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03 January 2009 @ 09:32 pm
Older Fic: Stars In His Eyes (Firefly) - Written for Apocalyptothon  
So... yeah... i wrote it, I posted to the apocalyptothon comm, but I never posted another here about where to find it in case anyone wanted to read.


Title: Stars In His Eyes
Author: missmara
Recipient: karrenia_rune
Fandom: Firefly/Serenity
Rating: PG-13 or so
Spoilers: The whole series and minor ones for the movie
Pairing: Mal/Inara
Warnings: Mentions of character death, but none are actually shown. Mix of canon characters and an original character.
Summary: This was my first time writing Firefly, but the person I wrote it for liked it, so... I guess I didn't do so bad... lol... After the fic, I have no added this kinda long commentary thing about various thoughts while re-reading. The commentary contains more spoilers for Serenity than the fic itself, I think... lol



Stars In His Eyes


Earth That Was truly... was. It wasn't a habitable world by the usual standards, it wasn't some secret salvation that had healed from it's wounds in the centuries since they'd left. It was shattered world that was better left alone. It was also the only world left, the only chance for the few thousand people in the caravan of hastily packed cargo ships.

"We live in a beautiful world," River sang softly as she danced through the dust, only recieving a few odd looks from the handful of previously wealthy survivors they'd picked up in recently weeks. Simon had tried to 'control' his sister, as some of the people had told him he needed to, but he'd given up when he realized that she was content to dance in the dust near the Serenity, and that some people almost seemed comforted by her ramblings.

"Yes, very beautiful," Mal agreed as he came out carrying another box of seeds. He didn't hold out much hope of them actually growing here, not in this devastated stretch of barren dirt, but River had insisted that this was the spot. This was where the last of the ships had left from Earth, and it was only right that this was where they'd come home. And even Mal had to admit that once this place might have been beautiful, with it's distant mountains and the dry cliffs that he thought might have once been the walls of an ocean. "Don't step in bodies, River," he added.

"Silly captain," River said, smiling widely. "The Earthbound buried their dead and swept the ground clean of the ashes."

Mal paused at that, wondering what the hell she was talking about now.

~~~

The ice storm came on quick, and Jase had been caught out in the open, forcing him to simply make due by turning his back to the wind and pulling his long coat up to cover his head and shield him from the biting ice. It didn't keep his shoes from becoming heavy and wet from the ice, though, and when he came to the familiar rock outcroppings, he used them as shelter while he started a fire and attempted to dry his boots.

The pilgrimage was yearly, a search for any activity on the landing strip a hundred kilometers from the village and a series of whispered prayers for the dead buried on the plain right before the rolling hills began. In years past, large groups would go, but now only Jase kept hope that someday, someone would come back to their broken world to save what was left of the people there, a people as battered and broken as their world was.

After a few moments, the storm stuttered to a stop and Jase was able to dry his boots rapidly in the air that now was dry enough to make his skin crack and bleed. Then, he forced the boots back on to keep walking. He believed that someone would come, no matter how long it took, and he was determined to be there when they did.

~~~

"They found bones," Zoe reported as she stood with arms crossed in front of Mal. "Hundreds, maybe thousands of skulls."

"You saying we landed near a mass grave?"

"Or at least a pit the bodies were tossed into."

"Not tossed," River said. "Disposed of to avoid contagions. The plague is a very bad disease."

Mal glanced over at Simon, who shrugged. "Well, it is," he said tiredly.

"They remember their dead," River said. "And they lay rememberances, too."

"We did find what could have been cloth flowers tucked into a rock crevice," Zoe said.

"How old?"

"Maybe a few years."

"So someone's found a way to survive here," Mal said. "So will we."

"Right, sir," Zoe agreed.

~~~

When he stopped for the night, Jase checked his pack again to make sure he hadn't damaged to roughly made bouquet. It was tradition to use bits of material, too old and worn to even patch, to make flowers to lay at the site of the Big Death, and Jase knew this could be the last pilgramage for a longtime, if the community leaders had their way and moved further west into the valleys that supposedly still had trees and plants. Still had animals other than the violent felines and canines of expanses.

It got cold at night, and Jase gladly hunkered close to the fire, his jacket wrapped tight around him but still shivering.

No one else had wanted to come this year, calling it useless and accusing Jase of being suicidal for deciding to attempt it alone. But he had to know, he had to hope and believe, otherwise there was no point.

No point at all.

~~~

"You might as well have left us out in the black!"

"There's nothing here!"

"It's a dead world, just like all the others!"

"There's life all around us!" The crowd turned to River in astonishment, only to find her watching them with angry hands on her hips. "There is life waiting to be found, just over that ridge if you'd only look!" she insisted.

"River, now's not the..." Simon began.

"We haven't looked, Cap'n," Kaylee pointed out, her gaze going to the hills River had pointed at. "And she's been making more sense lately."

"First thing in the morning," Mal said. "Looks like a storm's brewing and I don't want anyone out in it tonight."

~~~

Another ice storm hit, and Jase had to let the fire go out so he could flee to another rock outcropping, huddling in a corner formed by two of them and using his pack as a third wall to cover him almost completely. He knew he should keep moving, but the ice burned his cracked skin and he was too tired from walking so many days. The landing field was just over the ridge, so close, but it would have to wait until the storm cleared.

Instead, in his tiny makeshift shelter, he pulled out the data device he'd stolen from the community's supplies and began to record his message, so that if he didn't make it, someone would find it and from there find the community, find what was left of humanity on their broken world. Maybe someone else would come someday, in ships that had seen the black and chosen to come home. People who would either come to save or come to live, as long as they didn't bring the plague behind them like before.

~~~

"We found something!" Zoe called the next morning, standing by several hulking boulders and staring at the protected side.

As Mal come around the edge of the boulders, he saw the huddled figure and crept closer, knowing what he was going to see but needing to make sure. "Dead?"

"Definitely," Zoe said. "But it's only a couple years old," she added.

As Mal moved around to see the face, he had to agree. He'd seen a couple mummified bodies in the past, most of them on ships where the life support had died and everyone had suffocated as they continued to drift for years in the black, and this body had begun the process but still had enough flesh to it that they could tell the man hadn't been older than his early twenties, a kid.

"We'll bury him with the others," Mal said. "Say a few words for him."

"Someone did survivor for a long time," Zoe said hopefully.

"In the expanse, even," River said, nodding solemnly.

"Any ideas?" Mal asked Simon, who shook his head at the familiar question.

"She hasn't told me anything more than she's told everyone."

"He'll be comin' ov'r the mountain when he comes..." River sang softly as she looked towards the ridge that back at the rocks, at first distressed, then suddenly smiling. "See?" she said, pointing and looking over at the stunned members of the Serenity's crew and the other survivors.

High above them, a lone figure walked, slowly heading towards the landing fields.

~~~

When Jase reached the fields, they were empty as always, only the rusting hulks of the great ships still standing there as though waiting to be crewed again and leave. He placed his makeshift flowers on the rocks by the gravesite, then returned to the ships, finding the one his mother and father had long ago come to this world on, and skittering his fingers along the edges of the ramp until he found the outer release and got it to lower and let him inside.

She was an old ship, far from young even when she'd come here, but Jase liked wandering he halls and checking out every inch of the ship each year, making sure she was still alright, still waiting. He dreamed of one day starting up her engines and leaving behind his dead world, but he had never known what he would do all alone out in the black, and he had people back at the community who would miss him.

Except he didn't, not anymore. The last one left, sweet Kaylee who'd rigged a guidance system that unerringly led him here each year, had died the previous winter when food had run short. She hadn't been young anymore, not with the brutalities of life on The Earth That Was, but she had told Jase stories about a man who'd been older than even his parents had been when they died within days of eachother the summer before that. He'd never been sure if he believed the stories, though, because his parents had been the oldest in the community when they died, and no one else had even come close.

As he reached the bridge, Jase slid into the pilot's seat and slowly glided his fingers across the edges of the console. As he turned the chair, he noticed a little sign that pointed at a keyboard and read 'type your name' in his mother's swirling hand. Jase did so, inhaling sharply as his father's face appeared on a screen, worn with the life on their world, but still with the warm expression that had been reserved for he and his mother, along with the other crewmembers from this ship.

"I've never said it enough, I probably never will, but you should know, Jase, how proud I am of you," the man said. "That's why I'm entrusting my ship to you. Treat her well, Serenity's a hell of a girl."

~~~

There were survivors, but not many, and it was only the timely arrival of the caravan that had fled the advancing Reavers that gave the refugees the chance to know how to survive in their harsh new home. They were determined, though, that they would make this world theirs, as it had once been the ancestors, but they wouldn't make the same mistakes that the old Earthers had or that the Alliance had. Life didn't have to be perfect, just liveable.

"Marry me."

Inara looked up, startled, from tub she was filling for baths. "What?" she asked, amused.

"I ain't asking again," Mal said. "You heard me the first time."

"You are an impossible man," Inara said.

"So?"

"Yes."

Mal grinned and swooped her into his arms, pausing only a moment before kissing her. He pulled back, looking serious for a moment. "No more whoring," he said firmly.

"No one here could pay for my services anyway," Inara said. "And I was never a whore."

"'Course not," Mal said so solemnly that Inara laughed at him and smacked his shoulder before going back to filling the tub.

~~~

Nearly 30 years after the Serenity landed in the barren landing fields on The Earth That Was, she shuddered back to life and lifted back off the surface, headed back out into the black to live and be free with her captain and her ambassador's son at the helm. Life was dangerous in the black, Mal had said on the screen, But there were worlds with vegatation that the Reevers wouldn't have destroyed. There were long lasting foodstuffs hidden away on the Serenity, enough to last him weeks, long enough to find a world that could be lived on.

And when he did find one, he would copy his father and lead the charge to a new world that could be their salvation from a broken world, from Earth out into the galaxy, hoping that maybe, just maybe, the Reavers would be gone for good this time.

~~~

"He sings to the stars," River said seriously as she leaned over to regard Mal and Inara's infant son. "He'll dance with them, too."

"And here I thought she was going a little sane," Mal commented as the others just smiled and nodded.

"There's stars in his eyes," River insisted. "Like in yours, Captain. Your son will be a captain, too."

"Here's hopin'," Mal agreed before crouching down beside the bed and running a callused figner over the baby's cheek. "Just ain't right to think of the black without a Reynolds in it, huh?" he asked the baby, who seemed to smile back at him.

And for just a moment, Mal could see those stars shining back at him. When he glanced up at River, she was smiling knowingly, and he sighed.

"Don't gotta be so smug about it, girl," he said gruffly, but with the slightest hint of a smile on his lips.

The End

Commentary

First? I love my River-Voice, Mal-Voice, and Inara-Voice. They feel so perfect to me.

River is a little more sane than she ever was on the show, but I would say a little more childlike than she was by the end of Serenity. The way I figure it, once she adjusted to not being completely batshit insane, she was able to find a balance between crazy and warrior. She still has her loopy moments, mostly because it's hard for her to process the conflicting thoughts around her, so she draws into herself some. Everyone has tried to let her be a silly child now that she can be without being so dangerous.

I love the little relationship between River and Mal in this, how he is jsut so evenly accepting of her dancing around, but knows better than to jsut dismiss her when she says something important (like how he stopped to consider her comment about burying the dead and sweeping the ashes). And her 'Silly captain' comment makes me smile even now because it shows that they get along, they're family.

"The plague is a very bad disease."
That line makes me grin like a loon because I imagine River saying it in a 'I'm ashamed of you for not knowing this' tone of voice.

River has the best lines in here, followed closely by Mal and Inara, because I love them all and gave them the best lines. Her little tantrum because no one sees the fact that life is all around them. And Mal believing her and agreeing that they should look.

And the singing. I love how River keeps singing little bits of Earth-That-Was songs, songs that there's no reason for her to know, except that they are so deeply ingrained into the planet itself that she hears them anyway.

Mal's proposal to Inara... I meant to, and I think I succeeded, in making it sweet but still Mal, especially his refusal to ask a second time, and his 'no more whoring' comment. And I loved portraying Inara as doing work, getting her hands dirty, because I have no doubt she would. She wouldn't jsut stand bakc while others worked, she'd get in there and help. I imagine that by this point she's stopped wearing fancy clothes and jewelery, instead dressing like the Earthbound, or maybe a bit more like Zoe or Kaylee do, more practical than lovely.

The final passage, how it's all Mal and River, is jsut perfect too me, wrapping it all together. River knows, the moment she looks in tiny baby Jase's eyes, that he is meant for mroe than a world of dirt and struggle. He is meant for the stars, just like his father. And Mal seeing the stars, too, because they aren't just River's wild imagination, they are there.

I never fully explain what happened to bring them to Earth-That-Was. And actually, the closest I come to explaining comes out a little garbled. My intent is that, after the events of Serenity, a new war broke out with more and more people going against The Alliance, which caused them to panic and some idiot released more of the Pax to true and stop the rioting. It only created more Reavers, and Mal led a caravan of survivors to Earth-That-Was in an attempt to survive.

On Earth-That-Was, some people, the poorest people and the criminals, were left to die on a ravaged world. They struggled, but in the end they managed to survive long enough for the Caravan to arrive.

When it arrived there were Reavers close behind, not following, but searching all on their own for more prey. While Mal and the others taught the Earthbound how to fight back and stop the Reavers, while the Earthbound helped the Caravan members learn how to survive on Earth-That-Was. The two groups ended up mixing together, with most of the Caravan choosing to simply let go of who and what they were, give up the stars, to become Earthbound.

But the members of the Serenity Crew wouldn't give it up. So they made a pilgrimage, just like the Earthbound before them had, and Mal and Inara impressed on their son how important that pilgrimage was. Mal taught Jase how to fly the Serenity, even knowing he might never actually do it. And Jase grew up hearing the stories, and loving his Aunts and Uncles from the Serenity.



Anyway, I hope someone read and enjoy the story and commentary of mine. It may very well be nonsensical, but... I like rambling... lol...
 
 
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