Terms of Service

By: PaBurke

Disclaimer: No infringement intended. I'm just playing, no profit involved. If you recognize the characters, they're not mine.

Distribution: The Nook

Spoilers: None. Some time after all the characters showed up in their shows. (But not the movie for Firefly.) Long after most of the X-Men universe.

The cigar chopping man looked like any other spaceport longshoreman. He was short (people without all their nutrients didn't grow real tall) stocky and muscled. He was one of those who could load a ship by hand if the mule broke down. He was gruff and he didn't have time for any shenanigans.

On a normal basis he was someone Mal liked to work with. He was straight foreword and honest. But this time, in the middle of haggling, the man stopped. He took the cigar out of his mouth and sniffed the inside of Serenity. A slow, genuine smile slid across the craggy face. Without a 'by your leave' or even another comment, the man charged into the cargo bay of Serenity.

Mal raced to head him off. "That's probably the incense from the Companion you're smelling." Though how the man could scent anything other than the weed he had been smoking, Mal didn't know.

The shorter man grabbed Mal's shirt and growled. "If the girl's been made a Companion, I'll dismember you slowly." He threw Mal aside and was in through the door towards the infirmary before the captain could grab his gun. Damn the stranger was fast.

Mal raced for the intercom. "Zoë! Jayne! Intruder!" Mal followed the stranger and found him in the infirmary with half of the fugitives on the ship.

He was smiling at Simon and saying, "Hey, kid."

Simon's reaction was rather funny. At first, he was shocked and then cheered. "Logan…"

Logan continued. "So where's your sister?"

Simon's face fell as if a switch had been flipped. He grabbed a scalpel and jabbed at Logan. The stranger grabbed the hand with the blade and frowned.

"Now I know I taught you better than that," he said around his cigar.

Mal had his gun in hand, but the chide stopped him. What was going on?

Simon blushed slightly and since Logan was standing there, readjusted his grip. Then River blurred by Mal and tried to kick Logan in the head. With his free hand, Logan caught the foot flying at his head, swung River around and (still holding the same foot) held River upside down. Mal had no idea how the stranger managed not to knock River into anything in the infirmary. "And I taught you better than that too. What Idid/I your father tell you two about why I left?"

"He said that you were a mercenary," River said. "But money means nothing to you." She looked really confused hanging by one foot and her head brushing the floor. "Money's never meant anything to you. It's just a means. You prefer living off the land."

Now Logan looked confused and stern. "River, when did you start reading minds? You shouldn't be able to."

River blinked. "You would know. You loved a Reader once, but red attracted red. You've seen the pain."

Logan sighed, and closed his eyes all while holding River by her foot and Simon by the hand. Moments later, he opened his eyes. "Sorry, darlin'. It's a bit sloppy, but I haven't had to use it in a very long while."

River clapped her hands and wiggled with glee, not the least concerned with her apparently precarious position. "Shh, shh! It's quiet. Whispers. Can you teach the whole 'Verse that? Please?"

Simon was more concerned with the immediate problems. "Logan, Mr. Whitfield, please release my sister."

"Put your hands down, Darlin'," Logan told the girl. River obeyed. Logan released the one foot and she flipped back and was soon standing on her own feet. Then she threw herself into Logan's arms. The stranger released Simon's hand, now that he was sure that the doctor would not attack.

"Capt'n!" the teen squealed. "We have to keep him! Please!"

Mal looked from the stranger, to the confused Simon to the child-like joy on River's face.

"I need more than that to take on another passenger. Passengers are a peck of trouble and this ain't lookin' no different to me."

Simon put down the scalpel where he had originally been cleaning it and prepping it for use. "Logan used to be our bodyguard, when we were young." Simon grinned at some far off memory. "He never disabused our imaginations and tried to teach us some simple self-defense and the like."

"Which you forgot," Logan grumbled.

Simon shrugged. He turned to Mal who had been joined by a sweaty Zoë and a sleepy Jayne.

"Who are we shooting?" Jayne asked.

"No one just yet," Mal answered.

"Ya sure?"


Jayne jerked his chin toward Logan. "Who's the intruder?"

Simon stepped forward. "Captain Malcolm Renyolds, this is Logan Whitfield. Logan this is the captain, his first mate Zoë and Jayne. Logan's a… friend."

Mal looked the stranger up and down and knew that Logan had already examined his crew. There was a lot more to this longshoreman than met the eye. INo one/I stymied River as much as this man. "Ya sure?"

"Yes," River said emphatically.

"Alrighty then," Mal nodded and pushed Jayne and Zoë away from the infirmary. "You have your little reunion and I'll get someone else to load our stuff. We lift off in an hour. Yell if you need anything."

Simon nodded seriously. River nodded joyfully and Logan simply nodded and puffed a little on his cigar. There was no telling what the stranger thought. A couple steps away, Mal told Zoë to make herself busy near the infirmary. Jayne was to go with him to complete the job. He wanted Wash to keep an eye out for any messages to the Alliance.

Mal had a funny feeling about this Logan-guy. Somehow he knew everything was going to change.