HOPE SERIES: 22. "Paying Debts"
Monday, August 30, 2010

"Not everything goes according to the gorram plan."


TITLE: "PAYING DEBTS" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Simon/Kaylee. RATING: PG-13. STATUS: Sequel to "THE PLAN". SERIES CONCLUSION. ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at

SUMMARY: "Not everything goes according to the gorram plan." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *



"You're bleedin', sir."

"Just a scratch."

"I can see bone."

"Don't fuss, Zoe, we won."

"You need a medic."

"Don't got one."


"Is back on Serenity."

For a moment neither of them spoke. Zoe, probably because she was trying to keep her temper and the Captain possibly influenced by blood loss. Really. There were times when the man's stubborn orneriness was beyond funny. It was Jayne lumbering through the fine sand and raising his own personal duststorm that roused them out of their respective funks.

"What ya hangin' about for?"

The Captain blinked as he stared at the mercenary but his words were for his second in command. "I pass out?"

"No, sir."

"You seein' a mirage, Zoe?"

"No, sir. That really is Jayne."

It took a minute for the Captain to marshall the energy to yell at the man. "What part of stay on Serenity did you not understand?"

"Got bored." Jayne paused, his eyes beginning to narrow as he spotted the widening gyre of blood soaking through the Captain's right thigh along with something suspiciously white and jagged poking through. "Thought you might need some extra fire power an' I was right." The big man's eyes widened in surprise and disbelief. Disbelief turned to outrage as if the whole situation were the Captain's fault. "You got shot? How could you get shot when you had your gun in that *pofu*'s face?"

The Captain was flagging. "Nothin' gets past you, does it?"

None of them had spotted the sharpshooter playing dead nearby. So many bodies strewn every which way and no time yet to check how many were dead, how many knocked out or just injured. This one hadn't been nicked at all. Must have realised what was going to happen a split second before all hell let loose and simply dropped when the bullets started flying. Probably had orders from Patience to make sure that if her plan screwed up he would take out Reynolds. Woman had a powerful mean streak and she had been gunning for vengeance.

Zoe watched the Captain sag back onto the sand just as a shadow rose up behind Jayne's shoulder. Without missing a beat Zoe drew her mare's leg and fired. For a minute Patience stood there with a look of surprise frozen on her face, a neat round hole drilled right in the middle of her double crossing forehead. As if in slow motion the gun dropped from nerveless fingers then she crumpled. Dead before she hit the ground. A sigh from the Captain had Zoe turning back to him, gun now back in its' holster as if it had never been drawn.

"You shot her." He mumbled.

"Sorry, sir, the excitement of the moment got to me. Won't happen again."

Mal blinked slowly, trying to absorb everything through the thickening fog of his jumbled senses. He was fading fast. "Huh. Well, see that it don't."

"Yes, sir."

The cackling laugh from the big man didn't even ping the Captain's radar. As Jayne crowed with glee that the old witch was finally dead, Mal lost consciousness. Zoe stared hard in Jayne's direction and frowned.

"*Shenme*? Should'a killed her years ago."

Zoe gave a small shake of her head but didn't take her eyes off the distant horizon just over his shoulder. "You'll get no complaint from me."

"Then what crawled up your ass an' died?"

"Dust storm comin'."

Jayne blinked and turned to look behind him, his eyes widening in alarm as a huge wall of dust made its' way towards them. They were almost mesmerised by its' hypnotic dance as the duststorm swirled harder and harder, drawing closer and pulling matter into its' maw as if it would devour the whole of this misbegotten world and them right along with it. Why was it things never went smooth?

* * * * *

Liam stared. Mouth dropped open in the kind of shock that could stun an elephant at twenty paces. If there were any elephants on White Sands. The old man didn't raise his hands in surrender but neither did he make any move to stop Liam from seeing what was in the gorram mine. Chin had heard the commotion outside, the new arrivals obviously thinking they were being cunning and stealthy but the old man had been near the entrance, hovering anxiously awaiting the return of Patience. It was enough for him that the men he saw were not any of her hired thugs. Didn't stop him being anxious or wary though. He didn't know these people and was mighty glad he had the children moved to a deeper unused section of the mine. If these men had come to steal the gems he would let them. There was enough blood on them anyway.

* * * * *

Simon sucked in a sharp world weary breath before turning and ripping off his surgical gloves. He didn't have to look round to see the anxious faces of Serenity's crew peering through the infirmary windows. There were times when he hated working in a fishbowl but it was what it was and the surgery had demanded all his focus and attention until now. Predictably it was Zoe who waited him out, the others crowding behind her as if her physical presence could shield them from any bad news.

"The bullet nicked an artery, Mal lost a lot of blood. Another couple of hours and there would have been nothing I could have done."

"But he's gonna be alright?"

The doctor nodded, his sour mood softening. He wasn't really angry with the Captain just frustrated at the inevitability of the injuries he brought to his domain. The man was a bullet magnet. Behind Zoe, Jayne pushed forward just enough to get a line of sight on Simon. The only reminder of his own healing injuries a lingering limp almost as stubborn as he was.

"What about the bone? I saw bone."

"It wasn't an ordinary bullet, Jayne."

Before Simon could finish explaining Jayne rattled off the specifications of high end military ordinance, describing the snub nose bullets that were probably used and how they were designed to cause the maximum internal damage on impact. Simon's mouth flapped a couple of times before his brain caught up with what the mercenary was saying.

"If you already knew why did you ask?"

Jayne shrugged. "Just wanted to make sure is all."

Everyone stared at him.

"That old witch don't spend coin she don't have to. Rounds like that're expensive, rare even. Don't know how she got 'em but now we know why."

Zoe's eyes narrowed at him then she turned her head and gazed over Simon's shoulder at her fallen Captain who was currently out for the count. "Bullet had his name on it." She murmured.

* * * * *

There was something very unappetising about a happy ebullient Badger. The man practically glowed with bon homie, his grimey round face beaming, hat perched back at what for him was a jaunty angle. Propped up in the infirmary bed, the Captain would have scowled at him but didn't have the energy. Gorramit, he was impressed to even be awake after the last few days. Zoe's eyes were narrow with suspicion.

"Why so generous Badger?"

"Zoe, Zoe, you always gotta expect the worst o' me." The little man leaned forward and those nearest him leaned back. Seeing Badger in the flesh was not half as bad as smelling him. "Could say as you hurt my feelin's on'y had a good day, *dong ma*?" He paused and grinned at all of them, even smiling at the Captain which Mal thought was downright creepfiying. "You was right, Reynolds. Mine has lots o' them little trolleys full o' gems."

"An' you're fixin' on takin' 'em all?" Growled Jayne darkly, one hand settling on his holster.

"Now, ain't no time to get ansty. Just takin' my share, see? Ain't that right, Cap'n?"

Malcolm Reynolds was so gorram tired but Badger did have a point. Fact was they couldn't have pulled the rescue off without him. "That's right an' now you just got one more trip to make an' we'll both be on our merry."

The smug gloating smile shifted down a gear, eyes dulling a mite as if the rug was about to be pulled out from under him. Seeing the little man's expression put a grin on Jayne's face. "What ya sayin'? You double crossin' me?"

"*Bu qu*, just need you to ferry some folk to safety."

Badger instantly brightened again and straightened, all pleased as punch with himself. The Captain's eyes narrowed.


"No need for that. See, I got a partner."

The Captain looked at Zoe but she had no idea what Badger was talking about. Jayne shifted slightly to ease the weight off his bad leg and glowered menacingly. Kaylee, Simon, Inara and the twins were in the commons area with Paul, Natalie and their reunited children. Nothing better to heal a recent loss than being reunited with those you had never thought to see again. It took a moment for the Captain to gather his thoughts. "Thought we was partners, Badger? You tellin' me you got someone else on this deal?"

Oh, it was delicious to drag out the notion but Badger had things to do, places to be, none of them on Serenity. "Our deals over, Reynolds. I did my part, got paid. Even brought a trunk up for you an' yours seein's how you're gonna be laid up an' all. An' like you said, no need to be greedy."

"Ain't stopped you before." Grumbled Jayne.

"So this partner of yours?"

As Zoe spoke the door behind her opened and Paul stepped into the infirmary. Badger beamed at him then met the look of confusion on the Captain's face. "Talk o' the devil an' he appears."

In shock, the Captain stared. Paul had the grace to look down at shoes, feeling uncomfortable for a moment. The moment however didn't last. "We struck a deal, Cap'n."

"Did ya now?"

"We share the mine. I run it an' Badger an' his people take the gems off world an' sell them."

Zoe frowned. "Let me get this straight, you're trustin' Badger to sell the gems an' split the profits with you?"

"*Qu*. With Patience gone the way's clear to build a life on White Sands."

"Paul, there ain't nothing ON White Sands, *dong ma*? That mine don't grow crops an' the on'y people there are folks forced into slavery."

A little smile of content settled on Pauls' lips. "Yes, but those people are free now, Cap'n." He said quietly.

"Free for you to press into service, you mean?"

Darkness shadowed the young man's face. "I don't deal in slaves, never have, never will. I know Chin, he's a good man an' his family are good people. I offered to have them taken wherever they want or to let them stay an' work for a fair wage. Only the grown ups, no children."

Zoe wasn't sure how to feel about that. "An' they chose to stay?"

"Once they saw the advantages of workin' for a percentage."

The Captain raised an eyebrow. "How much we talkin' about? You do know many of those tunnels are used up?"

"*Wo zhidao*, but I figure there's enough still down there to make a good livin' on. Chin has a couple of daughters who want to open a store so I'll be needin' someone to bring supplies in on a regular basis."

"An' who would that fool be?"

Paul started to open his mouth but the Captain held up a hand. He was mighty tired but this little pantomime needed nipping in the bud. "Don't say it 'cause it ain't gonna be me." At the look on Paul's face the Captain explained. "You got a partner now, Paul, best you use him."

Just then Simon came in and seeing the way the Captain was flagging, quickly ushered everyone else out of the infirmary. The Captain leaned back on his pillows, closed his eyes and sighed. Simon began to check him over, a look of concern pinching his features. The Captain opened one eye and Simon paused. "I ain't in pain, doc. Leastways, not the medical kind."

Simon's lips twitched. "And here I thought you and Badger were getting along so well."

He snorted. "Not well enough to keep him on my boat."

* * * * *

The leave taking was low key and the crew breathed a sigh of relief when Paul, Natalie and their children left with Badger. The shiny ship that took them away made Jayne blink, wondering where they got the coin for such a fancy rig. The Captain didn't care. They were gone and for once they had something they could make coin on. Enough to get a ton of spares that Kaylee had been nagging him for as well as food a-plenty. Kaylee declared it was time to celebrate their good fortune. Everybody relieved and happy, none of his crew full of holes except maybe him and Jayne. Everything was shiny and he knew just where to go to feed body and soul. River grinned at the Captain and leaned in close so only he could hear. His nod filled her heart with happy and she skipped away to lay in a course.

Curious, Hope edged away from the door and sat on the side of the bed, one eye watching her mama talking to Simon in the doorway. "You really gonna be okay, Uncle Mal?"

"Well now, little one, that all depends."

Her brow crinkled a little, a look in her eyes that was pure Zoe. He reached out a hand and let her clasp it.

"You gotta promise me not to pull a stunt like that again, *dong ma*?"

Hope opened her mouth to protest then saw the stern look on the Captain's face. A little bit of her spine stiffened in response, the promise of womanhood looking back at him in miniature. "Yes, sir."

Simon gave the Captain a last check over then left him before the man could throw something at him for all the fuss. Everyone had gone now and it was just Zoe and the Captain. "So where are we goin'?"

A smile tugged at his lips, eyes sparkling. "Where else? Kaylee's mama's got a pie with my name on it!"

Her smile blossomed on too sombre lips until it matched his own. "Then what're we waitin' for?"

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*pofu* = bitch *shenme* = what *dong ma* = understand? *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *qu* = yes (lit. go) *wo zhidao* = I know


Monday, August 30, 2010 4:31 AM


It's been a long time coming but here is the conclusion. I also decided to give the stories a series title to help folk navigate the listings. Thank you to everyone who had kindly commented on my stories. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Monday, August 30, 2010 6:08 AM


Had to slip back to the previous chapter. This is just great. I loved the way it ended. I always loved Hope and I love the ending here with Mal and Hope and the pie. We need more from you. I miss reading your stuff.

Monday, August 30, 2010 9:09 AM


Aww. Yay.

Monday, August 30, 2010 12:08 PM


Welcome back, Ali. And with a great chapter, not least with Patience finally getting her just desserts! And Zoe's reply to Mal's 'you killed her'? Priceless.

Thursday, September 2, 2010 5:29 PM


Nice to see a happy ending to this story. Glad to see you back.

Thursday, September 2, 2010 5:30 PM


Nice to see a happy ending to this story. Glad to see you back.

Sunday, February 12, 2012 3:25 PM


Thanks for all the shiny feedback! It is always appreciated, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Saturday, August 3, 2013 2:24 PM


the Mal/Zoe interplay after he gets shot and Jayne shows up is just perfection, really. Love all of your shiny fics, AliD, xie xie


You must log in to post comments.



His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.