Curiosity

Disclaimer.

This is a one-shot, crossover between Firefly and Deadwood. I don't own either one. Doesn't really take place at any particular time in either series. This story has been sitting on my computer for awhile, and was not beta'd, so please forgive any mistakes or inconsistencies. This is also my very first attempt at fanfic so any feedback is both welcome and appreciated.

Al was watching the two that were occupying one of the front tables from his perch at the railing in front of his office door. There was something about them that sent his teeth on edge. Even in a town like Deadwood that saw new people coming and going all the time, this group stood out. They were currently huddled together speaking in hushed tones.

First there was the 'Merc' looking one. He'd arrived three days prior, and was already a regular, here every night for a drink and a woman. He avoided conversation and the card tables; and he made Dan all levels of twitchy. Which was enough to worry Al. Then there was the mysterious Amazonian woman; her assessing dark eyes that didn't miss a thing, including Al on his perch when she'd first strolled in. She nodded politely, but never smiled, and moved with a deadly grace and purpose that rivaled maybe even Bullock.

He couldn't quite fathom how these two fit. The Merc seemed to straighten in the mystery woman's presence, more out of deference, and just a little bit of fear if, than the expected gentleman civility. Al just stared at the odd pair from his place on the balcony, signally to Dan at the bar that he needed to have words.

"Charming place you've found for us Jayne." Zoe dryly commented.

"Had to entertain myself somehow while I waited. Took your time getting here." Jayne replied unrepentant.

"Where are we with making contact with the seller?"

"There were complications." Jayne hedged while shifting in his chair.

Zoe narrowed her eyes in trepidation. "Complications? What kind of complications?"

"I found the guy. But he won't deal. He spooked when I started speaking Mandarin. Kept shouting something about some Hearst guy…once he calmed down, said he'd only deal with if this Saloon owner…Al Swearengen was involved in the negotiations."

"Mal's not going to like this." Zoe pointed out.

"Not much I can do to help that."

Their conversation came to a halt when said Saloon owner, grabbed a near by chair and sat himself down at their table. Settling himself in the chair his gaze settled on Zoe's unwavering one.

"We haven't been properly introduced. My name is Al Swearengen. I'm the owner of this establishment."

Zoe eyed Al, while choosing he words carefully. "Pleasure to meet you, and don't take this the wrong way, but what exactly warrants us a personal introduction from the owner."

"I always make a point of getting to know new people that come to town. Particularly those who frequent the Gem. And it's only rude if you don't reciprocate the introduction, Miss.?"

"it's 'Mrs.' Washburne, the surly one to my right is Jayne."

"Jayne? Really. That's quite an usual name for…"

Seeing the growing amusement in Al's eyes, Zoe interjected with a sardonic smile, "I….wouldn't go there, unless you want him proving he has man parts."

Al, with his face schooled, nodded in understanding, and slight horror at that particular prospect, continued with his original train of questioning. "Fair enough. Now that we're all good friends, Mrs. Washburn could you kindly tell me why your man here has been frightening my Chinaman. "

"What exactly makes him 'yours'?" Jayne, said with a bored drawl.

Ignoring him, Al continued to stare straight at Zoe when he replied,

"Mr. Wu and I have a long standing arrangement. One that has been mutually beneficial, which includes me warding off unwanted interlopers that might harm that relationship."

Zoe, with as neutral expression she could manage, "We simply wish to trade with Mr. Wu. It was not our intent to disrupt your business or step on any toes here."

"Then I imagine you'll need me to facilitate as middleman for the negotiations."

"As generous as that offer sounds, the item we wish to trade for is of a private nature. We'd much rather deal with Mr. Wu directly."

"Really? You're man did inform you that the Mr. Wu doesn't speak a lick of English."

"We're aware, and it shouldn't be an issue. However, we will take yours and Mr. Wu's concerns into consideration and pass it on." At this point Jayne and Zoe stood and turned to leave.

A little puzzled by her last statement, Al stopped their exit with a last question, "Pass it on? To who pray tell."

With an amused smirk that sent raised Al's hackles even more, "Didn't I mention? Jayne here ain't mine."

The End