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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
This is one of a series of shortish fanfics I've been doing to try to get inside the heads of the characters. This one's a Book POV.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1668 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Disclaimer: Firefly and the characters belong to Joss Whedon. I'm just trying to honour his...honour with this little tale.
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Some of my most serene moments on Serenity have been during workouts with Jayne. There's something about physical exhaustion that soothes the troubled mind and something about aching muscles that eases pains of the heart. Lifting weights makes everything simple for while. Breathe in and lower the weight; breathe out and push it up. In, lower; out, up. Again and again. Focus on being, not on what you were or what you might become. There's a great peace in that. As there is in knowing a friend is there to spot you, help you out if you get into trouble. Someone who'll take the weight for you if it gets too heavy and give you a hand to get back on your feet when you feel too weary to stand.
Yes, I like lifting weights with Jayne. And I like Jayne. We've developed a rapport. Oh, I know some might smile at the idea of a frienship between a preacher and amercenary – and some might frown - but we've got more in common than most. Jayne's a lot like the man I used to be. And that makes me concerned for him. More than concerned.
A man carries his past on his back like a sack. And with each sin, he places a stone into that sack, making it ever harder to carry. When he is young, his sins are few. And even if they are big sins, he is young enough and strong enough to bear their weight. But the first sins are the dangerous ones, because, for a man in his prime, the weight of a little sin is as nothing. He hardly notices the gradual increase in his burden until one day he finds that age has sapped his strength and the sack is almost too heavy to carry.
Jayne's strong and fit now, and finds it easy to manage the weight of his past. And he figures in his line of work he'll die long before he ever has to struggle with it. A few more sins, a few more stones in the sack won't matter much. But it's beginning to trouble him even now. It digs into his muscles, drags his shoulders down. Which, I believe, is why he's forever seeking me out. It's not just physical strength that Jayne is looking for when he invites me to exercise with him. He's a simple man and has a simple faith. He knows he has broken God's laws and thinks he can make his peace in one last confession. He thinks the words I might say over his fallen body will absolve him of all the wrongs he has ever done, sending his soul white and shiny into the next world. If only I could.
My own past became too onerous about five years back. I was stumbling along under its weight, no longer able to raise my head and look around me. It was consuming me. I longed to put it down, but you can only do that when you die. And much as I longed to lay this body of mine to rest, death eluded me.
That's how I ended up in the Abbey. The sin and waste and loss had become too much for me. The brethren were good, kind men, followers of Simon of Cyrene, the saint who long ago bore the cross for a carpenter on the way to his crucifixion. They took me in, cared for me and relieved me of my burden for a while. I couldn't help but marvel at these men, frail of body yet so strong in spirit. It was a narrow path they followed, but a good one. One paved not with good intentions but with good deeds. Weeks passed, then months. And over that time, I started to develop a faith strong enough to change my life. I began to think I could see a way of making amends for all the unspeakable things I had done. Perhaps by stopping other people from doing similar, I could save them from themselves. And maybe save myself in the process.
Because it had become clear that hiding in the abbey wasn't going to free me from my old life. It wanted me back. Waves, letters, visits. Offers came. Tempting offers that were hard to resist when I was feeling particularly hopeless. When all I could see before me were the fires of eternal damnation.
It was fear that drove me out of the Abbey. I was afraid I wouldn't be strong enough to resist falling back into my old ways. I couldn't hide so I had to run. I accepted a mission that would give me some autonomy in the hope that I could shape it to suit my agenda, not theirs. At the time, I thought I could use this freedom to bring the word to them as needed it told. Had my catchy lectures – some of 'em with lepers in - all ready for bringing religiosity to the fuzzy-wuzzies, as the Captain so charmingly put it. He was right to mock me. I was so self-righteous back then. Thought I knew all the answers. It was all so black and white, right and wrong.
I was a mite troubled I'd be too weak to resist the pressures of the past, but seeing Serenity reassured me some. I'd flown in a Firefly before and even though the horror of what happened on that ship will probably haunt me for the rest of my life, I think at the time I hoped just being on the same class of vessel would exorcise at least some of my ghosts. I still can't bring myself to talk about what happened on that flight. More than once the Captain has enquired about my past and I surely wish I could tell him but ... well, some things are too horrible, too shameful to speak of.
Serenity's name was reassuring too. It sounded like a promise that if I could turn this mission to good, she would give me the peace of mind I was seeking. I really thought it would be that simple. I was such a fool.
I was wrong about so many things. My world view was as unsophisticated as Jayne's. Things seemed pretty simple to me then. There were good folk, bad folk. Clean folk, dirty folk. But the 'verse is a mite fuzzier than that..
Take Inara, for example. All I have learnt about morals and ethics tells me that girl should be bent double with the weight of sin she carries. And yet, she's as graceful as flowing water. Because - I know now - her sins are technical in nature. Oh, she may carry a few pebbles for her vanity and obstinacy but she has no malice in her. Instead she is filled with a desire to tend and give. She reaches out to people, helps them carry their burdens for a while. And in doing so she lightens her own. Taking responsibility for the well-being of others can do that. I am learning from her all the time. How to pray from the heart, not from ritual. And to pray in private, if the praying is for someone it makes uncomfortable. Because a prayer should be a helping hand, not a way of making people feel guilty and judged.
The Captain accused me of that. I was surprised when he said it. Surprised at his anger and how uninhibited he was about expressing it. Most men at least pretend to respect religion even if they don't feel it in their hearts. With the Captain, I suspect it may be the other way around. At the time I was insulted. Now, not so much. Because I think maybe he was right. I wanted to judge people and find them guilty. I imagined the existence of people clearly less worthy than myself somehow guaranteed my own salvation. And it's hard not to look down on heathens when you've seen the light.
And I did think the Captain less worthy than myself and richly deserving of a special kind of hell. The man was an unrepentant thief. And prepared to shoot a lawman dead. His treatment of the doctor – a man of status, of learning – his better in every way - was utterly shocking to me. I knew, I just knew, the weight of the sack of sin he carried must be colossal. I thought I could see it in the bags under his eyes, the lines around his mouth. Oh yes, he was a troubled man, struggling with the evil that weighed down his soul. And I was convinced that St Peter would choose me for the last seat in Heaven over Malcolm Reynolds any day.
Now I pray St Peter is never faced with such a choice.
The Captain isn't perfect, I'm well aware of that. He's done things he regrets, things that shame him. But I've never heard him blame them on anyone else. Or deny any of them. Never seen a man less interested in ingratiating himself with folk or so willing to accept responsibility as the Captain. And not all of his past was under his control. He did what he had to to survive. To help others survive. It wasn't his fault men died. And yet he carries the pain of that in his heart and the weight of it on his shoulders. He won't even blame it on an uncaring God.
Because Malcolm Reynolds is a Captain through and through. Captain of his own destiny. Not the kind of man to try to offload the burden of his past onto others. He carries it, all of it, with his head held high. And tiring though that load is, he always seems to have strength enough to help others bear their burdens. There's not many men in the 'verse like that.
And so I want to help him out as much as I can. I'm ready to carry his cross for him a while if needs be. To lift the weight for him. And to pull him back to his feet if he ever gets too weary to stand.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2004 8:26 AM
Tuesday, February 24, 2004 8:36 AM
Tuesday, February 24, 2004 1:57 PM
Wednesday, February 25, 2004 4:26 AM
Thursday, February 26, 2004 8:33 AM
Thursday, February 26, 2004 9:48 AM
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