**Part Twenty-Five**

Word Count: 1,983
This is for the LJ community 50_baby_fics Prompt #33-Escape

NOTES: I'm straying a bit into the FRAY 'verse Joss gave us in comics. To those unfamiliar, Fray is set about the year 2,250. Slayers hadn't been called for about 250 years because portals were closed and there were no magic users, vampires, etc. to require activation. The watchers still existed and had become kind of an out there group of fanatic extremists. They were prone to setting themselves on fire in an attempt to get their message out, stuff like that. It was a demon, not a watcher, that trained Fray and really they [watchers] were kind of dismissed as being useless. I'm glossing over it greatly, but really you just need to know that much. Lurks was Meleka Fray's term for vampires, and I thought it would be appropriately used here so that River isn't exactly clear on what it is she's "seeing". As a side note, if you haven't read them and are a Buffy fan, I'd highly recommend Fray!

She came to him then, as she'd done many a time when he sat alone on the bridge. He could tell by the glean in her eye she wasn't there for too much conversation and he was more than happy to oblige her needs in every which department he could. While he wasn't the best communicator with words when it came to her, he liked to think he expressed enough when they were like this. Alone. Intimate. The subtle hum of skin on skin, more of her sinking into him taking over the heart he'd long ago locked away. Who'd a thought this slip of a woman, fragile yet deadly, would bear the key.

She lifted her skirt then, straddling him. She fit perfectly, as if the chair was made for the two of them to be together like this in it. Kind of a spooky thought since he shuddered at the idea of Zoe doing this very same thing to Wash while they were alone up here.

He slid a finger inside of her. She was ready for him, but he wanted to anyway. He loved watching her face when he did things to her, for her. There was something heady about bringing a woman to the edge and having the control over whether she'd cross it or not. There'd been a time or two, just for fun, he'd held off letting her. He'd never heard a woman say his name in a begging manner before, but when River did it was all kinds of arousing. He never lasted very long inside her those times, ready to finish just from watching her.

He shifted then, making room for her, arms going around her waist to guide her onto him.

"River," he murmured when she didn't seem as willing to come to him as he'd thought.

"No, Sir, sorry, it's just me," Zoe said, hand against his forearm and his arm inexplicably encircling her waist. That was pity in her eyes, or something akin to it. Where they hell had that come from? And why? "It's time. They're due here any minute."

"Right. Sorry. Must have dozed off."

"I doubt you got much sleep last night, no one thinks worse of you for falling asleep for thirty minutes."

"Is that how long it was? Feels like I've been sleeping for days."

"You were dreaming, probably why."

"Yeah, I was."

"You should count yourself lucky it was me that came in here and found you and not Wash or Jayne. I'm sure they'd say something about you being too old for them types of dreams, Sir."

"And you just didn't?"

"No, Sir, was merely stating an opinion on what the others would say."


"Well, it's time to get this rescue underway then I guess."


She'd bided her time, gaining as much information as she could about those who held her. They weren't Alliance, they weren't after her son, and they weren't really after her either. They were after someone or something they thought she was. Only thing was, she wasn't. She was just a woman, trained to do the things she did by the Alliance.

Reading their thoughts was easy. They must not have realized she was a psychic because they made no effort to screen whatsoever. They said little to one another but words like Watchers, Slayers, and Lurks were frequently in their thoughts. The fact that she was born to do the things she did another. Something she'd done had drawn their attention to her, she still wasn't sure what. They'd been tracking her for a while. Why they'd chosen now to take her she didn't know. She was just glad that both of her Mal's weren't who they were after.

They weren't very smart. Underestimated her, which they shouldn't have done even if she was who they thought she was. She'd caught glimpses in their mind, battles, hand to hand combat always a woman and a lurk. Whatever that was. Fights to the death, only the lurks didn't seem to die so much as disintegrate. The images in their mind told her a story of women, and there were many, strong and capable to stand up to most anyone. Certainly, the group of them.

She'd waited, letting them think she was complacent. She knew they were set to get Mal soon. She would be ready to greet him when they got here. She wasn’t sure why they were bringing Mal into it. No one's thoughts on that were very clear, which made her think that maybe someone else, not here, was calling the shots. She did read that it wasn't to give her back to him.

She acted the next time her captors opened the door. She faced the wall as they requested, hands clutched behind her so they could see them. What they weren't counting on, though, was despite not eating or drinking anything the entire time she'd been here - and she had no idea how long that had been - she was still quick. And as Mal liked to say, stealthy as hell. Underestimation.

It was fast, a hard jab with the palm of her hand to one's nose and an elbow to the Adam's apple of the other put them down so she could disengage them further.

The two guards were down that had come to check on her, she grabbed their weapons and disabled their radios so they couldn't inform anyone she had gotten free.

As they had actually not harmed her she did not want to kill, merely disable and leave them unable to follow. It was a difficult task setting her mind around the fact she couldn't take their lives. Somewhere the Alliance training in her was rebelling.

She checked the weapons to ensure they were in fact loaded and ready to go. One thing about having the crew of Serenity teach her about weapons, there was hardly one she wasn't at least familiar with. Mostly in part due to Jayne.

She knew the way out, having spent time concentrating on the guards' movements. She kept her eyes closed, taking one step at a time, slowly so as not to disrupt anything around her. She knew where each and every one was, she knew that two were missing. Gone to get Mal she assumed.

In moves as graceful as the dancing she enjoyed, she disabled the last two on this floor. She got to use a new toy she'd found on one in her cell, nun chucks. Jayne had some, but hadn't done more than gloss over how they worked, insisting she wouldn't want to be close enough to an opponent to need them. Courtesy of her getting up close and personal, neither would walk again for a long time. Again, radios disabled.

She made her way up a level, scanning with her mind to be sure nothing had changed during the scuffle with the two guards below.

The gun at the ready, she found the guard near the door. Hopefully, he'd be the last one she needed to contend with today.

"You're going to unlock the door now," she whispered. The engaging of the gun should have been enough to tell this man she was serious. If he stood in the way of her getting out, she would shoot first and worry about having killed someone later. Her freedom was at stake, her seeing her son again was at risk. She read enough to known they had no plans on releasing her back to the life she was currently leading.

"There's no place for you to go. Your head was covered, you have no idea which way to go."

"Let me worry about that." She tapped his head with the base of the gun, not enough to disable him just so he'd know she wasn't afraid. "I'm not asking again. Open the door." He hesitated, she moved the gun, pointing it at his foot. "You dare test me?" She couldn't take the risk of a warning shot, the others would hear it and come. She'd managed to get this far without killing anyone and wanted to keep it that way.

He did as she asked. For the first time since they'd put something over her head at the bar she was seeing daylight. It took her a minute to acclimate. The gun at his head never wavered, though, and he seemed to sense that.

"Give me your radio."


"You're going to go back inside and stand guard like you were before."

"You aren't going to get away."

"I will. They're almost here."

"How do you know?"

She smiled widely. "Because I can read his thoughts again." That meant they were close. Close enough for her to leave this one out here? No, because they'd see him and wonder why he was here.

"Radio. Back inside." Out here she could give a warning shot and did just that, missing his foot by a scant inch or two. "Now."

He was right, there wasn't anything out here, but there was a mule similar to the one on Serenity. Only not as nice, which was saying something. Whoever these people were, they weren't very well organized or funded, and they were pretty dumb. So, she was no longer worried about them as a threat to her. She'd just have to keep her mind tuned at all times now. She'd gotten lax at doing that, comfortable in knowing that Mal could take some of the noise away from her. She'd take the noise if it meant retaining her freedom.

Assuming the vehicle they were using was housed with the one remaining she stepped round the corner, back flush against it so that no one could get behind her. For the first time in a while, she felt her blood pumping, her body ready for the action it was made for. She heard the low hum grow louder as they made their approach. She risked a look around the corner, spotted the two she thought were with Mal and no others. She wasn't sure how many remained inside, three maybe including the one she'd sent back inside.

She didn't wait until they'd come to a full stop, merely slowed. Mal's eyes widened, not registering who she was at first. She tossed one of her weapons in his direction, unsure if they'd patted him down for his.

She shot the tires out of the spare mule, before pointing her weapon at the two men. She hadn't seen these two before. That she remembered.

"Out now," she said.

"Oh come on now, bao bay," he said, conking first one and then the other over the head with the butt of the weapon she'd tossed in his direction. "You can't expect me to not reek some damage on the folk who took you."

"Talk later," she muttered, jumping into the vehicle. "Go now. More inside. They'll come quickly."

"All right. Damned good to see you, by the way."

"You, too. You remember how to get back?"

"Engrained in my head." He paused just briefly, giving her a once over. "Glad to see you're all right. None the worse for wear, a little disheveled but that's not exactly a new look for you."

"Same could be said for you, husband."

He smiled with a wink and her stomach did that flip-floppy thing that it had no business doing right now. She turned to face away from him, watching their backs as he drove in the direction of home. Odd that she'd come to think of a ship, a constantly moving, non-stationary object as home.

Confident he'd handle any opposition they might come up against in that direction she remained facing away. She couldn't help but smile at his thoughts, glad he couldn't see her. He might get worried she was lapsing back into her crazy time.

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