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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
The last part of a difficult story to write. Grace meets someone who will change her life ... Feedback on the entire series or this one episode, but please let me know what you think. And the story will continue at a later point.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1572 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Athens, a mixture of farmland and industry, was said to look the most like Earth-that-was, away from the Core, but right now it just looked dirty, with smog sitting above the cities. Not that they were in the city.
“Are you sure about this?” Mal asked, staring out of the bridge window at the expanse of manicured lawn in front of him, and the large house at the end of the drive.
“That’s what the listing says. Medori Sati resides here.” Hank shook his head. “Pretty.”
“Yeah, pretty tends to be.”
“No it don’t.” Mal straightened up. “Get the others into the cargo bay.”
“You look pretty,” Freya said, standing back and admiring the effect.
Grace was wearing a pair of loose pants in a gold colour and a soft red top donated by Inara, which she had managed, with Freya’s help, to get on over the casts. Her hair was clean and combed, falling in straight waves down her back.
“I feel odd,” Grace said.
“That’ll be the effects of the Heretofen,” Simon said, standing back and watching her.
“No, I don’t mean there,” Grace insisted, touching her head. “Here.” She touched the area over her heart.
Freya smiled. “Don’t worry. I'm here.”
Mal pushed the button and the cargo bay doors opened, the ramp dropping down to the ground. A faint smell of some perfume filtered in, making the normal recycled air taste stale.
“Ready?” he asked Inara, standing next to him.
“No. But let’s do this.”
They walked out into the sunlight.
“Inara?” Medori Donato stepped out of the front door and hurried across the lawn. “Inara Serra!” She smiled widely and hugged the other woman. “How did you find me?”
“Medori.” Inara closed her eyes and let herself enjoy the feeling for a moment, then disengaged. “How are you?”
Medori laughed. “So formal. And still a Companion, I can tell.”
Inara nodded. “Still a Companion.”
“And who’s this?” She turned to the tall, dark-haired man at Inara’s side.
“This is Captain Reynolds. He owns that ship.” She nodded towards Serenity.
“I’m pleased to meet you. Any friend of Inara’s is a friend of mine.” Medori smiled, her face lighting up.
“Come, come inside. We have so much to talk about.” She went to lead the way, but Inara hung back.
“What is it?”
Inara looked back over her shoulder, and Medori followed her gaze.
A girl was walking towards them, leaning awkwardly on crutches, her loose clothing covering but not concealing casts on her left arm and leg. A tall woman with short brown hair was walking next to her, obviously concerned for her, but it was the girl who claimed all of Medori’s attention. She had black hair, and as she got closer, the greenest eyes she had ever seen.
“Who …” she began then her hand flew to her mouth.
“Medori, that’s your daughter,” Inara said.
“Grace?” Medori stared. “Grace!” She ran forward, reaching out. “I’d know it was you anywhere! You look just like your father …”
The girl stared at her, an odd look on her face, and as Medori spoke she felt the world slide away and she was back in the delivery room at the Training House.
“I want to see her.”
“She’s my daughter. Please … just let me hold her for a minute! Please!”
“No. She’s not yours. She belongs to the Guild.”
Medori reached out towards the nurse, but she turned away, hurrying towards the door, clutching the crying bundle in her arms …
“Grace,” Freya said, but the hallucination was already receding.
“You didn’t do it on purpose,” Grace said softly, her eyes wide with surprise and glued to the older woman. “They made you.”
Medori focused on her daughter. “Did you do that?” she asked.
“Medori, I'm sorry,” Inara said, but the older woman waved her to silence.
“Your father was psychic,” she said gently. “And had the same eyes. I fell in love with those eyes.”
Grace stared at her, then collapsed to the ground.
“Grace!” Medori screamed, running towards her, but Mal was quicker. He scooped the young girl up in his arms, Freya close by.
“Where can we –“ he began.
“In here.” Medori led the way inside quickly, opening a door onto a drawing room, all sunlight and yellow silks. Mal laid Grace on a low sofa, hearing Simon running in behind him. “Is she …” the older woman asked, rubbing her hands together in agitation.
“Doc’ll take a look,” Mal assured her.
“He’s a proper doctor,“ Inara said, putting her arm around Medori’s shoulders. “He’s been taking care of her.”
There was a moment when everyone waited anxiously, then Simon lifted his head. “She’s just fainted. I think this has all been a bit too much for her. Let her rest a while.”
“Ms Sati?” Mal asked, moving closer to her. “Is there somewhere we can talk?”
“I don’t know –“
“I’ll stay with her,” Freya said quickly.
“So will I,” Simon added.
“Ms Sati, my wife will take good care of her,” Mal said firmly. “I want to know why you weren't surprised to see your daughter.”
“I was!” Medori insisted.
“You wanna try that again?”
Medori stared at him, then nodded and led the way into the next room. She left the door open.
“Well?” Mal asked.
“You’re right.” Medori looked at him and he felt the power of the Companion she had once been. Her presence was still electrifying. “I expected her. Just not like this.” She reached out and took hold of Inara’s hand. “Not with you.”
“You found her, didn’t you?” Inara asked, holding tight.
Medori nodded, sinking onto the chair behind her. “I never stopped hoping. Even when no-one would talk to me. But when I had money it was a different story. Now I have friends in the Alliance, and when they told me of a girl at a Training House, a Grace Shandu, I knew it was her. Her date of birth, the place … I knew it was her.” She looked up, tears in her eyes. “And you’ve brought her home, as you promised.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I didn’t know it was you, of course, but I'm so glad.” Medori squeezed Inara’s hand.
“Medori, I don’t understand. We found Grace hurt –“
“Do you mean you’re not the people I contracted to bring her here?” She looked from one to the other. “I paid the ship sent to take her to the Alliance to bring her here instead. That isn’t you?”
“No,” Mal said, glancing at Inara. “It got a bit more complicated than that.” He explained, and Medori’s face darkened as he spoke.
“Those hwoon dahn … I’ll deal with them. They won’t get away with this, I can guarantee that,” she said, barely controlling the anger inside.
“Good,” Mal agreed. “Save us a job.”
“It was just luck that took us to that moon, Medori,” Inara said. “If we hadn’t …”
“Buddha teaches us that nothing is done without reason.” She looked at the younger woman. “You were meant to be there, to save my daughter.” She stood up, taking Inara into a tight embrace. “And I am so grateful.” But Inara was stiff in her arms. “What is it?” she asked, stepping back to look into the Companion’s eyes. “What’s the matter?”
“Medori, I need to apologise.” Inara tried to calm her fast beating heart.
“I never told you. About Alexander. About how he’s –“
“Dead? I know.” Medori’s face cleared. “Oh, Inara, is that what you’ve been feeling guilty about all this time? I know.”
“You ... how?” For once Inara could hardly speak.
“As soon as they put me out of the door and told me never to darken it again I went to a public Cortex link. I found out, Inara. And I grieved.” Sadness clouded her face for a moment, a sorrow still so sharp that it cut at Inara’s heart. “But life has to go on. Even outside a Guild.”
“What did you do?”
“What I was trained for.”
Inara was shocked. “You became a whore?”
Medori laughed with relief, wiping decades from her face. “No, Inara. But just because I wasn't allowed to call myself a Companion anymore didn’t mean they’d taken away my skills. I started small, working in a bar …” She glanced at Mal. “Full of people like you.”
“We kinda get around,” he acknowledged with a wry grin.
“But I listened. To people, to their problems, and the jobs got better until I was managing a place of my own. Eventually I met Leonard Sati.”
Medori nodded. “A good man, he came in to talk. Kept coming back. And I liked him. He asked me to marry him. I couldn’t say yes until I told him who I was, but he didn’t care. He said it was the past, and I was living in the now. I think I fell in love with him a little at that moment.” She smiled sadly. “We had twelve good years together before he died eighteen months ago.” She looked over towards the other room. “And all that time I've been searching for Grace.”
“I'm sorry,” Inara said quietly.
“Don’t be, Inara. I had two good men who loved me. That’s more than some women get in a whole lifetime.”
Mal, feeling somewhat uncomfortable, moved back to the door and stood watching Freya with Grace, his thumbs hitched into his gunbelt. The girl had woken up, and Freya was helping her gain control of her emotions.
“You deserve it,” Inara said.
“Have you found that special someone yet?” Medori smiled. “I remember those books, the ones you always swore you found by accident. Lurid covers and worse stories, all romance and strong-jawed men coming to the rescue on impossible steeds.”
“I'm still a Companion, Medori,” she said, trying hard not to glance at Mal.
“And you don’t break the rules?”
“But you’d like to.” Medori’s talents were still razor sharp. “Except he’s someone else’s?” she added as a murmur.
“Even if I wanted I couldn’t have him,” Inara breathed as quietly.
The younger woman smiled, if a little shakily. “Don’t be. He’s infuriating, intensely annoying and incredibly obstinate, but he’s my friend.”
Medori nodded in satisfaction. “Good. That’s something even more precious.”
“I still wish it was me,” Inara added inaudibly, but Medori squeezed her shoulder tightly.
“Ms Sati?” Mal looked back over his shoulder at them. “Grace wants to see you.”
Medori hurried into the yellow room. Her daughter was sitting up, somewhat awkwardly because of the casts, but looking at her.
“Grace?” Her mother came to a halt, unsure what to do next.
“I thought you’d abandoned me. All my life that’s what they told me, that I was alone in the world except for the Guild.” Grace looked at her, the green eyes holding back tears.
“I didn’t abandon you. I didn’t want to leave you. I even named you, although I wasn’t ever allowed to call you by it.”
“Alexa. After your father. Alexander.”
“What was he like?”
“A good man. A decent man, who I treated badly. Yet he loved me enough to find me.”
“And all that …you went through that for him?”
“Oh, Grace, I loved him. I still do.”
Medori sat down carefully on the settee next to her. “I wanted more than anything to hold you in my arms and take care of you.” She let the tears she’d been holding back slide down her cheeks.
“But they wouldn’t let you. I saw.”
Medori nodded. “Is that part of your gift?”
“Freya’s been trying to teach me to control it,” the girl said, looking up at the woman in question. “But it’s hard. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I didn’t even know I had it until …” She swallowed.
“Until?” her mother prompted.
“Until I found the book.”
“I don’t know what it’s called. But it listed your infringements …”
Medori laid her hand carefully on her daughter’s. “Then I know what it is. And I can imagine what they wrote in it.” She sighed. “And that’s why you wanted to find me? To punish me?”
“Oh, my wu jia zhi bao, you couldn’t punish me any more than they did.”
“And I wanted to give this back to you.” Grace reached into her pocket and held out the metal tab, the demerit.
“Where did you get that?” Medori asked, wiping the tears from her face leaving smears of black.
“I found it under my bed when I was packing. It must have fallen from the book.”
“It isn’t mine.”
“What?” Grace looked confused, then stared at the tab. “It must be. It has 9503 on it. The number of the infringement.”
“Someone must have been using it as a book mark. Grace, I have mine here.” She reached inside her dress and pulled out a thin silver chain on which hung an identical tag. “Leonard, my husband, said I should never be ashamed of it. That it reminded me of the man who loved me, and that the Guild don’t know everything. He said he was grateful to them, otherwise he’d never have known me. Or loved me.”
“He loved you?”
“I love you more.”
With those simple words Grace felt her heart open, and she fell into her mother’s arms, all the pain she’d been feeling melting away.
“Hush, I'm here,” Medori said, stroking her long dark hair. “I’m not going anywhere ever again.”
Freya watched the mother and daughter, conflicted by the emotions within. Mal put his arm around her waist, drawing her close, trying to let her know he understood just by the warmth of his body.
Medori let Grace cry, then looked up at Mal. “What do we do now?” she asked.
“They won’t be looking for Grace here,” he said. “Doubt it would ever occur to them to even consider it. But it might be best if you leave a while. Those hwoon dahn who left your daughter on that moon ain’t likely to talk, and if they do everyone’ll assume she didn’t survive, but just to be on the safe side.”
She nodded. “For a while. We can travel.” She looked down into her daughter’s face, smoothing away a lock of hair. “I can show you so many worlds, so many things …”
There was delight in the girl’s eyes, but also trepidation. “But I … I hurt people.”
“If your talents hadn’t woken, I’d never have found you. If they hadn’t wanted to take you to that school …” Medori stopped, surprised by the sudden trembling in her daughter. “What is it?”
Grace took a deep breath, tapping into the control Freya had given her. “Nothing. I’ll tell you later.”
Medori couldn’t help smiling as she spoke of ‘later’. Of there being a ‘later’ worth having.
“Here,” Simon said, reaching into his medbag and holding out a small case. “This might help. It contains twelve doses of Heretofen. It will stop the … Grace’s abilities. When you need it.”
“Thank you,” Medori said, bowing slightly as she took the box. “But I don’t think we’ll need them. We’ll learn how to control her gift together.”
Serenity took off from the sunshine of Athens back into the black, Hank setting a course to Persephone and the possibility of a job, Zoe at his shoulder making sure he did it right.
Freya was sitting in the cargo bay, staring at nothing much when Inara stepped out of her shuttle. She looked down at the other woman, aware of an aura of sadness around her. She knew what Freya was thinking about – the way Grace had said goodbye, crying at leaving but so happy at finding her mother.
“She’ll be all right,” she said.
Freya looked up. “I know.”
“Then why are you unhappy?” She walked down the stairs and joined her.
“I miss her.” Three simple words that spoke volumes.
Inara nodded. “She’s an amazing girl. Medori’s very lucky.”
“That she is. She gets the chance to be with her lost daughter.”
“And you don’t?” Freya didn’t answer, but Inara watched as she absently touched her stomach. “She cared about you,” the Companion went on quickly. “Grace.”
“Alexa.” Freya smiled a little. “I like that name. Actually I think it suits her more.”
“No. Grace is better.”
“At least she can choose.” Freya sighed, then lifted her head, looking at her friend. “Are you really considering leaving the Guild?”
Inara stared at her. “Did Mal –“
“No. Are you?”
“I … haven’t decided.”
“When you do, whatever you decide, I’ll be there for you. So will Mal. We all will.”
“And when you want to talk about it, whatever it is, I’ll listen.”
Inara was surprised, and grateful. “Thanks. I mean that.”
“It’s what families do.” Freya stood up. “Do you know where Mal is?”
“I'm not sure,” Inara admitted.
“Think I’ll go find him.” She smiled and headed for the stairs, Inara watching as she climbed towards the living area, but her mind was elsewhere …
“If we let you return, Inara, you do realise the consequences?”
She looked at the Triumvirate, sitting behind their high desk, gazing down at her. “I do.”
“There will be no turning back. No third chance.”
“I understand,” she said, her head high. “I want to come back. I want to be a Companion again.”
“Very well. We will consider our verdict and inform you as soon as a decision has been made.”
She nodded, turning on her heel and walking out of the door, her hand absently stroking the mound at her waist.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006 8:54 AM
Wednesday, December 13, 2006 10:04 AM
Wednesday, December 13, 2006 3:09 PM
Wednesday, December 13, 2006 3:48 PM
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