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BRIGLAD

Big Blue -- Chapter 10
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Allan has a breakdown, River talks with her mother and yet again, someone is stalking the crew. Reviews are shiny


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1750    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Big Blue Chapter 10

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Disclaimer: Joss, Fox, Universal Own em’. (Except for Allan. He's mine) I’m just playing. No money being made.

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This story takes place almost three years after Serenity (BDM) and has the established couples of Simon/Kaylee, Mal/Inara, Zoë/Allan and Jayne/River. Follows immediately after Out to the Blue.

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A/N:

Thanks again Chris for the Beta.

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Big Blue

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Chapter Ten – Schoolboy Heart

Gabriel Tam was, if anything, a practical man. Forced to hide out on the rim world of Deadwood due to he and his wife Reagan's fugitive status. Gabriel made the most of time on his hands.

Living in the guest room of Jayne Cobb's mothers house had been an education for the core bred business man. Actually, he began been enjoying himself. Helping Vera and Mattie Cobb with the farm chores had been a substitute for his weekly trips to the health club. The intense sun had put a darker tone to his skin than a month at a beach.

In the evening he assisted Vera by going over the books of the agricultural co-op she headed. Already, Gabriel had found several tax loopholes and other advantages that had brought the co-op from breaking even to now making a decent profit.

Reagan Tam had seen their exile as a challenge. After having been a socialite for most of her life, It still was a bit of a shock living on the rim. Vera Cobb took her future in-law under her wing. Reagan had dabbled in the kitchen as a hobby but had never done a significant amount of cooking in her life. Always having a household staff to wait on you tended to do that.

Reagan poured herself into her new situation, learning to cook and sew and even knit. Despite their wide gap in education, social status and upbringing. Reagan considered Vera Cobb her best friend.

Reagan and Vera had unofficially adopted the two girls rescued by the crew of Serenity from a local criminal. The two teenagers along with Zoë's sister Alisha had been held as slaves by the evil man. Luckily the two younger girls hadn't been sexually assaulted before the rescue. Alisha hadn't been so lucky.

Madison, being eighteen, had been offered a job working as a secretary/dispatcher for the local sheriff. Jenny, just shy of her eighteenth birthday, helped Vera and Reagan around the small Cobb farmstead. Both girls shared Jayne's old bedroom in the rambling house.

Jayne's Brother Mattie had been smitten with the pretty Madison as soon as he saw her. Now almost three months later, they were officially dating. Jayne's twenty six year old sister Frederica, despite being considered an old maid by rim standards, steadfastly refused to date any of the local men. None were up to her standards.

“Jenny dear,” Vera called, “Can you answer that wave?”

“Sure Vera,” she replied, heading for the cortex terminal in the parlor.

“Cobb residence,” she said, hitting the accept button.

“Hi Jenny,” said the smiling face of River Tam.

“Reagan! Vera! River's on the wave!” the girl called out.

XXXXXXXXXX

“We'll be there in thirty six hours, Mom,” River said to the image of her mother.

“Oh River. It's so good to see you again.”

“Same here Mom,” River replied, “Quite a bit has happened the last few months.”

“I gathered that from the news waves. I take it Allan's plan worked?”

“After a fashion. It was not pretty nor bloodless.”

Reagan looked frightened at the last, “What is wrong with your arm dear?”

“Broke it,” River said simply, “ Healing well, Should have the cast off shortly after we arrive.”

“I'm sure there is a story to go with that, young lady,” Regan replied in her best mothers voice.

“I'll tell you when we get there, Mom... How is daddy adapting to farm life,” River asked with a grin.

“Surprisingly well. He's in the best shape I've seen since we married... And your father hasn't been this frisky in years...”

“Mom!” River cut off, “Didn't need to hear that!”

The two women dissolved into giggles.

XXXXXXXXXX

“Simon,” Kaylee asked her man as they lay in bed.

“Hmmm?” he mumbled half asleep.

“Is Allan okay? Seems... I dunno, moody or somethin.”

Simon's eyes opened, “Noticed that did you?”

“Yeah, he's just not actin like's his'self.”

“I was expecting something like this,” Simon admitted, “Sometimes after someone has an... event like he did where the heart stops. The lack of oxygen to the brain can cause problems afterward.”

“He's brain damaged?” Kaylee asked with alarm.

“No bao-bei, not really,” Simon replied, trying to calm her, “The brain's emotional centers can become... confused. Usually this manifests itself as overreaction to emotional stimuli or depression... or both.”

“Over reactin like at his birthday party... laughin so hard an such at the littlest joke?”

“Exactly,” Simon said

“He's been kinda down the last week or so.”

“I have noticed it myself ai-ren,” Simon admitted, “It will pass in time.”

“Hope's so... Allan deserves it,” Kaylee finished before drifting off to sleep.

XXXXXXXXXX

Allan stood in front of the mirror over the small sink in he and Zoë's bunk. His fingers rubbing the gray hair beginning to show on his temples. Suddenly he felt old. Too old to be the future husband of a young and vigorous woman like Zoë. A tear ran down his cheek.

Allan loved Zoë with all his heart but with that love, he suddenly felt like he was holding her back. Zoë deserved a younger man. A man who would still be around when she was older. One who could give her children and not be mistaken for a grandfather rather than a father. In the back of his mind, something was telling him that he shouldn't be feeling this way but Allan's emotions were overruling his intellect.

Allan didn't hear Zoë climb down the ladder into their bunk. Zoë took in Allan's hunched shoulders and the wet trail on his cheek. Realization dawned in her mind. The warning Simon had given her about Allan's emotional state after his heart attack was rearing it's head.

Taking a deep breath, Zoë stepped to her man's side and placed her arm around his waist.

“You don't deserve me.” Allan said quietly.

“Says who?”

“Me.”

Zoë blinked back a tear of her own. She knew Allan didn't really mean it. He was just going through a bad patch. Zoë knew it might come but hadn't been as prepared as she thought she was.

“That ain't so... This ain't you baby. This is just some messed up feelins.”

“Who says,” Allan said, his voice flat.

“Simon... And Dr. Siegrist.”

“What do they know?” Allan snarled, “I doubt they have any experience with men who are nearly five hundred years old!”

“Mabyhaps,” Zoë said. Not raising her voice, even though she wanted too, “But they's both got experience with fifty three year olds who's done had their hearts stop for near on five minutes.”

“I'm not...”

“Yes you are Allan. Your life got paused fer four hundred years... but that don't mean that you're some antique. You're a good man who's done more in his life than a hundred other men. Not a one of us on this boat would've even been born iffin not for what you did getting the exodus goin. Not for that, the whole gorram human race would've died a long time back.”

“Good or bad, what you did means somethin. I know you're feelin old baby. But that ain't you. I fell in love with a man who's younger than me where it counts,” Zoë said, poking her finger in the center of Allan's chest, “In there, you're younger than all o' us. I seen the look in your eye every time we set down somewhere. You look like a little kid with a new toy.”

“Schoolboy Heart,” Allan said so quietly, Zoë almost missed it.

“lao jia?”

Allan smiled a bit, “No speaky Chinese, remember.”

A smile crawled across Zoë's face, “I said, excuse me.”

Allan began to smile more, even though his eyes were still damp, “Schoolboy Heart... The first song I ever sang to you...”

“I remember,” Zoë replied, “And the second one too.”

“Brown eyed girl.”

“Sing em' again,” Zoë said while reaching for Allan's guitar, “I think it might help.”

Allan kissed Zoë for what seemed ten minutes, when they parted, they both had goofy grins on their faces.

“God, I love you Zoë.”

“I love you too,” Zoë replied, “but sit your pi-gu on that bed and start singin.”

Allan shot Zoë a mock salute, “Yes ma'am,” He finished as he settled with his guitar on his lap.

On the bridge, River just smiled.

“What ya' smilin bout baby girl?” Jayne asked.

“Zoë is healing Allan. He is happy again.”

“Bout time,” the big man rumbled, “Been mopin around fer weeks.”

XXXXXXXXXX

The next morning, after a long talk with Simon about his emotional state and a through checkup, Simon cleared Allan back to flight status.

Zoë sat in the co pilot's chair while Allan took his place in the pilot's chair. Reaching out for a moment to touch one of the dino's on the console, Allan took the yoke in his hands and flipped off the autopilot. The moon of Deadwood filled the window.

Aligning the engine pods for entry, Allan guided Serenity into atmo. A thin smile on his face. This is what I needed, he thought as the vibration began to build, Just what I needed.

XXXXXXXXXX

Serenity gently set down behind the Cobb family barn without so much as a bobble.

“We're down Kaylee,” Allan said into the com.

“We are? Didn't feel a thing. Not like when the Capn's flyin.”

“Hey! I heard that,” Mal said from his post behind Allan.

His reply was a giggle over the com before Kaylee cut the connection.

“Cant get no respect on my own boat,” Mal muttered to no one in particular. His face belied his tone. He was happy to have Allan back behind the controls.

“Here comes the reception committee,” Allan said, pointing to the crowd of people approaching the ship, visible out the window.

“Best be openin up then.”

By the time Mal, Zoë and Allan made their way to the bay, the ramp was down and River was hugging her parents. Simon shook hands with his father and was pulled into a hug from Reagan. Alisha received hugs from Jenny and Madison while Vera pecked a quick kiss on her son Jayne's cheek.

It was near noon, ships time but approaching evening at the Cobb homestead. Mattie, was tending to the coals on the big grille in the backyard. There was a big barbecue planed for the occasion.

Soon, Mattie, Jayne and Allan were tending the steaks sizzling on the grill while nursing beers. Simultaneously, Inara, made the salad while Alisha, Reagan and Vera worked on the rest of the food.

River and Kaylee set up Allan's laptop computer to play music. Jenny and Madison strung several strings of Chinese lanterns around the yard. Mal and Reggie challenged Simon and Gabriel to a game of horseshoes. Oso did his best to keep an eye on everything. Despite the party atmosphere, and among friends, he was still on duty protecting Allan.

“I'm Fred,” said a voice behind the big man.

Turning, Oso saw a very pretty young woman. She was tall, taller than Zoë yet still came up only to the big Polynesians shoulders.

“Uh, hi.”

“I'm Jayne's sister,” She said, holding her hand out.

“Ora Tangaroa,” he said shaking the young woman's hand, “You can call me Oso.”

“Pleased to meet ya' Oso. You new on the crew?”

“Sort of. I'm assigned as Allan's bodyguard.”

“Guess I won't offer you a beer then.”

“Best not,” Oso replied with a chuckle, “The red head playing shoes is my boss.”

“Ahh,” Frederica replied, “Alisha's beau.”

Oso chuckled again, the deep sound made Fred shiver a bit... In a good way.

“They have become quite close since Alisha saved his life.”

“She saved his?”

“No lie.”

“I gotta hear that story.”

XXXXXXXXXX

The meal was a festive occasion. Nothing like good food and family to make an evening complete. It was just what the doctor ordered for Allan. After four beer's, Simon even told him so.

Allan had switched to iced tea earlier and was quite sober. Reggie and Oso alternated being 'on duty' watching over Allan planet side. This night Oso had the duty. Tomorrow, Reggie was on.

The rest of the crew tied one on. Simon was a funny drunk. Reagan and Gabriel only had a few glasses of wine with the meal while Mal and Zoë got sloshed. Everyone else besides River had at least a buzz going.

Simon had removed River's cast that morning while still on the ship. While her arm was weak, it still felt good to be able to move properly again.

River looked to the night sky... Something didn't feel quite right. Soon the laughter from the party drew her back. Allan and Jayne had dug out their guitars and were entertaining the group.

XXXXXXXXXX

Two miles away from the Cobb farm, a small ship landed. Quickly shutting the vessel down. Two figures emerged. Dressed in dark camouflaged combat uniforms, the pair gathered their weapons and began to pick their way through the underbrush in the direction of the farm.

River sat upright from her seat in Jayne's lap.

“Wash ith it, baby girl, Jayne slurred.

“Nothing my Jayne,” River smiled. “Just need to take care of something.”

“K Riv,” Jayne replied dozing off. Most of the crew had gathered around a big bonfire in the back yard.

River felt a presence in her mind. Two presences actually. Even though, the thought patterns she felt were virtually identical.

“The twins,” she muttered.

XXXXXXXXXX

Audrea and Andy Baer were fraternal twins. Not true readers like River, nevertheless they had a psychic link. Highly intelligent, they were recruited for the Academy like River was. Younger than River, they had only been at the Academy a few months before Simon rescued his sister. Still, River recognized their minds as soon as she felt them.

Crawling to the top of the ridge, the twins set up their observation position. Needing no verbal communication between them. They were virtually silent while Audrea set up the spotters scope and Andy assembled his sniper rifle.

“Allan?” River asked the older man.

“What's up kiddo?”

“We have a problem.”

XXXXXXXXXX

Audrea scanned the group gathered around the bonfire through her scope. Using the laser built in, she ascertained that the distance was only three hundred yards. She frowned, both the Primary and secondary targets were nowhere in sight. A sidelong glance from her brother meant that he knew what she was thinking. The pair of teenagers overlooked the one place they should have looked... Serenity.

Oso slipped out of the upper airlock with a grace surprising for a man of his size. Carefully he settled himself on top of the ship, Allan's big .50 caliber sniper rifle in his hands... He was the backup.

Allan slipped through the shadows. Night vision goggles over his eyes. He crept as quietly as he could through the underbrush below the small hill located behind the Cobb farm. Opposite from him, pistol out, River did the same. Using her mind, she had no need for the NVG's.

Allan spotted two forms lying under a bush in the green light of his goggles. Stopping, Allan removed the goggles and gave himself a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the dark. As his vision acclimated, he could see the two figures under the bush again. The sunlight reflected from the oversized asteroid that orbited Deadwood illuminating the ground slightly. Light from nearby Three Hills helped as well. Allan pantomimed putting his fingers in his ears to River, slightly visible about forty yards away on the other side of the snipers. Nodding, River complied.

Allan slowly crept closer, his carbine held at the ready. When he was only about twenty feet away, his foot landed on a twig...

Snap.

The twins turned to Allan, weapons beginning to raise...

Oso, tightened his finger on the trigger of the big rifle...

“Ettu korum nasch mech!”

The twins were unconscious.

Looking up, Allan saw River grinning at him, fingers firmly in her ears, Returning the grin, Allan keyed the comlink in his ear, “All secure Oso, come fetch us.”

“On the way,” Allan heard over the earpiece.

XXXXXXXXXX

The twins were stripped of their clothing and equipment. Dressed in hospital like gowns and secured in the infirmary. Allan did a quick examination and found the suicide capsules located in the back of each of the teens mouths. The girl that had attacked him on Londonium had one as well. Alliance techs had found it just before she had tried to use it. Removing the devices, Allan looked to River.

“You know these two?”

“Yes,” she replied sadly, “Had just been brought to the Academy a few months before Simon got me out.”

“How come we could sneak up on them?”

“They cannot read others, just themselves.”

“Twins?”

“Yes.”

“Son of a bitch,” Allan muttered, “Who the hell is sending them. Blue hands are dead. The rest of the Academy stooges are in jail or dead. Who the hell is pulling these strings.”

“Unknown. But perhaps, they can tell us.”

“Couldn't get anything out of the girl who attacked me,” Allan said quietly.

“That's because I wasn't there to ask her.”

“Can you read them well enough?”

“Once they awake... perhaps.”

“All we got kiddo... All we got.”

TBC

COMMENTS

Wednesday, September 10, 2008 9:58 PM

JANE0904


Some lovely family stuff, then back to the action. And just who is after them still? Good work!


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