Beagles, at LastAuthor:
Just about everyone...FF_Friday Challenge:
148 - BeaglesWord Count:
Just mucking about in other peoples’ sandboxes. I promise to put them back like I found them.Summary:
It was only a matter of time before it actually happened.
“What’s in here – rocks?” Jayne grumbled as they crossed the cargo bay, carefully lowering his end of the huge wooden crate in time with Mal.
Mal looked skyward as the wood met the metal of the floor with a thump. “That’s it, Jayne. We’re smuggling rocks. How’d ya guess?”
Whatever Jayne was about to say was lost as River came wandering in, making a beeline for that crate and totally ignoring the ten other new additions to the cargo hold.
“River – leave that be. ”
She ignored Mal and cocked her head to one side, staring intently at the crate. “The noses search and they find but they don’t know what they’ve found…”
“Great – she’s crazy today.” Jayne growled.
“No! Don’t - ” Mal grabbed for River, but he was too late and she pushed the lid aside.
In a blink, there were five yapping, wriggly puppies bounding around the cargo bay.
“Puppies!! You got us puppies?” Kaylee squealed, scooping up the nearest pup.
Mal sighed and tried not to yell. “I didn’t get anyone puppies. The puppies are part of the job – you remember part where we’re smugglers, not zookeepers? Now help me get them back into their crate.”
Kaylee gasped and clutched her pup closer. “Cap’n, you were going to leave them all alone? In the dark, creepy cargo bay? In a BOX?”
River gave him a dirty look and even Jayne looked a little confused.
Mal all but growled. “It had air holes! And it was only for two days – quick run, straight to Eudora and drop ‘em off. Easy money.”
Though it was looking less and less like easy money by the minute.
Simon wandered down the stairs, drawn by the sudden commotion.
Kaylee held her pup out to Simon. “Isn’t he darling?”
Before he could answer, River had bounded up, puppy in each hand and shoved one of them at him. “Their noses couldn’t say where they were, but now they see.”
Simon looked confused.
River sighed. He was so dense sometimes. “Hold her, stupid - they’re scared.”
Simon took the puppy, cradling it gently, even letting it nibble at his pocket square without protest.
He did, however, look to Mal for an explanation. “Captain?”
“It was easy money. Give some pups without papers a ride out to the homestead of the breeder’s daughter. 100 credits in two days for moving the crate.” He walked over to the object in question. “Their nice comfy crate with food and water and some papers for them to piddle on…?”
No one moved to put the dogs back and Mal swore under his breath. “We are not
letting them run around the ship and that’s final.”
He turned to find Jayne – the traitor! – holding one of the pups away from his face, but the little dog was squirming and stretching, still managing to reach his little pink tongue to Jayne’s nose.
He had been trying to keep them safely tucked away before…
He heard the remaining member of his crew laugh and looked up to find Zoe looking down at the last puppy who was sniffing at her boot.
Everyone froze, waiting to see what she’d do.
She reached down and picked it up, looking it in the eyes for a long moment before cradling it with one arm.
Her voice had only the barest hint of sadness and she offered a thin smile. “Beagle pups. He would have loved this, you know.”
Mal nodded, “That he would have.”
Lost in memories, the crew was silent – until one of the puppies whined, wondering why the petting stopped.
Zoe spoke first. “Doesn’t seem right to keep them caged up, sir”
Without answering, Mal shrugged and reached down, lifting the food and water containers out of the large crate.
“Kaylee – if Jayne and I can find some spare bits and parts, could you build a fence to make a little area for them to run around in here in the cargo bay?”
Kaylee beamed, “Sure as an April shower I can – Shiny!”
She turned to River, “So what are you going to name yours?”
Mal groaned. “No! NO naming them – They ain’t ours to keep.”
But even as he said the words, he doubted them.
Just seemed right somehow– Serenity carrying her black market beagles at last.END.