THE HELLBOUND SERIES: 21. "The Devil You Know"
Sunday, May 27, 2007

"The Captain, Zoe and Jayne meet with Badger to get details of the job. Meanwhile Casey is beginning to get worried the nearer she comes to giving birth."



SUMMARY: "The Captain, Zoe and Jayne meet with Badger to get details of the job. Meanwhile Casey is beginning to get worried the nearer she comes to giving birth." 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

* * * * *

By the time they landed at Eavesdown Docks the crew were a lot more sombre. The information from Casey all manner of intriguing and mystifying. Shepherd Book had listened to everything that was said in silence, heard the crew debating back and forth on the best way to proceed, but he was using his eyes more than his ears. There was something about the woman that bothered him. A sharpness to her that was not born of intellect. He had no doubt that Casey had told them the truth, he just didn't think she had told them all of it. And with the devil being in the details he was determined to keep his own counsel and watch her like a hawk. Sooner or later she would slip and when she did, he intended to be there to witness it.

Wary as always when it came to Badger, the Captain ordered Jayne to get the mule ready as he would be going with him and Zoe to see about the job. "Everyone else remains on board, *dong ma*? Especially I don't want no one steppin' outta the ship or havin' the gorram ramp down while we're gone."

Kaylee pulled a sour face, definitely not impressed with what she saw as an over abundance of unnecessary caution. "Aw but Cap'n, this is 'sephone. Ain't nothin' gonna happen here an' if we got the ramp up we can't see the folks goin' to an' from. 'Sides we could use some fresh supplies an'..."

"Kaylee, this ain't a vacation."

"I know that Cap'n. it's just..."

He leaned in towards her a little, his gaze unblinking and determined as her voice trailed off. "Just learn to listen to your Cap'n's instinct, *dong ma*? We work before we play. Not no cause to go invitin' trouble."

Simon frowned. "Are we expecting trouble, Captain?"

"*Bu qu*, but it does always seem to find us."

The doctor couldn't argue with that. River was watching the Captain but said nothing. Casey was not in the cargo bay with everyone else but in the infirmary. With her contractions starting to come closer together Simon didn't want to take any chances. Inara had elected to stay with her.


"Yeah, Cap'n?"

The Captain's voice lowered, was almost conversational though they both knew it wasn't. "Want you to keep Serenity hummin' on idle." It was said all casual like but the pilot knew it was an order and took it as such.

"I can do that."

Mal's eye drifted to the Shepherd. Book raised his head just a fraction, eyes not leaving the Captain's. His look saying he understood the silent request. He would keep an eye on those left on the ship and make sure no unfriendlies came calling while the Captain was gone. Made a man feel all manner of satisfaction knowing some things didn't need saying out loud.

"We'll call when we're on our way back."

Wash gave his wife a kiss, his warm lips a soft murmur for her ears alone. "Just come back safe, *bao bei*."

Kaylee scowled as the trio left on the mule, Book closing up and sealing the door shut behind them. Simon was about to walk passed the mechanic when she spoke. "It ain't fair. There's always lots to see, new folk an' ships. All that comin' an' goin' an' I gotta miss it all bein' shut up inside. It ain't like we ain't been to 'sephone before."

"I'm sure the Captain knows what he's doing Kaylee."

She stared at Simon. "No you don't. You never agree with the Cap'n."

That flustered the doctor who was not expecting a come back from Kaylee of all people. "That's not true. We may disagree on some things..."

"Try everythin'."

Simon blinked. Was she joking? Winding him up? Or could she be serious? At the look on his face Kaylee couldn't keep herself stern looking another minute. She laughed.

"Don't be so serious Simon an' don't think everythin' to death."

The doctor nodded and tried to ignore the amused look on Book's face. Wash went up to the bridge to keep Serenity ticking over and Simon was anxious to check on Casey. "I'm not it's just..."

Kaylee's smile was like a bright sunny day dispersing the gloom that had momentarily overshadowed his heart. The mechanic nudged him with her hip, her eyes sparkling with mischief as she oh-so-accidentally rubbed against him. "I'll come with you."

His eyes widened, half desire, half panic. Then duty trickled into his numb brain. "I have to..." He waved a hand in the general direction of the infirmary.

"Relax Simon, I ain't gonna molest ya." As he flushed slightly, Kaylee leant towards him. "Least, not 'til I can get ya someplace out'a pryin' eyes."

Gaping like a fish out of water Simon was spared a response when Kaylee left, the clatter of her busy feet on the metal staircase almost matching the thud of his heartbeat. River's voice brought him back to his senses.

"Only teasing, Simon. She likes you."

Numb. He was numb but right now numb was good. He tried to pretend he could not see the laughter in Shepherd Book's eyes. "*Wo zhidao*."

"Won't be teasing tonight."

His eyes snapped to his sister's. Oh no, don't say it, his mind pleaded with hers.

River flashed him a grin then the smile vanished leaving no echo behind it. "Better check on Casey."

Instantly alarmed, Simon didn't waste time on a reply, his feet flying as he turned and ran, no other thought in his mind but his patient. It didn't occur to him to wonder why Inara hadn't called him. As soon as he had gone the Shepherd turned his knowing eyes on the slim pale faced girl. "You shouldn't lie to your brother."

"Wasn't a lie." River's voice trailed off, her eyes now on the closed cargo bay door but losing focus, as if seeing beyond the limits of the ship's confines. "Just teasing."

* * * * *

Jayne wasn't happy. He hated dealing with this low-life piece of *goushi buru* but it wasn't his call, it was the Captain's. Man managed to get under his skin just being in his gorram presence. Like he thought he was something special. Little man talking big but with hired guns to back him up. If Badger didn't have an outfit behind him he would be nothing but he did and right now his men had their guns trained on him, Zoe and the Captain.

"Badger, what's with the warm reception? Man could get to thinkin' you don't trust us."

Jayne sneered, taking his lead from the Captain who always managed to stay calm when the mercenary's own temper was near to boiling. "Yeah, might hurt our feelin's."

Badger didn't say anything, just gave a vague wave of one hand and the guns were put away, his men stepping back but not relaxing. It was a reminder, nothing more. "Business man like me can't take any chances *dong ma*?"

"We're here 'cause you said you had a job for us."

"I do. Transport job. Agricultural equipment to Barclay."

"How much equipment we talkin' 'bout?"

The little king pin smiled as he walked around his table, trailing one finger around the edge of it, not speaking until he got to his seat. "Fill that cargo hold o' yours."

The Captain raised an eyebrow, Zoe silent but alert beside him. "That's a lot of crates." Badger smirked. "Ain't crates." He leaned forward on his desk. "Said it was agricultual equipment. Call it rollin' stock. Drive on, drive off. Practically delivers itself." The smirk flashed into a grin, no humour reaching his eyes.

"Then why use us?"

The little man's smile vanished. "If you don't want the job..."

"Didn't say that." Mal soothed quickly, his eyes sharp, looking for any sign that Badger was holding something back. "Just seems a mite easy is all."

"A job's a job so d'you want it or not?" The Captain nodded. Had known he would take the job before they got to Badger's lair, but it didn't pay to assume anything until they met face to face. Right now something felt a mite too smooth, a little 'off', as if Badger was seceretly enjoying himself for reasons beyond Malcolm Reynolds' ken and he didn't like it. "You wouldn't be hidin' anythin' from me, would you Badger? Us bein' old friends an' all." His face clouded. "We ain't friends Reynolds an' dont' forget it." Badger paused and got himself back in control. All outwardly calm again. "Just business is all."

"What's the payment?"

Badger told him, they haggled a bit then settled on a fee. The Captain was a little surprised when Badger tossed him a little black drawstring bag. "It's a quarter, call it a deposit."

Mal caught it, checked the amount and handed it off to Zoe. "Why so generous?"

"For fuel. You'll get the rest when you deliver on Barclay. Man's name is Coyle, Peter Coyle. The stuff's stashed in a warehouse on the docks. My men'll be waitin' for you."

Badger handed the Captain a slip of paper with the address of the warehouse. Mal glanced at it then looked at him with wary eyes, keeping his voice calm and conversational. The feeling of unease something he could not quite put his finger on, but then this was Badger. Man was nothing if not a slippery *wangba dan*. "Why the rush?"

Badger shrugged, standing up. "Do I look like a gorram farmer? Maybe he's got crops need sowin', bringin' in or whatever. Just know he needs 'em an' needs 'em now."

* * * * *

After the Captain had gone Badger sent a wave. The reply came back with visual as well as audio. He waited as a face only a mother could love appeared on the screen. "E's on 'is way."

"Good. We'll be waitin'. Just make sure he lands that ship of his."

"*Fang xin*, thought o' that. Gave 'im somethin' too big to deliver by shuttle." The man's eyebrows rose. "What's he deliverin'?"

Badger chuckled. "Agricultural plant. Big heavy equipment, ride on, ride off."

"If this goes smooth," the man paused and intensified his stare "you'll be earnin' yourself quite the little bonus." Badger grinned, but the grin vanished with the man's next words. "If it doesn't you'll end up in a place so dark an' cold you'll wish for the fires of hell just to feel the heat."

* * * * *

Inara watched Casey shift on the infirmary bed, knew how hard and uncomfortable it was but Simon was nothing if not thorough and with the pregnancy in its' last trimester he wanted to make sure everything was fine. Casey had her eyes closed, both hands braced against the small of her back as she lay semi-recumbent on the bed. When she opened her eyes it was to find Inara projecting a calm sympathetic look on her face.

"Do you want me to call Simon?"

Casey shook her head. "No, just backache is all."

For a long moment neither spoke. Casey wasn't completely comfortable being alone with Inara though the woman had not said more than a handful of words to her. It was as if, despite the neutral expression and polite enquiries after her and the baby's health, the Companion was judging her. It was getting on Casey's nerves.

"You got somethin' to say, spit it out."

Inara affected an air of surprise. "What would I have to say?"

Casey's eyes narrowed as she huffed through another contraction. "Suppose you tell me? I seen the way you look at me, like you got a ton of questions stackin' up to be asked."

"If you must know I'm just curious."

The admission did not make Casey like her any better. Snooty gorram woman. Casey just looked at her, waiting for whatever was in the Companion's mind to spill out. Inara took a step towards the bed. "You met the Captain in the penal colony on Argent."

"*Bu qu*, met him on the transport. The prison ship."

Inara fell silent. Casey raised an eyebrow then gave a little nod. So *that* was how it was.

"He was pretty banged up, face all puffy, black an' blue. Reckon they did a number on his ribs too, pain he was in." Casey tilted her head and appraised Inara more intently. "You an' he got a thing goin'?"

The Companion blinked. "A what?"

"Y'know, you an' him?"

"I hire one of Serenity's shuttles from Captain Reynolds."

"You sure act like he's yours."

"I don't act anything of the sort."

Casey grinned, knowing she had hit a nerve. "Y'know I kissed him, *dui*?"

Inara just stared at her, liking the woman less and less. Casey was starting to enjoy herself. Apart from the worry about Brak and his merciless minions pursuing her halfway across the Black the trip had been pretty boring. Even the Captain didn't want to play. Maybe his doxy would be better entertainment.

"He kissed me back too. Sure knows how to curl a girl's toes."

Inara's eyes narrowed. "Why are you doing this?"

"Doin' what? It's what you wanna know. 'Course you're too proper an' think too highly of yourself to come right out an' say so but I can see what you're thinkin'. Wonderin' why he's helpin' me an' all. Why we seem so cosy together."

"It's none of my business."

"That's a load of *goushi* an' you know it. You think I've not felt them daggers you send my way when you think I ain't lookin'? Or the sharp words you shoot at Mal when he's just talkin' to you? You're like a horse with a burr under its' saddle."

Getting angrier and angrier at the gall of the woman, Inara put her hands on the end of the bed and leaned forward, her voice dropping but every word articulated as clear as a bell. "What the Captain does is his own business. I'm more interested in what you're up to."

"Me?" Casey waved a hand at her distended stomach. To Inara's mind she looked about ready to give birth any moment. It was not a settling thought. "I'm the wronged party here, got no call to be actin' so suspicious."

Inara straightened, a small professional smile upon her face. "Then you won't mind telling the whole story, will you?"

Before Casey could respond Simon came hurrying into the room, it took a moment before he picked up on the atmosphere in the room and frowned at them. "*Shenme*? Did something happen?"

Inwardly Inara sighed, knowing she would get no answers out of this woman. "No, we were just passing the time."

It didn't really reassure Simon but he knew when not to press an issue and immediately began to check Casey, monitoring closely the progress of her pregnancy. Happy that she seemed to be on track, Simon turned to say something to Inara only to find that the Companion had gone. Casey relaxed, a smug look stealing across her face, satisfaction gleaming in her bright eyes. By the time Simon turned back to her the look was gone, another contraction twisting her lips as she rode out the pain. Simon timed the contractions then gave her a smile. "It won't be long now, Casey."

Casey felt like hitting him over the head with something heavy. If Simon thought that news was reassuring he needed to go back to medical school. There was no sign now of the attitude and bravado she had shown Inara. Casey knew her problems would really begin once the cursed baby was born.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*dong ma* = understand? *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *bao bei* = precious/treasure *wo zhidao* = I know *goushi buru* = lower than dogshit/lowest of the low *wangba dan* = fucking bastard *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *dui* = correct *goushi* = crap/dog shit *shenme* = what


Sunday, May 27, 2007 3:51 PM


Hooo boy! Pretty sure Inara was mere moments from getting physical - and not in a way that can be perceived as anything good - and I seriously wanted to verbally smack Casey for the shit she's pulling. Even if she's only doing what she's learnt as a survival method from having a crappy life...that little bit verbal diarrhoea just wasnt' cricket:(


Sunday, May 27, 2007 8:42 PM


Good chapter! The tension between Casey and Inara was very well written - the two of them despising each other and verbally sparring was very believable. I really liked Casey for watching afer Mal in the prison, but she's getting under my skin with the molesting him and taking a sort of sadistic pleasure in needling Inara. It'll be interesting to see where she goes next.

Monday, May 28, 2007 7:37 AM


LOL! River is so mean teasing Simon like that. . . and Kaylee teasing him. . . hee. Do we get to see what kind of teasing the night brings?

I very much enjoyed Casey and Inara's 'discussion'. Mutual hate. . . ohh how fun this will be! :)


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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.