BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Aftermath - Part V
Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Freya's physio has started, but is it helping? Milk and cookies ... please let me know what you think!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1769    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

She was trying to undo her buttons, ready to get under the covers for the night, but she still couldn’t make them work enough, and it was frustrating her.

“Hey, let me do that,” Mal said, crossing the small room in two strides and sitting down next to her.

“No. I have to.” She batted his hands away. “It’s just buttons. I have to be able to do this. It’s just –” Her fingers slipped again, and in rage and frustration she found a sudden strength and pulled at the fabric of her shirt, bursting the stitches, three buttons flying to the corners of the room.

Mal just sat and watched. “Can I help now?”

She nodded, biting her lip.

“I’ll get Kaylee to sew them back on some time,” he said, undoing the remaining buttons. “If I can find ‘em. Course, might’ve got into the workings and could blow the main atmo feed, but we’ll deal with that when it happens.”

“I’m sorry.”

“What for?” He smiled. “Blowing the atmo feed?”

“Getting annoyed.”

Ai ren, if anyone has a right to get annoyed, I figure it’s probably you.” He pushed the shirt from her shoulders, revealing the incision marks and scars on her skin. He ran a finger across one.

“Don’t,” she said, trying to cover herself. “Don’t look at me.”

“Why not?” He asked, feeling the raised areas. “I love you.”

“It’s not me.” She tried to force his hands away, but she was as weak as a kitten again. “Please don’t.”

He stopped, dropping his hands into his lap. “I’m not trying to make you do something you don’t want,” he said softly. “I just want you to understand these …” He indicated the scars. “… don’t mean anything. You’re my wife. My Frey. And I love you.”

“Don’t say that.”

“I love you, Frey. More’n I ever loved anyone or anything. More’n I ever believed I could. I love you.”

“Don’t keep saying that!” She turned and pushed him away, trying to make him stop.

“I love you.”

She stared at him, her face anguished, then began to cry, leaning into him. “Mal … help me,” she said softly. “Please help me.”

He put his arm around her, holding her as tightly as he dared, kissing the top of her head. “I’m here. Ain’t going nowhere.”

“I can’t stop it,” she sobbed quietly.

“Stop what?”

“I can’t control it.”

He deliberately misunderstood. “You will. Bones heal quicker’n’ muscles, least according to the doc. Soon as you’re up on your feet again, you’ll feel more like yourself.”

“There’s no-one left to feel like,” she murmured.

“That’s fei hua and you know it,” he said, lifting her chin to look into her eyes. “You’re Freya. Strongest person I’ve ever met, and I’m including Zoe and Jayne in that statement.” He was gratified to see her lips twitch. “You’re strong, meili xin gan. And I’m here. We’re all here. We’re all going to help.”

“Mal …”

“Come on, lie down.”

“I’m not undressed.”

“I don’t think we’ll worry about that for one night.” He lifted her legs onto the bed and pulled the covers across. “Just don’t tell anyone.” He stood up.

“Where are you going?” she asked.

“To get Ethan. I figure he can sleep in with us tonight.”

“No.”

He looked down at her, confusion in his eyes again. “Why not?”

“Because I want to be on my own. Without you.”

He sat again. “Frey, I’m not gonna do that.”

“Please. I just … I can’t have you next to me.”

“But we’ve just –”

“No. You need to sleep. Someplace else. Away from me.” She looked into his face, her own expressionless again. “I know the nightmares wake you up.”

“That doesn’t matter.”

“Use one of the other rooms. Or go back to your bunk. Please, Mal. I don’t want you here.”

He stared at her, then nodded slowly. “Maybe there are a few things I need to get done before I turn in. Let you get some rest first.” He stood up. “You need me, you just call.”

“I will.”

He tucked the covers around her. “G’night, Frey.”

“’Night, Mal.”

“I love you.” He kissed her gently but there was little response.

“I know.”

He stepped back, watching as she closed her eyes, his heart close to breaking.

---

“Mal’s finding this difficult.” Hank dragged his boots off and tossed them into the corner.

“Did you expect it to be easy for him?” Zoe asked, turning in her seat where she was brushing her hair.

“No, but … it just seems to have hit him real hard. More’n’ I would have guessed. I mean, he’s the captain. He’s been through so much, been tortured himself and seen stuff I don’t even want to imagine, yet this …”

Zoe put down her hairbrush. “Maybe that’s why.”

Hank looked across at her. “Shah muh?”

Zoe got up and crossed the room to sit by him. “After Command ordered our surrender at Serenity Valley, he fought on until there was no more food, no ammo, nothing left to fight with. Then they just left us. More’n two weeks with injured men and all. You can’t believe the smell, although the worse thing is you get used to it.” She leaned into him, looking into the past. “People don’t die quietly, not during times of war. It’s just that usually you don’t notice. Only once the sound of battle had gone we could hear them. Moaning, screaming, crying out for their mothers … and we couldn’t do anything. The captain took it to heart. He tried his best, talking to them, patching them where he could, but we had no medics, no supplies … and every so often you’d hear a gun go off, and you knew someone hadn’t been able to take it no more.”

Hank took hold of her hand, giving her the comfort he knew she needed. She squeezed his fingers tightly.

“Strange thing is,” she went on, “it wasn't generally the injured that were taking that way out. It was others, who couldn’t cope, couldn’t survive, knowing they’d …” She paused a moment. “Then, one night, we heard a gun fire real close. Just a few yards away. We went to see who’d …”

She licked dry lips, and Hank wondered why people thought she had no emotions.

“It was a young man, not much more’n eighteen, name of Chillis. He was lying in a pothole, three corpses beside him, his gun a few feet away. He’d stuck the barrel under his chin and pulled the trigger, blowing off most of his face. Mal got down into the pothole to get his dogtags, send them home if we ever got out. Then Chillis grabbed his hand.”

Hank couldn’t help the jolt that went through him.

“Don’t know how, but the bullet hadn’t killed him, only now he was drowning in blood. He was trying to speak, but it wasn’t anything but grunts and bubbles. ‘Cept Mal understood. He put his own gun to the boy’s head and pulled the trigger. He did a better job of it.”

“Zoe …”

“Two hours later the medships finally arrived, and we were evac’d.”

“Two hours …” Hank was appalled. Only two hours and it would have been over.

Zoe came back and looked at him. “It was Mal’s last bullet, one he’d been saving for himself. I’d seen him, a dozen times through those fifteen days, looking at his pistol, staring at it like he was trying to come to a decision. And every time there’d be another gunshot and someone else’d be dead. Only it was never him.” She reached up and stroked her hand through his hair. “See, he knows all about how easy it is to end it, and how hard it is to carry on. He couldn’t save them. And now he’s afraid he can’t save her.”

“He can’t let anything happen to her.” Hank looked distressed.

“No. See, it’s different this time,” she said, putting her arm around his shoulders. “He’s got all of us with him.”

“But he had you then.”

“Yeah. But I’d run out of ammo already.”

He stared at her.

---

Elena found a seat near the window and looked out. From up here she could see a long way, almost to the edge of the world. She could certainly see her father’s hover carriage making its way out of the spaceport.

They hadn’t waited to see her take off.

It didn’t matter. They wouldn’t have known where she was sitting, if she could see them, even if they waved.

But they still hadn’t waited.

The girl opposite was gazing at her. “They didn’t mean it,” she said, her voice light, almost as pale as her hair.

“I know,” Elena agreed, not bothering to wonder how she knew. “But it still hurts.”

“I didn’t have anyone to see me off,” the girl said. “My parents died when I was small.”

“I’m sorry,” Elena said, leaning forward. “What happened?”

“A fire. I don’t remember them at all.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Me too.” The girl suddenly smiled. “But this is such an adventure, isn’t it?”

Elena couldn’t help it. As they felt the ship take off, she took hold of the other girl’s hands. “Oh, it is. I can’t wait!”

“Me neither!”

They grinned at each other as the flames outside lit their faces.

“I’m Elena, by the way.”

“Freya.”

“Are we going to be friends?”

Freya laughed. “We are already!”

---

Paquin came and went, the cargo picked up and stored, and they were soon off into the black again, this time heading for Verbena.

Mal carried the supplies he’d bought into the kitchen.

“Did’ya get it, Cap’n?” Kaylee asked excitedly, hurrying in from the engine room.

“I did,” he said, putting the box down on the counter. “Wasn’t easy, either. Took me a lot of time negotiating.”

Kaylee turned over the contents. “Ooh, the good stuff,” she said, smiling broadly.

“Don’t go wasting it,” Mal warned. “I ain’t made of money, you know.”

“It’s not a waste,” Kaylee gently admonished him. “Not for what I had in mind.”

“Just so long as you know there probably won’t be any more.”

“Did you know your nose’ll grow if you lie like that?” she asked.

“Ain’t lying,” Mal said, heading for the bridge.

“Like hell,” she murmured to herself, taking the bowls from the cupboard. “You’d spend every last penny you got to make her better.” She knew her captain.

---

Simon rolled down his sleeves and looked at Freya lying exhausted on the bed. “You’re doing really well,” he said, smiling. “Next couple of days, I think you can start using the crutches. Just for a few minutes at a time.”

Freya nodded, tasting blood in her mouth. She’d bitten her lip again, the same place she always did when Simon forced her muscles to work in his therapy sessions. “Sooner the better,” she said.

“Don’t try and force it, Freya,” he warned. “That way you could do more damage and make it an even longer process.”

“I need to get moving.”

“Why?” Simon asked, leaning on the wall. “What do you have to do that’s so important?”

“Be me.”

“And you can’t do that in here?”

“Why don’t you go back to your wife?” Freya asked, closing her eyes. “At least she needs you.”

“Yes, she does.” Simon picked up his bag. “And everyone needs you.”

She didn’t answer, just lay there, listening to him leave, going back to the infirmary. She couldn’t explain, couldn’t tell him. She tried with Mal, but he wouldn’t listen. Tried to tell him about the darkness all around her, waiting for her to put a foot wrong, to overwhelm her. The darkness that hid the sounds of bones cracking, of men breathing heavily as they did their job, of screams that went unanswered …

In her room River shuddered.

---

“How come the chocolate don’t just run out?” Jayne asked, leaning over her shoulder as she removed the cookies from the tray.

Kaylee had baked some as a treat, filled with chocolate chips. It was her mother’s recipe, and as such had always been a firm favourite with her and her brothers.

“Not sure,” she admitted, then rapped him on the knuckles with the spatula. “They ain't for you. They’re for Freya.”

“Something smells good,” Jethro said, stepping into the galley.

“Ain't ours,” Jayne said quickly. “Kaylee’s done ‘em for Freya.”

“Good idea.” He reached the counter. “They look wonderful.”

“Trying to get her to eat,” Kaylee explained. “Her and the Cap, they ain’t had a proper meal since we … since she got back.”

“I’m sure she won’t be able to resist.” Jethro smiled. “And if you want a taster …”

“Hey, I was there first!” Jayne protested.

“You know, I think you’d better go get Freya, before I end up with nothing but a tray of crumbs,” Kaylee said quickly.

“Do I get one as a reward?” the big man asked hopefully.

“Perhaps.”

“Deal.” He was out of the door and hurrying down the stairs before Kaylee could say another word.

---

They were good cookies, Freya had to admit. Almost like the ones she remembered. With a cookie in one hand, and a glass of milk in the other, she almost felt the darkness thin out, almost saw the light.

“Hey, am I missing something here?” Hank asked, stepping down into the kitchen, sniffing the air ostentatiously.

“Nothing for you,” Kaylee said, sitting at the table watching her friend take small bites, alternating with sips of milk, and felt satisfied.

“Chocolate?” The pilot shook his head. “You got chocolate and you say it’s nothing for me?”

“You get back to the bridge, little man,” Jayne said, brushing crumbs off his t-shirt where he sat next to Freya.

“How come you get one?” Hank asked in astonishment. He turned to Kaylee. “How come he gets one and I don’t?”

“’Cause I carried Freya up the stairs.” The big man grinned.

“I could do that.”

“Right.”

“I’ve been working hard,” Hank insisted. He lifted his right arm, bending it to make his biceps bulge. “See?”

“Careful, Hank, or I might just swoon away,” Kaylee giggled.

“You go ahead and swoon,” Hank said grandly. “I won’t mind.”

“Hey, I thought you were gonna call me when they were ready,” Mal said, joining them.

“I didn’t get a chance,” Kaylee explained. “And if I’d left this lot alone with ‘em you’d never have got one.”

Mal grinned, a proper smile, the first he’d had for a long while. “Hope they’re worth it.” He picked one off the cooling tray and bit into it. “Oh, yeah. They are.”

“See?” Kaylee preened. “My momma knows a thing or two about cookin’.”

“You know, you could turn me into a feller with a sweet tooth, you keep baking like that.”

“Well, Cap’n, my momma has a whole recipe book of things like this, and I could easily wave her, get her to send me a few more.”

“Good idea,” Jayne said, reaching for a second.

“No, you don’t,” Kaylee said, slapping his hand again. “I already told you, these are for Frey and the Cap.”

“That ain’t fair.” He pouted. “’N’ I gotta carry her back down.”

“I can walk,” Freya said unexpectedly.

Everyone glanced at Mal, who said, “Not yet, ai ren. Not ‘til Simon says you can.”

“I’m getting better. Every day.” She smiled just a little, holding up her hands. “See?” Then her grip gave and the glass crashed to the ground, shattering. “Oh, I'm so sorry,” she cried.

“No, don’t worry none about that,” Kaylee said quickly, getting up to fetch a cloth. Mal went down onto his haunches and started picking up the broken glass.

“Ain’t nothing,” he said, glancing up at her and smiling. “Easily fixed.”

Freya felt her skin burning with embarrassment. “I didn’t mean –” Then she realised the cookie had fallen to the floor too, right into the centre of the mess. “I don’t believe …” She reached down automatically, then found herself slipping, and it was only Jayne’s speed that caught her before she ended up in the same situation as the milk and cookie.

“Here, don’t wanna be doing that,” the big man said, lifting her tenderly back into her chair.

The darkness swirled back in. “Take me back,” she said quietly.

“What?”

“Take me back to my room. Please.”

Jayne looked across at Mal, who nodded slowly. “Okay, Frey,” the big mercenary said, picking her up and carrying her out.

“Cap?” Kaylee asked, her voice loud in the silent room.

Mal just shook his head, not trusting himself to speak.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 1:58 AM

KATESFRIEND


Sounds like Freya is trying to heal a lifetime of pain all at once. Nice use of flashbacks!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 2:09 AM

AMDOBELL


Okay, I am being patient but one thing I can't understand is why Jayne is the one who carries Freya whenever she needs to be moved. You have done that right from the beginning when she got hurt, it just doesn't seem right. The Captain is her husband, loves her something fierce, yet you don't let him do for her and it is frustrating me. I get it that everybody loves Freya, no problem with that, but this feels so wrong. If it was Jayne's wife in that condition no way in hell would he let another man carry her about. Just don't think it's fair is all. I also think what Freya needs is some counselling, maybe a Preacher. Someone outside of the crew that she can be brutally honest with. Can't see much progress without one and I don't want Freya to break Mal's heart. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 2:37 AM

JANE0904


Amdobell, the point is she won't let Mal. She hates him having to do the other things for her all the time anyway. As for the rest ... wait and see!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 7:13 AM

TAMSIBLING


The way you're writing Freya is absolutely heartbreaking. I think you've done a great job of painting how much emotional and physical turmoil she's in. I agree that it would be great if she let Mal carry her, but I understand that she doesn't want him too. Maybe have him try again and have her refuse him - just for us readers?

And when exactly is Mal going to lose it? After Zoe told that story, I can see him more than panicking and the fact that Freya won't even look at Ethan has got to be killing him as well. And yes, Freya does need counseling - lots of it. Here's hoping ...

Wednesday, February 28, 2007 3:13 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh...this was just utterly heart-wrenching, Jane0904! Between Freya's moment of fury at her inability to undress herself to this final moment of ignoring her current state to clean up her mess...struggling not to cry.

But what I can't help but feel is slowly growing fear about why she's reacting the way she does. I get the feeling these flashbacks are gonna show the Academy had completely unfathomable ways of training their "students" to deal with anything thrown at them...including breaking their bodies and forcing them to keep going like nothing's wrong:(

BEB

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 9:51 AM

JOLY


I'm glad you went the long road with her recovery. Some mighta skipped to the walking part of it, missing all the in between. You do it so well. This kind of thing can break someone down to nothing. You've handled it beautifully.

Peace and Blessings

Joanna


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