Snowball - Chapter 7
Monday, January 7, 2008

Mal and Jayne both ease their way through treacherous encounters with the Cottonwoods Ski Patrol. This is the seventh of eleven chapters. You can find out all about it in my blog.


Set six months after the BDM, with standard pairings: Simon and Kaylee, Mal and Inara angst.

If you haven’t read from the start, I would recommend going back to chapter 1 -

Of course - Its Joss’s world and his characters, but I sure enjoy playing with them.

I need to give many rounds of thanks to Mal4prez for the wonderful beta type advice.

My thanks to all the folks who took the time to leave me such wonderful comments.


Chapter 7

Inara gave Mal a slight smile as they raised the tips of their skis in preparation for getting off the chair lift. Mal could tell she was getting into her character, and he tried to reciprocate, but it was forced. He had not had the practice at hiding thoughts and emotions that she had, but they only had to pretend for a few minutes, just long enough to ski through the barricade of ski patrol members and Alliance soldiers waiting at the exit to the chair lift. It would not be a problem, they had built a thorough cover story, and he was confident that this strange posse was not looking for him. After the doctor’s transmission, Mal knew something had happened; he’d bet his ship that this lift top sting operation was after Simon.

The lift descended allowing their skis to finally touch the icy snow that served as the lift’s exit point. He stood, using the momentum of the lift to give him a slight shove down the incline and out of the path of oncoming skiers. As he started to glide however, he caught sight of a silver glint in the trees not ten feet behind the men. These wang bao dahn had a semi automatic rifle aimed at the ski lift. They were determined not to let Simon slip through their grasp.

Suddenly, the slim grip he had on his ability to stay upright with sticks attached to his feet became somewhat precarious. The glint in the trees had taken his concentration from the act of getting off the lift smoothly, causing the tips of his skis to cross. He leaned unsteadily to his left and attempted to plant his right pole in the ground to stave his fall, but here under the lift the frozen surface of the ground was not snow, but ice. His pole slid out from under him and he went down, his momentum carrying him directly into the legs the two purple bellies. The two men fell on top of him, poles and rifles flying into the surrounding snow. He felt the impact of Kevlar body armor driving his head downward, something sharp poked into his shoulder forcing it to land at an odd angle, and then the icy chill of snow against his face.

“You must excuse my friend, he’s just learning.” Mal vaguely heard Inara saying to the leader of the ski patrol. She sounded confident he would spring up from this fall in just a few seconds, he was not so sure. Her voice sounded like it was a million miles away.

Mal felt the weight of the two alliance soldiers lifted off the top of him. He was free to get up, but somehow he could not extract himself from the snow. His eyes opened but everything seemed blurry and white, and try as he might he did not seem able to move just yet.

“Mal,” Inara’s face was suddenly directly above his. “Mal, talk to me!” She must have realized he was hurt more than she thought.

“You call this fun?” he asked her.

“Excuse me Miss,” Mal heard a new male voice say. Inara’s face was replaced by a bearded man in a black jacket and brown vest. “Mal, is that your name.”

“Yes, Malcolm Harbatkin,” Inara answered for him.

“Mal, I want you to lie still for a moment, you took quite a pounding what with Henderson landing on top of you. My name is Clark, and I’m a trained medic.”

“Quite a pounding, hah, I’m surprised he’s not smashed flat as a circuit relay; Henderson’s heavier than a mule,” Mal heard a second unfamiliar male voice say, and several others chuckled at the joke.

“Some birthday gift this is.” That was Inara’s voice. “I wanted to do something special for him for his birthday; I didn’t think that teaching him to ski would be dangerous.”

“Well no need to worry, Miss. We’ll have him patched up and ready to blow out candles in a minute.” Mal was not sure, but it seemed the voice came from one of the Alliance men.

Mal knew there was a reason he hated birthdays; they never ended up going well. Good for her though, Mal thought, she’s on top of things, laying the groundwork for their cover story.

He recognized the touch of the medic checking his bones as he lay on the snow. Otherwise he would have done his best to remove himself from the situation as quickly as possible, but these hands felt like they knew what they were doing, that and the pain in his right shoulder convinced him to comply.

He let out an audible gasp as the man touched the source of the pain.

“That hurt?” Clark asked him.

“Only when you touch it,” he responded, trying to smile.

“Well, we’ll do our best not to touch it then.” Mal felt the medic checking the rest of him and he made an effort not to move. He answered the questions he was asked patiently, but before long he was getting cold, and ready to get back to his ship.

“Look,” Mal said when he’d finally had enough. “I know you’re just trying to do your job and all, but I’d rather you just let me up and let me be on my merry.”

“That’s not going to be possible,” Clark responded. “We need to get you down this mountain and get that shoulder examined. Grayson’s gone to get the sled, we’re going to haul you down to the medivac, the docs there will see what needs to be done with you.”

The idea of getting strapped into a sled and hauled into a warren of purple bellies was about as appealing as having sewervac duties for a month. Using his right hand, he pulled himself up to a sitting position.

“Sorry, there’s no way I’m leavin’ this mountain on a sled,” Mal grunted. “That gorgeous lady there only told you about the public half of her promised birthday gifts.” He winked at the man kneeling next to him and started the slow process of making his way to his feet.

“Mal,” Inara maneuvered herself so that she was next to him. Her hands reached to his waist and while assisting him to his feet she leaned into him whispering. “Mal, if you are really hurt you’re not going to be able to ski down the hill. You should take the sled. The ski patrol specialize in medical care.”

“Don’t care how good they are ‘Nara. I’d rather be looked to by my own doc. Not that I’m hurt.” With her help he made it all the way to his feet. Turning to the collection of ski patrol and purple bellies he gave them a look of triumph. “See – no harm done; now if you’ll excuse us, I’ve got a present to unwrap.”

“I can’t just let you go,” the medic protested. “You’ve got to be examined; I’ll have to fill out a report.”

“No, you really don’t.” He slid his skis so that he was next to the medic. “Now seein’ the likes of you with the likes of them is a bit odd,” Mal nodded towards the Alliance soldiers standing just out of hearing range. “If it were me, it’d make me a might jumpy. That and the way you all are standing here makes me think you are after someone specific. Keep in mind that hauling me down to this medivac would take a good number of you. Most likely the sorry hwoon dahn your after comes up the lift just after we leave and you miss him. How’s that going to sit with your superiors?”

Mal let his words sink in before he went on. “Now, if you were me, what would you choose, docs with their machines, or a nice hot soak and a massage given by her?” Mal nodded in Inara’s direction this time.

The medic thought for a moment before pushing himself back from Mal with his poles. “I see your point, but I’m not convinced you’re going to make it far with that shoulder.”

“How about this? If I can make it down this hill farther than you can see, you let me go. If I fall, I’ll take the sled, dong ma?”

“I don’t like it, but I’ll give you the chance,” Clark replied.

Mal slid away from the conflagration followed closely by Inara. Pain shot up his shoulder with each turn, but he ignored it, letting the pain wash over him. Each turn brought him closer to the bottom of the mountain and the last time he would ever again strap sticks to his feet and call it a sport.


“Dude, look at that one,” a young man in hip white gortex said, his curly brown hair falling from under his brown fleece hat.

“No way, look at that hottie,” replied his friend, indicating a different skier making her way down the hill.

They stood on the edge of an intermediate slope called the Bee’s Knees. It was steep and straight, which made it their favorite spot to prowl for nice looking young women. They had other spots of course, but this one not only gave them a long look at their choices as they descended the mountain towards them, but it also provided them with plenty of opportunity to sidle up to attractive prospects before they reached the lifts and the lodge.

Scott had found that if he could make contact before the lifts, he could usually talk his prize into a quiet drink in the lounge. From there it was just a few drinks and some smooth silky words to get her into his bed. Any shorter distance and they tended to hop the lifts to who knows where on the mountain.

“Look at those two,” Scott said, pointing them out using the signals they had created the previous year. The signals were designed for their ski team, to point out difficulties on the slopes from below, but they also came in extremely handy for pointing out girls without being noticed.

“At the top, one in red, the other black?”

“That’s right, look at the short tiny thing in the red, she can really shred.” He indicated a slim woman who skied with perfect form and grace. He could not see her face, hidden as it was behind goggles, scarf and hat, but he liked the way she moved. He could only imagine the way she would move once he got her clothes off.

“You can have her,” the blond man indicated. “Her friend looks like she could go all night then wake up with enough energy to kill someone. I like ‘em dark. You could get lost in all those long dark curls.”

“So we going after these two?” Scott asked his friend.

“Most definitely,” he started down the slope at a slow pace, letting his quarry catch up with him.”

James let the dark curly haired vixen pass him, before he put on his airs and truly went after her. He edged next to her copying her form and pace exactly just three feet to her left. She was obviously not an expert skier, but seemed comfortable enough.

Not long after Scott did the same with the girl in red.

He didn’t say a word; he just waited for her to notice his attention. She didn’t say anything however, long past the time when most of the girls could no longer stand their curiosity and stopped to talk with him. This one skied all the way to the lodge, completely ignoring him.

Scott pulled to a stop next to her. “Hey there, you seem to be really enjoying yourself on the snow.”

She glanced at him for a moment as she removed her skis, her dark smoky eyes filled with mystery.

“Looks like you’re taking a break; can I interest you in a drink at the Starlight?” He took a chance asking her, but really he had nothing to loose.

She took a step closer to him, looking him straight in the eye, with her face just inches from him. “Rather not give my treasure to someone who has slept with seven girls this week. Besides, girls like guys who take the time to pleasure them, it seems you do not.” Scott felt the sting of the insult, more intense because it was true. How tian xiaode had she know that? Perhaps she was friends with Karen, or Sandy.

The slim vixen stepped away, unclicking her boots from her skis as his attention drifted to James. His friend was attempting to pick up the tall dark woman. The look on James’s face was a dead give away that the woman had hold of his friend’s wrist and was twisting it uncomfortably. Scott felt his stomach hit the ground then turn over several times. Never in his life had a woman reacted this way to their interest, he began to shake and stumbled to find any words to say that might defuse the situation. He was saved the trouble, however, by the girl in red.

Her voice was musical; “Not worth the trouble, Zoë. He just wants your treasure for the night. Counting down the seconds; need to convene on the nest.” Zoë withdrew from James and nodded at her friend, who joined her in picking up their skis and walking away from them.

“Well,” James said from his right, “at least we didn’t waste money on drinks, let’s go up and try again, maybe hit Widows Pass on the way down.”


Simon and Kaylee stepped on board Serenity with trepidation. It had taken just a minute to drop their equipment in the rental return shack located to the side of their docking birth, but the walk from the resort shuttle had been lengthy. Simon had insisted that they get off at the stop following theirs and then double back; had they been on skis the extra quarter mile or so would have been easy, but owing to Kaylee’s complete inability to remain upright on skis, they both felt it prudent to walk. By the end, the trip had seemed arduous, and they were beginning to act surly; Kaylee, he suspected, was tired.

As they walked Simon had been preoccupied with concerns over the lack of communication from the others. And while he was fairly certain that he had convinced Cassandra that River was dead, he started to wonder if she would report River’s presence to the authorities as well as his own. If so, River was in danger out there on the slopes; she could be recognized at any moment. He needed to get to the transmitter on Serenity as soon as possible.

He closed the door behind him with a sigh, but forgot to lock it because a soft breathy voice coming from behind him caught him off guard.

“Simon,” Kaylee said slipping her arms around him. “We are all alone here on the ship. It’s time to stop brooding.”

“I’m not brooding,” he replied incredulously.

“You are brooding; you haven’t said a word to me since we got off that shuttle. But I think I know just what to do to take your mind off your troubles.” She slipped her hands underneath his shirt and reached her mouth towards his own.

“I hardly think this is the time.”

“It is exactly the time.” Kaylee smiled at him. “We never get the ship to ourselves; let’s wait just a few minutes before calling the others.”

“It was your idea to call them in the first place. If you hadn’t have mentioned it, I never would have realized I can’t contact them; I wouldn’t be so concerned about the fact that no one has been able to respond.”

“Just a few minutes? You are so sexy, with the spy talk, and the skiing and all.” Kaylee’s smile melted him. Just being near her warmed his heart as well as a few places somewhat further south.

He put his arms around her, returning her kiss with passion and vigor. Her mouth tasted of berries and her skin was soft as a winter lily.

“We can’t do this now” he whispered in her ear, pulling away from her.

“I know,” she said, not sounding half as disappointed as he felt. “But later, you’re mine.”

“No, you’re mine.” He returned her smile as they made their way to the bridge. Simon’s agitation grew as Kaylee wasted even more time rewiring Serenity’s com unit so it would broadcast on the same secure frequency that their hand-helds did. At last she gave him the nod and he lifted the mic off its hanger on the ceiling of the bridge. He was just about to transmit when he felt a hand rest gently on his shoulder.

“We’re back!” River said in a sing-song voice.

Simon dropped the mic, letting it swing precariously close to the navigation computer. His joy at seeing his sister safe and sound, out of Cassandra’s reach, rendered him momentarily speechless. He grabbed his sister and squeezed her tightly.

“I’m fine,” River got directly to the point. “No one recognized, didn’t go home with ski bum, you should be happy.”

“Report Doctor.” Simon whirled around at the sound of the first officer’s voice. Zoë had entered the bridge in total silence, and was now leaning against the door frame. From her stance he could tell she was in soldier mode. Her no-nonsense attitude brought him out of his revelry about his sister and back to the business at hand.

“Kaylee and I were in the lodge when we ran into my evil cousin,” Simon said, then he went on to relay the events of the morning and his decision to return to the ship to use its stronger com system.

“Good work, Doctor, you did the right thing.” Zoë’s voice was calm and businesslike. “Only problem was that up on the mountain your transmission was more garble than the message. We’re here because your sister was able to hear through the static and relay the code blue.”

“Ah,” Simon responded thoughtfully. “Every once in a while, what those Huh choo-shang tza-jiao duh tzang-huo did to my sister does come in handy. Not that I like it,” he backpedaled quickly after the words were out, “but in a situation like this it can be helpful.”

“Agreed,” Zoë said to Simon.

“Cassandra?” River asked, entering the conversation as if it had not been about her.

Simon nodded his head and began to speak but Zoë cut him off. “Did any of the others respond when you sent the message?”

“It sounded like someone tried but we could only hear static.”

“Good, that means we only have to find Jayne.”

Kaylee stared at Zoë in confusion. “Why do you think it was the Captain and Inara that responded?”

“Because they were lower down on the mountain, it’s more likely that they heard at least something, question is what.” Zoë’s response made sense, but Simon still felt that they needed to try and contact the Captain as well.

As if River was not the only reader on the ship, Inara’s voice emerged from the com unit. “Fireflies, this is Inara.”

“We’re here, go ahead.” River responded into the mic. Simon had not seen her pick it up from its position dangling mid air. River, without question, handed the mic to Zoë who was reaching out her hand, signaling that she wanted to run this conversation.

“What’s your situation?” Zoë asked into the mic.

“We’re on our way back. We had a little incident, Mal tweaked his shoulder. He says he’s fine, but I think Simon should look at it when we return. He’s moving slow and can’t lift his arm to work the transmitter.”

“I can arrange that,” Zoë said, smiling to think that if they all worked at it, Mal would feel ganged up on and be forced to let the doc examine him. “Did you get the code blue?”

“We caught part of it. We were headed your way before Mal got him self tangled up with the Alliance officers.”

The tension on Serenity’s bridge escalated with Inara’s words. Simon’s heart skipped a beat.

“Should we be concerned about this Alliance entanglement?” Zoë said, responding as if she was not bothered at all by the words Inara had spoken.

“No, it’s all straightened out, you’ll actually get quite a laugh out of it.” Everyone on the bridge looked at each other, wondering what Mal had done this time.

“Tell Mal that Jayne has not checked in, the rest are present and accounted for.”

They waited a few minutes for Inara’s voice to return. “He thinks the mountains are messing with the sight lines for our transmitters. We could barely hear anything when Simon called before.”

“Agreed, I was just thinking about heading to the Gondola, it’s the fastest way to the top of the mountain where we should get the most coverage.”

“Wait,” Inara said and the transmitter was quiet for a while, as if she and Mal were having a discussion. “We’re right here at the Gondola. Mal says everyone on the ship is to stay put, we’ll go. I’m only not arguing because we can ride up and back without putting on our skis.”


Jayne was on his fifth trip down the double diamond runs at the bowls when he saw Adria again. He spied her as he approached the mid mountain chair lift, chatting casually with the lift operator, although from her stance it seemed she was paying more attention to the skiers coming down the hill than what the young man was saying. He thought about skipping the lift and riding all the way to the bottom of the mountain, but decided against it. Who would want to ski the easy slopes when there were more double diamonds to be conquered.

“Hello again,” she said to him as he entered the queue at the chair lift.

Jayne nodded a greeting to her, but otherwise tried to ignore her. She was obviously looking for someone and he wanted to make damn sure it was not him.

He passed the attendant and stood ready to catch the next chair. The pair in front of him sat down and were soon lifted into the air. When it was his turn, he pushed himself into position, only to hear a body slide in next to him.

“Can I join you?” she asked as the chair swung around. “Seems you’re the only single on the bowls today.”

The lift swung around and they got on, this time without incident.

“Don’t suppose I really got a choice, now do I?” Jayne replied as he watched the ground fall away beneath him.

“You know,” she said, looking directly at him. “I’ve been watching you this morning.”

The lift was now so high there was no way he could jump and get away from her. Not that he’d want to, she was a fine looking specimen of a woman, and it was so seldom that he could get his trim with out coin exchanging hands. “Really, you fancy having a go with old Jayne? I think the chair lift’s a bit awkward, but we could probably make it work.” He started to undo his jacket.

Adria completely ignored his comment. “You ski really well.”

“Should, been doing it since I could walk,” he replied, continuing to undo his jacket.

“And where was that? Here on Hawthorne?”

“Nah, on Alderna, where I’m from. Spent the winter with skis strapped to my feet.”

“And what’s a rim worlder like you doing at a resort like this?” He could feel her eyes burning into him as she asked the question. She was watching to see what kind of story he would tell, and she would know if it was a story. He suddenly had a slight inkling that something was wrong. She had not been watching him to try and have a go; she wanted to take him in. She thought he’d hiked through the trees to ski here.

“Come here all the time,” he responded, returning her burning glare. Adria gave him a look similar to those River gave Simon when he was saying something stupid.

“Ok, I come here occasionally,” he amended.

“No you haven’t,” Adria responded, calling him on his lie. “You fell on me before either because you wanted to cop a feel, or you had never been on a chair lift and it caught you unawares. Probably both. Either way, it tells me you do not belong here at The Cottonwoods.”

“Sure as hell I belong,” Jayne huffed. How dare this woman imply he was not good enough for this Gou tsao de resort? “You can check my goram pass if you don’t believe me.”

“I just might do that,” she said, oblivious that she had insulted him. The chair crossed a difficult run full of moguls. Underneath them three skiers, obviously skiing above their ability, were slowly making their way down the mountain. They both watched them for a while before Adria spoke again.

“Thing is,” she turned to face him as she spoke. “Having expert skiers at the resort is good for business. It makes the runs look easy; makes people want to come here because this is where the best of the best ski. I’d hate to see one of the best skiers I’ve seen all year thrown in the clink, even if he can’t out ski me.”

“You don’t think I could out ski you?”

“Nope, I’m a three time gold medal winner in slalom.”

“What are you willing to wager on a little race down the hill?” Jayne asked her, possibly seeing his way out of his predicament.

“I win, you let me take you in and scan your pass, confirm you’re legit.” He smiled as she relayed her side of the wager: even if he lost, he wouldn’t lose. His pass was legit.

He looked at Adria. She was thin and muscular. Since he had already felt her up, he knew her breasts were firm handfuls of womanhood. He decided to take a chance. “I win, you let me take you into the woods and show me what’s under all those layers.” He winked at her as he finished giving her his terms.

She ogled him up and down, and for the first time in his life he felt as if he was the whore in the house hoping to be chosen. When her eyes had finally drunk their fill she nodded. “Deal, we start as soon as we hit the top of the lift, first one to the other end of this chair wins.”

“Deal,” agreed Jayne as he made himself ready to race.


Monday, January 7, 2008 1:32 PM


Of course getting off a simple ski lift couldn't go easy for Mal and Inara. That exchange was just perfect.

Found it difficult to follow the Scott and James scene because they came into the story so abruptly. That the two women that they were eyeing were River and Zoe wasn't really clear until near the end so I was a bit baffled as to why we were glimpsing this scene.

I'm not sure I can quite wrap my head around why Kaylee wanted to get into Simon's pants at a time like this. But, I suppose, in the earlier chapter you had her not nearly as concerned as Simon about his cousin, that it could work, but after Simon told Kaylee about what type of woman Cassandra was, I thought she'd understand the urgency of the situation a bit more. An enjoyable scene, it just rang a bit unbelievable to me.

The Jayne and Adria scene was hysterical. Even if I can't believe Jayne knows anything about skiing to begin with, his arrogance in trying to get into this woman's pants is going to get him into all kinds of trouble. Which will be very fun to see!

Monday, January 7, 2008 1:36 PM


The last bit was pure Jayne

Monday, January 7, 2008 2:28 PM


If Kaylee ever discovers the saunas and hot tubs that are usually available at ski resorts, Simon will really be in trouble!

Seriously though, I like this series. It's alot of fun to read.

Monday, January 7, 2008 3:48 PM


Methinks Adria might just throw the race! I'm still enjoying this series. Keep up the good work!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 10:51 AM


The part with the blue bellies made me laugh and Inara was real smart with the story and all - nice move Inara!! As for the last part, I'll be in my bunk...

Keep flying ;)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008 11:08 AM


Yeah, I'm really enjoying Jayne's day on the slopes. Figures that he'd make the best of it! And his fun balances the stress the rest of them are having.

I don't mind seeing the crew through the eyes of a few stranges. But I can see that it might have been less startling if there were more sections of outside pov's scattered about.

Fun tale! Looking forward to the race! ;)


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Snowball - Chapter 11 The Conclusion
Life on Hawthorne will never be the same, now that our BDH’s have escaped.

Snowball - Chapter 10
There’s a daring escape, and our hero’s finally secure some cargo. Chapter 10 of 11, we’re almost there people :)

Snowball - Chapter 9
High tech video surveillance catches up with our hero’s causing no end of problems. This is the ninth of eleven chapters. You can find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 8
Mal and Inara discover a clue that could possibly clear Mal of the murder charges, but can they use it? Jayne races Adria to prove his pass and maybe get some... This is the eighth of eleven chapters. Find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 7
Mal and Jayne both ease their way through treacherous encounters with the Cottonwoods Ski Patrol. This is the seventh of eleven chapters. You can find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 6
Sometimes long lost family members spell trouble. Simon knows this but can he convince the crew? Can he even contact them? This is the sixth of eleven chapters. You can find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 5
Our BDH’s finally do some skiing, well at least most of them do. It’s the chapter that inspired the whole epic. The fifth of eleven chapters, which you can find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 4
They can’t leave and they can’t stay. Fortunately for our BDH’s they have on board a criminal mastermind disguised as a doctor. This is the fourth of eleven chapters. Find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 3
Our hero’s deliver their cargo, only to run into some unexpected complications. This is the third of eleven chapters. You can find out all about it in my blog.

Snowball - Chapter 2
Mal discovers he does not have as much control over of his life as he thought and he learns just how people conduct legal type business deals near the Core. Chapter 2 of 11, find out all about it in my blog.