THE LOYALTY SERIES: 5. "Dealing With The Devil"
Saturday, August 30, 2003

"While Zoe, Jayne and Book search for the Captain an even bigger threat looms. Meanwhile the Captain has his hands full."



SUMMARY: "While Zoe, Jayne and Book search for the Captain, an even bigger threat looms. Meanwhile the Captain has his hands full." 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.


A "Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

He was not sure what had woken him. Everything was a mite hazy, his mind a cloudy morrass of jumbled thoughts and emotions. His body sore and aching, little arcs of pain shooting through him as something slid over his skin. He shuddered as wet warmth engulfed him driving the last vestiges of sleep from his mind. Even though it was pitch black in the windowless room he was aware of the shape moving over him, heavy hard hands touching him intimately while the wet suction paused to allow words to form in the darkness. "You're awake then?"

The rough cold humour made him shudder as much as the thought of whose hands were on him. Whose mouth was riding him. "Get the ruttin' hell off me!"

Her humour thickened, her hands picking up where her mouth left off. A study in perpetual motion as she talked. He could not remember a time when Constance had been so talkative. "I'll move when I'm good and ready Mal. You live by my sufference."

He bit down on his lip to maintain some semblance of control. Her humour mocked him. He could not understand why he felt so gorram weak.

"Cat got your tongue?"

"Constance.... You don't need to be doin' this. Let me go."

She dipped her head to lavish him with a long wet lick following the throbbing pulse of the thick vein running up his shaft. He shuddered and his hips jerked involuntarily. She smiled and mouthed his tip for a few seconds, her teeth gently catching him under the cap as she licked and sucked and coaxed the precum to seep from the salty slit. Milking him slowly while she slid a hand under him increasing the intrusion. He fought the urge to groan out loud, eyes staring in the dark, body straining to deny her any form of satisfaction even as the dull ache in his head sent sharp shooting pains behind his eyes. Pain. Good. He could use that. Hang on to it to keep some thread of sanity. After all he had no dignity left. "Let it go Mal." She cooed in his ear. "I've always wanted you an' I can make this so good for you."

"Not gonna happen." He gritted out.

Constance was really getting into a rythym now. Sweat oiled the play of skin on skin. Mal jerked his head from side to side to break her hold on his ear. She bit down on his chin to line herself up. "Hold still." She grunted.

"Constance.... wait."

Something in his voice stilled her advance. She did not speak, she was waiting.

"Why...why don't I got any strength? I feel weaker than a new-born. You drug me or somethin'?"

For some reason his words hurt her. As if she had to drug a man to have him yet she knew this was more rape than seduction. No matter what words she used to justify herself. "I didn't drug you."

"Then..." His voice trailed off. He sounded almost lost. "*wo bu dong*."

"Nothing to understand. Man. Woman. Sex." He felt her shrug, her hands slowly picking up their former pace. "It's nature." She soothed as if that made everything alright.

"Ain't mine. What happened to you to make you think this was normal, Constance?"

Angered but with her hands already occupied she brought her head down hard and cracked him just above the bridge of his nose. He saw stars. Literally. Then passed out. Constance stopped moving and stared down at her handiwork.

"*Tamade*, you had to go an' make me angry, gorramitt. Now look what you done."

She sat up and just stared at him in frustration. The light was too dim to see much detail so she got up and put the light on. She felt an unusal stir of regret. This was not going according to plan.

"Why didn't ya just pretend Mal? Could'a made this a whole lot better for both of us."

Constance tidied herself up a bit then went out and returned with a bowl of warm water and a cloth and set about cleaning him up. Mal was going to have another nasty bruise to add to his collection and the gash above his eye had been reopened by her hitting him again. His left eye was so swollen that she would be surprised if he could see anything out of it. Gorrammitt if he wasn't the most stubborn man in the 'verse. Yet he was the only one she wanted. Her hands became uncharacteristically gentle, carefully tending the cuts and abrasions. Dressing the few wounds that had gone deeper than expected. Then she stripped him and washed him down, a piece of natural sponge ensuring she did not hurt him again. Why did he rouse such strong feelings in her? He told her this was not a normal way to act, to force someone to have sex with you and then think it was alright. What did he know? He was a man. He had not led her life. Had no notion of the kind of hell she had led with a mother like Patience.

She dried him with his shirt, her hands drifting over moist clean skin. Noticing the seal of old wounds and taking a good look at him. He was a handsome man, no two ways about it. Memories sparked in her mind and she smiled, a hand drifting over his chest as she recalled his early dealings with her ma. Malcolm Reyolds was the only man she had ever seen stand up to her ma, and the only one who had ever got the better of her. Perhaps that was part of the attraction, the lure. Someone who was not afraid of the bully. Someone she could respect. Only she could never let him know that. Once he knew she would lose any power she had over him. But was that what she really wanted? Power?

In the long lonely nights she didn't dream of power. Not even riches to drown in. She dreamt instead of strong arms cradling her. Long sensitive fingers drawing patterns on her warm skin. Soft lips curving in gentle humour as they kissed her. Her eyes saddened with a longing that she knew would not be filled. Oh, she might play at seduction but she could not go through with it. Not again. The look in his eyes, the sorrow and confusion in his voice had killed that fantasy dead. The realisation hurt more than the blows she had inflicted on him. Constance stroked his face, her touch almost hovering over the darkening contusions. His eyelashes fascinated her. So long. Elegant almost. She studied him closely knowing he was insensate to her scrutiny. Free to examine him and watch the rise and fall of his diaphram while she sorted through her feelings and the chain of events that had led them both here. She leant forward and kissed him gently. Her lips an oddly tender gift, her look unguarded for a brief moment in time. No. She could not go through with this but perhaps she could go one better. Perhaps she could get them both a little revenge.

* * * * *

Simon groaned and tried to sit up. That was when he realised he was tied up. A wide strip of tape stuck across his mouth to keep him quiet. More tape binding his ankles and wrists. Wherever he was it was dark and very cramped. He was curled in a tight ball with angular planes of metal digging into his flesh when he tried to move. His head hurt but otherwise he seemed to be uninjured. He tried to think, to remember. As memories flooded back to him panic began to overwhelm the beat of his heart. River! He had to get out of here. That madman Jubal Early was on Serenity. How that was even possible he did not know but there could not be two identical insane psychopaths hunting his sister. Simon tried to struggle but he was too tightly pinned. Where the rutting hell was he?

Then he realised where he was. The heavy thrum of boots passing overhead made him frantic to move, to kick out, to somehow rip the tape off his mouth so he could call out for help. Warn the others. Get to River. But he could not move. He could not speak. Powerless he let impotent tears run down his face in a soundless grief. His heart raging against the way the 'verse seemed to conspire with their enemies to bring them down. River. *Tianna*. Forgive me River, for failing you. He closed his eyes, bowed his head and wept.

* * * * *

"This is ridiculous! Ruttin' dog's half dead."

Zoe shook her head. "No, she's just dazed that's all."

He snorted. "How d'you expect her to know where they took the Cap? Ask me you're as crazy as she is."

Zoe straightened enough to look him in the eye. "I wasn't askin' you Jayne."

Shepherd Book took his eyes off the horizon for a brief look back at them. "I suggest we get on with this. Constance may have people on their way here even as we speak."

Zoe nodded and Jayne fell silent. Zoe hunkered down in front of the dog again and wracked her brain for the words that would get through to the dog exactly what she wanted. "We have to find the Captain, Ruby. *Dong ma?* Can you do that? *Zhao Mal*?"

The dog whimpered and got to her feet. The Preacher walked back to them, watching Zoe and the dog for a moment before speaking. "You should give her something of the Captain's."


"You know a piece of his clothing, something that carries his scent. Dogs have very sensitive noses."

Jayne looked amused. "What? You expect the runt to smell him?"

The Shepherd looked at him. "Well she can surely smell you. In fact she can smell all of us, each person has a distinct smell that is unique to them. That's how they track their prey."

Jayne frowned. "Hnuh?" He paused then scowled. "We ain't prey."

"Same principal." He looked at Zoe. "Do you have anything?"

She thought about it, stood up slowly and took a cloth pouch out of her pocket. It was the first half of the money that Patience had given Mal. He had given it to Zoe to keep safe until the job was done. Had he had some kind of premonition of doom, was that why he had given it to her? She shook the unwelcome thought off and crouched in front of the dog. Shepherd Book nodded encouragingly.

"That's right, hold the purse out to her so she can pick up Mal's scent."

Ruby sniffed the purse. "Find Mal, Ruby. *Zhao* the Captain!"

Ruby was getting more animated, her head swaying as she took in the scent. Then her head came up briefly, eyes sparkling with a fevered intensity. The head dropped down and Zoe watched as the dog tracked back and forth across the sand. It looked too random to Jayne. "Told ya it was a waste of time."

Just then the dog tensed, nose just above the sand, body quivering slightly. No one spoke for a second. Then she was off, the dog's stubby legs pumping with a speed that startled them.

"Hey!" Yelled Jayne. "Slow down!"

The dog ignored him. Zoe and Book ignored him. Everyone ran as fast as they could after the rapidly disappearing dog. Across what looked like plain unrelieved dunes they tried to keep the dun coloured animal in sight. Above the sun scorched down on them. Hearts pounding as their feet slid in the shifting sands, they did not dare slow down or take their eyes off the dog. It might be the only chance they would get to find their Captain. They each prayed and hoped in their own fashion that they would not be too late.

* * * * *

It was hot and Kaylee could smell her own fear. Jubal Early had his face close to hers, his eyes widening as he thought aloud. Her heart rocking in crashing uneven beats that made her ache with terror.

"I warned you. Told you what would happen if you betrayed me. Now your body is forfeit and I have all manner of unseemly things I can do with it."

She wanted to weep, to beg, but her mouth was taped shut. He watched the roll of the white of her eyes. Smiled in an almost caring way.

"You only have yourself to blame, Kaylee, you know that."

Meanwhile, inside an empty drum hidden in the storage bay River Tam crouched and planned. She had her eyes shut, her mind expanding to extend throughout the ship. She located Simon, wished he could hear her and be comforted that she was safe. They would get out of this. She hesitated only a second then left him, searching for the others. She found Wash where she expected to find him, anxiously watching and waiting, his hands flying back and forth over the controls as his eyes absorbed the readings. His nerves stretching as the hours dragged on.

"Don't touch the buttons." Murmured River. Her mind moving on to locate Inara. She was in the kitchen making a pot of tea. Her thoughts were of Kaylee. River could feel Kaylee's fear, her mind whipping rapidly away from the commons area and through the deck plating to the hidey hole where Jubal Early had trapped her friend. "How did you get here?" Murmured River to herself. "And where is your ship?"

* * * * *

Inara was concerned. She could find no sign of Kaylee anywhere. The engine room was oddly empty, the steady thrum sounding lonely. Inara checked Kaylee's room but the door was open and the silence echoed in a manner that alarmed her. Inara tried Simon's room. Nothing. No sign of River either. Now she was starting to get really alarmed. Quickly she made her way to the infirmary. That was empty too. Where were the others? She had already been in the commons room so knew they were not in there. Inara began to turn to make her way back to the bridge to speak to Wash when something caught her eye. She froze, frowned, then made her cautious way over to the far side of the infirmary. Her attention had been caught by light reflecting off a surface. As she drew closer she realised what it was. All of Simon's instruments were laid out on a large white towel with the precision of theatre staff preparing for surgery.

She stared. Eyes round and suddenly very frightened. The instruments gleamed but that was not what chilled her to the core. It was the fact that every single cutting edge was limned with crimson. The white towel like blotting paper soaking up the florrid splashes of blood.

* * * * *

Constance caressed his cooling cheek with the back of her hand, her eyes taking in every detail of him. Part of her was sorry for what she had tried to do but it was so hard. Her life had been a grim loveless parody of life where power took the place of emotion and the harder you were the more you were valued. Yet she had always felt the lack. Missed the tenderness that had never been showered upon her. Yearned for the father she had never known. The mother who had never loved her except as a means to an end. With a jolt she realised Mal was shivering and carefully dressed him, her numb fingers taking the time to fasten his buttons and cover him properly. Once she had finished a sense of well being filled her. She checked his pulse and gave a sigh of relief. It was strong and steady. As she fussed over him he gave a low drawn out groan. She froze and watched him, holding her breath as his eyelids fluttered open.

He squinted at her, head dizzy and throbbing with pain. "Constance?"

"Sorry I hit you but it was your fault. Riling me up like that. Not smart, Mal."

Not sure what to say he held his tongue. She sighed and scooted close to him, a grimey hand reaching out to brush the hair back from his face. He stared at her in silence.

"I'm not gonna hurt ya, Mal. Leastways not again."

His look was cautious. "Why's that?"

She gave a little self conscious shrug. "I think maybe you were right."

A little stunned silence stretched between them. "What happens now?"

"My mother hired you to do a job."

He nodded slowly then winced at the pain. She watched him close his eyes and breathe shallowly for a few seconds until the bright flash of pain eased off and he could open them again.

"You found me."

"Yeah, but your ma wanted you to return to Whitefall."

She shook her head emphatically. "Ain't gonna happen, Mal."

"What about a wave? At least talk to her."

An odd look came into her eyes. "Mal?"


"You know you were set up, don't you?"

Silence. His open eye regarded her for a moment. "Suppose you tell me?"

She looked down at her hands, uncomfortable about looking him in the eye. When at last she did make eye contact he could tell she had come to some kind of a decision. "You want the truth?"


"You'll hate me."

He would have laughed if she had not looked so miserable about it. All of sudden Constance was no longer the big bad witch. She was a hard nosed lost little girl with a mean streak a mile wide but she was also bereft of the emotional skills common to most folk. Her world was warped, stark and empty. A place of sharp angles where everything in it was destined to hurt you one way or another. Patience was not a maternal soul and all the lessons her daughter had learnt from her reinforced the belief that might was right and cruelty a legitimate means of showing affection. Mal was the living proof that it did not have to be that way.

"Just tell it like it is." He suggested softly.

Constance took his right hand and cradled it between hers, such a tentative look in her eyes that he was tempted to try to put her at her ease. Then he remembered what she had done and resisted the notion. If he acted weak her sudden contrition could turn to violence. Constance slowly cleared her throat. "Mama's been tryin' to get me back to Whitefall for years. Every time she gets too close I move on. Another patch of nowhere to carve my name out of."

"Until you got to Eros?"

She gave him a sharp look. "Yeah, could say that." She paused. "Mama has all kinds of contacts as you probably know. You messed up quite a few of 'em." He resisted the urge to smile. "She found out I was here only she didn't come herself or send anyone to the surface. Guess she's learnin' after all."

Constance lapsed into silence. He watched her look at his hand, turning it over slowly as if he held the secrets of the rutting 'verse in it. "Constance?"

His gentle prompt was enough to encourage her to go on "Mama sent a wave. Longest damn thing she ever said to me." She paused. "She knew I was gonna cut her off." A snort. "Then she said she could get me the one thing I always wanted and could never have." She was staring straight into his eyes now, her fingers stroking his palm. "You."

The Captain opened his mouth to speak but she placed the fingers of her left hand gently over his lips. He froze. Their eyes locked for a moment.

"You know why I had this thing about you? 'Cause you weren't afraid of mama. Not in a reckless way mind, you just had your principles and stood your ground. Never met a man like that before. They either cowered before her or tried to shoot her in the back. You did neither. And then you had that other thing you did that I never could understand."

"What was that?"

She was stroking his hand again. It was mildly creepifying but he stood it for now. She smiled. "You kept comin' back. I ain't never seen mama so stunned, then when you did it not once but twice I was convinced you were brain damaged."

He scowled. "Hey! That's not very flatterin'."

She chuckled, raised his hand to her lips and began to kiss his knuckles. He resisted the urge to pull his hand back sharply and tell her to go screw herself. He was not brain damaged but perhaps Constance was. "Mama thought you were stupid."

"And you? What did you think?"

Looking him right in the eye she began to suck on his index finger, her tongue swirling over the tip while she watched for his reaction. He kept his expression dead pan and waited. "I thought you were either brave or stubborn."

"Couldn't I be both?"

His answer surprised a chuckle. She laughed lightly. "Maybe you were at that. But it wasn't that that impressed me. You were determined to do the job and get paid. Everything else you ignored as kind'a irrelevant. Of course mama didn't see it that way."

"She did shoot me."

"You lived, don't be a baby."

He snorted and pulled his hand away while she was distracted. "She tried to kill me!" He paused a fraction. "Twice!"

"No one said you had to go back that was your own decision."

"Don't remind me."

"What I don't get Mal is why you contacted mama this time."

"Needed the work."

"You really that stupid?"

"Nope, just desperate."

She stared at him as if she could sift the lies from the truth at a glance. She realised that she believed him. "Why? You got a ship, you could go anywhere."

"*Bushi*. I fought for the Independents, Constance. We lost remember? Alliance don't hold too kindly to them as fought against them in the War. Don't matter that they won, they harbour all kinds of grudges."

"That why you wouldn't settle on land, Mal?"

A flicker of pain took root in his eyes. An old, old pain that ached bone deep. "Had land once, they took it from me."

"And family?"

A pause. "That too. Everything and everyone I loved."

Her hands folded around his. "Home?"

He looked up. "I have no home, Constance. Exiled from Shadow where was I to go?"

They were silent a good while.

"I made me a decision, was never gonna have a home they could take from me. Never settle land that could be burnt out from under me. So I saved every coin I had until I had enough to buy a boat. Got me a crew then went looking for work. Keep moving, stay free."

She watched his face closely, her mood subdued as she sank into the pathos of his story. "That's not much."

"It's enough."

She paused before speaking. "You could stay here. With me."

The temptation to laugh was tempered by the realisation that Constance was utterly serious. "Can't do that." He said gently. Oddly touched.

Constance nodded, she understood but had to try. She squeezed his hand in silent comfort then let go. "I was tellin' you about mama. I ain't proud now but at the time it right appealed to me. Mama had this idea. Knew I'd always had this hankerin' after you an' mama said she had a plan to bring you right to me. For me to get what I wanted all I had to do was agree to return to Whitefall."

He huffed. "You'd never do that."

"That's right. My problem was I didn't trust mama, didn't believe she could bring you here either so to make her put up or shut up I agreed."

He closed his eyes and mentally groaned. They had set him up and fool that he was he had walked right into it. With his rutting eyes wide open. When he opened them again he was surprised to see a big silly grin slopped all over Constance's face. On her hard battle scarred features it looked incongruous. He frowned. "Why're you laughin'? I screwed up. Come to think of it, if you're tellin' me this so did you."

"Yeah, we screwed up Mal honey don't sweat it." She leaned in and brushed her lips gently across his. "But the game ain't over yet, is it?"

"It ain't?"

Constance shook her head. "We still gotta decide what to do about mama."

Mal stared at her. She was mad. Stark raving nuts. "Who says we gotta do anythin'?"

"You want the other half of your money, don't ya?"

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*wo bu dong* = I don't understand *tamade* = fuck *tianna* = Oh God *zhao* = (to) find *dong ma* = understand *shenme* = what


Saturday, August 30, 2003 11:58 PM


The only thing I've had published so far was a book of poetry way back in '81. Have a lot of things bubbling away on the back boiler but not enough hours in the day to take them where I want them go. In the meantime I am finding fanfic such a blast. Glad you are enjoying the ride. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, October 14, 2011 7:27 PM


So very shiny. You write such deeply psychological villains, it amazing!!!


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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.