Chapter One

Mal stood in the middle of Badger's den, staring down at the piece of paper in his hands in disbelief. Looking up he met Badger's sardonic eyes with his own incredulous ones.

"You have got to be kidding me," he said. Badger smiled smugly.

"So you don't want the job?" Mal shook his head and slowly tucked the paper into his pocket.

"Oh, I'll take it. I just don't know how I'll explain it to the crew."


"Everyone meet in the kitchen right now." Mal's voice echoed out of the comms around the ship, catching the attention of all crew members.

Five minutes later they were all gathered around the table with the exception of River, who was hanging by her knees from the back of the sofa in the small living room. She stared at them all calmly, her hair making a puddle of black on the floor.

"Okay," said Mal, clapping his hands together. "Listen up. We've got a job, and good one, but it's a mite different than what we usually have." The crew stirred with interest, exchanging glances.

"How different? Are we going to have to take on passengers?" asked Kaylee, looking excited.

"Who cares about that?" Jayne said, giving Mal a suspicious look. "All I care about is whether we get paid or not. We are getting paid, right?" Mal suppressed a sigh of annoyance.

"Yes, Jayne, we are gettin' paid. And no, no passengers. We all know how much trouble that leads to. Hell, with our luck we'd end up transporting someone with a bunch of space monkeys."

Laughter rippled around the table at his statement and several pairs of eyes darted to Simon and River-the former looking abashed and the latter, who was tracing patterns on the fabric of the couch, uninterested.

"Okay, settle down," called Mal, waiting for all eyes to be turned back to him. When all attention was re-focused on him, he continued. "As I was saying, this job is a bit different. As in, it's going to be mainly a two people job." Everyone looked at Zoe, who was looking at Mal, waiting for him to continue. He swallowed, already bracing himself.

"These two people will be infiltrating high society-" all eyes turned to Inara, "And they will be posing as father and daughter. So, of course, it will be me and River."

That's when the yelling started.