HANDFUL OF STARS: 5. "Hide and Seek"
Sunday, October 24, 2010

"River tries to get Serenity off the ground but can't get through to Simon. Meanwhile, the Captain ends up taking the job on Cheverell."


TITLE: "HIDE AND SEEK" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: None. RATING: PG-13. STATUS: Sequel to "CAPTAINS OUTRAGEOUS". ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at

SUMMARY: "River tries to get Serenity off the ground but can't get through to Simon. Meanwhile, the Captain ends up taking the job on Cheverell." 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

* * * * *

It was at times like this that Simon Tam felt the edges of his own sanity fray. Much as he loved his sister to the point of distraction he hated seeing her like this. Half lucid and teetering on the brink of crazy and yet there was also the bright spark of intelligence that would flicker through the almost incomprehensible babble and give him hope.

"River, you need to take your medication."

She backed away. "*Ni bu dong*, we have to fly. Leave the bugs behind."

"The others aren't back yet. We'll take off when they return, I promise."

Her vision sharpened momentarily, eyes fixing on his. "You can't make promises someone else has to keep."

Shepherd Book watched the interplay between the two siblings. "Perhaps we could play a game of cards while we wait for the Captain to return?"

The girl ignored him, getting more agitated not less. Simon crept closer and as he did so River stepped back. Pace for pace, they were getting nowhere. All that was happening was that she was getting more upset.

"River, what do you think will happen?" The Shepherd asked, more curious than concerned.

It took a moment or two for her to give him her attention, one eye staying fixed on Simon in case he made a leap for her. Needles never helped just filled you full of holes and she didn't want any more of herself leaking out.

"They're watching, always watching. Where you can't see them."

Alarmed, Simon froze mid-step. "*Shei*, River? Who's watching?"

She shook her head and closed her eyes as if checking her inner radar. Her eyes flew open full of regret and rising agitation. "*Wo bu zhidao*, can't see, but they have eyes. Everywhere."

"River, you need to rest. Let me help you."

She gave her brother a pitying look. "*Wo bu lei le*. Why won't you listen? You never listen!"

"River, I am listening. I just don't understand."

"We need to fly before the pests get here. If they lay their eggs we'll never be free!"

* * * * *

Zoe managed to hide most of the smirk but the echo of her dark humour was mirrored in her eyes. Malcolm Reynolds was fast losing patience with Ritchie Thomas. Sheriff or not there was still that great expanse between his gorram ears that echoed like a drum. Heard tell folk weren't born dumb but he could make an exception in Ritchie's case.

"What part of 'I ain't an electrician' don't you understand?"

The Sheriff didn't lose his temper, instead he got more patient which just struck Zoe as funny. Jayne wanted to shoot him and be done with it and much as Mal felt tempted, the part of him that liked fair play couldn't bring himself to indulge the urge. Man was all kinds of annoyafying but there wasn't a lick of harm in him. "Mal, I got a problem here an' you can solve it."

"I already said..."

Ritchie cut him off before the Captain could launch into another exasperated tirade. "*Duibuqi*, I'm not explainin' this well."

The Captain was so surprised by Ritchie uttering a whole sentence that made sense that his mouth snapped shut. Maybehaps his ears weren't working and he had only imagined it? Kaylee thrummed impatiently behind him but at least she wasn't butting in any more.

"Look, the lights are just the latest thing, *dong ma*? Been havin' all kinds'a problems. Think someone's doin' it, deliberate like."

"Why would anyone wanna plunge your little piece of No an' Where back into the Dark Ages?"

Jayne guffawed behind him but fell silent when both Mal and Zoe turned and glared at him. Gorramit, what did it matter if he laughed outright? It was a gorram circus after all. They were wasting their time anyone could see that.

The Sheriff scratched his head, a look of bafflement on his face. "*Wo bu zhidao*, Mal, but it's got folk tetchy. Been fights breakin' out all over an' I can't be everywhere."

"Not sure what you expect me an' mine to do about it."

"Want you to find them as are responsible."

"You're the Sheriff, Ritchie, ain't that your job?"

"I'll pay you."

"Not that I couldn't use the coin but this ain't what I do. What if we look around an' don't find nothin', what then? We still get paid?"


The Captain's eyebrows rose. "*Zen de*?"

"Yeah. Like I said, I'm desperate Mal. If'n I don't get on top of this folk're gonna start wonderin' why they have a Sheriff." He bit his tongue. Seeing the hesitation in the Captain's eyes, Ritchie attempted to press home that tiny advantage.

"You got a mechanic with you." Kaylee beamed. Ritchie didn't smile back but took that as an encouraging sign. If he could just swing Mal it would all turn out okay. He knew from experience that when Malcolm Reynolds set his mind to do something not nothing would stand in his way. It was not a trait he had his own self but one he needed right now. "Perhaps she can get the lights back up then maybe we can work on the rest?"

It was a long time since the Captain had met anyone as stubborn and so oblivious of being so. Though he would never admit it Ritchie was wearing him down plus the promise of certain pay no matter the outcome was too good to pass up even if he was loathe to admit it. "How much we talkin' about?"

Ritchie beamed, about to thank Mal when he held up a hand.

"Ain't sayin' yes, ain't sayin' no. Business first. How much? An' I mean by the day, *dong ma*? Got crew an' a ship to keep flyin' so ain't gonna be cheap."

* * * * *

The shadows reached out and closseted him in the gift of anonymity. The comforting darkness blinding him to the troubles of the world yet leaving him calmer and able to think more clearly. He knew what he was. Hated the knowledge but was powerless to alter his circumstances even if he wanted to. If he just concentrated on his task everything had a habit of slotting into place in a way that was strangely compelling if not satisfying. He no longer knew what he wanted for himself, only what he needed to remain useful. Once that usefulness ended so would he and miserable life that it was he clung to it for no other reason than habit. Not enough of his brain function gave him the leeway for expansion or looking at any other alternative because truth to tell, there wasn't one. He could not remember how many times he had died only that each time the return was more excruciatingly painful than the last and each time another vibrant part of himself did not make it back. He felt like pieces were disappearing but not the pain. The dull always-there ache as if in remembrance of a missing limb.

He prayed either for a permanent death or a fully restored life, not this dull agonised half-life inbetween. First though, he had orders to fulfill. An end to be made before any hope of a new beginning.

* * * * *

Zoe glanced up and down the darkened street. "Where do you think we should start, sir?"

The Captain was already regretting taking the job but cashy money was not to be sniffed at and Ritchie had paid half up front before leaving them to it. "Kaylee, think you can find out why the lights went out?"

"Just let me go back an' get my tools, Cap'n, an' I'll get right on it."

"Sheriff says they got all the tools an' such so no need to go back to Serenity. 'Sides, sooner we fix this the sooner we can get those parts you want an' be on our merry."

"Why the hurry? We play this right we can spin it out an' make enough to keep Serenity happy for months."

The Captain scowled. "Don't plan on bein' here months, little Kaylee."

Jayne couldn't help fidgetting. It had been a while since he had last been off ship and just plain enjoyed himself. Now, with the prospect of coin to spend and nothing to shoot at his mind kept wandering, wondering where the nearest whore house was. As if picking up his thoughts, the Captain chipped in.

"We work before we play."

The big man scowled darkly at him. "Didn't say nothin'."

"Yeah, well I could hear you thinkin'."

"Gorramit, Mal, it's been months! I need to find me some trim."

"An' you will, but *after* we settle this *goushi* job, *dong ma*?"

"What am I supposed to do? Kaylee'll be lookin' at the wirin' an' that ain't what you pay me for."

The Captain stepped up close and leaned in until their faces were inches apart. "I pay you to do as you're told an' that is whatever I take the notion for it to be. We'll go with Kaylee to get the tools then you stick by her, make sure nothin' untowards happens."

"What're you gonna do?"

"Me an' Zoe are gonna take a look around. Get a feel for the place, see if we can see what don't add up."

"Huh, what don't add up is me playin' babysitter when I could be..."

"You finish that sentence Jayne an' I guarantee you won't ever be needin' a whore house again!"

The mercenary blanched, his mind going to all kinds of unfavourable outcomes all of them ending in his messy untimely death. Whether or not Mal would really do it didn't matter a good gorram, he knew the Captain was capable of it and that was enough. "*Diyu*, Mal," he grumbled more softly "was just sayin'."

"Yeah, well, the longer you complain the longer we'll be on this worthless piece of rock."

"*Wei*! Think this is it, sir?"

The Captain followed Zoe to a brick built building with a 'Warning - High Voltage' sign tacked to the thick wooden door. He craned his neck up and managed to make out a whole mess of wires branching out from the top of the building and going to the various shops and buildings in the town. "Looks like."

Jayne tried the handle, surprised to find it unlocked. Something skittered up the Captain's spine and his voice dropped soft and low in warning. "*Rongyi*, Jayne. I'm guessin' such an important door should be locked."

"*Fang xin*, Cap. I ain't stupid."

Before anyone could stop him, Jayne pulled the pin on a grenade and opened the door just enough to lob it inside then slammed the door shut. The explosion was enough to rock the door and expel a cloud of dust from between the door and the door jamb. Despite having jumped back when the grenade went in, Mal, Zoe and Kaylee were spluttering up the dust that had gone into their lungs. When the dust cleared a mite and the Captain got his breath back he turned on Jayne.

"What the good gorram were you thinkin'? An' what is it with you an' grenades anyway?"

Jayne shrugged, unrepentant and tugged the door wide open. There was no resistance and as he pulled on it the whole thing toppled over raising another cloud of dust. "Just makin' sure nothin' nasty was waitin' for us inside."

"As opposed to something nasty on the outside?"

Everyone froze. Jayne had been halfway through the doorway when he stopped mid stride, not recognising the voice. In the gloom they heard someone strike a match, the flare briefly lighting the face they recognised as the messanger who had delivered the death threat to Mal. Jayne's first instinct made it to his mouth before his brain caught on. "What happened to your ruttin' face?"

Zoe swore under her breath. "Jayne!"

The big man shrugged but didn't take his eyes off the stranger. "*Shenme*? I didn't fight in no war."

Exasperated, Zoe tried to keep her voice low. To not give away how shaken she was. "Don't mean he's gonna leave any of us alive."

He didn't like the sound of that or the subtle inference that if that happened it would somehow be his fault. "That ain't fair!"

The stranger's voice grumbled back like broken granite, as if the man's vocal chords were as damaged as his face. "Neither's having your face ripped off to serve as a warning."

Mal finally found his voice, slowly working his way through the shock of seeing the man again. Somehow he had managed to convince himself that the threat was not real just some sick *hundan* playing a prank. Seeing him again made it all suddenly real. "Warning?"

In the dimness of the fading match they could just see the stranger's shrug. "A picture paints a thousand words," he sneered, somehow managing to imbue his words with a world of menace.

Jayne frowned, not getting it. "So, it weren't Reavers?"

Then the match went out.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*ni bu dong* = you don't understand *shei* = who *wo bu zhidao* = I don't know *wo bu lei le* = I'm not tired *duibuqi* = sorry *dong ma* = understand? *qu* = yes (lit. go) *zen de* = really *goushi* = crap/dog shit *diyu* = hell *rongyi* = easy *wei* = hey! *hundan* = bastard *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *shenme* = what


Sunday, October 24, 2010 9:47 AM


Hey hey hey... you're not allowed to give us cliffhangers. You're suppose to be the 'nice' one. :)

Okay... if it ain't Reavers, then just what is it? A good creepy little story for the season, Miss Ali. You're doing wonderfully.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 2:02 PM


So, Mal and his crew meet up with the messenger again! Kinda scarring there at the end Alison!

I do have a question….wouldn’t the grenade have done a good bit of damage to the electrical power station? Maybe Mal shoud start thinking of giving Jayne eggs to throw instead …

Good story, ready for more….BPZ

Thursday, October 28, 2010 2:13 AM


I love how Jayne loves grenades! I bet he even has them in the shower with him ... and if you want to use that plot bunny, please do! Or I might ...

As for the cliff hangar ... evil! But so looking forward to the next part.


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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.