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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Another Unification Day rolls around, and Mal goes into this bar ... Just a little fiction while I work on my next longer story, so just be gentle with me - and leave feedback!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1331 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
The game was progressing well. Each player had made move, counter move, feint and counter feint. Zoe, her usual face as inscrutable as ever, lifted a piece and jumped three others.
“Good move,” Freya nodded approvingly. She reached out, shook her arm slightly, then made her own move, ending up on the other side of the board, and the winner.
“How …?” Zoe stared at the board.
“She is very good,” Mal said. “Sometimes she even beats me.”
Freya lifted an eyebrow at him, but forbore to comment. Mal, a grin plastered across his face, stood up and straightened his brown coat, saying, “Right. Well, I'm going to do what a man’s gotta do.” He stepped behind Zoe then leaned down. “You two ladies play nicely, now.” He headed off towards a door in the corner.
Freya watched him, then looked around the bar before saying, “Does it ever seem to you that we spend all our lives in places like this?”
“Sometimes it does.” Zoe glanced towards where Mal had disappeared. "How are things between you two?" she asked.
Freya smiled a little. "Shiny. Good. They're improving." She laughed sadly. "Takes time, Zoe."
"I know." They looked at each other in total understanding before Freya felt somewhat embarrassed at the first mate’s frank gaze and looked away.
“Any idea why those fellers at the bar should be staring as us?” she asked. “Apart from the fact that we are two fine specimens of female womanhood, of course.”
“Apart from that,” Zoe agreed. “Well, do you know what day it is?”
Freya considered. “Tuesday?”
“I meant specifically.”
“Nope. No idea. Is it significant?”
“Did the captain ask you to wear that coat?”
“Wha …?” Freya was surprised at the apparent non-sequitur, but glanced down at her own brown coat. “No. Not really. But he seemed kinda pleased.”
“Then you won’t be surprised when there’s a brawl.”
Freya leaned forward. “Am I missing something here?”
“It’s Unification Day.”
Light dawned on Freya’s face. “And this is an Alliance moon. And we’re wearing …”
“You know, if they don’t kill him, I might.”
The light was suddenly blocked from their table, and they both looked up, then further up. A very large man was standing next to them.
“Can we help you?” Freya asked.
“You going to drink with us to Unification?”
“Hell, I’ll drink with anyone,” Freya replied. “But I don’t drink to anything on principle.”
He screwed his forehead up in thought. “You wearing brown. You Independents?”
“War’s a long time over, friend,” Zoe put in.
“Maybe not for you.” He reached down and put both hands under the table, overturning it.
Freya looked at Zoe. “Good job we’d finished our game.”
“I would say so.”
Freya stood up slowly, but even with her height she was still a head shorter than the man in front of her. “Friend, you’re drunk. But maybe not enough.” She smiled brightly. “Why don’t I buy you a drink?”
“You think I’d drink with scum like you?” He pushed Freya’s shoulder. “Stinkin’ Independents.”
Freya sighed. “You really are looking for a fight, aren’t you?”
“Is this feller annoying you?” Mal asked from behind the big man.
“Oh. Just a little bit. And he ain’t the only one.”
The big man barely heard the exchange, but lunged at Freya. She ducked the blow he aimed at her head, then punched him deep in the stomach, bringing her knee up to meet his jaw coming down. He collapsed bonelessly, and Mal was revealed.
“Was that a personal comment you just made?” he asked.
“You did not tell me it was Unification Day.”
“Hey, I just wanted a quiet drink,” Mal protested.
“I’d say that was rapidly disappearing towards the horizon, sir,” Zoe said, nodding towards the downed man’s friends, who had all stood up.
“Fine. Do you want to take those on the right, Freya do the left, and I’ll take the middle?”
“Hey, I'm one up already,” Freya protested.
“He was just a taster …”
“Freya! What are you being so fast for?” Mal asked, hurrying to keep up with her as they headed through the narrow alleyways back to the docks.
“I'm not speaking to you, Mal.”
“Wha …? Why? What did I do?”
She span on her heel and he nearly walked into her. She poked him in the chest. “You didn’t tell me it was Unification Day.”
Mal threw up his hands in protest. “Hey, I just wanted a quiet drink!”
“No. I just wanted a quiet drink – you wanted a fight.” She turned and strode away again.
Mal turned to his first mate as they followed. “Zoe, can you speak to her?”
“I could, sir, but I happen to agree with her.”
“You … this could be regarded as mutiny, you know.”
“You did kinda provoke them, sir. Us all going in looking like we do.”
“It’s a colour! Brown is a colour. Not that unusual for a coat.”
“Not today it ain’t. Sir.”
“You can be damn sure about that,” said a voice in the darkness, and half a dozen men piled out.
In the confined area of the alleyway no-one drew a gun, but that didn’t stop it. Mal went down under three men, each trying to either remove his teeth, break his ribs or knock his brains into the middle of next week. Rolling in the dirt, he heard one of them hit another, and grinned. That wasn’t how you did it, he thought, and elbowed someone in the face, feeling the jaw slam shatteringly shut. That was how you did it.
Zoe was dealing with two, cracking one in the nose with her forehead while the other attempted to get his arms around her waist and bring her down. Freya was luckier - only one tried to take her on, but he was bigger than the rest, and seemed to be slightly less intoxicated. Still, it just meant he fell harder.
As fast as it had started, it was over. The two remaining standing staggered off, leaving their comrades unconscious in the dirt.
“Well, that was bracing,” Mal said, shaking his head slightly to clear the ringing in his ears, grinning widely.
“Sometimes, Mal …” Freya began, glaring at him and wiping a small amount of blood from her split lip.
“Inara’s right. You can be insufferable.”
“I didn’t do anything!” he insisted, putting out a hand to check her injury. She batted it away. “I didn’t invite them to follow us.”
“I wouldn’t put it past you if you had,” she complained wearily, stretching her back where one of them had kicked her. “I’m getting too old for this, Mal.”
“Not you,” he said, attempting gallantry. “Never.”
She shook her head at him in exasperation then looked down at Zoe still sitting against the wall. “Hey, rise and shine,” she said, going down on one knee. “Zoe?” She put a hand on the first mate’s shoulder. “Mal!” she said urgently.
Mal paused in brushing himself down. “What?”
Freya held up her fingers. “She’s bleeding.”
Mal dropped next to her, checking Zoe carefully. “Looks like she cracked her head on the brickwork,” he said, all seriousness now. “We need to get her back to Serenity.”
Freya nodded, taking Zoe’s legs as Mal lifted her under the arms.
It was dark. And cool. There seemed to be a breeze, and there was just a hint of spice in the air, but so fragile as to be intangible. Zoe stood still, just waiting. For what, she wasn't sure, but it seemed right. Then, to her left, came the sound of birdsong, almost on the edge of hearing, and in front of her a distant glow, increasing in intensity with such speed that it and the sound accompanying it blinded and deafened her. She slapped her hands to her ears and closed her eyes tight, but couldn’t shut it out. After an age the sound, like the biggest wave breaking on the seashore, receded enough so that she could drop her hands, and she stood upright, opening her eyes carefully.
“Lambie-toes?” said a familiar voice behind her.
She should have been shocked as she turned, but a feeling of intense calm suffused her as Wash came into view. “Am I dead?” she asked.
“That’s kinda up to you.” Wash smiled, his blue eyes crinkling under the mop of untidy blond hair, the glare of his Hawaiian shirt warring with the intense sunlight.
Hank was sitting on the bridge, checking the route for their next job, when he glanced out of the bridge window. “Tzao gao,” he said loudly, standing up quickly and knocking one of the dinosaurs still on the console to the ground. He grabbed the comlink. “Simon! Get to the cargo bay, mah shong!” He ran out off the bridge, jumping the steps to the corridor.
“Simon!” Mal yelled as they came up the ramp, but the doctor was already stepping into the bay, dressed only in a pair of pants.
“Fight,” Mal said succinctly.
“Get her into the infirmary.”
Kaylee was standing in the common area, a sheet wrapped around her, her bulk making her look like a ship in full sail. “Zoe?” she asked, her hands gripping the cotton.
“If I’m not dead then you’re not Wash,” she said, crossing her arms defiantly. “I must be dreaming.”
“Maybe.” He grinned. “Maybe not.” He touched her arm. “Does it feel like a dream?”
She shivered as his hand made contact with her skin, warm and gentle, feeling the slight calluses on his palms from where he steered Serenity. “If this is a hallucination, it’s a damn good one,” she said to herself. She pulled herself together. “So now what?”
“What do you want?” He let go of her and walked away a couple of paces, turning to look her up and down.
“You decide. This is your hallucination, if that’s what you want to call it.”
Zoe looked around. “What about this place? Where is it?” All around her was a wide sandy plain, with mountains in the far distance, far enough away to make her realise it wasn’t a moon. There were one or two stands of trees, with welcome shade beneath.
Wash sighed, shaking his head. “I don’t know. It’s just a place. Maybe somewhere you’d been once, or maybe -”
“I’ve never been here,” she interrupted.
“Then change it. Decide where you want to be.”
“How about a beach? Maybe a naked beach?” Zoe asked, looking around.
“You keep saying that.”
“It depends on what you want. You wanna naked beach? Fine. You wanna nice cool sea, coconuts on palm trees … hell, I’ll even throw in juggling geese for you. But it’s your choice.”
“Mine?” She peered at him. “How mine?”
“Because this is where you decide what happens next.”
Mal and Freya laid Zoe on the medbed, stepping back to allow Simon to work. He attached a sensor to Zoe’s finger and pulled a scanner over her head, studying the readings.
“Well, doc?” Mal asked.
“I’m not sure. There’s a fracture, but it’s hairline. She shouldn’t still be out.”
“What can you do?”
“Let me work,” he said.
“Mind you, I do have some questions I want to ask,” Wash said, taking hold of her shoulders and moving her to arms length.
She didn’t remember him being this forceful when he was alive, although maybe she hadn’t been looking close enough. “Questions? Like what?”
“Like why did you stop wearing your armour on jobs?”
“You’re lying to me?” Wash laughed. “Don’t think that’s too clever an idea, sweetie.” He calmed down. “Trying to get yourself killed? Was that it?”
“So you believe it’s me, now?”
“I … the jury’s still out on that one.”
“Well, it ain't on the fact that you were trying to let someone else decide whether you lived or not. Ain't that the case?”
“I didn’t -”
“Did Mal know?”
She looked down, not wanting to meet his eyes. “I didn’t tell him. He might have guessed but he never said a word.”
Wash shook his head sadly. “And if you’d succeeded? How would he have felt?”
“It wouldn’t have been my problem, now, would it?” she asked, asperity in her tone. When he didn’t answer she lifted her head. “What?”
“You know that ain’t the case,” Wash said gently. “And that still doesn’t explain why you weren’t wearing it today.”
“Doc?” Mal asked, watching the rapid movement of Zoe’s eyes beneath the lids.
Simon checked her quickly. “She’s dreaming,” he said. “That’s actually a good sign. It’s indicating comparatively normal brain activity.”
“We weren't on a job!” she maintained. “Just went for a drink!”
“In an Alliance bar on U-Day. Honey, Freya may not have known, but you did.” He looked at her almost accusingly, and she felt herself wilt under his gaze. “But I’ll grant you that one. So even more I’d like to know why you started again.”
“I … I don’t know.”
“I do. You decided it wasn’t worth dying for me.”
She was scandalised. “Wash, I never -”
“It’s okay,” he assured her, running his hand down her arm and making her skin goose pimple. “And you were right.”
“I wish you hadn’t.”
“Zoe, so do I. It ain’t a barrel of laughs, I can tell you, getting speared through the chest like that.” He patted his Hawaiian shirt.
“Don’t,” she implored, stepping closer to him and putting her arms around him, feeling his body under her hands. “I will never forget that.”
“Me neither,” he agreed fervently, stroking her back.
“If I get to choose what happens,” Zoe said slowly, “can I choose for you to make love to me?”
Wash’s grin got wider. “Now you’re talking. That kind of thing I am good at. Even better than juggling geese.” He pulled closer and she could smell his aftershave, making her weak at the knees. “And I have a lot of pent-up sexual energy to deal with.”
Hank watched as Simon checked his readings for the twentieth time. He was standing next to Freya, his hands grasped tightly in front of him. “Is she gonna be okay?” he asked, all of his emotions in his voice.
“Doc‘s doing everything he can,” Freya assured him.
“I mean, if she needs blood, or anything …”
Freya put her arm around his shoulders. “Just be here for her.”
He made love to her sweetly, tenderly, laying her down on a patch of soft grass that Zoe had imagined for the occasion, and stroked her body until she cried out in ecstasy, all the longing and the despair released in that one moment that seemed to go on forever. Afterwards, as he held her, she let tears slip down her cheeks until she lay exhausted. She didn’t sleep, and neither did he, just spoke quietly of things past, until it seemed the sun was setting.
“It’s time, sweetcakes,” Wash said, pushing her from his shoulder so she was sitting up.
“For what?” she asked.
“For you to go home.” He smiled but there was sadness in his eyes.
“I am home,” Zoe said, trying to lean back into him, feeling his naked chest with one hand, running it down towards his waist.
“No, no you ain’t. Home is Serenity, and your family’s waiting for you.”
“I don’t want to go,” she said, her eyes unexpectedly filling with tears. “I want to stay here with you.”
“No, you don’t.” Wash shook his head. “You know it ain’t time, pumpkin.”
“You said it was my choice. Whether I live or die.”
“Well, maybe I was exaggerating a little. ‘Sides, there’s people back there who need you.”
“Who needs me?” Zoe looked at him belligerently.
“Mal, for one.”
“He has Freya.”
“That ain't the same, and you know it.” Wash got onto his knees, looking into her dark eyes. “You’re his link with the past, sweet cheeks. To a time when he didn’t have anything, and you kept him going.”
“Maybe he would be better off being able to forget.”
Wash grinned. “Now you know that ain’t true. Zoe, as much as I’d like to say to you to stay here with me, drinking Margueritas until the end of time, you know that ain’t what’s gonna happen. You have to go back. Be with the people who care about you.”
“Don’t you care about me?”
“Wouldn’t be telling you to go back if I didn’t,” he said gently.
“Come on. I’ll come with you as far as I can, but you have to go now.” He stood up and held out a hand. She took it, allowing him to pull her to her feet, realising they were once more fully dressed. “And you have to move on.”
“Move on?” She gazed into his blue eyes from the advantage of her height.
“I know you gave Simon that tube,” Wash said, colouring a little. “I should never’ve done that, but I hadn’t intended ever going out the way I did. Hell, I hadn’t intended going out at all.” He stroked her cheek. “You took the first step. Now you have to start walking.”
“I don’t know if I can.” There was pain on her face.
Wash gathered her into his arms. “You’re my warrior woman,” he said. “Course you can. Hell, you got someone ready and waiting in the wings if you’d just give him a chance.”
“Who, Hank?” Zoe said in disbelief, pulling back enough to stare into his face. “Husband, now I know I’m dreaming.”
Wash laughed, his chest vibrating against her. “He’s not that bad.” He pushed her curls out of her face. “And he cares about you. Maybe not like I did, but you could let him try.”
“Just think about it, dong mah?”
She looked into his blue eyes and nodded slowly. “I’ll think about it.”
“Good.” He let her go but kept hold of her hand. “Look.” He pointed ahead of them. “That’s reality ahead.”
Although they were standing still Zoe had the impression of movement, of speed.
“That horizon’s coming up awfully fast,” she commented as the landscape seemed to whip past them.
Wash squeezed her hand. “Just let it come, Zoe. Just let go.”
“Mal,” Simon said softly.
Malcolm Reynolds stepped quickly to the bed and looked down. “Hi,” he said, smiling in relief.
“Captain?” Zoe said.
“See, I’m kinda glad you’ve got short term memory loss,” Mal said conversationally. “Then you won’t remember that I was stupid enough to get you all into a fight.”
“Oh, that.” She gave him one of her looks.
“Well, guess I shouldn’t have spoken too soon.” He glanced up at Simon. “How is she?” he asked.
“She’ll be fine. I want her to stay here tonight, but she’s okay.” The young doctor smiled. “I’d just recommend not going into any more bars on U-Day.”
“That’s your medical opinion?” Mal asked, raising an eyebrow.
“It is. You can have it in writing if you like.”
“No, doc, I think I’ll just take your word for it.” He grinned down at Zoe. “You were dreaming while you were out,” he said, putting his hand on her arm. “What was it about? It seemed interesting.”
Zoe looked into the light above her, trying to remember, but the memory had fragmented and was slipping away from her. “I don’t know,” she admitted, then asked, “Where’s Hank?” She stopped and bit her lip in surprise. “Did I just say that?”
“Maybe you have got a concussion,” Mal said, glancing towards the common area where Hank was standing, grinning with relief.
“Maybe.” Zoe dropped her head back onto the bed. “Maybe.”
River walked out of the common area into the cargo bay and turned to Wash. “That was a nice thing you did,” she said as they walked towards the bridge stairs.
“She’s my wife, pumpkin,” Wash said. “I want her to be happy. Even with someone like him.”
“She’ll never forget you,” River assured him, starting up.
“She’d better not, or I’ll come back to haunt her.”
River laughed. “It’s time for her to get on with her life, Wash,” she said softly. “Don’t you think he might be good for her?”
“He’s an idiot.”
“He reminds me of you.”
Wash stared at her. “Now that is downright wounding,” he said.
“I merely meant he complements her, like you did. Hard and soft, strong and weak …”
“I ain’t weak. I may be dead, but I ain’t weak!” Wash protested.
“I didn’t say that was you.”
They stepped onto the bridge and Wash looked around in contemplation. “I miss this place,” he said, looking up at the three switches over the pilot’s seat.
“We miss you,” River said sadly.
“You do know I’m just a hallucination, don’t you?” Wash said, peering at her. She nodded, hearing footsteps on the stairs from the cargo bay, and turned to see Hank come around the corner. “Hey, Steve’s on the floor,” she heard over her shoulder.
Hank jumped up the steps to the bridge. “Who were you talking to?” he asked, looking around the empty cockpit.
“No-one,” River said.
“Yeah, sometimes I have my best conversations with them,” Hank agreed. “She’s gonna be okay, you know.”
“I know.” She smiled at him. “Why aren’t you with her?”
“I just remembered I’d knocked one of those dinosaurs onto the floor. She’ll kill me if it got damaged.” He moved past her then stopped. “Oh, you’ve picked it up,” he said, seeing the stegosaurus on the console. “Thanks.” He grinned at her. “Can’t be having her mad at me now she’s actually starting to not hate me.”
“Then it’s time to go back,” River said, gently pushing him back towards the door.
“Yeah. Anyways, thanks again.” He went down the steps.
“Hank,” River called as he reached the deck. “What’s the name of that dinosaur?”
He turned to stare up at her. “No idea. I don’t know types. It ain’t a T-Rex, is it?”
“No. But I mean its name. Like you’re Hank, I’m River …”
“Oh,” he said, giving her an odd look before heading back down the corridor. “I don’t know. Steve, I guess,” he added as he turned the corner.
Wash’s laughter filled the bridge loud enough for only River to hear. “The boy’s gonna be okay,” his voice said, fading into the ether, and River agreed.
Sunday, November 5, 2006 3:15 PM
Sunday, November 5, 2006 5:19 PM
Sunday, November 5, 2006 11:46 PM
Tuesday, November 7, 2006 3:41 PM
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