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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
What River, Kaylee and Simon were doing at Bathgate while Mal was getting shot. Feedback, please!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1590 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“It’s lovely,” Kaylee said, clapping her hands in delight at the small room she’d been given. The sunlight had warmed the old stone walls, and the cheerful rug on the floor matched the bedspread, an old-fashioned quilted design using lots of old fabric swatches.
“I’m glad you like it,” Shepherd Delrani, a tall, upright man with silver hair, said, smiling. He pointed to a small chest of drawers in the corner. “I hope there will be enough room for your clothes.”
“Oh, I ain't brought much. Don’t dress up fancy too often.” She grinned at him. “And prob’ly be a while before I get to again,” she added, patting her belly.
“Yes, I had noticed.” Delrani inclined his head. “And your husband? Is he not joining you here?”
“Oh, I ain't married,” Kaylee said, turning to look out of the window, and so not seeing the slight tightening of the Shepherd’s mouth. “Simon’s the father.”
“The young man with you?”
“Mmn.” She glanced back at him. “Cute, ain't he?”
“I can’t say I've noticed.”
Kaylee waved to someone outside. “See you in a few days!” she called, watching Freya as she turned and walked out of the courtyard back towards the bulk of Serenity sitting high on the hill. She turned back. “Frey’s my friend,” she explained, leaning back on the windowsill. “Been through a lot together, all in all.”
“She seemed … attentive.”
Kaylee laughed. “Making sure I'm okay. All the crew are like that: we’re family.”
“Yet the Captain hasn’t made sure that the father of your child marries you?” Delrani shook his head. “Surely it is his responsibility –“
“Ain't no-one’s responsibility but mine, Preacher,” Kaylee said hurriedly. “Ain't asking Simon to marry me. ‘Sides, he ain't goin’ anywhere.” She laughed again and turned back to the window. “Sure is pretty here.”
Simon, in his room a little further along the hall, watched Freya walking back to the ship, Mal waiting for her. He was glad they were back together, the way it should be, but he was even more glad that they weren’t going to Osiris. He’d spent most of his life on that planet, called it home, made embarrassingly large amounts of money there as a trauma surgeon, but now it was like those twenty-three years had happened to another person. Ever since he’d stepped foot on board Serenity, his world had been centred around that ship and its crew.
He sighed. He was going to have to have a word with her …
River sat cross-legged on a hay bale in the stable, waiting for Simon. She knew he was going to come and speak to her, and this was as good a place as any. It smelled nice, all hot and … well, horsey. Damp straw and oats. Nitrates and ammonia too. Kinda reminded her of Jayne’s cabin, the time she and Kaylee had loosened the screws under his bunk.
One of the horses snuffled at her from his stall, and she reached back to pat him on the nose. Warm skin and hair. Blood and moisture. He breathed loudly in her ear and she smiled.
“Got nothing to give you,” she said, shaking her head.
“Here,” said a man’s voice and she turned towards the open door. “He likes these.” A young Shepherd stepped inside, holding out a carrot.
She grinned at him and took it, lifting it up on the palm of her hand so the horse could snaffle it from her fingers. He crunched it loudly.
“He’s happy,” River said.
“It’s a treat they get now and again,” the young man said, sitting down on a bale close to her.
“But he’s your favourite.”
“Well, I … I often sneak him an extra one, occasionally,” he admitted, his face blushing slightly. “So, what’s your name?”
“That’s nice. Cool, sounding. I mean like water, not that I’m trying to be …” He stumbled to a halt.
River smiled at him, lighting her whole face. “I’m not quite like that sometimes,” she said. “And you are …?”
“You’re not a full Shepherd yet, are you?” River asked.
“How did you …?” He looked at her in surprise, then touched his grey collar. “I didn’t realise you knew about this.”
“Grey means you’ve nearly completed your training. If it were blue, you’d have just started your second year, and green means you’ve just come to the Abbey,” River stated.
“Not many people understand the differences,” Jethro said, smiling at her. “But then, we don’t get many visitors.”
“I don’t see why,” River said, looking out of the window towards the hills. “It’s beautiful.”
“That it is. But most don’t see that, just the life we lead.”
“On your knees.”
Jethro laughed. “Not quite. At least, not always. But sometimes.” He touched his collar again. “In a few months I’ll be allowed to wear the white, and call myself Shepherd.”
“But I can call you Jethro?”
“I knew a Shepherd once. He came from a place like this.” She picked up a piece of straw from the bale and began twirling it in her fingers.
“Would I know him?”
“I don’t think so. No-one really knew him, not even the Captain. And he left this world a while back.”
“I'm sorry,” he said, meaning it, as the girl in front of him was obviously still saddened by it. “Was it an illness?”
“He died,” she said.
“I meant …” He stopped. To this girl, how it had happened was not as important as the fact that her friend was gone. “I'm sorry,” he said again.
“It wasn't your fault,” she replied. “You didn’t do it.”
She looked at him, and suddenly he felt uncomfortable. It was as if her dark eyes were reading his soul, seeing all his secrets, laying bare all the little hurts he’d caused in his life. It felt like a thousand caterpillars crawling over his skin and disconcerted him immensely. The horse behind her threw up his head and stamped his hooves, unsettled.
She dropped her eyes quickly and it stopped.
“What was that?” he asked, leaning forward. “What were you doing?”
She shook her head. “I'm sorry. I was just so … happy …”
“You should be careful,” he advised, speaking softly. “There are people in this world, in this Abbey, who would think it right to … to hand you over to the Alliance.”
“But you won’t,” she said, not a question but a statement. She raised her face again, but the feeling didn’t return. Whatever it was, she had it back under control.
“No. I won’t.”
All at once her face was lit by a dazzling smile. “Don’t take the white, Jethro. There are people out there who need you. Family.”
He sat back. “But it’s my life’s ambition. What I've always wanted.”
”No,” she said, simply. “You’ve wanted to help people. That’s not the same. And you can’t help people buried in warm stone walls.”
He stared at her. “You don’t understand …”
With that one word he felt his resolve begin to crumble. “I … I have to get back,” he said quickly, getting to his feet. “I only came to give Brutus his carrot.”
She nodded, her face now tranquil. “Our ship is Serenity,” she said softly. “When you need us, we’ll be there.”
Jethro stared at her then shook his head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, backing out of the stable.
“Yes you do.” She watched him as he crossed the yard, hurrying away from his future.
“Who was that?” Simon asked, standing in the doorway.
“An old friend,” River said, rising elegantly. “And I don’t need to be lectured at.”
“What do you mean, an old friend? How can he be?” Simon asked, confused.
“Not now. But he will be later,” River said, patting his arm and walking out into the sunshine.
Simon stared at her, watching her start to run towards the hills outside the walls, skipping as she went, and completely forgot that he had wanted to talk to her about Jayne.
Next morning Kaylee took Simon on a walk.
“It’s good for me,” she said, stepping out briskly. “You told me. Remember, when you were examining me last, that I really needed to get some exercise?”
“Oh, I remember,” Simon said, stopping to lean against the wall of the Abbey. “I hadn’t actually intended on coming with you.” He pulled his shoe off and tipped out a stone.
Kaylee laughed, a gay sound in the soft air. “Don’t put ‘em back on,” she advised. “We can walk on the grass.”
“Barefoot?” His face registered the slight disgust he felt. “Kaylee, you don’t know what’s out there …”
She smiled at him and kicked off her shoes. “Yes, I do. Me!” She ran out into the long grass, feeling it tickling the soles of her feet, brushing the hem of her floral dress.
Simon watched her, then decided that she wasn’t going to come back, so he took off his other shoe, picked up hers, and followed her. “It feels odd,” he grumbled.
“That’s because you’ve still got your socks on, silly,” she chuckled, coming to stand next to him. “You need to be really bare foot.”
He couldn’t stop the slight curling of one nostril, but he did as she said, slipping the socks off his feet and pushing them into his shoes. “Oh, that’s so much better,” he said scornfully.
“Told you it would be,” she said, moving away again, looking so happy to be outside in the sunshine and the warmth.
“Not so fast,” Simon complained. “I didn’t say it had to be fast.”
“Okay, sweetie.” She slowed down enough for him to catch up, putting one arm through his and resting the other on the bulge at her waist. “It doesn’t show that much, yet, does it?” she asked.
He leaned over and kissed her cheek. “It will,” he promised. “Soon have to think about you moving out of your bunk.”
“What?” She stared at him. “Move out? Why?”
“Kaylee, it won’t be safe for you to go up and down that ladder.”
“But it’s mine. My little place. My home.” She looked like she was about to cry.
“Wo de xin xang, don’t.” He stopped and turned her to face him, hating himself as he always did when he managed to hurt her. “I'm not saying you have to give it up entirely. Just for a few weeks, and not yet. You can always go back after the baby is born.” He tipped her face up so he could look into her eyes. “Although I thought you’d want to be with me.”
“I do!” she protested, then smiled shakily. “These hormones sure make you feel odd,” she admitted. “A’course you’re right. Can’t be going up and down that ladder, not when I get as big as you think I'm gonna get. And I suppose we do spend more time in yours than in mine. It’s just … I made it pretty.”
“You can do the same to ours,” Simon promised.
“The little lights ‘n’all?”
Inwardly Simon sighed. “Even the little lights.” He hugged her close, feeling her arms come up around him. “Although you might want to keep those,” he added quickly. “Maybe we should ask the captain if we can use the next cabin along for a nursery, and you can put them up in there.”
She moved back enough to look up at him. “A nursery? Ain't the baby gonna sleep in with us?”
“Sure, of course,” Simon said. “But hopefully there will still be times when I want to have my wicked way with you. If you feel up to it, of course.”
“Simon! I always feel up to it!” She laughed and kissed his chin. “You know, that’s the problem coming to a place like this. They ain’t exactly liberal minded here, and I missed you last night.” She pressed herself against him a little harder and he groaned. She smiled wickedly.
“I missed you too,” Simon admitted. “But I'm not sure I could have … here, I mean. Inside the Abbey walls.”
“Well, we ain't inside the Abbey walls,” Kaylee pointed out. “And I think there might be the perfect little secluded spot just a bit further on …” She took his hand and began to lead him towards a small stand of trees.
“I'm going to go to a very special hell, you know that,” Simon muttered.
River was riding, her dark hair streaming out behind her, the wind in her face, with a smile so wide it felt as if she would break in two with happiness. For once she wasn’t thinking, wasn’t picking up on anyone, their thoughts or feelings, just at one with the sun and the grass and the … She pulled the horse up, standing in the stirrups in her bare feet. If anything her grin got wider. “Simon …” she murmured. “I didn’t know you had it in you …”
“River, can I speak to you?” Simon asked, coming into the stable as she was rubbing down the horse.
“No,” she said, pulling the brush a little harder down the stallion’s flanks, making his hoof lift.
“I only want to talk to you about Jayne.”
“Nothing to talk about,” River said. “Jayne’s my friend.”
“I know that,” Simon began. “But I –“
“You were very loud, earlier,” River interrupted.
“If you are going to have sex, can’t you keep it quieter? You interrupted my ride.” She giggled. “Although Kaylee had a ride of her own, didn’t she? Sitting tall, sun bright on her shoulders … and so noisy!”
“You’ve got grass in your hair,” she pointed out, dropping the brush into a bucket with a clang and walking away from him.
He reached up and pulled the stalks from above his left ear, and then realised she’d done it again. “Son of a bitch,” he muttered.
“Good evening, Simon,” Delrani said, approaching the young man as he sat reading a book at the dining table.
“Oh, good evening, Shepherd.” Simon smiled.
“Dinner won’t be for an hour yet.”
Simon held up the book. “Just reading for a while. I find it relaxing.”
“Yes, it is, isn’t it? What are you currently enjoying?”
Simon handed the paperback over. “War and Peace,” he said. “Although enjoying might not be the right word for it. It’s not mine – it belongs to a friend.” He chuckled. “She’s never managed to finish it yet, but she thought I might like to bring it with me.”
“Are you close?”
“Freya? I … yes, I suppose we are. On a ship like Serenity, it’s easier to be friends than enemies.”
“And you are close to young Kaylee,” Delrani went on.
Simon shifted a little in his seat, wondering what was coming. “Yes.”
“And she’s pregnant.”
There was a pause. “I am the father, if that’s what you’re asking,” Simon said eventually.
“I know. She told me.” Delrani sat down. “When are you going to marry her?”
“She doesn’t want to get married.”
“That isn’t her choice.”
“Of course it is!”
“Not when this child will be born a bastard.”
“A …” Simon was shocked. He knew that the clergy wouldn’t look kindly on Kaylee’s pregnancy, but Book had always seemed so … tolerant. He’d try and persuade you that there was another way, but never actually be so harsh about it. “Shepherd, that’s my child. I’d take it as a kindness if you didn’t speak that way.” His voice had gone quiet.
“My apologies if I have offended you. But there are wider issues here. If a mother is not married –“
“We love each other, Shepherd. That isn’t going to change. I'm never going to leave Kaylee, so why should a few words in front of some minister make any difference?”
“Because it’s wrong!” Delrani was trying to stay calm, but this young man was being deliberately obtuse. “You are an educated man, surely you can see that any child should be born within the confines of wedlock?”
“What does education have to do with it? In fact, if anything, the fact that I am educated means that I have the ability to question traditions like this.”
“Don’t you want to marry the mother of your child?”
“Of course I do!” Simon said loudly. “But what I want is nothing compared to what Kaylee wants!”
“Then you should talk to her! Make her see sense!”
“Leave him alone!” River’s voice rang out clearly in the hall. “He doesn’t have to do what he doesn’t want to!” She stormed down to where they were sitting.
“River –“ Simon began, but she was too angry to listen.
“If he doesn’t want to get married, he doesn’t have to. My niece is going to have a wonderful mother and father, and they don’t need to have some idiot of a preacherman telling them they need to be wed just to placate some God who doesn’t listen!”
Delrani stared at her, his mouth open slightly.
Simon got up, putting his arm around her shoulders. “Shh, shh, it’s okay, River. He can’t make us do anything we don’t want.”
“People do, Simon! They make you do things, take things away from you until there’s nothing left and then they fill you up with hate and pain and turn you loose!” Tears were flowing down her cheeks. “Don’t let him!”
“They won’t, mei-mei. I won’t let them.” He pulled her closer to him, wrapping his arms around her. “I'm sorry,” he said to Delrani. “She’s had some trauma, and when she thought you were arguing with me … I'm sorry.”
Delrani swallowed. “No, I should apologise. I didn’t intend for your sister to think I was trying to … I was merely wanting you to understand that in the eyes of God –“
River pulled away from Simon and turned to glare at him. “Not godly, not here. Not you,” she hissed at him.
“River,” Simon said, gently admonishing her. He wouldn’t get angry with her. She’d been so much better, and to get that way he had to put up with the occasional bad day. “The Shepherd isn’t –“
River screamed, clutching her chest. “He’s hurt,” she whispered. “Too late, can’t get there.”
“Who?” Simon asked, ignoring the astonished looks they were getting from Delrani.
“Mal!” She turned to him, her face white. “Hurt!”
“Days. Oh, Simon, I was too happy! I didn’t feel it until now!”
Delrani stood up. “What devilry is this?”
“Can’t burn us,” River cried, shrinking back against her brother.
“A dream,” Simon said quickly.
“No dream,” River whispered. “Hurting.”
“Do you have a vidlink we can use?” Simon asked. “Just to prove to my sister that our captain is alive and well?”
“Of … of course. In my office. This way.” He led them out of the hall and down a corridor, opening a door. “In here. Please.”
“Thank you.” Simon sat River down on the couch and called up Serenity …
“He’s okay, Simon, just got himself a little shot a couple of days ago. We ran into some trouble but it’s all sorted now.” Hank’s grinning face was grainy, but at least they could see each other. “Be with you in about twenty hours, so just relax. And tell River not to worry, Freya’s looking after him.”
Simon glanced around at his sister, and was immensely pleased to see she had calmed down, and was sitting cross-legged on the sofa. “Thanks, Hank. So he won’t need my services?”
Hank laughed. “I think he’ll probably be pleased to have his own medic back on board, but no, he ain’t likely to be needing you before you get back. Freya’ll make sure he don’t get too fractious.”
“Ask her not to hurt him too much, will you?” he asked dryly.
“Will do, doc. See you soon.”
The vid went to static and Simon turned it off. Sitting down next to River he put his arm around her. “See? Nothing to worry about. Mal’s fine.”
“He could have died, Simon, and you wouldn’t have been there to stop it.” Her dark eyes were wet. “We mustn’t leave again.”
“We’ll be home in less than a day, mei-mei.” He pulled her closer.
“Didn’t you want to talk to me about Jayne?” River asked, leaning into his chest as he stroked her shoulder.
“Well, yes, I –” He stopped and looked down at her. “Niece?”
A small smile crossed the young psychic’s face.
The ship called Serenity landed in the same place as before, on one of the hills overlooking the Abbey, and the three young people hurried to meet it. Goodbyes had already been said, and now they were going home. As the door opened in the belly of the ship several people came out, including the woman who had been here before, and a man who stepped carefully down the ramp. There was hugging, although not of the man, and even from this distance the sound of happy voices filtered to him on the breeze.
Delarani watched the reunion with a pensive look on his face. He didn’t know who they were, and realised he probably didn’t care to, but there was something most odd about the young girl, River. Something about her …
The young Shepherd-in-waiting had come to him, said he was no longer sure about his calling, that maybe he should take some time, go out and see the ‘verse, that maybe something else was waiting for him. Delrani had tried to talk some sense into him, at least persuaded him to wait a month before making any final decision, but he knew it was futile. He’d be gone before the summer turned to autumn, before the leaves fell, and no matter what he said, he would probably not come back.
The girl, River, turned suddenly, looking back at the Abbey and waving. For a moment he thought it was at him, then looked out of the window. The young man, Jethro, was standing on the balcony a little further along, and was waving back at her. Ah, so that was how it stood. Why he was leaving. Now he understood, perhaps he could – a wave of pain swept through his mind, and Delrani looked back at the Firefly. She was looking at him now, and even at this distance he could feel the hatred inside her. He shook himself, trying to clear it, and when he looked again she had gone inside and the doors were closing.
He picked up a pen and block of writing paper, and wrote very carefully in his cursive script, ‘River, Simon, Kaylee, Freya, Serenity.’ There was something more going on here than met the eye, and someone ought to know about it. And he knew exactly who that should be …
Thursday, October 19, 2006 7:26 AM
Thursday, October 19, 2006 10:17 AM
Saturday, October 21, 2006 7:12 PM
Sunday, June 29, 2008 3:08 AM
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