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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA
This is set as Mal's long walk home after the war. He struggles with some serious issues such as survivor's guilt, PTSD, and God.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 931 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Title: 171 Oak Drive
Originally posted in LJ community 31nights
Prompt: 69 "Understand, I'm a sinner" Drowning Pool - Sinner
Character: Malcolm Reynolds
Rating: R for graphic images
Notes: I blame a lot of stuff for this drabble such as my mom who watches the rain, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Denis Leary, and as always, I blame my wonderful beta-readers Ashe and Sarah - without them it would be even weirder here....This is set an Mal's long walk home after the war. He struggles with some serious issues such as survivor's guilt, PTSD, God, and other shit. Now, none of it is called that or wrapped up so pretty. Enjoy!
Somewhere Joss Whedon and Nathan Fillion are both having a headache at this same moment.
The transport back to Shadow had been miserable. Every bump, every flash of light, every loud word sent his mind ablaze. His irises constricted, his hands got clammy, and his gun was never close enough. When he noticed the other boys do the same thing, he couldn’t tell if he was comforted or appalled. They were all in the same boat, but it was the worst damn boat in the ‘verse.
None of the boys were his, but some of them clung to him anyway. A few Mal had known from when he was promoted to Captain. Others just knew his name. Most just knew his title, “Where you goin’ to, Sarge?”
“Shadow,” Mal would reply and stare out into the black. The boys’ eyes were vacant. Looking into that blackness was more than he could handle.
Mal had a terrible fear that he could get back to Shadow, but he could never get back home. His cross hung heavy from his neck. Its pressure was intense, but he couldn’t manage to hold it. God had abandoned him and his boys, and yet Mal still couldn’t abandon God. How was that fair? Mal was angry with Him, furious perhaps, but he planned to wait, bear this cross and return when he could. But that fear would never leave. He felt he could get back to God, but he could never get back to that trust. He was afraid that he would never feel God was on his side again.
The shuttle jerked through Shadow’s atmo, and Mal kept his eyes as slits. Local time was past midnight. Outside the shuttle, families waited and thunder cracked. Storms had plagued the planet for at least a month. Crops were beaten to the ground, and animals were being kept in barns causing their muscles to atrophy. Ellen Reynold’s farm was a few miles trek from where the shuttled landed. Too many families offered Mal a ride back. He declined them all. He couldn’t ride with families that were missing sons because of him. Even if the families on Shadow had their sons, all Mal could see them as were families riding with ghosts.
He pulled his coat around him tightly and buckled it as he watched mules ride off in different directions. He pushed out a breath and stared upwards. He didn’t know if he was looking for God, but all he got was rain in his eyes. He pushed his hands in his pockets and began to walk. It would be hours before he’d get to the house. His mama would be sitting on the porch waiting for him. He’d tell her that she should have just gone to bed, and she’d say that she was just watching the rain; God was in the rain.
Mal snorted and shook his head. There weren’t nothing in the rain but water. It had rained in Serenity Valley, and God hadn’t come. Boys just got waterlogged, food got turned into mush, and ammo got ruined. If God were in that water, God was a bastard.
And that was why God couldn’t be in the rain. God and his mother had been Mal’s saving graces too many times. Those two and Lonnie. None of them were bastards. They were his family. Well, Lonnie was a bastard, but that was different.
Mal chuckled deeply in his chest. Lonnie wasn’t that different from God actually. For starters, both were dead. Lonnie would have smacked him for that comment. “God isn’t dead,” he’d say. “Jesus died, but he ain’t dead.” Mal would have just rolled his eyes and called it a technicality.
“Gonna be walking for a while.” Mal glanced beside him and shook his head.
“You ain’t there, Lonnie.” A tall gangly blonde with a crooked nose and an even more crooked smile lopped through the muck of a dirt road and weeks of rain. “Got told about this. Said it was the same sort of go-se that froze up Bendis in Serenity. Night terrors. Seein’ things that ain’t there-”
“Feelin’ guilty that you’re alive?”
Mal shook his head. “You might be dead, you might be fake, but you’re still dumb. That’s somethin’ else.” Mal continued staring straight ahead. There was no reason why he needed to wrestle with his conscience like this.
Lonnie got gutted out on New Kasmir. Ugliest thing Mal had ever seen. The boys getting their heads blown off with those greswalds, that was gruesome, but seeing Lonnie standing there one second shooting off his mouth about how the snow wasn’t that bad, how it made the city look more peaceful, how the right weather could make any ruins look beautiful, and then out of no where having the Alliance bear down on them was something terrible. They tore right through the bastard. The poor idiot was dead before he hit the snow. What made it so terrible was all that red splattering on all that white. It all made Mal sick when he finally had time to think about it.
Lots of other boys saw their end at that little crossroads in New Kasmir. Temples and churches were filled with bodies, and the snow just kept falling. The captain of their platoon got a piece of mortar right in the chest. Meant Mal was the one who got to conduct all the waves home.
“Bein’ pretty quiet, Sarge.”
“Don’t call me that.” Mal glowered at the man that he knew wasn’t really there. “Just a man now.”
“Oh, you know that ain’t ever gonna be true.” Lonnie’s cackle was just as brittle and warm as it had been in life. It wasn’t fair, but Mal decided it would have been worse if it sounded any different. The thought of hearing shrapnel or maggots rattle around in Lonnie’s chest would have been even worse. That was for damn sure.
Mal sent another harsh glare in Lonnie’s direction and then halted in the rain and gawked. “What in the hell happened to you?”
Lonnie quirked up an eyebrow, “Well, I got shot. A few times. I figured you’d remember. I mean, you were there and all.” Lonnie looked terrible. He was still in his uniform; the red scarf, just like Mal’s, was tied around his neck like a noose. Rivulets of rain streamed down the worn brown coat’s leather, but there were garish tears and blowouts splattering Lonnie’s chest and belly.
“Are you supposed to be some sort of ruttin’ zombie?” Mal knit his brows together. He couldn’t believe he was having a conversation with something that didn’t even exist.
“Lots scarier than ghosts.” Lonnie just shrugged. His insides pulled apart and then squished back together. “And we always talked better if we could throw a few punches.”
“That is true.”
“And I wouldn’t want ya to go straight through me.”
“Very considerate, Lonnie.”
They began walking again, but this time in silence. Mal shivered; Lonnie offered his coat, “It ain’t real, and it’s got holes all over it, but it’s somethin’.”
“Nice gesture.” Mal nodded, “Counts for somethin’.”
“Nice gestures ain’t countin’ for much these days. Tryin’ to explain away how much a pain in the ass that snow was just got me killed.” There was nothing Mal could say to make a proper response, so he just kept walking. “You tell my ma that I got killed runnin’ my mouth? Reckon she couldn’t be too damn surprised. She always said it would get me into trouble.”
“No.” Mal shook his head. “You were savin’ boys.”
There was a snort with absolutely no malice, only amusement. “Ai ya huai le, Mal. I was doin’ none such thing.”
“Took the boys’ minds off the fact that the Alliance was gonna be comin’ down on us at any second. Made them stop missin’ home for two minutes. You got them to laugh.”
“So what? I weren’t no saint down there. I might have kept them from eatin’ their gun right off, but you kept us alive, Mal.”
“You know,” Mal smiled glumly, “hearin’ that from a dead man don’t make me feel too good.”
Lonnie laughed again, “Technicality.”
“Regardless, I was no saint.” Mal continued trotting through the fields. “I killed men.”
“They’d’ve killed you.”
“The killing don’t worry me too much. I had to. But this bothers me. I couldn’t save my boys.” Mal stared downward watching his feet kick up mud as he walked. “Not only could I not save them, but I sent them to die. Time after time after time,” his voice was heavy; each word was proving to be difficult to say. “I sent my boys out there, and I knew some of them weren’t coming back, but the worst was when I lied to them.” Mal nodded morosely. “That was the worse. Tellin’ them they were gonna be heroes, that they were makin’ a difference. They weren’t heroes, and we didn’t make any differences. Things are just the same for everyone else. Same or worse. Only difference we made was a terrible one that robbed families.”
“That ain’t true, Mal. An’ you know it ain’t. If I’m sayin’ it, you know it. It was all in God’s hands. Mighta been on the losin’ side, but we weren’t on the wrong one.” Lonnie nodded gently. “Just doin’ your part. If it hadn’t been you, it’d be somebody else, an’ those boys were proud to be under you.” There was a heavy pause and then a hint of pride in Lonnie’s voice, “Proud to die under you.”
“Well, I ain’t proud.” Mal’s words were caustic. “Ain’t proud of a damn thing I did out there. I’m no saint. None of us were.” He sent his eyes skyward. “Understand that I’m a sinner, an’ God don’t look after sinners. An’ if God don’t look after sinners, this sinner ain’t gonna look to God.” Looking back to Lonnie, Mal blinked. Lonnie was gone. All that was there was the soft glow of a lantern through the hazy rain. Stalking two more yards, Mal found himself on his mama’s porch.
“You shouldn’t have waited up for me, Mama.” He stood before her, cold, wet, and ravaged. “You should have just gone to bed.”
“I was just watching the rain, bao bei.” She smiled gently. “God is in the rain after all.”
Thursday, August 17, 2006 12:16 PM
Thursday, August 17, 2006 4:20 PM
Sunday, August 20, 2006 1:09 PM
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