BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Aftermath - Part VII
Thursday, March 1, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. With her emotions out of control, Mal has to make the decision to save Freya. A slightly screwy part ... let me know what you think!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1697    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

“Get outta the way.” Jayne’s finger took up the slack in the trigger. “I’m gonna kill me a preacher, and you’d better not be there when I –” His mouth sagged and he fell forwards, sliding down the stairs until he lay with his head on the cargo bay floor, his body up the steps.

Mal stood above him, a wrench in his hand. “Damn fool,” he muttered. “And what’s this about Freya?”

River looked at him thankfully. “She can’t help it. It’s her abilities breaking through. She’s been trying so hard to control the darkness that she’s projecting.”

“Mal, what’s going on?” Inara called from outside her shuttle, her voice trembling, but he ignored her.

“I don’t understand, little albatross,” Mal said, shaking his head.

“I do,” Hank put in.

Mal turned. “What the …”

Zoe was helping his pilot through the upper doorway. His shirt was torn and bloodied, and his face was white.

“I don’t know what happened,” his first mate said, sounding so guilty that it amazed them all. “I … I did it. Only it didn’t feel like me.”

“Infirmary,” Simon said, turning to go back and coming face to face with Kaylee. “I’m sorry, bao-bei,” he said, his own guilt matching Zoe’s.

“I know,” she said, stepping out of his way. “You’d best deal with this.”

---

“I felt it too,” Inara said, hugging Kaylee just outside the sickbay. “I woke up and … I wanted to hurt someone. So badly. Anyone. Even myself.” She shuddered. “I began to break things, just to … until I heard Jayne’s gun go off.”

“How come Jayne didn’t stop when we did?” Zoe asked, watching Simon clean the deep scratches on Hank’s chest.

“Did you want to hurt Hank?” River asked.

“No.”

“Did Simon want to hit Kaylee?”

Mal looked sharply across. “Hit Kaylee? You hit Kaylee?”

“No, Cap’n,” the young mechanic said quickly. “He wouldn’t’a hurt me.” No way she was stepping inside, though.

“I don’t know what happened, Mal,” the young doctor admitted, his voice unsteady. “It was as if it wasn’t me.”

“It wasn‘t,” River agreed. “It was Freya. Not consciously, but … she wants to lash out. To hurt everyone. To make them feel what she felt.”

Mal glared at her, then looked down at his wife, lying too still under the sedation. “And Jayne?” he asked, not wanting to think about it, but knowing the girl was right. His own dream had made that perfectly clear.

“He didn’t stop because he wants to kill Jethro anyway. The impulse was just let loose, and he didn’t want to push it back.”

“And now we know?”

“It won’t stop it.” She gazed unhappily at Mal. “You have to help her.”

Mei-mei, I’m trying. But she keeps pushing me away.” He stroked Freya’s forehead.

“Then we have to go in and get her.”

“Go in?” He looked up and stared at her. “Go in where?”

“Into her mind. Bring her back. Stop the darkness.”

“You keep talking about that. But surely –”

“It will consume her and there will be nothing of Freya left. Just a shell filled with hate and the need to hurt.”

Mal looked around at the others: Zoe standing next to Hank, his skin and blood under her nails; Kaylee outside in the common area, not even able to be in the same room as her husband. Knowing Jayne was out in the cargo bay, tied to the railings, Jethro hiding …

“What do I have to do?” he asked, turning back to the young psychic.

“Trust me.”

---

“What now?” Mal asked, lying back on the medbed. Freya had been taken into their temporary room, and he felt bereft of her.

“Trust me.”

“River … can you really do this?”

“You love her. You’re in her mind already. I'm just … pushing a little.” At his look she repeated, “Trust me,” and watched as Simon put sensors on Mal’s chest and forehead. “Close your eyes. Relax.” She sat back on the counter, then added, “This might be a little … odd.”

“Odd?” Mal’s eyes flew open. “Odd how?” Then he realised he wasn’t in the infirmary any more. At least he thought he wasn’t. It was pitch black, and he seemed to be standing up. He turned around. Maybe. Difficult to tell since there was nothing differentiating one direction from another. Even up or down. He leaned over to try and figure out what he was standing on, but he couldn’t feel anything. At all.

“River?” he called, only his voice was swallowed by the blackness. He tried to think her name, but it was as if his mind was as foggy as his vision. “Great. Very helpful.”

He couldn’t tell how long he’d been there: it could have been seconds or days. Then he heard – someone singing. Badly. He turned as best he could and saw a light, just a dim glimmer but getting brighter. No, not brighter but nearer. He watched as it resolved into a figure, leading, most improbably, a large white horse and carrying a lantern on a pole. Mal still couldn’t see who it was, although he felt sure he knew.

Suddenly the singing stopped, and a voice said, “I’m a leaf on the wind: watch how I soar.” And the man standing in front of him snapped into focus. “Hey, there, Mal.”

He stared. “Wash?”

“The very same.” His dead pilot was grinning at him.

“You … okay?”

Wash shook his head. “Right through the chest,” he said, slapping the outrageous Hawaiian shirt he was wearing. “Tends to kill you.”

“I … remember.” Mal swallowed.

“So how’s Zoe?”

“Fine.”

“That flyboy taking good care of her?”

“They’re … good. Mostly.”

“Tell him, he doesn’t do right by her, I'm coming back to haunt him.”

“Okay. Sure. I will.” He paused. “Um … why are you here?”

“Don’t you want me to be?” He managed to sound hurt.

“No, I mean, yeah, sure, but … why are you here?”

If anything Wash’s grin got wider. “I’m your squire.”

“What?”

“You’re going to fight dragons, and if you’re gonna do that, then you need a squire.” He indicated himself. “And I'm it.”

“Dragons.”

“A metaphor. Or maybe a simile. I never could get those straight at school.”

“You sure it ain't windmills?”

Wash laughed. “Now I do remember Don Quixote. Only I’m pretty sure I never read it when I was alive. You think you get smarter once you’re dead?”

“I think you get corpsified and gross.”

“Yeah, probably.” But the laugh died quickly. “Only it ain’t serfs we’re here to save right now, Mal. It’s Freya.”

“I know.”

They looked at each other for a long moment while Mal waited for something to happen.

“So, d’ya miss me?” Wash said eventually.

“Some.”

“Hey, from you that’s fulsome.”

Mal glared at him, then felt the horse nuzzle his shoulder. He looked into a pair of dark eyes, somehow creepily familiar.

“Hey, she likes you!” Wash grinned. “So, we going?”

“Going? Going where? Wash, I hate to point this out, but there ain’t anywhere to be going to.”

“Just be patient.”

Mal sighed. “Hey, wait a minute. How come it’s you anyway? Not Book, or … or … hell, Zoe, even.”

Wash shrugged. “I don’t know. It’s your subconscious.”

“I thought it was Freya’s.”

“Really?” Wash looked unconvinced.

“Although I don’t …” Mal sighed. “No, this is so insane it has to be River’s.”

Wash thought for a moment. “Well, who knows what goes on in that brain of hers. Brings back such happy memories.” He sighed, a smile on his face. “Ah, wacky fun.”

Mal’s glare got deeper. “Why is it you? You don’t even know Freya. You weren’t around when we … I mean, by then you’d … um …”

“Died. Mal, it’s okay, you can say it. I died. Snuffed it. Shuffled off this mortal coil. Not something I'm particularly proud of, but accidents happen. But I do know Freya. Hell, known her longer than I knew my lambie-toes.”

He watched as the realisation struck his old captain. “That’s … you slept with my wife.”

Wash sighed. “It was one time.”

“You slept with my wife.”

He tried a grin. “Mal, come on. It was a long time ago. And it was once.”

“That don’t make no difference. You slept with my wife.” Mal took a menacing step forwards.

“Actually, you know, I think she slept with me. But fine. You gonna kill me? Go ahead. Oh, no, sorry, already dead.” Wash shook his head. “You know, this has to be your subconscious. Only you’d try and do something as crazy as beating up on a dead man.” He saw the murderous glint in Mal’s eyes. “Yeah, well, look, it’s all very well standing and exchanging pleasantries like this, but it’s not exactly helping Freya.”

Mal took a deep breath. “No. Okay. So what do I do now?”

“Now you get to kill the monster.”

Mal gave a start. That was exactly what he’d said to Inara, that he wanted to go into Freya’s dream and kill the monster for her. “Gorram psychics, waltzing around in other people’s minds,” he muttered

“Since when did River ever do what you told her?” Wash patted the other man on the shoulder. “You fight the dragon, Mal,” he said seriously. “That’s what you do. You fight the dragon to save the fair lady.”

“Save the …” The horse nudged him again. “And what the hell are you doing with that animal?”

“Hey, I ain't the one wearing armour.”

Mal looked down. He was indeed wearing armour, bright and shining, with a red symbol emblazoned on his chest. “What is it?” he asked, trying to see.

“Serenity,” Wash said happily. “You know, I miss that old crate.”

Mal sighed. “And I'm beginning to think River’s crazier than we all imagined.”

“Is that possible?”

“You know, for a dead man, you’re really annoying.”

Wash grinned. “Well, I work harder at it. So, time to go.” He dropped the lantern, which immediately went out.

“Um, go where?” Mal asked, then realised the impenetrable darkness had thinned, and was even now whirling away like mist in the morning sun.

“There,” Wash said, revealed in all his glory standing on a grassy plain. He pointed.

Da-shiong bao-jah-shr duh la doo-tze,” Mal breathed.

There, in front of him, nestled into the curve of the valley, sat Serenity. His ship. Only not quite, adorned as it was with turrets and pennants. The sun was glinting off shields slung along the outside of the engine housing.

“That’s how they all see you, Mal. King of your own little castle.” Wash waved a hand at the image in front of him. “Knight in shining armour.”

“Are you kidding?” Mal stared, then looked around. This seemed familiar … the stream at the bottom of a wide valley, mountains all around, a small stand of trees up the hill … he didn’t want to see if there was a small headstone there.

“It’s always there, Mal,” Wash said quietly. “That little grave. Always in Freya’s mind.”

“Yeah.” Mal’s voice was unsteady. “Mine too.”

Wash suddenly clapped his hands together, the sound ringing across the landscape. “So, you ready?”

“What for?”

“I told you. Fighting the dragon. Or would you prefer a dinosaur? Only I don’t reckon there’s that much of a choice, and I’d go with the dragon if I were you. Probably a bit easier.”

“What?” Mal stared at the other man. “What dragon?”

“That one.” Wash pointed in front of them, and Mal turned back towards the Firefly. Only in front of him, between him and his ship, between him and Freya, was a damn great big, fire-breathing dragon.

“Oh, nee ta ma duh tyen-shia suo-yo duh num doh gai si.”

“Yep,” Wash said happily. “Beautiful, ain't she?”

---

“Are you insane?” Mal asked, looking straight into the eyes of the dragon, and it looked back. “I ain't a knight. I don’t know how to use a sword.”

“Well, no,” Wash agreed. “Kinda proved that a coupla times. But it’s this or you lose Freya forever.”

“Can’t I just shoot it?”

“I don’t think so. But you don’t have to use a sword. We got this.” Reaching behind him, he produced a lance from thin air, like a magician.

“I am not even going to ask where you’ve been keeping that.”

“Don’t,” Wash agreed.

Mal looked back at the dragon, who appeared much more interested now there was a weapon in sight. In fact, thin curls of smoke were arising from its nostrils. “You sure I can –“

“It won’t be that difficult, Mal. She wants you to save her.”

“Then why …”

“Just get on the damn horse.”

Mal did as he was told, finding himself in the saddle before he even realised it. The horse stood calmly, waiting.

“Now put your visor down.”

“My …” Mal reached up and realised he was wearing a helmet. “Ah.” He lowered the visor and reduced the vision of his world to a small gap. Unfortunately, he could still see the dragon, and it appeared to be getting annoyed.

“You know, I wish I had a capture of this,” Wash was burbling happily. “I coulda blackmailed you into giving me and Zoe all the time off we wanted, naked beaches and all.”

“If you weren't dead –”

“Here.” He handed Mal the lance. “Go get ‘im.”

Mal turned enough to be able to see the pilot standing back. “Wait, ain't you coming?”

“Nah,” Wash said. “I'm just the squire. I don’t get to go and save the lady. That’s the knight’s job.”

“Wash …”

He nodded his blond head. “Yeah, I know.” He smiled sadly. “If I could …”

“See you around, Wash.”

“Sure. And give my love to Zoe.”

His horse decided enough was enough, reared onto its back legs, then began to gallop towards the dragon.

---

This was new. The sound of hooves clattering along the corridor outside her cell. She listened intently, hoping to hear something else, to find out who it was, but the noise was only brief, and had gone as quickly as it had arrived.

Suddenly the door opened, and they were there again. The men in the green lab coats, holding out the restraints. She backed into the corner, mewing, pleading with them not to, begging them not to hurt her.

---

Wa ch-ao, but that hurt. Mal tried not to breathe the super-heated air into his lungs, but it was a close thing. And his skin was burning where it touched the metal of the armour. This might be a dream, but if it was it was a nightmare. For someone who apparently wanted him to save her, this really, really hurt.

The dragon was taking breath to release another torrent of flame over him, and he wasn't sure he could survive another blast.

Reining the horse in, he balanced the lance on his thigh and kicked with his heels, urging his mount forward. It needed no further command, leaping towards the monster.

At the last moment, as he saw the dragon open its mouth, Mal closed his eyes, envisioning his wife sitting on their bed, Ethan in her arms. “For Freya,” he whispered as he prepared to roast.

There was a scream of pain, and it took a moment for him to realise it wasn’t his.

Opening his eyes he found he was on one knee on the ground, head forward, no sign of his horse. He looked up, ready, but the dragon had gone. All that remained was a bright flame hanging in front of him.

He looked behind him as best he could, to see Wash grinning stupidly, giving him the double thumbs up, nodding him on.

Mal reached out and plucked the flame from the air, tucking it into his armour, not caring that it burned worse than the hot metal. All he knew was that it was important. Staggering to his feet he headed towards Serenity.

The fire was out. She knew without knowing how she knew. And the men in the green lab coats were confused. They were looking at each other, their mouths moving silently as if they didn’t know what to do next.

From her corner of the room she tried to hear their thoughts, but it was just a jumble of incoherent sounds that scared her.

Suddenly they turned, running into the corridor.

They rushed out of the open cargo bay doors, five men in green uniforms, each brandishing a laser pistol.

Mal smacked his hand down automatically to his right hip, but there was no gun. “River, this ain't funny no more,” he muttered, pulling the sword from the scabbard he found there.

Did you ever really think it was?” came the girl’s voice in his mind.

Tah muh duh.” He rushed forward, the armour somehow not impeding his movement. Nor was it, unfortunately, much good at deflecting laser bursts. As he ran he felt two sudden stabs of pain in his chest, making him gasp for air, then two more in his leg, one in his thigh, the other catching his calf. He cried out as he fell, rolling, but managed to continue back to his feet. He felt the heat of the lasers above his head, but by then it was too late. He was amongst them.

Roaring like a banshee, adrenalin and anger fuelling him, he swung the sword high, bringing it around, cutting through them, releasing so much of the rage that he’d felt from the moment Ethan had been taken. He felt something splash his armour, covering the red symbol of Serenity with blood as he hacked his way to his ship. A final burst of pain seared across his back and he groaned, but lashed out once more. And then there were none.

He pulled off his helmet and dropped it, gasping for air as he looked down to see bodies and body parts at his feet. Rapidly losing feeling if not the pain in his leg, he limped unsteadily up the ramp and into the bay. As his foot touched the decking he realised he was looking into a cell, at a young woman crouched in the corner. Long brown hair covered her face, her thin dress stained and tattered, her body covered in cuts that still oozed.

“Freya?” he asked, reaching out a hand towards her, trying not to pass out.

She whimpered, scrabbling, trying to get away from him, from this monster in battered armour covered in blood.

Suddenly she was on her feet, rushing past him out of the cell and down the corridor, and as he turned to chase her he realised the dress was torn down the back to her waist, and there was no tattoo on her back.

This wasn't Freya. Not the woman he had loved for so long, who had borne his child. This woman hadn’t been saved. Had never met her mentor, been given the control. At least, not yet. This was who she was afraid she would become.

“Elena,” he said softly.

She stopped, hugging herself as if she was cold, staring into the darkness at the end of the corridor, rolling, getting ever closer, a living creature out to devour her.

“Elena.” Mal took a step towards her, and she turned, her face petrified, tears coursing through the dried blood on her cheeks.

She glanced back over her shoulder at the darkness, a sob breaking from her throat as she didn’t know what to do.

Mal did, all at once, as if a great ray of sunshine had burst in on him.

“With great passion can come great power. But without enlightenment, the world is dark.” He smiled at her, even as she cowered away from him. “And I won’t let you go back to the dark, Frey. It’s time to come home.”

With that he reached inside his armour and pulled out the great burning flame, gushing in reds, golds and greens, three symbols hanging within the fire.

“Time to come home.” He tossed it towards her.

The flame engulfed Elena, lighting every part of her skin, and she cried out in terror. She pushed at it, trying to brush it from her body.

“Frey …” Mal waited anxiously, leaning on his sword.

Suddenly she stopped. Instead of trying to put the flame out, she stood straight, seeming to revel in it, absorbing it. Her flesh sucked it in, and it filled the space on her back, the three sigils finding their places. As the last of the light around her vanished, she turned to look at him.

“Mal?”

“Freya?”

“Have you come to rescue me?” She looked him up and down in his armour, and she smiled slightly. “Or is there something you want to tell me?”

“How about … I love you?” Mal said, needing to hear the right answer.

“Oh, good. Because I love you too.” She suddenly grinned and rushed into his arms.

He pulled her to him, ignoring the pain from the burns, just feeling soft skin through the shirt on his chest, and he buried his face in her hair.

Mal woke, or at least opened his eyes, realising the pain was gone and she wasn't in his arms.

“Cap’n?” Kaylee asked, at last standing close to her husband.

He didn’t answer, just rolled off the medbed and walked, rather unsteadily, past her and out of the infirmary.

“Mal –“ Simon began, but his sister put her hand on his arm.

“It’s okay,” she said softly, smiling tiredly. “It’s shiny.”

Mal pulled up outside the door to their room, staring in.

Jethro was standing inside, smiling hugely, but he might as well not have been there. Mal only had eyes for Freya, sitting up on the bed, crying softly, gazing down at Ethan in her arms. She looked up. “Mal …” she said.

“Frey?” He felt her mind caress his like a feather on his skin.

“You saved me,” she whispered. “Gave me back my control. And I hurt you.” She shook her head. “I'm so sorry,” she said, then held out a hand to him.

He crossed the threshold and approached the bed, sitting down carefully so as not to hurt her. “Don’t be,” he said, lifting her fingers to his lips, smoothing the tears from her cheeks, even as he began to cry himself.

“I love you.”

“God, Frey …” He leaned over and gathered her into his arms.

Jethro stepped out into the corridor and quietly slid the door closed.

to be concluded

COMMENTS

Thursday, March 1, 2007 11:23 PM

KAYLEEBIRD


Oh! That is... so sweet!! I can't wait for the next one!! Please! Please please please! Next one, please!

I love your use of Wash being Mal's "Squire". Brilliant. Sort of like her being the damsel in distress and him being the Knight in Shining Armour. Brilliant. I love this.

Friday, March 2, 2007 12:08 AM

HOBBLEIT


oh, that's lovely. I love reading these.

Friday, March 2, 2007 1:00 AM

AMDOBELL


I absolutely ADORED this part! Wow, this was the best. So relieved and dancing around with all kinds of happy knowing that at last River found a way for Mal to save Freya from her demons though at one point I did wonder whether the dragon would be more dinosaur. Such a lovely perfect ending, with Freya free to love Mal and Ethan without guilt or any other impediment from her damaged and scarred mind. Beautiful job, let's keep them happily together and in love, *dong ma*? And I like it that Kaylee seems to have forgiven Simon and everyone else is going to be okay. Does that include Jayne? Bravo, any way, this is the chapter I was always hoping you'd write only I didn't know it until I read it - and yes, with tears in my eyes. Thanks! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, March 2, 2007 7:20 AM

TAMSIBLING


That was beautifully done and well handled. It's not easy to pull off a fantasy dream like that and make it believable, but you did it admirably.

I love the thought of Mal literally slaying the dragon and Freya's monsters to get her back. Awesome!

Saturday, March 3, 2007 9:40 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh...that was unfugging believable in its brilliance, Jane0904! The imagery of Mal as a knight in battered armour, struggling against injuries galore to rescue his Chosen? Made me tear up from its beauty:D

Honestly gotta say thought that when Wash showed up as Mal's "squire," I totally had to fight my brain from inserting Wat Falhurst (Alan's character from "A Knight's Tale") in Wash's place. Mainly cuz I was fighting not to cackle maniacally at the thought of Mal staring in confusion at "Wash" encouraging him to "fong the bloody dragon up" with an English accent;D

BEB


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