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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
River talks to Mal, the identity of the bidder is discovered, Inara and Mal have a slight fluff moment, lil Jayne background
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1427 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Life’s Too Short- Part Twenty
Author’s Note: Okay, here we go: secrets are revealed, and the identity of the bidder is discovered!
“Captain Daddy, do you hear me?” Mal started from his place at the helm of Serenity and looked around, certain he’d just heard River’s voice. Zoe hadn’t moved from her seat in the copilot’s chair, and Mal frowned. Behind him, Jayne’s boots clanged against the steel floor as he paced. “You do.” Now her voice sounded satisfied. Mal almost stood up, but then remembered. She was a Reader, wasn’t she? Telepathy and whatnot. Hell, if Wash could haunt and save him and ‘Nara both, then River could speak to him in his head.
“Yeah,” Mal thought, wondering if she could hear him back.
“I can,” came the hollow voice from within his mind. It was an eerie feeling, as if cold water was being poured into his ears.
“Thought you was gone for good,” he thought to her.
“Oversight. I forgot you’d follow.”
“Hard to follow when there ain’t no where to go.”
“Good. Don’t. Not your job. Stay away.”
“Albatross, you got to come back. Simon’s fallin’ to pieces without you, an’ we need our pilot.”
“He’ll be all right. It’s important that you don’t follow.”
“Why not? I’m not leavin’ you to die alone out there.”
“Two words. One name. Dillon Saunders.” Mal blinked. Zoe must have seen the confusion on his face, and she looked askance, but he said nothing. Aloud, that was.
“You remember. Third Company, fifth team, twenty years old, taken for questioning.” Mal thought hard for a moment.
“No. Saunders was blown up. The whole team was hit by a grenade; they all died.”
“Zoe ‘n I, we went in. There was nothin’ left, I mean nothin’. Saunders died with the rest of them.”
“They pulled him out,” River whispered. “The pulled him out of the fires and kept him alive. They wanted him to tell them locations. Codes. That sort of thing.”
“No. Not possible,” Mal thought to her. She went on, her voice taking on that disconnected echo that he remembered from her ‘crazy time’.
“They pulled him from the fires. Hooked him up to machines, but wouldn’t fix him. Let him fester. Lost the eyes, lost the lips, lost the nerves. Lost the legs. Perfect, perfect tongue. He told. They said they’d kill him after he told, but they didn’t. They left him. From the fires to the cold, and then nothing. Oh god, the darkness.” Mal’s mind went numb with horror and disbelief.
“You’re tellin’ me Dillon Saunders was tortured for information after- after me’n Zoe thought he was dead? So no one… no one ever…”
“No one ever came for him. No one ever came back.”
“And… he didn’t know that, did he? That we thought he was…?”
“Left alone in the darkness, blind and hating. Hating everyone, now. So you can’t come after me, Captain Daddy. Darkness is contagious, but I’m immune.”
“Huh?” He was still stuck on the awful reality of what had happened to the young man who’d once come to him and asked for help prayin’ for his sweetheart back home. What he’d done to him. I left him, Mal was thinking. I didn’t even… I never even thought he might be still alive.
“He must be stopped,” River continued. “I can stop him.”
“Where is he, River?” There was no answer. “River?” No one but him in his head.
Mal turned to Zoe.
“It’s Dillon Saunders,” he said. Her face went blank.
“Who hired Jennings. It’s Dillon Saunders.”
“Saunders? The kid from the Third and fifth?”
“He got blown up,” she said indelicately.
“No,” Mal said, eyes haunted. “Alliance pulled him out an’ wouldn’t let him die, but wouldn’t heal him, either. Tortured him by not touching him. Now, he’s after River for something, some plan to… I dunno, get back at the world.”
“That’s what I said,” Mal muttered. “No wonder she doesn’t want me to follow her. He’d kill me soon as look at me. Thinks I left him there. I was his commanding officer, and I left him there.”
* * * *
Jayne didn’t stop pacing when Mal started talking to Zoe. He did glance over to see that the Captain’s face had gone a strange shade of gray, but he didn’t hear River’s name crop up so he didn’t try to eavesdrop. Instead, he took the three jogging steps it took to reach the lower hallway, and continued clanking about. The noise soothed him. Jayne always was one for loud noise.
He remembered when he was a kid, living poor in the city. A family of four: his mama, his little brother, and his pa. Pa was a gang chief, leading a thieving crew in the slums. Not too different from now, Jayne thought ironically. Only back then, Jayne had been the noisemaker. He would stand lookout, and whenever cops came round, or anyone with that bad look to ‘em, he would clang and bang out a warning with cans or bottles or whatever was nearby.
He left when he turned fourteen, and took his mama with him. His brother, too.
They went to New Rotterdam, which was not much better than Coris but at least it was far away from his pa. There, Jayne had gotten a job carrying supplies for a trucking company, and had supported his family as best he could. Still was, though no one knew it. Everyone on Serenity either mocked him or frowned at him for spendin’ his cut so fast… what they didn’t know was that a good portion of it went back home to an aging, uneducated mother and a easy-to-get-sick little brother. ‘Course, if that ever got out… well, it wouldn’t.
Now, Jayne was privately regressing. Back to his childhood, or what he called a childhood; back to that feeling of helplessness. A little boy stuck in a rut of life, unable to see beyond it. A man stuck in another rut, unable to climb out. He wasn’t used to being helpless. He had been a child once, sure, but a child that had grown up fast, running from the instant his mama first said ‘don’t look, Jayney, Pa’s punishin’.’ Don’t look.
He had looked, though.
It had hardened him from the age of ten, until four years later he was strong enough to escape that life. Now, he was helpless again and it was driving him crazy. Crazy like the Moonbrain, his scary, beautiful, dangerous, weapon of a girl.
He hoped Mal would find a way to follow her.
* * * * Kaylee sat with her back against the engine room wall, crying into her fists. Not sobbing, but just… tears.
Sometimes, she almost wished she was back home with her family, living blissfully unaware of real trouble. But then, she’d look at Simon, and at Serenity, and at her family here, and thank God that she’d left the prairie. Now was one of those times. Kaylee wiped her eyes, stood, and looked around. There had to be some work she could do. Something to get Serenity flyin’ better so they could find River sooner.
* * * * Mal sat at the kitchen table. They were drifting, unable to do anything until they found out where Dillon Saunders was. And that would take hours of work on the Cortex. Damn it. He sat with his head in his hands, mentally kicking himself again and again. Not so much for Saunders, now, but for not asking River more. Maybe she would have told him… something, anything about how to find her. Didn’t she know they couldn’t just sit here and wait for her?
“Mal?” He felt a smooth, warm hand come to rest gently on his shoulder, and waved a hand absently at Inara. Go away. It didn’t work. She sat down beside him, lifting a hand to hesitantly brush his bangs off his face. Her hand felt good against his brow.
“Inara,” Mal said, mouth working. He couldn’t think of anything else to say. Go away. Come closer. Love me. Leave me. Let me take you home. Let me make you safe. Run. Get out of here. I can’t make you safe. “Inara.”
“Don’t push me out, Mal,” she said softly. “Not now.”
“Ain’t nothin’ you can say.” The words didn’t come out as harshly as he’d wanted.
“I’m not leaving you, Mal,” she told him, using that damned intuition that drove him nuts. “So don’t even ask. Besides, both the shuttles are gone.”
“Shh,” she whispered, scooting her chair closer and drawing his head down to her breast. He let her hold him, his ear resting just below her collarbone. He could hear the steady pounding of her heart. His arms went around her waist, and Mal closed his eyes. He let her comfort him, not knowing exactly why. Another time, he would be aloof and distant, despite what had happened between them. Another time. Why not now? He honestly didn’t know, but he was unwilling to pull away.
“Nara, I shoulda asked her more,” he said, knowing that she didn’t know what he was talking about.
“Shh, Mal, it’s okay. It’s going to be all right.”
“No it ain’t,” he argued. She stroked his hair, and he knew that this was the other half of being a Companion. Comfort. Soothing. A woman who could hold you and stroke your hair and tell you it’s okay. It’s okay. Now, I won’t let anything hurt. Suddenly, he felt immensely sorry for Inara. Who would do that for her?
“Yes, yes it is. Do you know why?”
“Because you still owe me that date.”
“You never took me to dinner, Captain Reynolds. And I will not let it go lightly.”
“Took you to that… that ball thingy.”
“That was a job. Doesn’t count.” He was smiling despite himself. “And besides, look where it ended up. Maybe you shouldn’t take me somewhere fancy… every time you wear a suit, you get hurt.” He lifted his head enough to smirk at her.
“Must be my stunning good looks. Make people jealous, you know.”
“Of course,” Inara said, a smile in her voice. “And to think. All that agony of getting fitted, and for nothing. I guess suits just aren’t for you.” He sat up, pretending amazement.
“Are you finally admitting my wonderful fashion sense?” She considered.
“No. Just that suits… hmm, maybe corduroys and a belt? Turtlenecks? Tucked in, of cou-”
“No!” She laughed, he laughed, and for a moment, it really was okay.
* * * * Dillon Saunders sits in his room, busy. He is imagining. He is imagining the looks on the faces of all the head politicians when his announcement comes on. He is imagining worlds blowing up, all at once. Kaboom. He wonders how loud it will sound, or if it will make any noise at all. He supposes he won’t hear it: in space, sounds do not carry. Saunders chuckles to himself. He remembers an old movie he’d seen as a kid, remembers the tagline: In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream. Problem is, he wants to hear it. He wants to hear everyone scream.
Wants to hear the bombs going off, like that bomb. The bomb that went off and destroyed him.
TBC: Next: The crew works on finding Saunders, and River plots.
Sunday, June 04, 2006 7:56 AM
Sunday, June 04, 2006 11:09 AM
Sunday, June 04, 2006 11:47 AM
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