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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. The crew question Indigo, but just can they trust him? Finally, a NEW CHAPTER! (So sorry, and I promise not to leave it this long again!)
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1580 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“My Jayne is angry.” River lifted the shuttle smoothly into the air, heading out over the hills away from town to take a wide detour, but she still glanced over her shoulder at her husband.
The big man, leaning against the wall watching Indigo as he lounged on the bench along the bulkhead, grunted. “No.”
He sighed heavily. “Yeah, well, maybe I am.”
“He isn’t who you thought he was.”
“Well, he ain’t dead for a start.”
“Would you prefer he was?”
Jayne looked down at the Sharps rifle still nestled in his arms. “Might be easier. I’d gotten myself all ready for making the man who killed him pay, and it turns out that hole in the churchyard is empty.”
“Do you want to put him in it?”
“No,” Jayne grudgingly admitted. “And I’m kinda glad he’s still alive, too.” He peered at her. “Does that make me sound crazy?”
“Jayne, you’re forgetting who you’re talking to. The wind is southerly, and I know a hawk from a handsaw, but that isn’t always the case.”
He sighed. “Moonbrain, if it’s one o’ them days, maybe I should be flying.”
“I won’t crash us. At least, not on purpose.” She flashed him a bright smile.
“You’re winding me up.”
“Just a little.” She could feel Indigo behind her, listening in to their conversation, even though he had his eyes closed pretending he was dozing. “There’s more to this than meets the eye.”
“Yeah, I reckon you’re right.” Jayne chuckled deep in his chest. “And to tell the truth, I might not have to worry too long ‘bout Indigo’s rising from the grave, not once Zoe knows he’s coming.”
“She does,” River said, curving the shuttle’s flight around so that they came up on Serenity at the right angle.
“Then stand back and wait for the fireworks,” Jayne commented as his wife touched the small vehicle down on the extender arm and cut the engine.
Mal got to the shuttle door at the same moment as Zoe.
“No,” he said firmly, putting his arm out to stop her.
She gazed at him, her beautiful face apparently without expression, although her eyes were alive with fire. “He shot Hank.”
“We don’t know that.”
Mal sighed, something he’d found himself doing a whole lot more since he realised he’d got a family. In this case it seemed his surrogate daughter had been somewhat profligate with her acquired knowledge. “Zoe, you kill him and we’re unlikely to find out what’s going on, since I doubt even River could get information out of a corpse.”
“Is that an order, sir?”
“Do I have to make it one?”
For a long moment he wondered if she was about to shoot him, but eventually she moved her hand from her Mare’s Leg.
“Very well,” she said. “But I reserve the right for later.”
“Fair enough.” He made a show of wiping his forehead. “Mind, the time it’s taking for Jayne to open up, you might not need to use that ammunition.”
Just making sure, River said in their minds. I’ve never tried reading a dead man’s mind, especially if it’s all across the floor.
Mal half-smiled. “Just open up, xiao nu.”
There was the clanking of the lock, a squeal that made their ears ring and Mal to make a mental note that the hinges needed oiling, and the door eased open.
“Zoe, if you’re gonna start shootin’ can I get out of the way first?” Jayne asked, his bulk almost filling the opening.
He growled at her, but only half-hearted. He was pretty sure she meant she wasn’t going to kill Indigo yet, and not that she wasn’t going to let him move aside, but he didn’t feel like he should question it. Especially since he had a sneaking suspicion she blamed him somewhat for Hank’s current predicament. If he hadn't wanted to come to Cason’s Point, if he hadn’t needed to find out why Indigo was shot ...
She looked at him. “Well?” she asked. “Are you going to just stand there?”
“Oh. Yeah.” Jayne stepped out onto the catwalk, and they got their first good look at Indigo MacCready.
As tall as Mal, but thinner, his bones threaded with whipcord muscle, there was a twinkle in his light brown eyes as he asked, “Permission to come aboard, captain?”
Mal nodded, taking a step back and forcing Zoe to do the same. “For a dead man, you’re looking pretty sprightly.”
“Circumstances, captain.” Indigo looked at each of them in turn, then smiled over their shoulders.
Mal glanced behind him. Kaylee hadn’t managed to contain her curiosity, and was watching from the far doorway.
He held the sigh inside and said instead, “Kaylee, I’d be grateful if you could turn up the heat in my bunk. Frey’s gonna be cold when she gets back, and I’d like it to be warm for when she gets changed.”
“I’ll do it now, captain,” Kaylee said with a huge grin, not at all annoyed at being shooed away. “Always looking out for us ...” she added as she ran back to her engine room and the environmental controls.
“She’s cute,” Indigo said.
“She’s the doc’s wife.” Mal’s voice was heavy with warning.
Jayne sighed. “He’s trying to get everyone all riled up,” he explained. “It’s one of Indigo’s less attractive traits.”
“You mean he’s got some that are attractive?” Mal crossed his arms.
“Did I do something to you I don’t know about?” Indigo asked, a smile under his long moustache.
“Apart from trying to kill my pilot, you mean?”
“Right. That. Well, there was ... extenuating circumstances,” Indigo said, scratching his cheek.
“And we’ll be hearing all about that as soon as Frey gets back,” Mal said firmly,
“How long?” Zoe wanted to know.
“Approximately twelve minutes and twenty-three seconds,” River announced. “The snow is getting deeper.”
Indigo smiled. “Only approximately?”
The young woman’s stare should have frozen him on the spot. “They don’t like it when I’m too accurate.”
“She gonna be okay?” Mal asked before he could stop himself, a ‘v’ of worry between his eyebrows, but River’s expression reassured him.
Of course, jia yan, he heard in his mind. Mu qin is ... tenacious.
I take it that means she’s getting pissed.
Yes. You might want to take her gun away when she gets home.
Mal hid the smile. “Jayne, take your pal here to the kitchen. Might as well get a coffee while you wait.”
“Okay.” Jayne indicated the way with the Sharps. “You go first,” he said quietly.
“Been a long time since I was on a Firefly,” Indigo said conversationally, heading along the catwalk to the doorway. “Always did like the way they were laid out.”
Approximately seventeen minutes and twenty three seconds later Indigo stood in the kitchen and surveyed his audience. Jayne, of course, and the young woman who had piloted the shuttle at his side, which was curious enough. They seemed very close, but her gaze discomfited him. Something about her dark eyes, deep enough for a man to fall into, made him want to run off to the local preacher and be cleansed of all his sins, before she had a chance to, but since he had so many it would probably take more time than the captain was willing to give him.
He dragged his eyes away, but the rest of the women weren’t much better.
The captain’s wife, Freya he seemed to recall, who’d turned up not five minutes before, had simply shucked off her coat and now sat at the table, a growing puddle of melted snow around her boots. Her gaze was softer, but no less intense, as if she was trying to read the thoughts off the inside of his skull.
Kaylee, who appeared to be the ship’s mechanic, almost smiled at him, but it was tentative, and there were two high spots of colour in her cheeks, while the last, the dark-skinned Amazon, didn’t seem to be taking any notice of him at all, which was much more worrying, and potentially dangerous.
“This all your crew, captain?” he asked, honestly curious, focussing on the tall man standing at the head of the table, his arms crossed. “Only you seem to be a little light on male company.
Jayne bristled, if only out of habit.
“You mean apart from the man you shot,” Captain Reynolds drawled, and Indigo wondered if he was going to get out of this with his skin even marginally intact.
“Uh ... yeah.”
“He’s in the infirmary. Our doc’s taking a last look ‘fore he joins us.”
“Sorry, Mal,” a young man of medium height and dark hair said, limping slightly as he hurried down the steps into the room. “Hank wanted to come.”
“Did you have to hogtie him to the bed?” the mechanic asked, her face lighting up as the doctor sat next to her.
“Kaylee, I don’t think I’ve ever hogtied anyone.”
“I’m fair sure Jayne can show you how. You know, for the next time when the cap gets shot.”
The captain glared at her, but there was no real malice in it. Indeed, the feeling amongst them was of family. Even Jayne was a part of it. Intriguing.
Mal, meanwhile, had his own thoughts. He’d noted, almost without thinking, that Indigo was standing in pretty much the exact same place where Simon had all those years ago, telling them about his gift of a sister, and wondered idly if this man was likely to be as much trouble.
I doubt it, he heard Freya purr into his mind, her mental tone still chilled from the drive. I think Simon tries harder.
He didn’t let the smile form on his lips, harder when he caught River’s sharp glance and knew she’d picked up on the tail end of his thoughts as well. Serves you right, albatross, for listening in on conversations that ain’t for you.
Why not? she countered. The whole crew does it for sport.
Yeah, but most of ‘em ain’t mind readers.
That just gives me the advantage. Her slightly pompous mental tone almost made him smile, and it took all his willpower to maintain his lack of expression.
He steeled himself, drawing on the wealth of dubious experiences at his fingertips, and, remembering his crew member and friend down in the infirmary, he gazed coolly at Indigo. “You might wanna be startin’ about now,” he said quietly.
Indigo looked at him, weighed what he knew about him, what he’d heard about a certain Sergeant Reynolds during the war, and decided he didn’t want to cross him. “Are you from Shadow, captain?” he asked in his gravelly voice.
“And if I am?”
“I was there once. Long time ago. Met a feller by the name of Ethan Reynolds. Any relation?”
“Must’ve been a really long time back. He’s been dead these thirty-odd years.”
“I was young. Very young. Not much older than that stripling in the doorway.”
Mal turned enough to glance over his shoulder. His first-born was trying hard to see but not be seen, ducking behind the bulkhead to stay out of sight.
“Go on back, son,” he said, reluctant to give Indigo the satisfaction of the boy’s name. “I need you downstairs, looking after the other kids.”
Ethan was obviously hesitant. “Can’t I stay? I’ll be quiet.”
“Not this time. You go on.”
The little boy sighed dramatically. “Okay, Daddy,” he agreed, dragging his feet as he walked slowly towards the stairs.
I don’t know where he gets it from, Freya’s voice echoed through his mind.
“He’s your son?” Indigo asked, unaware of the ‘other’ conversation between husband and wife.
“According to his mother. And you ain’t my father, so don’t go coming over all paternal. You say your piece, explain why you shot my pilot, and maybe you’ll walk outta here.”
“I don’t suppose you’d believe me if I said it was an accident.”
“I thought not.” He let a heartbeat go by. “How much do you know about me?”
Jayne scratched his cheek. “Enough. I told ‘em … enough.”
“So you know what I am.”
Mal nodded. “Pretty much the same as Jayne.”
“Used to be. Looks like maybe he’s grown up more’n I ever did.”
Jayne looked uncomfortable, mainly because he alone knew the things he’d got up to in his long and interesting life, and growing up had never been amongst them. Stopping other people getting older, yeah, he’d done that too many times to count, but –
No longer the same man, my Jayne.
He glanced at River. You sure about that, moonbrain? If times got so bad, you don’t think I’d sell you?
I think we’d starve to death in each other’s arms before that happened.
His mouth twitched, ever so slightly, but nobody saw.
“But yeah,” Indigo was still speaking. “I’d work for whoever paid me, doing whatever they wanted, legal or not.”
“Anything?” Kaylee asked, not quite believing it.
“Cash is cash, and there’re ways of not thinking about right or wrong when it’s a job of work. And anything. Man in my line can't be having anything to do with scruples.” He took a deep breath and hitched his thumbs into his pants pockets. “Anyways, I go where the work is, and sometimes that brings me back here. And I look up old friends.”
“Like Mallory,” Kaylee suggested.
“Yeah. We’ve been ... well, let’s just say friendly for a while, and I spend whatever time I get with her. And that’s where I’d been when I got shot.” He lifted his t-shirt, showing the tattoos wrapping his torso, and turned around so they could see the same naked Oriental lady Freya had noticed, the bullet scar preserving her modesty. “Addie put it around I was dead so they wouldn’t come after me, but ... your pilot ... I thought he was the feller shot me in the back.”
Jayne shook his head. “Indie, that ain’t true.”
Indigo tensed visibly. “You calling me a liar?”
“Yeah.” The big man got to his feet and walked behind the counter, deliberately showing his back as he got three mugs out of the cupboard. Not looking at Indigo he poured coffee as he went on, “I know you. You musta been very distracted to get shot in the first place, so there’s no way you’re gonna let that happen again. And the way Hank stumbles about, you’d’a heard him five minutes ‘fore you saw him. You’d’a known it wasn’t the man who tried to kill you.”
“Maybe I was still distracted.”
“Were you?” Mal let his arms hang loose, his hand close by his gun. “’Cause otherwise it suggests you shot Hank on purpose, knowing he was a stranger. And in that case, what made you think he was a threat?” He paused for just a moment. “I conjure it was something to do with the Alliance camp.”
Both psychics at the table frowned slightly, but Indigo didn’t notice. He was more interested, it seemed, in the fact that Jayne had brought the three mugs back to the table and put one down in front of River, Freya and himself, dropping back into the chair and making it groan.
Then he looked up at Mal. “Guns,” he finally admitted.
“Guns.” Mal’s brow lifted. “You mean like the Sharps.”
“Yeah. I’ve been searching the place on and off for years, looking for another stash. ‘Specially now. I’m a little … light in the pocket, and a good stake’d make life a deal easier.”
“Is that what you were doing the time you got shot?” Kaylee asked, her sunny nature sympathetic.
Indigo nodded. “That it was, ma’am. And I’m truly sorry for what happened to your friend. I fired before I could stop myself. I tried to help, get him to my horse, take him to Doc Thorson in town, but I heard you coming. I figured you’d probably shoot first and not bother to ask any questions, so I hid.”
Xiao nu? Mal thought quietly, almost as if Indigo might overhear.
I made no noise.
Didn’t think you did. Mal let the silence that fell in the warm room grow heavier, all the while remembering something his drill sergeant had once said, so many years ago when he was so wet behind the ears he needed to carry his own towel.
Callaghan had an eyepatch and a limp, but he did his best to teach the new recruits how to be a soldier, or at least how to survive. Three nights a week during their basic training he’d given lectures on everything from rifle maintenance to the importance of using protection when visiting houses of ill repute (and the symptoms to look for if a man didn’t – something a Shadow-boy like Mal had found intensely embarrassing), but it was one Friday’s talk that now came to mind, on the subject of interrogation.
He could still see the old man (in reality probably not much further on in years than he was now) standing facing wide-eyed kids on benches, a frightening variety of vicious looking implements on the table in front of him, lowering his voice so they all had to lean forwards to hear him say, “You might find yourself in the position of having captured a purplebelly, and you know he knows information, something you need him to tell you. Now, there’re ways to ask, some of ‘em good, some bad, and some of ‘em downright illegal, but no matter what you use, whether it’s the thumbscrews or the tea and dumplings, you have to remember one thing. Just ‘cause you catch a man in a lie, that don’t mean what he’s telling you after is the truth. Some men can set a lie on a lie until it looks like my Auntie Ethel’s famous seventeen layer cake, so don't you ever presume you’ve got to the truth until it squeaks out of him.” He’d straightened up at that point and scratched the scar that ran vertically under the eyepatch from mouth to hairline. “And maybe then you’ll live to go home to your mothers.”
“What about the child?” Simon wanted to know, breaking the tension and Mal’s inner memories.
“Hank says he saw a child before he was shot.”
Indigo shook his head. “Nobody around but me. And folks see some odd things when they’re hurt. Hell, when I got shot I would’ve sworn I saw an elephant standing over me, and they’re only in zoos on Osiris.”
“That may be,” Mal said, taking control back. “But I’ve some thinking to do.” He looked at Jayne. “Take Indigo to one of the guest rooms.”
“And lock the door.”
“That ain’t necessary, captain,” Indigo protested.
“That’s right, I’m captain. This is my ship, and that makes it my decision.”
“Look, you can’t hold me here, you don’t –”
“You’d rather I turn you over to the Sherriff?”
That stopped Indigo in mid objection. He took a breath. “Cutter’d take pleasure in making sure I ended up using that headstone.”
“Then maybe you should be pleased to have somewhere warm to sleep instead of six feet under.”
“Captain, I’ll stay. But you don’t have to lock me in. I kinda get ... antsy in enclosed places.”
“You’re claustrophobic?” Freya asked.
“There’s been a coupla times I’ve spent longer’n I wanted in jail, and knowing I’m locked in ...” Indigo looked a little shame-faced.
Jayne stirred, speaking reluctantly. “Mal, much as he’s about as trustworthy as I am, if Indigo gives his word he’ll stay put, you can believe him.”
Mal looked at the ex-merc, then back at the man in front of him. “Okay. No lock-in. But if you start wandering the ship, I’ll remind you that Zoe’s still armed.”
Indigo nodded at the dark-skinned first mate. “And I promise not to do anything to warrant getting shot again.”
Zoe didn’t speak, just gazed stoically at him.
Jayne stood up. “Come on, Indie,” he said. “Better get you settled in.” He let Indigo go first, taking him down to the lower quarters.
River flowed to her feet, saying, “I’ll move the children in together – I’m sure they won’t mind sharing.”
“I’ll help,” Kaylee said quickly, and the pair went out, arm in arm.
Simon got up slower. “I’d better get back to Hank. He’s probably chomping at the bit to find out what’s going on.” He headed for the infirmary.
Mal put his hand on Freya’s shoulder. “Xin gan, you’d better go get changed. Don’t want you catching a cold.”
She nodded. “You’re right.” Rising, she put a gentle kiss on his cheek, a reward for his caring. “I think my boots have been leaking.”
“Give ‘em to Jayne when he’s done with Indigo.”
“I will.” She smiled and ambled out of the kitchen towards their bunk.
Mal waited until the corridors either end were empty, then sat down in Freya’s vacated chair. “Zoe?”
His oldest friend had lost the implacable look, and now her expression was troubled. “I don’t believe him.”
“No more’n the rest of us do, I imagine. But I don’t want bloodshed if there doesn’t need to be.”
“He admits he shot Hank.”
“And Hank says there was a kid around. Something Indigo was quick to deny.” Mal looked at his friend. “Unless you think he really was hallucinating.”
“No,” Zoe said slowly. “I believe Hank.”
“Oddly enough, so do I.” He ran his hands through his hair. “Zo, I feel like I’m waiting for the other boot to drop.”
“Do you think it was Josh, and Mallory’s lying too?”
“At the moment I’m as blind as a bat in a cave at midnight. As much as most folks can be untruthful at times, this is just a mite overkill.”
“Maybe Frey’s got some insight.”
He nodded. “Yeah, maybe. Although she’s not exactly been able to see things too clearly since we landed.”
“Then we should leave, sir. Jayne knows Indigo’s alive. There’s no murder to avenge.”
“You planning on shooting Indigo for shooting Hank?”
“I hadn’t decided.”
“Well, me neither. And until I’ve made up my mind I’d take it as a kindness if you didn’t either.”
“Sir, Freya’s waiting.”
“Zoe, you promise me you won’t accidentally let that gun of yours off near Indigo.”
“I promise, sir.”
He exhaled heavily through his nostrils, but nodded. “Shiny.” He walked towards the bunks, adding as he climbed the steps, “And just so’s you know, I saw you’d got your fingers crossed.”
to be continued
Sunday, October 16, 2011 11:28 AM
Sunday, October 16, 2011 1:44 PM
Sunday, October 16, 2011 1:46 PM
Monday, October 17, 2011 9:46 AM
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