BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Games - Part V
Sunday, August 17, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. The rain begins, and while some folks have fun, Kaylee tells her mother the truth. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1715    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

The cloud had gathered quickly, obscuring the sun and darkening the day. The first spots of rain began soon after.

“Well, looks like you were right, Ellie,” Mal said, looking out of the open back door at the drops kicking dust.

Mrs Frye stood next to him, her face untroubled. “You need to learn to trust, Mal.” She smiled. “It’ll get bad, but you’ll be surprised at the speed it clears, considering there ain't gonna be any wind with it.”

“None?”

“Barely a breeze.” She held out a hand, letting it get damp. “Feel.”

Mal did the same. “Warm,” he commented, rubbing the rain between his fingertips. “Somehow I figured … Got warm rain sometimes on Shadow, but mostly it chilled things.”

“This will clean, but not cool.” She wiped her hands together.

“So how long? And consider I’m asking this in your professional capacity.”

She laughed, sounding exactly like her daughter. “I’m not a witch, Captain. But I’d say a fair few hours. Probably be around midnight ‘fore it goes.”

“Any suggestions what we do until then? I mean, apart from eat, which some members of my crew would do until the proverbial cows were heading over the horizon.”

“Well, I’m sure Eddie wouldn’t mind a hand or two of Tall Card.”

“Uh, no. No gambling.”

Ellie blushed. “Sorry. I’d forgotten about Hank.”

Mal put his arm around her and squeezed briefly. “It’s okay. I try and forget about Hank as much as possible too.”

She pushed him away good naturedly. “Well, we could always just have a party. The food’s ready, and the piano’s pretty much in key.”

“Piano?”

“Nothing the Fryes like so much as a good old fashioned singsong.”

He looked dubious. “Ellie, I ain’t sure that’s such a good idea …”

“I’m sure you can sing.” She twinkled at him. “Good looking man like you, I don’t doubt you’ve got the voice to go with it.”

“In the shower. Or to my kids, maybe. When they were small. Lullabies and the like. But that’s about it,” he insisted. “I don’t sing in public.”

“Not even when you’re drunk?”

“That’s … a vicious rumour put about by pilots who have more time on their hands than they know what to do with.”

Ellie chuckled again. “Well, there’s some of Eddie’s good home brew to go around, so maybe we’ll see.”

“Nope. Definitely not.” Mal shook his head.

“We’ll see,” Ellie repeated. She moved aside to make room for Hank, who had run from the Firefly with Ben on his hip, trying to dodge the raindrops. “Get inside,” she said.

Hank grinned. “Thanks.” Settling Ben onto the floor, he ran his hands through his untidy brown hair, causing droplets of water to scatter.

“Hey,” Mal complained, stepping back and rubbing at damp spots on his shirt.

“Sorry.”

“My ship locked up all tight?”

Hank looked down at his son. “Well, Ben? What do you think?”

The little boy grinned. “All tight,” he agreed.

Mal crossed his arms. “You getting the kid to do your work now?”

“Of course.” Hank picked his boy back up. “That’s why we have children, so we can sit back and they can bring home the bacon.”

“Going to be a pilot,” Ben said softly, his coffee coloured skin glowing in the low light. “Like Daddy.”

Hank visibly preened.

“Hmmn.” Mal gazed stoically at them both. “Can’t be much worse.” Although in his heart of hearts he was glad the boy wanted to follow his father rather than take up the gun like his mother.

“Where’s the missus?” Hank asked, ignoring the insult and not knowing the underlying thought.

“In the parlour with Eddie and Jayne,” Ellie said. “Most other folks’re trying to put the children down in our bed, but I don’t think it’s working.”

“That I can imagine.” Hank looked into his son’s grey eyes. “Do you want a nap, Ben?”

The little boy shook his head. “Not tired.”

“See?” Ellie grinned. “I think we’re gonna have to have that party after all.”

---

Simon looked out at the rain, coming down much harder now, straight out of the leaden sky like stair rods. “Your mother was right.”

Kaylee gave up trying to make Hope lie down, and joined her husband at the window. “She usually is.” She shuddered.

“Honey? Are you okay?” Simon put his arm around her.

“Shiny.”

“Only I think you’re not telling the entire truth.” He pulled her into him. “I remember you telling me once about the storms here. When we were on Lazarus, remember? About how you lost some family in one?”

“That was bad.”

“It was. But you survived. And you survived Niska, too.”

“I don’t know,” she admitted quietly. “Sometimes I wonder.”

“Of course you did,” Freya said from the bed, tickling her son so he laughed. “We all did.”

“I don’t know.” Kaylee turned away from the rain, and gazed into the warm room. “Sometimes I feel like I left part of me there, and I ain’t never gonna find it again.”

River looked up from the chair where she was nursing Caleb. “You’re not broken. Just … dented.”

Kaylee had to laugh. “Yeah. That’s how I feel. Like that blade I had to replace in the turbo in the air scrubber last week. It was still working, but it was bent a little, and making a racket.” She dropped her head to stare at her hands. “That’s me. All bent up.”

“It just takes a little time, bao bei,” Simon said, putting his arm around her shoulders.

“I know,” she admitted. “I just …” She stopped. “Where’s Bethie?”

Freya nodded towards the door. “She and Fiddler sneaked out a minute or two ago.”

“Where did she go?”

“I think she wanted to see the rain close up.” At her friend‘s horrified face, Freya went on, “It‘s okay, she can’t get lost. Not here. And there’s people enough to look after -”

Kaylee ignored her, running from the room and down the stairs. “Bethie!” she shouted.

Eddie came out of the parlour. “What is it?”

“Bethie’s gone,” his daughter panted, her face red, tears threatening, hearing Simon following her.

“No, she ain’t,” Mal said from entrance to the kitchen. “She’s just outside.”

“Outside?” Kaylee squeaked, pushing past him to the back door. “You let her go … Bethie!”

“Momma!” Bethie was indeed outside, dancing in the warm rain, her little dress soaked through as she twisted and twirled. She could barely breathe for the laughter bubbling over.

“Bethie! Come inside!”

“It’s fun!” She jumped into a puddle, muddy water splashing around her ankles and up her calves, Fiddler bouncing around and barking in his excitement.

“It’s not safe!” Kaylee hugged the doorframe, as if afraid she was going to be drawn out and pummelled into the ground.

“It’s okay, Winnie,” Eddie said quietly. “No harm’s gonna come to her.”

“Bethie!”

Simon moved forward, stepping out into the rain himself. “It’s just water, Kaylee. It won’t hurt anyone.” He walked towards his daughter, his clothes instantly waterlogged, his hair plastered to his head.

“Daddy!” she shrieked delightedly. “Puddles!”

“So I can see.” He grinned, then did something so unSimon-like that everyone watching thought they were seeing things. He jumped, straight into the middle of the water.

Back when he’d first met Freya, Simon had admitted to her that he hated getting rained on. He loathed the feeling of wetness making its inexorable way through his clothes to his body, of icy drops down his neck and around his waist. When he was a boy he’d watched the occasional storms cross Osiris, knowing that they were necessary to keep his planet green and fertile, but he didn’t ever see the necessity of actually being out in it. Until now.

“Simon!” Kaylee shouted, watching him kick the puddle, mud sticking to bottom of his pants.

“Join us,” he called, holding out her hand. “It’s warm.”

“I … I …”

Behind her, close enough that she could feel his body heat, Mal spoke. “It’s only water, Kaylee,” he said softly. “Ain’t gonna hurt nobody. It’s just rain.”

“I know, but …”

“They’re having fun. Don’t you wanna go and join in?”

She watched her husband and her daughter jumping up and down, and her heart melted, the tight band that had been around it since being taken by Niska loosening a little, and she moved slowly outside. Her hair immediately ran with drops into her eyes, and she had to blink hard to clear them, not sure whether it was rain or tears. She took a step, then another, until she was running to her family, to be caught up in Simon’s arms, Fiddler barking at their feet.

---

Simon was sitting in front of the big fire Eddie had made in the kitchen, wrapped in blankets, Bethie similarly attired on his lap. She was dozing, a strand of her honey-coloured hair in the corner of her mouth, despite the sound of the rain drumming a tattoo on the roof.

River came quietly down the stairs, but for once her brother heard her.

“Ssh,” he whispered. “She’s asleep.”

“She had a busy day,” River said softly, crossing the room and sitting by his bare feet, giving Fiddler an idle stroke where he lay in the warmth. He twitched. “And I’m so proud of you.”

Simon was surprised. “Of me? Why?”

“For showing Kaylee there was nothing to fear. For going out to Bethie. For not being ashamed of having fun.” She leaned her head back on his knee.

“It’s this crew,” he admitted, his tone almost that of wonderment. “I’d never have done that before I … before we came on board. They might not have gone to the best schools on Osiris, or made embarrassingly large amounts of money, but they know more than I ever will about life, and I’ve been privileged to learn some of it from them.”

“Proud,” River repeated, staring into the flames.

“Where’re the others?” Simon asked, wanting to get away from any other uncomfortable comments.

“Most of them are upstairs, keeping out of the way for a while. I think the party‘s been put on hold for the time being.”

“Jayne with them?”

“He’s in Kaylee’s old bedroom with Caleb and Hope. She’s trying to plait his hair so it goes curly like hers, but it’s not long enough.” She laughed lightly, a bright and above all normal sound he would never have heard from her lips before she hooked up with Jayne. “She keeps pulling it, trying to make it grow.”

He stirred a little. “Then maybe I should -”

She put her hand on his knee, patting it gently. “No. They’re quite happy.”

“What about Kaylee?” he asked after a moment. “Is she still up there too?”

“No. She’s with her mother in the parlour. I think they’re going to talk.”

Simon looked towards the door. “Ah.”

“Don’t feel like going and interfering?” River asked mischievously.

“You know, I don’t think I do.” Simon sat back. “I think this is between mother and daughter.”

River smiled. “I think I may have to rethink my opinion of you as a boob.”

“I wouldn’t, if I were you,” the young man said, making sure Bethie was secure before closing his eyes. “I’m bound to put my foot in it again very soon.”

She looked into his calm face, noting the hair that was probably just a little too long, and sighed happily. “Proud,” she breathed, then settled back against his leg, staring into the flames.

---

As River had said, Kaylee was sitting with her mother in the big parlour of the Frye house. Well, Ellie Frye was sitting – Kaylee was pacing.

“I'm not sure that’s good for the baby,” Ellie said gently. “Getting all wound up.”

Kaylee glared, about to say something, then seemed to deflate. “Sorry, Momma.” She let herself drop into one of the other armchairs, running her fingers through her still damp hair. “It’s just …”

“I know, sweetheart.” She studied her daughter for a moment, then said, “Why don’t you tell me all about it?”

“About what?”

“What happened. When you were kidnapped.” She swallowed at the thought, but made her face stay composed.

“Nothing to tell.”

“Oh, I’m sure there is. Your Pa spoke to Mal about it, but I thought I’d be better off asking you instead,” Ellie leaned forward. “Tell me.”

Kaylee shrugged. “I got took, along with Frey, and the Cap came to barter us out, only Niska wouldn’t, so the others had to come rescue us. That’s it.”

Ellie nodded slowly. “That’s it. So they served you tea and crumpets while they had you?”

“No, of course not!”

“Then that’s not all.”

Kaylee took a deep breath. “It just … happened. No-one’s fault.”

“Except you don’t think that.”

“I don’t know what you mean, Momma.”

“Sure you do. Somehow, you think it’s your fault.”

“I should’n’a …” Her lips slammed shut.

“What? What shouldn’t you have done, Kaylee?”

The young woman looked down at her hands, clasped tightly in her lap. “Shouldn’t’ve gone outside,” she whispered.

“Oh?”

Her mother’s encouraging tone, warm, understanding, was enough. “I saw Jayne out there, lying in the dirt, and I didn’t think. All I wanted to do was to get him inside, to make sure they hadn’t hurt him, and I … I …” She looked up. “It was my fault. Mine that me and Frey got took. My fault the Cap had to come in after us. That he got hurt like he did. My fault, Momma.”

Ellie couldn’t take the despair in her voice. “Come here.”

“What?”

“Come here.” She spread her arms wide.

In a moment, Kaylee was in her lap, being comforted like she wasn’t a grown woman, but a little girl, the Winnie who dreamed of fixing the ‘verse. “Oh, Momma …”

“Now, you stop this. I seem to recall you telling me of times other folks on that crew have taken the blame onto themselves, quite wrongly. And I won’t be having you do the same.”

“But I -”

“You were worried about your friend. That’s how we brought you up, to care about others, to want to do your best for ‘em.” She stroked her daughter’s hair. “Maybe we did it too well.”

“No, Momma!”

“You didn’t do it deliberate, did you?”

“Of course not!”

“Then it ain’t your fault. Kaylee, if’n your captain knew you were taking on so, trying to blame yourself, what do you think he’d say?”

She sniffed hard. “He’d prob’ly threaten to put me in the hold for a month until I came to my senses.”

“Well, I’m not sure I’d approve of that, but … it comes down to the same thing. Not your fault.”

“But he got hurt. What Niska did to him, what he was gonna do …” She swallowed hard, but couldn’t move the lump in her throat.

“Did they hurt you?” Ellie asked, almost afraid of the answer.

“No. But I figure it was only ‘cause the others came and got us. I … there was one of them who …” She stopped.

“It’s okay. You don’t have to say.”

“But I couldn’t’ve stopped him anyway,” Kaylee admitted. “I could hear screaming, but it wasn’t until after that I realised. When I was in that room, all on my own, I couldn’t do a thing, not even understand it was the Captain screaming because Niska was torturing him.” Tears began to run down her cheeks. “I couldn’t do a gorram thing!”

“You were drugged, honey. And Simon said you saved them. That you activated that beacon you made.”

“Oh, that wasn’t me. That was Wash.” As soon as she said it, she wished she hadn’t. “I mean, I know it can’t have been, ‘cause he’s dead and I ain’t, so I must’ve been hallucinating like Simon says, ‘cause you don’t just get dead people talking to you, not even when you’re thinking you’re gonna die any time and there’s no-one gonna save you and they’re gonna -” She stopped, her breath loud in her throat.

“Why?”

“Well, like I said, you don’t hear dead folks, so -”

“No, I mean, why not?” Ellie smiled. “Kaylee, your great aunt Kaywhinnet, the one you’re named after, she could talk to the departed. Used to hold little séances in her parlour, so folks could talk to their loved ones after they’d passed on. And it wasn’t no scam, or con, nothing like that. She never took money from ‘em, in fact thought it was an insult if they offered. It was just something she could do, so she did it.”

“You mean she was a Reader?” Kaylee asked, astonished.

“No. Not like River, or Bethie even. Just gifted. Like all the women in my family. Like you.” She sat back, gazing at her only daughter. “Did it sound like him?”

“It surely did. And I kinda got the impression of one of his shirts, even though I never saw anything.” Kaylee shook her head. “But Simon said -”

“Does Simon know everything?”

“Well …”

“What does your Captain think?”

Kaylee bit her lip. “Well, truth is, he ain’t exactly said I was crazy. In fact, if anything, he …” She stopped, realising Mal had been much more accepting of her assertions than she‘d at first thought. “Huh.”

“I think it was your friend. I don’t believe death is the end of everything, you know that. And I know full well there are others on that ship of yours feel the same way.”

“I s’pose you mean Frey. And River.”

“And Jayne. And that captain of yours, too. I’ve seen the cross he wears.”

“Oh, that’s because Frey bought it for him.”

“And he wouldn’t wear it if he didn’t have some faith left.” She held her only daughter closer. “Not even for his wife.”

“But Simon -”

“That young husband of yours is learning, Kaylee, but you have to make allowances for him. Being from the Core, they don’t believe much. ‘Sides, he’s a doctor, a medical man, and they don’t believe anything they can’t see with their own eyes.” She stroked her daughter’s hair. “So what did Wash say to you?”

“He kept me going. Stopped me falling asleep. Kept me company.”

“Watched over you.”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“That’s what they do. I don’t know if they’re angels, or what, but that’s what folks who love us do, even when they’ve died.”

Kaylee thought of the painting River had done while she was pregnant, of the entire crew including Wash and Book, just the impression of wings behind them … “Maybe.”

“Do you want it to have been him?”

“Oh, Momma, more’n you know.”

“Why?”

“Because he was my friend. And I don’t want him to just be … gone.”

Ellie lifted her daughter’s chin so she could look into her eyes. “He was there, Kaylee. Protecting you as best he could. And he’ll be there again, if you need him.”

“I was so scared, Momma,” she admitted in a tiny voice. “I thought I was gonna die, that there’d be no-one could come and save us, that the Cap and Frey were gonna …” She shook her head, trying to dislodge the images she had found herself dreaming about, of blood and bone and -

“No,” Ellie said firmly, tightening her grip. “You don’t think about that. It didn’t happen. Your family saved you, because you were able to tell ‘em where you were. You did good, little Kaylee. And I am so gorram proud of you.”

Kaylee’s eyes widened. Her mother never swore. “Momma …”

“And I don’t want you to let that monster win, ‘cause no matter he’s dead, he will if you let him change you, if you don’t stay the same, sunny girl I brought into this world.”

“Oh, Momma …” Kaylee couldn’t help it. She buried her face in her mother’s shoulder, crying out all the anguish and fears she’d held inside.

“That’s my girl,” Ellie said, stroking her hair. “That’s my good girl.”

to be concluded

COMMENTS

Sunday, August 17, 2008 6:41 AM

KATESFRIEND


This was a very special story, Jane, and one of your best. I loved the insight into Kaylee's disposition and how she needed to let go of the fear unless she wanted it to control her forever. Love conquers all, as long as you have faith in the power of love over darkness.

Simon was wonderful in this. This was a great way to let his character's love and hard earned wisdom come through. Everybody needs an Ellie Frye to come home to.

Sunday, August 17, 2008 11:31 AM

AMDOBELL


I absolutely adore Kaylee's moma, she is the most wise lady in the 'verse and so loving, kind and knowing. The last part where Ellie is talking to Kaylee and reasoning it all out had me in tears. Terrific stuff as always and I also loved the conversation between Mal and Ellie, and Simon letting himself go by stepping out into the rain to jump and dance in puddles with his daughter. He has come such a long way and like River I am proud of him. Proud of you too for making me feel warm and happy inside. *Xie xie ni*, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, August 17, 2008 11:42 AM

NCBROWNCOAT


Can't say it any better than Katesfriend. Jane, you are an awesome writer and it was one of your best.

Sunday, August 17, 2008 12:59 PM

SLUMMING


My hat is off to you, Jane. That was beautifully done. One of the most poignant chapters I've ever read of yours!

Sunday, August 17, 2008 4:40 PM

ANGELLEMARCS


I want to say this right now... You are an outstanding writer. This chapter is one of the bestt I have ever read and I loved the conversation between Ellie and Kaylee. It was touching and wonderfully mothering.


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