Title: Everything I Have
Author: DJ (sexorcist on LJ)
Spoilers: All kinds of spoilers for BDM, not that many from the series.
Warnings: Violence and slash, that's about it.
Feedback: Love it lots!
Disclaimer: If I owned Firefly, I wouldn't be a poor college kid.
Author's Note: I'm trying to update this fic once a day. I'll do my best to keep on that!
Summary: River wasn't the only Tam that the Alliance meddled with to further their agenda…
"Don't worry, sir. We thoroughly screen all subjects before entering them into the system. The information is guaranteed safe until you need it."
Colonel Jameson sneered. "I would hope so. This information is vital to the current situation on the outer planets. I'll have your rank stripped if you've lost it," he said darkly, ducking to follow the small man through a doorway. He still wasn't sure about this system, not at all; he didn't trust the newfangled science.
"In the four years that this program has been in place, we've not once lost a capsule," Liane continued, entering a small, brightly lit room filled with computers. "Even after the death of the subject we can go in and fish the chip out of the body."
"What if the body is destroyed? Burned, or blown up?"
"The chip is contained in a fireproof, unbreakable capsule," Liane said proudly. "The only thing that could possibly break open that capsule would be putting it back in the chamber it was sealed in to reverse the process."
Liane sat down at a computer and booted up the capsule system. "What's the ID number on that one?"
The Colonel rattled off a series of numbers and letters, and Liane entered the code into the computer. He pressed the 'track' button, and the computer began its search. The Colonel watched carefully, apprehension clear on his chiseled features.
"And none of the subjects know?" he asked as the codes scrolled down the screen. Liane shook his head.
"No, sir. It's easy enough for them to have an accident in the office, get knocked out, we implant the chip, and they wake up no worse for wear. They never know they're a walking dictionary of classified information, and even if they did, they'd have no way to access the information. All the better for them, I say."
The computer beeped and a profile popped up on the screen. Liane leaned forward, beginning to read the implantation information.
"You chip was implanted into a Core Trauma Surgeon, sir. Three and a half years ago. Still living."
"Bring up the man's information."
Liane pressed a few more buttons, and a name and picture popped up on the screen. The Colonel recognized the picture of the young, handsome doctor; he'd recognize that picture anywhere, as would any other Alliance officer.
"Simon Tam. Fucking hell."
"How far out are we?" Mal asked, setting his hands on the back of Zoe's chair.
"Twenty minutes, sir."
"How much fuel did we have at last check?"
"Ten minutes worth."
"Oh," Mal looked around the cockpit. "Anything we can burn for that last ten minutes?"
"Hmm. Better fly faster, then."
Zoe smirked. "Will do, Captain."
Seemingly unconcerned about the fuel situation, Mal left the cockpit and headed back to where Kaylee and Jayne were lounging at the table. Jayne was telling Kaylee all about his newest weapon, one he'd acquired on the previous job.
"Jayne, you still got that emergency fuel stored?" he asked, interrupting the mercenary mid-sentence.
"Well, I did."
"And why don't you now?"
"Cap'n, a gun like this don't just pop outta the ground. You gotta barter."
"So…you bartered off our emergency fuel for a gun?"
"Ain't just any gun, Mal, this is Mac!"
"Hope Mac can survive a crash landing, then."
Kaylee finally joined the conversation, standing up. "We gonna crash again?"
"S'a good possibility," Mal said, leaving the lounge as Kaylee muttered something about couplings and engine speed. He went straight to the infirmary, where the doctor was cleaning and River was reading aloud from some kind of medical journal.
"Doc, River, strap yourselves in. This could get bumpy."
Simon winced visibly. "I just finished cleaning up from the last bumpy landing…"
Mal ignored his complaining. "And have your bag at hand, there's probably gonna be inj-"
The ship shuddered and almost sent both Simon and Mal careening to the floor. Simon grabbed onto the counter to steady himself, and Mal stumbled and grabbed onto Simon's arm to keep himself from falling. The turbulence passed, and Simon sighed with relief before giving Mal's hand a pointed look and clearing his throat. Mal realized where his hand still was and quickly let go.
"You okay?" he asked Simon, tripping over the words a little.
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay," Simon said, immediately looking to see if River was okay before turning back to Mal. "You, uh…better go make sure we don't crash."
River looked between the two of them with a smirk, and then jumped down off the bed. "Come on, Simon," she said, and with one last curious glance at Mal, Simon followed her out.
Shaken, Mal paused to gather his bearings before heading back up to the bridge, where Zoe was carefully maneuvering her way through the atmosphere of the planet.
"She holdin' up?"
Zoe nodded. "Kaylee did one of her fancy engine tricks back there, that was the shudder you felt. Hopin' it'll hold her together to settle down."
"Always knew I kept that girl on board fer a reason," Mal joked, his eyes locking for a few moments on the plastic dinosaurs sitting on top of the console. Zoe followed his gaze, and her grip tightened on the controls.
"I'll bring her down light as a feather, Captain."
"I know ya will."
"Kaylee, if I didn't want to eat tonight, I'd give you a raise," Mal said after Kaylee explained just what she'd done to keep them from crashing.
"No need, Cap'n," she said with a bright smile. "All in a day's work, right?"
Kaylee had been acting more like her chipper self lately; ever since Simon broke things off with her, Mal had begun to wonder if he'd ever see her really smile again. It was nice that she was finally showing signs of getting over the whole thing.
They found themselves in the bustling marketplace of a town as they left the ship docking area, and Mal took a deep breath, the smells of fresh fruit, fish, and incense creating an odd mixture in the humid air. The ground below his feet was soft from recent rain, and he watched as River did her best to avoid stepping on the earthworms that were wriggling up from the moist dirt. Occasionally Simon would reach out and take her arm to help her balance; not that she needed the help.
"Mal? Did you even hear me?"
Mal snapped out of his trance, looking away from the sibling pair to where Zoe was beckoning him. He tugged at his collar and adjusted his gun belt.
"I'm listenin'," he insisted, and Zoe rolled her eyes.
"Then tell us where we're going."
Mal gestured down the street to a small pub. "I'm meetin' our contact there. You guys can do as you please till I'm done. I won't need backup for this one."
Jayne snorted. "Every time you say that you end up needin' backup."
"Shut it, Jayne."
Mal watched as River dragged Simon off to a merchant stand, and he couldn't help but get distracted again. Simon stuck out like a sore thumb around here, with his neatly pressed white shirt and blue silk vest, not to mention his clean, styled hair. He'd more than once wondered what Simon's hair felt like, and was tempted to run his fingers through it, just once.
With Simon's looks, it was a wonder the young doctor hadn't gotten mugged on any of these strange planets.
Mal finally managed to tear his eyes away from Simon, mainly because River caught him staring. He pushed open the doors to the pub and stepped inside, immediately spotting Tony sitting at a table in the back, hunched over a drink with his hat pulled down low. He wasn't hard to find, considering the fact that the place was nearly empty. Mal walked over and sat down across from him, ordering a drink from the waitress as she passed.
"You wanted to talk business?" Mal asked, and Tony finally looked up from his drink.
"I have a shipment for you to deliver. Make you a good deal on it."
"What are we transportin'?"
Tony smirked. "Horses."
Mal raised an eyebrow. "Horses. On a ship."
"You heard me. A farm a few miles from here has been developing a new breed. They wanted me to find them someone who could not only handle the shipment, but handle live cargo. They don't want the breed in cryo until they know what kind of effect it'll have," Tony explained. "I told them you were the best bet for the job."
Mal snorted. "First takeoff and those horses will be dead from shock. Horses ain't made to fly."
Tony dug around in his bag, pulled out a sack of money, and dropped it on the table. It made a considerable 'clunk'. "That's just the down payment, Reynolds. At the end of the route you get that much for each horse you've transported alive."
"How many horses?"
"Four. Breeding stock. Two mares and two stallions."
Mal looked down at the bag, and then he smirked and picked it up off the table, pocketing it. "You've made yourself a deal, Tony."
Mal turned his head at the sound of his name, and he stood up as Simon burst into the pub, dragging River along behind him.
"Simon, what the gorramn hell is going on?" Mal asked, drawing his gun.
"They tried to shoot her. They tried to shoot River," Simon explained breathlessly. River shook her head slowly.
"They weren't aiming for me…"
The doors slammed open behind them, and Mal stepped forward, putting himself between the doors and the brother and sister. Two men sauntered in, guns drawn, and they stopped a few feet from Mal. Mal recognized them from his previous visit to this planet- nasty sort, usually in the business of robbing travelers.
"Denny. Phil," he said with a frown. "Some reason you're makin' to murder my crew?"
"You ain't heard, Reynolds?" Denny said, looking past Mal to grin cheekily at the pair standing behind him. "Alliance's got a nice reward out of Tam's head, dead or alive."
"They ain't after River anymore. Don't you keep up on your bounties?" Mal asked, and Phil laughed.
"Not the girl. The doctor. Got put out yesterday. So, just hand 'im over and we won't shoot ya for 'im."
Simon's eyes widened, and Mal's confusion showed on his face for a few moments, but it didn't last long. He cocked his gun and raised it.
"You best be getting' on outta here and forgettin' about that bounty," he warned, feeling a flash of possessiveness go through him. Another gun cocked behind the two men; more accurately, Mac the gun. They didn't even have to look to know who it was.
"They givin' you trouble, Cap'n?" Jayne asked, and both Denny and Phil immediately dropped their weapons.
"Not anymore they ain't," Mal said dryly. "Take 'em outside, Jayne, and see that they get wherever else they're goin'."
"So much for not needing backup," Jayne added as he prodded both men out the door. Mal ignored him, instead turning to face Simon and River.
"What trouble did you two cause this time? I thought the Alliance was finished with you," he pointed out, giving Simon a hard look. "If you ain't told me everything…"
"I haven't done anything," Simon insisted. "I've been on Serenity this whole time, how would I have attracted the Alliance?"
It did seem odd, Mal had to admit that. It had been almost six months since Miranda; why would the Alliance choose now to come after him? And why just Simon and not River as well?
"Come on," Mal said. "We're gonna pick up that shipment, fuel up the ship, and get off this rock. We'll figure this out in the air."
He turned to speak to Tony, only to find that the booth was empty, only a piece of paper left laying by the abandoned drinks. He frowned and picked it up; written on it were the pick up and drop off points for the horses.
"Take off smooth as you can, Zo. We got a live shipment."
He didn't have to tell her twice. She'd helped load the skittish creatures and helped set up the makeshift 'stalls' for them in the cargo bay. During the loading, though, word had spread about what happened back in town, and now the whole crew was on edge.
"What do you make of it?" Zoe asked, maneuvering them back out into the blackness of space.
"Don't know what to make of it," Mal admitted, crossing his arms. "By all logic, the Alliance should be done with him. Even if they did want a piece of him for breakin' his sister out, now seems like an odd time to be throwin' around bounties."
Zoe nodded. "Maybe you should contact Inara. With her contacts, she'll probably know what this is about."
Mal wanted to argue, but he knew she was right. "You keep an eye out. If any ships approach, be ready to hightail it outta there," he said. "We're not takin' any chances till we know what kind of money they're payin' for our doctor."