A/N: You asked for it, so here it is. Please enjoy. Can't stop the signal!

Disclaimer: Joss is boss! Fox is going to the 'special hell.' That about sums it up.

Chapter 1:

The first thing Malcolm Reynolds noticed was that his head hurt. Really hurt. The second thing he noticed was that he was in a chair with his hands cuffed behind his back. He groaned and slowly forced his eyes open, giving himself time to adjust to the light. The room was white with no windows. Straight ahead of him were three people in Alliance uniforms. One man was sitting behind a table, with another man and a woman standing directly behind him.

"Malcolm Reynolds," said the seated officer. "Welcome back. You were out for quite a while."

"Sorry to keep you waiting," said Mal.

"Don't worry about it," said the man.

"Wasn't plannin' on it," said Mal. "Now, mind telling me why I'm here?"

The Alliance officer smiled. "You fought in the war, didn't you? A sergeant for the Dependents, or 'Browncoats', as you've come to be called."

"The war is over," said Mal.

"I doubt you really believe that," said the officer. "You've stirred the pot by transmitting our files concerning Miranda; made many people upset with the Alliance. They're beginning to rebel. You know as well as anyone the force we're willing to exact to quell the masses, but we don't really want to have to go to all that trouble again."

"Sorry to put you out like that," said Mal.

"You've been a thorn in the Alliance's side for many years. But you've always been just out of our grasp. Until now."

They stared at each other in silence for a moment. "Are you gonna kill me?" Mal asked.

The officer laughed. "Far be it from me to turn you into a martyr."


"Tell me," said the officer. "Are you familiar with the history of Earth-That-Was?"

"A little."

"The French Revolution?" he asked.

"Ain't that the one where the peasants rebelled against the nobles and decapitated everyone? Ya see, I always liked that story for some reason."

"They say the revolution truly began when the peasants stormed the Bastille, a prison in Paris. We don't want history repeating itself, now do we? So, no, Sergeant Reynolds, we are not going to imprison you in one of our detainment facilities."

"That's very good," said Mal. "But then what are you gonna do?"

"We won't imprison you here," said the officer. "We have a better place to store you. One where your friends can't try to rescue you."

"And where is that?" asked Mal.

"The past."

"Excuse me?" said Mal. "Ya see, for a second there I thought you said 'the past.'"

"You know very well that the Alliance has dabbled in many types of experiments," said the officer. "One of them happens to be time travel."

"You're kidding," said Mal in disbelief.

"I'm not," he said. "We're going to send you back in time. Back to Earth-That-Was, where you won't be able to bother us. We will, however, send you with a guardian to make sure you stay out of trouble. We'll send an officer to guard you, and they will keep us up to date with your situation. We'll retrieve the both of you when the threat of an attack has been relieved and your stance is no longer important to us."

"Oh good."

"Agent Rodgers," said the officer. The female standing behind him immediately stepped forward.

"Yes, Sir," she said.

"Are you prepared to accompany Sergeant Reynolds?" he asked.

"Yes, Sir."

"Good," smiled the officer.

Malcolm Reynolds and Martha Rodgers walked into the mid-sized apartment. It wasn't super extravagant, but it was nice when compared to the usual idea of a prison.

"I suppose," said Martha. "That we should just settle in tonight and begin to situate ourselves into society tomorrow."

"I s'pose," said Mal, who had walked up to a window and was peering out to the street below.

"You know," she said. "It'll be a lot easier for you if you just get used to the idea that you're stuck here as quickly as possible. I don't like working with difficult people, and I can tell already that you're probably gonna be one of the most stubborn people I'll come to meet."

Mal was silent, still staring out the window.

Martha suddenly got fed up with the lack of attention and walked over to join him and to see what was so interesting that he couldn't look at her when she was talking. She saw dozens of people rushing past each other on the street, overshadowed by the surrounding tall buildings.

"All those stories about Earth-That-Was," said Mal. "Never thought it would be like this."

"Like what?" asked Martha.

"So... regular."

"Things are only extraordinary when compared to the ordinary," said Martha. She thought for a moment. "Anyway, people like what's familiar."

"This definitely ain't familiar," said Mal, shaking his head.

"Well," said Martha. "It will eventually. Best get a head start." She walked away towards the kitchen, opening the cabinets to take stock of her supplies.

"I'll get right on that," he said.

"I may have been appointed to guard you," she said, bending down to take a closer look at the oven. "But I'm just as stranded here as you are. At least I've learned to accept the inevitable."

"Well, I haven't."

"And so you're forced to continually fight a losing battle," she remarked.

"So I should just follow the herd?" he asked. "Like you?"

Martha turned to him. "I play my own game."

"And I bet that's very lonely," said Mal.

"Well," she smiled. "I've got you now, don't I?"

"I reckon that's true," he said, bitterly.

"Don't be so glum," she said. "It may be regular out there, but there are so many new opportunities to start over. I'm sure there are many people out there who'd love a second chance."

"Well then give them my share," said Mal.

"Look," she said. "You and I are going to be together for a very long time, so we might as well try to make the most of it. Tomorrow we'll survey this city, and maybe you'll decide this place isn't so bad after all."

"I don't know what you're so happy to be distancing yourself from back home," said Mal. "But by my being here, I'm leaving behind my ship and my crew, and I love 'em both more than anything. And now they're out there, and probably have no idea what happened to me. I promised myself I'd always be there for them, and now I ain't. And I can't stop thinking that I've let them down. So you'll have to pardon me if I don't seem in a proper mood as of late."

"Mal," she said. "I'm very sorry about all of this. And despite what you think, I know how you feel. I have a sister, had a sister. It hurt at first, but eventually I was able to move on with my life."

"I'm sorry," said Mal.

"Your friends aren't gone; they're still living their lives. You're just not there to see it."

Mal looked her in the eyes, sizing her up. She seemed strong, perhaps just as stubborn as himself. But she had a heart all the same. He wanted to hate her, to use her as an outlet for all his frustrations. But he just couldn't. She was a good person, despite her job, which she didn't sound that loyal towards anyway.

"So, tell me," he said. "What am I supposed to do now?"

"Oh, I don't know," she said with a wave of her hand. "Why don't you take up a hobby? Chess, model airplanes, scrap-booking..."

"Thanks," said Mal, rolling his eyes.

"You can start writing that novel," she said, grinning. "Now, why don't you get cleaned up while I make dinner?"

Mal answered sarcastically, "Yes, Mother..." Martha threw a dish towel at him in response. And he smiled, for the first time since he got there, as he walked into the other room.

A/N: Hope you like it so far. If Martha seems a little OOC, that's on purpose. I want to give the impression that she's evolved over the years, as has Mal/Castle.