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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - DRAMA
Sometimes all you can do is make the best of a bad situation, sometimes you find you're better for it.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2099 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Ten? Ten?!?! How the hell did it get to ten and counting? I don't know. See, this is why you have to STOP encouraging me. It only leads to badness.
Disclaimer: Only one is mine, the rest belong to Joss.
Comments: Flashback-a-palooza. Nothin' to see here, folks, move it along.
Feedback: Love it, love it, love it. firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous Chapters: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine.
Laughter bubbles up from her throat and she can't contain it, just lets it flow up and out as she tries not to trip over her own feet.
"Daddy." She sighs when she can breathe again. "You ain't never told Ma that joke."
"Too right I ain't never told your Ma, you needn't either."
Kaylee hefts James on her hip as an afterthought.
"You ready for tonight? You're not gonna be late, are you?"
His fingers scratch at his chin for just a second, as if he's really considering, really trying to make a decision. But she can see the glint in his eyes, the warmth.
"That depends now, you and your Mama make that cake?"
"Exactly how you like it."
"Well then, long as I get a piece, ain't nothin' gonna stop me seeing this one's first birthday."
"I don't know how much'll be left." She teases as she gestures to the spoon in her son's hand. "He ain't let that thing go since Ma let him lick the icing off. We'll be lucky he leaves the silver on it."
Her daddy laughs.
"That's my grandson, he likes his chocolate..."
It's funny, the things that stick in a person's memory. Kaylee will always remember the way they turn together, her and her daddy, faces angled up to the sky, twin expressions of confusion and worry on their faces.
"That's not right..." He begins.
"Ship's in trouble." She finishes.
It's hard and piercing and painful, her daddy's sudden grip on her elbow.
"Come on!" He doesn't give her time to think. "Run, Kaylee!"
"What?" She struggles to keep her hold on James. "Daddy?"
Her foot stumbles in the dust.
"Get up!" He yells at her. "Over here, to the Meers'!"
The Meers, her brain buzzes over the name, trying to find a connection, any reason as to why her daddy is dragging her over there. Something nags at the back of her brain, something about the first month she was here, the way her daddy showed her over the town again, re introduced her to everyone.
They have a vault in the back, she remembers, but that's only for emergencies. No one uses it for anything. There are several of them around the town, little hidden rooms. She can't remember if they were ever mentioned again in all the months since.
There's a strange whizzing sound and Kaylee turns to look at it. Her eyes don't know what they're seeing, a dark mass sliding down a rope, but her ears hear the sudden screaming and pain.
"Daddy?" He pushes them into a building. "What about Ma? Daddy!"
"I'm goin' to get her."
But it's a lie. Kaylee knows it. Her daddy knows it. She turns around to search for him, to grab at him, one hand clutching James and the other reaching out.
"You stay there!" He yells at her, but she can barely see him anymore, there are tears and other people in her way. "I love you, Kaylee!"
And then he's gone, lost in a surge of panic, and Kaylee is pressed back, pulled along and her body turns pliant, she allows herself to be shoved into the small room.
It's in the sudden silence of it that James begins to cry.
"Hey." She jumps when there's a voice near her, his breath rank and rotten. "You keep that brat quiet, you hear me?"
Kaylee nods, eyes wide.
"You shut him up." He shoves something at her side and waits until her free hand closes over it. "Or I will shut him up for you, do you understand?"
She keeps nodding, closing her eyes so she can't see anything. It doesn't help. There are still screams on the outside, the horrible, tearing sound of flesh and terror.
"This ain't a game, little girl." They're only whispers, but they feel like they're going to scald the skin right off her neck. "Those're reavers out there, you know it? They find us an' we're all dead, baby or not."
Dead. Kaylee's hand presses the cloth over James' mouth. Dead, just like her daddy who pushed them into this vault and then turned back to fight. James struggles for several long, excruciating seconds. Dead, just like her momma who was stayin' at home and too far to go back for.
Kaylee hisses as her head is pulled back, fingers twisting painfully in her hair. She has to bite down on her tongue to stop herself from making any sound. Her hands cover the body she has scooped against her.
"Who's sacred, little girl? It ain't me."
"No, no, no." Becca's voice is little more than a moan as she shakes her head back and forth. Kaylee remembers her walking down the street with a younger sister. "No, no."
They all fall quiet and the hands slide away from her hair. Kaylee stands up straight.
"Miss Frye, huh?" But it starts again soon enough. "You're little baby Frye? Yeah, I heard you was back some time ago. So you ain't married to his daddy, then?"
She rolls her shoulders along the wall, twists them so that she can turn away and ignore him. It doesn't help, his voice comes, hot and sticky at the back of her neck.
"You even know who the daddy is? Or did ya just lose count? Was that it? He a town baby?"
James whimpers and twists against her. She hefts him up closer to her chest.
"Well, don't that beat all? An unwed mama?" Kaylee doesn't feel the finger that trails down her spine, she doesn't. "Loose and available. Two things I like in a woman."
"They're dead, they're dead, they're all dead." Becca whispers it over and over, rocking back and forth, she's been whispering it for hours now and her voice is getting higher. "They're all dead."
"Shh." Kaylee hums it between her lips, alternating between her and James in her arms as he gnaws compulsively on the biscuit she shoved at him from the bare supplies to keep him quiet. "It's gonna be fine. Shh."
"Shut the hell up." Whispers the voice behind her. "You're gonna get us killed, kid!"
"Geoffrey." Kaylee pleads. "Do something? Okay? You're closest. Calm her down."
"Anybody goes out there now and they'll be ripped apart, poked more'n a half price whore. They're not waitin' for food, no more, they've eaten. They just wanna play now."
"Please." She begs. "Just stop."
"They're dead, they're dead!" Becca's voice rises again, perilously close to be audible outside their sanctuary. "And we're next! They're gonna..."
"Boy!" An arm pushes past her and catches Geoffrey on the side of his head. Kaylee's face is pressed into the wall and she hollows her body to protect her son. "You shut her up."
Becca starts screaming.
There's no room in here, no room, and she can feel everything. She feels his body slide around hers, feels the impact of him grabbing Becca, feels the thud of Becca's head hit the wall.
"Aaiy-eee." Her name is a gurgle and a hand reaching towards her, fingernails scratching at the wall. "Elll-meee."
Kaylee slides down, her knees won't hold her up anymore.
"You shut up." The voice hisses. "You hear me, girl? Shut the hell up!"
James lies in the cradle of her thighs, head on her knees, and she bends over him, rocking back and forth. The faster she moves, the less she'll hear it, that strangled, garbled choking sound.
The shudder of a foot scrambling next to her.
Kaylee bends her head, pushes it into James' belly as they rock, his hands come around her head, fingers twisting in her hair. She's grateful for the sting of it, the feel of pulling, the tearing of her scalp.
Her fingers cover his mouth, fingers pressing his lips tight into his teeth.
"Shh." She hums it. "Shh, baby."
Fourteen, her brain tells her. Becca is fourteen. Fourteen years old, nails scratching at the arm that pins her neck to the wall and drawing blood. Fourteen, eyes bulging out of her head. Fourteen, teeth biting down on the hand that gags her. Fourteen, with little choking gasps.
Fourteen, and with a loud, audible crack everything goes quiet.
There's no more noise.
"He killed her."
Jayne didn't know how she kept talking like that, her voice not even wavering. He knew bigger, tougher men who'd cry for less. But Kaylee was just reciting the words like she was reading off a shopping list.
"Just like that." She shifted her shoulders. The last thing Jayne would have called it would be a shrug. "She died, asking me to help her."
A very tense, pain filled shopping list.
"Kaylee." He said it into the top of her head. "You did what you had to, you kept our son safe."
"And that makes it okay?"
He didn't have the answer to that, there was nothing he could say. There was only one thing he knew how to do and no way in hell was that gonna help Kaylee. He brushed the back of her shoulders.
"C'mon, I gotta get up."
But she didn't let go, she tightened her arm around his waist.
"Kaylee, please, you gotta let me up."
"Jayne." Her voice was low and he could hear many things in it, warning, fear. "Jayne, where are you going?"
"Just going. I'll be back." He inched himself off the bed. "'Til then? Our boy wakes up, you keep him in this shuttle. You hear me?"
But he was already half way to the door.
"How late are we gonna be?"
Wash looked at the charts in front of him.
"Won't be more than a day out. We didn't stop that long."
"Cap'n? You there?"
A small voice came over the com and Mal picked it up.
"You gotta stop him, Cap'n." She said and Wash could see Mal cursing under his breath. "Don't let him do nothin' stupid."
"I got it."
They didn't have much time.
"Wash?" They heard him before they saw him. "Wash!?"
"Now, Jayne." Mal met him at the door to the bridge. "You calm down, do you hear me?"
Wash never claimed to be the smartest man alive, hell, he never claimed to be the smartest man aboard the ship. One thing he knew, one thing he knew well, when Jayne got that look in his eyes, he kept his head down and didn't make eye contact. Just looked at the controls.
"This ain't the time, Mal."
"Oh, now's the perfect time... I... Jayne!"
Wash braved a look back at them. He nearly fell out of his chair when he saw Mal being thrown out of the door, forced out by his shoulders, Jayne not even blinking, just pushing him out and locking the door.
"Oh, god." He turned back to the console and kept his head down. "I'm not changing course, you can't make me, I'm not changing course."
"Wash?" Footsteps echoed all the way up to his chair. "This thing have a pilot flight log or somethin'?"
"Huh?" That made him look up. "What do you want...?"
"April 20." Jayne growled as he sat down. "Tell me what we were doin'."
Then it clicked.
"Oh, Jayne, come on, do you really want to know?"
"I ain't askin, little man."
"We were..." The screen came to life as he pressed the buttons. "We were on Boros. Stayed two days. That was..."
Wash let his words trail off.
"Monty's cargo." Jayne's teeth gritted. "Got paid well for that."
There weren't many jobs they stayed on planet for, not many chances to have much time off ship. Wash remembered the little tavern they all had a drink in, even Simon and River left Serenity to celebrate a little good fortune. They'd laughed well that night, drinking heavily. He and Zoe had had some time together, just the two of them. And Jayne...
"Don't do this to yourself." He said.
Jayne leaned over double, his face bowed down over his knees as his arms stretched up, holding the console. Wash could see how red his skin was, saw the tension in it.
"You didn't know."
"With a whore." Came the answer, strangled out of a clenched jaw. "With a gorram whore."
"It's not your fault, Jayne."
It started as a growl, low and dangerous, then it grew into a yell as Jayne's muscles bunched. His feet lifted up and slammed down hard.
"Jayne!" Wash said again. "Listen to me, you couldn't have stopped it."
"What do you know?" Jayne looked up and Wash nearly flinched at the look in his eyes. "What the hell do you know about it?"
Nearly, but he held his ground.
"You want to know where I was when Zo and Mal were lying in ditches, covered in mud and bodies?" He had to control his breath. "I was on a drinking binge with my buddies from flight school. What a lark, great fun, fond memories."
The tension in Jayne wasn't lessening, but he could see a small spark of reason growing behind his eyes.
"There's nothing I can do to change what happened, Jayne. I wish there was. There's nothing I wouldn't give to go back and change whatever it is that gives her those nightmares."
Wash looked over at Jayne.
"And don't you ever tell her I told you that, 'cause she'll kill me." Jayne nodded his agreement. "Possibly with a pinkie. I don't even know if she meant her own. Just 'a pinkie', that's all she said."
Off track, Hoban, he thought, now is not the time for your lethal pinkie in a drawer theory.
"But there's nothing I can do, except help her through the now. And that's all you can do, too." He saw the set of Jayne's jaw. "And going back won't help her, either. She got herself out of there, don't drag her back just to make yourself feel better."
It was a long time before Jayne stood up.
Mal sat at the table. He couldn't think as the crashes echoed through the ship. Loud, consistent, even, they made him wonder. He didn't want to wonder. He was quite happy not wondering. Especially if that's what the answers did.
Simon, River and Book sat playing cards. He didn't think any of them were concentrating on the game.
Zoe came to sit next to him. She carried a pair of strong, dark goggles and a blow torch.
"You planning on renovating?"
It was a simple enough answer. Mal breathed in.
They sat and waited for Jayne to leave his bunk.
"Jayne!" She knew who it was before she even looked up. Everybody else knocked before they came in, too nervous to take a misstep. "Are you okay?"
Kaylee had paced the shuttle for over an hour, waiting for him.
He stood there and his eyes said something different, something as hoarse as his voice, but she didn't argue. She just took his hands, carefully, and led him to a space she'd cleared on the floor.
"Thought we might need this."
She gave him a soft smile as they knelt on the ground and she gently laid his hands in the large bowl. The water was still warm and even as she watched, his blood spiraled up, branched out, leaked away from the swollen and split knuckles.
He didn't say anything as she tended to him and she didn't force it. Simon had brought her the supplies from the infirmary and she hadn't had to ask why.
"He still sleepin'?" He asked eventually.
"Yes." It was a quick answer, sure, like he needed. "Once he's down, he's a heavy sleeper. Just like you."
It was a glimmer of hope she saw spark at the corner of his lips at that. Then it was gone and he sighed.
"Okay, I'm ready." She swallowed when he spoke. "Ready to hear the rest."
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