BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Shades - Part III
Monday, November 20, 2006

A lot more fluff and a little more plot. Maddy and Jess are up to something no good ... As usual, feedback is so appreciated!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1606    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

FIRST DAY

“I honestly don’t know how he does it,” Maddy sighed, watching Simon put a weave on her son’s knee. “Every time I turn around, he’s fallen over something, broken something, about to break something … kids are a trial, I can tell you.” She stroked Jacob’s shoulder. “But I still wouldn’t be without them.”

Simon smiled. “My own daughter’s just a month old, and she’s managed to get the entire crew wrapped around her little finger.”

“Yeah, I seen her. Your wife’s the mechanic?”

Simon, still smarting at the comments made by Shepherd Delrani all those months ago, just nodded. “There you go,” he said to Jacob, patting the boy on the back. “And try not running in the cargo bay any more, otherwise the Captain will throw you in the brig.”

“Yes sir,” the boy agreed, jumping from the medbed and running out of the infirmary.

“He just won’t slow down,” Maddy said. “Everything has to be now, and he gets skittish without having something to do.”

Simon smiled. “I wouldn’t say that around the Captain. He’ll have him cleaning out the septic vat.”

“You do that sometimes?” she asked, wide-eyed and looking far younger than her years.

“When it’s my turn. Which,” he said, shuddering just a little,”luckily isn’t that often.”

“And you a medic, too.” She picked up a phial, examining it idly. “You got a lot of medications on board?”

Simon took the glass tube carefully from her fingers. “Only as much as we need. Otherwise we could become a target for scavengers. There are a number out here.”

“Like on Shadow. Some folks have to break the law just to survive, to put food on the table.”

“It isn’t something I would recommend.”

Maddy laughed. “That your doctorly prescription? Keep the law at all times?”

Simon smiled. “As much as possible.”

“Wish it could be the case, doctor. But the Alliance made it awful difficult back home.”

“Was it that bad?” Simon put the phial back in its case and closed the lid firmly. “Did the war … I mean, I've heard stories, Shadow being a dead planet. Although that obviously isn’t true,” he added quickly.

“Some areas, near enough. They tried, but even their ships couldn’t take out the whole place. Heard tell they were considering trying something new, some kind of planet eater, but Serenity Valley happened before they could get it out there.”

“A … sorry, a planet eater?” Simon was puzzled.

“Just a rumour. Prob’ly just a story designed to scare folks, doctor.”

“Simon. Just call me Simon.”

“’Kay. But life ain't been good on Shadow for a while. I seen the waves about us being a black hole, nothing there but dust and decay, and although it ain’t quite as bad as that, there’re places I wouldn’t want to go. They say you can end up diseased or worse if you’re stupid enough to land there.” Maddy sighed. “It was my home, doc – Simon. And I have to leave it to make a life for me and my kids.”

“I'm sorry.”

“Don’t be. They’re what’s important now. And thanks for taking care of Jacob.” She smiled and walked out of the infirmary.

“My pleasure.” ---

“How old is she?” Sadie Adams asked, looking down at the baby in the crib.

“Four days over a month,” Kaylee said proudly. She lifted the comforter a little higher.

“No, don’t want to do that,” Sadie said. “Not if it’s warm enough, which it is. Babies can get heated real quick.”

“Oh,” Kaylee said, moving it back.

“Sorry, don’t mean to put myself forward,” Sadie said. “But with kids of my own, you tend to get a little … well, you wait ‘til you’re a bit more experienced. You’ll be telling every new mother you meet what to do.”

Kaylee laughed. “I haven’t gotten used to having this one yet,” she admitted. “And I never know what to do when she cries. I mean, Simon says I should leave her, but then I see him picking her up.”

“There’s no right way, Mrs Tam. If you feel you should pick her up, pick her up. You’ll soon know if she’s crying just to get your attention. ‘Sides, you leave her and maybe there is something amiss. Like she needs changing.”

Kaylee grinned, liking being called Mrs Tam, and found she didn’t want to correct the other woman. “Oh, I figured that one out. And I get Simon to do that once in a while. He’s kinda getting the hang of it.”

“Good idea. Jess wouldn’t touch his first born for three months, not until I stood over him and made him. Said it was unmanly, or some such nonsense. I told him, he wasn't gonna come anywhere near me ever again unless he learned how to change a diaper.”

“Did it work?”

“Got two more after that, so I guess it did.”

Kaylee laughed again, enjoying talking to someone who understood what she was going through, and glad to find Sadie to be a real friendly woman. “They’re good kids,” she said.

Sadie grinned. “That they are. But I told him, no more. Three’s enough.” She looked down at Bethany again. “You know, I've got some things of theirs, from when they weren't much bigger than this little’un. I don’t know why I kept them, except for sentimental reasons, but I reckon they’d be fine for her.” She looked up. “If you don’t mind me givin’ ‘em to you.”

Kaylee clapped her hands. “Oh, no, that would be … oh, so shiny!” She pointed to the small pile of clothes in the corner. “I've got some, but I know how babies grow so fast, and sometimes there ain't the money to buy … and I ain’t that good with a needle, not to make such things.”

Sadie put her hand on the young woman’s arm. “Then I think you’re just the person I should be donating them to. I’ll get them out for you.”

“Oh, thank you,” Kaylee said sincerely.

“I'm just glad they’re going to a good home.” ---

That evening, after supper, Simon found Kaylee examining a heap of small garments.

“Was it Christmas and I didn’t notice?” he asked, leaning in the doorway to their room.

“Ooh, look,” Kaylee said, holding up a little pair of trousers. “Ain't they the cutest things you’ve ever seen?”

“A bit big, aren’t they?” He smiled and stepped inside to join her on the bed. “Unless they’re magic growing pants and they’re for you?”

She hit him lightly on the arm. “Mrs Adams gave them to me. She said hers didn’t need them no more, and I might like them. For when Bethany grows a bit.”

Simon nodded. “That’ll be quicker than you know.” He picked up a tiny t-shirt with a picture of a geisha on the front. “Only don’t put her in this,” he added. “She’ll look just like Jayne.”

Kaylee gurgled with delight. “You think so? Oh, no, we have to. Just to see his face. Maybe I can knit her one of those little hats.”

Simon couldn’t stop the grin spreading across his face. “It would almost be worth it.”

“We could take a picture!”

“And blackmail her with it when she’s not doing what she’s told.”

She hit him a little harder. “As if we’d do that!” she admonished.

“Why not? My parents did.”

“What?” She stared at him. “They didn’t.”

“I had the obligatory ‘lying naked on the living room rug’ picture, the ‘wearing the first formal outfit’ picture, and …” He shuddered.

“What?” she prompted. “No, tell me.”

“The ‘first role in a school play’ picture,” he admitted.

“What’s wrong with that?” she asked, almost disappointed.

“It was ‘Anne of Green Gables’, and I was the lead.”

Kaylee lay back on the bed and sobbed with laughter. “Oh, Simon, no!” she managed to say.

“It’s true! I looked hideous, in a long blond wig, black stockings … and every time anyone came to the house, they’d drag the album out to bore everyone rigid. And embarrass me.”

“I wish I’d seen it,” Kaylee said, sitting upright and wiping the tears from her eyes.

“I am really glad you didn’t,” Simon said, shaking his head. “You’d never have gone to bed with me if you had.” ---

Mal was taking his last turn around his ship, just making sure they weren’t leaking air or some such, when he came upon River sitting on the catwalk over the cargo bay, swinging her legs from the edge.

“Ain't you supposed to be in bed, little albatross?” he asked, leaning on the railing above her.

“Not tired,” she said, looking down.

“I guess that means we have to find you something to do during the day.” He smiled.

“I look after Bethany while Kaylee looks after Serenity,” River pointed out, not looking up at him, just studying her toes as they moved in and out of her sight. “She’s forgiven me.”

“Nothing to forgive,” Mal said shortly.

“Then I haven’t forgiven myself.”

Mal looked down into the bay at the stacks of boxes. “Funny how small a space a life can be packed into,” he said conversationally.

“You can’t change the subject,” River admonished.

“Last time I looked, I was captain, so I can change the subject much as I want.”

“And I need to apologise and say Simon is wrong.”

Mal looked down at the young girl in surprise. “What about?”

“I am sorry about … Freya and children.”

“You been listening in on other people’s conversations again?”

“No,” she assured him. “I’m trying not to. But I heard Simon talking to Kaylee.”

Mal shook his head. “That young man sometimes has a difficulty with confidentiality.”

“Where Kaylee is concerned, there is none.”

“That’s what I mean.”

“It’s my fault. If Freya can’t –”

Mal squatted down onto his heels. “No, River, it ain’t. And I won’t have you thinking that way. I don’t believe he’s right, either, and I’m aiming to prove it.” His lips twitched. “As often as possible.” He tapped her on the shoulder. “And you keep it to yourself, even if he can’t.”

River flashed him a wide smile and patted the metal next to her. “Sit with me?”

Mal glanced towards the bunks. “Well, Freya’s waiting for me –“

“She’s waited for you a long time. A few minutes won’t make it any longer.”

With a sigh Mal lowered himself onto the catwalk, his legs feeling unnatural with nothing beneath them. “Few minutes, then,” he agreed.

“You used to sit like this with Inara,” River said, putting her hand in his and mixing their fingers.

“Suppose I did,” Mal agreed, a little ill at ease at the closeness of the young psychic.

She laughed, reading his feelings as if they were written on glass. “You’re hers, and that will never change,” she said, squeezing his hand. “And I wouldn’t want you.” She shook her head. “Too old.”

“What?” he said indignantly. “Jayne’s older’n me and you seem pretty enamoured on him.”

“Old in spirit, not age,” she corrected softly.

“If you mean that Jayne acts like a kid who’s had his toy taken from him sometimes, well, maybe I’d agree with you.”

“And you’re going to be an old married man before the month is out.”

He glared at her. “You go blabbing that around the rest of the crew and you’ll be walking to Whitefall.”

She smiled. “Freya’s already told Inara.”

“She’s …” Mal sighed. “So I guess we’re even.”

“Hank won’t tell. He doesn’t want to have to get out and walk either.”

Mal chuckled. “Not much point trying to keep a secret on this boat, is there?”

“Not really.” She grinned, so much like the girl and not the psychic. Then she said, “She’s unhappy.”

“Who? Frey?” Mal was surprised.

“No. Inara. She didn’t show it, but she had always had a spark of hope.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, girl.” Mal turned enough to look her straight in the face. “She knew before I did what was gonna happen. Kept me on the straight path more’n once. So no talk of her being unhappy, dong mah?”

“She can’t help it. She doesn’t want to feel that way, and hides it when she does, but to see you and Freya … she’s lonely.”

“Lonely?” Now Mal was astonished. “She’s got the pick of the high and mighty of this ‘verse, and she’s lonely?”

“It’s just sex, captain. Not love.” She shook her head at him. “That’s what you never accepted.”

“Well, maybe I didn’t, and there might’ve been more reason to that. But right now I got a fiancée up in my bunk waiting for me, and she ain’t never hardly …” He stopped. “Look, little River, whatever might have been, ain’t. Freya and me, we’re gonna be married in less than two weeks. And I'm gonna do my gorram best to make her happy.”

River grinned and let go of his hand, springing from the catwalk to land on the deck below. “And you will!” she called, dancing on her heels then running towards her room.

Mal watched her, shaking his head, and got rather stiffly to his feet. Either it was age or he’d wrenched his back somehow, but sometimes he got an inflexibility, just there … Still, Freya’d know just the thing to do with that.

Maddy waited until he’d gone before stepping out from behind the crates, a hard look on her face. So he was getting married. Well, wasn't that dandy. First he ups and leaves her, and now he’s hitching to some other pofu. Typical. Just like a man. She ran a hand over two of the boxes before heading thoughtfully for her bed. ---

SECOND DAY

Hank was sitting on the bridge, contemplating the stars, counting as many as he could and wondering whether it was time for lunch yet. His stomach said it was, but the shipboard clock said there was half an hour yet.

“It’s pretty,” came a voice from the doorway and he turned in the chair.

“Hi,” he said, smiling at Maddy Jones.

“Can I come in?”

“Sure. Take a seat.” He pointed to the co-pilot’s chair.

“Only Mal said we weren’t allowed on the bridge.”

“He probably meant the kids.” Hank grinned. “You ain't planning on trying to take over the ship, are you?”

“Not right now, no.”

“Then pull up a pew.”

She sat down and looked out of the windows. “Hard to believe there’s nothing out there,” she said, slightly awed.

“Never been off world before?” Hank asked.

“No. First time.”

“I guess I forget sometimes what it was like, my first sight of it. Kinda makes the heart beat a little faster, don’t it?”

She nodded. “That it does.”

“Course, it’s not really empty. There’s all sorts of junk out there, dust, meteorites and the like. You just don’t usually see it.”

“It looks empty.”

“Occasionally one of the stars’ll flicker, and you know you’re looking at it through a dust cloud, but mostly, yeah, it looks like there’s nothing for millions of miles.”

“Have you been on board long?” she asked, turning to look at him.

His green eyes flashed at her. “Longer’n it feels, I think. Over a year, and then some.”

“And did you know Mal before that?”

“Nope, never did.” He stroked the console absently. “Didn’t meet him until I came to ask if he needed a pilot.”

“And he took you on.”

“After a day or two, yeah. Always thought he was checking out my references, but seems like he never did. I guess he just took me on trust.”

“He always did trust people.”

“Really?” Hank shook his head. “Never seemed to me to be his way, but then you’ve known him a lot longer’n me.”

“I don’t think I know him at all,” she admitted. She picked up one of the dinosaurs. “These yours?”

“No. Not really.” Hank smiled. “They kinda came with the job.”

“Mal’s?” Her face, the lights from the console reflected in her eyes, was surprised.

Hank laughed. “No. They belonged to his previous pilot, but he died, and Mal kept ‘em as a sorta reminder.”

“Memento Mori,” Maddy murmured.

“What?”

“A remembrance of the dead,” she explained.

“I guess.”

She put the dinosaur back under its plastic palm tree. “So we’ll be at Whitefall tomorrow.”

“Yep.” He glanced at her. “Sorry to be getting off?”

“Not sorry, no.” She shrugged. “Ain't gonna be no different than where we came from. Still working for other folks, still doing what we’re told.” She looked around at Serenity’s bridge. “Only difference is I’d like to be under the sky again. This ship’s too small.”

“You think?” Hank was surprised. “Never found it that way myself. And I speak as someone who finds small, enclosed spaces something of a problem.”

“Then it must be me.” She smiled at him, and stood up. “Better get back. In case Mal finds me up here and starts shouting.”

“Wouldn’t want that,” Hank agreed. “He kinds goes purple and … well, it’s pretty disgusting.”

Maddy laughed. “I’ll try not to find out.” She smiled at him and walked off the bridge.

Hank turned back to his stars. She seemed like a real nice lady – and if what River had been saying was true, she could have been mistress of this ship if things had gone differently. Shit, which reminded him. He leaned forward quickly and started inputting the Cortex code for Boros. ---

“Mal, do you have a minute?” Maddy asked, stepping down into the dining area.

“Sure.” Mal smiled up at her from the coffee he had in his hand, and the maps he was checking. “Just making sure Hank ain't got us pointed the wrong way,” he explained.

“I doubt that,” Maddy laughed, sitting down next to him.

“So, what’s up?”

“I wanted to apologise.”

He raised his eyebrows. “What for?”

“What I said. About Freya.”

He shrugged. “Ain't nothing to apologise for, Maddy. Frey and I … we’re good. Very good.”

“I can see that. And that’s why I was a bit … tetchy, I guess. I’m kinda jealous.”

“Jealous?”

“I ain't had a man for a while, Mal. Not since my husband, God rest his soul, passed on. And it makes a woman anxious.”

Mal felt his lips twitch. “I doubt it does much for the man, either.”

Maddy hit him on the arm. “You know what I mean!” she scolded.

“Guess I do.” He grinned. “And there’s still no need to apologise.” They looked at each other for a while, then Mal said, a little unsettled, “So, how long were you married?”

“Ten years. Sam was a good man when we got hitched, but maybe the years of being married to me didn’t do as well for him as he’d hoped, and he …” She stopped sadly.

Mal wondered at the unspoken words. “You okay, Maddy?”

A quick smile flashed across her face. “He got sick and died. That’s basically it. And there weren’t a thing anyone could do about it, even if we’d had a proper doctor like you got.”

“I'm sorry.”

“Well, it ain't like I can go back and change it. And we’re off on a new adventure.” She leaned forward. “I’m kinda scared, you know?”

He put his hand on hers. “I know. But I'm sure everything’s gonna be shiny.”

“Well,” she sighed, “can’t be as crap as back home.”

“Is it really that bad?”

“It ain’t good. Mal, maybe you were right in not coming back, but we need men like you to make it better. Men who can get things done, even fight the Alliance for what’s rightfully ours.”

Mal shook his head. “Tried that, Maddy. For six years, and still lost.”

“Why did you?” she asked suddenly, leaning forward to look into his face. “Why’d you go off and fight?”

“Because it was the right thing to do.” He sighed himself. “I tried to explain when I left.”

“And I didn’t understand. Still don’t.”

“You can’t change people, Maddy. Not unless they want to, and that’s what the Alliance never figured out. They wanted us all to be like them, living in their little bubbles. Well, we ain't like that. Never will be.”

“Do you know how many people came back from that war, Mal? Out of all those thousands who left Shadow to fight to preserve that independence?” She glared at him. “A handful. And you weren’t one of ‘em.”

“Nothing left for me there.”

“I was!”

He shook his head slightly and stood up, putting the mug back on the counter before turning to find her close against him, pressing him back. Her hand was on his thigh, stroking up towards his crotch.

“Maddy, stop,” he said, putting his hands on her shoulders and pushing her gently away.

“Mal …” She pushed harder, and her lips met his. For a moment he seemed about to respond, but his grip tightened and he drove her back.

“No.” His blue eyes gazed, somewhat sympathetically, into hers. “You don’t want me, Maddy. And you ain’t what I want either.”

“Freya,” she said bitterly, looking down at her boots.

“Freya.” He lifted her chin. “If she hadn’t … if we weren't …” He stopped then tried again. “Maybe we could have made a go of it, Maddy, if I’d come back. But I didn’t. My home had gone, my life on Shadow was just that, a shadow of the past. And I came out here, to the black, and this is my home now. And Freya’s in my bed.” He smiled a little. “You got your kids to look to.”

“Not sure that’s enough any more.”

Mal breathed deeply. “Well, that’s more your concern than mine. We’re putting down on Whitefall tomorrow, and your new life will be starting. No profit in trying to rekindle an old one.”

She glared at him then her look softened. “I reckon you might be right. Sorry, Mal. I just thought …”

“Puppy-dog eyes?”

She laughed. “Something like that. They worked on me, figured I’d try it back.”

“Go on, get back to your family. And who knows, there might be someone even more special’n me waiting for you on Whitefall.”

“Yeah. Maybe.” She stood upright, smoothing her dress. “Guess I’d better go see what they’re doing. Just as likely to be fighting again.”

Mal smiled. “Yeah, kids take a lot of looking after.”

“That they do.” She nodded rather sadly and walked out of the galley.

He felt sorry for her, he really did. Watching her leave, he almost wished he could have kissed her the way he did once, feeling her melt under his hands, become pliant to his wishes. But that was the past. And his future was waiting for him in their bunk. He grinned. ---

“Can’t sleep?” Jayne said, putting the bar back on its stand. He sat up and looked across towards the doorway to the common area. Jess Adams stood there, watching him.

“Nope. Guess I’m kinda wound up about tomorrow. You know, new start ‘n’ all.”

“Wanna do a set? I’ll spotcha.”

Jess grinned. “Don’t mind if I do. Used to be keen on keeping fit, ‘fore I married Sadie. Running round after her and the kids tends to make sure I don’t get too fat now.”

Jayne nodded. “How much?”

“Don’t rightly know. Used to be around fifty, but it’s been a while.”

“Try twenty-five, and see how ya go.” Jayne stood up, adjusting the weights.

“You work out a lot on your own?” Jess asked, watching him.

“Freya sometimes works with me. Just to be sociable,” Jayne said, shrugging. “Only she’s been out of it for a few weeks, since …”

“Since what?” The other man approached, wiping his hands on his pants.

“She got hurt.”

“Guess it’s some kind of occupational hazard, your line of work.”

Jayne nodded. “Usually one or other of us in that infirmary, getting stitched up. Gotta good medic, so it ain’t too much of a hardship.” He nodded towards the bench. “There ya go.”

“Thanks.” Jess laid down and adjusted his position, setting his hands on the grip. “So what happened?”

“Nothing much,” Jayne said, standing behind. “Just got a little banged up.”

“Don’t want to talk about it?” Jess asked, lifting the bar from the stand and feeling the unaccustomed pressure in his muscles.

“Not really. Don’t talk much anyway when I’m exercising.”

“That’s fine.” He lowered the bar to his chest then raised it, inhaling on the way down, exhaling on the way back up. This was harder than he remembered.

“Good,” Jayne said approvingly. “Now just do another nineteen and we’ll put some more on.”

River sat on the catwalk and watched. She liked to see men working out, quite liked the smell. The pheromones were almost attractive. And Jayne had impressive muscles. Now, if she could only get him to exercise his brain as well …

“Who is that?” Jess asked, getting to fifteen and thinking he was about to die. He glanced at the girl staring at them.

Jayne looked up. “Oh, that’s just the doc’s moonbrain sister. She’s harmless. Mostly.”

“Does she work out with you?”

“Nope. Well, coupla occasions, but she mostly just watches.”

“Are you and her …”

“No!” Jayne grabbed the bar and lifted it back into the cradle.

“I’ve got three more to go,” Jess complained.

“’N’ you look like you’re gonna stroke out.” Jayne shook his head. “Think it’s been longer’n a while.”

“Maybe.” Jess sat up, shaking his arms. “So you and the girl are just friends?”

Jayne didn’t look up at the catwalk. She was still there. She was always there. “Just friends.”

“She’s very pretty.”

“She’s okay.”

“Only no-one’s introduced us.”

Jayne leaned down. “You don’t wanna get to know her. She’ll tear you to pieces if you try anything. And I’ll do the same to anything that’s left.”

Jess held up his hands. “I’m a married man!” he insisted.

“So? I seen the way you look at Freya, and so’s the Cap. You just stick to your side of the fence, dong mah?”

“I wasn’t going to try anything. Got a wife and kids.”

“When’s that ever stopped no-one?” Jayne picked up his towel, wiping his hands and arms. “I’m gonna get some sleep. I suggest you do the same.” He headed off up the stairs towards his quarters, not looking at the young girl still sitting on the edge, swinging her legs.

Jess watched him go, then smiled tentatively at the girl. She gave no indication she had even seen, but there was a crawling on the back of his neck that made him wince, and he hurried towards his temporary quarters.

River lifted herself to her feet, her head on one side. She didn’t like this man. Something about him … but she wasn’t going to look. He’d be gone in a day, and then Serenity would be back to normal, with some celebrating to do. And Jayne had his own code, as twisted as it might be. Married women were not his style, so he figured married men should be similarly subdued. Maybe it was just that. This man had looked at her in a way she didn’t like, and perhaps that was all it was. She reached out to touch his mind, then pulled back. No. She’d told the captain she wasn't looking, and she was trying to keep to that. No peeking, no matter how loud.

Her bare feet curling around the metal of the gangway, she sidled towards the bridge, where the stars would soothe her enough to be able to sleep. ---

ARRIVAL

Whitefall hadn’t changed. It was still a dirty yellow colour with wispy clouds floating high in the stratosphere, mostly covered in scrub and mountains. Pretty it wasn't.

“Mal, you sure about those co-ordinates?” Hank asked, checking out the readings as he manhandled Serenity through the upper atmo. “Only there ain't anything there that I can see.”

“They’re definitely the ones Maddy gave me. Unless she’s been given the wrong ones.” He stared out past the flames. “You sure there’s nothing?”

“Could be a homestead too small to be picked up at this range, but I doubt it.” Hank had tweaked the sensors a lot since coming on board, making them even more sensitive after their encounter with a raiding ship a few months ago.

“I’ll go and have a word.”

Maddy was in the cargo bay, lifting some of the crates down.

“You sure about those co-ordinates?” Mal called from behind her.

Maddy started. “You scared me,” she accused, flushing.

“Sorry. Guess you didn’t hear me coming over the noise of us breaking atmo.” He smiled at her. “Did you need a hand with something?” He pointed at the boxes.

“Just getting ready to be picked up.”

“Well, that’s the point. There’s nothing there.”

“What do you mean?”

“No town, no ranch. Nothing.”

“I didn’t expect there to be.”

“What?”

“It was just a meeting place. They’re coming to pick us up.” Maddy smiled and put her hand on his arm. “No need for you to fret. The house, well, it’s a ways from anywhere, and they don’t like strangers, so we’re being met. That’s all.”

“Maddy, I don’t like the sound of this. You think we’re just gonna drop you and leave you in the middle of nowhere?”

“Of course not!” She laughed. “You’re going to wait with us and make sure we’re safe.” She squeezed. “That’s what Malcolm Reynolds does, isn’t it?”

“Damn right,” he agreed. “Still, I’m not keen on the ass-backwards way this is being done, Maddy.”

“Mal, it was this way or no way. We’ll be fine,” she assured him. ---

It had been more than an hour, the sun was well and truly up, and there was still no sign of anyone.

“Jayne, take a look around. Frey, go with him,” Mal ordered.

“Are you worried?” she asked.

“Concerned,” he corrected. “Just have an itch I can’t quite scratch yet, and it’s making me all kinds of nervous.”

“So not worried.”

“No.”

She smiled at him and walked out of the bay with Jayne.

Zoe turned to look at her captain. “Sir, I’m not happy about waiting here. We’re not too far from Patience’s compound – if she gets word we’re here –”

“The thought has crossed my mind.” Mal stared out at the dry countryside. “But we’ll give it a while longer.” He exhaled heavily. “I’m going to the bridge, see if Hank’s had any luck picking anything up.”

Zoe watched him head up the stairs, then looked outside again. Feeling a prickling at the base of her skull, she followed, heading for her bunk to get her carbine.

Maddy stepped out from behind the stack of crated belongings and began lifting them down.

“They gone?” Jess Adams asked from the doorway.

“Yeah. Get it ready.”

to be concluded

COMMENTS

Tuesday, November 21, 2006 3:43 AM

AMDOBELL


I really hate that Maddy and Jess - how can anyone stoop so low and still pretend to be a human being? I just hope when turnaround comes they get their due in spades. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, November 21, 2006 6:15 AM

TAMSIBLING


Ooh, I hate duplicitous people who claim to be old friends and then have it out for these bosom buddies.

And why do I get the feeling that Patience is going to get wind that they're there and then it's gonna be a firefight?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006 1:29 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Why do I get the feeling that Patience is part of the plan being carried out by Jess and Maddy? Cuz their behaviour and the proximity to Patience's compound are two co-inkydinks I don't like seeing schmooze:(

Still...gotta admit I got a smirk or two out of Maddy chatting Hank up a la Wash and Saffron in "Our Mrs. Reynolds" and Jayne's loud protestations against feeling anything for River:)

BEB


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Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
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