BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

KACIDILLA

The Reunion - 6 of 9
Thursday, February 12, 2009

Part 6. 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: 1906    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

Zoë waited, her shoulders screaming from the tension she was piling on them. She had returned home just before dawn to find Iona's sister, Cleo, waiting for her with word from Sheydra. Zoë had doubted Mal would accept a wave from any Companion...and the long, dreadful days of silence had only fed her uncertainty. She hadn't doubted Mal would help, just that he would hear about her troubles too late to be of any help.

But Cleo - one of the few who had stayed on with Zoë after Hammin's threats and actions - assured Zoë that Mal had accepted the wave and he was moving. Cleo also had other news: Kya was off-planet. Hammin had hired someone to take the little girl to Sihnon, to be closeted away within the confines of the Companion Training House there. Apparently, Kya had attempted to run away from the family paid to become her foster parents too many times and now, Hammin knew he would receive no cooperation from the widow should she hear her daughter might run home at any time.

So now, Zoë waited. Again. She waited for Cleo to give up trying to convince her to eat; she waited for Cleo to stop trying to comfort her; she waited for Cleo to leave. She waited until the last shred of waiting she had left died within her and she stood up slowly. Cleo looked at her, slightly afraid, and asked what she was going to do.

"Right now," Zoë said quietly, her voice flat. "I am going to wash my hair and dress in clean clothes. And then, I am going to kill the man who took my baby from me."

"But," Cleo cried out as Zoë turned and began to climb the stairs. "What about Mal and the others? They're coming!"

"I'm sure they are," Zoë replied, not even bothering to stop or speak directly the girl. "You can wait here for them. I am done waiting."

***

"Wait!" Jayne insisted, thrusting a stack of pages into Mal's hands. "It's for them, the little ones. I wrote it for 'em." Mal looked from the scribblings to the large man's sweating, yet hopeful, face.

"Hell, if River can write out stories for 'em, I figure I can," Jayne went on. His fever and chills had started earlier that day, causing concern to both Simon and Mal - such a strong and sudden reaction so soon indicated the addiction was stronger than they'd initially - and unrealistically - hoped. Mal was now curious about what Simon or Kaylee would say about the version of a children's story that was wrought out of a delirious insomnia. He smiled at Jayne, though and nodded.

"I'll see to it," he offered. "You eat that porridge, now. Kaylee worked on it for you."

"Kaylee's here?" Jayne asked, his eyes growing misty. "That's so...she's sweet t'think of me..." He sat down heavily on the bed, seemingly unsure of what to do with his hands. Mal had to remind himself it was the drugs that made Jayne emotional, the withdrawal that made him twitchy.

"I'll pass along your regards," he promised, beginning the climb up the ladder.

"You'll come back, though, right?" Jayne called after him. "Soon as you can, right?"

"Soon as I can," Mal promised, closing the hatch. He leaned his head against the wall and breathed out heavily. It was too soon, he told himself. Too soon to go through this again. Slowly, he pushed himself away from the wall and made his way to the kitchen, glancing at the erratic scrawling story - ramblings of a madman, some would say - as he walked. It started off with a bunny (River must have mentioned the children and Mal's promise for a bunny book when she had gone to visit earlier) on his way to eat carrots and acorns, which, although slightly odd, wasn't bad. However, the 'book' suddenly took a strange turn, evolving into a description of actions Mal was sure were inappropriate for any age to know of - let alone attempt - followed by a full page of tight, evenly spaced sentences describing Warden Edwards' very short future, should Jayne ever find him again. The final page was a drawing depicting bunnies, horses, rainbows and stars eating pudding (helpfully captioned 'Everyone Gets His Pudding').

By the time he finished his preview of the tale, he had entered the kitchen, finding everyone at the table and chattering contentedly. He carefully folded the story and tucked it into his shirt pocket before he took his seat. A bowl of porridge and a full cup of coffee were waiting at his place and he thanked Kaylee for it.

"I didn't set the table," Kaylee smiled before returning to her son's breakfast. Mal paused, spoon halfway to his mouth, looked to River and sighed, putting the spoon down untasted.

"Coffee or porridge?" he asked quietly. She looked at him and grinned.

"I didn't set the table," she mimicked Kaylee's lilt perfectly. Hoban waved his good hand at the Captain.

"I did it, I did!" he called. Mal sighed in relief and nodded to the boy. He picked up the spoon again and successfully began his breakfast as the cacophony of breakfast carried on around him. It had been some time since he had shared most meals with folk under the age of reason, but he found he was growing accustomed. Briel enjoyed telling tales of bravery and dragons and gunfights around chewing and Hoban would contribute to the stories by arguing points and inconsistencies. Kaylee would actively listen by asking clarification questions and gasping in surprise throughout, while also discussing parenting, plans and other topics with her husband - often in code. Simon would respond where he could find room to inject conversation and River had taken to silently observe all that surrounded her, as she would do even without the Tam family.

Mal found it a welcome change from the usually silent meals he and River would share.

He was pulled from his thoughts when Kaylee asked him a direct question.

"What'd you expect River to do to your food?"

"I never know anymore," Mal shrugged, taking a sip of the coffee. "Gave up askin' what, only which part."

"Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger," River insisted. Her head was still foggy, even though they'd left the prison behind them, but Mal assumed it was because of the time she was spending in Jayne's company. He hoped that as Jayne's head cleared, so would River's.

"River, what have you done to his food?" Simon asked, his curiosity overwhelming him.

"Caught his attention," River smiled. "Traded darkness for explosions. Much better than silence and grief."

Four sets of eyes now looked to Mal for an explanation. He'd never felt the need to explain himself before, so he didn't really see why they thought they'd get one now. The littler sets of eyes implored, silently. They were waiting for him to contribute to the conversation.

"She tried to poison me," he said.

"Did not," River argued, her grasp on the conversation startling. He put down his spoon and looked at her.

"You put curry in my tea," he accused. "And you replaced the salt with sugar. And if that weren't enough, you put hot pepper grounds in every meal I ate for a week."

"Made you talk out loud," she countered. He shook his head as she continued. "Cursing is talking, even if it is a useless set of words."

"Now I just know better than to let her touch anything I'm hopin' to eat," Mal finished.

"And everyone gets his pudding," River laughed. Briel and Hoban latched onto her statement and started asking their parents for pudding. Briel thought Aunt River was the epitome of hilarity and started laughing whenever she did - which only made her laugh the more, since he attempted to mimic her laugh each time. Kaylee and Simon were back to spelling out words rather than say them and give the children cause to complain or beg, whichever the case may be...and Mal drank his coffee with a contented smile.

***

It was much later, as Mal dozed in his bunk, that he dreamed of Inara for the first time in over a year.

River was keeping Jayne company when the dream's emotions washed over her like a tidal wave. It was the one about her death again...and the months before it when she had tried to wean herself from the medicines the Training House had given her...and the agony they had gone through together...

River clamped her hands over her ears and tried to push the nightmare back, but to no avail. Jayne caught her as she fell forward, the two of them sinking to the floor. He began apologizing for overwhelming her with his thoughts one moment and cursing, asking her to help him get back to where he didn't care the next. He begged her to stay, raged at her to go, and Mal's nightmare threatened to drown her in an empty despair with no end. She couldn't block enough of the pain to breathe...

Suddenly, Simon was there, pulling her up the ladder and Kaylee's concern cradled her thoughts with a calming affection she had not felt since Inara. Simon placed her in Kaylee's arms and went to carry his sobbing four year old son from the emotional wreckage. Kaylee and River sank to the deck, Kaylee cooing gently as she did when her sons had nightmares. Jayne, too, began to quiet in his bunk as Kaylee's voice drifted to him and soon it was over. River opened her eyes to see Mal kneeling by her, his guilt etched into his face.

***

"What do you mean, he left?" Zoë asked a third time. The man at the hard end of the Mare's Leg winced visibly. First he had been handed a credit voucher and a headstrong eight year old girl with a passion for running away, then Hammin had taken both back, claiming he was cut off permanently from the magistrate's good graces and had best start packing before long and now this dead-eyed woman had come in and asked where Hammin was. After his first attempt to brush her off had resulted in a broken nose and his second answer seemingly as unwelcome as the first, he decided this was most assuredly not his best week.

"I mean, he took the girl back and he left," he whimpered. "Him and his hired goon!"

"He took the girl with him?" Zoë asked, the first note of confusion in her voice since Cleo's appearance that morning.

"The last I saw of him, he was picking up the little brat and shoving her towards the scary, silent hun dan," the former foster father replied bitterly. He realized belatedly how similar the facial features were between Zoë and Kya. He fainted before Zoë was able to do anything more to him. She still had questions, but some of them could be answered before they were even asked.

The hurriedly packed crates said Kya had been taken in the night - roughly the same time Zoë had been breaking into Hammin's office, looking for this very address so she might take back her own daughter. Cleo had said she'd waited several hours for Zoë to return...she cursed herself for not moving sooner, for waiting so long in foolish desperation. Cleo had also said Kya was off-world now...on her way to Sihnon.

She would need a ship. She would need a pilot.

She would need... A glint in the early morning sky caught her attention. As she stared, she saw it take shape...a familiar shape...headed towards her small spot on the horizon. She launched herself to the horse and was racing home at breakneck speed. They would arrive before she would, but they would be there.

Her miracle had finally arrived.

COMMENTS

Thursday, February 12, 2009 3:19 PM

KATESFRIEND


Yeah, finally a rescue! Heartbreaking Inara dream - just had to get in a tearjerker here, didn't you? Poor Mal, poor River. Everybody seems to need each other in this chapter whether they know it now or not. Nice to see Kaylee and Simon as the stabilizing force for all the others.

Friday, February 13, 2009 1:26 PM

AMDOBELL


Typical of River to find an overly savoury way to get Mal's attention. The man must have lost pounds in weight! I could so see the chaos caused by Mal's dream of Inara's death with all the emotion attached to it and too many sensitive minds able to pick up on it. Really really happy that Zoe has spotted Serenity coming to her aid and can't wait until Hammin gets a bullet between the eyes for taking Kya. There is nothing scarier than a mom on the warpath. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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