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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Completing the trio (so far) of Power and Passion, the crew feel something is about to happen. Feedback, please? Thanks!!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1990 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
That day at breakfast, no-one seemed particularly hungry. Mal was pushing his food around his plate, and Kaylee was drumming her fingers.
“Kaylee, I’d take it as a kindness if you could stop doing that?” he asked, dropping his spoon back down. “If you’ve finished go find something to do.”
Kaylee looked up apologetically then down at her still-drumming fingers. She pulled her hand back under the table. “Sorry, cap’n. Don’t rightly know what’s wrong with me. I feel …” She couldn’t find the right word, and looked to Simon for help.
“Apprehensive?” he suggested.
“Maybe. Like something’s about to happen. Maybe a storm.”
Zoe looked at her across the table. “I checked the weather this morning – there’s no sign of any change.”
“That’s just what it feels like,” Kaylee explained. She looked around the table. “And I think you all feel it too.” From the looks she got back she knew she was right.
Mal shook himself. He wasn’t about to admit he had been wondering himself why he felt so – antsy. Instead he said. “Well, we don’t have time for any conjecture. Kaylee, you have that part to fix. Doc, you need to get those supplies in. The cargo will be here at noon and I want to take off immediately it’s stowed. We’ve been here longer than I would reasonably have liked anyway.”
The others nodded and muttered, pushing away from the table and ambling out of the dining room. For a long minute he sat, staring at the uneaten food on his plate, then he cursed in Chinese and stood up abruptly. He needed to get his head back from wherever it had gone.
It was gone noon, and the cargo had been settled into the bay. Kaylee said they were good to go, and their new pilot, Hank, was itching to get Serenity into the air. And still Mal felt a strange reluctance. He stood at the open cargo bay doors, staring out at the bright sunlight, not really seeing the mass of humanity trundling by.
“Sir?” Zoe came up behind him. We’re all set.
“Hmmn.” He sighed. “Yep. Guess we are.” He followed her back inside and was about to hit the close button when he stopped and turned slowly. A figure was walking up the ramp, silhouetted against the bright day, carrying a large bag. It came further in, closer. Mal’s jaw dropped and his heart missed more than one beat when he realised who it was.
“Hi, Mal,” Freya said.
“Why did you leave like that? No note, no explanation …” Kaylee was grinning through her tears, and wouldn’t let go of Freya’s hand. The others were close by: only Mal stood further off, his arms crossed, his face carefully blank, his eyes darker than their usual blue.
“River was right.” She acknowledged the young girl. “So much darkness. If I was going to … if I was going to be how I was, I didn’t want to take you all down with me. It was better you didn’t know.” She squeezed Kaylee’s hand and smiled slightly. “I reckoned I needed to find my teacher, my healer. I could only think that he might be able to help me again. But he moved around a lot, and I didn’t know where to begin looking.”
“We could have helped,” Mal said shortly, the first words he’d spoken since they’d gathered in the dining area.
“I couldn’t take that chance,” Freya said sadly, her eyes fixed on him. “I was afraid that, if I lost control, if the darkness took me, I would wake up one night and kill you without a thought.”
“Afraid of the dark,” River said, and Mal’s jaw tightened.
“Did you find him?” Simon asked.
“Yes.” She tore her gaze from Mal to look at the young man. “Or, at least, his grave.” She sighed. “It was such a god-forsaken planet, nothing but poor people. But he’d stayed, made a difference to their lives. Until this man came to town, wanting to take over. He killed my friend.” Her voice turned bitter. “It had been recent, just a couple of months before I got there. And when the people asked me to help to avenge – I felt a great rage build inside me.”
She glanced at Zoe. “You would have been proud of us. We mustered, we rallied, we fought – until there was just him and me. I so wanted to kill him. There he was on the ground in front of me, no weapons because I’d disarmed him, bloodied because I’d made him bleed, and I wanted to kill him so badly. I raised my gun, pointed it at his head – and all I could hear was a voice saying ‘With great passion can come great power, but without enlightenment the world is dark.’ And I felt the rage drain away. I lowered my gun and handed him over to the town’s people. They gave him a fair trial and hanged him for the murder of my friend. He was still dead, but I didn’t do it.”
Freya gently disengaged her hand from Kaylee and stood up, walking towards Mal. When she was only a breath from him, she went on, her eyes on his, “Then, when the horse doctor was patching me up – he was stitching a cut on my back – he said, ‘Great tattoo – what do those symbols mean?’”
Despite himself, Mal jerked. “Tattoo?”
Freya didn’t respond, but undid her shirt, pulling it from her pants. Mal tried not to look at her nakedness, tried not to think of the times he’d kissed that skin, tried not to reach out and touch … but watched as she turned around, her back to him, holding the front of the shirt to cover her breasts. She let the back fall …
“Tah muh duh,” he breathed, dropping his arms.
She turned back to the others could see. There, emblazoned on her back, was her glorious flame, the three cartouches undamaged, each of the three symbols intact. Kaylee stood up quickly, her chair clattering to the floor.
“Freya …” Inara began, but was unable to finish.
Only Simon had the self-control to stand and step close. He touched the tattoo, avoiding the sigils. The skin was soft, no scarring, totally unlike the way it was the last time he had seen it. “How …?”
Freya was gazing back at Mal, tears on her face. “He healed me. Even from the grave, my friend healed me.”
“So what now?” Mal and Freya were alone in the galley, the atmosphere tense.
“I don’t know,” Freya admitted.
They looked at each other from opposite ends of the room, Freya sitting at the table between them.
“Were you thinking you could stay?” Mal was holding himself together, tightly wound as a watch spring, his arms crossed like a shield between her and his desires.
“I didn’t know if I’d be welcome.” She wanted to stand up, run to him, take his face in her hands and kiss every last worry line away.
“The others are mighty pleased to see you.” His tone was non-committal, even if his brain was burning.
“They’re not the captain.” I’ve missed you, she wanted to say. So much it was almost too great to bear.
There was a pause. “We found a few places said they’d seen you.” Why did you run away from me?
“I got to some just after you’d left.” Let me come home.
After another uncomfortable pause, Mal said, “So did you buy a ship?”
Freya shook her head. “No. I travelled as a passenger. I’d been part of this crew for so long it didn’t seem right –“
Mal banged his fist onto the table, making Freya jump and a plate skitter to the floor. “You left! No note, no explanation. We made love and when I woke up you were gone! You almost broke Serenity apart. You almost broke me ...” He stopped, swallowing. “Do you think a member of my crew would do that?”
Freya looked at him, saw the anger consuming him. “I'm sorry.”
“And you’re thinking that’s good enough?” Mal leaned on the table. “If I can’t trust someone I can’t be having them on Serenity.” He glared at her for a moment longer then stood up, crossing his arms and turning away so she didn’t see the pain etched deeply on his face, didn’t say the words that wanted to come spilling out.
Freya closed her eyes, her forehead creased. After a moment she sat up straighter, and when she opened her eyes again it was with a determined look. “No, you’re right,” she said. “I shouldn’t have come back. I only wanted to explain, and I have, but –“ She stood up. “I’ll go. Goodbye, Mal.”
She paused a second, just to see if he would say something, maybe even beg her to stay, but his back was solid, radiating stubborn pride. She squared her shoulders and left the dining area. Passing through the cargo bay she encountered Kaylee.
“Freya?” the young engineer asked.
Freya stopped and put a hand onto the younger woman’s face. She smiled slightly, then said, “See you around, Kaylee.”
Kaylee stared after her as she walked out of the bay, picking up her bag en route, and back into the bright sunlight.
Mal felt someone come into the kitchen and began to turn. Then Inara hit him across the right cheek.
“You idiot!” she stormed at him.
“Wha –?” He touched the heated skin on his face.
“You lost her before and now you’ve let her walk out again!” Inara was as angry as Mal had ever seen her. “Are you so stupid?”
She didn’t let him begin. “Do you know what it took for her to come back?”
“Inara, if you would let me get a word in edgeways –“
“She knew what it might mean, what you might say, and, wu de mah, you totally lived down to her expectations!”
“Bee-jway!” Mal thundered loudly. “She left, all on her own account!”
“Which time, Mal? Which particular leaving is making you so angry?”
Mal took a deep breath and moved away a little. “In all honesty, I don’t rightly know. I was coming to terms with what she did, and I thought it was me, something I’d done or not done, but now I know why … it’s worse, Inara. She didn’t trust us – trust me – to help her.” The despair was evident in his voice, on his face.
“She didn’t trust herself, Mal. You heard her. She was afraid of hurting you. She walked out of Serenity because she couldn’t bear the thought of hurting you.”
“It still hurt.” God, more than hurt.
“Better the small hurt than the final thrust.”
Mal felt his anger die. Instead he was left with an emptiness, a void he recognised. “I'm beginning to think I maybe didn’t handle that the way I had intended.”
“Oh, you’re actually thinking, are you? Well, that’s a start.”
“Inara, I really don’t think I can take this at the moment.”
“So do something. Don’t just stand there thinking – do something.”
Mal glared at her for a long moment, then turned on his heel and ran out of the kitchen. He dropped down the metal stairs into the cargo bay, passing Kaylee who said, fretfully, “Cap, Freya’s gone.”
“I know, I know.” He ran out of the bay.
Kaylee looked up at Inara, standing on the walkway above. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“I think the Captain has just recovered his sanity.”
“If you buy this ship it’ll last a lifetime.”
Freya looked up at the yellow spaceship, its shuttles a contrasting black. “It’s a good ship,” she agreed. “But I'm not sure it’s quite what I'm looking for.” She sighed. “I don’t suppose you have any Fireflys around, do you?”
The dealer shook his head. “No call for them. Those that have them don’t sell, either. I heard tell there was one at the docks, if you want to try your luck there.”
Without thinking Freya turned towards that area, and saw Mal striding towards her. She turned quickly back. “Tell me some more about this boat,” she said to the dealer.
“Freya!” Mal called. “I want – “
She didn’t turn around. “If you’ve come to shout at me some more, I wouldn’t bother.”
“Will someone today please just let me finish?” Mal said in an exasperated, angry tone.
“Are you interested in this ship?” the dealer asked Freya.
“No, she’s not,” Mal said shortly.
“Yes, I am,” Freya countered. “What’s the engine like?”
“No, you’re not.” Mal was insistent.
Freya glanced back over her shoulder just once. “I should have done this before – gotten myself another ship, another crew. Gotten myself back out there to the black under no-one else’s command.”
“You don’t want that,” Mal said firmly.
“How the diyu do you know what I want?” she asked, swallowing back the bitterness.
“Then you want this ship?” the dealer asked again, looking from one to the other of them.
“No!” Mal and Freya chorused together. The dealer backed off.
“Okay …” Mal took a deep breath. “Then what do you want?” he asked.
Freya stared up at the big yellow ship. “Can’t we go back to how it was? Me pining for you and you ignoring me?”
“Is that what you really want?” Mal asked gently.
Freya finally turned around. “What I want is to be part of Serenity again. I want to come home. But most of all I want to lie in your bed next to you again.”
Mal didn’t speak for a moment. Then, “I don’t know. I reckon you can come back, the others would take it as a kindness, but the rest …”
Freya smiled a little. “I suppose I’ll take what I can get. Even the pining and ignoring.”
“Good.” Mal nodded and started to walk back to Serenity. “Don’t take all day – I want to be taking off from this rock in ten minutes.”
Freya stood, calculating, wondering just how much of what he had said he truly meant. Then she shrugged. It was, at least, going to be interesting finding out. She swung her bag up onto her shoulder and followed him home.
Monday, October 9, 2006 5:03 AM
Monday, October 9, 2006 9:35 AM
Wednesday, October 11, 2006 7:30 PM
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