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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Mal sets out to find the women, and Kaylee faces a terrifying situation.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 618 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Inara opened her eyes, the slight movement causing her head to throb painfully. Pushing herself up on shaky arms, she sat for a moment, waiting for the world around her to stop spinning so wildly. When her vision finally cleared, she could see she was in a narrow alleyway. Looking frantically around for Kaylee, she came to the horrifying realization that she was completely alone.
Legs trembling like a new-born colt, Inara leaned against one of the building walls for support as she made her way out of the alleyway. She looked down the little street, praying to find Kaylee somewhere in her line of sight. With dismay, she noted that not only was Kaylee nowhere to be found, but the little shops on the street were closed as well. That must mean that several hours have passed, she thought, as she walked in the direction of Serenity. She needed help, and with a sickening sense of dread, she thought Kaylee might need even more.
“Don’t remember the town seemin’ this gorram big this afternoon,” Jayne said, trying unsuccessfully to hide his growing agitation.
Mal and Zoe exchanged grim looks, saying nothing. Their search had not been aided by the fact that the few small shops where Inara and Kaylee might have visited were closed for the day, and very few people were still walking around on the quiet streets. Looking down one of the side streets, Mal’s mouth went dry. “Jayne,” he said, drawing the merc’s attention to the figure staggering toward them.
Jayne pushed past them, reaching Inara just as her knees gave way. Picking her up easily, he asked, “You with me, baby doll?”
“He took her, Jayne,” she cried, as Mal and Zoe came to a standstill beside them.
“Who?” Mal asked.
Inara shook her head, wincing at the movement. “I don’t know. He came out of the alley behind us. We were walking past the stores and he just…”
“Can you show us?” Mal asked.
“Sir, she’s banged up pretty bad,” Zoe began. “Maybe we’d better…”
“No, I’ll be all right,” Inara said, gathering her strength about her. “I can show you. We need to hurry.”
Kaylee quietly tested the strength of the ropes that held her wrists to the chair. “Listen, Mister,” she said, fighting to remain calm for the sake of her unborn child. “I ain’t who you think I am. My name’s Kaylee Tam, and I ain’t even from here. I live on a ship called Serenity that landed here this afternoon.”
Jack Roberts looked at her angrily. Raising his hand as if to strike her, he said, “Bi zuie, Lou Ann. I’ve had enough of your lies to last me ‘til I’m dead and gone. Bad enough to have run off carryin’ my kid, but now you think I’m fool enough not to even recognize my own gorram wife?” The last of his tirade was screamed, his spittle landing on Kaylee’s cheek.
Kaylee shrank back as far away as she could, having already felt the force of his wrath once. Her swollen left cheek was a grim reminder. Her impulse being to wrap her arms protectively around the swell of her belly, she pulled again on the restraints. “Don’t go tryin’ to get out of them ties,” the man said. “More you pull on ‘em, the tighter they’ll git. I done learnt my lesson ‘bout trustin’ you.” He checked the ties at her ankles. “These hurtin’ ya’?”
Kaylee looked down at her pitifully swollen feet, where the ropes were cutting into her tender flesh. “Yes,” she answered hoarsely. “They are hurting me. And I need to put my feet up for a little while.”
Roberts drew a knife from the back of his belt and cut the ropes cleanly. Pulling a small stool in front of the chair, he placed Kaylee’s feet on it almost tenderly. “Didn’t mean to hurt ya’ none, Lou Ann. You just make me so angry sometimes, runnin’ off if’n I leave the house for any length of time. We gotta set some rules about that right here and now. I know I ain’t been the best husband to ya’, but I aim to be a fine father to the kid.” He laid his large hand across Kaylee’s belly, and she fought the urge to kick him away. “But you gotta give me a chance. You gotta learn to stay put, and ‘til you do, I reckon I’m gonna have to keep you tied down to somethin’.”
Looking into the man’s feverish gaze, Kaylee could see that he truly believed she was someone else. She didn’t know what Simon would call it, but she was certain the man imprisoning her was insane.
“It’s getting’ too dark to make out any tracks, even if they’re here,” Jayne said in frustration.
Mal nodded in acknowledgement. “Best we get Inara back to Simon anyway. She’s not looking too steady. First light, we’ll come back and try again,” he said, though the thought of leaving Kaylee to whatever hundan had taken her even for one night tore his heart out. What kind of monster took a pregnant woman? he wondered, the thought sending tendrils of cold dread down his spine.
“Please, Mister,” Kaylee said miserably. “I gotta get up and move around a little. I won’t try to run. I just need to use the bathroom and stretch a mite. Maybe just walk around the room. My back’s hurtin’ somethin’ fierce, what with the little one and all. Please?”
Kaylee saw Roberts’ expression soften slightly at the mention of the baby. “All right,” he said, not unkindly. “I’ll let you loose long enough to walk the kinks out. But you’d best be rememberin’ you can’t outrun me. Don’t do anything stupid, Lou Ann.”
“I won’t,” Kaylee said, as he untied her wrists. She pushed herself out of the chair with some difficulty, her lower back spasming in protest. “Where’s the bathroom?”
The sharp slap to her swollen cheek made her eyes water. “Don’t test me, woman,” Roberts said. “You know damn well where the bathroom is. We’ve lived here goin’ on three years.”
Kaylee stumbled away from him, rubbing her cheek and praying she was heading in the right direction. To her relief, she saw a small bathroom to her right, and gratefully closed the door. Looking around frantically for anything she could use as a weapon, she found nothing.
“Hurry it up,” Roberts said from right outside the door. “I’m tired, and I gotta go to work tomorrow. It’s time for bed.”
The words sent terror skittering down Kaylee’s spine. Quickly relieving herself and washing her raw wrists at the sink, she prayed for the Captain to come quickly.
Impatient, Roberts opened the door. “I said hurry up,” he repeated, stepping into the small space.
“I’m done,” Kaylee said, giving him a placating smile. “Just washin’ up.”
He looked at her closely, reaching out to push her hair behind her ears. “You always was a purty woman, Lou Ann.”
Kaylee swallowed the bile that rose in her throat. “Thank you,” she said, wrapping her arms around her chest.
Pulling her by the elbow, Roberts steered her out of the bathroom and down the darkened hallway. To her dismay, he pulled her into a tiny bedroom and flicked on a light. Measuring her with his eyes, he said, “Reckon you’re too far gone to fit into your nightgown now. Go on and take off yer dress.”
Kaylee stood, frozen to the spot. Thinking as quickly as she could, she said, “It’s a little chilly in here. If it’s okay with you, I don’t mind sleepin’ in my dress, ‘til you can bring me a larger nightgown.” She looked up at him, trying to conceal her fear.
Roberts considered it for a moment. “No, ain’t no need to wrinkle that dress worse’n it already is. You can sleep in your underthings with a blanket over ya’. ‘Sides,” he said, running his hands down her sides, “I’ll be here to keep you warm.”
Kaylee closed her eyes, trembling beneath his touch. Misinterpreting her reaction, Roberts said, “You been missin’ me, have ya’? I’ve been missin’ you too. Now be a good girl, and get on outta that dress.”
Fingers shaking badly, Kaylee unbuttoned the long row of buttons on the front of her dress, praying all the while for the strength to do whatever she had to do to get her child out of this situation safely. Roberts took the dress and laid it carefully across the back of a chair.
Moving to a bureau in the room, he rummaged around for a minute and pulled out a pair of handcuffs. Kaylee stifled the whimper that rose in her throat. Feeling horribly exposed in just the thin slip she wore, she looked at Roberts with fear-widened eyes.
Roberts pulled back the covers of the bed. “Lie down on your side, Lou Ann,” he commanded calmly.
Kaylee weighed her options as Roberts undressed in front of her. There was no way she could outrun him, she thought bitterly, given her cumbersome weight, and no way to overpower him without some kind of weapon. She would have to wait for another opportunity. She got into the bed.
Roberts turned off the light, and crawled over her. He spooned himself behind her, cuffing her hand to his as he laid his arm across her abdomen. Nuzzling into the hair at the nape of her neck, he whispered, “G’night, Lou Ann. It’s good to have you home.”
Kaylee stared into the darkness, her skin crawling at the feel of him pressed against her. Within a few minutes, she felt his muscles relax in sleep, and slight snores ruffled her hair. She squeezed her eyes shut, her tears soaking the pillow beneath her head.
Simon carefully examined the lump on Inara’s forehead, the only thing saving him from total panic being the fact that Inara needed a doctor. Jayne stood to the side, his own anxiety evident in the tense line of his spine. Mal stood on the other side of the table, pressing Inara for details, while River tried to see anything that might lead them to Kaylee.
Inara winced as Simon cleaned the debris out of the deep scratch across her cheek. “I didn’t see him clearly,” she said. “The most I remember is the impression that he was a large man, not fat, but muscular, like he works with his body instead of his brain. He kept calling Kaylee ‘Lou Ann’. We didn’t even know he was talking to us, and then he grabbed her arm. She pulled back, trying to get away from him, and I stepped between them to help her. And then…” Inara paused, trying to breathe naturally past the memory. “And then, he struck me. I fell backward, and then I saw his boot coming toward my head. Kaylee cried out, and that’s the last thing I remember.” Tears welled in her kohl eyes.
“’S’alright, ‘Nara,” Mal said. “You did good rememberin’ that much, with a kick to the head like that. You gave us somethin’ to go on. We’ll find her come first light.”
He stepped out into the hallway with River. “See anything she didn’t say?”
“Just a vague outline of the man, like she said,” River answered.
“Would you recognize him if you saw him?” Mal asked.
River thought for a minute, focusing on the image from Inara’s mind. “I think so.”
“Good. Then you’re with me tomorrow,” Mal said, turning his attention to Simon, who had joined them outside the infirmary. “Inara gonna be alright, doc?”
“She took a rather vicious blow to the head, but she seems fine. Probably just a concussion, but she’ll need to be observed for a few days.” Losing his cool doctor’s tone, Simon said, “I have to go look for Kaylee. I can’t wait all night. There’s no telling what’s happening to her. What if…”
Mal interrupted him, grasping his shoulders firmly. “If we had any way of findin’ her right now, I’d be out there lookin’ myownself, Simon. But it’s black as pitch out, and everybody in town’s in for the night. Best you stay here and look after Inara. Soon as the sun’s up, we’ll find her.”
“I’m coming with you,” Simon insisted, ready to fight.
“Course,” Mal answered. “Wouldn’t want it any other way. Now go see to your patient, doctor.” As Simon walked stiffly back into the infirmary, Mal turned to River. “We take him tomorrow, we’ll have to leave Zoe here with Adam and Anya,” he said.
“Can’t leave him,” River said sadly, looking after her brother’s retreating form. “It’s his family.”
“I know,” Mal said, wishing to God it wasn’t the case.
Adam lay curled in his bed, tightly clutching the stuffed dinosaur Miss Zoe had given him. He squeezed his eyes shut, and tried not to cry. He loved Miss Kaylee, and he felt her fear as the big man threw his arm across her belly. Adam did not know who the big man was, but he knew it wasn’t Dr. Simon. And he knew Miss Kaylee wanted Daddy to come and get her quick. He opened his eyes, taking in the familiar shape of his own room, and drew comfort from it. Daddy would find her, he thought, and Mama would help him soon as they could. And in his tender little heart, he hoped it would be soon enough to save Miss Kaylee.
To be continued
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