Little House on the Prairie
Part of the Omniverse Project
By Benji: The Vampire Confuser
This is a work of Fan-Fiction. As such these ain’t my characters or situations. Mostly. To avoid getting the Chinese wrong, I’m not gonna worry using it. Joss Whedon and Rysher Entertainment are the ones to get credit for the characters.
Kaylee couldn’t help but notice how the crew were acting towards her. They were being extra special nice to her. Even Jayne was refraining from being crass. That annoyed her. She wasn’t gonna break gor rammit. Yes Jubal had given her a big scare. Yes aside from Simon getting shot and fearing for his sister, she’d had the worst of that encounter. But she was fine. Absolutely shiny.
Okay no she wasn’t. She was ashamed. Not in the way other rape victims, or would-be rape victims were ashamed, no, it was her fear that shamed her. She’d been frozen, unable to do anything but whatever Jubal told her, anything just so long as he didn’t do what he’d threatened.
Even now, a week later it stung. How weak she’d allowed herself to become. Of course, it had been a long time since she’d been in danger, immediate danger anyway. Alliance and Reavers didn’t count. They weren’t staring into her eyes.
So the crew’s attitude, though sweet and thoughtful, was also feeding her anger. So it was with both irritation, and relief, that she heard of Mal’s decision.
“We all could use a few days rest I think.” He said at dinner that night. “Kaylee, how long’s it been since you visited your folks?”
Surprised, Kaylee thought for a moment. Gods, she hadn’t seen ‘em for, well too long. “It’s been a while Cap’n, why?”
“I think it’s high time you looked in on ‘em.”
“Cap’n, I’m fine really-“
“That might be, but this ain’t just about you. We’re all strung out, and Sunshine Valley’s a nice place to rest up. ‘Sides, I think River could use a bit o’ motherin’. Maybe a decent home cooked meal.”
“Well, ma always was good at that.” Kaylee admitted. The kids in town were always fond of comin’ over in hopes of fresh baked cookies or something.
River was probably more worried about Kaylee than anyone else. She was after all, the only one who could see that Kaylee wasn’t just scared from Jubal’s threats. She was angry. River knew the young mechanic had a secret. One she didn’t want anyone to know. Despite the crew’s fears, River couldn’t really, read minds. More like skim the headlines. Surface thought’s only.
So she didn’t know exactly what her friend’s secret was, or why she was hurting so much. She only knew she was. She knew that sometimes Kaylee cried herself to sleep at night.
“Mal’s right.” She said to her brother. “Kaylee needs this.”
“Hope her ma’s made cookies.” Jayne said, a dreamy smile on his face.
Sunshine Valley was one of the oldest colonies on the rim. Way it was told, Kaylee’s family was descended from the first colonists, which gave them unofficial respect, if no political power.
They were far from rich, but they were comfortable, living off the land and the communal gardens. Having been terraformed over two hundred years before, it was far more lush than other planets, and was a favorite vacation spot for Alliance big-wigs looking to rough it for a few days. But Kaylee assured Mal that there was no way anyone would give the Alliance any information about River and Simon. They’d take their tourist money sure, but that was the extent of their willingness to deal. If trouble arose, there were no shortage of places to hide if need be.
Kaylee started feeling better the moment the ship hit atmo, River could tell. Kaylee had a glow about her that no one else she’d ever seen had. But only when she was on planet.
The ship’s caretaker didn’t notice River looking at her. She had her eyes closed, her face upturned to the sun. There it was. She loved being in space, no doubt about it, seeing so many different places, but there were parts of her that were missing when she wasn’t on a planet. Moons gave her a bit of it, but there was nothing to compare this to.
Her hand wandered to the spot where, only a few months before she’d been shot.
“You gonna stand there gettin’ burned all day or are you gonna get us to yer ma’s home cookin’?” Jayne grinned.
Kaylee grinned back at him, and grabbed Simon’s hand. “C’mon.” she said. “I want Pop to meet my new fella.”
“Wh-wait a minute,” Simon stammered. “I’m not-“
“I’m teasin’ you silly.” She said, shaking her head. “And why ain’t you? What’re the courtin’ rules you’re followin’? A girl can’t wait forever y’know.”
River treaded lightly behind the others, trying to do as little damage to the grass as possible. It was a rare enough thing to see, no sense tromping it down like big, heavy footed Mal. But it felt heavenly on her bare feet. Inara gave her a knowing smile.
“It’s nice isn’t it.” She said. “The air, the trees, the grass.”
“It’s alive.” River told her. “That’s what’s so rare.”
Up ahead Zoe was looking forward to the swimming hole, as was Wash, while Mal was simply looking forward to resting for awhile. Despite what everyone else thought, he was not merely a workaholic, he had a crew to support. But even captains needed vacations. Specially with the couple of months he’d just had.
Shepherd book strode beside the Captain. “Have you ever met her parents?” he asked.
“Once or twice, her pop had to meet me ‘fore he’d let Kaylee sign on. Good guy. Very concerned ‘bout his daughter.”
“So he won’t be mad that Kaylee got shot and threatened with rape?” River asked him.
Mal stopped and looked at her with that why the hell would you say that look that made her laugh so inwardly.
“I don’t think we need to mention that right away.” He muttered.
They’d known she was coming of course, they always did. Before the crew of Serenity even reached the house the front door was open and a graying man walking with a cane, and a gracefully aging woman wearing an apron were approaching.
Kaylee soon found herself smothered in hugs, which she quickly re-directed to River, who’d been sort of hiding behind Zoe. Wouldn’t have been much cover anyway, as the first mate was likewise made a target of a welcoming embrace or two.
“Simon,” Kaylee introduced. “Shepherd Book, River, these are my folks, Duncan and Amanda.”
Duncan looked at the newcomers, and smiled warmly at them. “Well supper’s not quite ready yet, but come on in anyway. Don’t get many off planet visitors this time o’ year, and you,” he admonished Kaylee. “Don’t call home near enough. Now c’mon in and tell us your adventures.”
Simon was being grilled by Kaylee’s folks. Jayne was stuffing his face with her mom’s cookies, Wash and Zoe were out on the front porch, Inara, Mal and Book were either providing moral support for her poor brother, or enjoying his discomfort, which left River to be the only recipient of the guided tour.
“I don’t believe it,” Kaylee said, opening the door. “They ain’t changed a thing.” Kaylee’s bedroom was just how she’d left it. Books, various machine parts, and pictures. Lot’s of pictures. Most of them had the same three people in them, Kaylee, a few years younger, and two others. Kaylee caught her staring.
“Old friends.” Kaylee explained. Her voice betrayed a bit of melancholy as she explained. “Lost touch, long time ago.”
But River heard what Kaylee was saying in her mind; “They died, long time ago.”
She wanted to ask what had happened, but then her eyes caught the title of the book that had been laying on Kaylee’s bed.
Her hand shook as she picked it up.
“Apocrypha.” She muttered. “Not real.”
“Oh,” Kaylee said, her voice soft, gently taking the book from her. “It’s real all right….if I show you, you promise not to tell anyone? Not even Simon?”
He was still sitting there. Which was no surprise. She’d never actually seen him move since they’d arrived at Sunshine Valley. She’d gone away for a few years, to look for others like them. And when she’d returned, he was still just sitting there, in the dark, staring at nothing. If she talked to him, he’d talk back, but he never initiated conversation.
Some might wonder why she stayed. She didn’t love him, they were barely friends. But there were few of them left now. And only a bare handful had held onto their sanity. The rest had gone Reaver. He, at least was coherent, if incredibly depressing.
“Maybe I should just kill you and get it over with.” She would say sometimes.
“Maybe you should.” He would answer. If he ever sounded like he meant it, she promised she would. But he never meant it. He had no interest in dying, or living for that matter. There was only one person who was ever able to truly get him going. And she was back on planet.
“Time for a little reunion.” She muttered.
Wash was the first to see the young woman emerge from the darkness. She was a skinny little thing with wavy brown hair, and a kindly, awkward smile on her face. “Hi!” she called. “Are you Kaylee’s friends? I heard she was visitin’.”
“That we are,” Wash answered, and she introduced herself.
“I’m Winnie, me and Kaylee go back a ways.”
Soon the two were hugging and giggling like two girls at a dance. “I can’t believe you’re still on this planet.” Kaylee said.
“Not all of us are as restless as you.” Winnie answered, grinning. “Way I hear it, every other place in the black is either a desert or city, no thanks.” She glanced at River, who was looking at her with trepidation. Suddenly she remembered why she’d come. “Listen, Kaylee, Will’s as bad as ever, will you come and see him?”
Kaylee’s face fell. Will was the reason she didn’t try to come back more often. It was heartbreaking how far down he’d plunged. She didn’t want to see him.
“Of course I’ll come.”
He heard the footsteps approaching, but didn’t look up. Didn’t even pay any attention to the fact that there were more than two sets. He didn’t pay any attention until he felt Kaylee’s hand connect solidly with his face.
The blow surprised him more than hurt him, but it knocked him off balance.
“Bloody hell Red!” he roared, coming to his feet. “Have you lost your-“
“For starters Will, don’t call me Red! My hair hasn’t been that color for over a century! My name is Kaylee now, and enough’s enough! Five hundred years! Five hundred! I’m amazed your legs still work sitting right here in this damn chair for half a millennium! It’s gone, okay? Earth is gone. And there was nothing you, me, Winni, or even every Slayer in the rutting world could do about that!” Tears came now. Tears that should, by all rights, have come centuries before, but she, like Will had kept them all bottled up. Somehow, almost dying, for the first time centuries had changed things.
She’d been terrified when the bullet wound in her stomach hadn’t closed as it should have. When she saw that the scar had faded the moment she stepped foot on a planet, she’d realized that her connection to the quickening depended on being planet-bound. Same as the magic. They both came from the earth. Both her magic, and Immortal power were weakened when Earth had died, no other planet held the same connection. In space it was simply gone.
“We have to move on Will.” She whispered, as he too began to weep. “You’re the only Vampire left, far as I know. And pretty much all the Demons are Reavers now. I ain’t seen a Slayer since three hundred years gone. We’re rare. And that means we’re needed more’n ever. And I’m sick of carryin’ the memory of what came before alone. Me, Duncan and Amanda are the only Immortals I’ve seen in a century. For all I know, you, me, Il-er, Winni and my folks are it. The only one’s that know what it was like. If we let ourselves die on the inside, we might as well die on the outside too. And then there’s one left to tell the story. Now I ain’t been doin’ my share either, I know. Pretending to be someone I’m not. But I don’t know what else to do or how to do it, but I’m doing something. I need you to wake up Will because if you don’t then I can’t either. Please.”
He looked at her silently. The weight of the centuries bearing down upon his shoulders. “What’ve you been doing with yourself Pet?”
By the time Kaylee returned to the house, Jayne had a stomach ache, River was asleep, Mal, Simon, Duncan, Zoe and Wash were playing cards on the front porch, and Book, Inara and Amanda were talking in the parlor.
“Everything all right?” Duncan asked.
“Shiny.” She said. “Finally.”
She knew she’d have to tell Mal and the others something. They’d be dying to know what was up, she’d gone out like she was going to an intervention (which she supposed in a way she had).
But for now, she’d exhausted herself with such an outpouring. “I’m gonna go on up to bed.” She announced. “I’ll see y’all in the morning.”
Then, remembering another boy she’d been interested in once upon a time, one who had been reluctant to make a move, she leaned forward and kissed Simon. “G’night.”
She left Simon being teased by the others, and laid down on her bed. She went to sleep gazing fondly at the picture of a younger, red haired Kaylee, with a dark haired young man, and blonde bombshell of a girl.