The Name's Not Kane
Posted on Thu Feb 10th, 2022 @ 12:24am by Shepherd Harley & Kane
Edited on on Tue Apr 26th, 2022 @ 10:06pm
The Xiao Jin Chronicles
Location: Kane's Quarters
Timeline: Mission Day 4 at 2200
[ Following 'Kane & Abel' ]
Kane looked over to where Sula had stood with her back turned to him. He quickly stood to his feet. He wanted to reach out and grab her but after his poor judgment call in kissing her, that would be even more inappropriate to do so. Instead he found himself croaking out, "Shepherd Harley... Wait..."
Relieved, Sula took a deep breath and held it. Slowly she turned and re-entered the threshold of Kane's room. "Yes?" she asked hopefully. She bit her lip before continuing. "What is it, Kane?"
"Sit... with me... for a while?" His hand gestured to the dryer part of the bed.
Obediently, Sula sat next to Kane. She did not touch him but she sat so near to him that barely a dog whisker could fit between their thighs. Still saying nothing, she waited for Kane to take the lead on whatever might be on his mind.
He placed his hands in his lap firmly against his gut. His eyes shifted to the small space between her and him. His eyes shifted upward until he looked her in the face. He froze at that moment as he was worried that everything she saw in him. She looked at him differently than all the others before her. He didn't want to risk all of that. He shifted his hands apart. He placed one hand palm on his leg hoping at some point she would take it as she had before and the other he rested on his knee, "I'm not William Kane..."
"You already said that," she replied with a soft smile, her eyes looking deeply into his. She turned her body so that she was now more angled towards Kane. While it widened the gap between their thighs, their knees remained in close proximity.
He watched her shuffle on his bunk for a brief second their knees slightly touched. He remained unbothered by it. His eyes remained locked on hers, "Kane didn't exist until I arrived on the Eavesdown Docks." His voice started to stammer as he brought up the next part, "The train break... didn't... happen like I said it did..." He gulped, "I killed three guards in our escape... saving one of my rescuers. By the time we made our way to safety, one of them knew who I was. They told me they wouldn't kill me but they knew that time would."
Silently, Sula blinked her eyes a couple of times. They were soft but inquiring. Her pupils widened slightly as she waited for the story to continue to unfold. "Go on," she encouraged. Whatever he had to say, he had to get it out. Pushing him might close him off and she did not desire that.
Kane breathed in deeply and then exhaled as he struggled to bring up the next part of his tale. This was a difficult part of his past that he had never spoken to another soul about even during his incarceration. The Penitentiary Chaplin had tried to due what Shepherd Harley had done in little than two days instead of the six years of his time in prison, "My name is Amos... Amos Talbot." He looked over at her searching if she was at all familiar with his actual name. Maybe she had heard of the Talbots of Londinium at one point. Or not. It pained him to go on farther with his tell all but she needed to hear it.
"Amos Talbot," Sula repeated, sounding it out thoughtfully, the name ringing a bell, but not knowing completely why. There was something familiar about his name that tickled the back of it. She closed her eyes for a moment, thinking, searching, and wondering. "Nice to really meet you, Amos," she told him pleasantly. "I'm Sula. Sula Harley. If you want, in private, you can call me by my given name...." She hesitated before adding, "If it helps."
"Sula... Sula... Sula..." her given name rolled off his tongue which brought a smile to his face in that time that was painful for him to share, "Such a beautiful name for a lovely lady." He looked at her with a slight twinkle in his eye. He returned to frowning as he knew that he couldn't savor this moment presently. He nodded his head in agreement that he would only say her name in private. After all... Amos Talbot was a name he shouldn't be called outside of these cabin doors nor a name he wanted to be called at all if he had a say in it. "I'm... I was... an Alliance captain during the Unification War..."
Sula's heart stopped and she swallowed hard. It took everything that she could to try and keep a neutral face and not place her hand on her heart. Alliance?! Then he could have killed Donovan. No! She shook her head as she continued to wrestle with the facts as she heard them. He probably did not. And if the Browncoats freed him and he was imprisoned, he must not have been liked by the Alliance much. Heartened by that thought, she placed her hand on top of Kane's. It is said that forgiveness is next to Godliness and he is in so much pain. If I can help him, will not the 'verse be a better place?
She bit her lip and confessed, "I was a medic...for the other side...." Her lips started to quiver slightly. "There was a lot of pain...and suffering...."
That didn't bother him at all. He closed his eyes as he heard the screaming of the Browncoats as him and his platoon massacred them all. He shook his head, "Are you... familiar... with the Battle of Grissom Falls?" He hung his head shamefully not waiting for her to answer him, "I... I was there... that day... they were all surrendering... I... carried... out the order... I should have refused it... a military tribunal needed to make an example out of me... and... I rightfully deserve it... I don't deserve this second chance. I really don't, Sula. I. Still. See. Them. I still hear their cries out for their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, spouses until they took their final breath. It's the only way I can fall asleep, even then. I still see them."
The Butcher. Sula froze. She was comforting the Butcher. And yet, something about his sincerity, something about his pain made her want to comfort him. He murdered so many. The harm he did.... It was incomparable. Could she forgive him? Could she understand? Her hand slightly moved forward and back on his. She did not know if she was comforting him or herself. Or, was she just fidgeting and buying time?
Such a burden.... It was no wonder that he drank, trying to drown out all those cries. If he was in pain over all it. If he truly was pained, wouldn't God forgive him? Shouldn't she try? Sucking in her lips hard and then releasing slightly, she practically whispered, "I cannot imagine your burden. Your pain is real. I wish I knew how to give you absolution. If, you refused the order, Amos, what would have happened?" She sucked in her breath, hoping for an answer that could give her more faith.
He saw it in her eyes as she knew who he was. The Butcher of Grissom Falls, he cried out with the title he so deserved to be called. He closed his eyes and even now gun barrel flashes spread out as people started to fall to the ground. He was a mass murderer. Sula.... Sula.... Sula... her name repeated itself in his mind in her own voice he found slightly soothing. He shook his head, "I don't deserve absolution for my sins nor my crimes, Sula."
He wished he still had booze the bottle he had was the last as he had planned it accordingly. He folded his hands together like he had done when they had sat back down on his bunk. He brought his hands up forming a double fist while he rested his forehead against them as he thought of what would have happened if he hadn't followed through with his orders from Colonel -- now General Peckinpah. He lifted his hands off of his fists and while he brought his hands down on his knees he spoke, "One of my men would have been given the order that I was disobeying a direct order and that I was a traitor for not carrying out my orders.... and they would have been carried out. I would have been in that riverbed along with so many, I still feel that the man I was died that day."
"So, you were trapped," Sula replied conclusively. "The Alliance was going to either kill you on that site, in which case, the people would still be dead and you with them or, on the other hand, they were going to let you essentially kill yourself, leave you in prison, have someone else kill you, or cause this," she said picking up her hand and gesturing open handedly in his direction for his sorry state.
Sula sighed heavily and reddened, as anger overtook her. "nǐ zài jiǎng shén me pì huà! The true evil here is not you. It is the Alliance," she said firmly and definitively. "You're as much of a victim as those that you killed. Those chùsheng!" She balled her hand into a fist and slammed it into her open hand. "Amos, don't let those pìyǎn best you."
He felt like a dagger stabbed through his heart when she called him Amos. A name that was associated with so much death and suffering that he had appreciated being called by his intake number. He was relieved that he had come clean to her about all of this. Yet he looked sullen when his face fell, "I don't want to be the victim. I feel like being called a victim in this is unfair to those who my men and I gunned down at the Falls that day."
"They are victims as well," she agreed. "But as I said, whether you gave the order or whether you did not and were killed before someone else gave the order makes them no less victims, does it?" Sula put her hand on his again. "You were under Damocles Sword."
He knew what she was trying to get across but it didn't make him comfortable to be lotted in with the victims of Grissom Falls. He was the only one to be incarcerated. Out of his platoon, he was the only one who found time in a prison cell. He didn't know what happened to the rest of those under his command. He knew most of them stayed in the Alliance military. He was the scapegoat, he was well-connected and needed to be made an example.
Sula could see that he was thinking. She sighed, relieved. Maybe now he could heal. Patting his hand, she favored him with another smile. "You've got a lot to think about. I know that this has been a rough night...." Her sentenced drawled unnecessarily long, uncertain what she do next.
He still found it unnerving that she knew who he truly was now and she hadn't flinched in horror. He knew she had heard about him as it was in her tell, "I don't want to think about anything, Sula." He could still smell the whisky drying up on the blanket. He craved a drink, wanting to silence his personal demons. He frowned, "Maybe I should hand myself in when we get to Boros. The last thing I want is for the Alliance to confiscate the Xiao Jin and arrest the crew, chief among them you for aiding and abetting me, a fugitive on the run. The last thing I want, is for you to get hurt, Sula."
"You'll do no such thing. Stop talking nonsense. As far as the 'verse is concerned, now, you're Kane. This is a second chance for you." She rose from the bed. "I'd advise that you not blow it. But whether you take my advice or not, is up to you. For my part, I hope you take it."
He didn't know how to take away from that as his hand swept through what little hair he had and then through the scruffle donning across his face with both hands downward as he thought-out what she had said. He was now William Kane not Amos-That-Was. In the corner of his eye he watched her step up onto her feet from his bunk. He froze as he looked up at Sula and then with one simple worded question he asked, "Why?" He slowly rose to his feet standing with his hands on his hips looking her in the eyes.
"Why what?" Sula asked, blinking twice confused.
"Why are you so insistent... that I take this second chance? What's in it... for you?"
"Nothing is in it for me," Sula answered as if the response was self evident. Her hands raised upward from her waist to her shoulders with her palms upward pointing to either side. "Unless you consider that making the 'verse a better place is something that is 'in it for me." She paused for a moment and lowered her hands. "I said it before and I'll say it again, you're a good, kind man. If you were not, you would not have suffered as you have and you would not have spoke up for me at dinner the other day. Your heart is in the right place, Kane. You just need to start listening to it more."
He was suspicious of those who didn't expect anything in for themselves. That was the entire mentality of the 'verse but then again she was a woman-of-the-cloth so she had a holier-than-thou note. She was indeed holier-than-Kane and definitely holier than Amos-That-Was.
She was angelic in beauty and in spirit. There was no one else he would have turned to except for her. He wasn't expecting that she would have came by his cabin and learned his darkest truth. It scared him that she knew who he truly was.
He saw it in her eyes. She knew he was the Butcher of Grissom Falls. He confessed to his role to her, he didn't seek out absolution. He didn't deserve that but there was some truth in what she told him. That he had heart. Someone in the first time in his thirty-plus years in the 'verse, someone believed in him, "Alright. 'Spose there's some truth in what you've gotta say 'bout me. I'm just not quite convinced about it myself."
"If you were staying on the ship, I would certainly be willing to listen to you more and talk to you more about who you really are," she told him while her voice dropped. "But, perhaps at Boros, you can at least accompany me on my errands and maybe I can help you find a place to get set up...." Her voice and head sank as she finished.
In that moment he didn't know what he was going to do. In reality, all he wanted was to leave the shackles that he had associated with Persephone for the past six years of his life. The whole planet was his prison and even when he was in Eavesdown he felt like he was shackled. Even when he was winning at cards and drinking cheap booze he felt like he was in prison. Even on the Xiao Jin where he only was permitted to certain areas of his ship: the washroom, the common area and his cabin. He went from one cell to another with the plan on getting into a heap load of trouble. Then, he met her.
He appreciated where she was coming from. She had a genuine and caring heart to make sure that he had the skills and the ability to survive in his new life and to abandon the life he was leaving behind him. Her kindness was strange to him. She fought for the Browncoats. They were enemies in a conflict six years ago and now she wanted to make him a life to survive as a fugitive under an assumed alias.
"Whatever you need Sula, I'll happily oblige." He offered her a kind smile. He didn't know if they needed a man of his... skills on the ship... and he knew if the crew were to find out he truly was he wouldn't get more than a lukewarm welcome he received from Sula. He was convinced that eventually they'd either collect on his bounty alive even if he preferred to be handed in dead.
Sula lifted her head and smiled warmly into Kane's face. "Not sure how much help you would be when I'm shopping for medical supplies, but your company would be welcome."
"You're right I wouldn't be much help there," he rubbed his chin, "Let's make sure I find a place for a hot shave. Be a good time n' a place for that."
The shepherd's eyes narrowed a bit when Kane ignored that he would be good company, regardless of his expertise. However, her face relaxed and she was mollified by his suggestion that he got shaved. "Before or after my errands?" she inquired curiously as to Kane's thoughts.
"I'll leave that to you to decide, Sula." He smiled warmly back at her before his fingers itched across the side of his face, "The sooner the better."
"Then we best be quick about it, as soon as we touch down. A fresh shave would probably do you some good and would make you look like less of a ruffian while I'm scurrying about like a church mouse."
"A ruffian you say? You're more like a church dove," his eyes lit up and nodded his head, "a fresh shave before and then a day together will be delightful."
"A church dove?" Sula laughed heartily. Her voice rang purely and clearly through the room. "Oh my goodness, that is something," she told him while the last bits of laughter were passing. "Perhaps I am as pale as one but my wings have long been clipped, nor am I as pure or pretty."
Kane gasped at her response as he looked over her from head to toe and shook his head in disagreement with her, "You're... perfect... absolutely perfect."
Sula snickered and then snorted a laugh through her nose. "Perfect is anything but me, Kane. Just like any other person, I'm doing the best I can and that's usually not good enough."
Kane laughed lightly along with her snort. He loved when she laughed through her nose like that. He found it quite cute. She was wrong about not being pretty, "I'm not buying that..."
"Then you will just have to take my word," she said firmly, but bent her head to the ground and over to the side. She shuffled her feet and said with a small chuckle, "I thought I was leaving some time ago. See, I'm not even good at that."
"Well... I'm a tough sell..." He grinned at her. "Well... that was before... my tell-all confession of who I truly am. But I'll let you go back to your cabin, Sula."
Hesitantly, she replied, "I really should." Once again, she moved to the door and opened it before turning back to Kane. "It is good to see you smilin'. I hope you'll keep it."
"I'll... I'll try," Kane replied. He didn't want her to leave but couldn't find an excuse for her to stay. He opened his mouth about to say something to that effect but he had taken up enough of her time already and he would see her the next day on Boros.
"Good," she concluded. She gave a quick, but dainty wave goodbye along with a small smile before disappearing from view.