All right. I know this is a weird crossover, but give it a shot! This fic is complete on my laptop and I'm hoping to get new chapters up every few days. Hope you like and please review!
Disclaimer: I don't own either The Secret Life Of The American Teenager or Firefly. SLOTAT belongs to Brenda Hampton and Firefly to Joss Whedon. I'm not making any profit from this fic.Pairings:
Eventual Ricky/Amy with referencing to other pairings, both canon and containing OCs.Story Setting:
This takes place after Be My, Be My Baby (2x12), but before the new episodes (airing January 4) for The Secret Life Of The American Teenager and pre-series/post-Serenity (1x01) for Firefly.Spoilers:
The name of Ricky's mother (as we've learned in sides, available on the SLOTAT Spoiler board on FanForum) and the name of Ben's Italian girlfriend. No spoilers for Firefly.
He's Just A Child
Art by me.
He’d woken up on the ground, head pounding and bleeding from a cut on his forehead. Nothing around him looked right. Buildings were made of too much concrete and not enough metal, there was barely an aircraft in the sky. There were blue skies above him that he knew weren’t his. He didn’t know this place.
He went without food for days, wandering streets made of a mixture he only vaguely remembered from his studies. He drank water from tiny public spouts that couldn’t be sanitary.
He wanted to go home, wanted to go back to the place he recognized and not wander roads made of strange concoctions.
It was on his fifth day that he collapsed on a sea of dead grass, legs too weak to hold him up any longer. He’d struggled for breath as he lay face down, but couldn’t find the strength to move and let the darkness take him. He dreamed of home. “Bob, there’s a kid on the lawn!”
Those were the first words he’d heard as the mental images of his bed and clean clothes disappeared. He almost cried as they did and he found himself looking at a woman that reminded him much too much of his own mother. She was sickeningly thin, stringy hair hanging in front of her pale face. There was a bruise purpling her left eye, almost swelling it shut. Her good eye was no better, an almost healed bruise surrounding hazel eyes that didn’t have enough pupil. She looked the same as his mother had the day she walked out without an intention to return. He’d never known his father.
He’d laid there, still too weak to move as a man stumbled from the depressing-looking house. What little muscle he had did nothing to hide the shaking that overtook his body or the wild red eyes that fell on him. The man kicked his arm, barking at him to tell him his name.
“Ricky,” he’d groaned as the pain radiated up his arm.
Bob and Nora Underwood had taken him in then. Ricky had taken it as a blessing at first, two people in bad conditions taking in a lost boy. He was only twelve, but looked younger than his years. He’d never been a fan of it himself, but others had enjoyed it.
Apparently so did Bob.
The first time it happened, he’d been jolted from his sleep with a hand over his mouth and lips on his neck. “Keep quiet, boy. Gotta earn your keep.”
He could have left, could have run away, but where would he run? He didn’t know this place. He didn’t belong in 2004 Los Angeles, he belonged in 2511 Ariel.
So he stayed, stayed in that dingy little room, laid there every night while Bob touched him all over his gorram body. He closed his eyes and dreamed of home with his things and his treasures, tried to ignore the touches that echoed of the past and predicted his future.
He’d never asked how he came to be Ricky Underwood, never cared to. He was provided with a home, food, and an education. It didn’t matter just how the documentation came to be.
He was quiet every time Bob came into his room, laid there and let it happen, never fighting, too afraid of being turned to the streets. So he just lay there, feeling dirty and used as he tried to pull images of home. As weeks turned into months, the images began to fade. He whispered to himself, phrases and words, but time went on and he lost practice, because this wasn’t home and people here very rarely understood what you said when you slipped into Chinese mid-sentence. He began to lose himself and as months turned into years, wanting home became less important and wanting death became a constant thought.
He hated himself, hated the degrading feeling this brought him. He didn’t feel degraded in Ariel.
It had been an accident. He hadn’t been fed up, he’d just let his anger get the better of him when Mr. Hunter asked for the fifth time that day if everything was okay at home. “Of course everything’s okay! I’m just being used as a whore.”
He’d meant for it to sound sarcastic, but it came out more biting and self-loathing than anything. Mr. Hunter hadn’t believed him when he said he wasn’t serious and called the principal and school nurse within minutes.
Nora was gone when the cops arrived at the house to arrest Bob. He never bothered to tell them that she’d been gone for weeks.
He was fourteen and shaking in an empty office when his social worker walked in and introduced herself as Margret. She took him in and suddenly his body was his own. He was in control again and it felt good.
His life spiraled out of control again when he found out that Amy Juergens was pregnant. Barely sixteen and centuries away from his own time and he was destined to be a father before his grandparents were even born. He’d spent that first night in his room, laughing at the absurdness of it all.
He watched Amy get bigger and bigger, let his mind entertain every possible scenario until it came to the point where he would stay up all night without a wink of sleep. Margret believed he could be a father at sixteen and as much as he wanted to believe like she did, he found it hard. He wasn’t from here, he didn’t even know how
he got here and now he was going to have a family.
He still wanted to go home, always did. God only knows how many nights he spent, staring up at the ceiling as his mind tried to pull memories—now fuzzy—of the streets and buildings. He loved it when he could pick a clear memory from his mind, would smile that whole morning and speak with a touch of his Western grammar. Margret would never question it, no, she’d just smile back at him, happy.
She could never know the truth, he knew. She cared for him—maybe even loved him—but she’d never take him seriously. She’d never believe him if he told her that he was from hundreds of years in the future, long after Earth had been used up. She’d never understand how cultures meshed and new planets were formed. She’d never approve of who he’d been when he lived there.
So he kept quiet. He fell into this image of what he thought he was supposed to be. He fell back onto sex, giving in to human urges to try and erase the homesickness and memory of Bob’s hands.
And for all the misgivings and words that were said, he didn’t regret that mistaken night that brought him John. He had a child, his flesh and blood that was born so many years before he himself was meant to be. Life was harder now that he had to support someone else. He had a baby and he had Amy. Well…he didn’t have Amy. He had her in his life, but she wasn’t his. A part of him doubted she would ever be.
He hadn’t lied when he told Mr. Juergens that he loved her. At least he was pretty sure he hadn’t. But he had lied when he said there was no heat. There was heat, tons of it, but it mostly only came out when they were fighting, when Amy would let her emotions flare and he could swear he saw that same spark he’d seen back at band camp.
He knew it wasn’t fair to Adrian. She loved him. God, he knew she loved him and he loved her. He just wasn’t in love with her, no matter how much he wished he was. They had amazing chemistry and she was gorgeous, he knew that, but he didn’t want to marry her. He loved sex with her, loved how it made the demons in his head go away, but he didn’t want to marry her. He sort of doubted he’d ever marry anyone. How was he supposed to without that bond starting with a lie? He could never tell a person about who he was or where he was from. No, those were parts of himself that he could never reveal, that he’d take to the grave.
Ricky sighed, bouncing John on his hip as he began to fuss. He smiled softly at Amy, mouthing a thank you
as she handed him John’s teething ring. Eight months old and John’s teeth were almost completely through. He couldn’t be happier to see the end of this. Seeing John in pain like this was just…
Amy watched him from where she sat on her bed, dressed in her pajamas. She’d called him sometime around two in the morning, on her last thread as she tried to keep John calm. She couldn’t put him back in the nursery if he was only going to cry all night, not with Robbie in there too. She looked tired, both from taking care of John, her and Ben’s recent break-up, and today’s sighting of Ben and Maria.
“Sh, come on, little fella,” Ricky soothed, running his hand up and down John’s back as he bounced. “I’ll take him into the hallway. You need to sleep.”
“So do you,” Amy yawned and shook her head, “I’m fine.”
“You’re about to drop.”
“Says the guy with trash bags under his eyes. Adrian isn’t waiting for you?”
Ricky shook his head. “Not anymore. I told her I couldn’t keep doing it.”
“Couldn’t keep having sex?”
“Couldn’t keep leading her on. She wants someone she can marry one day and that isn’t me.”
Amy nodded and Ricky was fairly sure neither of them knew what she was nodding at, but they were too tired to figure it out. She kept sitting on her bed, shaking herself each time her mind began to slip into slumber and ignoring him every time he told her to just go to bed. That went on for another two hours before they heard Robbie begin to cry, waking up his own parents as John finally settled down. The sigh of relief seemed to almost echo off the walls and Ricky forced back a chuckle in fear of waking his son as Amy fell sideways and collapsed onto the pillows.
“I’ll put him down,” he whispered, grateful that Amy didn’t argue as she curled back under the covers, “I’ll see you at school.”
“Mm,” Amy murmured, “school.”
“Night, you two,” he whispered, casting a glance at Ashley’s sleeping form in her own bed. Lucky girl. Dead to the world.
John began to stir as he set him in his crib and Ricky froze, breath stilled as he waited to see if his son let out that almighty wail. He swallowed back the sigh as John fell silent yet again and tiptoed from the room. He paused at the doorway, feeling a pull towards this little child and for a minute, considered sleeping in the rocking chair like he had during half of his summer vacation. He shook his head at the last moment and turned, closing the door behind him and venturing down the stairs and through the kitchen. The smile he sent at Anne was a tired one, waving slightly as he yawned.
“Ricky, the couch-”
“I’m all right, Mrs. Juergens,” Ricky assured her, “Thanks though. Another day of this and I may take you up on the offer.” He smiled as much as he could muster.
“You’re sure you’re okay to drive?” she asked and Ricky almost laughed, still so unused to people fussing over him this much.
“I walked; figured the cool air would do me some good.” He held up the stark white jacket that he’d grabbed instead of his usual black or gray. “Cars will see me fine.”
“Just be careful.”
“Were you ever a Scout?”
“Would it be more comforting if I said yes?”
Anne laughed. “Good night, Ricky.”
“Night,” he returned, “See you in…” he checked the clock, “three hours.”
The night air was cool as he walked, breathing in the autumn breeze as dead leaves crunched beneath his feet. Another yawn escaped him and he paused in the middle of the sidewalk, shaking his head as sleep tried to take him. He was still another five minutes from his apartment. Five more minutes and he could be in bed for just a little while. He slapped his cheeks, blinking hard, and stepped forward. He made it three steps before he stumbled, vertigo hitting hard and then he was falling…
He woke up on the ground, head pounding and bleeding from a familiar cut on his forehead. Nothing around him looked right. Buildings were made of too much metal and not enough concrete, there were too many aircrafts in the sky. There were blue skies above him that weren’t the ones he’d grown used to. He knew this place.
“This…isn’t possible,” Ricky breathed, jaw slack as he circled, eyes trying frantically to take in everything around him. “I can’t be…oh, God.”
It couldn’t have happened, not again. That just…but it had.
Gone were the dark streets and the butcher shop he’d seen on the horizon.
In front of him was Persephone.