can. What if this Thalia has some answer to it all though? Even now, I don’t get what they did to her, or really even what the final goal was to be.”

“She’s your sister. What do you think?” Mal asked looking Simon dead in the eye.

“Mal, you ain’t seriously gonna listen to him?” Jayne growled. “You gonna let two of them on your boat?”

“If I woulda wanted your opinion I would have asked.” He didn’t turn his gaze from Simon. “What do you think? I can have us up and outta here well before noon, but if we wait and somethin’ goes wrong there ain’t no tellin’ what could happen.”

“I think we should be careful. Let me talk to River. She’s been rational about most things recently. Maybe we can work something out,” Simon said finally.

“First sign of trouble, you use your safe word and knock her ass out,” Mal commanded.

“I will,” Simon promised.

Not ten minutes later, Mal was watching the mule approach the house. Gorram, he hoped Simon was right about this. If not, they were humped.

COMMENTS

Friday, February 10, 2006 1:25 PM

AMDOBELL


Wow, best chapter yet! I love how this is heating up with a lot of undertstated drama lurking just below the surface. I also liked it a lot that Mal is asking Simon for his opinion and listening to him. Excellent! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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