BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

KACIDILLA

The Reunion - 4 of 9
Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Part 4. Post-BDM (8 years post, actually); all the characters belong to Joss, and the idea for the story was handed to me by my Dadoo, who said he didn't have time to write it, so would i do it for him. i said yes. we still hope you enjoy.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1603    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Zoë walked past the empty room where her daughter would ordinarily still be sleeping. The sunlight was pouring in through the stained glass window Kya had chosen when the second extension had been built only last year, leaving an odd assortment of colored shapes dancing across the hardwood floor. Dolls and books were stacked neatly on the shelves - the results of Zoë's efforts, not the eight-year-old dreamer who was more wont to leave them scattered about the floor.

She walked down the stairs her daughter had once learned to climb, and where stacks of freshly folded linens would usually wait for the child to carry to wardrobes and closets, her dark curls bouncing as she would hurry through the chore. These same steps would creak lightly when Kya would attempt to sneak downstairs after bedtime, looking for a reason to stay up with her mother, and would creak loudly when Zoë would carry the sleeping child back upstairs hours later, threatening to wake the girl once more.

Zoë went into the kitchen where her daughter would often sit brooding over the unwanted vegetables on her plate, uncaring that fresh foods like that were treasures in the black, and often offered to send her unwanted greens to those starving families floating beyond the stars above the house. Her father's blue eyes would glare defiantly each time Zoë would insist the girl ate them herself and count herself lucky. It stood empty now, not even a cloth covering the shine of freshly polished tabletop. The morning sun reflected a glare into Zoë's eyes, blinding her for a moment. She did not stop moving.

Zoë went to the stove where she was teaching her only child to cook and set the kettle to boil on the far burner - a habit formed out of fear a toddler would attempt to pull herself up to see using the taunting grillwork of the nearest burners. She reached into the cupboard, past the pink mug usually containing some sugary liquid, but now - like the rest of the house - empty and found her own sage colored mug and placed it on the counter near the tins containing tea and a chocolate mix Kya favored.

She turned and saw a familiar face peeking out from beneath the table. Reaching down to collect the plastic dinosaur from its hiding place, she remembered how she had threatened punishments upon her daughter's head should she ever find out Wash's prized collection was being tossed about as worthless toys, such as Kya was prone to do. She knew they were toys, and meant to be played with, but they were always a small connection to her love...a connection Kya had not yet fully grasped. Now, she feared the girl might never have the chance...

Tears collected in her eyes...she had lost them both...she had tried so hard to keep her daughter safe, but now...

The tea kettle whistled, high and piercing, shattering her resolve. She knelt on the floor, clutching the toy to her chest, her breath coming in short, tight gasps. In a rage, she grabbed at the kettle and flung it across the kitchen, denting the wall, shattering the porcelain plate Kya had painted in one of her art classes, and splashing scalding water across the lemon-yellow wall.

Where the hell was her miracle?

***

River stood in the cargo bay, teaching Gabriel D. Tam how to stand on his head as Mal came through the doorway.

"River," he said, glancing at the young boy attempting to push his feet up and over his own head. "What are you doing?"

"Circus performers can never stop practicing," she replied, catching Briel's feet as he swung them up once more. She helped the child find balance before letting him collapse with a giggle to the floor. She looked up to see Mal still waiting.

"We're supposed to be hailing and docking," he reminded her. "Who's flying my ship?"

"Kaylee has been able to sufficiently hail the warden," River replied. "She has made official calls for Simon in the past and is aware of the proper dialogue. The tractor beam has been in effect for seven minutes. Your hair is different."

"Have to look the part," Mal said, spreading his arms to better show the uniform. He and River had successfully swindled two full guard uniforms in a game of Tall Card. Part of him felt guilty for letting four grown men think they convinced a young twenty-five year old psychic to play for clothes...and then lose...and walk home naked at two in the morning... But he assuaged his conscience with the knowledge they were being used for a good cause. Besides, he anonymously returned the two civilians' clothes. He pulled the cap on, completing the look. Briel was staring at him with a concerned look.

"I thought they were supposed to be napping," Mal hinted. "This would be a good time for it."

"Scary monsters," River said simply, pulling her own cap from the jacket pocket and setting it firmly over her coiled hair. Briel looked to his aunt in surprise - he hadn't told her why he had snuck away from bed.

"I can understand that," Mal nodded, looking to the four year old. "But for now, we need little ones tucked away. This has to go smooth."

"What does?" Briel asked. River went to the weapons locker, leaving the Captain to answer the inquisitive mind.

"This plan has to go smooth," Mal answered vaguely. He wasn't sure it was up to him to encourage a life of crime in Simon and Kaylee's progeny. He turned and indicated the hallway to the guest rooms. Briel ignored him.

"Why?"

"Because we need Jayne to help us," Mal replied. He again indicated the hallway.

"Who's Jayne?"

Mal turned and took Briel's hand, leading him to the hallway.

"Jayne is an old friend," Mal answered. "And we'll need his help to track and retrieve Zoë's little Kya."

"Why?" Briel asked, stepping carefully up the stairs.

"Because...we'll need Jayne's help," Mal finally answered. He noticed Briel slowed his steps the closer they got to the guest room. Finally, Mal turned and knelt in front of Briel, gaining the boy's full attention.

"I need you to be outta the way," he said firmly. "Now, I understand how a bad dream can take hold, so I won't tell you that ya need to sleep, but you do need to stay in here till we're away again and your Momma comes for you."

"But there was a fire," Briel insisted. Mal blinked and turned to the partially open sliding door. Nothing looked scorched or smoking...

"A fire?" he asked, concerned.

"Yeah," Briel responded. "There was a dragon an' he breathed fire and it ate up air an' no one could breathe an' the princess an' her people all had to go away. But then they came back when the queen woke up from her sleep, orderin' an' makin' a fuss till they turned back an' my Dad had to save the knight who'd stayed behind to fight the dragon an' bring back the air, but he was very sick an' so--"

"Did your brother read you a story before nap time started?" Mal interrupted the vaguely familiar tale.

"No," Briel replied, grinning. "No. I r'member stories myself."

"Stories your Aunt wrote out for you?"

"Uh-huh," Briel nodded. He leaned towards Mal, and whispered his secret. "I can see 'em, too, in my head." Mal nodded solemnly. It didn't surprise him. He had heard River's recounting of a specific adventure once and had to admit that he, too, had a very clear image of her words haunting him for several nights.

"Well, since I know how that story went," Mal said, looking at River waiting in the doorway behind Briel, "I assure you - everyone turned out just fine. Next time you want a story, I'll find you somethin' else. Maybe with some bunnies or...look, you don't have to sleep, just stay in there till Momma's say so. Or mine."

"Okay," the boy finally assented, scuffing the floor with his bare toes as he shuffled into the room. Mal slid the door shut quietly, not wanting to wake the other child.

"Are we ready to go?" Simon asked, coming out of the opposite room. He was dressed in one of his finest suits and carrying his medical bag. River appeared, holding the forms they had reviewed the previous night, and handed them to her brother.

"We're ready," she answered. She turned to Mal. "We don't have any stories with bunnies here. We'd have to pick some up."

She was gone again before Simon was able to form the question. Mal waved him off and they followed after her, instead.

Kaylee was waiting for them in the cargo bay, her freshly scrubbed face and pristine jacket a stark contrast to the overalls and workboots she also wore. At Simon's look, she shrugged.

"I only need t'look Fed from the waist up," she explained. "And if I'da known we was so close to some floaty prison planet, I woulda chosen a different home for us."

"No one knows about Moon Gate," Mal informed them. "It inspires panic when good folk know the worst of criminal humanity are housed inside a moon, revolving around thousands of law-abiding citizens."

"Oh I wasn't complaining," Kaylee replied quickly. "I just woulda chosen something nicer t'look at from above. They get to feelin' homesick, just as everyone else in the 'verse."

"I would have chosen a different planet," Simon admitted. "I'm not sure I like the idea of it..."

"If we're done," Mal said, none too patiently, "I'd like to save a little girl sometime this week and time is precious."

"I'll expect you back in thirty minutes," Kaylee nodded as they opened the door to the airlock. Once they were safely off the ship, she looked around.

"Nearly there, girl," she murmured to Serenity. "We're nearly full again."

***

"Well, Doctor, this all looks well and good," Warden Edwards smiled. "I knew sending out regular bloodwork for processing felt redundant, but it all has a purpose, as I am reminded now. But I do think you'll find your armed escort is unnecessary."

"Really?" Simon asked, receiving the forms back from the warden. "I was led to believe this is a dangerous criminal with a long history of violence in his background."

"You were not mistaken," Edwards replied. "However, like the location of this particular penitentiary, our methods are also somewhat against the grain, per se."

"Your methods?" Simon repeated. "Which methods would those be?"

"You will never hear of a prison riot at Moon Gate," Warden Edwards beamed, leading the doctor and two guards along a well-lit hallway. "Nor will you hear of a prisoner murdering or attacking another prisoner here or even of a prison break. We have no need for solitary confinement or other forms of extra punishment. Moon Gate's prisoners arrive at the word of a judge and jury and remain to fill his sentence. And we never hear a complaint."

At this, he opened the door to a balcony overlooking a large courtyard. The artificial sunlight shone down on men in their silvery-blue prison jumpsuits relaxing or dozing off below. River swayed somewhat, as she tended to in large, bustling crowds. Mal tapped her elbow gently. She shook her head, as if to clear away a noisome fly, and straightened for a moment before swaying again.

"What is it?" Mal hissed, grateful the warden was calling to someone below to bring up Prisoner 8345609CJ-LT16.

"Thoughts are slow," she replied. "Thick. Clouded. I want butterscotch."

Mal glanced sidelong at the girl. She seemed distracted - a bad thing for his Reader - but somehow happy, too.

"How is it the prisoners are so content here?" Simon asked, observing the quiet men below. It resembled a religious retreat more than a prison exercise yard.

"We drug them," Warden Edwards replied, his smile gleaming in the fake sunlight. At Simon's sudden look, he continued in a hurry. "We have approval, of course, but we do pump a series of narcotics into the air of their cells - while they sleep, you see, when they breathe it in deeper and the effects are wonderful. Just look at the peace below. Once another three years have slipped by, we'll have our clinical trials completed and then all prisons will be able to adopt our policy. It simply calms them down enough to keep them from being a danger to society, to each other...even to themselves. I'm surprised you were not already aware."

"You're joking, of course," Simon managed. "Did you not hear about the Miranda settlers and a similar trial attempted there?"

"Of course, we have learned from past experiences," Warden Edwards scoffed. "And I do hope you are aware of the lengths some people would go to in order to besmirch the names of those Alliance scientists. I have not seen the newswaves, myself - we do not receive all the nonsense here, of course - but I have it on good authority that a number of those 'images' were completely fabricated. I trust those responsible for the scare were found and punished."

"They were punished," River said, her voice small and airy. Mal risked a glance at her - she was having trouble standing still. "Death, pain, sorrow, nightmares. Broken brains. Shackles and chains..."

"Prisoner 8345609CJ-LT16, sir," a guard interrupted, leading a rather relaxed Jayne Cobb. The warden looked like a proud father receiving his golden boy. Jayne was not even in handcuffs.

"Jayne, how are you today?" Edwards nodded, his words perfectly enunciated. Jayne tried to rest his arm on the railing and slipped twice before finally succeeding. He grinned at the warden for a while before responding.

"Hiya, Warden," he slurred. "I made a painting of a horse. Didja see it?"

"No, Jayne, I have not had the pleasure yet today," Edwards replied. He gestured to Simon, leaving his hand where it was until Jayne's eyes followed it to reach Simon's face. "This is Doctor Reisko, Jayne. He is here for your transfer. Your allergies to the filtration chemicals are making you sick." He turned to Simon and said quietly, "That is probably the reason the air is affecting him so much."

"I know him," Jayne said, finally. He had been frowning at Simon, attempting to connect a thought. Edwards looked back to Jayne, curious.

"Yes, Mr. Cobb," Simon said slowly, taking his cue from Warden Edwards. "I'm Doctor Reisko from the Belix Colony Penitentiary Hospital. You remember me from when you were there. We took your blood for our records. You remember that, yes?" He nodded slowly, relaxing slightly as Jayne nodded in return.

"I know him," Jayne smiled to Warden Edwards. "He's a doc."

"Very good, Jayne," Edwards nodded. "You're going to go with him and his nice friends here." At this, Edwards indicated Mal and River in their guard uniforms. Jayne looked at River - who was staring at a light fixture with a peculiar intensity - and then he saw Mal.

"Hey, Mal!" Jayne grinned. "When'd you get a job as a guard?"

COMMENTS

Tuesday, February 10, 2009 4:18 PM

BRIGLAD


*"Hey, Mal!" Jayne grinned. "When'd you get a job as a guard?"*


Oh, Go-se!

Looks like things are about to go pear shaped :-)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 7:31 AM

PLATONIST


Coming together nicely

Zoe as a vintner, I like that idea, who would have thought?

And Jayne back, Yay! love the last line, too!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 9:12 AM

AMDOBELL


Uh oh, looks like Jayne has blown their cover! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 2:51 PM

KATESFRIEND


Woops. Loved the cover up over Miranda - some things will never change.


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