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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
"Thadius and the rest of the Readers accomplish their mission but pay a terrible price. Mal faces the fact that Inara does not want the same things he does while Simon and Kaylee get even closer."
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2154 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
TITLE: "CAVEATS AND ADDENDUMS"
AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL
PAIRING: Kaylee/Simon. Mal/Inara.
STATUS: SEQUEL to "HOUSEKEEPING"
ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where.
SUMMARY: "Thadius and the rest of the Readers accomplish
their mission but pay a terrible price. Mal faces the fact that
Inara does not want the same things he does while Simon and
Kaylee get even closer."
The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly'
are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
No infringement of copyright is intended.
"CAVEATS AND ADDENDUMS"
Written by Alison M. DOBELL
* * * * *
There was blood and dust everywhere. The blast had taken down the ceiling and pretty much turned the building to rubble. Beneath the debris nothing stirred. Bodies broken, mangled and smashed by falling stone. Some dead even before the building quaked with the power of the explosion's concussive force. To achieve total success Thadius and the others had to be in close proximity to their targets. The Reavers had been relatively easy to aim then release, gory weapons of destruction. Brute force and aggression unleashed against their former masters while the Readers nudged and controlled them on the path chosen for them. Parliament had been in turmoil, the Director's mouth dropping open in undisguised shock.
Bodies ripped apart, faces bleeding and torn open as the unholy prodigals fed then turned in a blood crazed lust upon each other. Helen lay awkwardly, a grotesque and twisted doll, sightless eyes staring up at nothing as the dust settled in a ghastly red rain around them. For long minutes nothing seemed to stir then slowly a moan or two relieved the terrible stillness as the orgy of terror tore itself to a ragged standstill. Ruben crawled through the rubble of brick and broken bodies. His shoulder dislocated, his body ripped and bleeding but numb to the pain. His mind frantic in the silence that echoed round and round inside his head like the onset of madness. Where the good gorram were they? He prayed he was not left alone. Something flickered on the edge of his awareness and Ruben froze, closed his eyes and stretched his mind as far as he could. Using senses denied to other mortals but honed to razor sharpness by Blue Sun. There. His heart stuttered, almost too afraid to allow hope to creep into it. *Where are you?* His heart cried.
Ruben was oblivious to the tears falling unchecked down his blood and dirt streaked face. His movements quicker now, in a panic to get to the survivor. He didn't want to die alone but worse than that would be living without the others. They were a team, a close knit family, like siblings cut from the same cloth, or parts of one flesh. He had felt the life ebb out of Helen, felt it torn kicking and screaming from Michael, witnessed Carl jerk as two Reavers fought over his body, ripping off his limbs long after his screams died and his body fell vacant of life. That left only Thadius unaccounted for. Eyes bleeding tears straight from his heart, Ruben crawled until his fingers bled. Heart and mind crying out for a response that he feared would never come.
Minutes slowed like hours crawling around the face of time itself. The tick and tock between heartbeats almost drowned out Ruben's senses but then a jolt went through him. He tried to hurry but his body betrayed him, dragging heavier second by second. Organs failing as he fought for breath. At last he found him. Thadius lay, back broken, but a smile upon his comely face. Ruben cried anew and reached for him, gentle hands fumbling to offer fleeting comfort, to cradle his friend as he lay dying. Thadius wanted to tell Ruben it was alright. He was proud of him. They had succeeded.
*Don't die, Thadius! *Qing*, don't leave me!*
*Hush now, we did it. Know what that makes us?"
Ruben could hardly see the beloved face now for weeping. His battered body still moving, bloody hands dragging him the last few feet so he could lay beside Thadius. His right hand settling over Thadius Clay's broken one. The pain immaterial, his relief at finding a connection however weak too important to allow anything else to penetrate. *Don't talk, save your energy, wode pengyou*.
*Big Damn Heroes. That's what Mal would call us, xiongdi*
*Hush, rest now*
*Bu qu, rest soon enough. You have to get a message back, Ruben*
Ruben shook his head, his gentle soul breaking even as the cracks in his heart seemed to consume him with grief unending. *I can't leave you*
*Wo zhidao, which is why I have to go on ahead*
Ruben clutched at him, panic choking him. *We'll find a doctor, fix you up. Get you back to Serenity, dui?*
*Too late, Ruben, but don't be sad. Be brave, find Mal or get a message to him. It ends here, dong ma? You will be the last but we have done the impossible*
Too upset to respond even in his mind, Ruben managed to roll onto his good shoulder the better to look his friend in the eye. Only Thadius could no longer see him, his eyes already clouding and growing dim. Ruben sobbed, his hand rising of its' own accord, shaking but determined. Carefully brushing the dust and debris off his friend's face before painfully easing close enough to drop a gentle kiss on Thadius Clay's forehead. A tiny sigh exhaled with a soft hiss, like air escaping from a punctured balloon. Ruben knew his friend was dying. With an effort he managed to sit, his hands clutching on to Thadius, his thoughts too much of a jumbled ruin to offer much in the way of comfort. Capable only of holding his hand as the last vestiges of life trickled out through torn and tattered lungs.
It seemed incongruous to Ruben that as the last breath of life left the man's body, a beautiful gentle smile bowed lips that would speak no more. Ruben reached over and gently closed Thadius Clay's eyes. *You have done the impossible, my friend*. His thoughts murmured with emotion and deep respect. *That makes you mighty*.
Hours later Ruben stirred from a pain filled doze, instinct prodding him into moving though his body protested and fought him all the way. He had to get out of there before the Alliance elite squads arrived to pick over the bodies and tried to piece together what had happened. The presence of the Reavers told their own story but Ruben already knew that they would never be part of what would be disclosed to the public. No. The secret of Gabriel Tam's New World Order would die with the last of his kind. Geniuses every one but mortal too. Only one imperative drove him now. And not nothing in the 'verse would prevent him achieving that last objective. Yes, he would go, but Ruben Franks did not intend to make this last journey alone.
Zoe was not right sure what in the 'verse had gone wrong between Mal and Inara. For the last couple of weeks the pair had been inseparable. It had been the happiest she had seen her Captain and friend since before the war and it warmed her heart to think that at least one of them could find happiness in this grim unforgiving 'verse. If she couldn't have Wash it eased her heart some to think that Mal at least had Inara. Only in some odd screwed up way he didn't and her mind couldn't quite grasp the why of it. The Captain wasn't talking and Inara had shut herself up in her shuttle. What in the nine hells had happened and what did it mean?
Sighing, Zoe glanced at the dinosaurs keeping vigil on Wash's console. There was no sign of River, the girl having gone to get some rest. Nothing to do now but wait until they were ready to land. Four more hours their little albatross had predicted. "What're we gonna do, *zhangfu*?" She murmured softly, one hand gently brushing the heads of the dinosaurs. Because she knew as strong as Malcolm Reynolds was Inara was the one person who had the power to break him. Something not even Adelei Niska was able to accomplish. Zoe's aspect hardened, her lips flattening out into a hard uncompromising line. If Inara broke the Captain's heart not nothing would stop her from throwing the woman off this ship. Either that or placing a bullet through the manipulating *pofu's* head. Didn't matter a good gorram that she considered the Companion a friend, if the woman betrayed the Captain no power in the 'verse would allow Zoe to forgive her.
Kaylee stirred and moaned in her sleep. With a smile Simon rolled over and kissed her, pleasure lighting his face at the hum of happiness his touch produced. Even fast asleep Kaylee responded to him and Simon could not get over the wonder of it. Could hardly quench his thirst for her. It was a mystery and a marvel to him and one he intended to cherish every day of his life. Simon smiled gently, eyes full of love, then slowly got on with the serious job of showing his *bao bei* just how much she was cherished and adored.
A dream. It had to be a dream. A glorious, erotic dream where each of her secret fantasies held hands bringing her to a bright and shuddering orgasm. Kaylee gasped, eyes springing open, the feel of Simon's hands bringing her back to reality while her hips jerked and she spasmed in response to his very gifted tongue. "S..Simon?"
She could feel his grin against her thigh but he did not raise his head. Man was too gorram busy to engage in small talk and to be honest Kaylee's brain was shorting out, her body wired to his every touch. His tongue lapped at the flood of juices from her orgasm, his long sensitive fingers holding her in place while she recovered just before starting again, teasing that bundle of nerves until the mounting sensations were too much and she cried out. Afterwards he crawled up her body and rewarded her with a sweet kiss, their heated bodies fusing together as they lay wrapped in each others' arms.
"So," Kaylee gasped. "Where d'ya learn to do that?"
Simon lifted his head and tried for an innocent look. "I'm a doctor Kaylee, I know all about the human body."
Her eyes twinkled, a lecherous grin breaking out on her face. "That how ya wake all your patients?"
"Oh no," Said the doctor as he leaned in for a closer inspection. "I keep my best work for you."
Kaylee's chuckle turned into a throaty growl as Simon caught her lips and rolled them over, the mechanic's legs wrapping around his waist, her own not inconsiderable talents now coming into play. He knew he was in for it now, but if nothing else, Simon Tam had the most amazing stamina.
The Black of space was not the comfort it had once been. The music of the spheres having no orchestra to compete with the silent voices and minds of those that had passed beyond the body into spirit. Ruben was tired, in pain, and trying valiantly to stay conscious. His task made no easier by the heavy burden laid across his gentle heart. That their success had cost all they had was painful not because of that fact but because he yet lived in a world silenced of all joy and comfort. Divorced from his friends he was the ultimate orphan. Only a strong will held him to the promise each had made to the others should any survive.
Grimly he sailed the cold midnight air between planets, oblivious to every star and moon. The drift of glittering dust and the debris of broken worlds did not attract his eye. The thunder and rock of a meteor shower not even denting his consciousness with a fear for his own safety. Nothing mattered except this. Ruben thought back to the times he had dipped in and out of the Captain's thoughts, savouring fragments of memories about people he had never met. People Mal carried in his heart and mind like a wreath of sorrows. Unspoken but always heard. Now he was the one doing the carrying. The bearer of sorrows beyond words. A burden it would kill him to relinquish for the memories were so dear. The loss so achingly poignant.
Fortunately the little ship's state of the art sensors did what Ruben in his weakened physical state could not. They made a homing beacon of his last wish. A gift returning to the last of those that would mourn them. It was fitting. It was meet.
Zoe chose her moment with care. Eyes tired of watching and waiting, heart afraid to leave it any longer before acting. Inara was surprised to see the stubborn look in the first mate's eye, a sure clue that the conversation that followed would not be to her liking. Fortunately Zoe had followed her to the shuttle and without being invited followed the Companion aboard. Inara did not challenge her but waited, the solemn woman shutting the door behind her.
"What's goin' on with you an' the Cap'n?"
Surprised, Inara just managed to hide her surprise. "Nothing that need concern you."
"Anythin' concernin' the Cap'n concerns me. Ought to know that by now."
A sense of discomfort crept through the Companion's veins. "Zoe, stay out of this. *Qing*."
Zoe's lips flattened even further, her lips pressed so thin they almost disappeared. "Can't."
"I won't let you hurt him."
Something like anger sparked briefly in the Companion's eyes, quickly smothered though not before Zoe had seen it. "What happens between me and Mal is none of your business."
Zoe ignored the warning tone in Inara's voice, knowing she had rattled the woman but determined to get across her point. "The Cap'n *is* my business."
It took an effort for Inara not to shudder under Zoe's glacial regard. A look in Zoe's eye that Inara had never seen aimed in her direction before. It was more than a little unsettling and put her on notice that she was in danger of crossing a very serious line. Suddenly Inara found herself sympathising with Wash. She knew Mal and Zoe were close but this was the first time she felt excluded by that bond. It unnerved Inara more than she wanted to admit. She was a Companion. Her life did not belong to the Captain any more than it did to the crew. A free spirit, she valued her freedom. Nandi had been right. When you love something you become tied by it but that would never happen to her.
"Look," Inara offered quietly, her voice a study in calm control. Willing Zoe to try to see this from her point of view. "It wouldn't work, we both know that. In the long run we would end up tearing each other apart. I don't want to hurt Mal."
Something glittered deep in Zoe's eyes. She remembered something she had once said to Wash when he had been reluctant about bringing a helpless little life into the Black. "Once told Wash I ain't so afraid of losin' somethin' I wouldn't try to have it. Seems to me you're givin' up before you've even started."
Inara swallowed. "*Ni bu dong*."
Zoe's eyes narrowed just a fraction. Taking a step closer her voice got softer, lower, and Inara felt the hair on the back of her neck stir with apprehension. Sometimes Zoe and Mal were too alike for comfort. "I understand this. He loves you an' all you do is play with him. Turn his emotions inside out. Give him hope on'y to snatch it away again. It ain't right, Inara."
The Companion was genuinely shocked. "No, I would never..."
"Inara, don't lie." The words were flat, emotionless and hard like the expression on Zoe's face. "Don't take me for the fool you're makin' of Mal. Just 'cause he loves you don't make him weak but it does make you someone I'm not sure I wanna know any more."
The words were like a slap in the face, a piercing pain in her heart. "Zoe..."
"If you don't love him," Said Zoe firmly. "Best you tell him. No matter how much it'll hurt least it'll be honest."
"And if I do?" Inara whispered.
For a long moment silence stretched like a tightrope between them. "If'n you do then you need to decide which matters more. Your love for Mal or your fear of givin' in to it."
Inara's eyebrows rose in surprise. "You think I'm afraid?"
Zoe's lips tightened. "You tell me."
The Companion blinked and fought to regain her calm. Her eyes staring blankly at Zoe's retreating back. Furiously struggling to hold back the urge to cry. Wishing Zoe could understand but then why would she? Zoe had loved Wash so much, was happy to be with him and share the life he led. But Inara was a Companion, it was who and what she was. How could she stay with Mal and choose his life over hers? How could she jettison her identity and be subsumed by his? No. She had not spent all those years learning and training for this life to give it up for one man. That was why Companions did not fall in love. It made them weak. Yet somewhere deep in her heart a little frightened voice told her she was a coward, while another stronger firmer deeper voice told her she could not outrun her heart. Funny, but the latter voice sounded just like Mal.
When Zoe returned to the bridge River was back at the controls. Shadows under the girl's eyes that Zoe found disturbing. Without turning around River spoke. "She won't listen. Threats and common sense won't work."
Zoe held her breath. When she said nothing River glanced back over her shoulder.
"None so blind as those who will not see."
Zoe and River just stared as the Captain stepped on to the bridge. Getting no reply he gave them a puzzled look.
"This a private guessin' game or can anyone play?"
"Coming in to land." Said River, not answering his question but giving him something else to think about. As she had hoped the news diverted his attention.
"Huh, 'bout time. Sooner we unload this cargo, sooner we get paid." The Captain picked up the com. "We'll be landin' shortly, soon as we do meet me in the cargo bay, Jayne."
With a nod to Zoe and River the Captain left the bridge. River's expression turned to one of sorrow as she gazed after him. "Sad."
Zoe's heart missed a beat, thinking of her conversation with Inara. River turned soulful eyes on her.
"Broken hearted but not what you think."
Jayne could not remember the last time he was this happy. Not only had the job gone smooth but they had been paid, a hefty bonus putting a smile on the mercenary's face. Even the Captain was happier and given his mood of late it was something of a relief to get out from under the man's scowl. Now it was Kaylee's turn to squeal in delight, her face a wreath of smiles.
"I can get that new compression coil? Really?"
The Captain nodded. Though his heart wasn't really in it he had no desire to dampen the girl's high spirits. "Reckon we got coin enough for you to go get whatever Serenity needs, *mei mei* but on'y what she needs, *dong ma*? We ain't near rich enough to throw money away."
Kaylee stood on tip toe and kissed his cheek. "I love my Cap'n!"
Then Kaylee was off in a rush to find Simon, Mal having already agreed that they could take the mule to get the supplies for the ship and whatever medicines and what not the doc needed for the infirmary. Zoe watched them jump on the mule and go. Inara left in the shuttle to keep a couple of appointments but River had not so much as stuck her nose out of the cargo bay since bringing the ship in to land. Come to think of it, the girl had been acting almost as subdued and withdrawn as the Captain. Zoe did not even want to speculate on what that might mean. For now everything was shiny and she wanted the good feeling to last a while before the next crisis came on the horizon.
Three days. 72 little fat hours. Long enough to finish the job, spend their coin and be back in the Black heading for an unimportant little moon called Port Merrow. Inara's return had been as quiet as it had been unremarked. The Captain made no attempt to go to her, his silence a painful counterpoint to the high spirits of the crew. It was getting so that Kaylee was ready to go stomping to the Captain's bunk and demand to know what the good gorram was the matter with him. Simon gently disuaded her but he couldn't erase the little worry lines that persisted on her face or the look of pained confusion in her eyes.
"*Wo bu dong*, Simon. Why's the Cap'n so sad, an' then there's 'Nara hardly stickin' her nose outta the shuttle? We gotta do somethin'."
Simon smiled as he hugged her close, inhaling the scent of her as he kissed her gently. "You can't fix this, *bao bei*."
Kaylee turned in his arms, looking a little lost and hurt. They were in Simon's bunk, River had finally gone back to the bridge to set course for Port Merrow. Everyone else trying to relax without it looking like any kind of hardship. Everyone except the Captain and Inara. Trouble was, the ship's crew were not simply friends now, they were family and if one was hurting it affected them all. Kaylee was frustrated and concerned. "They were so happy, Simon. I don't understand what went wrong."
It was on the tip of Simon's tongue to say what always went wrong - their *wangu shenjingbing* Captain had obviously put his foot in it and upset Inara. But Simon sensed that blaming the Captain would not help and truthfully he didn't even know if Mal had done anything wrong this time. "*Wo bu zhidao* but we have to let them work it out, *bao bei*."
"Yeah, but what if they break up an' never get back together again? What if 'Nara leaves for good this time?"
She was so sad and mournful it sounded more like the mechanic's heart would break before either of theirs. Simon hid a tender smile not wanting her to think he was taking it lightly or finding amusement in other people's sorrow. "If they love each other enough..."
Simon trailed off and let the unspoken words hang in the air. Sighing, Kaylee leaned into him and as Simon began to touch and kiss her she forgot all about the Captain and Inara. Her body wanting, lusting, needing. Heat gathering between them as they began to perspire, pheromones scenting the recirculated air and sweeping them up in a swift and steady passion that would not be denied.
Sitting in front of her mirror, Inara Serra stared without seeing. The hairbrush a forgotten prop in her hands. She should go to him. Talk to him. The inevitable had finally happened and that left but one solution. This time she would have to leave for good. He would never be able to accept who she was and she would never be able to give up the life that defined all the things in life she cherished. Putting the brush aside she grazed her fingers over the drawer in her dressing table. Her fingers slowly stilling, her breath held as she slid the drawer open and stared at the box. Such a small if ornate but innocuous thing. How could it have changed everything so much? But Inara knew. The certainty that Malcolm Reynolds wanted not simply children but *her* children had both thrilled and horrified her.
Burying her face in her hands she wept. It was a long time before she could fathom that she was not crying because he was wrong but because her heart feared he was right. And here she was once again planning to leave. To run away. As late as it was she knew she would not be able to sleep because if she did this her heart would never know peace again. Yet what else could she do? Her hands started to shake with emotion as the resolution she had been clinging to began to crumble. She would have to go, speak to him, before the opportunity vanished. If she really was going for good Mal at least needed to know the real reason why.
The knock on the Captain's door did not surprise him. His visitor did. "Jayne? What the good gorram you doin' in my bunk?"
Jayne shifted a mite awkwardly if Mal was any judge. "Need to talk to ya."
The Captain's eyes narrowed. He pretended to get back to working on the ship's books but his mind wouldn't settle. Secretly he had been impressed and relieved when his crew hadn't tried to meddle with him and Inara but it had been three days so why was Jayne coming to him now? Annoyed, he shoved the books aside and glared at his mercenary. "Best spit it out."
Jayne looked hesitant, uncomfortable if the Captain was any judge. But what he said knocked Mal for six. "They's back."
Oddly enough the non sequiter made sense. Mal didn't even question how he knew who his mercenary was talking about. "Thought they weren't gonna do that?"
The big man swallowed real slow, as if little sharp stones were trapped in the back of his throat and he was trying not to choke on them. "Not all of 'em did."
Instantly the Captain was on his feet. Part of Jayne was relieved to see the change, the echo of the old Mal taking back control. The reason though made his heart quail with sadness. As he hurried out of his bunk with Jayne close behind him Mal broke into a run, a heartbeat short of panic. Voices could be heard but he couldn't make out the words. Then he heard Simon's voice ordering Kaylee to stay back, not that it sounded like his little *mei mei* was taking a lick of notice. Heart in his mouth, the Captain made it to where the little ship had docked to Serenity in record time. Kaylee's half dressed state not registering, Zoe's dark empty eyes locking on his for a heartbeat and stealing the air in his gorram lungs. River hovered behind Simon, her pale face wet with silent tears. The Captain went to press passed them. Zoe blocked his path.
"Might wanna let the doc go first, sir."
The Captain shook his head. "Can't. Won't."
Zoe wanted to argue but the look in her friend's eyes stopped her. Silently she stepped aside and watched him enter the little Alliance stealth ship with Simon. When Kaylee went to follow, Zoe caught her arm and gently but firmly pulled her back.
"I just wanna help, Zoe." Kaylee wailed, her eyes pooling on the brink of tears.
The first mate shook her head, more determined now. "Jayne'll go. You can best help by makin' lots of hot tea, *dong ma*? Why don't you see if Inara wants to help?"
Steadying at the mention of her friend, Kaylee nodded and hurried to the Companion's shuttle. When her quiet knock went unanswered, Kaylee threw caution to the wind and pounded like a banshee on the door.
"Go away, Mal!"
Kaylee sucked in a breath to stop herself from falling to pieces. "Ain't the Cap'n, 'Nara, it's me - Kaylee!"
The door flew open seconds later, Inara in a silk dressing gown, eyes shadowed from lack of sleep but now filled with concern. Horrified to see tears streaming down Kaylee's normally happy face. "Kaylee, *mei mei, shenme shi*?"
CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)
*qing* = please *wode pengyou* = my friend *xiongdi* = brother
*bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *wo zhidao* = I know *dui* = correct *pofu* = bitch
*zhangfu* = husband *bao bei* = precious/treasure *weishenme* = why
*ni bu dong* = you don't understand *mei mei* = little sister *wangu* = stubborn
*dong ma* = understand? *wo bu dong* = I don't understand
*shenjingbing* = crazy *shenme shi* = what's the matter?
Thursday, May 11, 2006 12:18 PM
Thursday, May 11, 2006 12:27 PM
Thursday, May 11, 2006 7:39 PM
Thursday, May 11, 2006 9:22 PM
Friday, May 12, 2006 8:14 PM
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Friday, November 4, 2011 8:47 PM
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