The Bouncing Ball Ch 10
Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Jane and I are on a roll... the discussion gets serious with the girls and not so with the boys. Cat fights belonging...


based on the word of Firefly by Joss Whedon. OCs belong to those who created them.


Chapter Ten

"No, now there's supposed to be technique in this," Jayne said, taking the horseshoe out of Declan's hand. "It ain't just a case of tossing the damn thing and hoping for the best." He squinted at Cat's mule taking up most of the space in the cargo bay. "A'course, we're more'n a little cramped." "I didn't want it on board in the first place," Mal said, leaning on one of the cages. "If you recall." "Then we'd have been toast," Declan pointed out. "Considering what you did." Mal shrugged. "You can thank our little albatross for that." "Albatross?" "River." "My wife," Jayne added, closing one eye and taking aim at the pin. "My moonbrain." "Why do you call her that?" "'Cause she is. River don't exactly have a strong hold on reality at the best of times." As if to make the point, the horseshoe slipped from his grasp and clanged to the deck. He bent down to pick it up, then wondered why the walls seemed to have taken on a life of their own as he straightened up. "She's your wife and you call her crazy?" Declan shook his head. "That's ... crazy." "No, it ain't." Jayne dropped a heavy hand on the young man's shoulder. "The Alliance did stuff to her. Cut into her brain. Made her into a weapon." His eyes glittered. "Shiniest weapon you've ever seen. That first time, in the Maidenhead ... gorramit, I was hard just watching her." "Jayne," Mal said. "Too much information." "S'true, though. Then when she grabbed me ..." He grunted a laugh. "Didn't know whether to kill her or strip 'er naked." "That's my sister you're talking about," Simon said, but with little heat. "And you're lying." For once the big ex-merc didn't take offence. "Mebbe I am. But the way she gutted them Reavers ... that was poetry." Declan swallowed. "Did she ... really do that?" "Standing there in that dress, axe in each hand, drippin' blood ..." Jayne smiled slightly. "Still, didn't stop me being stupid." "Stupid?" "Took me a long while to realise how I felt," the big man admitted, looking almost shame-faced. "Nearly lost her ..." For a long moment the alcohol-fuelled memories threatened to overwhelm him, so he grabbed the bottle from Hank's hand and took another huge swallow to drown them. "We talkin' or playin'?" He handed the bottle back and settled himself, sighting up on the pin again. ==== " ... and I had to find a piece of wire to try and pick the lock!" Kaylee could hardly finish, she was laughing so much. "It was Mal's face I will never forget," Zoe said, shaking her head. "I don't think I've ever seen someone so close to apoplexy." "Mal's face wasn't where you were looking," River pointed out, her nose wrinkling in disgust. "I did not need to see my brother like that." "Why didn't you just use the key?" Cat asked. "I couldn't find it." Kaylee rubbed at her watering eyes. "We'd been maybe a bit too enthusiastic and it'd fallen down behind the scrubber controls, and ... 'sides, everyone weren't due back for a few hours. We kinda thought we had the ship to ourselves." "I get that, but ... why handcuffs, and why in the engine room?" "Seemed like a good idea at the time." Kaylee laughed again, seeing her husband spreadeagled against the coil, nothing covering him except for an oily rag she'd managed to find, the rest of the crew clustered in the doorway. "It was a long time 'fore I could persuade him to try anything like it again." She lifted one of the jugs, considerably lighter than it had been, and poured. "'Specially since I couldn't pick the lock, and Jayne had to do it." She dissolved into laughter again, and her brew splashed across the table top, taking any remaining varnish with it. ==== "I won!" Simon said, draping his arm around Declan's shoulders. "Can't have," Jayne complained, leaning down to examine the spike more closely. "Gorramit." "See?" "But you're crap at this kinda thing," the big man complained. "I'll have you know I was always good at anything that involved target practice." "Best o'three?" ==== Happily drunk with her own brew, Kaylee finally pointed at the tags around Cat's neck. "Okay, we've all been dying to know. What's with the necklace? To me, they look like they belong on a collar of some puppy." "They do. Max ... my husband's dog. Well, he wasn't my husband when he had the dog. Alliance killed it, his family...everything he loved." "Purple bellies are good at that." Zoe retorted, reaching for her glass and missing. "Anyway, we went into some bad voodoo and he told me to wear them. Never gave them back." She took the small glass and bolted a shot, wishing it would make her forget. "So what happened to him?" "Took on the Alliance's biggest battle cruiser. A shotgun to her reactor ... he won, but it cost him his life." She poured another glass. "To Declan Werzbowski Reddik .... the craziest son of a bitch I ever knew." Each of the girls lifted their cups as well, only Freya sober enough to wonder why the man they were saluting had the same name as the one drinking with her Mal. As Cat tossed it back, her mind echoed. 'Damn I miss you, Old Man.' 'Had balls,' Batha replied from wherever she was currently resting. 'And a death wish.' Cat grinned. It still wasn't the same. Something was missing. 'Ain't here to complain.' A simple laugh jingled lightly in Cat's head. ==== "Gorramit!" Jayne hopped from one foot to the other. "That gorram hurt!" "I'm surprised you can feel anything," Simon said. "Considering the amount you've been drinking." He went to sit down but missed the crate, collapsing to the floor. "You didn't have that goushi of a pilot throwing a shoe at you!" The ex-merc leaned against the wall, attempting to undo the laces of his boot to see the damage. "And you're a doc. Ain't you supposed to be ministering to me?" "It was an accident," Hank said, waving the bottle in his hand around. "You shouldn't'a been standing there." "I wasn't nowhere close to the pin!" "Neither was my horseshoe!" Jayne gave up trying to undo his boot, and was now concentrating on levering it off with his other foot. Unfortunately this entailed him having to balance on one heel, and in his current state that just wasn't possible. He slid down the wall to the deck. "Shit." "Language," Mal said automatically. "Hell, Mal, there ain't no kids around." "I just live in the hope that one day you're gonna listen." Mal lay back and stared up into the superstructure of his Firefly, and vaguely wondering how come they could possibly have spiders on board to make those cobwebs ... ==== Kaylee had found a pack of cards in one of the drawers, and she, Freya and Zoe were currently engaged in a game of snap under the observation dome. "You can't just say snap whenever you put a card down," Freya pointed out. "Why not?" Kaylee asked. She started to slide off the chair and had to hitch herself back up. "Because that's not how the game is played." "Why not?" "Because they're the rules." "Why?" Freya glared at her, knowing full well where Bethie got it from. At the table Cat and River were discussing the remains in the jug: that is, River had it in her hand and wouldn't give it back. "You're too young to get blind," Cat said, reaching out but fingers closing on empty air again. "Won't go blind," River said, blinking owlishly. "Old wives tale." "One day I might introduce you to old Drogan," Cat said, shaking her head. "He thought the same thing. Has a dog on a stick now." "Huh." Still, River let the redhead take the jug. "I can feel him. Sort of." She screwed up her face a little, the alcohol apparently blunting her abilities. "See him." "Drogan?" "Declan Wazboo ... Wowkisk ..." Her tongue tangled up a little, and she stuck it out, trying to peer at it. Finally she shrugged and said, very carefully, "Declan Werzbowski Reddik." "Yeah?" "Alliance's most wanted. Big reward." Her eyes widened. "Very big reward." "What he did ... he was almost proud of the amount." "I wish ..." "He liked you." "Good." River sighed heavily. "Yet jia yan still died." "River, honey, most everybody does. Eventually." "You might not." "No. But I could be killed." "Epicentre of an explosion. Constituent parts could not regenerate." She put her head on one side. "Would you know?" Cat had to smile. "I don't think I ever want to find out." "And don't change the subject." "You mean Mal?" "Mmn." She licked the inside of her glass, as if trying to get even the flavour out. "What happened?" "I was ... somewhere else. 'Ski and Mal decided to get involved. Go after the fleet together." "Together?" "I was kind of surprised they stopped fighting each other long enough to take a crack at the Alliance," Cat admitted. "Windmills." "Got that right." "Except the wind blew and the sails were destroyed." "Along with the two best men in the 'verse ..." Cat sighed. "I don't want him to die here," River said softly. "Whatever you have planned might result in deaths amongst the crew." "Not exactly planning here, Little Sister." "Chasing the ball?" "Following orders." "Whose?" Cat was saved from answering by a squeal from the easy chairs as Kaylee dropped all her cards and had to get down onto all fours to pick them up. Then couldn't lever herself back up again. "Ain't someone gonna help me?" she called mournfully, then descended into a fit of the giggles. ==== "Damn, that's stuff harsh," Hank said, his eyes wanting to close. "Wuss." Jayne, having given up trying to get his boot off, had decided his position on the floor against the wall was as comfortable as he was going to get. "S'just booze." "I think my brain has run away," Simon said, finding his feet had taken him next to Jayne. "Excuse me," he added, collapsing next to his brother-in-law. "It was your idea," Jayne pointed out. "I never suggested it was a good one." He leaned over, then realised he was propped up against a large body. "Show me the way to go home ..." Hank sang quietly, cuddling a small barrel. "I'm tired and I wanna go to bed ..." "She won't let you in." Declan wagged a finger at him. "Not like this." "Had a little hour about a drink ago ..." Jayne, listening to the song, gave up, throwing his arm around Simon. "... and it's gone right to my head ..." he sang, his deep baritone making the hover mule above them swing on its chains. Mal rolled over and lifted his legs higher. "Frey ..." he murmured, his eyes closing as the big ex-mercenary remembered some unfortunately more obscene lyrics. ==== Up in the kitchen, Freya looked at the other women cuddled up together on the couch then turned to Cat. Pouring herself another glass of juice and one for the redhead as well, the liquor down to little more than a dampness at the bottom of the bottle, she said quietly, "So, now that they're otherwise occupied... who's this husband you keep talking about? I know it isn't Mal and I also know it isn't that kid you've got with you either, though they seem to have the same name."

"I'm old, Frey, you knew that. Older than I'd like to admit. Declan is the son of my husband." It sounded even more horrible aloud than it had in her head.

Freya looked at the juice and smiled. "Sure we didn't spike this with something? I thought you said you couldn't have children." "I can't. He had Declan with someone else." "Ah." "Don't you go being sorry for me," Cat warned. "I left 'Ski for Mal. Duty and all that ... thought he was better off without me. Thought Serenity and Mal were where I needed to be." A sigh escaped her lips. "Our marriage was to save my life, nothing more, but then shit happened. The Academy fucked with him, made him a Reaver, and to make sure he was safe, I stayed with him for awhile. God, the 'verse was a fun place with him by my side. No cares, just the two of us raising hell ... though I took more than my share of bullets for the man, and stab wounds, punches ..." "Reaver?" Cat didn't seem to hear, and her eyes glowed lightly as memories flooded her. Freya just listened, sipping at the juice. "He knew me ... all of me and never once did he fear what I could do. I almost killed him ... twice, though he'd tell ya, it was just payback for the times he had done the same to me. You know he actually came and helped me save Mal and the crew one time. All that and I walked away from him." "You loved another. I'm sure he understood." "He did. It's I who didn't." She swallowed the juice, it doing about as little as the liquor had. Moments like this made Cat wish alcohol could effect her. "He smoked, drank, killed anything that looked at him wrong ..." "Jayne ..." "More or less ... but there was reason for him to be. He didn't do it for money ... he did it because he had nothing to live for." "Seems to me, there was one thing. At least that pulled him from his self destruction."

"We saved each other." A feeling passed over Freya and she looked at Cat, a tear in her eye. "I know how you feel. I don't know what happened to me in your 'verse, whether I even survived the war, but ..." She paused a moment, blinking a little. "Here I lost Mal." "You said." "No, not that. Before. Before we were ever together." "I don't understand." "A couple of brigades were in town for just the one night before we all shipped out, and we had a day's pass, and there was this bar ..." Cat smiled. "How did I know you were going to say that?" A laugh forced its way out, and Freya wiped at her face. "Anyway, I walked in and there was this man standing in the middle of a sea of destruction, asking who was going to buy him a drink." "Mal?" "Mal. He'd just been made up to sergeant, and someone didn't like it, so there was a fight." "Sounds like him." "That same someone was about to shoot him in the back, so I stopped him." Bashed him in the head with a chair ... "You saved his life," Cat said slowly. "I guess." The redhead was careful not to let her emotions show on her face. "So you bought him a drink?" "Pretty much." There was more, Cat knew. "And?" "And ... nothing." "I don't believe that." A flash of irritation coloured the air. "We slept together, okay? Or do you want details?" "No. Thanks." She sipped her juice. "So what happened?" "Nothing." Freya sighed. "Not a gorram thing. Mal acted like it never happened." "He hurt you." Cat could feel anger building inside her, righteous indignation for the woman at her side. "He didn't know." "Of course he did." "No. It wasn't like that." He'd apologised, explained, years later, telling her that he'd been afraid ... "Of making you more important than what I was doing, what I was fighting for. Of thinking of you when I should be thinking of my men. Of planning how I'd take you when I should be planning how to take the next ridge." He'd been ashamed as he went on, "I looked in the fly-blown mirror in that bathroom, saw what you'd done to me, and I knew I had to ignore you, Frey. Or I wouldn't survive." To Cat she merely said, "We got past it." "How long did it take?" "Seven years." "Seven ..." Cat closed her mouth with an audible snap. "But we're together now." "As it should be." Cat took a moment to pour the last of the juice into their mugs, contemplating how things could be so different. Her Mal had told her once about a young woman he'd met in a bar, how she'd saved his life, how they'd had more than a few drinks. Except the more things change the more they stay the same ... They were about to stagger upstairs together when his commanding officer had appeared, insisting Mal head back to the holding dock to get everything ready for the morning. Mal had complained, but had no alternative. "I often wonder what happened to her," he'd admitted. "Don't even know if she made it through. Always felt like maybe she had, and I'd meet her again some day." He'd laughed, but there was little humour in it. "At least you have him now," she said aloud. "I know." Freya touched Cat's arm. "I am truly sorry for your loss." "Not your fault. This one's on me and I will carry it ... to whatever grave I need to." Sorrow filled her eyes and Freya sighed. "So, never divorced him ... means Mal never married you, huh?" "Told you before. If he put a ring on your finger, he meant it. Never did on me." "Think he would've?" "Mal and I made good partners ... both physically and mentally. We never quite connected though, the way you two do." She smiled somewhat ruefully, realising she was talking about sexing the man Freya bedded each night. "That's why I told you before. You need each other." "Just like you need 'Ski." "Needed," Cat corrected her, but Frey shook her head. "No, Cat, need. It doesn't stop just because they're gone." Silence followed as they stared at each other. Then they both yawned in tandem. "Think it's time for bed," Cat stated. "Looking like it. Got to see if the men aren't passed out in the bay." "Haven't heard singing in a little while. Do you need my help?" Cat smiled and Freya laughed. "I don't think so. It doesn't happen all that often, but I think I've got it down pretty well. Besides, I wasn't intending to do much more than toss a couple of blankets over them." A slight smile on her face made Cat miss her husband. "Well, let's see if I can find my bed partner." She took a deep breath. 'Batha?' 'Here. In Cave.' The panther had stopped 'talking' about an hour into the drinking, after they saluted 'Ski and then Mal, Serenity, the bulkheads ... and God knows what else. "Cave?" Cat said out loud and in her head, making Freya turn. 'Clothes cave.' 'Closet ...' Cat smiled. It was dark, solitary ... a perfect place for her companion. 'Well, come on ... time for bed.' 'Can't. Here to stay.' 'I promise I will make it as dark as possible.' 'Cubs comfortable.' 'What do you mean cubs? Batha, whose closet?' 'Princess. Had nightmares.' "Freya, we need to find Bethie's closet. I think Batha's stuck in there." Leaving the other women bundled together on the sofa, they headed quickly down the stairs to the lower crew quarters. "This is Bethie's room," Freya said, sliding a door open. The light was off, but there was enough illumination from the corridor to show the bed was empty. "Batha?" Cat murmured. 'Here.' As quietly as she could, Freya opened to the door to the closet, then couldn't help but smile. Inside, mixed up with shoes and forgotten picture books, a black velvet shadow was curled around the sleeping forms of Bethie and Ethan, their hands buried in her thick fur. Freya went down onto her heels and reached out to touch her son, but stopped. "They look comfortable," she said quietly. 'Not stuck.' Batha lifted her head, her green eyes glowing in the darkness. 'Princess had nightmares. Captain male cub knew.' "Captain male cub?" She looked round at Cat. The redhead shrugged. "Gave up trying to figure her out a long time ago." Batha grumbled, but only quietly so as not to disturb the children. "I don't think one night is going to hurt," Freya said, standing back up and smiling. "I know at their age I'd've loved to sleep with a panther." Cat reached out then dropped her hand. "Frey, can I ask ... is Ethan a Reader?" The smile dimmed. "An empath, more. But ... yes. Why?" "No reason." 'Many reasons,' but Cat knew the comment had been dropped into her mind alone. "Lots on board," the redhead went on. "Mmn." 'Need to keep safe.' "Safe?" Freya echoed. "From whatever might come your way," Cat explained. 'Huh.' It could be disconcerting having more than one conversation at the same time, but Cat knew why Batha was keeping hers private. They'd both seen what the Alliance had been capable of, those last desperate days during the 2nd War, snatching any child who showed the slightest mental ability ... Most had died, and those that remained were psychotic, destined to spend the rest of their lives locked in a padded cell. Cat made sure her barriers were high and strong. "Come on. Since Batha's not in any immediate danger of suffocating, let's see to the men." Freya shook her head. "No. I'll do it. You get to bed." She smiled and headed for the cargo bay. Batha purred. 'Cubs need sleep. No nightmares.' 'Safe, Bat?' 'Yes, Safe.' Cat nodded and turned away. She'd sleep alone tonight knowing what it felt like to have nightmares and to have someone that scared them away. She glanced towards the room that had been set aside for her and Declan, and wondered how a bed might actually feel. Crossing to it, she stepped inside, then sighed. Her erstwhile travelling companion had somehow managed to make it to the bed, and collapsed face down into the pillow. Rolling him carefully onto his back so he was wedged against the wall, she sighed again. At least now he wasn't going to die before she could kill him. A rumble issued from somewhere, and for a second she wondered if Batha had got tired of being in the closet. Then she realised. Great. He snored. Sitting on the edge of the mattress she pulled off her boots, taking another moment to undo her pants and slide them off before stripping her tank top from her body. She left her underwear on, but she wasn't going to risk her clothes smelling of alcohol. It was bad enough that booze didn't affect her - worse if she stank of it for days. Rolling onto her back, she lifted her legs up and settled down. That felt ... actually, surprisingly good. She shrugged, as much as she could lying down. She'd slept in some places where nobody but a rat could be comfortable, and others where the slightest movement would have taken her over the edge of a cliff, so maybe a bed once in a while wasn't to be sneezed at. And she could always ... Declan shifted next to her and tossed his arm over her waist. He snuffled, the odd word issuing from his lips. "S'nice ... great ass ... his ... not fair ..." So he not only snored, but talked in his sleep too. She considered moving, going back to the mule, but that probably wouldn't be any better. The rest of the men were probably still out there, and as much as Jayne loved his River, she wasn't too sure a naked woman walking past might not seem like a dream come true. She sighed. Then again, even deeper, but Declan didn't take the hint. Gentle as she could, her hand pushed him over as he muttered softly. "I'm not asleep." "So, when you said I had a nice ass?" "Wasn't about you." He groaned, trying to hide his smile. "And I do believe it was 'great' ass. Should listen more." "Well, it would be nice to have some bed. You know, like scoot over." She replied lifting his arm that lay around her. Instead, he drew her harder against him, breathing in her natural scent. Cat felt her heart begin to race, his body feeling like the man she had left years before. The smell of him had been her undoing from the start, a little scent of his mother, but it dulled in comparison to the deep rich odor of his father. "Can't do this." "Why not?" he whispered into her hair, the smell of alcohol making it even harder for her to say no. Rolling over so she could face him, Declan's lips were on hers before she could mutter a word. It felt good, tongues fighting each other for a few minutes as his hands roamed across her skin. One stayed a few seconds where her navel should have been as he smiled. "No belly button." "You've said that." She couldn't help but laugh at his slurred speech, his head falling into the crook of her neck. "I did, didn't I?" His voice, even laced with alcohol, vibrated her body making her warm in places she hadn't been for a very long time. His lips massaged above the pulse, along her jugular and Cat pushed herself deeper into his embrace. Flashes of her husband ran through her mind, dreams she had tried hard not to have jumbling in her mind as her fingers traveled along his abdomen. He smelled of cigarettes, though she knew the son didn't smoke them, memories becoming more than just as his mouth caressed her cheek. "Declan, I..." "Shut up, Babe." He reaffirmed his statement by letting his lips engulf hers and using his hands to walk across her back to where the strap of her bra rested. For a moment, she let the thoughts of what could happen between them roll through her head, touching every part of her being as a sexy growl tickled their mouths. Declan rolled them so he was on top of her, a position Cat had always had a problem with. It reminded her of 'Ski, the way he'd overpower her when she became a monster and of Falcon, when he... "Don't call me Babe." Her fight instinct began to take over as she shifted to take the top, but Declan grabbed her wrists pushing her back down, biting her neck gently as he did. Snarling, she exposed her fangs to him and he smiled, sweat dripping off his bare chest. "Let me go." Her voice was guttural, full of her darker half. "Not going to happen." He dipped to her mouth again, this time letting her fangs cut the inside of his cheek. The taste of his blood mixed with the smell of both of their want put Cat past the point of needing this. "Your father taught you what buttons to push," she breathed, his blood still on her bottom lip as she licked it off. "I'm so not my father," he panted at her before his deep eyes rolled back in his head and Declan passed out across her. "No." She smiled weakly before sliding him off her. "No, Declan, you definitely are not." Cat sighed as her body slowly came down from its sexual high. Curling her legs toward her, she lay in the dark, letting the hum of the ship console her. Almost asleep, Cat felt the mental claws touch her. 'Ship stinks. Too much sex.' The panther's voice echoed in her head as the feline read Cat's thoughts. 'Except you.' 'Bat, quit that. You know I don't like you doing that, especially when I'm ...' 'Vulnerable?' The panther picked the word out of her head. 'Only strong admit when weak.' 'Just stop sniffing the air. Everyone here is married. Mating comes with that.' 'You married. Never sexed.' 'I am too tired to try explaining that to you, cat. Go to bed. It's your fault I'm in this position.' 'Not mine. You sleep in mule alone before. Move men. Easy fix. And not cat.' 'You would think everything is easy. Just go to bed and stay out of my mind.' 'Everything easy. Humans make things hard.' Cat heard the mental huff before the feline continued. 'Fine. Sleep, but no promise to stay out of head. Belong there.' 'Whatever. Good night, Bat.' 'Night, Kitten.' =======

AN: Special thanks to Werzbowski for the help with the background on the future 'Ski...


Wednesday, November 10, 2010 8:38 AM


Two in a row, Yay!!

really enjoying this crossover.

Hardass Cat coming in and messing with the Maya verse is sheer quality, turning everyone on their head to see what they do is always fun :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 10:31 AM


Excellent followup to chp 9... keep up the good work ladies.

- 'Ski

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 1:58 PM


Loved this though I was a bit creeped out with Declan making a move on Cat. That felt so wrong. Absolutely adored Bantha in the closet with Ethan and Bethie. I am curious as to what Cat knows or suspects about dangers to come that makes her and Bantha want to stay close to our heroes. Love this series so much. You rock! Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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