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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
A short companion piece to BEGINNINGS ... a funeral. Feedback, as ever, most welcome, good or bad.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1885 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
She held herself together, apart, trying to avoid the tears Kaylee couldn’t stop, all the sympathetic looks from the rest of the crew. She made out like she was fine, that everything was okay, that it was a shame but life went on. She avoided River most of all.
The casket was small, so small that it looked like a doll’s, if such an awful thing were ever made. Jayne had crafted it himself out of packing cases, his sure hands carving and creating until it was perfect. River had helped, sitting in the cargo bay with him all night, handing him the tools he needed before he could ask. Inara gave them a red satin cushion to line it with, and Kaylee painted it with little flowers inside, feeling her baby kick as she leaned forward. Zoe went to her bunk and came back with a toy dinosaur, knowing Wash would have approved.
Hank spent hours on the Cortex, finding a place, not far, where they could hold the funeral, then contacted a local preacher willing to say a few words.
Simon, his face set and pale, did his part, and the casket lay in the cargo bay, sealed tight.
“It’s beautiful,” Mal said as Hank landed the Firefly at the place he’d chosen.
“Seemed the right spot,” the pilot said quietly.
It was the side of a hill overlooking a small valley, a single clump of trees giving shade from the noonday sun. Snow-capped mountains fringed the background, and a stream glittered along the floor. As the cargo bay ramp lowered, the scent of sweet grass filtered inside.
“Frey,” Mal said, coming down the ladder into their bunk. “We’re ready.”
She nodded, adjusting the loose white top she had borrowed from Inara in lieu of a funeral dress, smoothing it down over her belly. That simple action almost broke him.
“Frey ...” he began, but she shook her head. She passed him and climbed up to the corridor above.
Outside there was birdsong, and the sound of the water bubbling over stones not far away. The others were waiting, standing by the grave dug by Jayne and Zoe, so small and empty. Mal carried the small casket out of Serenity, feeling as if it weighed nothing yet carried all his hopes, barely able to hold it up. Freya was at his side, walking stiffly, as if every step was an effort, her will forcibly overcoming her muscles.
Under the trees Mal knelt down, placing the box into the hole, noting with detachment that someone had put flowers inside. Probably Kaylee. For a long moment he couldn’t move, just stared down at the casket, his mind full of ‘might have been’s. Then he got to his feet, struggling to stay in control of his emotions. He returned to Freya, taking her hand, feeling her holding so tight he thought she would never let go.
“The ring,” Kaylee said, speaking so softly only Simon could hear. “She ain’t wearing her ring. The one Mal gave her.”
“I know, ai ren.”
The preacher they’d hired stepped forward, speaking in a low voice, but no-one really heard his words: they were just a backdrop to the grief that overflowed into this little valley. He finished finally, turning to Mal and Freya, mumbling something about being sorry for their loss, then walked away, back to his horse, leaving them standing in the sunshine. Jayne was the first one to head back to the ship, with Zoe and Hank close behind. Inara, feeling the tears falling freely from her cheeks to stain her dress, followed.
“Captain?” Kaylee said, stepping closer to him, but he only glanced at her, an agony of loss etched into his eyes.
Simon wrapped his arm around her shoulders and urged her gently back to the ship, feeling her trembling all the way.
River watched them for a moment, then turned, her bare toes digging into the grass, each blade springing back against the soles of her feet as she walked, counting them all absently, her mind acutely attuned to the shattered people behind her.
Jayne heard the crying as he passed by shuttle two, and looked around, trying to find someone to go in and help. But the cargo bay was empty, just him and the weeping. He listened for a moment more, then ducked his head, slipping quietly inside.
“Frey?” he asked.
She was sitting on the floor in the corner, her knees pulled up to her chest, her face buried as deep as it would go. Her arms were wrapped around herself as tightly as she could, trying to feel warmth, to feel comfort, to feel anything other than the overwhelming pain and loss that threatened to consume her.
“I can’t …” she managed to say.
“Do you want me to go? Find Mal?” he asked.
“Why?” Her muffled voice cut through him like a knife slashed across his skin. “Why’d it have to happen, Jayne? My baby …”
Jayne crossed the floor and knelt down, not touching, just close enough so that she could feel him there. “When my little sister was born, she was real early. Doc said she wouldn’t … he was right. Two days Ma and Pa didn’t move from her side, such a little body lying in that great crib my Pa had made. Then she just …” He stopped, the memory still raw in his mind, torn open afresh by Freya’s anguish.
“Least they saw her, got to say goodbye,” Freya said through the tears.
“Didn’t help.” He took a breath. “What I mean to say is, things happen. Don’t always like ‘em, sometimes hate ‘em with a will, and sometimes feel you can’t live after. But life goes on, Frey. No matter what we do. You wanna go back, change things? Wish it were possible. I wish it with all my heart, Frey. But it ain't gonna happen.” He went to touch her shoulder but pulled back. “Ain’t nothing anyone can say’ll make the pain go away, neither, but this boat’s full of people who’d take it for you, if they could.” He dropped his head a little. “Hell, I’d take it, soon as blink.”
“Frey?” Mal said from the doorway, stepping inside.
He glanced at Jayne, who stood up. “Mal, I …”
Mal nodded, stopping him in mid sentence, looking at the big man with understanding and something approaching gratitude.
Jayne nodded back and moved to the door. Mal stepped past him, going down on the floor next to Freya. He gathered her into his arm, tears of his own falling, rocking her gently as he gave her his warmth, what comfort he could as his own heart was breaking.
Jayne crossed the threshold back outside and closed the door carefully, quietly, leaving them to grieve in private.
Friday, November 3, 2006 4:52 AM
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Friday, November 3, 2006 7:46 PM
Saturday, November 4, 2006 10:25 AM
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