TEMPTATION SERIES: 30. "The Promise"
Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"Serenity arrives on Pacquin. Simon extracts a promise from the Captain. River pieces a puzzle together but the more she explains the less Inara understands."



SUMMARY: "Serenity arrives on Pacquin. Simon extracts a promise from the Captain. River pieces a puzzle together but the more she explains the less Inara understands." 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.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

They arrived on Pacquin a day and a half later. Jayne so all fired up and itching to be planet bound that it was almost funny. Mal knew he was driven more by the need to get laid than any restlessness from being stuck on the boat. Badger waved them as they were coming in to land and insisted that they let his contact get in touch before they arranged the pick up. The addendum made the Captain uneasy especially with knowing what a slippery character the little kingpin could be. Not sure if the man was setting him up or just being extra careful over the transfer of goods. Whatever the reason he intended to be extra careful and kept his concern from Zoe. Woman had enough on her gorram plate with the new addition. A little smile bowed his lips, who would'a thought Zoe would make such a gorram natural mother? All them hard edges smoothed out to accommodate that precious bundle of life. He got a kick out of seeing how married life and now motherhood had softened her. Given her back a love of life that had been torn from her in the war.

While they waited for Badger's contact, Milo, to get in touch the Shepherd made tea and Kaylee hummed and fussed with some kind of baked busicuit that stuck to the teeth like toffee but had enough sugar substitute in it to be addictive. The baby was strong enough to come out of the incubator and was gaining weight fast enough to please even Simon. Everybody relaxed with relief at how quickly the child had gone from strength to strength, Simon saying that being a month premature wasn't nothing to panic over if the infant was healthy enough. The Captain nodded a thanks to Book for the tea and took his mug to the bridge knowing they had a few hours at least to wait until the meet took place. He smiled at his impatient pilot.

"What you still doin' here, Wash? I hear there's a baby got your name on it."

Wash grinned and jumped out of the pilot's seat as if there was a charge under it. He mumbled something bright and cheerful and vanished so quick Mal hadn't seen his feet move. Not that he was paying much attention, his gaze slightly unfocused as his thoughts spanned imaginary generations. With a smile he settled in Wash's chair and moved a dinosaur to make room for his mug. It took a moment or two before he realised someone had followed him onto the bridge. Turning in his seat he was surprised to see Simon Tam watching him from the doorway. "What you doin' here, doc?"

"Actually I wanted to ask you something."

"You did?" Mal raised his eyebrows in surprise and waited for the young man to elaborate. Never did meet a boy keep what he was thinking or feeling so close to his chest as Simon Tam. Curious he was content to wait him out. Simon took a couple of measured steps into the room, his look intent and thoughtful. All his attention on the Captain.

"Did you mean what you said?"


"When you thought the baby was dead but I managed to save him?" The Captain just stared at him, wondering what the good gorram he was getting at. Simon took another step closer, not breaking eye contact. "You said I could ask for anything I wanted and you'd give it to me. Even if you had to sell Serenity to do it. I just wanted to know, Captain, were they just idle words or did you mean them?"

A prickle of something cold inched its' way inside him. The Captain got the feeling those words were about to come back and bite him in the ass a lot quicker and harder than he could have imagined. Still the boy had asked and deserved a honest answer. "I meant them, Simon. Still do, *weishenme*?"

"I'm asking."

The Captain nodded slowly knowing he should not have been surprised Simon would commit his words to memory. "What is it you're wantin'?"

Simon's voice became soft, almost reassuring which put Mal on notice that he was not going to like what he said. "Nothing you can't afford, Captain."

The formality did not sit well with Mal but that was by the by. "You let me be the judge of that, just spit it out. What you wantin', Simon?"

The quiet cultured voice became instense. No rise in tone but hardening like concrete the moment it sets. "Just this: stay away from my sister."

Malcolm Reynolds stared at him. He could not believe it or rather he could and wasn't that the kicker? The doc had never hidden the fact that he didn't like him though for the sake of their places on his boat he had at least been civil about it and paid lip service to the Captain. At times Simon almost seemed to unbend enough to close the gap between wary reserve and a cautious respect. But there was no warmth, no growing trust, nothing beyond a grudging acceptance that he must tow the line. Now it seemed the gloves were off but always with that polite and oh so distant reserve. Mal wondered how far the doc was prepared to push this. "What if she don't stay away from me?"

"You're a resourceful man, Captain. I'm sure you'll find a way to keep your promise."

And there it was. The bottom line. For a long time after Simon left the Captain stared out of the window deep in thought. Distantly he was aware of the sound of laughter and banter drifting through from the commons area, his crew happy and in near festive mood. A joy he could not partake in as the docs' words rang round and round inside his head until he ached with the sorrow of it.

* * * * *

It was surely an accident of nature, Zoe thought. Nobody should ever be created that ugly. Jayne Cobb trapped a deep laugh behind a hasty cough as the Preacher nailed him with a hard disapproving stare. The Captain was taking his time joining them which had to be a gorram first but the upside of it was that his crew got to meet Milo first hand and take the measure of the messanger they'd been waiting to meet.

"An' your name is?" Prompted Jayne, just to be sure and for the pure pleasure of seeing the battered, twisted and misshapen mouth form words that he could in no way speak without mangling them into tiny gorram bits.

"Milo." The man paused, his dark puckered skin filled with troughs deeper than the creases in an elephant's hide. Always supposing any of this crew had ever seen an elephant to begin with. Milo was beginning to think that it was not only the Captain of Serenity who was a mite too stupid to live. "I was given to understand I'd be meetin' with Malcolm Reynolds."

Before anyone else could answer him the Captain arrived, a closed expression on his face. He looked Milo in the eye without flinching, not a flicker of humour or revulsion at the appearance of the miss-matched man. "I'm Malcolm Reynolds an' I Cap'n this boat."

Milo ignored the others and held out his hand, a seal across the palm of it that made the flesh lumpy but the wound - if wound it was - was an old one. Mayhap even another twisted gift of birth. Mal took the proferred hand and shook it firmly without flinching at the contact. He had seen many a man come out of battle with horrific injuries. Walk, limp or gorram crawl away from versions of hell no Preacher could recreate for the Devil's Inferno. It would take more than scars, twisted limbs, ugly burns and melted flesh to shock him.

"Pleased to meet you. Serenity may not have the flash but she's got it where it counts. Goodly sized cargo hold, strong an' reliable for whatever you're wantin' us to haul. Badger said we had to meet with you first before we could pick up the cargo."

The man's eyes glittered slightly, his ebony wrinkled skin so thick that a thousand smiles could have been hidden in the folds and no one would ever know. But the eyes. Now the eyes were said to be the gorram windows to the soul. Right now didn't matter a good gorram that one was deep brown the other a kind'a off colour green. Didn't disturb the Captain none but Kaylee found him all manner of creepy. "I am the cargo." Milo said in a firm, calm voice.

For a minute no one spoke. Not one of them sure what to think. Zoe frowned. "*Wo bu dong, shifu*. Didn't Badger say we'd need the mule an' maybe two trips to fill the hold?"

The Captain nodded but never took his eyes off their contact. Something wasn't adding up and he didn't like it. "Now see here Milo, we seem to have us a bit of a problem. What with you not bein' exactly what was expected an' there bein' no cargo to speak of."

"I can explain but would prefer to do so out of the dust of this ruttin' moon."

Wordlessly the Captain gestured for the man to come aboard and as he did so Book closed up the ramp and cargo bay door. Just because the man looked to be alone didn't mean he was. Within minutes they were all gathered in the commons area except Inara and River. Simon glanced at the Captain but Mal did not turn his head, all his focus on Milo. The tension was palpable. The Captain crossed his arms and braced himself as if for bad news. "Fine, you're on my boat an' outta the gorram dust of that ruttin' moon." He paraphrased the man's words back to him. "Now what in the nine hells is Badger playin' at an' what the good gorram he really want us to ferry?"

Despite how he felt Milo's spirits rose a mite. Badger had ranted for near on an hour about the Captain of Serenity and how much he would like to see the man swing on the end of an Alliance rope or some other equally delirious form of certain death preferrably with excruciating pain attached. Facing the man Milo didn't quite share the little kingpin's prejudice. One battle scarred warrior recognising another though his battles had not been fought on any field of honour. His scars were not the unfortunate accident of birth that Zoe had supposed. His mutilation a living advertisement of what happened when you angered the wrong men. Badger had offered him a deal, took plenty of coin to cement it too and he was not a rich man. Now he was face to face with the unwitting instrument of his deliverance.

"I am not a wealthy man, Captain, but my money paid Badger for this meet an' from there the decision is yours."

The Captain frowned, feeling uneasy. Chung-li stood next to Kaylee and Simon, Zoe and Wash exchanging a swift troubled glance. Jayne glared openly at the man while Shepherd Book looked thoughtful. Inara was in her shuttle babysitting the newest member of Serenity's crew while River sang songs from Earth-that-was, her mind only half on the baby. Her mind flitting between the members of Serenity's crew and the man with the interesting proposition. She saw the shape of Mal's mind, his lines of reasoning unfolding and running off at tangents as he listened. Jayne was getting impatient and mad as *diyu* at once again being ignored. River knew he was not being ignored just kept in check by the Captain's silence. Some words didn't need saying in front of an audience, especially one they did not know. So the mercenary seethed and split his death glares between the newcomer and the Captain. River could feel Kaylee's sympathy wash through her so strongly it almost made her dizzy, as if some tidal wave were about to sweep her off her gorram feet. One look at the man's diverse deformity and the mechanic's kindly heart had fallen.

"Not what he seems." River murmured, the words of her song forgotten.

Inara smoothed a gentle hand back and forth along the baby's naked arm, the other hand holding a bottle. Big brown eyes stared up at River as the baby sucked on the bottle, the Companion's smile dimming a little as she tried to make sense of what River was saying. She didn't mean the baby, did she? River looked the Companion right in the eye. "The man is as true as they come but he's bein' deceived." "Man? What man, River?"

"Badger sent him. Took him for every penny he was able. Even leaving him in threads didn't stop him. A world weary knight but no sword and needing a horse of a different colour to finish the quest."

Inara resisted the urge to put her face in her hands and cry. River had been doing so well lately and she had begun to hope the slide into insanity could be avoided altogether.

"Not crazy. Badger thinks to teach the Captain a lesson but this man is no fool. He won't be tricked into harming the one who can save him."

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*shenme* = what? *weishenme* = why? *wo bu dong* = I don't understand *shifu* = sir *diyu* = hell


Wednesday, October 26, 2005 1:08 PM


Gorramit, Simon. He can never leave well enough alone, can he? Perhaps Kaylee can straighten him out (maybe using a heavy engine part to make her point)?

I'm impressed with your way of writing Simon - you can see he actually uses that Top Three Percent brain to analyze the people around him, especially when he's considering Jayne. Of course, it wouldn't be Simon if he doesn't blow it in a grand fashion once in a while.

Thursday, October 27, 2005 1:43 AM


true so true

Thursday, October 27, 2005 8:32 AM


Uh-oh. Methinks there's a confrontation brewing between my favourite boys.

Meanwhile, Milo's an interesting character. It'll be interesting to see how he turns out and what decisions he comes to.

Thursday, November 3, 2011 6:43 PM


The quiet cultured voice became instense. No rise in tone but hardening like concrete the moment it sets.
Very good descriptive!!!! Great job on Simon too!


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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.