BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

KACIDILLA

Parting Gifts - Part 3
Monday, August 7, 2006

Okay...this is the third part. Kinda short, comparatively speaking. Tess and Mal catch up, River interrupts, Mal *really* catches up...


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1751    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

"No, I think you're confusing that with the other time we tried to run away," Mal corrected her. Tess was laughing too hard to respond. "This one, I was only 7 and you were 5 and you took it upon yourself to leave your daddy a note saying you would return when you felt like it!" "No, but," Tess was gulping for air and trying to regain a stable breathing pattern. "I coulda sworn we ran away with the horses that time and when we fell asleep, the horses went back to your mother's and led everyone back t'us..." "And ya got the sunburn on your shoulders?" "Yeah..." "That was when you were eight," Mal insisted, punctuating his thought by slapping the floor of the shuttle. They had moved to the empty shuttle when Mal had heard Jayne come looking for him. It was Tess's notion that they shirk duty for a moment and - as had happened quite frequently growing up - Mal had followed her plan of inaction. They now sat on the floor of the shuttle, reminding each other of the pranks they had pulled on each other and the other various foolish games they had played on parents, ranch hands, neighboring children and anyone else they could trick. They re-visited their parents' ill-conceived - and eventually forgotten - plans to marry them off and looked again at the hijinks Mal had played on several of Tess's suitors and Tess's tortorous secret-spilling games around the girls Mal might have considered chasing after. Tess had admitted to making up several secrets about Mal that she "spilled" to the girls and more than a few of the secrets about the girls that she "spilled" to Mal. Tess told him about her courtship and marriage to Percy Ban, the Core Bore, and the accident that had made her a widow. Mal told her what others on the ship knew about the War...and, because she was Tess, he gave her a few other pieces to the puzzle. She knew there was more to the stories he told her and knew there would always be a part of him that was his own secret; she expected that. There had been too many years and too much between them to be as close as their childhood had made them. Mal knew there was more to what Tess wanted to tell him, but she seemed to be taking her time getting to it. Mal didn't remember Tess being so tight-lipped with him. But, he reasoned, he didn't remember keeping secrets from her, either. They sat in the fading effects of memory lane tripping, when the shuttle door opened. They both tensed, the same guilty looks of runaway children caught by well-meaning parents passing over their faces as River entered the shuttle. She saw them and closed the door behind her. Tess looked to Mal for explanation, but saw he relaxed and was watching the girl. "Who's flying the ship, little one?" he asked. She turned to him and shrugged. "I am," she said lightly. She turned to Tess as she sat down in front of her. "Tess Ban," Tess introduced herself, holding out her hand. She was mesmerized by the dark haired child. There seemed to be something about her... "River Tam," the girl responded, staring at Tess's hand. Tess gave up and put her hand back in her lap. Mal seemed content to just watch the two grow accustomed to each other. Tess watched River watch her. "When you close your eyes, what do you see?" River's question was quiet and Tess saw that Mal strained to hear it. She looked steadily at River as she answered. "The future." "The future? What's going on, Tess?" Mal asked, his curiosity getting the better of him. "We'll get you there," River promised. "You'll be safe with us." Tess smiled, finally relaxing. She reached out and touched River's dark hair. "You've got such lovely hair," she said suddenly. "My hair never grew straight. You 'member the tangles I used to have, Mal?" "Tell me what's going on," Mal urged. "I ain't one for flying blind when I don't have to." "My daddy used to think I tangled my hair up on purpose," Tess went on, blithely ignoring the tears welling up in her eyes as she finger-combed River's hair. River let her, smiling as she listened. "Said I was tryin' to drive him crazy with my antics and all. Said I'd never live to see old age, the way I carried on." "Tess..." Mal stopped when he saw the tears spill out of her eyes. He had never seen her cry before. He stood and went to her, bending down to collect her in his arms. "Oh, Mal," she laughed, trying to push him away. "Don't you know anything at all? I'm only playing..." He picked her up despite her lie and settled the two of them on one of the seats along the wall. River simply shook her head at Mal, confirming what he already knew. Something was definitely wrong. He just wished he knew what it was. "Sure ya'are," he murmured. She cried in his arms. He held her as she cried, simply cradling her and lending him what support he could. "This is nothing," she sniffled into his shirt after a while. "It's just been such a long time..." "Hey, y'know," Mal interrupted, still very aware of River's presence in the shuttle. "River here is just looking for a bearing, and I've got to admit, I'd sit here shirkin' duty with you a lot more pleasant-like if you'd tell me where it is you need to be headin'." "Oh," Tess bit her lip as she sat up and looked at River pointedly. "Y'see, I don't...care overly much..." Mal, who had heard Tess use this manner of asking a favor before many times, waited. "But I suppose if you were headed in one direction or t'other, I could still buy passage to Shadow..." "Shadow?" he asked, surprised. "You're...you wanna go back to Shadow?" "I have some things there that need tendin' to," Tess said, staring rather intently at her hands. "Such as?" he asked. When she didn't respond, he continued. "Ain't nothin' on Shadow but death, Baby Girl." She looked him in the eye, then and half-smiled. "I know," she shrugged. "But I want to be buried between Daddy and Percy." "You tell me what's going on, Tess," Mal said, swallowing heavily. "Or I will ask River to stop this ship from heading to..." His voice faltered. He looked at River. She still watched Tess, although he knew she was now avoiding his eyes. "You knew," he said thickly. "You were takin' us there already, weren't you?" "It's on the way," River said honestly. "On the way to what?" he nearly shouted. Tess stood up and would have walked away, had Mal not reached out and grabbed her hand. "She needs to go there," River whispered. "She does. She needs to say good-bye and have her peace." Mal looked to Tess. "I never told her anything," Tess whispered. "I swear to you, Mal, I didn't know we were already headin' that ways, you know I'da told you 'fore I'd breathe a whisper to anyone else." "I'm not worried about that," Mal said, his patience beginning to run thin. "I want to know what you have to make peace about. Who're you sayin' your good-byes to?" "Oh, Mal," Tess sighed, stepping close to him. She bent down to his face and kissed his cheek lightly. "You."

COMMENTS

Monday, August 7, 2006 4:54 PM

TAMSIBLING


Oh, this is killing me! I love Tess and Mal - not in the way I love M/I and kind of in the "I'm a little glad she's going to die" way - but I love Tess and I love how Mal is when he's with her ... could this perhaps prompt a conversation with a certain Companion regarding his past???

Post more!

Monday, August 7, 2006 7:51 PM

LEIASKY


I really do like the ease with which Mal and Tess talk with each other. Like the complete opposite of Mal and Inara.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006 12:06 AM

AMDOBELL


This is beautifully written but now Tess really must come clean and tell Mal about the fact that she is dying and when and so on. Dragging it out like this is painful though I just love the way Mal and Tess are with each other. Draws such a vivid picture of a childhood shared. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, August 8, 2006 9:19 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Wow....definitely always something to see Mal being all soft and comforting to someone...but this moment really take a dessert food or two:D

Really want Tess to come clean with Mal ASAP about what she's suffering from...Mal needs the time to adjust and grieve if Simon or MacGuffin item the crew goes after can't cure her. Mal deserves it.

And can we possibly see an Inara/Tess conversation? Cuz I really think it would be beneficial for both women to learn from one another about the man they care so much about:)

BEB

Tuesday, August 8, 2006 2:54 PM

KACIDILLA


um...i finished writing it and i'm just posting it in pieces...i hope you like the rest of it... THANK YOU ALL FOR THE COMMENTS!!!! they're definitely inspiring me to keep posting. :)


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