thewarbingminstrel: (Firefly)
[personal profile] thewarbingminstrel
So here is episode four of my firefly fanfic. This one is shorter than the others, and I made a few changes.

- I am thickening Vanya's accent. I hope it is not too hard to read. If it is, I will go back to having the accent be implied. But I'm experimenting here. Hopefully that leads to growing.

- I am doing my best to write from every character's point of view. This may take time, as I have to gradually get to the point where they all have more complex backgrounds. But as with other things, I am getting there.

- I did not edit this one too heavily, and no one had read it but me. I hope there are not too many errors, but I am trying to freshen my style. Something is taken away when I edit my stuff. That, and I was also a little overeager to post this one, since NaNoWriMo took up all of my November.

So let me know if you like it. Forgive any spelling errors, please, and enjoy!

And remember. Not Joss Whedon. Though, wouldn't that be sweet?



Champ

There are plenty of jobs, within the core and out of it, that require work safety. Its an absolute guarantee. A number one concern. People went into work every day knowing for a fact that they would be leaving it in one piece. They thrived in it, leaving the others who risk their lives out of sight and mind.

I wondered if Affinity felt bad about not being able to secure our well being, or if she pushed us to the exceeding limit. Or, I wondered why I was not back at my small mining town home working with Mama at her bakery or tending the fields with Da.

And then a reaver came into my peripheral, and I stopped thinking so much.

The thing about reavers is, they don’t scare me because they stink. Or because they have a weapon. Or even that they cut on themselves. What scares me is the empty rage behind their gaze. The amount of radiation convoluting their ships has left them with barely a face at all, but their eyes always get to me. Always no hope, no fear, no pain, not even pleasure. Always, nothing. The face shows a glimpse of what the creature used to maybe be: human. Other then that?

It sickened me. And this one was the cream of the crop.

They always go for the cheap shot. I could see the poison dart hanging from his side arm, and I could tell what was on his mind. Shoot her, paralyze her, mount her, eat her. Only, I was no novice when it came to reaver killing. Without thinking, I shot his hand, and his weapon fell to the floor with bits of flesh in its wake. He didn’t really make a sound, more grunted from the fading opportunity to poison me. After that he was all clawed hand and snapping teeth, jumping over the barrier that protected me from flying bullets and darts.

As he was mid air, I gripped the back of his neck and hauled him hard into a nearby wall. He hit it with a sound louder then the gunfire around me, his neck cracking. A scream of outrage boiled over from his throat, but I had my pistols aimed at his head before he could right himself. I shot, making fully sure he was good and dead before turning back to the fray.

“Sayonara.”

The ship we found was crawling with the disgusting buggers. The odds were never good when it came to reavers. They are scavengers, picking off dead vessels and running them hot without core containment units. Or worse, they find a perfectly good one with live people aboard, eat them, and then steal their ship. Either way they muck up everything around them, and their fiendish lifestyle was a danger to all. No matter if you believed in them or not.

I looked about me. After taking cover once more in my barricade, I had the opportunity to look for anyone who needed help. Hale and Vanya were holding their own pretty well. And Affinity was looking mighty as hell, throwing aside her gun to pummel a fiend who got too close to Shad. She always risked it all when it came to killing reavers. She blamed them for her father’s death.

Affinity took a knife and stabbed it into the reaver’s neck, and he fell to the floor and bled to death. I would have kept watching, it was like an art the way the crew moved, but soon five more bounded through the open hatch and I had to focus on not getting bit or shot or both.

I couldn’t remember the last time we’d found so many aboard one ship. There was a good fifteen or so, I didn’t have time to count. I barely had time to sigh in relief before more and more would spill out into our ship. A murderous ocean of evil.

We had it under control. For the most part. Hale might have gotten kicked onto the floor, but Vanya was right behind him with a gun. Affinity realized she was being fool hardy when she got scratched across the face, so she rolled into the corner her hogleg was left in and picked it up once more. Shad was a little ways behind me, mentally preparing himself for his task. He held a gun, though awkwardly, and mostly shouted at us if more were coming or if someone was down. Seb and Case waited in the wings somewhere unseen, armed, but leaving the fighting to the professionals.

It was over sooner then any of us would have expected, especially from a ship so full. But we are good at our jobs and soon only one straggled in to find that his entire group of miscreants were dead. That didn’t stop him from running straight toward Vanya, however, but she had a bullet between his eyes before he took another step. They don’t call her Assassin for no reason.

After the battle, we waited. Tense. Expecting more of them to come flying out. Or for the dead on the floor to rise again for a horrid remake. Affinity touched a hand to the gashes that now marred her cheek. Vanya hauled Hale to his feet and even helped him wipe some of the grime off of his person.

Affinity walked boldly to the threshold, her gun at the ready. She eyed the ship as we all held our breath in the eerie stillness.

Eventually, Cap spoke up. “Vanya. Lets search their ship ‘n see if there are any more need killin’. Champ, Hale, start draggin’ bodies back on board their gangway. Shad, get to work on them attachments I know got embedded in our ship once we grappled them. Take your time, nothing else is coming aboard Chunjing.” She turned sideways to eye us. “Same routine. You see anything that moves, shoot it in the head. There is no such thing as a survivor aboard a reaver ship. If you find something of worth, bring it aboard our ship. We leave once the last body is back on their heap of luh suh. Then we’ll make berth into Greenleaf to get our bounty-”

Cap didn’t get to finish her list of instructions. A spiked grappling hook shot out of no where and cut straight through her leg. She let a shout of pain and outrage loose before she was yanked off of her feet and into the enemy ship.

“Affinity!” Hale’s shout was agonizing. He ran ahead of us, though we were all eager to get our Captain back.

Fin was on the ground, but at least she was armed. Still, being dragged by a madman that’s got more height and weight on you makes your trajectory shot a hell of a lot more difficult. She shot the reaver in its arm at first, then her second shot went wild and hit the wall behind him. He was unfazed, and determined to get at her flesh.

She was a foot away from his reach when I fired off both of my pistols. I ran and shot at the same time, hitting the thing about three times in its face before it fell down dead.

Ai yah tien ah!” Affinity cursed as she held her hand over the spike that hung from the meat of her thigh. Blood spilt dark crimson, seeping in slow motion. “Gorram, yellow-bellied, son of a bitch!”

“Don’t touch it!” Hale hollered at her, first picking up the grapple and then picking up the Captain. “You’ll do more damage pulling at it. We’re gonna have to cut this out.”

“We have a job to finish.” Affinity breathed harshly from between her lips. Her gaze was wild, angry, and pained.

“We’re gonna have to do without you.” Hale summoned his second-in-command powers and barked his orders authoritatively. “Vanya, Champ, clear this vessel out! I don’t want any more bloody surprises. I’m going to get her to the infirmary, and then I‘ll be right back here.

I pointed Hale back toward Chunjing, though he was already running in the opposite direction. “Git on! We got it just fine.”

“Just fine?” Vanya sneered as she hiked her gun higher. “Two against…v’hatever else is in ‘zis dung pile?”

It always takes me a few minutes to understand what Vanya is saying. Whether its the accent or me not paying attention at first. Either way, my answer is always delayed when we have a conversation.

“You watch my back, I watch yours. As always.” I ended up saying. “Besides, how many more can there be?”

“V’ell, v’hile Affinity is being tended to, ‘ve have great possibilities of being captured and raped before anyone knows v’hat’s v’hat. And I don‘t know about you, but I‘ve recently filled my quota in the bedtime pursuits.”

My brow lifted as that last bit translated through my brainpan, then I finally spoke. “You mean Hale?”

“I mean unwanted sex.” Vanya’s weapon was gripped before her, her eyes taking in everything as we walked the corridors.

I didn’t know about that. “Well. It wasn’t on the to-do list,” I agreed with her. “But that night could have been worse. We could have been on some moon around strangers.”

“Strangers are easier to part yourself from. I made vow to myself never to sleep v’ith crew members. And that damn stink ruined my plans.”

“At least Hale isn’t all bad.” I gave the second some credit.

“Oh please. He vies for Affinity’s attention. He v’ouldn’t notice other woman if she slapped him in ze coin purse.”

“Coin purse?”

We slowly advanced throughout the ship, our conversation forgotten. Every room, hollow, and nook was closely examined. The last to inspect was the bridge, which I was mighty afraid of walking into. In the end, with the exception of a few corpses, rotted food, and a mess that could only be called viscera, we were alone. We breathed a sigh of relief. I leaned against a wall and patted out a smoke. Vanya riffled through a promising looking cart of goods.

“Does that hurt your feelings or somethin’?” I asked after I exhaled, referring to our earlier talk.

“Nothing hurts my feelings.” Vanya was going defensive here. But my curiosity remained.

“How long had it been? You know, before Hale?”

“Not too long of a time.” Vanya hooked a bag of coin to her belt, then continued to look through the crates. “I usually find nice stallion man v’hen ‘ve bank for more then a day. But I am always sober. And it is always my choice.” She pointed at me when she said this. “I can’t stand ‘ze thought of all of us locked together against our will. Is not natural to black out.”

“How do you think Case and Shad feel? They haven’t talked to each other since it happened.”

“Zey probably remember more then ‘ve do.” Vanya remarked. “V’hen I think through ze haze of that evening, I remember a few key things as well.”

That interested me. “Oh? Like what? I can’t seem to remember anything.”

“Just glimpses. You and Case. Case and Shad. You and me. Me and Hale.” She pulled out a jagged knife and eyed it from hilt to blade. “If anything, ‘ve should all be avoiding each other.”

Probably. But I was done being angry about it. I only regretted that Sebastian hadn’t been around to partake in the shenanigans. Just picturing the possibility of his beautiful golden body joined in the fray…it does things to me.

I took a slow drag and finished off my smoke in one intake, then threw it to the ground and stomped it out. “At least we got to learn more about each other. We can think of it as a workplace exercise.”

Vanya grunted, then kicked a crate towards me. “Perhaps.”

We searched through the remains until Hale appeared. “No trouble?” He took in our lax state, lowering his weapon to his side.

Vanya shook her head and then kicked her crate away in frustration when she found nothing else of use. “I think ‘ve should search ‘ze engine room. That’s the last place we’re bound to find anything.”

“With the hell bent way they drive these boats? I think not.” Hale disagreed. “Any components are either fried or on their way to being. If there is nothing we can snatch out in the open, I don’t want to tempt fate any further. We can get going to Greenleaf and be done with it.”

“Fin?” I asked, genuinely worried.

“In Sebastian’s hands and already heavily drugged up. That gorram spike cut clean through her leg. We’re going to have to hold her down while Seb gets it out.”

I winced. Poor Cap.

“She’s fine.” Hale said louder, probably more to convince himself then us. “I want those bodies back aboard this boat, then we can kiss it goodbye and get paid for this endless suffering.”

Imagine that, finally getting money for a job. Good money. Alliance money. I near rubbed my hands together at the thought. It had been a long time coming, and I was more then ready to take advantage of the rewards for my hard work.

After ridding the reaver’s of whatever we could use, sell, or keep, the three of us hefted each lifeless form by the legs into the opening of their ship. Then once they were all inside, we shut the airlock and went to check on Shad.

He was holding the wires of the bomb connected to our ship gently, staring what could be called lovingly at the explosive. It must be nice to understand power like that and be able to disarm it. But something was vaguely creepy about the way Shad called the thing, “darling” and cooed, “you just relax and let daddy work, honey.”

Can you tell? The man loves his explosives.

“Are we humped?” I asked him.

Shad shook his head. “Just getting to know our friend here a little better. This is quality stuff. Home crafted. You’ve got to appreciate the little things.”

Hale was inpatient. “Shad. Its time to go. If you want, disassemble it and take it into your bunk.”

Shad’s eyes lit up like Christmas. He clipped two wires, then hulled what he could out of the workings and scuttled off.

Vanya looked annoyed. “You mean, that entire time he knew v’hat to cut?”

I was almost laughing. “My question is, is he going to make love to it?”

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Hale.

Fin was hurt. That’s all that seemed to go through my head while I made sure everything was safe. What if she died? It was not uncommon for reaver’s to line their weapons with poisons and other dangerous substances. Some of their poisons even caused paralysis, so that while you were being eaten to death you couldn’t fight back. As if you could fight back with a group of psychotic savages tearing you limb from limb.

If she died, and I surmised that Sebastian would do everything in his power to keep that from happening…but if she died, where would that leave me?

Case got us away from the Reaver’s skiff, and we even got to watch it go boom before we were too far away. Even off in the distance, I could feel its vibration shake through my knees. Shad was proud of his handiwork.

I planned on sorting through the few goods we salvaged from the wreck, but Sebastian needed my help. I rushed to the infirmary and walked in.

Affinity was half awake. She smiled slowly when I walked in, then her eyes did an odd rolling thing and switched to Sebastian.

“Look at him. He’s a mess.”

Drugged up, and she still gets me.

“None of us want you to hurt, Affinity.” Champ was sitting on a chair none too far from the bed. Her concern was written on her face, but she kept her eyes away from the exposed cut of Fin’s thigh. I understood. It was a gruesome sight. The spike remained in, the arrow pointing toward the inner workings of her left thigh, and the fat around the blade was a bit black from it being charred by the heated shot.

Sebastian threw me a pair of gloves. “Ready?”

“Yeah.” I quickly covered my hands with the latex, then walked over. “What do you need me to do?”

The companion sighed. “Its not going to be pretty.” He grabbed each of Affinity’s hands and secured them to the gurney. She was starting to doze off, but I knew that probably wouldn’t last too long. “Champ is going to hold her leg still, because I’m not sure how she’s going to react to this, and you my friend…” He winced. “You’re going to have to expose the shaft of the spike so that I can cut it.”

“You mean…push her skin back?” Just when you thought it wouldn’t get uglier.

“Yes. We have to cut it from the head of the arrow. Then I can retrieve it from her leg and see how much of the bone has been damaged.”

“Makes sense.” I could feel my brow dot with perspiration, though, showing my nervousness.

“This is the only way to do it,” Seb patted my shoulder, then pointed at Champ. “So lets get it done.”

Katherine got up and did as she was told, though not without contending with him on his medical practices.

“Barbarian,” she accused.

“This wound is barbaric,” Seb countered. “Thus, the appropriate measures must be also. If you have a better idea, I would hear it.”

Sebastian turned and got a hand held laser burner, then looked at me.

I took a deep breath for courage, then positioned myself appropriately. Using my fingers, I palpated around the open wound, then pressed hard with my fingers. The flesh wouldn’t budge, it had stiffened around the blade.

And I had been hoping to do it tenderly. Shit, Fin was going to hate me for this.

With more strength behind the action, I pushed hard until her tissue gave way and slid down the spike.

Fin stiffened in her sleep, then groaned loudly when I kept the skin pressed tight. A tear ran down her cheek, and I almost crumbled.

Sebastian came around with the laser, held it just so, and quickly cut the head of the spike. It fell between Fin’s legs, and I sighed.

The worse was over.



Or so I thought.

“You did good.” Sebastian moved me away, relieving me of my duty. I nodded, but then cringed. Seb got a good hold on the other end of the blade and yanked at it. Hard.

The pain had to be excruciating if it went through whatever powerful medicine Sebastian had given Affinity. A gurgled yell came from her throat.

“Its lodged in there.” Seb grunted, then twisted the blade. It made a disgusting crunching sound.

Fin screamed long, then went limp.

“Oh God,” Champ sounded ill.

“At least she’s out completely now. She wont feel this at all.” Seb still pulled at the blade. He jostled it from left to right. Fin didn’t make a sound, but fresh blood poured from the wound. Finally, with one more agonizingly slow tug, Sebastian got the entirety of the weapon out of her leg. He dropped it to the ground and blood spattered the tile.

“Okay.” Seb said breathlessly to Katherine, who quickly got up and left the room. I didn’t blame her, that was too much for me as well.

Sebastian began to examine the wound. He cleaned it slowly and the flaps of flesh made a gross thunking sound against her leg. “I believe the blade was clean. Well, as clean as a weapon kept by a reaver can be. The wound isn’t festering, as far as I can tell.” Seb got a syringe of solution and poured it slowly over Fin’s leg. It bubbled, cleaning the blood away. Then he touched her leg, squeezing it firmly from both sides.

“I need to set the bone.” He looked at me. “Feeling up to more work?”

I nodded, then walked over. “What do you need?”

“I’m going to position her leg just the way it needs to be, then you are going to hold it up for me while I wrap it.” His eyes went skyward as he slowly moved her leg. From side to side, then to and fro, until he was satisfied. “Okay. That’s perfect.”

Seb instructed me on exactly how to hold Fin’s leg, then once she was in my hands he went to grab bandages, an adhesive, and a delicate pair of scissors.

The companion is meticulous when it comes to his work, and that must be why he is such a skilled physician. He spent a long while securing the bandage and making sure it was tight enough in the proper places. If it wasn’t done to his liking, he would cut it and try again.

“She’s going to be alright, you can stop looking so anxious.” He actually smiled at me. Smiled, during this hellish ordeal.

I found myself, confoundedly, smiling back.

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Affinity

Nobody said that honest work doesn’t come with pain involved. And here I sit, beside my pilot, proving them right.

When I woke up I didn’t know what the hell had happened or why I was in the infirmary. Then it all came back in a sudden whoosh of clarity. The getting shot, the getting to Seb, the getting drugged, and vaguely, the getting of a massive pain. And then the getting dark. It was dark for a long time. And I existed somewhere in the black, though it enveloped me inside and out.

I dreamed a bit as well, though they were the same recurring dreams I have always had. Dreams from life aboard Serenity. Zoe’s slow tears staining the frame of the golden haired father. Kaylee distracting me and Hale with ice cream while the crew haggled with a purveyor. Jayne secretly showing me one of the tattoos that nobody knew he’d had. Mal letting me drive the Mule for the first time, all by myself, and hollering whenever I made too wide of a turn or slammed on the brakes. Zoe kisses. Inara kisses. Hale kisses. Simon lecturing Hale after he caught us kissing. “You know I cannot protect you from Zoe…right?”

And Hale, “But dad, she kissed ME!”

In and out, I went. I’d look up to see someone standing over me, though through bleary eyes I couldn’t tell who. I’d feel a hand on mine, or a touch to my brow. I’d hear words like, “Cap? Are you awake?” or, “Sleep is the best healer.” or even, “If you don’t wake up, I’ll kill you.”

And here I am. Leg busted all to hell, but alive. There’s not everyone can brag about that after being attacked by a reaver. I was lucky to have such an efficient crew.

“My God,” Lidiya was on the screen, her eyes wide with fear. “Your leg is broken?”

“Femur, Seb says,” I nodded. “Though, it broke true. He set it just fine and he seems hopeful that I’ll heal up easy enough. I can set some weight on it without too much fuss, but I’m using crutches.”

“You’re supposed to be invincible!” Lidiya protested, looking disappointed that this happened not to be true.

“Even the invincible break bones every once and again.” I smirked. “Expect your pay soon. We found a good amount of coin aboard that ship, and we just landed in Greenleaf to wrangle the rest of our earnings.”

“Good luck with that. Lots of moons out there are attempting to repudiate pay on the bounty for reavers. They say it’s a needless commodity.”

Case scoffed. “Needless? Us saving their hides is needless?”

“As long as the Alliance is still enforcing it, they will not have very much say in the matter.” I shrugged her fears off. “We have documentation that will supply as proof.” We had this go around at every moon we went to for pay. They’d even gone as far as asking for proof that we’d found a reaver skiff in the first place. It was cheap of them.

I got my crutches and started off of Chunjing. Hale walked beside me, Vanya and Katherine trailed me. Port in Greenleaf is lavish. Exotic goods from the surrounding rainforests is plentiful here. As are strong drugs and drink. But I wasn’t interested in all of that. We advanced, lock step, to the nearest court building and I hoisted myself up the steps one by one.

A small receptionist awaited us in the lobby. The Sherriff was expecting us, we had hailed her as we’d hit atmo. Her greeter must have known why we were there, because she didn’t welcome us or offer refreshment.

Something buzzed on her desk, and she finally deigned to look at us. “The Sherriff will see you now.”

I had to force myself not to snarl at her. I hate fake politeness.

We walked in to see Judith Quick and her constable standing side by side before a large oaken desk. “Captain Washburne.” It was not a pleasant sound, my name on her lips.

Judith is one of those nondescript people who can disappear in the background. The woman is muscular, with reddish brown skin and a thin, hollow-cheeked face. She has silky, black hair and black eyes. Her constable, her younger sister, looked pretty much the same only with blue eyes. They are both tall, both stoic, and had been running this port long enough to know what types of persons to be wary of. And they had a heap of wariness for me and mine.

That didn’t stop me from demanding my pay, however. “Judith. Alexandrine.”

“You get hurt, Captain?” Judith asked, knowing in her voice.

“Defending your skies, yes.” I answered. “Found a reaver skiff none too far from your moon. Decided to hie over and save you from a possible threat.”

“We’ve never had a reported reaver attack on Greenleaf.” This growled from Alexandrine.

“Reported.” Katherine stressed. “Partly because of our contribution. We‘d appreciate our cut now.”

“We even brought you a hologram of our body count.” Hale supplied.

“Gonna need more proof then that,” Judith said.

“More proof then my broken leg and scratched face?” I pointed out my injuries.

Vanya sighed dramatically, then pulled a hand out of her pocket. She threw it on the floor before the ladies, each of which dodged it and gave her a look of sheer horror.

“What the hell?” Judith now had her sidearm presented and was even more disagreeable.

I even gave my assassin a strange look. That was morbid, even for her. “You took one of their hands?”

“V’hat?” Vanya looked innocent. “They ‘vant proof, I give proof.”

“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t arrest you.” Judith was pissed off, that was for sure.

I pulled a sheaf of papers out of my jacket pocket and held them before the authorities eyes. “That is why. The bounty is ours to have. We go through the pains, we get the gains.”

The constable was just as riled as the Sherriff. “You know, you’re taking the money of good tax payers.” She pointed out.

Hale scoffed. “So are you, I don’t hear you complaining.”

“Where the money comes from does not concern me.” I growled, losing patience. “I risked the life of my crew, not to mention a good leg, to rid that ship out of your sky. Now I want my profit, and then you can crawl under a rock and rot for all I care.” I held my hand out.

The Sherriff was loathed to give in, but she did. “What was the body count?”

“Eighteen. But I‘ll have you pay me for twenty for your extra trouble. Round up, as I always say.”

Judith turned as Alexandrine handed her a calculator. She quickly did the figures, punching in the numbers with gusto, then wrote us out a body receipt. “Take this to the bank. You’ll get your pay there.”

I snatched the thin slip from Judith, then bowed my head. “Until next time, ladies.”

Judith grunted in dissatisfaction. A next time was far from welcomed in her eyes.

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I shouldn’t have walked all over the town like that. By the time we reached Chunjing once more, I was slumping.

“Are you alright?” Hale asked.

I winced and didn’t answer. I needed to be able to walk. But my leg was so sore, it was unfathomable.

Hale and Katherine got me to a seat in the galley, then forced some water into me.

“I’m going to ask Sebastian’s opinion on what pain reducers are best for your leg,” Hale informed me. “Then I’ll go into town and purchase them.”

“We should get off world before Judith riles the cavalry.”

Though reaver hunting is a necessity nowadays, most people on world don’t appreciate paying for it. So every now and then a crowd of ne’er do wells would attempt to ambush us and get their coin back. We’d have to threaten them, and occasionally throw a punch or two, in order for them to back up enough ways for us to fly out of port. Right now, I was no where near the condition of being able to defend myself. The only thing I could do was shoot someone, and that usually resulted in going to jail. Which, with a broken leg, I did not have the time for.

“We should take it easy for a while. Lay low.” Hale took my hand in his and forced me to pay attention to his pestering. “It would be good for you, Fin. You can’t work a ship with a busted leg.”

“Then put me down.” I groaned, resisting the urge to squirm. “How are we going to make coin while I’m out of commission?”

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “But I know someplace we could go.”

He was about to say something that I didn’t want to hear, it was written all over his face. Still, I was intrigued. Whatever the solution was, it didn’t matter. I couldn’t be on my leg all that much, meaning I would be reducing my crew to less pay. They all had a say on what to do with me at this moment. Dump me somewhere planet side so that they could work without my trouble, or lock me in my bunk.

Then it hit me. I knew what he was going to say.

He said it just as I said, “NO!”

“Your mother.” Hale looked at me surprised when I cut him off loudly. “Fin. She would keep you off of your leg. None of the rest of us can do that.”

“I’d rather be locked in my bunk then deal with Zoe or Mal right now. You know what they’ll do to me if they see me like this.”

“Keep you from flying,” he said it slowly, as if it wasn’t a bad idea.

“Exactly. They are a couple of worry warts. Their suspicions about our bounty hunting work already has them wavin’ me night and day. They wouldn’t be able to handle it if they knew one of those things got close to killing me.”

“We have the coin now in order to afford a break. Our crew may not mind an extended stay with family or the like. And you simply are not working a ship on crutches.”

He had more then one point, but I didn’t want to hear any of it. “Seb says that my leg will heal up in five weeks if I just stay off of it. I can stay aboard a ship and-”

“Flying will weaken you, don’t act like you don’t know this. Its best to stay on world.”

I reckon that may have been the end of discussion, because I did not have some witty comeback. Though I wanted to fight this in every way, it would be pointless. I was hurt. Therefore, I needed to heal. I knew this, my crew knew it, and there was no avoiding the inevitable.

“You’ve already called her, haven’t you?” I surmised?

Hale fought a smile. “Good thing you’re in pain, you cannot get up and kick my ass.”

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“Mom, I can’t stay on world. I’d go stir crazy. Please, try to understand.”

I was not sure what Hale had told Zoe, but she had Mal standing right behind her. The two were giving me an earful, and my defenses were being beaten down on two sides. When the sole persons who raised you are giving you the same disappointed look its unbearable.

“What do you think, that we are going to let you continue flying?” Zoe was incredulous. “Haven’t I taught you anything, girl?”

“I have a crew whose needs come before my own. They need work, I can supply for them.”

“Your idea of work is foolhardy. It is what has your leg broken in the first place.”

“Oh please,” I fussed back. “How many times did Mal get a crew member hurt? How often was a smooth job turned into a planet side gun fight?”

“Hey, no draggin’ Mal into this!” Malcolm held his hands up in defense. “Mal aint got no one hurt in a long time.”

“That’s only because y’all don’t fly as often as you used to,” I pointed out.

“Everyone on Serenity knew the risks before they sailed. And if they didn’t, they learned real quick. I did not hold anyone against their will.” Whenever Mal got defensive, I knew I had won an argument.

“It is hypocritical of you two to expect me to be borin’,” I said to them.

“Purposefully putting our lives on the line was something that we never did!” Zoe did not like my back talk.

“You were in a war!” I pointed at her.

Zoe got quiet, then huffed. “I have told you before that I did not want you leading the same lifestyle as me.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not. My adventures are way different.”

It is funny that the two most sarcastic people I have ever met would disparage sarcasm in return. I was not supposed to be arguing with them right now. I was supposed to be turning Chunjing in the direction they specified and that was that.

Zoe held her head. “How did I raise a disobedient child?” She asked no one in particular.

“She was raised around Jayne,” Mal pointed out. “I think that may have been where we went wrong.”

“I should have shot him when I had the chance.” Zoe growled.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It took a while for me to soothe the feelings of the people who raised me, and eventually Zoe let me go. But I was grilled about every little detail about the severity of my wound. That took a lot of explaining, and I even had to drag the companion from his bunk in order to talk to Zoe about it. Once they were done, and after I promised profusely to call more often, I was off of the hook.

I sighed and rested hard against the back of my chair. “Where is Hale? I am going to kill him.”

“I think he suspected as much and is busying himself with our new cargo.” Seb answered.

“That was brutal. I would not be surprised if the two of them are headed our way right now in Serenity.”

“You mean we get to see the ship you were raised in?” Case cut in excitedly. “That may not be so bad.”

“Yeah, well it would be bad if I had to face Zoe and Mal’s rage firsthand.”

“A sacrifice I’d gladly make to see that ship.” Case sighed in longing.

I glared at him. “Thanks. Really.” I shifted in my seat, then rose slowly with the aid of the back of the chair. “Well boys, we’ll have to find odd jobs planet side for a while. Cargo moving and such. It wont be much, but work outside of reaver hunting rarely is.”

“We will get by,” Case promised. “We always do. Your healing is important.”

“Fueling Chunjing is equally important.”

I was not sure how this was going to work, I definitely did not know for sure if everything was going to be alright like my pilot thought, but what I did know what that nothing was going to keep me down. Not the reavers. Not the Alliance.

And, definitely, not my parents.
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June 2014

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