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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
While Simon and Kaylee handle things on Athens, the rest of the crew begins to deal with their new situation.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 667 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Every instinct inside Simon screamed in rebellion as he emptied the lethal contents of the syringe into the arm of the last living victim of the Reaver attack. He had performed this task four times now, and it had gotten no easier with repetition. Thankful at least that he’d been able to find the small doctor’s office on the main street of the Athens settlement, he had prepared the poisonous mixture with shaking hands and a heavy heart. Though he knew logically that it had been an act of mercy to administer the injections, now that it was done, he could not shake the feeling that he was a murderer all the same.
The defeated slope of his shoulders made Kaylee ache with sympathy. She knew instinctively that something very fundamental had been breached in her husband, and knew that she could do little to help him repair it. Simon’s need to heal and fix what was broken ran like a strong current though his soul and his capacity for guilt when he was unable to do so was almost as strong. But Kaylee’s love for him was wide and deep, and her belief in him was infinite in scope. So, she stood beside him, dry-eyed now in the face of this latest sorrow, and took his cold hand in her own.
“Nothing much else we can do tonight,” he sighed, looking toward the sunset but blinded to its beauty in his grief. “Guess we can pick one of the houses to use for shelter. These poor souls won’t be needing them anymore.”
Kaylee nodded. “Haven’t seen anything like a public cortex screen anywhere. Maybe if we pick one of the larger houses up the road there toward the edge of town, we might find a private one we could use.”
Simon agreed wearily, and they walked the short distance to a house that looked as if its owners could have afforded a private cortex link. Once inside, Simon found that all the adrenaline that had been spurring him on for hours was suddenly dissipated, leaving him limp in its wake. He sat down in the chair nearest him, trying to block out the fact that two short days ago, someone else may have sat in that very spot, enjoying the fruits of his labors and making the sort of future plans all people do, heedless of their mortality.
Kaylee looked around briefly, uncomfortable to be trespassing in a home so recently bereaved of its owners. She found no cortex screen, but she did manage to find a moderately well-stocked kitchen, and before too long, Simon could hear the rattling of pots and pans as she prepared a simple meal. He had no appetite, of course, but knew that he would force down whatever she gave him to show his gratitude for her love and support.
Kaylee came into the room, and gently pried Simon from his chair. She steered him toward the kitchen, where a little table sat in what was apparently designed to be a breakfast nook. Simon took a seat, and watched her ladle food onto two plates. She searched for silverware for a moment, and upon finding it, set it down with the plates in front of Simon. Taking a chair opposite him, she smiled and picked up her fork. “Best dig in while it’s hot,” she said, with as much enthusiasm as she could muster.
“Looks good,” Simon murmured as he speared the first bite onto his fork.
After that, they ate in silence, the only sound the scrape of the forks against their plates. When Kaylee moved to clear the table, Simon stayed her hands. “Just leave them, ai ren. We can clean them tomorrow. Let’s just lie down for awhile.”
Kaylee looked up into his tortured eyes, circled now with purple shadows in the lamplight. “All right, bao bei,” she agreed, letting him lead her up the stairs and into a bedroom on the second floor. They fell, exhausted, into the large bed there, and slept deep as death throughout the night.
Mal lay on the bed, watching River with more than a little concern. She was currently hunched over his desk, sketching on a large pad the path that the new wiring would have to take. Intent on her work, she had not spoken for over an hour.
“Come to bed, darlin’,” Mal implored softly. “We’ll make an early start of it come morning.”
“Want to get this done before tomorrow,” she said.
Mal got up and moved behind her, laying his hands gently on her shoulders. “No reason you shouldn’t be able to remember it as well tomorrow as you do tonight,” he pointed out carefully.
River leaned back, resting her head against his chest. “We just left them there, Mal,” she whispered desolately.
“I know we did, bao bei,” he said, keeping his voice as steady as possible. “Don’t see as we had a choice.” He closed his eyes, pushing the thought of Kaylee and Simon in the hands of Reavers forcibly out of his mind.
River shuddered, and Mal wondered if it was the result of his thoughts or her own. She rose from the chair and made her way to their bed, dropping her robe dispiritedly on the floor behind her.
Mal gasped when he saw her body. A large faintly purple bruise ran across her belly from one hip to the other. Suddenly panicked, he ran the few steps to her side.
“It’s all right, ai ren,” she said, running her hand along the outline of the bruise. “It’s just where the harness held me in during the landing.”
“But, the baby… are you sure…” Mal began, having trouble coordinating thought and speech.
“Is all right, I think,” River said. “Seems the same as he was before. Not distressed.”
Mal relaxed minimally, wishing with all his being that Simon was there to check River’s condition for him. But that thought led to thoughts of Simon’s own probable condition, and Mal ruthlessly stopped those ideas at once. He had a ship to repair, and five people looking to him to do it. He could not take time now to ponder the fate of the rest of his crew. There would be time enough for that in the days to come, he thought wearily.
Jayne sat in the galley, nowhere even close to being able to sleep. Of all the eerie-ass go se in the ‘verse, Reavers still topped the list of nightmare-inducing things Jayne had seen. And the thought of lil’ Kaylee and the doc stuck on Athens among them was enough to turn his blood into ice water. Jayne was not a religious man, but he had listened to the Shepherd’s words well enough to hope that a merciful God was seeing to them, wherever they were now. He stared at the table top, and raged against his own inability to do anything more for them than pray. Lost in his thoughts, he didn’t hear Inara until she opened a cabinet to pull out a tin of tea.
“Didn’t see you there,” he said.
“I know,” Inara replied softly. “You looked so intent on your thoughts I didn’t want to distract you.”
“Believe me, I want to be distracted from the go se I was thinking on,” Jayne admitted.
Inara looked at him in empathy. “I know,” she almost whispered. “When I think of Kaylee and Simon stranded there with no way out…” Her voice broke, and she drew a ragged breath.
“Maybe they weren’t in the settlement. Zoe said Simon meant to surprise Kaylee with a picnic. Maybe they took a walk or something far enough away…”Jayne’s voice trailed off.
Inara sat down across the table from him, and laid her hand lightly atop his larger one. “I’m sure you’re right,” she said, wishing desperately it was true.
“Yeah,well, wish I was,” Jayne said. “But we both know it ain’t like to be the case. If it was, they’da’ answered the comm ‘fore we pulled out.”
Stricken by the grim reminder, Inara could think of nothing to say to ease the weight of the raw grief pressing down on them both. So, she rose and began preparing her tea, the motions slow and deliberate, and soothing in their familiarity. Setting a steaming cup before Jayne and taking one for herself, she sat back down.
And they sat in silence, bound by their heavy hearts, for a long time into the night.
Zoe lay still beside Anya, who tossed and turned fitfully in her sleep. The little girl awoke periodically, crying out in distress from a series of nightmares. Zoe assumed they were triggered by the anxiety the intuitive child felt radiating from the crew.
Finally, Anya sat up in bed completely, scrubbing the tears from her face with tiny fists. She had heard whispered stories of Reavers all her life, but she had no real idea of what they were. Had to be something bad though, she thought, to make Mama and Captain Mal both go so pale and Mr. Jayne’s eyes get all wide and frightened-looking. Working up her courage, she asked, “Mama, what are Reavers?”
Zoe sighed softly and reached to hold the child close. “Reavers are people that had something really bad done to them, and now they want to do really bad things to other people.”
“Why?” Anya asked, her blue eyes curious.
“I don’t know, child,” Zoe answered honestly.
Anya frowned at the answer, uneasy that Zoe would be lacking in this knowledge. Seeing the look, Zoe added, “Sometimes things just are what they are, Anya. And Reavers are very bad people.”
“Then I’m glad they’re gone now,” Anya said, shivering slightly. After a moment, she asked, “Why didn’t Miss Kaylee and Dr. Simon come with us?”
Zoe could think of no way to answer her that would be reassuring. “Well, we had to leave quickly, and they weren’t close enough to the ship to get back in time.”
“Will we ever see them again?” Anya asked, her voice trembling with the effort not to cry.
“We’ll go back to get them soon’s we can,” Zoe answered, her own voice treacherously shaky.
“And will the bad people still be there?” Anya turned her frightened face up to Zoe.
“Captain Mal won’t go back until he’s sure the bad people are gone,” Zoe answered. “He won’t put his crew in danger.”
“But aren’t Miss Kaylee and Dr. Simon his crew too?”
“Yes, they are.”
“Then how come he left them with the bad men like that?”
Zoe drew a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “Anya, Captain Mal is responsible for the lives of everyone on Serenity. And sometimes when you’re responsible for a lot of different things, you have to make decisions that are hard to make. Captain Mal has to think about all of us all the time. Dong ma?”
“So, if you and me had gone to town, he’da’ left us too?” Anya asked in a small voice.
“Not unless he absolutely had to to save everybody else,” Zoe answered firmly.
“Would you have done it like he did?’ Anya persisted.
“Then I’m glad you’re not the Captain,” Anya said.
“Me too,” Zoe replied solemnly.
Anya snuggled more closely into Zoe’s embrace, pondering everything she’d just heard. “That’s why he looked so sad when he picked me up to see the twisty wires.”
“Yes,” Zoe answered softly.
After a short silence, Anya asked, “Are they dead, Mama?”
Tempted to lie, Zoe opted instead for a middle ground. “I don’t know, little one. But we’ll find out just as soon as we’re able. And Miss Kaylee and Dr. Simon are smart folk, so I’m sure they did what they could to stay safe.”
“Maybe we oughta’ say a little prayer for ‘em,” Anya suggested.
“You do that, child,” Zoe said.
As Anya dutifully bowed her little blonde head and clasped her hands together, Zoe found her own head bowing as well.
To be continued
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