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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA
A little look into what happened after the 'Didn't Mean Nothin' saga. Set two years afterwards. Kaylee returns to the ship.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2125 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Well, I wasn't planning on it, but I can never resist the pleas of feedback (why, yes, I am an attention whore, why do you ask?).
Why won't you people let me rest in peace? I had my "fics in progress" total down to three! And then you all had to create this! Grrrr.
An epilogue of sorts from the "Didn't Mean Nothin'." saga, set two years after Kaylee left.
Disclaimer: They were't mine before, they're still not now.
Rating: G, really.
Comments: This isn't an "angst" fic... so much as it is an "aftermath of angst" fic. Also, if people want more (and there's a story to tell here), this can be chapter one of more.
Also? Acronym-ed Chinese. If you want translations, just wave your mouse over it.
SOMETHING FROM NOTHING.
"You alright, Sir?"
He looked up at Zoe's questioning eyes and sighed.
"Yeah." His hand pinched the bridge of his nose. "It ain't easy, is it?"
They watched the ramp close and Mal felt no joy in hitting the button that would seal the air lock. He could feel her next to him and knew what she was about to say, he didn't need to hear the words, he felt them in the way her hand came to rest on his arm.
"Wasn't your fault, Sir."
"Tell that to those folk out there with nothin' but a casket, Zoe." He gave it another moment then turned to face his ship. "He weren't supposed to be out on the job."
She didn't answer him and he didn't really expect her to.
"Mal?" Wash's voice buzzed over the com, loud and urgent. "Mal, you gotta come take a look at this!"
"Tian ni gu you xing guan xi yi jiao tang shu!" Mal stared, open mouthed. "What in the gorram hell is this?"
A black, pearly liquid like substance dangled from a pipe, taking its time to break free as one thick drop and splatter onto the floor, joining a growing pool of it.
"It used to be the engine room." Wash answered. "Before you hired..."
Wash's voice dropped off, his usual scorn for the now dead mechanic drying up on his lips. Habits died hard.
"I don't care what it used to be." He bit out. "What is it now?"
"Useless." River peered out from the machine, goggles covering her eyes. "He fixed, but he broke, and he patched and fixed and broke again."
"Don't want to piss on the parade here." Wash spoke up. "But there's no way any sane mechanic is gonna come onto this ship the way it is now."
"Sir." Zoe's calm voice was just behind him, as always. "You know what you have to do."
He bit his lip, chewing nervously on it as he waited for the connection to buzz through.
"Cap'n?" And there she was, god, how he'd missed that face. "Cap'n, that you? It's been a while since you checked in last."
"Kaylee?" It was instinct, that overwhelming sense of worry. "You been eating right? You've lost weight."
"I, uh..." He didn't like the way her eyes shifted. "Work's been harder to get, lately, is all. I eat what and when I can."
"Kinda why I'm callin', mei mei." Mal was ready, had been ready for a long time to beg. He was quite prepared to get on his knees and plead, offer anything he had and a lot of things he didn't. "We need you back."
She didn't even blink.
"All of you?"
"Yeah. All of us, we all want you back. There ain't no grudges here, Kaylee."
Mal wasn't sure he was comforted by the speed with which she'd agreed.
"Just like that? You don't gotta check with your folks?"
Her face fell for a second, before she righted herself and met his eyes.
"They're gone. Town got hit by reavers some months back."
"Kaylee." He cursed the screen, for not allowing to reach through and comfort her. Cursed himself for obeying her wishes not to contact her unless they really needed it. "Why didn't...?"
"I got by." She insisted. "People're just startin' to come back through, now, so it's gettin' easier."
His eyes scanned the controls, taking in the read outs he already knew, had already memorized before he'd even moved to see her face again.
"We're comin' to get you now." The words sounded right in his mouth, more so than they had in a long while. "We should be there in about a day or so. We gotta clean out your old bunk, it's kinda free now."
"Mal?" For the first time in their conversation, her voice shook, trembled with uncertainty. "I'm only comin' back on two conditions."
"You got 'em." He didn't hesitate.
"I don't want the bunk." Her eyes haunted him and he found himself wanting her to smile. "I want the second shuttle. Just for now, 'til things are settled. I'll keep it runnin' good an' you can still take it on jobs."
"What's the second thing?" He was almost afraid to ask.
"Time." She shrugged. "Time and space to settle back in, without bein' swamped by everyone. I don't want no questions or fussin'."
"You got it." Good gorram, but she didn't come cheap. "That's all you want?"
Her lip trembled and he finally saw the Kaylee he used to know.
"I wanna come home."
"Whaddya mean especially us?"
"Sorry, am I speaking another language?" Mal stared Jayne down across the table. "I said we've got to give her space, that means all of us, and it sure as hell means you and Simon."
"So, what?" Jayne challenged back. "We can't even say we're glad she's back or nothin'? Talk to her friendly like?"
"Well, I'm sure Mal didn't mean..."
"Jayne knows what I mean, Inara." Mal didn't stop glaring at the mercenary. "Now you an' the doc have come to some sort of truce over the last two years..."
"Year an' a half." Jayne sulked, leaning back in his chair. "Ain't been that long."
"It's been longer than that." Mal took the bait.
"Wanna bet?" Jayne arched his brow. "You think you know better'n me?"
"Yes, I do!"
"Twenty months." Simon interrupted. "You're both wrong."
Everybody looked at Simon and Mal felt his jaw ache.
"As I was sayin', you two've come to some sort of truce or whatever. I don't want you doin' nothin' to mess with that. Do you both understand me?"
"Yes." Simon sighed.
"Yeah." Jayne mumbled as he used the nail of his right thumb to pick at the nail of his left one. "Loud an' clear. Why do you get to be so special, we all gotta keep our distance, but you don't?"
"Someone's got to pick her up, Jayne." He wondered about that himself. "She said it would be better not to land at all, just for me to take the shuttle down near the old shop and she'd meet me there. Town's a mite shaky on strange ships, she reckons."
"I don't like it." Zoe spoke up, finally. "Not wanting us to land. It sounds suspicious."
"'Course it does." Mal let his shoulders fall in defeat. "But it's Kaylee an' she needs us. I don't care if she asked me to walk down the street naked but for Christmas bells hangin' off my bits, I'd do it."
She nearly lost her resolve the moment she saw him. He didn’t change, never, not once. Mal could get as tanned, as weathered, as scarred up as the years could make him, but he would never change.
The sight of him nearly burned her eyes, so she kept them on the shuttle instead, let her eyes take in the small, familiar details.
“Mei mei?” It felt so strange to have him stand next to her like that. “Are you ready?”
“Yeah…” Kaylee breathed in, let the dust of the planet settle in her lungs for the last time before she breathed it out. “Yeah, I’ll load up, you just set the controls ready to take off.”
“I can help…”
But she stopped him, waved him on with a flick of her wrist.
“I don’t have much, Cap’n.” She could feel her tongue spark up with just his name. “Won’t take me but a few minutes.”
There was something primal about that first step onto the shuttle. Kaylee felt it tingle from the soles of her feet, up around her calves and through every inch of her. Like something she’d been missing.
It felt like finally being able to relax.
Mal couldn’t take the silence, the large, absent way she didn’t chatter. They neared Serenity and he watched her face as they got closer, watched her eyes move over the ship as if she was cataloguing each and every mistake they’d made since she left.
“For someone sayin’ they didn’t have much…” He gestured through the curtain of the controls to the larger room beyond. “…that’s a pretty big load you got there.”
He didn’t miss the way she turned to run her eyes over the bulk of it. It was eerily similar to the way she’d once looked at the ship.
“It’s everything I have.” She snapped out of it, then, looking back towards Serenity with a steely face. “We still got free run of the kitchen?”
“’Course.” He smiled, relieved at the eager look that came over her face. “Though I expect you won’t need it tonight. Zoe an’ the Shepherd are cookin’ up a feast for you. Kind of a welcome back thing.”
“Oh.” Her face paled. “I don’t want…”
“I know, I know.” He nodded. “You don’t want no fuss and it won’t be. Just dinner, like always. We’re all mighty glad you’re back.”
If he had to describe the look on her face, he would have called it tortured.
“I guess, I mean… if we ate in the cargo bay, I could. Maybe. Near the shuttle.”
“Just ‘til everyone’s settled again, Cap’n.” She did smile, then. It wasn’t bright or big, but he believed it, believed that she trusted her own words. “It’s all gonna work out, isn’t it?”
“Yes, xiao mei mei.” She was close enough to touch, to reach over and cup her neck the way he used to do, pull her towards him and maybe kiss her head or just rest his chin on it. But he didn’t. “You’re finally back an’ we ain’t gonna let you go so soon.”
He settled for giving her a small, cocky grin and he was rewarded with a smile in return. Small, but real. And grateful.
“I need to speak with everyone.” She said when they’d fallen to quiet again. “Just gimme a few minutes to get things right in here and then I have to make an announcement.”
Mal felt his nervousness return.
Kaylee slipped out of the door quietly, closing it softly after her. The fingers of her left hand ran down the seam of it, the small sliver of air that separated her new life from her old one.
She closed her eyes and turned to face them.
It almost made her laugh, the way that eight people stood there in a line, trying to look casual, as if they weren’t all desperate to talk at once. They were the same, but they’d changed. She could see it.
“Hey.” Her feet found the grating easily as she climbed down the ladder. “Hey everyone.”
Without looking, her hands found the rails. The ship tickled her skin and she couldn’t help but smile at the thought it was rushing to welcome her back as well.
“Kaylee.” Inara was the first to speak, a smile large on her face. “It’s so good to see you.”
“Good to have someone on board who knows what they’re doing.” Wash grinned.
“We missed you.” Book nodded.
“Ya look good.” Jayne frowned and glanced quickly at Mal. “In, you know, a real distant way.”
She couldn’t look at him too long. It hurt her in a way she hadn’t been prepared for. His eyes, if only she’d been allowed to forget how blue his eyes were. Even the shape of his neck, the way small tendrils of his dark hair curled into the nape of it.
Kaylee dug her fingernails into the palms of her hands and looked away.
“Welcome back.” Simon agreed.
“It’s good to have family back.” Zoe smiled.
River laughed and Kaylee felt her breath catch in her throat as she saw the girl looking back up at the shuttle.
“Home again.” River smiled, dreamily. “Finally found a home.”
Kaylee answered with a smile as River laughed again. The sound was a balm to her more than Mal had been, made her think, maybe, possibly, it could work.
“I ain’t here to start anything again.” She said. “Cap’n said engine needs work, I needed a job, that’s it.”
It took a great deal of courage to look up and meet both Jayne and Simon head on, but she managed it. She found nothing but warmth in their eyes. Relief surged through her. The one thing she couldn’t take right at that moment would be the two of them. She only had room for one man in her life.
“Before you say anything, I got something I need to tell you all…”
But Kaylee didn’t get to finish her announcement.
“Mama?” They all turned up to the open door of the shuttle and Kaylee’s heart melted. “Ship gonna fly now?”
end for now.
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