*Disclaimer: I own nothing but my original characters and ideas….and the plot bunnies in the corner. Please don't sue, I'm a poor college student that has no life and way too many video games.*
"People often accuse me of thinking the world revolves around me, but it doesn't. the world revolves around the sun, which shines out of my ass."
Fifteen Years Ago
Murphy didn't remember what had brought it on, but whatever it was must have been bad. It could have been the strange man who they called the Professor, or it could have been the needles, or maybe it was the training. Whatever it was had Murphy waking up late in the night, sweat dripping off of his bare torso, limbs trembling, and lips sealed tightly to keep from making any noise.
Both him and Connor learned early on that crying only brought more pain. He heard Connor shift in his own bed across their room. Murphy didn't have to say anything, neither of them ever did. Connor just moved further against the wall and then pulled the sheets back as his brother crawled into his bed. They held onto each tightly as Connor rocked his brother back to sleep.
The room they were in was very bare and bordering psych ward. The walls were white as were the floors, the only differentiating aspect was the door on the far wall and next to that was a mirror. They both knew that the mirror was a lie, that people watched them from behind it. They could feel their eyes but they never saw them. They never saw anybody.
The McManus brothers were five years old as of last week and neither of them had ever seen any other living human being aside from the Professor and the Trainer. The Professor came once every few sleep cycles and took them to a room filled with strange tools and sharp needles. On the days they didn't see the Professor, they were taken to a training room with a large dark skinned man with no name. Connor called him the Trainer, Murphy called him Satin.
After the Professor heard them use terms like God, Demon, Devil, Angel, and Satin he had demanded to know who they were talking to. But the brothers could not answer him because they never talked to anyone else. When questioned further about their knowledge, the Professor was left even more confused. How could two boys who have had no contact with the outside world know anything about religion, but they did and it left his mind reeling.
When the Professor stopped by their room, he would see something he saw every night. The boys were always told that they needed to sleep separately since it was the proper thing to do, and yet, night after night one of the beds, usually Murphy's was left unused. He would let them have their way for now; he was a man that knew when to pick his battles after all. Soon though, things would change.
* * * * *
When Malcolm returned to Serenity, he was in slightly dimmer mood then when he set out. It seemed that Badger's job wasn't going to be as easy as he thought it would be. It required them to make several stops to drop off and pick up goods. All in all, it was going to take an entire two weeks more then they had originally anticipated, but at least they were getting paid.
On the bright side the cargo was disguised as medical supplies, that way if asked they really could say it was for medical reasons this time and not totally be lying. Well, they would mostly be lying, but a little bit of it would be true. And they did say it was the little things that counted in the end.
River decided to chime in with her strange crazy lingo that always ended up being true in the end, as they stepped up into Serenity's cargo hold. "They walk on her and make a home, the two with quiet words but loud mouths," when the others looked at her in confusion she pulled a face and clarified, "We have company."
"Oh," A light bulb seemed to go off in the Captain's head. "You mean the passengers we're takin' on."
River looked at him as if he should have known that was what she meant all along. Zoe and he moved off to the cockpit while Jayne was sent to gather their visitors into the kitchen. The custom speech was to be given after they broke atmo to lay down the ground rules. Hopefully they wouldn't have a repeat of the last time they took on passengers, but he somehow got the feeling he shouldn't get his hopes up. Knowing his luck, it would probably be worse.
* * * * *
Wash turned in his chair as he put auto pilot on to greet his wife with a hug and a rather inappropriate kiss in the presence of their Captain but they couldn't really care less. It was only after a long and rather loud throat clear which then turned into an obnoxious cough did they break apart.
"Sorry Captain," Zoe said as she noticed his uncomfortable posture. She didn't look very sorry, but he let that pass.
"So, Wash, what we got?"
The pilot of Serenity turned back to the screen and pulled up five profiles, one for each of the passengers that they had just taken on. The first belonged to a woman, or at least Mal was pretty sure it was a woman. Her name was Pat Velco, she was a nobody on her way to visit family near Jiangyin, just two and half weeks out of Persephone. She was rather overweight and Zoe thought she could gain to loose a few pounds from eating protein bars for a couple of weeks.
On the second screen was a rather creepy looking man named John Moran. He was a thirty-seven year old art dealer and collector which was a fancy way of saying thief. He was transporting priceless artifacts, which translates into stolen goods. Mal immediately didn't like the man, but he decided he would give him the benefit of the doubt, after all he would be considered a hypocrite if he did otherwise.
The last woman was a vixen, and that was putting it nicely. She could rival Inara in looks and that was never easy. She had long black wavy hair, dark skin and chocolate brown eyes. She was on the short side but her body was toned and muscular. Her name was Anna Vikovski, not a native from Persephone, obviously. Mal knew she was going to be trouble, but he wasn't sure if it was in a good way or the bad way.
The last screen held two profiles, they were brothers. Probably late teens early twenties, they were still just kids to Mal's eyes. Connor and Murphy McManus, also not native to Persephone, there was very little information on either of them other then they were twins. They didn't even have a destination, more of the 'for the journey' kind of people. Mal got a bad feeling from them as well.
"Alright, I think it's time we go and introduce our selves to our guests," Mal stated in his 'Captainy' voice. "Wash, you care to join us?"
* * * * *
"Now wha' do ya suppose da' is fer?"
Connor had been asking that question non stop for the last twenty minutes. First he was pointing at the cargo labeled medical supplies, both knew it wasn't though. The boxes were too big, the wrong shape, different color, and seventeen pounds six ounces to heavy. That was when his insistent question stopped being fun. He pointed at the hatch, then the medical bay, and then the shuttles. It was never ending.
Murphy knew that everything he pointed at would serve a purpose if something went wrong, but he could figure it out on his own, he didn't need is other half mocking him while he mapped the place out. It was just that one time while they were sent to assassinate a rogue Operative and Murphy forgot about the one doorway that ended up holding a bunch of men, and those men, yeah, they were holding guns. They were lucky to get out of there alive and mostly unharmed. Ever since then his brother would remind him of it by innocently questioning every aspect of their surroundings. The worst part of it was that Connor knew it was pissing his brother off.
The lighter haired male glanced over at the other and had to bite his lip in order to refrain from laughing. Murphy's face was scrunched up around the eyes and a little around the nose, lips tightly pressed together showing his displeasure. His hands were gripped tightly in fists in order to keep from hitting his brother and his whole demeanor was tense.
Connor was about to comment about his brother's lack of humor when something else caught his eye. "Now wha' do ya suppose da' is fer?"
It had the desired reaction. Murphy reeled on his brother, turning to face him so quickly it wouldn't be a surprise if he suffered whiplash. "Shu' de fuck up, Con!"
The other just grinned at his loss of composure. Both knew that in this day and age it was proper to swear in Mandarin. Nobody swore in English anymore, it just wasn't done. When the McManus twins were younger and being introduced to society they were told specifically that they needed to blend, to become one with their surroundings. And when they swore in Old-English with a mouth worse then the docking crew of the outer rings, people tended to notice. But that never stopped them before, and it wouldn't now.
Murphy thought it was stupid that people swore in a different language, because everyone spoke that language, so everyone could understand what you were saying. So why go to the trouble of wrapping it in Mandarin if everyone already knew what it was they were being told. He had said that to the Professor when he had reminded them not to speak so vulgarly. It earned him and his brother ten lashings and a contemplative look upon the Professor's face.
They were being led to the dining area and kitchen by a big burly man with the big girly name, along with the other passengers and the Sheppard they met on when they boarded. At Murphy's outburst, everyone stopped to look at brothers in interest. Book turned and started to make his way over, probably in the hopes of playing mediator.
"Wha's de ma'er Murph?"
He knew exactly what the matter was, if his face was anything to go by. He was grinning broadly, his whole body oozed satisfaction as he egged his brother on and Murphy seemed to be falling for it. Connor didn't even seem to notice the other man approach them as the others moved off.
"Ye know wha' de fuck de ma'er is. Goddamn it Con, can' ye jus shu' up fer once. Christ!"
"Lord's fuckin name, Murph," Connor reprimanded, the grin never leaving his face as the Sheppard stepped up next to them.
The darker haired twin seemed to deflate as he paused to correct his blasphemy. "Ave Maria, gratia plena."
The prayer in Old-Latin gave Book a start before he calmly stepped between the quarrelling brothers. Simultaneously they stepped back, away from him and Sheppard got the distinct feeling that he was now the one in danger by separating them. Hoping to avoid any blood shed he turned around and placed a hand on each of their shoulders before gently guiding them towards the dining area. "Now I don't mean to pry," his voice was calm and confident though he felt like he needed to tred carefully if he wanted to come out of this unscathed. "But perhaps it would be best if you two continued this conversation for another time. I'm sure that the Captain would like to meet you both and set down the ground rules."
Book physically sighed in relief when the brothers started to walk with him instead of being half dragged. He took his hands off of them and moved a half a step ahead so he was no longer completely in between them. "Ye know wha' da' means, Murph?"
The priest turned to glance back at the boys and noticed that after he had moved up, they had moved closer. "Aye, da' Ah do, Con."
The Sheppard suddenly had a sinking feeling as they grinned maniacally, the one dubbed Con throwing his arm over his brother's shoulders while the one titled Murph put his around the lighter haired one's waist. And then in unison they looked back at him and answered his unasked question. "We have te go hear his rules," Murph started.
Con finished for him, "Da' way we know in which order te break dem in."