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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Post-Series, Pre-BDM; Rated at least PG, due to some graphic innuendo. Inara hasn't returned to the ship after an appointment, the crew has to leave or not get paid and Mal is in a bad mood because of it all. All characters and whatnot belong to Joss.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 940 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
"It's not like her to be late," Wash said quietly as he and Mal stared out at the empty landscape.
"I know it," Mal responded, just as quietly. "She'll have some reason, no doubt."
Wash nodded, although he wasn't sure he completely agreed. They were due to leave several hours ago, yet here they remained...waiting. And with every hour they remained, they put themselves in danger of being late on their delivery.
"'Wave her again," Mal instructed his pilot as he turned back to Serenity again. "Either she answers with an explanation or we have to come back after we deliver. Can't be waitin' around like this."
Wash hurried to the bridge. He hoped, for Inara's sake, that she had a good explanation. Mal seemed to be quietly fuming...or really overly worried. Wash couldn't tell yet. He supposed if he had to sit around and wait for Zoë to show up for several hours, he would be upset, too. However, since most of the time he did have to wait around for Zoë to show up, usually with the Captain and Jayne with her, he was probably more used to it than Mal.
"River, you have to come out of there soon," Simon pleaded from the hallway. His sister had locked herself in her room and refused to eat anything offered to her. Kaylee and Shepherd Book stood nearby, offering what little help they could in a situation like this.
"No," she replied stubbornly.
"Child, you need to eat something," Book urged. "We've made such lovely stew just for you."
"Yeah, with real ingredients an' everything," Kaylee added hopefully. The three exchanged looks at the silence flooding the hallway in response.
"Mei mei," Simon began, but stopped when he saw the Captain coming down the hallway. He could practically see the foul mood emanating from the man. He straightened and tried to act casual until Mal passed. Kaylee tried to hide behind the Shepherd, who tried to pass off the bowl of stew to the mechanic. It didn't work and stew ended up on the floor.
"What's goin' on here?" Mal asked shortly, his temper barely held in check. No one met his eyes, which only added to the aggravation.
"Nothing, Captain," Simon lied. "We were just bringing River some...ah...we...are we leaving soon?"
"She still hidin' in there?" Mal demanded, ignoring Simon's attempt to change the subject.
"She's been ill," Simon tried to no avail. Mal pounded on the doorframe with his fist.
"You come out now," he demanded. "I ain't playin'. You've kept your brother and half my crew worried for three days now, you come out."
To everyone's surprise, the door slid open. River's skin seemed to be a sickly white against the darkness in her room. Simon reached for her hand and drew her out of the stuffy room, but River never looked at him, only at the toes of Mal's boots.
"There," Mal said quietly. "Now you eat something and stop this foolin'."
"Poisoned," River whispered.
"It's fresh, not poisoned," Mal shot back, softer than he had been just moments before. "Just cause you ain't used to the taste of real food after months of protein mixes is no reason to cause such an upset."
"It burns inside," she continued to whisper. "Like a dragon trying to claw out."
Several eyebrows raised.
"Um, well, maybe your brother can give you somethin' for that," Mal offered. "But no more hiding in your room, scarin' my crew. Dong ma?"
River nodded and the Captain left the hallway, continuing on his way. Kaylee turned and followed him through the hall.
"Cap'n?" Kaylee began, catching up to the man. "Ya didn't answer Simon...are we leavin' soon?"
"We need to," Mal bit out. "But our Ambassador seems to be draggin' her precious little feet and my shuttle."
"'Nara's not back yet?" Kaylee asked, stopping in her tracks. "Well, we can't leave without her...can we?"
"We may have to," Mal said unhappily. Sensing the sudden lack in company, he turned. Kaylee stood there, arms at her sides, a hurt expression on her face. It broke Mal's heart to see the sadness there.
"We'll come back for her," he assured her. She nodded, still looking lost and forlorn. Feeling a little silly for the need to comfort his mechanic, he added, "She's still got my shuttle."
Zoë and Jayne finished the last of the shopping and rode the mule back to the ship. They had all thought they would only be planet-side for a day or two, at most, but with Inara's lack of rendezvous, they had been given time to go back and collect the few items inadvertently forgotten on the first trip.
"Think she's back yet?" Jayne asked as they made the drive back up the hillside.
"Won't know till we get there," Zoë replied. She had seen the Captain's annoyance at the change of plans and hoped it wouldn't cause him to start anything with Inara that couldn't be fixed. Things just ran smoother when the two got along...
"Think Mal's angry enough to spit yet, if she ain't back?" Jayne grunted. Zoë smiled at that.
"We have a job to do," Jayne went on, not caring what the smile meant. "And all we're doin' is sittin' around, waiting for 'Nara to quit ruttin' a client long enough to return. Ain't it 'bout time we just go already, or does Mal want the challenge a'being late added to the pay negotiations?"
"I think that's the longest thought you've shared yet, Jayne," Zoë said quietly as Serenity came into view. She could see the lack of a shuttle clearly, even from the distance and wondered how the Captain was taking it. She glanced at Jayne, who was still scowling.
"I think you also best keep that thought to yourself now," she advised. Jayne scowled more, but nodded.
"Don't feel like gettin' into it just now, anyway," he mumbled.
Shepherd Book waved to them as the drove up.
"Gettin' as much sun as you can, Shepherd?" Zoë called as Book smiled.
"As much as I can, while we can," he answered. Jayne stopped the mule long enough to let Zoë off to continue her conversation before continuing on into the shuttle bay.
"Has River left her room yet?" Zoë asked, allowing the sun to soak into her face. The Shepherd was right, the sun was a comfort often overlooked until mid-space, when darkness took over nearly every inch of the ship.
"The Captain was able to persuade her," Book replied carefully.
"She eat anything?" Zoë probed, knowing there had to be more to the story than what the Shepherd was willing to tell.
"We're still working on that," he answered, his eyes staring distantly over the landscape. "She keeps telling us it's poisoned."
"Poisoned?" Zoë's head snapped to face the Shepherd's as she echoed his choice of words. "What have you been trying to feed her?"
"We've prepared several small choices, even letting her watch or help in the preparations," Book explained. "But she insists it's all...poisoned."
"That's an oddity," Zoë mused. "Think she's just not used to fresh food?"
"The captain suggested that," Book nodded, turning back to the ship. Zoë turned with him, the two strolling as they spoke.
"But you don't think that's it?" she guessed. Judging by the small glance the Shepherd gave her, she guessed correctly.
"I'm not sure what she thinks is happening," he sighed. "But we should find out sooner, rather than later."
"She does have a talent at hiding her meanings, though," Zoë sighed.
"River, no! Don't--!" Simon's voice carried out to the Shepherd and first mate, then, cutting into their conversation just as River came running towards them. Simon appeared at the doorway, his shirt stained with more stew, worry as evident on his face as the ingredients were on his once-pristine shirt.
"Stop her!" he called as River raced to Zoë.
"River, what's wrong?" Book asked as the panicked girl threw herself at Zoë, nearly knocking them both to the gridworked floor. Large eyes looked up at the first mate with fear.
"River?" Zoë murmured, holding the girl in a standing position. "What is it?"
"Stop him," River pleaded. "Make him stop!"
"We're just trying to see you fed," Book tried, coming closer. River held Zoë's gaze, almost trancelike, as Simon made his way to them.
"The jaws that bite, the claws that catch," River whispered. "With eyes of flame, burbled as it...came."
"Shuh muh?" Zoë asked, startled. River broke the spell by closing her eyes and falling backwards, into her brother's waiting arms.
"River!" Simon exlcaimed, gently lowering her to the floor and checking her pulse. Zoë and Book knelt in attempts to help.
"She fainted," Simon said grimly. "What did she say to you?"
"I'm not sure," Zoë answered. "Just words about jaws, claws and flames."
"Let's get her to the infirmary," Book offered. "She'll be more comfortable on a bed than the floor."
As the Shepherd and doctor carried River away, Zoë made her way to the bridge, going over the young girl's whisperings again and again. She knew she'd heard them before...
Inara tried to roll over but only succeeded in tiring herself out more. She struggled against the sleep that beckoned unceasingly. She had to get out, she knew, but it was so hard to think and plan and scheme. She didn't know how long she had been there, only that she must be late to meet up with Serenity...how late, she could not even begin to guess. She was just so tired...
The door opened, bringing a square of too-bright light into her darkened room. His frame blocked only some of the light; he allowed the light to play across her face, though, to torment her. He chuckled when she finally closed her eyes...this was his game...she was merely his toy. How long would she be there? How long could she keep this up?
How long before she was missed?
He entered the room, his footsteps echoing in the small room. She swallowed back the bile that was rising to her mouth...
Dong ma? - Understand?
Shuh muh? - What?
Sunday, March 11, 2007 6:16 PM
Sunday, March 11, 2007 9:45 PM
Monday, March 12, 2007 12:04 AM
Monday, March 12, 2007 3:16 AM
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