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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Co-written by Midnight Obsidian. Summary: Serenity’s crew passes a restless night, and things are less than calm aboard the Hit or Miss as well.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 600 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Mal awoke with a violent start, sweat pooling uncomfortably in the dip of his spine and heart pounding in what he conjured must be two beats shy of life-threatening. Beside him, River jerked abruptly upright and her arms began flailing about in search of her robe.
“Bao bei, it was nothing but another gorram dream,” Mal said, though his throat was almost too tight with residual tension to release with words. “I’m all right.”
“Not you,” River replied. “It’s Ad…”
Before the name was off her lips, Mal heard the horrible screams of his young son. He gritted his teeth as he pulled on a pair of old sleep pants and headed up the ladder of his bunk, cursing the situation that made his reader child tune in so effortlessly to his own nightmares.
As he and River made their way to Adam’s room, she turned to look at him sadly. “Not your fault, you know,” she murmured. “No way for you to control it.”
“I know that,” Mal replied grimly. “But the knowin’ don’t make it one bit easier to watch.”
River nodded in sympathy, unable to counter the indisputable fact of the matter at hand. Reaching Adam’s door in record time, she opened it quickly and they both slipped inside.
Adam sat in the middle of his bed, sheets around his legs in a tangle and eyes staring into the darkness in wide-eyed terror. “Still sleeping,” Mal whispered as he reached to gently touch the boy. “Can hardly imagine how he can sleep and scream so loud at the same time.”
Another ear-piecing scream rent the night, and Adam began to flail about in earnest, trying to defend himself from whatever demons plagued this particular nightmare. Mal grasped him firmly, painfully mindful of the line of bruises Adam had acquired in the course of the last week in a similar fashion.
Adam struggled wildly, oblivious to Mal’s attempts to calm him. “River,” Mal prodded as he motioned her forward. “Can you…?”
River sank to her knees beside Adam’s bed, focusing entirely on her son. “Baby mine,” she crooned softly. “Just a dream, baby mine.”
Mal felt the rigidity in Adam’s small body relax slightly as River murmured soothing words of comfort to their son. He knew that the vocal words were bolstered by River’s mental connection with Adam, and he was more than grateful that her abilities could be used to at least partially calm the boy. He ruthlessly suppressed the thought that it was those same abilities, inherited by Adam, which contributed to his son’s current predicament.
For three weeks now, Adam had regularly awakened everyone aboard Serenity with his screams in the night. At first, no one had felt any major concern, as occasional nightmares were fairly standard for almost all of the crew. And the first time it had happened, Mal himself had been in the midst of a particularly vivid dream of Niska and his room of horrors. Assuming, as had everyone else, that Adam was merely picking up on his own distress, Mal was not overly worried. He hated the thought that Adam had to share even a glimpse of his dreams, but it seemed at first to be just an unfortunate side effect of Adam’s burgeoning abilities as a Reader.
But Adam continued to be plagued with what Simon referred to as night terrors, even on nights when no one else was aware of dreaming at all. And the more frequently the sleep disturbances occurred, the more worried everyone became.
Pulling his thoughts back to the present situation, Mal eased his grip on Adam’s arms as he felt the tension subside. Adam blinked rapidly several times and Mal could see that the little boy was once again aware of his surroundings. “You okay there, little fella’?” he asked softly.
Drawing a long, shuddering breath, Adam answered, “I’m okay, Daddy.”
Mal could hear the small, defeated tone of Adam’s reply and held his boy closer to his chest. “It’s all gonna be all right, you know,” he said, deliberately pushing the sight of the dark circles under Adam’s eyes out of his mind.
Adam nodded and closed his eyes, burrowing into his father’s warmth as he had done as a much younger child. “Woke everybody up again, didn’t I?” he whispered mournfully.
“Maybehaps not everybody,” Mal assured him. He paused for a moment. “Wanna talk about it?”
Adam stiffened slightly. “Uh uh.”
Mal glanced up at River, who stood staring down at Adam with such sorrow in her eyes that he felt his own eyes mist over. “I got things here, bao bei, if you wanna go check on Hannah,” he said gently.
River nodded and leaned down to kiss her son’s head. “Good night, baby mine,” she murmured into Adam’s sandy brown hair.
“Night, Mama,” he replied, his speech slightly slurred with exhaustion. “See you in the morning.”
River padded silently out of the room and Mal settled back against the wall with Adam in his arms, prepared to spend yet another sleepless night keeping vigil with his troubled boy.
River softly eased open the door to Hannah’s room, hoping her daughter had miraculously slept through the disturbance. But she saw instantly that her hopes would not be realized. Hannah sat curled into a ball in the middle of her bed, looking for all the ‘verse like a smaller version of River with her arms hugging her knees to her chest and rocking back and forth in the universal motion of self-comfort.
“Mama,” she breathed out, relief in her tone.
As River approached the bed, Hannah spread her arms wide to embrace her mother. “Adam awwight?”
“Yes baby, he’s all right,” River lied smoothly. “Just had a bad dream.”
Hannah nodded. “Was he scawed?”
“Yes, he was scared,” River answered softly. “But Daddy’s with him now.”
Hannah relaxed. In her ‘verse, if Daddy was there, everything was instantly shiny. Too young to be plagued with the fact that her parents did not control the spin of the worlds, she snuggled tightly against River’s chest and sighed contentedly. “Sweepy, Mama,” she said around a huge yawn.
River smiled, grateful that at least one of her children found peace in sleep. Stroking Hannah’s silky brown hair gently, she whispered, “Then close your eyes, little one.” Pausing for a moment, she added, “And dream sweet.”
Pierre, Murdocke and Bear sat in the common area of the Hit or Miss idling their time away with a game of Tall Card. The job had gone well, all things considered, and the three men had a little time on their hands.
“Marcus coming down?” Bear asked, placing his ante in the middle of the table. “Haven’t played a hand with him in awhile.”
Murdocke snorted. “And not likely to, with the way things are going. Poor hundan’s been sidelined by the doc, you ask me.”
Pierre tossed his chit into the pot. “Don’t recall that anyone did ask you, Murdocke,” he replied silkily. “What Marcus and Elizabeth do in their spare time is nobody’s business but their own.”
No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the three men heard the distinct sound of a very unhappy woman making her way down the corridor outside. Her angry mutterings stopped just short of the door. After a moment, Elizabeth walked in, looking like a woman trying hard to curtail what was bound to be the mother of all fits. “Gentlemen,” she said, the word clipped short behind clenched teeth. “I see everyone made it back from the drop in one piece. Everyone, that is, except your Captain. Any idea where he might be?”
Murdocke grinned, unable to resist the temptation to bait the irate woman. “What’s the matter, doc?” he asked. “He didn’t check in with his Mama when he came home?”
A small vein began to visibly pulse in Elizabeth’s temple. “Don’t test me, Murdocke,” she said, her voice now deceptively calm. “Sooner or later, you’ll end up on my table, and when you do…”
“All right,” Bear said, ever the peace maker on the crew. “No need for all the fuss.” Giving Murdocke a warning look, which Murdocke returned with a hell-bent grin, he smiled at Elizabeth. “Marcus is on the bridge, last I knew. Probably setting a new course for us, looking for another job, you know…work and all.”
Elizabeth nodded and spun on her heel to leave. “Thank you, Bear.”
“You’re more than welcome,” Bear said to her back as she walked out the door.
There was silence for a moment, and then Pierre asked, “What do you suppose that was all about?”
“What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall of the bridge right about now,” Murdocke mused aloud. Caught by the thought, he cocked his head to one side. “’Course, we could just turn on the comm and hear the fireworks.”
Bear frowned slightly. “Well, that would just be….wrong,” he said slowly.
“Maybe, but entertaining as hell,” Murdocke replied, looking hopefully at Pierre. “Wouldn’t it?”
Pierre laid his cards facedown on the table. “Flip the switch,” he said, his eyes twinkling with amusement. “But if Marcus finds out, it’s you who will be cleaning the septic vat for the next millennium or so.”
“Chance I’m willing to take,” Murdocke grinned, heading for the comm unit with a spring in his step.
Elizabeth’s anger grew with each step she took toward the bridge. She thought she knew exactly why Marcus had studiously avoided her since coming back from the job. And the thought fueled her anger even more. Taking a deep breath which did nothing to calm her nerves, she stepped onto the bridge, a woman on a mission.
Marcus turned, the welcoming smile on his lips fading rapidly when he saw Elizabeth’s expression. “Darlin’?” he said, a little nervously.
The expression of endearment was the last straw. “Don’t you ‘darlin’ me, Marcus Hazzard,” Elizabeth hissed, her eyes flashing like lightning in a summer sky. “If you don’t want to marry me, just tell me, instead of just…..just….” Her words devolved into incoherent sputters.
“What the diyu are you talking about?” Marcus said, rising rapidly from his chair to stand face-to-face with his obviously insane lover. “What makes you think I don’t want to marry you?”
Elizabeth was fairly certain her head might explode with the question. “How long have we been engaged, Marcus?”
Marcus cleared his throat. “Well, umm, about…nine…maybe ten months, I think.”
Elizabeth crossed her arms over her chest. “Add a couple of months to that answer, and it will be the right one.” She tapped her foot on the deck plating, unable to stay still.
Marcus felt the beginnings of a small anger burning in his own chest. “So, what’s your point?” he asked, deliberately leaning back against the navigational console and crossing his own arms over his chest.
“Only this,” Elizabeth said. “In that twelve months, how many worlds have we visited that had a Shepherd, Marcus? Or a gorram Justice of the Peace, for that matter? Thirty, maybe forty?”
Marcus looked at her in astonishment. “But you never said you wanted to…” he began.
“And you never even suggested that we go ahead with it, on any one of those worlds,” she said, interrupting his objection. “Not even once.” She paused, feeling hot tears beginning to spill down her cheeks and hating herself for the reaction.
“Bao bei,” Marcus said softly, reaching to take her in his arms.
“Don’t,” she snuffled, stiffening at his touch. “Just….don’t.” Her voice was suddenly very small, and the change stabbed at Marcus’ heart painfully.
“Elizabeth, look at me,” he said, lifting her chin so that she could meet his gaze. “I’m in love with you, darlin’,” he said softly as he brushed away her tears with the pad of his thumb. “It just never seemed the right time to do it, somehow. I mean, we’ve never really talked out how to…go about it. I didn’t know you were waiting for me to…Well, what I mean is most womenfolk tend to want to…plan a big shindig with all the….” He made a vague motion with his hands. “…all the fancy...sundries and such.”
Seeing her lover at such an obvious loss for words about the concept of wedding planning, Elizabeth felt abrupt merriment warring with her anger. Determined not to let him off the hook quite so easily, she put a hint of steel back in her voice. “Have I ever indicated to you, in any way, that I am interested in a large, elaborate wedding?”
“Well, no, I just kinda…” Marcus began to backpedal. “….conjured that you would want one like other….” Seeing her eyebrow rising dangerously, he stopped that sentence mid-stream.
“Like other women, you mean,” she finished for him.
“Well now, I…” he said.
Seeing the look of utter panic plastered across Marcus’ face, Elizabeth was struck by the notion that she had never seen that look on her lover before, not even when a job went horribly south. And something that had become hard and knotted in her stomach loosed itself suddenly. “I’m not ‘other women’, Marcus,” she said, her voice softer now. “And I don’t want a big wedding.” She sighed, suddenly tired from the stress she’d been carrying. “I just want…..you.”
Marcus felt his heart start beating in a normal rhythm again. Pulling her into his embrace, he said, “Well, you’ve got me. Had me for a long while now. And we’ll get married soon’s you want.” He kissed her tenderly. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner, before it ate at you for so long?”
Elizabeth sighed. “Because I wanted you to be the one to say it, I guess. Wanted to think that you would be eager to do it.” A faint blush rose to her cheeks with the honesty of her words.
“Darlin’, I’ve thought on it a thousand times,” he whispered into her hair. “Imagined what you might like, where we might be when it happened. I just thought that you might not be ready yet, after everything we saw during the war. And then, when you never talked about what you wanted in the way of a ceremony of sorts, I conjured I’d just wait until you were ready.”
Elizabeth smiled shakily. “Guess we’re both at fault for not talking about it sooner.”
Marcus smiled, pleased beyond measure to see her looking up at him with love instead of anger. “Well, the way I see it, we can cut ourselves a little slack, being as how we’re new to this whole marryin’ thing.”
“Sounds reasonable to me,” Elizabeth said, standing on her tiptoes to give him a kiss. “So long as we don’t wait too much longer,” she added.
“That’s a promise,” he replied.
Down in the common area, Murdocke sighed. “Wasn’t much of a fight, if you ask me.”
Bear grinned. “Nope. Looks like we’re all gonna have to take baths and put on our cleaner shirts for a wedding.”
“And who knows,” Pierre said, heading back to the table. “Once they’re hitched, maybe Marcus will be able to come back and play a hand or two sometimes.”
The three men laughed, exchanging jokes about the fate of their captain and friend.
To be continued
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 3:07 AM
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 1:59 PM
Thursday, May 28, 2009 1:46 AM
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