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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Kaylee doesn't deal well with the knowledge that she may never see her family again. Kaylee/Simon, Mal/Inara, River/Rafe. PG-13
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 922 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
A/N: I have to admit, I'm glad that I managed to stump all of you with a plot twist - it seems more and more difficult to do with our group of exceptionally sharp Browncoats!
Thanks to Leiasky and Kaynara. Please keep commenting.
“I weren’t never that little.”
Ellie Frye smiled down at the top of her little girl’s head as Kaylee perched herself on her tiptoes, peering down into the crib at the tiny bundle of baby sleeping there.
Scooping the five-year-old into her arms, Ellie swung her youngest child around, laughing as Kaylee giggled happily. “Oh, yes you were,” she teased, tickling the little girl until she was breathless. Exiting the bedroom and moving down the hall towards the kitchen, Ellie set her daughter in a seat as she moved to fix her a snack.
“You were so tiny, your pa was ‘fraid he’d break ya,” Ellie told her, smiling big as Kaylee’s huge eyes grew larger.
“No he weren’t,” she challenged, her voice squeaking slightly. “Daddy’s always swingin’ me about.”
“Well, sure, now.” Placing a plate of fresh strawberries before the girl, Ellie sat beside her, watching with a feeling of contentment as her baby giddily clapped her hands before reaching for one of the ripe berries and biting into it. Brushing some of her hair behind her ear, Ellie added, “Your pa, he din’t know what to do with himself. He fell in love with you second he saw ya. So diff’rent from your brothers.”
Wrinkling her nose, Kaylee swallowed her most recent bite of fruit and nodded. “Well ‘course. They’re smelly.”
“So were you.” Tickling the girl’s chin, Ellie sat back and watched her as she devoured the half dozen strawberries she’d given her.
As Kaylee continued to eat, she thought about her nephew, asleep still in the next room and looked back to her mother with wide-eyed innocence. “Marcus ain’t gonna smell like that forever is he?” As Ellie stifled a laugh, Kaylee added, “’Cause Billy an’ them, they still stink.”
Throwing her head back, Ellie Frye laughed loud and long, her daughter’s sweet giggle soon joining her.
Glancing up from her now cold tea, Kaylee’s eyes landed on Asher as the little boy bounded across the house’s open backyard. His arm, fully healed, was none the worse for wear and the boy was now sporting at least a handful of scrapes and bruises as he transitioned back to being a carefree child.
Forcing a smile to her face, Kaylee turned towards him and opened her arms, just in time for Asher to fling himself into her. “I thought you was gonna be gone for a while,” the boy breathed, hugging her tightly.
Fighting back the sudden tears his innocent statement caused, Kaylee swallowed hard and said, “Yeah, well, things changed, so here I am.” Pulling back from him, Kaylee cocked an eyebrow and asked, “Why? Ain’t you glad to see me?”
Laughing, Asher’s face blushed red as he glanced to his feet. “O’ course I am,” he admitted sheepishly. His embarrassment brought a genuine smile to Kaylee’s face and she was grateful to the boy for having the ability to lighten her mood.
“Now,” she asked him, sitting back in her seat and inviting him to crawl into her lap. “Why ain’t ya playin’?”
“’Cause I wanted to sit with you,” he explained obviously, sighing softly as he snuggled into her arms. “Is that okay?”
“Absolutely, baby,” Kaylee answered, pressing a kiss to his forehead. She rocked him gently, humming lightly under her breath, doing her best to focus on anything other than her missing family and delayed marriage. She also felt terrible for yelling at Simon when he had, in actuality, only been looking out for her well-being.
Sighing softly, Kaylee rested her cheek against Asher’s soft hair, noting the way the boy’s eyes drooped as he drifted to sleep. “I guess it’s nap time, huh, lil’ one?” she murmured, shifting slightly so he sat more comfortably against her.
“I wish you was my ma.” Asher’s statement was barely more than a whisper, but Kaylee heard it, more unwanted tears springing to her eyes.
“I wish that, too, sweetie,” she murmured, not even realizing that the boy wasn’t fully asleep.
Eli rounded the corner, heading for his office, more than relieved to get a bit of a respite from the crazy day this had turned out to be. He had known for the past six months how lucky he was to have Simon as a member of his staff, but it wasn’t until today – Simon’s first full day of vacation, that the older doctor had realized how very invaluable the younger man was.
Passing by the nurse’s station to drop off a few charts, Eli stopped abruptly, his brow furrowing as he recognized the young doctor reviewing a variety of documents. Concerned more than elated at his sudden appearance, Eli sidled up to him and asked sternly, “Just what do you think you’re doing?”
Not even bothering to look up, Simon continued to cross-reference the data before him and answered flatly, “Work.”
Now alarmed more than concerned, Eli snatched the charts away, forcing the younger man to look at him. The haggard appearance and tired eyes that looked back at him were enough to cause his worry to skyrocket. Taking Simon by the arm, the older man easily steered him into his office, waiting to demand more answers when Simon was seated and the door closed.
Leaning against his desk, Eli regarded the other man in silence. Simon was fidgeting – he never fidgeted – his fingers absentmindedly picking at his pant leg as he released one heavy sigh after another. Worried for his friend, and the beautiful young woman he was so in love with, Eli leaned forward and questioned, “Simon, what’s happened? Is Kaylee all right?”
Snorting softly, Simon refused to meet his gaze as he muttered, “No, she’s mad as hell.”
“Mad at you?” Eli realized that getting to the heart of whatever was bothering the young doctor was more than likely going to resemble pulling teeth. “What happened?”
Rising suddenly, Simon paced across the office, his body wound tighter than a spring. Eli had only seen Simon stressed a handful of times; the man was so good at his job he rarely, if ever, succumbed to the pressure that other doctors twice his age often suffered from. However, after watching the younger man keep vigil at Kaylee’s bedside six months ago, Eli knew Simon had a breaking point. And it appeared he’d reached it again.
“The transport that my replacement was supposed to be on?” Simon reminded him, pausing long enough to lock eyes with his friend. “Well, Kaylee’s family was on it as well. Coming for the wedding. I wanted to surprise her, have all of them here for the big day.” Dropping his chin to his chest, Simon cursed softly and murmured, “Big mistake.”
About to ask just what was wrong with giving Kaylee an excuse to flash one of her famous smiles, Eli bit back his question as Simon elaborated. “The transport never arrived because it was hit by slavers.” As the older man’s face blanched at this information, Simon wearily sank back into the chair and added, “Oh, and then my parents showed up.”
Eli waited a full minute, giving the younger man time to collect himself. Kneeling beside him with a bit of effort, the older doctor looked into Simon’s pained blue eyes and asked, “How is Kaylee?”
The pain in his eyes quickly morphed into bitterness. One errant muscle in his cheek twitching in time to his sadness, he answered, “Angry, sad, frustrated, feeling helpless …” Sighing, Simon sat forward and dropped his head into his hands, rubbing his temples in an effort to clear the headache that had formed behind his eyes. “Take your pick.”
Rising again as his old knees could not handle the prolonged squat, Eli sank into a chair beside his friend and placed a reassuring hand to his shoulder. “What can I do? Evelyn and I, Jenna and Rachel, we’ll help in any way we can.”
Smiling faintly at the man’s generosity and thoughtfulness, Simon shook his head once. “I can’t – There’s nothing anyone can do. Not until we find out more. Serenity is on its way to track down some more information.”
Raising a skeptical eyebrow, Eli questioned, “Do I even want to know?”
His smile turning to a smirk, Simon turned to face him and reported, “Probably not.”
“Right.” Having only met the crew of the firefly a handful of times, Eli knew they were all good people; of course, he also knew that good people still had to make a living and would do so in most anyway they could. Probably the less details he knew, the better.
“Now, if I could just get my parents off my back …” Simon let the statement die knowing that if wishes were horses Jayne would have ballooned to the size of a house long ago due to the amount of steak he’d consumed. He had managed to get them back to their hotel after his mother had grabbed all of Kaylee’s files and documents regarding the wedding. She had told him of course, that he and Kaylee, or at least one of them, should record a formal apology to be sent to all the attendees. Simon had simply informed her it wasn’t happening today and pushed her out the door.
Clapping the man on the back, Eli rose and rounded his desk. “Let me handle that.”
Alarmed, Simon’s head snapped up, his eyes wide with worry and a bit of fright. “What?” he asked breathlessly, watching in shock as the other man simply went about his business. “Handle it how?”
Doing his best to ease the man’s sudden panic while also taking a minute to tease, Eli answered, “Simon, my wife and I have lived on Sihnon for our entire lives. We know people like your parents and we understand the world they’re coming from.” As Simon frowned mightily at this statement, Eli corrected, “We understand it, I didn’t necessarily say we agreed with it.”
As the younger doctor released a small sigh of relief, Eli continued. “Evelyn and I will host them for dinner this evening and then I’ll see if possibly Evie and your mother might be able to handle some of the more time-consuming wedding arrangements that will need to be rescheduled.” Cocking his head to the side, Eli allowed his gaze to rove over Simon’s tense form. “How does that sound?”
Rising, Simon shook his head once, refusing to give into the relief he felt building in his gut. “I can’t ask you or Evelyn to do that,” he said honestly, cutting off Eli’s next excuse easily. “Even though I never asked. It’s too much.”
Waving away his concern, Eli rose again and faced Simon, hands on the younger man’s broad shoulders. Meeting his gaze steadily, he told him, “Simon, listen to me. You and Kaylee are very dear to Evelyn and I both – we consider you adoptive children. What the two of you are going through now – so close to the wedding …” Allowing the statement to trail off as a bit of sadness reached his normally jovial blue eyes, Eli paused for a moment. “It’s not right. And since Evie and I can’t spare you that pain, we will do whatever we can to help.” As Simon found himself speechless at his heartfelt words, Eli added, “Let us, son. Let us help you and Kaylee.”
Overwhelmed with relief Simon hugged him, not surprised when Eli returned the embrace fiercely. It was brief, but conveyed in just seconds precisely how each of them felt for the other. Pulling away, Simon swallowed hard and told him, “Thank you, Eli, truly. I honestly don’t know what Kaylee or I would have done without you these past months.”
“Oh, I know.” Eli’s eyes were again twinkling with mirth as he went back to his desk and jotted some notes. “You’d have suffered miserably with no relief in sight.”
Chuckling softly, Simon nodded once. “I’d say that’s a fair assessment.”
Waving him away, Eli ordered, “Now, go home and see to that beautiful fiancée of yours.”
Wishing it could be that simple, Simon headed for the door, murmuring, “If she’ll let me.”
Mal found River on the bridge, perched in her normal position in the pilot’s seat. With her knees pulled into her chest and her cheek resting atop them, she looked every bit the young girl Simon had brought on board a little over a year ago. But he knew that appearances in this case were more than deceiving and River was many things, but no longer a girl.
Sitting beside her in the co-pilot’s chair, they enjoyed a prolonged, but companionable silence. This was a typical way of being for them both; staring at the stars together, ruminating on all they might find out in the black. But, more often than not, Mal did seek her out for reason. As he had now.
“We gotta talk lil’ one,” he said quietly, not bothering to pull his gaze from the great expanse out the window.
Also continuing to stare straight ahead, River closed her eyes for a moment and reminded him, “You know I’m not little anymore.”
Grimacing, Mal realized that was the case. “Old habit,” he reported softly. Pausing, he waited another moment and then said, “We need more to go on River.”
Sighing heavily, River turned her face into her knees, her hair falling like a curtain about her bent legs. She didn’t know anymore. Mal and the others expected her to be omniscient, to know all and see all before anything bad could ever happen to their family – but that wasn’t in her power. And the more involved she became with Rafe the less of that responsibility she wanted to accept.
“I don’t know anymore,” she answered quietly, her voice muffled as she refused to lift her eyes to his face.
Setting his jaw, Mal wondered at the slight disappointment and anger that welled in his gut. He felt betrayed by River’s lack of knowledge, and while he knew that was an unfair assessment, he could not fight it back. “You’ve known more before,” he prompted, trying to coax it out of her.
Looking to him sharply, her normally large eyes had narrowed to slits. “You can’t just wind me up and ask me what I see,” she told him angrily, her voice rising in pitch and volume. “I want to be a person, actual and whole. Not some freak of nature who knows things she shouldn’t.” Swallowing thickly, she added, “That’s what got us into trouble in the first place.”
Knowing he’d overstepped his bounds, Mal rose and leaned on the console before her. Resting his hand to her shoulder, he said quietly, “River, I ain’t askin’ you to be crazy. I’m just askin’ ya for help. I don’t wanna think ‘bout what’ll happen to Kaylee if we can’t find her folks.”
Refusing to be guilted, River challenged, “That’s why we’re going to see Badger. He knows something.”
“What that man knows is up for debate,” Mal reminded her coldly, still seething that he’d have to accept help and no doubt a ridiculous amount of gloating from the informant. “It’s never hurt us to know a bit more than the other guy goin’ in.”
Rising swiftly, River stood before him at her full height, still a good head or so shorter than Mal, but her defiant stance and cold gaze gave her the advantage. “I don’t know anymore,” she bit out again and then spun away from him, fleeing the bridge.
Sighing heavily, Mal slumped into the seat she’d vacated rubbing a hand over his tired eyes. “Why don’t it ever go smooth?” he lamented quietly to the empty room.
Asher raced by Kaylee as she stood in the home’s kitchen her arms elbow-deep in sudsy water. “Be careful, lil’ one,” she called after him as two more boys his age ran by. Apparently they were again enacting a battle from the war and Asher had been unfortunate enough to be labeled an Independent.
Smiling softly at the sound of the laughter that filled the space around her, Kaylee sighed and went back to her washing. The home had a dishwasher, of course, taking care of, feeding and cleaning up after over twenty children necessitated one, but there had only been a few glasses and mugs in the sink and needing something to take her mind off all that was happening, Kaylee had volunteered to wash them by hand.
Gazing into the foamy water, she found her mind drifted easily. Unfortunately, the task of washing dishes was not taxing enough to keep her occupied and unwanted fears claimed her heart. She had tried desperately not to dwell on the fact that her family was currently in the hands of slavers. Luckily, Serenity’s crew had never had cause or concern to watch for such kidnappers, but she’d heard stories – stories told in smoky bars and around campfires about the horrors of being sold to all manner of unsavory folk for all manner of unsavory reasons. Secretly, she prayed her family had been taken to a mining colony or some such. She shuddered to consider that, instead, her mother, sisters-in-laws and young nieces might have been sold for baser purposes, while her father, brothers and nephews were simply left for dead.
Tears clouded her vision and she paused, leaning heavily on the sink. Of course, her argument with Simon and the postponed wedding only made these fresh wounds sting more acutely. She knew Simon was doing his best to help – that was what he did, it was how he operated. As a doctor and caregiver he was trained to help, to alleviate pain. Even in situations where he was more than likely aware that there was nothing he could do, he still tried and while Kaylee could normally appreciate it, it had seemingly been the final straw this morning.
Pulling her left hand from the water, Kaylee wiped it against her pant leg, smiling softly at the sight of the engagement ring Simon had given her. The thought of that evening, when they’d been so happy, so grateful for all they had and for each other brought more unbidden tears to her eyes. In moments, her vision had blurred to a point of opaqueness and Kaylee found herself struggling to breathe. Pressing a hand over her heart, the staccato rhythm of the rapid pulse under her palm caused more than a little panic to join the sadness and fear she was already feeling.
Refusing to be undone by her own overactive imagination, Kaylee thrust both hands back into the water, scrubbing furiously at each dish she came into contact with. Picking up the last glass, she could barely make out the object as her reddened eyes continued to spill more tears. The overly loud peal of laughter reached her from the next room and she felt a final pang stab at her heart as she realized all of the things she didn’t have – she wasn’t a wife, might soon be as orphaned as the children living in this home and could not conceive a child.
With frustration easily overwhelming her sadness and anger displacing her fear, Kaylee hurled the glass to the floor, barely registering the shattering sound it made. The unexpected noise did shake her for a moment and feeling like a fool, she stooped hurriedly to pick up the pieces. Closing her hand around one larger piece, the jagged edge cut a small sliver into her palm.
Hissing softly as she pulled her hand back, she realized while looking at the thin rivulet of blood that appeared, that the pain of the cut didn’t hurt nearly as much as the pain and disappointment she was currently suffering. Testing her theory with a detached interest, as if it wasn’t her skin she was regarding, Kaylee straightened, grabbing the sharp glass in her opposite hand and slowly, expertly, drew a long line down her palm.
More blood seeped up through her skin, but it still didn’t hurt and Kaylee marveled at the distraction. Maybe she would no longer feel this kind of physical pain, so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Cutting another long and slightly deeper line down the underside of her forearm, Kaylee’s swollen eyes looked between the now red tinted edge of the glass and her bleeding skin. Nothing.
She retraced this last line again just as Helen appeared in the doorway, one of the smaller children on her hip.
The woman, while not adept with children, knew a little something about pain and the sight before her caused her breath to hitch in her throat. Setting the little one on her feet, Helen told her, “Why don’t you go find Miss Tabby, okay?”
Nodding once, the toddler seemed oblivious to the tension in the room and she wandered off. Helen watched her for only a second before turning her attention back to Kaylee.
Moving forward cautiously, Helen could tell by the look in Kaylee’s eyes that she was more than detached from the scene around her. Glancing to the floor and the rest of the broken glass, Helen swallowed thickly and questioned again, “Kaylee? What happened?”
With an empty gaze and dull eyes, Kaylee looked to the glass in her hand and then at her feet before shrugging lightly. “It broke.” Her tone was dull and lifeless and Helen found her stomach clench uncomfortably at the unaccustomed sound. The woman before her now was not the Kaylee Helen had come to know and admire over the past months.
Of course, they had all suspected something was wrong when she had arrived, a day before her wedding to that incredibly swai doctor, and told them she was here to work. But no one had thought to push, knowing that if Kaylee wanted to share something, she usually did with little to no prodding.
“Kaylee, are you all right?” Helen knew the question was fairly ridiculous giving the blood that was beginning to drip down her arm, but at the moment, it was all she could think of.
Shrugging again, Kaylee did not answer. Helen had reached her by now, grabbing a dishrag from the counter and pressing it against the larger cut on Kaylee’s arm in an effort to staunch the bleeding. Even as she applied a fair amount of pressure to the open wound, Kaylee remained unaffected and Helen found her concern for the younger woman skyrocketing.
“Why don’t we go to the hospital and get that looked at, all right?” Helen tried to steer her from the room, wishing that Tabitha would hurry up. The head of the home knew Kaylee much better than she did.
Shaking her head once, Kaylee said, “Naw, it’s jus’ a scratch.”
Frowning, Helen did not dispute the girl’s claim, although she knew it was far more than a scratch.
“Helen, did you – Oh my god!” Tabby rushed forward, supporting Kaylee’s other side, wide eyes glancing to the bloody towel around her friend’s arm, before falling back to Helen’s face. “What happened?” she hissed.
Shrugging once, Helen conveyed her lack of knowledge with the simple gesture and then again addressed Kaylee. “Well, if you don’t want to go to the hospital, why don’t I call Simon?”
Shaking her head even more vehemently, Kaylee muttered, “No, Simon don’t gotta take care o’ me. I can-“ The rest of the statement died on her lips as the either the blood loss or strain to Kaylee’s system became too great. Supported on either side by both women, she did not fall as she passed out, but her head fell back on her neck and her body went limp in their arms.
Adjusting under the added strain of the girl’s full weight, Helen stated, “I think we’d better get her to the hospital.”
“I think we’d better find Simon,” Tabby added grimly, risking one more look to Kaylee’s pale face before helping her from the room.
Up Next: Chapter 9
Sunday, May 27, 2007 5:12 AM
Sunday, May 27, 2007 5:29 AM
Sunday, May 27, 2007 3:10 PM
Sunday, May 27, 2007 6:54 PM
Monday, May 28, 2007 12:25 AM
Monday, May 28, 2007 3:15 AM
Tuesday, May 29, 2007 5:03 AM
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