print this story!
Disclaimer: Firefly and all related elements, characters and indicia © Mutant Enemy Productions and 20th Century Fox Television, 2003. All Rights Reserved. All characters and situationssave those created by the authors for use solely on this websiteare copyright Mutant Enemy Productions and 20th Century Fox Television.
Not Thinkin' 'Bout It
by Nicole Clevenger
Okay, here's how it was:
Oh, not the scary bits, the part where I was stuck on that shuttle with Inara and Jayne and the preacherIt'll be a good long time 'fore I'm ready to talk 'bout that. 'Bout sittin' there helpless and terrified, floating through the black with no hope of rescue, watchin' Inara fret and Jayne try to act all tough like he wasn't a bit afraid that we were all 'bout to die for certain. And the preacher just kept prayin' and prayin', least 'til Jayne told him he was gonna send him on ahead of us into Death if he didn't shut up. We just kept sittin' there, worryin' 'bout ourselves and the others and thinkin' 'bout turning around. Least I was, and I knew Inara was too. I still can't believe we just left the Cap'n on Serenity to die all alone...
This ain't real, I just kept thinkin', over and over. This ain't real...
And then Wash was signaling us, telling us to turn around and head on back to Serenity. Seems Zoe woke up and didn't like the Cap'n's plan much. Didn't know what we'd find when we got back, but the important thing was that we were goin' back...
Mal fixed the ship. Almost died too, but he sure did get Serenity runnin' again. That Cap'n. Always got a trick up his sleeve. Simon says it's real lucky we got back when we did, otherwise he woulda bled to death there, alone in the dark...
But I ain't gonna think about that now. Not about comin' in and finding him there, face down in all that blood. So much blood, and he was so so still. I thought he was gone already, 'cause it sure didn't look like he was breathin'...
Nope. Not thinkin' 'bout it. Instead I'm gonna think about how good it felt to come back home, feelin' Serenity under my boots, alive again all around me. She was still a bit cold, sure, but I could tell she was breathin' again the minute my feet touched down. It was like she was hummin' a song to welcome us all back.
Aw, I pro'lly sound like River now. Wonder what Simon would say.
'Sides, the Cap'n's shiny. Well, better, anyway. Checked himself out of the infirmary soon as he woke up again, even though Simon wasn't real happy 'bout it. Said there was a chance of infection, plus losin' all that blood won't do good things for nobody. But Mal wouldn't listennever does, that I've seen, once he decides on something. My daddy's like that, too, and I've seen it get him into trouble more often than it gets him out. Cap'n just sat there, lookin' like he was listening real careful to everything Simon said, and then got right off that bed. "Don't matter none," he told the doc, 'cause we had to go meet a man 'bout a job. A man who he knew, and who'd only do business with the Cap'n himself.
So Simon said okay, but only if he got to go along. And I'm thinkin' there's gonna be a fight, 'cause the Cap'n sure don't like to be told what to do. 'Specially on Serenity. But he agreed, just up and said that Simon could go along like it wasn't nothin'. I think Simon was more surprised than anybody. He don't think Mal likes him much.
I didn't get to go, which was okay by me since Serenity still needed a lot of work to get back to normal. She's still not perfect, but I'll get her right again soon. Still can't help feelin' like it was somehow my fault everything went bad. Even if nobody says nothin', I still feel like it. Feel like I let everybody down. 'Specially Serenity.
I got shot once too. Don't really remember it happenin' or much right after, but I remember how much it hurt. Pain like to go on forever, sometimes even after I got all doped up. Days and days of hurtin' and feelin' weak and useless and wonderin' if I'd ever be able to do anything ever again. I tell ya, when the Cap'n came back on board after his meetin', the look on his face brought it all back just like that. I mean, sure he was tryin' to pretend like he wasn't hurtin', but I could tell all the same. I swear my side started achin' all over again.
When he tripped Simon was right there, so I guess he was watchin' the Cap'n pretty close, too. Mal pulled his arm away faster than the words comin' out of his mouthwords that my daddy never woulda stood for comin' for me is for sure. I nearly followed him out, but I don't 'magine his words for me woulda been much prettier. 'Sides, I wanted to hear what happened at the meetin'.
Simon wasn't sayin' much though. Said we got cargo again, some fancy perfume that'd get us in a whole mess of trouble if they catch us. What else is new, huh? You can bet Jayne wasn't too happy when he heard what we were haulin'. Said he just knew somethin' was gonna bust open, smell up the whole ship just like 'Nara's shuttle. Nothin' has yet, and the Cap'n won't even let us have a tiny sniff. Bet it smells real nice though. Like expensive flowers.
Anyway, we got the cargo on board and the last couple of days have been pretty quiet. Cap'n's been keepin' himself scarce thoughbarely even showin' up for meals with everybody. 'Course, he could just be avoidin' River, after what happened the other day. We was all just eatin', kinda quiet like it's been since we all got back. Like everybody's 'bout ready to jump right out of their skin if there's so much as a noise. Like any second there's gonna be that same flicker of power and it's all gonna go dark again, right before -
No, that wasn't the part I was tellin'. We was all sittin' 'round the table, eatin', and all of a sudden River starts talkin'. We're all kinda used to it by now, so nobody was surprised or nothin'. She started off real quiet, and just kept gettin' louder, and when I looked up, she was starin' at Mal dead on like there weren't nobody in the room but the two of them. "They stained the inside of your head," she said, and the Cap'n jumped up like his chair had bit him. He'd gone all white like he was 'bout to fall over, starin' at River with his mouth half open. Took a step back, away from her and the table, and you'd think to look at him that he'd seen a ghost. Or a Reaver.
Then Simon was there, moving toward him slow like I seen him do with his sister when she gets spooked, but the Cap'n came back from where ever he'd been. "That girl's always runnin' her mouth off where she ain't got no business," he said, soundin' madder than he usually ever gets 'round River. That's just how she is, is all. He don't usually get mad enough to snap at her.
He left quick as can be after that, and Simon took River away soon after. In all that quiet I was thinkin' 'bout what she coulda meant. Now, after a couple of nights of late night visits in the engine room from the Cap'n, I think she was talkin' 'bout bad dreams. 'Cause there's a reason why he ain't in his bunk sleepin' like everybody else.
Everybody but me, sure. But that's different, 'cause I got a lot of work to do still, like I said. Gotta make sure Serenity's runnin' at her very best. Not much room for mistakes out here, that's for sure. But the Cap'n don't have to be up, wanderin' 'round when it's plain he don't feel good. 'Course, maybe he does. Maybe he needs to make sure everything's runnin' right too.
But I bet it's 'cause everytime he tries to sleep all he can do is remember. Sure am glad I cleaned up all that blood 'fore he came 'round. I tell ya, the first time I saw those red fingerprints all over everything, I went numb clear down to my toes. Glad he didn't have to see that again.
First night he came 'round, I was thinkin' maybe he needed somebody to talk to, 'bout what happened. But I shoulda known betterMal never talks to nobody. Nope, he just came in all quiet like he was sneakin' in to steal somethin', and one look at him told me he wasn't there for conversation. So I just kept on workin' like I didn't even see him, even when he sat down with his back to the wall. Figured he'd speak up if he had somethin' to say. But no, he's just been comin' to sit. Sometimes I look over and he'll be sittin' there with his head back against the wall and his eyes closed, like he was almost sleepin'. And sometimes I catch him holdin' his side, though he knocks it off soon as he notices me lookin'. Bet it's throbbin' somethin' awfulI remember that for surebut he never says nothin'. Just sits.
Sometimes, when I look over, he's already gone. Sure do hope he got what he came for.