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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
"Sometimes things go too slowly for River and events need a helping hand."
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2674 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
TITLE: "STOLEN HEARTS"
AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL
PAIRING: The whole shiny crew.
ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where.
SUMMARY: "Sometimes things go too slowly for River and
events need a little helping hand."
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.
A "Firefly" story
Written by Alison M. DOBELL
* * * * *
River watched. Listened. Inwardly digested. Not just the words and the body language but all the things unspoken. Felt, hidden away and surpressed. It was driving her crazy, the inside of her head ringing like a bell at Matins. So many voices, it was too loud, too chaotic, and she could not stand it any more. Simon didn't understand. Kaylee didn't want to. The others were a mix of sympathy and wary apprehension, as if she were an open bottle of nitro glycerin. One shake or nudge and she would explode like liquid napalm in their faces. Only she wasn't. River had never been that benign. In her deepest heart she kept that little fact locked away where it couldn't hurt anyone with the knowing of it. Only one person suspected the truth and he would never tell.
Simon and Kaylee were in the commons room. Her bumbling brother like a see-saw taking a step towards Kaylee then another back while the mechanic kept trying to encourage him to turn that hesitant step into two. Why did it always seem he only touched her when she was hurting? Couldn't he see that he was hurting her worse by not touching her when she was mended? When it was her heart aching not her flesh and bones?
"I'm sorry, I should go and check on River."
Peering half an eye round the door frame River sighed. As heaped up internally with frustration as her friend Kaylee was. She saw Kaylee's face fall and the quick attempt to hide her disappointment. Her brother was a boob. Worse than that he was causing pain to both of them. River stepped back into hiding, a thoughtful expression on her face. What she needed was a plan.
Wash and Zoe were in their bunk. It was the middle of the day but for once they were between jobs and not hurrying. Had made a pretty packet on the last run, enough to give them a breather. The Captain had taken great lists from Kaylee and Simon, engine parts vying with medical supplies for the bulk of the funds put aside for his boat. While they took their time in the Black it gave each of them a chance to kick back and relax, decide what they wanted to do with their money and where in the 'verse they wanted to spend it. Of course Wash knew immediately. But how many nude beaches could he find to whisk his precious wife off to before she drew her gun and announced enough was enough? Hopefully he could convince her to stop counting but right now her tongue was in his ear, her hands all over him making him squirm and laugh as she found his ticklish spot.
"Aaah, you are evil!"
Her warm breath huffed deep and sexy as *diyu* in his ear. "I can stop...."
"No, no," He backpedalled like a unicyclist on a cliff top. "I didn't say stop. Evil, yes, stop - no!"
Then he went so quickly from laughing and squirming to being turned on and trying to thrust. Her hands not pausing or breaking the rythym but the dark glitter in her eyes saying she was far from done with him. Sweat began to pool on his glistening skin, the air filling with the heat from their pheromones, his sigh turning to a moan of pleasure, want and need as she homed in on her prize and watched his eyes roll back in ecstasy. Oh yeah. She was evil.
Inara smiled at Shepherd Book as she finished making her mug of tea. The Shepherd was in a very good mood and his smile was so full of light and happy that it rubbed off on her. He seemed amused that she was not impatient to get to Portrae.
"I thought you would be anxious to increase your client base, Inara?"
One beautifully sculpted brow rose in an elegant gesture of amusement mixed with query. She did want to increase her client base. By one actually. But neither death nor torture would convince her to own up to the fact. It was a secret which warmed her thoughts in the small hours of the night when her bed was empty but not nearly so much as her heart. The others didn't know and nor would they but you couldn't lie to your heart. She had been a Companion too long to even try. "Just enjoying the calm, Shepherd."
*The calm before the storm?* Thought Book. He dismissed the notion as soon as it had surfaced in his mind. "And the peace?"
She laughed at that. Yes, it had been peaceful. After the Captain having to put Jayne in his place for smuggling a couple of prairie harpies into his bunk at Solon things had settled down and the jingle of hard earned coined had soothed more than a few ruffled feathers. Things were shiny again, for how long none of them knew, but they had learned to take the smooth with both hands and hold on tight. Never knew when things would be smooth like this again.
River hovered outside and waited until Inara went back to her shuttle. She toyed with asking Inara then dismissed it. No. This was the better option. Shepherd Book had his back to the door. His bible open in his hands though he was not reading. At times it seemed more of a prop than part of his calling. Without turning round he spoke. "You can come in River."
She floated more than walked, her grace ethereal and almost dream-like. The Shepherd turned and smiled at her. No one else was in the commons room.
"Why do you carry the book when you don't see the words?"
Her head was cocked at an angle like a bird, in fact he had often thought her movements curiously birdlike but with the added grace of an angel. "I don't need to but it gives me comfort."
"Do you need comfort?"
His smile was soft, gentle, as if soothing an inner pain. She could not tell if it was his or hers. "We all need comfort River."
"I have a question."
He nodded and slowly, calmly, shut his bible.
The cargo bay was cleanly swept and tidy. On account of them having no cargo in it. But Jayne was still arguing, the plug of tobacco he was chewing in his mouth had to be little more than a messy mash by now but he liked the nicotine even though there were plenty of versions free of such addictions.
"Ain't tellin' you again Jayne, don't want you practisin' here."
"Why not?" He scowled. Not angry just bored and a bored mercenary was a bad thing.
Mal stepped into his personal space and gave him a hard look. "Because dischargin' weapons in a ship is a recipe for disaster that's why!"
Some of the heat went out of Jayne's arguement. "Huh, well I always hit what I aim at so why the fuss?"
"I'm the Cap'n Jayne an' that's final, *dong ma*?"
For a moment Jayne almost pushed back. His muscles all bunched and frustrated from having no outlet for the natural agression that was his stock in trade. What he needed was a fight, a good old fashioned exchange of fist, teeth and boots only attacking the Captain would be so beyond smart it wouldn't have a zip code. Not on any world in the 'verse. Mal just stared him down. It was always amusing to watch Jayne climb down but this day he just wanted smooth. Craved it so deeply in his soul that part of him actually felt sorry for the Jayne Cobbs of this 'verse. Not that he would admit such.
"I'm bored, Mal."
The Captain was already striding away from him when he replied. "Then read a gorram book."
Thirteenth. Lucky for some. River had carefully gathered her coloured papers. Pens and even a pair of scissors had found their way into her hidey hole. It had taken so long to wait for everybody to go to their bunks. For the ship to finally be free of their conversations and eratic motions. River loved Serenity and everyone in it. This was home. Family. Friendship had been a stepping stone, this was more. She watched as the Captain walked his ship. Noticed how his hand trailed along her metal walls, his face as near to a look of content as she had ever seen on him. Only when he slept did peace find him. And only when she crept close enough to block out his nightmares. He didn't know and she would never tell him. Family looked out for family and he was part of hers just as surely as Simon and the others. She protected her own. Right now she had another duty. One to set in place for the birth of a new day. Didn't matter that they were deep in the Black, firmly in the middle of No and Where as the Captain would say. It suited her fine. This way there could be no running away, no turning from the inevitable. Even if the inevitable needed a nudge or two to set it in motion.
River was gifted. A genius. Her hands flew over the coloured paper, the card, her deft fingers cutting, her hands stilling on the pen to keep the lines clear, the graceful loops highlighted and woven into each and every intricate pattern. A smile shone from happy lips as she worked. Quietly humming she loved each and every one of them as they slept. It was her gift to them.
Jayne Cobb stared. Stunned, baffled and puzzled. The piece of card had been shoved through his door which meant some sneaky *tamade hundan* had opened the gorram hatch while he was asleep. It troubled him some that it hadn't waken him. Then there was this. His big hand held the red card away from his body as if it had a detonation device folded neat and scary inside its' innocent looking fold. Slowly he opened it, amazed when the middle unfolded into a three dimensional picture and not just any gorram picture. His heart squeezed like someone big was sitting on it. When he finally got a breath out it rasped and huffed like he was punctured.
Something bright and shiny twinkled in the corner of his eye. Gorrammit. He had always wondered what in the nine hells it would feel like to be in love.
It was funny, sweet, intoxicatingly unexpected. Inara smiled a deep big secretive bow of pleasure. The card had been shoved under her door, the design a masterful piece of applique that really was quite wonderful. The outside image was a heart within a heart within a heart. Like an endless mirror reflecting on and on and on to infinity. She carried it over to her dressing table, sat on the stool and opened it. What she saw inside made her heart pause, her lips forming a round circle of surprise for it was not what she expected. The words inside were written in Chinese and English:
"Roses are red
Suitors are blue
Who would have thought
I'd end up with you?"
She turned the card over. Of course it was unsigned but for some odd reason she half expected to see a strong masculine hand mocking her reaction on the obverse. There was nothing and the drawing made her squint to get the images into focus. With a start she realised the woman in the flowing gown sweeping across the ballroom looked like her but the suitor - ah the suitor had the face of a beast. Eyes half downcast and sad, while in the noble beast's hand a single red rose wept petals into her hand.
Kaylee laughed with delight, her feet skipping as she kept opening the card then inhaling the perfume. It was pink, a huge fluffy heart on the front of it which said "Be Mine". Inside was a drawing of what looked like a bank vault. There were locks and alarms on it, security cameras and guards with shotguns. The door to the vault was folded, opening the fold carefully there was a little padded cushion fixed into the card on which lay a shiny red heart. The words read:
"I do not have the gift to say
The joy that would be mine
If you unlocked this lonely heart
To be my Valentine!"
It was not signed but Kaylee knew who it was from. Her heart skipped a thousand beats a minute and she could not wait to find him.
Zoe and Wash were in the commons room staring at the cake. *Wode ma*, where in the nine hells had it come from? It was a massive cake shaped like a heart but that was not what astounded them. Little round medallions of pink icing went round the edge of the cake, each medallion had a face carefully and painstakingly coloured on it. Someone with a very fine and gifted hand had created images of every one of the crew. The tenth image made Wash's already impossibly huge smile even bigger. He loved it! Wash pointed it out for the millionth time to Zoe. "See, Zoe? It's Serenity! The Tenth crewmember."
His wife smiled indulgently. "Yes, dear, it's very nice."
He looked at her in shock. Was she blind? "Nice? NICE? *Bao bei* this is work of art!"
"No, Wash, it's a cake."
He frowned. "A cake..."
"That just so happens to be a work of art." Finished the Captain as he entered the commons area. Mal looked bemused. "Where the good gorram you get the cake, Wash? An' how come you ain't ate it already?"
"I figure it's for all of us, sir." Said Zoe as straight faced as she could manage.
Mal crossed over to the table and stared at it, his eyes going rounder and rounder. It was the most beautiful and shiny cake he had ever seen. Zoe and Wash exchanged looks, enjoying seeing the Captain being momentarily lost for words. Belatedly Zoe realised he had something in his hand.
"What's that, sir?"
He tried to hide it too late. Wash peered over his shoulder causing the Captain to step back quickly bringing him too near his second in command who deftly filched it off him. "*Wei*! That's my card!"
"That it is," Agreed Zoe affably.
Mal frowned but knew trying to retrieve it was a lost cause. He grumbled something about having no privacy aboard his own boat as Zoe opened the card and read it, her eyes widening as she broke out into warm chuckles of amusement. Wash read it and gazed at the Captain in mock hero worship. "Wow, YOU have a secret admirer? I'm impressed, Captain."
"Yeah well you may end up impressed enough to be doin' the dishes for the rest of your gorram life."
The pilot's wife was smirking. "Who sent it?"
"How the good gorram should I know? It ain't signed."
"Of course it's not signed," Said Wash. "That's the whole point Mal."
The Captain frowned. "It is?"
Zoe and Wash nodded.
"What good is that? How you gonna know who wants to be with you if it ain't signed?"
Wash rolled his eyes, Zoe read the verse out loud. Presumably in the hope that a multitude of pennies would drop. It was called giving the Captain a clue.
"A hug or a kiss
A moment in time
Is all it would take
For you to be mine."
The Captain shook his head, "Huh, as clues go that ain't no help at all."
"I like the design better than the verse."
Zoe nodded. "Has a kind of poetry to it."
The picture showed a good caracature of Mal sitting in a little rowing boat in the middle of what looked to be a vast empty ocean. He had a puzzled look on his face. "Ain't even romantic." The Captain mumbled with a hint of disappointment.
"It's symbolic," Said Wash helpfully. Mal glared at him but Wash was on a roll. "That's you all at sea in your little boat..." He ignored the way Mal's glare had gone from irritated to deadly. "...an' that confused look on your face means you don't have a clue which way to go."
"That ain't funny, Wash."
"No," Said Wash trying to look solemn and sad but unable to stop his eyes laughing. "It's not."
Before they could tease him any further Simon entered the commons area. Wash looked at him in interest. Ah. Another victim! "Simon, did you get a card?"
Simon froze for a moment, a look of horror on his face. How did they know? "Um I, how did you know?"
"We all got one, or rather I assume everyone did except me an' Wash."
The Captain's head snapped round and he stared at her. "You didn't get cards?" He felt vaguely discomfitted as if he had been singled out for this particular form of torture.
"No," Wash grinned as he hugged his wife. "We got cake."
Zoe showed Simon the Captain's card. He laughed and felt his own nervous tension ease a little. At least his card had been romantic. Maybe this wasn't going to be so embarrassing after all. He enjoyed the way the Captain looked so awkward and tense. It wasn't often that Simon felt more at ease than the Captain. As Simon turned his attention to the cake Shepherd Book, Inara and Kaylee joined them. Kaylee ran over to the cake, her face alight with excitement and joy but her eyes casting longing looks at Simon. It seemed they had all had cards. Everyone admired Inara and Kaylee's then all eyes turned to the Preacher. "What?"
"Where's your card, Shepherd?" Asked the Captain.
Book was about to try to fob them off but Kaylee caught the edge of something sticking out of his pocket and gave it a tug. The tell-tale card slid into her hand before he could save it. "Now Kaylee you shouldn't go takin' something that isn't yours."
"Ain't gonna keep it, just wanna see what you got on yours."
The Shepherd sighed as everyone crowded round to look at his card. The front of the card was a stylised bust of the Christ with one hand raised in blessing and the heart exposed. Rays of golden light radiated from around the Son of God. Reverently Kaylee opened it and gasped. The inside was adorned with angels, a set of snow white gates and a beautiful land beyond. Angelic hands reached out as if to guide the reader into the scene and beyond. To her surprise the card had no words. She turned it over then looked at him in bafflement.
"Ain't got no words, Shepherd."
Book took the card gently from her hands. "It doesn't need any Kaylee. The image on the front is called The Sacred Heart of Jesus. Inside is a depiction of the Pearly Gates, gateway to Heaven. It is widely believed that Heaven is filled with angels and the gates are opening out as you can see on to a land of Milk and Honey."
"Well at least ya won't go hungry."
All heads turned as Jayne lumbered into the commons area. The Captain had to admit the man looked mighty pleased with himself. "Did you get a card, Jayne?"
The mercenary grinned, looking somewhat smug and proud. Mal's eyes narrowed slightly wondering what in the nine hells his card said. Simon looked curious. "Where is it?"
"Show me yours an' I'll show ya mine."
Simon stepped back suddenly nervous. Kaylee caught his hand in hers and he forgot to be worried about the big man's meaning. All he could think about was how right Kaylee's hand felt in his. Jayne looked at the Preacher's card and admired it with a look close to awe. He didn't laugh at the Captain's card, just stared at it for a long time then showed them his. As every head bent over the card to look Kaylee breathed out a sigh of stunned appreciation. "That's beautiful, Jayne."
The Captain had to admit it was fine work. Inara smiled slightly then caught Mal's eye. For a long moment neither could look away, all kinds of magnetism tying the pair in knots.
Jayne could not stop admiring how the card opened out, the three dimensional image of his favourite gun just plumb took his breath away. Vera had never looked more lovely, more desirable. Not nothing in the 'verse could equal her. Everyone started talking at once, discussing the cards, the surprise of it all, the shiny cake. Kaylee dragged Simon closer to the table, her mouth watering as she looked at all that pink and red icing. Before she could say anything River danced into the room, her face almost aglow with happiness. It made everyone's hearts glad to see her like that.
"Won't taste of strawberries."
Kaylee had her hand half out to scoop up some of the icing. "Just wanted a taste."
River shook her head. "Only the icing is real."
Everyone stared at her in shock. "Are you saying you made the cake, River?"
She smiled at her brother. "Up most of the night, tried so hard to get it right."
"An' you did a perfect job." Said the Captain. River smiled brightly at him. Mal held up his Valentine's card. "I take it I have you to thank for this shiny card?"
River nodded. "Each according to his or her fashion."
When Mal frowned she tried to explain. "Like the animals but not everyone comes in a pair.
"Putting an image of Serenity on the cake was a nice touch." Said Wash.
He got a beam of pleasure back. Jayne looked at the cake then scowled at her. "What d'ya mean cake ain't real? Looks real."
"Good enough to eat." Quipped River gaily. She danced around them, a hand lightly brushing them as she skipped passed. "I didn't have the ingredients. It's made of card and glue but I added the icing to create the illusion."
"And it's beautiful." Agreed the Preacher.
"So if we can't eat it what are we gonna do?" Jayne asked.
River looked at each of them one by one. Happy to see how Kaylee and Simon were standing together holding hands, Zoe and Wash with their arms around each other, Mal and Inara inching towards each other when they thought no one was looking. Jayne and the Shepherd were happiest as they were and she was the Fairy Godmother. Besides she loved Serenity. Almost as much as her new family.
"Now we have a party!"
For a moment everyone just stared then realising they had time on their hands and no pressing job waiting on them the idea took root. Kaylee bounced on her toes and gave the Captain a pleading look. Out of the corner of his eye he was aware of Inara looking at him. Memories of a mighty fine shindig where there had been lots of fancy food and dancing teased his mind. Wouldn't mind a repeat without the swordfight. He smiled, caught Inara smiling back, and announced a party was just the thing.
River watched, listened, inwardly digested. All her hopes and dreams shiny presents that made her all kinds of happy. The crew bent to the task of getting the party off to a good start with Kaylee providing the alcohol while everyone helped or hindered in rustling up something to eat and music to make merry by. It was a long exhausting party. At the end of it a weary Inara Serra puffed at the curl of hair hanging down in her face. The Captain didn't have the heart to berate anyone for the mess. Felt too damn content and happy to give a good gorram. Time enough to put the shiny away tomorrow. He turned his head and smiled at the Companion. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Simon Tam lean towards Kaylee and give her the sweetest kiss.
"About gorram time!"
Everyone stared at River's long suffering announcement then laughed. As the party began to break up and the crew stumbled to their own and each others' quarters River danced away on feet as light as air. It was a long time since she had felt this happy. She didn't have to give Serenity her present, the ship already had it: her heart.
CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)
*diyu* = hell *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard *wode ma* = mother of God
*bao bei* = precious/treasure *wei* = hey
*dong ma* = understand
Monday, February 14, 2005 5:15 PM
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Tuesday, February 15, 2005 8:47 AM
Tuesday, February 15, 2005 1:35 PM
Tuesday, September 13, 2005 5:39 AM
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