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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Mal must decide what to do with Brian, and the crew must decide if they can trust him.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 795 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Chapter 7. Thanks to BEB for beta-reading.
Inara walked into the kitchen in order to grab a few things for her morning tea. She intended to head back to her shuttle in order to prepare it. She didn’t want to wake Brian if she didn’t have to, though she had no doubt Mal would start complaining about the noise and the smell, as usual.
She could see him in her mind, lying there, complaining about not being allowed to sleep, and asking her to come back to bed. She was just about to leave the tea packets in order to find other ways of waking them both up, when she spotted a pair of dainty legs out of the corner of her eye.
Sliding around the stove, she saw River sprawled out in a chair next to Brian, her gaze fixed on his sleeping face. Moving closer, Inara leaned down in order to talk to River softly.
“River, sweetie, I really don’t think this is the best place to be right now.”
When there wasn’t any response, she touched the young girl’s arm. “River?”
“Unguarded.” River replied. “Guards himself in order to protect. Can’t let anyone see. Even his dreams. They use your dreams. Mold them to fit what they want. Monsters and dark places and…”
Inara placed her hand on River’s face. “Shhh, River, it’s alright.”
After taking a deep breath, River continued. “He guards them. But can’t guard them now. Doesn’t want to. Lost his sister. Needs someone to share the pain.” She reached out, and placed a hand on top of the young man’s head. “I’m here. Sunshine is here.”
Deciding to leave the young couple in peace, Inara walked back to where she had left the pouches. Picking them up, she started to leave the galley, when she heard Brian say, “That’s quite alright, Ms. Serra. You may use the stove.”
Turning back, she said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you.”
She saw Brian sit up, and start to rub his eyes. “No need to fret, Ms. Serra. I would have woken up in the next few minutes anyway.” Glancing at River, he turned his attention back to Inara and asked, “Actually, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble, could you make some of that tea for me as well? It’s been awhile since I had a decent cup.”
Turning on the stove, Inara smiled and nodded her head. “It would be a pleasure.”
Mal was slightly annoyed. Well, annoyed might not be the best term, but he couldn’t think of any other words to describe how he was feeling at the moment. Insulted, hurt, and worried might work, but he was too proud to ever admit that’s how he felt. To think, he had actually gotten used to waking to the smell on Inara’s tea, though he would never tell her that. Complaining about it was just too easy, and it usually gave him an excuse to get her back in the bed.
As he walked towards the kitchen to see what was keeping her, Brian’s voice came over the intercom.
“Sorry about the time, everyone. I know it’s either late or early, depending on who you are, but breakfast is going to be served in about five to ten minutes, for anyone that’s hungry.”
Unsure about how to take the situation, he headed up the stairs and entered the galley.
Inara and River were already sitting at the table. Both had steaming cups in their hand, though how they were not spilling them in their fits of laughter boggled Mal. Brian was standing over the stove, also laughing, cup in one hand, spoon in the other.
As he made his way over to the head of the table, Mal heard Brian say, “So then, River looks at him, then looks at me and says, ‘Well, he did say he wanted to see red.’”
River instantly set her cup down, and responded, “I did not. And besides, you were the one who suggested it in the first pace.”
Brian held up his hands in defeat. “Guilty as charged, but I never expected you to actually do it.”
As the three of them continued to laugh at whatever story Brian was telling, Jayne came barreling in. He shot a hateful glare in Brian’s direction, then stumbled into one of the chairs, and asked, “So what’re we eatin?”
Brian took a sip from his cup. “Good old-fashioned scrambled eggs. With some bacon, toast, and a little bit of juice.”
Mouth open, Jayne turned to look at Mal. “We got eggs?”
As Mal prepared to sit down, Brian waved the spoon at the table. “I had some on my ship. Before I sent it off, I brought them over, along with some other supplies.”
Just then, Kaylee and Simon walked in. Kaylee looked hopefully at the stove and asked, “Did someone say juice?”
Jayne tried to form a reply, but he was practically slobbering all over himself, and he couldn’t seem to make his jaw work properly. Mal just shook his head at the sight, then said, “You heard right, Kaylee. Seems our guest here had some stocked up supplies he was so kind to bring aboard.”
Brian stirred the eggs, checking to see if they were fully cooked yet. Looking up at Mal, he said, “Well, I have you to thank, Captain Reynolds. If you hadn’t put my supplies in the fridge, they wouldn’t have survived the night.”
Mal leaned back in his chair. “Just didn’t seem right to let all that food go to waste.”
Zoe made her way over to the table, saying, “We’re all set to meet up with Badger.”
“He upset about us being late?” Mal asked.
“He was, but I managed to straighten him out on a few of the details.”
“Well, then. Guess we can look forward to seein' him in a few days.”
Simon spoke up from the end of the table. “I thought we didn’t like Badger anymore.”
Brian started setting food on the table, so Mal had to look around his arm in order to answer. “We don’t. But there’s not a whole lot of folk that’ll deal with us, given the current situation, so we take what we can get.”
“I’m sorry for any undue stress I might have caused. It was never my intention to bring you into the middle of that.” Brian said as he set a basket of toast down.
Mal glanced at Zoe before he answered. “It’s nothin’ to really worry about. Badger’ll figure that out soon as we land. And Jayne, you mind slowin’ down and lettin’ the rest of us have some?”
Jayne froze. He was in the middle of pulling half of the bread out of the basket, and it looked like most of the eggs had landed on his plate. The bacon was untouched, but only because he hadn’t gotten around to it yet.
Laughing, Brian grabbed the pot of eggs, and pushed the rest of them onto Jayne’s plate. Walking back over to the stove, he picked two more pots and said, “It’s ok, Captain. I was prepared for this.” As he placed one on the table, the crew realized it had twice as many eggs as the last pot had. The second pot he tilted over Jayne’s plate, and several pieces of bacon fell out.
Nodding slightly at Jayne, he said, “From now on, you wait for the rest of the crew.”
Jayne looked as if he had been slapped, which caused most of the crew to bust out into laughter. Even Mal had to smile. Anyone who could put Jayne in his place at the table deserved some respect.
Kaylee shook her head, and then grabbed a piece of toast before they disappeared completely. Noticing that Brian wasn’t sitting at the table, she looked up and saw him cleaning up the stove. Wondering why he wasn’t waiting till after breakfast, she asked, “Ain’t you gonna eat with us, Brian?”
Looking up at her, Brian offered a small, sad smile, and said, “Thank you, but no. I’m not really hungry.”
Jayne grunted as he reached for another piece of toast. “Killin’ kin-folk does tend to ruin one’s appetite.”
The entire room went deathly silent.
Jayne turned around in his chair, and locked eyes with Brian. The hate and anger rolling off of him was apparent to everyone, and caused River to double over out of nausea.
Brian, on the other hand, was completely still. His face was emotionless, and no one was quite sure just what he was going to do.
Deciding to put an end to things before blows were shared, Mal spoke up.
“Jayne…I’ll not ask you again to keep a civil tongue at my table.”
Hesitantly, Jayne turned back to look at Mal. Seeing the look Mal was giving him, he said, “Yeah, alright.”
The rest of the table breathed a sigh of relief. Everyone started eating again, except River, who had pushed her plate away.
For several minutes, the only sounds were the clang of the pots form the kitchen, and the sounds of food being devoured from the table. Kaylee started to try and break the silence, but a look from Mal told her it wasn’t the right time.
When River finally uncurled herself, she nodded towards Mal. Taking this as his cue, he said, “Brian, have a seat.”
As Brian made his way over to the end of the table, Mal took the time to finish off his plate.
Shoving the empty plate aside, Mal looked around at the rest of the crew. Most of them were done eating, Jayne being the only one who was pouring seconds onto his plate. Glancing at Zoe, he leaned onto the table, and directed his attention to the young man sitting across from him.
“Now I don’t know about everyone else, but it seems to me that there are a lot of things that occurred yesterday that don’t make sense. And I’ve got half a mind to throw you out the airlock. But, seeing as how you’ve gone out of your way to cook for us, and given the fact that you tried to insure our safety through everything’s that happened, I think you’ve got a right to explain yourself. You can start with telling us the truth about how your sister came to be at the Academy.”
Brian sighed, and hung his head in his hands. He took a deep breath, then looked back up at Mal. “What I told you was the truth. When I first entered the Academy, my sister was too young for their taste, and she was rejected. What I failed to mention was that a few months after River showed up, my aunt tried and succeeded in admitting Rebecca.”
Kaylee asked, “But why didn’t you just tell us that?”
Brian shook his head. “I’m sorry, Kaylee, but I felt it was necessary to keep her existence as a reader a secret. The less people that knew about her, the less danger she was in. Plus I feared it might temper your thoughts towards me if you knew.”
“But you killin' her, that’s ok.” Jayne said.
Zoe slowly raised her head. “Jayne. I believe the captain’s asked you to stay quiet.”
“I’m just tryin’ to understand what the hell he’s still doin' here. Cause the way I see it, anyone who can just kill his sister doesn’t exactly deserve to sit at the table and explain things.”
Jayne was in a rage. And if it wasn’t for his fear of Brian, he would have already tried to kill him, and everyone knew it. But before anyone could object to the matter, Brian spoke up.
“You’re right.” When the rest of the crew turned to look at him, Brian continued. “You’re absolutely right Jayne. I don’t deserve this. I killed my sister, and there’s nothing I can do to change that, and I can’t think of anything that’ll ever make that right.”
As tears started to stream down Brian’s face, Brian softly spoke. “But what would you have had me do, Jayne? Trade myself in for her, so that she would be tormented with the knowledge and grief over my sacrifice? So that Boba would be free to hunt her down at a later date? So that eventually she would get caught, and taken back to the Academy, we’re we would both be tortured and experimented on for the rest of our lives? So that I could know that my sacrifice was in vain, and only exceeded in ruining both our lives? What, Jayne?! What would you have had me do?!!”
Brian’s voice had slowly been getting louder, and he was practically screaming at this point. Finished, he broke down into sobs, and laid his head down on the table.
River left her chair and came over to lay her hands on Brian’s head. Rubbing his back, she softly comforted him, until his crying had all but stopped.
Raising his head, Brian wiped his eyes, and continued. “I made a promise. To never let the Academy have her again. No matter what the cost. I was always prepared to give my life for that promise. I just never thought I would have to give hers.”
The crew was silent for a moment, unsure as to what to say in order to comfort the young man. No one wanted to speak, but Mal had to make a decision about what to do, and he didn’t have all the answers he needed yet.
So Mal broke the silence to ask, “What about the other students? You said you keep tabs on each other. How?”
Brian sniffled. “Through a private network. We set it up not too long after we escaped. We’re the only ones who can access it. We make sure of that. So you needn’t fear any retribution from the Alliance. They have no idea you were involved.”
Mal nodded his head. “That’s good to know.”
Brian looked up at Mal. “Captain. I’m sorry. For everything. If it’s alright with you, I’d appreciate it if you’d just let me off at your next stop. I don’t have a lot of money, but I’ll pay you for the trip, and I’ll continue to cook and share what food I’ve got left. I’ve caused enough trouble as it is, and I don’t want to put you and your crew in any more danger. I just can’t afford to lose anyone else.”
Leaning back, Brian then pulled River into his lap, and the young couple held each other in hopes of finding some piece of comfort.
Mal shook his head. “No. I’m afraid you won’t be getting off at Persephone.”
Inara leaned over. “Mal, you can’t be serious. He’s not dangerous, and he’s agreed to get off on Persephone, why can’t you just let him?”
Kaylee perked up. “Cap’n, you’re not still planning on killing him, are you?”
Jayne waved his fork. “And why not? Boy don’t deserve to live, you heard him.”
Kaylee looked wide-eyed between Jayne, Mal and Brian. “But…you can’t.”
Mal raised his hand. “Now hold your horses, lil’ Kaylee. I never said we were gonna kill him. Just can’t let him off at Persephone is all.”
Jayne stopped chewing long enough to get a confused look on his face. “What’re we gonna do with him then?”
Mal just shook his head. “We’re gonna keep him.”
Ignoring the blank stare Jayne was giving him, Mal looked towards the young couple and said, “I may not agree with what you did, Brian, and I don’t entirely understand everything that’s going on, but you did everything you could to keep your promise and to protect your sister, and that deserves some respect. You may have realized we could do with a decent cook on board, and if you can teach River to control what the Alliance did to her as you say you can, then I’m inclined to offer you a position with us.”
Brian nodded his head. “I appreciate that, Captain. And I’ll accept you offer on one condition. Since there are seven people besides myself on this boat, everyone must help cook one dinner a week. That includes cleaning. And no trading or betting to get out of it either.”
Mal smiled. “That seems acceptable. We’ve got a spare bunk for crew that you can have, since it seems the passenger dorms are rather loud at night.”
Kaylee blushed with pride, while Simon tried to disappear into the chair he was sitting in. Teasing Simon always did manage to lift his spirits somehow.
Turning to look at Jayne, he said, “And Jayne’ll help you get it cleaned out and moved in.”
Jayne face had gone slack-jawed. He couldn’t believe Mal was letting this hwoon dahn stay aboard, and now he was supposed to help him! Jumping out of his chair, he said, “Like hell I will! He can sleep in the cargo bay for all I care, I ain’t gonna help him settle in!”
Mal stood up and placed his hands on his hips. “This ain’t up for debate Jayne. You wanna get paid, you do as I say. Now get movin'.”
Grumbling, Jayne walked out of the dining room to start clearing the spare bunk, as everyone else rushed to welcome their new crewmember.
hwoon dahn = bastard
Sunday, October 22, 2006 5:01 PM
Monday, October 23, 2006 2:38 AM
Tuesday, October 24, 2006 3:48 PM
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