When All Else Fails (1/?)
Pairing(s): None so far, Brennan/Booth & Jack/Angela in the future.
Summary: Dr. Temperance Brennan has been the captain of Liberty for two years. She and her crew work outside the Alliance's jurisdiction, privately solving crimes and hoping to find the answers each of them needs. Life isn't easy, but it never lacks in excitement either.
Notes: My knowledge of the Firefly universe is spotty at best, so please bear with me. I don't own anything Bones or Firefly related. Unbetaed.
Dr. Daniel Goodman was relieved when he spied the Vienna-class ship dropping out of the sky and heading into the docking bay. New Melbourne had never agreed with him, and for all his trepidation, he wanted nothing more than to leave the planet's stale smell of fish behind him... and to leave everything else behind him, really. A fresh start was exactly what he needed, to take his mind over the the hardships of the past two years.
With a loud hiss and some painful grating noises, the ship settled to the ground. This Vienna-class ship was an older model, but even he could tell from the gleam of the hull and the thrum of the engines that a lot of effort and care had been put into ensuring the vessel's peak performance. There was a whirring noise and a wide boarding ramp lowered from the side of the ship. His smile was bittersweet as a woman walked down the ramp to greet him, hair tied back and dressed to fly through space. Two years had passed since he had seen her last and he could tell that she had changed greatly. Intelligence had always been her strong suit, but there was a certain shrewdness in her eyes now, the kind that came from learning to become wise in the treacherous ways of the outer worlds.
"It's good to see you, Dr. Goodman." She said, hugging him briefly. "I'm so sorry about all of this."
"You have absolutely nothing to be sorry about, Temperance. The Alliance considered me a threat even after your departure, because I believed that we were doing the right thing and fought for your reinstatement." He sighed. "Seems I underestimated just how desperate the government was to discredit us. But I'll survive."
Temperance crossed her arms, still looking downcast at the entire matter. "But what about your family? You reckon they'll be safe?"
Goodman quirked an eyebrow when he noticed that Temperance had picked up some Border slang since leaving Londinium. But now was not the time to bring attention to it. "Safer than they would be while in my company. You and I both know what kind of enemies we made within the Alliance. But it had to be done. My wife and the girls will be more than safe staying with my parents on Sihnon. Still, it hurt to leave them behind..."
He tried to push the pain of the separation away, but he found it difficult to keep the hurt from reaching his eyes. He was surprised when Brennan squeezed his arm reassuringly. It was the sort of gesture that the old Dr. Brennan would not have thought of. He wondered if he would be thinking of his former colleague in terms of 'new' and 'old' from now on.
"If y'all are done with your tragically touching moment, we best be leaving this place. Next project's a'waiting, Captain." Goodman was startled to see a broad-shouldered man standing at the top of the ramp, leaning against the bulkhead with a skeptical look on his face. He didn't look like a scientist. The automatic pistol hanging on his belt was the first giveaway. Then again, Temperance carried a weapon of her own now. But the man was dressed in a way that vaguely reminded him of an Alliance officer.
Temperance rolled her eyes in annoyance, turning to the man behind her. "How many times have I told you: don't call me Captain. I am a doctor, first and foremost."
"Sure..." The man marched down the ramp and placed himself squarely between Temperance and Goodman, dropping into her personal space. "... A guns a'blazing doctor who slices up slimy corpses and gets herself into more trouble than warranted out in the black. We're lucky we got out of that last case alive." He glanced back at Goodman meaningfully. "Not to scare you or any such, Doctor."
Goodman resisted the urge to laugh; he knew alpha male protectiveness when he saw it. "I assure you, the good Captain has kept me informed to all the potential hazards I face by coming onto your vessel. But I have known her to be intelligent and dedicated to her work and the people she associates with."
The man turned and stared at Goodman a moment longer, then held out his hand. "Well then, welcome aboard the Liberty. Name's Seeley Booth, and I'd be the only person with a lick of common sense on this here fair ship."
"That is not true." Temperance argued stubbornly, hands on hips and looking unimpressed. "Who got us that break with the Taxcom job two months back?"
"Firstly, it was Angela, not you. And secondly, that wasn't common sense, that was using feminine tricks against that useless clod of a judge."
"She wouldn't have thought of it if I hadn't found out he was having an affair."
Goodman interjected. "If I may interrupt, I was wondering if I could meet the rest of the crew, perhaps say hello to Miss Montenegro?" He was unsure of how to deal with the quarreling shipmates. He could sense a strange mixture of hostility and affection between the two of them, making him suspect that his experience with administration would come in handy in the future.
"Of course, follow me." Temperance strode ahead, leading the way while Seeley hung back with Goodman.
"So?" He whispered to the darker man conspiratorially. "Was she just as stubborn and single-minded when she was working for you back on Londinium?"
Goodman smiled sadly, dragging his trunk behind him. "Yes. And not a moment goes by where I'm not thankful for it."
"Well, you've already met the brawns of our operation." Temperance quipped, tossing an annoyed glance in Seeley's direction as they made their way to the cockpit. "Seeley's a former soldier of the Alliance."
"I wasn't your average Purplebelly." Seeley explained solemnly, slipping into a more refined Core manner of speaking. "I was a distinguished member of the Alliance Special Forces, honoured for marksmanship during the Unification War. It takes more than just brawns to be awarded something so prestigious."
"Why aren't you with the Alliance anymore?" Goodman asked, curious.
A dark look crossed Seeley's face before being replaced by his regular nonchalant attitude. "That's a story for another day, Doctor."
Temperance continued unheeded. "And just for the record, even though I'm the captain of Liberty, I don't like the title."
"C'mon, Captain." Seeley said mischievously. "Aren't you even the least bit proud of having a ship of your own? You deny Liberty the joy of ownership and she might just turn her back on you."
They entered the cockpit at that moment and Goodman saw a bearded man with a head of curly hair sitting in the pilot's seat, meticulously fiddling with the dials. "I've been flying Liberty for over two years now and we haven't been shot down yet. No need to get your knickers in a knot."
"You mention my knickers again and someone's gonna be shot down for sure." Seeley retorted, clearly non-threatening.
Temperance ignored the banter. "Dr. Goodman, Jack here's the pilot of the Liberty, and has proven himself to be of the utmost capability and resourcefulness."
"Please, Temperance, you're making my head all swollen-like." Jack replied with a smile, twisting in his chair to shake Goodman's hand. "I also happen to be an admirer of rare and precious artifacts. Comes in handy every now and then, depending on the job."
The intercom on the face of the cockpit crackled to life with a woman's tinny voice. "Y'all get your behinds down here if you're pining for a warm meal."
Jack jumped out of his seat, rubbing his hands together eagerly and sliding past everyone out the cockpit. "Roast sturgeon a'plenty, here I come!" Seeley bounded after him, growling something that sounded like 'No rutting way he's getting the best cut...'.
Temperance sighed, looking amused. "This place is a bughouse majority of the time, not at all like at when we worked together. Best be getting used to it sooner than later. I suggest we head down to the lounge. If everyone's eating, it'll give you a chance to meet the rest of the crew all at once."
Goodman nodded, following Temperance again. "You have a lounge? Very impressive for a freighter. Were the modifications costly?"
Temperance's eyes sparkled with pride. "When we get to the lounge, you can ask the modifier himself."
"I must admit, I never knew that a Vienna could be modified this way." Goodman murmured, turning in a circle and examining his surroundings.
A young man with floppy brown hair was scooping out slices of fish onto plates for everyone, while Jack and Seeley jostled for the best cut. "Turning a cargo ship into a flying lab ain't so difficult, once you got the right tools and a goal in mind."
"And the credits. Can't be forgetting them." Added a slim woman with dark hair who was pouring water into an assortment of cups.
"Goodman, I'd like you to meet Zack Addy and Camille Saroyan. Zack's the mechanic for Liberty-"
"-Technically, I'm an engineer with practical applied knowledge."
"-And Cam's our medic, patches up our patients-
"-Or any of us." Seeley muttered as he sat and devoured his food.
"-Nice and good. Everyone, this is Dr. Daniel Goodman, my former boss that I was telling you about. He'll be joining us on Liberty for the time being."
"Another vigilante scientist for Liberty's vigilante science squadron..." Seeley muttered again, earning an eye roll from Temperance.
"Come on now, Seeley. Scientists aren't all that bad." Cam said with a smile, leaning against the wall. Goodman noticed that she was the only other member of the crew (aside from Temperance and Seeley) who was carrying an weapon.
Jack looked up from his plate with a sudden realization. "Wait a tic, you made introductions without Angela here."
"Not a problem." Goodman reassured. "Miss Montenegro is an old friend of Dr. Brennan's, and I've already had the pleasure of meeting her on occasion. Where might I find her?"
"Her quarters, I reckon." Jack said, chewing on his food. "She can't stand the smell of fish. Makes sense, with her line of work and all."
"Smart woman." Goodman said, feeling a little overwhelmed by the smell of the lounge. "I think I'll pay her a visit."
It was ingenious, he had to admit. One of the escape pods for the Liberty had been modified to accommodate small, live-able shuttle instead, perfect for the privacy and freedom needed for a Companion. The arrangement was a strange one, to say the least. Standing outside the door to Goodman was compelled to ask Temperance about it.
"Two years ago, when I first told Angela about my plan, she volunteered to join the crew. It was a way for her to meet with a multitude of clients, and a part of the money she made would go to me for renting out the space." Temperance shook her head. "I thought it was a strange arrangement too. But she said that a friend of hers, another Companion, had found such an arrangement to be greatly profitable for both parties. So I went with her instincts. She's much better at that sort of thing than I am."
Temperance didn't even knock on the worn metal door, but simply turned the handle and walked in. Goodman followed her, slightly nervous. Angela was an acquaintance of his, but he had never been inside the Companion's place of residence. And Angela's mobile quarters were distinctly Companion-like, shimmering gold and sapphire fabrics hanging from ceiling to floor, red and white carpeting around her bed, and rich, black furniture accenting the room. It seemed a lot larger than he knew it really was.
Angela was standing in front of a small dresser, dressed in crushed velvet of indigo and black and brushing her hair with practiced grace. She caught sight of them in the reflection or her mirror and turned with a pleased smile.
"Daniel, it's good to see you again." Her voice was even as she hugged him, but there was an undercurrent of excitement that put him at ease. "I trust your refined demeanour will add that little touch of class that Liberty sorely needs?"
"I will most certainly do my best." Goodman said with a genuine smile.
"You two catch up, I'm going to grab some of that fish before it's all gone." Brennan said, backing towards the door.
Angela looked at her with mock-indignation. "Fine, but once you do, I won't let you come visit me."
Temperance's face was blank. "Why not? That's hardly fair."
Goodman tried not to laugh when Angela gave one of her familiar, long-suffering sighs. "Mei-mei, I'm just teasing you."
"Oh. Right. Bye, then." Temperance said, walking out abruptly and leaving Goodman and Angela in stitches.
"She hasn't changed as much as I thought she had." Goodman mused after the laughter passed, staring at the door where their reluctant captain had departed from.
"No, she's still the Dr. Brennan you and I remember." Angela said, carefully sitting down on her bed. "Passionate about her work, about the truth, about finding answers... none of that has changed. And she's still as bull-headed as ever. But in some ways..." She trailed off, staring at the incense that burned on her desk.
"Life has not been easy for her." Goodman nodded. "I can tell, perhaps due to the fact that I hadn't seen her in so long."
"We've had some close calls in the past six months. We're taking jobs that would bring in more money, but those high profile cases always catches the attention of the Alliance. But then again, Temperance was always a bit of an courageous adventurer." Angela paused thoughtfully. "What exactly is it that you and Temperance discovered on Londinium? She hasn't told me much of the details, only that it got her discredited and fired. She's always been a firm believer in facts and evidence, so I'm guessing that she stumbled across some kind of devious Alliance conspiracy."
Goodman stood up straighter, alarmed by her hypothesis. "I think it would be best if you were as clueless to the matter as possible. No good can come from knowing what we know. We've already lost so much."
Angela stared at him thoughtfully, then nodded. "I understand. Your family... I'm so sorry. Will they be taken care of?"
"They are safe and secure, and that is the best for all of us for now. Although, I do hope that through our travels, I will find some information that will help restore myself and Temperance's former statuses."
"Join the club, Daniel." Angela chuckled. "I'm going to let you in on a little secret; everyone on this ship has their own agenda. Everyone." She winked. "Makes for some very interesting interactions."