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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
A first officer's stabbed, Zirondelle's pilot is an old girlfriend of Mal's and Mal just hit one of the refugees - have things gotten complicated enough yet? Heck no!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2129 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Following quietly behind Part 2 after a knock-down drag-out fight.
All Firefly characters are the property of someone else. All original characters are copyrighted by yours truly. This is not in any way, means or intention meant to infringe on anybody.
MIGHTY BIG THANK YOU goes to Defender for another killer beta. If you ever have a stubborn paragraph that refuses to mind, Defender's the woman to smack it around.
The MIGHTY BIG APOLOGY still stands for anyone who can read and speak French, although there isn't as much of it to suffer through. I'd like to add Cajun French to that, though, as there is no translation program and I'm still figuring it out.
Glossary - Cajun
Zydeco est pas salé - "The beans aren't salty", real title for a traditional Zydeco tune
veillée - a Cajun come-as-you-are shindig
T-moman - little mother
Fils de putain - Son of a bitch
deja matin - morning already
Nanan - nanny or godmother
Glossary - Chinese
shuai heishôudâng liúmáng- suave criminal, or my way of saying confidence man.
Heartbroken - Part 3
"Oh, hey, can you hear that?"
Adair listened to the music piping through the ship-to-ship comm link with Serenity and smiled warmly. She could hear the squeezebox clearly, and recognized the tune as Zydeco est pas salé, an ancient Acadian favorite. "That's the Laurents. Where's that coming from?"
"Through the vents from our cargo hold--that is amazing stuff." There was a pause on the line, allowing more music to float into the bridge compartment of the Zirondelle. Adair could also hear clapping in the background, keeping time with the upbeat rhythm of the music and wondered that anyone had any energy left for a good veillée. Given half a chance, Acadians would sooner sing, dance and tell stories than just about anything.
"What is that?" Wash asked.
Adair's smile broadened. "Zydeco--blues Acadian style. Some of it's okay. Most of it makes my teeth hurt. Rene loves it all."
"Oh yeah? Rene who?"
"Rene's our captain."
"Cariveau?" Wash's voice went up a full octave in astonishment. "He's got a girl's name?"
"No, just a French one. It was his grandfather's middle..." Adair had to stop speaking. The yawn ambushed her, seizing hold until her jaw creaked wide open and forced her eyes shut. When she was finished, she sat in a daze for a moment, staring blankly out the view port. "What was I saying?"
"Nothing important enough to worry about," Wash said. His voice sounded cautionary, which meant he had heard the yawn. "Why don't you cross over and find a bunk, catch some shut-eye?"
"Oh. Well, thanks but I--"
"No--no 'buts' about it. What's the first rule of flying?"
"The other first rule."
Adair was driven back into her flight chair by another enormous yawn as she answered. "Know when to fly...and when to set down."
"We're deep in the black, moving at a velocity that my grandmother could easily beat on her land scooter. Even if we found something to crash into, I doubt we'd notice."
"Doesn't make it any less the case. Look, we're holding steady, clamps are solid, all the lights are green..." Wash paused and Adair heard what sounded like his hand smacking part of his console. "All the lights are green. I can handle it from here for a couple hours. Or, you know, six tops."
It didn't just sound good, more like amazing. Now that she thought of it, Adair realized she had been sitting in the chair so long she couldn't be sure her legs would stay straight for very long. She'd had Jordain with her for part of it, but hadn't seen him for several hours and the need to hold her baby and feel his small body snuggle against her with simple trust and innocent devotion was becoming harder to ignore. Rene hadn't contacted her since the brief report that Ellis was in surgery. Wash had since informed her that their doctor had no news as of yet. Knowing how worried Rene would be, she wanted to see for herself that he wasn't letting himself get overwrought. At least Mal's visit more than an hour and a half ago had given her an opportunity to stand for a minute.
Mal. God, as if things aren't complicated enough.
"I bet it's warmer over here," Wash was saying. "Leastwise, till your systems are all up to full status. Did I mention we have hot running water, the works?"
"Wash--stop. I'll lock it down. Let me notify Cezar and I'll be right over."
"I'll look forward to it," Wash said enthusiastically, obviously infinitely pleased with his powers of persuasion. You want I should notify the captain...uh, captains? "
"I guess you better. See you in a bit." Putting the ship-to-ship on silent, Adair muttered, "Captains. Both of them on the same ship. Great," and switched on the internal link to the engine room. "Cezar, this is Adair."
She gave him a significant amount of time to answer. Even when Zirondelle was fully operational, Cezar was often entangled in some section of the engine and usually none to happy to be interrupted. Getting pushy on comms when he didn't answer right away only made him that much more irritable. When he did respond, it was crisp and to the point.
"I'm taking a break."
"Ki sa se bon, as well you should, T-moman," he said grumpily. "It should have been before this, oui?"
Adair let her eyes roll. "Let Wash know your status. He'll inform Rene."
"Bon. Adieu. " And that was the end of that. Cezar only needed the facts.
Checking the board once more to make sure the helms were still synched, the clamps secure, and steering column locked on auto, Adair put her hands on the arms of her chair and stood up for only the second time in the past eight hours. The stiffness was obvious from the start and she took her time with it, pulling her arms up over her head to stretch her spine like a cat. Shifting slowly side to side, she stretched out a few more kinks, then slipped into a few Tai Chi warm ups, raggedly at first then with some semblance of grace, before making her way to the hatch. Walking felt just about as alien as standing--a struggle when all she wanted to do was stretch out on a soft mattress and become unconscious for an hour, or six.
About halfway down the access to the boarding ramp, she began to hear faint strains of music, growing steadily louder as she grew closer. She was at the hatchway when it suddenly stopped and she heard a man's voice shout out in surprise. Other voices answered in shock and protest, causing her to quicken her pace. Once inside Serenity's cargo hold, she saw some of the Sayabec refugees converging slowly on the rear starboard side. From her vantage point, Adair could see three people in a stand off against some of the less-seasoned but enthusiastic Sayabec miners. She recognized Zoe with a sense of inevitability--where Mal was there Zoe would be--her exotic beauty and striking posture as timeless as ever. Even weaponless, Zoe presented a more formidable front than six men with guns might have. Certainly she was as intimidating as the hulking goateed thug holding a workman-like boxer's stance next to her. An older black man in Shepard's garb stood in front of them both with his arms spread, attempting to hold off the throng with carefully chosen bits of the Word. It looked like a brawl would erupt any second.
Then she recognized Mal's lazy drawl, “Well now, I don't believe I had a chance to give you a proper welcome aboard before, Larkin old boy."
Moving in as close as she could, Adair managed to remain inconspicuous behind one of the Laurent boys as she listened. Peering past Del Laurent's broad shoulder, she saw Mal haul Larkin Hague up by the lapels of his coat and slam him against the bulkhead. With blood trickling down from one corner of his mouth, Hague gave Mal what Adair thought was a pretty strange look. On the one hand, he clearly knew who Mal was and appeared completely unsurprised that the Serenity's captain would take a notion to slam him against the nearest bulkhead. Then again, there was the smallest spark of panic in his eyes that confirmed what Adair already suspected; that Mal had good reason to beat Larkin Hague to a bloody pulp.
And how, Adair wondered to herself, would Mal happen to have a hostile acquaintance with the late Archon’s right hand?
"Reynolds,” was the first word Hague forced out. “Didn't know...you were on...on board."
Sounded like he’d had the air knocked out of him. Apparently Mal still knew how to throw a punch.
"Oh, it's even better than that. So happens I'm captain of this boat. Small 'verse, ain't it? Seems to be getting smaller all the time too.” Mal turned his head slightly to make sure his voice carried. “Zoe, look--it's our old pal, Larkin Hague!"
Adair caught a glimpse of Zoe's glower as she turned. "I'm seeing that, sir."
Hague was none too pleased to see her either. "Zoe. Long time no see."
"Coulda been longer," Zoe said and she turned her back on him, resuming the business of protecting her captain from what could potentially become an angry mob. For their sake, Adair decided it was a good thing Hague wasn't a Sayabec native or things would have gotten pretty dicey right quick, especially with what could amount to ten-to-one odds if anyone else took it into their head to join the fray. Stepping out from behind Del Laurent, she saw a flicker of recognition in Zoe's eyes as she moved toward them.
"Mr. Hague? Is there a problem?" Adair asked loudly.
Mal started at the sound of her voice. "This ain't no business of yours," he said over his shoulder, without taking his eyes off Hague.
Adair folded her arms. "I don't suppose you'd be interested in hearing his side?"
"Not if it's your intention to defend a traitor," Mal replied.
"Well, I can't speak to that, but I do know he did take care of a heavy passage to get these folks shuttled to Pont Breaux Station."
She saw Mal's fists tighten in Hague's coat and knew she'd gotten through to him. "That a fact?"
"That's what he told the captain, at least," Adair said. "From the look of things, I'd say there's some truth to it. If you remember clearance procedures, you know that without passage off-planet, it's likely they'd all be starving to death in an Alliance detention camp back on Acadia right now, or stuck in the hold of some slaver ship."
Zoe raised an eyebrow at that. Focusing on Mal, Adair watched as he yanked Hague back off the bulkhead and set him back on his feet. He gave a little shove as he released the rumpled lapels, only to quickly grab Hague's left wrist to pluck a stocky little pistol from the sleeve. "Stay outta' my way."
Hague gave a firm nod. "That's a guarantee."
General tensions in the cargo hold started to ease as the miners began to relax. A slim pretty woman shoved her way past Mal’s thug and went to Hague's side. One look at the blood and she turned a truly venomous glare on Mal. The two of them kept an eye on him while he backed away and turned, once he had reached Zoe, to walk up to Adair. He had several inches on her--although not as many as Rene did--and seemed to take some pleasure in glowering down at her. Staring up at this stranger, she realized the Malcolm Reynolds she once knew was long gone and a totally different man was standing in front of her now. She knew the war would change him, but the question still remained how much?
"You here to see your husband?" he asked, adding a bitterly acerbic sneer.
They hadn't seen or heard from each other in more than twelve years. The idea that he was still holding a torch for her was ludicrous, and yet there was unmistakable jealousy in his eyes. Adair's temper flared. "Why, did you beat him up too?"
Looking decidedly smug, Mal shook his head. "I'll take you to him." Reaching behind him, Mal held out the small pistol. "Zoe, keep an eye on things."
Taking the weapon, Zoe tucked it into her belt. "Dong-ma." Her eyes warmed, however, and her full lips curved in a friendly smile as she nodded to Adair. "Ni hao xiâo péngyou."
"Ni hao, mei-mei." The response was automatic and welcome. There had been a time when they were close enough to share their views and opinions as women do, and usually the subject focused on Mal. Adair had been glad all those years ago when Zoe decided to follow him to the Independent cause, and envious at the same time. There had always been a bond between them that even then, Adair knew would never include her. It seemed to have persisted. That, at least, offered some comfort as to Mal's current state of mind. No matter how bad things got for him, Zoe would always be there to pull him back.
"It's that way," Mal said, tilting his head to the right. "Up the stairs, turn left." In a magnanimous gesture that struck her as vaguely suspicious, he swept one arm outward. "After you."
Arms still folded, Adair moved in the direction he indicated, and heard a gruff voice coming from Serenity’s big crewman behind her.
"That Cariveau's woman?"
"Seems like," Zoe answered. Adair thought she heard regret in her voice.
"Huh. You two didn't have some kinda...y'know, a thing? OW!"
* * *
"And another left."
As she complied, Adair's gaze followed the catwalks upward. "The shuttle pod?"
"Got it in one. Your boy's there too."
Quickening her pace, Adair dropped her arms to take hold of the railing to help pull her up. Taking the tall stairs two at a time was a stretch, but she made quick work of it and was at the top, breezing into the open hatchway leading to the shuttle pod before she noticed the damask drapery and faint spicy aroma of incense. What she saw stopped her in her tracks.
Rene was seated on a curved sofa upholstered in rich brocade next to a darkly beautiful, flawlessly elegant woman wearing an outrageously expensive velvet dressing gown over a golden silk nightgown. They were holding hands.
"Adair." Rene stood up, but seemed unsure as what to say and that alone told Adair more about what was going on than anything else.
Turning to the woman, who now had her hands folded very primly in front of her, Adair kept her voice calm and level. "Would you mind giving us a moment alone?"
The woman nodded. "Take as long as you need." She touched Rene's arm before she moved and then silently padded across to the hatchway and out without a word.
Rene, meanwhile, seemed to be trying to figure out what to do with his hands. In the end, he could only think to put them behind his back, like a little boy in a curio shop who had been expressly told not to touch anything. Turning from him, Adair moved to the right and went to the bed where Jordain was huddled into a little ball under a down satin comforter, sound asleep. Sinking to the edge of the bed next to him, Adair bent down to press her nose gently against his hair and took a long deep breath. Feeling the tension melt away, she gave him a few light kisses on his downy cheeks, and a quick little snuggle.
"I...this...it is not what you think," Rene stammered finally. "That is, it was. I do know her, or I did, but that is in the past. The distant past."
"She's the one, isn't she?" Turning to look at him, Adair went on. "The one you met on Sihnon after your mother died?"
His cheeks reddening in embarrassment, Rene rolled his eyes and he rubbed harshly at the tight spot at the back of his neck. "I cannot believe we are having this conversation. Je suis un idiot."
"Don’t get so worked up. If anything, I should be thanking her. She was one hell of a teacher."
He looked at her in confusion. "You're not angry?"
"Not even a little?"
"Is there some reason I should be?" Jordain's soft little snore brought Adair's attention back and made her smile. Rene did that too, in his sleep. Adair stroked Jordain's blonde curls, content to watch their child go on dreaming.
"No." She could hear his exasperation plain as day. There they were, literally staring each other's past paramours in the face and he was the one feeling like he had something to apologize for. At least he had never confessed to being broken hearted over someone he hadn't seen in over a decade.
"I had an opportunity to speak with him," Rene said. "He's taking us to Beaumonde."
The closeness of his voice made her hand tremble as she continued stroking their son's hair. Adair nodded. "That's good. Without nav com, we'd have a better chance getting the shuttle pods out and pushing our way there." She felt his fingers touch the fringes of her hair, and Adair tipped her head that way to rest in the palm of his hand. For that single instant, the universe seemed to stand completely still as she indulged in a little of the quiet strength of the best man she had ever known--a man undeserving of the ambiguity that came with loving her. Sighing slowly, she lifted her head away again. "I need to talk to him."
She felt him shift back slightly. "I thought you might, so I decided not to kill him."
His unusual brand of sarcasm always made her laugh, so she couldn't stop the smile. "That's good. You might change your mind, though. He's already tried to mop up the cargo hold deck with Larkin Hague."
"Hague? What for?"
"Something about the war, I think. The word traitor was used."
"Fils de putain--I knew Hague was too good to be true. He has that core-world look about him Bernardo always said was the sure sign of a shuai liúmáng." On a deep sigh, Rene rested his hands on his hips and lifted his eyes upward, muttering in French about the pot calling the kettle black. "God knows what will happen next."
She went to him without thinking about it, rising to move behind him, folding her arms around his chest as she pressed herself against him. When she stood on tiptoe, the top of her head just reached the base of his skull and then he would usually tip his head back, completing the contact. This time he covered one of her hands with his, took it and kissed her fingertips lightly before stepping away. Still holding her hand, Rene met her gaze and held it. "You will tell me once you've spoken to him?"
Nodding, Rene let her go. "I have to check up on things."
"I'll find you."
"Bon," he replied softly and with one last, long look, he turned and walked out.
* * *
Mal and Inara stood on the catwalk, not too close together, and were pretending to pass the time with some casual people-watching.
"So," Inara observed, finally breaking the silence. "A former love has come to call."
Mal looked at her in surprise. "He tell you that?"
"He didn't have to," she said. "I saw the way you looked when I came out. Were you really expecting her to storm out in a huff after finding Rene in a compromising position?"
Disgusted--mainly that she could see through him so plainly--Mal looked away again.
"She's not what I expected. Quite the contrary in fact."
Mal scowled and angled his gaze back to find Inara's lips set in a thin, firm line. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"She's strong, capable, intelligent. I would have thought you would be more attracted to the subservient variety."
"Subservient." Mal pretended to think about it. "That's a mighty fancy word for barefoot and pregnant, which by the way is completely prejudicial and erroneous. She's pretty too, or didn't you notice? Kinda in the way Kaylee’s pretty and capable and Zoe who’s…well…Zoe.”
"Actually she's gorgeous,” Inara snapped irritably. “And she's also someone's mother."
"Married to a former client of yours."
"Except they are not married."
At that, Mal's expression went blank. "Huh?"
Inara let out a short breath of air in that special way women have, of so delicately expressing their continued amazement at the eternal density of men. "Rene comes from a very traditional Christian family and if he were married, he would be wearing a ring. Have you seen one on either of them?"
She ain't married. Mal let that thought sink in and found himself caught in a strange sense of confusion. Adair might not be quite as unreachable as he thought, and Mal figured there was reason to find hope in that. Yet as he stared at Inara, he was also struck by the notion that any action in that direction would lead him back down the road of betrayal. Why else would she be giving him the exact same look that had been in her beautiful dark eyes the morning she caught him coming out of Nandi's room at the Heart of Gold?
"Captain, what is this I hear about you and Larkin Hague?"
Breaking his gaze from Inara's, Mal saw Cariveau come down the catwalk stairs, and had to consciously fight the urge fidget out of a sense of guilt. There wasn't a man in the 'verse who wanted to get caught entertaining ideas of pursuing someone else's woman, and Cariveau was too gorram observant. "Ah. Well. Nothing much, captain. Hague and I had a parting of the ways some years back. Just had some catching up to do."
Cariveau lifted one eyebrow at that. "I suppose if I go to ask him about it, he will say the same?"
Mal lifted one shoulder in the barest shrug, although his nonchalance was belied by a cynical smile. "Can't speak for the boy. Wouldn't want to, point of fact."
Cariveau's look was dubious as he reached Inara's side and put one hand down on the railing next to hers. "Inara, Adair needs some sleep and Jordain has not yet awakened. I do not wish to impose, but I must ask--"
"Of course, don't give it another thought." Inara smiled softly, just so Mal could see it before turning to face Cariveau. "They're both welcome to stay as long as they need to."
"Vous êtes bienvenu." Turning to Mal, her smile became decidedly frosty. "If they need help serving food or anything, tell them I'm available anytime."
"I'll make a note," Mal said.
"Good--Captains." Breezing past Cariveau, Inara sailed up the steps and into her shuttle so gracefully, it seemed her feet never touched the catwalk.
Cariveau, meanwhile, was eyeing Mal with a marked level of suspicion. "Is it possible I can expect more between you and Hague, or have you sufficiently renewed your acquaintance?"
Mal grinned at the captain's dry humor. "Long as he's way over there and I'm over here, nothing should go amiss."
"Good. I think he is some sort of confidence man, but many of the Sayabec look to him as their savior, not to mention the woman he's standing there with is the archon's daughter, Doriane. "
"S'pose it's too late to advise the girl against getting intimate with him?"
"Probably, since we attended their wedding last year. I would be happy to toss him out into the black with you, but I do not think she will take it kindly."
"Sounds like Hague's set himself up right pretty," Mal said, then looked at Cariveau out of the corner of his eye. "You sure it's not me you'd rather be tossing out? Just to play it safe?"
Cariveau lifted that eyebrow again. "My father may have been a bastard, Captain, but he did not raise me to be stupid."
"Glad to hear it."
"Naturellement. However, I do ask that in the future if you have any misgivings about my passengers or crew that you discuss it with me first, oui? I would like to know when and where to duck if it becomes necessary."
"I think I can manage that." When the hand comm on the back of Mal's belt signaled, he reached for it automatically, never breaking eye contact with Cariveau.
"Captain, it's Wash."
"It's Mal. Go."
"Simon just called up. He says you can see him now," Wash said.
"Tell him we're on our way," Mal said. Cariveau was already past him and on his way down.
* * *
"He's stable, and his blood count looks ten times better. I believe he'll make a full recovery, but we won't know for sure for a few hours."
Cariveau stood staring down at his oldest friend lying unconscious on the infirmary bed. Ellis appeared to be resting comfortably and actually looked quite peaceful. All the more reason for Cariveau to look reluctant when he asked, "Can you wake him?"
Simon looked over sharply from double-checking the saline drip going into Ellis' arm. "I can, but I'd rather not. The anesthetic we used was light, but it would be more beneficial to let it work through his system first."
Simon and Cariveau turned toward the hatch where Mal stood. Outwardly he seemed relaxed--feet spaced shoulder width, hands in the back pockets of his trousers--except for his eyes, which were cold and deadly serious. Mal jutted his chin out toward Ellis. "Unless you want another in here like him, you best wake him. We need to know who did this."
Siobhan was finishing the clean up from the surgery, and looked over from the autoclave. Anyone could see the similarity in the stern demeanor of the two captains, especially a healer trained to gauge human emotion. Moving silently, she went to one of the cabinets and drew out a vial, then took a small syringe from the drawer directly beneath. Quickly measuring the dose, she stepped over to hold the syringe out to Simon, surprising him. His eyes went to the instrument first, then lifted to her face. Only when he saw her nod did he take it, and inject it into the IV line.
It didn't take long. Only seconds after the drug was administered, Ellis stirred. Frowning the way small children do when awakened on a dark morning for school, he turned his head toward Simon first and cracked both eyes open.
Simon, took a cup of water from Siobhan. "You're all right. Drink this."
Ellis obeyed, frowning in confusion as he took a careful sip, then a longer one.
"Easy," Simon chided.
Ellis eased off after a fourth swallow, his voice even deeper and raspy as he spoke. "Who're you?"
"I'm Dr. Tam," Simon said. "You're on Serenity."
"Serenity?" Turning his head slowly the other way, he saw Mal first, then Cariveau. As the two men's gazes met, some of Ellis' confusion melted away. "Deja Matin?"
Whatever it was he said, it managed to make Cariveau smile. Ellis raised his hand--Mal noticed scars lining the knuckles--and Cariveau took it firmly.
"I got stabbed," Ellis said and looked at Simon again. "Right?"
"You remember?" Simon asked.
Ellis nodded confidently. "Oh yeah. Ain't sure I'm thinking straight just yet."
"That's the anesthetic," Simon would have launched into the clinical explanation of what to expect, only to cut himself off when Ellis began shaking his head instead.
"No, not the drugs. I remember what I saw. Having a hard time believing it is all."
Cariveau frowned. "Conti."
Ellis' dark gaze moved back to his friend. "Armand."
Siobhan gasped loudly and moved to the table next to Simon. "You saw him, vou avez vu mon garson? When, Ellis, where?"
If anything, Ellis' expression became even more pained than it had been on the Zirondelle bridge. "Aw, Nanan."
"Where, Ellis?" Siobhan's tone was stern.
Ellis swallowed once, and took a moment to brace himself. "Here. I saw him here."
Heartbroken - Part 4
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