Those Left Behind Ch. 7
Sunday, June 6, 2004



A/N: See Ch1 for Disclaimers. Thanks to Neroli for the beta help. One note, in my mind the name Sug is pronounced Shoog.

Chapter 7: Questions

"What are you going to tell them?" Zoe asked.

Mal turned to face her. Standing just outside of the infirmary, they were watching as Simon attempted to save the life of Tom Pollard. "Don't see that anything has to be said. Accidents happen."

"That's what you think this was? An accident?" she asked as she waved her hand at the image in the window. Simon had just stopped trying to revive the man who had apparently been paid by Blue Sun to follow Sal Tzernaky.

"Do you really think talking about it is going to change it? It's done with, we focus on the job and move on."

Zoe moved closer to her Captain when Book entered the lounge area. They both nodded to him as he entered the sick bay to administer last rites. Zoe resisted the urge to slap the man next to her. "Are you being purposely dense? We just saw River do what we'd all been afraid of. Thought you'd learned in boot camp that ignoring the unpleasant only gets you killed."

Mal looked her in the eye as he considered her statement. "She hasn't hurt a one of us Zoe. Moreover, I'm not about to ask Simon to prove his sister didn't kill that man. It was an accident and that is what the crew will be told. Now, have you got 'nother bone to pick with me or are we through?"

"You shoulda told me about Jayne."

Mal looked away from her as Simon exited the sickbay. He nodded to the doctor. "Your sis is in 'Nara's shuttle," he stated.

Simon nodded, but stopped in front of him. "Aren't you going to ask?"

Mal turned to Simon with a dumbfounded look. "Ask what?"

"How he died? Are you dense? And how did you know to give that serum to him anyway?" Simon demanded.

Mal clenched his teeth. Everyone wanted him to save River's little friends, but they all wanted to question how he did it. "It was something I heard about in the war is all. It worked, we know what we need to," he answered as he gave Zoe a look to tell her to keep quiet.

"And you're not the least bit concerned that he's dead?" Simon continued.

"Fine. How'd the stiff die?" Mal asked.

"An aneurysm. Due to his concussion and the blood thinning qualities of your poorly concocted truth serum," Simon explained.

"Horrible. Complete tragedy how the man Blue Sun paid to follow the fellow giving us vital intel has died. Who woulda gotten a bonus, by the way, had he caught a sight of your pretty face," Mal responded.

Simon was clearly stunned by the captain's revelation. "Oh. Wait, what was River doing down there then?"

Mal turned to glance at Zoe. She had a smug look on her face. This whole situation had gotten a lot more complicated than he'd planned. No one ever appreciated it when the enemy dropped dead anymore. "She wandered in while we were questioning the man. He didn't get a good look at her and he won't be telling anyone if he did, now will he?" Mal stated. "Now why don't you go on and check on her. There's business to take care of yet."

Simon nodded and headed towards the cargo bay. Mal walked off with a sigh of relief. Zoe may still be upset at his methods, but he was likely to lose it if he had to explain his actions one more time. He found Jayne in the kitchen eating. "Where's our friend?"

Jayne jerked his head toward the bridge. "Going over coordinates with Wash."

Mal nodded. "Preacher's finishing up with the other one. Go down and give him 'n Zoe a hand with the disposal in a few."

"How come I gotta? I didn't kill him."

Facing the food storage bins, Mal closed his eyes tightly. The entire gorram crew was questioning him. That was gonna have to change if they had a chance in hell of pulling this off. "Do we need to replay the conditions of your employment?" Mal asked as he started opening bins and shutting them loudly. He heard a cup set down and footsteps leave the room.

Giving up on the idea of food, Mal turned and walked toward the bridge. He found Wash and Sal pouring over star charts with a complex time schedule displayed on the computer screen below it. Mal leaned against the lockers, making sure he made enough noise to alert the other two to his presence. "Might want to ditch your shuttle. Can't be certain the snitch didn't get a chance to transmit your registry. We can drop you off at the port of your choice of course," Mal offered.

Sal just shook his head as he turned back to the charts. "Too risky, they already know about me anyways."

Wash looked up. "The best time is going to be in two weeks Captain. The facility will be undergoing a change in security squads and there will be a period of a skeleton crew during the transfer."

Mal frowned. That would be squeezing it to get everyone into place in time. "If we wait, when's the next?"

Sal shrugged. "Actually we won't know. Our insider will be transferred out and we won't be certain if he'll be rotated back again."

Shiny. He'd been certain they'd have several months to plan the infiltration. Instead, they'd have only two weeks. Mal had known in his gut that this plan wouldn't go smooth, but the bumps were starting a lot earlier than he'd expected. "Wash, radio Monty and inform him we'll need another meet, his choice this time. Anything else to recommend before you leave Sal?"


Two days later, Mal sat with Zoe and Monty at an equipment auction on Boros. Kaylee had convinced him that they needed several more items to fully equip Serenity and both shuttles. An added bonus, at an auction like this, no one would think twice about seeing the captains of two less than reputable transport ships together.

"I don't like it. It's too soon," Monty groused quietly.

"Can't be helped," Mal said as he nodded to Zoe to bid on the next piece. "Can you get a hold of Sug in time?"

"Might be, but she ain't gonna want to get involved without platinum," Monty answered. Mal frowned at him when the other captain raised his hand to offer a competing bid on the shuttle fuel injector.

"The two of you can have anything worth selling," Mal offered. "We need her hacker assuming the nut hasn't managed to get his self killed yet."

Monty laughed. "Sug never does let him fight. Man complains he's the only person that wants to sign up with the Alliance so's he can see more firefights."

"I imagine he sees plenty after making a statement like that in front of Sug," Zoe offered as she finally won the bidding contest with Monty.

"Cecil ain't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed," Monty offered with a laugh. "I broached the subject with Sug, she's wary but interested."

"You mean she didn't leap at the chance to see me again?" Mal asked with mocking incredulousness.

"She did say that the opportunity to shoot you in the ass again was attractive," Monty said as he and Zoe started to laugh at the memory. "How'd that tattoo work at covering up the scar?"

Mal just ignored the question. He was lucky that Zoe hadn't told the rest of the crew that story. "We'll need a fast, small ship. Preferably one with room to dock our shuttles."

Monty nodded. "Sug just bought a second; mercenary business is still pretty profitable on the outer rim. Imagine one of the two will work. Course, it's your ass if it gets damaged."

"We'll meet on Santo's outer moon in nine days. Will that be enough time to get supplies?" Mal asked as he stood.

Monty nodded as he raised his hand to bid on the next fuel injector. "Have to be," he stated as Mal and Zoe departed to collect their purchased items.


"Are you all set Inara?" Mal asked.

Inara nodded. "We don't have to leave tomorrow Mal. A few more days won't make much of a difference and River would prefer to stay with Simon as long as possible."

Mal shook his head. "We're meeting up with Sug's crew earlier. I ain't eager to give any of her boys the extra temptation of both Tam fugitives in one place. She runs a tight ship, but she's generally not too choosy as to her hires."

"And you are?"

Mal rolled his eyes as he sat down on the couch in her shuttle uninvited. "More choosy than she is. Then again, only criteria I know for a fact that Sug has is that all of her crew are slower on the draw than she is."

"Sounds like a magnificent woman. Were you close?" Inara inquired discreetly.

Mal started laughing at her statement. "Me and Sug? Guess Zoe hasn't told you anything about her yet?" Inara shook her head. "Sug shot me in the back during boot camp cause she was convinced I was the reason Zoe wouldn't sleep with her!" Mal kept chuckling at the idea of that warrior woman being involved with him. "Hell, only reason I'm still here is Zoe managed to knock her aim off by throwing a rock at her head."

Inara grinned at the image he painted. "And the historians wonder why your side didn't win the war."

"I doubt Sug would have acted any different on the other side of it," Mal stated. "Anyways, I think River would make her nervous. Probably best the girl doesn't know too many specifics of the plan anyway."

"You're still worried they'll know," Inara stated.

"We've seen firsthand what River can do when we face something unexpected. I don't want to underestimate those who've gone through what she has."

Inara nodded. "Then we'll be ready to leave first thing in the morning."


"No, don't leave me," River cried as she grabbed her brother's sleeve.

Simon looked down at his sister in bewilderment. "I'm not going anywhere mei mei. I'll be across the hall sleeping."

"You're going to leave me. You don't love me, not like you love Kaylee," River stated.

Simon smiled at River lovingly as he returned to sit beside her on her bed. "I'm not going to leave you dummy. No matter how many people in this 'verse I fall in love with or let into my life, I'll always love you best. I'll always be there for you."

River shook her head. "No, you're going to leave me. You're going to have Inara take me away so you don't have to worry about your crazy sister."

Simon swore silently to himself. The captain had been right; they couldn't keep their plans from River after all. He wondered how long she had known and worried about this idea. He forgot sometimes how much she still didn't understand about relationships and life anymore. Sometimes it seemed she had less of a grasp on reality and social mores now than she did when she four and correcting the grammar in his school essays.

"River, I need to ask you something," Simon told her. River's eyes widened in frightened anticipation. "I need to know, how much do the others . . . how much can they understand from you?"

River's head wrinkled at his question. When he was certain that she didn't understand or couldn't answer, she suddenly spoke in a small voice. "Too busy telling me how bad I am, in too much pain to look for answers to questions they'll never dream to ask."

"Come here, River. It's okay," Simon said as he gathered her in his arms. "Don't worry, I'll never leave you. I came for you and someday, when you really want me to leave, even the captain and Jayne won't be able to make me do so." River pulled back and started to correct him, but Simon put his finger to her lips. "Shhh, I promise, I won't leave you without coming back okay? You're right, Inara is going to take you somewhere safe tomorrow. But we'll all come back on Serenity for you, I promise."

"But why? I can love you more I promise," River sobbed.

"Oh mei mei, you don't need to love me any more than you already do. You'll go with Inara because I need to know that you are safe while we go to help the others," Simon explained.

"They're beyond help Simon. The Hands of Blue keep the angels away and scare the shadow of death."

"Well the Captain disagrees, and you know him. There is no hope of convincing him otherwise."

"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. If they get out, they'll still come two by two, hands of blue. And we'll all bleed red."

At a loss of what to say that might offer her some comfort, Simon hugged his sister tight. "Don't worry River. I'll always come for you," he offered.

"So will they," she whispered into his chest.

*** TBC in Chapter 8: Introductions


Sunday, June 6, 2004 10:09 AM


Hmmm, is it just me or is River getting morbidly more creepifying? Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, June 6, 2004 9:37 PM


Lots of great character insight moments, especially as regards the captain. Nobody appreciates a good killin' any more, what's the 'verse coming to? ;-) And the whole backstory bit about getting shot in the ass--nice!

Monday, June 7, 2004 8:28 AM


Still a great story. Love how you've treated the characters. Write more soon!

Monday, June 7, 2004 11:58 AM


Well, are on fire, hon!

This story keeps getting better and better. I'm loving the character interactions, with the plotting of the rescue, rings so true. And I agree, with AMOBell, River is starting to get really, really scary...but in a good way! LOL I liked the moment w/ Simon and her in the end. Very haunting...and sad. Gotta say I enjoyed the bit also on the interagation, wonderful job!

And I loved, loved the explaination for the tatto, can't wait to meet Sug...should be very interesting! *snickers*


Wednesday, June 9, 2004 4:53 PM


I told you this when I was beta-ing this for you, but I gotta say it again...this is one of the BEST Jayne lines I have ever read...
"How come I gotta? I didn't kill him."
...every time I read it I can hear him saying it, picture the insolent/confused look on his face, tipping the chair back just so...

Bravo on this chapter Jebbypal!! :-)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004 9:15 AM



I don't want to delete and reload the chapter due to all the shiny comments consider yourself warned


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