Compromising Positions | Into the Black | Contact

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Notes: Written for the first Friday Firefly challenge on LJ. Topic: childhood.




When he was little, he used to hide behind his Momma's skirts - pressing his face against her legs and peering out at the world. He was the smallest and his siblings refused to let them play with them, so he spent time with Momma - following her around the kitchen, helping her make the meals and keep the place clean, just the way Pa liked it. He remembers falling asleep with his head in her lap, her fingers running through his curly hair as she sang softly. He never minded being called "momma's boy" by all the others because he knew - he knew he was her favourite. All the hugs and kisses told him so. They were just jealous.

The summer he turned 13 he grew about a foot over-night. Suddenly, he was too big to be held, too old to be coddled. Hard times came and no more schooling for him - he was sent to work on the neighbour's ranch. No time for friends, no time for anything but work. The other ranch hands were not kind to him - a boy in a man's body, all legs and arms and clumsiness. They excluded him as much as possible, leaving him behind when they went to the bar after a long day's work.

He tried so hard to fit in, but every overture was rebuffed harshly. He was never much of a conversationalist. He wasn't dumb - just a slow thinker and sometimes he'd open his mouth and speak before the thoughts had finished in his brain and he'd say the totally wrong thing. But, he loved the horses and worked hard and learned the skills and over time he managed to earn some respect with his abilities and some of the hands warmed to him and made him feel part of the group.

He got bigger and stronger as time passed and he thought he was making a good life for himself on the ranch. He figured he'd find himself a wife and raise a bunch of kids, just like his Pa had done before him. And then everything changed. There was a fire. He was blamed - he was the last one seen coming out of the barn. He knows it's not true, he saw the rancher's son weaving his way across the compound that night, but no one could afford to believe him.

Things changed after that. Suddenly, he didn't belong again. No one would hire him and at 16 he had to leave the only home he had ever known. There were hugs and kisses and tears as he boarded the train for the nearest town, but he knew only his Momma would truly miss him.

It took a while, but eventually, he did find work. And by the time he was 20 he was a gun for hire. He had learned the skill, earned respect, and learned to look out only for himself. He was good at what he did. He was strong and sure and was a crack shot. His skills got him the steady work his lack of social graces never could. Decades passed and he found job after job, ship after ship, and eventually, a new home.

But now, now it looked like it was all going to slip away once again. It's like when he was a kid all over again. He's desperately trying to gain approval, yet everything he does just makes it worse, makes him less welcome. He can see it in their eyes and he doesn't know what to do. He doesn't want to leave Serenity, doesn't want to leave his new home. But he thinks he may have to.