Playing Parts - Part XVI
Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. In which Mal and Saffron try to talk their way out of trouble, and things go from bad to worse. NEW CHAPTER


Act VII cont – Borodin

Bose looked at his two captives, Lorelei – or maybe it was Saffron – trying to make eye contact with him, and Reynolds glowering at him. Honestly, he thought. Don’t they make crooks like they used to? Aloud he said, “Santo?”

“Site of a rehabilitation camp,” Mal said, wishing that in this case that looks could kill, because Bose would be giving up his last breath by now. “Fancy name for prisoner of war ghetto. Something you were in charge of.”

“I was in charge of all of them, Captain. Not just that particular one.”

“That particular one was where my … where I was. And I’d personally like to thank you for the bad food and the worse beatings that went on there.”

Bose smiled a little. “You’re more than welcome.”

“It wasn't a compliment.”

“No, I rather gathered that. Still, all in the past now, isn’t it? Unlike your rather puerile attempt to rob me.” He turned in his swivel chair to face the wall behind him, and with the ease of long practice, he slid the cover away from the safe and dialled the numbers. The heavy door swung open and he took a moment to go through the contents before closing it up again. “Just checking,” he said as he sat back up. “Lorelei always was somewhat too keen on money for my taste.”

“Mind if I ask when this was?” Mal inquired. “Just to scratch the itch of curiousness.”

“It has nothing to do with money,” the woman in question said.

“Oh, come on, Saffron.” Mal almost wanted to laugh. “First time we met you tried to steal my boat, second time you wanted to jig me out of the prize, and third time you decided I was the mark to take the blame.” He looked at Bose. “Which, by the way, is exactly the case here too.”

“You know, I don’t really care,” Bose said, looking disinterested.

“Tesler, honey, you have no idea what he made me do,” Saffron said, putting on her little girl pout. “All the degrading positions he put me in. He took advantage of me, sugar. Made me do things that …” She managed to shudder, and even Mal had to give her credit for the performance she was putting on. “And now, just because I wanted to meet you again, to try and tell you how much I care about you, that I would do anything to be close to you –“

“Gag her, will you?” Bose said, looking at the man standing behind her. “Or just shoot her if she doesn’t shut up.”

Saffron looked insulted, but closed her mouth.

Mal couldn’t help the lift to his lips. “You really do know her, don’t you?”

“I wish I didn’t, Captain. And I’m afraid you’re going to feel exactly the same way.”

“I do already.”

“This will be a little more permanent. And I don’t think you’re going to be flushed with success.” He laughed, as if he’d heard the best joke ever.

Mal and Saffron exchanged a puzzled glance.

“Look –“ Mal began.

“I’d normally just shoot you,” Bose said, not listening. “Well, have you shot. But I don’t need the hassle at the moment. So I’m just going to leave you somewhere safe until I’ve gone. Clara and I are going to stay with friends for a while. We’re leaving right after the play.”

“Then your men will let us go?”

“Really, Captain Reynolds. Do you honestly think I’m that stupid?”

Mal shrugged, unwilling to give an honest answer. “Had to try.”

“I think there’ll be a little accident, only when the authorities find your bodies the evidence will point to a time of death when I couldn’t possibly have been involved.”

“Why don’t you just hand us over to them now?” Mal suggested, feeling the hair on the back of his neck standing on end. “We’re thieves. Breaking and entering, attempted robbery … figure there wouldn’t be any denying it.”


“And there are folk waiting for us. They might come looking if we –“

“Oh, I don’t think they’re going to be any trouble. They might weep over your graves, but that’s about all.” He tutted. “And I shall be so conciliatory I’ll put even the great Hawkins to shame. A lover’s tryst gone wrong, perhaps. Possibly even a double suicide.” He pondered the idea for a moment. “But there’s no choice. I’m too concerned about what you might have seen in your wanderings.”

“What we … you know, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“I wish I could believe you. I really do.” Tesler Bose stood upright. “However, I don’t. I can’t guarantee that you haven’t got into the safe, so I have to take the ultimate precaution.” He pulled his coat into place. “I have to get going. The rest of that tiresome play to watch, then at least I can leave for a while. And Clara isn’t going to be happy that I'm not there right now.”

“Trouble in paradise?”

“If only you knew, Captain Reynolds. I’m sorry about this. Well, actually I’m not, but it seemed the right thing to say.” Bose nodded towards the man behind Mal. “Give me a few minutes to get back, then dispose of them. Oh, and make sure they haven’t picked up any trifles either.” He strode towards the door.

“Yes, sir.”

“No, look, wait –” Mal went to stand up but felt the blow before he even saw movement, and suddenly everything turned black.


Freya faltered, her words tumbling and stuttering to a halt. Victor turned to look at her, a question in his eyes, and gave the cue again.

I charge thee hence, and do not haunt me thus.”

She stared at him, and something inside took over, giving the response. “O wilt thou darkling leave me? Do not so.” The scene continued, but her heart was beating almost too loudly for her to hear the words.


“What is it?” Theo asked, seeing Jayne hurrying back, a look like thunder on his face.

“They won’t let me out. Said there’s been intruders in the house, and we’re all to stay put ‘til after the play’s over.”

“They?” Simon stepped closer.

“Guards. Lots of ‘em. And they ain't just armed with sticks.” His hand brushed his naked hip. “Knew I shoulda brought Betsey.”

“You’ve tried all the doors?”

“Every one. So unless you want me to break a window, we ain't going nowhere.”

Theo glanced at Etta.


Mikel watched as the three men dragged Captain Reynolds and Janith away, then stepped out of his hiding place behind the heavy curtains. He felt bad for them, but knew that if he’d intervened he’d most certainly have joined them. Particularly as it was probably him who’d tripped the alarm when he picked the lock. The guards got here far too soon for it to have been Janith. Or maybe it was Saffron, who the Captain seemed to know. Or Lorelei … He took a deep breath. It seemed like no-one was who they said they were.

He stepped to the door and listened, but there was no sign of anyone coming back. And at least he now knew where to find the safe.


Bose slid back into his seat, but not unnoticed.

“Where have you been?” Clara hissed.


“Not tonight!” There were two bright points of red in her cheeks.

“Finished now, anyway.” Or it soon will be, he added mentally.


Freya ran off stage at the end of her scene, and grabbed Simon by the arm. “Get Bethie.”

“What? Why?”

“Mal’s in trouble. But I can’t tell what or where, and maybe she can.”

“Frey –“

“Do it!” She turned to Jayne. “Get our guns.”

“They ain’t letting us out, Frey. Can’t get to Serenity, even.”

She stared at him, then swore. “Cao!”

Bethany ran up. “Auntie Frey?”

Going down onto her heels in front of the little girl, Freya looked directly into her eyes. “Bethie, can you tell where Uncle Mal is?”

Bethie’s face screwed up a little. “Not supposed to peek,” she said, twisting her dress in her hands.

“I know. But I need you to help me. Can you? Please?”

She looked up at her father.

“It’s okay,” Simon said. “Do what Frey’s asking.”

“Okay.” She bit her lip and concentrated hard. “Cold.”

“Cold?” Freya repeated.

“Can’t tell much. Just that they’re cold.”

Freya looked up sharply at Zoe. “They?”

“Mikel,” Etta breathed, her face losing all of its colour.


Mal opened his eyes. Then wished he hadn’t. He groaned and tried to roll over, but his arm was caught beneath him.

“Don’t do that, sweetie.”

Looking up he tried to see the source of the voice, but his focus was all wrong. Just a flesh-coloured blob that seemed to be glaring at him. He tried to lever himself into a sitting position.

“I said don’t do that.”

The voice, all silky, sounded too familiar. He squeezed his eyes tight shut, shaking his head despite the pain in it, then looked up again.

Tzao gao,” he murmured. “Hoped I’d dreamed the whole gorram thing.”

“Hello again, hubby.” Saffron smiled at him.

“What the tyen shaio duh is going on here?” He looked down at himself. “And why am I naked?” He looked at her. “Although it seems to be catching.”

“That’s not the only thing.”

She held up her wrist, and the cuff attached to it. A chain led from it under Mal’s body. He tugged experimentally, and her arm moved. “And I think we’re naked because they searched us.” She wriggled a little. “Very thoroughly.”

“Interesting,” he muttered, then felt a shudder of cold run through him. He looked around. “Where are we?”

“The basement, I think. I don’t exactly recall much after someone hit me.”

“Wish it had been me, darlin’,” Mal promised, getting to his feet carefully. At least the air was a degree warmer than the metal flooring he’d been laying on. “I don’t suppose they left you your lock picks?”

She raised her arms, dragging his aloft. “Where do you think I could have hidden them?”

He looked her up and down. “Hate to think.” He smiled slightly.

Normally she’d have taken that as a sign of encouragement, but now she was just too pissed. “What?”

“It just occurred to me. When I first met you, when you came to me in my bunk, I couldn’t look at you. It was morally wrong because you were innocent, needed my care and protection.”

“And now?”

“Well, you ain't got no morals, you’re far from innocent, and I think you can look after yourself.”

She sidled a little closer. “I could really use a knight in shining armour right now,” she simpered.

He stepped back. “Saffron, you’ve got nothing I want.”

The façade fell from her face. “Fine. Just get us the cao out of here.”

“Me? It was your plan got us into this!” He began to laugh.

“It’s not funny!” she insisted, almost stamping her naked foot in frustration.

“Saffron, it’s either that or strangling you with this chain.” He rattled it. “Best we take a look around, see if they haven’t done something stupid like leaving the door unlocked.”


Freya could hardly concentrate. She’d had to hurry back onstage and only managed to get through the next scenes on automatic, letting the words fall from her mouth without any conscious intervention from her brain. Yet no matter what she did, she couldn’t get through to Mal, couldn’t do anything more than assure herself that he was alive and, at least currently, unhurt. And River was little help, trying as hard as she was to get through the fuzziness engendered by her pregnancy.

Behind the curtain things were not going much better.

“What’s going on?” Zoe asked, her hands on her hips. She was glaring at Theo and Etta.

“Why should we know?” The actor lifted his hands. “We’re as much in the dark as the rest of you.”

“Who’s Mikel?”

“One of our other players. He was on board Cressida,” Etta explained. “He … went for a walk. I'm just hoping he didn’t get caught up in something, if there’s intruders about.”

“She’s lying.” River didn’t even look at her, just finished straightening her dress. “Ask them about spying.” She strode out between the flats.

“Spying?” Simon looked from his sister to Theo Hawkins, his face sharp.


“Is it locked?” Saffron asked, standing halfway up the short flight of steps and looking at Mal as he tried the door.

“’Fraid so.”

“There’s a surprise.”

“Saffron, if we weren't chained together …” He stopped, then whooped slightly as he picked something up from the corner.

“What? What is it?”

“Our clothes.” Mal held up a bundle of fabric.

“Wonderful. Give me my dress.” She put out her free hand.

“Cold?” he asked.

She glared at him, but had to wait while he pulled his pants on. “At least you can put yours on,” Saffron complained, struggling into her dress but unable to do more than wrap the top part haphazardly around her breasts.

“Heard tell a naked woman is at home anywhere.”

“Well, not this one, and not right now.”

Mal couldn’t help the smile. “’Sides, you never seemed to have a problem with it before.”

“That was work.”

“And this isn’t?”

“No. This is annoying. You are annoying.”

“Happy to be of service.”

“If I didn’t have to drag your sorry ass around, I’d take you down, Malcolm Reynolds.”

“Yeah? Don’t think you can be recalling the last few times we crossed paths, Saffron. I seem to remember you coming out on the wrong side, on each and every occasion.” He watched her try to tie her top in front of her, his arm hanging loose and cumbersome as she jerked it around. “I believe I told you it was because I had people with me, who look after each other.”

“Well, they’re not here now!” she snapped, glaring at him.

“Nope. But I’ve got the notion it won’t be long until they are.” He sighed. “Here.” He held out his shirt. “Might be easier.”

“Thanks,” she said, ungraciously, grabbing it from him.

“Better moderate that tone before I decide to take it back,” he warned.

“Can’t you shoot the chain?” she asked, pointing towards the gunbelt in his hand. It had been wrapped in the clothes.

“I would, even if it was only to hit you, but they’ve taken my bullets.”

“Then why did they leave you –“

“The same reason they left our outfits. To make it look like an accident.”

“Make what look like an accident?”

“Our deaths. ‘Cause, Saffron, I figure they ain't intending to let us out of here. And it’s easier to let us dress ourselves than them trying to make a corpse look dignified.”

to be continued


Thursday, November 15, 2007 2:23 AM


Very entertaining chapter! I knew if Saffrom was involved, Mal would end up naked sooner or later! LOL

Thursday, November 15, 2007 2:30 AM


At least Mal is thinking straight, not that being incarcerated with that lying *pofu* Saffron is any help. And Mikel thieving, why do I not quite believe that Theo knows nothing about it? I don't trust him and picking Bose's place to put on the play etc is just too gorram convenient. Not sure why Freya couldn't pick up Mal but needed Bethie to do it. At least River was able to pick up that Etta was lying and knew they were spies. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, November 15, 2007 2:42 AM


Three psychics and too much stress and interference to get good info. At least they aren't dead yet, and helped Mikel get on with his mission. Is it time for a rescue soon? Just loooove how you manage to string out the stress and anxiety.

Thursday, November 15, 2007 3:40 AM


Wow, *everyone* is "acting" shady in this one! I knew Theo and his crew would be up to something, and Bose is total sociopath - almost makes Janith look comparatively innocent. I dread to think what's going to happen in that basement...

Thursday, November 15, 2007 7:39 AM


Don't know how Mal is going to get out of this but I can't wait to see how.


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