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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. The two crews stand before Judge Jefferson accused of starting the brawl. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2022 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Been a while.” Jayne stood tall, his hands loose by his sides.
“That it has.” Judge Warren Jefferson peered over the top of his half-moon spectacles at the big man. “Seems like half a lifetime.”
“I was sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. She was a damn fine woman.”
“Jason tells me you’re married. And that you’re a father yourself.”
He couldn’t help his chest swelling a little. “Got me a son. Caleb Francis.”
Jefferson nodded slowly. “Good name. So has all this responsibility changed you?”
Jayne thought for a moment before answering. “Reckon it has. Don’t think a leopard can change its spots, but maybe they’re a bit fainter than they used to be.”
Jefferson smiled faintly, and there was something of an uncomfortable silence as each man remembered the last time they’d seen each other, when the Judge had been just Sheriff Jefferson, and had to tell a fifteen year old boy that they knew he’d killed the man who shot his father. “Guess maybe they are,” he finally said.
Mal looked from the Judge to Jayne and back again, this time in surprise. Contrary to what he expected, there was almost amicability in Jefferson’s tone, and more than a hint of respect in the ex-mercenary’s.
The Judge cleared his throat and looked at his own son. “So, Dan. You got the list of damages Gideon provided you with?”
“Right here.” He passed over a sheet of paper covered with close handwriting.
His father read carefully. “Hmmn.” He looked up at Gideon. “I see you’ve put everything including the kitchen sink in here.”
“They damaged a lotta stuff.”
“Seems to me, if they’d been fighting from now ‘til Christmas I doubt they could’ve done all of this.” He peered at the Sheriff. “Security feed?”
“Still broke.” Dan Jefferson couldn’t help smiling slightly. “Despite previous warnings.”
The Judge tutted. “Gideon, you get that fixed before the end of the day or you’re the one’s gonna be up in front of me on Monday.”
The bar owner looked about to complain, but obviously decided better of it. “Yes, Judge,” he said, quite meekly.
“Shiny.” Jefferson placed the list carefully on the desk in front of him. “Then it just remains to find out who started this ruckus.” He looked at the men lined up with Jayne. “Which one of you is in charge?”
Mal took a pace forward. “That’d be me, sir. I'm Captain Malcolm Reynolds. These here are some of my crew. ‘Cept Matty Cobb, of course.”
“So you’re taking responsibility for them?”
“Well, sir, as much as I’d like to deny all knowledge, I have to admit I was there, so … yes, I am. Although we didn’t start it.”
“Son, you’d be amazed at the number of folk go through here who didn’t start a gorram thing.” He turned to the other defendants. “And you? Who’s spokesman?”
They looked furtively at each other, but no-one spoke.
Finally one of the three men sitting behind them stood up. He was the oldest, and the largest, although the impression was that as least some of the extra poundage he carried was muscle, not fat. He coughed to gain attention. “Since none of them are willing, I suppose it had better be me.”
“And you are? For the records.”
“Chester Lau. Owner of the Golden Dragon.” He ducked his head in a semi-bow, but it didn’t come across as particularly polite.
Mal could see the Judge’s eyes narrow, even behind the half-moon spectacles.
“Mr Lau,” he said, drawing the second word out. “I seem to know your name.”
“I'm a businessman. That’s not surprising.” Now he smiled, but like the bow there was nothing nice about it.
“I'm sure that’s the case.” Judge Jefferson studied Lau for a few moments, noting the jet-black hair, receding slightly from a high forehead, the fleshy jowls, and the bulge in his jacket that suggested some large calibre weapon. “And you’re standing bond for your men?”
“For the moment.”
“Fine.” The Judge sat up straighter, and everyone got the impression of a man getting down to work. “Dan, have they all been ID-scanned?”
“No, sir,” the Sheriff admitted. “It was late last night when we brought ‘em in, and since as far as I could see it was just a bar brawl, I didn’t feel it necessary.”
“Quite right too.” The Judge’s lips twitched. “I’d hate to know just what some of you had been up to.” His gaze rested on Jayne for a moment, then moved back to Mal. “You seem to know what you’re talking about. How about you tell me what happened?”
“I conjure I can.” Mal hitched his thumbs into his suspenders, feeling the lack of his gun on his hip but resisting the urge to stand to attention. “We were out enjoying ourselves at Matty’s stag party. We’d eaten, then Jason suggested we head to this place. Gideon’s, as I now know. We were just settling in for some good honest drinking time, when one of the Golden Dragon crew decided to upset one of the working girls. Hank, my pilot, tried to stop him, and … well, that’s about it.”
“So who threw the first punch?”
“He did!” one of the other crew shouted, gesturing at Jayne with the hand still wrapped in the bandana. “I'm probably gonna get blood poisoning!”
“Technic’ly it was a dart,” Jayne pointed out. “And it was one of you guys tried to brain me with a chair, which I took some exception to.” He nodded at the man who’d spoken. “’Sides, it was you trying to get away with some trim without paying.”
“Is that right?” the Judge asked the man, who to his credit stood his ground.
“No. She was just a whore. Took money out of my wallet last time, and I didn’t even get satisfaction.”
“That ain't true, Judge,” Terry said from the back of the courtroom. He stood up, walking towards the front and dragging the reluctant girl with him. “Maisie here’ll tell you all about it.”
Judge Jefferson looked at the young woman, not even out of her teens, and smiled at her. “Maisie, is this true? Did you steal from this man?”
Maisie, her dirty blonde hair caught up haphazardly on top of her head, pouted. “I did not. He agreed an amount, then when he couldn’t perform said it was my fault, and walked out without paying.”
“And last night?”
“Said I owed him a free thrust since I’d put him off last time. I told him where he could get off, and what to do once he got there, but he wouldn’t let go of me.” She lifted the sleeve of her dress. “Bruised me up, too.” They could all see the hand-print surrounding her upper arm. “Then this feller came along, tried to stop him.” She smiled at Hank. “Thanks.”
“Hey, no problem,” the pilot said, grinning back. “Just your ordinary knight in shining armour, coming to a lady’s aid.”
There was a snort that could have been suppressed laughter from Zoe, but no-one thought it wise to find out.
“And that’s when the fight started?” The Judge tried to keep things on track.
“That it did. But I can tell you it was these boys that started it,” Maisie insisted, pointing to the Golden Dragon crew.
Judge Jefferson nodded. “Thank you, Maisie. You can go now. And tell your Ma I got some washing coming her way, so there’s no need for you to go out to work for a few days, okay?”
Maisie smiled gratefully. “I surely will.” She turned and almost ran out of the courtroom.
“You ain’t gonna believe her, are you?” the injured man asked, cradling his hand again. “She’s just a whore!”
“I've known Maisie all her life,” Jefferson said, his voice low and brooking no objection. “Her Pa died when she was twelve, and she’s been the only breadwinner for the whole big gorram family since her Ma got sick coupla years later. We help out where we can, but sometimes folk do what they have to, just to survive.” He breathed deeply, then looked along the line of men again. “Seems to me there’s a clear culprit in this matter, being the crew from the Golden Dragon. But the rest of you fought too, and that has to be taken into account.” He tapped his fingers on the desk, then went on, “To this end, I’m fining the former to the tune of two thousand platinum.”
“What?” Chester Lau was outraged, and his face took on an interesting purplish hue. “For a common bar brawl?”
“We don’t take kindly to any kind of brawl, common or not. And I suggest you change your tone when addressing the Bench, else you’re gonna find out it’s more like four. And that man of yours is lucky I don’t decide to charge him with intention to rape.”
The injured man seemed to sink into himself, but Lau didn’t take the hint.
“This is outrageous. You call yourself a Judge when it’s perfectly clear that –“
“Fine,” Jefferson interrupted. “The cost is now four thousand, plus an extra one for your contempt of this court. You wanna try for six?”
Lau bit back the retort on his tongue. “And if I refuse?”
“Well, that’s up to you. They’ll stay in jail, you’ll be joining ‘em, and you’ll be charged bed and board for the whole kit and caboodle.” He smiled. “And your ship’s landlocked ‘til you do.”
“S’okay, Judge,” Terry put in, grinning widely. “It ain’t going nowhere anyway, since I got their grav boot spread out on my workbench this very second.”
Jefferson nodded. “Well, Mr Lau?”
Lau’s lips were a tight line, but he said, “Fine. Where do I pay?”
“On your way out, see the young lady at the desk. She’ll be happy to take your money off you. And I’ll be sending your regards to young Maisie, along with half the fine. That should keep her and hers going for a while, without having to resort to other means.”
The ‘other means’ moved forward. “And what about me?” Gideon whined, reminding Mal even more of Badger. “Who’s going to pay for the damage to my place? I insist on that money coming to me to reimburse –“
Jefferson sighed loudly. “Sit down and shut up,” he advised, “’fore I find you in contempt too. You’ll be getting five hundred, and that’s it. The rest goes into town funds.”
“But Warren –“
“That’s Judge to you, while I’m in my official capacity,” except he lengthened the ‘o’ in ‘official’, and the rest of his crewmates realised Jayne wasn’t unique, and everyone from Ezra spoke the same way. He looked at Mal. “But don’t think you’re gonna be getting off scot-free. We like to make folks work off their debts, so you’re gonna go with Gideon here to put his place back to normal, or as much as possible. And if one of you is good with a hammer and nail, all the better.”
Mal, seeing his precious savings remaining intact, nodded gratefully. “Thank you, sir.”
“And in case Gideon tries to take advantage, Dan’s going be keeping an eye on you.” His gaze sharpened. “I'm relying on you not to shirk this.”
Jefferson removed his glasses, tucked them into his pocket and stood up. “You got half an hour to get back to your ship, do whatever you need to do, and be back at Gideon’s by eleven. Dan’ll make sure you don’t take any detours.” He picked up his papers. “Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Port Control’s got a landlock on you too. Least until after the wedding.” He chuckled. “See you tomorrow, Matty,” he added, and strolled out.
Chester Lau glared after him, then hit his two brothers each on the arm. “Come on. Let’s get these gou zha zhong back to the ship.” He strode away towards the back of the courtroom, his men following meekly. Dan Jefferson followed him out to make sure the fine was paid properly, and in its entirety.
The last to leave was the brother who’d been in the bar, the one who’d managed somehow not to be detained. He glared at Mal and Jayne as he passed, and muttered something under his breath.
“You get that?” Mal murmured to Zoe.
“Nope. Not sure I’d want to, sir.” She couldn’t help her lips twitching. “I don’t think I wanna be in that crew’s shoes either.”
“Nor me. I figure we’re better off just doing the clearing up.”
“I heard what he said,” Freya put in, standing up and stepping over the low railing. “And it wasn't complimentary.”
“I imagine it was something along the lines of if he sees us again things ain’t gonna go so well?”
“Something along those lines.”
“Then I think we’re gonna have to make sure we stay out of their way.”
“Amen to that,” Hank said fervently.
“So I don’t have to bake a cake with a file in it?” Kaylee asked, hurrying to her husband’s side to be hugged. “Only my Ma had a recipe that’d do real well.”
Simon’s eyes widened. “How many times did one of your family … no, forget I asked.” He kissed her lightly.
“If you wanna bake, little Kaylee,” Jayne said, “you go ahead. I could do with something to eat.”
Hank couldn’t believe the big man’s words. “You ate nearly everyone’s breakfast,” he said, his jaw dropping.
“That? That was nothing.”
“Has to keep up his strength,” River said softly. “I am difficult to manage otherwise.”
Her husband chuckled.
Simon, on the other hand, just sighed and changed the subject. “I think we got away with that pretty well.”
“We were lucky, doc,” Mal said quietly. “If’n they’d taken it into their heads to scan us, you’d be lounging in a cell right now waiting for the Alliance to come get you.”
“I realise that.”
“And no amount of baking would’ve got you out without likely bloodshed. Probably mine.”
“And I would be very grateful, all the time I was operating.”
The door opened and the Sheriff headed back into the courtroom.
“Come on.” Mal slid his arm around Freya’s waist and felt the tug of the wound in his shoulder. “I need to change ‘fore we start all this hard labour.”
“I’d like to restitch that, too,” Simon said, noticing the wince on the older man’s face. “If we have time?” He looked at the Sheriff.
“I think we can make it, just this once.” Dan Jefferson grinned. “Seeing as I really enjoyed today’s little proceedings.”
By the time Serenity’s crew were ready for bed, most of them had muscles that ached from doing things they weren't used to. Only Jayne had enjoyed himself, fixing the pool table and filling the bar with the smell of freshly-planed wood. Hank was, as usual, excused duty from any of the actual woodwork, but he used his talents instead to fix Gideon’s security feed, boosting the Cortex signal while he did so.
Considering what they’d ended up doing – from replastering the wall where the dart board had been ripped from its foundations to putting in new panes of glass in a window shattered by a thrown chair – Mal secretly wondered just what the Judge would have considered ‘taking advantage’.
About the only thing they didn’t do was clean out the drains, and that was down to the fact that Dan Jefferson said no.
Freya, Zoe and River insisted on helping, while Kaylee was detailed to look after the children since she was still just a bit pregnant. They washed and polished, and River got them so much further into Gideon’s good books by doing a portrait of him to hang above the stairs that he managed to find them all some food when they took a break, even supplying the occasional beer to quench their thirsts.
Still, they were glad when Dan called a halt, and they trooped back to the Firefly. Luckily Kaylee had prepared supper, and while they ate Bethie quizzed them all on being in jail, what it was like, whether it smelled, and Hank and Jayne were more than willing to embellish things for her. Ethan, on the other hand, just looked resigned, and Freya had to stop herself smiling. He seemed to know far too much about these things already. That and his expression reminded her so much of his father.
As soon as they’d finished, and the children were safely in bed, everyone announced they were turning in, and Matty thanked them all for what they’d done.
“That’s okay,” Mal said, as usual having difficulty accepting gratitude from anyone. “Seems to me if we hadn’t all been along, it wouldn’t have happened.”
“Now, now,” Hank said, being led towards his bunk by an equally tired Zoe. “We don’t admit responsibility. I have it on good authority.” The hatch closed with a finality above him.
“I think they have the right idea,” Freya said, catching hold of Mal’s hand and pulling him forwards.
“That they do.” He grinned. “Last one out, turn off the light.”
As he climbed down the ladder, Mal couldn’t help the slight groan that erupted from his lips.
“That bad?” Freya asked, stepping around where he was hanging onto the rungs and starting to strip off her clothes.
Normally the sight of his wife naked would make him think thoughts that were lewd and possibly illegal on seven planets, but by that point all he could do was consider that all the revealed perkiness was too much for this time of night. “Probably. If I had the energy to think about it.”
She pushed back the sheet and climbed into bed. “You’ve got to get your strength back, you know,” she added, taking the brush from the shelf above and running it through her hair. “We’ve got the party tomorrow.”
Mal rolled his eyes. “God, I’d forgotten.” He sat down on the edge of the bunk and pulled off his right boot, but his left defeated him for the moment. “Do I have to?”
“Yes, you do. We all do. Even the children are going.”
“No buts. It’s just that you had a somewhat sleepless night last night, and all that unaccustomed hard work today –“
“I work hard!” He glared at her over his shoulder, then winced again.
She got to her knees behind him, reaching around to undo his shirt buttons. “I know you do. Just not necessarily this kind of work. Yours is more … cerebral.”
“Are you comparing me to Simon?”
“No. I just meant you find us the jobs, work out the plan of how to do things, deal with the customers … that kind of cerebral.”
“Well, good. Just so long as you ain't accusing me of being a genius.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t do that.” She eased the suspenders from his shoulders. “Are you coming to bed or are you just intending to sleep sitting up?”
“Not sure. Can I think about it for a while?”
She smiled, then slid off the bed and pulled off his remaining boot. “Lie down.”
“Why?” He peered at her suspiciously.
“Because you look like your son right now, and I don’t think anyone’s going to mind if you don’t get undressed this time.”
“Are you staying naked?”
“I can’t see the point of putting my clothes back on.”
“That’s okay, then.” He leaned back, turning just enough so that his head hit the pillow, then lifted his legs one at a time onto the bed. He held out his left arm. “Come on.”
She chuckled, then climbed across him and lay in her normal position, her head tucked into his shoulder, his arm resting around her back. “You know, this is sort of sexy, you being dressed, me being not.” She ran her leg up his, feeling the course fabric of his pants against her bare flesh. “Mal, I said –“
It was so pretty. Even in the thin light from the lantern it glittered, calling out to something ancient and primordial in his soul, and that thing was called avarice. Running his fingers over the surface, tracing the symbol standing proud, he could almost feel it move, the cold metal warming and flowing over his hand.
He reached for his water bottle, taking another long pull. It was warm, and did nothing to ease the burning in his throat, but it slaked his thirst for the moment. He held his find up again, admiring it, turning it first this way then that. His eyes narrowed. The light was dimming.
Turning to the lantern he realised its power was waning. He’d have to … tah muh duh, but that was the last one. He hadn’t anticipated digging for so long, however long it was. He might have just enough time to get to the entrance, otherwise he’d have to find his way in the pitch black.
He cursed, loudly, hearing the words bouncing back from the hull of the ship. Snatching up the lantern, he ran along the tunnel, his feet pounding on the hard packed dirt as the illumination got fainter, finally dying altogether. He stumbled on a rock, managed to right himself, then stared upwards. Above him were stars, pinpoints of hard radiance in the velvet sky, fading out as they hit the glow of Port Town.
For a moment he stood breathless in the cool night air, then with a muttered obscenity retraced his steps to his pack. Going down onto his heels he stuffed the water bottle inside, adding a couple of protein bars. It was going to be more difficult without light, and he had no idea when dawn was, but he couldn’t wait.
Straightening up he began the long trek into town, the voices in his ears clamouring to be heard. As he listened to their confidences, he didn’t notice the water bottle slip from the open bag, lying forgotten behind him on the sand.
to be continued
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 7:24 AM
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 9:49 AM
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 12:15 PM
Wednesday, January 28, 2009 2:04 PM
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