HEAVEN AND HELL: 23. "An Interesting Day"
Sunday, May 16, 2004

"Jayne gives Zoe and Wash cause to fret anew but his solution alarms them even more. Meanwhile Diamond Harry puts his plan into action."



SUMMARY: "Jayne gives Zoe and Wash cause to fret anew but his solution alarms them even more. Meanwhile Diamond Harry puts his plan into action." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


A "Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Zoe Warren's expression was tight, her plush lips compressed into a hard line of abject disapproval. Wash drove the mule in stony silence, Jayne keeping an impressively closed look fastened to his face as if it was bolted on. Zoe's eyes flashed at him. "An' you couldn't tell me this before because?"

"Didn't know how far the gorram thing went."

Wash shot Zoe a look, dying to say something but discretion being the better part of valour he opted for discreet though it left him feeling frustrated, an assortment of emotions tangled up inside him along with the violent urge to wring the mercenary's neck. Looking at his wife he would not have to worry about that option for too much longer. "Wash, stop the mule."

He pulled up and waited as Zoe stepped off and glared at Jayne, waiting for the mercenary to step down. The big man watched her warily. Wash stayed where he was and held his breath.

"How much?"

Jayne's eyes narrowed. "How much what?"

She stepped towards him, eyes flashing. Dark, mean and warning they would give no quarter. "How much did you sell the Captain out for?"

Surprise, hurt then anger flashed across his face. "I didn't sell him out!"

"Looks that way from where I'm standin'." She watched him closely, directing her next comment to Wash, her eyes not leaving the mercenary's face. "Doesn't it look that way to you, *bao bei*?"

Wash nodded. "Yeah. In the end it's all about the money."

"I didn't sell anyone out." Jayne ground out.

"Okay, then what *did* you do? Sell him out by default? Do by *not* doing?"

He looked momentarily confused. "Huh?"

"Don't strain yourself working it out, Jayne, just tell us why you let those *wangba dans* take the Captain with 'em."

All the anger seemed to rush out of the big man. Zoe thought she detected real signs of concern on his face. He masked it quickly but it had been there. Oddly enough it reassured her. Even through her deep gut wrenching anger it meant that Jayne had not planned this. It wasn't much but it was something.

"There was too many of 'em an' the Cap was all fired up with wantin' to be with his brother. Even if I'd'a said somethin' there's no tellin' how the Cap would'a reacted. He's all too touchy where Davy's concerned, why should he listen to me?"

"For the same reason he didn't sling your ass out of an airlock after Ariel."

He blinked. His look said *you know about that?* She gave a tiny nod. Wash looked baffled. "What about Ariel?"

Ignoring her husband Zoe pressed her advantage. "Even if you couldn't tell Mal you could've told me."

He shook his head. "They were watchin' me too closely, one wrong move an' it wouldn't have been just me, *dong ma*?"

Zoe frowned. "What are you talkin' about?"

Jayne leaned in to her and bit his words off slowly. "It would'a been every gorram one of ya."

"*Wo bu dong*."

"This is big, Zoe, and these *wangba dans* are playin' for keeps. They want the Cap to lead a ruttin' *geming*. Not just one more soldier in a dead man's army."

She was frowning now. "It doesn't make sense. We had officers that walked out of that valley same as we did so why pick Mal?"

"My guess is they wanted someone expendable."

Her blood went cold. "*Shenme*?"

Jayne did not reply. Wash looked from one to the other, none of them feeling at all happy.

"Jayne, we have a job to finish." Snapped Zoe. "Clock's tickin'. Why you sayin' the Captain's expendable?"

He swallowed slowly, forcing himself to meet her eyes and not look away. "Pepper said they wanted a figurehead, someone they could rally behind. A *lingdao*. Don't matter if Mal's a hero or not but he came out of Serenity Valley an' to their thinkin' that's good enough. They're gonna make him one anyway. If it all goes to ratshit they want someone they can sacrifice. Someone to blame."

All the colour began to fade from Zoe's face. "*Tamade hundan*. I can't believe they're settin' the Captain up." She paused to force air into pain-filled lungs. Her ears numb with disbelief even as her heart quailed with the certainty that Jayne was right. "An' Davy knew this?"

He did not react to the barely masked hurt in her voice. Knew Zoe had spent some of her years growing up in the Reynolds' household. That they were like family to her. Mal and Davy closer than kin. That bond had kept her glued to Mal's side all through the rutting war. From hearth and home to battlefield after battlefield, to torture camps and beyond. Determined that nothing would part them though for a time the Alliance had done just that, Davy appearing on the scene months later looking for them. Finding his brother gone Davy had pulled out all the stops with Zoe in toe to find him. Longest days of her gorram life plotting and planning to get him out of that rutting *jianyu*. After that things had gone more than a mite *shenjingbing*. Davy left leaving Zoe to look after a Mal much the worse for wear. Next thing she heard Davy had been killed trying to return to his unit. Scanning the field where they had died for any sign of survivors. It had been a painful irony that he had survived the war to die in the peace that followed.

The Independents were not the only ones who could not let go. Never did hear the full of it. Just one more piece of heart rending madness in a 'verse driven mad its' own self. For years after that she had not heard his brother's name pass Mal's lips. The pain too deep and close for sharing. She knew because she felt the same way. Jayne didn't need to be no rutting mind reader to know it was gonna be all kinds of painful for her to hear what he had to say but the time for silence was passed. "Had to have been. It was Davy went lookin' for Pepper an' his men, cued them in to the ring so they would know what to look for."

She blinked slowly. The ring. What was it with that *lese* piece of *zhobao*? Things were slowly slotting into place in her mind. The picture it made was all kinds of disturbing. "Then Inara and the Preacher are in on this too."

They stared at each other as the dime dropped. Wash opened his mouth in horror. "*Women zai zuo shenme*? We left Book on Serenity." They shared anxious looks. "We have to go back."

Jayne shook his head. "*Bu qu*, we got a job to finish."

"Screw the job, Jayne!" Yelled Wash getting upset. Maybe he did not understand all the ins and outs of what was going on but he had heard enough to know that River, Simon and Kaylee had been left in possible mortal danger with an enemy too subtle to turn their backs on.

Zoe was watching Jayne, interested in his reaction even as every cell in her body was telling her that Wash was right. "We should go back." She said carefully. The big man would not budge.

"Nope. Cap set this up. He's relyin' on us to finish the job. Get paid."

"It's always about the money with you, isn't it?" Sneered Wash, almost beside himself with worry about the others.

The mercenary blinked back at him calmly. "This has nothin' to do with money, *dong ma*? This is what the Cap wants us to do. *Jiandan*. We do it, then go back."

"By which time," Seethed Wash. "We'll be too late to help the others or was that your intent?"

Something hard and uncompromising glittered deep in the mercenary's eyes but he pushed it back. Trying to stay focused on what mattered and not be sidetracked by losing his temper with the ship's pilot. Had nothing to do with what he thought about anything. "Cap knew what he was doin' Wash."

Zoe frowned and wondered how the mercenary could sound so sure.

"Then why not enlighten us oh gifted one?"

Jayne ignored Wash's sarcasm, all aware they did not have time for this. "Cap set up a plan in case anythin' happened, went wrong. That's why he got them papers signed over in Zoe's name. Why he put money by. Why he had this job set up should we need to make quick coin."

Wash was frowning now. It was not often he acknowledged the big man making sense. This was one of those times and it was more than a little creepifying. "What're you sayin'?"

"I'm sayin' the Cap's plenty smart. Even when I don't agree with him I respect that. The time's I don't I end up with a wrench in my face."

"Maybe you're forgettin' not all the Captain's plans have been good ones?" Said Zoe.

"I ain't forgettin' but I also ain't forgettin' that most times it weren't the Cap's fault."

Zoe and Wash both blinked. Had Jayne just been defending their Captain? Praising him even? Nah, must be the heat getting to them. For a moment there the big man actually seemed to be thinking unaided. "We need to go back, Jayne." Insisted Zoe. "The others need us. More now than ever."

He nodded solemnly. "So does the Cap."

For a moment no one spoke. Zoe's was staring at him, her breath catching behind her breast bone and taking a moment or two to clear so she could form speech. "*Shenme*?"

"Look, I know I ain't no top three percent but I ain't stupid. If the others are in trouble we're too late to help 'em anyway. Best finish the job, get paid."

Wash raised his eyebrows. "Didn't we just have this conversation?"

"Why so insistent, Jayne?" Asked Zoe, feeling a mite intrigued. She had rarely seen Jayne so intransigent as this. There was something else going on and she wanted to know what it was.

"Just sayin' that the Cap had this set up, Zoe. What if he had other things set up as well?"

"Like what?"

"*Wo bu dong* but we ain't gonna find out sittin' here. Let's get rid of this cargo, get paid an' find out."

"What about River, Kaylee and Simon?" Said Wash.

"Soon as we're done we hightail it back to Serenity."

Wash nodded. "That'll be a comfort. Just in time for burial detail. Nice plan."

Before Jayne could slug him Zoe intervened. She didn't like it but something Jayne had said was intriguing her. Could the Captain have forseen something like this? Had he somehow confided his suspicions to the mercenary? And if so why him not her? And why in *diyu* had he gone with Davy and the rebels? "Come on Wash, let's go."

"*Nei ge fangxiang, bao bei*?"

"To the warehouse."

He opened his mouth to ask if she knew what she was doing then snapped it shut at the look on her face. Giving a nod he started the mule up as the two hopped back on then gunned it for all it was worth. The sooner they finished this job the sooner they could get back to their friends. God help the Preacher if he had touched any of them because if Zoe didn't put a bullet between his eyes Wash would do it for her. Damn Jayne. Damn him to *diyu* and back if this all blew up in their gorram faces.

* * * * *

Simon Tam was worried. There was so much rutting blood and though Yen Mah's gashes were deep he could not seem to account for why there was so much of it. Brain still in shock at recognising the girl he was a little slower on the uptake than was his norm. Kaylee was a trembling wreck beside him, obviously convinced the girl was dying. He needed to do two things. First, stablise Yen Mah's condition then get her to the infirmary to treat her. "Kaylee? Go to the infirmary and get my trauma bag, *mashang*."

She nodded, too worried to ask outright what she wanted to know. Not sure she would be able to handle the answer. Her feet flew up the ramp so quickly she did not notice the Preacher was standing in the shadows. Quiet. Not moving. Eyes fixed on the little scene playing out at the bottom of the ramp. Simon checked the girl over carefully while he waited. A slight sound behind him not enough to make him turn his head. Thinking it was Kaylee he was about to instruct her to put the bag down when a voice spoke soft and deadly next to his ear. He froze. Horror and panic building in him like rising water in a flood.

"Stand real slow, *dong ma*?"

"*Qing*, I need to get her to the infirmary..."

"No need to be worryin' about the kid, she'll live. But you? Not so much."

He frowned, started to turn but Diamond Harry used the cold impersonal end of his gun barrel to press home his point that he was the one in charge not the doctor.

"Why are you doing this?"

"Not your problem, doc."

"I'd say it most certainly is my problem when you're holdin' a gun on me and a girl is dying." He gave a half second pause, just long enough to join a few dots. "You did this, didn't you?"

Oddly enough Harry seemed pleased by the doctor's logic. "Yeah. Knife makes less sound than a bullet, easier to pull the picture into frame."

Simon stared at him. "You *arranged* this?"

Diamond Harry nodded, all the while counting off the seconds inside his head. He did not have time for more exposition. "Now move."

"I can't leave her, you can't ask me to..."

The gun dropped slightly then was jammed in his gut. "Not askin', tellin'. Move now or I start on the rest of 'em."

Horrified Simon rose to his feet and did as he was told, inwardly apologising to Yen Mah. Hoping that Kaylee would not return in time to stop a bullet.

* * * * *

The transport was a rough old Dragonfly class. Much larger than a Firefly and in better condition externally though once inside you could see it was mostly cosmetic. If Fireflies were the workhorses, Dragonflies were heavy but efficient cruise liners. During the war many of them had been used as troop carriers. It was disturbing to see one pressed back into a similar function now that the war was over. Not luxurious so much as reliable. Generous accommodation came at a price. Mal found himself sharing a room with five others. What alarmed him was that Davy was not one of them. What the ruttin' *diyu* was going on? It was as if his brother did not want to stay too long in his proximity which was senseless seeing he was the sole reason he was taking this fun little trip.

He looked up from the corner of the bedspace designated as his and found Pepper watching him. He resisted the urge to slug him just to get the man out of his face. "*Shenme shi*?"

"Was about to ask ya the same question, *shifu*."

Mal had given up trying to stop the man calling him sir. He would accept it from Zoe and his crew but this situation in no way mirrored that one. "Where's Davy an' what are these gorram plans?"

"Everythin'll be explained soon."

"*Shenme shohou*?"

"Why so impatient, sir?"

"Could say I don't like bein' cooped up any longer than I have to. Also I want some answers, *dong ma*?"

"You know why you're here and why we are." His eyes flicked downward then up to Mal's face with a slight frown. "Where is it?"

Confused Mal had no idea what he was talking about. "*Shenme*?"

"The ring."

Mal had forgotten all about it. So relieved when he had been able to pull the damn thing off his finger that he had shoved it in his pocket and thought no more about it. "In my pocket, *weishenme*?"

"I think the boys would like to see you wear it, *shifu*."

He stared at Pepper Rawlings for a good few seconds, trying to piece together the unspoken dialogue he found lurking in the depths of the man's eyes. What the good gorram was going on? Before he could explore that line of questioning the door opened and Davy stepped inside. Ricky was with him but with a little nod from Davy, Ricky went back out and closed the door behind him. Mal was half expecting Davy to tell the men to leave the room so they could talk in private but it didn't happen. Pepper moved over to the doorway so that Davy could sit on one of the few chairs in the room. Mal noticed his brother was smiling but he didn't feel much like responding in kind. Nothing about this felt right to him. "What's goin' on Davy?"

"Patience, *da ge*."

"I agreed to come with you an' you agreed to explain."

Davy nodded. "I got a surprise for you, Mal."

Mal was not sure he wanted any more surprises. Truth to tell he just wanted this nonsense over with but it seemed as if that was not going to happen any time soon. Best then to get as much information out of his brother as possible. "What kind'a surprise?" A big smile bloomed on Davy's face. Mal was momentarily fascinated. Davy leaned forward in his chair and put a hand on Mal's shoulder, eyes locking. The intensity was such that they could have been the only ones in the room. "Remember our dreams, Mal? *Jide*? A world without Alliance rule?"

He wanted to shake his head, tell Davy he was deluding himself and these good men too. But there was a look in his brother's eyes that reminded Mal of those religious fanatics he had heard tell about. Factions without independent conscious thought. Ruled by the stoking of strong narrow emotions into doing acts of unspeakable cruelty in the name of a God or somesuch that would surely have washed His or Her hands of them in the space of a heartbeat. Pawns in the not so Holy hands of others. Why that parallel struck him as particularly apt at this moment was all kinds of disturbing. He managed to keep his face straight, to not give away how unsettled it made him feel. Davy was not acting like Davy. Okay so he looked the same, spoke the same, had the same gorram memories - no argument there. It was this whole revolution part that troubled him. His Davy was a quiet, gentle man with no love of war nor them as waged it. He had only got into the fight when big brother Mal had gone away to fight the Alliance. So what the good gorram had happened? And how could he get back the brother he had lost?

"What do you want to know, Mal?"

He took a breath to keep his voice steady. This was it. "Everything starting with what you meant about havin' people ready."

Davy was all but smirking now. So gorram pleased with himself. "We have cells, Mal, on many different worlds."

"Rim worlds?"

Davy nodded and continued. "Couldn't risk anythin' too near the Core."

"They're poorly resourced, few in folks too I'm thinkin'."

"I know Mal which made them ideal places to start massing our forces."

*OUR forces?* thought Mal with an inward shudder. *Tamade*. Things were going faster and further than he would have thought. "How many men we talkin' about?"

"Enough to do more than bloody the nose of the Alliance."

"Ain't givin' me much in the way of information here, Davy. How can I imagine deliverin' a crushin' defeat with hints but no detail? Don't wanna be no David an' Goliath."

"Not talkin' about slingshots Mal." Davy's smile had thinned out. All of sudden he looked years older, as if it was Mal who was the younger brother and Davy who was all-wise and knowledgable. "We been massin' disaffected Independents on dozens of worlds. Ever since War's End."

"Backwater moons with no runnin' water."

Davy frowned. "Don't be so disparagin' Mal, Shadow was one of 'em."

"Nope, don't think it was an' I wasn't meanin' no offence just sayin' as how all them worlds was technology poor. Waste holes for the Alliance *tamade hundan* to sneer down their well fed noses. Places so far from the central planets that if we couldn't make it our own selves we couldn't have it shipped in. Anythin' perishable did just that. Perished. Anythin' non perishable the raiders got. Leastways, it was better than gettin' taken by Reavers. But not by much."

In the silence that followed Mal noticed that Davy had taken his ring off. It was threaded through a silver chain worn around his neck. Seeing his brother's gaze Davy smiled back at him, his look suddenly gentle. So like the Davy of old it damn near broke Mal's heart. Davy reached out and took his brother's hands in his own, turned them slowly and touched a fingertip to outline the criss cross of aging scars. Davy looked up into his face, still holding Mal's hands. "You should put your ring on, Mal." He said softly.

"Huh, why would I be doin' that? You took yours off."

"Not off, just not wearing it on my hand is all."


"They're waitin' for you not me."

Mal was sure his rutting heart had stopped. "*Shenme*?"

"Why do you think I had it made for you?"

The soft words made Mal shiver inside. "I'm not followin' you."

"Show me the ring an' I'll explain."

He felt a strange reluctance to do so but his curiosity and the need to make sense of what was going on proved stronger. Mal took the ring out of his pocket and opened his palm, the ring lying so that the Phoenix was facing up, the imperial jade stone in the centre seeming to calm him somewhat. A creepy thing in its' own right. Davy smiled and picked it out of Mal's hand, turning the silver ring so he could admire the wings wrapped back away from the legendary bird's body, exposing the jade and the firm uncompromising relief of a mythical creature rising up from the consuming flames, claws out, fierce eyes fixed on some future point or prey. Davy carefully slid the ring onto Mal's finger. He went to pull it off but Davy put his hand over his and gave him a stern serious look.

"No, Mal. The ring is where it belongs. Where it needs to be."


"It's how the others will recognise you."

"Not makin' much sense here, Davy. It's just a gorram ring and you know I don't wear *zhubao*. Last time I had such a *liwu* it was almost the death of me."

"Not this time, *da ge*." Said his brother gently, eyes misting up slightly with emotion. "This time the ring will protect you."

Mal stared at him. What in the nine hells did he mean by that? "Protect me?"

His brother smiled softly and tightened his grip on his brother's hand as if by doing so he could weld the ring in place. "You mustn't take it off, *dong ma*?"

"*Wo bu dong*."

"You will. We land in another seven hours. Get some sleep, *xiongdi*. I'll wake you when we arrive."

"You haven't said where we're goin', Davy."

The smile widened and this time it reached Davy's eyes. Such love shining back at him that Mal was glad he had come even if the whole thing was freaking him out. "We're goin' to meet up with the others Mal an' when we do you'll understand that this is no ruttin' child's game we're playin'."

Mal's voice was on the edge of breaking. How could he make his brother understand? "Davy, we can't win this."

Davy lifted Mal's hand and kissed the ring then leaned forward and kissed his forehead. Mal had a brief flash of Uncle Frank, then Davy was up on his feet and striding away to the door. Before Mal could think of a suitable response his brother was gone and the men sharing the room with him got busy getting ready for bed. Sitting in stunned silence on his temporary bunk Mal stared down at the rutting ring on his finger with only one thought moving sluggishly through his dazed mind. What the good gorram had he got himself into?

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*bao bei* = precious/treasure *wangba dans* = bastards *dong ma* = understand *shenme* = what *ni bu dong* = you don't understand *geming* = revolution *diyu* = hell *lingdao* = leader *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard *jianyu* = prison *lese* = crap *zhobao* = jewellery *women zai zuo shenme* = what are we doing? *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *jiandan* = simple *wo bu dong* = I don't understand *mashang* = immediately/quickly/at once *nei ge fangxiang* = which way? *qing* = please *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *shifu* = sir *qu* = yes (lit.go) *weishenme* = why *da ge* = big brother *jide* = remember *shenme shohou* = when *tamade* = fuck *liwu* = gift *xiongdi* = brother *shenjingbing* = crazy


Sunday, May 16, 2004 8:30 AM


oh Ali...this just keeps getting more and more fascinating ! You spin such a shiny fable of our beloved Firefly characters...Thank you, thank you, thank you

Sunday, May 16, 2004 11:55 PM


Would I be repreating myself to say I loved it? OK I'll repeat myself - LOVE it!

Ooh, that Davy. Don't know whether to give him the benefit of the doubt - bein' as he's the Cap'n's brother an' all - or whether to riddle him full of holes.

Another lovely depiction of Jayne. You've convinced me that what Nathan said about Jayne at Fusion that you can never trust Jayne is Just.Plain.Wrong!

But then, I don't think Mal is a self-serving bastard either!

Monday, May 17, 2004 12:12 AM


When reading the last part, when they're by the stream, I kept hoping the captain would just drown that brother of his right on the spot! I've had no cause to change that view. ;-)

Eager to see where you're taking them. Jayne's turning out to be quite the interesting puzzlement.


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.