BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

The Hunt - Part III
Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Ethan's been kidnapped ... Feedback, as always, is gratefully received!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1704    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Simon buttoned the white coat over his clothes and turned to River who was dressed as a nurse. “Ready?” he asked.

She nodded. Opening the door to the supply closet she peered out. “No-one watching.”

They stepped out into the corridor and walked purposefully towards the examination suites. People passed them by, but no-one took any notice of a doctor and nurse who looked like they belonged.

“In here,” Simon said at a door marked Fertility Clinic. They slid inside and locked the door behind them. “It shouldn’t take long,” he added as he headed for the main bank of equipment. “I’m pretty sure I know what the problem is, but … just make sure no-one wants to use this room, okay?”

“Okay.” She stayed by the door, watching through the small window.

Simon switched on the machinery and opened his bag, waiting for the computer to boot up. Symbols appeared on the screen, and he began to input information.

River glanced around at him, admiring the efficiency of his movements, the way he did nothing that wasn’t needed. He was such a good doctor, could have saved so many lives, but he’d given it all up to save her instead. She felt so grateful to him that she could never fully put it into words. She looked back outside.

He slid the samples he’d brought into the diagnostic unit, putting a memory tab into the slot to collect the results. Choosing the programme he needed, he pressed start. The machinery hummed into life and started to collate.

As he waited he contemplated what might happen as a result of this. If Kaylee was never going to get the second child she wanted, if he had to tell her that he was less than a man …

Suddenly River was at his side, grabbing his arm. “Simon,” she said urgently.

“What is it?” he asked, watching the bar that showed the progression of the download.

“They need us.”

“Who?” He looked over his shoulder at her.

“Serenity. Now.”

His eyes widened. “Someone’s hurt?”

She nodded. “Hurry.”

As she spoke the comlink in his pocket began to vibrate. He pulled it free. “Yes?”

“Get your ass back here right now,” Jayne’s voice unexpectedly filled the room. “They’ve taken Ethan.”

---

“Why?” Kaylee asked, holding her daughter close. Ever since Jayne had found her in the infirmary cupboard, the little girl had refused to be left alone, clinging to whoever held her. “Why’d they take him? It ain’t like we‘re wealthy, can pay a ransom or something.”

Jethro, standing close to her, shook his head. “I don’t know, Kaylee.”

“But it don’t make no sense.” She watched her husband removing the bullet from Zoe’s shoulder, dropping it into the kidney bowl at his side, and begin to stitch up the wound. “I mean, if they don’t tell us what they want.”

Mal didn’t answer. He just stood staring into the infirmary, not seeing anything except the empty bed in the nursery upstairs.

Jayne stepped into the common area. “Talked to Badger,” he said. “Told him what’d happened. He’s looking to see if he can find out anything.” He glanced at River who was sitting on the yellow chair, her legs drawn up, staring at him.

“Thanks,” Mal said.

“And ‘Nara’s back. Think she wants to speak to you.”

Mal nodded and headed into the cargo bay past him.

“Jayne,” River said softly.

He looked over at her. “Ain't the right time, moonbrain,” he replied.

“No.” She hugged her knees closer.

The ex-Companion was standing in the entrance, watching Freya outside, standing like a statue. “How long has she been like that?” she asked quietly as Mal came up to her.

“Ever since we found out Ethan was gone. She wanted to go out searching for him, but I managed to persuade her that wouldn’t do no good. We ain’t gonna find him by looking. But I can’t make her come in, no matter what I say.” He was struggling to keep himself together. “She’s trying to find him with her mind, but it’s just a fog.”

“Jayne said she felt them take Ethan.”

“Only there ain't been anything since.” He looked into her face. “You think you might know something?”

“Sheydra wasn’t there,” Inara said. “They weren’t expecting her at all. Apparently she’s with a client, but they wouldn’t tell me who.” She shivered, wrapping her arms around herself. “Who’d do this, Mal?”

“I don't know, but when I find out they ain't gonna live to see tomorrow.” His blue eyes were cold and his fists were clenched, promising swift and sudden violence.

Inara nodded. “Does Bethany know anything?”

“Just three men. Big. But to a kid like her …”

“They won’t hurt him, Mal,” Inara said softly. “He’s just a baby.”

“Then why take him at all?” Mal turned back to watch his wife.

“I don’t know.”

“They knew where we were going to be, Inara.”

“I know.”

“Someone told them.”

“Yes.”

“And it ain't no-one on this ship.” He looked back at her, his face serious as death. “That kinda leaves only one person.”

“Sheydra.”

“No-one else knew we were gonna be here. No-one else was told.” Mal took a deep breath and jerked his head to where the big mercenary still stood in the doorway to the common area. “Jayne, would you …” He stopped, not sure what the answer was going to be.

“What do you need, Mal?” He stepped down into the cargo bay.

“Go with Inara. Find out from the Guild who she’s with. And I really don’t care how much fuss you have to make to get that information.”

Inara nodded, her face pale. “We’ll find out.”

---

“She’ll be fine,” Simon said, turning to Hank who hadn’t left the infirmary throughout the operation and stripping the gloves from his hands. “She’ll wake up soon, and you can take her back to your bunk.”

“You don’t really think she’ll go, do you?” the pilot asked, fiddling with the dressing Simon had put on the gouge in his scalp. “Not while Ethan’s missing.”

“Try. Otherwise she stays here.”

“That ain’t gonna work either.” Hank shook his head, then wished he hadn’t. “Not unless you’re planning on keeping her knocked out.”

“I’m planning on doing my job.” Simon turned to the counter and pulled out a suture kit from the drawer. “And you’re next.”

“I’m fine.”

“You’ve been hurt.”

“It’s happened before, and I ain’t persuaded it won’t again. I’m fine, doc.”

“Let me be the judge of that.” He removed the dressing from Hank’s head, easing it away from where it still bled. “They hit you pretty hard.”

“You think I care about that?” Hank asked, his voice hard. “Someone’s kidnapped Ethan. You think I give a shit about a knock to the head?”

“Hank …”

“What if it’d been your sister got took?” Hank said brutally.

“It was, once,” Simon said softly, then nodded. “Come on. Let’s get this stitched then we can get back to finding him.”

Hank glared at him, then dropped his eyes. “Guess that’d be best.”

Simon glanced outside to where his sister was still sitting. “Is Jayne back for good?” he asked quietly.

“Don’t know, doc,” Hank replied. “But I can’t help feeling damn glad he’s here right now. Think we’re gonna need him.”

---

Inara stopped outside the Guild House.

“You okay?” Jayne asked.

“Not really,” she admitted. “I’ve never … Except for when the Operative came to Madrassa, I don’t think any House has ever been invaded. Not for centuries.”

“First time for everything.”

“I'm … I'm glad you’re here.”

Jayne raised his eyebrows. “Kinda figured I’d be ‘bout as welcome as a dose of the clap.”

Inara ignored the coarseness. “We missed you.”

“Hell, if it comes down to it …” He paused. “You know we ain't got time for this.”

“No. We have work to do. But we don’t want to hurt anyone,” Inara said warningly.

“We do what we have to. You think Mal was joking?”

“No.” Inara shivered. “No, the problem is I don’t think he was at all.”

“Good. Come on then.” Jayne eased the gun at his thigh. “’Cause I feel like breakin’ somethin’.”

---

“I’m fine,” Zoe insisted, pulling her shirt back up over her shoulder, hiding the dressing.

“You need to rest.” Simon knew he was speaking, but he was pretty certain no-one was listening.

“Honey, please,” Hank said.

“Tell me what’s going on.” She tried to do the buttons up, but couldn’t manage it. “And I’d appreciate some help here.”

Hank glared at her, then began to assist.

River unfolded herself from the chair and walked silently up the stairs towards the bridge. No matter how hard she tried, her mind was filled with the torment of the crew, the absolute anguish that was tearing through the captain and his wife, and she couldn’t filter it out enough to find Ethan.

Mal was already there, his body ramrod straight, staring out into the light of Persephone. He couldn’t watch Freya anymore, couldn’t take it that she’d physically pushed him away when he suggested she come inside, that it was better if she waited on board, that … anything other than the accusing look in her eyes.

River slid into the co-pilot’s seat.

“Can you feel anything, mei-mei?” he asked, not looking at her.

She shook her head. “I’m trying, captain.”

“Well, keep on,” he said quietly. “I know you’re doing your best.” Now he glanced down at her and gave her a small smile that almost broke her heart. “Jayne’s back. Guess you saw.”

“Yes.”

“You gonna be okay with that?”

“He’s here for Freya.”

Mal was surprised. “I conjure you might be right. They always did have a connection.” He looked at her. “But are you gonna be okay?”

“We’ll talk. Later. When Ethan’s home.”

The shadow dropped back over Mal’s face. “Yeah. When he’s home.” He stared back out into the treasonous sunshine, his guilt at not being able to protect his family crushing down on him.

---

It was getting dark as Freya stepped back into the cargo bay, her muscles aching, her fists clenched, her heart shattered into hard, sharp points that cut at her insides. A whimper escaped her throat as saw Jayne’s weights, and crossed the floor to them, picking one up and feeling the weight of it in her hand. Then she threw it, with all the power in her arm, hitting the bulkhead with a crash before it fell to the floor. Another followed, then another, until it wasn’t enough and she pushed the frame over, the dumbbells rolling around under foot. She put her hands under the bench, upending it, her breath coming shorter now, not from exertion, but from fear and anger. She was panting as she started knocking crates down, starting to scream as she did so until her voice was hoarse.

Mal ran down the stairs from the bridge and caught her in his arms, her back to him. She was fighting, crying, still yelling.

“Shh, shh,” he said softly, holding her tightly, feeling tears of his own on his cheeks.

She turned into his body, burying her face in his chest. “I want him back,” she said, her voice muffled, but the shaking of her body was almost rattling his ribs.

“We will find him. I promise. If I have to fight the Alliance and all the demons from hell, I’ll bring him home.” He had to make her believe it.

“Mal,” River called from the gangway above. “It’s Badger.”

---

“Ain’t heard nothing, Mal,” Badger said, for once his head uncovered. He could see Freya standing behind her husband, and her pain almost shimmered off the screen. “I got words out, see if anyone else might’a …” He paused. “That ain’t right.”

“No.”

“Takin’ a baby … that ain’t right.”

Mal was surprised. As far as he was concerned, Badger was out for all he could get, accumulating wealth and his petty power as much as possible. That he would consider kidnapping below him … but this was a child. “If you hear anything …” he began, but had to stop.

“Yeah.” The little man nodded. “And tell Jayne ‘e should stay. Sort it out.”

“I don’t figure on him going anywhere.”

“Nah, be about right.” He looked beyond Mal. “Whatever I can do,” he said, speaking directly to Freya. “Whatever.”

“Thanks,” Mal said, switching off the vid as Hank and Zoe stepped quietly onto the bridge.

“Call Dillon,” Freya said softly, her voice strained. “He’s got connections in places Badger couldn’t even begin to imagine.”

“You think?” Mal turned to her, pulling her into his body just so he could feel some warmth. Since they’d found Ethan gone, he’d been cold as ice.

“Call him.” She jerked away and walked off the bridge.

Mal stared after her, then turned to Hank. “Do it.”

---

Freya stared into the nursery. This was wrong. Not to have Ethan lying there, his arms waving at her, wanting her to pick him up, hold him close, to have him sleep between her and Mal like he did once in a while … he’d be so cold and lonely, wanting food, company … her.

It was no good. She couldn’t just wait. She needed to be out there, looking, no matter what Mal said. Trying to find him. Doing something. Climbing out of the bunk she glanced towards the bridge, seeing her husband with his back to her. As much as she wanted to hold him, to have him tell her everything was going to be okay, she couldn’t go to him. Not now.

Hurrying down the stairs she started across the cargo bay when she realised someone was outside, looking in.

“Mrs Reynolds?” It was a young woman, no older than River, wearing what looked like an entire wardrobe of clothes. She was none too clean, either.

“Yes. Who –”

“Got something for you,” the woman said. She held out an envelope.

“What is it?”

The woman shrugged. “Don’t know. Man came up to me, gave me a handful of coin and told me to bring this to you. Only I had to make sure it was to you.” She waved the envelope. “Look, I’m just doing what I was told.”

Freya took the packet, feeling something small and hard inside. “What did he look like?”

“Just a man.” The woman backed off. “Done what I got paid to do. That’s all.”

Freya watched as she ran off, then stared down at the envelope in her hand. Then, with a sudden tug, she ripped the paper open. A small black recorder dropped into the palm of her hand.

---

“Frey? Where are you?” Mal called, leaning into the galley, which was conspicuously empty. He felt a tremor run through him as he turned towards the engine room. “Kaylee, you seen Frey?”

The young mechanic, Bethany still in her arms, wiped her face with her sleeve, not wanting the captain to know she’d been crying again. “No, sir,” she said. “Last I saw was when you were talking to Badger.” She sniffed. “Could she have gone out? Looking for Ethan?”

“Ethan?” Bethany repeated quietly, hiding her face in her mother’s hair.

“I … she’d have said.” The tremor was turning to a feeling of dread in his gut. “Can you … help me look for her, will you?”

“Sure thing, Cap’n.” She nodded. “Want I should check around outside, too, just in case?”

“Uh, yeah. Thanks.”

Kaylee hurried down the stairs towards the common area and infirmary.

Mal strode back into the galley, checking the storage locker, the freezer, even behind the counter, but there was no sign. And the feeling of dread had become a lump of ice, growing fast. Serenity wasn’t that big … why couldn’t he find her? He climbed the steps into the corridor, glancing towards the bridge, but Hank shook his head, a worried look on his face. Quickly he searched the bunks, even venturing into Jayne’s, but there was no sign.

His eyes were drawn to the open hatch above their own bunk. But he’d looked there first. No reason to think … He dropped down the ladder, staring into the corners of the room. Of course she wasn’t there, but there was something …

Gorram it, her gun was gone. How the hell hadn’t he noticed that before? He turned to hurry up the ladder but something else caught his attention.

A small recording device was on the blanket, as if tossed carelessly. Or thrown down in anger. Mal picked it up, having to concentrate to stop his fingers from trembling.

It wasn’t Freya’s, that he was sure of. The one she used occasionally for notes, things she needed to remember, or if she needed to get Simon to record his permission for them to make love again, that was red, and as he glanced up he could see it was still next to her figurine. This one was an intruder …

He pressed play.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 11:23 PM

GIRLFAN


It must be truly awful to be River. The anguish coming from the crew, just from the screen...

Thursday, February 15, 2007 3:44 AM

KATESFRIEND


You really know how to push the angst button, don't you? Wish Freya and Mal could work together as a team for this. It makes sense that River feels too much anguish from the crew to feel Ethan, and your descriptions of their feelings was spot on.

Thursday, February 15, 2007 6:41 AM

TAMSIBLING


Oh god ... this is just heart-wrenching ... I agree with Girlfan, being River is truly tortured ... And I feel bad for Simon too - did he get the answers he needed ... I can completely see Kaylee hugging Bethany to her and not letting go ...

I hope whoever took Ethan gets his balls handed to him on a plate and then Mal makes him eat them!

Thursday, February 15, 2007 7:23 AM

AMDOBELL


Actually glad to see I was wrong about Badger, at least I hope he was being sincere though that was only for Freya's sake. My heart goes out to Freya in her total panic and alarm over Ethan's loss but I really want to shake her as well. Not only for pushing Mal out as if it is somehow his fault but also for going off on her own. Really wanted to yell at her for that last stupid stunt though I am guessing the message told her to go alone. In which case, leaving the recorder behind for Mal to find was a brilliant way of cluing him in to what had happened and why she had gone off like that. I also agree with Inara about being glad Jayne is there. I just knew Sheydra was setting them up, feel all manner of annoyed at Inara for falling for it. Hopefully she can find out more. Talk about a can of worms, makes me wonder if taking the baby was the ploy to get Freya as opposed to anybody doing it to get back at the Captain. Gorramit, there are too many bad guys in this 'verse! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, February 15, 2007 12:27 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Behold! The fury that hath arisen from the deepest part of the female psyche now floweth forward like the mightest of rivers!

:(

Gotta give you credit for the amount of angst and brilliant character moments, Jane0904! Definitely can't wait to hear the recorder's message and what information Jayne and Inara obtain from the Guild...mainly cuz I wanna read about how Jayne tries out some controlled chaos;D

BEB


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