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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - SUSPENSE
Mal, Wash and Jayne all experience their own personal hell.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1008 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Jayne nearly jumped out of his skin when River's sudden scream pierced the silence, and as his heart slowly found its way back to its normal rhythm again, he gritted his teeth. After all he should have expected something like this.
True enough, the girl had been on her best behavior the time they'd been alone. Jayne had been a little worried about her flipping out when her brother had not returned the night before like he'd said he would, but she hadn't. She'd stayed calm and quiet, and she'd retreated to the passenger dorm by her own accord when it was time for bed.
Jayne had gone to catch some sleep too, wondering a little what kept the others but not really worrying. He knew they could take care of themselves. He'd unceremoniously lowered himself down the ladder to his bunk and fallen asleep almost instantly, fully clothed, and at no point during the night had he heard anything out of the ordinary, except for the fact that it was a lot quieter than usual.
He hadn't bothered to set the alarm, but he'd still woken up early. Getting up was hard these days. His leg always felt cold and dead in the morning and his aching muscles and joints needed time to get warm and flexible, and it all made him feel like an old man. He'd rolled out of bed with a groan and hobbled to the sink to splash some water on his face, but his shirt didn't smell too bad so he hadn't bothered changing it. Then he'd started on the task of getting out of his quarters. He'd thrown the crutches out first and then he'd hoisted himself up and soon found himself ungracefully sprawled on the floor in the hallway. Usually Book would help him at this point – which was fine because he was discreet and never made much fuss about it – but he wasn't here now and Jayne had had to struggle a little to get up on his healthy leg, glad River hadn't been there to see him.
She'd walked into the galley half an hour later while he was whipping up some breakfast, not even offering him as much as a nod or a glance. She'd just circled the room and then pulled out a chair and sat down. And then – as Jayne turned his back at her again to concentrate on his cooking – she'd screamed.
He spun around, his heart still in his throat, his hand reaching for a gun that (luckily?) wasn't there. "Gorramit, girl! What is it?"
She didn't answer. She only scrambled to her feet and started pacing the floor, increasingly faster, wailing and tugging at her hair.
"Is it the dam? Did it break?" he tried to ask, remembering her special talent for knowing such things. "Are the others okay?"
He tried to grab her as she walked by, but she shied away from him, throwing her arm up as if to protect herself or to swat at him or something, and went to the lounge area. There she crawled up into a chair, drew her knees to her chest, wrapped her arms around her legs and started rocking back and forth, a low whimper escaping her now and then.
He just watched her for a while. It didn't look like she was noticing him at all, but when he grabbed his crutches and tried to move in closer, her wails grew louder and he concluded that she probably needed or wanted some alone-time.
And so he did the only thing he knew how to – he walked away. Leaving the still untouched food, he turned and headed for the bridge where he switched the radio on and tried to hail the others. He got only static, which didn't really surprise him because he'd tried to call them several times already and he knew communications was down. He considered going on the Cortex, but discarded the idea. He wouldn't reach them that way anyway and he only risked drawing unwanted attention to the boat. And Mal would kill him for that.
Leaning back in Wash's pilot chair, he cursed out loud. Apparently today wasn't turning out all that good.
The trek to the caves was a long, wet and somber one. Mal led the way, with Kaylee trotting quietly in his steps, though whenever he glanced at her over his shoulder he saw that she was crying. Zoë was further behind. He couldn't always make out her still stoic frame through the downpour, but he sensed her presence quite strongly. It was something he'd always been able to, ever since their time together in the war. There was this connection between the two of them that none of them were able to explain, but they had both learned to trust it over the years. He knew he should probably say something to her, but he also knew she wasn't ready for words, at least not the kind about feelings; he could feel it radiating off her even at this distance. There would be a time for comfort, but this was not it.
They had a little difficulty finding the right trail – Mal hadn't traveled this road by foot before – but they eventually reached the entrance to the caves and crawled inside and stepped into the main mountain dome. It was one of many, connected by an impressive web of winding tunnels. The locals had used them for shelter when they'd first colonized the moon, Torsten had told Mal, and now they were once again swarming with life. There were people everywhere, huddled together, and judging by the sound of shushed crying and the overall solemn atmosphere they already knew that what they'd all feared now had actually occurred.
Torsten was there to greet them. He had obviously been waiting and when he spotted them he looked positively relieved and opened his mouth. Before he was able to say anything though, Shepherd Book emerged from the crowd and hurried up to them. "Thank God!" he exclaimed. "We feared the worst."
"So you know, then?" Mal mumbled.
"Oh, we felt it." The shepherd's face was grave and he seemed shaken. "The ground was trembling something terrible."
"And our scouts confirmed it," Torsten added with a heavy sigh, and the rest of his words came out in little, unfinished sentences. "There's nothing left… Just water… All those people… Neighbors… Friends… Such a tragedy."
Mal didn't answer.
Just then Simon arrived from somewhere further inside the cave. He was pale and his eyes were so wide with fear and worry that it looked like they were going to pop out of his head. "Where were you? What took you so long?"
He received no answer either.
Zoë hadn't said a word. She had turned away from them, and she kept staring at the entrance they'd just come through. Mal could see she was tense, almost determined, as if she was trying to conjure up something.
Book had finally noticed. "Where's Wash?"
Kaylee started crying again, which of course was as good an answer to his question as anything. He looked at Zoë and reached out a hand to touch her, but she must have felt it coming because she stepped out of his reach, making it clear she didn't want his sympathy at this point. Instead he bowed his head, presumably to pray.
Simon shifted his gaze between Zoë and Mal, taking in their soaked clothes, and then he glanced at the entrance. "The shuttle?" His voice was thick.
"We lost that too," Mal muttered.
"So how are we going to get back to the ship?"
"We're not. The bridge is gone, and we can't cross the river. We're stuck here."
Simon stared at him as if he couldn't quite believe it. "But River…" He swallowed hard, unable to complete the sentence.
Kaylee glanced up at him, assurance suddenly back in her eyes. "Jayne will look after her," she said, and when he seemed to not react to this, she reached out and touched his hand. "Simon, he will."
Mal turned to look at Zoë again. She had sat down on a crate close to the entrance and she kept her eyes unwaveringly focused on the rain outside, as if keeping a faithful vigil. She cried no tears, her face was cleared of all emotion, and yet he felt her pain as if it was his own. And in a way it was.
Torsten was suddenly by his side. "I'm sorry," he said, and the empathy in his voice sounded genuine.
"Yeah," Mal sighed. "I lost my pilot and both my shuttles, and I'm cut off from my ship. Today is not my favorite day ever."
"You also saved more than a thousand lives. Children..." Torsten gestured to a group of kids playing nearby. "If you can find any comfort in our gratitude, please do." And with a pat on his shoulder he left him.
Mal shook his head. Maybe someday that would be of some consolation to him. Today… not so much.
The 'verse was gradually coming back into view. Wash just wasn't sure what part of the 'verse it was. It was a small room of some kind, dark except for a few blinking lights, and it looked strange but at the same time somewhat familiar. Something was pressing against his waist and his shoulder, making it a little difficult to breathe correctly, and his head felt extremely heavy, and it suddenly dawned on him that he was hanging upside down from the roof.
And then in a moment of clarity he realized that this 'room' was in fact one of Serenity's shuttles, and he wasn't hanging from the roof, he was looking at it, dangling in the safety belts of his pilot chair.
"Wo de ma he ta de fengkuang de waisheng dou," he muttered, as his memories slowly returned to him. He remembered making one last trip to the settlement to pick up some supplies. He'd just loaded the goods and strapped into his seat when he'd heard this deafening rumble, and he could clearly recall that awful moment when he'd realized what it was. He wasn't quite sure what had happened after that. He had some vague memories about trying to outrun (or outfly) the huge wave of water closing in on him.
Apparently he hadn't succeeded.
He should be dead. Then again, he clearly wasn't. Or if so, the afterlife was a strange place indeed.
Still hanging upside down, he looked out through the front window. He saw nothing, only more darkness.
Adrenalin rushed through him, snapping his body out of its temporary reverie, and he fumbled with his seat belts, contemplating the lucky coincidence that he was actually using them, as he normally wouldn't have bothered. Finally managing to unfasten them, he fell to the floor – sorry, roof – and yelped a little when his knee impacted with it.
Closer to the window now, he had another go at trying to see whatever was outside. He couldn't make out much and the questions only kept coming. Where was he? Why was it so dark? Was it nighttime already? Had he been out that long?
Groaning at the pain in his knee he sat back, trying to collect his thoughts, pondering his options.
He glanced upwards, scrambled to his feet with another cry of pain and reached for the com. He just managed to grab it and pushed the button. "Hello? Zoë? Mal? Anyone?"
Just static. Well, of course! It hadn't worked earlier, why would it work now? With all this water…
And then it dawned on him and he slowly turned back towards the window as the realization fully hit him.
He was under water!
It was as if the walls of the little shuttle were suddenly creaking and squeaking a lot louder and he desperately searched the window for any cracks. There weren't any. "Don't panic, Wash," he muttered to himself, steadying his breathing. "After all, these things are built to withstand the vacuum of space, so what's a little water, huh?"
His knee hurt, so he sat back down to wait it out. It was all he could do now anyway.
"Don't panic," he repeated his new mantra and pulled his arms close to his chest. "Don't panic."
The hours crept by and Jayne had tried anything to make them pass faster. He'd lifted weights, checked the cargo and even tinkered a little with the busted mule (though Kaylee would probably yell at him for doing that). Now he had hauled his favorite guns to the galley to give them a good cleaning. Not that they needed it, but he'd do anything to keep his mind occupied and this was one activity that always did the trick for him.
River was still sitting in the lounge. He had checked in on her a few times now and then during the day and left the food on the kitchen counter, hoping she would have the mind to help herself to it, but as far as he could tell she had not moved from her spot at all. She had quieted down a little, though; she wasn't crying or screaming anymore. Now there was this distant gaze in her hazy eyes, and it just seemed like she had withdrawn from the 'verse completely.
Probably not a good thing.
Jayne bit back a curse, longing for the days when he hadn't let this bother him.
Before the hands.
This was Simon's sister, and as much as he hated the thought, he owed the doctor.
"You know, you really should eat something," he said. He propped one of his crutches up against the counter, grabbed an open can of beans with his now free hand and moved to place it on the table in front of her. And as he did so he had to lean a little on his broken leg to catch his balance.
Her head snapped up. "No walking on the cast!"
He was totally caught off guard by the sudden outburst and almost lost his balance completely. "What?"
"Simon ain't here," he spat back, a little annoyed. "Or what, you gonna tell on me?"
She only kept staring at him. Oh God, how he hated that piercing glare. But he didn't want to provoke her any further, so a little reluctantly he relented. "Okay, I'll use the crutches. See?" He put the can back on the counter, grabbed the crutch and took the weight off his leg again. "Happy?"
"It's not for me, it's for you," she simply stated.
With a snort he dumped down on a chair and watched as she got to her feet and walked over to the counter to pick up the can herself. "Nutrition very important," she said. "Good of him to remember."
He rolled his eyes and tried to focus his concentration on his guns instead.
For a long while they were both quiet – she ate her beans in silence and only threw him a wary look once in a while – but suddenly she stiffened and her head slowly turned around to face the hatch leading towards the bridge. "We're not alone," she whispered.
Something in her voice and the look on her face made him bite back the instinctive snappy comment. He'd seen that look before and he didn't like it – it usually meant her spidey senses were kicking in. "Whatta ya mean? The others comin' back?"
Her eyes grew wider. "No."
With a frown and one last warning look in her direction, he grabbed his crutches and moved slowly out of the galley to the hallway, and already as he was making his way towards the bridge he heard the sound of muffled voices from the cargo bay beneath.
In a flashing memory he saw himself open the cargo bay doors a little to let in some fresh air while he was working out, but he didn't see himself closing them again, and he felt his face flush with embarrassment and anger as he realized that somebody had taken advantage of that little mishap.
Mal was gonna have his head!
Saturday, December 31, 2011 7:13 AM
Friday, November 23, 2012 9:54 AM
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