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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA
An old flame of Mal's reflects on the time she spent with him.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1900 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
We were together for so long but I still remember it like yesterday.
There I am, sitting in my usual spot overlooking a low, sagebrushed hillside, caressed by the warmth from the sun and the occasional, welcome breath of wind. I’m waiting. For who or what, God only knows. I see a lot of men pass through here, engaged in their own pursuits; but none of them seem interested. It’s like I’m just a convalescent to them, I have too much age and not enough flair for their tastes; I don’t elevate their status in society, such as it may be. But still I sit here, one day after another, waiting for someone to stop and take notice. Just sit tight, I tell myself. The right guy will come along one of these days.
However, the way old man Rundle behaves around here, I begin to wonder if one of these days will ever come.
There he is again, coming out of that rat hole he calls an office with another client in tow. I watch them in my peripheral vision; I don’t even need to look straight at them to know where old man Rundle is going. He’s leading this fellow to the same place he always does, trying to push the same fat, useless piece of niu fen on him that he always pushes on his customers. Still, I can’t help trying to hear their conversation from where I’m sitting. Rundle’s path never diverges, but I’ve heard it said that the buyer is the one who’s liable to stray.
Rundle is making jolly conversation as he marches along the same path he’s nigh on beaten into the sagebrush. He asks the client his name and that’s my cue to perk up, see where this conversation is likely to go.
Decent sort of name, I think to myself. I listen closer, as closely as I can from where I sit, and I study the newcomer from afar. He’s got a few miles on him and no doubt of it. Has the look about him of a man who’s seen too much, a thirty-year type maybe, or a veteran of that gorram war that dumped me here in the first place. But he’s still got a fire in his eyes that doesn’t cool, not even on St. Albans. He’s a survivor.
That’s when it hits me: he’s a Browncoat.
Old man Rundle, though, he never sees what’s in a man’s eyes - he only sees what’s in a man’s wallet. Now he’s standing in front of his oversized trash can yammering and bleating until the new guy’s ears bleed.
“Yep, a real beauty, ain’t she? Yes, sir. Tell ya what - you buy this ship, treat her proper, and she’ll be with ya for the rest of your life.”
Gong niu shi, you old buzzard, I think cynically to myself. That Octoraro-class scrap pile won’t even get him off this rock.
But all of a sudden - much to my childlike wonder - Malcolm Reynolds turns away from old man Rundle and his prize junk heap and lets his eyes wander.
Does he agree?
“Son?” Rundle says. “Son!” He snorts, but Malcolm Reynolds is dead in his tracks. “Do you hear a word I been sayin’?!”
Malcolm Reynolds is looking straight at me. And he’s smiling.
Be still, my beating reactor core.
I strain my receptors, trying to pick up the rest of the conversation. That fire in Reynolds’s eyes is burning bright; I’ve carried a lot of folk across interplanetary borders and I know love at first sight when I see it. This has got to be the man.
Reynolds turns back, and the warm, loving look on his face is lost to my sight. Okay, mister, your line is: I’ll take that Firefly over there.
"What’s the askin’ price for a boat like this?” he asks, motioning at the Octoraro junker. I can feel my engine stop spinning almost immediately. So close…so very rutting close…
“Goin’ rate is two thousand,” Rundle says genially. I know that look - this is his shark-smelling-blood routine. “But I can see we got a little common ground, us two; we’re honest businessmen, got us a keen eye for a bargain. Tell ya what, why don’t we cut through the hagglin’ and go to seventeen-fifty. Fine piece of machinery like this won’t get you a fairer deal nowhere else in the ‘verse.”
The look on Reynolds’s face is beyond my sight but my reactor sinks lower still as he puts out his hand. “Done,” he states.
Done?! What do you mean, done?! Oh, how I wish I could tilt my own engines earthward and scream my disappointment at him. You haven’t looked at a single one of these other gorram scrap heaps as long or loving as you looked at me, and now you’re already done!?
And so am I. I’m scrap my own self. Sooner or later Rundle will sell me off to some scrap metal contractor and I’ll never see the stars again. This is what I get for having faith. All I can do now is hope it’ll be sooner instead of later.
Reynolds and Rundle are shaking hands now, and the latter has that Cheshire-cat grin that I so want to burn right off his mug. “You’ve made yourself a fine choice, son,” he says cheerfully. “I tell ya, you’re destined for the ends of the galaxy and beyond with this rig.”
“I reckon I am,” Reynolds says. Suddenly he breaks the handshake and gestures over his shoulder. “’Cause when I take that Firefly outta here, sure’n I’ll have no need to come back thisaway.”
Rundle’s grin freezes solid. He’s staring at Reynolds like a man who’s just been told his wife has emptied out his safe and run off to Ariel. And I’m sitting here on my hilltop, my reactor all a-pitter-patter, cackling inwardly. I’ve never been owned by any person or company for longer than two years, but scrapped if this one isn’t going to last. Malcolm Reynolds, you may just be the most wonderful man I’ve ever carried.
Mal. That’s what everybody calls him, everybody except his friend Zoe. That’s weird. I can’t quite put my landing strut on it, but there’s something familiar about that name - I think it comes from another language and it sure isn’t Chinese. Still, questionable as his nomenclature might be, all the names I’ve had from all my owners are nowhere near as exquisite as the name he’s given me.
My captain about twelve years ago called me Lightning. I was never overfond of it - too generic, I guess. He wasn’t a very creative type so he just named me after a euphemism for fireflies. I wonder how many of my sisters picked up the same moniker in their travels? Or have they mostly done the same thing I do, and just identify themselves by hull number? That’s what I took to doing after changing hands so many times and being given more names than you could stencil on my hull. (And being called more names on top of that…) But the expression “Love is in the air” took on a whole new meaning for me when Mal endowed me with my most beautiful name ever.
My hull number and all my past handles aside, that’s my name, now and for always. I’m peace. I’m tranquility. I bring calm and quiet to a galaxy gone mad. I know where Mal got the name but it doesn’t matter. I’m Serenity; I’m home. His home, and anybody else he feels like taking aboard along the way.
Speaking of which, I wonder who he’ll bring on to keep me in good shape?
I wanted to tell Kaylee it was no fault of hers. She was sitting on the deck with the catalyser in her hands, sniffling and tearing, I could tell. She was heartbroken thinking it was her fault, and I was heartbroken because I couldn’t tell her it wasn’t. It was that nincompoop who brought her to me in the first place. Bester wouldn‘t know what a compression coil was if he fell over it, and he let the wiring get looser and looser with each revolution and didn’t even know it. And wouldn’t you guess? Every time we were in the world - I mean, every time - the engine was stopped and he could have rewired the gorram coil, but no, he had to go out looking to get laid. What a halfwit.
I don’t know when I’ve been in a more ironic spot. If it wasn’t for Bester, Kaylee and I would never have met, and if it wasn’t for Bester, my compression coil wouldn’t have failed. Kaylee spotted the trouble our first day out from Newhall after Mal brought her on. I know they both tried. Kaylee jury-rigged and rewired until her fingers bled, but that rutting imbecile had let the coil go for too long. Mal inquired at almost every fueling station we hit, but compression coils seem to be in pretty high demand for some reason and the parts dealers know it. And so now, here we are, adrift and ten million miles from nowhere, and I can’t even crank out enough of a turn to tell them not to worry.
“Kaylee?” I can hear the hope in Mal’s voice as he approaches the engine room.
“I’m sorry, Cap’n,” Kaylee says sadly. “I’m real sorry. Should’ve kept better care of her. Usually she lets me know when something’s wrong - maybe she did and I just wasn’t payin’ attention.”
Kaylee, sweetheart, don’t be so sad, I try to whisper. C’mon, you’re such a cheerful soul. They need that from you, and so do I. Haven’t Mal or Zoe told you their old saying? Now of all times you should take heart. It’s not your fault this happened. After I’m all fixed up, we’ll have some girl talk and I’ll tell you how I feel about it.
Please cheer up?
I try to gasp it all out as she turns the engine but it isn’t near enough.
“You want to keep breathing, don’t you?” Mal asks.
Kaylee nods and she and I know she’s nodding for both of us.
“So do I,” Mal says softly. He could keep up his stubborn, no-nonsense warrior front until his ticker gives out, but even an Alliance operative couldn’t cover up the man’s deep-running compassion. Forward he goes toward the shambled dining area, while Kaylee lingers with catalyser in hand. I can feel her tremble and I feel the same way I did when it looked as though Mal was going to leave me to rust in the yard.
“I’m so sorry, baby,” Kaylee says in a thick voice. “How in ta ma de gui could I let this happen? I wanted to do my best for you, I really tried…all I wanted was to keep you in the sky…” She chokes and gulps, the fried catalyser drops to the deck and she leans heavily against the engine, sobbing. She might not know it or believe it, but I’m right there with her.
We’ll get through this, Kaylee. I do love you. After this is over I’ll show you it was nothing you did.
Suddenly I have a whole new appreciation for the story of Earth that was. The human race had grown so populous that Earth was spent, unable to sustain that much life any longer. Thus, the exodus to humanity’s new home. Now I’m as Earth had been: I can no longer support my crew’s lives and they have no choice but to abandon me. I’ll be left adrift, helpless, until some scavenger or Alliance tug happens upon my empty shell. The thought sobers me even more than Kaylee’s misapprehension of failure.
“I’m staying with Serenity.”
Mal’s pronouncement freezes my fuel lines. Is he truly, completely off his nut? Did Serenity Valley instill in him some dormant death wish that suddenly surfaced at the prospect of losing me? Or is he atoning for the trick he played in the used spaceship yard? I don’t harbour a grudge for making me feel like I would be chopped to razor blades in that yard, however briefly, but nor had I ever expected him to stay with me when death was imminent.
“I love my captain,” Kaylee’s been known to say. And blame her I cannot. Even the character who bought me brand-new generously cursed me in both English and Chinese before giving me up to an itinerant bum who thought I was little more than a flying entertainment center. I’ve had so many captains but my life has been its most exciting, if rather harrowing, under Mal’s command; all he’s ever wanted is to keep flying, and so do I. There’s a keen understanding between us borne of the love I saw in his eyes for the first time all those years ago. I, too, love my captain.
“Mal, come with us!”
For a ship like me, that’s been everywhere and seen everything and everyone, an unspoken tension like that isn’t hard to fathom. For all his stubborn grumpiness, for all the grouchy front he raises, Mal is not a hard man to love, not once you get to know him. Kaylee would tell you as much in a heartbeat, but for Inara, well…it runs far deeper than that, deeper even than the carpet in her shuttle. I think I know where she’s coming from.
“Can't! Four to a shuttle, Inara. Four.” Mal is not retreating.
“Mal, you don’t have to die alone,” she insists.
Silence hangs heavily in the shuttle and I can tell for the most fleeting moment that Mal is struggling. “Everybody dies alone,” he says. His voice is quiet but resolute.
And it’s wrong.
Not everybody, Mal. Do you remember what you told Zoe when you first brought her aboard? That a ship like me would be with you until the day you die? You have no idea how true that is. You’ve owned me longer than anyone, loved me more than anyone, made me your home and never left me to languish. We’ve been through too much together for death to separate us and I still feel that it won’t separate us yet. I also know those weren’t the only words of wisdom you shared with Zoe.
When you can’t run anymore you crawl, and when you can’t do that, you find someone to carry you. We’ll carry each other, Mal, no matter how far we must, and you won’t die alone. I’ll be with you to the bitter end.
Saturday, March 18, 2006 5:15 AM
Saturday, March 18, 2006 4:57 PM
Saturday, March 18, 2006 9:46 PM
Saturday, March 18, 2006 11:01 PM
Sunday, March 19, 2006 6:24 AM
Sunday, March 19, 2006 3:17 PM
Sunday, March 19, 2006 11:55 PM
Tuesday, March 21, 2006 12:20 PM
Sunday, May 28, 2006 4:06 AM
Saturday, January 13, 2007 10:18 AM
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