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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA
Simon's escape is halted by his father. But River comes to the rescue. Jayne - sees the light - far too up close and personal for his safety. Sequel to 'On the Edge'. Cannon pairings.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1517 RATING: 0 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Simon, what –“ Gabriel Tam stared at his son, at the harried and worried look on his face, before his eyes fell on his daughter. She moved out from behind her brother quietly, and he would never have noticed her if Simon’s eyes hadn’t wavered in that moment, so intently had he been watching his son.
“River?” Gabriel’s eyes widened and his jaw fell slack. Simon had told them she was dead. His eyes darted from the woman his daughter had become to his deceitful son. His eyes hardened as he addressed the younger man. “What have you done?”
“Struck back.” Simon tried to maneuver around his father but Gabriel reached out and grabbed his arm.
“At – whom?” His eyes fell on River, his implication clear. “And why did you lie to us?”
“It was the only way.”
“The only way for – what?” His voice had taken on an irritated tone. If his son didn’t start giving him answers soon . . .
“The Alliance. They’ve done enough harm. They needed to pay.”
Gabriel couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Pay for what?”
The muscle in Simon’s arm tensed but Gabriel held firm. “Pay. For. What?” he demanded.
“Torturing River! They experimented on her brain. They hurt her. Just like I told you they were doing! They killed the mother of my son. Do you want a list? It would be as long as your arm.” Gabriel would have found Simon’s defiance awe-inspiring, if it hadn’t been directed at him.
“You’ve done something to betray your family, haven’t you?” Gabriel was incensed. He’d believed everything Simon had told him about what had happened in the nearly two years he’d been gone. The boy had been so angry at the Independents for killing his sister. “You lied to us.” His gaze shifted toward River and back again. “Came home under false pretenses.”
“I did what I had to do,” said Simon stubbornly.
“Which was?” Gabriel prompted. There were so many scenarios his mind could conjure and not one of them would do the Tam family any service.
The arm he held tensed. “Let go.” The venom and determination in his son’s voice gave him pause.
“Papa Tam, please?” Madeline turned big, frightened eyes on him and Gabriel felt his resolve weaken. He’d grown to love this bastard grandchild of his, even if he didn’t show it. And it was a rare day when he could say no to that little girl – just as it had been with River when she was that age. If he stopped to admit it to himself, Madeline had become a replacement for River.
River. His only daughter. Standing alive before him and just as defiant as Simon. Gabriel was shocked and confused and it was difficult to split his attention between his two children in an effort to glean some clear answers out of one of them.
“Daddy?” River circled her brother and drew herself close to her father. Billy cooed in her arms, still fascinated with the toy he held in his hand. “We need to go.” Her big brown eyes pleaded with him.
Gabriel raised his head, an air of superiority surrounding him. “I should call the authorities.”
He could see Simon’s jaw set. He let the arm go when Simon roughly pulled it from his grasp.
“I would stop you.” River’s voice was so soft, that he nearly missed it, with Simon’s eyes shooting daggers at him in that moment.
Simon turned to his sister and some unspoken communication passed between them before he turned back to his father. “Or I would.”
“You can’t stop us, daddy.”
Gabriel squinted at his daughter, at how she carried herself. Her body was tense, alert, and he had this vision of the tiny little gentle dancer she used to be. She was different now. He wasn’t sure if he liked this new version of his grown daughter.
“Not that girl anymore.”
He blinked rapidly, not quite understanding.
“She’s a Reader, father,” Simon answered before he could push the question past his lips.
“What?” He shook his head disbelievingly. “No. No, we had you tested –“
“You knew – ?” Simon interrupted, his eyes widening with astonishment.
He whirled on his son. “You have children of your own! Were they not tested for psychic abilities? The government checks everyone.”
“Do you know why, father?” Simon stepped between River and the larger man. “So that they will know, so they can come for those special children. To teach them. Train them to be their own personal assassins.”
Gabriel shook his head. “No.”
“They came to River, don’t you remember?”
“No, there were brochures, ads on the cortex – we’d heard about the school from –“ Gabriel faltered and looked at his little girl again. Only, she wasn’t so little anymore. And she clearly wasn’t the same as he remembered.
“She had a gift. They exploited it,” Simon continued. “You know they did. You let them fool you into thinking that they accepted her because she was a brilliant student incapable of learning in a normal schooling environment.”
“No.” Gabriel shook his head in denial.
“We’re leaving,” Simon announced and maneuvered Madeline around his father’s still form.
“River –“ Gabriel began. There was more to this story. He wanted – needed to hear it.
“Please, Daddy. We have to go.” She touched his arm. There was a gentleness in that touch, but the strength in those small fingers made him believe that just maybe his son was right. Had been right all those years ago
“We will tell you after we’ve gone,” River said, and Gabriel couldn’t fathom how she knew exactly what he wanted. “Can’t incriminate the innocent.” River stepped closer. “And you are innocent.” Gabriel couldn’t help but think she wasn’t talking about this situation specifically. His heart lurched when she added, “So was I – once.”
As Simon defiantly turned his back, he reached out and grabbed the younger man’s arm. He needed to know how he’d failed to recognize the signs Simon had caught so quickly. Gabriel released Simon’s arm quickly when his son whirled, his fist raised. He had no doubt in that moment that his son would strike him to save his family; a family that Gabriel didn’t feel as if he was a part of anymore.
“Wait! Yes. Yes. All right. Go.” Simon backed down and started to turn away, but Gabriel plowed ahead before his children disappeared from his life forever. “Promise me.” He stared at Simon. He knew his son didn’t break a promise lightly. Out of fear or loyalty to his father, he didn’t know. But it had been that way ever since he was a child. Gabriel hoped his son still held himself to those standards.
“Once we’re settled,” Simon agreed.
Gabriel turned at the sound of the door chime. They all fell silent as the voices below became demanding, insistent. “Go out the back.”
“Have secret ways in and out of the house,” River grinned mischievously.
He leaned forward and touched his daughter’s cheek. “Go then. I’ll stall them.”
“Thank you,” Simon said and hurried after his sister as she led the way toward an older section of the house, the one filled with secret passageways and ancient relics from Earth-that-Was.
Yes, he’d known about those ‘secret ways’. He’d used them himself as a child.
Heavy footfalls drew his gaze back to the winding staircase and he moved quickly toward it to intercept those who would take away his children – again.
Simon ushered Madeline into the small shuttle and took Billy from River’s arms. The boy began to cry and the harried father rocked awkwardly to try and silence the upset child. River made her way to the cockpit and Simon could feel the flight sequence begin as the ship rumbled to life beneath his feet.
“Where are we going?” the ever inquisitive Madeline asked. Simon strapped her into the closest seat.
“Home,” River answered from a few feet away. She readied the ship for departure while Simon watched from behind her.
She turned slightly and Simon hoped she would say something other than, “Go strap in, Simon.”
Simon stood his ground. He’d never liked his sister’s games and cryptic answers to important questions. “Not until you tell me where we’re going.”
“Have a mission.” River’s slim fingers delicately tapped the controls in front of her. “Diverted to rescue you. Have to drop you off and complete it.”
Alarm crossed Simon’s features. “Drop us where?”
Simon exhaled deeply. “I don’t have any friends, River. They’re all –“
River swiveled around to face him. “They need the kind of help you can give them.”
A light flashed on the console, drawing Simon’s eyes away from his sister. She turned to answer it and he stepped back, not wanting anyone to know he was with her. He bent his head close to Billy’s and whispered to the boy, desperately hoping he would be quiet for the duration of River’s call.
Simon tried to eavesdrop, but the task of entertaining his son so that he wouldn’t start crying took too much of his attention and he didn’t look up again until he noticed River cut the audio connection.
“What’s happening, River?” Simon asked once she’d set the autopilot and turned to him.
“Need to rendezvous with Independent heavy cruiser, Akori. Can’t bring you back into the Core with me.”
“You’re going back?” Simon knew his eyes had widened to the size of saucers.
“Have a mission to –“
“Yes, you said that, what kind of mission?” As much as he didn’t want to know what his sister had been doing since they’d parted last, he really did. There was no need to endanger herself any longer. He just wanted to get out and away – with her.
Her features darkened a bit and he knew she’d caught his thought. “A secret one.”
Simon cocked his head and narrowed his eyes. “River –“
“I have my duties and you had yours, Simon. Yours are done. Mine – are not.”
Simon stubbornly refused to believe her. “So you’re going to drop us off and –“
She reached a slim hand out and touched his arm. The grip was gentle, but solid, firm, determined. “I’ll come back for you.”
Simon could only nod and embrace her tightly. “I know you will,” he whispered into her hair.
The small shuttle River piloted was one of the best. Designed to get to its destination very quickly, they reached their destination in a little under a day.
The cruiser was big, far larger than anything Simon had ever seen. Small box-shaped ships sat in a neat line, being filled with large containers of what Simon could only guess.
Before he could ask his sister what was going on, another man, one wearing a high ranking uniform, stepped in front of him. “Welcome to The Akori Doctor Tam. I’m Commander Rashad.”
Simon didn’t bother to ask how the man knew his name. River must have told him. He nodded stiffly as soldiers hurried around him toward those cargo ships.
“We’ve got a child care facility set up on board if you would like to –“
“I’m not leaving my children.”
“We’re heading into a hot zone. The facility is located in the safest section of the ship, and designed to break away should we face imminent danger.”
“My sister dropped us off on a ship headed into battle?”
“Rescue, actually. The fighting will be done by the time we get there.”
“Will we win?”
The commander allowed a small smile. “We’ve received no word as of yet, but early reports looked promising.”
“I see.” Simon glanced down at Madeline, who clung to his side like an extra appendage. Even Billy had begun to fuss at all the noise. “I’d like to get them situated, then I’ll be at your service.”
The commander called over an aid. “Jackson will be your escort.”
“Where are we going?” Madeline asked Simon as they walked down the long, long hallways of the unfamiliar ship.
The tone of Madeline’s voice was a sad one. “There isn’t anyplace like that anymore.”
“There will be.”
“But not before lots of people die to make it safer.”
Simon sighed sadly. This little girl had lived through so much death and grief, it wasn’t fair.
“It’s not right,” Madeline muttered.
“War never is.”
The aid pushed open a door and they were greeted with an entirely different environment than the one visible from the hallway. Inside this relatively small room was a vibrant array of colorful walls, and children of all ages sitting at small desks, playing, writing, talking.
“Welcome.” An older woman, not unlike Simon’s mother, came forward. “We have a few more recruits?”
It took a moment for Simon to answer. He ushered Madeline inside and the loud clang of wartime noise sank away when the door slid shut. “Ah, yes, my daughter Madeline and my son Billy. I was told –“
“We’ll take good care of them.” The woman moved to take Billy from Simon’s arms but he stepped back for a moment.
“It’s all right.” The older woman assured him. “They’ll be safer here than anywhere else.”
Simon looked down at Madeline, who turned big fearful eyes on him. “Don’t leave us.”
Simon knelt and embraced her. He shifted Billy in his arms so that her cheek fit neatly into the empty space against his chest.
“It’s ok. It’ll be ok. I need to go help with the wounded.”
“But – you’re leaving us.”
“I’ll be back.”
Simon met the woman’s eyes over Madeline’s shoulder and then returned a hesitant smile to her cherubic face. “I promise.”
The battle had gone on for days. The Independents continued to hold their ground, but as more and more Alliance reinforcements arrived, it looked as if they might not be able to hold out indefinitely.
Jayne didn’t know how much longer he’d be able to cheat death. He’d lost a few men as bombs or sharpshooters got too close. He himself had taken a slug to the arm. But his launcher was still working, he had plenty of rounds, and he was going to keep firing on those gorram purplebellies until he was dead or they were.
“Suppose I should be grateful they ain’t turned EMP’s on us yet,” he grit out as a shell exploded far too close to his camouflaged turret.
“Can’t get through, probably. Our ships are stoppin’ ‘em!” his current rifleman answered from below.
Jayne took a moment to squint into the distance. Wasn’t a shock he couldn’t see any movement by the quarry. If there was anyone still alive over there, they’d have kept their heads down and let the heavy artillery defend the position.
“If any a thems held up in there live, I’ll be surprised.”
“A wonder we’re still alive!” the man said as he adjusted his heat indicating goggles and loosed a round at an approaching enemy soldier.
“Yeah, well, there is that.” Jayne whirled around to make sure his man had gotten them all when he noticed the kid’s head snap back.
“Ni ta ma de tian xia suo you de ren dou gai si!” Jayne cursed as he pulled a pistol out of his vest. He caught movement out of the corner of his eye and whirled on the approaching man. He fired a few quick shots and the man fell, but not before another took his place.
A slug hit Jayne in the chest and knocked him off balance. The bullet proof vest stopped most of the damage, but the delay it caused was not one Jayne could recover from. Another shot whirled past his head and he ducked – right into another shot that bit into his shoulder.
“Come on you tian sha de e mo!” Jayne growled as he took aim and fired off a few more shots, downing those coming close. He could see another yelling into what looked like a little hand held radio, but he was taking cover behind a few fallen comrades so Jayne didn’t have a clear shot. The former mercenary turned Independent rushed forward, exposing himself from beneath his camouflaged turret, and fired. As the shot hit the man between the eyes, Jayne whooped triumphantly, just before a missile landed into his turret and exploded outward.
Jayne was thrown to the ground, and the last thing he thought before loosing consciousness was that he hadn’t taken nearly enough purplebelly lives to make up for Kaylee’s death.
Notes: Akori is an earth god in ancient Egyptian.
Reviews before the hack
Thursday, October 11, 2007 - 23:12
You better not have killed Jayne. I won't be very happy if you have all our glorious heroes being killed in battle just because you can. I am glad that Gabriel doesn't seem completely evil in this tale. At least he really does love his children, pity he so blindly put his trust in the Alliance that would end up betraying them. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me
Friday, October 12, 2007 - 05:10
Hope you had a good vacation. I am glad you picked up this exciting tale again. I look forward to learning what Mal and Zoe are up to and what kind of trap Inara may have "walked" into.
Friday, October 12, 2007 - 06:38
I LOVE how you present Gabriel. He's flawed and selfish, but able to come around. And River and Simon's interaction with him is so very telling. River's gentle and able to be the loving child and forgive him, although she's now clearly waaaay past being a little girl. Simon, on the other hand, steps up and overpowers his father, not in physical violence as much as sheer determination. It seems a big step in him coming into his own. Our little Simon's all grown up LOL!
Good stuff, and I'm glad you're back!
Friday, October 12, 2007 - 08:08
Yay, you're back! Nice to see more of this exciting story...I love your Daddy Simon.
Friday, October 12, 2007 - 13:51
Excellent chapter, Whew!, at least Simon and the kids are safe. Yeah! Dad finally helps his children and stalls for time.
Glad you're back!
Saturday, October 13, 2007 - 18:03
Hey - welcome back - another great chapter. I love the daycare center on the independent ship. But please don't let anything happen to Jayne.
Monday, October 15, 2007 - 16:03
Gabriel is really well presented..very real, and so..sheltered, in his beleif in the Alliance. Now to have it come crashing home to him like that is very well done. Simon's confrontation with him is just so..bravo, is all I can say.
And yeah, you knew you would hear this from me...but don't kill Jayne..please?
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