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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
The crew learns more about what awaits on Persephone as Kaylee confronts her fears about a certain bounty hunter.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1028 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Author's note - the remaining lost fanfics of the Dr. Tam series will be posted over the next few days. This chapter was ready so I decided to post it for those waiting for it and who already have read the rest. Thanks.
The Dr. Tam Journals – Part 14 – Objects in Space
The dining area was silent except for the soft sounds of sorrow coming from Inara and Kaylee. “I’m sorry,” Simon said at last, as Kaylee and Inara fought to control their feelings. ‘I knew this was going to be hard, but not this hard. It’s all my fault.”
Kaylee sniffled and wiped away her tears. “Oh, I’ve done too much crying the last few days. No, Simon, it’s not your fault. It’s got to be done.”
Inara wiped her eyes also, trying to regain her composure. “It’s always the hardest when things change. Especially when people leave.”
“We’ll always be here,” said River, placing her hand over her heart.
Inara smiled. “And in here,” she said looking around the dining room. “I remember almost everything about the day you first came on board Simon. Of course, we didn’t know you had brought your sister along for the ride.”
“Neither did I,” said River and they all smiled a little at that.
“I’ll never forget,” said Kaylee. “And when you came Inara. And Jayne and Book. I’ve been here a long time.”
Simon reached out and took his wife’s hand. “Kaylee, we’ve talked on this and we’ve made a decision but that can be changed.”
She shook her head. “No, it’s time. A new life is waiting for us out there.”
He nodded and then River stood, looked at her sister-in-law and said, “Let’s go to work.”
The rest of the day River and Kaylee spent climbing all over Serenity’s hull, checking the rivets and welds, making sure all was in top shape. They clipped lifelines where they could to keep themselves from falling down and used a metal ladder to inspect the VTOL engines. Kaylee grumbled that they could do a better job in a shipyard but there was no way they could go to the Eavesdown Docks, not with Badger and who knows who else knowing Simon and River were wanted fugitives.
Shortly after they began the hull inspection, shuttle two took off with Jayne and Zoe on board, to get supplies and pick up what news they could. Kaylee and River watched it heading off toward the west, toward the docks. Next Kaylee and River inspected the VTOL engines. They were designed for operations in space and atmo. The main engine was nuclear powered but the VTOL’s required a high grade fuel mixture that could burn in atmo and in the vacuum of space. For atmo the VTOL’s acted as jets and sucked in air which mixed with the fuel and burned, while in space they acted as rockets and burned the fuel without an air component. It was something invented centuries ago and had changed little since. They could soar through space endlessly on their main engine, but the VTOLS were necessary for inter atmo flight, take off and landing and an occasional boost in space.
After a while, as Kaylee was working on the left VTOL and River had gone inside to get some tools, the Capt’n and Inara came out of the cargo bay and Kaylee could see them talking about something but she couldn’t quite hear them. Kaylee edged closer so she could hear but still kept herself hidden by the engine. Then their voices got louder.
“Simon’s right and you know it. It’s time to think of the future,” Inara said.
“And what am I going to do?” the Capt’n replied. “They got me boxed in, Inara, Alliance does. I’m a known criminal, a wanted man as much as Simon and River. They don’t have wanted posters out yet but my name and my boat’s name are in their system. I got no choices.”
“You always have choices.”
“Maybe I just like being a rogue pirate. Maybe I enjoy this life style.”
“You can’t fool me Malcolm Reynolds. You’re not a criminal. You’re a noble decent man who fights for the weak and helps the lost. Why did you keep Simon and River on board all these months?”
“Needed a medic,” he said without conviction.
“Yes we did, but that’s not why. You couldn’t live with yourself if you had let them go, two lost souls vulnerable as they were in the beginning. Many chances you had, too, to be rid of them forever. On Jiangyin they were as good as gone and you went back for them. On Ariel, also. I know you didn’t go back for Jayne. I also know what happened at the Maidenhead bar. You could have left River. Walked away. But it’s not your way.”
“Shepherd Book said that to me once,” he said more quietly and Kaylee strained to hear him.
“He was right. And now our little family is breaking up and it’s tearing you up inside. The next day is going to be hard for all of us, but especially for Kaylee. Don’t blame her for wanting a better life and don’t blame Simon for taking Kaylee away. You see the good that Simon has done for her. She loves him so much and he loves her.”
Kaylee almost gasped as she said this and felt a lump growing in her throat as she kept telling herself she wasn’t going to cry again.
“Guess I’m being selfish,” said the Capt’n.
“No, not selfish. We hate to lose the things we love. We all love Kaylee and Serenity needs her. But she needs more than that. So do I. Not now, but in the future. You want me to stay, I’ll stay. But this life is not going to satisfy me forever, even if I’m with you. Everything Kaylee said holds true for me also.”
He just stared at her and nodded. “I knew you was gonna talk on that. Didn’t expect it so soon.”
“I’m not asking for much Mal. Just a decent life without fear and danger. We have time to think on lots of things and make plans.”
“Man said to me once, ‘don’t let the crew run the boat’. I’m getting the feeling I’m not captain on my own boat anymore.”
“You know that will never be true. But it’s time for change. Even you can see that.”
“Can’t deny the truth of what you’re saying. Just don’t like it.”
Inara said nothing and just reached out and took his hands. “I’m not asking you to decide anything at this moment. I’m going to prepare lunch now. Be ready in a bit”
He just nodded as Inara kissed him on the cheek and she went back in the ship.
Mal stood all alone, staring off into the distance. Kaylee quietly approached him.
“Bwahhh,” he said with a start. “Oh, Kaylee, just, ah, don’t be sneaking up on a man contemplating, well, just contemplating.”
“Sorry. Like to talk on something.”
“Course. Say your piece.”
“We’re leaving, that’s for sure. Simon’s asked me twice now if I want to change my mind and twice I said no. I figured he ain’t gonna ask again and I don’t want him to since my mind is made up.”
“Then that’s it. Can’t say I’m happy, cause I ain’t.”
“I ain’t all that happy either. Got a lot of good memories from these last four years. Got some bad ones too, guess we all do. Was proud to be on your boat. I love her like I love her crew. But it’s not enough and its time for the next part of my life. I know I’m leaving you in a tough spot. Just want no hard feelings between us.’
He was genuinely shocked. “Kaylee, I never had a bad thought about you, ever. Had many for Jayne, few for Wash and Zoe, and lord knows Simon and I had our differences, not to mention my ups and downs with Inara. But you know I ain’t and never will have a bad thought about you.”
He reached out and hugged her and she felt warm and safe in his arms.
“We going to Boros,” she finally said, thinking it was time to tell him.
They separated and he looked at her. “Boros is it? Good place, nice climate, farms, small towns, few Alliance. Smart call.”
“Simon’s idea. Was his plan from the beginning, all those months ago.”
“Yeah. Doc’s good at planning.”
“Capt’n? Don’t want anything bad to happen to you or Zoe or Inara. Even Jayne. Maybe Harrow is right. Maybe should change the name of the ship. She’ll always be Serenity, you know that. Just, be safer, and you could get steadier work, be able to fool Alliance patrols maybe.”
He looked past her and at the side of the ship up to where the big logo with the ship’s name was. And then his gaze fell down and he looked at his mechanic and then he smiled and kissed her forehead.
“Let me think on it a spell and put it to the crew. Time for lunch.”
They met River on the way in and Kaylee told her it was time for a break. Simon and Inara were already in the dining area preparing for lunch. They sat and had a pleasant meal, with small talk on how they would spend their pay. Kaylee mentioned their need for luggage and Inara offered Kaylee one of her suitcases, saying she wasn’t leaving anytime soon. Just as they were finishing up they could hear the radio from the bridge. Mal and River made their way forward as Simon and Kaylee cleaned up the lunch dishes.
“Shuttle’s back,” said Mal as he and River returned to the dining area. The whole crew made their way to the shuttle and greeted Zoe and Jayne and helped them unload the new supplies. Simon took charge of the medical stores and he and Kaylee brought them to the infirmary as the others unloaded the food and other things they had brought. Kaylee worried as both Jayne and Zoe seemed subdued and didn’t say much about their trip. After such a big payday that was mighty strange indeed. Kaylee knew something was up. When she and Simon returned to the dining area, everyone was real quiet as Jayne and Zoe ate lunch. Kaylee and Simon sat and Kaylee felt their eyes on them.
“What’s going on?” she finally asked when no one spoke.
“You best tell them Zoe,” said Mal.
Zoe looked from her to Simon and then to River. “Wanted posters are out all right. Seen more than one. We even took one as a souvenir.”
Jayne reached into his pocket and took out a large folded piece of paper and handed it across the table to Simon.
As he spread it out on the table Kaylee could see it was a wanted poster and gasped in surprise. “This can’t be!”
Below their pictures was the information that shocked Kaylee.
Wanted – Simon Tam and River Tam. Award: 400,000 credits. Crimes: Simon Tam – Breaking Into and Entering a Government Facility; Assault on Federal Personnel; Aiding an Escaped Fugitive; Broadcasting Anti-Government Propaganda. River Tam: Escaping from Incarceration; Murder; Broadcasting Anti-Government Propaganda.
What followed were the details of their age, height, weight and so on. Included was a warning that River was highly dangerous and trained in the use of self-defense techniques and weaponry.
“Murder? For River?” Simon said in shock.
“The Maidenhead,” said River quietly. “I think I killed someone there.”
“Most likely,” said Mal. “The anti-government propaganda part is new also. Guess they mean us broadcasting about Miranda. What interested me more was that first part about you Simon. Breaking into and entering a government facility. Care to enlighten us?”
Simon looked at River and then to Kaylee and she nodded.
"Well, captain, I haven't been exactly truthful about how River got out of that facility. I was the one who entered and broke her out."
There was a stunned moment. Jayne looked at him in disbelief.
"No way. You said you paid someone else to do it."
Mal was also a bit surprised. "Seems we did have a talk on this. You said you contacted some underground group and they got River out."
"I did and they helped and I paid them but..."
"It was Simon," said River quietly, interrupting her brother. "He knocked out the guards and doctors and we escaped up a laser guarded airshaft into a waiting shuttle."
"Which a member of the underground was flying," Simon concluded.
"Knocked out guards?" said Zoe in wonder.
"I took them by surprise. I was disguised as a government offical, supposedly inspecting their facility," explained Simon.
"Its all true," said Kaylee. "Simon told me. After we got married." Well, the last part was a little lie but she had learned about after they got married, just not right away.
Mal nodded. "Man wouldn't lie about thing like that and the government sure thinks you were there. Makes no difference. Big picture is Alliance is still after you and us too most likely.
Kaylee looked over the poster again quickly. “There’s nothing about the rest of us or Serenity.”
“No, but you bet every Alliance policeman and patrol ship knows about Serenity and all of us,” began Mal. “That poster is for public consumption, to beat the bushes, get someone to talk and try to collect themselves a reward.”
Without realizing it everyone caught themselves looking toward Jayne. “What? I ain’t that stupid. But 400,000 make a lot of folk recall your pretty pictures and names.”
Simon couldn’t help but agree. “It’s a fortune for most people out here.”
Zoe nodded. “He’s right. You couldn’t walk down a street anywhere here without someone spotting you in five seconds. We also asked around about Badger.”
Jayne took up the story. “Had a drink in a bar, met a fella said he was a bounty hunter, looking for a guy name a Malcolm Reynolds. Said Badger was the one hired him.”
Inara was almost pale with worry. “Let’s leave. Now.”
Mal gave her a reassuring touch on her arm and spoke softly, to Inara more than the others. “Ain’t the first time someone tired to kill me, Badger included. Or you all don’t think he knew Dobson was waiting for us up at Sturges?”
“Sure he did, sir,” said Zoe. “Bet he was well paid for sending us there, too. Must have known Dobson’s plan failed and were still roaming the verse. Guess Badger figures he’d kill you before you kill him,”.
“What else you find out, Jayne?’ asked Mal.
“He’s set up again, brand new set of thugs, not the pretty kind like we ended last time.”
“Anyone recognize you two?” Simon asked.
“Can’t say,” said Zoe. “We kept a low profile but never know who works for who.”
Mal stood and paced and then leaned on his chair as everyone looked at him.
“How we fixed for fuel?” he asked River.
“Three quarters down. Enough to take off and make a landing on a moon or two nearby but that’s all.”
“Right. First priority is fueling up. Station near Stellerton, about hour’s flight from here. River, get her fired up.”
“Aye, Captain,” and River parted for the bridge.
“We running, sir?” Zoe asked, an “I don’t like this” cast to her question.
“Persephone not the most welcome place for us no more. Badger will have his day, but not today. We got a good pay day and I had hopes to spend some of it before I said goodbye to this verse. And I gotta see my three crewmates started on their new life. And I got….”
He looked to Inara and smiled at her.
“…more than that to consider these days.”
Kaylee saw the sparks flying between them as he said this, Inara’s blushing overcoming her worries of a short time ago. She was glad for them and hoped all would be right with them. She also felt it was time to speak up about something that would be painful. “Capt’n. What about the inspection and the ….name change?”
“I’ll get word to Harrow. Do it another day. As for the name change, still pondering that.”
“Hell, it’s just a name,” said Jayne off handedly.
Zoe gave him one of her dirtiest looks. “That there name has a lot of meaning for some.”
“Weren’t my war or battle,” he replied.
“No, but it was mine and this is my boat,” said Mal and that seemed to end the discussion as Jayne just shrugged.
“We got a course after we fuel, sir?” asked Zoe after a few seconds.
“Boros,” was all Mal said as he exited and made his way to the bridge.
Simon looked at Kaylee in surprise but she indicated for him to stay quiet for now. Then they felt the ship take off and begin to move through the air. Kaylee worried on not having finished the inspection but that would have to wait.
“Boros? What the hell is on Boros?” asked Jayne as he finished his lunch and moved to put his dishes in the sink. “Ain’t no glitter there. I was hoping to spend this pay burning a hole in my pocket.”
Jayne started to make himself some coffee as Zoe just glared at him again. “Ain’t no Alliance or Badger on Boros. Don’t you ever think of no one but yourself?”
Jayne just grinned as he finished his task and tasted the coffee. “Sure. All the lonely women of Persephone who are gonna be without my love tonight.” He returned to his seat and sipped his drink.
Inara rolled her eyes. “I’m sure the women of Persephone will be glad they missed out on what you call love.”
“Now Inara that might have just hurt my feelings.”
“If you had any,” Zoe shot at him.
Jayne just grinned. “Guess I’ll have to share my pay with the ladies of Boros.”
“I’m sure they will be excited to make your acquaintance,” Simon said with a touch of sarcasm that was lost on Jayne.
Jayne just leered at him. “Doc, from all the exercise you been getting between the sheets and elsewhere last few days, I might just come to you for a few pointers.”
“Jayne!” said Kaylee in shock expecting Simon to be embarrassed. But he surprised her.
“I’m planning on writing a book, the new guide to sex in the ‘verse. With special sections on how to make love in a crowded space ship. I’ll send you an autographed copy.”
There was a moment of stunned silence and then Simon put on a big grin and started laughing and Kaylee joined in and soon they all had tears rolling down their faces.
Mal entered at that point and was surprised to see them laughing. “And I thought our situation was a might more serious than this.”
“Oh, sir, take forever to explain,” said Zoe through her giggles.
“Well, glad to see everyone’s so happy. First, let’s put away rest of these supplies. Then Jayne, Zoe lets get ready for any trouble at the refueling. Everyone else be ready to take off at a moment’s notice. We finish fueling we get her in the air pronto.”
The little group broke up as Zoe and Mal went to the bridge. The others put away the rest of the food and supplies Jayne and Zoe had bought. After a few minutes it was completed so Kaylee and Simon had a moment to talk privately when they returned to their room as Kaylee changed out of her work clothes. Simon paced as she did so, saying nothing. Then Kaylee sat on the bed and waited for Simon to join her but he didn’t.
“He said Boros,” said Simon as he looked at Kaylee with deadly seriousness.
She gulped, worried that Simon wouldn’t understand. “Don’t be mad. I told him. This morning. I needed to tell him eventually”
Simon just sighed and shook his head. “And now we are going there. Things are not going as planned.”
“We got no choice now. We can’t go near a port.”
“No, guess not.”
“Don’t be mad.”
He smiled and sat with her. “Not mad, just…just…worried is all. I’m afraid even Boros may not be safe for us.”
“Won’t know till we get there.” They held each other then and Simon kissed the top of her head and she knew he was trying to make her feel safe and loved him for the gesture. Yet worry consumed both of them and Kaylee wondered if there was any place in the verse that she could ever call home. Not even Serenity held that for her anymore.
The refueling took place quickly and despite their fears no one came looking for them or even asked them any questions. Mal paid for the fuel and shortly after the headed for the black once again.
Kaylee was happy, in a small way, for she was in space once again and she’d never get tired of its mystery and beauty despite its dangers. She and Simon came on the bridge just as one of them raised its ugly head again.
“Alliance patrol ship,’ said River in a calm voice. Mal was in the co-pilot’s seat and quickly jumped out to look at River’s scanners.
“Good distance off, “ he said. “Just take it nice and slow, make like were in no hurry.”
The next ten minutes were very tense and thankfully the small Alliance vessel was more interested in landing than in stopping and checking vessels.
“It’s heading for the Eavesdown Docks,” said River.
“Don’t mean anything,” said Mal. “Routine patrol. Now, seeing as I got the three of you…”
“Lancaster County Townships,” River said and Kaylee had no idea what she was talking about.
“River? What is…” Simon began but River cut him off and Kaylee knew she was in mind reader mode again.
“It’s a place on Boros.,” she said as she looked at Mal. “You wanted to know where we wanted to go. That’s it. I have the coordinates.”
“What’s there?” asked Kaylee, very curious about this place that might be her new home.
“Wheat fields, chicken coops, silos filed with ears of corn, and a small town with a small clinic in need of a doctor,” River replied and as she did so she started hitting buttons on a Cortex screen until it came to the “Verse Wide All Knowing You Want a Job We Got a Job” screen. After a few more screens it came to an ad. “Lancaster County Townships, Boros. Seeking Laborers, Farm Hands, Machine Operators, Professional Medical Personnel. Work conditions and pay to be negotiated. Send wave to Phileas T. Beauregard, Controller, Lancaster County Townships.”
“Well, that’s a might interesting,” said Mal as Simon and Kaylee took in all this new information.
“River, how long have you been planning this?” asked Simon.
“A few days. Since you decided on Boros,” she said. “Cortex has all. Even us now.”
They had been examining the Cortex but it had nothing on them recently and Kaylee now knew that was a false sense of security. River hit more buttons and more screens flew by until they came to their brand new wanted posters.
Kaylee held Simon’s hand tight. “What’s to stop folks on Boros from knowing who we are also?”
Mal seemed not hear her question. He just smiled. “Beauregard. I know that name from somewhere.”
He grabbed the overhead mic. “Zoe. Come on up to the bridge.”
“What’s going on Capt’n” asked Kaylee, more worried now than before.
“Just a minute and I’ll explain all.”
Zoe appeared on the bridge a few seconds later. “Yes, sir?”
“Remember P.T. Beauregard?”
Zoe looked puzzled for a second. “Beauregard? Let’s see…yeah, he was a low down no good son-of-a-bitch smuggler out of Beaudmonde. He tried to cut us out on a number of jobs. Why you asking me about Beauregard, sir?”
“Seems he got himself set up as some kind of government official on Boros,” Mal replied with a grin.
“That so,” said Zoe. “Might be a good place for someone looking to hide from the Alliance.”
“I don’t understand,” said Simon at last as Kaylee was about to ask the same.
“He hates the Alliance,” said River.
“That he does,” said Mal. “He even wore brown during the war.”
Kaylee smiled as she suddenly understood what they were saying. “You mean…he’d hide us?”
“For the right price,” said Zoe. “He ain’t that generous.”
Mal pondered. “We’ll see. Maybe he’s mellowed some, running a bunch of farmers. Set a landing for Lancaster County Townships, River.”
“Aye, Captain” she said and began to plot their course.
Simon and Kaylee left the bridge, both feeling much better now they had some kind of plan. The trip to Boros would take at least one day if Kaylee remembered rightly so they had a bit of time to relax. There was nothing else to do except pack. Simon went off to the infirmary to select what he needed for their new home and Kaylee found Inara and got her suitcase from her.
Kaylee spend a long time going through things, setting aside what she didn’t want to take and trying to fit things properly in the few bags she had. It wasn’t going to be enough so she went off and asked Zoe if she had any luggage but she didn’t having spent the last seven years on Serenity and having no need for any. Jayne wasn’t much help either only having an old duffel bag that reeked of gun oil and was covered in sweat stains. But he did suggest one of the cargo containers and Kaylee brightened at the idea. Jayne helped her select a big black plastic one that was in good shape and they dragged it to the room. Suddenly Kaylee realized she could take everything she wanted and all managed to fit with room to spare for River’s things.
As she was packing the books she stopped and held the journal in her hands. She looked again at the picture of Simon and his family and his medical degree. Soon they would need it. Kaylee silently said a prayer to God to protect them and to make this man Beauregard be the man the Capt’n said he was. Whether it was sheer coincidence if he was the same man or a sign from above Kaylee didn’t care. They needed all the help they could get.
Kaylee decided to take a break and wanted to read more about what Simon had written about the Heart of Gold and what was to come. She sat in the chair and lay the journal on the now almost empty desk.
“It has been a week since we said goodbye to the ladies of the Heart of Gold and there has been a noticeable tension between the captain and Inara. I don’t believe she blames him for what happened to her friend Nandi but it is obvious to the crew that things are not well between them. Jayne, in his crude way, suggested what I think may be the possible answer. Mal slept with one of the ladies, possible even Nandi herself, and Inara has found out and cannot control how she feels for him. Kaylee has long held the belief that they love each other but are too afraid to admit it.”
Yeah, she had said that all right. Course now Kaylee knew the real reason there was tension, with Inara planning to leave and all. Perhaps the Capt’n had slept with one of those women, maybe even Nandi, but he loved Inara and that’s what counted. She often thought on how it would have felt if Simon had taken to bed with one of them and she instantly knew she’d be extremely jealous.
“On a brighter note, things seem to be going well between Kaylee and me. We talk a lot, I say what I mean to say, and haven’t put my foot in my mouth for almost a week now. I discovered that the key is to talk about what she wants to talk about and show an interest in what she likes. While engines bore me to tears…”
Oh, that man, he’s gonna get an earful for that remark!
“…Kaylee’s genuine love for them can make them seem interesting.”
Well, maybe she was a little too hasty with that last thought.
“I’ve run scenarios through my head about how to take our relationship to the next level. Ways to find to kiss her, to hug her, to be alone with her, to find some place quiet for just the two of us. But nothing has worked, mostly due to my lack of courage. It’s so strange. I’ve never had trouble asking a girl on a date before. But there is no place to have “a date” on Serenity and our brief stops on planets are usually full of danger and Alliance patrols looking for me and River.”
Scenarios she had thought on, too. How she would ask him to look at a part of her body, pretend she had an ache here or there, take off her shirt, let him see her bare flesh, watch as he got flustered and then just…grab him and have her way! But that never happened. Kaylee was just too darn honest to lie to Simon about that. Wonder what scenarios he had in mind? Bet they had something to do with a physical exam and a hot time after.
“We are headed to New Melbourne to pick up some cargo. I suspect it is fish since New Melbourne is mostly water with a few island land masses and is known through the system for its fish. I hope it’s dried, canned, or packaged and not live.”
It had been mostly canned fish, with some packages of smoked sturgeon and salmons. Kaylee loved fish, strange since it was not something she saw much of as a child and had few chances to eat since. Maybe because it was so different and was a treat.
Then there was a gap in the journal and Kaylee knew what came next. She moved from the chair to the bed, pulling the covers tight over her, wanting to feel warm and safe as she read what she knew was to come.
“All my attempts to protect River from the Alliance have almost come to nothing as Serenity has been boarded by a bounty hunter, who caused no end of trouble in his attempt to take River off the ship. He is dead now, I am hoping anyway, since Mal sent him for a long space walk without a lifeline. His name was Jubal Early and he is the most vile, vicious man I have ever met.”
Kaylee closed the journal, shuddered and closed her eyes tight, the feeling of dread and helplessness returning in a flood of memories. Jubal Early represent all of Kaylee’s nightmares, a stranger threatening her life and sanity, threatening to violate her body, and threatening her friends and the man she loved. With a deep breath she opened the journal and found the place where she had left off.
“He confessed to me that he had been following Serenity since the feds attempted to arrest us on Ariel. Guess I have Jayne to thank for that.”
One more reason to put Jayne in the book of people never to trust again. Ever.
“The ship’s daily routine had been winding down for the night. Supper was done, the dishes cleaned, and I found myself with some free time as River took a rest in her room. As I relaxed in the passenger lounge Kaylee came by and sat with me. She said she wanted to lie down and stretch out and relax and I, in a flirty mood and half joking, said go ahead. So she did. With her bare legs on my lap. I struggled to concentrate on what we were talking about as I lay my hands on her legs. She didn’t flinch or take offense”
Why would she? She did that whole thing just so she could get her legs on his lap, get him to touch her. She wanted to make him hot under the collar, see if she could get him to take that next step. All part of the plan. That didn’t work. Again.
“At one point she even playfully tapped my face with her foot as we talked on my drunken adventures in medical school. Then River walked by us with hardly a hello and went upstairs. After a few minutes we heard Mal shouting about River and a gun. Kaylee and I raced into the cargo bay to see River holding a very large pistol. The captain quickly disarmed her and we found that the gun was loaded and the safety was off. As I tried to ask River why she had a gun she ran to her room.”
As did Kaylee. Seeing River with that gun scared the hell out of her. Knowing what she had done in the Skyplex fight, knowing she was capable of killing. Kaylee just simply went in the opposite direction and headed upstairs to her engine room, where she felt safe. But not anymore. Not after Early.
“River’s medication still makes her ill on occasion and I have tried several combinations, but nothing is perfect. I had thought her episodes of unusual behavior had passed but I was wrong. This episode proved to be a something that Mal was not going to let pass so easily.”
Kaylee knew she had to tell the Capt’n about River and her gun skills. As she had gone to find him she heard them talking on the bridge, Zoe, Wash, Jayne, and the Capt’n, talking about what to do about River. It was time to tell the truth, much as she hated to say anything bad about River.
“What happened next has confused and confounded me. Kaylee told all of us that River had actually took part in the Skyplex battle, shooting and killing three men. With her eyes closed. I am horrified that my sister had to do such a thing, even though I am sure she saved Kaylee’s life in the process, maybe even all of us. But the way Kaylee described it made no sense. How can someone shoot someone with their eyes closed? Zoe called her an assassin. Was she trained as an assassin by the Alliance? And then came the bigger issue. The captain believes she is a psychic, a mind reader, and others, including Book, agreed with him. I deflected their questions but soon they will no longer question if she is a mind reader and I fear what will happen. The events with Early seem only to confirm to them that she is a mind reader.”
Kaylee felt Simon’s pain as they discussed his sister’s fate and the guilt was overwhelming her, feeling like she was ratting out her best friend to her parents or school teacher. River was a psychic and an assassin, they all knew now, confirmed beyond anyone’s doubts. Thank God she was or they would all have died at the hands of the Reavers. But that still didn’t make it any righter for Kaylee to tell the others about what River had done.
“It was also clear that the captain was thinking on asking River and I to leave Serenity. Nothing was decided at the moment so I decided to go check on River. Kaylee immediately followed me and apologized for what she had said. I wasn’t mad at her. I was just upset that we might have to leave. And then it happened. The moment I had been trying to create. In all this fear and shock came a brief moment where Kaylee and I connected like we had never before. I had said River loved Serenity that it was like home to her. When asked if I felt the same I replied that my home had been the hospital on Osiris. Kaylee then asked me if there was anything on Serenity I was glad about. And she was what I was glad about, only her. She was so lovely, her eyes full of desire, and I knew then that she wanted what I wanted. I reached across that space, those few inches separating us from who knows what, and as I almost touched her cheek….”
“…Shepherd Book turned the corner and walked right between us as he said good night and went downstairs. The feeling between Kaylee and I evaporated in an instant and I wonder if it had ever been there. We were suddenly shy and awkward and just said goodnight to each other.”
It had been so close. She had wanted him to touch her, to hold her, kiss her. The moment was there. And then it was gone and she couldn’t even explain why but he was right. The mood was changed and it was not coming back so easily. Maybe he remembered he had all his fears of the Alliance and his responsibility for River, but whatever happened, it was gone.
“I went to find River and explain what was happening, to ask her the truth of what happened in the Skyplex battle. She did not deny it but said it wasn’t her, not really, that someone had taken over, something, she couldn’t explain it properly. She knew she had killed those men but felt disconnected from the event. I fear it is what the Alliance has done to her, that they have manipulated her subconscious so that in dangerous situations her skills as a …killer….come out only to have her return to normal when there is no danger. Was this possible? I have no idea where to proceed from here.”
He was lost, on unfamiliar ground, and that was something Simon didn’t take a shine to easily. His life was so out of control that one of the reasons he wanted to leave Serenity was to regain some measure of control over his life, even a small part. She understood that part of him well, for he was a man who could save others lives, and that must give one an awesome sense of control. Kaylee could fix an engine if a part broke or if it died she’d just get a new one. A doctor couldn’t get a dead person a new life.
“River also knew what had happened between me and Kaylee in the corridor. She knows I love her and she says Kaylee feels the same…”
Oh my God, River knew and she told him! That little….but why didn’t he…oh, it was so complicated and was past but still it frustrated her.
“…but this knowledge makes me worry more on the future now that Reynolds might throw us off his ship.”
Reynolds again. Simon called him that when he was pissed at him. Meaning he didn’t want to leave the ship.
“Soon after falling asleep I was awaken by a strange sound, like something falling. Later I realized it was Shepherd Book being knocked unconscious by Early. He had already boarded, knocked out the captain, terrified and tied up Kaylee….”
Terrified and tied up Kaylee. The few words could not convey the sense of horror of those events. She had been kicking herself for what had happened with Simon in the corridor. She should have just grabbed his hand and dragged him to the engine room and planted a big wet sloppy kiss on his wonderful lips. And that would have been that, for good or bad. But she hadn’t and now she regretted not saying something. She was adjusting the secondary grav boot when she heard a noise and thought it was River. She looked but no one was there. She returned to her work and then he was there, a strange man appearing as if from thin air in her engine room on her ship. And she knew immediately he was not a nice man.
Kaylee had felt her heart about to pound out of chest, her limbs growing cold as her legs were paralyzed with fear. When he asked if she’d ever been raped she felt like she was falling in a deep dark hole and couldn’t find the sides, her mind going numb with fear. Rape. The horror of someone forcing themselves on you, violating your body, not for sex, because rape wasn’t about sex, it was about control and power. Then he tied her up and she thought she was going to die despite his promises not to hurt her if she kept quiet. She told him where River slept and she wept as he lay her down gently, his arms so powerful she knew he could do whatever he wanted to her. Guilt consumed Kaylee as she lay on the engine floor gratings wondering if he was going to kill River and knew Simon would try to stop him and maybe die too. How could so much happen in so few minutes? It was like a nightmare. And where was everyone else? He said they were locked in their rooms. Were they maybe dead already?
“As I exited my room Early attacked me from above. When he realized who I was he stopped his attack. He was looking for River and she wasn’t in her room. Unknown to anyone, River had sensed Early coming aboard Serenity. She had taken a spacesuit and had exited from the fore airlock. The came the dangerous part as she later explained. She kicked off from Serenity and aimed for Early’s ship. If she had missed she would have gone for a long space walk. But she didn’t and opened his ship and got inside. Early asked me to help him find River and I told him he should kill me since I wasn’t going to help him find my sister. Then he told me he had Kaylee tied up in the engine room and was going to violate her if I didn’t help. If I could have killed him at that moment I would have my anger was such. But my fears for Kaylee were greater and I knew I had to go with him, at least make a pretense of helping him, and perhaps, as he clearly stated, get my moment when I could surprise him.”
God, what they had gone through, the two of them, at the hands of this mad man.
“I found Shepherd Book unconscious on the floor by the passenger lounge. He was alive but hurt. Early made a cryptic comment that Book wasn’t a Shepherd but I had no chance to ask for an explanation.”
Hmmm, more to ponder about the Shepherd. Too bad Jayne hadn’t time to visit the abbey and find out more.
“I played tour guide for Early as we went through the ship looking for River. He claimed to be a bounty hunter who had the contract for River and me. But he didn’t seem overly interested in me, only River. He was extremely odd, a borderline psychotic. Or perhaps that is being generous. Talking to him was an adventure in interpreting speech. For example, I asked if he was a bounty hunter and he said “no I am a bounty hunter”. Clearly he was deranged in some way. Meanwhile River was on his ship and she had connected Early’s communication equipment to Serenity’s internal communications system. How, I don’t know and even the captain had trouble following as she explained it. She could switch from ship wide comms to individual rooms and this is what saved us. Finally Early got frustrated with his search and began shouting for River to reveal herself or he would kill me. River played a psychological game with him, saying she was really Serenity and while she confused Early she talked to Kaylee and Mal and set her plan in motion.”
Hearing River’s voice over the comms system saying she was Serenity had stunned Kaylee and the others. Then she had begun to talk to Kaylee by herself and that was even more surprising. Kaylee had felt so helpless and just lay there, not daring to move. And then River explained her plan, to have Kaylee free the Capt’n from his room and then go to the cargo bay and prep his suit. Her heart in her mouth, Kaylee had done just that, opening the Capt’n’s bunk, and then racing downstairs. After a few moments the Capt’n appeared and they quickly got him suited up. As he headed back up to the air lock River kept talking to Early, keeping him occupied. Kaylee went looking for Book and was shaken to find him out cold on the floor.
Then River said something that broke all their hearts. She said she would go with Early, be his bounty, that she would fade away and everyone could go on with their lives. Kaylee never knew if this was part of the plan or was how River really felt. It was so believable Kaylee had almost started crying. She knew who she meant when River said people could be with who they wanted to be with. She meant Simon and her, like she was preventing them from being together. And maybe she was, but that didn’t mean they didn’t love River and want her with them. Kaylee had never realized how much River knew about all of them and how she hurt inside for all of them until that moment.
“As River talked Early grew more frustrated and then finally realized she was on his ship. Then River said she was going to be his bounty and go with him. She sounded so believable I didn’t realize it was part of the plan. In my foolish attempt to stop Early he shot me in the upper thigh. He had commented that all doctors should be hurt in some way before getting their medical license so they know what pain is. Well, as I sit here in my bed recuperating, I understand exactly what pain is. I also have a bruised jaw and a bump on my head for my stupidity. As I lay in agony on the bridge steps, Mal was pushing Early off into the depths of space. He was waiting outside the airlock as Early came up and that was that. The next thing I knew Kaylee was at my side and to my pain filled mind she appeared to take off her shirt and wrap my bleeding leg wound with it. I had wanted to see her with her clothes off but not under these circumstances. She was simply lovely and she just grinned as I stared at her and asked if I had never seen a woman with her clothes off before. I replied I had but not her.”
Kaylee smiled as she remembered all that. She had raced upstairs when she heard the shot, fearing the worst, and waited in the dining area as Early left the ship. As soon as she heard the air lock close she raced to Simon and saw he was bleeding. Having nothing else she quickly took off her pink top and wrapped his leg with it. Of course, she was wearing a bra so wasn’t totally naked but the look on Simon’s face was something to behold. She then released Wash, Zoe and a very confused Jayne from their rooms.
“In addition to mine and Book’s injuries, Inara had been struck by Early when we had looked in her shuttle for River and Mal had a few bruises from his earlier encounter with the bounty hunter. Zoe operated on my leg and got the bullet out, doing a very good job. We survived and it was through River’s skills that we were able to do so. It has been three days since the event and no one has said a word about River leaving, no one has mentioned the incident with the gun. Kaylee still seems shaken up by what happened. I don’t know all of what happened to her in the engine room but it couldn’t have been pleasant and she has lost some of her sunny disposition. I guess we all have. In Serenity we have had our share of dangerous moments but not like this. Maybe we had felt safe. Not anymore.”
Just then the door opened and Simon came in the room with a bag of medical supplies. She gave a little cry and leaped out of bed and into his arms. He was taken aback, dropped his bag, and wrapped his arms around her.
“Kaylee, what’s the matter?” he asked in a dazed voice as he held his trembling wife.
“Just hold me, I need to be held,” she whispered. “I’m so scared.”
She could sense him look over her shoulder and see the open journal. “Oh. You’ve been reading about….that man.”
She squeezed him harder. “Can’t forget. It was so…” but she couldn't finish the thought.
He looked at her. “It’s time to talk about it.”
She nodded and he led her to the bed and they sat and talked. And the whole story came out, every word Early had said to her, all her fears and nightmares, and her betrayal of River, her gnawing guilt. He knew some of it but not all, especially not the direct threat of rape. When he had told Simon he would violate her he had not known he had said the same to Kaylee. Simon held her and she fought back her tears, not wanting any more crying. He stroked her hair and they kissed.
“He’s dead, Kaylee. You know that, don’t you?”
“Yeah. I know. But, the memory isn’t.”
“We get to Boros we’ll make some new memories. Happy ones. I promise.”
She smiled and they kissed again and lay down, and Simon just held her and Kaylee felt warm and protected in his arms and hoped someday that the nightmares would end.
Friday, November 09, 2007 1:00 PM
Friday, November 09, 2007 1:58 PM
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