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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Final part and all plot (for those who don't like the fluff). Whitefall ... Please let me know what you liked - or didn't!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1683 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Freya squatted down and picked up a handful of dirt, letting it run through her fingers.
“You feeling antsy?” Jayne asked, shouldering Vera.
“Something’s not right.” She scanned the horizon. “There’s no sign of any habitation. And we’re a hell of a long way from a town.”
“I know what you mean. Seems to me Mal’s been taking what those folks have been saying a mite too easy.”
“It’s Maddy,” Freya agreed. “He won’t believe she isn’t everything she seems. What he remembers.”
“I’m thinking he’s beginning to regret that about now.” He sniffed. “I’m gonna take a bigger walk around. You comin’?”
Freya nodded and stood up.
“Mal, did you say they could use the mule?” Hank asked, looking out of the bridge window.
Mal joined him. Outside, just in view, Jess Adams was sitting on Serenity’s old mule. Even at this distance they could see he was fidgeting. He was looking around anxiously.
“No. Maybe they’re considering borrowing it for all their gear. They sure had enough.”
“I’ll see.” He headed off the bridge and down the main stairs. He could see Maddy in the cargo bay, moving boxes. “You planning on stealing my mule, Maddy?” he asked.
Maddy gave a start and almost dropped the box she had in her hands. “What?”
“Jess Adams. He’s outside, waiting. Looks suspiciously as if he’s on my old mule, which I see isn’t where I left it.” He nodded to the corner where the old vehicle still lived. “It may not be much, but there’s sentimental value in that thing.”
“We were just going to borrow it.” The trembling in her voice gave her away.
“Borrow.” Mal took a deep breath and looked down. When he raised his eyes again there was honest bafflement in them. “What’s going on, Maddy?”
“Nothing? Why should there be anything going on?”
“Here we are on Whitefall, at the coordinates you gave us, and there’s nothing here. No ranches, no towns. Just a whole load of nothing. And you’re about to run out on everyone with Jess Adams.”
“Mal, that’s ridiculous.”
“Can’t help how it looks, Maddy.” He stepped closer. “What’s in the box?”
“Nothing. Just a few bits and pieces.”
“Bits and pieces,” Mal repeated. “Then you won’t mind if I take a peek through them.”
Maddy backed away a pace. “There’s nothing of interest to you. Just some old heirlooms that I couldn’t bear to be parted with.”
“Why have you got them out now?” Mal asked. “When you ain’t there yet.”
Maddy tried to think fast. “Because … because you’re right. Me and Jess … we’re running away together. And I don’t intend to leave these fairings of mine.”
“But leaving your kids is all right? Nope. I don’t think that’s it at all. Show me what’s in the box.”
“Maddy, show me.” He moved quickly forward and grabbed her arm.
“Let go of me.”
Mal’s voice became hard, brooking no objection. “Show me.”
“And I said let go!” She struggled to free herself, and in doing so the top of the box came free, clattering to the cargo bay floor. In an instant Mal had pulled the crate from her, setting it down to look inside.
“Shun sheng duh gao-wahn,” he breathed. “Is this what I think it is?”
“It ain’t yours, Mal. Give it back.” Maddy tried to reach around him, but he stood up and turned on her.
“I don’t believe you!” Mal said, outraged. “You brought drugs on board my ship?”
Maddy looked at him, something very like disdain in her eyes. “What are you getting on your high horse over, Mal? You can’t tell me all your work is legal – you wouldn’t be able to keep flying if it was.”
“I don’t deal in drugs! Not that kind!”
“There’s another sort?”
Mal didn’t want to get into the tale of how they cleaned out an Alliance hospital on Ariel, so merely said, “Yeah, the immoral kind. These are drops.”
“You can say that?” Maddy scoffed. “You’re shacked up with a woman without benefit of matrimony. That’s immoral. What would your momma have said about that?”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Maddy,” Mal informed her, trying to hold his anger in check.
Mal grabbed a handful of vials from the open box. “These kill people, Maddy!”
“And you never have, have you, Mal?” The disdain, the hatred, was back. “Oh no, the honourable soldier never killed anyone.”
“I’ve killed, I admit that. But I’ve never murdered. And that’s what this is, Maddy. Cold blooded murder.” Mal threw the handful against the wall where the glass shattered into fragments, falling to the deck amid a small rain of liquid.
“That’s wasteful,” Maddy stated.
“The rest’s going the same way,” Mal said.
“No, no, Mal, you can’t do that!” Maddy was suddenly afraid. “We’ve got to make the delivery. We’ve had half the money – we don’t make good, they track us down, kill us.”
“Then give them the money back.”
“That don’t help none! If’n they don’t get the goods, we’re done for!”
Mal shook his head. “What the hell happened to you, Maddy?” he asked. “The woman I knew would never do a thing like this.”
“Two kids happened, Mal. A husband who drank himself to death happened. And someone left me to fight a war that destroyed half my home happened, Mal.”
“I never said we’d be together.”
“No. You just slept with me and expected me to be grateful.” The hatred returned full force. “Well, gratitude don’t cut it anymore. It won’t feed hungry kids.”
“We were fourteen, Maddy.” Mal’s voice dropped. “We were kids ourselves.”
“And that’s supposed to make everything all right?” Maddy threw her hands up in disgust. “You always did put honour above everything.”
Mal stared at her, wondering just what had gone wrong in her life in those intervening years to make this acceptable. “Other folks lived through the war,” he said. “Lost loved ones, homes. They didn’t start dealing drugs.”
“I ain’t dealing! Just transporting. You know what that is, don’t you? I dare say you do it all the time.” Her eyes swept around Serenity’s interior. “All those little hidey-holes crammed full of pretties. You’re just a smuggler too. Gun for hire.”
“Maybe I am, but I don’t deal in that crap.” He took a deep breath, trying to calm the rage flooding through him. “And the job here on Whitefall? Does it even exist?”
“Oh, it’s real. But if you think I’m going to end up cleaning and cooking for someone else, you can think again.” She glared at him. “I ain’t doing that for no-one ever again.”
“Then we’re at something of an impasse,” Mal said, not unkindly.
“Seems like we are.” Maddy softened her gaze a little. “Look, Mal, just unload us. Let me take the boxes, and we’ll be out of your hair before you know it. Then you can be on your merry as if we never existed.”
“Can’t do that, Maddy. What if it’s kids get hold of those drops? Kids like yours? Or like the little girl we got on board? Strung out, dying? No. We dump ‘em.”
“You can’t!” Maddy was shocked.
“Yes I can.” He turned to the case. “Best thing for all –“
Maddy, her anger making her strong, picked up the metal cooking pot and swung it at him. It hit him square on the back of the skull, and he dropped to the floor like a stone. She didn’t stop to check he was still alive, just grabbed the boxes and hurried out of the cargo bay doors. Outside Jess Adams was waiting on the old mule.
“You get them?” he asked as she put the crates onto the back.
“Of course.” She slid in behind him, her arms around his waist. “Let’s go. Time to get wealthy.”
A few minutes later Zoe, heading down from the bunks, saw Mal lying face down on the bay floor. “Captain!” She ran down the stairs.
Alerted by her shout, Simon looked out of the infirmary. “Mal.”
They both reached the prone man at the same time, Simon checking immediately for a pulse. “He’s alive,” he said, and was rewarded by a groan from Mal. They gently turned him over, and his eyes flickered open.
“Wuh de tyen, ah,” he muttered, putting his hand to his head. “What the hell happened about me?” he asked, trying to focus.
“You don’t remember?” Simon asked.
Mal started to shake his head then stopped, sitting up. “Maddy! Damn fool woman must have hit me!”
“There’s blood on this pot,” Zoe observed. “Surprised she didn’t crack your skull open, sir.”
“Don’t think she didn’t try,” Mal said darkly. He quickly glanced at the stack of crates. “She took them,” he muttered, getting to his feet, staggering slightly.
Simon took his arm. “Mal, take it easy. That blow –“
“She’s taken two boxes, doc. They were full of drops.”
“Drugs?” Zoe asked quickly as Simon’s jaw dropped.
“Are you sure?” the young doctor asked in turn.
“I broke some over there.” Mal stepped across to the bulkhead and leaned down to pick up some of the broken glass vials, but as he did so the room swam and he had to hold onto the wall for support.
“Mal …” Simon said, putting his arm around the Captain’s shoulders.
“Down there, doc.”
Simon nodded and went down onto his haunches to check the broken glass. Dipping his finger carefully into the spilled liquid he brought it to his tongue, tasting delicately. The bitter taste made him react, but it wasn’t the flavour that made him spit, saying, “Son of a bitch. Di-hydro methaline.” He looked up into Mal’s face. “Worst kind.”
“Maddy, sir?” Zoe said. “You said she took them?”
Mal nodded. “She brought them on board my ship, and now she’s going to deliver them.”
“We can’t let her, Mal,” Simon said, standing up. “These are –“
“I know, doc.” Mal glanced up at the mule hanging in its chains above them. “Get Jayne and Freya back here. And get the mule prepped. They took the old vehicle, but we can catch them easily enough. We’re gonna stop Maddy making the mistake of her life.”
“They can’t have got far, sir,” Zoe said, releasing the clamps to start lowering the hover mule.
“Far enough to get themselves killed.”
“What’s going on?” Sadie Adams asked from the doorway to the common area. “Where’s Jess?”
Mal glanced at his first mate then went towards the other woman. “Ms Adams, I’d take it as a kindness if you’d go keep an eye on the kids. Keep them outta mischief.”
Understanding dawned in her eyes. “It’s Maddy, isn’t it? Jess has done something real stupid.” She shook her head bitterly. “That pee goo of a man … he never could resist a pretty face.” She looked into Mal’s eyes. “They run off together?”
“Looks like, and we’re going after them.” The hover touched the deck behind him. “Bringing them both back.”
“Don’t bother,” Sadie said, turning away. “She can keep him.”
“Well, that’s something you’ll have to work out between yourselves,” Mal said to her departing back.
Jayne and Freya jogged back up the ramp. “What’s up?” the big man asked. “Hank said you needed us right fast.”
“Get on the mule,” Mal ordered. “I’ll explain as we go.”
The tracks led into the hills, disappearing over rocks and stony ground, then reappearing a distance later on the dirt. Mal was getting increasingly concerned at the time this was taking.
“Shoulda brought Serenity,” he muttered.
“And landed her where?” Freya asked quietly, indicating the narrow valley they were travelling along, between steep sided hills.
“Well, it would have been quicker to walk.”
“Mal.” Jayne pointed ahead.
“I see ‘em.”
Ahead, with the distance closing rapidly, was the old vehicle. Maddy and Jess were looking behind them, trying to get more speed, but the hover mule overtook them quickly, settling down in front. Jess pulled up, and Maddy was out of her seat almost before they’d stopped moving, her face red with anger, her fists clenched.
“Mal, leave us be! You ain't a part of this!” she shouted as Serenity’s captain jumped to the ground.
“You think I’m gonna let you run off and get yourself killed?”
“No-one’s gonna die,” Maddy scoffed.
“Except the kids that stuff gets fed to.”
“it ain't none of your concern.” She was intensely angry.
“Maddy, think what you’re doing!”
“I am, Mal! I'm taking the opportunity to get out! Just like you did!”
“What?” He put his hands on his hips and stared at her.
“You left! That was your opportunity, this is mine!”
“You think the war was an opportunity?” Mal shook his head in disbelief. “Do you know how many men died, Maddy?”
“I don’t care!”
“Maddy …” Jess said, looking around. “We don’t have time for this.”
“We got all the time we need,” Jayne put in. “’Cause you ain’t goin’ anywhere.” He started to climb down from the mule but a gunshot spliced the air, and Jess Adams clutched his shoulder, crying out. He sat back heavily onto the dirt.
More bullets followed, but the others were already moving. Mal had taken Maddy to the ground, pushing her under the mule for safety. Jayne was by now in the bushes, working his way towards the gunmen, Freya doing the same the other side, while Zoe was firing back, her carbine filling the valley with noise.
Simon grabbed his medbag and scuttled towards Jess.
“Get back, doctor!” Zoe called.
“And you’ll be dead.”
Simon ignored her enough to grab Jess by the uninjured arm and drag him, yelling, towards the relative safety of the hover mule.
Mal was still lying on the ground, counting. He made it seven out there. Six, now, as a cry of pain rose and died to his left. He glanced at Maddy, hugging the earth, her face petrified, and shook his head. What was it with people? he asked himself as he scrabbled to his feet, keeping low as bullets ricocheted around him. Always out for the easy money. Though there was nothing wrong with that, he reminded himself. Yeah, but there were other ways. Not drops. Not death in a vial. A figure rose up in front of him and he fired, his bullet taking the man in the centre of his chest, exploding his heart, and he fell like a stone. And now there was more killing. And he didn’t want any of his getting dead. After all, there was easy money and easy money. And this wasn’t even easy.
A bullet grazed his thigh and he bit back on the yell that tried to erupt. Ignoring the burning, he rolled forward, firing as he went. The shooter threw up his hands and fell backwards.
Around him he could hear more gunfire, but that was diminishing. And suddenly it was quiet. Getting slowly to his feet, feeling the graze pulling, he looked about. “We all still alive?” he called, ready to duck if it was the other side who answered.
“Still alive, sir,” Zoe said, coming into view, holstering her carbine.
“Ain’t dead yet, Mal,” Jayne added, kicking a body from the top of the rise so it rolled down.
“Me neither,” Freya said, stepping into the clearing. She saw the blood on Mal’s pants. “You okay?” she asked.
“Just a scratch. You?” He could see she was bending forward slightly.
“Shiny.” She smiled, rubbing at the scar on her belly.
“Doc’ll take a look,” Mal said, hiding his concern. “Soon as we get back.”
Mal turned away, but Zoe’s voice stopped him.
“Captain?” she called, turning one of the bad guys over.
Mal looked down. The face was dirty, dusty from where he’d rolled down the hill after Jayne kicked him, but familiar. “Jen dao mei,” he murmured. “One of Patience’s boys.”
“Think she’s in on this?”
“I really don’t want to consider that, Zoe. And although I doubt it – she ain't ever dealt in drugs that I'm aware – I don’t exactly want to hang around and discuss it with her if she is.” He strode back to the mules, reaching down and dragging Maddy out from underneath. “Happy now?” he demanded, looking down into her scared face.
“Mal –” She reached for him but he dropped his arm.
“Jayne, finish it,” he ordered.
The big mercenary lifted one of the crates and emptied the contents onto the ground, stamping onto the glass vials with evident enjoyment. He did the same with the second, screwing the soles of his boots into them until there was nothing left but glass dust and dampness. “Gorram drops,” he muttered. “Ain't no excuse for ‘em.”
“I’d have thought you wouldn’t want to see potential money wasted like that,” Simon said softly, slapping a field dressing on Jess Adams’ shoulder.
“Ya think I’m that much of a bastard?” Jayne asked in return.
“I thought you did anything for money.”
“Well, ya thought wrong.” He destroyed the last of the ampoules and stood straight. “We heading back?”
Mal nodded. “Yeah. Get these two back to Serenity. Freya and me‘ll bring back the old mule, make sure we ain‘t followed.”
“On it, Mal.”
“And cut me some of that brush before you go.”
Jayne grinned and jogged off to the bushes, drawing his knife from its sheath.
“There’s no money on them, sir,” Zoe said, standing from where she’d been searching the bodies.
“Figured there wouldn’t be.” Mal looked at Maddy. “They weren’t planning on paying you the rest – just kill you and leave you here for the buzzards to feed on.”
There was a trace of belligerence back in her face as she began, “Mal –” but he turned away from her.
“Better get going,” he said to Jayne as he dropped a couple of hefty branches at his feet.
“Aw, Mal, I ain’t too sure about this. What if Patience is part of this and she comes after you? I figure I should stay too. Zoe and the doc can handle this pair – they ain’t gonna be left here on their lonesome without the goods.”
Mal flashed a smile. “Might be good. Okay. Get those branches strapped to the back of the mule – I don’t want to be leaving any noticeable tracks.”
Zoe climbed onto the hover mule. “If you need us, call, sir,” she said starting the engine.
“Hopefully we won’t, but I’d be obliged if you’d keep an ear out.”
“We’ll be listening, sir.”
He half smiled as the hover moved off. “Long as you do. Got a wedding to get to yet.”
The mule trundled slowly across the valley floor, Freya driving, as the sun rose higher. As they reached the end, Mal swore under his breath. “Ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng.”
Five horsed riders were sitting in their way, and Freya had to pull the old vehicle over.
“Mal Reynolds?” said the old lady perched up on one of the horses. “That you?”
“Morning, Patience,” Mal said, managing a slight smile. “How’ve you been?”
“Oh, keeping fine.” She settled herself more comfortably in the saddle. “Been a long damn while since I seen you.”
“Circumstances, Patience.” Mal looked at the men with her. “This feels kinda familiar.”
“Really?” She glanced around. “You mean when you shot my men and left me for dead?”
“Didn’t shoot you. And you were trying to rob me,” Mal pointed out. “Oh, and kill me too.”
“That’s air through the engine,” Patience said, waving it away with her hand. “So what’re you and that sorry-assed crew of yours doing here?”
“Do I need permission?” he asked in turn, feeling Jayne next to him begin to tense.
“Depends on what you’re doing here.”
Mal grinned suddenly. “Just taking in the sights.”
“Not much to see around here.”
“Oh, you’d be surprised. And Frey here ain’t never been to Whitefall.” He clapped the woman in front of him on the shoulder.
“Zoe finally realised you’re not worth keeping alive?”
“But you got a new piece of fluff to keep you going?”
Mal grinned. “Something like that.”
“You shoulda let me know you were coming,” Patience said. “I’d’a laid on a party for y’all.”
“Like the last one?” Jayne ground out.
“That was business,” Mal said, glancing at him. “Ain’t that so, Patience?”
“That it was.” The old lady nodded grudgingly.
“And I bet you got a good price for those protein bars.”
“Did okay. Would have been better if you hadn’t’a ambushed us.”
“Well, kinda thought you’d done that to me, so I figure we’re even.”
Patience contemplated him thoughtfully. “Reckon we are,” she said finally. “Still doesn’t explain what you’re doing out here.”
She was interrupted by a comlink buzzing, and a low conversation behind her. One of her men urged his horse next to hers and whispered in her ear.
“Mal,” Jayne breathed, easing his hand towards his gunbelt.
Patience looked back at them. “Just got word one of my boys is dead, along with some others. Back there a ways.” She nodded back the way they’d come. “Don’t suppose you know anything about this, do you, Mal?”
There was a silence only broken by the sound of safeties being clicked off.
“Any idea what he was doing out here?” Mal asked finally, his hand close to his gun but not drawing.
“Nope,” Patience admitted. “I was kinda hoping to ask him that myself. Though I guess I might need a preacher to do that now.”
“Did they find anything else?”
She glanced at the man with the comlink and he muttered into it. A second later there was a muted response. Under her wide hat Patience looked surprised.
“He was dealing drops, Patience,” Mal went on. “Now I know you don’t hold with drugs, unless it’s alcohol or some such, so I figure he was doing this behind your back.”
“And what’s your involvement?” the woman asked, neither agreeing nor disagreeing.
Patience roared with laughter. “Innocent? Mal, you ain’t been that since the day you came crying.”
Mal sighed. “They were being transported on my ship. Unbeknownst to me,” he added quickly.
“Yeah. Don’t see you holding with that either.” Patience regarded him with a cool eye. “Mighta had to shoot the boy myself.”
“Then we saved you the cost of a bullet.”
“Reckon you did.”
They stared at each other a while longer. “So, if you don’t mind, I got business elsewhere,” Mal said eventually.
“And you think I should just let you walk?”
Still engaged in the staring contest, Mal shrugged. “If you wanna shoot me, go ahead. Only I got nothing worth stealing, and truth is, I got a wedding to get to, so I’d be obliged if you’d just let me get to it.”
Patience pricked up her ears. “A wedding? Whose?”
Jayne shot him an astonished glare as Patience and her men laughed.
“What boo hway-hun duh puo-foo would agree to marry you?” the old woman asked, wiping tears from her eyes.
“Me,” Freya said, not taking her gaze off the people in front.
“And I thought you looked kinda sensible.” Patience shook her head. “Always thought you were wed to that heap of gos se you call a boat, Mal.”
“Shotgun wedding,” Mal said.
“Well, ain’t that sweet. Still …” She stopped and suddenly tension was back. “I figure you still owe me.”
“You got your goods, I got paid,” Mal said quietly. “Why start making such a fussing now?”
“You damaged my reputation. I don’t take kindly to folks what do that.”
“I would have thought you’d take less kindly to being dead,” Freya put in.
“Are you threatening me, girl?” Patience asked, really looking at her for the first time, noting the gun, the set to her shoulders, the calmness in her face.
Freya looked up at the skyline above them, to where Zoe was standing, her carbine aimed at the old woman. Then she turned to her left, nodding to where Hank had a rifle doing pretty much the same thing. And to the right, where River, her pretty dress floating out in the breeze, stood barefoot, a gun in each hand. “Not threatening. Just telling it like it is.”
Mal smiled. “Patience, we don’t want no bloodshed here. There’s been enough of that today.” He carefully, and very obviously, moved his hand away from his gun. “Let’s just call it even and all go on our merry.”
Patience looked from one to the other, feeling the prickling of gunsights on her scrawny chest. Then she laughed. “Mal, if you were a religious man I’d say you had the luck of the devil.”
“Nope,” Mal disagreed. “Just good people with me.”
“Better marry this one ‘fore she gets away.”
“I intend to.”
Patience sat back in her saddle. “Evens it is.” She looked at her men and nodded. There was the much more reassuring sound of safeties being clicked back on. “And you’re right – I don’t own with drops. Lots of other ways to kill yourself if you really want. Like coming back here without an invitation.”
“Just gonna drop off my legitimate cargo and be gone,” Mal assured her.
“And next time, I get a discount.”
Mal smiled. “Sure.”
Patience turned her horse. “Oh, and congratulations,” she threw over her shoulder. “You ain’t gonna be a widow ‘fore you get hitched. This time.” She rode out, her men following.
Zoe slid down the scree slope.
“Jayne, make sure she don’t double back,” Mal ordered, and the big man jumped from the mule, loping off. “And what were you all doing here?” he asked his first mate.
“Just thought you might need a little back-up, sir,” she said. “In case you ran into anybody determined to take your head clean off your shoulders.”
Mal nodded. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. Can’t have the groom dead before his wedding day.”
“How did you –”
Mal considered being angry, but decided it wasn’t worth it. “Does everyone know?”
“I think Jayne may still –”
“Um, no, he knows now.”
“Then pretty much.” She smiled. “You can’t keep secrets on Serenity, sir.”
“Seems like,” he agreed.
Jayne jogged back. “They’ve gone, Mal.”
“Then so should we.” He waved up at River and Hank, and they dropped back out of sight. “I think I’d like to get going before Patience changes her mind.” He reached back and released the ties holding the branches to the back of the mule, and Freya fired it up.
“You gonna hand us over to the Alliance?” Maddy asked, standing in the common area.
Simon was dressing the wound in Jess’s shoulder, Sadie standing to one side, glaring at him.
“You really don’t know me, do you?” Mal shook his head sadly. “I ain’t handing you over to no-one. But I ended men for you, Maddy, and I ain't gonna forgive that. We’ll take you and your families to the town, like we planned, then what you do is up to you. I ain't responsible for you no more.”
“I wasn’t going to leave my kids, you know. We were coming back for them.”
Mal looked down at her. “I’m not sure I care.”
She put her hand on his arm. “We were so close once …”
He pulled away. “Stop playing me, Maddy. It ain’t gonna work.” He glanced into the infirmary. “That what you did with him? Made out you were so in love with him that he’d agree to anything?”
“He wasn’t so innocent,” she said firmly. “He made a play for me, long time ago.”
“While your husband was still alive?”
“I needed some kindness.” She shrugged.
Mal almost smiled. “You know, you remind me of someone I met once. Twice, actually. She played me first time. I didn’t let her do it the second.”
“No. Someone else entirely.”
They stared at each other.
“I won’t stay here,” she said finally. “On Whitefall.”
“Up to you.”
“You could take us to Persephone.” She tried once more, moving close to him, letting him feel her warmth against his thigh.
“No, Maddy, I can’t. I contracted to bring you and yours to Whitefall, which I’ve done. Job’s finished. You’re getting off.” He stepped away from her and went into the infirmary, leaving her glaring.
“He’s going to be fine, Mal,” Simon said, glancing up.
“Is he?” Mal asked Sadie.
She looked at him, then back at her husband. “That depends. I can’t believe he’d do something like this … I mean, drops … of all the …” She shook her head. “You’d think, with kids, he’d …”
“Men do stupid things sometimes,” Mal said.
“Are you trying to make excuses for him?”
“No. I wouldn’t do that, Ms Adams. Like you said, these were drops.”
“But you think I should take him back?”
Mal smiled a little. “I think you should dump him out the airlock.”
“Don’t think that hasn’t crossed my mind. But I won’t. Not yet. We’ve got history, three kids … and …” Her face fell. “I don’t know.”
“Ms Adams, if you want me to take you on to Persephone, I will. With your children.”
“No. Not him nor Maddy.”
“I don’t blame you. But I’ll stay here. What else do I have to do?”
Mal put his hand on her arm and squeezed gently. “You’re a good woman.”
“No. Just resigned.”
Mal watched as Whitefall fell away beneath them, glad to see the back of it again. And at least this time he only had another graze, not a full blown bullet wound.
Sadie Adams had stayed behind with her husband, and as the ramp had lifted and the cargo bay doors closed, Mal had watched as Maddy glared at him.
“Is that what marriage is, Hank?” he asked quietly.
“What, people doing stupid things and getting forgiven for ‘em?” He laughed. “Pretty much. And you’ve had practice with that already, so don’t go thinking it’ll be anything different to what you’ve already done.”
“Is this mutiny?”
“Nope. Just honesty.” The flames outside died and they were in the black. “And if you’re thinking that Freya would ever do anything like that to you, don’t.”
“I’m not,” Mal assured him, speaking from his heart. “She’s been through so much, and she’s …” He smiled. “She’s Freya.”
“I know what you mean. And I know Risa would never …” He paused, staring out into the stars. “I have to say, I think Maddy was in the minority. Most women ain’t like that.” He shook himself. “And speaking of which, I got the dates from Boros, and the other information you wanted, so …”
Mal grinned. “Time to organise this wedding.”
Wednesday, November 22, 2006 6:02 AM
Wednesday, November 22, 2006 7:15 AM
Thursday, November 23, 2006 1:33 PM
Thursday, November 23, 2006 7:32 PM
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