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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Second in a short series. A face from the past and a new problem ... Thank so much for the positive feedback on this and my other stories! You make it worthwhile!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1648 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“That’s him,” said the woman outside, pointing directly at him. “That’s my husband.”
Mal stared at the red-head in front of him. “Saffron?” His mouth dropped. “What the diyu –“
“Captain Malcolm Reynolds?” asked one of the men standing behind her, not seeing the smile on her face.
“What?” He stared at him. “Yes. Look, what –“
“You are bound by law and ordered to stand down.” The man, whom Mal now realised was in a Federal uniform, stepped forward and produced a set of handcuffs.
Mal backed up. “Whoa, there. What for?”
“It may be fine on some of the border moons, sir, but bigamy is still illegal on Boros.”
“Big …” Mal felt his jaw drop again.
“Mal?” Freya was beside him, a sheet wrapped around her. “What’s going on?”
“Not rightly sure,” he managed to say. “Saffron …”
“And that’s her,” the young woman, sniffing most sorrowfully, said. “The one who took him from me.”
“Mal?” Freya looked from one to the other, a murderous gleam starting to appear in her eye. “Is this who I think it is?”
“We ain’t married!” he insisted.
“No, sir, I should say you’re not,” the Fed said, reaching to take hold of Mal’s wrists.
“No,” Mal said, moving back. “Not me and her,” he pointed to Freya. “Me and her!” He pointed to Saffron.
“Well, that will be for a court to decide. I imagine they’re going to enjoy this.” He smiled, but with no humour in it. “Particularly with what we’ve found on board your ship.”
“What is it?” Zoe asked, looking round at River who was clinging to Jayne.
Zoe’s hand slapped to her thigh, but she was unarmed. “Gao yang jong duh goo yang,” she muttered. “Should never go anywhere without it.”
Hank walked a few paces ahead, able to see Serenity’s cargo bay doors were open.
“Get back here, little man,” Jayne whispered loudly.
“Looks like they’re Feds,” Hank said, ducking behind the corner of a building.
“Feds?” Zoe joined him. “What would they be doing breaking into our ship?”
Jayne was suddenly at her elbow, a small pistol in his hand. “Could always go and ask.”
“Where did you –“ Hank stopped, staring at the gun. “Never mind.”
“I don’t go anywhere without something on me.”
“And going shooting up a bunch of Feds is the best you can come up with?” Zoe asked. “Stay here.” She started towards the Firefly before the others could stop her.
“What’s going on?” Inara asked, coming up behind them.
“I think Zoe’s finally broken that screw loose,” Jayne said.
“Gentlemen,” Serenity’s first mate called as she approached the open cargo bay. Five men and an officer turned at her voice. “Can I help you at all?”
“Where is Captain Reynolds?” the officer asked.
“On his honeymoon,” she said, smiling.
The officer noticed her smile didn’t quite meet her eyes. “And you are?”
“Zoe Washburne. First mate. In the captain’s absence I'm in charge.” She put her thumbs into her pants pockets.
“Then perhaps you can explain this.” The officer tapped the box at his feet with his stick.
One of those, Zoe thought. Probably newly made up, thought you had to have some symbol of authority to make people do what you wanted. Ah well, might play along for a while. “It’s cargo,” she said. “Someone’s supposed to come and pick it up tomorrow.”
“I believe that’s what I said.”
“And someone’s coming to pick it up.”
Zoe chuckled. “You know, I reckon we’ve got that echo back, because I'm sure I just told you that.” She glanced at the box and noticed the lid was loose. “No idea what’s inside it, though,” she added.
“Really.” The officer stiffened as the rest of Serenity’s crew approached.
“You okay, Zo?” a big man asked, his hands behind his back.
“You need any help?” another man, this one shorter, with scruffy brown hair, put in.
“No, thanks, honey, I think I’ve got this one,” the woman, Zoe, said.
The man who had spoken seemed almost shocked, breaking into a most inappropriate grin.
Behind them, coming out of the darkness, were another man and three women, one holding a baby.
“Who were you to deliver it to?”
“No idea. But someone was going to come calling for it.”
The officer bent down and lifted out the contents from the box.
“What’s that?” the big man asked. “Some kinda cup?”
“It’s a chalice,” the third man, the one who hadn’t spoken up to now, put in. “It’s used in religious ceremonies.”
“If it’s real, yes.”
“But nothing to you,” the officer said. “We’re not going to arrest you, at least not yet, but your captain has been bound, and will be brought before the courts tomorrow morning.”
“Why?” Zoe asked.
“This was reported stolen from the Museum of Antiquities on Osiris three weeks ago. We received certain … information that it was on board a Firefly. It appears our information was correct.”
“Someone squealed?” the big man asked.
“Your vessel had been land-locked by Port Control, and you are ordered to stay in this city until further notice.” He handed the chalice to one of his men, who slid it back into its box and picked it up. “There may be charges against you.” He smiled. “Have a good evening.”
He strode down the ramp and into the night, his men following.
“I have got to get a stronger lock for the door,” Kaylee muttered. “Just about anyone can walk in.”
“Later, Kaylee,” Zoe said, staring after the men. She glanced at Hank.
“Badger?” the pilot asked.
Hank jogged inside.
“You think they meant it?” Jayne asked. “’Bout the captain being pinched?”
“No reason for them to lie. But I think someone had better go check the hotel.”
Jayne nodded and melted into the darkness.
“What about Freya?” Kaylee asked, her face concerned as she hugged Bethany.
“I'm not sure, mei-mei.” Zoe headed for the bridge. “But we’ll find out.”
“Mal, when I said I didn’t mind where I spent my wedding night, even in jail, I was only joking.”
Mal groaned. “Frey, honey, I kinda know that.”
“I mean, this is one of the nicer ones I’ve been in, but I’d rather go back to the soft bed, that big bath …”
“So, what, this was your idea of a perfect end to the day?”
Mal banged his head back against the wall, hoping that the pain would wake him up from this nightmare. “Nee tuh mah duh hwoon dan,” he murmured.
“What are you doing?” Freya asked from next door.
They hadn’t even put them together, but had thrown them into separate cells. At least they’d let Freya put on a robe, so that when they were marched through the hotel foyer they were decent. Saffron, though, was playing the martyr for all she was worth.
“It was truly terrible, finding he’d run away. I've been searching for him for all this time, and then to get word that he intended to marry someone else … well, I got here as soon as I could, but I was too late to stop the ceremony.” She was crying, her face pressed into the chest of the Federal officer, who had his arm around her, comforting her. “But I couldn’t let him get away with it.”
As they were put into the official vehicle, Mal caught her eye, and she winked at him.
“Better be careful,” he said to the officer. “Or she’ll up and marry you too.”
Now they were sitting in cold cells, and he knew Freya was very angry. And probably pretty upset.
“Frey, I didn’t do this on purpose,” he said, leaning his head against the wall and hoping she was just the other side.
She was. “I know. But this Saffron …”
“I don’t even know how she got here!” he insisted. “The last I heard she’d been arrested for stealing the Lassiter.”
“The one you sold?”
“That’s the one.”
“And you don’t think that might have put her in something of a bad mood?”
“Maybe a little.” He sighed. “But I’d’ve thought she’d just have shot me instead of all this malarkey.”
“Don’t think it hasn’t crossed my mind too.”
He turned so he could look out, trying to see into her cell. “I didn’t do this on purpose!”
He put his arm through the bars, trying to get as far round the corner as he could. “Frey, I love you. You have to believe me.”
He felt something touch his fingers, and her hand slipped into his. She squeezed. “I know.”
The door from the main office opened and one of the Feds stood there, his stun gun at the ready. “None of that now,” he said. “No fraternisation.”
“Wasn’t fraternising,” Mal said. “Just holding hands with my wife.”
“That’s a matter of opinion. Just get back.”
Mal reluctantly let go, and the Fed moved to Freya’s cell. “You’re getting out of here,” he said. “You’re not free, but you can go and join the rest of that luh suh crew.” He pressed the key to the plate and the door swung open.
Freya stepped out and immediately turned to Mal. “Are you okay?” she asked, reaching in to him, her face pale.
He felt her hand brush his face before the guard pulled her back. “I told you before.” He pushed her towards the door. “Before we change our minds.”
Freya glanced back over her shoulder and saw Mal smile and nod. “Okay,” she said. “But this isn’t over.”
“Tell that to the judge,” the guard said as he closed the door behind them.
Mal sank back down onto the bench and closed his eyes. At least she was out of here. Now he could concentrate on what Saffron was up to, and, more importantly, how to get his hands around her neck.
“Are you okay?” Inara asked, putting her arm around Freya’s shoulders.
“You mean apart from having armed Feds burst in on us and drag us out of the hotel and throw us in jail – oh, peachy.”
Inara forgave the testiness in her voice. “I mean, did they hurt you?”
“No.” Freya looked back. “They won’t let him out.”
“No.” Inara sighed. “I've spoken to some people I know here, but they can’t help. It seems there’s been something of a crackdown on illegal activities, and Mal’s just got himself caught up in it.”
“Not quite.” Freya’s face darkened.
“What? I don’t understand.”
“Did you get my stuff from the hotel?” Freya asked, apparently changing the subject, heading out of the Alliance building.
“What?” Inara shook herself. She really must stop being constantly surprised by this woman. Or at least not showing it. “Yes. Jayne picked then up.”
“Mmn. Even the sixpence.”
“Good. And someone needs to take some clothes for Mal.” Freya looked down at the robe she was wearing and took a deep breath. “Inara, what do you know about a woman called Saffron?”
“Sir.” Zoe stood outside the cell door.
“Zoe! Great!” Mal said, standing up. “You come to get me out?”
“I wish I had, sir, but they’ve only let me bring your clothes.” She passed a small bundle through the bars, having to push his boots through one at a time. “Although the robe suits you rather well.”
He shrugged off the robe and started to dress. “What about Freya?”
“She’s fine. Not particularly happy with you, but otherwise she’s okay.” She didn’t turn away. She’d seen Mal naked before, and it didn’t do much for her.
“I didn’t do this on purpose, Zoe,” he said, slipping into his pants and buttoning them up.
“Never said you did, sir.”
“Only the look on your face –“
“What look’s that, sir?”
Mal pulled on his shirt. “It’s the one you get when you think I’ve done something stupid.”
“I wouldn’t know, sir.”
He gave her a look of his own. “But she told you?”
“About Saffron? Yes sir. In very colourful language.”
Mal couldn’t help his lips twitching. “I'm sure she did.” He sat on the bunk and pulled on his boots. “So what did they find on board?”
“It’s a sort of cup, according to Simon. Solid gold, with gemstones.”
“Where the hell did we get that?” He stood up, pulling his suspenders over his shoulders.
“It was in Badger’s crate.” She waited for the explosion, but none came.
“Did you speak to him?” Mal asked quietly.
“I tried, sir. He was … unavailable.”
“Hank’s still on it, but the message we’re getting is that Badger is on vacation.”
“One of these days I am going to take that little weasel apart,” Mal promised, finishing buttoning his shirt.
“Do you think this is all connected, sir?” Zoe asked.
“Saffron turns up and has me arrested, then the Feds find something like that on my boat? What do you think?”
“I think there’s very little we can do until after court tomorrow.” She shook her head. “You’d better get some sleep, sir.”
“You think I'm going to be able to?” Mal asked astonished.
Judge Udall was not having a good day. His wife had been mad at him, his daughter had stayed out all night again – the two things were probably connected – and now he had to deal with this man standing in his courtroom as if he owned the place.
“This chalice is valuable, I understand,” he said, wishing he had had time to take a soother before sitting down. Or maybe a painkiller. Or just a shot of something purely medicinal. “We’re notifying the Museum of its recovery, but might not hear back for a day or so. In the meantime, as yet there’s no firm evidence that you were the actual thief.”
“Sir, I picked up the package in good faith,” Mal said, standing almost at attention, his hands by his sides. “All I was told was to deliver it to someone on Boros. Which I had planned to do.”
“And you claim you didn’t know what was in it?”
“Not just claimed, sir.” Mal was using his old voice, the one Sergeant Reynolds used to use when talking to his superior officer, the one he could get out of most trouble with.
“And who gave it to you?”
Mal paused. As much as he wanted to drop Badger in it up to his bowler hat, he was equally aware the little man might be his only chance of beating this. “Sir, I can’t answer that.”
“You know that doesn’t bode well for you, don’t you?”
“Yes sir, I do.”
“Well, they do say there’s honour among thieves.” Judge Udall shook his head. “But that is a question for another day. Of much more interest is your other little problem.” He indicated the two women standing on the other side of the courtroom from the prisoner. “Two women, both claiming to be your wife. And which is it, Captain?”
Mal looked across at Freya, standing so tall and proud, and Saffron, who appeared to be simpering at him, and tried to take control of himself. “Sir,” he said, “Freya is my wife. I married her here, on Boros.”
“And when was this?” the judge asked.
“A little under twenty hours, sir. In front of the Prefect.”
“I see. That certainly seems –“
“I married him three years ago,” Saffron interrupted. “At the Triumph settlement.”
“That wasn’t legal!” Mal said quickly.
“No? I can call on Elder Gammon to give evidence, if the Court requires it.” Her smile grew wider. “It might take a while to get him here, of course.”
Judge Udall looked at Saffron, then back to Mal. Is this true, Captain?”
Mal wondered whether it was worth lying, then said with a resigned expression, “It’s true, sir. At least, as far as it goes. She hitched me by surprise then tried to steal my boat out from under me!”
“But you married her.”
“So did lots of other men!” Mal insisted, his voice getting louder. “I wasn't the first!”
“Prove it,” Saffron said sweetly.
“Can you?” the judge asked.
“Well, no. But I could probably get –“ Mal stopped. If he admitted that Durren Haymer was Saffron’s first and only legal husband, he’d have to explain how he knew this, and then it would all get complicated by the Lassiter, how he’d finally managed to fence it, for a fraction of what it was really worth, and upgrade Serenity, as well as buying a few little luxuries like food. But without that …
“Enough, enough,” Judge Udall said, waving his hands. “This could go on forever, it seems to me.” He sighed and looked at the three of them, his gaze contemplative. “The question before this court is whether to grant Captain Reynolds bail at all, and then into whose custody to place him. The landlock on his ship will ensure he actually stays here, but as to the other matter … Well, all parties have confirmed that this young lady here definitely married the prisoner first, no matter what the circumstances and the legality of the proceedings. In this particular case, and until the evidence can be fully gathered, I grant custody of Captain Reynolds to Saffron Reynolds.”
The redhead smiled.
“Sir –“ Freya began, but was waved down.
“No. The decision has been made. And no trying to see the accused, either. Otherwise you’ll find yourself thrown back in jail for contempt of court.” Judge Udall stood up. “We will reconvene tomorrow.” He looked at Mal sternly. “And I suggest you use the time wisely.”
to be continued
Thursday, November 23, 2006 11:14 PM
Thursday, November 23, 2006 11:53 PM
Friday, November 24, 2006 1:54 AM
Friday, November 24, 2006 12:02 PM
Saturday, November 25, 2006 2:25 AM
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