STOLEN MOMENTS: 21. "Dark Places"
Wednesday, May 11, 2005

"The lure of a job takes Jayne, Zoe and the Captain into unfamiliar territory. Simon and Kaylee enjoy a little shared recreation."



SUMMARY: "The lure of a job takes Jayne, Zoe and the Captain into unfamiliar territory. Simon and Kaylee enjoy a little shared recreation." 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

* * * * *

Jayne Cobb could not shake the feeling crawling up his spine - *under* his gorram skin. With an effort of mammoth proportions he managed to resist the urge to spin round and see who the *diyu* was following them. If the itch was this strong he should be able to see the whites of their eyes but he feared even more what would happen if he turned around and found nothing. Again. So the mercenary kept his mouth shut and said nothing, even when the Captain gave him a funny look. Nope, not gonna panic. No way did he want to say anything and have nothing to show for it but keeping his mouth shut was a trial too. The big man had already spoken up twice insisting to Mal and Zoe that they were being followed but there had been nothing. Zoe had even gone ahead and circled round to bring up the rear in the hopes of getting the drop on their tail but had found nothing. Not even footprints in the soft rotting soil dotted like patchy sores between clumps of damp moss and broken headstones. Oh yeah, graveyards were fun places.

"Tell me again why the Preacher ain't with us?"

The Captain resisted the urge to roll his eyes, his patience growing a mite thin. Zoe responded before Mal's irritation could explode in an angry outburst giving his brain time to kick in before he put his mouth in gear. "Cap'n already told you three times."

"Then tell me again!" Jayne growled. He did everything but grind his teeth.

Zoe was tempted to say something very uncomplimentary when the Captain gave her a look. Accepting the silent admonishment to 'play nice' she explained one more time and with exaggerated patience. "Cap'n doesn't want the Shepherd present in case things go south an' we end up spillin' blood on holy ground."

"Just so long as it ain't ours." The big man ground out sourly, his eyes skittish things that darted from side to side in an over anxious face.

As they continued Jayne lapsed into an unhappy sulk but neither Zoe nor the Captain paid him no never mind. In fact the Captain was looking more alert with each step. Zoe's eyes narrowed, all aware of every subtle change in her long time friend. Her voice was a soft hush that just reached his ears and no further. A skill perfected on a dozen battlefields. "*Shenme shi*?"

"Jayne's right." He murmured soft and low.

"I am?"

The big man's surprise would have been funny if they weren't so wired. Zoe's spine stiffened, her muscles bunching and flexing ready for fight or flight. She quickly tuned in to what the Captain had picked up on. The silence. Not the silence of a quiet evening but the complete absence of any sound other than the ones they made their own selves. It was all kinds of eerie and creepifying. No birds, no insects, no nothing. In fact this job was beginning to look to Mal like a whole world of nothing. It did not help to improve his deteriorating mood.

"I can't believe you're afraid of no ruttin' ghost." Murmured the Captain, trying to still his own reservations and stop the rattlers congregating inside his gut.

"The livin' ya can kill." The Captain actually paused and looked him in the eye. "Your point bein'?"

Jayne leaned in close, his face now only inches from Mal's. His eyes so wide the white was drowning out his pupils. "How d'ya kill them as ain't livin'?"

"Jayne," Said the Captain in a forced calm and even tone. "The dead can't hurt you but 'I' can, *dong ma*? So how about we get to the meet and find out about this job? Sooner we get it done the quicker we can all get outta here." There was a grunt then a nod. Barely a minute later the Captain paused and frowned. What in the nine hells was wrong with his eyes? That was when he felt it. Something cold and thin and wispy running damp icy trails over his skin. The air around him growing dull and dim, the daylight muted and fading as if someone had thrown a dimmer switch on the sun. Wired directly to God. Not that he believed in Him no more but even so, what the good gorram had he done to piss Him off now? Wasn't losing the gorram war, his family and every friend he had grown up with enough? *Tian Yesu* he was sick of being the 'verse's straight man for every bad joke life had to throw at him.

He heard Zoe before he managed to make out her indistinct form. "Sir? This mist, I don't like it."

"What's not to like?" Quipped the Captain darkly.

"Cap this is..." Jayne's voice cut off abruptly.

Mal spun round, his heart hammering in his chest, his gun out of the holster so quickly he was hardly aware of having drawn it. Now he could not see a gorram thing. The thickening mist seemed to squash out sound as well as light. His words bouncing back at him with dull little thuds as if he was enclosed in a space that had no existence in any world of the living. "Jayne? What's *cuode*?"

Silence. Utter and impenetrable. The Captain was almost deafened by the sound of his own heart beating, thundering in his ears and heightened by a growing and nameless fear.

"Zoe? Best speak now lest I shoot you by accident, *dong ma*? If this is your idea of a joke I have to tell you I ain't laughin'."

A yell. Not a scream but a sharp cry of alarm and fear. Almost distress.

"Jayne? That you?"

A dull heavy thud. The Captain turned slowly, squinting into shadows that were holding hands to keep his vision confounded in darkness. He couldn't see a gorram thing and the ground beneath his feet was uneven.

"Zoe? Where the *diyu* are you? This ain't *haoxiao*."

A muffled shot rang out making him jump. Instinctively he began to back away from the sound when his heel caught on something and he fell backward, arms windmilling in a vain attempt to retain his balance. His gun still gripped in his hand as a cry spilled from his startled lips, the darkness around him closing in, the yawning abyss greeting him like a long lost friend. It was almost a relief when his head exploded in a pain so sharp it outpaced his fear. A bright intense flash of light dazzled him to the deeper darkness then he knew no more.

* * * * *

Kaylee lay warm and sated in Simon's arms. They had somehow made it back to the privacy of her bunk and now rested naked and entwined, skin glistening and faces aglow with pleasure. Simon gave the mechanic a fond smile, sensitive fingers trailing across her face, marvelling at the goodness he saw in her guileless eyes. A whole hearted cleanliness of spirit that made him weak with joy. If there was ever any one thing that was completely good and untainted in this 'verse it was Kaylee. The notion felt like a contradiction given all the things Kaylee had seen things in her short life that no one in their right minds should ever have to endure and yet she kept on smiling. Carrying her heart on her sleeve and her hope like a shining beacon in her eyes. He could not help but love her.

"What ya thinkin'?"

He laughed lightly and dropped a playful kiss on the tip of her nose. Kaylee delighted in the gentle carefree sound of his laughter. The doctor was so seldom this relaxed and at peace with himself. The mechanic soaked it up. "I'm thinking I'm the luckiest man in the 'verse."

Her eyebrows rose, impressed and all kinds of pleased at the compliment. Simon saw her response and was grateful he had not said something stupid or inappropriate. All he knew was that this wonderful girl had become very precious to him. How it had happened he had no idea but it seemed everyone on Serenity was right. There was not a power in the 'verse that could keep Kaylee from being cheerful and he was determined he would do everything in his power to keep it that way. Leaning forward he kissed her, a long soft languid meshing of lips that pulsed pleasure through her heart, body and soul. She started to stir against him and Simon felt laughter bubbling up inside him as if her happiness was contagious. A fever of joy from which he hoped never to recover.

"Kaylee, you must be tired. Besides, the others will be back soon."

Kaylee grinned and began to touch and caress every inch of skin she could touch, her tongue sliding into his open mouth before he could say anything else. Closing his eyes he mumbled in dreamy bliss, his eyes snapping open suddenly as the hatch to Kaylee's bunk clanged open. "What the...?"

River's head hung down and stared at them. Totally ignoring the fact that they were both naked and aroused. They could now hear Jayne's voice yelling and swearing in the background, the Shepherd trying to calm the man down. Hearing the panic in the mercenary's voice roused them quicker than being doused in ice cold water. "Three into one won't go but nobody takes any notice of fractions."

The doctor reached for his clothes and quickly began to dress as Kaylee did the same. "River? What's going on?"

His sister shook her head mournfully and for a moment looked concerned. "Not like Alice, you can't drink and find your way back."

Kaylee was now dressed and just ramming her feet into her shoes, anxious eyes on River. "What are you talkin' about, sweetie?"

"They didn't even follow the rabbit, just blind, couldn't see where they were going until it was too late."

"Who, River?" Asked a suddenly wary Simon, now fully clothed and beginning to clamber up the ladder with Kaylee close behind him.

* * * * *

Coming to had been almost as confusing as blacking out. He blinked but nothing relieved the darkness. At least his ears still worked just fine. Pity he wasn't hearing nothing uplifting. The only good news was that he and Zoe seemed to be sharing the same rutting nightmare. Like the saying went, misery really did like company. "*Ni zhidao* Jayne, it's not like he done it on purpose."

Zoe's voice floated over to him without emotion but he knew every nuance of her deadpan humour. "Is that supposed to reassure me, sir? 'Cause I'm pretty sure it ain't workin'."

There was a brief pause before the Captain responded. "What the *diyu* happened?"

"Best I can figure, we fell down a hole."


"Tunnel." Zoe amended. Or perhaps she was just speculating.

The Captain could hear the shrug in her voice. Wondered why he felt so gorram dizzy and how come he couldn't see anything. "This hole have an exit?"

"Sir, Jayne shot me. Not like I can go an' look."

"Duibuqi* Zoe, don't rightly feel myself."

A hint of concern drifted into her flat tone. "You injured?"

Mal gingerly touched the back of his head, squeezing his eyes tight at the flash of pain threatening to split his head in two. His fingers came away wet and greasy. Didn't need anyone to tell him it was blood. His hand trembled a little but he did not want to alarm her. "Not so much."

The censure was in her voice. "Not an answer, sir."

"Where'd he hit you?"

"Right shoulder."

"Then you can walk?" He asked hopefully.

"We're in a hole, sir." Came the flat reply.

The Captain sounded a mite irritated now. "Thought you said it was a tunnel? Tunnels go someplace."

"They do when they haven't caved in."

Mal felt his heart miss a beat. "*Wode ma*! You sayin' it caved in?"

"Seems like. Which is why we're..."

"In a hole." He finished.


For a moment neither spoke, both busy with their thoughts. "Any notion on how to get out, Zoe?"

"We could try yellin' for help, sir. Someone might hear us."

The Captain frowned. "You wanna get shot again? An' is this suicidal tendancy somethin' I should worry about?"

It was a good point. "Got a better idea, sir?"

Mal sounded tired. "I think we should rest. Wait for daylight."

There was a long silence before Zoe spoke again. "Just one thing wrong with your plan, sir."

"Oh? What's that?"

"It *is* daylight."

A long string of Chinese cussing greeted her assertion. The Captain wished he could see Zoe's face. Gorrammit, he wished he could see anything but it was as if the praeternatural darkness that bound them was laughing right back at him. If there was a God, He definitely had no love for Malcolm Reynolds. Gorram Alliance, even stole his rutting religion. Not nobody in the 'verse should be allowed to do that.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*diyu* = hell *shenme shi* = what's the matter? *dong ma* = understand *tian Yesu* = sweet Jesus *cuode* = wrong *haoxiao* = funny *ni zhidao* = you know *duibuqi* = sorry *wode ma* = mother of God


Wednesday, May 11, 2005 2:51 PM


I really liked your reference to Alice in Wonderland. And now I'm very intriguied. I wonder how Mal and Zoe are going to get themselves out of the hole. And perhaps more importantly, is there something in the hole?

Keep up the great work! =o)

Tuesday, June 7, 2005 6:17 AM


I was wondering when you were going to start torturing Mal! *g*

Enjoyed Mal's musing on his relationship with God. Funny and bitter at the same time.

And Jayne only being worried about spilling their blood on holy ground ... I've said it a million times but I love the way you write Jayne.


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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.