"You ain't making a convincing argument on me not shooting you full of holes."
"Ooh, you want me to convince you not to shoot! Well gee, I dunno. We're in a spaceship. A bullet ricochets off my bone, pierces a pipe, gas leaks in, we all die. Easy as pie."
Mal cocked his gun. "... Okay, you might have a point. A point as to how perhaps I should just kick you out of the airlock instead."
"Not a bad idea." The stowaway grinned, full of teeth. "Would also spare you the cost of a bullet!"
"... Are you trying to get me to shoot you?"
"Naw. I'm trying to get you to try to shoot me. Big difference."
Mal nodded. "Yeah, you're trying to get me to shoot you all right."
The stowaway chuckled, and then sighed and seemed to settle down a bit, reclining against the wall. Mal didn't trust any of it. Guy who didn't even have the decency to look slightly nervous with a gun aimed at his guts was not a guy to be trusted on nothing else.
"Naw, really, I'm not worth a bullet. Also, the blood would be a bitch to clean."
"And so we're back to our friend the airlock."
The guy grinned in honest amusement. Well gee, Mal always liked his quips to be appreciated, but there was something a mite unsettling about how flippant-like he took it nonetheless.
"Get the feeling you ain't taking this quite serious."
"Oh, I'm taking you plenty serious."
"Yet I notice you ain't, oh, I dunno, groveling for stowing away on my boat, or offering money so I don't boot you overboard, or building some big grand lie about how you're the only one as knows where some lost treasure ship floats away in the black."
The kid gave him a considering hum. "I don't grovel very well. And I'm pretty broke at the moment. The treasure ship, though -- Hmm. Nah. Not really the kind of riches you can pile up and roll in."
He scrutinized Mal for another couple of seconds, nodded decisively to himself, and smiled.
"Name's Duo Maxwell. How would you like an invisibility cloak for your