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Twin Regrets Ch9 - Shopping
Monday, January 23, 2006

Firefly/Farscape xover


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2830    RATING: 8    SERIES: FIREFLY

Yes, yes, it's finally the chapter I've been tormenting you with. No hurting the betas---they actually did a very quick turnaround for me. I was just very tired of this chapter because I'd been playing it in my head for about two months trying to get the scenes to flow right before the muse took me by the hand and told me how it was supposed to go. He enjoys seeing me flail. Really.

Props go to and , who also graced me with her lovely talent. All mistakes that remain are my own and were probably flagged by one of them :P but missed by moi. Really.

Standard disclaimers apply -- I own nothing, but they are just so shiny I can't leave them alone. Rated teen for onscreen violence.

Warning: Farscape/Firefly xover. Spoilers for Farscape through "Infinite Possibilities" (season 3) and it's AU from the ending of that same episode. Firefly -- most likely spoilers for the entire Fox season. No spoilers for the movie, Serenity. If you haven't seen one or the other, the story should still be understandable. I'm doing my best to incorporate backstory as I go.


River watched the activity in the cargo bay below, her chin resting on the railing and her legs kicking idly. Kaylee was hurriedly checking her tool belt to make sure she had the necessary tools for their outing. Likewise, Jayne was double-checking the artillery stowed in the mule as well as the cargo flat attatched to the mule’s rear. Nearby, John chatted with Book as he waited for the evening's activities to begin.

Nervous energy infused all the bay's inhabitants. All except River (waiting and planning are critical. But every second – Simon!). Nothing extraordinary would happen on the planet's surface. Errands and more errands (but none for her. Girl in pieces in a box. One was cold, this one metal). She was impatient. And scared. And tired. And angry. And so many other emotions that she felt like she would fly apart.

A whistle from Kaylee and Jayne's laughter distracted her from the pain (SIMON!). Wash and Inara were descending to the cargo bay floor, both dressed to the nines. Zoe followed, jealousy of the Companion a subtle undercurrent to her worry for the captain.

Jayne's laughter cut off when Kaylee's elbow connected squarely with his abdomen. "Ignore him, Wash. You look mighty shiny," she said causing Wash to turn beet red (red welts, red blood, red wounds, red dreams. Yet, red is better than blue).

Wash looked up to the catwalk at her. "What do you think, River? This is the first time I've ever tried to pass for high-society."

Zoe swatted Mal when the captain snorted. River smiled, "You look ready for the opera." (Or a funeral.)

"Enough of the fashion show. We got work to do, and not terrible much daylight to do it in. Wash, Inara, you two clear on how to handle the sale?"

"Yes, Mal. Make sure Kaylee checks it over thoroughly and then pay without attracting too much attention. We've listened each of the twenty-five times you outlined it," Inara said.

"Well, she did. I tuned out after the first five," Wash added.

"Just make sure you finish it all on time. We shouldn't be more than four hours with the delivery and everything," Mal said as he seated himself in the mule. Jayne and John both joined him. "And you two," Mal added, pointing at Kaylee and Inara, "If you get Wash arrested, I'm not protecting you from Zoe."

River watched both groups leave as Book and Zoe did a last sweep of the cargo bay. This would be John's first time off of Serenity since he'd joined it at Whitefall. She wondered if the planet would remind him of Earth-That-Was or if he'd find it as alien as the Uncharted Territories.


Mal tried not to smirk when he saw Carr’s knuckles go white. Well, not too much anyways. Jayne’s groans of distress when he banked sharply to avoid a random boulder also gave him an inordinate amount of pleasure. It was too bad that Zoe never let him drive, otherwise he’d have known earlier that Jayne had a weak stomach for fast maneuvers. Of course, she’ll take it out of my skin if I dent the new mule.

Still, the fast driving did shave time off the trip into town. One of the reasons he hated this moon was that they refused to have a ship yard near the main settlement. The extra distance just increased the chance of ambush too much to be worth the money. Of course, since that bounty hunter had tracked River to Serenity, jobs out of sight of the Alliance had been exceedingly hard to come by. So here they were, on the raggedy edge of the system. Only bonus of this job was that Telly lived on this moon. It was always good to have a document forger in debt to you.

Speaking of which, he really didn’t understand what Telly’s attraction to working across the street from the local law was. He hoped Zoe had her end of this planned well; he’d be downright embarrassed if Inara and Wash had to come to their rescue. And there’d be hell to pay if Inara got to slap him again.

“This is it. Jayne, stay with the goods.” Mal’s smile widened as he waited for Carr to join him at the door to Telly’s establishment: Telly’s Fine Portraits. Finally, John came to his side, a little paler than normal. Which looked even paler against his black leather. Mal shook his head. He’d offered to let Carr borrow some other clothes, but Carr insisted he was fine with what he had. Personally, Mal never trusted anyone who wore too much tight leather. Well, any man anyways. He had to admit, always silently, that Zoe looked pretty good in it. Bet Inara would too.

“Mal, you old dog, what are you doing out this ways? Thought you ran the Persephone route, most times,” Telly greeted him.

“We go where the work goes. Work went here. What about you – did your wife finally learn how to cook?” Telly had gained a good fifteen kilos since their visit last year.

“Nah, she ran off with some mercenary or something. Good riddance,” Telly said. Mal laughed; the lack of culinary (or even hygienic) skills of Telly’s wife were legendary. “Now then, don’t tell me you already burned through all four of the idents.”

“If I had, Zoe would have shot me already. You know how she hates to have her picture taken. We’re not here for me, we’re here for him,” he answered, gesturing with his thumb towards Carr.

Telly shook his head and walked back toward his decrepit desk. It was surprising the thing hadn’t collapsed yet given the number of visible termite holes. “Now Mal, I owe you a lot for getting me through the camps alive and all, but I ain’t going to manufacture sheets for all and sundry that you drag into my shop.”

“Give him the money, Carr.” Laughter was out of the question, so Mal masked his chortle with a sneeze when Carr recoiled from Telly as he coughed and spat on the floor at Carr’s feet before opening the bag of money. Money which had surprised the hell out of Mal. He and Zoe had sorted through Carr’s valuables for two hours in order to isolate enough innocuous stones and metal to fund this little adventure. The story behind the man’s finances must be almost as interesting as his experimental weapons.

“This is a bit more than I usually charge, Mal.”

“And I appreciate you’re being honest about that. But he needs more than just the papers,” Mal said as he walked across the room to stand beside the man’s desk.

“Sure, in a week…”

“Not a week, Telly. Need it in about four hours. We should be back from the drop by then.” Leaning over, Mal supported himself on both the desk and Telly’s shoulder. “And don’t think about asking for more. Between me and Zoe, I think you can stand to extend Mr. Carr a discount.” Standing, he flipped a data rod onto Telly’s desk. “That’s his image. Set him up to be around thirty and from a Core-friendly planet close to the Rim.”

“Favors like this, Mal, well, just see that you don’t run out. Might need one for your ownself one day,” Telly said.

“Will do. Pleasure doing business with you as usual, Telly. Four hours,” Mal said as he pushed Carr toward the door. Hopefully things were going just as smooth for Inara and the others.


“So, John’s off on a job with Jayne and Mal. A week of dish duty says he comes back with at least one hole,” Wash said as they walked the dusty path towards the ship dealer.

Inara snorted. “One bullet hole? That’s a given! I wager that Mal will have at least one, John, three, and Jayne will be miraculously unhurt.”

“Hey, that’s not fair. Jayne and Mal wouldn’t let John get hurt that badly,” Kaylee said.

Wash and Inara laughed together. “Did I forget to say that the injuries will be caused entirely by Mal?” Inara said. Wash continued to laugh at the image in his mind. As much stress and annoyance as John had given both Mal and Jayne, he had a feeling that Jayne would offer to hold John down while Mal did the shooting. He had to admit, it felt good to not be the object of Mal’s ire for once. Sometimes it felt like Mal had been mad at him ever since he joined up. First, because Kaylee made moon eyes at him, and then the shit had really hit the fan when Mal had walked in on him and Zoe in flagrante delicto on the bridge. It had only gotten worse leading up to the wedding and had only settled down when Simon joined the ship. As much as Wash liked the young doctor, he was only too glad to give over the position of ship whipping boy.

“Don’t forget to stand up straight,” Inara instructed as she poked at his back.

He pulled away a bit before adjusting his grip on her arm. “Stop that. this monkey suit is too tight. I don’t think you guys let it out enough.”

“Well, if someone would stop eating my chocolate, we wouldn’t have had to let it out!” Kaylee said.

“Quiet, we’re getting close,” Inara said. Wash nodded at the sly couple passing them on the dusty path. “Remember, let me do the talking.”

“That hurts, Inara, it truly does. Just because I humor my wife and my captain does not mean I’m as much of a country bumpkin as Jayne. I can do cultured.” Kaylee and Inara shared a look. “Hey, I can,” he protested. He quickly shut up as a salesman from the yard approached.

“Howdy, folks. Name’s Bindu. What can we do you for? We’ve got all kinds, one for every taste,” the brown salesman announced. Wash wondered whether his skin was that dark naturally or if it was due to sweating in this godawful heat all day with the continual wind blowing. Both Inara and Kaylee were already a shade or two darker due to the layer of dust that had stuck to all of them during the short walk.

Inara turned on her brightest smile and stepped forward, dragging Wash along. “Inara Serra. We’re looking for a personal long-range travel vessel. I finally convinced Mr. Chapford to take me on a tour of the Rim planets, but all the yachts are out of service at this time of year. The ship we found, well, it’s positively dreadful. I can’t take it a second more. If all the frightful rattles don’t scare me to death, I’m afraid the shady crew will.”

Wash could tell from Bindu’s look that he was expecting to pull a heavy commission out of this one. Fortunately, between him and Kaylee, they would manage with a fixer-upper.

Bindu cleared his throat, and then gestured for them to follow. “Ma’am, I’m afraid we don’t have any long-range ships of the size you are asking for.” Of course not, they don’t exist. At least not where people of their means would ever come across them, Wash thought. “However, we do have several vehicles that will get you safely from planet to moon, and all variations thereof, safely. I promise. Exactly how many will it need to accommodate?”

“Two,” Inara answered at the same time that Wash replied, “Three.”

He patted Inara’s hand condescendingly while ignoring the color appearing under her make-up. “Now, dear, we’ve talked about this. I know you think I can handle the entire thing, but my aerospace engineering classes were a few years ago. I couldn’t bear it if something were to happen. Not to worry, Miss Frye has agreed to be our mechanic,” he explained as he nodded towards Kaylee. “Unless you fear her as well?” Kaylee began to cough and Wash had to clear his throat to cover his own laughter. Surely Inara had known that neither one of them would stay silent as she ran down Serenity, no matter how good the reason.

“Well, right over here, we have our Terrace ships and then we also have a Pegasus in fine repair, I assure you, Mr. Chapford.” Wash ignored both. Terrace-ers were fine so long as you had a yacht following along behind in case of a fuel emergencies. They were cozy, but the coziness was due to skimping on the fuel storage capacity. And the Pegasus. Gah, why would anyone name a ship for a mythical winged horse? There were many fine laws of physics that stated exactly why a horse couldn’t fly. Those same laws explained why one saw so few Pegasus ships at any planet’s docks.

“What about that one?” he asked as he lead Inara away from the highly priced lemons the salesman was trying to foist off on them.

Bindu’s head shook so hard that Wash was surprised he couldn’t hear his brain knocking around inside. “All of those are in disrepair. Mostly kept for scrap. Nothing suitable for you and your Companion, Mr. Chapford.”

Wash glanced at Kaylee to see if she’d spotted his choice. “Oh, shiny! A Whipporwheel! My daddy worked on one of these when I was six. It was the first time he let me help take the engine apart.” Kaylee bounced with eagerness to get inside the small ship.

“Look around, make sure it’s space worthy,” Wash said.

“Really, Mr. Chapford, I assure you that vehicle isn’t running right now.”

Inara cuddled up to his side and stage whispered in his ear, “Oh, I like it. It’s so sleek and sexy. Just think…” Wash firmly reminded himself that he was married to a beautiful Amazon that could kill him with her little toe.

“Humor me, Bindu, old fellow. How much?” Wash asked.

Bindu’s eyes again lit up with greed at Inara’s performance. That was fine. Wash was certain that Kaylee would give him the info to talk the price down. “Two-fifty, with a generous discount due to the pleasure it gives me to make a beautiful Companion happy.” Tah! The man was a swindler, thief, and a liar.

Kaylee scampered out of the ship happily. “Hull’s intact. Electrical is sound. But I’m going to have to rework the engine if you don’t want to explode. I’m sure the captain won’t mind renting you the shuttle while I work.”

Wash turned his attention to Bindu. “One-fifteen. And only because it’s going to give my mechanic so much pleasure to work on it.”

“Impossible.”

Wash shrugged. “Don’t worry, dear, I’ll protect you from the scary crew. And my apologies, Lil’ Kaylee, that you won’t get that pay raise I promised you.”

Bindu’s cheeks puffed out and his eyes got wide. Wash suppressed a smile; he knew the man couldn’t have paid over seventy-five for the small ship. Demand was too poor and most of its parts were incompatible with anything else. “One-eighteen and a quarter. I can go no lower.”

“Very well, Bindu, we have a deal.”


After we complete the drop, Jayne can't stop going on about how I must be a good luck charm since we didn't get shot at and we got paid. He shuts up when Reynolds reminds him about the Reavers. Myself, I'm wishing I'd paid more attention when Wash warned me that the planet was warm-ish. My leathers aren't breathing all that well, despite the gash from the battle, and sweat is pooling in very uncomfortable places. So it's not surprising that I'm a tad distracted when Reynolds orders Jayne to call the ship.

"Zoe leave yet?" Mal asks once Jayne holds the radio up. I’m glad that the captain doesn’t drive one handed. I’d be happier if someone else was driving.

"Yes, just a few minutes ago," Book's voice replies.

"Good. See to it that Wash has the ship ready to fly as soon as he gets back."

"Exactly why are we going to need a fast get-away?" I ask.

Mal looks back at me with smile. "Just planning for all contingencies," he says before Jayne's yelp pulls his attention back to driving the mule.

I sit back in my seat and try to take full advantage of the breeze created by the hovercraft. I'm more than a little envious that I couldn't follow Mal's lead when the other man stowed his long duster once the delivery had been made. As it is, the sweat stings a lot more than the cracks Mal and Jayne had made about idiots that wear black leather pants. Thankfully, Inara and Kaylee had promised to shop for clothing that would actually fit me. Wash's shirts weren't quite long enough and Mal's pants were way too tight. Thankfully, Jayne hadn't offered his up.

I open my eyes when the hot breeze stops. We're back in front of Telly's shop. "Keep the motor running," Reynolds tells Jayne even as he beckons me. I follow quickly. I'm ready to have this trip over and be back on a ship piloted by Wash's steady hand. That thought leaves as soon as I enter the building to discover Zoe holding her sawed-off shotgun to Telly's head as Reynolds hog-ties him.

"You lose your brains on that last bump? Close the gorram door," Reynolds orders as he props Telly against a wall. "Now, Telly. No hard feelings, okay? This wouldn't be the way I'd choose to have it go down, but it was the only way I could convince him to leave you alive."

My protest is cut off by Zoe's glare. Obviously, this game was planned ahead of time. I just wish they'd start letting me in on the playbook.

"The papers?" Reynolds asks. Zoe tosses an envelope to him. "Looks in order."

"He won’t give up the location of the backups," Zoe says.

"Backups?"

Reynolds' look says volumes...mostly about how he can't believe that I've lived this long. Aeryn would probably agree with him. Thankfully, they'll never meet.

"Telly has a habit of keeping backups in case the Feds come calling, don't you Telly?" Mal says as he nudges the large man.

"Bullshit, Mal. This is uncalled for. You ain't even paid in full yet," Telly says.

Mal kneels. "Zoe and me like you, Telly. You've always given us a heads up when you've been raided. Now we're trying to return the favor. Carr has us over the barrel and we're doing all we can make sure you don't get hurt.” He pauses as his expression becomes pained. “It wasn't pretty what he did to the last guy that held out on him. Made my stomach churn to tell the truth. ‘Course, then it helped us out. We just want to get his stuff and get him out of our hair. But I don't want to give him cause to hunt me down again if you decide to tip off the Feds."

Telly looks at me for a long moment, and then laughs. "You never could bluff for a damn, Reynolds. That was the reason you kept losing all your money to Blue at cards. You let me up now, and leave me a twenty percent tip, I'll think about not reporting your ship to the law."

"I always took you for a smart man, Telly. I'm going to miss you," Zoe says with a straight face as she backs away.

Reynolds steps back too. "I'd appreciate it if you killed him quick, Carr. He’s been a good friend."

In my head, Harvey is practically giggling. It's an easy matter to take my anger - at him, at finding this place long after Earth was destroyed, at Aeryn - and let loose. Of course, it would also be fun to throw this in Reynolds’ face later. I didn’t plan to be flying by the seat of my pants during the rescue mission.

"Backups? You think you were going to report me? Or just blackmail me later?" I say in a very low voice. "You know, I'm in the mood for some roast pig. Did you bring the Matchlight briquettes I asked for, Zoe?"

She only hesitates for a moment before she hands over a grenade. I hope that they really did plan ahead and it's a blank. Just in case, I'll draw this out as long as I can. "Reynolds tells me you were in the war. Did you ever see what happens when someone swallows one of these babies?” I shrug, “It's not as pretty as the Fourth of July, but then again, red always was my favorite color. Sometimes you can even see blue if you use enough of them."

Telly's sweating and I can smell the stench of urine. "Reynolds! Reynolds! You gotta stop him. Come on, Sarge!"

"Better you than me. I'm not going to see my ship explode just because you needed to wiggle out of trouble."

"Just tell him where the backup is, Telly," Zoe advises.

My hand is on his head, pulling it back, when he breaks. "There's a false panel beneath the statue," he yells.

"Zoe?" Reynolds asks as I pause to watch the action. She pushes over a stone cannon and starts scraping along the floor with her knife till she finds the edge.

"Got it, five chips and a sweet purse of credits."

"Grab the chips and half the cash," I tell her.

"Carr," Reynolds starts.

"It's the price of his life. This way he'll think twice before he remembers the name on my ident," I say. That and I know that the stones I've already paid him are probably worth twice whatever Zoe is pulling out of the hidden box. Or at least, I hope so.

"Fine then, let's get. Places to be," Reynolds orders.

I pat Telly's sweaty cheek. The man's recovering from his fear and starting to find his anger. I kiss his forehead. "Something to remember me by," I say as I pop the grenade into his mouth. I sprint out of the office and take the remaining seat in the mule. "What?” I say to Reynolds’ disapproving look. "I left the pin in."

"Better make sure our own idents last a good long time," Zoe says. "Somehow, I don't think Telly is going to forgive us for this."


Kaylee smiled when she saw the dust trail from the approaching mule. Then winced when it almost clipped a small boulder. “Damn speed demon. Always wanting to get there faster with no consideration for the ship,” she cussed. “Wash, fire her up. Mule’s incoming.”

”Roger that.”

Mal slowed down, but just barely enough, as he drove the mule onto the ship. Kaylee could hear his griping even as she closed the bay doors and informed Wash he could lift off.

“Gorramit. Couldn’t you find a smaller one? Wash must’ve spent every credit I gave him,” Mal complained as everyone began to disembark.

“Actually, he had fifty credits left over,” Inara replied from where she stood outside her shuttle.

Kaylee smiled up at her. “Which was just enough to buy all the clothes John had asked for,” she added as she made sure she was far away from Mal.

“Buy clothes?” Mal yelled.

Kaylee ignored his bluster. “I put them in your cabin,” she told John, who was currently circling the Whipporwheel sitting in the middle of the cargo bay.

“She’s a beauty,” he told her.

Jayne laughed. “Looks like a girl’s ship.”

Kaylee frowned at Jayne. Man just had no taste. “I gotta rework the engine, but after that, she’ll fly perfect. What do you want to call her?”

“What does he want to call her? Exactly who’s money paid for this thing?” Mal asked.

“Mostly ‘Nara’s, wasn’t it?” Jayne asked.

Kaylee ignored them. She had eyes only for John as he stood captivated by the small craft. He was looking at it much the way River had when they’d first loaded it onto Serenity.

Finally he looked back at her with a sad smile. “Troy. Her name’s Troy.”

TBC

COMMENTS

Monday, January 23, 2006 2:17 PM

AMDOBELL


Very good, though it took me a while to remember this story it was so long since the last chapter. Almost gave up on you. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, April 23, 2007 6:58 PM

KAJ


More! More! More!... and... More! I really like how you have captured John's reactions throughout the last 9 chapters, very much like I'd expect.


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