BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Tall Ship - Part XI
Thursday, December 13, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Even though Jayne's solved his riddle, there's more pain on board Serenity when he gets home. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1940    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Zoe sat down at the table, put the coffee mug down in front of her and closed her eyes. She was tired. Very tired. She'd known this kind of tiredness before, particularly during the war, when she’d just kept going, doing what she needed to do, but was aware, all along, that at some point her body was just going to lie down and go to sleep, no matter what her brain said. And it was no good getting pumped up on ammies, as the drop would be even worse. Right now her body was starting to call in its marker, and if she didn’t get some rest soon, she’d be in real trouble.

“Hon?” Hank stood in the doorway. “You okay?”

She opened her eyes and looked at him. “Shiny.” She managed a smile. “What’s up?”

“Wave from Jayne.” He nodded back over his shoulder. “He’s on screen now. I think he has news. Only it’s a public vid booth so he’s being a bit circumspect.”

She stood up. “Get everyone together.”

“Frey?”

Zoe thought for a moment. “No. Not yet. Let’s wait ‘til we find out what Jayne has to say first. But the others.”

“On it.” He hurried away.

She followed at a slower pace, climbing the bridge stairs to see Jayne’s face on the vid.

“Well?” she asked with no preliminaries.

“When’re you due in?”

“About six hours. Did you find anything?”

The mercenary nodded. “Surely did.” He explained, watching Zoe’s face grow ever more impassive as he did so.

In the galley the rest of the crew – minus Freya – were congregating.

“Any idea what Jayne has to say?” Simon asked Hank.

“Nope. Wouldn’t tell me.” He sat down heavily in one of the chairs.

“Do ya think … maybe they’ve found …” Kaylee couldn’t finish the sentence.

“I doubt it,” Sam said quietly, his hands clenched in front of him. “If Mal went into the sea …”

“’Sides, there ain’t likely to be much left to find, not after all this time,” Hank added, trying to be gentle.

Kaylee swallowed. “I guess.” She was glad she’d left Bethany down in the nursery with the other children: talking about dead bodies wasn't something a four year old should have to deal with.

Simon looked at Sam. “How’s Freya? Every time I try to speak to her she tells me she’s fine and to go back to my work.”

“Me too.” A worried look marred his smooth olive face.

“But she’s better, ain’t she?” Kaylee asked. “I mean, she ain't over the Captain … none of us are … but … I mean she was talking, and smiling even before. Apologised, even.”

Sam was saved from answering by Zoe stepping down into the dining area.

“Well?” Hank asked, sitting forward.

Kaylee’s face fell. “It … it ain't good, is it?”

“Depends. No body, not yet.” Zoe saw the young woman’s face tighten. “But he found the man. The one who killed the captain.”

“That’s good, right?” Her hand fumbled for Simon’s. “Right?”

“He had to kill him.”

“Oh.”

Hank looked at the others. “Well, it’s a pity that happened. I mean, since there can’t be a trial and a hanging. But the man got what he deserved.”

“So who …” Simon stopped, aware he was about to ask a crass question.

“Who was it?” Zoe filled in, and the young doctor nodded, embarrassed. “Would never have figured it, but it was the sheriff.”

“What?” Hank shook his head. “But he was helping us. Looking for Mal.”

“Maybe he wasn’t looking all that hard.” Zoe sat down and picked up her coffee mug, realising it was stone cold. “Only now I gotta tell Frey.”

---

Jayne walked back into Francine’s whorehouse, feeling like he could sleep for a week. He expected to have a hot coffee, a huge plate of food, and then to fall into bed. What he didn’t expect was a body thrown at him as soon as he got through the door.

Pushing it away, he realised there was trouble. It looked like maybe eight or nine men he didn’t recognise, fighting fist to fist, and in one case bottle to fist, with Francine’s muscle, and they seemed to be winning. Enough was enough, and his temper burst. Wading into the fray, he starting knocking heads, punching and generally letting his anger out, until there was nothing but a pile of groaning bodies in the centre of the room.

Francine stood by the bar, her hands on her hips. “Gorram it,” she said loudly, glaring at her own men. “It takes a stranger to come in and clean up this mess? What the hell do I pay you for?”

There was mutterings, but no-one came out and complained.

“Stranger, am I?” Jayne said, standing upright.

“Well, no, but I don’t employ you.” She sighed and shook her head. “Maybe I should, though. Keep this lot in check.” She pointed at her men then down to the heap on the floor. “Don’t just stand there. Clear ‘em out of here, and make sure they don’t come back.”

“What happened?” Jayne asked, leaning on the counter and watching the moaning, twitching bodies being picked up and hurled, none too gently, into the street.

“They just got off a ship, at least that’s what one of ‘em said. And this wasn't the first place they came, either. Well fuelled by the time they got here. And thinking they could just take what they wanted without paying.”

Jayne tutted. “That’s criminal.”

“It surely is.” Francine looked at him. “And I mean it. You want a job?”

“Got one.” He remembered his manners. “But thanks.”

“No, I figured you’d …” She stopped, her face going pale even under the paint she wore.

“What?” He glanced at her, realised she was looking at his t-shirt beneath his jacket. At some point during the previous couple of minutes one of the buttons had been pulled off, and she could see the dark red of dried blood staining his clothes.

“What the hell have you been up to?” She went to touch him, but held back. “You need a doc? Or a priest?”

“Ain’t mine.”

“Then whose is it?”

He looked around, making sure everyone else was busy. Then he leaned closer. “Francine, I found the man that killed my friend.”

“And you …” She closed her eyes and exhaled hard. “’M I likely to find Vance coming in here looking for you? ‘Cause if he does –“

“No, you won’t.”

There was something in his voice that made her look sharply at him. “Are you saying –”

“Ain't saying nothing much. Just that you’re pretty much the owner of this establishment now.”

Francine, by no means unintelligent, let the implication sink in. “You sure it was him?”

“Heard him admitting it.”

She shook her head. “Well, I hafta admit, I can’t say I’m all that surprised. Hwoon dahn always did like the quick and easy credit. Pulled enough out of this business to live well, but he always wanted more.”

“He won’t be taking anything else.”

Her eyes narrowed a little, then she smiled grimly. “Then maybe I’ll expand.” Her good humour died. “But I want you gone from here, dong mah? Anyone might coming looking for him finds you, I don’t want it to be in my place.”

“I understand. Few more hours, and my boat’ll be here.”

“Okay.” She pulled his coat closed. “Best you burn those clothes if’n you can. Ain't gonna get the blood out.”

“I been covered in worse.”

She looked at him speculatively. “You know, God help me, but I believe you.”

---

Hank landed Serenity back in the same spot as before, and couldn’t help glancing over his shoulder as he switched off her main engines. Mal should be there, making some comment about how he hadn’t managed to crash his ship, at least this time, and asking when he was going to get around to making Zoe an honest woman by marrying her. It felt … wrong, somehow.

He closed everything down and stood up. “Sorry,” he whispered to no-one in particular. “Wish he was still around. Even miss him being annoying.” He hurried down to wait with the others in the cargo bay.

Zoe was already opening the doors, and no-one was surprised to see the big man outside.

”Jayne.”

“Zoe.” The mercenary stepped up the ramp, something draped over his shoulder. “Everyone okay?”

“As well as you’d expect.”

“And Frey?”

Zoe hesitated a moment. “Not good.”

He looked down at his boots. “Well, what I got to give her might not help, but I couldn’t really leave it behind.”

“Give her what?”

“Zo.” Hank’s voice was low, insistent.

She turned, not surprised to see Freya coming out of the common area. “Jayne’s here,” she said, somewhat unnecessarily.

“So I see.” Freya stopped a few feet from the big man. “Jayne.”

“Frey.” He could see she was standing straight, her back like a ramrod, not giving an inch, and close to falling apart.

“So? You find the man?”

Jayne nodded. “I did. And he ain't gonna bother no-one again. Neither him nor his doxy, the one as set Mal up.”

“Thank you.”

“Got his gun back, too. Mal’s, I mean.” He shrugged it from his shoulder and held it out to her.

“No. I don’t … you keep it.”

“Can’t. Not mine.”

“It’s a good gun,” Freya insisted. “Mal always looked after it.”

“I know that, but –“

“I’ll take it,” Zoe said quickly. “I’ll look after it for you.”

Freya nodded slowly. She licked her lips. “Is there … was there any sign …”

“Nope. Sorry.” Jayne, the part of him that had always had a soft spot for the woman in front of him, ached for her. “But I found this.” He put out his hand, palm up.

For a long moment there was no sound, no movement, then Freya reached out and picked up the wedding band. “Mal …” she murmured. She stared at it, her mind skittering to the day Mal had bought it on Ariel, and told her to put it on him. The day she finally believed he was going to be hers forever. It lay on her skin shining in the light from outside Serenity and, despite all her efforts, she felt her world fracture into a million tiny, razor sharp pieces, all cutting into her, making her bleed.

“I’m sorry,” Jayne said, knowing the words were useless.

“Thank you.” She turned to leave, her eyes on the ring.

Hank stepped forward, glancing at the others. “Frey? What … what do you want us to do now?”

She hadn’t heard, or if she had she ignored it. She walked slowly out of the bay.

No-one spoke until she was out of sight.

“It’s real, ain't it?” Kaylee whispered, holding tightly to Simon’s arm. “I guess maybe I didn’t really believe it before, but … the Cap’s gone.”

“Seeing that ring …” Hank shook his head. “He’d never’ve let anyone take if off him unless he was dead.”

“So?” Jayne asked. “What do we do now?”

“Not sure,” Zoe admitted.

“Does this make you captain?”

Zoe shook her head. “Ship’s hers. I don’t want … never wanted …” She felt her chest begin to tighten, but she swallowed back on the tears. There was a better place for them, later on. When she was alone. She took a deep breath. “It’s getting late, so I think we’d better lock things down for the night. We need supplies, so soon as we get them tomorrow we’ll take off.”

“And go where?” Simon asked.

“Ain't got that figured yet,” Zoe admitted. “Ain't got that figured at all.”

“And Frey?” Hank turned to Sam. “Can you help her?”

“If she’ll let me.” The therapist glanced towards the common area. “She’s a strong woman.”

“Even oaks break in the wind,” Kaylee said softly, wiping her eyes on her sleeve. “We gotta just keep an eye on her. Make sure we’re there when she needs us.”

“River is,” Jayne added. “Got a message from her a day or two ago. She’s watching Freya, much as she can. Says it hurts.”

“We have to tell her. And Inara.”

“Tomorrow,” Zoe said firmly. “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Jayne shook his head. “I'm figuring she knows already,” he said softly.

---

The dress still fit, despite having carried two children. It flowed over her breasts and hips, clinging in all the right places, suspended by the single silver pin at her shoulder. She’d made up her face, just a little, adding colour where there was none. Now she sat on the bed, the bed she hadn’t been able to sleep in since …

It had been simple getting what she needed from the infirmary. Simon and Kaylee were comforting each other, and everyone else was in their bunks, trying to rest. Not that it was going to come easily. Not yet. Not for a long time. But it had been the work of a moment to find the vial and hypo she needed and take them back to the bunk.

The bunk. Not hers any more. Nor his. Just a place to be. To do this.

Her red recorder she’d placed on the table, on the single sheet of paper that said, simply, ‘Kaylee’. She’d understand. Then the girl would know why she’d put Ethan and Jesse in with Bethany, kissing them both as they lay asleep. Why she’d left Mal’s wedding ring on the shelf.

She filled the hypo carefully, enough for it to do the job, but not enough to cause the convulsions. She didn’t want them to find her like that, all twisted. That wasn’t fair.

Freya?

She lay down, arranging her dress carefully about her, putting her head down onto his pillow, trying to catch the last remaining scent of him.

Freya!

There, just on the edge of … A brief perfume, all leather and black powder, soap and … him. She held it in herself, absorbing every last molecule.

Momma!

As she put the hypo against her neck, she could hear River beating at the walls she’d erected around her mind, desperate to get in. Then the hiss of the gas, almost soothing, as the drug entered her bloodstream.

She knew she had a minute before she became unconscious, and, placing the hypo on the shelf, she took down the capture she had ready. Not the one from before, with Mal holding Ethan. But another. One she kept just for herself. She pressed play.

Laughter filled the small room as she and Mal appeared, him in that outfit Inara had made him buy, while she had on the very same dress she now wore. Their wedding, bright, shiny, smiling. He leaned in to kiss her, and as the darkness gathered around her, she could still feel his lips, pressing against hers …

The capture slipped from her unknowing fingers and clattered to the floor.

River screamed, sitting up in bed at Inara’s, holding the sheets tightly to herself.

“Sweetie, what is it?” Inara called, hurrying in.

“No,” the psychic moaned, sending her thoughts as hard as she could. Jayne.

The big man sat up. “River?”

Freya. Her bunk. Go. Go now!

He was on his feet and out of the shuttle in a flash, running along the catwalk and into the corridor. The hatch above Freya’s room was closed, locked, but it took only the work of a second to over-ride it. He slid down the ladder.

“Gorramit.” He crossed the small space in two strides, treading on something that sparked and skittered away, then picked up the vial from the shelf, touching Freya gently with his other hand. He punched the com. “Doc. Get to Freya’s. Captain’s bunk. And bring something to deal with Comoxacil.”

Simon was out of his bed in a moment, dragging on his pyjama pants and throwing the door open. Kaylee was behind him, pulling on her robe.

“Simon?”

“It’s a poison,” he said briefly, running to the infirmary.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Thursday, December 13, 2007 3:27 AM

SLUMMING


What a way to start the morning....I'm speechless here. Next part as soon as possible please!

Thursday, December 13, 2007 3:32 AM

KATESFRIEND


You manage to keep the excitement going at full speed. What a way to start the day - who needs expresso! I could turn into an adrenaline junkie on your fics! Hoping Freya has some happy news soon- but I'm loving this story so much I'll hate to see it end.

Thursday, December 13, 2007 4:29 AM

COLT999


ARRRRG! Here I thought we were off to a happy ending and you go a do something like that.

Thursday, December 13, 2007 11:54 AM

AMDOBELL


Holy crap! I was worried Freya would snap if they ever brought back definitive proof (such as they could find) that Mal was really dead. Good old River picking up on what was going through Freya's mind and telling Jayne so he could run to her and get help. Gorramit, Mal better be found soon. This is just breaking the whole gorram crew into little bitty pieces and we haven't seen or heard a whimper out of the kids. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, December 13, 2007 4:25 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


My heart is in my throat. I thought that things were going to get better soon and now Freya has cracked.

Goodness, I won't be able to get to Monday without biting all my fingernails off.

That is unless you give us a shred of hope tomorrow.


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