The Bouncing Ball Ch 7
Friday, October 22, 2010

Jane and I working hard on the story.... enjoy! Cat confronts Tiger... ;)


based on the world of Firefly by Joss Whedon =======

Chapter Seven

Stars shone through Serenity's window as Cat slid into the bridge. She could hear him breathing in the pilot's chair and for a moment memories of another time flooded her with emotions, but only for a second. This was not her ship, this was not her home, and he was not her captain. "Permission to enter the bridge." She could hear him catch his breath, forgetting that this again wasn't her Mal. He hadn't learned to smell for her instead of listen, for vanilla and brown sugar mixing with her own feral scent. A smile on her face masked the sorrow as she stood awaiting his reply. "Sorry. Not used to anyone askin'." "Not my ship." Her voice carried gently as she slid in so he could see her, the soft light playing with the red hues in her hair. "Beautiful night." He considering leaving the bridge, but stopped. Dammit, it was his ship, he told himself roughly. And he was more than capable of having a normal conversation with this woman without running. His eyes ran up and down her form for a moment, the old shirt tossed over her shoulders, then he deliberately turned back to the dark sky. "Always is." "Yes." He could feel her watching him. "So, your ... Batha ... she's made friends." "The children. Yes." She stopped herself from saying cubs, knowing he wouldn't understand the relationship. "Is she ... safe?" "When she sleeps." Mal shot her a glance, but was relieved to see her lips twitching. "Right." "Batha's unique and takes offense when one turns her into a house cat." "So I gathered." "She's independent, but some needs even she can't resist." "Independent, huh? Seems to be a theme around here." "That doesn't change." "And she needs to play with the kids?" Cat shrugged. "It fulfils something for her and she will protect them as if they were her own." "Good. I conjure there's a story behind it, though." "Always is." Cat knew she was going to have to explain things more thoroughly, but this wasn't the time. A pause between them before he spoke again, trying to fill the empty space. "So me and you ... we were ..." "No." She stated matter of fact, but before he could question, she added, "One like you, but not you ... never you." "Make about as much sense as my wife at times." He shook his head. "My Mal was harder, darker ... had to deal with a lot more sorrow and pain." "That's somethin' I find hard to believe." "Died from a bullet rotting in his brain, a bullet meant for someone else." She could still see him, tied to a wheelchair from the moment the doctors let him out of the hospital, yet still the same man she had loved, wasting into nothing. Cat rubbed at her cheek, trying to push away the memories. Mal stared at her, at the something that sparkled under her eye before it was wiped away. "I guess maybe that might make a difference," he allowed. "Mmn." He turned back to the view through the bridge windows. "You have any children?" He wasn't sure what to ask, what to say to her. "No. Can't. Academy doesn't want their product ... breeding." It was hissed, spat with a venom that Mal had seen in only two other people - his wife and River. "Sorry." It wasn't what he wanted to say, and seemed a poor choice. She took it at face value, though. "Not your fault," she said gently, in total contrast to her previous tone. "And you tried to stop them." "Yay for me." His lips twitched, but it wasn't in humour. He could only imagine what she'd gone through, what it felt like to be a construct, created to be a weapon and nothing more. Even Frey and River had had a life before the Academy. "Always told you ... him that he should have killed me when he had the chance." "War took a lot of lives. Probably figured he didn't need to add to it." He didn't look at her, but could hear her take a seat next to him in the navigation chair. "I love Freya." A smile split her full lips as her fangs just barely caught the glimmer of light. "Yes, I know. Lucky to have her. Woman puts up with a lot. Just so you know." "Ain't that suppose to be what I say?" "Probably, but nothing about me is usual." She relaxed for a second, basking in the smell of him and the ship. With a deep sigh, words flowed out. "Almost forgot how this felt." Even with the fiery woman beside him, the one he was sure he didn't know, there was a moment of comfort in her presence that made him feel uneasy. Deflecting the feeling, he began again. "Man you're with. He your lover?" "Not yet. Might never be." She didn't add more. Somehow, I'm actually married to his father, who I still happen to be in love with...wasn't the best conversation starter. At least, not when one is trying to get the man beside her to trust her. "Can't mourn me forever," he said, though part of him didn't really understand what he was saying. "Isn't you I mourn." Her voice softened with each word before she took a breath. "I need some coffee. Want me to bring you a cup?" "If you want ... no need to hurry." His eyes had closed slightly as she moved to leave, but he grabbed her hand for a moment. "Whatever happened to him ... if he was like me, it was his doing and nothing you said would've stopped him." Her green eyes glowed for a moment before she nodded. He was probably right, but then, if she had it to do over, she would've made him stay put along with Zoe. Even used the same technique as she had on Declan. Can't move if you're on your ass, her late husband would tell her. Still, as she walked down the steps, Cat looked back with a sigh. It was high time she had it out with Freya, at least got down to the root of the problem. They had enough coming at them without a jealous woman adding to the mix. Besides, Mal had told her he loved his wife and for Cat, that was good enough. ==== Cat entered the kitchen on silent feet, Batha slinking in after her to lie under the table now the children were safely tucked in bed, but knew the woman sitting at the head had heard her from the slight tightening of her shoulders. She lowered herself into a chair and said, "Hey." "Hey." Freya didn't look at her, but said, "Kaylee put a plate aside for you. If you're hungry." "Thanks. Maybe later." "Shiny. Only if you're not going to eat it, toss it. Otherwise her feelings will be hurt." 'Hurt.' That word had been bandied around a lot lately. Taking a breath Cat said, in a conversational tone, “You don’t like me.” Freya glanced up. “I never said that.” "Then you’re afraid of me.” "No, not that either." "Really." Cat pulled the coffee pot towards her, along with one of the spare mugs. Freya sighed. "You can't drink that stuff on an empty stomach. Hank made it." She stood and crossed to the counter, returning with the plate of food. She dropped it unceremoniously in front of Cat. "I told you I'm not hungry." "Eat it anyway." Looking at the food, she sighed and used her fingers to scoop up some carrots. "Yes, ma'am." "Use a fork," Freya added and slid one over. "Don't try mothering me," Cat said, then licked her fingers with her long tongue. She went on, "And stay out of my mind. It's not safe." "You felt me." It wasn't so much a question as a statement. "You’re afraid I might try and take Mal away from you.” Freya gave a small, rueful smile. “I thought I was the psychic around here?” “He’s not my Mal.” “Right.” “I lost mine.” “And yet here you are.” Freya studied the other woman. “How old are you?” “What do you mean?” “What I said. How old are you?” Cat’s green eyes glittered with amusement, even as she poured herself a cup of coffee. “Does it matter?” “I suppose not.” Sitting back, Freya sighed. “You know, I used to be jealous of Inara. Before we became close, I mean. She was everything I wasn’t, everything I had wanted to be before it all went to hell. Beautiful, talented, sophisticated … I couldn’t see how Mal could want me. In all honesty I suppose it took until he put that ring on my finger for me to really believe.” She shook her head. “And now there’s you, looking the way you do, older than me but not a mark on you, not a grey hair.” “He died in my arms.” “He’s sitting up on the bridge, right now.” Another look crossed the woman's green eyes and she sighed. "Yes, he is and if he's anything like mine, when he put that ring on your finger he meant it." "He loves me." It was such a simple statement, echoing Mal's own words, even if it didn't go far enough. Cat nodded. "I know." Freya took a breath to speak again, then stopped. She seemed to be trying to come to a decision, then ... "Don't take him away." "Not sure I could." "I'm not sure you couldn't. If you asked I have the feeling he might follow you into hell." "Been there, don't plan on returning." A slight amusement filled her features before continuing. "Mal puts you first, not this." "He might. He doesn't know ..." Freya closed her eyes, then said, "I'm pregnant." Cat's jaw dropped slightly. Envy tore at her belly a moment before she answered. "I ... really." "Really." "Mal doesn't know?" "Not yet. Nobody does, not even Simon. I was about to tell Mal earlier ... before you came on board. Then all this happened and it hasn't seemed the right time since." "Needs to know." Cat leaned forward. "Can't bear his young, couldn't. Still, I understand the duty. Protect the cubs." Freya's mouth twitched. "But not blood of your blood." "Still my Pack." The other woman sat back, her eyes narrowed slightly, and Cat felt something in her mind, knocking on all the locked doors. Then it was gone like it had never been. "Maybe it is," Freya admitted. The calculation slid away from her expression, to be replaced by a bone deep weariness. "But I can't tell Mal yet. It'll colour any decision he has to make, and if you're right -" "I am." " - he has to be able to make it without second thoughts." "He won't." "He has before." Cat smiled. "Different man." "Yes." "He didn't want children, not the Mal I followed, loved. Crew was enough, Serenity..." "Maybe you didn't know him as well as you thought you did." The barb hit home, and Batha growled lightly beneath them. She felt the wash of anger slide over Cat, then the hurt. As quickly as it manifested though, it was gone, replaced by nothing at all. "Perhaps." Cat played with the cup of coffee in front of her, sadly missing the swill more than she realized. Batha stirred at her feet and she let her mind toss a memory before looking at the dark haired woman in front of her. Eyes glowed slightly, a trick of the light or something more and a snarl added itself to her voice. "To answer your question from before, I'm young enough to keep your family safe, but old enough not to be bothered about it if I fail." Freya stared at her, her mind more open than it had been in a while, absorbing the mental flavor of both her and the panther under the table. Finally she smiled, just a little. “I understand.” She stood up, the chair squealing slightly on the floor. “And I won’t tell anyone you’re lying about the second part.” Picking up one of the other mugs, she poured a probably unhealthy amount into it. "I'm guessing Mal is waiting for this." "Could be." Freya turned, then paused. Without looking back she said, "If you try to take him, I'll fight you." "Not mine to take," she rumbled gently, but something darker made her add, "But I'd win." "I know." She walked away. Cat shook her head slowly. She had felt the woman probe, Mal's woman ... Mal's Freya. The name rolled around her mind before slowly coming to rest. There was something right about them, a rightness she herself had felt only once, in the arms of someone that wasn't in this world. This was who Mal belonged with and as she watched the woman leave the kitchen to go and be with her husband she couldn't help but feel a slow burn of jealousy. Closing her eyes, she allowed the ship's engines to calm her as the ache in her heart echoed in her mind. Freya was doing what any woman who loved her man with everything in her would do. After all Cat knew it way too well. Problem was the man who owned Cat's everything wasn't Mal. It never had been, but like the predator she was, the soldier ... she outweighed her love for her duty. Yes, she loved her Mal, but it wasn't the same way she loved 'Ski. Never the same way. 'Like her,' Batha grumbled, stretching under the old table so her head lay on Cat's feet. 'Like you.' "She doesn't trust me." 'Never easy earning trust.' "We don't have the time, Batha. She's just as much part of this as we are." 'Need proof. God man.' "Not sure how well another jump will effect him." 'Take her.' 'With an unborn cub? Not even I would risk it for this.' Cat thought it, honoring Freya's wish to keep her condition to herself, at least for now. Batha stirred, rubbing her face against Cat's leg. 'Decision. Yours.' A thumping of her tail made Cat almost smile. "Then, allow me to make it. Thinking you've meddled enough." The panther laughed at her companion's statement as she flashed pictures of the children playing with her, Bethie prominent in all the memories. 'Cubs trouble,' she growled with a contented sigh. 'But fun.' "I miss her too. I miss all of them." Her green eyes cast a look into what was left of her coffee, the dark brown liquid reflecting a twisted image of herself back at her. ==== "Here." Mal'd heard her climbing the stairs, her footsteps slow, as if she was troubled. He swivelled the chair around to face her. "Thanks." Taking the mug he nodded towards the navigation seat. "Stay a while?" "Sure." Freya lowered herself carefully. "You okay?" "Shiny." "Want to try that again?" "Want to argue some more?" "Not really." He smiled a little. "I'd rather apologise." She gazed levelly at him. "What for?" "Being a man." Her lips twitched. "That much, huh?" "Men are ... challenged." "Really." "And sometimes our mouths open afore our brains can jump in." "On occasion." "I didn't mean what I said." He cradled the mug in both hands, staring into its depths as if he could read the future. "I know there wasn't another way. We had to bring 'em on board. I just ... it makes me itch when there's something I don't have no choice over." "It's okay." "Still say you should trust me, though." "I do." She almost smiled. "It's her I'm not so sure about." He looked up quickly. "You think she's lying to us?" "Not ... lying. Just not telling us everything." "Can't you peek?" Now her mouth did curve. "Peeking's bad. As we keep telling Bethie." "You ain't eight." "And her walls are too strong." He chuckled. "Knew you couldn't resist." "If she's a threat, I need to know." "And what's your conclusion?" "I'm still thinking about it." "And are you thinking about us?" "In what way, exactly?" "Are we likely to be going to bed mad?" "Maybe I'm still thinking about that too." "You brought me coffee." "Maybe it's poisoned." He couldn't stop himself glancing down into the mug, and she laughed lightly. He grinned. "Nah. I have the crazy notion you could kill me with your brain." "That's River." "Like mother, like daughter." "I'm not her mother." "That's what you keep saying, but I think there's a lot of similarities." "Jia yan." "Nope. Not her father, either. Nor yours, I'm glad to say." She smiled. "So am I." "You finished thinking, then?" "Looks like I have." She stood up, taking the two steps necessary to stand next to him, and placed her hand to his cheek. "Will you be long up here?" He could feel her heat, and it wasn't just from her fingers. "Just settling my boat down for the night." She smiled, slowly. "I'll be waiting." Leaning down she kissed him, her tongue sketching his lips, then left the bridge, her hips swaying. Mal stared after her, his body quickened, then turned back to the board. He was going to do this double fast tonight. ==== Declan whistled softly as he walked toward the room he and Cat were sharing, his mood a little better than it had been hours ago. Kaylee and he had talked about his life, his family, and just whatever. It had been nice, reminding him of when December, his daddy's pilot, liked to talk with him when the nights were particularly long and she had been about Kaylee's age.

After dishes, their conversation had moved to the Common Room, where they drank the most foul coffee and laughed about old stories and new ones until deep into the tail of the evening. It almost made him homesick. Cat was mumbling to herself when he walked in, grabbing for the small dagger she had stashed in her bag. Her eyes looked at him and she sighed. "Enjoy dinner?" "I did. Had real veggies. You should have made an effort to join them." He knew he had struck a chord when a light growl escape her lips. "So I can hear another rendition of how I'm trying to steal Mal away from Freya ... no thanks." "Well, are you?" The words made her snap and she got in his face for a moment before a deadly calm replaced the temper. Her eyes glowed for only a second. "You aren't like your father. Look like him, but inside ... not him." Her voice was a harsh growl, hands clenched at her sides. "Why?" Her words stung him, though he kept telling himself he didn't want to be his dad. "Because he knew me well enough to know ... if I wanted to take Reynolds, I would've done it already." Her feet took her out of the room, but Declan couldn't help notice the small trail of blood from the claw marks on her palms accompanying her out.

-------------------------------------------------- Hank dropped down the ladder. “Mal’s settled it down for the night.” Zoe, brushing out her curls, looked up and smiled at his surprised tone. “Afraid for your job again, honey?” “Just don't want to feel useless.” He kicked off his boots. “Think they’ve made up?” “Who, Mal and Frey?” Zoe hardly ever used her captain’s first name to his face, but when she was talking about him with someone else ... “Yeah. I kinda got the feeling they were arguing.” Zoe shrugged. “I think Freya’s feeling threatened.” “Understandable.” He shook his head. “If you had an old lover turn up, saying how important you were to him ... I think maybe I’d be more’n a little freaked too.” “She admits it isn’t this Mal.” “Not sure I’d be able to make that distinction.” Zoe stood up and put her arms around him. “They’ll be okay, baby. You know the cap’s maxim – never go to bed mad.” “Is that ours, too?” “Are you mad at me?” “I could pretend. You know, just so’s we make up.” He waggled his eyebrows at her. Her lips curved. “I guess I could tell you off about not putting your boots away.” “And I could say something about you leaving your gun handy.” She glanced towards the Mare’s Leg, sitting prominently against the bedside table. “That ain’t going anywhere. Not for the moment.” “Are we arguing?” “Disagreeing.” “Close enough.” He pulled her closer and nuzzled her neck. She laughed lightly, her hands already busy undoing his shirt. ==== And in the captain’s cabin, Mal rested on his elbows and looked down into the face of his wife. "Why would I want a cat in my bed when I have a tiger?" he asked, the scent of her perspiration making him harder than ever. “Rowr,” Freya murmured softy, running her nails down his naked back as he flexed his hips and pushed himself deeper. =========== Cat tossed her few blankets and bed roll to the floor of the mule, having removed all but the driver seat. Tomorrow she'd strip the engine and make sure everything was kosher before they had to use it again. After all, it was their lifeline. Pulling the green shirt tighter to her, she fetched the pillow from under the sniper rifle she kept hidden near the Gatling gun. She knew she wouldn't sleep, but at least then no one would bitch that she wasn't trying. The mule groaned gently as it rocked from the presence of a rather heavy body jumping into the machine, Batha almost stepping on her as she slid in next to her. She smelled of cotton candy and baby powder, scents that Cat knew came from her new friends. A low purr echoed in her ears, one she hadn't heard in a very long time and the woman smiled gently. "Someone had a good day." 'Cubs play. I play.' Her long canines shown in the low light as the big panther yawned. 'I protect. Careful.' 'I know you are. Always were with Kitty.' 'Merc thinks not. Hurt Princess.' 'Jayne will learn. He's not the same as ours, plus Kitty was basically already used to you. Came as a package, remember?' 'Trying. And try not kill Merc.' 'Thank you. That would be rather hard to explain away. Got enough to do already.' Cat scratched the panther behind the ear before yawning herself. 'Difficult to hide body. Merc big as well as stupid.' Cat chuckled. 'Batha.' 'Need sleep.' Placing a big paw on the side of her head, Batha pushed it to the pillow. 'Don't need your paw in my face, to sleep. In fact, I would prefer if it wasn't.' 'Good night, Kitten.' The sassy panther seemed to smile, a gentle laugh teasing Cat's mind as her paw stayed where it was. Sighing, Cat gave up and allowed the strong willed feline the win.


Friday, October 22, 2010 12:53 PM


Absolutely perfect! Love, love, LOVE your writing and it was good to have that conversation between Cat and Mal then Frey and Mal getting back on track in their bunk. I hope nothing happens to the baby Frey is carrying. So much going on in this part and every bit of it making me so happy. *Xie xie ni*, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Saturday, October 23, 2010 3:19 PM


Yepper…..there’s a little breathing room now, not much though. Seems to me that Cat and Frey dodged a gunfight @ high noon . Frey does hold the trump card imo, being with child and all. Still, there’s plenty of adventure to be had before making Persephone….maybe.

Excellent story…..keep ‘em coming Jane0904 & Angelle



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