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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Set after A NEW DAY. Chronicling the 18 months following Jayne's death, from River's point of view. S/K, R/J, M/I
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1379 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
A/N: I think this chapter will help to answer a few lingering questions about Cadie. I know you all have been clamoring for it, so here it is!
Enjoy - and comment ... I don't want to unleash Reavers on you ...
And thanks to Leiasky for the beta!
A NEW REASON, 3/5
“’Nara, child, that you?”
Inara stepped around the large white sheet Winnie was pinning to the line to dry and smiled warmly at the woman. “It is,” she told her, moving to give her a hug.
Embracing her tightly, Winnie pulled her back to arm’s length and eyed her critically. “I’m still thinkin’ you don’t eat more than a bird, but I guess I’ll let that slide on account you bein’ a grown woman an’ all.” Inara could only smile wider at her and watched with an amused gaze as Winnie looked behind her before planting her fists firmly on her hips. “An’ what did I tell you ‘bout comin’ over here without them precious babes o’ yours?”
Holding up her hands in mock defeat, Inara said, “Oh, Winnie, I think your house has been more than full of little ones as of late.” Glancing over her shoulder to the bassinet she could see in the shade of a tree, she asked, “I take it you’re on Maddy duty?”
Following her gaze, Winnie smiled wide and told her, “Oh, that lil’ one? She ain’t a spot o’ trouble. Hardly never cries, exceptin’ when’s she hungry an’ she never fusses. She’s a doll.”
Inara nodded, unable to disagree. Maddy had been the most agreeable of babies since her birth, which of course had anyone who had known her father scratching their heads; how exactly Jayne Cobb’s baby could be so well-behaved was a mystery. “And River?” she asked, her voice lowering a bit.
Smiling with a grin that was equal parts patience, equal parts sympathy, Winnie moved back to her basket of wet linens as she said, “Oh the girl’s just off runnin’ some errands.”
“Errands?” Inara asked skeptically, moving to help Winnie as she unfurled another large sheet. “River? Since when does River run errands?”
“Well, the woman’s got a right to a life, Mrs. Reynolds,” Winnie scolded playfully, her eyes still glittering with amusement, but her body language telling Inara something else entirely. She could hardly believe that Mal had actually picked up on something – maybe they had been married too long, she was starting to rub off on him.
“Yes, she does,” Inara answered absentmindedly. As she pulled the line down to affix a pin to the sheet, she met Winnie’s gaze over it and said, “It’s just that, Mal was over yesterday, visiting with River and he thought he saw something.”
“Saw what?” Winnie asked, continuing to work.
Moving around the side of the sheet, Inara placed a hand to Winnie’s arm and waited for the older woman to meet her gaze. When she did, Inara smiled sadly and said, “Winnie, please. We all love River very dearly and she’s had an incredibly difficult year. If you know something, please tell me.”
Winnie sighed heavily and rubbed a hand over her weary eyes. Meeting Inara’s concerned gaze, she took the younger woman gently by the elbow and led her to the shade of the tree that Maddy was under. Moving instinctively to the bassinet, Inara saw that the baby was awake, and she lifted the child out, smiling to her.
“Look, ‘Nara, I ain’t sayin’ it’s any o’ my business or yours, but I know how you an’ Mal an’ Kaylee an’ Simon all look to that girl and I hate to think she was tryin’ to shut ya’ll out.” Winnie explained quickly, worried that Inara would blame her for keeping River’s secret.
“Winnie, please,” Inara said, sitting onto a bench and squeezing the woman’s hand as she positioned Maddy in her lap. “Just tell me.”
“She’s been dreamin’.” Winnie’s voice had dropped to a whisper and Inara felt a shiver run down her spine despite the very innocuous statement.
“About?” Inara asked, eyeing the little one in her lap as her bright blue eyes regarding her quizzically.
“Well, Jayne I ‘spect,” Winnie told her, inching a bit closer to her. “She ain’t exactly been forthright with any details.”
“Are they nightmares?” Inara asked carefully, fearing that perhaps River was slipping into some of her old patterns.
Shaking her head, Winnie said, “I don’t think so, though sometimes she calls out his name or others. But she doesn’t sound like she’s in pain or nothin’, It’s just that …” Her voice died as Winnie again felt guilty for sharing something so private with Inara.
“Well, since they started, ‘bout two and a half months ago, she’s been a mite more tired than normal, mite slower, jus’ not quite herself, is all.”
Winnie’s concern for River, the young ward she had so willingly taken in was as plain as day to Inara and with a warm smile she asked her, “Have you talked to her about these dreams?”
Shaking her head, Winnie sighed and said, “Nah, I know I prolly shoulda, but with all she’s been through, I din’t wanna her to feel bad, ‘bout callin’ out or nothin’. Hell, I’m half-surprised the girl ain’t running around screamin’ all hours of the day, considerin’ the tragedy she’s seen.”
Inara swallowed her comment, knowing that it would do no good to remind Winnie that when she had first met River, that had very nearly been her only state of being – running around screaming. Now, she was a mother, with a beautiful baby girl and a beautiful adopted daughter. And she was a widow; only twenty-three and a widow. Inara’s heart broke again to think of it, lovely, fragile, government-designed River, a widow.
Pressing a kiss into Maddy’s hair, Inara rose and placed the baby in Winnie’s grasp. Placing a kiss to the older woman’s cheek, Inara told her, “Thank you, Winnie. I promise, when I speak with River, I won’t let her know who my source was.”
“Ah, she’ll prolly just pluck it outta yer head anyways,” Winnie told her, smiling again as she smiled at Maddy. “But that’s okay. If’n you can help, then I don’t mind.”
Smiling again, Inara picked her way back across the yard, her mind fervently trying to devise a way that she could, in fact, help.
1 Month After Jayne’s Death
River looked up at the sound recognizing Cadie’s raven-haired form as she sprinted down the path towards the porch where River was sitting. Zoe and Ellie followed a bit behind, allowing the two women their reunion.
Rising quickly, River made it down the steps and was kneeling by the time Cadie threw herself into River’s open arms. Hugging her tightly, the woman pressed kisses to the girl’s hair, trying to hold back her tears of joy and sadness at seeing her. “Hi baby. I missed you,” she whispered into her hair, as she held her.
“I missed you,” Cadie told her, having no luck at holding her own tears in. She had felt River’s pain the minute they’d landed and she felt it even more acutely now that they were so close. Pulling back from her, Cadie placed a small, light hand to River’s cheek and asked, “What is it, mama?”
Her tears falling steadily now, River again pulled the girl tight to her and murmured, “Oh, baby, so much.”
Zoe watched as Ellie played with Mimi, Rylee and Danny through the kitchen window and smiled. It was nice to see the girl happy, considering the mess River and Cadie had been in just moments before. Turning back to regard her friends, Zoe moved to Inara’s side and gestured into the bassinet. “You mind?”
“Of course not,” Inara said, smiling brightly to her. “I want Sophie to know her Aunt Zoe.”
Zoe smiled back and picked up the tiny bundle, smiling widely at her. Looking to Simon and Kaylee who cradled their own five-month-olds and then to Mal whose arm was loosely draped over the back of Inara’s chair, Zoe could only sigh quietly. Ai ya, how she’d missed them.
Sitting at the table, silence again descended on them and Zoe could guess why; guilt. The four other adults around this table had never lost their spouse before and they felt an immense weight of sadness that they could not help River with her grief. And they were afraid to ask Zoe to help in their stead.
“Well, I know you din’t ask me to come all the way out ‘ere to stare at the table top,” she chided them, getting blushes from Kaylee, Simon and Inara, while Mal simply cleared his throat and sat up straighter. “So, say your peace.”
It was Simon who spoke. “Zoe, I don’t … I don’t even know how to say this, but,” he paused for a moment, obviously uncomfortable. Kaylee reached out a hand and squeezed his arm and when Simon smiled to her, Zoe felt a bit of her heart crack, just a bit. It was a smile of reassurance and familiarity and comfort that a husband gave a wife; that Wash had once given to Zoe; and that Jayne had once given to River. With another sigh, Zoe realized that being under the same roof with these two couples should easily have driven the grieving widow mad by now.
“Zoe, would you mind talking to River?” Simon finally asked, his eyes imploring her to help him, help his sister. “I know it’s a lot to ask, but you’ve gone through what she’s going through and-“
“And none o’ you has,” Zoe finished, her voice quiet. Looking to Kaylee, she saw the mechanic’s face blanch a bit, and Zoe added, “Well, least not permanent-like.”
Smiling slightly to her, Kaylee nodded once, and then said, “We’ve tried talkin’ to her, Zoe, but she jus’ ain’t that open to us. Maybe to you though …”
Zoe looked around at them all, saw the pain on their faces, the concern for River. True, she had been where River was, once upon a time. Of course, there was one major difference between she and the Albatross; Jayne had actually left her with his child. Blinking away the thought, Zoe rose, and placed baby Sophie in Inara’s arms, before turning to address them all.
“Look, I ain’t gonna pretend to be an expert, an’ I ain’t gonna pretend that I even remotely want to revisit all that pain.” As Mal moved to open his mouth, Zoe silenced him with an upraised hand. “You dragged me all the way out ‘ere, I think I earned the right to speak my peace.” Nodding once to her, Mal dropped his eyes back to the table and Zoe continued. “The fact o’ the matter is, people grieve different. I know you all know that. I certainly did, confounded ya’ll too after Wash was gone.”
As Kaylee raised a sympathetic look to her, Zoe smiled tightly and said, “I know I did, lil’ Kaylee. You kept comin’ by my bunk most nights, wantin’ me to cry. But that ain’t how I needed to deal.” Looking out the open screen door, Zoe knew that River had taken Cadie to Jayne’s grave so the little girl could say goodbye to the only father she’d ever known. “And considerin’ all River’s been through, I don’t think any o’ us is in a place to even remotely guess how she’s gonna deal.”
“Zoe, that’s just it,” Simon interjected, risking a scowl for the interruption, but not getting one. “She’s not dealing, not really. And she won’t talk about it.”
“You ever consider she’s got nothin’ to say on the matter?” Zoe asked him, her tone gentle. Simon’s wide eyes gave Zoe her answer. “Doc, she’s yer sis an’ you rightly know her better than the rest o’ us, but I don’t think you should be surprised if River deals with this in her own, quiet way.” Getting a look of pure incredulity from Mal, Zoe amended, “Or she could run ‘round screamin’, rubbin’ soup in our hair. With River, it’s a toss-up.”
They all smiled at that, it was an old joke of Wash’s, and it lessened the pain at the table, if only for a moment. “I will talk with ‘er, I jus’ don’t wan’ none o’ ya to be surprised if it don’t change nothin’.”
Rising, Simon stood before the taller woman and placed a light hand to her arm, balancing Ethan easily against his chest. “I really would appreciate it, Zoe.”
Smiling to him, they held the look for a moment before Sophie started to cry and broke the mood. Moving about, the parents began doting on their babies and Zoe found herself drifting to the Tams’ back porch, watching as her daughter played in the fading daylight.
River held Cadie against her as the girl cried, her face buried in River’s chest. As she rested her cheek on her soft hair, River stared at Jayne’s head stone, trying very hard to withhold her own sadness so as not to overwhelm Cadie. The little one was already dealing with enough of her own pain, she didn’t need to shoulder River’s as well.
“Mama?” Her voice was small and shaky from her crying, but River pulled back a bit to look at her, brushing her hair off her face with a gentle touch.
“Do you miss him?” Cadie asked, her big blue eyes, full of tears, staring at River expectantly, wanting an answer.
Swallowing hard, River willed her voice to stay steady as she said, “Of course, I do, baby. I miss him very much. I loved him.”
“Then why’d he go?” she asked, her head turning back to study the small mound of earth, more tears running down her face by the time she looked back to River.
A few of her own tears falling, River said quietly, “He didn’t want to, sweetie, but sometimes no matter how hard people fight, they just have to move on.” Pressing a kiss into her hair, River murmured, “But he’s still looking out for us.”
Blinking quickly, Cadie looked back up at River and asked, “Really?”
Smiling slightly, River again let her fingers run through Cadie’s long hair as she said, “Of course. Why just last night, he came to me in a dream and he said, ‘You tell that Cadie girl that I done miss ‘er an’ I love ‘er.’” River had affected a deeper tone as she said this last and it made Cadie smile and cry all at once.
“He didn’t really say that,” she sobbed, throwing herself back against River and squirming further into her embrace.
Disappointed that she had seen through the white lie, River cried some more as she said, “He would have, because he loved you.” Nuzzling her face into the girl’s hair, she finally added, “And he also really wanted to be your daddy.”
“He was my dad,” she cried, her voice again soft. “He was the only dada I ever had.”
Closing her eyes, and wrapping her arms tighter around the girl, River cried more silent tears as she said, “I know, baby. I know.”
They sat locked in the embrace for a while, both of them trying to ease their sadness in the comfort of the other. After untold minutes, River finally felt she could again trust her voice. “Cadie, sweetie?”
Looking up to her, Cadie ran her arm past her nose, getting rid of her some of her tears. Smiling to her just a bit, River said, “I wanted to tell you, that Jayne and I, before he died, we made a baby.”
Her eyes immediately dropping to River’s stomach, which was a bit more pronounced than usual, Cadie gasped with excitement. Placing a light hand to it, she wiggled back a bit, afraid she might be hurting the little life inside. With sudden fear gracing her features, she asked, “But I thought you couldn’t?”
“I couldn’t before, but my mother, she brought me some special medicine and so I can now.” River watched as Cadie reacted, her love and happiness for both River and the new baby threatening to overwhelm her.
“You’re gonna be a mama,” she breathed, her big blue eyes looking to River with wonder and excitement.
Smiling to her, River’s tears continued to fall steadily as she took Cadie’s face in her hands and said, “I’m going to have a baby, yes, but that doesn’t make me a mother, Cadie.” As the girl’s brow furrowed, her confusion growing, River explained. “I was a mom the first time I held you, all those years ago on Beaumonde. Do you remember that?”
Her own eyes tearing again, Cadie murmured, “You helped me sleep.” Closing her eyes, she whispered, “It was so quiet.”
Nodding once, River said, “That’s right, and at that moment, when I met you, and I loved you, that’s when I was a mom.” Pausing, River didn’t know how to ask again, she had already tried once and Cadie had shown a maturity well beyond her seven years in turning her down. River could only pray she wouldn’t say no again. “I want to adopt you, Cadie. It’s what Jayne wanted, for us to be a family. I want this baby to have you as a sister, I want you to be my daughter.” Inhaling a deep breath as her voice again faltered, she breathed, “I want to be your mom, all the time, every day, forever.”
Cadie studied River with those huge blue eyes, trying to think with her head, instead of her heart. Her heart had already made its decision. With a wide smile, Cadie threw her arms around River’s neck and whispered, “Please, mama. I wanna be yours.”
Holding her back tightly, River felt such joy. As her eyes again flitted to Jayne’s head stone, darkening as the sun sank, she could only mouth, ‘Thank you,’ in its direction, knowing he had been watching over them.
River watched over Cadie as she slept. It had taken her awhile to pry the child from Jayne’s grave, long after the sun had gone down and only once Mal and Simon had both come looking for them, worried. Mal had hefted the girl up into his arms, her body cold and tired from being outside so long, while River had leaned into Simon’s side, his arm warm around her shoulders as they walked back to the house.
Now, she was by her side, watching her with her mind and her eyes. Cadie was a powerful reader, not as strong as River, but strong, and the girl had an innate ability for protecting her mind and her emotions from others, and for protecting her own. It was one of the first things River had ever learned about her, ever admired about her. And now, she envied it with the green eyes of jealousy.
River could not shut out the pain she felt around her and it was killing her. Everyone was so sad for her, their pity was going to drive her mad. Simon and Kaylee felt such grief for her she felt ready to retch at just the sight of them, while Mal and Inara’s guilt over what they assumed to be their part in Jayne’s death was equally sickening. Zoe’s arrival, however, had tempered some of that and River was glad.
Zoe had always been a divining rod on Serenity, on Harvest, pretty much anywhere she was. She was always the level-headed one, the shrewd one, the truthful one, and it was the same now. River wasn’t exactly sure what she’d said to her brother and the others, but once they had made their way back to the house, River felt their emotions somewhat lessened, and she was thankful.
Pressing a kiss to Cadie’s cheek, River tiptoed out of the room, still too wound to sleep and eased her way downstairs. She wandered out to the porch, pulling a worn blanket from the sofa on the way, and wrapping it around her shoulders. If she closed her eyes and squeezed her arms for just a second, she could imagine it was Jayne. And then she would open her eyes again and she was alone.
“It won’t last forever.” Zoe’s voice was quiet and sure, and River turned to regard the woman as she sat in a shadow at the far end of the porch.
River looked at her for a moment more, and then asked quietly, “It won’t?”
Nodding once, Zoe rose and walked down the wooden planking to stand before her. Leaning her hip against the railing, she said, “No. It won’t. But somethin’ tells me that ain’t what’s got you bothered.”
River sighed, trying so hard not to cry in front of this stoic woman. “They asked you to talk to me.”
Following River’s gaze as it roved over the landscape, Zoe admitted, “Thought I might know somethin’ ‘bout what you’re feelin’. Thought I might help.”
Looking back to her, River studied the older woman’s profile. River remembered Zoe’s pain as clear as day, those moments after Wash had died. It hadn’t been a slow growth of pain or a sharp stab, it had been a feeling, a mood, that had settled into Zoe’s bones the minute that wooden stake had driven through her husband’s chest. And that mood colored everything Zoe was from that minute forward. She still functioned like a woman, like a fighter, and she still was. Despite it all, Zoe was, by far, one of the strongest woman River had ever known. No offense to Kaylee or Inara, but the things Zoe had survived, paled in comparison to what her other friends had been through.
But Zoe’s pain over Wash’s death had been expected, at least to Zoe. She had figured his departure from her life to be inevitable, while River had always suspected that if either she or Jayne would die, it would be River who would go first. That was what she had planned, prayed for actually, and it had backfired.
“I don’t think there’s anything you can say, Zoe,” River told her quietly, sighing a bit and wandering to the porch swing. Taking a seat, she heard it creak and cried at the sound, remembering when Jayne had first dropped his big form into it and feared he might bring the roof crashing in on their heads.
Watching her for a moment more, Zoe sat next to her, and put an arm around her shoulders. “You know, River girl, I don’t think there is,” she said quietly, pulling the girl to her and resting her cheek on her head. “But I can sit with ya.”
Smiling slightly, River felt more tears come and unable to hold them back, she cried against Zoe’s shoulder far into the night.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006 12:50 AM
Wednesday, October 25, 2006 3:09 AM
Thursday, October 26, 2006 2:40 AM
Thursday, October 26, 2006 7:28 AM
Thursday, October 26, 2006 8:13 AM
Thursday, October 26, 2006 8:21 AM
Thursday, October 26, 2006 4:58 PM
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