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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Mal talks with Eve, and Mr. Shultzer bums a ride.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 816 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Mal looked through the glass of the infirmary window with a strange sense of foreboding. Simon was talking with the woman he’d rescued, his dark hair sliding down over his forehead as he bent to speak in low tones with her. The woman nodded, and Mal watched as Simon gingerly helped her into a sitting position and arranged several soft pillows behind her. The woman shook her head, sitting a straight as she could manage and obviously unwilling to put any weight on her back.
Mal swallowed thickly, remembering the hundreds of tiny stitches that Simon had used to repair the damage done to her on that gorram whipping post. He studiously tried to avoid thinking about the emotional damage that Simon would not be able to heal with his suturing kit. Scrubbing his palms across his face to clear away such thoughts, he waited for another moment, until Simon glanced up at him and nodded almost imperceptibly.
He stepped into the room and smiled as warmly as he could manage at the woman. “Mrs. Shultzer, my name is Malcolm Reynolds, and I’m the Captain of Serenity,” he said.
“Hello, Captain Reynolds,” she replied in a pleasingly soft voice. “If it is all the same to you, I would prefer to be called Eve. ‘Mrs. Shultzer’ seems a little too….constricting at the moment.” Her smile was pleasant, even though the tight lines around her mouth and eyes let Mal know that she was still in a great deal of pain.
“Eve it is, then,” he said, pulling up a stool beside the bed. “I conjure you have some questions for me, and I have a few of my own, if you don’t mind.”
“Of course,” Eve replied. “First, let me say how appreciative I am of your help. It would seem I was in severe need of someone to…rescue me.”
Mal shifted uncomfortably, feeling guilty for a fleeting moment remembering that he had been prepared to leave her where she was. “You have Simon and Jayne to thank for that,” he said honestly. “Seems they took a notion to help you when they saw what was happening.”
Eve bowed her head slightly. “I hope that I didn’t cause any trouble for them,” she said. “And I must admit I thought I might be dreaming when the doctor explained that this was not a slaver ship.”
Mal stared at her for a moment, startled. “You thought Serenity was a slaver ship?”
“I was quite groggy when I first spoke to Simon,” she said, hastening to avoid offending the Captain. “And I had no idea that there were people who would just…come and help me without an ulterior motive. I mean, I have nothing with which to repay your kindness. So, I thought that perhaps I had been sold to you. How else to explain that I had been put on a ship?” She paused briefly, swallowing the bile that rose in her throat. “And my husband is the sort of man who might find pleasure in seeing me sold into slavery,” she added, almost whispering the thought.
Mal frowned, filled with both contempt and anger for a man who would treat his own in such a way. “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said softly. “But it sorta’ brings me to my question. Is your husband the kind of man like to come after us for helpin’ you? Mind, if he does, we can see to your safety. But I got family on this boat, little ones to worry over, and I need an honest answer from you.”
Eve gazed at him steadily, trying to divine the thoughts behind those stunningly blue eyes that looked so directly at her. “I don’t know,” she answered finally. “I had actually assumed that he was intending to leave me to die of exposure and blood loss. I had most assuredly not imagined living beyond the night. But, he is a dangerous man, and…..” She stopped, trying to control the shudder that ran through her and ignited the nerve endings along her wounds.
“And?” Mal prompted, wincing himself as her face turned even paler than it had been before.
“And he has powerful friends,” she said, drawing a deep breath.
“How powerful?” Mal asked. “The kind that hold a lot of power on your world but are little or nothing in the big, wide ‘verse, or the kind that are like to bring trouble to my door?”
Eve was torn between her instinct to tell the Captain what she thought she knew and her desire to assuage his worry so that he would let her stay on the ship until she could heal properly and figure out what else to do. Deciding to trust him not to abandon her, she answered, “My husband is involved in something. I don’t know exactly what it is, as he has very little inclination to talk to me, let alone confide in me. But there is something. Something with someone offworld. I have the impression that it is someone with power…perhaps an Alliance official of some sort. I can only assume that it is something illegal, as he is very secretive about the whole thing. But if he does have a contact with someone offworld who would have access to a ship, it is conceivable that he might try to find me. He is not the sort of man to let something go that he considers an affront to his dignity.” She motioned feebly toward her back. “As you can clearly see from my current condition.”
Mal grimaced when she mentioned a possible Alliance connection, thinking that was precisely the kind of thing he could have gone the rest of his life without hearing.
Eve, seeing his expression, felt her hopes begin to fade. “I will understand if you wish to turn around and deliver me back to my husband. It would more than likely be the smartest thing to do.”
Mal rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. “Yeah well, I ain’t known for always choosin’ the smartest thing,” he said after a moment.
Eve smiled, relieved beyond measure that he seemed disinclined to send her back into the hell of her old life. “I can’t tell you how grateful I would be if you would allow me to stay onboard until your next stop,” she said carefully. “In a few days, I should be able to be up and about, according to Simon. And while I have no coin with which to pay you, perhaps there is something I could do to earn my keep. I can sew fairly well, and I can cook.” She thought for a moment. “And I can clean, though I might not be able to do the heavier things.” She looked at Mal earnestly.
“Just you see about gettin’ well for now,” Mal said gruffly to hide the pity her manner brought to his heart. “We’ll work somethin’ out when you’re better.”
“Thank you, Captain Reynolds,” she said, the relief making her heart lighter than it had been for a long while. “I promise I won’t be any bother.”
Mal nodded, pushing the stool away from the bed and turning to go. “I’d take it as a kindness if you weren’t,” he said, forcing a smile past the worry that whirred in his mind about the next few days.
Mason scowled at Alan Shultzer with irritation. “You know I don’t like to use the shuttle until we have to,” he said. “Besides which, why do you care if someone took her? Weren’t like she was faithful and true to you. All manner of unseemly to chase after a whore who’s already shamed you, if you ask me.”
“Well, I’m not asking you,” Shultzer said, feeling the blood rushing to his ears. “How I handle my wife is my personal business.”
Mason snorted. “Didn’t seem all that personal when you had her stripped bare and whipped to a pulp in the town square. Seemed pretty public to me.”
Shultzer had a fleeting mental image of wrapping his fingers around Mason’s windpipe and squeezing just so. Blinking past the red mist that appeared in his vision, he said snidely, “And don’t think I didn’t notice how much you enjoyed that little display. Stood right there in the front row, grinning like a fool.”
“What if I did?” Mason replied steadily. “You know I didn’t ever like the little whore anyway. Always snooping about in our business, sneaking up quiet-like. Let’s just say I like to see justice done, when it’s done proper.”
“Then let’s get to the shuttle and rendezvous with the supply ship,” Shultzer said as persuasively as he could. “And you and I can both be sure justice is done to her. Otherwise, she’s a loose end, roaming about somewhere out there, knowing God knows what about our little operation. Best thing we can do is retrieve her before she starts talking.”
Mason spat a long string of spittle to the ground at his partner’s feet. “Only ship through here was that Firefly belongs to Mal Reynolds. And I just finished doing business of my own with him. Ain’t rightly sure I want to get involved.”
Shultzer grabbed Mason by the collar. “You are involved, you ching-wah tsao duh liou mahng. If she knows anything about what I’m doing, she knows you’re doing it too. Dong ma?”
Mason pried Shultzer’s fingers loose, straightening his collar and filing away for future reference his intention to end the man. “Fine,” he snapped. “We’ll go to the supply ship with my shuttle. But when we get her back, I expect to be able to spend some quality time with her my own self before you kill her.”
Shultzer sneered. “Thought you didn’t like her.”
“I don’t,” Mason said thinly. “But that don’t mean I can’t find a use or two for her. Only fair, considerin’ it’s my shuttle we’re taking.”
“Fine,” Shultzer said, shrugging extravagantly. “It makes no difference to me, as long as we get her back before she tells this Reynolds man what we’re doing.”
“And if she’s already told him?” Mason asked.
“Well, then, we need some extra bullets,” Shultzer said grimly.
Mal rocked Hannah steadily to sleep, almost asleep himself after reading three bedtime stories to Adam and bathing and feeding Hannah. Realizing that his head was bobbing slightly, he eased out of the rocker and placed Hannah in the bassinet with all the care of a man with no desire to have to repeat the process after inadvertently waking her.
Yawning widely, he pulled his suspenders down and shucked off his boots. Serenity was quiet and he thought with relief that maybehaps no one would come for the woman in his infirmary after all. It had been two days since they had broken atmo, and still no one seemed to be following them, according to Serenity’s sensors. He climbed into bed, punched up his pillow, and fell into a deep sleep.
River sat on the bridge, staring out into the Black. She reached out to touch her husband’s mind, skimming its surface with a butterfly’s touch. She smiled at the dream he was having, and pulled away quickly so as not to disturb it. Her mind flitted lightly along the consciousness of the others of the crew and she was glad to know that they all rested calmly in Serenity’s sleep cycle.
Only in the infirmary did she detect a note of discord. Eve was dreaming and the nightmare was painfully vivid. River pulled away, flinching at the images that assaulted her mind. She hugged her knees tightly to her chest, squeezing her eyes shut as if that could erase the other woman’s turmoil from her own mind.
After a long while, she opened her eyes again. Shaken by what she had seen through Eve’s eyes, she checked the sensors again. A small blip had appeared on the screen, fluctuating erratically, but definitely there all the same. She leaned forward, a small crease in her brow as she stared at the blip.
Her hands moved rapidly over the console as she tried to ascertain what type of vessel was following them. After a few minutes, a shape appeared. River rechecked her data, surprised by the results. But the data was correct, and her fingertips tapped nervously on the console as she considered the possibilities.
Flipping the comm unit to life with a burst of static, she piped a message to the Captain’s bunk. “Mal, I think you need to come up here.”
“On my way,” Mal replied, his voice surprisingly alert considering that he had just been awakened from a very pleasant dream.
“A supply vessel?” Mal asked, looking at the screen over River’s shoulder.
“That’s how it reads,” River said. “But why would a supply vessel be following us?”
“You sure they’re following us?” Mal asked. “Could be they just happen to be on the same route.”
“Not likely,” River responded. “I didn’t plot our course through the regular trade routes. So there should be no need for a supply ship out this far from the normal route.”
Mal gripped the back of the pilot’s chair. “Maybehaps they’re lost.”
“Perhaps,” River said. “Though I do not detect any problem with their navigation. And they don’t seem to be drifting. We change course slightly, and they change course with us.”
“For how long?” Mal asked, dread shooting down his spine.
“Not sure,” River replied. “I didn’t see them at first, I think. I was…distracted.”
Mal looked at her oddly. “Reading the crew again?”
River blushed. “Just checking on them,” she replied in a whisper.
Mal smiled, kissing the top of her head. “Don’t blame you. I’m a mite antsy myself.” Turning back to the screen, he said, “Are they getting closer?”
“Not yet,” River said. “They’re just matching us move for move now.”
Mal nodded. “Keep watching. I’ll get Kaylee to see to the children and I’ll be right back.”
River nodded, turning her attention back to the console as Mal left the bridge.
To be continued
Saturday, March 15, 2008 11:40 AM
Saturday, March 15, 2008 12:00 PM
Saturday, March 15, 2008 6:05 PM
Sunday, March 16, 2008 1:01 PM
Sunday, March 16, 2008 10:35 PM
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