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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Set three months after A NEW BEGINNING. Kaylee realizes the error of her ways. River, Jayne and Regan get to Osiris ... are they too late to save Rylee? S/K, R/J, M/I
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1360 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
A/N: All the comments on each chapter have been great - and so thoughtful - I appreciate it all so much. I hope that everyone can hang in there ... remember, worse before it gets better.
Thanks again to Leiasky for the beta.
Please continue to read and respond --- I'm loving all the feedback!
A NEW DAY, ch. 14: Not Too Late
Later that night as Kaylee lay still, her eyes swollen from tears, her body spent from her emotion, Daniel entered the room. Sneaking around to the side of her bed, he crawled up and onto it, lying down so he could face her lifeless gaze.
“Mama,” he asked softly, reaching out and placing his small hand on her arm.
When she didn’t acknowledge him, he edged closer to her and kissed her cheek lightly. “I love you,” he whispered and then stayed as close to her as he could get, falling asleep beside her.
Once his breathing had evened out, Kaylee allowed a few tears to fall from her eyes and looked down at his peaceful face – her little Simon. The grief and anger she felt towards her husband had not diminished in the few hours since he’d told her what he’d seen, but the sight of her son softened her heart. Kaylee did not understand; she did not understand how a man like Simon, whom she knew loved her with everything he was, could come from a family that knew absolutely nothing of love. How he could have been raised by people that only thought to seek and destroy.
It angered her again and while she had tried to stave off her rage, had tried so hard to make her heart and her mind numb to any feeling, looking down at Daniel’s face only reminded her of all she had once lost, regained and possibly lost again.
Once, a long while ago, he had been the only reminder to her of his father and Kaylee had held onto him with everything she’d had. Now, he was the only reminder of her life before all this madness had happened and with renewed sorrow, she pulled him tight to her and kissed his hair, holding onto him again with all her might.
By the time Regan’s shuttle broke atmo over Capitol City, River was ready. Rylee had been gone from her parents for more than two weeks and the girl’s pain was only growing exponentially with each passing day.
Having long ago taken over piloting duties of the ship, River circled over her mother’s private landing pad, before gliding the ship down. Having used more of Regan’s contacts and a few tricks River had learned living out in the black, they had been able to determine where Gabriel’s shuttle would be landing in just a day and a half when he made it back to Osiris. Now their job was simple; find him and get Rylee back.
Powering down the shuttle, Regan had already arranged for a hovercar to pick them up. River and Jayne had worked on the trip to craft fake ident cards and with these identities in hand, they were ready to head out into Capitol City and prepare, but Regan had a different request.
Pausing as River moved to gather her meager belongings, Regan placed a hand on her arm and asked, “River, dear, why don’t you come home for a few hours?”
Her eyes widening at the prospect, River held her mother’s gaze, trying to determine why she would make such a request of her. Noting her fear, Regan hastened to add, “I just thought you might like to come home, take a real shower, eat some real food, maybe a nap in your old bed?” Seeing that her daughter’s expression had not changed, Regan’s face fell and she stepped back from her. “No, I guess not,” she murmured and then quickly left.
Jayne, having witnessed the conversation, stepped up behind River and asked her, “Why don’t you wanna go home for a bit?”
With tearful eyes, she turned to regard him and said sadly, “That house doesn’t hold too many happy memories for me.”
Guessing that were more than true, Jayne was ready to drop it when River asked him, “Do you want to go?”
Studying her with a quizzical gaze, he shrugged and said, “Well, it’s always nice to see how the other half lives. Plus, a real shower? Now that might be right hard to pass up.”
River smiled slightly at him and as she held his gaze seemed to make a decision. Heading out the transport’s door, River hurried to her mother’s side as she moved to get into the shuttle. “If the offer still stands, we’d like to come,” River told her, looking over her shoulder to be sure Jayne had followed.
Grinning to them both, Regan opened the door and said, “Well, of course, dear. Let’s go.”
The next morning Simon was no where to be found and that set everyone on edge. Too many strange occurrences had happened within the past few months for them to dismiss it as coincidence and so, shortly after dawn, a search party had been organized and dispersed to the surrounding areas.
But it was Mal who would find him and on Serenity of all places. Entering his ship, Mal had no idea what made him think to look there, his boat had surely never been one of the doc’s favorite haunts, but he found him there all the same, puttering about his immaculate infirmary.
Regarding the young man from the doorway for a moment, Mal saw that there was already quite of bit materials laid out in the small space. Stepping over the threshold, he asked, “What’s all this for?”
Startled at the intrusion, Simon glanced in his direction and then went back to his work, his pale face cold and dead as he focused on the journal before him. “Apparently River was preparing some medications before she left.” Dropping his voice to an even softer pitch, he added, “For when Rylee gets back.”
Sighing heavily, Mal rubbed a hand along the back of his neck and sat down on the chair just inside the door. He watched Simon work for a few more minutes, his movements deliberate and methodic and then finally said, “Everybody’s out lookin’ for ya.”
Not responding to him, Simon tried to ignore the man, hoping he would just go away. “Well, you found me,” he finally said, noting that Mal had refused to budge as the minutes ticked by.
“I did indeed,” Mal muttered. Rising he said, “You need to come back to the clinic, doc. Lil’ Kaylee needs ya.”
Turning to face him, Simon’s eyes were alight with hurt an anger. “No she doesn’t. She made that perfectly clear last night when she blamed me for everything that happened.”
“She was hurt, son, and angry. She’s sufferin’ right now. She’s just been through a fairly traumatic birthin’ experience and her daughter’s been kidnapped by your pa. I’m thinkin’ you might have to cut her some slack.” Mal’s patience for the boy before him was quickly slipping and he truly hoped he could convince him sooner rather than later to get his act together and go back to Kaylee’s side.
“Whether she was hurt or not, it doesn’t change the fact that she’s right.” The statement was said quietly, with no malice, no bite and Mal had to pause as he again regarded Simon. Lifting his eyes again to meet Mal’s he repeated softly, “She’s right. This is my fault, all of it. It was my fault for loving her in the first place. It’s always been me and my screwed up family that end up hurting her. And she doesn’t deserve that, Mal. You know that, as well as I do.”
The pain in the boy’s tone caused Mal’s own throat to constrict uncomfortably. Taking a step towards him, he softened his voice and asked, “So, what’re you gonna do now, Simon? Abandon her with four of your children? Walk away?” Studying his eyes intently, Mal finally told him, “And if you even try an’ tell me you don’t love her or them kids, I will haul off and lay you out flat.”
Shrugging casually, Simon told him, “It doesn’t matter how I feel about her. The fact of the matter is I keep hurting her. Every minute of every day, all I know for certain is that I will cause her more pain. And I can’t live with that, not anymore.” Turning back to regard the medicines before him, he said quietly, “Let her know I’m all right. If she asks.”
Noting the dismissal in his tone, Mal worked his mouth soundlessly for a few more minutes trying to think of something else to say, something that might reach the stubborn hundan before him now. But knowing there was nothing, knowing that Simon did not need words, he simply needed Kaylee, Mal walked away, leaving the boy to his own grief.
Jayne’s jaw had been permanently hinged open since they had stepped out of the hovercar and entered the Tam estate. With wide eyes and barely a sound, he had taken it all in, every fancy piece of art, every opulent piece of décor – even the size of the place was bigger than he could have imagined and he was hard pressed to wrap his brain around how grandiose it all was.
With a slight smile, River had taken his hand, telling her mother that they would be resting and would eat something before they left. Regan waved them away with a smile, highly doubting rest would be involved in the next few hours if the look in her daughter’s eyes was any indication. But with a satisfied sigh that at least one of her children was back home, even if just for a few hours, Regan moved into the parlor even as she heard their footsteps fade.
Dragging Jayne behind her, River ascended the stairs to the second floor and headed in the direction of her room. She wanted to see it, for a reason she couldn’t quite identify, but she did. However, despite her desire to once again step into her childhood, she found her hand trembling as it hovered over the door knob.
Pulling his eyes from the richness of the hall around him, Jayne caught her hesitation and concern instantly replaced his awe. With gentle touch, he reached out covering her hand with his and leaned down, placing his lips to her ear, whispering, “It’s okay.”
She smiled at him through a few tears and then, taking a deep breath, pushed the door open. She stood on the threshold for untold minutes, staring at the lifeless and empty space before her. It didn’t look any different than a half a dozen other rooms scattered about the house, and only River’s memory, which could easily fill in the blanks reminded her that this had once been her inner sanctum.
Stepping tentatively inside, she studied the bed and the dresser, devoid of any mementos that might imply the room once belonged to a child, but familiar to her all the same. She approached the bed with a halting step and placed a light hand to the soft mattress, allowing her fingers to ghost over the material. Closing her eyes for a moment, she let her mind wander back in time and she pictured the room as it had once been, stuffed with every toy a child could ever want and completely empty of anything else – except her brother.
With fresh tears as she thought of the way they had parted company, River blinked her eyes clear and then, with a sudden thought gripping her, leaned down and pulled out the metal container from under her bed that she had known would be there, although she had never placed it in its hiding spot.
Her hands shaking once again, she pulled the box into her lap and sat on the edge of the bed. She stared at the plain lid for a long while and after a few moments, Jayne came to sit beside her. Noting the paleness of her features at the sight of the object in her lap, Jayne reached for it and pulled it into his own. With a steady hand, he lifted the lid and uncovered the stacks of letters that Simon had once hidden inside.
Lifting the top one out, Jayne opened it and recognized River’s handwriting. He began to read, although most of what he saw was gibberish to him, references to literary works he had never read, math equations he could never hope to solve, memories of family time spent with her brother. Noting the date at the top of the page, his breath caught in his throat, these were the infamous letters then – the ones Simon had used to figure out that River was in trouble all those years ago.
Looking to his wife with wide eyes, she did not meet his gaze, but instead, reached out a hand and took the letter from him. Folding it, she placed it back in the container and recovered it, setting it aside. With a heavy, tear-filled sigh, she turned back to Jayne and crawled up into his lap without a word. His arms wrapped around her automatically and he held her close, waiting for her to tell him whatever she needed to. After a few minutes, she finally said quietly, “I thought I needed to see them.”
“But you didn’t?” he asked her, his face buried in the top of her hair.
Shaking her head slightly, she snuggled in closer to him and they sat in a comfortable silence for a few more minutes. Finally, Jayne felt brave enough to ask, “So, this was your room, huh?”
Lifting her head from his chest, she looked about with sad eyes and told him, “It was, once.”
Jayne kissed her temple, causing her to bring her eyes to his face, and without hesitation, she kissed him back, long and hard on the mouth, working their tongues together and enlivening both of them with the touch. When they were forced to part for air, he asked quietly, “So, your brother’s room around?”
Pulling back, she rolled her eyes at him, and said firmly, “We are not going to have sex in my brother’s room.”
A little put out that she had seen through his thinly veiled attempt to drive Simon crazy, he pouted and muttered, “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.”
Having no choice but to laugh at him, she took his face in her hands, and bringing their lips within inches of each other she said, “Yes, he would and you know it.” She kissed him again, and then pulled away, tired and tense over what the next days would bring. Noting her exhaustion and feeling a bit of it himself, Jayne told her, “All right then, no sex in Simon’s room, but we can at least get some sleep in this great big, comfy bed.”
Smiling to him warmly, River and Jayne worked their way under the covers, her husband wrapping his arms around her and River doing her best to drown her fear in his warm embrace.
Inara was sitting quietly with the twins when Mal returned from Serenity in a foul mood. As he sullenly walked to her side, and huffed a few times, Inara could only imagine what had caused him to be in such a state, and knowing that he had gone looking for Simon, guessed he might actually have found him.
Waiting for him to tell her, she studied his profile for a few more moments, before he finally said, “You know, that boy and your mei mei are ruttin’ perfect for each other.” His voice held a bit of an edge and Inara could only smile at his insistence that Kaylee was hers – she had been Mal’s mei mei for a good long while. “They’re both stubborn as mules.”
Nodding once, Inara glanced to Emma’s sleeping form and told him quietly, “I can’t argue with that.” As Mal continued to huff and puff, she added, “I take it you talked to Simon then?” As he rolled his eyes at her, Inara smothered a grin and then finally asked, “So, what did he say?”
Sighing heavily, Mal turned to her and leaned against the nearby counter. Running a hand over his eyes, he said quietly, “Exactly what we thought he’d say. That Kaylee and these babes would be better off if he just disappeared.”
Inara’s eyes widened slightly and she found herself sinking against the chair in shock. That is about what they had guessed would be Simon’s solution to all that Kaylee and the children had been through. It was his way – whenever he put anyone he loved in danger, his immediate response was to push everyone he loved away, as fast and as far from him as possible. And now, apparently, he was intent on doing it again.
Thinking of another question, Inara scooted forward to ask Mal and neither of them noticed as Kaylee stood in the hallway outside her room, listening intently to their conversation. Hugging a shadow, she was not seen by them, but with dread filling her gut and immense guilt blooming in her heart, she listened as Mal recounted his conversation with Simon.
Her husband’s assertion that they would all be better off without him struck a nerve with Kaylee. She had thought, just hours ago, that maybe that was the truth; that maybe he should not have come back to her all those years ago, because then she would have been spared the intense pain she was suffering now. Quickly dismissing the thought, Kaylee’s eyes welled with tears of shame that she could ever entertain such a notion. It wasn’t right to think that way. If Simon had not come back to her, Danny wouldn’t have a father, Rylee and Emma and Ethan would never have been born and all the wonderful things from their last five years together would have never come to pass.
Tuning back to in to Mal’s voice, she heard him say, “That boy honestly thinks that all of this is his fault – just ‘cause he comes from a screwed up family.” Kaylee could hear the disgust in Mal’s voice, confirming for her that the captain believed Simon was using his father’s actions as an excuse to run – but she knew differently. Simon Tam did not run, not from a fight or a challenge or impossible odds. He only ran if he felt it was the only option, the only way to protect what he loved and that was obviously what he thought was the only thing left to him now. And with a pang of fear and shame that made her wobble on her feet, Kaylee realized she’d made him feel that way.
Clearing her throat, Kaylee stepped out into the room, startling them both. Moving to her side instantly, Inara asked her, “Kaylee, mei mei, what’re you doing up?”
“Where’s Simon?” she asked evenly, ignoring Inara as her eyes locked on Mal’s.
Glancing furtively to his wife and back again, he told her, “On Serenity.”
Moving towards him with a measured step, she told him firmly, “Take me to him.”
Sharing another look with Inara, Kaylee could see the refusal rising in his eyes. Not giving him a chance to voice it, she told him, “I mean it, cap’n. I need to see my husband.”
Catching Inara’s own concerned look over Kaylee’s shoulder, Mal stepped forward and took her by the elbow. “All right, mei mei, we’ll take the mule. C’mon on now.”
As he helped her to the door, Mal risked one final glance to Inara. “We’ll be back,” he muttered and then they were gone.
As the mule approached the open ramp to the ship, Kaylee felt her gut coil with a bit of dread and a whole lot of fear. Once Mal had slowed the vehicle, Kaylee sat staring for a minute into the dark room, and finally turned to him with a few tears in her eyes. He smiled back, trying to offer her reassurance – for what exactly he did not know, but he suspected that the coming talk with Simon would not be easy, and seeing as how Mal had brought her here, he felt a bit of responsibility for that.
Moving around the side of the mule, he helped her down slowly, and was about to walk her inside when she told him quietly, “It’s okay, cap’n. I can do it.”
Frowning at her, he asked, “You sure? ‘Cause I don’t need Simon decidin’ to rearrange my face with his fist.”
Smiling at him, she said, “I’m sure. Everythin’s right and shiny.”
Only able to shake his head at her optimism, Mal watched her go, each halting step causing him to wince for her, but quicker than he would have expected she was halfway up the ramp and entering the ship.
Kaylee made it through the cargo bay, knowing that Simon would be in the infirmary; it was the only place on the whole boat he’d ever felt at home, and she suspected he had retreated there again. Seeing his tense form through the window, she took a deep breath and then moved silently to stand in the doorway, her hand leaning against the jamb for some much needed support. Despite her reassurances to Mal that she was all right, that little roundabout was the most walking she’d done in weeks and she found herself a little tired from the strain.
But as she watched Simon work for a moment, catching her breath, she didn’t care. She would talk with her husband and get this settled if it was the last thing she did.
Taking one final deep breath, she said quietly, “I knew I’d find you here.”
Tensing at the sound of her voice, Simon whirled to face her, his concern etched into his features. Rushing to her side, he asked quickly, “Kaylee, what are you doing out of bed? Are the twins all right?”
The concern that he was exhibiting to her now, for her and their children, was exactly what Kaylee loved him for, and exactly why she knew she would never be better off without him. Placing a light hand to his cheek, she told him, “Yeah, sweetie, they’re fine and so am I. I came to see you.”
Backing away from her touch, Simon told her quietly, “Well, you shouldn’t have. It’s better for you if I stay away.”
Frowning at him, Kaylee willed her tears to stay in as she told him, “Simon, you know that ain’t true.”
Keeping his eyes firmly focused on his feet, he said, “No, Kaylee it is. It’s the only way I know I won’t hurt you.”
“You think you bein’ away ain’t hurtin’ me?” she asked, trying to control her voice and her emotions. Her voice barely above a whisper, she reminded him, “A few days ago you promised you’d never leave me. Now, you can’t wait to be gone. What’s changed?”
Risking looking to her, Simon’s own eyes again watered as he saw her distraught gaze. Shaking his head slightly he said, “I realized you were right, that’s what’s changed. I’m not good enough for you, I never have been.”
Kaylee felt an audible sob rise to her mouth and she clasped her hand over her lips to stifle it. The guilt and shame she felt for causing Simon such self-doubt ate away at her, but unable to control her emotions, she could only listen in sorrow as he continued.
“All of this, all you’ve been through, it’s my fault, Kaylee. You were right about that. I should have known better, I should have kept pushing you away. I should have walked right past you that day on Persephone, but I didn’t, because I’m weak.” Raising his eyes once more, Kaylee saw the tears that had fallen down his face and her heart broke, again. “I won’t be weak anymore. Not when the result is causing you pain.”
Kaylee felt her world falling away, literally. She could hear the urgency in his voice, the resignation, and she had heard it before. It was the tone he used when a decision had already been made. And Kaylee could not take that, she could not take him walking away from her.
Faltering a bit on her feet as she grew dizzy, Simon steadied her in a second. Taking her by the arms, he said urgently, “Kaylee, you need to go back to bed.”
“No,” she told him firmly, planting her feet and refusing to move. Collecting herself, she looked up into his blue eyes, she said quietly, “I need you.”
Shaking his head sadly, he told her, “No, you don’t. You need to be away from me and my family and the pain that always seems to follow us.”
Stepping closer to him, she would not even acknowledge his statement, but instead repeated, “I need you.”
Knowing his resolve was about to fail, Simon couldn’t say anything. He needed her too, that was the truth. He needed her and their family, just as he always had. She was the other half of him, but he would live the rest of his life broken and alone if it meant he could keep her safe – safe from him and the destruction his family was capable of.
“I can’t keep you safe, Kaylee,” he told her quietly, still refusing to meet her gaze, knowing that once he did, he would be unable to ever walk away from her. “You or our children. I can’t protect you. You were right about –"
Placing a finger to his lips, she told him firmly, “If’n you tell me I was right one more time, I might just have to slap you again.”
Her words silenced him, as she had known they would and as the quiet stretched between them, Kaylee placed a finger under his chin and brought his eyes to hers. At the sight of her tear-filled gaze and the pain he knew he had caused her, Simon felt more of his own tears dot his eyes. Moving his hands from where they still rested on her arms, he cupped her face and held her gaze.
“I wasn’t right, Simon,” she told him quietly, edging just a bit closer to him, making sure there wasn’t an inch of wasted space between them. “I wasn’t. I was mad and angry an’ I took it on you, ‘cause you were there. And that ain’t no excuse for the rotten things I said, but it’s the only one I got. It’s the only one I can think of and I need you to forgive me.” Her voice broke as her yearning for his forgiveness almost became palpable. “I need you, Simon, I always have and I can’t stomach the thought of you not being with me. This has been an awful couple o’ weeks, that’s the truth, but there ain’t nothin’ we can’t survive if’n we’re together.”
She paused again and watched his conflicted eyes study her face. She knew he wasn’t yet convinced; that he still thought the right thing, the noble thing for him to do was leave her so that he could protect her. But what he had never understood was that she would rather die tomorrow in his arms, than decades from now, alone.
“You’ve always been protectin’ people, Simon, that’s what you do.” She smiled at him through her tears, and reached up a hand to his face. “That’s why you’re a doctor, I know it, ‘cause you want to make people safe and whole. That’s why you broke out River from that place and that’s why you let ‘em take you on Boros all them years ago, to protect the rest of us.”
She teared a bit more at this memory, having thought a lot about it over the past few hours, when she had again been forced to sleep alone. She still felt immense shame that she had even considered, no matter how fleetingly, that maybe he shouldn’t have come back – she had been so wrong. Kaylee knew she would never, could never trade these past years with him for anything. All the good, far outweighed any of the bad, even the incredibly awful bad they were suffering through now.
“Kaylee,” Simon murmured, wanting to stop her from continuing, knowing that he would falter at any moment and give in to what she wanted, even though he knew it wasn’t right.
“No, Simon, I will never believe that you leavin’ me is the right thing to do,” she countered as if reading his mind. “Never, ‘cause I know your love for me and for our family is stronger and safer than anythin’ else in this ‘verse.” Inching forward just a bit more, she told him, “Our love is stronger than anythin’, Simon. I forgot that, don’t you forget it too.”
Her voice was full of sobs and Simon could not resist the sight of the want in her eyes or her words. He still didn’t feel he deserved her, in fact, he was absolutely certain he didn’t, but he could not live his life without her, he could not abandon her or their children, despite his words to Mal just an hour ago.
“I would die to keep you safe,” he murmured to her, resting his forehead against hers.
“Well, let’s not make that plan a, all right,” she teased him lightly, needing to break the tension that had built between them. Wrapping her arms around his neck, Kaylee buried her face into his shoulder and whispered, “I’m so sorry, Simon. I’m so sorry for what I said. I love you so much.”
Holding her so tightly he feared he might crush her, he whispered against her cheek, “God, I love you.”
She smiled slightly at him as more tears fell and then leaned back to press her mouth to his. Their kiss was passionate and full of not only their desire, but their need for one another. Parting for air, Simon told her quietly, “You need to get some more rest. I don’t like you standing for such long periods of time.” Guiding her back the way she’d come, he asked, “How did you get here?”
“On the mule, cap’n drove me.” Looking back over her shoulder, she guessed by the mess in the infirmary Simon would not be returning to Millie’s any time soon. “What’re you gonna do?”
“I need to clean up,” he told her, looking down at her wide green eyes as she studied his face.
Pouting slightly, she asked, “Can I stay here with you then? I’ll stay on the couch the whole time, I promise.”
Shifting gears, he guided her back to the couch and helped her lie down. Leaving to tell Mal he could go, Simon returned to her, sitting beside her for a moment, then gently draped a blanket over her, before taking her hand in his and kissing it tenderly. “Get some sleep, Kaylee.”
“We’re gonna be okay, right?” she asked him, as he moved to leave her side and go back to work.
Smiling at her that swai grin she loved, he leaned down and brushed a kiss to her lips. “As long as we love each other, we’ll be fine,” he told her.
“Well, I guess we’re gonna be good for a long while, ‘cause I promised to love you my whole life,” she told him with a grin, cupping his head as it hovered near hers. Pressing their lips together again, they sighed against each other’s mouths for a long moment and when the again parted, Simon whispered to her, “And I promised to love you for all of mine.”
With a smile on her face that could easily outshine the stars, Kaylee was asleep quickly and it was a long while before Simon could tear himself away from her beauty or her presence and go back to work.
A few hours later, in the dead of night, River, Jayne and Regan again left the Tam estate and headed back for Capitol City and the Alliance-controlled landing pad that would see the arrival of Gabriel’s ship in just over three hours.
With fresh nerves coursing through her, River found it impossible to think of much but her niece and her father as their hovercraft glided down a few blocks from the landing pad’s entrance, depositing the three of them. The closer Rylee got the more her pain riddled River’s already shaky resolve and with deep breaths and a few muttered prayers, she could only pray that she’d be strong enough to get Rylee back to her brother and sister-in-law.
Their assault on the landing pad would not be easy, and that was something else that set them all on edge. While it was less heavily guarded at this time of night, it was a Alliance facility, the tower leading up to the landing pad itself, full of detection devices that could easily alert more than half a dozen troops to their presence in seconds. But it was the only way to get to Rylee and so the three of them had resolved to do whatever it would take to make sure she was rescued.
River approached first, alone, her ethereal presence blending unseen into the nighttime shadows. With a startling speed, she had disposed of the two guards at the back entrance in record time, one swift kick to the head and neck dropping them both. Grabbing for their weapons, she waited until Jayne and her mother had joined her before keying for the lift.
Calling for the lift using one of the fallen guards’ ident left them undetected to the guard tower, a small bundle of windowless rooms off the main shaft. Rushing in as the doors opened, River keyed it for a rapid ascent, overriding the stop mechanism to be sure they would reach the platform unmolested. The ride was tense as all of them tried to prepare for what they might find once those doors again opened.
Stepping in front of them as the lift ground to a halt, River glanced back to her mother and said, “Stay back. Jayne and I will be sure it’s safe and then we’ll signal for you to come. Understand?”
Regan nodded once, her lips pursed in a thin line. River returned the nod and then allowed her eyes to flit to her husband. With a grimace she had learned well in their years together she knew he was ready.
Turning back to face the smooth doors in front of her, River closed her eyes and took a deep breath, reaching out beyond the metal around her and to the open area of the platform. She stretched her senses and searched for the presences of guards who would ask no questions before firing at an intruder. With a deep breath, she again opened her eyes and looked to Jayne.
“Five,” she told him quietly. “Two, two and one,” she elaborated, using her hand to give him the guards’ pattern. Nodding once, she knew Jayne understood and then with another deep breath, River keyed open the lift and fired.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 4:42 PM
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