BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

GIRLFAN

Even Roses Have Thorns, Chapter Thirty-Five
Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Slightly forward in time from previous chapter. Decisions are made, plans hatched, River has her birthday, and Mal and Inara have an announcement. Canon pairings +1 (spoiler for pairing in first comment for those that prefer it). PG13. Shortish (2.2K) bridging piece.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1911    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Even Roses Have Thorns

Chapter Thirty-Five: Cras amet qui nunquam amavit; Quique amavit, cras amet (May he love tomorrow who has never loved before.)

*** *** *** Chapters 1-10, Chapters 11-20, Chapters 21-30, Chapter 31, Chapter 32, Chapter 33, Chapter 34 *** *** ***

At the end of breakfast, Mal stood; everyone’s attention turned toward him, and the chatter at the table came to a frowning halt. “Alright, we’ve got some good news. Simon and Aren have managed to get a doctor willing to do Simon’s final surgery. Everything looks above board, but we’re going to have to play things kinda cautious. As we’ve been expecting, it’s gonna mean a trip to the Core. In this case, Osiris.” Mal took a moment to have a look around the table. Zoë, already in the loop, just looked impassive. Aren and Simon, whose plan it was, shared a tense glance. River and Ceres looked politely interested. Kaylee looked frightened, and Jayne looked angry. “The surgeon who’s doing the operation is based outta the Medacad there. Believe he taught Simon for a while.” Simon nodded his assent. “And Aren’s met him at conferences and the like.” Aren also nodded agreement. “That’s the most reassurance we’ve got and it ain’t much. As you’ll likely recall, Osiris is Simon and River’s birth world, and where their parents still reside. Simon went to school and worked there. Keeping a low profile is absolutely critical. Now, money’s changed hands – our contact got half upfront, the rest on delivery. Everything’s been agreed, so I’m splitting what’s left a the Lassiter take. Zoë.” Mal passed her two envelops – the second, clearly, Wash’s share. “Jayne. Kaylee. Simon.” He passed them their envelops; Jayne and Kaylee tore theirs open immediately, like they were candy bars. “’Nara.”

“Mal, I already received my share.”

“No you didn’t. That was a guild fee, and had nothing to do with the Lassiter job. You had an integral role to play, as I said at the time, though I still can’t figure out how you got that gorram gun out of the gorram dumpster without getting anything on yourself. This here is your cut.”

“Thank you, Mal.” She peeked into the envelop with a bemused expression. Clearly, crime did pay.

“And River. Half your normal share, ‘cause you weren’t on the crew for the first part a the job.” River nodded with a wide smile. It was the first time she’d ever actually earned money. It felt nice.

“Now, gonna be a few weeks before we hit Osiris, so we’ll be stopping in a few hours to resupply. Jayne, Kaylee, take the mule, load up on ammo and whatever engine parts it is we need. Speaking of, Jayne, I’d like to acknowledge the fine work you been doing helping out lil’Kaylee – counts as more than pitchin’ in, and I think we all know that. So, there’s a little extra in your envelop this time round, and an offer of an extra two percent if you’re willing on taking up assisting Kaylee permanent like in addition to your regular duties. ‘Magine you’ll wanna think on that some.”

“Na-uh.” Jayne was pretty gleeful looking. “I’ll take it.”

“Well, now, that’s good. Well. Good. Alright. You take the mule, load it up, then leave it with ‘Nara, then you can go about your business, Jayne. ‘Nara as previously mentioned, is official crew now, and I’m formally handing over the duties of quartermaster to her as of this moment. You’ll be in charge of stocking up the boat. Kaylee, if you don’t have any objections, I’d like you to stick around after you’re down getting engine parts and give ‘Nara any help she might need stocking up on things for the water farm.” Kaylee nodded. “Shiny. Make sure she gets a pint a strawberries today ‘Nara.” Kaylee smiled happily. “Aren, you want to take a walk around, that’s fine, but make sure you stick with ‘Nara; else you stay on the boat.” Aren raised her hand. “Go on, Aren.”

“If you have no objections, I’d like to help Inara and Kaylee get the things for the hydroponics farm.”

“’Preciate it, doctor.” Mal nodded. “ Zoë, you’re with me. We’ll be picking up a few things for River’s birthday party tomorrow. Speaking a which, Simon, River and Ceres, you’re not to set foot off of the boat, anything you particularly want, make sure to let Zoë know. River, boat’s yours, and no mucking about.”

***

Mal cracked open the bottle of champagne, and poured glasses around the table.

River spoke, “No thank you. I don’t want that to be my first legal act.”

“Well, now, lil’Albatross, there’s a fine tradition in the having your first legal drink. My first legal act I believe was shot a decent whiskey. Coughed some of it back up, too, as I recall.” Shared laughter went around the table. “Anyone else?”

Inara supplied, “Champagne, at the Training House.”

“The crew shared a gallon a cider my Momma and Daddy had put away last time we hit dirt.” Zoë agreed.

Several eyes fell on Jayne, tucking into another slice of Kaylee’s home-made cake with real flour. It was not like him to not share drinking stories. “Oh! Weren’t nothing special. Been working more ‘an a year ‘fore I turned eighteen, and work means money, and money means being able to sample the delights.” He lifted his eyebrows significantly, but the effect was somewhat ruined by the icing still on his lips.

“Very poetic, Jayne.” Kaylee said. “I suppose I was – uh – sampling the delights some too before my eighteenth.” Kaylee turned to Aren, never liking to see anyone left out. “What about you?”

“Well, it was a long time ago, but I think it was a half-glass of claret and I was gone to God.” Everyone laughed.

Kaylee turned to the others who hadn’t spoken yet. “Ceres? Simon? What did ya do?”

Simon and Ceres exchanged a glance. Simon spoke, “Ladies first.”

With a smile, Ceres spoke. “Thank you, Simon. My first legal act – I made a will.” A few eyes blinked, and a few stared, but Simon spoke first.

“Really? So did I.” All eyes quickly moved to Simon.

Mal was the first to speak. “Well now. If that isn’t – more’an a little morbid an creepifin’.” Inara giggled.

Simon got a little defensive. “Well, I had assets to protect, and if anything happened, I wanted them to go to River. As it stood, my parents would have been my next of kin. It was just a sensible precaution.” Simon glanced to Ceres, clearly hoping for backup.

She nodded. “Something similar. Ah, we didn’t have the best parents, and I was in school, so I had a stipend – and I wanted to make sure that if anything happened, that my siblings would get it.”

“Oldest, huh?” Jayne threw a significant glance at Kaylee.

“Yes.”

Kaylee perked right up – it was also nice to get people talking, hear their stories. “Oh, so where are your sibs now? How many ya got?”

“They predeceased me.” Ceres took a sip of her wine.

“Oh.” Kaylee stared. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“You couldn’t know, but thank you.” Ceres decided not to elaborate. It was not really party conversation.

Everyone stared at the table for a moment, but Inara decided to move the party back in a more cheerful direction. “So, River, what are you thinking of making your first legal act?” Inara hoped that River would pick something non-morbid.

“I’m hoping to sample the delights,” River said with a wide smile.

Mal stammered, “Now lil’Albatross…”

Jayne spoke at the same time. “Hey now, mei-mei…” Almost everyone’s head snapped toward Jayne and his spontaneous ‘mei-mei’, then turned to Simon, who had said nothing, but merely dabbed his mouth with his napkin.

Mal waved Jayne to silence, and spoke in his most Captain-y this-is-not-up-for-discussion voice. “Lil’Albatross, we ain’t stopping anywhere for you to go whorin’. Ain’t plannin’ on being dirtside any time soon, and ain’t planning on lettin’ you off the boat where you might be seen.”

“No need to get off of the boat.”

Aiya. Yet another fangzong fengkuang de jie. Mal thought that his head might actually implode. “Now, I think Jayne’s made it pretty clear how he regards you, and it ain’t like that.”

“Wasn’t planning on asking Jayne.” River stated happily, looking at Mal. Mal looked stricken, and most of the others at the table stiffened. “Or, you, either, Captain.” A few eyes furtively glanced towards Simon, who was trying to hide his laughter behind his napkin, and failing miserably.

Simon took the napkin away and grinned at his sister. “I warned you, Mei-mei!”

River rolled her eyes, which somewhat spoiled the effect of her subsequent dignified rise from the table. She held her hand out, invitation-to-dance-style toward Ceres, who smiled and stood. River spoke again, “If you’ll please excuse us.” Both girls picked up their glasses. “Might be my second legal act.”

All eyes, bar her brother’s, followed her out, then snapped to Simon, still grinning happily.

Jayne looked over at Simon in disbelief, confusion etched on his face. “Ain’t ya gonna stop ‘em?”

Simon looked around the table. “Stop them? No. I can’t. And why would I want to?”

Jayne clearly couldn’t wrap his head around that. “Hell, Simon, she’s just…”

Simon spoke slowly, for effect. “Become a legal adult, Jayne.” Simon took another sip of champagne. Mal and Jayne continued to stare at Simon as if he’d gone and grown a second – very ugly, very strange looking – head. “Seriously, what harm is there? It’s not like either of them can get into any trouble.”

Mal scratched his head. “Ain’t there kind of an issue with our prisoner being a mite… infectious?” Mal waved his hand in the direction of under the table. Zoë gave Mal one of her rare death looks.

Simon raised an eyebrow in the Captain’s direction, but answered calmly, “Well, as a rule, I don’t comment on my patients’ situations, but I think it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t have let someone compromise the health of the crew in that way – especially, you know, my sister.”

Jayne grimaced in sympathy, and nodded understanding. “VD, huh? Ruttin’ guards. Guess that ‘xplains why she ain’t so keen on men-folk.” Jayne dug into his cake again. On catching Kaylee’s distressed look, he swallowed quickly and remarked, “’Course, that don’t exactly make her different from any a th’other women on this boat.”

“Jayne!” Kaylee actually looked a little shocked.

“What? The lady doc likes women-folk, ‘Nara sexes women-folk, Simon and Wash – honorary women-folk. Not a straight girl on this boat.” Zoë, pleased that Jayne had taken the initiative to change the direction of the conversation, didn’t bother to even pretend to take offence. Kaylee, on the other hand, seemed to have taken it upon herself to break Jayne’s shin through repeated kicking.

“Now, now, bao-bei, us lady doctors don’t want to have to leave the party to fix up Jayne’s man-parts,” Simon suggested with an indulgent smile.

With a huff and a final good kick, Kaylee left off.

At Zoë’s look, Mal had remembered himself, and was also grateful to Jayne for his effort to change the topic of conversation. Mal stood and started moving around the table. “Well, seeing as our guest a honour has retired for the night, I don’t think she’ll much mind me commandeering a little a her spotlight.” He paused, and took a sip of the fine champagne Inara had selected. “Inara and I had a talk some weeks back.” Mal stopped and rested his hand on Inara’s shoulder, and she instinctively brought her own up cover it – only to feel something cold pressed into her skin. As Mal moved away, she caught it secretly, and placed her hands in her lap. It was beautiful. A single, perfect ball of heliotrope set into a simple ring of gold. “And I think it’s the right time to announce that we’ve decided to marry.” As he spoke, Inara surreptitiously slipped the ring unto her finger, and raised her hand to her shoulder to show the table. Heliotrope. Bloodstone. Did Mal even have a fraction of an inclination of it’s meaning? But she knew that he must have – Mal would never did anything on only one level of meaning. Mal returned to her side, and she stood with him, and he drew her close.

Kaylee squealed with unbridled delight, while Zoë, who had been with the Captain when he selected the ring, showered a glowing smile on the pair. “Congratulations Sir, Inara.”

Simon agreed. “Congratulations.” He lifted his glass in a salute, and drained it. Aren, with a pleased smile for the pair, followed suit.

Jayne moved straight to the practicalities. “Hey, guess you’ll be getting knocked up next there, ‘Nara.”

“Well now, Jayne, that’s kinda horrific you just bringing that up at the table, but I think we’ll be trying to limit ourselves to one pregnant lady at a time if possible.”

“Aw, Mal, it’s nice when critters have other critters to play with.”

“Zoë’s having twins, Jayne. I don’t think that they’re going to get lonely.”

“I suppose.” Jayne didn’t seem convinced, but he wisely let the matter drop.

*** *** *** Chapter 36 *** *** ***

COMMENTS

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 12:09 PM

GIRLFAN


Thank you to all who have - and continue to - read and comment.

I apologise to anyone who felt that the new pairing (River/Ceres) should have been announced at the top, but I was hoping to capitalise on the element of surprise, hence my compromise to merely create a sort of spoiler here. Future chapters will be labelled clearly.

For those of you who allowed yourselves to be surprised, I hope that even if the pairing isn't to your taste, that the rest of the party was suffiently entertaining to make reading through worth your while.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 12:35 PM

MANICGIRAFFE


Have to admit I'm a mite confused here. How much time passed since chapter 34? Last we saw of Simon, he was still scribbling notes and could barely walk without being supported by two people. Now he's sitting up, talking, and drinking. Seems like a huge leap within one day for him. Or did I totally miss something?

"Simon and Wash – honorary women-folk."
Snerk. Ok, I loved Jayne for that one.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 12:50 PM

GIRLFAN


"Slightly forward in time" - I'd meant a few weeks, given that I'd never really decided when exactly River's birthday would be.

Simon isn't fully recovered, either - still quite weak, but you'll see more of that in the next chapter.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 12:59 PM

GIRLFAN


Just on re-reading, I've realised that I had actually mentioned it in the story.

>"Inara and I had a talk some weeks back.” Mal stopped and rested his hand on Inara’s shoulder, and she instinctively brought her own up cover it – only to feel something cold pressed into her skin. As Mal moved away, she caught it secretly, and placed her hands in her lap. It was beautiful. A single, perfect ball of heliotrope set into a simple ring of gold. “And I think it’s the right time to announce that we’ve decided to marry.”


Apologies for the confusion.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 1:57 PM

AJAMES


River and Ceres?? I LOVE IT!

And I love that Simon is being the mature one about this new relationship, and Mal and Jayne are the worried ones.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 4:35 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Whoa! That was a surprise...but definitely a good one. Least it will keep the BSR occupants who view River's post-BDM state of being differently than I would from completely freaking out;D

Still...great work here, girlfan! Definitely loved how you had Simon be the mature one when it came to River's relationship. Guess getting the crap tortured outta ya really makes you take a look at things from a new perspective;)

BEB

Thursday, February 1, 2007 12:25 AM

GIRLFAN


>Least it will keep the BSR occupants who view River's post-BDM state of being differently than I would from completely freaking out;D


Umm, freaking out? There's going to be freaking out? Why? What kind?

Thursday, February 1, 2007 2:56 AM

BORNTOFLY


I have to agree with everyone that Simon being the calm one in regards to the Ceres/River relationship was brilliant, and I personally think it was the only (hence, very right and totally awesome) way to go.

Also, love way Jayne is now, all sensitive (mostly) to others. It's...well, it being Jayne and all, I suppose it's kinda disturbing, but in a good way.

>"“What? The lady doc likes women-folk, ‘Nara sexes women-folk, Simon and Wash – honorary women-folk. Not a straight girl on this boat.” Zoë, pleased that Jayne had taken the initiative to change the direction of the conversation, didn’t bother to even pretend to take offence. Kaylee, on the other hand, seemed to have taken it upon herself to break Jayne’s shin through repeated kicking." That's just pure Jayne wit right there. It couldn't have been written better.


As for the Ceres/River thing. I sure as hell did not see that coming. And I sure as hell like it. It's unforseen, yes, but I can totally see it happening, and can believe it too, which one would assume is the desired effect.

And three cheers for Mal and Inara! About time they started dancing with, instead of around, each other.

Lovely.


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