cherry: (Default)
[personal profile] cherry
Title: Frame By Frame
Summary: Kaylee, dreaming with eyes wide open.
Notes: Written as a pinch hit in the Multiverse 2005 challenge. If you don't know much about Doctor Who, that's okay. Kaylee doesn't know much, either.
Feedback: Would make me love you forever.

Two suns overhead (yellow, orange) and ripened grain crops stretched to the horizon. She's not sure if it's wheat or barley – she's got few enough years between here and the farm, but all she can wonder is how long it's been since she couldn't tell the difference. Mal is looking at the horizon and she thinks he might be asking himself the same thing.

Serenity is sitting on the top of the hill, casting a long shadow. Wash has his chopsticks half way to his mouth. Jayne and Simon are posturing as Book shakes his head, and River has leaves caught in her hair, one foot raised as she spins. Zoe and Inara are sitting on Serenity's ramp, and Kaylee can hear their laughter drift on the breeze.

These are the things Kaylee will remember. These are the things she will remember because this is a moment where time stretches out and she feels herself waiting. She can see the crops bend, around the clearing where they have a picnic blanket lain out; bend all around and towards them, a rush of air that hits her as time slips.

Claxon, rise and fall. Kaylee knows all of Serenity's noises, her contented purrs and her alarms, and this is not one of them.

"What in the gorram hell –" Jayne says, and he's already got a gun in hand. There's a droplet of sweat from the afternoon sun making its way down his temple.

Kaylee is turning slowly and the sound is already fading. Mal has a gun out as well, and Zoe is off and running. River is screaming something about the pieces of the universe broken down to incorrect configurations, and Book has his arms wrapped tightly around her as she flails.

There's a box, a blue box, where there was only grass and hillside before.

Then there are people as well, no light or siren, just the door sliding open, and Simon is off and running.

"Son of a –" Mal starts, but even from here, Kaylee can see the blood and the people are crumpled on the ground. Zoe has already blown by them, gun at the ready. River is still screaming and Book is hauling her backwards towards the ship, scratches on his face.

Kaylee follows them, slowly. Drifting like a leaf tugged inexorably by the wind. Takes the time to feel the grass brush against her legs, the wind lift the fine hairs that have drifted down from her messy twist. When she reaches the box, Mal and Simon are yelling. The noise rushes right by her before she can catch more than the meaning of their words.

Mal is saying: I don't know what the hell just happened. They are unknown and there may be more, and I am not risking my crew or stepping into another war.

Simon says: I have become a thief and a brigand, but I am no less a doctor. They are hurt, and I am afraid, and I cannot turn away.

The blood on the grass says that they don't have long.

"They need our help," Kaylee says, and all heads snap towards her. Like she's sprung from thin air, and just like that voices have words again.

"Fine," Mal says, eyes on Simon. "But this goes wrong and I'm not cleaning it up."

Simon is already on his knees, trying to detangle the (bodies) people. Zoe's hands are with his, helping turn heads, and Simon is yelling for stretchers.

Hurry, someone says.

"We're trying," Kaylee replies. Blood on the grass beneath a bright blue sky. Limbs askew.

Mal's looking at her funny, and it takes her until Jayne gets there with the stretchers to realize no one spoke.


Three. There are three of them, and so much blood. The med bay wasn't built to hold three people, so the girl is spread out across the counter beneath the window. The door is half-open and Kaylee sits on the stairs with her hands wrapped around the edge, cold press of Serenity's grating familiar and reassuring. Grounding.

Zoe's in the there, hair pinned back and sleeves pushed up. Needle and thread in hand, she isn't closing wounds pretty, just fast. They're still on-planet, and the ramp is down. Kaylee can see out to the horizon, and there isn't a cloud in sight, just that blue box sitting, still.

Simon swears, from so very far away, and she hears him yelling instructions. Book crosses before her, running for something. Jayne is standing in the cargo bay, eyes trained on the med lab and fingering his gun.

"No!" someone is screaming. Sobbing. Woman's voice. Girl's voice. "No," she yells. "No, we just found him again, we can't—"

"Sedate her," Simon says.

Kaylee looks down, through the window pressed up against the stair and at the woman lain out beneath it. She's wearing odd clothes and her blonde hair is matted with blood. She kicks and struggles but even uninjured she wouldn't be a match for Zoe.

"No," the girl says, weakening. Stops struggling as the sedatives take effect. "No," she says again (Kaylee thinks she says again, watching the motion of her lips through the glass), and reaches towards the man Simon is working over.

"Shh," Zoe says, and lays her back softly.

There are screams from the direction of Inara's shuttle. River's voice. "He doesn't KNOW!"

The girl's eyes are brown and slow to close. Kaylee presses her hand to the glass, where the girl can see it, like she's reaching out to touch her.

The blue box is the only thing that breaks the curve of the horizon.

(No, Simon is yelling. Started quiet: This can't be happening, muttered under his breath, when the he opened one man up to remove the bullets and the intestines were in the wrong place.

When he was in med school, Simon used to have this dream. This dream that started with him with a scalpel in hand and a living patient, ended with blood in his eyes and nothing in the patient's body where it was supposed to be.

Couldn't find the heart.

That's not the problem here. He found the heart, then he found another.

One stopped beating, then the other.)

"It's all in your head," River says. "Zagreus taking time apart." She's standing at the bottom of the stairs.

In the med bay, there are only two figures. The girl, on the counter, and a man on the table. Shepard Book is leaning against the wall, flipping pages on a leather-bound book. There's a third shadow at the far end of the cargo bay, draped in black.

Kaylee shakes her head because outside the ramp, the sun has set and only a sliver of light remains on the horizon. She still has one hand pressed to the glass of the infirmary window, and the metal grating beneath her other has long since warmed to body temperature.


Kaylee dreams about everyone she's ever almost met, and the people she might have become if she'd made their acquaintance.

When she wakes up, River is sitting on the foot of her bed. "I didn't – " she says. "Alone. Lonely. But I didn't want –" her feet are bare and she's wrapped up in a worn purple shift. "I didn't want –" she says, and she starts to cry.

"Shhhh," Kaylee says. Pushes the covers off slowly and steps to the floor. Serenity is cool against her skin.

River's face is shadowed in the weak, warm light cast by Kaylee's string of lights. Tears glitter as they slide in and out of the dark hollows of her eyes.

"Shhh," Kaylee says again and pulls River, shuddering, against her. "It's okay."

The shuddering stops, just like that.

"No," River says. Her face is buried in the shoulder of the worn tshirt Kaylee sleeps in. "No, it's not. Wake up. It's not –"

"Tell me," Kaylee says. Her hands are spread across River's back, and the material is soft to the touch.

"Zagreus," River says, face still buried in Kaylee's shoulder. Her breath comes in hitches. "Zagreus lives inside your head. Zagreus lives among the dead."

"River—" Kaylee tries to pull back but the other girl is too firmly attached. Fingers dig into her arms, and there are tears booming across her shirt.

"Zagreus sees you in your bed, and eats you while you're sleeping," River says, and raises her head. Her face is gaunt. "Wake up, Kaylee."

Wake up.

When she bolts upright in her bed, Kaylee is alone.


It's like coming home.

The pieces all fit, and the ones that don't she can see how to make match.

It's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Looking at the box from the outside, she thought: There's no way three grown adults came any way in that. Wash is behind her, muttering under his breath about aliens and haunted boxes.

There's blood in here, too. Blood on the floor and the doorframe and all over what she takes (knows) to be the controls. It's dried and flakes off beneath their boots and at their touch. The humming in her head is finally gone, a low-grade pull whose existence she hadn't even recognized until she stepped inside and it was gone.

Kaylee knows, somehow, that the ship is fine. The ship is fine; it is her people that were broken. There are corridors branching off around them and Kaylee wonders what she'd find if she were to spend a lifetime exploring them.

("A day, an hour, I don't know," Simon is saying. He's leaning against the wall outside the med lab, and there are dark smudges beneath his eyes. "That one man, he wasn't – Let's just say that I've never seen anything like it before."

Book has his arms crossed across his chest. "Are you saying that he's not—"

"I'm not saying anything," Simon says, "other than that the matter requires further study and information—"

"Come on, doc," Jayne snarls. "He had two hearts. What else do you want?"

"Information," Simon continues, "that I'm only going to get with a full autopsy, and I'm not prepared to do that until one of the others wakes up and gives me the okay."

"Which," Mal says, "brings us full circle. How long, exactly, do you think they're going to be out?"

"And as I told you before, I simply do not know. I didn't notice any abnormalities when I was working on them, but I just don't – I can't tell you, Captain. They were both badly hurt, and I don't know how they will respond to the drugs I gave them. Now, the body is in cryogenic storage, so—"

"Good enough," Mal says. "We got other matters to deal with, so you just let me know when our guests are ready for proper introductions.")

"-qua dong!" Wash is saying when Kaylee turns her head back towards him. "Sunshine, we're leaving."

"Why?" she asks. Runs a hand down one curving wall. She listens as hard as she can because it's like she's got the ocean roaring in the back of her head.

"Because I don't want to be in here when the laws of physics come back into effect, that's why," Wash says.

She's friendly, Kaylee wants to say. The ship, she's friendly. Not like Serenity, who purrs for you if you shine all the pieces right, turns her head away so easily. This girl, she'd stretch out for you to pet.

Kaylee has always fallen in love too easily.


When they exit the box (ship, vehicle, logistical impossibility) they hear screaming. Hear screaming; see a faint plume of smoke puff from Serenity's open rear hatch.

They run.

The wind whips Kaylee's hair into her face and Wash, with his longer legs, soon outdistances her. It's all but over by the time she hits the ramp, metal thrumming beneath her feet. The deck by the cryogenic unit is blackened, and the cryogenic unit itself is more than a little melted. River is standing stock-still with ashes in her hair, and the girl from the box is cradled in Simon's arms.

A man she does not recognize is standing naked in the middle of the soot, smiling at the three guns leveled at his head.

(Kaylee can see it: The girl, upon waking – No, you don't understand, he can't be dead, he doesn't – River with her hands on the controls of the cryogenics unit, then burning, burning, and the girl scrambling towards the screams. Tears out her stitches, and the flames fade to reveal –)

"Hello," he says as Kaylee slips into view. His eyes (brown and green and reaching so far back and so far forward) catch hers and she's falling, falling, falling.

"Oh," she hears him say, then comes a gunshot, and she's falling down and up and backwards into vertigo.


(Black. Pitch black, tar black.

In the beginning, there was darkness, the Doctor said. [Doctor, doctor, give me the news. The news is never new.]

In the beginning, there was darkness. Darkness covered the land, so that nothing could grow. Darkness covered the land so completely that it was no more than the idea of land, waiting to be discovered.

Then came the chaos-bringer. He came with stars in his eyes and blood on his hands and he looked across the dark to see what it held. Chaos-bringer had been so long in the darkness of his spirit, in the darkness of the spirit of man and of his people that a mere physical darkness was to him as a summer day. War had raged for so long he had forgotten how it felt not to fight, to enjoy instead of destroy.

Weary he was, and soul-sick, for the blood on his hands was not his and the stars in his eyes were stolen. He looked across the land, the land that was waiting to be land, and he saw a place or possibilities. War had raged for so long he thought he would never again know naught else. So he shook the blood from his hands and seeded it with life. He looked to the heavens and let loose the stars from his eyes, so that the life might have light to speed their growth.

Blood gone, hope spread, he sat down atop a great hill, and with his death salted space itself, taught time to abhor him, so that others like himself could not tread there without harm.)

Do you understand?


Surfacing is like breaking through the surface of the lake of dreams, only to find that it's been frozen over. The pieces don't quite fit and her head hurts.

"Mei-mei," she hears Mal say, and she opens her eyes. He's holding her hand. Blinking, she looks around. Simon is taping the man's shoulder, a single bloom of blood showing through the bandage. Jayne is holding an icepack to the side of his head, and their two original visitors –

Rose, Jack.

-- are both something resembling awake.

"Captain," she says. Feels the lethargy in her veins and the way she has to work to make the sounds come out in sequence. (It's been building since she heard the claxon.) "I feel – awful queer, captain."

Mal is holding onto her hand rather hard. "Captain?" she asks, and she knows it's not going to be good.

"Think," he says, "you ought to talk to this 'Doctor' guy for a bit."


"Safe," he says. The Doctor. Their patient. The man who stood naked in the soot because that's how they'd put him into it, dead and wearing a different face.

"That's what you were thinking," Kaylee says, and the ship (TARDIS, he says) whispers:


"Yes," he says. "The ship is mildly telepathic," he tells her, and it makes the corners of her lips curl. "There are at least three universes," he says. "If you don't count the fact that they're being constantly restructured by interference in the timeline."

They're sitting at the top of Serenity's ramp, staring out into the waving fields of grain and watching the suns rise. He seems uncomfortable in his skin, keeps running a hand through red hair, twitching fingers against his legs.

"This is not my universe," he says. "Nor is it Rose's or Jack's. In fact, if I were to remain here for any real length of time, I would certainly fade away."

"It is, though," she says, staring at the TARDIS on the horizon. "Yours. You create something and it's yours forever, no matter how far you go or how long it's been." The sea is rushing behind her ears. "I dream that I can see it all. Everything that's been and everything that has yet to –""

"Kaylee," he says, and he sounds sad, so sad that she expects stars to slip from his eyes. His face is gaunt and drawn. "Kaylee, you can't stay here."

"Help," she says. "You weren't just thinking 'safe,' you were thinking 'help.'"

The inclination of his head is so slight she'd miss it if she didn't know it was coming. She can feel Jack and Rose, looking at him.

"I had a granddaughter, once," he says. "Long time ago." His face is far away and full of things she thinks she's glad she can't understand. "Funny thing about my people's lineage is that it isn't actually linear. Traits don't fade and blend and disappear. They just. Crop up. Crop up at inopportune times in individuals who'd be just as well off without them."

"I've been dreaming," she tells him. She can smell oil and engine grease, ripe crops and hot metal, blood and regret and men's cologne.

She's staring at the grain and trying to remember how to tell if it's wheat or barley.

"Kaylee," he says, and there are lines around his eyes. "Do you understand?"

"Wake up," she says. The suns are ever so bright and she can feel the promise of the day. "It's time to wake up."

(no subject)

Date: 2005-09-12 10:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I know almost nothing about Doctor Who, but... I loved the tone, the feel of this. The texture of the grating under Kaylee's hands...

I rec'ed it in my journal. Hope you don't mind.

(no subject)

Date: 2005-09-13 08:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you so much.

I rec'ed it in my journal. Hope you don't mind.

Of course I don't. Thank you. *G*

(no subject)

Date: 2005-09-12 10:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
and the stars in his eyes were stolen.


seriously? this story is amazing. would there be any possibility of more?

(no subject)

Date: 2005-09-13 08:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Aww. Thank you, hon.

would there be any possibility of more?

-- Actually, I was just pondering that, because: Kaylee! TARDIS!

Okay, so maybe I'm pondering just writing Who fic, even though there are all of two people on my flist who'd read it. It's kind of shiny, and full of holes that could be filled.

(no subject)

Date: 2005-09-13 08:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, ponder away, please. ;) I am really really new to Doctor Who - friends of mine invited me to see the shiney new Who (on DVD from England, on a Really Large TV Screen) and I was blown away.'d venture to say that I could round up some people wot might be very pleased with Kaylee! TARDIS!

(no subject)

Date: 2005-09-13 09:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Okay, so, everything I know about Doctor Who I learned to write this fic. This means I've seen two eps, and read a fair-ish deal of fic. Aside from Kaylee/TARDIS, I have this weird impulse to write Doctor regeneration fic (into Nine), and Captain Jack after the season finale. Poor Jack. *chooses to believe he'll be back*

Also, to reiterate: Kaylee! Tardis!


(no subject)

Date: 2005-09-13 01:13 am (UTC)
ext_3673: Manny, from black books (face)
From: [identity profile]
My god. That's incredible. I'm reccing it on my lj now. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2005-09-13 08:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
*Smooch* Thank you, hon.

(no subject)

Date: 2005-09-13 08:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Mmm, beautiful and dreamy and utterly confusing to me. *g* I don't understand it, but man, it's so pretty. ::pets fic::

(no subject)

Date: 2005-09-13 08:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Awww, thank you. It was kind of you to read despite the lack of understanding. *G*

A Quilt for Kielle

Date: 2005-09-15 12:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A Quilt for Kielle

You may not know me, but you know Kielle. If not, please forgive me, as I found you listed in her "friends" file.

I am making a quilt for Kielle. Why? Because she is ill. To put it bluntly, she has cancer. If you are not aware, or have not heard, please refer to her LJ. Chris has been keeping her journal updated for the interim.

So what am I asking for, and how much will it cost? It will cost you the time it takes to email a picture of yourself (or representing yourself) and words of encouragement to me to be added into her quilt.

You see, I have the blocks nearly done, and they still look… well, "bare" is the best thing I can think of. Then I had the idea of dozens of her internet friends sending her well-wishes into the blank spots of the quilt and the idea has been chewing away at me.

So I am asking everyone on her Friends list (and elsewhere) to pitch in and add their smiling mugs to the quilt. You don't even have to use your real name, you can give me the name she knows you by. Just make sure there's a name attached to it can go onto the block with the right face.

Please send it all to me sometime before October 25. Anytime after that, and I will have already sent it off. I would like Kielle to receive the quilt by October 31, as that is a special day for her and Chris.

Send to: Deb Matthews at: sabrebabe at chartermi dot net

(no subject)

Date: 2005-10-18 08:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Having found your journal via icon-ness I was skimming through and found this. I have never seen firefly, have only read a little fanfic which included it (usually centered on River for no reason I can figure out) but you've managed to catch and hold my interest on Kaylee. Infact of all the firefly fic I've read you've done the most to make me wish I had seen some it so I could know where this, and she, is coming from.

Having the Tardis trio tumble out in a broken, bloody mess has me a bit curious as to what happened to bring them here. Kaylee seems like she would be an interesting addition to the Tardis, especially with the instant bonds she seems to have made with The Doctor and the Tardis.

All in all great work, I hope you keep it up!

(no subject)

Date: 2005-10-19 06:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hee! Firefly is definitely worth checking out. I find I prefer the short-run show to the current feature film, though.

(usually centered on River for no reason I can figure out)
A lot of people are very big fans of River. Myself, I like her, but there are characters I prefer.

Thank you so much for reading -- I actually discovered Doctor Who so that I could write this story as a pinch hit, so it's really nice to hear that it holds up.

(no subject)

Date: 2005-10-19 09:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The reading was definately my pleasure. I've got your page bookmarked for the next time I have quality fic reading time.

Firefly is definitely worth checking out. I find I prefer the short-run show to the current feature film, though.

I plan to watch the movie. I don't know about the show...I don't think it ever showed on Aussie TV. If it did I missed it. Still, a girl can always hope, maybe it will turn up one day.

(no subject)

Date: 2005-10-20 04:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The reading was definately my pleasure. I've got your page bookmarked for the next time I have quality fic reading time.

Aww. That's so sweet. You might want to avoid some of the older stuff, though -- it's of rather dubious quality. My age is my only excuse.

I plan to watch the movie. I don't know about the show...I don't think it ever showed on Aussie TV. If it did I missed it. Still, a girl can always hope, maybe it will turn up one day.
They released a DVD box set -- I'm not sure how easy it would be to rent, but there's always torrenting. *G* That's how I got a hold of Doctor Who, after all.

And, no, there are not Jack bunnies gnawing at my ankles. Really.

(no subject)

Date: 2005-10-27 05:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Jack bunnies? Good Jack bunnies! Nibble more! *g*

Have done some of that reading. Its been so long since I've seen Due South, reading your stories has been interesting. I'm surprised at how much I do and don't remember. Any-which-ways, I've enjoyed each of the pieces I've read, loved As Wont to Do and Buy Now, Pay Later.

Thanks for sharing them. *g*

(no subject)

Date: 2005-11-07 04:02 am (UTC)
ext_7899: the tenth doctor stands alone (amused/study abroad: Tenth Doctor)
From: [identity profile]
I caught this, first go round, at the Multiverse, and now I'm rereading it after seeing some of Firefly. Ace work, and heartbreaking. Cheers.

(via [ profile] the_cortex)

(no subject)

Date: 2005-11-08 02:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you kindly. *G* I appreciate your taking the time to read (again) and drop a comment.

(no subject)

Date: 2005-11-07 05:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Here via [ profile] the_cortex. Being a huge fan of Firefly and a big fan of Dr. Who (2005) I thought I had to read this. I enjoyed it too, although I'm quite confused as to what is exactly happening. Clearly the Doctor, Rose and Jack showed up, presumably after just getting Jack back from the fourth great and bountiful human empire where they left him and they got shot in the process (or um, did Zoe shoot them?).

anyway, I like the idea of Kaylee getting around on the TARDIS. I'm just not quite sure the connection she has with the Doctor. But it's a great premises. It's definitely workable since, like . . . yeah. Dr. Who travels in time and space! :D Yay!

Why is it another universe though? It could be the same one! LOL

(no subject)

Date: 2005-11-08 02:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, thank you very much for reading. *G*

Zoe did not shoot them. There was... an incident, as they were happily tripping along through space and time. Yes, an incident.

As for Kaylee's connection to the Doctor, I made a few mentions to the Doctor's granddaughter -- the request from the ficathon included the TARDIS recognizing a decendent, so in this she's the Doctor's many, many, many timed great granddaughter.

As for why I chose to make them alternate realities -- Whedon has stated that there are no aliens in his 'verse. While it would be easy to, well, Joss him, I decided that I was going to play nice for once.

Thank you again for reading.

(no subject)

Date: 2005-11-08 03:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Heee, makes much more sense now. Poor alienless universe, hahaha. Well, I enjoyed it though. And Kaylee being the Doctor's grand daughter is great. I did get that mention and suspected that was where you were going but I never felt there was a confirmation. But it was great. :D

Serenity certianly could use a friend who can travel in space and time.

(no subject)

Date: 2005-11-12 10:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This took my breath away.

(no subject)

Date: 2005-11-13 10:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for reading.

(no subject)

Date: 2007-09-15 06:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I just wandered into this story and it took my breath away. It works frighteningly well as a Firefly story and is all too possible as a Who one. Lovely.

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