BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

KACIDILLA

Parting Gifts - Part 4
Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Okay, Mal's caught up...now it's time to re-introduce the whole crew to the story again... I hope this is suitable...


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1795    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Zoe sat in the pilot's chair, toying with a small plastic stegosaurus her husband had often kept near him while flying. This was where she came when she missed him the most: to his chair...his place... She sighed as she watched the stars streaming by her. It had only been a few months, but she knew she would always feel the emptiness in her. She almost didn't hear Jayne come in. "It ain't right for the Cap'n to sneak off like that," Jayne was saying to no one in particular. "He hasn't seen her in some time," Zoe sighed as she struggled to sit up. "Let them have a moment to regroup, then you can get back to tryin' to bed her." "Here now," Jayne said, lending Zoe a hand. "How is it you know so much about what they's doin' and ain't doin'?" "She grew up with him," Zoe shrugged, placing the dinosaur back in its place of honor. "She's got things she needs sayin' to him as much as he's got his own." "Yeah, well, ain't it convenient we picked her up then?" "If it bothers you that much, ask her yourself," Mal said from the doorway. Tess and River stood behind him, River holding Tess's hand. "Mal," Tess hissed. "Please, could we just finish talkin'?" "No," Mal said, not looking at her. "I need t'just...I got captainy things need t'be done. You need to rest. River'll show you back to your room. Or to the doc so he can...do...somethin'." "There's nothing he can do," Tess said, giving up on privacy for the conversation. "And...he knows already." At that, Mal turned around. Zoe and Jayne exchanged looks. "Simon knows?" he blinked. "Knows what?" Jayne asked. "He would've asked questions anyway," Tess responded quietly. "Questions about what?" Jayne asked. Mal turned to him, frustration reaching its peak. "Questions 'bout my childhood friend dyin' of some incurable blood disease," Mal snapped. "Knows she's on her way to diggin' her own grave on what's left of her daddy's property. Any more questions?" "Wull, how'd she find us?" Jayne sounded less demanding and more apologetic that he still had one more question. He at least had the decency to mumble the question. Mal turned to Zoe in desperation. She shook her head in response. "I heard rumors of where you'd be," Tess explained. "I was only there to give you the locket. I didn't know I'd end up on your ship." "You woulda just let me go on, thinkin' you were still..." Mal asked, whirling on her. His eyes searched hers, her words striking deeper with each passing moment. "You woulda wanted to know?" she asked. "You woulda wanted to carry that around with you? Mal, you were happier knowin' I was out there, doin' just fine. Admit it." "I woulda wanted to know," he said. "I woulda wanted to..." He looked around at his crew, who were all trying to wish themselves into different parts of the ship. "Aw, hell," he muttered, taking Tess's hand and tugging her into the corridor with him. River started to follow until Zoe stopped her. "River," she almost whispered, "They don't need company." "But she's hurting," River responded. "She needs a friend." "I think she's got one with her," Zoe said, absent-mindedly patting the girl's hand. "You worry too much," River said, switching gears and subjects. "Motherhood comes easily to you." She smiled and took the pilot's seat, adjusting a few switches fluidly. Jayne, to Zoe's amazement, nodded. "Yeah," he agreed. "You think you ain't got this motherin' down. You mother Mal all too well." He left before Zoe could respond. "Mal!" Jayne called, seeing the couple standing at the far end of the corridor. "I wanna talk to you!" Mal, shoulders slumped, nodded. He murmured one last thing to the woman before letting her continue on. He turned to Jayne, the last shreds of his patiences already frayed. "Jayne," he said tightly, "If this doesn't pertain to the possibilities of spendin' your well-earned cut of the pay, or the desire to paint your bunk some delightful shade of blue, you'd best be on your way. Now is not the time to discuss much with me." "Just cause you got some pers'nal trouble don't mean we gotta fly all the way to Shadow 'fore we get--" Jayne argued. "Jayne, I just found out one o'my dearest friends is dyin'," Mal swallowed, trying to control his rage. "Now, last I checked, this was my boat and I make the calls. If it is her dyin' wish to go to Shadow, I will do all that is in my power to get her to Shadow. Which, amazin'ly enough, I get to. Now, if her dyin' wish is to dance a fan dance usin' your Vera and one of Kaylee's spare engine bits, then I'll take up the idea with you. Dong luh ma?" "But Shadow ain't exactly ideal spendin' territory," Jayne tried. Mal shook his head. "Shadow ain't exactly ideal territory," Mal admitted. "But it's where she wants to go." "Why're we goin' along with it?" Jayne demanded. "If it's your ship, and you ain't up for the big homecomin' you ain't gonna git, why're we takin' her there?" "She'd get herself there any which way she could," Mal explained. "And seein' as how she's already on a ship that can get her there, I don't see no reason why she needs to find another way." "But, Mal -" "I'm done talkin' 'bout this," Mal warned. "I suggest you find yourself done, too." With a grimace and unsaid curses, Jayne took his leave. Mal watched him go before removing himself to his own quarters. Once there, he allowed himself to collapse to the floor. Tess...Baby Girl...dying. She had explained to him the fortune Percy had spent trying to find cures, ways to put off the inevitable...but in the end, she just made her peace with it. But Mal hadn't. Not yet. * * * "I didn't mean t'interrupt or nuthin'," Jayne said when he found Tess sitting quietly at the table. "You did," she smiled when she saw him. "But it's understood why." At his grunt, she gestured for him to sit. Reluctantly, he did. "Why you wanna be goin' off t'Shadow anyway?" Jayne asked. "I mean, 'sides the whole dyin' and gettin' buried next to yer kinfolk. There's nothin' there." "Nothin' but memories," Tess smiled. "Wonderful memories of times less complicated, love less complicated and life...stretching out endlessly." "Yeah, well, memories ain't exactly what I'm lookin' for right about now," Jayne muttered. "That's only 'cause you ain't heard summa the best ones," Tess laughed. Jayne's look showed his extreme disbelief of anything worth his listening. "Oh, yeah?" he challenged. Tess's eyes lit up. She always loved a challenge. "Well, there was this one time I convinced several of the boys that I needed a good, ol' fashioned girly tea party..." she began. * * * By the time Mal had collected himself enough to go in search of Tess, there was a crowd around the table trading stories. He watched from the doorway, seeing the laughter in everyone's eyes and feeling the relaxed atmosphere. They hadn't had moments of calm mixed with mirth since before Inara and Book had left them, nearly a year before, and even after Inara returned to them, times had been strained. The Alliance hadn't really been all that happy with the release of the Miranda 'wave, which kept them from the Central Planets, and so jobs had been scarce, but they'd been getting by. Barely, but how was that really any different? It wasn't until Mal heard Inara's voice that he realized what sort of stories were being told. "He does seem to find himself in odd stages of dress," Inara was admitting. "I'm sure I'm not the first to have told you about when we found him stranded, in the desert, without--" "Don't you folk have anyone better to humiliate?" Mal interrupted, smiling. Inara, her back to him, didn't miss a beat. She turned to him and flashed a brilliant smile. "See?" Tess teased from Jayne's lap, "Dressin' your boys up in dresses will do odd things to their perception of fashion. Zoe, if you've a lick of sense about you, you will do your son good by not allowing Mal to interact with him. Least not till he knows the difference between man-skirts and such." "Are you drunk?" Mal asked. Tess just smiled. Jayne smiled, too, and that was somewhat unsettling. "Mal," Inara said, with a beguiling smile of her own. "You never told us how sad you were to see the little bunnies move away." "You told them that?" he asked Tess, who was in the process of standing up. Jayne was supporting her back, Mal noticed with a twinge of the overly-protective love he'd grown up knowing for Tess. She was Baby Girl. Jayne was...not good enough for her. "I didn't tell them y'named the things," Tess stage-whispered. "We was just talkin' 'bout the cows and then...the bunnies sorta came up in conversation." Mal noticed that his crew were all looking rather amused by it all. Kaylee, snuggled up to Simon, was watching Mal with some newfound interest. Inara had the 'cat-who-swallowed-a-canary' look about her...he wondered what else Tess had told them. Zoe seemed to glow with that pregnant glow...and an inside joke he was missing out on. He noticed Simon and Jayne, however, were watching Tess. Jayne for obvious reasons, his hand was still on the small of her back, but Simon looked confused... "What were their names, Cap'n?" Zoe asked, breaking into Mal's thoughts. "Y'know I'm still taking suggestions for the little one here." "I'm still having trouble picturing the captain in a dress, pouring tea," Simon finally managed. "Oh, you don't have to trouble yourself," Mal suggested. "You'll play again?" Tess asked, clapping her hands. "I think I still have a dress or two you could fit into..." "It's so sweet of you to indulge in a little girl's games," Inara cooed. "You will play again, won't you? I could get my personal set from the shuttle." "She was five and the only little girl around for miles," Mal tried to defend his actions. "What else were we supposed to do? No one could carry on the way Baby Girl could. She had half that damn planet wrapped around her little finger. Just the way she's got all o'you." "She can wrap me around any part o'her she wants," Jayne chuckled. Tess turned and smiled at him. Mal stepped further into the room, only to feel Inara touch his hand. He looked at her and saw the tiniest shake of her head. "I thank you for the offer," Tess said warmly. "But I wouldn't want to leave any broken hearts behind me." "It's a bit late for that," Mal sighed. Tess looked at him suddenly, the smile slipping away. Seeing the light-hearted looks of his crew also fading, he struggled for a smile of his own. "You didn't tell them about the time you and I had Percy believin' we was gettin' married, didja?" he asked suddenly. Tess's eyes lit up as she remembered. "No, I hadn't," she giggled. "I thought it was a more intriguing story just lettin' everyone think we mighta had somethin' between us. Now you had to go and ruin my little fib." "Always did like to shed light on your fibs," he smiled, letting his hand travel to Inara's shoulder. Tess noticed but didn't call attention to it. "Except the times I told Mavis you was growin' up sly," she grinned. "With all them ranchers around you and me as your only childhood companion of an age, she had quite the time trying to cypher that on her own. You never told her the truth." "You told Mavis I was--" he almost dropped his hand from Inara's shoulder, but Inara's hand flew to keep it there. She was hardly aware of her own action...she was laughing too hard. As was everyone else in the room. "Now, was it Mavis or Lani?" Tess teased, her pert smile distracting. "I can never recall anymore." "Well, now I won't feel bad about tellin' everyone about your unnatural fear of ladybugs," Mal sighed, turning to his crew. "No, y'can't tell them!" Tess insisted. "Or I'll tell 'em about...about..." It was too late, everyone had lost control of their bubbling laughter during the embarrsasing tales competition. Zoe even had tears streaming down her face from the laughter. "Tell us, Cap'n," Kaylee gasped. "And then, please, tell us how you came up with the name Puffikins!" At that, they all erupted again into laughter, the joke finally released. Slowly, Mal assessed his crew. The months of stress and mourning seemed to be evaporating with each second spent in Tess's presence. She always had that talent, he remembered. Even as she started another embarrassing story about his attempts to woo Mavis - or Lani, because even he couldn't remember anymore - he felt the tensions in the ship slip away into the black. He glanced at Inara, still holding his hand to her shoulder, and thought of the locket. He forced himself to pay attention to Tess's words again. "I swear to you," Tess was saying, her face deadpan, "This man, your cap'n, somehow managed to impale himself with one of my first pairs of high heeled shoes. I still, to this day, do not know how he did it. He seemed to find new ways to do injury to his person and scare his mother near to death once a month." "Well that explains -" Kaylee began as Simon nodded. "Tess doesn't need to know about all that," Mal cut them off. At Tess's look, he rolled his eyes. "Tess doesn't need to know about all that...yet." "Sure I do," Tess waved him off. "Pretend he's not even here. What did he stab himself with this time?" "Which time?" Zoe chuckled. "You'll have to be a bit more specific..." Mal sighed and closed his eyes. It was going to be a very long trip.

COMMENTS

Tuesday, August 8, 2006 3:39 PM

TAMSIBLING


I am still loving this story ... there is something so wonderfully familiar about Tess and wonderfully soothing - you are writing her influence on the hurting crew so well, I can feel their tensions easing as well ... and all the stories she's telling about Mal - priceless!

Now, if she could just convince Mal that her dying wish is to see him with Inara - the 'verse would be right and shiny! Post more soon, please!

Tuesday, August 8, 2006 3:39 PM

TAMSIBLING


I am still loving this story ... there is something so wonderfully familiar about Tess and wonderfully soothing - you are writing her influence on the hurting crew so well, I can feel their tensions easing as well ... and all the stories she's telling about Mal - priceless!

Now, if she could just convince Mal that her dying wish is to see him with Inara - the 'verse would be right and shiny! Post more soon, please!

Tuesday, August 8, 2006 5:27 PM

KAYNARA


oh, this is so very lovely. tess is a great OC, and someone i can genuinely see mal bonding with as a child. (he does like strong female figures). i especially love her toying with the idea of letting the crew think she and mal were involved. not sure where you're going with this, but i can see tess healing our aching crew or being saved (somehow) and sticking around. does she cook? ;)

Wednesday, August 9, 2006 1:52 AM

AMDOBELL


This is beautifully bitter-sweet, with Tess such a lovely fun character bonding so easily with Serenity's crew you can see they all love her and it is fun to see how she unravels Mal's hard shell with the blabbing of their childhood secrets but also in a way that helps the crew to heal from their own traumas and losses. I have a feeling I am going to see a whole factory full of Kleenix at the end of this. Shiny story, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, August 9, 2006 5:03 AM

LEIASKY


I'm still liking Tess very much and I like how she gets along with the crew. Nicely done story so far. I'm looking forward to more.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006 1:42 PM

DQBABY76


I really like this story arc, their stories are outrageous but believeable. I am almost sad that Tess is going.

Wednesday, August 9, 2006 2:23 PM

KACIDILLA


you all make me smile! and that's a job and a half lately, so thank you! there's only two chapters left...i hope no one is disappointed. ;)

Thursday, August 10, 2006 3:20 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh...definitely loving Tess' influence on the crew, and how she just mercilessly takes the wind out of Mal's sails;)

Kinda dreading how things will end up with Tess, as two chapters really doesn't allow for a miraculous recovery and further crew healing past what will come:S

BEB

Friday, August 11, 2006 5:44 AM

TAMMYY2J


Loving this fanfic and especially the Tess character


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