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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Set three months after A NEW BEGINNING. Everyone has a breaking point ... River, Simon and Kaylee finally reach theirs. S/K, R/J, M/I
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1307 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
A/N: Oh, my good friends, there be angst here ... read at your own risk. This chapter is a bit shorter, but I'm thinking you'll need the respite to recover from the emotional wallop it packs.
Thanks to Leiasky for the incomparable beta and for being my watchdog on all things plot-related.
Please continue to read and respond ... as the comments go so go the tides (or something poetical like that.)
A NEW DAY, ch. 13: Breaking Point
River tried not to dream. She had tried for years actually to think of ways to shut down her mind at night so that she would not be confronted with images she had no control over. But now, the closer they got to Rylee, the more vivid her night terrors had become.
And it was because she was experiencing them through Rylee’s eyes. The girl was suffering, terribly. While she was still en route to the Academy, the blue hands had wasted no time in starting their experiments, using the drugs they’d brought, the techniques they knew. They had decades of experience in torturing young minds and the beauty of their expertise was they didn’t need a fancy lab for any of it.
It was within this framework of darkness that River found herself plunged as soon as she fell asleep almost ten days into their trip. Not surprised by the surrounding coldness she felt, she breathed in and out, and watched as the air crystallized around her and then faded from view. Standing very still, she listened intently and heard the whimpering she had expected.
Traveling towards the sound, her feet moved slowly, too slowly, as if being dragged through mud and the longer it took, the more fervid the crying became. Finally, when she felt her own eyes welling with tears, she saw her niece, her tiny and broken form curled into a ball, shivering and sobbing.
“Rylee,” she called out, her voice shaking from the cold. “Rylee, sweetie, look at me.”
Shaking her head, Rylee refused. “No, I can’t.”
Forcing herself those last few steps, River knelt in front of her and told her sharply, “Yes, you can. Look at me, Ry.”
With chattering teeth and blue lips, Rylee finally raised her head and River’s heart stopped for an instant. Her face was full of tiny pinpricks from needles and bruises from the machines they had hooked her up to. Her arms and legs were covered even more with bruises and dried blood from the other needles they had injected her with and River knew that while her physical appearance was bad, it was nothing compared to the scars they were creating in her mind.
“Aun’ River, I’m not gonna make it,” she whined, unable to stop from shaking against the cold.
“Yes you are baby, I promise,” River assured her. “We’re almost there.”
“Mama and Daddy,” she asked hopefully, her eyes lighting with dull hope.
“No, sweetie, me and your uncle Jayne and your grandma Tam. Your mommy and daddy are waiting for you, they can’t wait to see you again, to hold you and love you.”
Rylee had started to cry again, feeling even more bereft. “Hurry, Aun’ River,” she murmured, her voice fading as her strength ran out and soon she was unconscious.
Bolting upright in bed, River inhaled sharply, her entire body shivering uncontrollably as the frigidity of the dream seeped into her skin and her bones. She had awoken Jayne and he sat up beside her, noting how she trembled with cold and fright. Wrapping his arms around her, he pulled her to his warm body and wrapped her back into the covers. Pulling her down with him, he watched as she cried a few tears and then finally murmured, “It’s bad, Jayne. It’s so very bad.”
“I know, baby,” he told her, whispering into her hair and running his hands up and down her arms, trying to warm her.
Closing her eyes again, she thought back to this most recent encounter with her niece and she shivered again. But there was something else, something else she needed to remember … and in an instant, she knew what it was. Pulling away from him, she jumped out of bed and hurried for the transport’s cockpit, Jayne doing his best to follow her.
Standing in the doorway, he watched as she pulled the ship off auto-pilot and readjusted the controls. Stepping behind her, he asked quietly, “What are you doin’, River?”
“We can get to her first,” she muttered, her eyes still focused on her task at hand. “We can beat them there, the element of surprise, they won’t know we’re coming.”
Jayne was about to ask something else when Regan’s pilot entered the small room and uttered a curse. Looking to him with a menacing glare, the pilot swallowed down another curse in light of Jayne’s presence. Swiveling out of the chair, River passed him and said, “Change it and I won’t be happy,” and then, allowing Jayne to wrap an arm around her waist, River headed back to bed, knowing that now they would at least get to Rylee faster. Whether or not it would make a difference, she had no idea.
It had been almost two full weeks since Rylee had been taken, and Simon and Kaylee were no where near the people they had once been. It was with heavy hearts and weary souls that Mal and Inara watched their friends struggle through their days. The young couple was unable to stomach meals with the rest of them, and they often ate in the clinic, when either of them could eat. They kept their son close, determined not to lose him as they had his sister and doted over the preemies who were doing well, but who were by no means out of the woods.
Finally as the twelfth day following Rylee’s kidnapping ground to a close, Inara decided she’d had enough. Rising from the seat she’d taken by the window after dinner, trying to distract herself with some reading, she strode for the door, Mal rising from the bed where he had stretched out and grabbing her elbow.
“Where’re you goin’ darlin’?” he asked easily, guessing by the fire in her eyes that now was not the time to be possessive.
With a controlled determination, she told him, “To see Simon and Kaylee.”
Letting out a slow breath through clenched teeth, Mal asked her, “Are you sure that’s a good idea? They ain’t been too socialable lately.”
“Exactly,” Inara replied, again heading for the door. “It’s ridiculous, Mal, they’re both skulking around like they have something to be ashamed of, when it’s Simon’s father who should be ashamed.”
Following her, Mal caught up with her at the top of the stairs and as he again pulled on her hand to stop her, he caught the fire in her eyes, the fire of love and compassion for her friends. With a sigh, he took the hand he held and threaded it through his arm and said, “Well, at least let me come with ya.”
She smiled at him gratefully and they made it across to the clinic in minutes. Pushing open the door, Simon and Millie were both there, checking on the twins. Turning at their entrance, it was Millie who greeted them brightly, while Simon could only offer them a small smile and then turn back to his work.
“Hiya, you two,” Millie said, moving forward and embracing them both at once. Greeting her themselves, Inara lowered her voice and asked, “How are they?”
“The babies or the parents?” Millie asked, matching her tone. Giving the woman a slight smile, the midwife said, “The twins are doing much better. I’d say as long as they keep gaining weight like they have, they’ll be out of them incubators in just another couple of weeks.”
“And the parents?” Mal asked gruffly, his eyes never leaving Simon’s tense form.
“Not so good,” Millie confided, her gaze also traveling back to Simon.
As the three of them stood in silence for a moment more, it was finally Inara who said, “Millie, would you mind leaving us for a bit? Mal and I would like to talk with them.”
Nodding once, Millie kissed her cheek and squeezed her hand. “Good luck,” she murmured, before heading out the way they had entered.
Looking up to Mal with wide eyes, he kissed her temple and said, “I’ll roll you for it.”
“We don’t have any dice,” she told him playfully, smirking at his joke despite the weight of the situation. Knowing she had a better chance of getting Simon to open up, than Mal, with whom he’d never been close, she said, “I’ll speak with Simon, you go see Kaylee.”
He nodded once, kissed her again and then was gone. Taking a deep breath, Inara continued to stare at Simon’s back, watching his tense movements. Knowing that any trepidation on her part was only delaying the inevitable, Inara strode forward and stood before little Emma’s incubator. The sight of the baby brought tears to her eyes, and Inara murmured, “Beautiful.”
She continued to stare and only after a few more moments, did she raise her eyes from the little girl to find Simon staring at his daughter as well. “It’s Emma right?” Inara asked him, knowing full well what they had named the twins, but hoping she could get Simon talking.
Clearing his throat, he dropped his eyes back to his chart and murmured, “Yes.”
Sighing as that brilliant idea hadn’t worked, Inara inched closer to him and pushed him slightly out of the way so she could gaze at his son. “And Ethan.” Noting the bandage still over the little boy’s chest, she asked, “Is he all right?”
Nodding, Simon did not lift his eyes this time and simply said quietly, “Yes. The surgery was a success and he’s been breathing on his own quite well. We just have to watch for infection, which –“
Laying a hand over Simon’s as he continued to write, Inara finally got him to pause. “Simon,” she called to him quietly, waiting for him to again lift his eyes to her face. When he didn’t, when he instead, spun away from her and stalked to the other side of the room, she knew it was bad.
“Is there something I can do for you, Inara?” he asked, his voice cold and detached. “Have you been feeling all right?”
“Yes, Simon, I’m fine. Thank you for asking.” She affected a similar tone with him, clasping her hands in front of her. “Truthfully though I’m a little concerned for Kaylee.”
As he whirled on her, Inara cringed internally at the dirty trick, although she had used it often enough on him, she had honestly thought Simon would be able to see through her machinations by now – men. “Why, what’s wrong with her?” he asked hurriedly, his face adopting a look of concern that had not been there moments before.
“Well, she seems to be suffering from emotionally-disconnected-husband-syndrome,” she told him dryly, hoping that if she made light of the situation, he might actually open up to her. Moving towards him, she placed a light hand to his arm and asked sincerely, “I’m guessing you might have a remedy for that.”
Sighing heavily, Simon leaned against the counter behind him and said, “Inara, what do you want?”
Surprised by the bitterness in his tone, she told him honestly, “I want to help you. You and Kaylee.”
With an angry fire burning in his gaze, Simon rose and walked away from her, trying to think of anywhere he could be but here. Unable to come up with anything, he settled for throwing the chart he held onto the couch and whirling back to face her. “Well, you can’t. But thanks for trying.”
Screwing up her face with determination, Inara would not be so easily dismissed. She had faced down both Mal and Simon when they’d been acting pi gus and she could do it again. Standing her ground, arms over her chest, she said haughtily, “I think I can and I think you better let me.”
“Or what, Inara?” he asked her, his voice rising. “What will you do? Kidnap one of my children? My father’s already done that so you’ll have to think of fresh threats.” Now, on top of his burning hatred for the ‘verse Inara saw his sadness too and she knew that when and if Simon decided to implode the blast crater would expand for many miles, swallowing most of them whole.
“You’re going to get Rylee back,” she reminded him, wishing, not for the first time that Jayne and River could have made an effort to keep them all in the know. She realized that it was probably safer for them to maintain comm silence, but the uncertainty was killing her – she could only imagine what it was doing to Rylee’s parents.
“No, Inara, I’m not going to do anything,” he spat, continuing to pace for fear he’d hit something if he stopped. “No, I’m just going to sit here and twiddle my thumbs while my sister, the same selfish little sister who brought this down on all of us, tries to save my daughter!” Panting heavily, he paused for a moment and when he spoke again his voice was deadly. “I’m going to hide and wait for River to save the day – like I always do.”
Unsure as to where all of this self-hatred was coming from, Inara moved toward his seething form and said quietly, “And who would have saved Kaylee’s life or that of your son’s if you’d been gone? Who, Simon? Kaylee could easily have bled to death if you hadn’t been here and god only knows what could have happened to Ethan.”
Unwilling to believe that his efforts to save his wife or the twins could ever erase his cowardice at leaving Rylee in the hands of the Alliance, he shook his head and backed away from her slowly. “It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters except Rylee.”
“I’m thinking it does matter, Simon,” Inara bit out, not allowing him to distance himself from her. “It matters to Kaylee and Daniel and Ethan and Emma. It matters to Winnie and Thom. It damn well does matter and you’d do best to remember that.”
“But they’re hurting her!” His scream was loud and painful and Inara watched in awe as Simon’s entire face turned bright red, his anger coloring his cheeks and neck in a way she’d never witnessed before. Angry, hot tears fell from his eyes now and he quickly averted his gaze. He was ashamed to be crying in front of Inara, ashamed of his behavior, of his actions, but he couldn’t stop them, he could not bring himself under control even though he knew he should.
“They’re hurting her,” he whimpered again, sinking to his knees and allowing his head to drop into his hands.
Inara’s own eyes clouded with tears and she knew what it meant for Simon to so unabashedly display his emotions, especially to someone that was not his wife or his sister. Kneeling beside him, she placed a hand on his shoulders even as they continued to heave with sobs, and after a few moments, told him quietly, “You don’t know that. Your father could just be telling you things to-“
“I saw it.” It was a rasp, nothing more, but those three words chilled Inara to the core.
Unable to move, unable to think, she could only ask, “What?”
Simon raised his head and sniffled a bit, wiping his cheeks with shaking hands. Finally, he pushed himself into a standing position and when he again turned to regard his friend, his eyes were clear, if swollen and red. “When I called my father, the night before the shuttle was to come,” he explained slowly, his voice painfully even as he struggled to keep control. “I demanded to speak with Rylee. I told him that if he’d already hurt her than there was no way I was getting on board that ship.”
Inara nodded as understanding finally came; she had always wondered how exactly Simon had bargained with his father. “And,” she asked, her voice low as she watched him again struggle to contain his emotions.
“And he told me that I couldn’t speak with her, but I could see her,” Simon bit out, a few more tears falling out his eyes. Wiping them away hurriedly, Inara felt her own eyes overflow as she could only imagine just what exactly Simon had seen. “And he showed me what they were doing. She was full of needles and drugs and she was crying and I …” Unable to speak, Simon turned away to avoid seeing the pity in her eyes.
Feeling a sob of her own welling in her chest, Inara moved towards him and wrapped her arms around him. He dropped his head to her shoulder gratefully, taking some comfort in her embrace, even though there was truly none to be had.
“I stayed here with Kaylee and the twins, when I should have gone after her,” he told her, his voice breaking from the weight of his pain. “I should be the one on my way to rescue her. I should have demanded my father stop his actions, I should have …”
“We all should have done a great many things, Simon,” Inara told him, pulling back from him a bit to look into his eyes. “You made a choice. You knew that River and Jayne and your mother were going for Rylee and you knew that Kaylee’s health and that of the twins was in very real danger. You made a choice, but you didn’t sacrifice your daughter for your twins or your wife. You chose to keep your family whole so that when Rylee comes home she’ll have more people than ever to love her.”
“I should have …” Simon tried to start again, but could not finish.
Running a light hand through his hair, Inara told him quietly, “No, Simon, you shouldn’t have. You did what you had to do and when Rylee’s home, you’ll wonder how you could have ever berated yourself like this.”
Simon could not argue with her as he didn’t have the strength. He didn’t agree with her, not one bit, but it would do no good to try and convince her of how wrong she was. Simon had some experience with trying to convince strong-headed women that they might be incorrect and he knew with certainty he did not have strength for that.
“You need to tell Kaylee.” Inara’s voice pulled him from his thoughts and with fearful eyes he looked back to her.
“No, Inara, I can’t, she’ll never forgive me.” He swallowed past the lump in his throat, his heart thudding with the very real fear that if he told his wife what he’d seen she’d be even more distraught than she already was, and quite rightly try to murder him.
“It’s not your fault, Simon,” Inara reminded him again. “And Kaylee knows that. But as Rylee’s mother she has right to know and she has a right to hear it from you.” Pausing again, Inara watched as the conflict raged across his features. He wanted to confide in his wife, wanted the comfort that only Kaylee could provide, but as it had for most of the past week, his fear, for her and her health, had stayed his tongue.
“Simon,” she called to him, and once she again had his attention, Inara continued. “Kaylee is my best friend, I think you know that. And I love both she and you with all my heart.” Simon swallowed hard and listened as she went on. “And I honestly have no idea the type of pain either of you are suffering right now. But I do know that Kaylee is strong, stronger than you’re giving her credit for right now and she would want to know this. She would want to help you, any way she can. But you have to let her.”
Simon heard the sincerity in her tone and knew Inara was right. He had been underestimating Kaylee in the past few days, content to use her condition as a reason to stay closed off from his wife, and that wasn’t fair.
Not at all certain he was ready to confide in her though, Inara read his trepidation and gently pushed him towards her room, just as Mal reappeared. “Go,” she told him quietly.
Looking back to the twins, he was about to say something when Inara stopped him. “Mal and I will stay with them. We’ll come get you if they need anything.”
Smiling his thanks to her, Simon moved with a measured step the remaining paces to Kaylee’s room and disappeared behind her door. Once he was out of sight, Inara breathed a heavy sigh of relief and wound her arms around her husband’s waist, holding tight to him. He wrapped her up himself and then whispered, “How come we always get stuck with babysittin’ duty?”
Smiling at him, Inara just buried her cheek against his chest and held him tighter.
Kaylee was sitting up in bed, her hands twirling the fringe of the blanket her mother had brought her, when he walked in. Looking up at his entrance, Kaylee smiled to him, that regular smile he loved so much and Simon immediately felt his heart constrict with more guilt.
“Hi, sweetie, did you have a nice visit with ‘Nara?” Her eyes were so full of love for him Simon could hardly stand to meet her gaze as he moved towards her. Kissing her forehead lightly, he sat on the edge of the bed beside her.
Noting his sullen look and his red-rimmed eyes for the first time, Kaylee’s smile immediately melted, replaced with concern and a bit of fear. Reaching up a hand to touch his face, she whispered, “Simon, sweetie, what is it?”
Swallowing hard, Simon had no idea what to say. It was not the first time his beautiful wife had rendered him speechless, but as opposed to before, he knew now he had to tell her something, that he owed her that and his silence was only further evidence of his cowardice.
Her eyes filling with tears as he continued to keep her in the dark, Kaylee finally leaned towards him just a bit more, giving him no choice but to look in her wide eyes. “Just tell me, sweetie. Is it Rylee?”
Taking the hand she had placed against his cheek, Simon held it in his own and his eyes dropped down to look at their intertwined fingers. “Kaylee, there’s something I have to tell you.”
“Oh god, not Ry,” she murmured, her voice breaking as her sobs surfaced.
His eyes flying to her face, he knew she had feared the worst and Simon cursed himself for being such an idiot. Cradling her face in his hands, he told her firmly, “No bao bei, we haven’t heard anything. For all we know she’s fine.”
Her breathing returning to normal, she blinked the fresh tears away and cupped his face, just as he held hers. “Then tell me, Simon. What is it? I can’t take not knowing.”
Clearing his throat, he said quietly, “When I talked to my father last week, I asked him if I could speak with Rylee.”
“You saw her,” Kaylee asked hopefully, her mind subconsciously trying to push any bad news away. “Was she okay?”
Shaking his head sadly, Simon brushed his hand along her cheek and brought one down to rest on her shoulder. “No, bao bei, she wasn’t okay,” he told her quietly, watching with a heavy heart as Kaylee’s eyes filled with tears.
“The blue-handed agents – they had her.”
The statement was uttered softly, but it caused such a violent reaction within Kaylee that Simon had to jerk back from her. Wailing, she pulled her hands from his face and began to beat at him with her fists, crying and screaming out Rylee’s name, begging him to bring her back. Unable to do anything else, Simon simply held her tightly, crushing her to him, her arms trapped against his chest. It did not stop her wailing though and Kaylee continued to cry. “I’m so sorry, Kaylee,” he whispered into her hair, doing his best to not give into his own despair. “I’m so sorry, for all of this. I’m so sorry.”
“You should be,” she choked out, surprising him with the ferocity and hurt behind the statement. Pulling back from him, her eyes were now full of simmering hatred and Simon again recoiled at the sight. “You should be sorry, Simon Tam. Your family did this. What the hell is wrong with your father, your mother, your sister, all of them? What kind of hellish nightmare did I marry into?”
And with that, she hauled back a hand and slapped him, hard across the face, before again dissolving into sobs. Unable to move for a full minute as his shock registered, all Simon could do was stumble from the room, running out of the door of clinic, ignoring both Mal and Inara’s calls to get him back.
He had no idea where he could go to escape his family’s terrifying reality, so he just kept running.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006 4:02 PM
Tuesday, September 26, 2006 5:47 PM
Tuesday, September 26, 2006 6:46 PM
Tuesday, September 26, 2006 7:22 PM
Tuesday, September 26, 2006 7:51 PM
Tuesday, September 26, 2006 8:37 PM
Tuesday, September 26, 2006 11:14 PM
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 3:34 AM
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 4:08 AM
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 4:42 AM
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 4:58 AM
Wednesday, September 27, 2006 9:10 AM
Tuesday, October 03, 2006 2:11 AM
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