"Waiting" Mal POV, short Disclaimer: Joss's, not mine

NOTE: This is a little piece not meant to be taken seriously. I'm just waiting for news like everyone else is, and wondering how much longer these characters will be around. This is an outgrowth of the frustration.

------------------------------------------------- It's the waiting that kills you, I hear.

Our latest job turned sour. Of course, several of the townsfolk decided to try and help by pleading out case to the local law. They told them that they'd been watching. Well, towns are nasty on this rock - Aniesel, I think it's called. Six factions run this place, and the gang wars are hell. Fourth-Biggest contracted us for a little job. All we had to do was land, pick up a shipment of ore they'd "obtained," and get it to processing on the next moon.

Of course, Zoe would be the first to remind me that "routine" jobs in this line of business rarely are. Now, I'm nursing one nasty headache in their filth-ridden jail, trying to remember how we got ourselves into this mess. Yes, we're all here. They even have the Tams in a cell with Book. Surprisingly, they've been quiet. I'm supposing Book's got his Bible for times like this. I suppose Simon and River figured Death would be following them, being fugitives and all. All Serenity was to them was a stay of execution.

I'm feeling really sorry for Inara, though. Three miles away from the brawl, and she gets snapped up along with the rest of us just for being on Serenity. She's in with Kaylee across the hall. The trial's behind the door at the end of the hall. Here, a man isn't allowed to speak in his own defense. Others have to speak for him.

Who needs aliens? We're weird enough for the whole damn universe.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, explaining how all nine of us came to be occupying the local jail. Simple really. We get the contract, signed with fourth- largest gang. Third-largest gang swoops in, backed up by second-largest gang.

Needless to say, there was a brawl. Guns got involved, bystanders got killed, whole mess of folks got injured. Worst injuries to my crew.we got away lucky. Jayne got knocked on the head with a bottle and they at least let Simon stitch him up. Doubt it did much damage, though. Few folks have heads thicker than Jayne's. Zoe's got a broken rib, according to Simon, and I've got a black eye and a sour stomach from the bad hooch I toasted the deal with.

Since we were with the fourth-largest gang under contract, and they started the brawl, we're the ones who are standing trial. They don't dare cross the gangs, but those who work for 'em are fair game. Now it all hangs on how many of townsfolk will vouch for us. If the local law doesn't think there are enough witnesses to our innocence, we'll all hang by morning.

"Cap'n?" It's Kaylee. I'm also sorry for her - she's too damn young, and like Inara, she was three miles away.

"Yeah."

"You think enough people were watchin us? You think we'll get to go back home?"

Serenity is "home" to all of us. We have no planet of home port, and in the case of most of us, no place on any rock to go back to. We're all each other has. Hate to be facing the gallows, but wouldn't be facing it with anyone other than them.

"Dunno, Kaylee. All depends on the magistrate now."

The doorknob at the hall turns, and we all get to our feet. Here they come with our sentence.

Are we going to live? Are we going to die?

Damned if any of us know. Not sure I wanna find out.

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