THE HELLBOUND SERIES: 20. "Double Edged Sword"
Monday, May 14, 2007

"Mal speaks to Casey and learns something guaranteed to give him sleepless nights. On Persephone Badger takes time for a diversion while he waits."



SUMMARY: "Mal speaks to Casey and learns something guaranteed to give him sleepless nights. On Persephone Badger takes time for a diversion while he waits." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

They were six hours out from Persephone. The wave with Badger had gone better than expected which made the Captain unaccountably jumpy. Zoe called him on it but he had no reason for the reservations building up in his mind. Jayne now joined them on the bridge. "Long as we get paid who cares what the job is?"

Wash looked at Jayne. "I care!"

Jayne shrugged, already bored with the conversation. "Need fuel, coin. Been so long since I had any trim I feel like my pecker's 'bout to drop off."

The Captain didn't say anything, he was staring out the window. Zoe waited until Jayne had stomped off then followed her Captain off the bridge. Wash gave her a questioning look but she gave a slight shake of the head. When he got to the commons room the Captain stopped and looked at her. "Any reason you're doggin' my steps, Zoe?"

"*Bu qu*, just you seem to have somethin' on your mind, sir."

Mal rubbed his head, the Preacher's words still running around inside his mind.

"Maybe you should see Simon."

He blinked. "*Weishenme*?"

"For that headache of yours." "Zoe?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Go see to that husband of yours."

She looked at him for a moment then nodded. "Yes, sir."

Once she was gone he decided he couldn't put it off any longer and turned and walked briskly to the passenger quarters. In her room Casey was surprised at the knock on the door. Opening the door her hesitant look broke out into a smile. "Mal! Come in."

He felt awkward at the happy on her face, the pleasure not feigned or pasted on. Made what he had to say a mite harder but he had to put this right. Make her see that what was happening wasn't good for either of them. "Casey, need to speak to you."

She sidled closer but he stepped back. The frown on her face made him speak more quickly than he had intended.

"It's about the touchin' an' such. Have to say it's makin' me all manner of uneasy." "Is it wrong for people to show their likin' for each other?"

"No, but it's misleadin' an' we need to be honest with each other."

She noticed how awkward he was, his gaze shifting, cheeks colouring slightly. It did not take a genuis to realise the man was embarrassed. "Mal, I know you like me. At least you did on Argent."

The Captain stiffened his resolve and looked her in the eye. "Casey, this ain't Argent. We were prisoners, *dong ma*? Under the heel of the gorram Alliance, bein' beaten on an' all kinds of unpleasantness happenin' to us. Folk find themselves in them kind of situations it's on'y natural to take comfort in each other." "Take comfort?"

"Yeah." He took a breath and guided her to the bed, not speaking again until she was seated. "Casey, you know I like you fine enough?" Casey nodded. "An' you know I would protect you with my life, you an' the baby both?" The tension in her eased as she smiled. He took her hand, wanting to impress on her how serious he was.

"If I gave you any impression that I was wantin' somethin' more from you I'm sorry. Ain't nothin' you done or ain't done, just the way it is. You're a fine lookin' woman an' somewhere out there is the man who can make you the happiest woman in the 'verse..."

Casey jerked her hand out of his. "Malcolm Reynolds, that's a load of *goushi*!"

"No, it ain't. It's me tryin' to tell you I don't want either of us misleadin' the other. I don't want to have sex with you, don't want you creepin' into my bunk when I'm sleepin' an'... you know... touchin' me."

He was alarmed to see the start of tears in her eyes. Gorramit he was useless at all this emotional *goushi*. "I thought you liked me."

"I do, but there's a world of difference between likin' an' lovin', Casey. An' you need to know I don't love you." The Captain raised a hand to wipe away an errant tear, his touch gentle, his voice softened. "You deserve more than that."

"But I thought... You were so kind to me, an'..."

"Casey, I know you're a bright woman. Not nobody's measure on the idiot scale, *dong ma*?" That drew a watery smile. "I'm grateful for what you did for me in that *jianyu*. Carin' when no one else did. Ain't a thing I'm like to forget, an' I'll do whatever I can to get you where you need to be but we need to know where we stand with each other."

She leaned forward to rest her forehead against his. As that seemed to calm her he didn't move away. The Captain needed her to know that he didn't want to use her or have her use him. He wanted there to be an understanding between them. She looked at him through her lashes. "Don't you want me, Mal?"

"Want you for a friend, Casey."

"But not for sex?"

The way she said it reminded him of Kaylee and brought a smile unbidden to his lips. The Captain cleared his throat quietly. "You do know Jayne's like to kill me?"

That surprised her. "Jayne?"

"Uh huh." Mal tucked a stray lock of long blond hair behind her ear so he could see her face. "You know he's been lustin' for you since you came aboard?"

Her eyes widened. "He has?"

"Yep. He's a good man but sees things kind'a simply if you know what I mean." When she just looked blankly at him he tried to explain. "Jayne's the kind of man who sees somethin', wants it, goes for it. No thought to the how, the why, the what if or wherefore."

"You mean he's stupid?"

For the first time since starting this awkward conversation Mal laughed and started to relax. He sat next to her on the bed and tried again. "Don't go thinkin' Jayne ain't smart, he just travels on a different track to the rest of us. Don't go complicatin' things by over thinkin'."

"An' you do?"

He nodded slowly, no hint of a smile on his face now. "That I do. Always have. Could say I'm flawed that way."

Casey reached out and touched his cheek, careful not to spook the Captain into making a run for it. "I don't see any flaws."

Mal chuckled. "Oh I think you ask any of my crew an' they'll show you flaws a-plenty but that's not what this is about. This is about me bein' all manner of uncomfortable when you get hands-on. I ain't gonna stop wantin' to help you or see you safe if you ain't in my bed. You need to understand that, Casey, 'cause I can't have you on my boat if you don't."

Her head dropped, hands fiddling with each other. Mal could not see her face, that curly tumble of long hair hiding her as good as any curtain. After a minute she raised her head and brushed her hair away from her face. A determined look in her eyes that he hadn't seen before. "*Duibuqi* Captain, I think I owe you an explanation."

The Captain frowned, startled by seeing a different side of her. "I don't think..."

She interrupted him. "No, I really do. You see I was tryin' to play you."

All the air seemed to huff out of him. His voice raised an octave. "Play me?"

"What happened at the colony won't end there. I wanted to find someone strong enough an' stubborn enough to protect me no matter what."

He was all manner of confused now. "Casey, what's that got to do with the sexin'? Already told you I'd look out for you. Not see nobody hurt you. You got my word on that."

"*Wo zhidao* but it's not that simple." She put her hand on her swollen stomach.

"If you're worryin' about the baby I got people with me. Can help find a place for you to raise the child."

"You think I don't want it?"

His look was uncompromising. "Do you?"

She had to look away for a moment. Collect her senses. Malcolm Reynolds was not quite the easy mark she had taken him for but her first instinct held. Despite the craziness of her situation she really did trust him. "No."

Her voice was small, the word disolving on her tongue even as she admitted as much. The Captain cleared his throat softly, mind racing, looking for options. "Look, can't promise nothin' but I know people who know people. Can maybe find a family that have lost a little one. The baby can be adopted, don't have to end a life to step away from it." "*Ni bu dong*."

"Then explain it to me, darlin', because I'm tryin' to understand, really I am."

Casey looked at him, really looked. Saw passed the bluster and iron will to the heart of the man buried beneath. A man with hurts and losses of his own. Made her realise that here perhaps was someone who *would* understand. But would he forgive her?

* * * * *

Badger was happy. In his mind the glitter and shine of gold had already bankrupted what was left of his conscience. Soon he would be a very wealthy man. If he thought about the cost of his betrayal he felt only the smallest twinge of guilt because this was business and he was a businessman first and foremost. Malcolm Reynolds knew that. A pillar of the gorram community. Tugging on his dark jacket, Badger dusted himself off. Not long now and Serenity would be landing. A few hours. Just long enough for him to conclude some other less contentious business. He gave his man Levy a nod.

Levy dipped out of the curtained door and reappeared with a girl. Her clothing was ragged, her face filthy, but she held herself as if she still had some dignity. Badger liked that. "Come 'ere, luv. Wanna see what ya got."

Knowing she had no choice the girl went up to him and stood where she was bidden. She was 18, maybe 19 years old. Not a child but not long an adult either. Still young and nubile and just the way Badger liked them. He opened her mouth. Someone had once accused him of trying to guess their ages by checking their teeth. Ignorant *hundans*. Anyone worth their salt knew you could tell a lot about the health of a body by looking in their mouths. The breath could tell if the person had ulcers and all manner of stomach complaints as well as general health. Badger wasn't anyone's fool but sometimes he let a body think as much. Right now though he had an itch wanted scratching. Had hours to fill and knew just who he wanted to help him pass the time.

* * * * *

"I thought..." Her voice trailed off.

"You thought what?" When she didn't answer, Mal got a sinking feeling in his gut. "You thought we'd play happy families, that it?"

His words were quietly spoken but penetrated. She nodded. "Thought if I was real good the love would come later but even if it didn't..."


Her voice was tiny when she continued. "I could take your name."

Suddenly he understood the full of it, recognising her use of wiles. "You're hidin'."

Casey dropped the pretence that she had feelings for him. "He'll come lookin' for me, Mal. You don't know Brak, he's a ruthless *tamade hundan* an' he won't give up."

"Why so dogged? For all he knows all this harsh treatment in the prison could lose you the baby anyhow. How'd he know you won't?"

Casey wasn't offended. She had spent months in a dark dank cell trying to see her predicament every which way. "It's not just the baby."

A look of scorn swept over the Captain's face. "Don't tell me he thinks he loves you?"

Her laugh was harsh, brittle. "Never that. Once he has what he wants he'll get rid of me. The details don't matter just that I'll be gone. All that matters is the baby."

He had heard of men so fixated on having an heir that the morality of it never entered into the equation but this seemed to be taking it even further than simple obssession. "I don't get it, man I met didn't seem the fatherly type. Can't imagine him havin' an ounce of love for a child."

"He doesn't care about the baby, Mal."

"Then why?"

For a long moment Casey did not speak, she was watching the Captain closely, as if trying to decide how much to tell him. "How smart is your doctor?" He blinked. "Simon?"

Casey nodded.

"Top Three Per Cent, why?"

"Do you trust him?"

Malcolm Reynolds was vaguely surprised that he didn't even have to think about the answer. "With my life."

She stood up and tugged on the Captain's hand. "Then I think I'd best tell you the rest in the infirmary."

A flicker of alarm flashed across his face, his eyes going to her belly. "You okay?"

"*Hen hao*, Mal, just need to get this off my chest. Been lyin' so long it'll be a relief to finally let go."

"Not sure I'm followin' you, Casey."

"You will though I'm not sure if you'll still want to protect me when you know the whole story."

The Captain gave her a long look, his features setting into stone. Determination glinting deep and dark in his eyes. "You let me be the judge of that."

* * * * *

Simon stared. Completely non-plussed. Casey had suggested the whole crew assemble in the infirmary along with Simon and the Captain. Mal had been nervous, especially when Inara had stepped into the infirmary, her eyes cold when they met his, her body language telling him in no uncertain terms that if there were a cold forgotten centre of the 'verse she wished he was in it. Preferably without the benefit of breathable air. Shepherd Book had given the Captain a questioning glance but he didn't react, not wanting to send signals that could be misinterpreted. This was all manner of confusing to him anyway without trying to explain it to the others. Best to let the good doctor do that.

Zoe and Wash looked from Simon to the Captain to Casey. When no one seemed willing to start talking Jayne got impatient. "You sayin' the baby's comin' or what? We'll be landin' in a couple'a hours. Gotta get my girls."

Casey looked confused but it at least kick started Simon into speaking. "Um, I guess that would be down to me then. To explain I mean."

Kaylee looked worried. "Is it the baby?"

"No, Kaylee, the baby's fine. But yes, in a way it is about the baby." Jayne huffed. "Just spit it out doc, ain't got all day."

The Captain gave his mercenary a stern look. "Jayne!"

"Just sayin' is all." The big man murmured.

"I should point out right at the start that if Casey hadn't told me what to look for I would never have known. In fact, no doctor would."

"But the baby's fine?" Asked Zoe, trying to hide her confusion. Wash squeezed her hand. "Yes, and in perfect health so far as I can tell. You have a completey normal baby, Casey. The baby's DNA however isn't normal."

Kaylee gasped, a hand coming up to her mouth, her eyes wide. "But ya said the baby was fine."

"He is."

"He?" Said Wash.

Simon flushed and looked at Casey. "*Duibuqi*, I should have asked if you wanted to know."

"It's okay, doc, I'm not keepin' it anyway."

Startled looks stared back at her. Simon cleared his throat slowly. "You're not?"

The woman looked adamant, mind made up. "Ain't mine."

Simon could have corrected her but River was giving a tiny shake of her head.

"So what's wrong with the baby's DNA?" Jayne asked. He wanted this over with so he could get ready for the meet with Badger. All this baby talk was taking too long.

"Put simply, biologically a person's DNA has genetic markers. These are quite natural and indicate the hereditary aspects from one or more parents. In other words, the traits handed down genetically. What I'm seeing here is DNA that has been manipulated, altered to carry a code that isn't born of nature even if it is biological in content."

Jayne screwed his face up. "Huh?"

Zoe looked from Simon to the woman then the Captain. Something clicking inside her brainpan. "You sayin' they buried a code inside of Casey?"

The doctor nodded. Shepherd Book seemed the least surprised of all of them but then the Shepherd often carried what he was really thinking close to his chest. "This code was put there intentionally?"

"Yes." Casey paused to judge their reactions. "After they raped me."

Zoe didn't look convinced. Something wasn't adding up. "They wouldn't need to rape you to hide something in your DNA."

"*Wo zhidao*, they didn't intend to let me live. The baby though, would be helpless, in their control along with what he was carryin'."

Silence fell engulfing them in the enormity of they were trying to inwardly digest. Jayne couldn't help thinking they were making a whole lot of fuss over an itty bitty code. "What does it say an' why in the *diyu* we fussin' over it?"

"That," said Simon slowly, his eyes shifting to lock on Casey "is the million credit question."

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *dong ma* = understand? *goushi* = crap/dog shit *jianyu* = prison *duibuqi* = sorry *wo zhidao* = I know *shenme* = what *ni bu dong* = you don't understand *tamade hundan* = fuscking bastard *hen hao* = very good *duibuqi* = sorry *diyu* = hell *weishenme* = why


Monday, May 14, 2007 4:56 AM


Oh, very interesting. Now, just what is someone hiding in that little baby. . .

A few of the lines made me think of Star Wars (the good set of films, not the never-should-have-been-made last three)and I smiled fondly when reading those sections.

Looking forward to the next part.

Monday, May 14, 2007 7:41 AM


I loved Mal's chat with Casey - just the right amount of embarrassment and sweetness. He is such a good man to get as a friend, and she was right to trust him.

Now, about this code ...

Monday, May 14, 2007 7:20 PM


Ya know...I'm not really surprised that Casey was trying to pull a con. That little plot twist has been kinda politely sitting in the background, waiting patiently to get recognized officially and have its say.'s the "Casey's baby is a walking code key" plot twist that really jumped out and bit me on the nose. In a good way, mind you;)

Oh...and Mal was in fine form in his conversation with Casey. Definitely have to agree with Jane0904 and say that Mal had the right balance of prudishness and compassion. Just hope that the truth about Casey's situation doesn't make him wish that being ignorant would have been the better course of action:(


Tuesday, May 15, 2007 11:07 AM


Really interesting twists and turns here. Not sure where it's going to end up, but that's most of the fun.

Saturday, May 19, 2007 1:47 AM


I've been following this story with a great deal of interest and a great deal of discomfort. It's not the fact that there are sexual situations in the story, it's the "What the????" factor and the fact that Mal is being more or less molested that leave me wanting to scratch my head and withhold opinion. I'm not entirely comfortable with the way Mal is acting, either.

This chapter has me doing a lot of "ohhh, I get it!" I'm very glad Mal finally talked to Casey and got things out in the open, and he's acting more like himself.

"She leaned forward to rest her forehead against his. As that seemed to calm her he didn't move away. The Captain needed her to know that he didn't want to use her or have her use him. He wanted there to be an understanding between them."

I really liked that, it was very sweet and felt very much like Mal. I've personally never held the view that he was prudish about sex at all. Respecting women and not wanting to take sexual advantage don't equal prudishness in my book. I think you captured that well in this chapter.

I'm still reading with fascination and a little trepidation :) ;)


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His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.