BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

TAMSIBLING

SECOND CHANCES: Chapter 7
Friday, May 25, 2007

The truth about what happened to Kaylee's family is brought to light - and it's bad. Mal/Inara, Simon/Kaylee, River/Rafe.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1050    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

A/N: I have to say all the speculation regarding Regan and Gabriel just tickles me, because it is normally I who is being accused of being far too hard on them ... but you guys are ready to just hang 'em up by their thumbs! *squee* I love it.

Thanks to Leiasky and Kaynara for the beta and encouragement. Please, please, please comment ... my terrifying space monkies have been mighty restless as of late and I'd hate to send them after ya ...

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Chapter 7

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Kaywinnet Lee Frye, you get back ‘ere righ’ now!”

Sweat pouring off her forehead, seven-year-old Kaylee scrambled up the ladder in the barn, basically throwing herself into a pile of hay. Curling into a ball, she peered back over the edge, scouting the space below for her mother and the angry wooden spoon she had clutched in her hand and breathed a sigh of relief when the coast appeared to be clear.

Flopping back into the soft, but itchy fiber, Kaylee panted a bit, wiping her sweaty hair off her face and neck. Summer’s on Harvest for so gorram hot; even with her shorts and tank top on she was still burning up.

“What’d ya do?”

Sitting up abruptly, her big, green eyes wide with fear that she’d been caught, Kaylee glanced to her side and took in the sight of her eldest brother. His lean, fourteen-year-old frame was propped up on one elbow as he regarded her with his usual gaze, a cross between bemusement and brotherly annoyance.

Blushing furiously and hoping that the slight sunburn she’d gotten that morning would hide it, Kaylee glanced to her lap, her fingers absentmindedly twirling a piece of straw. “Nothin’,” she murmured sullenly.

Swinging his legs underneath him, Martin Frye, more commonly known as Marty, cocked his head to one side and regarded his little, albeit, not quite innocent sister. She was always managing to get into some trouble or the other, although at the moment he was just thankful she hadn’t roped him into getting the blame. Sitting cross-legged and eyeing her steadily, he told her, “Uh-huh.” As Kaylee’s wide eyes alit back to his face with a mix of shock and hurt, he reminded her, “Mama don’t go ‘round brandishin’ spoons for no reason.”

Sighing heavily, little Kaylee new the jig was up. “Well, I mighta took apart the toaster,” she admitted finally, her eyes shining as she remembered all the little pieces she uncovered. “But when I put it back together, I had some parts left over.” Glancing over her shoulder with a wistful sigh, she added, “Mama ain’t too happy ‘bout there bein’ extras.”

Marty tried hard not to chuckle outright at his sister’s story, but it was useless and he knew it. As a laugh erupted from deep in his belly, he leaned forward on his knees and dropped a kiss into his sister’s hair. “You are amazin’, Kay-Kay, I’ll give ya that.” As she regarded him with a look of slight confusion, Marty asked seriously, “Does the toaster still work?”

One of the biggest grins on any planet lit her face as she nodded proudly. “Yup, works great. Better even, those little bits I took out was jus’ muckin’ it up.”

Returning the smile, Marty scooted past her, swinging his legs over the side of the loft and reaching for the ladder. “Well all right then. Let’s go tell mama that.”

Shaking her head fearfully, Kaylee backed away from the hand he offered her. “Nuh-uh, mama’s gonna hit me.”

Taking her hand in his, her brother offered her a warm grin, one that had always eased any of Kaylee’s fears and assured her, “She ain’t mei mei, I promise you. All right?”

Frowning slightly, Kaylee debated. She knew that Marty would protect her, not that mama’s hits were normally anything to truly fear. The woman loved her children something fierce and so, if she felt she must discipline them, it was normally a few whacks to the backside and then all was forgiven. But considering that Kaylee had been scolded just the day before for staying out past dark, her behind could use the break.

Squeezing his hand, Kaylee sighed. “All right,” and followed him down the ladder.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Inara found Mal brooding on Simon and Kaylee’s balcony. Soon after the arrival of the Tams, he had drifted from the group, his nervous pacing difficult to contain in the confines of the living room. Frowning slightly at his hunched back, she stepped up beside him, resting a light hand to his shoulder.

“Why’s stuff like this gotta happen?” he asked her softly before she even had time to speak. His gaze still fixed on the skyline, now glistening in the morning sun, Mal murmured, “And why Kaylee? She don’t deserve this.”

“Badger will find something out, Mal.” Inara’s tone conveyed a level of confidence she only wished she felt. “Kaylee and her family will be reunited before we know it.”

“And if they ain’t?” The question wasn’t harsh, but the pure lack of hope in his voice made Inara’s breath catch in her throat.

“You can’t think that way, Mal,” she scolded softly, resting her head against his shoulder. “It’s not going to do anyone any good to lose hope.”

Snorting softly, Mal swallowed down his comment about the uselessness of hope. Baiting Inara now wouldn’t do him any good either; she was only trying to help.

“Sir?”

They both turned at the sound of Zoe’s quiet interjection. Raising an eyebrow to her, Mal asked, “Badger?”

Nodding once, the woman answered, “He thinks he might have somethin’.”

Rushing back into the room, Mal sat in front of the screen, the rest of his crew, including Simon and Kaylee crowding around him. The Tams were in the background, more than repulsed by the marginality of the man their son and his friends had turned to for help.

“What’s the good word, Badger?” Mal asked tightly, still peeved he had to rely on the miscreant before him.

“Well, I got a couple o’ words, but I wouldn’t call any of ‘em good.” His beady eyes roving over the faces that crowded the screen, a lewd grin spread across his features as he caught sight of River. “Hallo there, luv. Long time, no see.”

River could feel Rafe’s blood pressure rising and almost smiled at the jealousy he felt. No one had ever felt that way about her before, except for Simon and he didn’t count.

“’allo, guv’ner,” she responded, her voice a perfect imitation of his accent. “Still a sad little king.”

His face colored with a bit of anger as River’s words registered and Badger immediately focused back to Mal. “Where’s my money?”

“We already wired it to your account, same as the cuts from other jobs,” Mal assured him, hiding his smirk at the satisfaction of watching River annoy the man. “Where’s our info?”

Lifting up a data sheet from the table in front of him, Badger held it to the screen, knowing that the captain and his crew could not possibly read the words that flashed across it. “Sorry to say, cap’n, but word on the street is your precious transport got hit by slavers.”

Kaylee’s gasp of fright filled the room at Badger’s admission and it was only the presence of Simon’s strong arm around her waist that kept her on her feet. Quickly steering her away from the screen, Simon guided her to the sofa, settling her down beside Inara who had come to help. Nodding his thanks to the older woman, Simon swiftly moved back across the room, a set expression on his handsome features as Badger continued his tale.

“’Parently, there’s been some activity last couple o’ months. Big ship, waitin’ jus’ offa Persephone.” Grinning slyly, Badger added, “Not that I would o’ known anythin’ ‘bout it previous.”

Setting his jaw firmly, Mal resisted the urge to curse. “You got anythin’ useful I might use to track these slavers or you jus’ gonna try and impress me with your stunnin’ head fer business?”

Tsking softly, Badger sat back and told him smugly, “Deal was, I find out what happened. Din’t say nothin’ ‘bout rattin’ out my fine colleagues.”

Gripping the edge of the console before him, Mal bit out, “That ten thousand we gave ya is more than enough for a name, Badge. Don’t make me regret our lil’ arrangement.”

Shaking his head, Badger’s eyes actually sparkled with the knowledge that he had Mal by a very sensitive part of his anatomy. “I don’t really think you’re in any position to be making such demands. Do you?”

“Mal,” Simon hissed, risking the older man’s wrath as he shot him an annoyed look. “We’ll pay it. Just get the information.”

Grimacing, Mal felt his stomach churn at the thought of lining Badger’s pockets any further. Looking back to their associate, Mal warned, “Another ten thousand for everything else you know, Badger. An’ I mean everything.”

Smiling broadly, Badger nodded once. “Done. Best we do the rest in person though. Wouldn’t want any unsavory folk overhearin’ our business, now would we?” As Mal did his best to form a response that did not belittle Badger’s lineage, the small, Irish man looked to River with another lascivious grin. “Hope to see you soon, luv. Been a long time.”

Before anyone could respond, the screen blinked off and an audible sigh swept through the room. Glancing to Zoe and Jayne, Mal got nods of approval from them both. He knew they would follow him, knew they would help in any way possible for Kaylee’s sake, but it was still nice to get some reassurance.

Rising, Mal turned to his second-in-command and told her, “We’re leavin’ in an hour. You an’ Jayne get the ship prepped, an’ take Rafe with ya.” Addressing his mechanic, Mal tried to ignore the exceptionally pale and slightly green look on his face. “I’m gonna need you to be sure we’re gettin’ all the speed outta her that we can, dong ma?”

“Yes sir,” he answered, glancing to River as she squeezed his hand.

Smiling softly, she held his gaze for a moment, before looking to Mal. “I’m coming with you.”

Returning her grin, Mal squeezed her shoulder. “You bet, darlin’.”

A few goodbyes were murmured amongst the gathered assemblage and the departing crew promised to be safe and careful as well. Once Zoe, Rafe and Jayne had departed, Mal returned to the living room, sitting on the low table in front of where Kaylee was curled up on the sofa.

Her eyes had gone distant again, the normally bright and shining orbs dull to a point that caused Mal to feel more anger than sadness. No one should have the power to take Kaylee’s light away. Reaching out a hand, he patted her knee gently and waited the interminable seconds until she brought her gaze to his face. “I’m gonna get ‘em back, mei mei. We’re gonna go see Badger an’ find out where your family is, dong ma?”

Swallowing noticeably, Kaylee nodded once, taking Mal’s hand in her own and squeezing it hard. “Thanks, Cap.” Pausing for a moment as more unspoken words passed between them, Kaylee rose abruptly, startling them all as she moved towards the bedroom. “Jus’ give me a minute to get my things together.”

Alarm was evident on everyone’s face, but Simon’s look was the most heartbreaking. Moving swiftly to catch her, he placed a hand on her arm and turned Kaylee to face him, gulping audibly as he recognized the set expression on her face. Instead of lifeless, her eyes were now burning with a small fire he knew could easily erupt into a blaze. “Bao bei, what are you talking about? Mal and the others are going to take Serenity and find your parents.”

Nodding once, Kaylee explained obviously, “Right. An’ I’m goin’ with ‘em.”

“No, you ain’t,” Mal said firmly from his position behind Simon. Arms crossed over his chest and a stern expression on his face, he held her angry gaze unflinchingly. “Sorry, Kaylee, but you’re stayin’ here.”

Matching his posture, Kaylee bit out, “It’s my family, Cap. You got no right tellin’ me I can’t come.”

“You ain’t a member o’ my crew anymore,” Mal retaliated, cursing silently as he watched all the fight Kaylee had managed to muster leave her. He literally saw her deflate before his eyes, her shoulders sagging, her arms falling slackly to her sides as her eyes burned with sadness now instead of anger. “I got me a mechanic, an’ I ain’t takin’ any passengers on this trip.”

Simon listened to Mal’s words, grateful that the man had managed to reason with Kaylee, even though he knew it was killing the captain in ways he’d never express to be so harsh with her. Dropping his eyes to the floor, Simon took a deep breath and then lifted his gaze back to Kaylee’s distraught face. Taking a tentative step forward, he rested a cheek to her face, and told her, “Besides, we have to decide what to do about the wedding. My mother will need your help for that.”

Still staring at the captain with a gaze that could bring Niska to tears, Kaylee murmured, “I don’t care what we do.”

The words stung more than they should have and Simon forced his immediate reaction back. Gently caressing her soft skin with his thumb, he told her, “I know you don’t mean that.”

Snapping her eyes to his, Kaylee stepped back from him and muttered harshly, “Don’t tell me what I mean, Simon. I don’t care ‘bout our weddin’ or any o’ the rest of it. I just want my family back.” Turning away in a huff, Kaylee stalked towards their room, slamming the door shut behind her and leaving a stunned crowd in her wake.

Rubbing a hand along the back of his neck tiredly, Simon released a heavy sigh, trying not to let his despair overwhelm him.

“She’ll be okay,” River told him softly, her voice startlingly close.

Catching her drawn face out of the corner of his eye, Simon murmured, “You’re lying again, mei mei. I can tell.”

Shaking her head once, River reiterated, “No, Simon, she will.” Shifting her gaze to a point just over his shoulder, she paused for a moment, all eyes in the room on her. Drawing her far-off look back to her brother, she added, “There’s more, but I can’t put my finger on it, but Kaylee will be okay.” Resting a hand to his shoulder, she smiled softly and added, “That I know.”

Grateful beyond words for her reassurance, Simon hugged her close and whispered, “Thank you.”

As the siblings said their goodbyes and then moved to the living room to answer their parents’ multitude of questions, Mal and Inara stayed in the hallway. Mal’s intense gaze had not wavered from Kaylee’s closed bedroom door and Inara could only imagine how much his words to their ex-mechanic had hurt him.

Placing a hand to his arm, Inara told him softly, “She’s just upset Mal. She’ll get over it.”

The tightness in his throat made speech impossible. Telling Kaylee she wasn’t a part of his crew was like asking somebody not to breathe – it hurt him, physically, as well as emotionally. And the look of pain and hurt that flashed in her big eyes made him regret ever thinking it, let alone saying it. It didn’t matter much to Mal if she ever got over it, he wasn’t very certain that he would.

Pulling his eyes from the door, Mal looked to her and nodded grimly. “Yeah, sure, I know.” Reaching for her, Inara allowed him to pull her into an embrace, sighing softly as he pressed a kiss to her forehead. “We’ll be back soon as we can, all right?”

“Be safe, Mal, please.” She had seen him off on too many jobs to get teary over it once again, but it didn’t stop her heart from fluttering a bit with anxiety. “Come back to me, all right?”

“And risk your wrath if I don’t?” he teased, the forced lightness in his tone not lost on Inara. “You got it, darlin’,” he whispered before pressing a quick kiss to her mouth. Inara wanted to turn it into something more, an inexplicable fear gripping her heart the minute he turned to leave, but swallowing back her discomfort, she simply held her fingers over her lips and watched him go.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Slavers? That’s impossible.” Regan’s eyes were wide and disbelieving as Simon and River did their best to explain the extent of their current situation. Both children knew this would be almost impossible for their mother to comprehend. Well-bred and distinguished families like the Tams and their friends were not normally exposed to such unpleasantness.

Glancing fearfully to her husband, Gabriel’s stoic expression was predictable but welcome considering the panic that had consumed his wife. “What can we do?” he asked stiffly, his voice belying none of his concern at this turn of events. “If you need any money at all-“

“I have plenty, father, thank you.” Simon’s tone was a bit stronger than he’d intended, but he was past the point of caring. Kaylee had just admitted she didn’t care about their wedding and his planning had caused her entire family to fall into the hands of kidnappers – not his best day ever. “We’re handling it.”

“Well, yes dear, of course you are. But there must be more we can do.” Regan looked between her two children and then stepped towards River. “I know. River, why don’t you and I see to Kaylee and help contact the attendees about postponing the wedding?”

Smiling softly, River gently removed her mother’s hand from her arm and told her, “I’m sorry, mother, but I’m the pilot. I have to go.”

“After slavers?” Gabriel’s harsh tone left nothing to the imagination. “I forbid it.”

As both children raised identical eyebrows, it was River who spoke first. “Sorry, father, but that’s not your place. I’m a grown woman now. And more of a threat to any slavers than anyone else on Serenity’s crew.”

Strongly disliking the turn this conversation had taken both Regan and Gabriel averted River’s steady gaze. The young reader tried to ignore the fear she felt ebbing out of them at the reminder of her abilities, but it wasn’t easy, especially not with so many other raw emotions swirling about. Taking a step back, her face must have paled for Simon’s concern was instantly evident.

“Mei mei?” he asked urgently, taking her hand in his. “Are you all right?”

Smiling weakly, River straightened and forced her voice to be even. “Fine, Simon.” Glancing behind her as Mal reentered the room she hugged her brother quickly and told him, “Everything will be all right. Trust me.”

Closing his eyes as he held her back, Simon whispered, “Be careful, River, please.” Pulling away, he again looked in her eyes and added, “I love you.”

“Love you,” River promised, pressing a kiss to his cheek before moving to quickly say goodbye to her parents.

As she stepped away, Mal came forward, his expression a mixture of regret and anger. “Sorry ‘bout your weddin’, doc,” he told the younger man sincerely. “As soon as we can get back, we will.”

Simon nodded once and warned, “Just make sure all of you come back, all right?”

Smirking at the comment, Mal’s eyes guiltily drifted back down the hallway in Kaylee’s general direction. “Listen,” he began quietly. Pulling his blue eyes back to Simon’s face, the doctor was surprised at the amount of conflict he saw reflected in the man’s gaze. “When you talk to her, tell ‘er that I-“

“She already knows you didn’t mean it,” Simon assured, his tone firm. “She knows you were just looking out for her.”

Sighing, Mal muttered, “I hope so.” As River moved back to his side, Mal spared one more look to Inara, flashing his famous lopsided grin and then headed for the door. “C’mon albatross, we gotta go shake down a Badger.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

“Simon, what do you want us to do about the wedding?”

Regan was trying desperately to keep her son focused on the task at hand. After everyone else had left, Inara heading back to the hotel to get some rest, the three of them had wandered to the kitchen, Regan trying unsuccessfully to get her son to eat. She and Gabriel were sipping coffee now, occasionally nibbling on a piece of fruit, but for the most part there was silence among them and it was disconcerting.

Blinking rapidly, Simon did his best to pull his mind back to his guests. With a sad expression, he told her, “I don’t know, mother. I don’t feel it’s a decision I can make unilaterally.” Glancing over his shoulder, he added, “And until Kaylee unlocks the door, I can’t really get her opinion.”

Frowning slightly, Regan wondered if she should again try and reason with the young woman. However, Simon’s stony gaze and firm ‘no’ the first time she’d asked still resonated and so she chose instead to keep her seat.

“Well, regardless of what either of you wants to do, we’re going to have to start notifying guests that there will be an indeterminate delay.” Rising, Regan headed for the exit, telling him, “I’m going to start making calls.”

“Mother.” His firm tone caused her to pause and preparing for a fight, or at the least a lecture from her young son about her propensity to meddle, she was completely surprised to find him offering her a small smile. “Thank you. Kaylee and I both appreciate that.”

Returning his smile with one of her own, Regan turned to head back towards the wave screen and stopped abruptly as she witnessed Kaylee moving purposefully towards the front door. “Kaylee, dear? Are you all right?”

At the sound of Kaylee’s name, Simon sprang up from his seat like a shot, almost bowling over his mother as he moved to intercept his fiancée. “Bao bei?” he questioned, reaching her in the entryway. Glancing at her, he noticed that her cheeks were a bit blotchy, no doubt from crying, but that she was showered and dressed and apparently, on a mission. More worried than he cared to admit, Simon asked, “Are you going somewhere?”

Her gaze was not quite angry, but it wasn’t all together welcoming either. In an even voice, she explained, “They’re expectin’ me at the orphanage.” Attempting to side step him, Simon easily countered her move.

“Kaylee, I’m sure they’d understand if you called to let them know you’d rather have the day off.” As her eyes dropped to the floor, Simon added, “I don’t think that-“

“You know what?” The anger Kaylee had been feeling towards the entire situation suddenly bubbled to the surface and although she didn’t want to inflict it on Simon, she knew she would. “I’m thinkin’ that I wanna go to work. An’ seein’ as how you already drugged me an’ the cap’n pretty much disowned me, I’m done doin’ what you all think is best.”

Her chest heaving as she fought to put a lid on her anger, Kaylee’s gaze burned into Simon’s. Her words stung, of course; he hadn’t meant to “drug her,” only enable her to get some rest. But the accusation paled in comparison to the pain he felt just gazing at her vitriolic features. Seeing her like this, her face screwed up in anger, her eyes blazing, her face blotchy from tears made him hurt, physically, while it also served to make him feel completely useless. Until they found Kaylee’s family, there was literally nothing he could do for her, and he knew it.

Without another word, Simon stepped aside and Kaylee stared him down for another minute before moving to the door and leaving in silence. Once she’d gone, Simon slumped against the closest wall, before stalking back to their bedroom and slamming the door. Regan and Gabriel, having witnessed it all, simply shared a sad look, and tried to pretend everything was fine.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Up next: Chapter 8

COMMENTS

Friday, May 25, 2007 7:19 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Whoa...some mighty big bombs you've dropped here, TamSibling. Much as I am glad you didn't sink to the cliche and have the Tams Sr. be the baddies...I can imagine that things will not be anything near smooth for Mal, Zoe, Jayne, River and Rafe:(

I must say that Mal's comment to Kaylee about her status as a crewmember no longer being valid. Biggest frigging "Oh no she didn't!!!" I have ever uttered in my life...and so worthy of Our Man Joss! I would have given all kinds of shiny coin to have seen Nathan and Jewel do this scene...just for the reaction shot of Kaylee hearing Mal's words. Emmys would have rained from the sky for THAT little moment;D

BEB

Friday, May 25, 2007 7:20 PM

REGINAROADIE


Well, you got me at the edge of my chair. This is all real great stuff.

I just hope that the last line didn't imply any altruism on their behalf. I'm probably one of the few people reading that who DON'T want Regan and Gabriel to be turned into rote villains. You are way better than that.

Keep up the good work.

Friday, May 25, 2007 7:22 PM

BLACKBEANIE


Aww, that was way too short, then again, 12 pages would be too short.

I'm glad Kaylee's family weren't hit by Reavers, at least slavers should be easier to kill.

That opening was adorable and heart-breaking. Please update soon!

Friday, May 25, 2007 11:48 PM

CHAZZER


Really good, as always. So heartbreaking to see Kaylee and Simon fighting :( And what Mal said. *BIG GASP*

One thing though, Badger isn't Irish. He's Cockney. BIG difference.

Saturday, May 26, 2007 11:53 AM

AMDOBELL


What a can of gorram worms. Poor Kaylee. I love the way the whole crew is affected by what has happened and am glad that River is going with Mal and the crew to shake Badger into giving every bit of information he has about the slavers respsonsible. What a piece of vermin he is to gloatingly profit from such a terrible situation. I hope all our crew come back safely and with Kaylee's folks in one piece too. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, May 26, 2007 2:40 PM

PLATONIST


Sorry, I've been reading, no time to comment...love the twist (Kaylee's parents getting taken by slavers) didn't see that coming. The Tams seem innocent enough, but I'm still wondering who is was really behind the kidnapping.

Killer proclamation from Mal to Kaylee.

With Inara missing her daughter and Kaylee not getting pregnant yet, maybe they can open their hearts and homes to a few of the children at the orphanage. After of course, Mal gets over his heart attack.

I love River/Rafe or River and any loving OC. She so deserves that!


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