Sign Up | Log In
BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Simon is 'volunteered' to visit House Madrassa, Zoe gets closer to uncovering the truth about Wash and the finger of suspicion starts pointing towards Monty.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1603 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Is it nearly April 22nd yet?
* * * * *
CHECK MATE: Discovered.
* * * * *
“Oh, well done, hubby! You've just royally screwed us!”
“You sent Malcolm Reynolds your condolences! You stupid hou zi de pigu!”
“What's wrong with that?”
“You said nice things about Inara, you piece of crap! Mal had no idea you'd even heard of her, let alone knew her personally! It isn't going to take him long now to connect us – you – to her death.”
“I didn't want her dead ... You didn't have to go that far, Bridget. You only had to find out about the syringe ... You've broken his heart, you know that, don't you?”
“Pah! Malcolm Reynolds doesn't have a heart!”
“Well, that's where you're wrong ... Jus' 'cos he di'n't fall for your charms ...”
“You know something? He had me wonderin' if he might be sly. But I guess you'd know for sure. What with you two bein' such close buddies.”
“I ain't sly! Looks like the ol' sayin's true - Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
“Monty, sweetheart, sometimes I think you have absolutely no smarts at all. For me, this was never about Mal. It's always been about the Malleus. Breaking up that self-satisfied crew was jus' a bonus!”
“Hey! Where ya goin'?”
“I'm leaving you.”
“But you promised to love, honour and obey, Bridget. Gorramit, you married me!”
“You an' a dozen others.'Bye, peaches. Don't try to find me.”
If only there were a mirror in his bunk Simon would know just how ridiculous he looks. As it is, he can only imagine. Everything pinches and nips. These pants – the best he has – cling in ways he fears may well be obscene. Trying to walk normally in them is impossible. And this shirt – his shiny silk shirt – is so tight he can clearly see the outline of his nipples.
He blames the woeful lack of laundry facilities on Serenity and wonders briefly whether these garments should ever have been placed in soapy water. Having to wash his own clothes is one of the many humiliations life as a fugitive has brought him.
Then again, he's been doing more physical work than at any time in his life. Always had people to fetch and carry for him before. Now he's called on to lug crates about, move equipment and generally help out with whatever needs doing. Maybe he has better muscle definition than before?
The door slides open and River enters. Her eyes flicker quickly over him and light up with amusement. “You look ridiculous!” she snickers, diverting him from delivering the lecture he'd prepared about the advisability at keeping some distance between herself and the Captain at a time when he's emotionally vulnerable and likely to make bad judgements. How come she's alway lucid when teasing him? “Kaylee! Come and see Simon!”
Kaylee is there in a heartbeat. Her eyes grow wide and she presses her lips tightly together as she tries not to laugh. She is not entirely successful. “Mornin', Doctor Tightpants!” she splutters.
Simon flushes. “I can't do this ..,” he gestures helplessly.
“'Course you can,” Kaylee tells him with an encouraging smile. “You look real shuai. Jus' like one of Inara's clients...” Her voice catches at the thought of her friend but she pulls herself together valiantly and smiles again. “'S your kinda world, after all.” He's still looking mighty uneasy, so she starts adjusting his clothing ever so slightly, fussing over him, for all the world like an attentive girlfriend. Which only makes him more awkward.
“Tha's you. All ready,” she declares and finally she's not touching him any more. “Let's go find the Cap'n.”
Simon takes a deep breath and steps out into the hallway.
River nudges Kaylee. “Cake's not done baking,” she tells her confidentially. “Eating it before it's ready'll only lead to indigestion. Everyone knows that.”
“What the hell ya doin' preacher?” Jayne demands, as he descends the stairs into the cargo bay. “How many times I gotta tell you, you need someone to spot you? Them weights ain't Bibles you know.”
“I can manage ...” Book pants but his arms are being to shake from the effort of pushing the dumbell up from his chest.
“I don't think so. Here, let me get that for you.” Jayne lifts the weight with one hand and replaces it on the rack. Book lets out a sigh of relief. “Thank you.”
“You in a hurry to meet the Lord?” Jayne asks, glaring him. Yu ben de preacher's gonna kill himself at this rate. “I can't hardly lift that one more'n thirty times.”
“Thought it best to keep out of people's way. In the circumstances,” Book explains, keeping his voice low so that Wash and Zoe, engaged in a serious conversation of their own, don't hear him. “Didn't want to put you in an awkward position.”
“Hell, Preacher. I di'n't fight in no war. I ain't interested in politics. Nor by-gones. What you did to them women – well, way I see it – they was the enemy. They'd've done the same to you given the chance. Or handed you over to them as would. You was jus' doin' your job.”
“Following orders,” Book agrees bitterly. “Not really an excuse.”
“Yeah, well, not my concern. Personally, I'm glad you know one end of a gun from the other. Not like some we got on board ...”
Right on cue, Simon appears at the top of the stairs. Jayne takes one look at him and curses softly.
“Oh, my!” Book breathes.
Mal, who's been feeding the horses, looks up. “You all set, son? Got the cash?” Simon nods and holds up the briefcase he's carrying. “Well, come on then. Ain't got all day.”
As Simon makes his way down to the cargo bay, Mal addresses Jayne. “Mighty good of you to contribute your own coin towards this venture, Jayne. Specially since you'da liked the job yourself.”
Jayne grins. “You know me, Mal. Anythin' for my crew. 'Sides, look at him! Dressed like that he's likely to earn more'n he spends!”
Mal scrutinizes his medic who fidgets uncomfortably as Mal's eyes rake over him. Jayne ain't wrong. In them clothes, Doc might well get mistaken for a boy-whore. “Best put a coat on, Simon,” he advises. “Zoe, lend him yours, will ya? Ain't so brown as mine.”
Wash shoots Zoe a meaningful look which she ignores. “Can't do that, Sir. Be needin' it myself.”
“Zoe!” Wash exclaims. “Thought we'd talked this through...”
She resolutely refuses to meet his eye and instead turns to Mal. “It's a Core planet, Sir. You need someone to watch your back. Besides, ain't like there's gonna be any trouble. They arrest you for walking funny” - is Simon imagining everyone glancing at him? - “on central planets.”
Mal shakes his head. “You ain't comin' Zoe. Sihnon's crawlin' with feds. Can't risk you getting' into a fight. Doin' somethin' that might harm the baby ...”
Zoe's eyes smoulder mutinously but she starts peeling off her coat. Wash's smoulder with annoyance. More of that obeyin' going on. Right under his nose! The fact that Mal's getting her to do what he himself wanted is no damn consolation at all.
“He loses that coat, Sir ... gets anything nasty on it,” Zoe growls at Mal, “You're buyin' me a new one.”
The sight of Zoe always makes his heart beat a little faster. Normally with desire. Today the desire's undeniably there, but also a tiny helping of – not fear, exactly – more like wariness.
“We did agree ...” he starts, all reasonable husband, reaching out for her.
She steps back. Right now she could beat Mal in a glowering contest. “We agreed I wou'n't go anywhere dangerous,” she corrects him, planting each word like she's laying mines. “Sihnon is the most orderly, least dangerous planet in the whole damn 'verse. Besides, don't like bein' told what I can an' can't do.”
“Except when it's Mal doin' the tellin'!” Wash is in danger of losing his temper. “Don't tell me it's 'cos he's the Captain. It goes deeper than that. Truth is, you respect him more than you do me. Your own husband!”
“He earned it!” she flings back. “You've got no idea .. What is was like... The war.”
“Oh, here we go. The gorram war again!” Damn but she's beautiful when she's mad. “The war is over. You lost. We won. Forget it!” Not to mention hot.
Zoe looks stunned. “We won?” she asks. “What'n the diyu d'you mean by that?”
Wash doesn't know. His blood is racing all sorts of places it shouldn't be in the middle of a row. He shrugs helplessly. “I don't know, woolie-tum. The ordinary folk, I guess...”
Zoe shakes her head. “There's something you're not tellin' me. Like how come you know about military aircraft recognition procedures. Why you called the Independents 'rebels'. And what about you wearin' a uniform? Think that little snippet wouldn't get back to me?”
“This is crazy!” Wash pulls at his hair. “You're talkin' crazy.”
Zoe shakes her head. Her eyes narrow, but the anger has left them, replaced by suspicion, calculation. “The Shepherd mentioned somethin' after the two of you got me and Mal out of jail. Think he was tryin' to suss out which side you was on in case he ever had to tell us his story...”
Wash goes silent. And in the silence he had the oddest sensation – or is it a recollection? – of coarse, heavy linen against his skin. There's a feeling that goes with it ... a feeling of pride. No, this is crazy! He never wore a uniform in his entire life!
Zoe is watching him carefully, her eyes tracking every emotion that passes across his face. He meets her eye and she smiles gently at him. Then she takes him in her arms and kisses his cheek. “Remember when River hijacked the shuttle?” she asks. He nods. “Remember you knew how to track through the Black?” He nods again. “Remember how?”
“Standard military aircraft recognition procedures...” he says, as if repeating something he's learnt by rote. His mouth falls open in dismay and his face is a picture of distress. “How do I know a good gorram about military procedures, Zoe? What in the tian xiao de does this mean?”
“Don't know, bao bei,” she replies, frowning slightly. “But I think it might have somethin' to do with Inara tryin' to kill you. She seemed mighty interested in you knowin' about those procedures too.”
“Can't you jus' ..?” Aware that any verbal comment on the way Simon is walking might make the boy even more twitchy, Mal tries to demonstrate what he means by throwing his head back, squaring his shoulders and adopting a bit of a swagger as they walk along.
“No, Mal, I really can't!” Simon snaps at him. “I'm not sure I can do this at all.”
Mal puts a reassuring hand on his back. Even through Zoe's coat (which looks better on him than he'd expected), Simon can feel its heat. “OK, son. Calm down. All you gotta do is go in, book a session with Pianhu and talk to her.”
“It's just not my kind of place, Mal,” Simon says hoping for a last minute reprieve.
Mal grunts. “Not my kinda place either.”
Curiosity gets the better of the doctor. “Really? You seemed comfortable enough at the Heart of Gold. I thought you and Nan...”
“Different kinda place, altogether,” Mal tells him gruffily, making it clear they ain't goin' down that road. “Here we are. In you go.” And he gives Simon a little shove towards the door. “I'll wait out here.”
Simon's stomach flips over and his armpits prickle. He swallows hard, his Adam's apple bobbing uncomfortably against his collar. Then he takes a deep breath and makes for the entrance to House Madrassa, leaving Mal alone to pace the street anxiously. To torture himself with the thought that every man who enters might once have been one of Inara's clients.
“She's heading for Newhall,” Parkin decides from the trajectory shown on his screen.
“Well, that is tiresome,” Rantoong comments with a sigh. “Not sure we have anyone suitable in that quadrant. Well, apart from the obvious.”
“And Reynolds is on Sihnon,” his colleague continues.
Rantoong dismisses the news with a slight wave of his hand. “Probably taking a wreath to the whore-house. Sihnon's more or less on his way, after all. No need for concern.”
Parkin's instinct tells him otherwise. He says nothing, but for the first time he questions the older man's infallibility.
“Pianhu is currently engaged with a client,” the immaculately made-up receptionist tells him. “We do have other Companions available immediately.” The air is thick with the heady scent of lilies. It's a smell Simon has never much liked. Ever since learning in Earth-that-was history lessons that in the days before refrigeration the sickly perfume was used in funeral homes to mask the sweet smell of decay. Of putrefaction and corruption. The irony of finding lilies here is not lost on him.
Simon shakes his head. “No. Thankyou. I'll wait. It must be Pianhu.”
“You've had previous appointments with her?”
“No. Uh. She was -uh- recommended by a friend.” Could he sound any more out of his depth?
“I see. You are aware, Sir, that a Companion chooses her own clients. Your proposal might not be acceptable.”
Wo de ma! This is so much harder than he'd expected. “It's OK. I – I'll wait.”
A young girl, a trainee he guesses from her simple attire of white silk shift and white slippers, leads him to a waiting room. She pours a cup of jasmine tea, bows and withdraws without a word. The room is cool and peaceful. In the distance he can hear the gentle strumming of a dulcimer. A picture window looks out into a garden of drifts of gravel, dotted with small conifers. Shimmering blue dragonflies hover over an ornamental pond. The whole designed to induce a feeling of serenity.
Simon gives a little snort at the irony. Serenity. If it weren't for Mal ... well, so many things ...
Suddenly there's the sound of heels on marble floor tiles and one of the most beautiful woman he has ever seen is standing before him. Almond shaped eyes the colour of amethysts in a pale coffee-coloured face, framed by golden curls. She reminds him painfully of Inara. Not her physical appearance, but the way she carries herself. The way her presence is comforting, calming.
“Are you Pianhu?”
She smiles a smile very like Inara's and nods. “And you are?”
Should he tell her? I'm the well-known fugitive Simon Tam. Perhaps not. “My name's not important. I represent Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity.”
He thinks he sees her gaze flit towards the door as if they might be overheard. Imagines a small intake of breath. Barely perceptible indications of fear. “Follow me. We will discuss your proposal somewhere more comfortable.”
Mal slaps his right fist absent-mindedly against his left palm for the umpteenth time and wishes yet again that this damn world weren't so ruttin' polite and ordered. Wishes he could go into a bar and pick a fight with a big, stupid Alliance drunk. Hell, losin' a few teeth'd be better than this endless waitin'.
To make matters worse, acoupla feds across the street been watchin' his every move for the past fifteen minutes. His cheery “Good day to you, officers! Fine job you're doing” came out more sarcastic than he'd planned and now they're scannin' hand-held doodads hopin' to find he's wanted for somethin'.
He's muttering “Wha's that gorram doctor doin' in there all this time?” under his breath when at last – finally, ren ci de Fo zu! - Simon emerges blinking onto the street. Boy ain't lookin' too good. Not much like your typical Companion client. And nothin' like a man who's every last desire has been pandered to ...
Mal strides over to him, aware that the feds are taking an even closer interest in him now. “OK, boss?” he asks loud enough for them to hear as he falls into step beside Simon. “Have a good time, did ya?”
Simon looks momentarily appalled. Mal rolls his eyes towards the feds and his medic nods emphatically. “Yes. Yes, I did.” And then, off Mal's look, more sternly - ”Not that it's any of your business. Time to be getting back.”
”You ain't wrong,” Mal agrees quietly, turning suddenly into a side street and doubling back on the way they came. He scans the street for prying eyes and ears. “OK, Doc, spill. What she say?”
Simon stops and looks the Captain in the eye. There somethin' goin' on in that top three per cent brain Mal can't put his finger on. “Might be best to discuss it back on Serenity.”
“Oh that is jus' so romantic, and so sad!” Kaylee sighs, one elbow on the table and a hand cupping her cheek. She's gazing up adoringly at Simon as he concludes his tale and takes this opportunity to inch closer to him. “She must've really loved him to give up everythin' an' join the Independents.”
River notices Mal bite his lip. “Salad love,” she tells him dismissively in an undertone, brushing invisible crumbs off her skirt.
“You sure you heard right, Doc?” Jayne asks incredulously. “Inara? A Browncoat spy? That what you're sayin'?”
“That is exactly what I am saying,” Simon replies seriously. “According to Pianhu, she was out for revenge on the Alliance after Doran's death.”
Zoe puts a hand on Wash's knee. “Then why attack my man? Don't make no sense, Sir,” she says, turning to Mal. Seated beside him, Book clasps his hands together and looks down at the table. Is he avoiding eye contact?
“No it don't, Zoe. We got all kinds of information here, but I'm thinkin' instead of focusin' on what we do know, we oughta be askin' what we don't,” Mal answers slowly, trying to fit the pieces together in his mind.
“'S'more'n enough of that!” Jayne declares, leaning back in his chair. He begins counting the nagging questions on his fingers. “One” - little finger - “thought the war was over. What use'd them Independents have for a spy? Two,” - ring finger - “if she joined up with a gang of 'em, where are they now? Shou'n't they be lookin' for her? Three,” - middle finger - “what they got against a nobody like Wash? Well, he is!Four,” - forefinger - “what they kill her for? Five -” Having run out of questions, he stares down at his thumb.
“Who else was on Three Hills when she died?” River completes the list for him.
The question unsettles Mal some. Crazy girl got an uncanny knack of hitting the nail on the head sometimes. “Good point, li'l sis,” he nods. “How we ..?”
“Wash can do it,” Zoe interrupts. “If Kaylee can get him into the system, Wash can identify any ships that landed on Three Hills round the time 'Nara died, can't you sweet-cakes?”
“Uh-huh,” Wash replies uncertainly. “I can try.”
Mal pushes his chair back from the table and stands up. “OK, you do that. Think I'll send Monty a wave, set up a meet some place away from Alliance eyes and ears. See if he knows anythin' about Browncoat spies an' the like.”
The others get to their feet too. All except Jayne who, to Zoe's consternation, reminds Mal, “Shou'n't we be headin' for Londinium? Wha's gonna happen to them horses?”
Mal shrugs. “Looks like we might be eatin' steak again soon, Jayne.”
Kaylee is squealing with excitement. “We did it, Wash! We did it!” she exclaims, slapping her hand against his upturned palm. “We are geniuses!”
Zoe smiles warmly at them as she enters the bridge. “So, what we got?” she asks, leaning over her husband's shoulders.
He grins back at her. “Only one type of ship – apart from ours – landed there these past four moons. A Magpie.”
The warmth of Zoe's smile cools. “A Magpie? You sure about that?”
“Absolutely! Know the Alliance finally stopped usin' 'em a year back, but there's no doubt about it. Definitely a Magpie.” Wash insists triumphantly. Then he notices the look on his wife's face. “Why? What's the matter, bao bei?”
Zoe takes a deep breath and straightens up. “Monty's ship is a Magpie.”
Friday, July 23, 2004 4:46 AM
Friday, July 23, 2004 6:51 AM
Friday, July 23, 2004 7:08 AM
Friday, July 23, 2004 8:38 AM
You must log in to post comments.
OTHER FANFICS BY AUTHOR
All FIREFLY graphics and photos on this page are copyright 2002-2012 Mutant Enemy, Inc., Universal Pictures, and 20th Century Fox.
All other graphics and texts are copyright of the contributors to this website.
This website IS NOT affiliated with the Official Firefly Site, Mutant Enemy, Inc., or 20th Century Fox.