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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
A brief interlude as Serenety and crew make their way to Whitefall.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2677 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Disclaimer: Characters do not belong to me, they are the property of Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy and Fox.
Feedback is always welcome.
Takes place shortly after the series ended and about a month after the events in Delta Rain. Long time coming for this chapter, sorry about that. Had some RL things going on, work and all that...plus one nasty case of writers block! Big thanks go out to Tori and Cassie and Jebbypal for continued swift kicks in the rear...and a speedy beta from Cassie, thanks so much!
* Quote from Delta Rain, by The Blessing
Chinese translations: Hwoon dahn: Son of a bitch
Zoe paused in the doorway to the bridge; she loved seeing her husband like this. He'd taken a break from playing with the dinosaurs to go over some charts. Mal had asked him to plot a less direct route to Whitefall, just in case. His face was serious and calm as he hunched over the console.
Smiling serenely, she walked over and smoothed his hair down. He had a habit of running his fingers through it when he was concentrating or nervous, made it stick up kinda funny. In a cute, totally sexy way.
"Hey wife," he turned and gave her that smile that always made her feel warm and loved, seeing that smile was like finding home every time, "thought you'd gone to bed."
"Not yet," she leaned down and gave him a gentle kiss, "Mal wanted to talk some thing over. Like how to deal with Patience if that is what River has in mind."
"I'm still for the shooting her first thing." he said jokingly.
"Hardly conductive to getting her to help us, wouldn't you think?" Zoe responded with a smile, settling down next to him in her favorite spot.
"See, I'm just not seeing the whole Patience helping us out thing." a slight frown creased his brow. Zoe resisted the urge to smooth it out.
"Me either." she said softly, turning slightly so she could gaze out at the black. "I hope River knows what she is looking to find there."
Inara sat before her cortex screen, studiously going over her client lists for the past few years. She'd started with the vain hope that she'd run across one they might turn to for help, even though she knew Mal would never allow her to expose herself, or them, in that way. But it had been something she could do to feel useful. Instead, all she had discovered was that over 90% of her former clientele had strong ties to either the Alliance or Blue Sun. She wasn't sure if she was more disturbed by that fact or that she had never noticed it before.
She had always prided herself on being an extremely observant person. But this had never caught her eye, probably because it was so accepted; wealth and prestige went hand in hand with Alliance ties and Blue Sun was the largest corporation in the Core. Still, she should have seen this. She turned as Mal's light footsteps entered the shuttle.
"'Nara." He said his voice weary. He hovered for a moment by the door; it still surprised her how he seemed so uncertain of his welcome at times. It was so at odds with his habit of barging in uninvited on most other occasions. She'd learned to judge what he needed from her by it; the more hesitant he was, the more he needed to talk something out, or simply relax and get away for a bit.
"You should rest," She told him gently as she rose. "There isn't much you can do till we reach Whitefall." She watched as he sat down on the couch.
"An' that's the whole problem," He muttered, "Feelin' more'n a mite useless right now." A wry smile touched his lips. She settled comfortably next to him, her knees pressing lightly against his as she half-turned to face him.
"River didn't tell you why she thinks we need to go to Whitefall?" She asked him, concerned.
"It seems she's not sure herself what we're lookin' for there." Mal answered, a slight undertone of frustration creeping in.
"So, we really have no plan beyond getting there at this point." She stated softly.
"Yep, that's the whole plan." His face settled into determined lines, "Still, we got a few ideas worked on just in case."
"That's good." Inara smiled at him. His head tilted back and he closed his eyes, she watched as the tension eased out of him a bit. He never truly relaxed, she mused to herself. His guard was always up, even when sleeping. She was beginning to understand the full meaning behind the phrase "sleeping with one eye open". Mal fit it perfectly.
She had never dreamed her and Mal would end up like this. Well, maybe a little dream; she smiled ruefully as she brushed a lock of his hair back into place. He turned his head to her and cracked one eye open to peer at her.
"Lay down." She ordered him gently as she slid away from him. When it appeared he wasn't going to comply she added teasingly. "Or are you planning on sleeping sitting up?"
"Well, usually when one sleeps layin' down they move to the bed." He drawled back at her.
"It's a little awkward rubbing your temples when we are on the bed." She gave a husky laugh at his befuddled expression. For all that they had been getting close the past month or two, they had not indulged in much physical contact outside of a sexual context. Most of their time together had been spent talking, punctuated by wonderful bursts of lovemaking. But she'd been oddly hesitant to offer him anything like a massage before. The fear that it would remind him that she'd been trained to cater to a client’s every whim had been too strong.
"Well now..." He paused, obviously lost for words, "that's an offer not to be refused." Still, he stretched out slowly. His blue eyes gazing up at her questioningly; giving her a chance to change her mind about this. The curve in the couch made things a bit difficult; but after she nodded her consent to him Mal settled himself in a comfortable position, his head resting on Inara's lap. The thought that she had never been in such an intimate position before drifted across her mind.
With her clients, well, she had certainly never let one of them rest their head in her lap like this. Almost all physical contact occurred on the bed. A few times she had given a back or neck rub to a client as they sat in her chair near the cortex screen, foot rubs she performed with the client resting on the couch while she knelt on the floor. Never like this. This left her feeling vulnerable. And the oddest part was that she didn't mind that vulnerable feeling. A part of her told her she would never be able to go back to shutting her emotions off into a little corner anymore. Not to the degree she would need to do, to return to her former life.
In all honesty, giving up her Companion status had been more of a relief then she had thought it would be. It had been getting increasingly difficult to do even before she given into this. Just something about Mal, being around him, made her long for something...more. She had tried to run when the cracks in her control first became clear. When she had come across him the morning after him and Nandi...even now she could not think of that day without a sharp jab of pain.
It had been too late to run by then. Mal and Serenity had already gotten a firm hold on her. And maybe, just maybe, Zoe had the right of it that some things were worth fighting to keep hold of. She smiled tenderly down at his sleeping face, a sense of wonder that he was letting her watch over his dreams filling her.
Jayne pulled himself from sleep slowly, he was still feeling groggy from the drugs. He knew that it must be sometime early morning, which meant they'd been captured goin' on 24 hours now.
He turned his head to look at Simon; the Doc's soft snorin' had been enough to tell he was still there. He had kinda a girly snore, figured. Here he was stuck in some godforsaken hellhole with Simon, it was rather ironical. Of all the folks on Serenity, Simon was his least favorite. He knew a lot of that had initially been due to Simon's presence ending any chance of gettin' anywhere with Kaylee. Not that it had ever been a big chance; Kaylee always viewed him more like a brother.
Truth was, he viewed her more like a sister too. It'd just been so long since he'd had call to care for any but himself that he'd figured, at first, that it was because he wanted more then friendship from her. But even in a big brother kinda way, Kaylee's interest in the young Doc had bugged him no end. Man was stuffy beyond belief and had not a lick of sense in him. Of course, he thought with a smirk, he himself weren't the type no big brother would ever want ta see their sister with.
There was a certain poetry to the way things had turned out; Kaylee and River being best friends, him and Simon...not, but Simon had ended up gettin' the girl he'd come ta think on as bein' a sister, and he'd ended up with Simon's actual sister. And Simon was takin' it all better'n he'd have thought possible. Oh sure, he got in his share of quips about him still. But they were lacking some of the bite they used ta have. Heck, even his own barbs was getting a mite dull where Simon was concerned.
It was almost like they was coming to an understandin' of sorts. Not that he'd ever tell Simon this, but he'd always felt a certain admiration for what he'd done for River. And at St. Lucy's he'd seen the Doctor that Simon could'a been. Would have been if he hadn't tossed it all away for his sister. That'd been the second time that day he'd almost gone back on his plan to turn 'em in. First time'd been when River woke and said that thing 'bout a copper for a kiss. If it hadn't been so gorram close to that bit about Judas from the Bible that Pa used ta read 'em on Sunday's, he'd'a thought she was flirtin' with him.
He should'a known after he felt that urge not to turn them in for the third time that maybe it wasn't his brightest idea; that one'd come after Simon told him 'bout them cutting into her brain like that. Makin' it so's she felt everything. But being honest here, he hadn't really started to get how bad he'd messed up till Mal hit him with that gorram wrench and put him in the airlock to space him. His teachers always said he was a bit slow. He was startin' ta think they'd been right.
What if's--regrets. They were tricky things, like he'd told Simon last night. Part of him wondered what would'a been if they hadn't gotten out of there, if Mal and Zoe hadn't been on the other side of that door, if Mal hadn't decided to spare him at the last moment. He knew it was pointless worrin' on it now, things had worked out, in spite of everything. He'd learned somethin' from it, or had started on learnin' it anyways. But it scared him that so many things could'a happened different and if they had, he'd be dead.
He had no doubt if those Blue Hand creeps'd gotten hold of them then, he'd have been more'n worthless to them. So they'd'a killed him sure. Probably Simon too, though they might'a found a use for him. And River, he didn't even want ta think what they'd be doing to her now if they had her. That scared him worse then knowin' he'd be dead. Of course, those hwoon dahn might not have River now, but they did have him and they knew he was bonded to her. No telling how they planned ta use that, but he was sure it weren't gonna be enjoyable. For him or River.
And that thing the Doctor had said 'bout finding a way to break the bond. Maybe part of him had been all uncertain he wanted this bond at first; never in a million years would have thought he, Jayne Cobb, would end up in whatever kind of relationship he had with River. But now that he had it the thought of it bein' taken from him brought out all kinds of worry in him. Only thing he'd ever had in his life so precious to him had been Ma and Timmie and he'd lost both of 'em, he weren't 'bout to lose River too.
Even though it felt a bit like he already had. This not feeling her in his mind was drivin' him crazy. In the past month or so they had gotten even closer; her presence, cool and soft, always at the edge of his senses. The stray thoughts and images he picked up from her gettin' more frequent an' clear. Most of the time it was just that feeling that she was there; knowing, always where she was. She could be on the other side'a the ship and he could pinpoint her exact location on a map. But the last clear feeling of her being there had been her warning right before Atherton and his men had shown up.
Jayne's lip curled a bit as he went over that moment again; River's warning had been filled with fear for Simon. Her voice ripping through his mind screaming Simon's name and the fear that someone was after him. He knew it shouldn't bug him that she hadn't been concerned for him, likely she'd felt he could take care'a himself. Plus, Simon was her brother, course she'd be all concerned for him. But it would'a been nice to have felt at least a flash'a worry for him too.
He let out a sigh as Simon started to stir over on the other cot.
River gently climbed over Kaylee's sleeping form, careful not to wake her. She stood for a moment gazing down, envying that Kaylee had found some measure of peace in sleep. Her own dreams had been more troubling then restful. With a sigh she turned to look around Jayne's room.
She had been down here three times before; the first had been the night she had come to tell him his Ma had died. It had been too dark that night to take in much, and she had been more focused on other things. Like her promise and admiring Jayne. A smile curved her lips as she remembered how he had looked that night, all peaceful and vulnerable.
The other two times had been in the week after that, before they reached his family’s home. She'd followed him down when he'd tried to hide from her. He'd been so angry at her then, angry and scared, yelling at her to get the hell outta his bunk. She had not seen much those times either, not with Jayne blocking her from getting much further in then the ladder. She could have followed him down after, but that had been too dangerous, too tempting for things that should not happen yet to happen.
Only now they might not ever happen and if she had let them happen before then she would be able to feel him now. She would not be empty and alone. Only able to feel what they did to him and not able to feel him. That warm, savage, earthy, primal presence of him.
And she would have the memories of touching him; sliding her hands over his bare skin, tangling in his dark chest hair, the firm muscles resting underneath his warm skin. Of his sounds and smells, his taste and touch, feeling him inside her. She'd have more then a couple kisses and the feeling of being held in his arms while they snuggled on the chair together to remember. More then the feel of his hard body pressing against hers through the layers of their clothes, his eyes darkening with desire at even her slightest touch.
She looked down at the shirt clutched in her hand, wondering when she had pulled it out of its drawer. It was one of her favorites on him, all tight and a faded reddish brown color, like the rusted walls of Kaylee's engine room. He'd been wearing it the day she had told him she could kill him with her mind. As she peeked into the drawer at his other shirts she felt a little surprised at the care they were folded with. Tentatively she sniffed at the shirt, yes, it had a faint trace of his smell on it. So even though he kept them neat they were not necessarily unworn. She folded it back up and tucked it away with the others.
She quietly opened each of the other drawers on the small dresser, checking the location of everything with meticulous care; pants and a ragged, bulky sweater in the bottom one, the shirts in the middle drawer along with socks and his boxers. The top drawer held odds and ends; cigars, a bottle of whiskey, some darning tools, a lot of spare ammo, his wrist bands and a couple pairs of gloves. And one small box.
With trembling hands she pulled it out cautiously, a little shiver of fear that he'd be upset at her for seeing this. After a quick peek at Kaylee to make sure she still slept, she opened the box slowly. On top was a picture of Timmie and him, probably around 10 or so. They were both wearing their Sunday best, Timmie all smiles, Jayne looking like he wanted to be elsewhere, like a mud puddle. She could hear the cajoling his Ma had done to get him to pose nicely and the degeneration into pulling Timmie's pigtails that had come after the picture was shot.
The next one was of the whole family, Matty just a baby. His Ma sitting in a chair holding Matty with his Pa standing behind her, his hand resting on the back of the chair easily. Allie standing straight next to him, looking a little out of place, all prim and proper with a slightly sour look on her face. Jayne next to her, even in the picture he looked fidgety; River got the distinct impression photo days had not been among his favorites. Timmie was on the other side of their Pa, beaming away. Her smile really had been as bright at Kaylee's.
Then there was a wedding photo, his parents looking young and carefree. They appeared to be in their late teens. The lines etched onto their faces by a hard life trying to raise four children on a small holding and a lowly wielders wages not yet evident. Here they were simply two young adults very much in love and looking towards a life spent together.
Jayne and Matty both favored their father strongly, especially Jayne. She was sure their Pa had been nearly as tall as Jayne, maybe an inch shorter. Allie and Timmie favored their Ma, lighter haired and more slightly built, with their mothers eyes, almost oriental looking except for the pale coloring. Timmie however, had been fairly tall, almost rivaling Zoe.
The last picture was of Timmie alone. A portrait posed for on her eighteenth birthday. She had the familiar warm smile in place and was wearing a white party dress, oddly reminiscent to Kaylee's pink one, lots and lots of ruffles and a big hoop skirt. It had a scooped neckline that showed a tasteful amount of cleavage. River wished there was a matching one of Jayne, but she knew that he had managed to hide away from his Ma that day. Someday she'd have to talk him into posing for a picture for her.
She put the photos back in order and closed them back in the box. After she replaced the box in the drawer; she bent down to peek under the bed. Seeing the box his Ma had sent his hat in she pulled it towards her. She already knew what was in this one, but she opened it anyway. He had cleaned all the packing hay out and inside was a small string, a short length of leather actually. The one he had tied her hair back with when they visited the graves. She had returned it to him later that night. And resting next to it was the slender Cortex tube holding the copy of "Jane Eyre" she had gotten Inara to download.
They looked a little lonely in there by themselves. But then, she hadn't really given him anything yet, except the blanket which he slept under every night. The sweater was more his Ma's work then her's.
Working on a sudden impulse; she pulled a slender lock of hair from behind her ear, braiding the strands quickly. She opened the junk drawer to grab his small scissors and snipped off the braid then looped it and tied off the ends with the leather strip. With a solemn kiss, she vowed that Jayne would find it someday and placed it in the box.
After pushing the box back in place she stood and glanced around again, really not much to look at. He was not one for knick-knacks. A simple man with simple needs. He bought his ammo; occasionally a new gun or knife, cigars and some booze, kept some money for emergencies and most of the rest went back to his family.
He hadn't even been visiting the whore houses much lately, even before he had become aware of their bonding. Being around couples that loved each other so much had started to make the whoring seem empty. Started making him want more then just sex, even if he would never have admitted as much. It was a part of why he had accepted what was growing between them so easily, he really had not put up that much of a fuss about it. All things considered.
She spied a strange object resting between the dresser and the wall. Curious, she pulled it out, it was a hollowed out branch that was sealed at both ends. With a puzzled frown she turned it in her heads. As the sound of rain come from it she felt a surge of delight.
And through the gutters there will be water
Running wilder than the sea and as the rain comes down
A thousand circles fade like you and me
They call us lovers because our bony legs are tied
Once more to seed, but there ain’t nothing I won’t risk
To set this bird of love fly free*
As she turned the rain stick over in her hands she discovered that by varying the speed, she could make it a gentle rain or a thunderstorm. She stood there transfixed. Letting the gentle rain sounds go for two or three turns, then throwing in a faster turn for some thunder.
"What's that?" she jumped at Kaylee's sleepy question. As she turned Kaylee giggled. "Sorry, didn't mean ta startle ya."
"It's a rain stick," she beamed at Kaylee as she held it out for her to see, "found it over there."
Kaylee scooted over to the edge of Jayne's bunk to get a better look.
"I heard'a those," She said with a smile, "Can I try it?"
River sat down next to Kaylee and handed her the rain stick, noticing that Kaylee still had her Bunny clutched in one hand. Thinking on Jayne's keeping the string and Kaylee's holding onto Simon's patch even in her sleep, she realized that they all tended to collect things that brought their loved ones closer to them. Her wearing Jayne's things to strengthen the bond between them were a simply more extreme form of the practice.
Simon rubbed the grit out of his eyes and looked back at Jayne. He'd been up most of the night making sure the big man wasn't going to die on him. It was miraculous that the merc had managed to live after what had been done to him; Simon doubted he was aware just what those rods were designed to do to a person. It should have turned his insides into mush in mere seconds, yet it seemed that it hadn't.
Maybe Jayne's guts were tougher then the normal people, might explain why it took more drugs then it does to down a large elephant to put him out. Not for the first time, Simon found himself wondering how Jayne had gotten from the humble holding they had seen and Serenity. But then, everyone on Serenity had secrets except for Kaylee. And himself, they all knew how he'd gotten there. And why. Even River's path was more clouded then his own.
"Ya hear that, Doc?" Jayne asked, cutting into his reverie, "Sounds like it's rainin' out there."
"I don't hear anything." Simon said slowly.
"Really?" Jayne responded in surprise. "There's thunder an' everything."
"Well, it seems your hearing is better then mine." Simon replied dryly.
"Yep." Jayne smirked back at him. The man really was insufferable, Simon was sure the merc took great pride in taking even his most innocuous comment as a complement. His gaze sharpened as the big man started humming softly to himself. It was a haunting melody. Not at all the type of thing he would expect Jayne to be humming, especially at a time like this. In fact, he was sure he'd never heard anything remotely resembling a tune come out of Jayne before. Well, except for that time on Canton, but that hardly counted as a tune.
"What song is that?" He asked him, curious.
"What song?" Jayne looked at him with a frown.
"The one you were just humming." He said with an exasperated sigh. Was it such a complicated question?
"I wasn't hummin'" Jayne growled at him, giving him a strange look.
"Yes, you were." He argued back. "It was something I've never heard before, it went like this..." He hummed back what he could recall. Jayne gazed back at him, his brow creased. Then he suddenly went pale.
"I was hummin' that?" Jayne asked his voice oddly harsh.
"Yes...you all right?" Simon asked him, concerned by the big man's unusual behavior.
"Yea..." Jayne muttered back distractedly, "I'm fine. It's jus', well, River sang that to me a couple'a times. Ain't sure what it is, never heard it all the ways through."
"You heard it from River? When?" Simon asked, rapidly going from stunned to wondering why he was surprised. The merc gave him an uncomfortable look. Simon got the feeling this might be another one of those "he really didn't want to know" topics.
"First time was that night things started 'tween us." Jayne said softly, his gaze drifting off. "After she came ta herself a bit...she was tellin' me 'bout feeling you all. How it never stopped, with all three couples it was one right after the other. Falling, always falling; she said...asked me to catch her. I tried ta tell her I wasn't the kind she wanted catchin' her."
"Yes," Simon responded dryly, "I'm sure you were quite noble about it." This was definitely not a topic he really wanted to be on. Not now, not when he'd been starting to feel he could handle River and Jayne being together. Of course, most men would not be so honest about this topic with a girl's brother as Jayne was liable to be.
"If ya don't wanna talk 'bout it..." Jayne started to say with a hurt tone.
"No, no...sorry," Had he really just apologized to Jayne? "It's just...hard sometimes. The way you talk about River, I'm not used to it. I suppose I should not have been surprised though, it's not like I didn't have any warning that you found her attractive."
"Ya did?" Simon had to chuckle at the puzzled frown on the merc's face.
"Well...you did have a pretty good hold on me the first time you saw her." Was that embarrassment on Jayne's face? Simon would not have that it was possible the man would feel ashamed of his body’s reaction to seeing River naked.
"Well...uh...yea..." Jayne stammered, but before the merc could form a coherent reply the door slid open to reveal the two Hands of Blue.
As he and Jayne stood up, the two men entered the room. Simon watched as they moved over to Jayne's side, each of them taking hold of an arm.
"Where are you taking him?" He found himself asking, partially to head off anything stupid that Jayne might do.
"The Doctor has a few questions for Mr. Cobb." The light haired one replied coldly. "You are to remain here for now, Dr. Tam. To help ensure Mr. Cobb's co-operation, a guard will be just outside the door."
Simon fought down the wave of helplessness and anger as they led Jayne out the door, leaving him alone with his thoughts again.
Monday, May 24, 2004 8:17 PM
Tuesday, May 25, 2004 1:42 AM
Tuesday, May 25, 2004 2:56 AM
Tuesday, May 25, 2004 3:01 AM
Wednesday, June 2, 2004 10:23 AM
Friday, September 2, 2005 9:12 AM
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