The Art of Stealing: Act II
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

the job: steal a famous painting from an infamous art dealer. go as planned? as if...


note: before you read this it would be good for you to have read act i, it'd probably make more sense! (


Wash stared at Zoë, his eyes wide. It took a moment for the news to penetrate, then it took another moment for it to penetrate that he was staring. He blinked and then said, his voice hoarse, “hu?”

“I think I might be pregnant,” she repeated.

“Wow…” Wash said, “That’s… unexpected.”

Zoë watched him, silently awaiting his verdict. She was so beautiful it was unreal. He didn’t know how or why he deserved her. Her hair fell like liquid darkness in waves of coffee brown down around her shoulders, her warm, chocolate eyes glimmered at him, shining like the stars. “We would have a beautiful child…” Zoë said quietly.

She wanted this, she really wanted this, and a part of him really did too. Zoë needed his support. He kissed her. “I know.”

She smiled. “Are we ready?” She understood his concerns, his worries for safety, for losing something he loved, but Zoë knew they could do this.

“Definitely.” They kissed again before Wash pulled away. “Ah! We’re having a baby!”

Zoë smiled. “We are.”

“Wait, what will Mal say?” He looked suddenly fearful.

“He’ll probably react somewhat like when we told him we were engaged,” Zoë said.

“Ai-yah tian-a… Can I hide?”


Mal walked briskly through the ship, ensuring for the last time that every one was ready. They had landed a few hours ago and he felt the energized apprehension that always bubbled in the pit of his stomach before an exciting job. Wash and Kaylee were bent over the ship’s console. “We ready?”

“Yup,” Wash said, not looking up, his face a picture of confused concentration.

Kaylee turned around. “We’ve hacked into the security system and they shouldn’t be able to detect us, that is until we start messing around. The minute we switch the camera off, it’s just a matter of seconds ‘til they discover us.”


“But we’re hoping they won’t. What’s the signal if we get into trouble?” Wash asked.

“There is no signal. Visitors are allowed no electrical devices whatsoever within the gallery. When Zoë says ‘oh sorry’ and surrenders her radio to the guard. Count 25 seconds then cut the camera. Got it?”

Kaylee nodded, but Wash looked troubled. “I don’t mean to be cynical… but this plan could go wrong in so many ways… it seems more likely Jayne woke up a genius this morning than it actually working.”

“Leave the worryin’ to me,” Mal said, “I’m the one gonna be snatched by the feds if all goes pear shaped.”

“You know, that actually is comforting.”

Kaylee grinned. “Good luck, Cap’ain. Sure it’ll be shiny.”

“Thanks, Kaylee,” Mal said. “Just don’t let anything go wrong, k?”

He left them and walked down into the kitchen where Zoë stood looking sceptically down at her top that now sported a full-scale print of the Habib Zen abstract painting.

“Wow, that Doctor really is handy with a needle and thread,” Mal said.

Zoë glanced up. “It’s iron-on.”

“Oh,” Mal said. “Well, it looks good! Make sure you give them a full flash of it.”

Zoë glared at him. “This may surprise you, Sir,” she said tightly, “but I’ve not had much practice at seduction.”

“Only ‘cos you don’t need to,” Mal rationalised. “It’ll be fine. Be sure to smile.”

“Thanks for the tip,” Zoë said through gritted teeth. She knew it was necessary, but she had never been big on using her looks for her own advantage. She’d spent a lot of time in life repelling men and it felt odd to be trying to attract them. Still, for the job…

“So, you know the drill? The sensors will detect your radio so you say..?”

Zoë gave him a look. “I got it.” Was he doing this for fun?

“Mal, we go it!” Jayne rushed in, brandishing the roll of material like a weapon, looking slightly out of breath.

“Good.” Mal buried it deep in his pocket. These pants may be tight, but the pockets were amazing.

“And here’s the glue.”

Inara regarded them from the doorway. She wished she could do something, but knew there was no way Mal would let her.

“So, what do you think?” Mal asked her, holding out his arms, “Look respectable enough to be let into a high class art exhibition?”

“Oh Mal,” Inara said pityingly, her voice full of sarcasm, “That jacket is so last season!”


“Just… be careful,” Wash said, knowing that Zoë didn't need him to say it.

She kissed him and they shared a knowing smile as he quickly glanced down at her stomach.

“You be careful too,” he added in an undertone.

“You’re not going to be talking to my stomach for the next nine months are you?” Zoë laughed.

“Ok, technically its not your stomach I’m talking too, and also, he can hear you!”


Wash shrugged. “Wishful thinking?”

Mal approached swiftly from the kitchen. “Hate to break this up, but we have a certain perilous task to undertake. Not the time for fond farewells.”


Zoë swung through the door. The receptionist glanced up, his eyes lingering on her body. He wore a handlebar moustache and a self-assured smile. A pistol sat comfortably in the leather holster slung around his waist. A receptionist with a gun? Zoë approached the smooth polished wood counter, her boots slapping against the white marble floor.

“Can I help you?” the receptionist asked in a ridiculously plumy accent.

“I hope so,” Zoë replied, flicker her hair behind her shoulders. “I was hoping to see this.” She pointed at her top.

“Of course.” He smiled at her. “That’ll be 10 credits then.”

Zoë gave him the money, inwardly laughing at the thought of how much money they’d get from this painting.

“It’s right through here, in the hall straight ahead.” He indicated to his left. “Enjoy yourself. It’s very quiet today so you shouldn’t be bothered.”

“That is good.” She stepped through the doorway, but was immediately arrested by the security system that formed an invisible barrier.

“Oh, sorry,” she said smiling, “I forgot I had this.” She dropped the radio into the receptionists expectant hand, turning it off. “Will you look after it for me?”

“Of course.”

Zoë began counting in her head. 1 – 2 – 3 – 4…

She slipped into the gallery and moved swiftly through the first hall to where a security guard stood in the entrance to the main hall. Zoë approached him with a lavish smile, one she save for Wash at the most intimate of moments. “Hello!” she said, exactly as she’d counted 20.

The guard glanced up, his eyes widening as she approached. Bashful, she thought thankfully, this is going to be alright.

“Oh, urm… can I help you?” he asked.

“I expect,” she said, her eyes scanning him up and down.

Mal turned to see Zoë in the doorway, leading the security guard into the other room. So far they had been lucky. He only hoped it would stay that way. The security guard had been an easy mark. As soon as they had disappeared around the corner, Mal got to work.

He drew the small Stanley knife from his pocket, searing it down the edges of the painting, praying the cameras weren’t on him. Tucking the knife away, he prized the edges of the canvas from the frame, hearing a satisfying crunch as it came away in his hands. He put it to the floor and produced the glue, which he hastily sprayed over the frame. Then, careful not to cause lumps in the material, pressed the counterfeit in place. It would hold up until another visitor examined it.

So far, so good. Mal picked up the painting and tucked it carefully beneath his jacket, following the signs for the toilets.


“How do you think its going?” Simon asked. They were sat in the common area, equally restless.

“The Captain knows what he’s doing,” Book replied in way of an answer, though they both knew he had avoided the question.

“It’s the waiting I can’t stand, waiting and not being able to do anything. It’s odd that I’m only able to patch things up if things do go wrong.”

“I fear the Captain finds me the most useless. He does not see what God has given him, nor why.”

Simon was silent. He feared he couldn’t comment on the Shepard’s God. He was a science man, through and through. He did, however, feel that Mal did need Book, in a different way. He was a steadying voice of reason when everything else was off the rails.


Mal passed Zoë without so much as a glance and Zoë ignored him back. “Excuse me,” she said to the security guard, who called himself Dan, “where is the ladies room?”

“Oh, they’re right through there on the left.” He had just begun to relax, but now his face blushed bright red again.

“Thank you so much.” She smiled and really meant it. Breathing slightly quicker than usual, she turned and left, aware of his eyes on her back. There had been no alarm so could they have got away with it? But the painting wasn’t out yet…

Zoë pushed open the door to the nearest cubicle in the toilets. She was amazed to find even in here a white marble floor. It was ridiculously decadent. Pulling aside the purple bin, she revealed the painting from its hiding place. Such a lot of bother for so simple a thing… She tucked it carefully beneath her jacket, aiming to match it with the pattern on her top already. She glanced in the mirrors as she left, checking it looked at least slightly believable, worried that this was becoming too easy.

She strode back through the gallery, her heart in her mouth. “Goodbye!” she said to the guard, her pace quickening as he escorted her through the reception, she was almost there, she was almost –

“Hey, wei! STOP!”


Tuesday, April 25, 2006 5:06 PM


While I hope the request for Zoe to stop is just the receptionist reminding her of the radio she left with him, I doubt it will ever be so simple:(


Wednesday, April 26, 2006 5:43 AM


Keep going...I'm a sucker for cliff hangers. Will the Captain and Zoe get caught? Will they escape scott free? Will firefly ever come back to tv? AAHH too many questions!

Saturday, July 1, 2006 4:32 AM


hey, don't you arrest zoe, mister!! pregnant ladies don't do jail-time!!



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