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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA
Stupid people died all the time. This one mattered more than most, though. [post-The Message]
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 891 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
- - -
When Tracy finally dies, Mal sits there for a series of long moments, watching him. Just a kid, still, in so many ways. Just a kid who got in over his head in some bad business, and now, staring at the tears tracking through the dirt on Tracy’s face, Mal feels a fierce, violent urge to turn the ’verse on its ear for changin' good people into stupid people.
He hates that in his world, stupid equals dead. No one better than Tracy to illustrate that truth, though it’s the boy’s own damn fault, mixing with folk who ain‘t got nothing to lose ‘cept a warm body and a couple of shiny credits. Mal don’t feel sorry for Tracy, not really. If anything, fighting for the Independents should’ve taught Tracy that there ain’t no call trusting in the Alliance--not for money, not for safety, not for a good gorram thing.
All the same, it’s an awful while till Mal can bring himself to stand. The others wander away, Simon o tend to Wash and Kaylee, Book to make sure River’s safe, and Jayne to go polish his guns or some like task.
But Mal stays, crouching till his knees go stiff and his eyes feel drier and heavier than stones.
Behind him, Zoe breathes deep and even. For a moment it’s like Hera again, when it was just the two of them and all the death they dealt, all the death they were dealt. Killers and the killed, mingling together across the blurred lines of phantom trenches.
Killer. Mal. The killed. Tracy. For all that they were on the same team, when it came down to it, Mal chose his crew over his soldier. That’s the fact of it. The role of God goes to the one with the biggest gun, out here in the black. Only, God’s supposed to show some sort of mercy, ain‘t He?
Only mercy Mal can show Tracy now is a small one: clean him up, box him tight, and take him the last few steps on his long journey home.
- - -
“Shouldn’t have shot at Wash,” Zoe says quietly, as they clean Tracy’s wounds. The blood has stopped flowing, but his skin is still sticky and red, and the holes look angry, vicious.
Mal presses another damp rag to Tracy’s chest, watching the edges turn pink. He don’t say a word, but he don’t need to. Zoe says ‘em for him.
“Shouldn’t have taken Kaylee, neither. Didn’t we teach him anything out there, sir? Not a single rutting thing?” Her voice is tight and low, about as agitated as Zoe’ll ever let him hear her. “He called us chumps, but we’re the one who told him: you never count on taking advantage of the other side’s sensitivity, else you run the risk of finding out they don’t got none. For all he knew, we could‘ve cared less‘n a single lick about anything but the money, and we would’ve shot him without a thought. And then he’d be dead for nothing but some coin and his own stupidity.”
Mal stares at the pink as it spreads farther across the towel, staining the white cloth till its sodden and useless. He wonders when he and Zoe became the other side. Wonders when Tracy became an adversary instead of an annoying little brother-type. Wonders when he stopped wanting a little brother.
Probably around the time Kaylee came aboard and he got a little sister, instead. It’s the way of it. They left Tracy behind with their ghosts of war, left him to drift. Buried him underneath all the stuff they decided it was better off forgetting. Now they’re burying him for real.
“Seems to me,” Mal responds finally, throwing away the bloody rag, “that’s what happened anyway.”
- - -
Mal ain’t never felt more like a hypocrite than the moment Tracy’s mama clasps her hand in his and invites his crew into her home. He killed her son ’cause frankly, he cared more for the same people who she’s feeding dinner to. He killed her son, period. He don’t deserve her kindness, and he don’t deserve her thanks. He ain’t a hero here, not when the heroic thing was actually the murder of her baby.
He and Zoe carry Tracy’s casket, just the same. Figure they can carry him in death the way they didn’t quite carry him in life. They put him in the ground and it snows the whole time, and Mal can’t help but think of how simple Tracy’s goals were. With all that coin, others might aspire to a grander goal than just movin’ their family off a big, cold rock. But Tracy was always simple.
Maybe he was too simple; he never saw his death coming, not once in this whole foolhardy mission. Not from Mal, at least. A person was supposed to be able to trust Sergeant Reynolds. Mal don’t tell nobody, but he’s got an entire headboard full of people who made that same mistake and paid for it in the same way, too.
Little tally marks behind his bed, for his restless nights, nicked into the wood by his thumbnail and relentless self-flagellation. An entire three rows is made up of the 57th. Good boys and girls, looked to him for direction. Made the wrong decisions, got people killed. A deep gouge for his mama--blown up when Shadow went through their bombing raids, killed for a war he was fighting. A half moon for the day Kaylee almost died.
He wonders if he would’ve added the siblings Tam back then, had Kaylee died and his hand strayed to his gun. He likes to think the answer is yes. Knows that probably isn’t the case. He already shares his guilt and grief over a span of so many dead bodies without names and faces. All he can spare is for crew. For family.
Tracy wasn’t neither, not in the end.
Mal makes a nick for him anyway.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007 6:42 AM
Wednesday, June 20, 2007 1:42 AM
Saturday, June 23, 2007 8:34 PM
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