BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Old Habits - Part XIV
Friday, June 20, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Is Mal totally fong luh in letting Becca accompany him to Kendrick's ship? Maybe ... NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1850    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Mal flew the shuttle in silence, obeying Persephone’s sky laws and skirting the residential district by a good ten miles. It doubled the time, but at least he wasn’t challenged. The way he was feeling he’d probably say something he’d regret and be blasted out of the firmament. Once free of the city limits, though, he headed straight for the co-ordinates Badger had given him, flying low and fast, occupying himself with wondering how he could ever have been attracted to Becca.

She was pretty, that was for sure, although the years since he’d last seen her had hardened her somewhat, taken the gild off her shine, tarnished that prettiness. Truth was, though, his Freya just got more beautiful, but he could see time hadn’t left Becca unmarked.

As they approached their landing area, he glanced back into the body of the shuttle. He could see she was dozing, her chin dropped to her chest. She’d always been like that, he remembered. Even back in the disbursement camps, when there was so much noise he thought he’d never sleep again, she’d always been able to get some shuteye. Nothing seemed to phase that woman.

He banked sharply, bringing the small vehicle in to touch down, and allowed a slight smile of satisfaction to lift his lips as he heard a yelp from behind him. Shame, but it appeared the unexpected manoeuvre had apparently deposited Becca onto the floor.

As the shuttle settled and he shut down the engines, she leaned over him, rubbing her rear end.

“Did you have to do that?” she asked peevishly.

“Do what?” He got to his feet and pushed past her, picking up a small back pack on the way.

She scowled at him. “That innocent look didn’t work before, Mal. I can’t say it’s improved, either.”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about.” He slid the door open, tasting dust from where the engine had kicked it up.

She slid up behind him and peered out. “So where’s Kendrick’s ship?”

“Half an hour’s walk.”

She glared at him. “What? Why didn’t you land closer?”

He explained patiently. “Because according to Badger, Kendrick’s paranoid, and his ship could wipe us out if we even looked at it funny. Better I go in on foot. Less likely to be perceived as a threat.”

You’re going in on foot.”

He sketched a smile. “Yeah. You’re staying with the shuttle.”

She stepped in front of him. “No way.”

“Becca, I don’t trust you. You’re crazy enough to do something really stupid, like try and kill Kendrick, and I can’t be having that. I’ve got questions I want answered, and it’s usually better if the person on the receiving end of those questions is actually alive to do it.” He added quickly, “And in case you were thinking, I’ve locked out the controls so you can’t fly into his ship.”

“I won’t kill him.”

“Besides,” Mal went on as if he hadn’t heard, “I wanna get paid.” He hefted the back pack. “And again, that’s better if he’s not bleeding.”

“I said I won’t kill him.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Then why did you let me come along?” Becca folded her arms. “You could have let Zoe know I was there. She’d have manhandled me off, and taken delight in doing so.”

“I don’t know. Maybe I felt I wanted you where I could keep an eye on you.”

“Don’t you trust me?”

“Not even as far as I could throw you.”

“That’s not nice, Mal.”

“Being truthful, Becca.”

She stepped closer to him, letting him feel her warmth. “Look, I promise. I won’t try and kill Kendrick. And you know I'm right – you can’t go in there alone.”

“Becca –“

“And I’m good in a fight, you’ve always known that. I’ll make sure you come out again in one piece.” She tapped her hip. “And I’ve got a gun.”

“Yeah, where did you get that? Not one of Jayne’s, I hope.”

“The armoury.”

“You picked the lock?”

“It wasn’t that hard.” She put her hand on his arm. “Mal. Be reasonable. Let me protect you.”

He looked down at her, radiating honesty, and exhaled heavily. “Come on, then. You look like you could do with some fresh air.”

She grinned, showing the girl she had once been, and jumped through the door, landing lightly on her feet.

---

“Are ya sure?” Kaylee asked, her arms wrapped around her body, feeling chilled even though the temperature was normal.

“She’s not on board,” Hank confirmed.

“You think she was on the shuttle?”

Zoe nodded curtly, just a single movement of her head. “I do.”

“Shouldn’t we warn the Captain? Let him know?” Simon suggested.

“He knows,” River said thoughtfully, watching her feet as she sat on the top catwalk.

“Is he worried?” Hank asked.

“No. Not that I can tell.” Two narrow lines appeared between her eyebrows. “I think he’s just …”

“What?” Kaylee hurried halfway up the stairs, holding tightly to the support. “River, what?”

“Enjoying himself.”

The others looked at each other.

---

“Didn’t you ever go hiking in the Wraith Mountains?” Mal asked, waiting yet again for Becca to catch up. The path they were taking was uphill, a fairly steep gradient amongst large rocks and scrubby trees, and she seemed to be finding it hard going.

“No,” she said shortly, sitting down on a fallen trunk and removing her boot. They were an ancient pair of Kaylee’s, donated because the leather had got too thin to be much in the way of protection. Mal had insisted on buying her a new pair after the unfortunate incident with … well, he couldn’t actually remember the name of the part that had fallen on her foot, but he remembered all too clearly the fact that she hadn’t been able to walk at all for more than a week.

“Problems?”

“Yes.” Becca shook the offending footwear, and several pieces of gravel fell out. Peering inside she asked, “How come you don’t get stones in your boots?”

“Practice. When I was a kid, Ms Gringrich always used to take us hiking before the start of the long summer break. Just for a few days, up in the Wraiths.” He leaned against a stubby tree, its branches stripped and empty. “She’d hire a shuttle, take us older kids out there, teach us all about the wildlife’n stuff.”

“Sounds peachy.” She fished in the depths, pulling out another piece of grit and flicking it away.

“It was. Long days, short nights, and lots of …” He unfocused for a moment, just letting the memory play in his mind. Then he stood straight. “Come on. We’re nearly there.”

She glared. “Fine. You go on ahead. I'm going to rest for a minute. As long as that’s okay with Sergeant Reynolds?”

“Not been a sergeant for a long time, Becca,” he admonished gently.

“I guess not.” She sat back, her boot hanging from her fingers, not looking at him. “We used to go to the beach-house for the summer, when I came back from school,” she added. “Father would take time off and we’d all go swimming together.”

“All?”

“Mother, father, Juliet and me.”

“Jul …” He paused. He’d forgotten. “Your sister.”

“Baby sister. You think your kids are beautiful? Forget it. Jules was jiao mei. And when she laughed …”

“I remember.”

She glanced sharply at him. “Do you?”

“What you told me. I remember what you told me.”

She went back to studying the dirt. “Ten years younger than me, and everyone loved her. Everyone. She made the world seem … right.”

“I'm sorry.” He took a deep breath. “Why didn’t they leave?” he asked finally. “Your folks. Your Pa obviously had the money to go, so why didn’t they?”

“You mean before that man you’re going to see burned them?” She gave a brittle laugh. “My father was like you. Stubborn. He believed he could talk to the Alliance, get them to leave Shadow alone. He couldn’t see he was just laying them open to have an example made of them. By the time he saw the truth, they‘d got the whole planet locked down and they couldn‘t.” She tugged on her boot and stood up. “Well? Are we going to stand around and chat about the good old days, or are we going to see that hwoon dahn?”

Mal studied her a moment, saw the tightness of the skin around her eyes, and said, “Okay.” He turned and hitched the back pack higher onto his shoulder, heading up the track.

“You know, you really should have killed him when you had the chance.”

“I told you why I didn’t.”

“Couple of bullets - pop, pop - and it would all be over.”

“I don’t murder people.”

She jeered. “Are you telling me the great Malcolm Reynolds, hero of Serenity Valley, hasn’t killed anyone since?”

He stopped so she ran into him. “I didn’t say that. I don’t believe there’s a person out here can say that, not no more. And I ain’t a hero.”

“No. A hero would have avenged his people.” Scorn dripped from every word.

He started walking again. “See, Becca, you and me, we got different ideas what a hero really is.”

“I suppose we do.” She was silent for maybe a minute, then asked, “How much further?”

“Just over the next ridge. There’s a dip in the terrain, then a plateau. Kendrick’s there. We‘ll be able to see him from the top.” He pointed about a hundred yards further on.

“So not far.”

“No.”

“Good.”

Something in her tone made him stop, face her. His eyes widened just a little. “What are you doing?”

She clicked the safety off her gun, her aim steady. “I really wish it didn’t have to be like this, Mal.”

He could see directly down the barrel, could visualise the bullet waiting to burst forth. “It don’t have to be, Becca,” he said quietly, like he did to River when she was having a bad day. It didn’t work.

“You could have done the right thing all those years ago, or done it now. But you’re not going to. Too damn honourable." She made the last word sound like an insult.

“So this was all to get to Kendrick?”

“And to get the package.” She nodded towards the bag on his shoulder. “Someone’s willing to pay a lot of coin for it. Kendrick’s a bonus. My bonus. And talking of which … drop it.”

“What?”

“The back pack. I’ll be taking it now.” She lifted the gun, just a micron. “Do it.”

Mal let the strap fall from his shoulder, catching it in his hand. Not taking his eyes off her for a moment, he put the bag carefully onto the ground, straightening up. “Becca -”

“Step back.”

This time he didn’t argue, but took four paces away. “You don’t have to do this.” He gestured. “Let’s just deliver this, get our money, and you can -”

“Enough talking.” She pulled the trigger twice and Mal staggered, hit in the chest and falling into the dust as the sound reverberated through the trees. Blood blossomed through his shirt, soaking it quickly as he lay staring at the sky.

Snatching up the bag she went to move forward, check he was dead, deliver the coup de grace if he wasn’t, but suddenly she heard a crashing a little further down the hill.

“Mal? Mal!”

Dammit, it was that ape! She quickly ran up the path and into the trees, taking care not to break twigs or disturb leaves. Not that she needed to bother. As she peered out between two rocks she saw the big ox of a man break through the undergrowth, and he only had eyes for his captain.

“Mal!” Jayne went down onto his knees, feeling his neck for a pulse, then leaning over him, trying to hear if he was breathing. He swore violently, and pulled a comlink from his pocket. “Zoe!”

“Yeah?”

“Better get the doc up here now. Mal’s shot.”

“Alive?” Her voice was faint over the link, but it filled the clearing.

“I don’t think so.”

Becca smiled tightly and moved silently off.

---

River tried to calm her breathing. The sudden pain had stolen it, taken it and hidden it away amongst other, more terrible things. But it crept back, like a dog who had been beaten but had no place else to go.

“River?” Zoe asked. “It true?”

The young woman didn’t answer.

---

Kendrick’s ship was right where Mal said it would be, a bright and shiny Zephora, resting on the ground, her stubby legs not seeming stout enough to balance such a large ship. Becca studied it carefully, noting the space where the shuttle should be. Perhaps some of the crew were off getting supplies – that made things easier if it was the case. She didn’t mind killing crew or bystanders if it came down to it, but she was only getting paid for Kendrick. Otherwise she’d have waited and used the bomb in the cargo for now instead of blowing up Road Runner. Besides, she wanted him to see the bullet that was going to end him. Of course, that would be after the bullets that would smash into various other portions of his body first.

The main airlock seemed to be open, though. Probably taking advantage and flushing the ship out with free oxygen while they were dirtside. But no-one on guard. Somewhat surprising. Still, if Kendrick were truly as paranoid as they said, he probably only trusted a handful of men, and their landing point was well off the beaten track. She smiled. Never mind. Easier for her.

Slipping across the open space, every sense was on alert for someone noticing her, challenging her, attacking maybe, but there was no-one. For once she was glad of the loose clothes she was wearing: they broke up the line of her body, and the colours made her blend in much more successfully.

At the airlock she halted, listening carefully, and somewhere on the edge of her hearing she could detect voices, laughter, but it was muted, distant, and she slid inside, making sure the back pack was secure. Whereas she could always bluff her way on board, saying she was making Badger’s delivery, she really wanted to be able to get away without anyone seeing her, and that meant being sensible.

It didn’t take long to realise the upper two levels were Kendrick’s – the thick carpet and the wallpaper and pictures on the bulkheads was a pretty good indication. There were a number of rooms off this long corridor, though, and another floor above …

Someone was coming. She ducked inside an open doorway, hiding in the shadows inside. It was a young man, dressed in dark pants, white shirt and dark waistcoat with a monogram on the breast. Some kind of uniform, probably. She waited until he had gone past, then stepped silently up behind him, pressing her gun into his neck, directly under his right ear.

He stopped, his eyes widening.

“Where’s Kendrick?” she hissed, her breath making his hair move.

“What?”

She pressed the gun harder against his neck, bruising it. “Kendrick. Where is he?”

“D … down there.” He pointed, his hand trembling. “Last door.”

“Thanks.” She brought the barrel down on his head, perhaps harder than was necessary, but now she could taste revenge on her tongue, and it made her violent.

The young man collapsed, bleeding slightly onto the dark red carpet, and she shrugged. No-one was even going to notice that. Still, she didn’t want anyone raising the alarm. She dragged him into the room, cursing under her breath because he was heavier than he looked, and locked him in. Checking up and down the corridor to make sure no-one had heard, she hurried to the doorway he’d indicated, her footsteps swallowed by the deep pile beneath her borrowed boots.

She dropped her fingers to the handle, feeling it give easily, and slipped inside.

It was like the member’s room at a gentleman’s club. Dark green walls, heavy oak furniture upholstered in green leather, shuttered bookcases, and a large screen showing a recorded view across a valley, blue mountains in the distance and birds sweeping overhead.

There was also a chair, facing away from her, swivelling slightly on its base as the occupant tapped into a computer panel. She aimed her gun.

“Kendrick.”

The tapping stopped.

“My name’s Rebecca Morgan. Not that it’ll mean anything to you, but I just wanted you to know the name of the person who’s about to kill you. Turn around.” There was no movement. “Turn around!”

“Mal told me you talked too much,” Freya said, swinging the chair to face Becca, her own weapon trained on the other woman’s heart.

“Freya?” Becca couldn’t believe her eyes.

The other woman looked at her, scorn and disgust in equal measure in her eyes. “Surprise.”

“Where is he? Where’s Kendrick?”

Freya stood up slowly, her pistol not wavering. “He’s around.”

“How did you get here?” Becca demanded. “You weren’t even on board when Mal got this location from Badger.”

“I was reminded, just a few days ago, that a friend of mine has other friends, who know people. It didn’t take much for my friend to find out, talk to Kendrick.” Or to have Mal tell me, she added mentally. “Even to persuade him to let me see you first. Welcome you, you might say.”

Becca glared at Freya, her eyes full of fire and resentment. “Wouldn’t be too cocky.” A cruel smile twisted her lips. “I regret to inform you … isn’t that how the official wording goes? I regret to inform you … that your dear husband is even now lying bleeding his life out on the track aways.”

Freya’s finger tightened on the trigger but she held back. “Did you shoot him?”

“As much as it pains me to say … yes. My bullets.” She watched the other woman carefully, waiting for any indication that she was about to fire, but there was nothing, and Becca began to get restless. “Don’t you get it? Mal’s dead!”

“Not quite, darlin’.”

Whatever she had expected Freya to do, be it fall to the floor screaming and wailing and tearing out her hair, was nothing compared to the look on Becca’s face as she span on her heel to see an apparition standing in the doorway, his shirt dusty and blood soaked.

to be concluded

COMMENTS

Saturday, June 21, 2008 1:09 AM

AMDOBELL


Oh yeah, great to see the tables turned on that evil conniving Becca. I'm guessing Mal was wearing Zoe's bullet proof vest. I know I would be if I went anywhere with that lying and nasty *pofu*. I am so happy, figured Mal had a notion it was Becca all along behind what happened to the Road Runner. Can't wait to see what happens next. Fantastic way to pull the metaphorical rabbit out of the gorram hat, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, June 21, 2008 2:51 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


I, in a way feel sorry for Becca. Her family was burned to death by this asshole, but then she put a bullet in Mal. Can't forgive her much for that one.

Great story as always.

Saturday, June 21, 2008 3:13 AM

KATESFRIEND


Wow, great job! Thrilling right up to the cliffhanger. What a hard lesson to learn - that vengeance only makes everything worse - especially yourself. Looks like Mal learned that lesson when he confronted Kendrick the first time, but Becca wasn't going to listen to anything but her own hatred. Great job pulling all these storylines together for this - looking forward to more!

Saturday, June 21, 2008 6:54 AM

JOLY


Becca just let her desire for vengeance get the better of her. And she sure as shoot shouldn't have shot out captain! I feel bad for her too. I hope Freya takes mercy on her, after she roughs her up a bit.

Joanna

Saturday, June 21, 2008 7:30 AM

WYTCHCROFT


i just enjoy how well worked out your character of becca is - tricky thing to make a character act unexpectedly (as B has often done) to keep the reader guessing
but also to make those actions seem plauisble and IN character (ultimately).
well done:)

- if i made any sense there! -

Saturday, June 21, 2008 3:39 PM

SLUMMING


What a great chapter! So very enjoyable to read from start to finish! Well done!

Saturday, June 21, 2008 6:30 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


SUrprise,surprise. Knew Mal had something up his sleeve. I can't wait to see Becca pay the price.


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