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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Mal's a bit surprised by the welcome her receives. Gabriel and Regan see the light, but Chen is anxious to keep them all in the dark. Simon/Kaylee, hints of Mal/Inara.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1266 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“What are you doing here?”
It wasn’t quite the welcome Mal had been expecting. Inara’s eyes were blazing with a bit of anger that made him uncomfortable and her arms were crossed defiantly over her chest as she glared at him.
Glancing behind him to the empty hallway, Mal turned back to her with a confused look. “Me? You’re talkin’ to me?”
“I thought it was too dangerous, Mal.” Inara wasn’t sure why she was so angry; in truth, she was relieved to see him standing on her threshold, but that only made her more upset. She could handle this, she didn’t need him to rescue her or anyone else.
His cheeks coloring slightly at her accusation, Mal lowered his voice and said, “I needed to make sure we could get to the Core on some legitimate business.” Frowning, he added, “’Course, we still landed under a fake alias, but ya know, it ain’t ever gonna be perfect.”
Even while her lips threatened to turn up into a smile, Inara still glared. “It’s okay,” a small voice said from behind her. Turning, she was not surprised to see River standing there, her hopeful eyes locked firmly on Mal. Stepping aside, Inara watched with a bit of relief as River launched herself into Mal’s arms, hugging him fiercely.
“I told Simon Daddy would come and take us home,” she whispered, so grateful that Mal was there.
Squeezing her back, Mal whispered, “Yeah, well, I can’t go flyin’ without my albatross.”
The two held the embrace for a few moments and then finally, Mal pulled away, feeling a bit uncomfortable at such an overt show of affection. Keeping her hand firmly threaded in his, River tugged him inside, proudly announcing to Kaylee, “Look who’s here!”
With sad, woeful eyes, Kaylee looked to him and then returned her gaze to her lap. “Hey, Cap.”
Frowning, Mal moved from River’s side to Kaylee’s and wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “That’s all I get?” he asked, his tone full of mock hurt. “’Hey, Cap?”
Shrugging, Kaylee didn’t give him another answer and Mal let it drop. Pressing a kiss to her hair, he whispered, “We’ll get ‘im back, mei mei, ya hear me?”
Not expecting an answer, and not getting one, he looked to Inara and River and asked, “Where are we at?”
“The corner of no and where,” Inara told him bitterly, resuming her seat. “Simon’s been placed in solitary confinement and River’s parents are the only ones who can drop the charges and get him out of there.”
Glancing to the young woman, River shook her head and answered his unasked question. “I tried, Captain. They still don’t believe. They want too, but they can’t.”
“I got Jayne an’ Zoe out doin’ some recon, but I ain’t so sure they’re gonna come back with anything that’ll be of much help,” Mal reported. Leaning forward, his elbows on his knees, he asked River, “How’s your brother doin’?”
This time, Kaylee spoke. “Not so good, Cap. He’s real confused, an’ somebody hit on ‘im. He’s got an awful bruise on his jaw an’ the way he was standin’ it looked like maybe his ribs was hurtin’.”
Nodding once, Mal was not surprised by her assessment. Having spent a few nights in jail cells before, he was perfectly aware of what could happen and how badly it could hurt.
Looking back to Inara, he asked, “What were you thinkin’?”
Slightly surprised that he was asking her opinion, Inara blinked rapidly before answering. “Well, despite the fact that River’s parents have been unwilling to help so far, I still think they’re our best chance.”
Agreeing, Mal opened his mouth to speak and paused as River tensed beside Inara, her eyes taking on a far-off look he was more than familiar with. “Lil’ one?” he questioned softly, studying her closely.
River didn’t answer him for several moments, her mind still trying to comprehend what she was feeling and from whom. Simon’s disappointment and dismay were like knives, stabbing at her heart and soul with quick, sharp jabs. But there was more, more emotion that she could read and it wasn’t her brother’s: remorse, sadness, love …
Lifting her eyes to Mal, River rose swiftly and told them all, “If we’re going to do it, we need to do it now.”
Beyond puzzled, Mal rose as well and asked, “Do what?”
“Go see my parents.”
Regan was sitting quietly, her hands folded in her lap, her eyes lost in the dancing flames in the fireplace before her. She’d returned from seeing Simon just a few hours ago and still she could not clear the image of his battered and beleaguered form from her mind.
She had never before questioned her husband; it was not done in the social circles Regan traveled in. Husbands were to be obeyed, not challenged. And so, Regan had allowed Gabriel to make this decision, to press charges against Simon and keep him in prison. And as a mother and a human being, she was ashamed of her weakness.
Regan loved her husband. She had known Gabriel for over three decades and she had never once believed him to be an uncaring man. He had been a product of his environment: raised by nannies and servants instead of parents, packed off to boarding school at an early age, life decisions made by others and not himself. But he was a good man, who did want what was best for those he loved.
It was the only reason they had consented to send River away in the first place. They didn’t want her to go. River was their joy, the light in their lives. Simon was always studying, always serious, whereas River was the spark that set all of them to twinkling. But she was bored at school, having a difficult time making friends – she was, in essence, too smart for her own good.
They’d only wanted her to be happy. To fulfill all of the potential she obviously possessed. And when the Alliance had approached them, told Regan and Gabriel that their daughter was perfect for a new and special academy, their hearts had swelled with pride. Their little girl had been singled out by the greatest power in the ‘verse to study with some of the brightest minds anyone could hope to know.
It had seemed legitimate, but in hindsight, Regan questioned that reasoning. How much had she and Gabriel really investigated? Even once Simon began making his assertions that River was in trouble, both she and her husband had been content to follow the company line, to believe the lies they were force fed. Because, the truth, that they had sent their daughter to a torture chamber, was far too damning to live with.
“Did you see him?”
Startled, Regan craned her head to the side and saw Gabriel standing in the doorway, his hand on the knob. Nodding once, she released a soft sigh. “Yes.”
Quietly, he shut the door and entered the room, moving to her side. Sitting on the footstool beside her chair, Gabriel asked, “And?”
Closing her eyes for a moment, Regan took a deep breath and when she reopened them, she turned to her husband and took both his hands in her own. “We can’t leave him there, Gabe.” Her eyes searched his face for understanding. “Whatever Simon did or didn’t do, we can’t send our son to prison. It’s not right.”
Releasing a heavy sigh of his own, Gabriel nodded once. His thumb absentmindedly running over the back of Regan’s hand, he stared at nothing for some time. The room was growing dimmer as the sun set and the fire was all that cast light in the big space. Meeting Regan’s wide-eyed gaze – so much like River’s it sometimes pained him – he told her quietly, “I know.”
Smiling despite the tears she felt forming, Regan threw her arms around her husband’s neck. “Thank you, Gabriel,” she murmured, nuzzling her nose against his cheek.
Holding her back, he was about to tell her they should call the authorities immediately, when his butler announced, “Sir, you have some visitors.”
Chen was heading for Tam boy’s cell when his comlink beeped. Thumbing it on quickly, he barked, “Yes?”
Smiling tightly, he halted in mid-stride. “I’m on my way.”
Heading back the way he’d come, he realized that Simon’s next round of interrogation would just have to wait. Chen would not miss another opportunity to take down River.
“River, sweetheart, are you all right?” Regan hugged the girl fiercely, pulling back for a moment to give her a cursory glance before holding her again.
Nodding, River patted the woman’s back and then gently disengaged from the embrace. “Yes, mother, I’m fine. But Simon isn’t. You need to let him go.”
Gabriel eyed his daughter and then allowed his gaze to rove over her companions. The young woman he recognized from the jail, her face more drawn and pained than even earlier in the day. The other woman was cultured and refined, immaculately dressed and he had to wonder just what she was doing with this bunch. Gabriel was even more puzzled as he noted the way she drifted towards the man they’d entered with – a brigand if he’d ever seen one. He could not imagine a more disparate group.
“Father, they’re good people,” River admonished, noting the way her father’s eyes flared as she all but read his mind. He still didn’t know his little girl could do that.
“Well, I’d say good is a relative term,” Mal retorted with a sly grin, getting an elbow in the ribs from Inara and a sharp glare from River.
“River, you have to understand that the thought of you and Simon cavorting about the ‘verse with these people …” Gabriel let the statement die, noting the way River’s muscles tensed at the insult. Taking a step towards her, he uttered softly, “You both were meant for so much more than this.”
Shaking her head once, River told him, “No, father. Simon and I were meant to live our lives however we saw fit. We were meant to find these people.” Glancing over her shoulder to Kaylee, she gave the young mechanic an encouraging smile and said, “We were meant to find love and acceptance.” Her bright eyes once again back on her parents, she said firmly, “And we did.”
“River, your father and I love you,” Regan reminded her, a light hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “No matter what’s happened you have to believe that.”
With a sad sigh, River answered, “I wish I could. But you’ve done too much damage. It’s going to take Simon and I awhile to trust you again.” Feeling their hearts sink to the floor, she added, “I’m sorry.”
“We’re dropping the charges.” Regan’s voice cut through the quiet that had enveloped them and all four visitors stared open-mouthed at her words. “We were just going to call the authorities when-“
Turning abruptly as Chen strode into the room, River and Mal both took up positions of defense, Mal ushering Inara behind him while River did the same to Kaylee. “You have no business here,” River warned him, wishing she hadn’t let Inara take her gun.
“That’s where you’re wrong, River.” Chen did not approach, seeing that her captain’s hand was hovering dangerously close to his weapon. He was armed of course, as were the five men he had waiting out in the foyer, but he wasn’t about to do something foolish. “I’ve come to take you back to school.”
“She ain’t goin’ anywhere with you, mister,” Mal bit out, this time taking a step forward and placing River behind him as well. “So, if that’s all you came for, you can just go.”
“Captain Reynolds, I presume?” Chen noted the way the man’s eyes narrowed as he identified him. “What? You think I wouldn’t do my homework? I figured someone would be coming for River and Simon eventually.” Looking past Mal’s shoulder, he added, “Although I will admit, Miss Serra, I did not expect you to so willingly risk your very lucrative career for two fugitives.”
“You’ll find I’m full of surprises,” Inara told him evenly, her eyes burning with the rage she refused to express.
Smiling tightly, Chen murmured, “I have no doubt.” Gesturing to River, he extended a hand and told her, “Now, River, you do need to come with me.” Dropping his voice to a growl, he added, “If you won’t come willingly, I will take you by force.”
“No, you won’t.” This time it was Gabriel who commanded the room’s attention. Striding forward, he gently took his daughter by the elbow and pushed her towards the back of the room, as far away from Chen as he could manage. “River is not going anywhere with you. And Regan and I demand that you release Simon immediately.”
Damn it, he was too late. Cocking an eyebrow to the man, Chen asked, “You demand? I think you may have forgotten who’s in charge here.”
“Or maybe you have.” Gabriel’s tone had never been more menacing, and both River and Regan took note. “River is still a minor and therefore she is my responsibility. You cannot take her from this house by force without my consent, and you don’t have it. The charges against Simon are dropped. Regan and I will no longer be seeking criminal action against him.”
Nodding once, Chen dropped his chin to his chest and murmured, “Very well.” And in an instant, much as he had with Simon, he struck. His fist connected with Gabriel’s jaw first, just as Mal drew his gun and got off a wild shot. Inara and Kaylee both ducked for cover, while River forced her mother to the ground. “Stay down,” she hissed, circling towards her friends. Reaching out automatically, Inara slapped the gun back in her palm and then River was gone again.
By now the five guards had rushed the room, effectively blocking their only exit. Crouching shoulder to shoulder with Mal, River looked to him and asked, “Now what?”
“This was your idea, sweetheart,” he told her, his mind working furiously to form a plan.
Frowning at him, River’s overly bright brain worked faster and she finally placed a hand to his arm. Drawing Mal’s attention, she told him quietly, “They want me. You get everyone out of here and I’ll meet you at the ship.”
“I ain’t leavin’ you with that hun dan.” Mal’s lips were pressed into a thin line as he gestured menacingly with the business end of his gun.
Shaking her head sadly, River told him, “You don’t have a choice.” Holding his gaze for a second more, River said, “Let me do this, Mal.”
Hating the fact that she had again outmaneuvered him, Mal frowned mightily and then squeezed her hand, before shifting positions so he could motion to Kaylee and Inara.
“River,” Chen’s taunting voice rang through the now silent room. “Are you going to make this easy or difficult?”
“Easy.” Rising from her hiding place, her hands over her head, gun clearly absent from her grasp, she met his gaze unflinchingly. “They don’t have any part in this,” she reminded him, jerking her head back towards her friends and family. “Let them go and I’ll do whatever you want.”
“No!” It was Kaylee’s anguished wail and Mal was too slow to stop her. Shooting up quickly, she managed to shout, “River, you can’t-“ before a laser blast hit her in her gut, burning flesh and knocking her unconscious almost immediately.
Now, all bets were off. Diving, River picked up her gun and tucked into a roll. As she came up firing, she caught two guards in the chest, while Mal took out two more. Inara was tending to Kaylee, doing her best not to retch at the sight of the third degree burns on her friend’s abdomen.
“Kaylee, why did you do that?” Inara breathed, running a hand through her friend’s hair.
Fighting for consciousness, Kaylee murmured, “Simon needs her.”
Pressing a kiss to her forehead, Inara reminded her, “He needs you too, mei mei.” But her words fell on deaf ears as Kaylee was already out, her body no doubt trying to preserve itself.
The sound of intermittent gun fire echoed around the room, the occasional stray bullet hitting blaster or marble and sending dust and chunks of debris into the air. River and Mal were pinned by the last remaining guard and Chen who were conveniently in front of the door. His eyes roaming the room, Mal took in the layout and the positioning of the overly large furniture, another plan forming. Glancing to River, he wasn’t surprised to find the girl’s big eyes already on his face. Nodding once, she shifted her position and then darted out from behind the settee that had been her cover, drawing their enemy’s fire. Popping up quickly, Mal was able to end the last guard’s life, while he managed to catch Chen in the neck, the agent dropping his gun as he choked on his own blood.
“Go!” Mal ordered, noting that River and Inara were supporting Kaylee as Regan and Gabriel looked on in horror. Glancing to the parents, he told them, “You should prolly hit the road for a bit.” Looking back to the mess they’d made, he added, “I doubt this is gonna be easy to explain.”
Nodding once, eyes wide, Gabriel rushed to Mal and took his hand firmly. “Thank you,” he breathed, his eyes conveying a depth of emotion Mal had not guessed him capable of.
Returning the nod, Mal strode from the room quickly, meeting his crew in the hall. Throwing his comm to Inara, he hefted Kaylee into his arms as the Companion radioed Zoe.
“Let’s get off this rock.”
Heaving into the tiny sink in the corner of his cell, Simon sank back against the cold stone wall, panting. Wiping at the spittle at his mouth, he felt his chest convulse again, and again, he vomited into the basin, his nose wrinkling at the terrible smell.
He wasn’t too sure what his body was so violently reacting against – he hadn’t eaten in over a week and barely drank. Of course, that’s probably why his body was so upset; couple malnutrition and dehydration with a few cracked ribs, some head trauma and a foreign drug and it was the perfect mix for a nice bout of nastiness. Perfect.
Crawling slowly to the slim cot in his room, he rolled onto it, his blurry eyes glancing to the now dark ceiling. He supposed it was nighttime, or what passed for nighttime in a cell with no windows to speak of. It had been one whole day since he’d seen Kaylee and already he was beginning to forget her. He tried hard to remember every detail, but his mind was swimming with confusion and randomness and Simon could barely decipher what was real and what was not; no doubt another side effect of the malnutrition.
He would rather die than spend the rest of his days like this, or worse, locked up in a mental institution, surrounded by psychotics. He would rather die than live the rest of his life never seeing Kaylee again or his sister. So maybe his father had finally won. Did he even care about that anymore?
A bright light off to his side assaulted his eyes and he squeezed them shut against the glare. Listening half-heartedly, he heard the sound of his cell door opening and he wondered what they could possibly want with him now. A few guards had already come in a few hours ago to hit on him, just a bit of sport. Simon supposed if they wanted to again, he’d be powerless to put up a fight.
“Go away,” he moaned, as the door swung open fully, washing him in light. “Your punching bag is taking a rest.”
“Simon, sweetheart.” Regan moved to his side hurriedly, her hand stroking lightly through his damp hair. “It’s your mother.”
Rolling towards her, Simon eyed her warily. “What do you want? I’ve told you everything I know.”
Blinking back tears of shame, she told him, “It’s over, son.” Glancing behind her, she nodded to someone Simon couldn’t see and soon he was surrounded by gentle hands. They moved him to a stretcher as she told him, “You’re going home.”
Grasping her hand tightly, Simon asked, “Back to Serenity?”
Nodding once, Regan choked out, “Yes, Simon. Back to Serenity, with your sister.”
Letting out the hugest sigh of relief, Simon’s entire body sagged into the gurney as he finally passed out, his internal systems no longer on alert as they considered the danger to have past. Regan watched them leave, following slowly behind them. Meeting Gabriel in the corridor, he wrapped a steadying arm around her shoulders and said, “He’ll be all right, dear.”
She nodded, but did not speak, knowing her voice would betray her. Instead, she walked with her husband out of the police station and watched as Simon’s unconscious form was loaded into an ambulance. Looking up, she finally asked, “Gabriel, what about the authorities?”
His expression blank, he did not pull his eyes from the craft that now held their son’s beleaguered form. “I made a call, Regan.” Guiding her to their hovercar, he added, “With what we know about River and that Academy, the Alliance isn’t going to be a problem.”
Accepting this answer, they rode in silence to the hospital. Only when they were disembarking did Regan think to ask after River and the others. “Did you-“
“Yes, xin gan,” Gabriel told her softly, squeezing her hand. “I was able to track down Captain Reynolds before his ship took off. He’s brought the young woman and the rest of his crew here. They’ll be ready when Simon wakes up.”
As if on cue, they rounded a corner and were confronted with their daughter’s new family. The captain, Malcolm, sat beside the Companion, squeezing her hand lightly in his own as they both tensely waited for the young woman to be attended to. A large, hulking man they had not met before straightened at their entrance, eyeing them warily, as did a dark-skinned woman with curly hair who also stood by the exit. River was the only one who greeted them, moving forward and hugging them tightly.
“Where is he?” she asked quickly, needing to see her brother.
“They’re assessing his injuries now, dear,” Regan explained. As River rushed to move past them, she reached for her daughter’s wrist and halted her movements. Puzzled, River looked to her mother as the woman asked, “River, can you do something for your father and I first?”
Nodding once, River looked between them and in an instant knew what they would ask. Taking a step forward, she asked earnestly, “Are you sure you want to know?”
Taken aback, Regan whispered, “Know what?” As River’s look turned from serious to all-knowing, Regan inhaled sharply. “How did you know what I was going to ask?”
With a sigh, River inserted herself between her parents, linking an arm through each of theirs and steered them towards a corner of the waiting room. “It’s all part of the story.”
Kaylee was at Simon’s side when he finally stirred. She’d been sitting there for a few hours, her abdomen neatly bandaged and a mild painkiller in her bloodstream. The burns honestly looked worse than they felt and she had insisted on being taken to Simon immediately. No one had dared argue with her.
She watched with barely contained anticipation as his eyelids fluttered for a few seconds. She knew he was struggling to wake, his body no doubt still craving rest while his mind worked overtime, wanting to know that everything was okay. Running a light hand down his cheek, she leaned over him and whispered, “Come back to me, Simon.”
“Kaylee?” He breathed her name before his eyes were open and she smiled wide.
That was what Simon was greeted with as his eyes finally opened – one of Kaylee’s grand and unforgettable smiles. Blinking rapidly to clear the residual fog from his eyes, he murmured, “Am I dreaming?”
Her smile deepening even as a few tears of relief formed, she leaned back over him and brushed a kiss to his mouth. “Nope, not dreamin’.”
Simon sighed as they parted, the hand Kaylee held squeezing hers back. Staring into her beautiful face, he smiled again and she felt her heart flip over in her chest. “Is everyone all right?” he finally asked.
Nodding once, she continued to run her fingers through his hair as she told him, “Yep, right an’ shiny. River’s fine, she’s out with yer folks, talkin’, an’ Mal an’ ‘Nara an’ everybody’s good.”
“Mal’s here?” Simon asked, trying to hide his surprise. “I didn’t think he’d want to venture this close to the Core.”
“You’re part of his crew,” Kaylee reminded him simply. Resting her forehead against his, she confided, “Plus, he knew if he din’t come get ya, I’d be sure his ship was never space-worthy again.”
Chuckling softly, Simon willed his arm to move, reaching his hand up and brushing it over her cheek. It was difficult, his body was still weak, but he did it, and he delighted in the feel of her warm skin under his fingertips. They held the gaze for a long moment, more than words could ever express passing between them. It was enough just to be close, to know that they had each other and were together again. But the pain of their separation, and the suddenness of it, still plagued them both and Simon suspected it would for some time to come.
But no matter how grateful he was to be back with the woman he loved, his body would not fight off the sleep it so desperately needed. His eyes closing against his will, he murmured, “Don’t go.”
Smiling, Kaylee pressed her lips to his once more before murmuring, “I won’t, bao bei, don’t you fret.”
Lying down beside him, Kaylee easily molded herself to his side and watched him sleep.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008 3:14 PM
Wednesday, January 23, 2008 3:18 PM
Thursday, January 24, 2008 3:26 AM
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