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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Plans to get back at Niska come together slowly but a few well kept secrets may stop the plan before it can be put into motion. Simon/Kaylee. Mal/Inara. 35th story in a series.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1927 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Title: The Secrets that we Keep
Synopsis: Plans to get back at Niska come together slowly but a few well kept secrets may stop the plan before it can be put into motion.
Timeline: 4 months after wedding, 3 months after All Good Things Must Come to an End
Notes: Next part of a series beginning with : And So It Begins, Kiss Me, Coming Together, Tell Me, What’s Proper?, Tears , Peekaboo, Impatient, Waking Up is Hard to Do, The Talk, I See You, Exhaustion, Moving Day, Celebration, Surprise , Vacation, Reunion, Manipulation, Baby Talk, A First Time for Everything, The Way It Is, A Special Day, Girl Talk, The Gift, Breaking It In, Making Plans, Friends and Enemies, Where I Belong , Private Time , All good things must come to an end, Moving On, Questions and Answers, The Secrets That We Keep
Disclaimer: This story is not meant to infringe on the copyright of any person or company related to the trademarked characters and situations depicted in the Serenity movie or Firefly series. I make no money from this. Only done for fun – and a desperate craving to have more stories told about this wonderful ‘verse Joss Whedon created.
Some revelations here. Other's are coming soon.
Zoe watched Mal silently for a few moments before moving up the steps to join him on the bridge. When he didn’t acknowledge her presence, she moved into position so he would see her out of the corner of his eye. She’d learned long ago never to surprise an armed man. And Mal was always armed now.
Long, dark fingers absently traced the rifle attached to her hip. Everyone was. They were taking no more chances.
“A job, Sir?” Zoe glanced down as Mal thrummed his fingers against the dark screen.
“We need to keep workin’, Zoe. Need money to eat, keep this boat fueled.”
Zoe knew something was bothering him. But she waited. He would tell her when he was good and ready. “True, Sir.” They’d been using the money Simon and Kaylee had received from his parents, but Mal had obviously found it necessary to start taking jobs. His pride would only let him live on charity for so long.
Silence fell for a moment before she asked, “No word from Badger?”
“Not yet.” Mal cleared his throat and sat up straighter in the pilot’s chair. “Monty has a job for us. Just a short cargo run. Give us some coin. Keep us occupied for a few weeks.”
“Good, Sir.” Zoe regarded him sadly before moving to exit the bridge and head down to the galley for some breakfast.
She halted mid-step and turned around as Mal stood. The tension radiating off him was palpable. “Sir?”
“Ever felt the need to help someone so bad it hurt?”
Zoe remained silent, knowing he would continue whether she answered or not.
“My hands are tied. Can’t do nothin’. Have to wait on others to give us what we need. I’m ‘bout ready to pound through this here glass.” He shook a clenched fist at the pane separating them from the blackness of space.
“I know what you mean, Sir.”
Mal exhaled deeply. “We’ll get them that did this.”
Zoe’s gaze hardened as her eyes met Mal’s. “Yes. We will.”
Kaylee fidgeted as she sat on the plush couch, staring at the hands folded in her lap. Mal had hurried out not too long ago to leave Kaylee and Inara to their morning chat, stuttering amusedly that he had to get to the bridge to do ‘Captain-y things.’
“I think you should let Simon examine you.” Inara sat beside Kaylee on the couch, noting her tired eyes and slumped form.
“I’ll be ok. Ain’t been sleepin’ right.”
Her friend’s demeanor worried her and in an effort to get Kaylee to smile, Inara’s eyes twinkled before she said, “Simon not exhausting you enough, hmm?”
A small smile passed across Kaylee’s face for a moment before it was diminished by her former, troubled frown. “Just – I think –“
Inara hadn’t seen Kaylee this way in months. She truly was afraid of something. Inara had her suspicions but she didn’t want to voice them. Not yet. If Kaylee wanted to tell her, she would. Until then, she would just sit and listen and hope the younger girl would confide in her.
“Have you talked to Simon?” Inara prompted, after a few moments of silence. Some things still needed a little nudge in the right direction.
“He’ll be angry.”
Inara’s insides twisted at the thought. She was quite certain Simon couldn’t be angry with Kaylee over anything. “Oh, sweetie, there isn’t anything you could do to make him angry,” Inara insisted, struggling to calm the nervous twitching of her hands. Something was truly bothering her young friend and she had a suspicion she knew what it was.
Kaylee didn’t answer, simply stared into her teacup. “Except this.”
“It sounds like you should be talking to him, not me.” Inara took Kaylee’s hands both to stop her own from shaking, and to implore the younger girl to speak with her husband. “Promise me you’ll talk to him.”
Kaylee forced a smile to her lips. “I will soon, I promise.”
The uncertainty in Kaylee’s voice told Inara that was the last thing she was going to do.
“Well, I says we just ram his skyplex like we did last time.” Jayne leaned back in his chair.
“He’d be expecting that,” said Zoe with an exasperated sigh. Thankfully, Jayne was not hired to be the brains of the bunch. He was the muscle, and that, clearly, was all he’d ever be.
“Then we come up with a plan that he won’t be expecting,” Jayne shrugged as if everyone should have understood this. “Badger’s takin’ far too much time settin’ somethin’ up.”
Mal remained silent. He had his own plans and he would reveal them when the time was right. There was no need for everyone to get anxious. He was anxious enough for everyone already.
“He will probably get bolder in his illegal dealings now that the Alliance is having problems keeping the peace on the Core worlds.”
Everyone turned to Simon, who, thus far, had been silent during the entire discussion. Kaylee’s hand gripped his tightly under the table and he gave her a look that did nothing to ease her worries.
“We’ve all heard the reports. Riots. High-level government officials impeached, stepping down, dropping dead. Someone finally stepped up and issued accusations that shouldn’t have taken over a year.”
“And you think Niska will branch out his activities while the Alliance is otherwise occupied?” Zoe nodded as she agreed with Simon’s rather perceptive assessment.
Simon shrugged. “If I was some big criminal mastermind, I would.”
“Which will make him easier to locate – and reach.” A hint of a smile spread across Mal’s face. There was nothing wrong with having a backup plan. “Time to call in some favors.”
“Favors require friends, Sir.”
“We got some a those.” Mal grumbled at her. “Not many, thanks to what happened on Miranda, but we’ve done some good work since then. Earned us a fair few more friends for it.”
“Few reports we’ve gotten says Niska got himself a fancy ship and more than his pretty little skyplex to do business out of.”
“We’re gonna need them friends, ‘cause our itty bitty, unarmed, lets not forget that, little ship ain’t going to stand up to whatever Niska has.” Jayne drawled.
“Going up against Niska isn’t a wise idea, Mal.” Inara leveled a disapproving glare at the Captain.
“I ain’t particularly known for my wise ideas.”
Inara rolled her eyes while Kaylee shook her head, agreeing with the Companion. “Wish ya wouldn’t go after him. We barely made it out alive last time.”
“He won’t this time.” Jayne rubbed his hands together.
Kaylee stood up suddenly and marched out of the room, tears sliding down her cheeks. Simon sighed and followed, noticing Inara’s long-suffering look as he passed her.
“What’s her problem?” Jayne frowned. The girl had gotten more and more sensitive in the last few weeks. Was downright annoying.
“She doesn’t like this idea any more than I do.” Inara closed her eyes as a wave of nausea came at her from nowhere. “In fact. I have no desire to sit here and listen to your foolish plans any longer.” She pushed her plate away and glanced at Mal. “I’ve lost my appetite anyway.”
River, thus far had remained quiet, watching the conversation with detached ease. But when Kaylee, Simon and Inara left, she stood and slowly walked out of the room, holding her tears at bay until she reached crew bunk hallway.
She could hear Jayne’s loud exclamation of “women!” followed by a stinging slap from Zoe and another “ow!” echo down the hallway.
Settling into the co-pilots chair, she curled her legs up and wrapped her arms around them. The tears sliding down her cheeks were reflected in the glass as she stared unblinking out into the Black.
“Kaylee?” Simon slid open the door to their room and regarded the form buried beneath the blankets with a concerned look. She’d been moody lately but he’d attributed it to her working too hard. Perhaps there really was something more that he needed to take a closer look at.
“Didn’t wanna listen to it anymore, Simon,” came the muffled voice. “Don’t wanna go after him. Cap’n almost died last time.”
Simon settled onto the bed beside her and rested a hand on her shoulder. When she didn’t turn over, he swung his legs up and spooned himself behind her, on top of the blankets. “Talk to me,” he nudged softly, nuzzling her neck.
“Nothin’ ta say, really.”
Simon reached up to brush her hair off her neck. When his hand touched her skin, his eyes narrowed. “Are you feeling all right? You’re a bit warm.” His hand slid around to her forehead.
“Just tired, sweetie.”
He didn’t quite believe her. “I want to take some blood and run some tests, okay? Just humor me?”
She didn’t answer, but when he left to get the necessary supplies from the infirmary she rolled over and stared at the door. The tests would prove what she already knew. Maybe he wouldn’t even look for it and it would give her a bit more time to think about what she wanted to say. But he was a doctor, and a damn good one. Somehow she knew her secret wouldn’t last for much longer. Soon Simon would know – everyone would know.
Kaylee tried to smile when her husband returned, instruments in hand. She just held out her arm and closed her eyes. She hated needles. Good thing she’d married a doctor who could manage to slip one into her without her feeling more than a little pinprick.
Simon leaned down and pressed a kiss to her temple. “All done.”
Kaylee nodded and watched as he left again. She didn’t know how long it would take. But she suspected that it wouldn’t be long. He was nothing if not efficient. She yawned and rolled over, wanting to get a little sleep before Simon returned with his test results.
When Inara returned to the galley, her stomach protesting at having earlier been deprived of necessary nutrients, she found Zoe sitting quietly at the table. The former Companion briefly wondered if the older woman was purposely making herself available in case she wanted to talk. Inara inhaled deeply and made her way over to the counter to forage for some food. Her body needed it, even if she wasn’t in the mood to eat. She worked in silence for a few moments before taking her bowl of mixed protein and joining Zoe at the table.
“How do you know?” Inara asked suddenly after she’d picked at the food for a few long minutes.
“Hmm?” Zoe looked slowly up from the data pad she’d been reading.
“How do you know what I’m going through?”
Zoe nodded and closed the data pad with a soft click. “I’ve been there. I’ve seen it.”
Inara waited, her heart pounding in her chest. She clutched her chopsticks tighter, hoping that they wouldn’t snap between her trembling fingers. “What – do you mean?”
“Mal told you much about my past?”
Inara had to chuckle at that. “He might be an evil, mean tyrant, but he’s not that foolish.”
A hint of a smile spread across Zoe’s face. “No, I don’t suppose he is.” Zoe took a sip of her water and continued. “Where I grew up, women were considered little more than possessions. Good for cooking, cleaning and bearing children. I’ve seen a lot, experienced even more.”
“So – you were –“ Inara couldn’t voice the words, not in case Zoe really didn’t know what had happened. She couldn’t take that chance. No one could know.
“Saw lots of women beaten and forced to serve their men. Saw lots of ‘em kill themselves ‘cause of it too.” Zoe’s gaze wavered not a millimeter as she stared at Inara. “Joined the military so to learn how to defend myself. Wasn’t gonna be put in the same position as all the others – ever.”
“You’re a strong woman, Zoe.”
“Experience and training.” Zoe said. “So are you, Inara.”
Inara inhaled a shaky breath and glanced away, over Zoe’s shoulder, anywhere she wouldn’t have to meet those steely dark eyes. “I used to think so.”
“Does he know?”
Inara’s eyes snapped back to Zoe, narrowing as she tried to contemplate the exact meaning of Zoe’s question. After a few long moments, Inara said, “Yes – and no.”
Zoe simply nodded. “Will destroy you from the inside, you keep it bottled up. I know. I’ve seen it happen.”
Inara shook her head, wanting to deny Zoe’s words. “Some things must –“
In a motion that surprised Inara, Zoe leaned forward, her eyes intense, piercing. “Tell him. He needs to know.”
Inara recoiled as if she’d been slapped and stood, momentarily incensed that she’d been caught off guard by the woman. “Some things are better left unknown, Zoe.”
“I’ve seen secrets like this destroy lesser women.”
Inara couldn’t think. She had no response so she returned her bowl to the counter and walked toward the exit.
Inara stopped and swallowed convulsively. That River knew something was evident. The girl probably knew every secret buried in Inara’s mind. Guiltily, Inara had kept clear of River, subconsciously knowing that the girl would be able to pluck her thoughts right out of her head. And they were thoughts that no one should have to bear, not even River. She had enough troubles of her own without adding any more. She regretted not paying more attention to the girl but it was just too hard, too painful. Her mind could only take so much, and her body was already stressed to its limits.
“I’m sure River knows a lot of things,” Inara snapped, a bit too harshly than she really intended. She hurried out before Zoe could respond, her heartbeat roaring in her ears as her mind wondering to which of her secrets Zoe had been referring.
When Inara checked on Kaylee, she found the mechanic sleeping very soundly. Wondering why Simon was not with his wife, Inara wandered toward the infirmary. She stood in the doorway for a few moments, watching him silently. Simon hadn’t moved. His back was to the door and he was looking down at what appeared to be a data pad.
“Simon?” Inara stepped over the threshold.
Simon started for a moment, snapping his head up to look at the woman as she crossed the distance between them, her skirts brushing soundlessly against the immaculate floor.
Inara smiled politely as she came to a stop beside him. His eyes were clear, staring at her, searching, piercing her with their intensity. She trembled for a moment and then glanced down at the pad beneath his fingers.
“I – ran some tests,” Simon finally said, drawing Inara’s eyes back to his. “She wasn’t feeling well and – I was worried.”
Inara nodded, waiting for him to continue. When he didn’t, she asked softly, “Is she all right?”
Simon swallowed thickly and nodded, glancing down at the data pad that displayed the results of the broad-spectrum tests he had performed. “No – well, yes, technically, she is fine.”
“That didn’t sound very positive.”
When his eyes returned to Inara, she felt as if she had been nailed in place. “Did you know?”
Inara opened her mouth to respond but closed it again as Simon continued.
“You two have been much closer since –“ he couldn’t finish. He didn’t really want to talk about the attack. Kaylee didn’t like to hear about it so he had been careful not to discuss it unless she brought up the sensitive topic.
A compassionate smile passed across her face. “Don’t you think you should be talking to Kaylee about this?”
“I will.” Simon let out a small chuckle and shrugged. “You were here and available so I wanted to ask.”
“I think she suspected. She didn’t know for sure,” Inara confirmed as he glanced back down at the results again.
“I guess she would know better than I would.”
Inara moved to leave but glanced back toward Simon, concern furrowing her brow. “She’s afraid you’ll be upset.”
A small smile spread across his face as he looked up at Inara. He picked up the data pad and held it to his chest. “Far from it, Inara. Far from it.”
Inara nodded and left him to his thoughts. Kaylee would probably sleep for a while longer and she was suddenly exhausted. While Mal was busy doing his ‘Captain-y things’, she would go take a nap.
Simon decided to go check on Kaylee, but when he saw her sleeping, he decided they could talk when she woke. She needed her sleep now. Simon chuckled lightly as he left their room, realizing that he should have recognized all of the signs she’d been exhibiting for weeks.
He went to the common room and sank into one of the chairs, opening the data pad to Kaylee’s test results that he still clutched tightly.
Simon glanced up from the couch to see Mal standing over him.
“Feelin’ all right?” Mal took a seat in the large single chair opposite Simon and leaned forward, elbows on his knees.
“Good, ‘cause we need to have a little chat.”
Simon closed the data pad and gave Mal his undivided attention. “Something wrong?”
“Not really. Been a bit worried about the girls and this Niska thing.”
Simon nodded. He’d been worried about Kaylee and now he had a medical reason to be and Niska, well, he wanted to do all manner of unspeakable thing to that man. But not at Kaylee’s expense. Not now. “I know how you feel.”
Encouraged that Simon felt the same, Mal continued. “Which is why we’re havin’ this little sit down.”
“Badger’s gonna set us up again we take work from him.”
“I have no doubt,” Simon agreed, leaning back against the couch.
“But we’re gonna.”
The only thing indicating Simon’s surprise was the raise of one dark eyebrow. “We are?”
“Long as we expect he’ll double cross us, it won’t happen.”
Simon swallowed nervously. Mal’s plans often got one or more crew members shot. And now with Kaylee – “Captain, I don’t think –“
“I need your support in this, Simon.”
Simon hesitated. He couldn’t tell Mal about Kaylee. Not yet. But knowing now, made him hesitate all that much more to put her in the middle of a three-way firefight.
“I really think we should wait.”
Mal frowned. Simon, of everyone, he’d thought would be supportive. Niska had caused the women they loved a lot of pain. Even if Simon wasn’t a doctor, he didn’t believe that his Oath stretched to causing no harm to a man who would attack innocent, unarmed women. “Wait? You yourself said this is a good time. With Niska probably bein’ distracted an all.”
Simon pursed his lips. “Yes. That was – earlier.”
Mal cursed beneath his breath. “What’s changed your mind? Lil Kaylee?”
Simon nodded slowly. “In – a way.”
“Simon, you’re right. An you know how much I hate to admit it. Niska’ll be all manner of distracted ‘cause of the problems on the Core worlds. He’ll be easier to reach.”
Simon bit back a strong retort. He wanted to harm Niska just as much as Mal did, but he had other things to worry about now. He couldn’t tell Mal, not yet. Suddenly he stood, startling the Captain. “I really need to check on Kaylee. She wasn’t feeling well and I ran some tests I’d like to go over with her.”
As Simon moved past him, Mal’s brow furrowed. “She ok?”
A small smile passed across Simon’s face as he turned back to look at the Captain. “Yes. She’s going to be fine.”
“Things are about to change,” River said as she walked into the cargo bay. Her tears had long since dried and she stared wearily at the door leading into the common room.
Jayne huffed and puffed below his weights, grunting when he noticed the girl stop right next to him. That she could siddle up beside him so easily unnerved him something fierce. Girl needed a bell.
“Things always changin’ out here in the Black, Crazy.”
River glanced up and watched silently as the Captain strode out of the common room. He didn’t look happy. But that was because Simon no longer supported his plan to get back at Niska. Not now. But he would. Eventually. She knew it all. Except the most important part; the part that would keep her family from splintering into un-repairable pieces.
Her eyes followed Mal as he made his way across the bay and up the steps to Inara’s shuttle. Her voice was devoid of emotion as she said, “some change is good. Some change is – not.”
Jayne grunted as he settled the weights on their rack. “Why you gotta always talk in riddles?”
River tore her eyes from the Captain and returned them to Jayne. “Perhaps you just aren’t good at listening.”
“Mal?” Inara rolled over and found him sitting on the couch, staring at her, through her. She pushed herself out of bed and padded over to him.
“Have a good nap?” he asked, favoring her with a small, uncertain smile.
She stretched the stiffness from her limbs. “A bit restless.”
Inara didn’t answer but sat down and took one of his hands in her own. “I really want you to reconsider this. Please.”
Mal rolled his eyes. First Inara and Kaylee, then Simon, now Inara again. He didn’t understand why they didn’t support him. “Won’t run like some frightened –“
“Mal, there are other concerns now. One’s we can’t just dismiss out of hand. You can’t put this entire crew in danger for a – vendetta.”
Mal hesitated for a moment, his brain trying to determine which of her comments he should ask about first. Discussion on his need to lash out at Niska always lead to a fight so he chose the former. “What concerns?”
Inara looked away for a moment and took a deep breath. When she looked back at him, she smiled slightly and squeezed his hands. “I can’t say. Not yet. But – soon.”
Mal frowned. He didn’t like secrets on his boat.
“Are ya mad?” Kaylee sat on their bed, her legs pulled up to her chest, her arms wrapped around them.
Simon tried to mask his disappointment. “I wish you’d come to me.”
“Thought you’d be mad ‘cause we didn’t wait like ya wanted.”
A small smiled tugged at the corner of Simon’s mouth. “Well, we’ve been married a few months. I guess I was foolish to think that we’d have another discussion about it then.”
Kaylee’s lower lip trembled but Simon crawled over to her and took her into his arms. She relaxed into his embrace and closed her eyes. For a split second, the faces of the men who had attacked her flashed in her mind and she tensed, a small gasp escaping her lips. The panicked feelings came at the most inconvenient times. But usually they were gone as soon as they arrived.
Simon looked down at her but she buried her face in his chest, trying to stifle the sobs that welled in her chest.
Why couldn’t she get them out of her mind? It had taken a long time for her to feel safe walking around the ship at night, thanks to Early, but this was different. She had to make it past this nightmare. The bruises had healed, when would her battered nerves?
Simon shook his head and slid his hands around her cheeks, tilting her head up to look at him.
Kaylee’s heart fluttered when she saw the look on his face. He was happy. His eyes were bright, clear, excited even. He wasn’t mad. She felt lighter than she had in months.
When he gently leaned forward and kissed her, she gasped into his mouth and returned the pressure, sliding her arms around his neck and draping a leg over his.
One hand held his wife close while the other slid down her cheek to rest against her flat stomach. When they parted, his eyes were wet with unshed tears. “I love you, Kaylee.” He glanced down at his hand as hers came to lay over it. A wide smile reached his eyes. “And I love our baby too.”
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