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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
"The Captain is reunited with his crew."
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1967 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL
PAIRING: No specific pairing
STATUS: SEQUEL to "VAIN PURSUITS"
ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where.
SUMMARY: "The Captain is reunited with his crew."
The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly'
are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
No infringement of copyright is intended.
Written by Alison M. DOBELL
* * * * *
Jayne was whooping, his shout of glee ringing in their ears. Simon looked distressed and nothing Kaylee could say or do would calm him. Zoe looked a cross between angry and impressed. Wash just looked shocked, his face pale as he watched the shuttle being rammed over and over into Niska's ship. What was even more surprising was that Niska's ship was losing speed, altitude and listing. "Oh my God, it's gonna crash!"
"I can't believe you let River fly your shuttle, 'Nara."
The Companion shook her head, brow furrowed in worry, eyes barely believing what she was seeing. "I didn't, Kaylee. She took it before I could stop her."
"We should do something." Simon fretted, looking from Wash to Zoe. "Why aren't we doing something?"
"We will," Assured Zoe with the calm of the battlefield. "Just as soon as we can get close enough without being part of the next collision."
"Collision?" Simon's voice went an octave higher and the last of the colour fled from his face. "We can't, that's not good..."
"Easy, Simon. Trust River, she knows what she's doing." Said a deep voice.
The doctor stared at Shepherd Book, his eyes wide with disbelief. "I can't believe you just said that. This is *River*."
"I know but you have to trust she knows what she's doing."
"I do? Why should I do that? Look out of the window, she's RAMMING that ship! They could all be killed, everyone on that ship - including the Captain - and River."
Kaylee squeezed his hand, anxious not just for River and the Captain but for her husband. Simon's control was always a little too close to the edge when it came to River.
"Well, I think it's shiny." Put in Jayne, the grin on his face like a kid at Christmas.
Just as another round of quarrelling was about to start River's voice came over the com. She sounded happy and more than a little smug. "This is shuttle one asking for permission to dock."
"River, are you...? Is everything...?"
Wash cut off Simon's babble of concern. "Permission granted. Did you get the Cap'n?"
Simon opened his mouth to ask what sort of state the Captain was in and if she was hurt but Zoe shook her head and began to walk off the bridge. "Not now, Simon." She looked at Wash. "Soon as the shuttle docks take us into the Black. Don't want any more surprises, *dong ma*?"
"What about the other shuttle?" Asked Jayne with a frown. "Cap's gonna be mighty pissed if we lose it."
"First let's make sure everybody's safe. Time enough to go back for the shuttle after."
The Captain felt more than a little stunned. Somewhere in his back brain part of him was amused, touched even, at the way in which River had taken over. Guiding him gently but firmly to the couch. He in no way was going anywhere near Inara's fancy bed not with the kind of thoughts that had been plaguing his gorram mind since the crazy girl kissed him. The worst of it though was knowing River knew exactly what he was thinking. Could read his gorram mind. "River, this is Inara's shuttle. She know you took it?"
River smiled at him but refused to say anything until he sat down. With a sigh he sat and tried to wave off her attentions. "*Wode hao*, no need to fuss."
Naturally the girl ignored him. Got a cloth and bowl of water and began to clean the blood off his chest and arms, her expression intent when the bleeding wouldn't stop.
"You gonna answer me, girl?"
"Love you too."
A look of alarm flashed across his face prompting a grin on hers. "What?"
The Captain blinked. She knows? Knows what? That you took the shuttle, that we kissed, what the gorram is she talking about? Then he caught the teasing look in her eyes and huffed. Of course. The shuttle. "Well good, that's... good."
None of the cuts were deep, they just stung a bit with the antiseptic and bled a little too freely making it look worse than it was. River was more concerned about the deeper cuts into his wrists and ankles but Simon would see to those. Straightening, she looked the Captain in the eye. "Stay!"
He started to get up. River's firm hand on his shoulder impelled him back to the couch. Surprised he stared at her. She smiled and he could not stop the smile quirking at his lips in response. He had always had something of a soft spot for River, not that he would admit it. It would figure she'd already know that. Then River was back at the controls, waving Serenity and bringing them back to his boat. He got up and stood by her shoulder, watching his boat come into view. The docking was a little awkward, the shuttle no longer the exact same shape it was when it left. He frowned. "What did you do to my shuttle?"
"Dents and scatches can be repaired."
The Captain stared at her nonchalence. "You dented my shuttle?"
River paused, her smile blinding him heart and mind with the happiness he saw there. "Had to get you back. Ship and crew needs its' Captain." She got up and he followed her to the hatch.
He almost asked *and you?* but didn't dare. A softening in her gaze told him she already knew what he was thinking and wasn't that the creepiest gorram thing? Made him feel more than a mite naked. He did not have time for another thought on it as his crew started to pile in through the hatch, a clamour of voices all trying to talk at once and making his head ache. It was Shepherd Book's calm voice that stilled the cacophony and brought an air of control. "I think we should let the Captain get off the shuttle."
Mumbled voices made agreeing sounds then he found himself hustled out and before he could say anything was herded into the infirmary. He turned his head but could not see River. Zoe gave him a quizzical look but he wasn't sure which question she was asking. "I'm alright." He murmured. Zoe frowned and thought the Captain looked dazed. Did he have a head injury?
Simon must have been thinking the same because once he got the Captain to his domain he began feeling around his head. Mal tried to wave off the doctor's probing but to no avail. The man could be tenacious when it came to the well being of the crew and that included the Captain. "This won't take a moment Captain but the more you resist the longer I'll keep you here."
"I'm the Captain!" He protested, half cross and half frustrated.
Zoe crossed her arms and just hid a smirk. "That you are."
Kaylee saw the thin cut marks across the Captain's chest, the trickles of blood now being mopped up by Simon and little weaves applied to stem the bleeding. "Ain't you gonna stitch 'im up?"
"The cuts aren't deep." Simon was looking at Mal now, eyes locked. "I'm guessing these were more for show."
"Huh." Jayne did not sound impressed as he peered over Kaylee's shoulder for a look. "Do worse cuttin' myself shavin'."
"You don't shave." Said Simon without looking up.
"That's what I mean." Came back Jayne. If anything he sounded disappointed that the Captain had such cosmetic injuries. Like it weren't manly. Wouldn't even leave impressive scars.
"What it means," Said Kaylee brightly, once assured that the Captain was going to be fine and hadn't been badly hurt like last time. "Is we got to him in the nick of time."
"You mean River did." Said Wash.
Everyone looked at each other. River. That was when they noticed she wasn't there. Just as Simon was about to ask where she had gone his sister stepped into the infirmary. She had one of the Captain's shirts in her hands. The silence stretched as they watched her walk over to her brother and the Captain. With a smile she handed Mal the shirt, her eyes not leaving his as he slipped it on trying not to look as self conscious as he felt. "Blue - my favourite." Her clear voice sang.
Stunned, the little conversations that had started back up suddenly halted like a lift jerked to an unexpected stop mid rise. Zoe looked from River to the Captain. "Somethin' you want to tell us, Sir?"
The look on Shepherd Book's face said, *oh yes, the special Hell*. The Captain opened and closed his mouth but nothing came out. Jayne smirked and leered, leaning forward with glee. "So THAT's how you got them scratches! Might'a figured they were all girly."
Mal stood ramrod straight and bristled with offence, shirt half on, half off, anger sparking in his eyes. "You got a smutty mind, Jayne! I was tortured, gorrammit."
A big old knowing smirk was lodged firmly on the mercenary's face. "Tell it to the church choir."
"Church choir?" Echoed Book.
"Yeah," Said Jayne, his grin growing. "They's the on'y ones like to believe ya."
"They're definitely knife cuts Jayne not scratches." Simon felt compelled to correct.
"Yeah, whatever." Jayne was happy to drop the subject having achieved his objective. He just wanted to ruffle the Captain's feathers for scaring him not that he was like to admit as much. Didn't want no one knowing how much the thought of losing the Captain scared him. Man had more ways of getting in deadly trouble than he could count on his two hands. Plus any *goushi* the Cap got into drew the rest of them in. Usually up to their gorram necks. Weren't no profit in that. It was time to move on. "So," Said Jayne figuring it was time for some good news. "We get Niska?"
The get together in the commons area minutes later was subdued but lively. Kaylee was wanting to set down some place so she could see about fixing the damage to Inara's shuttle. Zoe wanted to head out into the Black until it was safe to surface again. The Captain wanted to go back for Chung-li. Wash raised a hand. "Um, point of interest? Wasn't Chung-li with Niska?"
The Captain's expression could have been carved in stone. "He was, right up 'til that spineless *wangba dan* took me an' made a run for it. Not that he got far thanks to our little genius but that don't mean Chung-li ain't in danger. That gorram *pofu* of a sister of his was lookin' a mite too deadly for comfort. I'm thinkin' there'll be no happy reunion which is why we need to get movin' *mashang* an' get him the hell outta there."
"An' don't forget shuttle two is still on Diemos." Added Zoe.
"Which is another good reason for goin' back. We kill two birds with one stone. We go get Chung-li, Kaylee takes a look-see at Inara's shuttle an' everybody's happy, *dui*?"
"What about Niska?" Jayne asked drilling the Captain with a level look. Mal stared at him. Man was like a dog with a gorram bone, not nothing would divert that one thought in his empty head. 'Ceptin' he was only half-way stupid and that was more disconcerting than him being a certifiable idiot. Mind, that hat of his didn't help in the Taking-Jayne-Serious stakes.
"Yeah," Sneered Jayne in dissatisfaction, his voice sounding twisted up and bitter. "An' let him get away *again*." He looked far from happy and ready to rub the Captain's nose in what he saw as the other man's weakness. More than half convinced that Mal was afraid to go after him. "Not goin' after Niska last time is what brought us here. Anybody see a gorram pattern formin'?"
"Jayne," Said the Captain in a testy voice. "I got a news flash for you. He already got away, *dong ma*? Have to make the best of what we got an' I don't leave a man behind."
"What if he's dead?"
"Chung-li ain't dead."
Jayne wouldn't let go. "Yeah, but what if he is?"
Mal was getting really mad at him now, the two men barely a nose apart and practically facing off. "There any point to this noose you're puttin' round your gorram neck, Jayne? 'Cause I have to tell you I'm all kinds of unamused an' ready to kick that horse out from under you."
Zoe could see both sides of the argument but right now was not the time to oppose the Captain. There was strength in unity. No matter how much part of her might agree with Jayne she wouldn't let him undermine the Captain in front of the rest of the crew. Not when to do so meant leaving a someone behind. The Captain owed Chung-li which in her book meant so did the rest of them. They were crew, family. And that meant they stuck together through through thick and thin or in Jayne's case thick and even thicker. "Jayne, you heard the Cap'n. If you're afraid to go down to Deimos you can stay here with Kaylee. Ain't no shame in it."
As expected the man's eyes flashed, his jaw jutting out with beligerence and barely held anger. "I ain't afraid to go down..."
She cut him off before he could finish that sentence. Adding her own ending to close the discussion. "Good, then you'll come with us. Best load Vera. No tellin' what other little surprises Niska left behind."
At the mention of possible violence Jayne immediately calmed, his mind fired up with the thrilling possibility of imminent violence. Not so the Captain. He was still glaring at the empty doorway seconds after Jayne had gone through it. Shepherd Book broke the silence, his voice low and careful as if picking his way through a minefield. "You know, there will come a time when you'll have to deal with Niska, Captain."
"I know that!" The Captain snapped. The silence fell as heavy as a shroud. Not nobody wanted to break it even after the Captain had left the commons area.
"Well," Said Simon softly as everybody drifted out of the room to go and get ready. The now empty commons area echoing slightly as if to throw his words back at him. "That went well."
Inara could not believe it. Although she could not see all the damage to her shuttle what she could see was bad enough. Instead of taking Inara's shuttle down to Deimos the Captain had insisted Wash land Serenity. They found shuttle two easily enough and quickly determined that it was empty. Mal stared off into the distance for a moment until Zoe prompted him. "Where to now, sir?"
Try as she might Zoe couldn't see a gorram thing but rocks. Jayne put it less diplomatically. "Ain't nothin' here! This is a gorram wild goose chase."
The Captain shook himself out of his reverie and led them away from the shuttle after asking Wash to swap it over with Inara's. The Companion could then put all her trinkets and pretties in the spare undamaged shuttle and that would leave Kaylee free to see what she could do to repair shuttle one. He did not look back as they headed out so missed the look of speculation on the Shepherd's face as he watched from Serenity's ramp. Jayne grumbled all the way but Mal ignored him, a dark mood steadily binding him. Zoe cast him more than a couple of anxious looks but said nothing. The Captain's tension sparking an unsettled feeling in her gut.
When they stopped in front of the rock wall Jayne's patience just about snapped. "There's nothin' on this gorram ball of rock!"
"Nothin'. No buildin's, structures, vehicles - nothin'. An' nothin' an' nothin' equals - nothin'."
The Captain's sharper tone halted the big man before he could fully launch into a first class belly ache. Zoe raised her brows, silently echoing the mercenary's confusion. Before Mal could explain the sound of low grinding rock made Jayne and Zoe turn quickly and stare at the rock face. The Captain had his gun out so smooth and fast that neither saw him move. Jayne took his cue from the Captain and tightened his hold on Vera, not sure what in *diyu* to expect. Then the unexpected pretty near took his breath away as a portion of the rock face swung out. The Captain took a step towards the doorway then froze, his heart almost stopping at what he saw. There, framed in the opening stood his friend Chung-li. The Chinaman's clothes were little more than strips of bloodied cloth but the Captain could not stop staring into his eyes. A look of such empty desolation in them that it broke his heart to see.
In Chung-li's arms the limp and senseless body of Shen Ling lay draped like some broken doll. But it was the tears on the man's face that affected Mal the most. He knew what it meant to lose family. Loved ones. No matter what kind of kin Shen Ling had been to him the loss was costing the big man dear. The Captain stepped up to his friend and holstered his gun then put his hands on Chung-li's shoulders. Looking deep into eyes that seemed to see him not Mal said the only thing he could say. "I'm thinkin' we take her with us, *dong ma*?"
The big man came out of it slowly. Blinked at Mal and seemed to rally at the sight of the Captain whole and apparently none the worse for wear. "*Qing*. Raised together as children we went our own ways as soon as we were grown." Chung-li paused and looked at the woman in his arms, an infinite sadness on his face and in his eyes. "We grew apart. Ten years Mal since the last time we saw each other." He paused then looked at the Captain. "And I didn't know her any better than when we were children." He sighed. A broken thing that made Mal's heart lurch with sympathy. He might not have a good word for Shen Ling but he in no way would utter them to Chung-li. After all a man could not choose his blood kin only his friends.
"I killed her," Said Chung-li softly.
Mal blinked, sure he had mishead. "You wabba what?"
"I killed her. She would not give up and neither would I."
"*Wo bu dong*, what you sayin'?"
"Shen Ling worked for Adelei Niska."
The Captain hissed, a pained sound that made Zoe wince in sympathy. Neither she nor Jayne said a gorram word. "Why in the nine hells would she do that?"
Chung-li looked all kinds of weary. Mal got the big man moving and the four of them made their slow way to Serenity, Jayne and Zoe dropping back to make sure no nasty surprises tried to sneak up on them. Nobody felt like checking the underground complex. All they wanted was the freedom of the Black and some answers. "The way she explained it to me it started with a fascination with the teachings of Shan Yu."
The Captain nodded. "I heard of him. One mighty tweaked *tamade hundan*."
"A warrior poet," Agreed the Chinaman. "But one without honour."
"An' Shen Ling followed him because?"
Chung-li fought to hold back a new flood of tears. His sorrow would never mend or reach the wayward child who had fallen so far from the way of the Tao. The path lost to her she had stumbled and strayed in every sense. "She was young and foolish. By the time the innocence of youth was lost so was any hope that she would see the error of her chosen path. Even at the end, *wode pengyou*, I could not reach her."
In silence they walked up Serenity's ramp. Wash passed them on his way to shuttle two, his face paling at the sight of the body. Zoe gave her husband a little tight smile, her eyes speaking volumes no one else but him would ever see. The pilot knew that now was not the time for questions. Mal led Chung-li to the infirmary and Simon and Inara helped to clean and lay out the body of his sister. Kaylee couldn't watch but retreated to the damaged shuttle, thankful for the work that needed doing. Funny how the moisture in her eyes kept blurring the movement of her hands, but even as upset as she was for the Captain's friend her hands knew every inch of Serenity and the shuttles blind folded. It was good to have busy work even if she couldn't see what she was doing for the gorram tears in her eyes.
CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)
*qu* = yes (lit. go) *dong ma* = understand? *wode hao* = I'm good
*goushi* = crap/dog shit *wangba dan*/*tamade hundan* = fucking bastard
*mashang* = immediately/right away/on the double/quickly *dui* = correct
*diyu* = hell *qing* = please *duibuqi* = sorry *pofu* = bitch
*wo bu dong* = I don't understand *wode pengyou* = my friend
Sunday, October 16, 2005 9:31 PM
Friday, January 12, 2007 6:30 AM
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