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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Set after A NEW DAY and A NEW REASON, 1/5. Chronicles the 18 months following Jayne's death and how his family copes with his absence. S/K, M/I, R/J
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1298 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
A/N: The next part of the CODA to A NEW DAY. If you haven't read the first part, I recommend it: A NEW REASON. This part picks up immediately following part 1.
Thanks to all for the great comments, as always. Keep 'em comin'! And thanks to Leiasky for the beta!
A NEW REASON, 2/5
That night, everyone fell asleep easily, their bellies full with River’s yummy cooking and their minds at ease because of the closeness of one another. Everyone, except Rylee.
She was close, very close, to achieving the level of peace her aunt had been coaching her towards for months, and the proximity of her conscious mind to her subconscious thoughts was causing a vulnerability to appear in the walls she had so carefully erected to keep them separate. And now, as sleep closed over her, those walls, the only protection her mind had, dissolved, allowing all she had been trying to forget to come rushing in.
The nightmare started as so many of the others did – strange men with blue hands staring at her, their eyes burning holes into her brain, her heart, her soul. Then it changed, they were poking her with needles, the medicine hot and hurtful as it burned through her veins, coloring her world in shades of violence and fear. She thrashed about, both in her dream and in reality, her hair plastered to her forehead by sweat, her sheets wrapped around her small body making it impossible for her to move, just as the metal bindings and the drugs in her dream made it impossible for her to fight.
As the pain increased, her thrashing did as well, and she started to whimper. Not loud at first, just small, pathetic sounds as her tears started, big, hot drops that rolled out from under her eyelids, squeezed shut in an effort to not see, not hear all that was being done. And then the final piece of their puzzle, the final element of their torture – they showed Rylee her family. Her mom and dad and brother, her Aunt River, all taunting her, teasing her, goading her to kill them, one of them, all of them, it didn’t matter just as long as she did it. Just so long as she became a killer.
Her scream, an ear-piercing, cringe-inducing wail aroused the whole house in seconds. Simon and Kaylee made it to her side first, and as usual, Kaylee rushed to comfort the now crying twins, while Simon wrestled Rylee awake.
“Rylee, sweetheart, it’s daddy,” he told her, trying to keep his voice steady, trying not to think about the conversation he’d had with his sister just a few hours ago. “Rylee, wake up, you’re okay.”
She still fought him, hard, harder than her five-year-old body should be capable of, but with his own strength, Simon pulled her to him and held her tight, one arm around her back, while his hand cupped her head to his chest, whispering words of love and comfort in her ear. With a start, she was awake, her eyes wide and wild, searching for her tormentors, her captors. Not finding them, she relaxed just a bit, inhaling her father’s familiar scent, feeling his presence and that of her mother’s.
With sobs that shook her entire body, Rylee cried hard, her small arms inching up and around Simon’s neck and holding on so tight, he thought he might not be able to breathe. Kaylee sat with them, as soon as the twins were down, and held them both, her own hand joining Simon’s were it rested against their daughter’s trembling form. And that was how River found them just moments later.
She cursed herself for not recognizing Rylee’s distress sooner. She had been consumed in her own dream, her own nightmare, but she should have known the shadows were deeper, darker, because of what Rylee was feeling, projecting. Blinking away her own tears of concern and fear, she moved towards Rylee’s side, sitting behind the girl and giving her brother and sister a sad smile. Cadie and Daniel joined them then as well, the girl entering the room to stand at River’s side, her own eyes clouded with a bit of sleep and concern, while Daniel could only stand, frightened in the doorway, concern for his sister immobilizing him.
Rubbing a hand along Rylee’s back, River pressed a kiss into her hair, and said, “Rylee, sweetie, we need to talk about it.”
Shaking her head fiercely, Rylee burrowed herself further into her father’s embrace and murmured, “No.”
Looking to her sister with tear-stained cheeks, Kaylee implored, “Please, River, can’t we just get her back to sleep? Talk about it in the mornin’?”
Shaking her head once, River hated to be so firm with Kaylee, but her coddling of Rylee would not fix this. “No, Kaylee, I’m sorry, we can’t.”
“You’re not sorry,” Rylee said, surprising them all, as she turned her tear-streaked face towards her aunt. Anger in her eyes, she told her, “You’re not sorry. You’re glad. You want me to go through this.”
“Rylee, do not speak to your aunt that way,” Simon scolded, still running a soothing hand through her hair.
Pouting again, she turned back to look at her father, before again resting her cheek against him. “Well, she does.”
“That’s not true, Ry,” Cadie said quietly, reaching up to pat the girl’s back. River lifted her into her lap then, giving her a better view of her cousin and the young reader continued. “That’s not what mama wants. She wants you to get better.”
“Well, this isn’t better,” the five-year-old retorted, her voice petulant.
“Not yet,” Cadie admitted, reaching out again to touch her arm. “But it can be.”
Pressing a kiss into Cadie’s hair, River watched the interplay between the two girls with her mind, as well as her eyes. River knew that Rylee trusted Cadie, more so than just about anyone else. She felt their connection, their kindred spirits, and it gave her a comfort level with the girl that even River could not attain.
Rylee cried some more, wishing she didn’t have to do this, wishing it wasn’t so hard, wishing her father could just hold her like this for the rest of her life so she wouldn’t have to be scared. But she knew with a maturity that belied her age that continuing to run would never make it better. And she was tired of not being better.
Turning tearful eyes to her aunt, she sighed heavily and asked, “What do I have to do?”
Smiling sadly to her, River opened her arms, Cadie sliding off her lap as Rylee scooted over into her embrace. Kissing her niece, River said, “It’s going to be hard, but Cadie and I are going to help, I promise.”
Rylee nodded once and swallowed hard. Whispering something to her, River placed the girl back on the bed with Cadie, and then gently took Simon’s hand, Kaylee following as she led him to the door. Nodding to the corner of the room where the twins were, she said, “You should probably take them. This is going to get worse before it gets better.”
Her eyes widening with fear, Kaylee moved to get Ethan first, Simon following close behind with Emma in his arms. As they moved towards the door, Simon placed a light hand on Daniel’s shoulder and pushed the boy into the hallway. With them now across the threshold, River looked to both Kaylee and Simon and told them quietly, “I know how hard this is, but you’re both going to have to stay away until I tell you it’s okay.”
“River, what’re ya gonna do?” Kaylee asked, her voice shaking with fear for her daughter.
Placing a light hand to her cheek, she told her, “I’m going to help her, Kaylee, I promise.” Looking between them both, she finally asked, “Do you trust me?”
Kaylee looked to Simon, his big blue eyes meeting her wide green ones. Did she, really? Did she really trust River after all she’d been through, all she’d done, all she’d seen? Searching Simon’s face for an answer, she caught it, the assuredness in his features even as he swallowed back his fear.
Looking back to her sister, Kaylee couldn’t form the words, she could only nod. Simon spoke them for her. “Yes, River, we do trust you. Just help her, please.”
River nodded once, and then closed the door, shutting Simon and Kaylee away from their damaged daughter.
When Rylee first cried out for her mother, Kaylee immediately bolted out of bed, pushing out of Simon’s embrace so fast he barely caught her hand before she was out the door. Her eyes pooling with tears that broke his heart, Simon pulled her back to the bed, and held her face in his hands. “She’s going to be all right, Kaylee,” he whispered, pressing kisses to her wet cheeks. Caressing the smooth skin with his thumbs, he repeated, “She is. If anyone can help her, it’s River.”
Nodding once, Kaylee leaned into him and cried, again. She had cried almost non-stop since they had left Rylee with River and Cadie and Simon had been unable to think of nothing else to do but hold her. He had briefly considered giving her a smoother, but he knew Kaylee would never go for it. She would not want to be in a drug-induced sleep once she could again hold her baby girl in her arms.
Leaning back with her on the bed, Simon’s own eyes burned uncomfortably as Rylee again called out, this time in pain. The father in him and the doctor immediately tensed, but he knew it wasn’t physical pain she was suffering from, it was mental anguish inflicted by those hun dans and his father. The anger he felt rising in his throat threatened to choke him, just as Rylee’s pained voice cried out, “Daddy!”
Simon felt every muscle in his body struggle to get up, to run down the hall to his daughter and hold her until she stopped crying. But he couldn’t, he could not do that, he had to trust River, and he knew that as much as he wanted to believe he could fix this, there was no cure he knew of to take away Rylee’s pain – because there had never been one to take away River’s.
An hour later, Rylee called for Kaylee again and this time as he held her back, Kaylee turned fiery eyes to him. Crying, she tried to pull her wrists from his grasp, “Let me go, Simon. Ry needs me.”
“No, Kaylee, we have to wait,” he told her, his own voice cracking with pain and frustration.
“I ain’t waitin’ any longer,” she spat at him. “It’s been almost three hours.”
“I know, bao bei, I know.” Simon again pulled her to him, her face in his hands, and at his touch, Kaylee lost her will to fight.
“She’s in so much pain, Simon,” she sobbed, falling against him, her arms around his neck. “She’s hurtin’ so bad an’ I can’t help ‘er.” Looking up into his eyes, she told him in a whisper, “I jus’ wanna hold her, Simon. Can’t I hold her?”
“Not yet, Kaylee,” he whispered, burying his face in her hair, and rocking her gently. “Not yet, but soon.”
Thankfully, soon was only thirty minutes later. Walking down the hall to Simon and Kaylee’s room, Cadie knocked lightly and waited until Simon had answered the door. “You can come now,” she said quietly, and moved hurriedly out of the way as both parents breezed by her.
Rounding the door jamb, Kaylee and Simon stopped short at the sight of Rylee, nestled in River’s arms, asleep. Her face was a bit flushed from all her emotion and her screaming, but she was sleeping, peacefully. With a tired smile, River looked up at them and said, “She’s better. Not perfect, but better.”
Nodding once, Kaylee moved towards them and reached out her arms. River switched places with Kaylee gladly, the mother cradling her still sleeping child against her chest, crying silent tears into her hair as she ran a hand down her back. Simon watched them for a moment, his own emotions threatening to overwhelm him.
River stood at his side for a minute, and then looked to him, squeezing his forearm gently to get his attention. “I’m sorry,” she murmured, her sincerity taking his breath away. “I know how hard that was.”
Nodding once, Simon pressed a kiss to her cheek and said, “Thank you, mei mei,” before sliding onto the bed, and cradling both his wife and daughter to him. Watching them for a moment more, River gently pushed Cadie from the room and closed the door behind her.
“Come on, little one. It’s been a long night,” River told her, moving her back to her bed and tucking her in.
Sitting down on the edge of Cadie’s mattress, River brushed her fingers through the girl’s hair and smiled at her. Kissing her lightly on the forehead, she said, “You did a good thing tonight. I know that was hard.”
Nodding once, Cadie yawned wide and then said, “It was, but Ry needed help.”
Smiling at her unbelievable compassion, River said, “She did, but you still went above and beyond your cousin-ly duties.” Kissing her again, River murmured, “Thank you baby.”
“You’re welcome, mama,” she murmured back, her eyes heavy with sleep and starting to close.
Moving towards the door, River had almost pulled it shut, when Cadie’s voice reached her. “I’m gonna miss them.”
Frowning at her slightly, River asked, “What, baby?”
“When we leave,” she told her lazily, again yawning. “I’m gonna miss them.”
Not even bothering to ask how the girl knew about River’s plans to move, she said simply, “Love you.”
“Love you, mama.”
14 Months After Jayne’s Death – The Present
Maddy’s cry for attention woke River from a deep sleep. Rising quickly, she was to her daughter’s crib in minutes, having elected to take a nap on Cadie’s bed once she’d put the baby down. Picking her up easily, she smiled as her touch and the sound of her voice silenced Maddy’s cries in an instant, her blue, watery eyes coming to rest on her face.
“Well, hi there,” she murmured, pressing her lips to her head and kissing her. “Not sleepy anymore, huh?”
Maddy’s only answer was to fist her hands in River’s long hair and with a wider smile she paced around the room with her.
River turned at the sound of Cadie’s excited shout and saw the girl bound into the room, waving a piece of paper proudly. “I got an A on my math test,” she told her, beaming from ear to ear.
Smiling at her, River sat the baby on the bed, with a few of her toys, while she knelt to give Cadie a big hug. “That’s wonderful, sweetie. I’m so proud of you.”
Looking between Maddy and her mother, Cadie’s grin turned to a slight frown as she asked, “You guys okay?”
Returning her expression, River looped Cadie’s long hair behind her ear and told her, “Of course, baby, we’re fine. Just took a little nap is all.”
Nodding once, Cadie still didn’t look convinced, but all her questions flew from her head as she heard Ellie call to her from downstairs. “Come on, Cade! We’re pickin’ teams!”
“Oh, I gotta go,” she said hurriedly, throwing down her school books and her bag and heading back for the door. Pausing, she ran back to River’s side and pressed a kiss to her cheek. “Love you, mama,” she whispered, before again sprinting out the door and down the hall to join her friends. The change in Cadie’s behavior, since she had known River was astonishing. Gone was the withdrawn little girl who barely spoke. In the past five years and especially the past twelve or so months, Cadie had become like a normal girl, engaging the other children in games, telling stories and talking regularly, rarely afraid anymore. It was a change that River’s heart swelled to see; she only wished Jayne could have seen it too.
Blinking back sudden tears, River turned to look at Maddy, who was happily playing on her stomach, her legs and arms kicking out every which way. She would be walking soon, River knew, and the thought at once thrilled and scared her. She had no idea how she was going to keep Jayne’s daughter out of trouble once she started motoring on her own.
Moving onto the bed, River lay back and took her baby in her arms, lifting her high over her head and bringing her back to her chest, making all kids of funny noises with each up and down motion. Maddy smiled and cooed, her legs and arms continuing to move. Soon, River’s arms growing tired, she rested the baby on her chest and felt herself drifting back to sleep.
She had been dreaming of Jayne. That’s why it had been so hard to wake up. Normally, she was up and alert before Maddy made a sound, always knowing exactly when her daughter was going to need something. But not this afternoon. No, her thoughts had been consumed with her husband and she wished, selfishly that if she fell asleep again, she might go back to that cozy place where he was, where he told her that he was proud of her and their family, where she could still feel his arms around her, holding her and Maddy.
“Well, hey there, lil’ one.”
River opened one eye as she felt Maddy’s weight lifted from her chest, and looked to see Mal pulling her daughter into his arms. Not knowing she had awakened, he walked towards the window with his niece and continued to talk to her. “You wearing your mama out, are ya? Well, that ain’t right. She’s gotta get plenty o’ rest an’ be all ready to pilot my big boat.”
Rolling onto her stomach to regard him, River asked wryly, “Since when is Serenity big?”
Jumping a bit at the sound of her voice, Mal turned to her and smiled. “Well, she ain’t exactly small, darlin’,” he retorted, moving towards her to drop a kiss to her forehead. “How ya doin’?”
“Right and shiny,” she told him, sitting up and watching as he sat with Maddy in the rocking chair across the room with a practiced ease. “You back from the job all ready?”
Nodding once, Mal didn’t take his eyes off Maddy as he answered her, content to continue making silly faces at the baby. “Yup, didn’t take as long as we ‘spected.”
River heard his answer, but was soon lost in staring at Mal with her daughter. Maddy did not lack the presence of males in her life. Besides Simon and Thom, she had Mal and Walt and Millie’s eldest boy, Milo, who had taken a real shine to her and was good with babies. Plus Kaylee’s brothers were fairly regular visitors to the house and doted on her something fierce, treating her just like one of their nieces. But River was always painfully aware that the one male role model she needed most, she’d never have.
Mal noted the far-off look in her eyes, and sat forward a bit, squeezing her knee. Blinking rapidly, River smiled at him and then moved forward and took Maddy out of his grasp before he could even say a word in protest. Focusing all of her attention to the baby, River tried to ignore his curious gaze. “You sure you’re all right there, lil’ albatross?” The question was said with an easy tone, but River could feel his concern.
Trying to stymie it, she put on one of her brightest smiles and looked back to him. “You bet, Captain Daddy.”
It was clear from Mal’s body language and the skeptical look on his face that he did not, for one minute, believe her. But he had also known her a fairly long time and if she said she was fine, he was going to have to take her at her word.
Rising, he moved to sit beside her and placed a light arm around her shoulders. “You know, River, you ever want some quiet time, me an’ ‘Nara’d be happy to watch Mad-Li and Cadie for ya.”
Smiling sweetly to him, River said, “I appreciate the offer, but we’re shiny. Aren’t we baby,” she asked, again turning all her attention to Maddy and smiling even wider as her daughter laughed. Looking back to Mal for a moment, she asked, “And why do you insist on calling her Mad-Li when everyone else calls her Maddy?”
Shrugging, Mal gave her his best insolent look and asked, “What, I gotta have a reason?” Pausing, he plastered on his cocky grin and told her, “I’m the cap’n. That’s the reason.”
Laughing lightly, River placed a kiss to his rough cheek and said, “Well, whatever the reason, I’m glad she has such a great Uncle Mal.”
He held her gaze for a moment and caught the hint of her pain before she averted his eyes. He’d seen it before, that grief, seen it in Zoe after Wash’s death and it pained him to see it in River. She moved quickly from his side, calling to him, “I’ve got to help Winnie with supper. I’m sure you and Inara and the girls could come over if you want.”
Following her out the door, Mal said, “Nah, ‘Nara’s got somethin’ special planned on account of me bein’ home or some nonsense.” Raising a quizzical eyebrow at his nonchalance, Mal quickly amended, “I mean, my beautiful wife has planned something wonderfully special for me and I need to be home for it.”
Nodding once, River patted his cheek lightly and said, “Good Captain Daddy.”
Smiling to her, Mal grabbed for her elbow just before she headed down the stairs. Turning to him, River cocked her head to the side and waited for him to speak his mind. “You ever need anythin’ River,” he told her quietly. “All you gotta do is ask, dong ma?”
Kissing his cheek, River turned to head down the stairs. “I already asked you for a job. How much more groveling do you want me to do?”
Chuckling at her, Mal watched her head back to the kitchen, Maddy waving goodbye to him over her shoulder. He still wasn’t entirely convinced she was okay. Resolving to talk it over with Winnie at a later time, he headed home to his girls.
Monday, October 23, 2006 8:17 PM
Monday, October 23, 2006 11:59 PM
Tuesday, October 24, 2006 5:30 AM
Tuesday, October 24, 2006 8:12 AM
Wednesday, October 25, 2006 6:15 AM
Wednesday, October 25, 2006 5:54 PM
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