The Bouncing Ball Ch 8
Monday, November 1, 2010

Jane and I are here again.... here's our twist on the 'verse. Enjoy!! Cat remembers...


Chapter Eight Cat's 'verse: three years after the 2nd War of Indepedence It was a nice ceremony. Flowers lined the ground around the casket, Serenity as the backdrop. She hadn't flown in a year now: well, that wasn't exactly true. One last trip into the black ... to let him die in the arms of the stars. Kaylee had made sure the engine made it one last time. The Firefly gave it her all and her all had been enough. Thankfully, no one expected any more from her. Several thousand people littered the planet of Hera, a place Cat thought was only fitting for Mal to be buried. Though Shadow had been his home, every one of them knew that there was no other place he held dearer than the Valley. People mingled around talking, some even tried to laugh, but she could tell it was just for show. Sad because he would have wanted more ... laughter. Maybe a few drinks, or at least something beyond tears and lost memories ... He’d have liked a good, old-fashioned wake, but Cat was pretty sure nobody else would have approved. Still, that seemed a good enough reason, just for the hell of it, but she’d given in, let it be what the others wanted ...

“It was a pretty ceremony, Cat." Kaylee touched her shoulder, her brown hair almost completely grey, but her smile would always be her own. Wrinkles might decorate her face, but there was still youth in her eyes. A small child tugged at her pant leg. "Gamma, I want go see Papa." "Yes, Gemmy. Give me a minute, kay?" Cat almost smiled. "Go on, Kaylee. I'm fine, really." "Okay, but you need anything ... I mean anything at all. You know where Simon and I are." "Thank you, Kaylee bird, for everything." A tear threatened to gather at her eye, but Cat didn't let it manifest any further. "You're always welcome, Cat. I mean that." The woman pulled her into a hard hug, Cat returning it as much as she dared. She then watched as they disappeared into the crowd. "So what are you going to do with her?" A darker voice entered her ears, full of anger and Cat knew immediately it was Zoe. "Who, Kaylee? I was thinking maybe duct tape?" She smiled, but the dark skinned woman didn't return it. Like Cat, Zoe hadn't even a tear in her eye. For a moment they stood, staring at each other, Mal's first mate looking into the green eyes of his mysterious lover. Both of them loyal to a fault. "You know who ... what I mean," Zoe corrected herself, not wanting to speak the Firefly's name for fear the sorrow would overtake her. It would mean he was really gone. "Heard about your victory. Governor of Whitefall ... I bet Patience's daughter was fit to be tied." Cat ignored the question again as she watched the woman sigh. "I have made my peace, Cat. Just want to know if you need help getting rid of her ... or a ride." "Last ditch effort to appease the old Sarge, huh?" Looking toward the Firefly, she shook her head. "Ain't selling her, Zo. He left her in my care and I'm going to honor his wish. Serenity deserves as much." "She's a ship. You, he, Kaylee... acting like she's some human ... alive. Serenity is nothing without her captain." "She's all I have left, Zo." Her eyes were haunted for a second, empty as she thought about Mal, River, and then her late husband. "Start life again," Zoe prescribed, but even then her voice turned bitter. "Far from here. You're still beautiful, still perfect. Leave." "You'd like that. No more me ... Three years, Zoe, and we haven't heard a word from you. Disappeared after the war and show up on Whitefall winning an election." "Couldn't watch him die." "You mean you couldn't come to grips with what had happened. Why he was like that ..." "Where were you? The creature that always saved the day ... where the hell were you when he jumped in front of that bullet meant for me?" Tears started to stream from her dark brown eyes even as Cat shook her head. "Fighting my own battles." "You shouldn't have left us," Zoe went on doggedly. "How has this become my fault?" Cat could feel her claws wanting to grow. "I told you to call me if it got bad. Begged you even. Is it my fault you all were too proud to ask?" Cat turned away from Zoe and looked over toward where they were starting to lower the coffin ... to lower Mal in the ground. "I was trying to protect others like River from being taken. You know what they were doing ... stealing children from hospitals, out of their own beds ... it had to be stopped." "I know, but -" "I didn't run away. I came back, and I stayed and did what needed doing. And then ... I watched him fade away from captain to captive. Feeding him, cleaning after, praying it would ..." She couldn't continue. "Looking after your cub." Zoe had meant it as an insult, but Cat took the words at face value. "Yes. My pack. Now and forever." Silence joined them as the pair stood watching Kaylee and Inara drop roses into the grave before Simon took the first handful of dirt. His face was red from crying, but he managed to get it all into the hole. "That should be us." "Maybe you, but I spent the last three years wishing for this day to come. I don't belong down there. I'm glad he's not suffering any longer." It wasn't a lie, but it really wasn't the exact truth either. Half truths over the years had become Cat's specialty. "Sell Serenity." "No." Cat snarled again, this time with force. "I promised him." "He's dead. He won't know." "Yes, but I will." Her fangs glistened. "I'm not you. I can't just walk away from my duty." "Still loyal even to a dead man. Mal would be so proud," Zoe sneered, then started moved toward the group of mourners. "We were once friends," Cat said quickly, trying hard not to lose another one. "Yeah, we were..." Still crying, the woman didn’t turn, just walked away leaving Cat to stand alone staring at the lone gravestone in the far off distance. A voice echoed in her head. Take care of Serenity. She's old and crippled like me, but I can still feel her fire. Someday, I've a notion she'll fly again and she'll need someone who knows how to keep her in the air. Someone who still loves her. Promise me, bao bei, promise ...' "I promise, Captain," Cat whispered, as she wiped a tear from her cheek and let her hand brush the panther, who had sneaked in beside her. 'Time to wake.' Cat looked down in surprise, into Batha's green eyes, that seemed to grow, pulling her in and drowning her ... She sat up, disoriented for a moment, hand on the knife at her side. It was dark, but she could see shapes, deeper shadows ... which resolved suddenly into crates, a curved hull, and her mule. 'A dream. It was only a dream.' 'Memory.' She looked down at Batha, the panther staring at her. "Not had that one in a while," she said quietly, barely speaking. Batha growled lightly. 'Here. Captain man. Feel need.' "I thought I buried it under enough. Shouldn't have surfaced." 'Falling apart.' "Maybe. Still not wanting it clouding my judgement. It's over." 'Long time ago.' "For us, yeah. But it'll happen again if we don't stop it this time." The panther yawned, what little light there was making her fangs show up amongst the dark fur. 'Say need God Man.' "That might make things worse." 'Sleep. Think better.' Batha settled back down. Cat watched her for maybe half a minute, until her companion's breathing evened out and she slept again, probably dreaming of playing with Serenity's cubs. Cat shook her head. It was okay for some. Laying back down on her side, she pillowed her head on one arm and closed her eyes, hating herself for not wanting the dream to come back. As she felt herself start to drift, she was aware of Batha placing one paw on her arm, and was comforted. Above them, on the catwalk outside the shuttle, River stood silently, her naked form hidden by the shadows, the pain of loss coursing through her as much as through Cat. She sent her mind up to the bunks, to where Mal and Freya were laying in each other's arms, tangled up, salt from the dried sweat of their love-making scattered across their skins like stars in the black. He was dreaming of her, for some reason running naked through the long grass on Lazarus, laughing over her shoulder at him as he chased her, and better yet, caught her. In turn she was dreaming of him, standing on the bridge, a baby in his arms that was neither Ethan nor Jesse ... River's eyes widened, and she started to smile. ------------------------------------------------- The next few days settled into something of a routine. Since he'd had his offer of paying his way turned down, Declan insisted on being added into the rota, and the crew discovered he wasn't a bad cook, unless it was meat. That he tended to cremate, even with supervision. "Could've used that boar, at this rate," Mal muttered, staring at the charcoal briquette on his plate. "I'll replace it," Declan offered. "When we get to Persephone." "We'll see." At least it wasn't an outright refusal. "Can I take it for Batha?" Ethan asked, his face shining. "Not sure even that cat'd eat it." 'Not cat.' Mal looked at Freya. "Can't you do something about that?" "Like what?" "Tell her to stop listening in?" "Why don't you try stopping calling her a cat?" Mal's eyes narrowed slightly. "You conjure what she was listening to last night?" "I doubt she was that interested." Something like a chuckle resounded through their minds. "See?" Mal said, feeling hard done by. "Daddy?" Ethan attempted to get his father back on track. "Fine. Fine, whatever." "Thank you, Daddy!" Each of the children pushed the 'meat' to one side and got on with eating their mashed potatoes. 'If it gives you indigestion, it'll serve you right,' Cat thought as she cleaned her weapons down in the cargo bay. Batha just purred. Cat herself didn't join them, but Kaylee made sure there was food set aside, even if it was just a couple of protein bars. There had been times when Cat had gone days without eating, so she ate whatever was left out for her, although it tended to be deep in the night cycle. Otherwise she kept herself to herself as the crew worked around her. Batha just got on with torturing Jayne. She'd decided that, if he couldn't be more like the Big Merc she knew, then it was okay to play with him. Only it was her kind of games, not his. She'd started waiting for him in unexpected corners, her green eyes hooded until he came past. Then she growled, making him jump, cursing loudly and at length until Mal had to tell him to watch his mouth or the septic vat was going to play a major part in his future. "It ain't me, Mal!" he'd insisted. "It's that gorram cat!" "I don't care. We got kids on board, and as much as I'm aware they ain't exactly gonna grow up not knowing a profanity or two, I don't exactly want 'em to have the entire dictionary." "Then talk to her." "Who, the panther?" "No. Cat." Mal hadn't quite smiled, but his lips had twitched. "Nope. I reckon it's up to you if it's that much of a problem." "I'll shoot it. I will." "Don't even think about it." "Aw, Mal ..." In the shadows under the stairwell Batha snickered. She wasn't worried about Jayne accidentally-on-purpose firing at her - she knew she was far too fast for him to do anything beyond superficial damage, and in a way she was almost looking forward to it. It would give her a reason to tear off one of his arms, or maybe a leg ... Medicine Man could sew them back, and he'd be almost as good as new. 'No.' 'Want to.' 'Mal wouldn't like it.' 'Could say was cub's cat.' 'And you think he'd believe you?' 'Might.' 'Batha.' The panther's tail swept from side to side. 'Like having fun.' 'Then play with the kids.' 'This fun too.' Cat sighed. Batha was going to do whatever she wanted, as she always did, but there wasn't really much chance of her maiming Jayne. And if she did, it was only going to be an accident. ==== The main problem wasn’t with Batha, though, at least in Cat’s opinion. It was Freya. Despite their conversation in the kitchen, the tension hadn’t exactly been eased between them, and it was affecting everyone on board. Kaylee, while wanting to believe the best of everyone, couldn’t help her sunshine being coloured by Freya’s distrust, while Zoe blatantly wore her gun everywhere. So did Jayne, but that was the big ex-merc all over. Hank was at least trying to be nice, and Simon ... well, Simon obviously wanted to know more about her physiognomy, and she wasn’t about to let a doctor get that close. Still, as they approached Persephone Cat knew she had to make an effort. Things were about to happen, and she needed as many people to believe as possible. Dinner was over, Batha had sneaked off somewhere – probably into one of the children’s bedrooms if Cat was any judge – and the time had come. Climbing the stairs from the cargo bay, she reached the top corridor and looked about.

The hatch was open above the captain’s bunk, and one glance told her Mal was on the bridge, discussing options with Hank, so the person moving about below had to be … Cat inhaled, the scent drifting from below as clear as a nametag. Freya. Forcing her claws to remain retracted, Cat dropped through the opening. “Freya …” Then stopped. The woman in front of her was naked, sponging herself down with soapy water. She looked up, the gentle humming stopping as she realised she was being observed. “Don’t you ever knock?” she asked, somewhat testily. “Hatch was open.” Nakedness wasn’t something that normally affected Cat, but perhaps it was the tracery of fine scars that criss-crossed Freya’s skin made her forget her mission. “So you take that as an invitation?” Freya dropped the sponge into the pull-out sink, turning to pick up the towel on the bed and wrap it around her. Cat’s breath caught at the sight of the tattoo. A flame, all bright golds, reds and greens, caught running riotously up Freya’s back. There were three symbols within it, hanging as if suspended at the nape of her neck, between her shoulder blades, and in the small of her back, the last swiftly covered. “Nice tat,” she said, feeling oddly uncomfortable. “Thanks.” Freya turned back, holding the towel above her breasts. “Does it mean something?” “Yes.” She sat down on the bed and picked up her hairbrush. O-kay, Cat said to herself. Maybe this isn’t going to be easy as I’d hoped. “Mind telling me?” Freya studied the other woman for a long moment, her eyes travelling up and down her perfect form, looking like one of the pictures Jayne used to keep on the wall of his bunk before he fell for River, the ones for his ‘alone’ time. The look on Cat’s face suggested she’d picked up the stray thought, and Freya couldn’t help the smile that flitted across her own features. “Power,” she said quietly. “Passion. Enlightenment.” “And?” Cat prompted, positive there was more. “With great passion can come great power, but without enlightenment the world is dark.” It was a mantra, words spoken over and over, yet Cat couldn’t help feeling the truth behind them. “Is that what you are?” Pulling the brush through her short brown hair, Freya shrugged. “Probably.” “The darkness …” There was a sudden stillness. “Darkness …” Freya echoed. “Always there.” “Always.” “And the tattoo helps.” It wasn’t a question. “Yes.” Freya shook herself. “It was given to me by my mentor.” She seemed to come to a decision and stood up, crossing to the small chest of drawers before dropping to her heels and opening the bottom one. The action caused the towel to come adrift, slipping to her hips. Cat stared at the tattoo, enthralled by the fire. It seemed to leap out at her, and she could feel the heat as it consumed the air around it. The sigils danced in the flame, calling to her. Power. Passion. Enlightenment. She had the power in abundance, created that way. ‘Ski had taught her the passion, to lose herself sometimes because in that, as he put it, “you find yourself, Babe.” And Mal had lit the way to a different future than the one she’d have had otherwise. River was right. The two women had more in common than she cared to admit. Cat was about to leave, to climb up the ladder into the safety of the corridor above, when Freya stood back up, grabbing at the towel before it could fall to the ground. “Here.” She held out a folded piece of paper. “What’s that?” Cat asked suspiciously. “Take a look. It’s all right. It won’t bite.” The redhead reached out, her claws growing just a little as she took it, unfolded it carefully. Her green eyes widened. “Who …” “Amon.” “Who?” Cat glanced up then stared back at the man’s face, delicately drawn with the barest hint of colour to indicate his dark skin. “My mentor. The man who saved my life, made me … human again.” A calmness seemed to settle across her shoulders. “My friend. The man who did my tattoo.” She smiled. “River drew it for me.” “She peeked into your mind?” “Mmn.” “She always was good at drawing.” “Even your River?” “When she had the time.” Cat made herself say nonchalantly, “Looks … familiar.” “He looks like Book, the Shepherd who travelled with Mal back in the day. At least, that’s what River says. She thinks they were related. Cousins, perhaps.” “Could be.” Cat deliberately held the portrait out, keeping her walls tight and high. “Wouldn’t know.” 'God Man.' Batha’s thought was sinuous, like the panther herself. 'Same. Jumper.' 'I know.' 'Tell her.' 'No.' 'Why?' 'Would it help?' Batha shrugged, difficult to do when only in thought. 'Trust.' 'Leave it alone, Bat.' The panther sighed and went back to playing with Bethie and the other children. “So … what happened to him?” Cat asked. “Book, I mean. Here. In this ‘verse.” “He died.” There was sadness in Freya’s voice even as she refolded the picture and slid it back between her clean shirts. “The Alliance murdered him, his flock. It’s why Mal sent the Miranda Broadwave.” “You never met him?” “No. But I wish I had.” “If he looked like this ... he looks kind.” “Everyone tells me he was.” “And … Amon?” “He saved my life.” “Is he still alive?” “No. He was murdered too.” A faint smile tilted Freya’s lips. “Another one.” “Hard ‘verse.” “Not so hard that I don’t think it could get better.” She touched her belly. “Have you told Mal yet?” Freya chuckled. “Is that why you came down here?” “Partly. Have you?” “Not yet.” “Are you going to?” “Yes. But I haven’t decided when.” “You’re stubborn.” “Takes one to know one.” This time it was Cat who laughed. “I suppose. And I also wanted to say … I'm sorry.” “What for?” “I’d never take Mal from you. You need each other.” “I need him.” “It’s mutual.” She almost added that she could smell the other woman on him all the time, but maybe Freya might not take that the right way, and they were getting on better than before – no point in spilling blood. “River says you and Mal have been together before. Lots of lifetimes.” “That’s what she says.” “You don’t believe in reincarnation?” “My parents believed in everlasting life.” “What about you?” “I hope she’s right.” “That’s not what I asked.” Freya looked down at her hands, studying her short nails for what seemed like an age. “Ethan and Jesse … they’re my life. But Mal is …” “Incorrigible.” Freya looked up, startled, and laughed. “Infuriating.” “Annoying.” “Messy.” “Does this one leave his socks on the table?” “All the time.” Cat nodded. “Some things never change.” She put her head onto one side. “And we wouldn’t want them to.” “Except maybe you’ve seen them change too much,” Freya added astutely. “Perhaps.” “Were the other realities so very different?” Cat held the sigh at bay. “Some of them. And some things stay the same.” “River?” “Something of a thread, yes.” “Tying the ‘verse together.” “No matter how hard she yanks on the ends.” Freya laughed again, making a decision. “I’ve got a bottle of tequila hidden away. Would you care to join me for a glass?” “Not in your condition. Not good for the cubs.” Freya’s face paled at the way Cat had said 'cubs'. Plural. “You know?” “I can feel them. Another reason you need to tell Mal.” “Then have a drink with me. Who knows, you might be able to persuade me.” “Only if you’re going to drink juice.” Good for cubs, Batha’s voice echoed through their heads. “Fine.” Freya stood up. “Give me a few minutes to get dressed.” “No problem.” Cat turned to the ladder, then added, before her brain – or her other half – could interfere, “I'm glad River has you.” She dipped her head for just a moment, an acknowledgement of kinship and nothing more, then she was gone.


Monday, November 1, 2010 7:04 AM


Ohhhh!!! Love, love, love this!! More Please!!

Monday, November 1, 2010 11:22 AM


Good stuff... starting to get familiar with these folk.

- 'Ski

Monday, November 1, 2010 1:34 PM


I loved this, especially Cat finally getting to a point when she and Frey can find common ground without having to fight over the ownership of it. And twins? Wow, even more cubs for Batha to play with :~) You rock, Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 9:22 AM


Seems as if there’s a peace settlement been reached between two parties aboard ship now……will it last?

Also, I feel something big on the horizon is about to show it’s face. Not sure what it could be yet, just have a feeling. Maybe when the crew and passengers reach Persephone we’ll get a clue methinks.

Ready for more Angelle & Jane…..great work!!



You must log in to post comments.



The Bouncing Ball Ch 20
Been awhile, but we still here... Jane and I spin a yarn and bounce the ball. Cat stands back...

The Bouncing Ball Ch 19
Jane and Me.... no more needs to be said... enjoy.

Cat goes hunting....

The Bouncing Ball Ch 18
Jane 0904 and I are writing up a storm. Another chapter of universe jumpin and twisty turns... Cat sees ghosts again...

The Bouncing Ball Ch 17
Another chapter.... thanks from Jane and I for your comments and for reading... Book explains.

The Bouncing Ball Ch 16
Jane and I are at it again.... with some outside help from my other favorite co-author, Werzbowski. Thanks for lending your talents to your character, 'Ski. Anyway, Cat sees ghosts....

The Bouncing Ball Ch 15
Jane and I continue on following the bouncing ball. Thanks for joining us. Special thanks to all who read and comment... you all are awesome. Cat get dirty...

The Bouncing Ball Ch 14
Jane and I are just doing what we like so enjoy the ride... big THANKS to Ali and 'Ski who have read and commented every time. You all rock! Anyway... Cat meets Badger...

The Bouncing Ball Ch 13
Jane and I are having a blast. Frey and Cat... not so much... Cat gets caged.

The Bouncing Ball Ch 12
Jane and me are on the way again to deliver our next chapter. Cat seeks Badger...

The Bouncing Ball Ch 11
Jane and I are here again... hoping that you enjoy our next chapter. Cat argues...