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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
In honor of mother’s day, this is a series of related vignettes about the crews’ memories of their mothers and the meaning they find therein
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1000 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Disclaimer: This story certainly intends no infringement. Please forgive me, mighty titans (including studios, parent companies, producers, affiliates, and of course, the Joss himself.)! I promise I’m not making any cashy money off this.
Summary/Authors’ Note: In honor of mother’s day, this is a series of related vignettes about the crews’ memories of their mothers and the meaning they find therein. It includes a lot of wild speculation on my part. Please forgive me if you feel my imagination has completely run away with me. This piece should come to you in few installments, leading up to Mother’s day. So pay attention!
Dedication: For my Mom. I’m a lucky girl to have you.
“Got a wave for you.” Mals’ voice was curt and sudden, cutting through friendly chatter to echo across the galley. Inara, Kaylee, and Shepard Book all paused in the midst of clearing the dinner table to glance at the captain. He stood halfway up the stairs, one hand gripping the rail, looking the picture of harried and annoyed. Around the table, everyone shared a confused glance and Mal gave a sigh intended to draw attention to his patient forbearance. “It’s for you.” He explained, meeting Inaras’ eyes and gesturing vaguely at her.
“Best hurry.” He added sourly, turning away, “I doubt she takes too kindly to waiting.”
Still confused but curious Inara shrugged, giving Book and Kaylee an apologetic smile and followed Mal to the bridge. The rustle of her silk skirts made a strange counterpoint to the sharp sound of his boots on the deck. He stopped at the door and nodded her inside which almost made her frown outright. Who could possibly be waving her that would produce this attitude? Not one of her clients- she contacted them, never the other way around. When she stepped onto the bridge and her eyes fell on the screen she understood in a horrible sinking rush.
“Inara.” On the screen, a richly dressed woman inclined her head gracefully.
“Mother.” Inara answered.
The companion considered the face of the woman, noting that it had remained unchanged in the year since she had seen it last. It was still beautiful- it was a perfect face, in fact: the bones sculpted clean and elegant like birds wings, capped with a wealth of shinning hair braided and set with jeweled pins like a crown supported by an erect and supple carriage a queen could envy. The combined affect was of a haughty distant loveliness that was so very different from Inaras’ own warm welcoming beauty. But the eyes- the same wide dark pools looked back at her from across the black.
And suddenly Inara was no longer standing on the bridge of Serenity. She was returned to Xenon, to the immaculately manicured gardens of the Mother Temple. She was fourteen years old again -all freckles and big eyes and unruly curls- receiving the dressing down of her life, delivered in the same cool, carefully articulated voice that addressed her now.
Caught by that other place and time, Inara was still and there was a moment of strange awkward silence between the two poised women. She repressed the hasty urge to straighten her skirt and smooth back her hair. Instead she took shelter in the formality of her training. “Mother, how pleasant to speak with you.” She smiled gently, “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
The familiar eyes widened in theatrical surprise, “Is it possible that you are so far out in the wilderness that you do not even know what day it is?” The older woman asked; her tone light.
“Of course not.” Inara replied. Out of site of the screen her hand curled around the edge of the console and squeezed gently before letting go but she kept her voice perfectly modulated to convey affection and warmth, “Happy Birthday, Mother. And a pleasant mother’s day, as well.”
Inara saw her mother’s lips take on a wistful curve, a sorrowful half smile full of regret and longing. “I’m afraid this day is not as joyous as it might be with my daughter so far from me.” She observed softly.
“Don’t you think it’s time for you to come home, Inara? Haven’t you punished me enough?” The beautiful woman on the screen glanced down, perhaps at her hands and there was a suggestion of tears in her luminous eyes just before they turned away.
It was all a farce, Inara knew. Adrina Serra made absolutely no gesture that wasn’t performed with a specific end in mind.
“Don’t try to manipulate me, mother.” That sharp voice had to be coming from someone else. Inara almost looked around to see who had spoken before she realized it was her mouth moving, her throat issuing the words. She was surprised by her own daring as her voice continued impatiently, “My training is not so rusty that I can’t recognize that ploy from the other side of the galaxy.”
Adrina sat back abruptly, moving away from the screen- her spine titanium straight- and every trace of her warm solicitous posture gone. “As you wish.” Casting away the role of conciliatory mother, she wore the cold, blank-faced discipline that Inara knew well. “Why do you persist in this madness?” Her voice took on an edge of contempt, “Tramping around the outer reaches with pirates and savages. I can hardly bear to think of the things that could befall you.”
“Don’t-” Inara made a spare gesture with the edge of her hand, “Don’t pretend that any of this is motivated by concern for me. Everything you have ever done has been for your own purposes- no one knows that better than I do.” She was speaking faster now, the words pushed out of her mouth by the pressure of the years she had held them in.
“Are you still so angry? Do not be a child, Inara. ” Adrina shook her head, as though deploring her daughters’ naivety, “I did what had to be done for the good of the temple.”
“Oh, yes- always the temple. Always what is best for everyone-”
“It was best for you as well.”
“No, mother, it was convenient for you.”
“And so you will live on the edge of the worlds forever then, like an angry ghost? You punish only yourself! Come home, Inara!” Her voice was half a plea and half a command. She leaned forward towards the screen again, her face growing large in her daughters’ vision, “Six generations of Serra women have guarded this temple- will you break that chain? Your world is here. Your life is here. Come home!”
Home. The water gardens in the moonlight. Cheering for everyone as hoopball raged below. Dancing the sun into the sky on the longest day of the year. Her little shuttle that was so easy to pilot, so quick to the helm. The quiet corridors of the temple as the golden light fell through them. Dinner in the galley- no real table manners to speak of and not much food but plenty of laughter. Her little room so high up you could see half of Xenon from its’ balcony. Serenity and her crew, rough and crude and dangerous and dirty. . . but real.
“I think I am home, mother.”
It was perhaps one of the few true expressions that Inara had ever witnessed in Adrina- that stiff pale look of shock as though she had been slapped. It was gone in an instant.
But Inara had seen it clearly.
Adrinas’ beautiful mask fell back into place, reflecting unconcern and disdain. She wished her daughter a cool distant farewell so smoothly almost no one would notice how brief it was.
When the screen went black, Inara stood like a reed, swaying unconsciously, feeling the console pressing into the heels of her hands, feeling the motion of the ship. She breathed deep, trying-
“So, you two don’t get on so well then.” Observed a dry voice behind her.
Startled and unsettled, Inara turned sharply in a swirl of silk and fury. “Were you listening?” She demanded.
Mal shrugged, “Couldn’t help hearing.” He told her casually, nodding over his shoulder at the open bridge door.
She gave the open doorway a brief glance and winced inside but gathered enough of herself together to tell Mal in a superior voice that trembled only a little, “In polite society, it’s courteous to pretend not to hear.”
That made him smile, “You tell me often enough that I don’t know a thing about polite society.” He glanced at the now dark screen, “A strong-minded woman- your mother.” He observed.
Drawing a desperately needed breath, Inara nodded. It wasn’t something you could deny really.
“I see you come by it naturally then.”
“Don’t-” Inara’s voice was far too sudden, far too desperate. She paused deliberately, gently unmaking the fists that clutched her skirt and smoothed her tone like she would the material under her hands, “Don’t compare me to my mother.”
She slipped past Mal and was out the door before he could reply. He studied her back as she moved away, faster than usual and then glanced speculatively at the black screen.
Mal was not the only one who had heard Inaras’ conversation with her mother- sitting in the mess drinking tea and reading his bible peacefully, Book couldn’t help but hear the exchange quite clearly. And when it was over and the companion hurried past him with hardly a nod, he felt both concerned and surprised. Inara was always so . . . well, serene. He shook his head gently at the book under his hands. Such a sad thing when mothers and children fell out. Such a sad thing that they should be parted.
He was born in a slum. In a little shack with a tin roof and cardboard walls and a dirt floor. He learned to steal early because he was hungry and so were his brothers and sisters and he learned to fight because there was danger everywhere in that cold dirty place. He had a mother but no father and she bore the burden of keeping them safe and fed all alone and it was heavy.
On the rare occasion that he looked back, his memories of that time are all in bits and pieces, a series of feelings accompanied by torn and faded captures in his head. He understood very little with any clarity . . . but he could remember that day- that day that everything changed.
It was a day like any other, except his mother roused him early before the other children and took him on a long walk to a strange part of the city that he didn’t recognize. She brought him through the back door of a massive building that was cleaner and colder than any he had ever imagined. Stopping at a desk, she spoke quietly to a clerk who escorted them into a little room with no furniture saving one small bench which they sat on. She explained to him that she had found an apprenticeship for him and that it would give him a better life. He could hardly hear her words. His ears with closed by some terrible pressure and she would not squeeze his hand when he put his fingers on hers.
A man entered the room and his mother stood to go. He didn’t understand that he should say goodbye but he managed to squeeze something out of his mouth. Maybe it was ‘Don’t go’ or maybe it was ‘Don’t you love me?’.
He remembered that she seemed to swoop down toward him then, and she grabbed his arm- high up near the shoulder in a grip so tight he was sure she would never let go. Her face was so close the tip of her nose brushed his cheekbone when she spoke.
“Whatever happens,” She told him in a low fierce voice, “your name is Derria and I do love you!”
And then she was gone.
The man gave him some breakfast and led him onto a transport. He told Derria that he had no name, he would simply be called ‘boy’ and that if he did well and worked hard he might earn the right to be called ‘student’. By the time the transport took off, Derria understood that he would never see his mother again.
Years later, when the boy could no longer remember his mother’s face, or the names of his brothers and sisters, or even the name of the planet on which he had been born, he could still hear perfectly his mothers voice and feel her fingers digging into the soft skin of his arm, “Your name is Derria and I do love you.”.
He was approximately ten years old when he earned the name student and he realized that his mother had sold him. It was several years after that when he came to understand that she had done it to save the rest of her children from starvation and that she had chosen him because he was the strongest. . . and maybe because she had seen it as a road out of the slums and that he was best equipped to take it. And having almost nothing else, he worked with a single minded ferocity at the usages of violence and knowledge that they taught him until he came to be called apprentice by a man he knew only as Master.
Through all those bloody years when only absolute obedience could grant survival he clutched his name and sometimes late at night when he had no strength left for hating, he found comfort in the memory of his mother’s bruising grip on his arm.
Eventually he became a journeyman and then a master in his own right, the thought of the slum and his mother alternating propelling and dragging at him. He wore many names and many personas in the course of his duties, never touching anyone as himself. But he had a talent for survival and he became something truly rare- an Alliance agent that lived long enough to retire. He had amassed enough money for a comfortable home but he had no family, no past- nothing.
When his brother Shepards found him at the gates of their abbey in the coldest hours of the morning- lost and broken and empty- they asked him no questions but one, “What is your name?” and he told them, “Derria”.
It took him years and the patient love of a merciful god to soften the stains left by his slavery and the acts he had committed to survive it. Some of the marks, he knew, would never leave him.
But the boy who was Derria hoped that wherever his mother was- alive or dead she knew that he had forgiven her.
The Shepard had left his bible on the table again. He did that from time to time, an invitation, Mal supposed to the heathens aboard ship to read it and maybe pick up a little hard needed religiosity. Mal wondered briefly how the Shepard would react if he ever found out that even if Mal had been inclined to read the good book, he didn’t need to. He knew the words- remembered them with perfect clarity, tied up as they were as tight as a thief’s horse to the memory of his mother. Growing up as he had, Mal had once thought that faith was something you inherited- like pale skin or a weakness for drink and that his mother had passed faith on to him as surely as she had her crooked smile and her mule-headed stubbornness.
It was his mother who taught him the first prayer he ever learned, “Now I lay me down to sleep. . .” saying the words with him as he knelt beside his bed on a rug she had made. And Mal knew his soul was safe in the hands of God because she said it was and she was all of god that he could understand that young.
As she raised him up, she raised him up in faith, insisting on prayers, showing him the lines between wrong and right, and forgiveness for what was necessary. She taught him to read out of the good book, her voice filled with reverence like her hands when she turned the pages. She had a great affection for the beauty of the old fashioned words and she spoke them the way another person would recite poetry. “There is a time for all things,” she said often, when the hay was early or late, when Mal came home with his first black eye and his first crush, when things went good or bad. Her faith was as steady as a turn of the worlds, never wavering.
When the Alliance started noising around with their taxes and their rules, she said a prayer asking for patience. “Who made them princes and judges over men?” She asked her son and shook her head with disapproval at the governments spreading influence but she held fast to her faith. So Mal held fast, too.
When she heard the news of the massacre on New Caledonia she offered up a prayer for innocence and innocent lives lost, “Forgive them, Lord,” She whispered the ancient prayer over her cross, “for they know not what they do.”
Later, Mal wondered if she forgave the soldiers who carpet bombed their ranch, who cost him the only family he had.
The fire destroyed everything- the farm house, the barns, all the livestock. There were no bodies to bury.
He enlisted with the brown coats the next day and set out to vent his righteous anger. Three years later the war took his faith, the only thing he had left that he had inherited from his mother.
Mal rifled the pages of the book briefly, thinking of those long ago days and came as close as he ever had in years to saying a prayer. Instead he slammed the books’ cover into place and walked away. ‘Sorry, mama.’ He thought.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006 7:18 AM
Tuesday, April 25, 2006 7:39 AM
Tuesday, April 25, 2006 11:32 AM
Tuesday, April 25, 2006 2:33 PM
Tuesday, April 25, 2006 4:56 PM
Wednesday, April 26, 2006 3:42 AM
Wednesday, April 26, 2006 11:44 AM
Friday, April 28, 2006 12:44 AM
Saturday, April 29, 2006 5:52 PM
Saturday, July 01, 2006 4:00 AM
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