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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Part 2 of 3 in the Evocations Trilogy of ficlets (part 1 is Not Forgotten).
Mal almost opens up.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 782 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
All Firefly characters are property of Joss Whedon and Fox; just playin’.
At Amdobell’s behest, here is part 2 of 3 in the little ficlet series which starts with Not Forgotten. This one is from Mal’s perspective. Hope you like! All feedback is welcome and helpful.
"Risen" by Nina Clark 21/9/08
The smell of bread baking. Images flooded densely upon themselves. His ma, her rough workers hands kneading dough, flour strewn on a board, then caught by the rolling mass. A precious resource not to be taken for granted, she would say. The glow of the stove as he knelt expectantly on the kitchen floor before the great machine, soaking up the warmth and the aroma. The dappled light through the window from the apple tree in the yard, casting fragmented shadows on the table. The basket, empty and ready, lined with a small cloth, darned in some forgotten way.
The smell of bread baking. Mal awoke groggily, his hand numb underneath his head. He mumbled something incoherently, blinked twice and closed his eyes once more. Just a little longer. Breathing in deeply, he smelt it again. It was unmistakable. Yawning into a stretch, he arose from the bed, looking around the small room. He wandered over to the bed nearest the window, noting the neat hospital corners of the bedspread, and drew the curtain back. The sun was high in the sky; it must be nearly lunchtime. Don’t remember the last time I overslept, he thought. Huh.
Having splashed his face with water from the sink in the communal bathroom, he tossed on a shirt and a pair of fatigues and strolled downstairs. As he came nearer the origin of the enchanting scent he heard the sound of amicable conversation. Entering the kitchen, he found Zoë seated at the long table in the centre of the room, sipping from a steaming mug.
“You talkin’ to yourself?” he stared at her quizzically, for the room was apparently empty but for his friend.
“Morning Sir. Finally roused, did you? Was beginning to think you were gonna sleep til noon!” she smiled slightly, an eyebrow raised righteously.
“Oh, yeah. Reckon I might’ve had one too many last night.”
“What, bottles? You tied one on, all right!”
“He was happy to see his comrade, Zoë; quite natural.” Dori stepped from the pantry, holding what looked to be a churn, causing Mal to start. “Good morning Mal.”
“Just.” Zoë smirked.
“Alright, alright.” he grumped. Turning to his host he replied, “ Mornin’ Dori. Apologies for my late startin’, seems I’m the last one up.”
“Not at all, everybody needs a lie-in once in a while. Besides, you were most entertaining last night, I didn’t expect to see you at the first crow of the cock.” Dori laughed good naturedly, and hustled Mal into a chair. “Come now, would you care for some coffee?”
“Be awful kind.” Rubbing stubborn sleep from his eyes, Mal took the cup proffered by Dori and held it up as Zoë brought the pot to him. “Thanks Zo’. What I miss anyhow? I smell goodness!”
They ate heartily, passing the basket of hot bread rolls between them. Dori had procured a quantity of real butter – no sense baking bread if you can’t adorn it properly, he’d said, to which they all agreed. A comfortable silence descended as they dined, savouring each mouthful with delight. The bread still warm in his hand, Mal looked across the table at Zoë, who seemed to be taking pleasure in breaking open a bun and watching the steam rise. A trickle of butter crept onto his hand, and he raised it to his mouth, not wanting to miss a drop.
“Not had butter since…can’t think when! Since Shadow, I s’pose.” A flicker of remorse crossed his face for a second, not going unnoticed by his host. Covering, he went on. “This is the real deal alright. My ma used to churn it herself, sometimes add a little something, garlic maybe, when it’d grow.”
“That sounds delicious. We’ve not had garlic in Genchart for a while. This much luxury is rare. I was given the churn this morning by a rancher whose son passed through Saudade some time ago. Paul Bell?”
“Bell was here? Paul Bell. When? Was he..?” Mal sat upright, dropping the bread back onto his plate. He looked at Zoë, who appeared frozen in her seat. He turned to Dori. “We were stationed with his unit…while back. Rough spot on a little backwater…”
“Calder’s Field.” Zoë completed his train of thought. There was a stony finality to her voice. Neither needed to exchange the glance. Zoë continued to stare into the middle distance as she asked, “Was he ok?”
Dori replaced his own roll on the table gently, looking up at Mal, trying to judge the significance of this moment. Inclining his head towards the regal woman sat beside him, he extended a hand towards her own which grasped the table. Taking her hand, he spoke softly. “He was a very fine man.” Her head sagged slightly, the only indication that she had understood his meaning. Bell was dead. She squeezed his hand fiercely for a second, then broke contact and shunted her chair back.
“Excuse me.” She strode deliberately from the room. Moments later, they heard the front door slam.
Mal rested his cheek on one palm, and tilted his head toward the front door, though his eyes didn’t follow. There was a dead look in his eyes, past sorrow or disillusionment; a hollow look which might have been bitterness, but lacking the emotional drive.
“I would not go after her..” began Dori, regretting the bad tidings he had born.
“Wasn’t gonna. She don’t like company at…times like these.” He snorted disgustedly. “‘Times like these’, now ain’t that a weak-ass axiom. Times like these. Findin’ out your old lover is rottin’ in a ruttin’ Alliance lime-pit somewhere, yeah, that’s like to piss a lady off.” His repression finally cracked, and a strangled cry broke from him as he staggered from the table, looking for an enemy to fight. He put Dori in mind of a caged animal, pacing without a release.
Dori calmly picked up his plate and walked up to Mal, handing it to him.
“Throw it at the wall.”
“I ain’t gonna…”
“Throw it. You want to.”
“Ain’t throwin’ your crocks ‘round..”
“If you don’t, I will, which would be a waste, as I don’t need to.”
“’s a nice plate Dori..”
“It’s crappy. Certainly not my Sunday best.”
Mal quirked the beginning of a sad smile. “Kinda lost the impetus now.” He shrugged, and went to place the plate on the table. It rested half-way on, then toppled to the floor where it smashed into three pieces.
“Aww, darn it. Sorry.” He looked up sheepishly at Dori, as he picked up the pieces.
Dori sniggered, and muttered “All the mess, none of the satisfaction! Next time just throw it at the wall.”
Neither spoke for several minutes, as Mal fetched a dustpan and brush to dispose of the tiny ceramic splinters. Once satisfied there were no shards left, he sat back at the table, staring at the three sections of the ex-plate. Taking two pieces, he held them together, observing where they fit together and where there no longer met.
“Were they very close?” Dori asked tentatively.
“Close?” Mal looked up at Dori, then back at the plate. “War’ll make ties in odd places. Bell was… gentry. Pa’ was old-money, just Independent with it. No disrespect, Lieutenant Bell was a stand-up guy and all, could make the right decision in a pinch, new how to lead a squad.” Continuing to stare at the plate Mal went on, aware of Dori’s patient attention, finding it helped him talk. “When he got to Calder’s Field, we’d been holding the town for a week or two. Alliance hadn’t sent in sufficient troops to take us, and Bell’s men backed us up. We were there a month in all, ‘til the purple-bellies came down on us with a frigate. Bell gave me the order to haul my troop out, leave him and a few of his guys to hold the field. Didn’t like it, leavin’ ‘em . Zoë tried to persuade him to high-tail it with us…He pulled rank. Last time we saw him.”
Dori’s unblinking eyes pulled Mal from his reflection. He found himself staring at the bread, now cooling on the table, the steam all risen.
“Yeah, they was close.”
As Mal lay in his bed that night, a tension seemed to envelop him. His mind stormed, grief and anger never settling, just coiling tighter and tighter. He wondered abstractly if he was always going to feel this way; always bitter, smarting, pent-up and crushed. How could he balance the parts of himself out? Would the turmoil subside? He hoped fervently it wouldn’t and raged at his weakness for thinking it. He knew he must find a way to function, a path through the winding nausea of defeat. Listen up Reynolds, here it is. What’s done is done. Can’t never undo it. Introspection’s a load a fei-oo. Deal.
Taking a perverse satisfaction from this new reasoning, he fell slowly into slumber and didn’t hear Zoë return as morning broke.
Sunday, September 21, 2008 11:09 AM
Sunday, September 21, 2008 4:27 PM
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