Twin Regrets Ch6: Still Flying
Thursday, July 28, 2005

Firefly/Farscape xover


As always, thanks to the intrepid betas mona1347, luridmuse, and cassiee.

bdgeministar, hope you are still enjoying the continued celebration of your birthday:)

Bunnies and the muse thrive on feedback:)

Standard Disclaimer applies. See prologue for details. Farscape/Firefly xover --- Spoilers for Farscape through Infinite Possibilities" (season 3) and it's AU from the ending of that same episode. Firefly -- most likely spoilers for the entire Fox season. No spoilers for the movie, Serenity, and I haven't seen it so DO NOT spoil me in your comments. If you haven't seen one or the other, the story should still be understandable. I'm doing my best to incorporate backstory as I go.

Chapter 6: Still Flying Chinese glossary Ying jun – handsome Shuai - suave

Mal pushed off the ground with a loud groan. Now that the adrenaline was draining away, his body ached from the tension of battle. They were still flying. That felt good. Some days he thought that he was getting too old for the constant battles that seemed to be required to make sure the ship and crew were safe and sound in the black.

"Zoe? Jayne?" he called out as he looked around at the carnage.

"Can I keep the gun?" Jayne asked.

"Still standing, sir," Zoe said.

Mal looked down at the source of muttered cursing along with several whimpers. Looked like not all of them escaped unscathed. "Gonna need some stitches in our intrepid inventor, here," he told Zoe as he pulled Car off the ground. He quickly had to take hold of him again when Car's injured leg buckled. "Come on, infirmary's this way."

Car was eerily silent as they made their way to the infirmary. Zoe arrived as Car settled onto the exam table. Mal lingered for a moment. The way Car had frozen before jumping to action during the battle bothered him. He'd fought well enough, better than the green recruit he'd seemed to be when he'd stared motionlessly into the face of the oncoming Reavers. The man seemed a study in contradictions – he'd gone out of his way to prevent the crew of Serenity from doing violence to Patience's sniper, but he shot with skill and had a head for strategy. Not to mention inventing some damn effective weaponry. Mal's interest in the results of Wash's ident search increased with each observation of Car's actions.

"I'm going to check on Wash before starting clean up. Join us when you can," he told Zoe. Mal found Jayne resting comfortably on the couch outside the door. "Go check on Kaylee and Book. Make sure Kaylee stays away from the cargo bay until we've finished though." Jayne grunted in response before tiredly going about his duty.

Mal noticed River out of the corner of his eye before he headed to the bridge. He didn't know whether to yell at the girl or thank her. Ignoring her wasn't an option though; his skin crawled at the sight of all the weapons she still carried in the make-shift bandolier.

Smiling, he patted her shoulder. "You did good, helped out a lot." She brightened a little under his praise and didn't resist him when he removed the gun-belt from her shoulders. Mission completed, he could feel the last of the tension leave his shoulders. "Do you want to stay here or come with?" She didn't answer, just went to the infirmary window and stared through. "Suit yourself."

Kaylee's hug in the kitchen nearly knocked him off his feet. He hugged her back. This was what he fought for daily. Just a little bit of peace in this cesspool of a 'Verse. To his mind, it shouldn't be so hard to keep that peace safe, but it seemed as if the powers of the 'Verse didn't care for Malcolm Reynolds very much. Which was fine with him, it had been a while since he'd liked them either.

"Hey there, mei mei. Everything's okay."

She sniffed as she pulled away. "Never doubted it."

He fought the melancholy that her words evoked. It was nice of her to say, but there was nothing more disheartening than when Kaylee lied to make him feel better. "Why don't you start making some food? We've got a bit of work to do, but I'm sure everyone will be hungry soon enough." She nodded and he continued on to the bridge.

Wash took his sweet time opening the door after Mal had knocked. As he waited, he felt the spark of anger that had ignited when he first saw River levitating on the ceiling begin to build again. He hadn't asked all that much. All Wash had to do was keep the door locked and watch the two women. Somehow, Wash had failed.

It was the damnedest thing though; his mistake might have saved the entire crew.

Wash and Inara greeted him with relief.

"Zoe?" Wash asked with undisguised fear.

"She's fine. Not a scratch. She's sewing up Car right now," Mal said as he waited impatiently for an apology or explanation about the missing member of their complement. Instead, banal post-fight congratulations flowed from both. "Seems like you're missing someone," Mal finally said.

Wash looked at Inara in confusion. Mal smirked when he saw both of them look around the cockpit before they rushed to ask what Mal already knew. "River's fine, no thanks to you," he said as he looked at Wash. "She even helped out some, although it is a bit distracting when your fight is interrupted by a psychotic-reader carrying more weapons than Jayne."

"She was here, Mal. She and Inara went in and I locked the door behind me," Wash protested.

Mal waved it away. Suddenly, he was too tired to have this fight considering what still waited for him in the cargo bay. "I left River with Zoe. You might want to go keep an eye on her. Stay away from the cargo bay, though," Mal told Inara. She nodded and left with a last glance at Wash. "Put us on full burn before you come to help with the clean up. A little space between us and this place will feel good."

Mal looked out at the black that continued to betray him by letting his enemies find his ship repeatedly. There was no comfort to be found there so he left to begin the disposal of the remains of battle.

I keep my eyes closed as Zoe goes about stitching and dressing my wounds. I'm sure Aeryn and D'argo would both have something to say about how I'm the only one injured during the entire fight. Even River survived without a scratch and she's the one who set off the explosion at the end.

Zoe only gave me a local, but I can feel shock pulling around the edges, making me drowsy and weak. And nauseous, I think when Zoe's blood covered hand comes too close to my nose. I want a shower to wash the smells of battle off, but right now, I'm worried that I'll fall and need more stitches if I attempt it.

"All done. I gave you a shot of antibiotics, but I'll have to search around for the pills later on. Do you want anything?" she asks.

I shake my head and leave my eyes closed as I listen to her leave. I feel bad about not going with her, but right now I can't…I just can't.

"They weren't men anymore," River's voice says from the direction of the door.

I hope she's right, but the reassurance feels hollow. They might not have been men, but then again, didn't I often think the same about the pictures of people participating in twentieth century genocides on Earth? They might not be men, but they are the first humans I've ever killed. The distinction shouldn't mean as much as it seems to. I've killed plenty of people during my time in the Uncharted Territories and been the cause of even more deaths.

"But this is still different," her voice says. Finally, I open my eyes. Zoe had reclined the table into a chair before she'd started working on me. It feels uncomfortably like other chairs I've been in against my will, but I force those comparisons from my mind.

River is still standing in the doorway, showing no intention of walking inside. "Yeah, kid, this is different."

"They didn't give you a choice. Wouldn't have mourned you as they ate your living bowels before popping your eyes like-"

"Doesn't mean I should feel good about it." My answer silences her. I still can't believe what I saw this slip of a girl do. It was one-part X-men, one-part La Femme Nikita. Unbidden, my eyes are drawn to the multiple track marks that run along her arms. I wonder if they are the work of her brother or her tormentors.

"Both. Sometimes the distinctions blur. Those are the worst," she answers my unspoken question. I add a pinch of Steven King's Firestarter to my early appraisal.

Inara interrupts our uncomfortable exchange. "There you are. Kaylee is preparing a meal. Why don't we go keep her company?" Her smile says that the invitation includes me as well.

I slide off the exam table and test my legs for a moment before declining. As much as friendly conversation might do to relieve the tension of battle and distract River from hearing my thoughts, I have no stomach for the smell of food or congratulations from non-combatants. Instead, I turn to go in the direction of the cargo bay.

In my experience, nothing builds bonds of trust like battle or ship maintenance.

Jayne growled at Wash when he nearly tripped over the other man. Both he and Zoe had taken their sweet time about joining the rest of them in the clean up. Probably busy recreating in their bunk.

He was surprised that the new guy, John, had joined the messy procedure. Man was still a little wobbly on his injured leg and hampered in carrying bodies by the deep bite to his forearm, but every pair of hands was appreciated. As happy as Jayne was to survive the battle with the Reaver's, the aftermath ain't any more pleasing. A dead Reaver doesn't smell any better than a live one. Only consolation was that the corpses don't spit and bite.

Of course, there were a few only playing at being dead. Most were too hurt to do much, but he'd taken to slashing their throats before he and Book tossed them into the bay's airlock. Each time he did it, Jayne ignored the sounds of dismay and praying that came from just behind him. As much as he respects Book, the man's compassion would likely l get someone killed someday if the rest of them don't watch out for him.

The quietness of the cargo bay was ten times worse than the noise of the battle. Jayne hated it; reminded him too much of a funeral. His overtures at conversation with the others haven't been well received. But now, John's here, maybe the new guy would be up for some noise. He certainly didn't seem to mind it before the battle, anyways.

"Nice to see that you don't mind getting your hands dirty," Jayne said. John's response wasn't much more than a grunt, but Jayne took it as encouragement. "Those guns are something else. I never thought I'd find a weapon that did more damage than Vera. Gave those Reavers a bit more mutilation than they cared for, huh?"

He stepped back a bit from the look of pure disgust that John gave him. Book stepped between them and bent to help Jayne with his current burden. "There should be a mop in the storage closet over there. That shouldn't strain your injuries too much," Book instructed John as he used the corpse he carried with Jayne to guide the man further away from John's glare.

"What's his problem? Not like he wasn't maiming the gorram Reavers left and right with the rest of us," Jayne asked after John was out of hearing.

"Sometimes seeing the damage of one's inventions firsthand is disturbing," Book replied.

"That doesn’t make good sense, shepherd. A man creates a gun, there's no question about what it will be used for."

Book sighed wearily as they positioned the body on top of the growing mound of limbs. "Sometimes the inventor never plans to be the one to use the weapon, son. He never acknowledges his own role in the destiny of the machines he unleashes without concern. To see that, to participate in it, it can sully what was your life's work. Not to mention your own everlasting soul."

Book left him then. Most of the heavy lifting was done at that point. Just bits and pieces to pick up so that John could swab the deck unimpeded. Book's words made Jayne think though. He'd often wondered exactly why the man chose to enter the religious life when it's clear as day that Book was once very good at strategy, war, and hell, even killing. Jayne noticed just how much effort the older man put into placing all of his shots in non-lethal areas when they rescued the captain from Niska's skyplex. It takes a lot of training and skill to keep one's cool in a heated firefight. Jayne wondered what it was that Book could have done that sullied the man's legacy so much that he was driven to seek a new one. Maybe someday, he'd find out.

Kaylee couldn't help but feel good. Everyone was finally having a good time after they had finished cleaning up. They had slowly trickled in, drawn by the smells of dinner and the little chocolate cake she and Inara had whipped up on the spur of the moment. Kaylee had even dragged out a sizeable amount of her moonshine stash. She'd have to remember that hidey hole; it had protected the liquor amazingly well from Jayne's thirst.

Now everyone was relaxed and telling stories. She'd finally gone to keep John's company since he'd taken his small pile of food over into the corner. Kaylee figured that he just felt a little out of place with the tight knit group so she'd taken a bottle of liquor with her. He'd been gracious and hadn't chased her away. He was a good deal less stiff than some folk.

That thought produced a small amount of guilt, but she was happy enough from several cups that it was easy to dismiss it. She was determined to not let River's glare distract her either. It was nice to have someone besides Wash laugh at her jokes and treat her as an equal. John was just as ying jun and shuai as Simon. His drunken exploits are much more entertaining as well.

"You're kidding? They just left you guys in a store window?"

"Undressed and posed, cross my heart," he replied. He smiled as she laughed even harder. She'd pay good money to see that.

"That sounds almost as good as when we found the captain unconscious from his 'wife'," she made sure to use air quotes as she explained it. "Except for the fact that she programmed the ship to fly into a salvager's net where we'd all die."

"Sounds like you guys run into a lot of that."

Kaylee shrugged. She didn't want to think about it right now. "Not too much. Mal and Zoe always get us through it," she replied. Suddenly she noticed that the dining room had gotten a lot quieter. Almost everyone had left while they'd talked. Jayne was passed out at the table while Mal was having words with Zoe as she supported Wash. Inara and Book had already departed..

"Looks like we better leave if we don't want to be stuck with clean up duty," he said.

Kaylee nodded and giggled quietly. He pulled her up and they slipped out the closest door. She almost paused when John turned to the steps that would lead him to the passenger dorm. She could just go on into the engine room and sleep on her hammock, thereby avoiding the captain and the possibility of KP.

Then she looked at John and realized that he wasn't dismissing her. Kaylee didn't think that anything too friendly was going to happen. She hadn't picked up that type of a vibe from him. Yet all night, John had seemed incredibly lonely and wistful for the friends he'd told her about. She could understand how he wouldn't want to be alone after the day they'd had. She didn't want to be alone either.

Instead, she concentrated on the happy buzz she could still feel from the night of drinking and John's warm hand in her grip as she followed him into what had been Simon's bunk. Thinking of the fun she'd had tonight, the warm arms that held her, and the bulk of the chest she rested her head on, she banished the guilt from her mind.

She didn't have anything to be guilty about after all, they were just keeping each other company and the nightmares away. Simple as that really.

Mal did his best not to yell when the insistent buzzing of the comm woke him the next morning. He'd told Wash and Zoe that he wanted to be informed as soon as they got any results from Car's fingerprints. Especially after last night. He hadn't missed seeing that Kaylee and Car had left together. That girl's crush on the new guy almost assured Mal that something was off about him. Kaylee just had bad luck when it came to menfolk. First Simon and then Tracy. For her sake, he hoped that Car's past didn't reveal anything too horrible.

As always happened when he was hung over, the lights of Serenity's hallway seemed to be focused exactly at his eyes no matter how he turned his head. Sometimes he felt like his ship enjoyed punishing his excesses to remind him how easily everything could go wrong.

Zoe and Wash were both present on the bridge when Mal reached it. Unsurprisingly, Wash looked even worse than Mal felt. The couple greeted him with matching somber expressions. "Well?" he finally asked when neither spoke after he leaned against the lockers.

He looked directly at Zoe when Wash glanced at her. Bad news then. "Nothing," she said.

"Nothing? What do you mean nothing? Everyone's fingerprints pull up something, at the very least a birth registry."

Wash shook his head. "Not this guy's. Absolutely nothing from the last hundred years matches him."

Mal took that in. It was impossible. It was then that he noticed Zoe's shoulder pull up into a military stance. There was more then. "What else?"

"I had Wash run another search on his name. There's no record of a John Crichton Car, living or dead."

"Maybe the spelling was off."

"I tried C-a-r, double R, every conceivable combination we could think of. There aren't any John Car's by any permutation alive in the system today," Wash explained.

Mal let the news sink in. This was worse than he'd ever imagined. To have absolutely no record, that was big. Alliance big. "What do you think?" he asked Zoe.

She shrugged. "There's no Alliance cruisers following us yet. Possibly a spy. Or maybe Niska. Either way-,"

He finished for her, "Bad news." Gorramit, why could nothing go smooth?



Friday, July 29, 2005 12:57 AM


I am *so* loving this. I hope John 'fesses up with Mal before things can go really screwed. If I could have one wish though jebbypal? It would be to have you write FASTER, *dong ma*? Excellent work as always. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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