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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. The game comes to a head ... I love to hear what you think, so please leave feedback. PG for adult connotations.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2131 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
The sun, as it came up over the horizon, felt so good on her skin. Mal had run inside for a couple of blankets after they’d finally climbed from the water, and they’d stretched out on the cut grass, dozing in each other’s arms. Now, as the dawn receded and the birds calmed, she lay on her own, Mal having gone to find breakfast.
She ran her hands up the outside of her thighs, her hips, above her waist, just grazing the curve of her breasts before putting her arms above her head, stretching, the sun making her feel lazy, sated, as if everything else were too much hassle.
Something wet and warm moved against her toe.
“If that’s not you, you’d better stop.” She kept her eyes tight shut.
“Which you are we talking about here?”
“Well, there’s only a few men on board Serenity, and as they’re all pretty much taken …”
“Maybe I'm the doc, and decided to get a taste of something different.”
“Well, you’re not Hank. Zoe would kill him.”
“And Kaylee wouldn’t kill Simon? How about Jayne? Maybe I'm a big mercenary of very little brain.”
Freya giggled. “Maybe.”
“Did you just giggle?”
She shook her head firmly. “No.”
“You did. You giggled.”
“I don’t giggle. I'm too old to giggle.”
Mal grinned. “I don’t think you’re too old for anything.” He put his mouth back around her toe and sucked gently.
“You like that?”
“So do I. Now they’re all healed up and you‘ll let me, somehow I can’t seem to keep my hands off ‘em.” He began to massage her other foot. She jerked slightly. “Hey, you ticklish?”
“No,” she said, biting her lip.
“You are. Never knew that ‘bout you before.” He ran his thumb down her instep. “Keep learnin’ new things about you.”
“I'm … stop that! I'm not ticklish!”
“Really?” She felt him move up her leg. “How about here?” She felt his fingers graze behind her knee.
“No.” The shudder that ran through her said otherwise.
“Interesting.” He touched her thigh, just his nails pressing ever so gently into her skin, then sweeping up to her hip. “Here?”
“Absolutely not.” The catch in her voice gave her away.
“What about here?”
“That’s not fair.”
“I came to the conclusion a long time ago life ain’t.” He grinned, looking into her face. “So you ain’t ticklish there?”
“Not … ticklish, no.” Her eyelashes fluttered.
They’d been playing for nearly three hours, and the money between the eight of them had moved around the table.
Only now …
“Son of a bitch,” Hank muttered, tossing his cards with venom into the table.
“Seems I win again,” Rankin said, pulling the chips towards him.
“Seems like you do,” Hank ground out.
“It doesn’t look to me like you’ve got that much left to play with.”
“Of course, I’d let you play a marker, but as it’s Melbourne rules …”
“Yes.” Hank thought for a moment, then stood up.
“Leaving?” Rankin asked.
“No.” He grabbed Inara’s arm and dragged her just outside the door.
“What are you –”
“Inara, just look as if I’ve asked you something you don’t like,” Hank murmured, his voice so low she could hardly hear, his back to the table.
“That’s it. Perfect.”
“Hank, you’ve lost almost everything. And the deck is as crooked as he is.”
“I know. And that’s right where I want to be. It means I’ve got the edge.”
“But he’s still got the deal, and there‘s no way he‘s going to give you anything worth having.”
“I know. But like I’ve always said, I’m good. And ‘cause the game’s bad means I can use it against them ‘cause they don’t know I know. Now hit me.”
“Hit me. Not too hard, just as if you’re angry with me.”
“I think I probably am.” Inara suddenly let fly and her palm connected with Hank’s face. The resulting sound filled the small room, and Rankin’s smile grew wider. “Did it hurt?”
“A little. But we‘re nearly there. Play along, okay?” He grabbed her arm, holding as tightly as he dared without bruising. His voice raised. “I bought you the damn thing, now give it to me!”
She understood. “It’s mine! You can’t just give a gift and –”
“I’ll buy you another one! Now just give me the go tsao duh bracelet!”
Inara glared at him, and he almost wilted under her stare, but managed to keep his ground. “Very well,” she said, pulling the bracelet off her wrist. “If you lose it …”
“I won’t lose.”
“That’s what you said last time.”
Hank sat down again, an angry mark across his cheek, and tossed the jewellery to Jinx. “That cost me 5,000 back on Ariel,” he said. “I think it should be worth at least half that here.”
Jinx peered at it, then looked at Rankin, who nodded. “I think that can be arranged,” he said softly.
Jayne peered in the dirty window and grinned. Last hand, it had to be. And it’s the way he’d’a done it if he’d been playing a patsy like Hank was meant to be. Taking him for as much as he could. Not that he cheated at cards. Never saw the point.
“How’s he doing?” Kaylee asked, snuggling up next to him to try and see in.
“I reckon it’s coming to a head.” He glanced down at her. “Your husband know you sneak up on men in dark alleys?”
“You’re not men. You’re Jayne.” She smiled. “’Sides, you’ve got River.”
“I don’t got anyone.” He looked back through the smeared glass. “She just … needs someone right now.”
“She needs you.”
“Well, I just happen to be around.” He straightened a little. “Rankin’s dealing.”
“Ooh, let me see!”
“Nothing to see. Not yet.”
Kaylee elbowed him out of the way, but he was right. Hank was just staring at the three cards he’d been given. She humphed and moved back. “Do you suppose Zoe’s all right?” she asked.
“Throwing up like that. She’s been doing it a lot lately, and I kinda …” She stopped, her eyes wide.
“What?” Jayne asked, his attention not really on her.
“No. It can’t … she never … but he’s always been so …”
Jayne looked down at her. “What the diyu are you talking about, girl?”
Kaylee stood with her mouth open. “I think … I think Zoe’s pregnant.”
“Throwing up, and I think she’s a little more …” She mimed a slight bulge at her waist.
“Are you crazy?”
“Hank wants kids. He’s always talking about them, like when he sits for Bethany and Ethan, and he … oh.” She needed to sit down, but there was only the dirt floor of the alley. Instead she leaned against the wall.
“You okay?” Jayne asked.
“Pregnant. Zoe’s gonna have a baby.”
“Well, you screw around enough it can happen.”
Kaylee slapped him on the arm. “Like you’d know. Mr I ain’t ever gonna get no-one in the family way, I’m too careful.”
“Well, I am.” He peered at her in the small light. “You okay with this?” He looked down at her belly. “What with the doc firing blanks?”
She didn’t answer for a moment, then she nodded slowly. “You know, I think I am. She’s gonna make such a great mom, and as for Hank as a dad … they’re gonna be great.”
“Yeah, but you want another kid. And it don’t look like you’re gonna get one.”
“I don’t mind.” When he just stared at her, she went on, “Honestly. I’ve got Simon and I’ve got Bethany. And I’m happy for Zoe.”
“I guess that’s good, then.” Jayne’s face split into a grin.
“And no going ragging on Hank,” Kaylee warned.
“How’d you –”
“I know you.”
Movement inside the room had Jayne back at the window. “Okay. It’s going down.”
Hank had the full five cards in front of him, as did three of the other men, including Rankin. The others had all ditched their cards, knowing they were no longer a part of this, while the pot of money in the centre of the table had grown very big. About a fortune.
“So,” Rankin said, tapping his teeth with his fingernails. “It’s up to you, Mr Stiles. If you want to see my cards, you’re gonna have to put all the chips you’ve got left into the pot. Otherwise you walk away from this table.”
Hank stared at the backs of his cards, then glanced at Inara, who threw him a cool look before standing up and leaving the room. He didn’t even watch her go.
“You gonna bet?” Jinx asked, almost fidgeting in his excitement.
Rankin held out his hand. “Now, now. Let the man decide.”
Jinx subsided somewhat, but his eyes darted between the two of them.
Hank blew out through his lips. “Okay. Hell, it’s only money.” He reached forward and pushed his remaining chips forward.
Rankin smiled. “I like a man with courage. Of course, I like taking his money too.” He picked up his cards and laid them face up, one at a time, on the table top. “Perfect run.” He sat back, his arrogance notched up to the limit.
“That’s good,” Hank said, shaking his head. “Damn near unbeatable.”
“I think you’ll find I win.” He reached out for the chips.
“Near unbeatable,” Hank repeated, picking up his cards. He started to place them on the wood. The four face cards lay there, waiting for the last one.
“That’s no good,” Rankin said, starting to feel a thread of apprehension down his back. “Even if you’ve drawn another face, that wouldn’t beat my … unless …” He sat forward.
“Unless it was the fool’s card?” Hank finished, putting it down next to the others.
“Damn.” Rankin stared. “Where the hell did …”
“You dealt it to me,” Hank said. “And I guess that means I win.” He looked at Jinx. “I’ll take my cash now.”
Jinx stared at the cards, then up into Rankin’s face.
“If you think you’re walking out of here with my money –” Rankin was almost white with rage.
“Oh, I think I am. You lost. It had to happen some day. So hand it over.”
“Jinx –” Rankin got no further in telling his subordinate to shoot this man when the barman stepped into the room, his shotgun in his arms.
“Is there a problem?” he asked, Inara peering anxiously over his shoulder.
“No, no problem,” Hank said. “They were just getting my winnings together.”
“Like hell,” Rankin snarled. “He cheated.”
“How?” Hank asked. “We were playing Melbourne rules, which means you kept the deal. How could I have cheated? Or are you saying the game is crooked?”
Rankin glared at him. “You couldn’t have got that hand.”
“But I did. There it is.” Hank tapped the cards. “And I’m still waiting for my money.”
The barman cleared his throat. “Now, Mr Rankin, I let you use this room, but I ain’t gonna have no trouble here. Man won fair and square.” He caressed the butt of his weapon. “Think you’d better pay up.”
Rankin’s face was now turning an interesting shade of puce, but he finally turned to Jinx. “Give it to him,” he said through clenched teeth.
Jinx sat open mouthed. “Sir, you sure –”
“Give it to him!”
The little man hurriedly parcelled up the cash, handing it over. Hank thrust it into his pockets, and smiled at Rankin. “Nice game,” he said. “But I think we’d better be leaving now.” He started to go, but turned back. “Oops, nearly forgot the wife’s trinket.” He reached over and plucked the bracelet from in front of Jinx.
The barman let them go first, following them out.
“You’d best hurry. And I wouldn’t hang around if I were you,” he advised. “Rankin ain’t exactly a forgiving sorta guy.”
“No. And our ship will be taking off within the hour,” Inara said firmly. “Thank you.”
Hank nodded. “Yes, thanks.” He reached into his pocket and removed a note, handing it across. “Keep ‘em here for a few minutes, will you?”
The barman grinned. “Long as you need.” He patted the shotgun.
Rankin stared at the money in front of him. He was pissed as hell, not only with losing the game the night before, but now this pair seemed to have called him on this too.
“It’s all there,” Zoe said. “You can count it – we won’t be offended.”
“Ain't like us to cheat no-one,” Jayne added, managing to keep a straight face.
“No. I can see that.” Rankin glared at them. “Well, this is all very fine, but it isn’t enough.”
“It’s the amount we agreed.” Zoe stood firm, her hand lightly resting on her gunbelt.
“Oh, I know. And I can see it’s all here. The money you owe me … for the shipment. But not for the damage to my well-being.” He was going to get something out of this, no matter what. “For that I'm afraid there’s a hefty fine. Your ship.”
“Really.” Zoe glanced at Jayne.
“Really. And if you have any ideas about trying to force me to give that luh suh wreck to you, please think again. I have more men than you see here. You wouldn’t walk out of this office alive.”
Hank activated the top hatch, crouched down against the cold wind, and looked at River. “You okay?” She’d plucked Serenity’s location from Rankin’s mind, and now she was all set.
She nodded. “Be ready,” she said, dropping through the opening to land silently on her feet.
Rankin stirred uneasily. He didn’t like the look on the big man’s face. It was … creepy. “You don’t seem perturbed,” he said, trying to regain his composure.
“That’s probably because we’re not,” Zoe said softly.
Two in the galley. Easily dispatched with a flying kick to the head for one, and a punch to the jaw for the other. River caught them both before they could make a noise, sliding them quietly to the decking.
“Your ship is about to be broken up for parts, and you stand there …” Rankin shook his head. “Are you trying to intimidate me? Or are you just waiting for me to change my mind?”
“Be a long wait.”
Three, four and five on the bridge. A whirl of fists and feet, no time to pull a gun or even think of it, and they joined their friends.
“The boat ain't yours,” Jayne said evenly. “She don’t belong to you.”
“Possession is nine-tenths of the law. Even around here.” Rankin smirked.
“It is,” Zoe agreed.
Six was in the infirmary, making a mess. He’d pulled out drawers, cupboards, searching for drugs, anything valuable.
A sidekick to his belly whooshed all the air out of him, and a follow-up elbow at the back of his neck had him face down on the floor among the tape and bandages.
“Simon will not be pleased,” River whispered as she moved on. “Trained ape …”
Rankin was more than uncomfortable now, with them just staring at him. “You are not getting your ship, Monty, and that’s final.”
“That’s okay,” Jayne said. “’Cause I ain't Monty.”
Last two in the cargo bay, big and powerful, armed almost as much as Jayne on a bad day. She stood on the catwalk and watched them chatting, calculating speed and distance. Then without even the barest breeze of sound she was over the railing and dropping on them, knocking their heads together with her feet as she landed on their shoulders. She twisted in mid-air to land upright, turning to stare at them in case they were still a threat. Of course they weren't.
She smiled and punched the button to open the cargo bay doors.
Hank stood outside, anxiously rubbing his hands.
“You’ll get chilblains,” she noted.
“That was exhilarating,” River admitted. “And Zoe was right. I can do this.”
“I think you should leave,” Rankin said, dismissing them.
Zoe went to speak but felt Jayne’s hand on her arm. She glanced into his face, seeing his eyes twinkle.
“Yes, I think it’s time.” She sighed. “You know, as my captain often says, the wheel never stops turning.”
“That’s supposed to make me feel bad?” Rankin asked.
“Just saying.” Zoe strode out, Jayne following, and Rankin felt oddly relieved.
The others were waiting outside of town as Jayne and Zoe jogged up.
“Any sign?” Zoe asked, scanning the sky.
“Not yet,” Kaylee admitted, hugging Bethany close. “It’s cold.”
“As long as Hank and River didn’t have any problems –“
“Which they didn’t,” Jayne interrupted.
“… we’ll be back on board before –“
“Zoe.” Simon, holding Ethan, nodded towards the east.
At last the first mate relaxed. “I never thought I’d be so pleased to see her,” she muttered, watching as the Firefly swooped low before firing retros and landing gently.
Almost before the legs had extended the ramp came down and the doors opened, revealing River standing in the bay, her dress fluttering in the wind.
“I think it’s time we left, don’t you?” she asked.
“Couldn’t’a put it better,” Jayne grinned, gathering up bags and cases and carrying them inside.
“Home,” Bethany said, her teeth chattering.
“Let’s get you to bed, young lady,” Simon said, taking her from his wife onto his free hip. “And I think something hot to eat.”
“Hungry,” the little girl admitted.
“I should think you are.” He smiled at her and carried the children through into the back. Kaylee followed after smiling brilliantly at Zoe, who watched her, a slight puzzlement on her face. Then she turned to the psychic standing next to her.
“Everything okay?” she asked.
“Shiny,” the girl admitted. “We tied the men up, dumped them as we planned.”
“And you’re … okay?”
“I'm still here. It’s still me,” River admitted.
“Should think it is,” Jayne said, passing them by with the last of their possessions. “Little bit of hassle like that ain't gonna make anyone turn into a killing machine.”
“But that’s what I am,” she said softly.
The big man dropped Simon’s case and took her arm. “Maybe. But that ain't all you are.”
River gazed into his piercing eyes, and looked deep into his soul. A smile lifted her lips. “Perhaps.”
“We all on?” Hank called from the top catwalk.
“That we are, honey,” Zoe answered, heading up towards him. “And I think it’s time we got gone, before Rankin realises what happened.”
Hank grinned. “I wish I could see his face.”
Jinx scurried into the room, his bad breath preceding him like a noxious harbinger of doom.
“What?” Rankin spat, trying to get the lid off a bottle of tablets.
“Um, sir …” Jinx hopped from foot to foot.
“Damn it, will you stop doing that. I've got a headache and …” He took a deep breath. “What is it?”
“Sir, that ship … Monty’s ship … the one we …” He stopped, biting his lip between his teeth.
“What about it? I told you to get it scrapped as soon as …” Ice dripped down his spine. “You did get it scrapped.”
“Well, sir, I would if I could find it.” Jinx was ready to bolt if Rankin even went near the gun he kept in the desk.
“Are you saying it’s gone?”
“Yes sir. And the men we left, well, they were attacked. Tied up. And the ship ain’t there no more.”
Rankin gripped the bottle in his fist, then threw it at the wall, glass and white tablets scattering everywhere. “Monty!” he screamed.
to be concluded
Thursday, April 5, 2007 11:47 PM
Friday, April 6, 2007 1:23 PM
Thursday, April 12, 2007 2:39 PM
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