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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Sequel to my "Forward Motion" Series. Post-BDM. Also makes references to my "Family Dynamics" series (archived on this site).
River puts her plan into motion when Serenity and her crew hatch a plan of their own. Mal/Inara, Kaylee/Simon
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1152 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Simon was in that beautiful field dotted with flowers again. He didn’t want to be. Despite the warm sun on his skin and the sight of the natural setting around him, he knew, in his gut, he didn’t want to be here. He tried to avoid seeing them, tried to avoid looking to the horizon and seeing Kaylee’s beautiful form and his sister’s radiant smile. He didn’t want to see them; didn’t want to feel his heart swelling in his chest at the sight of them.
But it didn’t matter what he wanted. He saw them anyway – it was unavoidable. And just as inevitable was his agony as he watched them disappear, calling their names and begging them not to go. And then the rain started again and Simon thrashed so hard he almost fell out of his bunk.
And thankfully, that woke him up.
Kaylee was already awake beside him, brushing her fingers through his sweat-soaked hair and whispering to him. He could barely hear her comforting words over his own pounding heart and heavy breathing. He squeezed his eyes shut as tears fell and wished he could will them away.
He hated feeling this way, feeling so weak. Especially in front of Kaylee. It wasn’t fair that she had to go through this alone, that he relied so heavily on her. He had been right before, when he'd been tending to River - it felt like eons ago now, but it didn't make it any less true - he didn’t deserve her.
“I’m sorry,” he murmured his voice barely recognizable through his emotion.
“Shh, Simon,” she continued to murmur, resting her head on her bent arm so she could look in his eyes. “There’s nothin’ to be sorry for. I don’t need to sleep.”
He knew she was trying to be funny, to make him smile, but her attempt to cheer him only brought more tears.
“I’m sorry, sweetie,” she said quickly, her own eyes clouding over. “I know I ain’t funny, but I didn’t think I was that bad.”
“No,” he told her, wishing he didn’t mess up everything he attempted. Turning to face her, he reached out a hand and placed it against her cheek. “No, it’s not you. I just – I wish I was stronger. I wish you didn’t have to see me like this.”
Kaylee gazed at him for a moment, her hand still running absent-mindedly through his hair. Her eyes held a look of compassion Simon was familiar with – it was the look Kaylee gave to almost everyone at one point or another. It was a look that conveyed her great capacity to love and her deeper capacity to care. It was a look that would melt any man, and it had worked on Simon.
Leaning closer to him, Kaylee placed a light kiss against his cheek and whispered into his ear, “See ya like what?”
At first, Simon didn’t know what she meant. Could she really not see how damaged he was? How all of this was affecting him to the point where even he didn’t recognize his own reactions any more? He knew she could see all of that, with more clarity than he'd like.
She pulled back to again study his features, and easily read the confusion on his face. In way of an explanation, she whispered, “This is just a bad spell, that’s all it is. We’ll get through an' we’ll be better for it. And once River’s back will wonder if’n it ever really happened.” She leaned forward again and kissed him, this time on the lips and Simon could taste the sweetness of her mouth. Her kiss enlivened every part of his body and sent chills throughout his system. She was the best thing that had ever happened to him, bar none. When she pulled back this time, she rested her head lightly against his shoulder and wrapped her arm over his chest, drawing them so close it was impossible to tell where he ended and Kaylee began. It was his favorite way to sleep.
He nuzzled his face into her hair and breathed deep, already feeling calmer and more relaxed. The images of the dream still haunted his brain, clinging to the periphery of his mind, but he willed them away and focused instead on the warm, amazing girl lying in his arms.
“I love you,” he whispered to her, bringing his hand up to run his fingers over the arm she had draped across him.
“Not more'n I love you,” she murmured, her breath warm against his bare chest. Within minutes they were both fast asleep.
Zoe was again on the bridge alone. She liked it that way. The firefly was hurtling through the ‘verse heading for Osiris and she found the rush of the stars out the cockpit’s canopy always gave her a sense of calm, because they reminded her of Wash.
She heard footsteps behind her and knew there was only one person on this boat who could tread so softly – well, one person currently. She didn’t turn to greet the woman, but instead kept her gaze on the stars and said, “Can’t sleep, ‘Nara?”
If the companion was startled it didn’t show. Inara moved forward and sat in the empty co-pilot’s seat, her own gaze following Zoe’s up and into the black. Sighing she waited a few moments before answering the other woman’s question. “Insomnia seems to be an epidemic on this ship.”
Grimacing, Zoe thought of plenty of previous sleepless nights that had not been half as pleasant as the current one. Tightly, she responded, “Yeah, I ‘spose, but it could be worse.”
“It can always be worse,” Inara agreed quietly. A silence fell between them then and neither woman wanted to break it. It was comforting for now to just sit and be still.
After endless minutes of staring at the stars, Inara finally cleared her throat and asked, “Did Mal tell you the plan?”
Zoe nodded once, and this time shifted her gaze to fall onto the young woman’s face. “He did.”
“Is it any good?” Inara bit her lip in anticipation, worried that the soldier’s evaluation would be harsh and critical, but much more truthful than Mal’s.
Raising an eyebrow, Zoe smirked slightly and asked, “Why’re you asking me? Mal’s already given the go ahead.”
“I know,” Inara said sheepishly, her gaze falling to her hands in her lap. “But, well … his plans don’t exactly have a winning track record.” Both women shared a smile at the truth in the statement as Inara continued, “Approval would mean a lot more coming from you.”
Flattered and not quite sure what to do about it, Zoe again turned her eyes to the stars. Thinking a moment more, she said, “’Nara, trust me. If I’da thought the captain was gonna do something to get dead, I woulda spoken up ‘fore now.” When she realized the other woman had not released the breath she’d been holding, she turned to again face her with a big grin on her features. “It’s a good plan.”
“Oh Zoe, thank you,” Inara breathed, rushing up to the woman and doing something she had never done before – she hugged her. And Zoe let her. Breaking off the embrace, Inara squeezed her friend’s shoulder as she turned to leave. “Get some sleep, please.”
“I will,” Zoe promised watching her go. “’Night.”
It was just before dawn when River’s mother stirred. River was by her side in an instant studying her pained features, looking for a way to help, a way to be more than an observer of her mother’s illness. But there was nothing she could do, the cancer Simon had diagnosed all those months ago was ravaging her mother’s aged body and it wouldn’t be long now before there would be nothing left.
Taking her mother’s hand, River stroked the back of it lightly, and smiled as the other woman’s eyes met hers and finally focused. Her mother tried to smile as well, but it was barely a recognizable expression. “River?”
River’s grin grew bigger as she said, “Hi mom. How’re you feeling?”
“Not good.” The woman’s voice was gravelly and River was not accustomed to the sound. Her mother’s voice had always been soothing, flowing with an ease that came from years of diction classes and a rich upbringing. It had lulled River to sleep many a night and this tone was nothing like it. “Why are you here,” she managed to squeak out. Her brow furrowing slightly, River read the concern in her eyes even as she voiced her next thought. “Is Simon –“
“No, mom, he’s fine,” she reassured her, knowing that by now, over three months since he’d had medical attention, Simon was indeed well on his way to recovery. “I’m here on my own.”
River swallowed hard and studied her mother’s pallid features. River didn’t want to alarm her, that had never been her intent. But she needed her parents now, for the first time in years, she needed them for the information they knew and she had felt it was only right to spend a little time with them before she disappeared again for good. “There’s something I have to do. Something important and I think you and daddy can help.”
The woman’s features shifted ever so slightly to convey the smallest glimmer of hope and it brought unwanted tears to River’s eyes. As they started to fall down her cheeks, her mother raised a shaky hand and wiped a few of them away. “Oh baby girl,” her mother whispered.
River leaned down and placed a soft kiss on her mother’s cheek. “It’ll be all right, mom, really.” She tried to keep her voice steady, but it was getting harder. “Simon and I, we’re okay. We’re happy now, on Serenity. You don’t have to worry about us anymore.”
“I’ll always worry about you both,” her mother told her, her voice growing firmer. “You’re my children and just as I’ll always love you, I’ll always worry about you too.”
River smiled through her tears and sat with her mother in a comfortable silence for a long while. When at last she heard movement outside in the hall, she knew she had lingered too long. It was time to get to work.
Reaching down to give her mother one final kiss, River promised, “I’ll come back one more time, before I leave. I have to go see Daddy.”
“River, wait.” Her mother tugged on her hand, forcing her to stay seated next to her on the bed. “Before you go, there’re some things I need to tell you, and I may not get another chance.”
River’s tears came faster as she said, “Don’t say that, mom. You’ve got plenty of time.” She knew as the words came they were a lie.
Her mother knew it too. “No, sweetheart, I don’t. And there are things you need to know. Things I need to tell you so you can help your brother once I’m gone.”
River nodded once, realizing this was important, more important than her vendetta, at least for the next hour or so. Settling herself more comfortably on the bed, River leaned in and said, “Okay, I’m listening.”
By the time Serenity reached Osiris, Simon was again standing on his own and able to walk short distances before completely tiring. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than still being stuck in bed. As he rounded the cargo bay for his morning dose of physical therapy, Mal came to meet him. Standing to the back of the cavernous room, he waited until Simon had rounded his last corner and then stepped into the younger man’s path.
“How’s it going, doc,” Mal asked, clapping a light hand on his shoulder, watching his face closely as it contorted in pain.
“Better, not great,” Simon told him truthfully, rubbing lightly at his side. His ribs were still not quite back to normal and walking always brought about a fair amount of aching, but it felt so good just to be standing, Simon would gladly accept the pain that accompanied his new range of movements. “How’re things coming on your end?”
“We’ll be landing on Osiris within the hour,” Mal reported, guiding Simon back into the common room and helping him ease himself down onto the couch there. When they were both comfortable, he continued, “Inara’s plan should go off without a hitch. And if that’s the case, then I’m gonna need to know you’re up to this.”
Simon held Mal’s gaze for a moment, the fire back in his eyes. The closer they had gotten to Osiris, the more adamant Simon had become in getting his sister back and going after her himself. No one liked Inara’s plan, least of all Kaylee who had turned into an anxious ball of energy since things had been decided, but Simon knew it was sound and it would get the job done – it would get his sister back.
“I am not letting those men anywhere near my sister, not ever again,” he told Mal haltingly, trying to banish the image of River being wrapped in hands of blue. “I’ll be ready.”
Mal nodded once and clapped him on the knee as he rose. “Good, now just be sure Kaylee hasn’t sabotaged that shuttle. It’d be a cryin’ shame if we couldn’t even get you off this sorry boat.”
Simon grimaced and not from the pain. The fact was Kaylee could very well of rigged the shuttle so it wouldn’t fly. She did not want him to go, and especially not without her. He had been trying to convince her that he would be fine. He’d be with Jayne and Inara who were both more than capable of watching his back. But Kaylee had not been convinced.
“I’ll go check on that,” he called after the captain as the other man headed back to the bridge. Wincing again as he rose, Simon took a deep breath and headed for the engine room, knowing that was where he would find his bao bei and knowing it was as good a place as any to have their coming fight.
“Now look ‘Nara, I ain’t saying you ain’t a fair pilot, but that shuttle o’ yours can be a mite persnickety, especially in a tight spot.” Kaylee was cranking away at some bolt on Serenity’s engine as Inara sat patiently in the doorway, watching her friend with a bemused, if concerned look on her face. Kaylee had never before questioned her abilities, but this mission, which involved Simon seemed to have pushed the young girl over the edge and Inara was more than happy to indulge the girl in a little bit of nerves if it would help her stay calm.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t working. “Kaylee, we will be all right,” Inara told her, her tone even. “Everything is going to work out fine, you know that, right?”
Kaylee stopped her work for only a second, but it was the only hesitation Inara needed to see that her friend was not convinced. Crossing the small room in a few steps, she placed a gentle hand on Kaylee’s arm and turned the girl to face her. Kaylee’s face was expressionless, but Inara could read her tension.
“Mei mei,” she whispered, taking both her hands. “You’ve got to stop worrying like this. It’s not healthy.” Leading her friend over to her hammock, Inara helped her get seated as she said, “If Mal or Zoe thought that this was a bad idea, they would have said something. You’ve got to trust us, you’ve got to trust me.”
Both women turned at the unexpected sound and Inara watched as Kaylee’s eyes widened at Simon’s form standing in the doorway. Inara knew she had not voiced her fears to the young doctor, or had tried not to – Inara had a sneaking suspicion Simon knew a lot more about her reservations than he let on.
Inara smiled sympathetically at him and he returned the gesture. Giving Kaylee one last look, Inara squeezed her hands again and then turned to leave. Stopping before Simon on the way, she murmured, “Good luck,” and was gone.
Simon watched her go for a moment, uncertain of how exactly this was all going to work out. When he finally turned back to the room, he saw Kaylee’s empty hammock. Scanning the small space for her, he saw that she had again found another minor repair to be done on the engine and was hunched back under its spinning heart, tinkering away.
He could easily sit and watch her work for hours, but now was not the time; they didn’t have those kinds of minutes to waste, not when they were so close.
Clearing his throat, he gingerly walked down the few steps into the room, and waited for a moment, hoping she would acknowledge him. When she didn’t he took a few hesitant steps closer to the engine and said, “Kaylee, can I talk with you for a moment?”
“I can hear ya,” her muffled voice came back, half her body now firmly wedged under the engine.
Frowning at her avoidance, Simon walked over until he was standing at the ends of her feet and said, “Kaylee, please.”
He waited as the clanging stopped and her body went rigid. After what seemed an eternity, she finally scooted out from under the engine, and sat up, pulling her knees into her chest and gazed up at him. “What?”
Simon hated to see her so upset, so anxious, so scared. He had seen far too much of that in the past few months, and while he knew he couldn’t silence all of her fears – some of them were grounded in very real threats – he knew he could at least try to reassure her. And he could leave Serenity having told her everything he’d always wanted to say so that should the worst happen, he wouldn’t have any regrets.
With great effort, he sank into a sitting position, allowing his still aching back to rest against the curved wall of the room. Kaylee stayed where she was by the engine and while Simon would have liked her to come closer, he didn’t ask.
“Mal told me we’ll be on Osiris within the hour,” he stated, looking for her reaction. Nothing.
“He thought you might have rigged the shuttle to keep it from taking off,” he confided, again looking for a reaction. She let her eyes drop to the floor and Simon had a sinking suspicion that maybe they really should check out the shuttle.
“Yeah, well, I didn’t,” she said sheepishly, her voice barely above a whisper. “I thought ‘bout it, but I didn’t. That shuttle’s in the best shape ever.”
Simon smiled slightly at her admission – leave it to Mal to know her better than even he did.
“Kaylee, everything is going to be okay,” he started, but her angry look and sudden outburst cut him off.
“Don’t tell me that,” she shouted, thrusting a finger in his direction, her eyes ablaze. “I don’t want you makin’ promises you can’t keep and you sure as hell can’t promise me that everythin’s gonna be fine.”
She was breathing heavily from the ferocity of her emotions and it took Simon a full minute to recover. Angry tears had welled in the bottom of her eyes and Simon wished he could make them go away. He wanted to see her smile again – he wanted to make her smile again.
“You’re right,” he admitted, surprising himself; this was not the pep talk he’d imagined. “I can’t promise you that I’ll be back or that we’ll find River or that even if we do, she won’t be dead.”
Kaylee turned her head as he spoke, unwilling to meet his gaze as her tears started to fall. “But Kaylee.” When she still wouldn’t face him, he asked softly, “Will you come here? Please?”
She looked back to him, her face shining with tears and he thought for a split second she might say no. Simon’s heart beat wildly in his chest; he didn’t think he could take it if she didn’t cross this impossibly small distance between them so he could hold her.
With a sigh, she got up on her hands and knees and crawled to him, coming to sit in front of him. He reached out and took her hands and said, “I can’t promise you anything because I have no idea how this is going to turn out.” He spoke truthfully hoping she could read his sincerity. His own tears were falling now too. “But I can promise you that no matter what happens, I love you. I love you so much.” She dropped her gaze again and let out a sob and Simon immediately cupped her face in his hands, bringing her pained eyes back to meet his. “I love you, Kaylee Frye. That’s a promise I can make and one I can keep.”
Kaylee sobbed again and finally she sank into him, throwing her arms around his neck. He held her tightly, wishing he had more to say to calm her. Wishing that he could tell her everything would be fine and that soon this would all be over, but Simon couldn’t even say those things to himself. He would never believe they had all survived this until they were standing on the other side.
When River emerged from her mother’s room, it was already mid-morning. She hadn’t expected such a heart-to-heart with the older woman, not now, and not when her mother was in so much pain. Blinking back her tears, River was glad they had had those moments together, but now it was time to get on with her plan.
Walking the short distance to her father’s office, River placed her hand on the door knob and paused. The last time they had spoken River had been crazy – not just a little crazy, but a lot crazy. She had spoken gibberish to him most of the time and she had felt his confusion and fear. Fear of his own daughter; that thought had stayed with her for months. She didn’t want her father of all people to be scared of her, but in the next few minutes it was an emotion that could serve her well.
Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly, River pushed open the door and entered the familiar room. It was still full of old books and dark wood and River marveled at the comfortableness that the room evoked within her. She and Simon had snuck in here to play plenty of times and they had only broken something once. For them that was a fairly good track record.
Turning at the sound of the opening door, her father’s aged face and eyes took in her appearance. With a blink of recognition, he stood, too quickly and had to steady himself against the desk in front of him. Leaning heavily on the thick wood, he could not wrench his eyes from her face. “River,” he breathed, his voice barely audible.
She nodded once as she took a few more steps into the room. “Yes, daddy, it’s me.”
He worked his mouth for a bit, trying to say something else, but words would not come. He could barely think. His daughter, his baby girl was back, back home and looking so much better than the last time he’d seen her. Flames of crimson immediately blushed his cheeks as he remembered his reprehensible behavior from less than a year ago.
Pushing away the memory, he circled around the desk and swept his daughter into a tight embrace, picking her up off the floor and swinging her tiny form around. “Oh, River, it’s so wonderful to see you. I’ve missed you, sweetheart.”
River hugged her father back, knowing it was the least she could do. When he again set her back down, she looked up at him, not surprised to see genuine tears in his eyes. “I know, daddy.”
“What are you doing here,” he asked, pulling her to the leather couch against a wall of the room. She sat down next to him, pulling her legs up underneath her. “Is everything all right? Where’s your brother? Is he here?”
Holding up a hand to stop him, River smiled slightly and answered, “Slow down, dad. Simon’s fine, he’s back on the ship, resting.”
Her father’s features clouded immediately. “Resting? Is he all right? What happened to him?”
River could feel the concern radiating off her father and she knew it was sincere. He and Simon had reached a new level of understanding last time they’d faced off and he didn’t like the idea of his son being hurt. “It’s a long story, daddy and one I don’t have time for right now. But just know that he’s healing and he will be all right.”
Not entirely convinced, but knowing better than to push her, her father rested again into the couch and stared at his daughter for a moment. She was so much more mature, so much more grown up then when he’d last seen her. Could it only have been eight months ago? It seemed like a lifetime.
Reaching out a hand, he tucked a stray hair behind her ear and let his hand rest on her cheek. “You look good, River.”
“I’m better, daddy,” she told him truthfully, again smiling at him. “Really. Simon helped and I found some people who could make me well and they did.”
Her father’s eyes shone with unspent tears of gratitude to these phantom people who had helped his broken daughter. “That’s good, River,” he whispered, his voice full of emotion. “That’s really good.”
They sat in silence for a few more moments and River indulged him, even though she knew she was running out of time. With her family so close and old memories so near the surface, River found herself much more in tune with her brother. She could tell he was close, they all were and she needed to set this plan in motion so that they wouldn’t end up pawns in her war.
Clearing her throat, River took another deep breath to steel herself for the coming conversation. “Daddy, I know you helped Simon last time, helped him get me out of that place.” Her father’s eyes immediately darkened and River knew he was remembering all they had discovered. “That’s why I’m here. I need your help again.”
Squeezing both her small hands in his, he said, “Anything, baby girl. Anything at all.”
River hoped he really meant it. “I need you to help me get back in.”
Sunday, May 14, 2006 6:34 PM
Sunday, May 14, 2006 7:17 PM
Monday, May 15, 2006 1:22 AM
Monday, May 15, 2006 2:29 AM
Tuesday, May 16, 2006 8:25 PM
Friday, June 09, 2006 7:07 AM
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