BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Secrets - Part IX
Sunday, October 20, 2013

“Everything a good forger needs to create some first rate IDs. Think he is? A good forger, I mean?” “Well, Monty has better contacts in the shady side of life than even me.” “No. Really?” Hank’s eyes were wide with feigned disbelief. [Maya. Post-BDM. Moving towards the nitty-gritty ...]


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2412    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

Monty hadn’t changed. His beard was perhaps longer and a mite more luxuriant, but his frame filled the screen just as it always had. He was grinning widely, too, under his facial furniture.

“Seems to me I heard you were dead,” he said, chuckling deep in his chest.

“I thought you were, the time it took to get hold of you,” Mal grumbled.

“Unlike some folks, I actually have legitimate business dealings.”

“I’m surprised you can say that with a straight face.”

“Practice.” He chortled again. “So where are you, you old scallywag?”

“Lazarus.”

“Really? How’s the old place these days?” Inara’s home had once belonged to Monty’s family, but he’d sold it to her when she retired from being a Companion.

“Better’n you left it.”

“Can’t say that would be hard.” This time the laugh was out loud. “Anyway, I’ll be seeing it in a week or so.”

“Really?”

“’Nara asked me to swing by Sihnon, pick up some stuff of hers.”

“When did she do that?” Mal demanded suspiciously.

“Coupla months ago now. It wasn’t urgent, just when I was in the neighbourhood.”

“How come she didn’t ask me?”

“You were probably getting shot.”

Mal almost successfully suppressed the deep sigh. “I don’t always get shot.”

“No?”

“No. Anyway, that kinda makes this wave redundant, if you’re coming here anyways.”

“What, you miss my old face that much?”

“Don’t flatter yourself. I just thought we could share a brew or two, catch up on old times.” Mal tapped a couple of keys.

“Some of young Kaylee’s finest?” Something beeped at Monty’s end and he glanced down, his eyebrows raising, but he didn’t comment.

“She’s got a bottle or two set aside. And there’s a local beer’s not bad.”

Monty nodded slowly, his left eyelid flickering. “Then I’ll see you in a few.”

“Shiny.”

“And you can meet the missus.”

Mal’s jaw dropped slightly. “Missus?”

“Yep. I got hitched a month or two back.”

“And you didn’t invite me to the wedding?”

“It was kind of a hurried thing. Just me and Inez. We didn’t want no fuss.”

Mal had to chuckle. “Is that a good idea?” he asked. “You know what happened last time you got wed.”

“Ah, Bridget.” Monty sighed theatrically. “And how is our wife? Any news of her?”

“Far as I know she’s fine. And she ain’t ours. That responsibility lies elsewhere, for which I am very grateful.”

“Still, she was one gorgeous woman.”

“She tried to kill me! Several times!”

“Yeah, but all of us who know you feel like that occasionally.”

“Guess I know who my friends are.” Mal shook his head, radiating hurt sadness. Then he smiled. “Still, be interesting to see this new wife.”

“You’ll like her. And she’s the best gorram cook you’ve ever seen.” Monty rubbed his stomach. “If I’m not careful I’m gonna lose my girlish figure.”

Mal’s gaze turned speculative. “Maybe she’s planning on rendering you down for the fat.”

“You saying I’m big?”

“Yep.”

Monty laughed. “Guess I am. Anyhows, you’ll be able to see for yourself before long. See you in the world.”

The screen turned to black and Mal turned in the co-pilot’s seat to look at Hank. “It went through okay?”

Hank nodded. “Everything a good forger needs to create some first rate IDs. Think he is? A good forger, I mean?”

“Well, Monty has better contacts in the shady side of life than even me.”

“No. Really?” Hank’s eyes were wide with feigned disbelief.

“I think I liked you better when you were at death’s door.” Mal stood up and stretched his back, ignoring the slight twinge from his hip.

Hank fluttered his eyelashes. “And I thought you loved me.”

Mal opened his mouth to snark back, but knew it would only encourage him, so instead just said, “Better go and pass on the good news,” and walked off the bridge followed by a pilot’s laughter.

---

“… so in a week or so you won’t need to worry anyone checking up on you.” Mal stood in the warm kitchen.

Jacob Boden glanced at his wife. “Are you sure they’ll be good enough?”

Mal hitched his thumbs into his gunbelt. “I’m sure. Monty wouldn’t use this feller if he wasn’t an expert.”

Jacob visibly relaxed. “Thank you. I don’t know how we’re going to able to repay you –”

Mal held up his hand. “No talk of repayment. You just keep looking after us when we come here, that’s enough.”

Mariah smiled, genuine and warm. “And food is ready, sir. If you’d like to go into the dining room.”

“Great.” He grinned back and walked through the green baize door into the hall. Inara was waiting for him.

“This doesn’t solve the problem of Molly and those bounty hunters,” she pointed out, keeping her voice low.

“I know. But let’s face one of these things at a time, dong mah?”

“And do you have a plan for that?”

“Working on it.”

“You know Jayne is talking about ambushing them.”

Mal glanced towards the dining room. “That ain't gonna solve things, and might make them a whole helluva lot worse.”

“Then think quickly.”

He bowed slightly. “Whatever you say, Inara.” Something else occurred to him. “How come you asked Monty to get that stuff for you from Sihnon?”

Inara raised an eyebrow. “It was some time ago, and in all honesty I’d forgotten. Besides, I didn’t think you liked going that far into the Core. Not with River and Simon on board.”

“I don’t, but that ain’t the point. You shoulda asked me.”

“Well, I will next time.” She clasped her hands in front of her bump. “I really didn’t think you’d take offence.”

“Didn’t. Just surprised.” He strode into the dining room, stopping just outside the door to add, “You know, you could always conjure a way to help Molly yourself.” He vanished inside.

Inara shook her head, then put her hand out to steady herself as a wave of dizziness swept through her. It was gone as quickly as it had arrived, but she could feel her heart pounding, and an ache was beginning just behind her eyes.

“Not now,” she whispered, taking a deep breath and forcing herself to calm down. “Not now.”

“Madam?” It was Mrs Boden, coming from the kitchen with a steaming salver of meat and vegetables. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” Inara assured her. “Just hungry.”

“A good meal will do you the world of good,” Mariah said, then blushed slightly at being so forward.

“I’m sure it will.” Inara straightened up. “Now, do you want me to help you with anything?”

---

There was little conversation over dinner. Rather than sitting down and eating with them, River prepared two plates and took them outside to where Jayne was keeping an eye on things, and it brought home once more the situation the Bodens and Molly found themselves in.

“You think they’re still out there?” Hank asked, pushing his own cleared plate away, his appetite at least not affected by things. “Spying on us?”

“Count on it,” Zoe said. “I’ll take the next watch, let Jayne get some sleep.”

“I doubt they’re gonna come in heavy-handed,” Mal said thoughtfully. “But with a man like Philo Cobb, anything’s possible.”

Kaylee fiddled with her fork. “Did we find out anything more about that necklace?”

“Not much,” Hank admitted. “The hallmarks on the gold cage indicate it was made by a jeweller named Sergei Borachov, on Londinium. High end, apparently.”

“Definitely,” Simon said. “My mother had one of his pieces, a bracelet made of multiple, coloured gold links with topaz chips. She only ever wore it on special occasions, otherwise it was kept in the bank.”

“I think my father had a watch-chain by him,” Freya put in. “That had an emerald in a cage at one end to put through a buttonhole.”

“Well, this one is a diamond. It’s on his Cortex site.”

“A diamond?” Mal was surprised. “That colour?”

“It’s a fancy,” Simon explained. “Coloured diamonds, from pale yellow to deeper pinks, greens … although I’ve never heard of one as dark or as big.”

“It’s a Culver,” Hank said.

“Ah. That explains it.”

Mal looked from one to the other. “Anyone fancy explaining it to me?”

Simon put his napkin on the table. “Culvers are artificial, although chemically identical to natural diamonds. They’re made at the Culver facility on Ariel.”

“So they’re not worth anything.”

“On the contrary. Culvers are extremely difficult to manufacture – most of them fracture well before they can be cut or shaped, and only a handful are produced each year. Per carat, that diamond is probably worth more than one dug up in a mine.”

“Which kinda explains why someone’d want it back, but not what it did to River.” Mal pondered. “Keep digging,” he finally said to Hank. “If it’s on that feller’s Cortex site, you should be able to find out who bought it, where it went between the shop and Lecomb. That might give us some inkling of what the diyu is going on.”

---

Despite Mal’s suggestion that everyone spend the night on Serenity for safety’s sake, only he, Freya, River and Jayne took up the offer.

By the time he’d done the last rounds, made sure the house was shut up tight and Zoe didn’t need for anything while she kept watch, Mal wasn’t surprised to find Freya asleep. Or at least giving a good approximation of sleeping.

She was lying facing the bulkhead, the sheet pushed down to her hips, but her arm raised to lay by her face. The position hid her breasts but revealed the flame tattoo in all its glory on her back.

It had always fascinated him, right from the first time he saw it in that dingy hotel room, when she undressed for him and stood naked, proud and vulnerable at the same time. He often wondered if it was the reason he fell in love with her in the first place. Not that he’d told her, or even acknowledged it for a long time. It was a wonder she didn’t despair of him and find someone else, only he thanked a God he didn’t necessarily trust every day that she didn’t.

It wasn’t her only tattoo, of course. They each had a heart on opposite hips with their initials in, so when they lay together, when he was inside her, they were joined in ink as well as passion. But the one on her back was unique, and the small amount she’d told him about her mentor, about how he’d drawn the fire and the sigils, was almost too little to bear.

She thought the tattoo kept her sane: he knew she did the same for him.

Undressing as quietly as possible, just in case, he slid under the sheet and snuggled up to her.

“Hey,” she murmured.

“You asleep?”

“Nearly.” She reached back and put her hand on his thigh. “But this is nice.”

“Yeah.” He slipped his arm around her waist. “You okay?”

“Me? Sure.”

“Only you’ve been a mite like a mare with a burr under her saddle since you got to Lazarus.”

She laughed, the vibration transferring from her body to his rather delightfully. “Mare?”

“A pretty, young mare, not quite broken.”

“Nice back-pedalling.”

“I try.” He grinned in the semi-darkness.

“And I’m fine. Honestly. I suppose it’s just everything that’s happened … I just can’t seem to settle.”

He ran his fingers across her stomach, slightly rounded from carrying his two children. “I can think of ways to solve that.”

Her breath hitched slightly, and she rolled over to face him. “That’s not the answer.”

“Depends on the question.” He kissed her gently, his hand moving up to cup her breast.

She hummed into his mouth and reached between them to do the same to him. He sighed as she stroked him, the kiss deepening and becoming urgent with hunger.

---

She waited until he was asleep, a slight smile on his face as he dreamed of good things for a change, before sliding to the end of the bunk and climbing out. He snuffled and half-rolled into her warm spot, but didn’t wake.

For a long moment she paused, watching him, wondering at his youthful look when the cares of the ‘verse weren’t weighing him down, at the brown hair that really could do with a trim flopping over his forehead and making him look younger still.

She loved him so much, sometimes she wondered if she existed without him. If all the things that had happened to her, the school, the war, the years when she hardly saw him from one year to the next … they were just someone’s scribblings, that her reality was nothing more than a blip in another person’s imagination. She’d seen so much, done so many things, yet she couldn’t shake the feeling that she’d only honestly begun to live when he stood in the doorway to her bunk that day and told her he planned to take her to bed.

He snorted, murmured something that sounded like her name, then settled again.

Come on, Freya, she told herself. Before he wakes up. She grabbed her pants and slid them on, followed by his shirt before feeling in his pocket for the necklace. It was still wrapped in his handkerchief, and she was careful not to touch it as she pulled it free.

Giving him one last glance, checking that he was still dreaming of taking Ethan and Jesse for a swim in the lake, she climbed up the ladder and padded to the kitchen.

She sat at the table, lit only by the glows in front of her. Somehow it felt appropriate to have the shadows crowding at her back, considering what she was planning on doing.

Opening the handkerchief she tipped the necklace onto the old wood. It was probably her imagination, but the red stone seemed to look smug. And gaudy. She actually preferred silver, although would never exchange her wedding and engagement rings for all the jewellery in the Core, but she had to admire the delicate gold filigree encasing the gem, tiny emeralds set at each of the junctions winking slyly at her.

When Hank had said he’d deciphered the hallmark, from the best jeweller on Londinium, she wasn’t surprised. The piece screamed quality, if nothing else. The stone itself was virtually uncut, more of a carbuncle in that it was only lightly shaped, flatter on the back. Probably a good idea, considering the problems most jewellers had with Culver diamonds.

Still, this wasn’t getting the job done.

She took a deep breath, then reached out and clasped the gold cage in her hand, her palm cupping to hold the stone tightly.

---

It was a remote farmhouse, set at the base of rolling hills and surrounded by ripening fields of wheat, green tinged with gold. Nothing moved, and only the low drone of insects broke the silence.

As he moved closer he could see the door was open … no, not just open, but broken from one of its hinges and hanging drunkenly. He didn’t want to go inside, but seemed to have no control over his feet.

The drone got louder as he approached, and a smell he recognised all too well began to nauseate him. As he crossed the threshold he could see why. A man – at least it was probably a man – lay on the floor, reaching for a gun propped against the wall and forever too far out of reach. A woman, from her dress, was crumpled by another open door, and he knew she had been attempting to protect whatever lay inside, giving her last breath to try and stop the invaders.

A cloud of flies took to the air as he moved inexorably towards the bedroom, desperate to halt his progress and unable to do so. His eyes were drawn to the pencil marks on the door frame, unevenly showing growth spurts. Two colours, one blue, one pink.

Swallowing hard, knowing he was going to have to look, no matter what he did, he stepped into the room …

A scream woke him, and Mal sat up in bed, his heart pounding, sweat running down his brow.

“Frey?”

He reached for her, but her side of the bed was empty, cold, and he knew he hadn’t heard the cry with his ears.

Concern, with a fair sprinkling of anger, begin to bubble inside him, and he rolled from the bunk to quickly pull on his pants. He wasn’t at all surprised to find his pocket empty.

Not waiting to put on a shirt he climbed the ladder, looking first towards the bridge then the low light of the kitchen. She was in there, sitting at the table in his chair, her head dropped between her shoulders.

“What the good gorram is going on?” he demanded, striding into the warm room.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Sunday, October 20, 2013 1:05 PM

BLUEHANDEDMENACE


Two in a few days? What a treat!

Monty and Mal's banter is too gorram funny, loved it. "Yep" hahahahaha

I cant help thinking I have an idea where this is going, tho that could b my imagination, and I'm drooling in anticipation.

*does puppy dog eyes, and a lip tremble* "C'na have s'more please?" (there might have been a foot roll in there too)

Monday, October 21, 2013 4:47 PM

AMDOBELL


Oh Wow, very much loving this even as I read this with my heart in my mouth. I hope Freya is alright, making physical contact with that jewellery seems to be a big mistake. Did she see what Mal saw when he was dreaming? I surely hope that does not come true. Brilliant writing as always, Jane 0904! Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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