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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Continuing the slow build up. Mal meets with Badger and learns about the job, and Jayne complains a lot. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1728 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Simon was right, Mal mused as Serenity dropped through the heavy cloud layers towards Persephone’s Eavesdown Docks. A fairly good night’s sleep, and a dose of antibiotics, and he was feeling fine. Well, not truly up to par, if he was honest, but better. And he’d need all his wits about him to deal with Badger. Something about that little man just made him want to shoot first and take a shower after.
“Looks like you’re going to need your coat,” Hank said unnecessarily as half-frozen rain lashed against the windows. “And waders.”
“Better look out your own, since you’re supervising the refuelling.”
“Can’t I do that from the warmth and comfort of the bridge?” Hank adjusted their trajectory slightly.
“Ah, well. Can’t fault a man for trying.” The clouds parted, but the rain didn’t stop. “Down in two.”
Mal merely nodded and headed for the cargo bay.
Not taking his eyes off the console, Hank wondered vaguely if Mal knew he was rubbing his arm like that. Probably. He shrugged and went back to making sure it was a textbook landing.
As Mal stepped through onto the upper catwalk, he looked down into the bay. Zoe was checking the ammunition in her Mare’s Leg, while Jayne lounged on his weights bench, doing idle arm curls with one of the dumbbells. What made his eyebrows lift, though, was Freya standing by the closed doors.
“Ai ren?” He started down the stairs.
She smiled up at him. “I've got your coat here.” She held up her arm, brown leather draped over it, already securely buttoned into her own.
“Are you coming?”
“Unless you’ve got a problem with that.”
He reached the floor. “Haven’t you got lessons?”
“Day off. And the kids were so disappointed.”
His lips twitched at the sarcasm as he joined her, taking his coat and slipping it on. “You can make it up to them.”
“Then I'm allowed to join you?”
“Sure. Only I thought you didn’t like Badger.”
“I don’t. But since you’re still not feeling at your best I thought –“
“I'm fine, Frey.”
“So that wasn't you thrashing about last night gasping like you’d run a dozen miles in full kit.”
There was silence for a moment, with both Jayne and Zoe waiting for the answer.
“You don’t remember?”
Mal shrugged. “Honestly, no. I must’ve been dreaming.”
“Any idea what about?”
“Not a one.”
She didn’t push. There wasn’t a single person on board Serenity who didn’t have bad dreams sometimes. In point of fact it was surprising they didn’t have nightmares all the time, considering what they’d been through over the years. And unless he asked, she wasn't going to peek either. “Anyway, I thought I’d come with you. See if Badger’s trying to make life that little bit more interesting than it needs to be.”
He smiled slightly. “Probably not a bad idea. And he does like you. Gave you that wedding gift.” He was referring to the knife and jewelled thigh scabbard.
Freya didn't even try to hide the disgust. “Please. Don’t remind me.”
The Firefly trembled, then the engine note changed.
“We’ve landed,” came Hank’s voice over the com. “And the weather is changeable, with the slight possibility of frostbite.”
Mal didn’t say a word, just sighed and slammed his hand down on the control. The ramp lowered outside as he opened the small inner door and freezing air swirled into the bay.
“Gorramit.” Jayne stood up quickly, pulling out the knitted hat his mother had made him from his pocket. “I thought Hank was joking.” He tugged it onto his head.
“Apparently not.” Mal peered out, noting that there seemed to be just the same number of people around, despite the weather. In fact, a number of them appeared to be the same he’d seen last time, but that wasn't totally impossible. Too many folks got to Eavesdown and couldn’t get any further, scraping an existence on the fringes of Persephone society. He led the way out, not waiting to see the others follow.
The cold rain had mixed with the usual dust and crud of the docks, turning the ground into a quagmire, making walking difficult the further they progressed.
“Cao,” Jayne muttered, feeling mud – well, hopefully it was mud – clogging up around his boots, and no matter how much he shook them, it wouldn’t let go.
“Ignore it,” Mal advised, tramping ahead through the crowds. A waft of cooking caught at his nostrils, and he glanced towards one of the hot food stalls, still selling despite the weather, the only concession a tarpaulin pulled overhead to keep the fire from going out. His stomach protested at the smell, and he realised he hadn’t eaten in something like twenty hours. He turned away from the dubious meat with a wince. “At least it’s keeping the Alliance out of our hair.”
Jayne nodded. He hadn’t seen a single purple-belly since they landed. “Probably more sensible than us,” he groused. “Staying inside with the heat turned right up.” He lifted his jacket higher around his neck, pulling his knitted hat lower on his brow as a Blue Sun poster sagged on the wall next to him.
“You know, for a big man, you sure feel the cold,” Zoe commented.
“Got more body to feel it,” he said, shuddering as a slip of cold water made its way inside. “And I hate the rutting rain.”
“Well, just keep your eye on the job.” Mal nodded towards the gap between two stacks of containers. “We’re here.” Squaring his shoulders and ignoring the steady ache in his arm, he strode forwards, barely nodding at the man standing guard.
Badger had a cold. Or maybe ‘flu. Or with his luck it was pneumonia. Even the whores from Macey’s had taken one look at him and refused to party, even when he offered them double. Still, he probably couldn’t have performed up to his usual standards, not feeling like he did. Someone probably gave it to him, as well. And if he ever found out who … if he lived that long.
But whatever it was, he felt like shit, and he wasn't about to take any from the likes of Malcolm Reynolds. Still, seeing that he was accompanied by two women including his first mate, as well as his big hulking merc in something that resembled the top of an ice cream cone perched on his head, he had to smile. Especially since the other woman was Freya Reynolds.
“Nice to see ya,” he said, not getting up but nodding at her. “You’re lookin’ good.” He blew his nose then wiped it off with a large, overly used handkerchief.
“You look like you should be at home in bed,” Freya commented, trying to breathe in as little as possible.
“Yeah, but that’d only be fun if I had someone to be there with me,” he leered.
“Not even in your wildest dreams.”
“Nah? ‘Cos they’re pretty wild.” He looked her up and down, undressing her with his eyes.
Mal hitched his thumbs into his gunbelt as he felt Freya tense next to him. “Badger. Can we talk business, or are you just gonna carry on flirting with my wife?” He emphasised the last word.
The self-styled kingpin sniffed hard, turning his rheumy-eyed gaze on Mal. “No small talk? You feelin’ okay?”
“Badger, I'm cold. I'm wet. And I'm armed.”
That elicited something like a sneer. “And you could be dead, you threaten me in my own gaff.”
Mal barely twitched. “Not threatening. Just doing business.”
“Fine.” He pulled out a scrap of paper from under the discoloured blotter. “Man I know needs some goods moved out to Priam. That’s the moon –“
“Off Ithaca. Yeah, I know. And we just came from Whitefall.”
“Then you’ll be going back that way.” Badger leaned back in his chair, taking off his derby and wiping around the inside of it with the same handkerchief.
Mal tried not to grimace as the little man then shoved it back into his pocket. “Legal?” he asked instead.
“Well, I doubt he wants it looked over by the Alliance, but there ain’t anything specifically bad in it.” Badger set the hat back on his balding pate, adjusting it minutely.
“But under the radar.”
“He’d appreciate it.”
“Just who is this ‘he’ we’re talking about?”
Badger shook his head. “You don’t need to know.”
“Maybe I'm just curious.”
“And you know what curiosity did to the cat.”
“And I know what almost happened to me last time we took work from you.” He was referring to Becca Morgan, who had taken it into her head to shoot him, point blank, and it was only through the grace of God, River, and wearing Hank’s body armour that he wasn't six feet under.
“That wasn’t my fault.”
“Maybe not. But you can understand why I ain't that thrilled to be working for a man I don’t know.”
Badger got up and came around to the front of the desk, standing as close to Freya as he could get without her actually hitting him. “See, thing is, I don’t trust ya. You’d be just as likely to go to him direct, cut me out of my share. And I wouldn’t take kindly to that.” He smiled at her, trying to see down her shirt.
Feeling slightly nauseous, Freya moved half a pace back, but Badger just grinned wider.
“Now why would I do that?” Mal asked, glaring at him.
“’Cause you don’t like me.” Badger pulled out his hankie again, and filled the small room with a sound that resembled a shuttle taking off. “And it’s entirely mutual, so there’s no need for any hard feelings. But I’ve spent time on this deal. You ain't gonna gyp me.”
Mal smiled slightly. “All I’m asking for is his name.”
Badger’s forehead creased, as if he was thinking hard. Eventually he said, “Brant Fisher.”
Mal turned his head enough to see both Jayne and Zoe shake theirs. They didn’t know the name either. “Shiny.” He dropped his hands away from his gun. “Where’s the pick-up?”
“So?” Mal asked as they reached the comparative fresh air.
“He’s telling the truth, in so far as it goes,” Freya said, thrusting her hands deep into her pockets. “The job is legit, also as far as it goes.”
“Badger wasn't sure. But probably best to deal with them that way.”
“Prob’ly why the pick-up’s outside of town,” Jayne put in.
“And the rest?” Mal prompted. “You sounded like there was something else.”
Freya stopped, the rain plastering her hair down to her head, but ignoring it. “I'm … not sure. This Brant Fisher is definitely the man he’s been dealing with, but Badger’s not sure he’s the principle.”
“There’s someone else in the background?” Zoe asked, her hand resting on her gun butt.
“Possibly. As I said, this is just Badger’s feelings, and I really didn’t want to rummage around inside his brain for too long.” She suppressed a shudder, almost entirely successfully. “Can I go and wash out my mind now?”
Mal smiled. “Soon as we get back to Serenity.”
“Sir, I'm not happy about this,” Zoe said. “We’ve had bad dealings with Badger before, and if he doesn’t trust this Fisher –“
“I don’t know that we have a choice. We need the work, it’s here and it pays well. Unless Dillon’s got something we can haul?” He looked back at Freya.
She shook her head. “Sorry, no. He and Breed are on Londinium at the moment.”
He raised an eyebrow. “And you know that … how?”
“I waved him when we knew we were coming.” She raised her chin defiantly. “Anything wrong with that?”
“Might be, if I didn’t know the man was sly.”
She finally relaxed enough to smile at him. “I just wanted to pass the time of day. Make sure they were okay. But they left more than two weeks ago and won’t be back for another month.”
“Something good keeping them away, I hope.”
“I think some of Dillon’s holdings need massaging.” She looked sharply at Jayne as he chuckled. “Or something like that. Callum wasn't there either, so I had to speak to someone else, and they weren’t very forthcoming.”
“Dillon won’t like that. ‘Specially when he finds out you’ve been slighted, ai ren.” Mal smiled, but hunched his shoulders a little. “I suppose I could always give Sir Warwick a wave. See if he’s got something.”
“More cows, sir?” Zoe asked, her lips twitching.
“Aw, come on,” Jayne said, stomping a few paces forward before turning to glare at them. “I’m so wet I could wring out my underwear. If I was wearing any. Can we get going?”
“Jayne, you keep information like that to yourself, or you’re walking to Ithaca.” Mal shook his head. “But we’ll try Sir Warwick when we get back.”
Unfortunately they were out of luck there too. Sir Warwick Harrow was out of town on business, and wouldn’t be back for a few days, at least his manservant was haughty enough to inform them before the vid turned to static.
“Okay,” Mal said, sitting back in the pilot’s seat. “I get it. I give in. Me and this job are meant to be.”
Hank chuckled from where he stood behind. “We can always wait for him.”
“Yeah, and then we find he ain't got nothing for us, and we’ve lost Badger’s job too.” Mal pursed his lips, breathing out noisily. “Can’t see we’ve got a choice.” He went to get to his feet, then grabbed for the back of the chair.
“Mal, you okay?” Hank had moved forward, taking the other man’s arm, his grey eyes flaring with sympathy.
“I just … probably that infection.” He managed to stand up, blinking away the dizziness. “And lack of food.”
“Well, Kaylee went shopping while you were out, and she managed to get some stuff. Nothing too exciting, but maybe you should go make yourself a sandwich.”
Mal was annoyed. “She shouldn’t go out in her condition. Not on her own.”
“Mal, the rest of us were kinda busy, and you don’t want Simon or River wandering Persephone either.” Hank spoke gently, as if afraid to ruffle the captain’s feathers any more than he had to.
“That’s not the point.” Something in the pilot’s demeanour had Mal’s sixth sense prickling. “Only she didn’t go alone, did she?”
“Maybe Simon went with her. He was so bundled up nobody was going to recognise him, and he said there were no Alliance about anyway,” Hank said quickly. “And that was a hardship, anyway. You know much he hates the rain.”
Mal’s lips tightened. “And he could have ended up in custody. Gorramit, Persephone is as close to the Core as you can get without it actually being there!”
“I know that.” Hank sighed heavily. “Mal, they were gone all of half an hour, and both of them had one of those beacons. They were fine.”
For a moment it looked like Mal was going to argue, then he just nodded. “Fine. Get the shuttle ready.”
“We’re not taking Serenity?” Hank was surprised.
“Nope. Pick-up’s been arranged for about four, local time, but I wanna get there early. We’ll probably have to walk in a ways, but I don’t want them to know Jayne’s overlooking us.”
“It’ll be almost dark by that time.”
“Then he can use a night-scope. Give him an advantage.” He took a deep breath, the dizziness drifting away. “Frey’s coming too, just in case.”
“Persephone, Hank. And I need someone to look after Serenity.”
“I could do –“
“Forget it. You’re flying, and then you can help load the stuff.”
Hank looked aggrieved. “Mal, I just got dry!”
“I thought you didn’t believe in luck.”
“Only the bad kind.” He half-smiled and handed him the slip of paper from Badger’s office, stained a suspicious brown in one corner. “Here. The co-ordinates.”
Hank took it carefully, holding it between his thumb and forefinger at one edge. “Do I want to know what that is?”
“No. And I suggest you wash your hands after.” Mal stalked off the bridge, rubbing at his left arm.
to be continued
Tuesday, March 3, 2009 4:06 AM
Tuesday, March 3, 2009 4:30 AM
Tuesday, March 3, 2009 8:01 AM
Tuesday, March 3, 2009 2:47 PM
Tuesday, March 3, 2009 8:33 PM
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