Set between the series Firefly and the movie Serenity. An exploration of what happens when we turn Kate Beckett into a character in the 'verse.
For Cartographical, who made me write this with her usual love, which is expressed almost wholly through loud, demanding capital letters, and who provided the working title, "firefly fic." And for daphnebeauty, who lovingly refers to it as "space humpa," which is also a more or less accurate moniker. Coverart by softer. Because she's awesome like that.
"You'd think we'd stop getting tangled up in other people's messes, Captain."
"Sorry to cut into your social life, Zoe." Mal twisted around the table they were ducked behind, fired a shot. He heard a yelp. Got one. So there was that. "Where the hell is Jayne, anyway? Ain't it your day to watch him?"
Zoe shrugged, sighting another shooter. "Not sure, sir. Listen for the loudest explosion."
They were huddled in a tavern, trying not to get pulverized in a firefight. This was supposed to be a meeting with a client. Apparently someone else had decided it was a good day to have a battle of grand proportions. Mal honestly had no idea what was going on.
"You know -" He fired another shot - "I am starting to feel downright unwelcome in this town. I intend to lodge a complaint."
"You do that, sir."
He caught a glimpse of the back door, across an open stretch of floor. A risk. But it might work. Wasn't too far. "Zoe. Door. You think we can get out?"
"Might be. Jayne's closer than us." Sure enough, Jayne was tucked behind an overturned pool table, blasting away gleefully. No surprise.
"Jayne!" No response. Mal grabbed an empty bottle and chucked it at him. Jayne looked up, bewildered.
"What? I'm shootin' here!"
"Glad you're having fun, but Zoe and I are fixing to leave," Mal yelled, pointing at the door. "Go!"
Jayne grumbled but hoisted Vera over his shoulder and bolted for the door, disappearing out into the street. Zoe turned to Mal. "Time for us, sir?"
Zoe flicked a glance around, caught a break in the incessant blasts, and ducked neatly outside. Mal took a last shot, for fun more than anything, and followed.
He half-dove out the door and found himself in the dirty, deserted alley. Well. It was a step up from getting shot at, at least.
Zoe grabbed his hand to pull him up. "Nice of you to join us, Captain."
Jayne scowled. "That place was just startin' to get lively."
"Lively being another word for 'imminent death,'" Mal shot back. "All right. Let's go be somewhere that's not here."
They stepped out into the main street, where apparently no one was aware of the brawl inside the tavern. Fair enough. Mal holstered his gun and scanned the storefronts. "You think our client's anywhere around here? It'd be nice if we could get the job. You know. Get paid."
Before Zoe could answer, a woman's voice cut in. "I suggest you keep moving. This part of town isn't exactly the friendliest."
Mal turned around, hand instinctively going to his hip, to see a woman watching them, arms folded over her chest. Tall and slim and gorgeous and watching them like they were idiots.
Zoe set a hand on his arm. "Ease up sir, she ain't pulled a gun yet."
The woman rolled her eyes. "I'm not here to attack you. I'm just saying if you'd rather not get shot, try a few streets over."
"Uh - thank you?" Mal attempted warily.
"Don't thank me. Just go away. I've got things to do."
Mal huffed. Not really very polite. "And who the hell are you?"
She fixed him with a look of utter disdain.
"No one you need to be knowing."
And with that, she turned and strutted off, hair swirling around her shoulders.
Jayne whistled. "Now that is a fine piece of ass."
"Never in a million years, Jayne," Zoe drawled. "Though it'd be pretty entertaining to watch you try."
"Aww, come on. Nice tight little body, just enough anger. The sex would be -"
"That's more than I care to hear, Jayne." Mal glared at him. "All right, let's - "
A hail of gunfire cut him off, a sudden burst of yelling from the tavern they just left. He heard There they are and Get 'em, and sure enough, there was a gaggle of pissed-off looking guys pointing guns at the three of them.
"What the hell - "
Before he could react, Mal was flat on the ground, the wind knocked out of him by the woman from the alley who'd just pushed him down out of the line of fire. Whoa. That was close
Jayne and Zoe grabbed the two of them quickly, yanking them through a nearby door into a quiet little hotel, where the guy behind the desk just stared and then ducked under his chair.
Mal flopped into a chair. "Did they follow us?"
"I don't think so, sir." Zoe peered through the curtains. "Looks like they've run right past. I think if we wait a bit, it'll quiet down."
"Guys, she ain't got time to wait. We gotta get out," Jayne hissed.
Mal looked over to where the woman was lying on the floor, unmoving. Blood was soaking through her shirt, streaming over the jacket she was wearing, rich, dark crimson seeping into the floor, leaving her frighteningly pale. He hadn't realized she was hit.
Mal knelt beside her, searching for something to stop the bleeding. "Jayne, give me your shirt. Zoe, find us a way back to the ship."
He wadded up the faded Blue Sun t-shirt and pressed down hard, the woman's blood slick and warm as it coated his fingers. Her face was still, her skin faintly grey. Come on, come on - her eyes didn't flicker, no movement, no twitch. Not a good sign.
They slipped out the hotel and ducked through backstreets, Mal and Zoe with pistols in hand, Jayne carrying the bleeding woman. Lucky they didn't meet anyone; they got to the outskirts and found the vehicle right where they'd left it.
They climbed in, laying her carefully in the back, and Mal pulled out his radio. "Wash, we're heading back. Meeting didn't quite go. We picked up a stray, too."
"Ooh, presents," Wash's voice crackled through the speaker. "And it's not even my birthday. Sweet of you, Captain."
"Don't get excited. Tell the doc to get his kit ready. She's a bloody one." He nodded to Zoe, who kicked up the engine, and they blazed off to Serenity, rattled, dusty, and with a nameless woman who saved his life.