Those Left Behind Ch2
Sunday, May 2, 2004



See Ch1 for Disclaimers. Thanks to Neroli for the beta help.

Chapter 2: Consequences

Chinese Glossary Tianna – Oh god Jien tah du guai – like hell nien ching duh – little girl

Mal walked into the passenger's dorm carrying a tray of food for River. Zoe had informed him that Simon had refused to leave his sister's side all day and he figured the girl could use a break by now. Conveniently, his mission also allowed him to avoid the crew's discussion of the day's events.

He knocked lightly on the door to River's room before entering. "Preacher cooked a good dinner. You'd better go and get some before Jayne eats it all," Mal told the boy.

Simon looked up at him groggily from his position on the floor beside the bed. "I should stay here in case River needs something."

Mal rolled his eyes. River was right, her brother was a boob. "You won't be able to help anyone by not eating or sleeping. Besides, River looks like she's taking a nap her ownself. I'm sure I can manage to keep an eye on her till you get back."

Simon looked back at his sister. After verifying that she was sleeping, he nodded grudgingly. "You're right, of course. I won't be long."

Mal waved at him dismissively. "Take as long as you need. Preacher already volunteered for the night shift." Simon nodded and finally left the room slowly.

Mal set the tray down on the nightstand and then slid the paper door shut. "All right girl, you can stop playing possum. He's gone now." River obeyed his command which worried him almost as much as her earlier behavior. After taking a seat in the room's only chair, he addressed her again. "Do you want to talk first or eat?" River just continued to stare at the nightstand without answering.

"Fine then, talk it is. If you'd like, you can pick the subject," Mal prompted. He continued to speak after receiving no response, "Kaylee told me what happened. I have to say, I wish you had come to me or Zoe. We would have told you that you weren't alone. You're not the only person in the 'verse who has survived a hellish situation while others didn't."

Mal saw her lips move and had to lean forward in order to hear what she said. "Not alone, I know that. They see it all, want me to choke on my cake and drink my blood." Tianna, that was not the type of answer he'd been hoping to hear from the girl. Mal shook his head; he was going as space crazy as she was. Everything she had said since the day had started made perfect sense to him.

"River, look at me gorramit. Whoever wants that, it won't never happen all right. And if you go try and cooperate with 'em on it anymore, you'll find out I'm not such a nice and cuddly Captain after all. Dong ma?"

"You can't keep me from growing up, Daddy. And you can't stop them from hating me and not letting me play reindeer games, either. Rudolf's always alone until the story's over."

"Jien tah du guai! Look, River, right now I can't do anything about those still left behind. But your story's not going to end for a good long time nien ching duh, you understand? So you tell those kids that they should leave you in peace or they might not like how I choose to end their stories."

River sat up and looked at the Captain quizzically. He really thought that the others should leave her alone. She didn't understand it. When she left, the programs had been accelerated out of fear of public exposure. It was her fault that they were in more pain. She should suffer too. "I won the race, I have to carry the prize. Downhill the sled will go faster than I."

"I don't know that I caught all that River. But if you're telling me that you deserve whatever those kids are putting you through, then you're wrong. You had a brother who loved you more than his own life and refused to give up. God knows it's a trait that has caused me no end of grief, but it's the reason you're here now. So those kids want to pick on someone, tell 'em to go and give him the bad dreams."

River smiled a little at the thought of her brother wandering through Serenity hearing the others complaints, dreams, and struggles to retain their sanity. He'd be batty in less than an hour. "They hurt Mal. This hurts them."

Mal finally crossed the room to join the young woman on her cot. "I know mei mei. I know." Hopefully someday they wouldn't; but until then, he'd do what he could to keep this one safe.

TBC in Chapter 3: Concealed Mutiny


Sunday, May 2, 2004 11:33 AM


IIRC, the Chinese translation FAQ states that mei mei means sister. It just seems to be a bit of an odd thing for Mal to call River.

Sunday, May 2, 2004 6:40 PM


SittingDuck, it does mean sister, but since Mal calls Kaylee that on several occasions it is not much of a stretch that he'd also come to call River that. :-)

Jebbypal, I really do love this is definately my favorite story from you so far. River's line "They hurt Mal. This hurts them." tears me up inside.

Monday, May 3, 2004 12:24 PM


This is great, I particularly love how well Mal is able to tap into River and get on her wavelength. Plus his protective instinct towards her is very shiny. *Xiexie ni* for a rutting good story, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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