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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Kaylee tries to be peacemaker for the crew.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1069 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Title: Black Days: Kaylee
Summary: Kaylee tries to be peacemaker.
Rating: PG for language
Characters: Kaylee, Crew
Pairing: Canon, if any
Spoilers/Timeline: post BDM
Disclaimer: No money is being made from by me and I certainly don’t own Firefly/Serenity.
Author's Note: This fic takes is part of a continuing series. If you’re a little lost see my blog entry here. Many thanks to gilliebeans at LiveJournal for all her help.
Black Days: Simon
Black Days: Zoe
Black Days: Kaylee
Lying on her back, Kaylee gazed up at Serenity's engine. One would think lying as she was on the narrow and confining accessway under the engine room that she would find no comfort but this was the best place to detect if there was anything out of whack with Serenity’s heart. Not only was it the perfect visual angle, but from where she lay, she could feel Serenity breathe. Kaylee turned her head to the side and closed her eyes listening to the steady rhythm and feeling the faint vibrations emanating from the engine.
She hoped to find something, anything that needed to be fixed. But all was as it should be. Nothing to fix. Nothing to take apart and figure out what was wrong. If she didn’t love Serenity as she did, Kaylee might have broken something only to have something to occupy her mind. Feeling a little guilty for wishing ill on her girl, Kaylee scooted out from under the engine. Looking around her work area, her critical gaze took in every tool as wells as every bit of machinery. Nothing was out of place. She'd even cleaned an old oil stain that looked to be older than herself. Sliding back the cover, she peered at her engine from up above wishing she could figure out the ‘verse as well as she could figure out machines.
Finally giving in to the thoughts that she unsuccessfully tried staving off, she sat on the small ledge in the back of the room. Today, thoughts of the Shepherd had been hovering about her mind. She didn’t like thinking about Book and thought it strange that reflecting on Wash didn’t upset her the same way thoughts of a man she’d only known for a short while did.
Every day Kaylee had thoughts of Wash. Couldn’t help missing him, good friend that he was, but thoughts of Wash didn’t rob her of hope. Didn’t make her ponder the ways of the universe. Didn’t scare her. Not like when her mind conjured Shepherd Book and the people of Haven. Even now, she could see so clearly her friends lying dead on the dirt. Closing her eyes, she allowed herself to remember the smells of smoke and death.
Opening her eyes, she was momentarily startled to find herself back in her engine room. The smell still lingered, however. How could they do that? Looks like the Captain, Zoë and the Independents had the Alliance figured right. Kaylee had always thought that the Purplebellies were a nuisance but she hadn't understood why people felt compelled to kill and die to be independent from it. Her mother thought the war was stupid and believed that people killing people for politics was just plain wrong. At the time, Kaylee had agreed with her mother, but now she was beginning to understand the need for fighting.
She would never, ever in her whole life comprehend the reason why those people on Haven had to die like they did. Life had been hard for them, sure, but they were good people just trying to live their lives. The lives that were so heartlessly snatched from them. For what?
“Why’s life have to be so hard, Shepherd?”
“It doesn’t always have to be.”
“Yeah, but Tracey, it was hard for him. Hard for his family. Don’t seem right. Weren’t no good reason he had to die like he did.”
Book sighed, settling down into his chair. “People get lost, Kaylee. They just need to find their way back.”
“Back to what?”
“Back to living life right.”
“I like to think so, but there’s right and wrong in this ‘verse no matter whose word you follow. People should know which is which.”
“My daddy says not much good ever comes from the bible.”
He smiled not taking offense at her words. “People have twisted it but the core value is there. Love, forgiveness, kindness to other people.”
“I ain’t seein’ a lot of kindness, Shepherd.” She looked up at the ceiling trying to gather her thoughts. Even before she knew Tracey as a person and thought he was just a stiff, something about him made her sad. “But, why do bad things happen to people? People who try to live right and proper.”
“That’s a question people have been trying to answer for centuries. I believe one must put faith in something greater than one’s self. That’s why belief is so important.”
“Cap’n fought for something he believed in. Now look at him.”
“He’ll find his way back.” Book smiled to himself in a way that Kaylee felt left out of some private joke. “Worse men have.”
“Just can’t understand why bad things have to happen, you know? Why some people hurt others who don’t mean them any harm. Life is hard enough as it is, why do people have to make it harder?”
“When I find out, I’ll let you know.”
“That why you left the abbey? To find answers?”
“Partly. It’s easy to find peace and solace with people who are of like minds. But I have questions that need answering myself. Questions that can’t be answered in the beautiful confines of the abbey.”
“What kind of questions?”
He hesitated, pulling his bible to his chest. “I’m trying to figure that out, too.”
Guess Shepherd Book would never find answers to whatever questions he had. Simon said that his last words to the Captain had been about belief. Captain followed those words and now here they all were in the black trying to put their lives back together. Trying to make sense of the evil that some find it so easy to inflict on others. Trying to understand how a whole world of people died without anyone noticing.
Kaylee's anger flared as she thought about the government blaming early Independent factions for releasing the Pax. Terrorists, they'd called them. Well, the Alliance managed to drive out any victory, slight as it was, from the Captain and Zoë with their talk of Independent terrorists. Kaylee didn’t know too many Core folks but the ones she did know were smart. She hoped the rest were as smart as Simon and Inara and could recognize the stink of the story as gao pi.
Taking a last look at the engine, Kaylee walked out and headed to the galley. Tonight was her night to cook and, suddenly, she wanted the meal to go right. Ever since the last disastrous dinner, the only conversation around the table was between Inara and her. Not tonight, she vowed to herself.
Kaylee walked up to the bridge and peeked in. The Captain was leaning back in the pilot’s chair staring at the black. It was, in fact, the same thing he had been doing the last time she checked on him as well as the time before that. Sometimes when she found him like that, she would go in and try to cheer him up. He would smile at her but the smile never made it to his eyes. She had seen it before, she reminded herself, a true smile from the Captain she just couldn’t remember the when. Shrugging slightly, she turned away; she wasn’t ready to try her hand at cheering him up.
As she walked back down the hallway, her fingers lightly touched her lights which she hadn’t turned on today. She climbed down into her bunk and turned them chiding herself for feeling the lights were silly. When she stepped back outside her bunk, she looked at her simple string of lights and smiled. Her smile grew wider as she remembered the last time the Captain had laughed, truly laughed. It had been when the sep tank malfunctioned and Simon had been the unlucky recipient of the rain of sewage in the passenger head. Mal had laughed, not as much as Wash or Jayne, but he had a good honest chuckle.
“What’re you grinnin’ at?” Zoë asked as they met at the top of the stairs leading down to the main hold.
“Member when Simon got caked with the sep?” Good times, those were. Wash couldn’t look at Simon with a straight face for a week though he hadn’t said anything mean, not like Jayne who sniffed loudly and made rude remarks whenever he saw Simon. Kaylee had complained to Zoë and the ribbing had stopped. Jayne kept his mouth shut and Wash kept his laughter to himself but sometimes she’d catch the captain smiling to himself remembering.
“Wash couldn’t stop laughing every time he saw him," Zoë said smiling at the memory. "Never thought I’d hear the end of his caca jokes.”
“That did tickle him so. He and Jayne finally found something in common.”
“That was the scariest part! Told them to lay off which they did. At least around me.” She smiled again squeezing Kaylee’s shoulder and turned to walk away. Kaylee hoped she was heading to the bridge to talk to the Captain but Zoë opened the hatch to her bunk.
“Dinner’s in an hour,” Kaylee called out to her.
“I’ll be there,” Zoë said climbing down.
The sound of the hatch closing prompted Kaylee to move on but her step was lighter as she made her way down the stairs to the cargo bay. She was not surprised to find Jayne lifting weights.
“Tonight’s my night for dinner. You’ll be there, right?” She asked walking over to his bench.
“Gotta eat, don’t I?” He sounded grouchy. Of course, of late he was always on the grouchy side. “‘Sides, food’s all I’m gettin’ out of this deal.”
“Any prospects?” A smallish dumbbell lay on the floor caught her eye. She picked it up and started doing curls.
“Mal knows a guy. I’m thinkin’ it’s someone he prefers not to do business with but he thinks we got a shot. Seems the man’s got his hand in all sorts of nefarity.”
“Still, it’s a lead, ain’t it?”
“Will be until Mal screws it up somehow.” Jayne lay back on the bench. Moving the dumbbell to her other hand, she watched him bench press.
“He’s doing everything he can.”
“Maybe he should’ve thought of that before.”
She glared at him and put the dumbbell back on the floor. “I’m sick of that, Jayne. Can’t be blaming the Captain for all our problems.”
“I can’t?” Sitting up, he grabbed a towel and ran it over the back of his neck. “Kaylee, if word gets out that the Sanchez’s and Lin and god knows who else got killed on account of us, we’re finished. Might as well move to the Core.”
“That wouldn’t be so bad,” her mind indulged in a brief fantasy of Core life.
“So says you with your pretty boyfriend. Think he’d stick around if he didn’t have that noose of a sister ‘round his neck? Think just ‘cause the ‘Liance ain’t posting wants for them that they’re in the clear?”
“But it’s good, right? No notices means no feds.”
“Yeah, doc sticks around here cause he’s all free and clear.” He picked up the dumbbell she had discarded and added more weight. “He ain’t stupid. Someone spent a lot of time and money on her brain. Somebody’s lookin’ for her and the doc knows it.” Jayne started his set of curls watching his bicep with each movement. “Ain’t cause you’re good in the sack.”
“Just cause you’re feelin’ mean don’t give you the right to be nasty to me,” she said angry at his words. Jayne wasn’t saying anything that Kaylee hadn’t thought of herself.
“Ain’t bein’ mean, Kaylee. You gotta keep your wits about you with that one. You lose your heart and I guarantee you’ll lose your whole damn head.”
“Well, that’s my problem,” Kaylee said walking toward the common area. “And, at dinner, try to be nice to him.”
“I ain’t paid to be nice to yer boyfriend.” He set down the dumbbell and looked ponderous. “Wait, I ain’t gettin’ paid at all.”
She stopped just before the steps leading down to the common area. “Ain’t his fault, Jayne,” she said softly. “Zoë doesn’t think it’s their fault.”
“She might not blame them but don’t you know she wishes like hell she’d never laid eyes on the pair?”
River's head peeked down from the catwalk above Jayne's workout bench. Jayne shot her a glare but continued with his curls. Not sparing him a look, she jumped down and walked directly to Kaylee. “Do you think the Captain will let me go outside? If I put a spacesuit on?”
“That’s what Simon said,” River said frowning. She looked over at Jayne as if just realizing he was there. “You would, wouldn’t you, Jayne?”
“I wouldn’t even make you wear a suit,” he said starting a new set.
“Cobb’s a salad.”
Jayne rolled his eyes. “Can’t you do something ‘bout her? Trying to concentrate here.”
River looked at him for a moment before turning her eyes to Kaylee. Kaylee looked back at her waiting for River to say something. Instead of talking, River turned and headed toward the side of the hold. She started pulling on the grate that hid one of their many smuggling crannies.
“What are you doing, River?” Kaylee asked.
“Probably saw a pink bunny fly in there,” Jayne said.
“Need to be in here,” River said finally succeeding in pulling off the grate.
“Honey, you wanna come to dinner tonight?” Kaylee asked ignoring Jayne’s disdainful sniff. “It’d be real nice if you were there.”
“I’m going to hide in here.”
“Good plan,” Jayne said. He walked over to the nook as River crawled in. “Here, let me close that up for ya.” He pushed the grate back in place with more force than necessary. He grinned at Kaylee. “Didn’t seal it or nothin’. Genius like her’s bound to figure a way out.”
“It’s okay, Kaylee,” River called from her hiding place. “Thank you, Girl Salad.”
“She talkin’ to me?”
Kaylee favored him with an irritated look. “Just be on time and clean up some. I got somethin’ special planned.” She didn’t wait for his response.
Walking down the steps to the common area, she saw Simon and Inara through the med bay window. Their heads were close together as they leaned over the counter looking at something. Simon was pointing at something on his datapad. She walked around the corner to go inside and see what they were up to but stopped. The Captain was standing outside the other window watching them and looking angry. Well, angrier than usual.
Kaylee smiled before walking up to him. “Gotta need?” She asked innocently.
She smiled again enjoying his discomfort. “Medical problem?”
Inara looked back in their direction giving them an absent smile. Simon, too, looked back but he did a double take at seeing Mal standing next to her. He quickly stepped away from Inara.
Kaylee looked up at the Captain interested in seeing his reaction to Simon's stupidity. Mal glanced down at her seeming to understand her amusement at his expense. He gave her a glare and walked back up the stairs.
“Is he mad?” Simon asked coming up behind her.
“When ain’t he?” Kaylee countered. She gave him a quick kiss. “Next time, sweetie, try not to look so guilty.”
“I wasn’t…” Simon stammered. “We weren’t…”
“Relax, Simon. Cap’n’s just prone to thinkin’ ill of everyone at the moment.”
“Well, I don’t need him thinking any worse of me than he already does.”
“He’s really thinking worse of himself and you’re just an easy target,” Inara said standing in the doorway to the med bay.
Kaylee nodded in agreement and gave him a hug. “Don’t worry, Simon. Things’ll get better. Can’t get any worse can they?”
Simon gave her an incredulous look but said, “No, I guess not.”
“I got high hopes for dinner tonight,” Kaylee said.
Simon looked depressed at the thought of dinner. “Where’s River?”
“She said somethin’ ‘bout going outside.”
Simon’s eyes grew wide as he pushed past her rushing into the cargo bay.
“That was mean,” Inara said watching Simon’s hasty exit.
“Can’t help myself. Easy mark that he is,” Kaylee said grinning. “You two workin’ on ways to help River’s brain?”
“Simon was just explaining to me all the biological reasons meditation will not help River.”
“Oh, no! Doctors rely too much on medicine and forget other things might help. My mama believed in the power of the mind. She said her Aunt Flora once cured herself of eczema by thinkin’ real hard.”
“Well, hopefully, meditation can help River think hard about one thing at a time," Inara said glancing into the cargo bay. "Honestly, I can’t see that it would hurt. Even though River’s brain has been physically tampered with she might learn to have better control of her own mind.”
“That mean you’re staying? We can pick up your stuff and…be like we once were.” Kaylee’s hopeful tone trailed off as she looked down at the floor knowing that nothing would ever be as it once was.
Inara smiled twining a stray tendril behind Kaylee’s ear. “Is it your night for dinner?”
“Yeah, guess what’s on the menu?”
“If that means protein, then the answer’s yes.”
“…So I just conjured that I’d mix a little secret ingredient with the protein.” Kaylee looked around at the table hoping someone, other than Inara, would ask her about the secret ingredient. Everyone, except River, was present but that didn’t mean there would be storytelling and laughing. No, not with this bunch.
Inara, with a conspiratorial nod to Kaylee, said, “I don’t know what your secret ingredient is but this protein is really good. Simon, what do you think the secret ingredient is?”
Simon looked embarrassed to be addressed but, always the gentleman, he offered a lame answer. “Salt?”
“Good guess, but no.” Kaylee beamed, hopeful that this one meal together would not be so painfully uncomfortable. “It’s somethin’ fancier than that. Come on, Simon, with your fine tastes I bet you can sort it out.”
Simon took another bite. “Uh, pepper?” He then gave Kaylee a look that clearly said Please stop.
“Nope, that’s not it neither.” Kaylee turned her smiling face to the other side of the table. “Does anyone else have any notions?”
Silence. Kaylee’s smile faltered as she looked down the table where Mal, Zoë, and Jayne sat. Each kept their attention on their plate not giving the slightest indication that they heard her.
“Tough crowd here, Kaylee," Inara said looking around the table. No one looked up to meet her glance. "It seems everyone is too bei can to compliment you on your tasty meal. If I were you, I would consider letting someone else take over the cooking duties. How about you, Jayne?”
“Jayne’s got a job on this boat,” Mal answered finally meeting her eyes. He made a show of taking a bite of protein and drinking his water. Kaylee's optimism about the meal sank. “While we’re on the subject of jobs what exactly is yours now?”
Inara gazed at the Captain projecting an aura of tranquility. “I suppose my job is to wait until you have enough funds to fuel the ship so I can return to the Training House.”
“You’re getting free passage in our best passenger dorm. And, might I add, eatin’ Kaylee’s ‘tasty’ meals. Don’t exactly welcome freeloaders on this boat.”
“Are you asking me for money, Mal?” Her look was challenging. Kaylee wished she would stop talking. “You would be right to do so since I understand you have no jiāo yì on the horizon.”
Mal set down his chopsticks and stared at her. Kaylee knew he was working on something mean and she also knew he was about to utter a word that he used when his back was against a wall.
“I’m just a little curious about your own monetary situation,” Mal said. “Jayne, how much money does a whore make standing on her feet with her clothes on?”
“Don’t draw me into this,” Jayne warned.
“What Jayne means is a whore who ain’t on her back is one destitute prostitute.”
“Mal...” “Cap’n!” Jayne and Kaylee both spoke up only to be interrupted by Mal’s slamming his hand hard on the table. Everyone but Zoë jumped a little at the harsh sound.
“Zhù zuǐ!” Mal glared at Inara. “Don’t you sit there and criticize me, Inara.”
“I’m not criticizing you, Mal! It’s just…Everyone is so adrift… I just want to help.”
“Help? Are you offering the whorin’ kind of help? I must admit that a little jiāo gòu don’t sound too bad, does it, Jayne? Tell you what, we can work up an exchange for your room and board. In fact, we’ll post a notice announcing that you have finally deigned to service the crew. In our best interests, of course. How do we decide who goes first? I got an idea, we can ---”
“Enough!” Zoë fixed a defiant look at Mal.
“Zoë…” Mal began.
Zoë stood and gazed into Mal’s eyes. When she finally spoke, her words were soft but deadly. “Don’t you be causin’ us to lose someone else.”
Mal reacted as if he’d been gut punched but he didn’t look away. Zoë held his gaze for a few seconds then turned and left. The sound of her bunk door closing echoed through the mess.
Mal slowly rose from the table. All the fight was out of him. He looked to Inara and murmured “I’m sorry” then turned and walked out.
Inara was thoroughly shaken. “Kaylee, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean…” With an apologetic shake of her head, she, too, turned and hurriedly left.
“Yep. Dinner conversin’ is real fun. Ain’t you through bein’ stupid about this?” Jayne snarled. He stormed off to his bunk leaving Kaylee and Simon alone.
“Simon…” Kaylee placed her hand on his. He met her gaze. She could see the guilt plain as day. “Simon, you did the right thing. We all did the right thing. Wash chose to do the right thing.”
“Shepherd Book and all those people at Haven?”
Simon pulled his hand away. Giving Kaylee a helpless look, he walked out leaving her alone.
Tears streaming down her face, Kaylee said to the empty room; “It was soy sauce.”
Black Days: Mal
Monday, August 25, 2008 9:35 AM
Monday, August 25, 2008 11:32 AM
Monday, August 25, 2008 2:48 PM
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