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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Growing up isn’t easy, and that first step to independence can be a big one. Just ask Kaylee Frye.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1083 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Disclaimer: All belong to Joss. I got nada.
Characters: Crew, omc, ofc
Author's Note: If you read and enjoy this, please take a minute to let me know. Cross-posted from my LiveJournal.
Sometimes seemed to me I’d been born in the wrong place. Life back on Harvest was good enough, but just way too quiet for my taste. Most folks was either farmers or tradesmen, friendly, quiet, church-goin’ types. Good folk, but safe an’ pretty predictable. I couldn’t help but to get into mischief and most of it ‘cause I was bored or craved a little adventure.
See – I had a thing for the boys. I mean, what else was there to do for fun except mess around? 'Too frisky for my own good' was how my daddy put it. Him and Mama scolded me a lot, swore I was bein’ sinful, gonna get m’self in trouble. He even whipped the tar outta me a few times and fastened my window shut, but didn’t make no nevermind. I figured out quick to take the screws out and go my merry way, then put ‘em back when I snuck home before mornin’.
Never was much with schoolwork but had a real knack with machinery. I took to workin’ with my daddy in his shop when I weren’t much more than eight, holdin’ things for him and handin’ him tools when he asked for ‘em. Moved on up to doin’ repairs myself soon enough, and by the time I was sixteen, I was workin’ full time in his engine shop.
If you was to ask me how come I got such a fascination for machinery, I’m not sure I could tell you. It’s like I can see into the how of their workin’s, almost like they talk to me. You study somethin’ careful enough, pretty soon it’ll tell ya what’s needed.
Folks around town were all right fond a me, I guess ‘cause I was real friendly-like, even ‘though they did find it odd I was happiest covered in grease and breakin’ down their old mowers and combines. It was like havin’ a whole passel of aunts and uncles fussin’ over me.
I’d get up early, an’ me and Pa’d eat the big ol’ breakfasts my mama’d always cook. She’d pack us some sandwiches and fruit and tea for our lunch and give my daddy a quick kiss on the cheek, then we’d head down to the shop and work hard ‘til suppertime. After we’d close up the shop, I’d run home and get cleaned up, wolf down some supper real quick and head off to meet whichever fella I was sweet on at the time. Weren’t much of anywhere to go drinkin’, less’n we had some homebrew, but ‘bout near everybody had a barn or haystack or some other private place to go for a tussle. Not a bad life, like I said. Just mighty predictable.
I’d heard folks talk and read enough books to know there was all sorts of adventuresome places out in the Black, some of ‘em wild and dangerous, some shiny and civilized. All of ‘em had to be more interestin’ than sweet, sleepy ol’ Harvest where somebody’s new wagon or a big ol’ cyclone was ‘bout the most interestin’ thing likely to happen, an’ I was gettin’ mighty itchy for some kind of excitement.
Everything run along pretty much the same from day to day until one Friday a fella come in to talk to Daddy about weldin’ a broken plough and happened to mention that a starship was broke down over at Hartley Dock, the township freightport. I’d never even seen a real spaceship and right then and there I made up my mind I was gonna figure a way to get a look at her.
The next day bein’ a Saturday, we were closed. I knew I shouldn’t, but I lied and told my folks I was spendin’ the day with my cousin, Alice Redmond. Alice’s family farms over by Hartley, an’ I figured the lie was close enough to the truth to get me by. She was gettin’ married later that summer, so I told ‘em we was goin’ shoppin’ for clothes for her trousseau. Gave me an excuse for puttin’ on my best dress instead of the coveralls or blue jeans I usually wore, and soon enough I’d hitched a ride with Joe Franklin, the miller, who was headed over to Hartley with a load of meal.
You could see the nose of that ship clear from the outskirts of Hartley. Most amazin’ thing I’d ever seen. I got Joe to let me off near the pad and just stood there a gapin’ up at her for the longest time. Finally, a young fella noticed me and struck up a conversation. Told me she was a Firefly and her name was Serenity and that he was the ship’s mechanic and had been workin’ his ass off to get her flyin’ again. He was kinda wiry, with long sun-bleached hair, wearin’ just his boots and pants and showin off his muscles and tattoos. Not bad lookin’, neither, so I figured I’d flirt him up a little and see what come of it.
Well, flirtin’ turned to kissin’ and the next thing I knew, he’d led me back to the engine room and we was a’goin’ at it. Truth to tell, he weren’t near so good at sexin’ as he seemed to think, but it did give me a chance to get a good close look at the ship’s workin’s, enough so’s I could fix her when his captain walked in on us.
Right off, the mechanic started claiming the secondary grav boot weren’t workin’ and I could see clear as day the trouble was with her reg couple, so I said so and in just a couple a minutes, had her spinnin’ up, pretty as ya please. That mechanic didn’t have no idea what he was doin’. Don’t know who trained him, but they done a lousy job. I guess his captain figured that one out, too. Never figured a tussle in a spaceship engine room would lead to me bein’ offered a job, but ain’t that the way of the ‘Verse – always full a surprises?
I run the whole way home to ask my folks if I could go, not even rememberin’ the cover story I’d made up about goin’ shoppin’ with Alice. They was both right taken aback, and my mama got all teary eyed, saying as how I was too young to be leavin’ and who would help my daddy in the shop and a bunch of other stuff.
Daddy just looked at me right solemn like and asked, “Are you sure this is what you wanna be doin’, honey? I know you got the skill, but it’s a cold, hard ‘verse out there, and you’re gonna be too far away for your mama and I to rescue you if you get yourself in a fix.”
“I wanna go, Daddy,” I told him, too excited about the prospects to really let myself feel anything ‘cept my hunger for the new.
He slid his arm around Mama’s waist and looked at her, all intent like. “Mary, you know as well as I do our Kaylee ain't gonna be contented here on Harvest. World’s been too small for her for awhile now, and we try to keep her here, it’ll end in heartbreak all around. Time’s come to let our li’l sparrow fly.”
My mama just stood a’lookin’ up at him for a long minute, then nodded.
I was so excited I could hardly stand it, wishing they’d hurry up an’ say ‘yes’ so’s I could get back to Serenity. “I told the captain I needed to ask you ‘fore I could come along,” I explained, fidgeting, “but I don’t want him leavin’ without me.”
My mama started untyin’ her apron and reminded me in that practical sorta way she had, “Well surely he’s gotta know you’ll need to get your things together.” She smiled at Daddy. ”I’ll help her pack, Ellis. You go harness up Daisy, and we’ll drive her back over to Hartley. I’m not letting no stranger carry my daughter off into the Black.”
Pa nodded and winked at me, then headed down to the old building that was our barn and workshop to ready the wagon.
Mama encircled my shoulders with an arm and squeezed, smilin’ bravely. “Lord, child, you sure didn’t give us no notice to get you ready.” She opened my closet and started tossin’ clothes on my bed. ”I got an old trunk you can have and you can take my carpetbag and your daddy’s duffel…”
“Mama, wait! I can’t take all this. Ain't likely to have no fancy stateroom to stay in. Might even have to share a room with someone. Probably oughtta just take practical clothes. If it turns out I need somethin’ later on, you can always post it to me.”
She thought a minute and nodded. “True enough.”
In the end, I packed mostly the overalls I wore workin’ with Daddy, some knit shirts, my unders and the good dress I’d worn over to Hartley, my favorite shoes and a pair of boots along with my winter coat, in case it was cold out there. Now it had come right down to it, it was like my brain had froze and I couldn’t seem to think about what I might really need. Thank heavens for Mama, who scurried ‘round, and in short order had bundled up all the important stuff I’da forgot.
While Mama went back to the kitchen, I stood lookin’ around the room I’d had since I was a bitty thing. Rose and green flowered wallpaper, the crocheted counterpane my grandma’d made when I turned twelve, pictures and stuffed animals and things I’d treasured my whole childhood, things didn’t have no place out in space. I finally decided to take a necklace Timmy Whit gave me last Christmas and my favorite teddy bear, Buddy. He’s small and I figured wouldn’t take up much room.
After a bit, Mama called out from the kitchen, “Kaylee, your daddy’s got the wagon ready. You packed up, sweetheart?” She had a big ol’ picnic basket over one arm and her shawl and bonnet already on. I could tell she was doin’ her best to act strong, not wantin’ me to see how hard it was for her to have me leaving like that.
I grabbed up the duffel and smiled kinda wistfully. “Yep, I’m done. Just takin this bag and that trunk. It’s kinda heavy, ‘though. Maybe Daddy can load it for me.”
Mama tilted her head and studied me. “I’m sure he would.” She came over and slid her arm around my shoulders and pressed a kiss to my face. “Don’t seem no time at all you was just learnin’ how to crawl, and here you are, all growed up an’ headed out to see the ‘Verse.”
We headed out to the wagon, where my pa was makin’ a big fuss out of fiddlin’ with the harness on Daisy. When he turned an’ looked at me, his eyes was all shiny and his cheeks flushed.
“I got something for ya, honey,” he told me. He tossed the duffel into the bed of the wagon and brought out a shiny new red toolbox. My jaw just plumb dropped!
“Yer mama an’ I got this for your birthday next month. I figured now’s as good a time as any to give it to ya, seein’ as you’re gonna be workin’ as a full-fledged mechanic now.” He lifted back the top and I could see he’d filled it up with all sorts of tools I’d need, some of ‘em brand new and some good old ones I recognized as his very own. There was a socket set, screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, volt-meter, solderin’ iron and flux and solder, wire strippers and crimpin’ pliers – ‘bout near everything I could ever imagine needin’.
I threw my arms around his neck so tight I near strangled him, breathin’ in his smell, all bay rum aftershave and engine grease and tobacco. “Thank you, Daddy. I promise I take real good care of ‘em, just like you taught me.”
He patted my back awkwardly. “Best you do so, seein’ as you and the folk you’re a flyin’ with are gonna depend on ya. Remember, daughter, don’t never…”
I finished for him, “…scrimp on tools nor parts and look at each repair as a problem to be solved.” We smiled at one another. “Yes, sir, I will,” I assured him.
When he’d loaded the trunk, him and Mama squeezed onto the wagon bench with me between ‘em, as if they were both soakin’ up all the huggin’ they could for the comin’ spell. Then, cluckin’ softly, he gently snapped the reins against Daisy’s wide brown behind and we started off down the road between the billowing fields of ripening wheat.
* * *
We pulled up at the pad at Hartley Dock an’ Daddy helped Mama down from the wagon. She stared up at the ship uncertainly and whispered to him, thinkin’ I couldn’t hear, “Kinda rusty ain't she, Ellis?”
“Don’t you worry none, Mary,” He reassured her. “I’ll check ‘er out good ‘fore we let our Kaylee head out on ‘er.”
We were met by a tall, dark woman all dressed like a man and carryin’ a sawed-off rifle on her thigh. My folks glanced at one another, startin’ to wonder what all I was about to get myself into.
“I’m Zoe Washburne,” she told us, “First Mate on Serenity. The Captain’s up on the bridge with our pilot, Wash.” Her dark eyes looked me up and down, probably takin’ in how young I was, and she continued, ”I imagine you folks would like to meet the both of ‘em and see the ship.” She led us into the cargo bay and hit an intercom button, letting 'em know we’d arrived.
As Mama and Daddy stood lookin’ about in wonder, Cap’n Reynolds and a smaller man in a gaudy shirt came down the stairs. For the first time, I thought about the circumstance under which I first met the Cap’n and blushed, crossin’ my fingers he wouldn’t take it into his head to say nothin’ ‘bout it to my folks.
“Hey, visitors!” the ginger-haired pilot greeted us. He grinned warmly and slid an arm around the First Mate’s waist. She smiled indulgently at him an’ led me to thinkin’ they might be a couple.
The Cap’n extended a hand to my Pa, and nodded politely to my mama. “I’m Malcolm Reynolds, Captain of Serenity.”
Daddy sized him up like he would an engine, lookin’ to judge for himself if he ran true. “Ellis Frye, and this here’s my wife, Mary. You’ve already met our youngest daughter, Kaywinnet.”
The Cap’n’s eyebrow went up in surprise and I cringed. Never have understood why they’d saddled me with that awful name. “Just call me Kaylee, please, sir.” I asked hopefully.
It was hard to say for sure how old Cap’n Reynolds was – somewhere’s in his thirties, I figured, and while he wasn’t unkindly, I could tell somehow he’d seen his share of hard times. Zoe, too. Now the other fella, Wash, looked like a barrel a fun. As it turned out, he and Zoe really were married, as unlikely as that seemed, and he was a crack pilot, equally unlikely. Right then I made a note to myself not to take folk at face value any more.
Cap’n Reynolds turned to Zoe. “Why don’t you take Kaylee and Mrs. Frye and show ’em where her quarters are gonna be? Wash, you can give Zoe a hand with the girl’s gear.” He put a hand on my daddy’s shoulder and gave him a knowin’ look. Lord help me if them two started comparin’ notes. “I imagine you’d like a chance to check out the ship, seein’ as your daughter’s gonna be livin’ on it. She tells me you’re a mechanic, too…” And with that, they headed toward the ship’s engine room.
* * *
By the time Zoe an’ Wash had helped Mama an’ me get my cabin lookin’ homey, Daddy’d had a chance to give Serenity a good goin’ over and he and the Cap’n reached some understanding about me.
I often had cause to regret that last part.
The six of us met up back at the cargo bay doors. My daddy put his arm around Mama and told her, “Now Mary, Captain Reynolds has promised to take real good care of our baby girl.” I cringed at the term and scanned my mama’s face, knowing that if she said no, the whole deal was off. She’d bunched her bonnet all up in her hands and I could see she was workin’ mighty hard not to cry, but I was real surprised when she stepped right up to Cap’n Reynolds and stared him hard in the eye.
“Sir, you are about to take my youngest daughter far away, take her into circumstances and places I can’t even begin to imagine.” The Cap’n looked more’n a little intimidated – my mama’s a right formidable woman. “Give me your word of honor you’ll look out for her as if she was your own,” she continued. “We brung her up to be a good girl and I’ll thank you to see to it that you don’t allow her to be led astray.”
The Cap’n glanced at me and I knew damn well what was runnin’ through his head, but bless the man, he just smiled, real polite, and assure my folks that I’d be under his personal protection. And that was how I came to be the mechanic on Serenity.
From then on, everything seemed to happen in a whirl, and next thing I knew, my folks was huggin’ me goodbye and headin’ back homewards, with Mama leaning on Pa’s shoulder and trying not to sniffle. I stood there, watchin’ as the wagon got smaller and smaller, and it started to sink in just what I was takin’ on.
I guess I musta looked more scared than I thought. Zoe put her arm around my shoulders and leaned close. “Big step, huh?”
“You’ll do fine.”
Cap’n Reynolds hit the button that closed the ramp and doors into Serenity’s hold, then used the comm to order Wash to make ready for lift-off.
“You wanna come up on the bridge?” he asked. “First time off world is something you’ll never forget.” His eyes twinkled and I could see how much he loved his ship. Right then I knew I’d done the right thing.
“Yes sir. I’d like that right fine!” My heart was racing as I grinned back.
“Well then come on, Kaylee, and get your first look at the Black.”
I followed the Cap’n and Zoe up a long zigzag run of stairs and then through a short little hall, then up another set of steps before we come out onto the ship’s bridge.
The space was more compact that I’d expected, all snug and warm feelin’, lit up by the light of Harvest’s big ol’ yellow sun pourin’ in through the view screen and all them little lights on the console. Wash was sittin’ in the pilot’s chair to the right, in front of the main control panel, just runnin’ through the pre-liftoff sequence with Port Control. Once he got the ‘all clear’, he looked up for his orders.
Cap’n Reynolds gave me a mischievous grin an’ told him, “Take us outta the world, Wash.”
“You got it, Mal,” Wash responded.
He reached up an’ threw the switches to initialize power and Serenity shuddered a little and then rose with a great whoosh a dust. We climbed so fast, I didn’t hardly see more’n a glance of rollin’ countryside before we was punchin’ through the clouds. The sky went from turquoise to blue to velvety black, all spangled with a gazillion stars and I thought it was just about the shiniest thing I ever seen. My heart come up in my throat and I ain’t ashamed to tell ya I got tears in my eyes.
“Might wanna close your mouth, li’l Kaylee,” the Cap’n said and everyone laughed. He smiled that million-credit grin again and said, “Gotta admit – that’s somethin’ that never gets old.”
An’ me? I reckoned as how it never would.
Sunday, December 14, 2008 1:45 PM
Monday, December 15, 2008 1:14 AM
Monday, December 15, 2008 2:10 PM
Thursday, August 25, 2011 7:33 AM
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