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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA
More story, more backstory, the usual...
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1868 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Geez, you guys are a vicious bunch, the things you're wishing on the mean man in Kaylee's memory. Look at it this way... at least you don't have to deal with him inside your head.
Disclaimer: Only one is mine, the rest belong to Joss (you know, given the statement I made above, I guess at least two of them are mine, but... I don't really want the second one, Joss can have him).
Comments: I’m evil, you all know this, you certainly call me that to my face… (or, well, at least type it). So, really, I’m just helping you all out by making it true…
Mouse over the Chinese for the translations.
Feedback: Oh, yes please. Comment here or send an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous Chapters: one, two, three, four, five, six and seven.
"James? James, come here."
Jayne tapped his fingers nervously against his thighs as he waited for Kaylee to swoop down and pick up his son. The very words rang through him. He had no idea what to expect.
Kaylee kissed the top of his head and moved so that they were both facing him. Jayne could see it, the two of them together like that, their faces so close. He knew, just by looking, that James took after him, there weren't no way to hide it, but when they were so close like that, well, there weren't no mistakin' who that kid's mother was.
"James, Jayne here, Jayne's your daddy."
He waited. He didn't know what for. Something. Slowly, James' eyes traveled up to the top of his head and down to his feet, then back again. Jayne felt like he was being scrutinized.
"He... he don't have the option to say no, does he Kaylee?"
"Shoosh, Jayne." She laughed.
The small, tiny hand of his son wound its way into Kaylee's hair and played with the strands there. Jayne watched James lean in close to her ear.
"Daddy in the ship?"
Jayne bit his lip and drummed his fingers some more.
"Yes." She whispered back. "Your daddy."
Slowly, but surely, James began to smile.
"You doin' okay?"
Kaylee lifts the huge machine onto the bench, it's been killing her back all morning bending over to reach it on the ground and she's grateful for the help. Even if it's only the pale, scrawny kid in front of her.
"Yeah." Geoffrey answers as they set it down, but he doesn't meet her eyes. "I'm okay. It's getting a bit tight over at the hall, but we're managing."
Of course it's tight, Kaylee thinks, it's getting tight everywhere. Food especially. People didn’t save it, they didn’t think they needed to. The hall has sixteen lost souls, those without any family or friends left, bunking down and just getting by. Geoffrey asked Kaylee to stay there, but she thinks about the way they look at James, as if adding up each and every mouthful he's stealing from them, and can't quite agree.
There's a patch of garden just inside town that everyone's been watching with impatient eyes. Yesterday they dug it all up, too early, and everything was green and hard and almost inedible. Almost. They boiled it until it was soft and mushy and able to be swallowed.
And no one complained.
She'd gone to a nearby shop where a family was bunking to ask them a favor and they'd all looked at her with wide, expressionless eyes and said nothing. But Kaylee could smell it in the air, smell it in the pores of their skin. Green. Fresh. Food.
It twisted in her brain all that evening, the spite, the disbelief, the anger, and she wasn't sure what made her feel worse: the idea that people were keeping food from someone with a small, hungry child, or the ease with which she'd suspected them.
None of it matters, everyone is going crazy.
"Miss Frye?" Geoffrey brings her out of her reverie. "Miss Frye, you can't stay out here. You should really..."
His eyes are haunted and has to wonder who makes her feel worse: the helpless boy who refuses to acknowledge what happened, or the man who won't let her forget.
"I'm okay, really." She assures him. "Me an' James, we're doin' fine."
"But it's not safe." He whispers desperately. "You can't..."
His face goes wide and he's pulled back, tossed into the dirt.
"The lady said no, boy." Geoffrey stumbles in the dust, already backing away. "You oughtta respect her wishes."
Kaylee can't blame him, he's just a boy, just a young, frightened boy who has every reason to scramble up and away, but she wishes he would stay anyway.
"You know." Comes the amused voice. "I believe that boy has a hard on for you almost as big as mine."
It's not even a choice, Kaylee moves by instinct, her ankles turning towards the back of the store, her shoulders rounding and her knees squaring, preparing to run.
A hand slams down hard on the bench right in front of her, blocking her path and Kaylee can't help crying out a little.
James starts whimpering in his little bench.
"That's not nice." He says over the growing cries of her son. "I just came to say hello."
"Then hello." She says, trying to stop shaking. "And goodbye."
"Mama?" Comes the terrified voice, the strain in it breaking her heart. "Mama?"
"Now, now, it's alright son, your mama's gonna be just fine." His voice is in her ear. "Tell him."
"He's not your son." She hisses, then turns to nod at James. "Mama's okay. She's all good."
"Ain't that the truth?" Low and whispered, it makes her close her eyes until he raises his voice again. "Might as well be mine, though, from what people are sayin', he don't have no daddy. Never did. No one knows where he came from."
Not you, she wants to say, but doesn't. If she just ignores him, he'll get to his point and then leave. She stares down at her feet instead, itching to finish her way around the table and pick up James, comfort him.
"Anyways, I just came to see how you were." The breezy tone of his voice is almost as bad as the threatening one. "And to give you a present."
Kaylee looks up to see an apple sitting on the bench and she can feel herself salivate against her will. She wants to throw it at him, to crush it into the ground and show him exactly what he can do with his gifts.
But she won't.
She knows it and he knows it. She can't give up food of any kind, not for herself and certainly not for James, just because she doesn't like where it came from.
"You..." Her voice shakes. "You gave some to the Jensons."
His eyes smile, proud of the connection she made, and it makes her sick.
"I just suggested that taking on a woman and her baby might put more of a strain on their already strained resources. What they chose to do with that, well... can you blame them?"
Her eyes follow the slow, torturous path of a bead of condensation as it slides down the side of the apple. It's green. And ripe. He must have a working cooler somewhere. And stores. Food to be giving away.
She's losing, she can feel it.
"There're ships coming." But her voice sounds too small to be hers. "And they'll have things."
"Yeah." He chuckles at her. "Those Alliance troops, I bet they're staying awake night after night, burning extra fuel tryin' to get all the way out here. Just waiting to throw bread and money down on us all."
An emergency call went out. They know it did. They found the confirmation next to the broken, shredded body in the communications room. Surrounded by the remains of the equipment, torn to pieces. Nobody can call out.
But old man Jones died making sure someone would come for them.
"They're coming." She insists, a little louder.
"You're probably right about that. But I hope you ain't holdin' your breath, for his sake at least." He gives a little nod to a whimpering James. "Shame, a boy like that out here, with no pa to look after him. It just ain't that safe."
“I’m lookin’ after him.” She glares. “His ma.”
She knows the second it comes out that it’s the wrong thing to say.
The challenge sparks in his eyes and his hand comes up out of nowhere. Kaylee ducks, a cry escaping her throat as she does, crumpling at the waist to escape him. His hand finishes its arc to his own neck, where it adjusts the collar of his shirt.
“I sure do hope you’re enough, Mama Frye.”
Later, in the dark, Kaylee uses a small saw to cut wood.
"You do have a daddy, James, you got a real good daddy." No one can see her and she lets the tears fall down her cheeks. "He's real big and strong and nice and he's gonna come."
James watches her from his little workbench, fist clutching the last of the apple. She cut it up and nibbled on a third of it, trying to make it last as long as possible, but it still went too quickly. Barely enough to do anything but awaken her hunger, that little third.
It strains at her, eats at her, knowing that she's counting down to the very last bite that her son takes. She just wishes he'd get it over with and finish it so she can stop. So it'll be gone.
"Sooner or later, a ship's gonna land, and soon as it does, we're gonna call your daddy and he's gonna come." Her fingers smooth over the wood, testing it, seeing if it'll hold. "He's gonna come in a big ship, best ship you ever saw, and we're gonna fly away from here."
She doesn't think about the empty shop next door, the one owned by her daddy's friend. The man that used to tickle her and make her laugh and save his coins to buy her salt taffy. She didn't think about him when she tore the doors off his hinges and stole the wood off his roof.
"Ship's got nice people in it, James, nice people." Her nose runs and she wipes it with the back of her hand. "People who won't sell us out for food.”
Her fist hits the ground hard and she lets the dirt swallow her anger as she whispers her disbelief.
“For a gorram apple!”
Kaylee doesn't have time to sleep.
"We're gonna just fly away. You got a daddy, James, you got a real nice daddy."
“Hey, no, kid.” Jayne narrowly dodged getting hurt. “You don’t just toss it any old place.”
“Yes.” He picked it up. “But the point of it is, ya gotta get it on the target here.”
They were standing one foot away from the little pole. And, although he could tell the kid was havin’ a ball and a half throwing things about, it was also painfully clear that he wasn’t quite grasping the concept of aiming.
He held the shoe over the pole and let it go, gently dropping it in place.
“See? Ain’t that fun?”
James frowned up at him. Jayne frowned down at the little pile of neatly stacked shoes.
“Yeah, you’re right. There’s just no challenge like this, is there?”
“Uh, yeah, Mal?”
“You let that child drop one more horse shoe over my catwalk an’ you’ll be on sewer vac duty for the next eight months, dong ma?”
“Well, it ain’t like he can toss ‘em far, is it? I thought he could cheat usin’ height and all.”
“Jayne? I mean it.”
“Not no more, kid.”
“I swear.” Mal sighed as he entered the bridge. “That man is gonna be the death of me yet.”
He didn’t like the way that Zoe and Wash turned to frown at him.
“Well, sure, it’s damn cute and all, way he’s gettin’ along with his son, but…”
“Sir?” Zoe interrupted. “You need to look at something.”
"Fo de duo shui fen qui zhuang wu zhong yi song shu de wo zhu!" He stared at them, unwilling to grasp what they were trying to say. "Tell me you're joking Wash, tell me this is some nasty little joke that I can just kick your sorry ass for and get on with things."
"It's not a joke, Mal." Wash's pale face looked up at him. "I wish it were."
He grabbed the com and brought it to his lips, closing his eyes and breathing in before pressing the button and speaking.
"Inara? Inara, you alone in that shuttle?"
"Just me and fifty of my closest whoring friends, Mal." Came her exasperated voice. "Who did you expect to be here this far out in space?"
"We don't have time for that." He said. "I want you to find Kaylee, take her and James to her shuttle and keep her in there, dong ma?"
"Mal?" Her voice crackled out at him.
Sometimes, he really hated his job.
“It’s nothing, Kaylee.” Inara tried to smile. “I just figured I could help you unpack the rest of your things, seeing that we both have some spare time.”
She fussed over a non existent crease in her shawl to cover the fact that her hands were shaking. The rise of Kaylee’s eyebrow told her that, just possibly, she wasn’t buying it.
“Spare time? ‘Nara, I was holed up under Serenity’s engines, there ain’t no such thing as spare time.”
You keep them in there, Mal had said, and you keep them distracted until you hear from me. If I tell you to leave, you take the shuttle and you get them out of here.
“Don’t be silly, mei mei.” Another smile. “Serenity’s running fine, you said so yourself. I won’t always have this much time and I’ve missed you so over the last few years. Surely you can spare a few hours?”
Kaylee set James down on the floor and nudged him to go off and play.
Even Inara could feel the shift of the engines under her feet.
“Inara?” Kaylee narrowed her eyes. “What was that?”
“What was what?”
Oh, that was smooth Miss Serra, very nicely done, she thought.
“Is Wash putting her in full burn?”
“I wouldn’t know.” She attempted. “You know I don’t know much about…”
“You’re unbelievable.” Kaylee glared. “You’re all unbelievable. I’m not an idiot and I’m not a child.”
She headed for the door.
“Kaylee…” Inara called.
“You stay here.” Kaylee turned to point. “And you look after my son. I need to go the engine room, kill a captain and keep this ship going.”
Inara sagged as the door closed after Kaylee. Mal was going to kill her.
“’Nara?” A small voice asked her as a hand sneaked its way into hers. “We gonna hide?”
“What?” This time she hoped her smile was a little more convincing as James pulled her further into the room. “Hide? If that’s what you want.”
She felt her smile disappear as James led her to the small bed in the middle of the room and crawled onto it. He curled up tight and his face was pale.
“Shh.” He brought his finger up to cover his mouth. “No sounds now. An’ close.”
Inara’s hands shook as she started to close the lid and saw the way it turned into a nondescript trunk. Nobody would ever look twice at it. Nobody would ever look inside it for a child.
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Tuesday, May 30, 2006 3:17 AM
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