BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

World Without End - Part III
Thursday, January 3, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Just upping the angst-ante here. River won't listen to reason, and there's trouble out in the dark. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1889    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Freya held her breath as Simon pressed the hypo against her neck, then sighed as the painkiller began to work.

“You okay now?” Mal asked, his hand on her shoulder, squeezing gently.

“Getting there.” It was like migraine, she decided, with half of her head in agony right behind her eyes, jagged edges digging into her brain.

“I gather it wasn’t exactly cotton candy in there.” His concern was palpable.

“No. More like wading through quicksand.” She closed her eyes briefly, just concentrating on him, his body close to hers, until she had regained that control she’d fought so long and hard for. She looked up at him. “But River honestly believes it.”

“Did you recognise it?” Mal asked. “The place this is supposed to go down?”

Freya shook her head gingerly. “Just an alley. Could be any of several dozen planets. It might not even be an alley. This was still a dream – it doesn’t mean the setting was real. I've dreamed enough times that Serenity has a ballroom, but I'm pretty sure she hasn’t.”

“I wouldn’t be too gorram sure about that,” Mal advised. “Considering it seems she has some hidey-holes I ain’t heard about,” he added.

Her lips lifted. “Only a couple.” She sighed. “I didn’t even see their faces. Sorry.”

He stroked her cheek with his thumb. “Hey, ain't your fault. You did more’n you should, anyway.”

“I wanted to help River.”

“If she leaves …” Simon shook his head. “I can’t let her go alone.”

“You planning on taking a Sabbatical as well?” Mal fixed the young doctor with his blue eyes.

“Not by choice.” He leaned back on the counter. “But River’s not … I couldn’t leave her to –“

“She can take care of herself, Simon,” Freya said, sharper than she had intended. She saw his eyes widen a little, and felt a rush of shame. “I’m sorry. I … didn’t mean that to come out the way it did.”

“That’s okay.” He took a step closer. “Was it really so bad?”

Her brows drew together as she tried to think how to describe it. “It’s like … watching something on the Cortex, only you’re in it. You can feel, taste, see everything they can feel, taste and see, only you can’t influence anything. You can’t even make them turn their head.” She shuddered slightly. “And it hurt. Just to … I don’t want to do it again – not if I don’t have to.”

“Thank you,” he said softly, sincerely. “For doing it at all. I know it’s because you care about her.” He shook his head. “But the truth is I don’t think she can look after herself, Frey. Not alone.” He ran his hands through his hair. “I hate to admit it, but I’ve never felt so confident about me not being needed as when she’s with Jayne.”

Mal chuckled. “That’s something of a surprise, doc.”

“Then you know I don’t say it lightly. But –“

“River’s over twenty-one, Simon,” Freya interrupted. “She’s more capable of defending herself than most of us.”

“And she’s pregnant.” Simon inhaled deeply. “I won’t let her leave like this.”

“So what do you suggest we do, doc?” Mal crossed his arms. “Lock her up somewhere? Seems to be we tried that a couple of times, and she didn’t stay put more’an an hour. Or are you planning on doping her for the rest of her life?”

“We have to talk to her. Persuade her we can look after them both.”

“You’re offering to take care of Jayne too?”

Simon knew he was being wound up. “River’s pregnant. Seven months pregnant. If she insists on leaving the ship, I’ll have to go with her. You’ve seen what she can be like, even before this. Do you really think I’d let her –“

Mal held up his hands. “No, Simon, I know you wouldn’t. And neither would I. If it seems to be heading that way, I’ll hold her down while you get the drugs, but I'm really hoping it won’t come to that, mainly because I like all my appendages right where they are. Maybe she’ll see sense after her nap.”

Freya glanced out of the door to where the young woman was still sleeping. “I actually doubt that, Mal.”

“Then I’ll live in hope.” He held out his hand. “Come on. We’d better get the kids from Jayne ‘fore he decides he wants to get off this boat first.”

---

The trip to Lancaster was uneventful, except for the fact that River kept going to everyone, giving them little things that she treasured, telling them to remember her by them.

“I can’t,” Zoe said, shaking her head.

“You have to. Wash gave it to me and now I'm giving it to you.” River held out the small dinosaur. “So you don’t forget me.”

“Not likely to do that.” She picked up her coffee mug from the dining room table.

“You might. With Hank to look after, Ben to raise, and all the other children to come …”

Zoe looked up in surprise. “Other children?”

“Please take it.”

“No, River. I can’t. It’d be under false pretences. You’re not going anywhere.”

“If I don’t, Jayne will die.”

Zoe put her mug down again and reached out, taking the young woman’s hand. “It ever occur to you that now we know, we can stop it happening? That you don’t need to do this to save Jayne?”

River shook her head sadly. “Won’t be there. Just me.”

“Not just you. Not with all of us around.” Zoe squeezed.

“Can’t be around all the time.” She tried once more. “Please?” she pleaded, waggling the dinosaur.

“No. I got plenty. You keep it.”

River sighed. “All right.” She gently pulled her hand free from Zoe’s, and headed back towards the engine room.

Serenity’s first mate sat for a moment, then heard slight movement from the other door. She half turned, seeing Jayne standing, his face blank. Their eyes met.

“Jayne …” she began, but he turned on his heel and strode away. That night she found the dinosaur on the table next to the bed.

Most of the time, though, River sat with Jayne while he cleaned his guns, lifted weights, did the little things that passed the day through, just being with him. But every time he tried to talk to her, to change her mind, she just shook her head.

“Have to,” is all she would say. “Need to save your life. And you need to stop unpacking my bag every night.”

If he could have gripped the dumbbells any harder he’d have crushed the metal like tinfoil.

She wouldn’t listen to anyone, not even Simon.

“River, you have nowhere else to go and no money. How do you expect to support yourself? Or your child?” They were sitting in the common area, knee to knee.

“I have some,” she insisted. “And I can work.”

“Doing what?”

“Teach. I could be a teacher. Pass on some of the things I know about.”

Simon had to concede she had a point. “But they might not want a teacher.”

“It’s a big ‘verse out there.”

“And you’re still a wanted fugitive.” He took her hands. “The warrants may be old but they haven’t been rescinded.”

“Then I’ll become someone else.”

“River …” He tilted his head, his brow furrowed.

“My mind’s made up.” She touched his cheek, his lips, as if committing them to memory. “All fifteen of them.”

He had to smile. “Thought there were more than that.”

“They don’t have voting rights.”

---

“So what do we do?” Zoe asked as Hank manoeuvred Serenity into landing configuration.

“Well, least we’ve persuaded her not to get off here.” Mal nodded towards the planet below them. “But I’ve had to promise to take her someplace better. Someplace of her choosing.”

“And where would that be, sir?”

Mal sighed heavily. “She hasn’t said. Not so far, anyway.”

“She’s really determined to leave.” Hank shook his head. “When she knows she’s safest on board.”

“I doubt she’s thought it that far,” Mal said. “All she can see is Jayne getting hurt or dead, and that this is the way to prevent it.”

“She seems so … calm, now. Happy.” The pilot adjusted their trajectory. “I mean, now she’s decided.”

“You know, for a mind-reading genius she sure displays some sheer, manically-stupid stubbornness sometimes,” Mal agreed. “Well, soon as we’re down, assemble in the bay.” He headed off the bridge to get his coat.

“Stubbornness?” Hank echoed quietly. “No, really? How unusual in this crew.” The irony in his tone wasn’t lost on Zoe.

“Something like her father, I'm guessing,” she replied.

“Her …?” Then he realised, glancing over his shoulder to where Mal had dropped into his bunk. “Oh, yeah, honey,” he agreed, grinning widely. “Got that right.”

---

The ramp lowered, letting in a cold blast of air.

“Shit, Mal, d’ya have to?” Jayne complained, quickly pushing his arms into his coat and glaring at the man by the controls. “Couldn’t we just’ve opened the damn door?”

“My idea,” Kaylee said, bouncing out of the doorway from the common area. “Give the CO2 scrubbers a rest. Free air.”

“Ain’t nothing for free in this ‘verse, little girl,” the big man grumbled.

“Oh, there’s a few things,” Mal said, looking up at Freya on the catwalk above, her arms wrapped around herself. She’d not slept too well the last couple of nights, and he’d insisted she stay on board. Her rest had been plagued by nightmares, and from what she’d been muttering it wasn't just River on her mind.

Jayne saw where his eyes had shifted, and misunderstood. “Nope, not even that.” He settled his gun more comfortably on his hip. “Guaranteed to rip your heart out. Call that a price.” He stomped out into the sleet that was falling, matching his mood precisely, letting it soak him through.

“Bright little spark, ain't he?” Hank said, blowing on his fingers.

“River won’t change her mind,” Zoe replied softly, pulling on her gloves.

“I know that.” Hank glanced at Mal who was staring at the mercenary. “But Mal ain't gonna let her just walk off the ship. Not his nu er.”

“Hope you’re right.”

Mal shook himself. “Okay,” he said loudly, clapping his hands. “Hank, you got the ship. Keep an ear out in case we need back-up, but I doubt it. We’ll be at Xeno’s to pick up the supplies, then we’re coming straight back.” He peered out of the door at the sleet. “Hell, don’t want to hang around in this anyway.” He strode out after Jayne, Zoe at his side as always.

Freya walked slowly down the stairs, feeling the chill biting into her.

“He’s all right,” Kaylee whispered to her.

“I know. It’s just … this place reminds me of Three Hills too much. Did you see how close we are to the sea as we landed?”

“Nope. I was coddling the manifold. She’s got the tendency at the moment to lose pressure right at the wrong time, and I don’t think the Cap’d be too pleased to be falling out of the sky.”

“No, you’re probably right about that.”

Kaylee put her arm around her friend’s waist. “He’s got Zoe and Jayne with him. They ain’t gonna let anything happen to him.” She squeezed. “And I ain't gonna let anything happen to you.” She grinned. “So come on. I need a coffee to warm me up. Want one?”

“I don’t …”

“Got some of those chocolate chip cookies left you like.”

Freya couldn’t help but laugh. “You mean Mal hasn’t snagged the last one?”

“Nope. Hidden away.”

“And you told everyone they’d all gone.”

“So I can lie with the best of ‘em. Had me some good teachers.”

“Personally I think this crew has corrupted you.”

“That too,” Kaylee said happily, pulling her through the door towards the kitchen.

River slid out of the shadows and padded silently across the floor to stand next to Hank as he stood at the top of the ramp. “Cold,” she said, making him jump.

The pilot held his chest theatrically as he glared at her. “Honey, you do that again and I hope you’re good at CPR.”

“I’ll save you.” She smiled at him, but it faltered. “While I'm still here.”

“That’s nice. Although you could stay around, make sure I don’t hurt myself somewhere.” He nodded towards the contents of the bay. “Enough junk around here to fall over.”

“Don’t let the Captain hear you say that.”

“Hey, ship’s mine! Least, at the moment. Mal said so.” He grinned, his untidy brown hair moving slightly in the freezing air. “You know, Kaylee’s got the right idea. Coffee?”

“Not right now. But thank you for thinking of me.”

“Hell, River. We always think of you.” He patted her arm and almost ran up the stairs.

She sighed. Of all the ships Simon could have ended up on, running hard and fast from the Alliance, he had to come here. To these people. This family. Sees a pair of pretty eyes and lets himself fall. A smile played across her face. So unlike her brother. Not that he allowed himself to show it for a long time. Not until Miranda.

For once she felt the ache of the cold air sit into her bones, and she shivered. Something was walking over her grave, as her mother used to say. Turning back from the grey day outside, she hurried up the stairs to the shuttle, and her packing.

“You sure it’s her?”

“Sure I'm sure. Seen that damn warrant enough times as a Fed before they kicked me out, didn’t I?”

“So it’d be worth our while?”

“Oh, yeah. Hand her over and we wouldn’t need to work for the rest of our days.”

“So how do you wanna handle this? Call the locals?”

“Nope. This little thing we can handle ourselves.”

“How? She ain't come out, and we can’t exactly go in there.”

“Could. Looked to me like the worst of ‘em left, so it’s probably just a watching crew in there now.”

“And if it’s not? Or the others come back quicker than expected?”

“That’s why you’re gonna go after ‘em. You heard him. They’ve gone to Xeno’s. You get there, tell me when they’re on their way back. I’ll get her out ‘fore they do.”

“And if we miss the opportunity?”

“Then we follow them. Look, this is our ticket to the easy life, and I'm prepared to kill to get her. What about you?”

“How much money?”

“A lot. More’n you could spend in a lifetime.”

“Okay then.”

to be continued

COMMENTS

Thursday, January 3, 2008 3:30 AM

SLUMMING


The plot thickens. Good chapter!

Thursday, January 3, 2008 7:13 AM

COLT999


Well written. I'm half thinking, you just might kill Jayne off by the end of this.

Thursday, January 3, 2008 2:05 PM

AMDOBELL


Uh oh, even staying on the ship River inadvertently let those two scheming *hundans* catch a glimpse of her. Please whatever else happens, don't let Jayne die! Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, January 4, 2008 1:42 AM

AMDOBELL


I meant to say before that I am a mite puzzled that you are posting short but beautiful MAYA stories on Fanfiction.net that don't show up here. I do hope you have plans to remedy that, would hate anyone to miss out on the goodness. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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