Commitment - Part IV
Sunday, December 3, 2006

Zoe and Hank are getting closer, and Kaylee is starting to wonder why she was such a coward. Feedback, please, as ever.


“Are you sure you’re not pretending?” Zoe asked, kneeling next to Hank who was lying on the floor, sweating and panting.

“Do I look like I’m pretending?” He closed his eyes, but the darkness just made it worse.

“Just take deep breaths.”

“But that’ll use the air quicker!”

“We’re not going to run out of air,” Zoe assured him. “And you need to calm down.”

“Calm? Calm?” He sat up and glared at her. “We’re locked inside a damn refrigerator and you’re telling me to calm down?” He lay back, pulling at his shirt. “There’s too many people. I can’t breathe …”

Zoe laid down next to him, wrapping her arms around him. “Just listen to my voice. I'm here. I ain't going anywhere. Just listen to my voice and feel my body. Concentrate on that.”

“You think that’s gonna help?” Hank asked, one part of his mind telling him he should be enjoying this moment, but the rest was just trying not to fall off the floor.


He did what she said, attempting to slow the heart hammering inside his chest, the raggedness of his breath, the feeling that the walls were closing in, the ceiling coming down to crush his body into a thin smear of something disgusting …

“You’re not relaxing,” Zoe said.

“You noticed.”

“Tell me why.”


She started to stroke his arm with her hand. “Tell me why you’re afraid.”

“What, that I’m gonna die in here?” He threw out a brief laugh. “Kinda obvious. Don’tcha think?”

Zoe moved her hand to his chest, wrapping one leg over his, ignoring the stares of the other people in the cold room. He glanced at her, but only saw concern, willing him to take back control. “What happened to make you afraid?”

He nodded. “Long time ago.”

“Tell me.”

“I was fourteen, nearly fifteen. My voice had barely broken, but everything else seemed to be working fine …”

“So what do you think of her?” Marv asked, tossing his apple into the air before biting down on it.

“What, about Lucy?” Hank sat down on a fallen tree and pulled off his boot, searching inside for the stone that was making him limp.

“Yeah. Cute, ain't she?”

“She’s okay.”

Marv stared at him. “More than okay! I've seen the way you watch her, when you think she ain't looking.” He grinned. “Surprised your eyeballs ain’t popped right outta your head sometimes.”

“She’s okay.” Hank blushed, hiding his head so his best friend wouldn’t see.

“Think you might ever take her?”

Hank bit down on the retort. “She ain't like that.”

“Not what I heard.”

“We’re fourteen, Marv,” Hank said, pulling his boot back on and standing up, stamping to make sure it was sitting right and take his mind off his raging hormones. “She ain’t much more.”

“Old enough. And I hear she ain't above letting someone she likes have a quick feel.” Marv looked thoughtful. “She ever let you?”


“I'm surprised. I think she likes ya.”

“You’re crazy.” Hank started to walk on again, back towards town.

“Ain’t.” Marv held up his apple. “And I bet her ass looks like this, all round and ripe and juicy.”

“Marv, that ain't polite.”

“Don’t tell me you ain’t ever imagined her naked.” Hank didn’t answer, and Marv chuckled. “See. You ain't as sly as you make out.”

“I ain't sly at all.”

“Then how come you ain’t never had a girl?”

“Neither have you.”

“Wanna bet?”

“Yeah.” Hank faced up. “You got caught with Louanne before you could do anything, and came home with an eye the size of a plate. Ya told me.”

Marv shrugged, unconcerned. “Least I tried.”

“Yeah, well, don’t go saying you done things when you ain’t.”

“Still, Lucy’s pretty fine, ain't she.” He started strolling and Hank had to keep up.

“I guess.”

“Oh come on. Tell me the truth. You’ve thought about her.”

“Marv –“

“’Fess up.”

Hank sighed. “Okay. Yeah. I thought about her. Ever since we saw them skinny-dipping down at the pond. But that was near three years ago.”

“Long time to hold a torch.”

“Maybe. But I still dream about her.”

“I reckon she’s filled out somewhat since then.” Marv licked his lips. “Kinda like my apple. All juicy.”

“Juicy Lucy,” Hank said, rolling the words around his mouth. “Yeah. That just about describes her.” He laughed, suddenly easier now he’d admitted to someone else just how much he liked the girl.

They were nearly back at the town, just on the outskirts, when Marv stopped. “Shit, I forgot my bag.”

“Don’t worry,” Hank said. “It’ll be there tomorrow.”

“You don’t get it. I got something I gotta do, and it’s in the bag.” He backed up the way they’d come, just a few paces.

“Well I ain't coming all that way. And you can do it tomorrow, whatever it is.”

“Can’t be. Have to do it tonight, or else my Ma’ll skin me.” He shrugged. “You go on home. I’ll see ya.” Marv turned and ran.

Hank stared after him, shaking his head. That boy’d forget his ass if he didn’t sit on it all the time. Starting back, he was passing the old Hammerson house, long empty, when someone called his name.


He looked around, and coloured when he saw Lucy sitting on the front step, watching him. “Hey,” he managed to say.

“Hey.” She smiled at him and his heart leaped. “Come talk to me.”

Hank looked around, just making sure it was him she was speaking to, but there was no-one else in sight. “Me?” he asked, to be on the safe side.

“You.” She patted the wood next to her. “Here. Now.”

He almost ran up the path and plonked himself down. “Thanks,” he said, wanting to be all adult and sophisticated, and only managing to make himself look younger and more eager than ever.

“Seen you watching me,” she said, not looking at him, just staring out towards the town.


“Don’t mind. Quite like people watching me.”


“Yeah. Makes me feel warm.” She laughed a little, pulling at the top of her blouse to make a point.

Hank swallowed, then nodded. “Warm.”

“So, you wanna play?” Lucy smiled at him, batting her eyelashes in what her fifteen year old brain thought was a provocative manner.

“W … what?” Hank stammered.

“Play.” She stood up, letting her thigh just brush his arm. “Play. You know.”

He gulped air down into suddenly empty lungs, feeling the blood drain from his face and head southwards. “I …”

“Come on.” She slipped past him and into the old house, the door squealing slightly on rusty hinges.

He sat for a microsecond more, then jumped up and followed, glad there was little light inside for her to see just how happy he was. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust, but he could just about see she was nowhere in sight.

“You have to find me,” she whispered, her voice filtering through the cobwebs and dust. “And if you do, you get a prize.”

A grin formed on his face, and he started to search, looking in all the obvious places, then the less obvious, as he found no sign of her. On the top floor he stopped, his nose itching from the dust he was displacing. Wait a minute. Dust. He was going about this all wrong. He’d been searching but he should have been seeing. Up here, and the floor below, there’d been no sign of dust being displaced. But down in the hall … He hurried down the stairs back to the ground floor. Yeah, there is was, disturbance in the dust outside the door to the cellar. He smiled, pleased at his own success and aching for his prize. He opened the door and headed down the steps, managing to step over the missing one before he fell headlong.

“Lucy?” he called softly. “I know you’re down here.”

He reached the bottom, barely making out details in the gloom. A noise to his left had him turning, and a door swung gently.

“I'm here,” he heard her say.

He stepped forward, into the darkness. The door slammed behind him. He span on his heel, his arms hitting walls on three sides, wood on the fourth. “Hey!” he called. “Let me out!” He pushed at the door but it was solid. “Let me out!” he called louder. “Lucy!”

Someone tapped on the door. “I heard you two,” Lucy hissed. “And I don’t take kindly to being talked about that way.”

“Aw, Lucy, let me out. It weren't nothing. Just boys talking.”

“And this is nothing either. Just me leaving you here for the rats.”

“Lucy, come on.” There was silence. “Lucy!” Still nothing. “Lucy?” Hank leaned on the door, trying to hear if she was there, but he could tell the cellar was empty. “Tah muh duh,” he whispered, leaning back on the wall. He had to get out.

He felt around the small room, then realised it wasn't even that. Just a cupboard, with the fixings for shelves, which he found with his head. Barely two feet wide and less deep. And dark. It was so dark he couldn’t even tell if his eyes were open. He went back to the door, trying it again, pushing as hard as he could, but it didn’t move. It seemed to be made of stone, not wood.

“Lucy?” he called hopefully, then heard scrabbling by his feet. “Shit!” Something ran across his boot, and he backed into the corner. “Lucy?”

“I don’t know how long I was there, but it felt like months.” Hank was holding tightly to Zoe’s arm across his chest, almost as if he was afraid he might fall. “Just listening to the rats around my feet, my heart pounding …” He shuddered. “Eventually I heard someone outside, and I started shouting and screaming to be let out. The door opened and it was Marv. He said Lucy’d told him what she’d done, and he’d hightailed it to the house to let me out.” He half-smiled. “I was a wreck. Can’t even begin to describe what I looked like. Suffice it to say, my mom wouldn’t let me in the house until I’d changed my clothes. And got washed under the tap outside.”

“Did she apologise?” Zoe asked, her voice quiet in his ear.

“Sorta.” He shrugged, quite difficult when lying on the floor with someone else wrapped around you. “She came up to me about three weeks later, thumped me on the arm and kissed my cheek.”

“That’s not an apology.”

“I figured it was the closest I was likely to get.” He turned his head enough so he could look at her, see into her dark, dark eyes. “And I’ve been slightly worried about tight places ever since.”

“You should have told us.”

“What, told Mal?” He laughed a little. “He’d never have let me forget it!”

“No, he wouldn’t do that to you. He understands things like that.”

“Hell, it ain't something you tend to let everyone know about, ‘less you make it a joke.” He looked back into the ceiling. “Makes you feel less than a man.”

“I don’t think you need to worry about that,” Zoe said softly.

He turned to look at her again, but his next words were drowned by the sound of the bolt sliding back outside, and the click of the lock opening.

“You folks okay?” came a timorous voice. ---

Kaylee stopped in the middle of the street, staring at the small house. “I don’t think I can do this, Frey,” she said, nervously twisting her hands together.

"Kaylee, you let this go on when you should have finished it. Just waved this Dray and told him. Now you've kinda got to face the consequences."

"I don't know why I didn't!" Kaylee was anguished. "It just ... I was with Simon, and I thought about it, but then the months went on, and Bethany, and every time I decided to do it, something would happen, and it'd get put to the back burner, and ... I'm just making excuses, ain't I?"

"Yes, you are. And you did lead him on, from what you've said."

"We were young, Frey. Awful young."

"You ain't exactly an old crone now," Freya pointed out. "And when you're young, you do silly things sometimes."

"And there weren't that many, not like I let him think. Men, I mean."

"I didn't think there were." Freya put her arm around Kaylee's shoulder. “Mei-mei, from what I’ve heard tell, you faced down Reavers. Took some out, too. Any girl …” She paused and corrected herself. “Any woman who can do that can do this.”

“Sometimes I feel like that wasn’t me.”

“Well, this is.” Freya gave her a small push in the small of her back. “Gotta be done.”

“Oh, I know that, and I’m trying to think of Simon, and Bethany. But all I keep seeing is Dray’s face that day.”

“Then finish it now. Or go and say you’ll marry Simon and forget all this.”

“I can’t do that.”

“So …”

“Got no choice, no.” Kaylee shook herself and stood straighter, marching the last few paces to the front door, knocking loudly before her resolve weakened.

to be concluded


Sunday, December 3, 2006 7:12 AM


Hmm...gotta admit I sympathize with Hank quite a bit...though I latched on to the plan when Lucy started buttering him up outside;)

And why do I get the feeling that Kaylee will knock, and the door will be answered by Dray's wife or one of his passel of kids? Cliche warning, maybe? Nah...I got faith you can plot twist;)


Sunday, December 3, 2006 9:11 AM


I sure hope the door isn't answered by a wife or kid. It'd let Kaylee off the hook - "oh, you got married? Well, I'll just be going" - or at least force Freya to lean on her something fierce. Better, I think, to make Kaylee fess up then realize that she hasn't really harmed the guy.

Poor Hank. And being a gentleman, he can't even hit Lucy or retaliate at all. Good on Zoe for making sure he knows he's not a wuss.

Sunday, December 3, 2006 9:37 AM


I loved the way Zoe handled Hank's panicking, it was perfectly in character for them both.

I agree I don't think it would be fair for Dray to have moved on, Kaylee needs to own up to what she did ... but it will be immensely sad if Dray has waited all this time for her ... I would think after the first year of no word from Kaylee, he would have gotten the hint ...

Sunday, December 3, 2006 1:38 PM


I really thought the whole claustrophobia storyline was beautifully handled and loved how Zoe dealt with Hank, giving him someone to cling to as well as encouraging him passed his panic. As for Kaylee, I hope she gets to see Dray face to face and just tell him the truth. If he has married or found someone else in the meantime I hope that doesn't come out until AFTER she has fessed up. Kaylee needs to do this not just for her but for her future with Simon and Bethany. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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“Then do you have a better suggestion? No, let me rephrase that. Do you have a more sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve us getting lost and freezing to death?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little standalone festive tale that kind of fits into where I am in the Maya timeline, but works outside too. Enjoy!]

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"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

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Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

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“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

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[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

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[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

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Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

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“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]