BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Tall Ship - Part V
Thursday, December 6, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Serenity makes a brief stop at Lazarus, and Jayne starts the hunt in earnest, while Mal is getting a bit too comfortable. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1971    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

“Lazarus?” Freya shook her head as she finished making the bed. Not that she’d slept at all in the past three nights. Every time she closed her eyes she couldn’t help but see Mal slipping away from her into a cold, wet darkness, and she woke biting back on a scream. “Why would we want to go there?”

“River wants it,” Zoe explained, standing in the doorway. “More, I think she needs it.”

“Why?”

Zoe took a deep breath. “Frey, losing Mal like this, it’s … she’s finding it hard.”

She’s finding it hard?” There was a sudden sharpness in her tone.

Zoe didn’t let it stop her. “There’s a lot of grief on board, and in her current state, she’s feeling everything.”

“She didn’t lose a husband.” Freya spoke quietly, but the sharpness had turned hard as stone.

“No. But I did. And I know how you feel.”

“Do you?” Freya turned on her. “You got to bury yours! I can’t!”

They were almost toe to toe. “And I didn’t move fast enough to save him,” Zoe said softly, seeing the stake coming through the bridge window again. “All the time I thought it was going to be me dying first, not coming back from a job, and he just sat there and I couldn’t save him.”

“I couldn’t try!”

Zoe waited, wanted the tears to start, to see the pain of admitting he was never coming back break her down, but Freya didn’t give in. Instead there was only anger at herself, at everyone else. “No, you couldn’t. None of us could.”

The heat drained out of her and she blinked. “You think it’ll help River?”

“Yes. And Sam’s still there. He’ll talk to her. Talk to any of us that need it.” The implication was clear.

“Then …” Freya nodded, backing down. “I guess Lazarus. But we drop River and go, dong mah?”

Dang rahn.” She wasn't surprised at Freya’s refusal to even consider talking to Sam, and turned to leave.

“Zoe.”

“Yes?”

“Would you … could you get my stuff from … I need a few things and I’m a trifle busy at the moment.” She motioned at the perfectly tidy room.

Zoe looked at her, seeing the thin veneer hiding the crumbling interior. “I’ll ask Kaylee to bring up whatever you need.”

“Thanks.”

“But you should –“

“Thanks.”

It felt like she’d been dismissed. She left the room, heading up the stairs towards the bridge, her grief for the loss of her Captain multiplied by what was happening to her friend.

“After Beylix I can lay in a course for Hammond that’ll take us by Lazarus,” Hank said as she crossed the threshold. “That is, if Frey says we can.” He knew it sounded odd, waiting on Freya to make the decision, but he didn’t know what else to do.

“She does.”

He looked up at her. “You okay?”

“I'm fine. Frey, on the other hand …”

“She’s just lost a husband, Zoe.”

“I know. And I want to tell her how it feels, that the pain does eventually ease, that you can think about him without it feeling like a Reaver’s chomping on you …”

“She’s not listening, huh?”

“Not to one word. And it don’t help that I feel pretty much the same way.”

“Oh, honey." He knew Mal was … had been her best friend. They all did.

“She won’t even go down into their bunk to get her stuff.”

“You want me to?” He half stood up out of the chair. “Whatever it is, I can –“

“No. Kaylee’s going to do it. You probably wouldn’t take the right things.”

“You mean because I'm a man?” His lips lifted a little. “I’m considering taking that as a slander on all my sex.”

“So you’d know what kind of underthings she needs?”

“Might.” He shrugged. “Be fun looking.” He managed to look guilty. “I mean, trying to figure out what she wanted.”

“I know what you meant.” She sighed, then leaned down and put a kiss on his cheek. “Don’t change,” she whispered, wanting to say don’t die.

“Don’t intend to.” He put his arms around her waist, pulling her into his lap. “You … you still think about Wash?”

For a moment she didn’t speak, then nodded slowly. “The memories kinda creep up on me sometimes. Like I see someone in a loud shirt, and I go to call his name, and then I remember he ain't around no more. Can’t be him.”

His grip tightened on her a little. “I know what you mean. I hear a laugh, and it sounds so like Risa. Or something happens and I remember her railing at me over something, or there’s a joke someone tells that she’d have made some comment on …” He looked into her eyes. “That make us bad people? I mean, I love you with all my heart, so shouldn’t I not be thinking about her?”

“Hank, she was your wife. Wash was my husband. They’re always a part of us. But we’ve moved on.”

“Freya’s gonna have it hard,” Hank said unhappily. “It’s so difficult realising you’re never gonna see them smile at you, or shout because you’ve done something crazy, or feel their hand on your face …”

Zoe ran her fingers down his cheek. “We’re here for her. And for each other.”

“Yeah.” He sighed. “Just not sure that’s gonna be enough.”

---

For five days she wouldn’t let him get out of bed, saying it was likely to bust open her careful stitches, until he was almost arguing with her.

“Hannah, even I can smell me!” he insisted, sitting up with his back propped against the headboard.

She stood in front of him, her arms crossed. “So? You think you can bathe? ‘Cause I’m not sure we’re gonna be even able to get you to the bathroom, let alone in the bath.”

Bath. Hot water out of taps shaped like … Again the memory vanished through his fingers like smoke, and he groaned.

Immediately her hand was on his forehead, cool and calming, checking for fever. “You okay?”

“I just … there’s things, words, and I keep thinking I remember, but it …” He was angry, but only at his own shortcomings.

“Then don’t try.”

He looked up at her sharply. “Don’t?”

“I only mean the more you push it, the longer it’ll take. You got hurt in your head – and you’re damn lucky the bullet didn’t take out part of your brain. But if you try to force it, the harder it’ll get. And the more frustrating.” She smiled. “You’ll see. There’ll be one thing and suddenly it’ll all come flooding back.”

“You think?” He took a deep breath, pushing the tension away, even as his chest reminded him he’d been shot.

She saw his face pale, and felt guilty. “It’s okay,” she added softly. “It will … you’ll remember.”

“And you won’t be too be pleased about that, will you?” he joked.

His astuteness surprised her, and she blushed. “I don’t know what you mean.”

He smiled a little. “Sure. Obviously I'm still delirious.”

She allowed her lips to lift. “Obviously. But that still doesn’t mean you get to take a bath.”

“Hannah –“

“You ain't even able to relieve yourself standing up yet.”

This time it was his turn to blush. Just remembering the awkwardness of trying to pee into a receptacle hidden under the blanket was enough to make a Companion blanch. “That ain't happening again.”

Now she laughed. “Ben, I've had two kids. Helped my husband through some pretty gruesome procedures, including amputating a leg or two. A little urine don’t worry me.”

“It worries me.” He shifted somewhat uncomfortably.

“But maybe I can see a way around this problem of yours.” She bit her lip lightly. “How about a bed bath?” She saw his eyes unfocus in the way she’d already come to dread as a memory skirted around his mind again.

Then he looked up at her, consciously not pursuing it. “Sounds interesting.” He grinned.

---

Serenity landed in her usual spot, and as the doors opened and the ramp dropped, Inara was waiting for them in the afternoon sunshine. Carefully made up, it would have been impossible for anyone who didn’t know her to see she’d been crying. Trouble was, everyone on that boat was her friend.

“’Nara.” Zoe strode along the path, going straight up to her and hugging her.

It almost undid her, and she had to swallow the hard lump in her throat before she could speak. “Zoe. How’s … everyone?”

“About how you’d expect.” The first mate stood back. “She’s hardly spoken about him.”

“That’s what we were afraid of.” Inara glanced back over her shoulder at Sam coming out of the house, a bag in his hand.

“You throwing him out?” Zoe asked, surprised.

“No. But he’s coming with you.”

Sam Nazir smiled a little at Zoe as he came up to the two women. “If that’s okay with you.”

“You think you can get her to talk?”

“I can try.”

“I think it’s like trying to empty an ocean with a sieve, but you’re more than welcome. Your old room’s available.”

“Thank you.” He turned to Inara. “If you need me, wave.”

“I will.” She reached up and kissed him tenderly, feeling the ache of his leaving warring in her chest with the pain of Mal dying. “I’d come too, but I think seeing me might make it that much worse.”

“I conjure it might,” Zoe added.

“I’ll do my best for her,” Sam assured them both.

“I think it’s a good idea,” River said, appearing next to them, still so light on her feet despite her increasing girth that nobody heard her arrive. “But she won’t come out.” Putting her small case down, she sighed. “I think she knows what you’re planning.”

“Is she peeking?” Zoe asked.

“No. Her walls are very tight, and I can’t get through. And she can’t look out. All I can feel is her pain, washing through me until it burns in the night.”

“River …” Inara spoke warningly as the young woman shuddered.

Sam put his hand on her arm. “Darling, if I hadn’t worked out by now that River is psychic too, I wouldn’t be any good at my job.”

She looked up and him, into his almond eyes. “I'm sorry. That was tactless of me.”

“No. Understandable.” He kissed her again, then stood straight and looked at Serenity’s first mate. “I suppose we’re in a hurry?”

Zoe almost smiled. “Got a delivery on Hammond in less than two weeks, and that moon’s the other side of the sector. We’ll be pushing it as it is.”

“Then it’s time to go.” He pulled Inara to his chest one last time, then let her go. “I’ll be back soon, my beloved.”

She touched his face. ”Help her.”

“I’ll try.”

Zoe looked at River. “You gonna be okay here?”

“It will be easier.” She put her hands on her belly. “Maybe the static will drown out the pain now, with distance.”

“Well, the girls have some things planned,“ Inara put in. “Baby showers, that sort of thing.”

“Does a baby need one?” River tilted her head. “Aren’t they clean anyway?”

“On that note, it really is time to go.” Zoe smiled. “See you soon, I hope.”

Inara nodded. “So do I. And if Jayne needs any more money, let me know.”

“I will.”

“She’s afraid,” River whispered as they watched Sam and Zoe stride away back to Serenity.

“Who, Zoe?” Inara asked.

“Frey.”

“Of what, sweetie?”

“She won’t let anyone in because she’s afraid she’ll take them down with her.”

Inara looked at the young woman sharply. “Take them … I don’t understand.”

“The darkness. It’s still there. Always has been, but Mal was the light that kept it at bay. Now he’s gone …” Her voice caught. “She’s afraid of it overwhelming her again.”

“Then Sam’s doing the right thing. Going with them.”

“She won’t listen.”

“He’s pretty tenacious when he wants to be.”

“Really?” River lifted her face. “Explain. With pictures.”

For the first time in what seemed a lifetime, Inara laughed.

---

She’d been as gentle as she could be, but by the time she finished he was sweating again.

“Knew this was a bad idea,” she murmured, drying his fingers, carefully avoiding the splint.

“No, it’s shiny,” he said, laying back on the pillow, trying to sound positive, but feeling like a landed fish, puffing and drowning in the good, clean air.

“Trouble is, I need to check your wound. Can you stand for that right now?”

He waved his hand. “Sure. Kill me, why don’t you?”

“Baby.”

“Least I ain't wearing a diaper.”

She smiled, letting his inexplicable good temper warm her through. Moving the sheet away, she undid the bandage and peeled back the dressing on his chest. ”Sorry,” she added as he hissed.

“So tell me some more about your husband,” he said, just for something to say as she touched the area around the wound, holding back the grunt of pain.

“He died. Sickness.”

“You said.”

“What else is there to know?”

“Well, I know he was a doctor.”

“Not just that.”

“Oh?”

“He was a Shepherd, too.”

“You married a preacher?” His eyebrows raised high.

“He wasn't when I married him, silly.” She laughed, and he grinned. “He’d had a crisis of faith, and left the Abbey to walk the world. He came here. Met me. I don’t think that helped his faith at all.”

“Slept with him first date, huh?”

“Pretty much.” She covered the wound back up, impressed at his fast healing. Rewrapping the bandage, she added, “And in eight months I found out I was pregnant.”

“And he did the right thing.”

“No. I wouldn’t let him. I wasn't going to have a man who only wanted to marry me for the sake of the child.”

“So what happened?”

“He dragged me in front of the local Judge and told him to make me marry him.” She smiled indulgently. “I could’ve cheerfully killed him.”

“But you agreed in the end.”

“He said he wasn’t going to go anywhere until I said yes. I had to, just to make him stop.”

“But you loved him.”

She nodded. “With all my heart.”

He felt slightly embarrassed by the declaration, and wondered if he always felt this way when people talked about love. “So what was this crisis he talked about?” he asked, avoiding the subject.

Hannah looked down at her hands. “He never really said, but I know he was in the war. Ministered to a lot of fallen men, tried to save their lives and their souls, and it … it changed him.”

“Which side?”

“He said it didn’t matter. Alliance or Browncoat, they were all God’s children.”

“Browncoat …”

“That mean something to you?” Hannah asked, sitting forwards.

“I … I don’t know,” he admitted finally. “It’s all so … damn frustrating. I can feel it, just out of reach, all those memories, the people I know, the places I’ve been, but every time I try to grab it I just …”

“It’ll come back.” She stood up, carrying the bowl and cloth to the sink.

“Yeah.” He scratched at the beard on his chin. “Well, now I’m clean I guess I could shave.”

“You gonna be able to without cutting your throat?” she asked, busying herself rinsing out the utensils.

Looking at his hand, he considered the possibility. “Not sure. Maybe I’ll just stand back from the razor for a while.”

She laughed. “Actually, truth is, I ain't got anything you can use. Ben had a beard, and nothing and nobody could persuade him to shave. He trimmed it once in a while, but all the days I knew him he had that fuzz on his face.”

“What did he look like?”

She paused, her hands under the hot water. “I doubt you’d look at him twice in the street. Just a man. Not too tall, nor short, blondish hair, kinda mousy, I guess, but with dark eyes. Loved those eyes. Sometimes I wonder if they were what made me fall for him. Almost black.” She shook herself. “But he was suai. Far as I was concerned. And he made me laugh, first time I ever met him.”

“Sounds like quite a man.”

“He was. I think you’d’a liked him.”

“You know, I think I would.” He smiled, feeling a warm kinship for this woman.

---

Jayne leaned against the bar, feeling like a permanent fixture. For days he’d wandered the town, talking to people, getting his face known. They were starting to accept him, but nobody was saying much. About the only new fact he’d got was that Mal hadn’t even been number six on the list of people killed. It numbered nearer a dozen, but he was the first anyone had wanted to do something about. Someone had gone to all the trouble of targeting men who’d come from off world, and since their captains prob’ly figured they’d just jumped ship they hadn’t looked too hard for them. At least, until the bodies had been found. If they were found at all.

He shifted his gunbelt more comfortably on his hips. Someone was making a tidy amount of money, he considered, and that was making Jayne itch.

He’d already come to the conclusion that he’d have to put up that reward, and had left notice in the local general store, who promised to post it on the town Cortex, but he wasn’t sure there was anything to be gained. And no body had come to light so far, either.

He sighed and threw the last of his beer down his neck.

“Another?” the barkeep asked.

Jayne half-turned. “Yeah, hell, why not?”

“Only I thought you’d wanna know that Lily’s just come back.”

Jayne straightened. “Where?”

“In her room. Making herself pretty.”

Jayne slid a coin across the wooden counter. “Which one?”

The barkeep put his hand on it, making it disappear. “Down the back hall, last on the left.”

“Thanks.” The big man slid silently to the door, vanishing into the darkness.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Thursday, December 6, 2007 4:31 AM

COLT999


Zoe trying to grip, Freya losing grip, River overwhelmed, Jayne playing detective, and whats Mal up too? Getting a sponge bath and working on his ZZ Top beard. Thats why it pays to be the Captain.

Chapter was too short or I read it too fast.
More please.

Thursday, December 6, 2007 5:06 AM

KATESFRIEND


This story just keeps getting better and better. More please soon!

Thursday, December 6, 2007 7:52 AM

NCBROWNCOAT


***Joins in the chorus*** More please and soon!

Thursday, December 6, 2007 1:51 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


Another thing. You better not go all "Misery" on us!

Don't know if you've read Steven King's classic story about a woman that is obsessed with the world famous author that has a car accident near her house. She literally holds him hostage, forces him to write a story for her and when he won't, goes bonkers.

Thursday, December 6, 2007 2:09 PM

AMDOBELL


I have been on tenderhooks waiting for this chapter and it ends far too soon! Just as it looks as if Jayne might get his first lead too. Poor Freya, I hope she doesn't go too far into that dark cold place before she sees a bit of light at the end of that tunnel. And what about Ethan? Hope we see him soon, if anything can give her the will to keep going it has to be him. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, December 6, 2007 6:41 PM

BSCPANTHERFAN


From the look of all the requests for more, might we be seeing a "Double Scoop Friday?" I'm willing to offer cash incentives.

Thursday, December 6, 2007 6:43 PM

BSCPANTHERFAN


I just thought of something: What happens if Freya senses Mal and starts "talking" to him? How would you feel if you had amnesia and started hearing voices in your head?


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