badinlatin: (bemused/irritated)
Malcolm Beauregard Reynolds ([personal profile] badinlatin) wrote2010-06-19 03:43 pm

The Lead-Up and the Meet-Up.

The moon where Mal has decided to meet up with his fath--his client is not quite as backwoods as it gets, but it is definitely in the running. When he tells Inara he is going by himself, she (predictably) disapproves. The whole crew disapproves, really, but most back off about it. Most.

He finds River sitting in the passenger seat of the second shuttle’s cockpit, utterly silent and already buckled in as though that will keep her from being kicked out before Mal takes off to make the meet.


Looking up, River doesn’t even blink. “Got crew.” Before Mal opens his mouth again: “I’m backup. It’s reciprocity.”

I can handle my rutting father on my own -- !

But if he’s a client.


“I severely dislike you.”

River smiles at him. “Brought snacks.”

They are meeting in a library of all things. An honest, actual library, run by a couple of the Shepherds that have installed themselves out here at the pigu end of the planet’s satellite orbit and use the coin they get from those needing privacy to import actual crops here. Mal’s almost jealous for how smooth their operation runs. The shuttle is parked about two miles outside of town and he and River hitch a ride in; they’re early. Mal finds a chair and a book to pretend to read while sitting in it.


It’s been coming up on three decades since Mal has seen his father last, but the voice is –

Fùqin.” It’s a tight smile, and nowhere near an approach for any physical contact. River is sitting on the table behind Mal, now, paying attention and making herself unobtrusive.

Beau doesn’t try to make too much small talk. He waves a small sheet of digital paper in front of all eyes. “Got details for you.”

The job is actually one of the simplest Mal’s managed to pick up in quite some time. Pick up cargo at point A, fly out to point B, middleman pays the remainder of Mal’s fee. Beau volunteers the information that the cargo is not anything flammable or perishable, but those facts do not pull any questions from Captain Reynolds about what the cargo actually is. Just a job.

Mal’s father is going on about the layout of the drop site for the goods and while Mal is listening, he is also focusing on details he doesn’t know he’ll have access to again – how his father had to reach for reading glasses for the paper, how he hardly has any grey hair whatsoever and now he has to wonder if he’ll be more like his father or his mother in that when he ages –

“You wear my gun.”

That was unexpected.

“Hasn’t been your gun in years.” Beau looks over his glasses at Mal appraisingly for just a second before continuing on with whatever the hell story he was in the middle of.

Information exchanged and coin safely pocketed away, Mal and River are getting ready to walk back to the shuttle. Mal is debating trying to find Ice Planet for River just to amuse himself so he can fake a smile for his wife later; River gives him a significant glance.

“I’m glad you called me.” Beau’s packing up his things to go back to...wherever he came from, and he’s actually smiling, here. “It is good to see you doing so well, son.”

Mal is not really having it. “You’ll leave Ma alone after this.” Not a request; Beau recognizes it and nods. “Then you’ll hear from me after we make the pickup and when we’re in the world for the drop. And...”

He was never going to be just a client.

“Why me?”

Beau cocks his head to one side the way he may have seen River do while she waited for the men to finish moving around each other.

“Because I wanted to do something good by you. Is that so bad?”

River makes Mal buy an Ice Planet for himself before the flight home.

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