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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
More of Jayne's daughter interacting with the crew while in transit. Humor between Jayne and the girl; touching moment between Zoe and the girl. The mood of this one goes up and down like a roller coaster...
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1103 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
“It’s time ta sleep now,” Jayne coerced, standing next to his daughter’s bed. “No more questions ‘til tomorrow.” Kaylee had prepared Serenity’s fourth passenger room for little Janie shortly after supper, and Jayne, himself, felt a lot more tired than Janie was acting.
Mal had decided not to put off leaving Janie with Jayne’s mother and brother, opting instead to see if they could find work in that quadrant. Why he was in such a hurry to rid the ship of the little girl was no mystery; with the kind of trouble the crew tended to get in on a regular basis, it just wasn’t safe.
“I’m not tired,” Janie protested. “I wanna play with Kaylee some more.” During the meal, the child had become a bit familiar with the rest of the crew. The doc’s crazy sister was ‘funny’, Kaylee was ‘nice’, and Inara was ‘pretty’, although the work of a Companion never had been explained to her. Jayne doubted she could have grasped the concept, anyway, being only four years old.
“You can play with Kaylee tomorrow,” Jayne told her. “Kaylee’s tired, jus’ like the rest of us.” *Gorrammit, I don’t know how I’m s’posed to deal with kids...*
“Then tell me a story,” Janie ordered.
Jayne growled. “Girl, I don’t know no stories.”
“Sure ya do,” Janie insisted. “Momma told me ya were a pirate, an’ pirates gotsta have *tons* of stories.”
Jayne had to smile at that. “I ain’t *‘zactly* a pirate, Kid, but I’ll tell ya a story if ya promise to quit yer yappin’ an’ go to sleep.”
Janie nodded her head happily, grinning from ear to ear. “Promise, Papa..”
Jayne cringed involuntarily. He still wasn’t used to hearing himself called that. “Okay. Well, let’s see...” He sat down on the only chair in the room and leaned back. “Here’s one for ya. So we was transportin’ this herd of cows to a li’l world name o’ Jiangyin. Turned out the buyers were wanted by the local marshals, an’ there was a firefight with us caught in the middle.” His hands became more animated as he was absorbed into his manipulated version of the telling.
“Had a preacher with us at the time; name of Book. Good man, real good guy. Well, he took a shot in the shoulder, an’ the captain lost his head, so naturally, I took control of the sitcheation an’ we got ‘im back to the boat. Meanwhile, the doc an’ his crazy sis... that’s River, by the way... got themselves kidnapped by *scary mountain folk,*” and he put special emphasis on the title, holding his hands in front of him with fingers spread in a claw-like imitation and eyes wide. “So I made the darin’ suggestion to take the shepherd to the nearest Alliance ship for his doctorin’...”
Gabriel lay awake in his bed, staring at the ceiling through the dark. He heard Jayne in the next room, going on about his heroic, yet risky, rescue plan for Simon and River, which, of course, the captain had been completely against. Gabriel didn’t believe a word of it, of course, but thought it amusing that Jayne was trying so hard to impress his young daughter.
It was not, however, Jayne’s talking that was keeping Gabriel awake this night. He usually only slept two hours a night, which was all his body required to rejuvenate itself, but he rarely had to wait more than an hour or two to actually get to sleep. He rolled over on his side, which did no good. Finally, he turned again onto his back and sat up.
“*She ain’t gonna let you get to sleep until you go talk to her,*” he whispered to himself in the dark. “*She’s pissed at ya, and it ain’t got nothin’ to do with the men you killed.*” Coming to his feet, he pulled on a pair of black trousers, fastening the button and moving to the door. He padded out into the hall, shirtless and shoeless, and crossed the hall to River’s room. He stopped at the door, pressing his face against it. *River,* he thought, calling out to her. He heard her stir, but then there was more silence. *River,* he tried again, the second thought sounding louder in his head. Not being a psychic, he had no clue if readers could hear thoughts at different ‘volumes’, but it was an unconscious response of his, and one that puzzled him as soon as he had done it.
*Let’s do this the old-fashioned way,* he thought (to himself, this time), pushing the new psychological mystery to the back of his mind and knocking gently on the door. “*River?*” he called quietly. He heard a noise, and thought for a moment that he may have heard her call him in, so he quietly slid the door open and stepped inside.
River had been sleeping with the light on, Gabriel noticed. He wondered if she always had, at least since her ordeal at the academy. *That go se is enough to give me nightmares, I know...*
River remained laying down, facing the wall. She was wearing a silken nightgown, and the worn, flannel blanket that was commonplace onboard Serenity was pulled up to her mid-section. Her breathing remained steady and still. “River?” Gabriel spoke aloud, wondering if maybe he’d misheard, and she was still asleep...
His unspoken question was answered an instant later when he reached out to nudge her shoulder, and with a shout, River leaped to her knees, socking Gabriel across the face with a right cross. Gabriel fell backward, more from surprise and stun than from being incapacitated. Still too stunned to react, he stumbled into the chair behind him and collapsed to the floor. Propped on one elbow, he rubbed his swelling eye socket and looked up at River with wonder.
River’s eyes widened, and her jaw dropped. An ‘Oh my God-what have I done-I’m so sorry’ expression crossed her shocked face, but as Gabriel’s thoughts flooded her mind, she froze before she could leave the bed and go to his side. Gabriel grinned. Then he chuckled. The chuckle grew to a loud guffaw, and his elbow slipped from beneath him as he let himself fall the rest of the way to the floor.
River simply stared at him for a moment, then she, too, began to grow a smile. She laughed, a high, melodious giggle compared to Gabriel’s baritone laughter. Her laughter drove his to a higher, more hysterical pitch, and in turn, she laughed even louder. At that particular moment, Simon leapt into the doorway worriedly, and he froze at the sight.
“Um... Is everything okay?” he inquired, then noticed Gabriel’s new shiner. “Oh...! Your eye!” he exclaimed, attempting to help Gabriel to his feet with one arm while righting the fallen chair with the other. Gabriel only made it halfway before collapsing into the chair, still laughing like a hyena.
“I really *don’t* want to know what’s going on here, do I?” Simon guessed, attempting to be heard without raising his voice.
“Oh...” Gabriel choked between fits of hysterics, “...your sister was just... engagin’ me in a lesson on... her wake-up routine!” He lost control of his voice again at the last bit, and Simon, eyeing them both cautiously and muttering to himself, slipped from the loud room and closed the door behind him.
It was the middle of the night, or at least, the middle of the spacebound ship’s standard sleep cycle. Zoe Alleyne Washburne sat on the bridge in Wash’s chair, gazing absently at the stars. When she was a teenager, she remembered seeing a cinema from hundreds of years ago that had survived the wars, censorship, and evil degradation of time. The film, presented in arcane graphics and cheesy plastic models, depicted a fictional spacecraft moving through space. It was considered science fiction for the time, and Zoe remembered that the stars moved as the ship traveled, as if they were passing by the craft. These stars didn’t move, of course; they were fixed in their positions through the windshield.
Small footsteps echoing on the stairs behind her notified Zoe of a visitor to the bridge, and she swiveled the chair to see Jayne’s daughter standing in the doorway.
“My papa fell asleep in his chair,” Janie explained simply. “I can’t sleep.”
Zoe forced a smile for the girl. “I couldn’t sleep, either,” she returned. “Come, sit.” She patted her lap, and the child scurried over and hopped onto her leg.
Janie gazed up at Zoe with her wide, curious eyes. “Why are you darker than the others?” she inquired.
Zoe could help but grin at the kid’s child ignorance. “I’m a different race, Sweetie.” She shifted the child on her leg to better face her. “You’ve never met anyone black before?” Janie shook her head ‘no’. *Not too strange; she’s only four, and lived on a backwater.* “My ancient ancestors lived on a different part of Earth-That-Was, so we looked a little different. It used to be important to society many hundreds of years ago, but we’ve moved far past that, now. Everyone’s just people; nothin’ more and nothin’ less, and that’s a fact.”
“How long is hunderds of years?” Janie asked immediately.
Zoe held her amused smile. Something about the girl’s innocence made her feel better than she’d felt in quite awhile. “A *very* long time ago,” she assured. “Before anyone ever left the sun of Earth-That-Was on a starship.”
“Are *you* gonna be my new mommy?”
Zoe’s smile disappeared. “No, bao bei,” she spoke softly. “I can’t be your mommy.”
Janie cocked her head curiously. “‘Cuz yer already someone else’s mommy?”
Zoe closed her eyes, cursing inwardly. “Janie,” she began, “my... my husband, Wash... *died* five months ago.” She felt a lump in her throat, but forced herself to continue. “We... we never got the chance to have a baby.”
Janie nodded sadly and sniffled, and it was then that Zoe noticed the tears in her eyes. “You miss him,” she said. “I miss my Mama. I never cried, ‘cuz I wanned ta look *strong* for Papa, ‘cuz he’s strong...”
Zoe enfolded the little girl in her arms, holding her close as the child wept. She, too, felt herself losing control of what she’d kept so carefully locked inside her since Wash’s death. She didn’t even try to stop it, this time.
They sat like that together, weeping before the blackness of space.
Mal rose from his bed sluggishly and shuffled to the sink. He washed his face, brushed his teeth, and donned a fresh shirt. Pulling a suspender strap over one shoulder as he moved to a wall control, he flipped the switch to open his door, positioned the other strap, and scaled the ladder.
“Gya!” he exclaimed, coming face-to-face with Gabriel. "Gou tsao de..." he muttered. Stepping onto the deck, he growled, “How long *you* been up?”
“Almost four hours,” Gabriel answered nonchalantly. “I need to ask ya somethin’.”
“I may answer something,” Mal stated, turning to move toward the common room and much-sought-after coffee. Gabriel touched him lightly on the shoulder to halt him.
“A private question, please.”
Mal turned back, crossing his arms across his chest and blinking at a bit of eye sleep that still eluded him. “Okay,” he said, this response a bit more serious.
Gabriel craned his neck to study the ceiling. He frowned, cocking his head slightly, and Mal ceased his blinking for a moment to stare. *What in the ruttin’...*
Gabriel straightened his head and looked Mal in the eye again. “Right then. Yeah, a question.” He shifted his weight to the other foot, glancing to the floor nervously. “About River. I couldn’t bring myself to ask her, ‘though I’m sure she’ll know I asked ya... An’ I jus’ didn’t feel right asking her brother either.” His gaze returned to Mal. “What... what, exactly, is her... difficulty?” He spoke the word, ‘difficulty’ thickly, as if it were not his first choice of word usage. “I mean, if you don’t mind tellin’ me. I know it ain’t none of my business...”
Mal blew out a breath, sliding his hands into his back pockets. *Hoh, boy...* “Well, um...” he began, then released a breathy and humorless chuckle. “Really, this is the doc’s thing; I ain’t too good at this...” He thought another moment, then sighed. “Um, they’ve been on the boat over a year now, an’ most of that time, no one had any idea. She was completely schizo, babblin’ about nothin’ an’ occasionally gettin’ into trouble without meanin’ to. Once, she got Jayne with a butcher knife, and another time, she got hold of one of Jayne’s guns. Poor girl didn’t know what she was doin’, of course...” he trailed off, wanting to end that particular line of detail.
“But she’s better now, right?” Gabriel questioned, sounding more hopeful than curious.
Mal frowned, pressing his lips together. After the moment’s hesitation passed, he nodded. “Yeah, Simon’s drugs help. Not as much as Miranda, though.” He rubbed the back of his head. “Sure you know all about that, by now.”
Gabriel’s jaw dropped. “That was *you?!*”
Mal nodded. “River, mostly. She got the secret off a Parliament member’s mind at the Academy, an’ it was a good part of her troubles. She’s still... unbalanced, but Doc’s drugs help with that.”
Gabriel frowned. “There’s something more.”
Mal frowned back. “Thought you...”
“Yeah, I know. I’m *not* psychic, just highly intuitive.”
“Riight,” Mal dragged. “Well, the other worry is mostly due to the brain surgeries they did on her. One thing, I remember the doc tellin’ me about...” He cleared his throat. “Like I said, I ain’t no doctor. Somesuch part of the brain that lets you suppress your emotions-”
“The amygdala,” Gabriel cut in, and Mal halted his explanation. He kept forgetting that Gabriel was highly intelligent, and hearing such a term come from him, with his mannerisms and speech, was always a bit of a shocker.
“Sure,” Mal continued. “The amygdala. Whatever. Anyhow, I guess they ‘stripped’ it, or however Simon put it. Makes her feel everything with no say-so about it.”
Gabriel was silent as he stared at the floor, but even without empathic abilities, Mal could almost feel the mixture of caring, sadness, and heated rage radiating from the man.
“Gabriel,” he spoke, reaching out to place a hand on his old friend’s shoulder. “If you care so much about River, don’t let your silly notions get in the way. Let her *know...*” He halted as he caught his slip, clenching his jaw and nodding knowingly with a small smile. “So she’d already know. Point is, let her know you want her to know.”
Gabriel showed no visible response, but he met Mal’s gaze once again. “Would you mind if I tried to give you a bit of your own advice?” he ventured.
Mal released Gabriel’s shoulder. “I would,” he reassured him. He gave the kid a small smile to lighten the tone and turned to head into the common room.
As the rest of the week played through, life aboard Serenity was decently normal (with the exception of a small girl scurrying about the deck asking questions and cheering people up). Mal had just finished a conversation with Kaylee about an engine flare on the starboard pod, and was moving in the direction of the cockpit. As he passed through the common room, he was unfortunate enough to catch a portion of a conversation between River and Gabriel, who were seated in the comfy chairs of the lounge area. The exchange was so bizarre that it stopped Mal in his tracks for just a moment.
“So you are saying,” River observed, “that, assuming that present assumptions are correct, and the four currently accepted dimensions are height, width, breadth, and duration, love exists in the fourth dimension, since it has no height, width, or breadth, and that it exists *only* in the fourth dimension?”
“I said that love exists in the fourth dimension,” Gabriel reiterated. “I din’t say that it exists *only* in the fourth dimension. Duration can exist without precedence, as it is with anything that is intangible.”
“So you *are* insinuating that there are more than four dimensions?” River stated, with little question in her voice.
“I’m absolutely certain there are more than four,” Gabriel replied. “But neither of us can comprehend *beyond* the first four. Hell, a lot o’ folk can’t even comprehend the *fourth* dimension.”
River nodded, a small smirk on her face. “So you are absolutely certain that you know that you can comprehend nothing?”
Gabriel laughed, and Mal, fearing for his own sanity, exited the scene with much haste. He was halted, however, before he could get to the cockpit. Jayne stepped from the side corridor and into his path.
“Mal,” he began, “we need to talk.”
Mal sighed. Too many people needed to speak with him about too many things these days. “I’m listenin’.”
A highly uncomfortable expression crossed the big man’s face. “Well, I’m...” He scratched his head. “I’m thinkin’ on havin’ second thoughts on the li’l girl.”
Mal suddenly became more serious. “What do you mean on ‘second thoughts’?”
Jayne heaved a sigh. “I dunno. I’m sorta gettin’... *used* to havin’ her ‘round, yanno?”
Mal crossed his arms. “Jayne, girl’s been on the boat a week now. We’re less than three days from gettin’ her to a safer place. What kinda notions got yer wheels turnin’?”
Jayne grunted. “I...” He paused, then involuntarily puffed out his chest. “I ain’t sorry that I’m a pa, an’ I ain’t ‘zactly keen on the idea of leavin’ her behind,” he spoke with conviction, and it showed a deepness that was rarely seen from him. “She’s already had that done to ‘er once, when that bullet took her mom from her.”
“Jayne,” Mal warned, “you’re stretchin’ yourself thin on this one. Even wiry, if I may say as much. You know girl’s got no business livin’ on the ship, what with all the perks of havin’ as many enemies as we do. An’ besides,” he reminded, “it ain’t like we’re leavin’ her with strangers. Your mother an’ your brother should be guardian enough.”
Jayne closed his eyes, his jaw clenched and breathing deeply, but he gave no argument.
“This is the best thing for her, Jayne,” Mal assured him, “an’ you know it as well as I. Ain’t a question of you, it’s a question of the lifestyle.” He placed a hand comfortingly on the other’s broad shoulder. “Ya pickin’ it up?”
Jayne finally relaxed a bit. “Yeah, I’m pickin’ up.” He pulled back to lean a shoulder against the wall. “I just wanna know that she got the rearin’ she needs, yanno? Losin’ a parent as a kid’s a bad enough start as it is. Believe me, I know.”
“Yeah,” Mal agreed, “so do I. Grew up without my father, myself.” *Don’t hurt to let him know that,* he thought. “Biggest worry here, though, is we both know she don’t need to grow up to be like us, runnin’ from one side of the gorram ‘Verse to the other, jus’ lookin’ for trouble.”
Jayne grinned. “Aw, what’s the fun in any other manner of lifestyle?”
Mal returned his grin with a smaller smile. “Ain’t it just so?”
Friday, March 10, 2006 12:35 PM
Friday, March 10, 2006 6:35 PM
Friday, March 10, 2006 8:04 PM
Saturday, March 11, 2006 6:46 AM
Saturday, March 11, 2006 9:56 AM
Sunday, March 12, 2006 11:36 AM
Wednesday, March 15, 2006 7:24 AM
Monday, April 10, 2006 5:20 AM
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