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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
"Paul and Natalie finally decide it is time to leave but the Captain isn't happy with their destination. With Regan unwilling to have anything to do with her husband, Gabriel goes into voluntary exile while Malcolm Reynolds considers facing up to the ghosts of his past."
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1112 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL
PAIRING: Zoe/Wash. Kaylee/Simon. Mal/Inara.
STATUS: Sequel to "FAMILY".
ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where.
WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at Fireflyfans.net
SUMMARY: "Paul and Natalie finally decide it is time to
leave but the Captain isn't happy with their destination. With
Regan unwilling to have anything to do with her husband,
Gabriel goes into voluntary exile while Malcolm Reynolds
considers facing up to the ghosts of his past."
The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly'
are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
No infringement of copyright is intended.
Written by Alison M. DOBELL
* * * * *
Malcolm Reynolds could not keep the uncertainty from creeping into his voice. "You sure this is where you wanna be dropped off?"
Her smile was a knowing one. Natalie nodded. "*Qu, fang xin*, Cap'n. We can look after ourselves."
Truth be told the Captain wouldn't be happy planet-bound his ownself no matter what lump of mud or rock formed terra firma beneath his feet but it wasn't his decision. Natalie and Paul had finally decided now was the time to part company and when it came it was a mite harder for Serenitys' crew to say goodbye than they expected. Somehow they had gotten used to the pair and Natalie's oddities faded into insignificance next to River. They were just folk and for a time they had been family. The thought of leaving them behind on this poor excuse for a world brought to mind the Captain's own little ignored-but-won't-go-away dilemna. His gift or somesuch from Cyan. Wasn't sure it wasn't meant to up and bite him in the *pigu* even with her being in her grave.
"Not a gift, Cap'n."
He stared at her. Was she in his gorram head?
"It's a legacy."
Not wanting to go down that road he frowned as if that would put the girl off from her prying. When that didn't work he tried deflection. "You still here?"
"Not what you think."
The Captain lost all pretence at not knowing what she was referring to. "*Ni zhide shi shenme*? Speak plain now."
"She wanted to put somethin' right. Her way of sayin' sorry."
Mal didn't say anything, his head a graveyard of painful memories. The smoke and the ash fair choking him. Concerned that Natalie had upset him, Paul spoke up. His voice a quiet soothing timber with just the right amount of respect. Not gushing and false, not faint and begrudged, but firm and sincere.
"I want to thank you for lettin' us stay on Serenity, Cap'n. We appreciate it."
The Captain nodded, not quite able to shake off his plummeting mood as they shook hands. Hated the way the gesture had a kind of finality to it. "*Bu xie*. Just take care, *dong ma*? An' if a sour faced *pofu* called Patience offers you a job walk the other way an' check your pockets."
Paul smiled. "They're already empty, Cap'n."
He feigned mock surprise. "*Shenme*? My crew not plied you with food an' drink enough to last into old age?"
"The food is more than generous," said Natalie "*Xie xie* for everythin'."
"Shouldn't I be sayin' that to you?"
Paul walked off down the ramp, Natalie following then pausing halfway down to look back over her shoulder at Serenity's Captain. They had already said their goodbyes to the rest of the crew, tears and hugs from Kaylee and River, promises to keep in touch from Inara, good wishes and advice from the rest. "Don't forget, Cap'n. Take a good look before you reject your legacy."
He just stared at her and watched as she stepped off the ramp to join Paul, their hands reaching out for each other as natural as could be. All of a sudden they looked too young to Mal. Lambs off to the rutting slaughter. Too inexperienced for what would face them on Whitefall. The Captain watched until they were out of sight, not quite believing they would really go. Half expecting them to run back laughing at the joke played at his expense but they didn't. Lost in his thoughts he didn't hear River come up beside him until she spoke.
He didn't need to ask what she was talking about. The notion still turning over and over every which way in his mind since Badger had handed him the gorram papers. "You been peekin' again, little one?"
River shook her head. "Didn't need to." When he turned to look at her in disbelief she gifted him with a huge smile. "I eavesdropped."
River laughed at his surprise then tugged on his arm, when he leant down to see what she wanted she dropped a kiss on his cheek, sobering momentarily as she studied his face. Cocking her head, watching him recover his equilibrium. "She loved you. For reasons too complicated to say. Her way of trying to make amends. At least look at the gift."
He didn't say how much it hurt to even think about Shadow. That Cyan could ask this of him seemed too much and yet River said it was a gift?
A tiny hand touched his shoulder bringing his eyes back to hers. "You don't have to go alone."
Then River was gone. Funny how she could be all quiet-like when it suited her but clatter about his boat like a herd of cattle joining a stampede the rest of the time. Just like her to be contrary. Inara found him there half an hour later, a curious look on her face. She glanced down the ramp, the bay doors open to the dust and desolation of one of her least favourite worlds.
"Mal, *shenme shi*?"
"Huh?" He blinked. "*Yiwusuoyou*."
"Wash can't take off with the ramp down."
"Was just thinkin' is all."
Her smile was sweet, her arm sliding deliciously through his. Natural as could be. "And you can't think inside the ship?"
It was on the tip of his tongue to say he was inside his boat but it seemed nit picking and he wasn't up to the humour of it right now. No. She was right. Best close up and let Wash take them into the Black. The whole 'verse was a mite simpler there. Slapping his palm on the big red button he watched the ramp rise and the bay doors closed, happy when the door sealed with a hiss. Turning he managed a small smile for Inara and grabbed the com. "Wash? Take us out of the world!"
The sunlight glinted off the spyglass but didn't distort the view, even in the heat haze.
"You see what I see?"
The tall thin man with the sour expression and rag tag clothes nodded. His eyes squinted as he sat atop his roan, the sniper rifle giving him a clear view.
Patience lowered her hand held telescope, pushing it closed so the six inch long instrument fitted neatly into her saddlebag. "Know who they are?"
Red Eye shook his head. His dark suntanned skin crinkled where he was weather beaten from too many summers working under the hot sun rather than the shade. His cheeks were drawn adding to the lean aspect of his frame. "No, ma'am. Ain't ever seen hide nor hair of 'em on Whitefall before."
She nodded, her wide brim hat shading her from the worst of the sun's heat. "That's what I thought."
Beside her, Tom Bell turned his head and spat out a plug of tobacco. "What ya wanna do, Patience?"
"Watch 'em for now. They came off Reynolds' ship an' there has to be a reason." She tilted her head a little and looked at the angle of the sun.
"You think Reynolds is settin' you up?"
It was on the tip of her tongue to say no, it wasn't his style, but she always erred on the side of caution which was why she owned most of this moon and rarely paid the full price of anything. Ground was littered with folks who took exception to that until there weren't any left to stand up to her. Still. Being Mayor was a perk she could use right about now without maybe tipping her hand. With a nod she eased her horse off the rise and her men followed, Red Eye keeping a lookout just in case.
He should have listened to his friend but Gabriel Tam had never been one for following other people's advice. Regan refused to see him, to even acknowledge his existence. The rebuff while expected hurt more than he could put into words. The brothers invited him in but he declined, his manners reappearing as reality sank in. No. She didn't want him here and the least he could do was not make this more difficile for her. Gabriel asked them to thank Father Ramos for all they had done and were continuing to do for his wife then left before any awkward questions could be posed.
Alone and inwardly desolate, Gabriel forced himself to straighten his posture and put on the appearance of a confident man. Only when he was long out of sight and faced with the prospect of what to do next, where to go, how to finance his continued survival without the woman whose loyalty and love made him the man he was, did his steps falter. Pausing in the street he allowed his shoulders to hunch and felt every one of his years weighing down on him like a physical burden. The voice would have made him jump had he been in the frame of mind to evince alarm.
The purplebelly was eying him critically. "Who are you and what are you doing here?"
Gabriel stared at him. What did it look like he was doing? He was walking, bothering nobody. It was on the tip of his tongue to give an ascerbic reply when some suvival instinct held his tongue. For all he knew, he and Regan were still wanted. Fugitives like their children. He needed to be more careful.
"*Duibuqi* officer. " As Gabriel raised his head he realised he was at the dock. A medley of ships sat at their berths with people coming and going while a larger more settled population seemed to have set up temporary shops and camp opposite. He blinked, not realising his feet had brought him here. The desire to flee was strong but he had no money.
"You didn't answer my question."
Gabriel reacted to the hardening in the man's tone and straightened up. "My name is Andrew Murtoch, a carpenter from Harlech province on Boros. Unfortunately I do not have my ID with me officer and will have to contact my brother who will no doubt have to catch a ship to meet me and bring it with him."
The officer obviously didn't like what he was hearing yet fell short of calling Gabriel a liar, at least to his face. "Your full name and date of birth."
Resisting the urge to sigh, Gabriel reeled off the fake details and dutifully added more as required. It was an alias he had not used in many years and he hoped it was still buried in the system. The officer entered the details on a hand held screen then turned it to face Gabriel. "Thumb print."
Pressing his right thumb onto the screen, the device scanned it. The machine beeped and the officer stared at it for a moment or two then gave his best approximation at a smile. To Gabriel's mind it looked more like the man had a bad case of wind. "Sorry to have delayed you Mr Murtoch but we can't be too careful. Just remember not to board any transport until your brother arrives with your identification."
Gabriel Tam nodded, stunned that it had worked. It was only after the soldier had moved away that something struck him so forcibly that he felt weak. The bogus alias had been set up years ago but to his knowledge it had never been updated to include fingerprint or retinal scans. Not wanting to press his luck by hanging around, Gabriel mingled with the crowds and forced his heart back into a healthy rythym. He had to get out of here but not from the dock. No. He needed to find another way off planet then would come the matter of choosing a new world, somewhere far enough away to start again. A self imposed exile until such time as Regan forgave him or he could come to forgive himself. Either way, once he left he would not be coming back.
The job for Badger had gone smooth. A simple pick up and delivery. The little king pin had even paid the agreed price without a quibble which made the Captain a mite jittery on the inside. Once he, Zoe and Jayne left with the coin he felt his heart lift a mite. They could get the ship fueled, restock on their depleted supplies and maybehaps indulge in a little down time. Jayne had obviously been thinking along the same lines, his sour face breaking into a smile as lurid images of what he wanted to do with his cut played on the inside of his eyelids.
"How long we stoppin', Mal? August Moon got some pretty lively brothels an' I ain't had me some trim in months."
The Captain closed his eyes and tried to wipe Jayne's words and the images they conjured out of his gorram mind. When he opened them again there was a smirk on Zoe's face which didn't quite vanish when he glared at her. "What you do with your share is your business, Jayne. Don't be needin' to know the details, *dong ma*?"
"Yeah, well I do. Don't wanna be in the middle of somethin' tasty only to have to haul ass back to Serenity."
Mal rubbed two fingers above the bridge of his nose as if to stop a headache forming. "24 hours Jayne, that enough to ease that itch?"
Grinning, the big man whooped and lengthened his stride to get back to the ship as soon as possible. Zoe frowned. "Jayne, you're goin' the wrong way."
"Nah, gotta get cleaned up first."
They watched him speed up leaving them staring after him. Zoe paused and the Captain stopped at her quizzical look. "Jayne's gettin' cleaned up?"
Mal broke into a grin. "Means he's gonna change his shirt for one with no blood on it."
His first mate laughed and relaxed, the two of them resuming their pace. As the ship came into view Zoe cut him a sidelong glance. "You think any more about Cyan's gift?"
"*Qu*. Can't say the notion gets better the more I do."
Zoe's voice dropped, quieter and more tentative as if she were picking her words with care. "Don't take this the wrong way, Mal, but could be you need to do this."
"*Shenme*? You hit your head an' forget all about the war, Zoe?"
Her lips tightened. "No, sir. Just thinkin' as terrible as it was you need to put this behind you."
"This is Shadow, Zoe."
She nodded. "*Wo zhidao* an' maybe seein' it again will put a few ghosts to rest."
The Captain found it hard to speak, the words all tangled up into a knot in his throat. It was either very dusty or he had grit in his eye. Zoe looked away to one side while he wiped his face, the unwelcome subject driven from their minds as Kaylee came running down the ramp with a big smile across her face. "We got paid, *dui*?"
"That we did little Kaylee." The Captain held up a hand to stop her rattling off everything she wanted to buy for Serenity. "Ain't enough to get done all we need so that list you been makin' in your head?" She nodded. "Make it shorter, just what we need."
"Aw but Cap'n..."
They were walking up the ramp now, Wash greeting his wife with a kiss. At the top of the ramp the Shepherd watched their progress. The Captain couldn't see River or Simon but was sure the pair knew they were back. He turned to look down at Kaylee as she threaded her arm through his, her best puppy dog look on her face. "It is what it is, *mei mei*. Ain't got enough spare coin for more than essentials, *dong ma*? Next job we get, we get another part an' so on. Have to have enough for fuel an' food an' somesuch."
Her face fell momentarily then Kaylee brightened and dazzled him with a megawatt smile. "*Dang ran*, Cap'n. Just a couple of parts she can't wait on."
"How much coin we talkin' about?"
The conversation faded as the ramp closed behind them. Up on the catwalk Inara, Simon and River watched their return. Simon excused himself and went down the metal stairs to greet Kaylee. River leaned on the railing, not looking at Inara as she spoke. "You have to convince him to go."
"It's Mal's decision, River."
"*Wo zhidao*. Not as bad as he thinks."
"River, the Alliance destroyed his home world. Shadow was reduced to ashes, *dong ma*?"
"On Earth-that-was there were forests and several times a year they would become so dry and the sun so hot they were would catch light. Huge areas burnt to ash."
"River, that has nothing to do with..."
River turned her head and silenced the Companion with a look. "The ash fertilised the ground and when the rains came took nutrients back into the impoverished soil and the cycle began again. Regrowth. Renewal. It's what he needs."
Inara stared at her for a moment. "Are you saying that is what is happening on Shadow?"
The girl smiled, a brief reward for coming to the right conclusion. "Exactly, though it's not the same."
"Mal will still resist."
A sad look crossed River's face. She looked down and watched the Captain walking across the cargo bay with Kaylee hanging on his arm, their cheerful chatter sailing up from below. "It hurts. Got used to the pain, can't imagine being able to leave it behind. He shouldn't. Needs to face it." She lifted her head and looked Inara in the eye. "Needs to know life goes on."
Governor Myers stared. More than a mite uncomfortable with the mortal remains being laid out on his world. Wasn't as if he moved in the same circles as the folk concerned but the part of him that was loyal to the Alliance would never say as much. The wrong word at the wrong time turned many a good man into a hunted one and he wasn't about to mistake the grim look on the Commandant's face for anything but a warning to watch his tongue. He swallowed slowly, his expression carefully schooled into one of polite concern. "What do you suppose happened to them, Commandant?"
"*Wo bu zhidao*. We just found the ship drifting without power. This being the nearest habitable world it made sense to bring them here."
It was on the tip of Myer's tongue to say the bodies should have been taken on board Commandant Duggan's ship but that might sound like he was criticising the man's judgement.
"*Wo bu dong*. You said everyone on the ship was dead, so why did they launch their shuttle?"
The Commandant shrugged, his eyes slowly considering the bodies one by one as if therein might lie the answer. "Perhaps to look for help? Honestly, sir, it's a mystery."
The Governor raised his eyebrows, an alarming thought occurring to him. Was it pirates? He had heard tale of such things but not usually this close to New Melbourne. "Do you think they were attacked?"
"Nuh uh. No score marks. In fact no damage of any kind. And nothing appears to have been taken."
"Except lives." Murmured the Governor, his eyes sad.
The Commandant looked up. "*Shenme*?"
"*Yiwusuoyou*. It's just creepy as *diyu*, Commandant. Did the investigators find anything?"
"Best guess is that the ship was hit by an EM field of some kind. Whatever it was knocked out all the sensors and fried the electrics."
Myers pursed his lips together thoughtfully. "A natural event then?"
The man didn't sound too sure and Myers couldn't blame him. Odd things happened all the time in the Black but when it affected his world the Governor didn't like it one bit. "I take it you will be checking the logs? Natural or not perhaps we can find an explanation."
Commandant Duggan didn't tell the Governor that they had already done that and come up with nothing. Discretion being the better part of valour he simply nodded and crisply ordered his men to do the sweep knowing that it would help Myers think he was doing something. He needed to keep the Governor compliant, the use of New Melbourne's facilities a matter of necessity. The Black was unpredictable. Who knew what odd atmospheric conditions might have set this outcome in motion? Since reporting his find he had been instructed to recover the bodies and set up a temporary mortuary here. Personnel would be despatched to contain the scene and quarantine the bodies. What they thought they would find Duggan didn't know but if the crew of the Alliance pursuit vessel had been killed by a virus or other biological contaminant it would not have affected the electrics and left the ship dead in space.
He didn't like this. Not one tiny little bit, but did his brain addled brother listen to him? No, he did not. Fat chance he had of being an equal partner in this business venture whatever Badger said. "This is *shenjingbing*."
Badger didn't look at him, too busy going through some papers. "Not askin' your opinion."
Liam had the course set but it still made no gorram sense to him. "What you expectin' to find on a dead bloody world?"
The little king pin raised his head, his eyes glittering. The papers had told him nothing but his instinct was pricking so he kept sifting through the wording of the will. Something wasn't right and he meant to find out just what in the nine hells his precious mother had been up to. "I wanna know why she went to so much trouble."
"Maybe she wanted to rub Reynolds' nose in it, you ever think o' that?"
He shook his head, a sour look of disappointment on his face. Whatever else he found out about Cyan Barbette it was the seeming soft spot she had for Serenity's Captain that stuck in his gorram craw the most. "Nah, that ain't it."
"I don't get it, Steph. Why mention him in her will at all?"
"Dunno an' that's why we're goin' to Shadow, see? With luck we'll get there before Reynolds."
"An' if there's nothin' there?"
"Well then, Malcolm Reynolds is welcome to it." Badger leaned forward, something dark and unpleasant uncoiling in his eyes. "But if there is somethin' there, somethin' o' value, then I want my share an' so should you. Don't care what the bloody will says. You an' me are kin an' no jumped up Sergeant from no balls an' bayonets brigade is gonna cheat us outta it, *dong ma*?"
It was on the tip of Liam's tongue to say that it was up to Cyan who she left what to but knew his brother wouldn't listen. It was one of the reasons why he hadn't had anything to do with him for so long. Sucking in a breath he hoped he wasn't going to regret getting drawn back into Badger's murky little world.
CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)
*qu* = yes (lit. go) *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *pigu* = bottom
*ni zhide shi shenme* = what do you mean? *bu xie* = you're welcome
*dong ma* = understand? *pofu* = bitch *shenme* = what *xie xie* = thanks
*shenme shi* = what's the matter? *yiwusuoyou* = nothing *duibuqi* = sorry
*wo zhidao* = I know *dui* = correct *mei mei* = little sister *diyu* = hell
*dang ran* = of course *wo bu zhidao* = I don't know *shenjingbing* = crazy
*wo bu dong* = I don't understand
Saturday, July 04, 2009 5:08 PM
Sunday, July 05, 2009 6:47 AM
Sunday, July 05, 2009 2:37 PM
Monday, July 06, 2009 6:31 AM
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