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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Follows the events of “Fractured”. Elizabeth struggles with mixed emotions in the aftermath of her encounter with the psychopath known as Robert.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 811 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Elizabeth rolled her neck slowly, stretching the muscles of her healing back gingerly. She sighed and felt once again the now familiar twinge of pain that a deep breath elicited. She knew she was more than fortunate that Robert had not succeeded in his maniacal murder attempt. She would not have been the first fatality of his psychosis had she died in the caretaker’s little cottage in Serenity Valley. She closed her eyes for a moment, suppressing a shudder at the memory of his knife sinking deeply between her shoulder blades, barely missing the major organs there by some fortuitous circumstance. Also fortuitous was the fact that Simon had been on hand to repair the damage done and work his particular brand of magic on her blood-depleted body.
Elizabeth’s mind drifted to thoughts of Adam Reynolds, plagued by nightmares of the little boy that had shared a body with her would-be killer. A part of her wanted to talk with Adam again, to see if his night terrors had ceased with the recovery of Mal from the clutches of the madman. But another part of her was reluctant to talk about the man at all, much less with a traumatized child. River had visited her bedside more than once, assuring her that Adam was healing as well as one might expect. But Elizabeth’s clinical training was compelling her to talk with Adam herself. Perhaps tomorrow would be soon enough, she thought vaguely, delaying the conversation for one more day.
She shifted restlessly in the bed she shared with Marcus and instantly regretted the motion as pain throbbed abruptly between her shoulder blades. Cold sweat beaded across her upper lip. Stretching her arm out carefully, she reached for the small portable Cortex screen Marcus had left by the bed for her use during her convalescence. It was an extravagance he could scarcely afford, but he had waved away her protests about the cost, intent on making her recovery as pleasant as possible. The gesture was a perfect example of the gentle kindness that had drawn her to him in the first place. The thought of it warmed her beyond words.
She propped herself up more comfortably on the pillows at her back and waited for the screen to coalesce into something recognizable. Thinking that perhaps she would research some tissue regeneration techniques for Simon’s use in treating Captain Reynolds, she decided to simply browse through the news first. She sipped from the cup of tea Marcus had left by the bed and began to read.
Abruptly, her throat closed and she found herself struggling to swallow her drink. With trembling fingers, she gripped the small Cortex screen as the ‘verse swam in front of her eyes. Drawing a painful breath, she read the headline again. “Serial Killer Found Slain on Persephone.”
Elizabeth read quickly, her mind racing as she devoured the main article and the multitude of sidebars that accompanied it. Stopping at a capture of Robert himself, smiling nonchalantly against a hazy background that revealed exactly nothing, she found it difficult to breathe for a long moment. This was the face of her tormentor, her captor, the man that invaded her own nightmares as well as those of the young Master Reynolds. But it was also the face of the frightened little boy that had reached out to her in her most terrified hours of captivity, the one that twisted her heart with his vulnerability.
Her tea grew cold as she read the news reports, each one more detailed than the last. The string of victims tied to Robert’s credit was staggering in volume, and she realized in an even more complete way than she had known that she and Captain Reynolds had been in the direst of circumstances chained in the tiny ship that had ultimately become the tomb of the psychopath himself.
She felt relief, cool and liquid, wash over her as her mind took in the fact that she would never have occasion to worry that Robert would appear around some corner in a distant Rim world to take her and finish what he had begun. And yet, warring with that relief was a sorrow that she could scarcely define. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back against the pillows, allowing her mind to wander over the various images of Robert that had been burned into her brain. And then, unable to stop herself, she pictured the boy Bobby, who had been caught up in Robert’s horrors just as innocently as any of Robert’s other victims. A small sob escaped her lips.
“Elizabeth?” Marcus’ voice called softly from the doorway of their cabin. “Bao bei?”
She raised her head and the stricken look in her eyes catapulted him immediately to her side. “Are you all right?” he asked quickly. “Should I call Simon?”
“I’m all right,” she answered, smiling dully. “Just….” She motioned to the Cortex screen. “He’s….dead.”
Marcus looked quickly at the screen, unaware that the body had been discovered until just that moment. Quickly scanning the report, he was relieved to see no mention of a suspect in the investigation of the murder. “Well, that’s…good, right?” he said softly, not quite able to look into Elizabeth’s eyes. “I mean, it’s good to know that he won’t be harming anyone else.”
Elizabeth looked at her lover’s profile, and a horrible realization crept slowly into her consciousness. “You did it, didn’t you?” she whispered, the thought too painful to be spoken in a normal tone.
She watched in horrified fascination as her lover swallowed slowly and turned to meet her eyes. “Why would you think that?” he asked, though his voice sounded unnatural even to his own ears.
Elizabeth blinked slowly, unable for a moment to answer in the face of her growing certainty. “When I was unconscious,” she said softly. “You….hunted him down….and killed him.” Tears prickled behind her eyelids. “Didn’t you?”
Marcus remembered Mal’s admonition that secrets rarely lasted between a man and a woman. Silently cursing the truth of his friend’s words, he replied quietly, “Yes.”
Something in the simplicity of his answer cut Elizabeth to the bone. “How could you have done such a thing?” she whispered, stricken. “He was sick…mentally ill. He needed…help of some sort. He was not….responsible for his actions.”
“Then who was?” Marcus answered, stung by her words. “Elizabeth, he killed over a hundred people, and almost managed to kill you as well. I couldn’t just….allow him to go on his merry way. How could you ever have felt safe, knowing he was out there somewhere? How could any of us have felt safe, ever again?”
Elizabeth shook her head from side to side. “But that was not for you to decide,” she protested weakly. “You had no right to act as judge and jury…”
“I had every right,” Marcus said grimly. “A man has a basic, fundamental right to protect his family from harm. And this man, this monster, was not going to stop until someone…made him stop. Dong ma?” He looked intently at Elizabeth, forcing her to meet his eyes. “Are you saying that if you had had the chance to kill him when you were chained in his ship, you wouldn’t have taken that chance?”
Elizabeth pondered her answer for a long while. “No,” she said finally. “I’m…I’m not sure I could have killed him even then. Wounded him, certainly. At least enough to get Mal and me to safety, but to kill him…..I’m not certain I could have, knowing that he was mentally ill.”
“Crazy in the brainpan or not,” Marcus said more harshly than he intended, “He would have killed you without a moment’s hesitation. You can be sure of it. There are dismembered bodies all over the ‘verse that provide gorram convincing testament to that fact.” He paused for a long moment. “This isn’t the first time I’ve had to kill a man, Elizabeth. And unfortunately, it probably ain’t the last. Not something I’m overfond of doing, but sometimes….it’s gotta be done.” He swallowed thickly, the pain in her eyes stabbing at his heart. “And I got no intention of apologizing for doing a thing that needed doing.”
“But I was not in danger when you….did it,” she replied in an anguished tone. “Captain Reynolds and I were safe.” She could not suppress the mental image of her lover stalking Robert like prey from entering her mind and taking up residence there. “To hunt him down….like a dog….in cold blood…” Her words trailed off momentarily. “It’s….it’s not the same as…self-defense.”
“No, it’s not,” Marcus agreed grimly. “But what would you have had me to do? Wait until he came for you, or for Mal, again? Or wait until he’d managed to kill several others before doing something about it? Spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder to see if he was somewhere waiting to finish what he’d started? You may have been willing to take that chance with your life, but I wasn’t willing to.” He paused, fighting for control. “Do you have any idea what…” His voice cracked slightly. “…what it was like to know that you were in the hands of a madman and that I couldn’t protect you?”
Tears streamed steadily down Elizabeth’s cheeks in mute answer. Finally, she spoke. “Why didn’t you tell me before now?”
Marcus smiled wryly. Cupping her cheeks in the hollows of his palms, he brushed her tears away with the pad of his thumbs. “Because I didn’t want to have this conversation…ever,” he replied honestly.
“Because you knew I would not agree with what you did,” Elizabeth said with certainty.
“That’s about the size of it,” Marcus admitted quietly.
“But you did it anyway,” she whispered. “Despite what you knew about how I would feel.”
Marcus nodded and met her gaze steadily. “Yep.” Gently tracing the line that had appeared between her eyebrows with the tip of his index finger, he said, “Make no mistake about it, Elizabeth. I love you, and I fully intend to spend my life provin’ it to you. But there are gonna be things that I have to do that ain’t gonna set just right with you.” He sighed slightly. “Just like there’ll be things you do that don’t set just right with me. But the way I see it, we’re gonna just have to agree to deal with what happens as best we can, on account of there are just some things that are what they are. Looks to me like this is one of those things. I did what I thought was needful at the time. And truth be told, given the same circumstances today, I’d do it again. So, question is, is this somethin’ you can handle? ‘Cause if it’s not, best you be telling me now.”
She eyed him carefully, noting the pulse beating at his temple and the way his breathing was not quite as rhythmic as normal. She could feel an answering pulse beating in her own ears as she realized that all they would ever be together lay on the thin line between them. She desperately longed to close her eyes to shut out the question in his, but she could not in this defining moment of their lives take the cowardly way out. She sat bolted to the bed, her mind whirring dizzily as she tried to reconcile the tenderness and genuine goodness she knew he possessed with the violence he was undeniably capable of. “I imagine I’ll handle it,” she answered softly. “Though I cannot promise I will handle it particularly gracefully or well.”
Marcus smiled, though the effort of it cost him a little part of his heart. “Couldn’t ask for anything more,” he said quietly.
The silence stretched between them, heavier and unaccustomedly uncomfortable at first as each one thought of the choices made and the cost of them. And then, ever so slowly, their hands crept closer together and their fingers entwined in wordless testimony to the love they had for each other and the life they were struggling to carve out together.
To be continued
Tuesday, August 04, 2009 5:58 AM
Tuesday, August 04, 2009 6:46 AM
Tuesday, August 04, 2009 11:59 AM
Tuesday, August 04, 2009 12:11 PM
Tuesday, August 04, 2009 4:57 PM
Tuesday, August 04, 2009 5:18 PM
Sunday, August 09, 2009 5:16 PM
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