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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE
Okay, sorry for the delay. So, they have a) a cargo bay full of scary-ass military black ops, b) a pissed-off pirate and c) some big bad military tracking them. Of course, Mal is primarily concerned with d) River playing kissyface with Tyler. Because he is.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1091 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Dinner is a fun meal. Not all the tension comes from the fact they have all kinds of big and bad floating around in the Black. And after dinner, River quite deliberately settles herself into the seating area, pulls out the chess board, and sets out to teach Tyler to play. Tyler, who has decided that he will do anything if River will smile at him like that again, nearly falls over the table in his eagerness to obey.
It is Ilargia’s misfortune to be caught grinning at the pair. Mal glares.
“I’m glad you think it’s so gorram funny. Thought you’d have some control over the boy.”
She blinks, surprised at his harsh tone.
“I’m not his mother, Captain.”
“Well, I’m...appointing you to the job. Don’t take much more than an hour or so to cook dinner, you got plenty of time to mind a pair of kids, you can escape Jayne‘s clutches.”
Ilargia’s face goes very still.
“That’s what you think of my job here? A quick hour prepping the protein? And the rest of time as Jayne’s bedwarmer? If you reckon that feeding a crew of seven people on standard protein, and making it interesting, is such a sinecure, why the hell did you hire me on the crew?”
“’Cos Jayne...” Mal skids to a halt. Ilargia’s eyes narrow further.
“Well, I do so like to feel...useful.”
Mal misses the edge to her voice.
“Can definitely be useful, you keep that boy out from under foot, let my pilot get on with her job.”
“I really don’t know what she...” Bites that off. “I appreciate that this is not the easiest time for any of us, Captain, but perhaps you might care to consider that your pilot may need a bit of comfort after saving our collective skins?” Old enough and smart enough to keep her own temper in check, but he’s suddenly aware of it. “You see, that’s the problem with having civilians on your crew, Captain. They like stupid things, like people saying thank you.”
It’s a good exit line. She slaps the dishtowel into his hands, stalks to the door, straight-backed.
Mal, torn between the need to be on the bridge, and the need to hover like a bad smell, paces about the corridor. Walks into Jayne, bounding up the stairs.
“I can’t find Larji.” Jayne grumbles. Narrows his eyes at Mal. “You piss her off?”
“Yeah, you. You been lookin’ to slap someone down since we caught Ty an’ River...” Jayne glares. “You want a fight, you take it up with me.”
“Well, then, I will.” Mal can yell at Jayne. “I done told you to keep an eye on that boy...”
“Mal, they was just kissing. Hell, when I was his age...”
Mal flung up both hands.
“I don’t want to hear it. Need my pilot focused, is all. Not being jumped out at by your kin.”
“Way I reckon it, she asked him for a kiss.” Jayne watches Mal’s jaw tighten. “Ty’s a good kid - Jo brought him up decent. He ain’t gonna do nothin’ River don’t want him to do.”
“No, ‘cos she’ll tear his arm off, he tries it. You reckon on that?”
Jayne, conveniently forgetting his own earlier reaction, scowls.
“You got a mighty low opinion of my kin, Mal, an’ I’m getting a mite tired of hearing it. Ain’t none of us brought up with the idea that you go hurting womenfolk, dong ma? An’ you got a mighty low opinion of River, too. She don’t flip out now less’n you point her at something an’ tell her to. Reckon you want to start treating that girl with a little more kindness and respect.” Shakes his head in disgust, and leaves.
Mal is too startled to even think of a smart response for a good five minutes.
Simon looks up at the tap on the doorframe. He’s expecting Kaylee, but it’s a very nervous Tyler.
“Just wanted to say that I’m sorry I kissed your sister ‘thout askin‘ you first.” Boy is scarlet, still. “Ain’t gonna hurt her, swear to you, sir. She’s just about the prettiest thing I ever saw, an’ I’d cut my hand off sooner.”
Scuttles away again. Simon blinks. Then the beginnings of an unwilling grin creep over his face, and he shakes his head.
Jayne’s getting worried. He’s been all over the ship. And Larji ain’t in either shuttle, or any of the passenger dorms. He even peeks in on River, who is sitting on her bunk and watching the door expectantly. She notes that Jayne is too worried to be more than slightly creeped out by that.
“Reckon you’ll know where she is.”
“Everyone wanted her to keep things running smooth. Be a good little cog. Couldn’t be what everyone wanted her to be. Broke trying. Still trying to be what everyone wants here, and worries that she’s not.” Bends her head forward, a curtain of hair. “Captain told her to start being useful.”
Even Jayne is momentarily without cussing for that.
“River, darlin’, you’d be better off with Ty. Least he’s knows he’s an idiot sometimes. Where’s my li’l peach stowed herself?”
River hops down, and leads him down the corridor.
Ilargia is sitting in a small storage area, her back against a stack of Bernoulli’s crates. She looks up at them with suspiciously bright eyes. Jayne settles himself down beside her. Gathers her up, even though she’s stiff with tension. River tactfully withdraws (and one small hand snags up Ilargia’s clipboard in passing) and Ilargia rests her head on Jayne’s shoulder.
“All that sodding education, and my life is in a couple of cartons under your bunk.”
“Our bunk.” Jayne reminds her. “You havin’ your monthlies or something, ‘cos you are acting all kinds of tweaked.”
“Tien ah, Jayne.” He can always make her laugh, even when she doesn’t want to. “I had a life before this. I didn’t realise I was going to end up as a glorified housekeeper and babysitter. He’s right, you see. I’m no real use here...”
“You ain’t paid to fly or fight.” Jayne says reasonably. “An’ anyone as can make some of that dried fei wu taste like real food has a talent you shouldn’t go spitting on. Mal‘s just a sha gua.”
“There is a point past which I stop making allowances for the pressures of command, and just get pissed off with him.” A quick glance, and a fierce blink. “I don’t have a military background.”
“Well, Mal ain’t good with the folks he can’t give orders to.” Jayne shrugs. “He got used to soldiers doing what they was told, and he ain’t got his head round the fact that folks need asking, an’ sometimes they ain’t gonna agree with him. He an’ the little man useta butt heads somethin’ fierce.”
“He’s the Captain, this is his ship.”
“Don’t mean he gets to make my wife cry, just ‘cos he’s feeling ornery.” Sighs. “I din’t reckon on nursemaidin‘ Ty, either. Makes me feel...old.”
“Old enough to be his gorram father, bao bei. Hell, I’m near old enough to be li’l Kaylee’s father.” That makes him look a bit sick. “And you don’t get old in my line of work... S’why I wanted you to meet my folks. So you got a place to go, if anything happens...”
“Jayne...” She can’t find the words, kisses him hard. He wipes away a stray tear.
“Don’t plan on nothin’ happening yet a while, though. Got me plenty of living to do, now I got me a fine and pretty wife to come home to.” Hand makes a little detour south...Ilargia squeaks, but she’s laughing.
“Jayne, we’re in a store-cupboard...”
“Don’t feel like waiting to get to our bunk.” His fierce grin. She grins back, teases him.
“Aren’t you getting a little old for this behavioooh...”
River stalks up to the bridge. Mal opens his mouth to say something, but she doesn’t give him a chance. Just shoves the clipboard into his hands and stalks away again.
Mal looks at the lists. Neat inventories of everything, down to the ‘mystery cans’ in the bottom of the larder. All the new cargo for Bernoulli has been docketed, too. He sits down heavily. There’s even a priority notifications list of essentials they are running low on. And a secondary list of luxuries, with names by them. He looks for a long time at the line, ‘rem apl sc M’.
It’s a neat, professional set of documentation, and it wasn’t done in five minutes. This is the work of someone who took time, and (his eyes go back to that list) someone who paid attention. He swallows.
Zoe cranes and looks.
“Oh, she’s finished it, then?”
“You knew about this?”
“Of course. No use having a station-grade administrator on board and expecting her not to...” Zoe trails off. “What have you done, Captain?”
Mal recounts the scene, and somehow it’s very difficult to recapture the indignation with Zoe staring at him like that.
“Far as I can see, she spends all her time in the kitchen or in Jayne’s bunk.” Mal blusters.
“You just told the best supercargo we ever had, that she needed to make herself useful round the place? The only person on board who knows how to make those little bao you like so much? Perhaps you could suggest that she might be good minding children...” Zoe trails off, at the look on Mal’s face. “Ren ci de tien ah.”
“I think we can agree that I maybe put my foot down my throat again.” Mal rubs his eyes. “We got all kinds of trouble floating around out looking for us. I got no time to worry about hurt feelings.”
“Well, maybe you should, sir. I find I’ve gotten rather used to not having my dinner burnt...” Something pings, and suddenly, she is all business again. “We got company. Reading some fuel leakage...reckon it’s Ott.”
“We gonna be able to out-run him?”
“Reckon we might, if Kaylee can push...” She frowns. “He’s changing course, sir.”
Several other things go ping, and the scope changes colour.
“That’s why.” Mal says heavily.
The Columbus is small, as military vessels go. That is to say, it could land on Deadwood, and cover the whole of Marietta, but it probably wouldn’t cause a gravitational shift by entering orbit. There is no chance of outrunning this behemoth.
The comm chirps, and the over-ride puts the message throughout the ship.
“...pson, is this thing on? It is?...Good. Oh, right, er, attention, Firefly vessel. Stand by to be, er, boarded, please.”
Thursday, September 21, 2006 6:12 PM
Saturday, September 23, 2006 12:50 PM
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