Snowball - Chapter 8
Thursday, January 10, 2008

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.


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 comments. Even the ones that call me on weak points in the story make me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Be forewarned, when I was reading this chapter to my kids I had to censer a vast majority of it, of course my kids are fairly young. In other words it’s rated R+ people.


Snowball Chapter 8

Mal winced as the blue clad oaf standing next to him bumped into his sore shoulder yet again. Unfortunately, this time Inara noticed.

She leaned her head towards him to whisper into his ear, “Are you ok?”

“Be fine, once I’m no longer packed into a sardine can and flying through the air over a snow covered mountain.”

“We didn’t have to do this. Zoë sounded like she was already planning on…”

Mal interrupted, her agitated whispers were beginning to get too loud. “Yes, we did, Zoë was already on the ship and we were practically in line to get on this flying anchovy tin. ‘Sides while you were standing there yakking with Zoë, I heard that pretty boy braggin’ about how fun it is to con transport captains. I’d have insisted on coming for this ride, whether or not Jayne was accounted for.”

Inara gave him an inquiring look, and he gently nodded his head towards the two men seated below them.

Mal listened to the various conversations around him as he watched the ski slopes go by underneath the car. Shadows were beginning to grow across the hillsides, as he suspected they did every day towards the middle of the afternoon. Skiers dressed in every color on the ‘verse made their way down the slopes; their gentle S curves mesmerizing.

The gondola car they were riding in had seats for twelve and room for six more standing. Because Mal and Inara had been some of the last ones to board, they were delegated to the standing room only section. Mal had pushed and shoved a little to be standing against one of the car’s large side windows, his quarry within earshot, rather than in the middle of the car. He had to admit, as much as he now hated the sport of skiing, the mountains were beautiful. The tall peaks they were heading toward each hosted a cornice reminiscent of a pompadour that gave way into deep mountain bowls. From this vantage point, still low on the mountain, the people skiing those bowls looked like small ants swerving back and forth down the slopes, but he imagined they were getting bigger as he neared.

Inara was being quiet, mesmerized as well by the trees and meadows passing beneath their car. But many others on gondola were not. In the corner opposite from them, a young couple had been locked in a long extremely passionate kiss since the doors had closed. Mal wondered if they would ever come up for air. Towards the middle of the car four women were engrossed in a serious discussion about the qualities that made a perfect husband. None of theirs apparently qualified. Across from them, a middle aged man was recounting to his twenty-something son his attempts to teach the boy to ski as a child. The story was quite funny, Mal couldn’t help but smile.

Sitting in the corner behind him and Inara, so close that he kept brushing their knees whenever the gondola swayed, sat two young men that looked to be Simon’s age. Judging from the expensive clothes they were wearing, they both appeared to have come from money. But Mal couldn’t be sure; today he looked like he was rich as well, thanks to Inara’s imaginary client and River’s clever hack job. Their conversation drew him away from the childish antics told by the father to his now grown son, and once he started truly listening his attention could not be diverted.

“This is great stuff, Jarret! You’ve got to let me have some more. I’m flying higher than the gondola right now,” the man wearing the black hat in the corner said to his friend.

Jarret’s dark green hat nodded saying, “Dude, don’t talk so loud, who knows who could be listening.”

“Who cares, everyone knows who my father is; I can do whatever I want. You shouldn’t worry either; your family connections are just as good. Where’d you get this?”

“Comes from Jara’s uncle. But I’m not giving any away; you heard what happened to him, right? Doubt there’ll be more any time soon.”

“Yah, such a shame, he always provided us with the most glorious snowballs.”

“He did at that. There’s nothing like the feeling of carving tracks while your brain’s flying through the sky.” Mal suddenly understood what it was they were talking about. He had seen more than a few guys in the war getting strung out on ‘snowballs.’ Granted, they were happier for a while and oblivious to their surroundings, but they were also paranoid and reckless. Most met a bitter end, as the drugs impaired their ability to sense the movements of the enemy.

“Jara know how someone got close enough to shoot him? Seems impossible, the old man was a shark.” Black Hat asked.

“Yeah, she told me, but it’s strictly confidential.” Jarret paused before continuing. “The family wants this kept strictly need to know, but you’re cool.” Jarret leaned into his friend, obviously believing he was whispering. “You’re familiar with the Espinoza’s, right? They’re all corrupt.”

Mal caught Inara’s eye and glanced toward the two men. She gave him the slightest nod, indicating that she also was listening to their conversation.

“Corrupt as they come, except Jara of course,” Black Hat replied. “The woman you married is sweet as molasses.”

Jarret laughed heartily at his friend’s characterization of his wife.

“’Sides, she’s always treated me right with the snowballs,” Black Hat went on. “How do they get them in anyway? Seems port authority inspects everything landing in the green zones these days.”

“They’re rolled up inside the material the old man hauls here to make skis. That stuff is wicked nasty to inhale; inspectors never want to breathe it, so they don’t open the rolls. It’s lucky for us their agency’s too cheap to buy them respirators.”

“Still it’s got to be hard to find folks willing to transport it. Espinoza pay in cargo?”

“You think those ben tian sheng captains even know what they’re transporting?” Both the men shared another chuckle.

Mal felt Inara’s hand on his arm. He looked at her, he knew that deep down she was just as pissed off as he felt; he could see it in her eyes. If he had been caught smuggling drugs, he would have lost the ship. Few captains, even damn good smugglers, would take the risk of carrying illegal drugs. But, other than in her eyes, Inara wasn’t showing her fury. Her hand on his arm and the look on her face were her reminders to him that he had better not show it either. This was not the time, and these were not the people that used him.

“Back to how the old man bit the dust?” Black Hat prompted Jarret.

“Right,” Jarret responded. “Jara says her Uncle Donovan is now claiming to be head of the family. He apparently has been transferring ownership of various anonymous accounts into his control for the past several months.”

“Donovan? The molecular biologist? Didn’t you once tell me he knew enough about chemicals that he could poison someone using some new-fangled way untraceable stuff that only he has ever seen or heard of?”

“Yup,” Jarret smiled, “That’d be the one.” He leaned in a bit closer to his friend, “And here’s the piece of info you didn’t get from the newswave. When central enforcement found the old man, there was little to no blood on the rug.” He paused letting the information sink in before adding, “Only dead guys that don’t bleed. Makes you wish you were in a different family eh?”

“I am in a different family.” Black Hat smiled at his friend.

Mal felt the gondola snap into place as it came to the top of the hill, bringing the conversation to an abrupt end. Inara and he got off with the rest of the passengers, but unlike them they did not retrieve skis from the racks on the outside of the car. Instead, they walked toward the warming hut across the small snow covered meadow.

It was chilly at the top of the mountain, much colder than it had been at the bottom where they’d been skiing before. A slight breeze picked up small granules of snow and blew them into Mal’s face as he walked. He ignored it.

Mal walked past the warming shack into the trees on its far side, Inara following on his right side. He could not go as far into the forest as he would have liked; within a few steps the snow became too soft to support his weight and his feet began to sink. At last he decided he was far enough into the woods that it seemed private. The small copse of trees he found himself in was round, tall pines hugging the perimeter gave the illusion of walls. At last Mal let out his fury. A long string of Chinese spilled from is mouth followed by, “How dare they!” He punched the tree with the side of the fist on his good arm, causing a large chunk of snow to fall and hit him in the head. He recoiled in agony as the shock of both his impact with the tree and the falling snow jolted his sore shoulder.

He heard a snicker from beside him. When he looked at Inara, her hands covered her mouth and she was trying with great difficulty not to laugh. Never the less, slight chuckles emanated from behind her gloves.

“You think this is funny. I could have lost my ship!”

“Yes I think this is funny. You have several inches of snow on top of your head and shoulders and I think you even have some on your nose.” Mal unconsciously wiped his face with his hand. Inara was still trying hard not to laugh. “For what it’s worth, I don’t think you could have lost your ship. Those crates were sealed; any inspector would be able to read the labels. This was a legal run and you have all the paperwork. It would take a lot of work to pin those drugs on you. Besides, most inspectors can be bought; you just have to know what they like.”

“And you know this how?”

“Some clients the guild works with have special needs. The guild has ways of procuring any type of item a client requires,” Inara told him matter-of-factly.

Mal felt surprisingly better now that he had released his pent up anger at being used. Perhaps he should take more heed of the advice he was giving Inara before the code blue came in. He didn’t like it, but the information he had overheard on the gondola helped him understand some things about this job. “It does make sense though, doesn’t it?”

“What makes sense?” Inara asked him sincerely, reaching out to gently brush the snow off his shoulders and hat.

“Do you remember Kaylee’s story about her friend Striker?” Mal asked her. “He said that a load had been skimmed and his crew boss had been forced to pay for it. Said the entire crew had been working extra for six months to make good on the loss. I remember thinking at the time that that’s a lot of money for some fancy rolled up fabric.”

“That never occurred to me,” Inara confessed.

“What I don’t get is what River said.”

Inara gave him a confused look. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“Before we landed, River said that the cargo in our hold was fine, but that Espinoza was lying to me about the return cargo.”

“Could she just have been talking about the delay in getting it?” Inara asked.

“Possibly, but if we did have a hold full of snowballs, why couldn’t she sense something shady? Seems that’s often her specialty.” They both thought for a moment, but Mal figured they wouldn’t put it together anytime soon. He didn’t think even River understood why sometimes she knew things and other times she didn’t.

“Can we trust the return cargo?” Inara asked, changing the subject.

“I don’t know, but I aim to find out.”

“It sure would be easier for you to retrieve that cargo if you weren’t currently the prime suspect in the murder of a mob boss.”

“Yes, I aim to make the most of the fact that ski bum Jarret was too high to know he was speaking when he shouldn’t.”

“Do you have a plan yet?”

“Not a one,” Mal answered honestly. “Luckily, I’m no longer the only criminal mastermind on my boat. My guess, the Tam’s might have more ‘n a few ideas, they’ve been on a role lately. Time to dig out that transmitter and track down Jayne.” He gestured to Inara’s pocket. She nodded and began searching for it.


As the chair lift neared the end of its ride, both Jayne and Adria pushed themselves toward the edge of the seat. She might be some type of champion skier, Jayne thought to himself, but she had never raced Bridger and Carson Johanson. Growing up, they were some of his best friends. The times he chose not to ski alone, he skied with the Johanson brothers. Not only were they both fast, but they were always trying to outdo each other. Jayne, being young and proud, had tried to prove he was better than the both of them.

The minute his skis touched the snow he was in race mode. He took several wide skate steps to give him the push he needed and headed to his right around the controller’s shack, straight off the edge of a cliff. He flew though the air into the powder below. Landing on his feet, he turned at breakneck speed around several boulders and off yet another edge. He landed on one foot slightly off balance, but recovered in time to enter a steep mogul filled ski run, directly in front of a resort patron wearing a color that resembled that of molded protein. Just because of the color, he didn’t feel bad at all when the skier tumbled as a result of his unexpected arrival on the slope.

“I’ll send someone to check on you.” Jayne heard Adria’s voice yelling at the man from just behind him.

Jayne sped through the moguls, concentrating on shaving inches from each turn, but when he looked to his right, there was Adria, matching him turn for turn. Together they curved with the slope as it rounded a corner and continued down the hill.

Jayne had been on this run earlier in the day; it made a wide arc through the pine forest. The shape of the slope gave him all the advantage he needed. He turned his skis straight down the hill, directly into the trees. Adria didn’t follow.

Perhaps it was the air on Hawthorne or the perpetual winter, but according to Jayne’s standards the trees seemed widely spaced; he had plenty of room for his tight, calculated turns. Back home the trees had been much closer together, which had made his races with the Johanson brothers all the more exciting.

He emerged from the woods into a small meadow, the powder flying up in the air around him. He crouched and tucked, adding to his speed before he reentered the forest. Winding his way around the trees, he glanced ahead and it seemed to him that the vegetation seemed too thin. As he neared, he realized he was approaching yet another edge. He skied again off of it, not slowing to calculate where he landed.

The powder enveloped him as his skis once again touched snow, making it momentarily hard to see the trees he was maneuvering through. A small branch whacked his right arm but the pain acted like a whip driving him faster. He tightened his turns and continued through the trees.

At last he emerged onto the groomed ski run. His destination in sight, he crouched into a tuck as he crossed the slope heading directly towards the chair lift.

He arrived with a spray of snow that covered a young couple waiting in line. If looks could kill, theirs would have done more damage than Vera. Fortunately, their glares were drowned out within a few seconds by a second spray of snow; this one covering him as well.

“You’re crazy,” Adria said, catching her breath.

Jayne leered in her direction, “Only when the payoff’s good.”

“Follow me,” she said, taking off past the chair lift down the hill. He followed.

She skied fast, but not at the breakneck pace they had been traveling at just moments before. They rounded a couple of turns in the slope before Adria took a sharp left turn, leading him down a narrow track into the trees. Had he not been directly behind her, he would have missed it.

The track wove through the woods about fifty feet before opening up to a small meadow and a tiny wooden shack.

“Now wait a minute, here,” Jayne said as they slowed to a stop in front of the hut, “I do believe I beat you.”

“Oh, you won the bet.” She smiled at him and removed a key from her pocket to unlock the door. “I just prefer to get my jollies someplace reasonably warm and more comfortable than the forest. Doing it up against a tree is rather painful on the back, not to mention a bit cold, when you shake the snow down on top of you. There are six of these first aid shacks scattered throughout the mountain, but those of us with keys don’t just use them for first aid.”

They unclicked their boots from their skis and stepped inside. The shack’s one window filled the room with enough pale gray light to allow him to see. Three of the walls, including the ones with the door and window, were encased in shelves containing various first aid supplies. A backboard casually leaned against the shelves across from the door. Simon would have a field day in here, Jayne thought. On the fourth wall was a narrow cot, fresh woolen blankets stacked on its end.

She took off her gloves and hat throwing them in a heap in the corner. Her vest and jacket were next to join the pile. It took Jayne only a second to get with the program and add his outer layers to the pile as well. Adria seized the moment to step up next to him; she reached her arms around his waist, pulling at his shirts until her hands found bare skin. Her hands freely explored the hairs on his chest and back, then pulling him close, she kissed him on the mouth.

Jayne took several minutes to indulge in the taste of her; it was rare that he kissed a woman. He too pulled at her shirts, releasing them from the waste of her ski pants. Hands moving up her back, he found the clasp to her bra and undid it with ease. Escaping her mouth, he nibbled her ear as he began to work her shirts up above her perfectly rounded breasts.

“Ski patrol 467 dispatch.” Jayne barely heard the noise squawking from the pile of clothes in the corner.

“Tzaogao, that’s me,” Adria said, pulling away from him. It took her a few minutes to sift through the pile of clothes and find her radio. “Patrol 467, go.”

“Location?” the dispatcher demanded.

“Upper bowls, just finished The Equalizer.” Jayne liked the way she was skating around the truth.

“Good, we have a report of a couple of wangbadan fong luh racing in that area. Says they knocked over more than a few visitors. We need you to check it out.”

“Shia,” Adria smirked into her radio. “I’ll see what I can discover.”

“Report back, dispatch out.”

Adria threw the radio onto her jacket and turned her attention back to Jayne. She tried to kiss him again but he lowered his head, brushing her neck with his lips. She shivered.

He felt her hands seeking the buttons on his pants, as he lifted her top two layers over her head, throwing them on the pile.

Her thermal layer clung close to her body, showing off her curves. Leading her towards the cot, he gestured for her to lie down. Slowly, he again began to lift her thermal shirt towards her neck, kissing first her belly button, then around her stomach. He was interrupted by what sounded like Inara’s voice coming from the direction of the clothing pile. He ignored it.

“It’s for you.” She commented between moans.

“Yeah, ignore it.”

“Who ever it is sounds fairly upset.”

“Yeah, ignore it.” He sought her nipple with his tongue.

“Jayne there is no place on the mountain that you cannot receive this transmission!” Mal’s irate tones made Jayne glance at the transmitter. “Answer the goram transmitter or I’ll throw Vera out the airlock. I’m in about no mood for games.”

“Who’s Vera?” Adria said as he gave in and fished through the pile for his jacket.

“My Callahan fullbore autolock,” he replied, then he finally found his transmitter.

“You name your guns?”

Jayne didn’t answer her, choosing instead to silence the noise of his transmitter. “What do you want, Mal?”

“Well it’s about time you dug your transmitter out of your pocket,” Mal complained.

“Ain’t heard you before this.”

“Perhaps you didn’t hear the transmissions earlier from the doc, but since we’re up at the top of the gondola, I’m fairly certain you’ve heard us calling you for the last several minutes.”

“Well, I’ve been a might busy,” Jayne leered at Adria as he spoke.

“I’m sure you have, but we have a situation. Doc’s called a code blue.”

“Ah hell, things were just getting good too,” Jayne said without keying the transmitter.

It figures he finally gets something good going on and he has to give it up. Keying the transmit button he asked, “You’re sure, he said code blue? You know how the mountains play with the transmitters.”

“I’m not going to argue with you, Jayne. Get your ruttin’ pigu back to the ship or you get left.”

“Alright, I’m comin’” Jayne whined, then he set to putting on his jacket and searching for his other belongings.

“You’re leaving?” Adria asked him, sounding almost as disappointed as he felt.

“No choice. Don’t want to get left on this yuben de world.” He turned his face so that he might drink her in with his eyes one last time before leaving. He wanted to remember what she looked and felt like; he would be imagining her in his bunk for many weeks to come.

“What about our bet, don’t you want to collect?” She was almost pleading with him not to leave. “Racing really makes me hot.”

“Sure as the sun rises, I want to collect on our wager; you can bet if I ever find myself on this here planet again I will, but right now I’ve got to get.”

Jayne closed the door behind him, leaving her still lying half dressed on the cot.


Thursday, January 10, 2008 10:55 PM


This is good, although your brief description at the beginning doesn't seem to tie in somehow. What murder rap? But the description of Jayne skiing through the trees almost makes me feel the snow whip into my face myself ...

Friday, January 11, 2008 7:39 AM


Wow. Jayne just walked out on a half naked woman! I think he's grown . . . LOL!

I didn't get the 'clue' either but I'm sick at the moment so maybe I'm just not remembering past chapters well enough.

Definitely looking forward to more, though.

Friday, January 11, 2008 8:49 AM


Hey there – at the end of chapter 3 Striker tells Kaylee that his boss (their contact) has been murdered and Mal’s being blamed. During the beginning of chapter 4, we learn that they can’t leave, because they won’t have the cash to buy fuel, if they don’t have cargo to sell. Hence the reason they hide at the fancy ski resort. Really it’s all a fancy plot device to give them a realistic reason to go skiing. But since it’s central to the story, one has to go back to it and tie it all together. You’ll be getting more of this in the chapters to come, plus more skiing by Jayne.

Hope this helps – Desert Girl


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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.