Saturday, January 3, 2015

Carefully he looked around his tiny cell then up at the barred window high above his head. He was a tall man but even he could not reach it let alone pull himself up high enough to look out of it.


TITLE: "IN BETWEEN" SERIES: THE DICHOTOMY SERIES CHAPTER: 2. Sequel to "BETWEEN HERE AND THERE" FANDOM: "FIREFLY" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL PAIRING: Zoe/Tracy RATING: PG-13 SUMMARY: "Zoe and Tracy set about finding out where they are while also trying to keep a low profile. Jayne has an unexpected visitor and Malcolm Reynolds is left more confused than when the whole circus began."


A "Firefly" Story Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

"Do ya think we should go down, introduce ourselves?"

Zoe gave him a look which made Tracy quail a little inside. "For all we know we're in enemy territory, *dong ma*?"

"*Wo zhidao* it's just..." Tracy trailed off, took a breath then tried again. "We don't know where we are, Zoe."

"Which is why we don't let them know that. We watch, listen, learn."

"I bet I could get folk to talk..."

Zoe's voice hardened into tempered steel. "*Bu qu*! We give nothin' away, just act casual an' keep your eyes an' ears open."

"What if anyone asks us who we are?"

"Just tell 'em we're a couple in love, everyone loves the romance of it."

Tracy grinned, liking this part of the plan best of all. Sliding his arm around Zoe's waist he tried to pull her close but her resistance was not what he had been hoping for. "We have to make it look good, *bao bei*." He wheedled with his best winning smile.

"If you want to still father children at some future point Tracy you won't push this any further."


"You take your lead from me, not the other way round."

His eyes saddened for a moment with a loss that had nothing to do with their current predicament. "War's over, Zoe". He said quietly.

"For some."

Tracy was about to ask a question when a man with a roll of silk on his shoulder paused and looked across at them. "You wantin' a ferry, next one goes in fifteen minutes."

Instead of asking where it was going Zoe wanted to know the price. "How much?"

The trader eyed them for a moment as if weighing the amount of coin in their pockets. The sum he named made Tracy's eyes widen but he kept his mouth shut. Zoe took a moment before replying, as if thinking it over then slowly shook her head. "Ain't got that much coin, we'll maybe look for you once we've earned more."

That drew a spark of interest but Zoe was already turning away from him, her arm linking with Tracy's as she headed towards what looked like a boarding house.

* * * * *

Next time he woke there was no sign of the surgeon who had tended him. Mal rolled his head from one side to the other, taking in the other beds, some occupied, others not. The two occupied ones were quiet, the men apparently either asleep or still under the influence of whatever drug the doc had been using on them. Truth to tell Mal still felt a mite groggy his own self but at least his head was clearing.

"A picture's worth a thousand words but it won't be one you recognise."

He blinked and stared at the girl as she popped up at the side of his bed. Where the good gorram had she come from? "Ain't you supposed to appear in a puff of smoke or somesuch?"

River grinned at him. "Not magic, I was sitting on the floor."

"Huh, you got no home?"

A look of sadness wiped her smile away and he was instantly sorry. River shook her head. "Destroyed, all gone. At least in this version of the 'verse."

"*Ni zhide shi shenme?"

"It's complicated."

"Then maybehaps you need to un-complicate it."

The smile was back but at less wattage. If he didn't know better he would have mistaken her look for one of affection. "We aren't what we were."

"I'm thinkin' none of us are. War changes folk."

She gave him a long look, her voice going quiet. "They tortured you."

"*Fang xin*, your brother fixed me up good."

"Tried to break you."

A chill touched his heart. How could she know that? "River, that ain't somethin' you need to be thinkin' on."

"Enjoyed it even when you had nothing to say."

"They had no reason to put us in prison. War was over, we surrendered, they won."

"For some simply winning is never enough."


"They could kill you but what you stand for would still survive, get even stronger." River paused and turned her head, as if listening to something he could not hear. After a moment she turned back to him. "You should know, you aren't in Kansas any more."

Mal blinked. "Then where in the nine hells am I?"

* * * * *

It was not the noise that bothered him but the not remembering. Jayne lay on the slab of wood that passed for a bed in his cold cell, eyes wide open but seeing nothing in the darkness. Why would he set light to a gorram barn? And why would he do so if his daddy was inside? It made no rutting sense. The gaoler had to be lying. Someone else must have set the fire and put the blame on him. Maybe that was why he had that crack on the back of his head. But if that was the case then no one would be looking for the real culprit and come daybreak he would be hanging from the gorram gallows with no one any the wiser.

Jayne sat up. He had to get out of here. Carefully he looked around his tiny cell then up at the barred window high above his head. He was a tall man but even he could not reach it let alone pull himself up high enough to look out of it. Also it would be too tight a fit to get his head through let alone all of his lanky but well built body. Gorramit, he couldn't let them hang him. Had to find out the truth and he didn't have much time to do it.

* * * * *

When Dr Tam returned to the Field Hospital Malcolm Reynolds had managed to get out of bed and was standing a mite unsteadily next to it, a look of horror on his face when he saw what he was wearing.

"What the good gorram am I wearin' a dress for?"

Simon managed to keep a very creditable poker face. "It's called a Night Shirt. People sleep in them."

"Where's my clothes?"

"You'll have them shortly."

Mal gave the doctor a suspicious look. "Why not now?"

Simon tried to hide his amusement. "I believe they are being pressed."

It was entertaining to watch the way Malcolm Reynolds' eyebrows rose and disappeared into his hairline. It occurred to the doctor that the soldier had probably never had any clothes pressed in his life. Just then River breezed into the tent. She stopped short and stared at Mal standing in his bare feet, the night shirt flapping as she let the cold air follow her in. Mal felt mighty ridiculous in the stupid get up and glared at her.

"You laugh an' you'll be out on your gorram ear, *dong ma*?"

River grinned. "Can't throw me out."

"*Weishenme bu*?"

"I know where your clothes are."

Immediately his look brightened then Mal gave the girl a closer look, something itching in his back brain. "Do I know you, little one?"

River smiled gently. "Not yet but you will."

"Huh, that ain't no answer."

"It is what it is."

The phrase struck a chord with Mal but he couldn't remember why or where from. Just then a nurse entered and laid some folded clothes on Mal's bed, a small private smile aimed at Simon before she left not giving Mal time to thank her. River and Simon watched as he unfolded the clothing, Simon feeling concern creep up on him at the reaction of his latest patient. Mal looked at them with confusion on his face.

"What is this?"

Simon watched him carefully. "Your uniform."

"Ain't one I've ever worn."

"It was what you were wearing when they brought you in. I had to cut off the shirt to tend the wound in your side."

"I sewed it up." Said River brightly. "Good as new!"

"*Xie xie ni* on'y it ain't mine."

River took a step towards him. "Clothes are clothes unless you want to stay in the Night Shirt."

They watched Mal shudder at the thought. Reluctantly he took up the clothes they had washed and pressed for his use and shook out the military looking trousers. Well they were a kind a brown, just not the right shade, and the stripe down the side of each leg was the wrong colour too but as River had said, clothes were clothes and it was not as if he wanted to go buck naked. "*Bu qu*, this'll be fine. Don't mean to be *bu ganji* it's just..."

"You don't recognise the clothes." Simon finished for him.

Mal raised his eyes and met Simon Tam's, relieved to see that the doctor was looking serious and not making fun of him. His voice was sombre when he responded. "Never seen 'em before, doc, yet you say I was wearin' 'em?"

Simon nodded and watched Mal straighten.

"Then somebody must'a put 'em on me."

"Why would they do that?"

"*Wo bu zhidao*. Who knows why the ruttin' Alliance do what they do?"

Simon frowned. "*Shei*?"

Mal's look sharpened on the doctor's face. "The Alliance. I conjure you've heard of them. Beat us in the War of Independence. First thing those *tamade hundan* did when we surrendered was put us in the deepest, darkest *jianyu* they could find."

"They tortured you." Said River in a soft, sad voice.

Mal turned to her. "You sure I don't know, *nu haizi*?"

Her eyes were sad but gentle. "You do now."

It was odd but he felt a connection to the siblings that passed all understanding. Was pretty sure he had never seen either before and yet there was a familiarity about them that encouraged his trust and a sense of destiny that was all manner of creepifying. Like folks walking over his gorram grave but not having the courtesy to wait until he was rutting well dead. Well. Wasn't that shiny?

* * * * *

Jayne didn't so much sleep as doze fitfully in small truncated snatches. Gradually he became aware of a low rumbling sound. What in the shiny sphincter of *diyu* was that? As he listened he realised there was an odd kind of warmth to it. Then the rumbling deepened and broke up almost as if... Anger flared on the big man's face as he turned to the bars of his cell.

"Who's there an' why're ya laughin' at me?"

The rumbling sound tapered off into silence. Jayne was about to speak again when the stranger spoke, closer than expected, his voice deep but quiet as if the words were pitched for Jayne's ears alone. "No need to raise your voice, son."

Jayne scowled. "Ain't your ruttin' son."

The man moved closer until Jayne started to make out his shape on the other side of the cell bars. Emerging from shadow Jayne only got a good look at him as the grey pre-dawn light slowly illuminated the corridor and the dim interior of his tiny cell. Man was tall, appeared to be well muscled but not fat. Obviously he kept himself in shape. An older man with crinkly grey hair tied back in a gorram ponytail.

"Who in the nine hells are ya?"

The man did not look offended by the suspicion in Jayne's voice. "Name's Book. I'm a Horse Doctor."

Jayne stared at him for a second, snorted then threw back his head and laughed. It took him a moment or two to contain his mirth. "Then what're ya doin' here? Forget the way to the gorram stables?"

"This town doesn't have a doctor to speak of so when the need arises they call me."

Jayne's amusement died away. He frowned at the expectant look on the stranger's face. "To do what? Check my ruttin' teeth?"

Again that deep rumbling laugh, much softer this time, as if wanting Jayne to know he was not laughing 'at' him. "*Bu qu*. Apparently you were pulled out of a burnin' barn. I'm here to see if you're fit to hang."

Jayne Cobb stared at him. Really, what kind of idiot town was this? "Ya sure ya ain't the local clown? No offence Book, but if ya are I ain't laughin'."

* * * * *

He stared at the siblings. Had hardly taken more than a sip from the strong mug of coffee Simon had handed him though he was mighty grateful for the small show of kindness. These were mighty odd folk but at least they had manners.

"Can I give you a word of advice?"

Mal stared at Simon Tam for a moment then nodded.

"Try your best to blend in."

He blinked. "Why would I do that?"

"To avoid a noose."

Mal looked from one sibling to the other. Neither looked to be making a joke. Something inside was giving him a sinking feeling. What pile of *goushi* had he walked into and how in the nine hells could he get out of it?

"Am I awake or dreamin'?"

River tilted her head before replying. "You're in-between."

"An' you?" Mal whispered.

River reached out and gently laid the palm of her right hand against Mal's cheek. River wanted him to know that she was not a figment of his imagination, not part of some ethereal dream or even nightmare, but real. Just not in a reality he was familiar with. "I can bring you Home."

Mal was stunned. "How the good gorram can you do that?"

Her smile was a soft, gentle, fey thing but it was her words that almost broke his heart.

"They tortured me too."

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin) *dong ma* = understand? *wo zhidao* = I know *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *bao bei* = precious/treasure *ni zhide shi shenme* = what do you mean? *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *weishenme* = why *weishenme bu* = why not *xie xie ni* = thank you *bu ganji* = ungrateful *wo bu zhidao* = I don't know *shei* = who *tamade hundan* = fucking bastards *jianyu* = prison *nu haizi* = girl *diyu* = hell *goushi* = crap/dog shit


Saturday, January 3, 2015 10:03 PM


Where or when are they?

Saturday, January 3, 2015 10:44 PM


That's the question, Buckshotpilot. Things won't become clearer on that score until later, in the meantime hope you enjoy the story as it unfolds. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Sunday, January 4, 2015 6:51 PM


Don't worry, Chillman, just enjoy! So happy you are looking forward to more. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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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.