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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. A little more fluff and some story ... the job begins. Thanks for all your comments - please keep them coming! And BEB ... I do listen sometimes!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1107 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“You intend sitting up all night?” Mal asked as he stepped down into the galley from the direction of the engine room.
Jethro was sitting at the table, a glass of water in front of him, and he looked up. “I was just thinking, Captain.”
“You. This crew. And why I’m still here.”
Mal, in the act of pouring a last cup of coffee, looked over in surprise. “Don’t you want to be?” he asked.
“What I want seems to be irrelevant at this time.”
Mal gestured with his tin mug. “You know, for a man who claims to come from Eos, you sure talk like you were bred closer to the Core.” He came round and sat opposite. “Anything you feel like telling me.”
Jethro gazed at him, noting only honest interest in those blue eyes. “I could say it was the Abbey insisted I talk this way.”
“You could,” Mal agreed. “’Cepting I’ve known a few Preachers in my time and none of ‘em talked quite like you.” He sipped his coffee. “So what’s the truth?”
“The truth?” Jethro smiled. “Just how long were you planning on staying awake?”
Mal smiled back. “You know, you do remind me of a man I knew once. Sat right there in that chair and tried to talk philosophy to me.”
Jethro wondered at the bleakness that crossed the older man’s features. “Did you kill him?”
“I see.” He glanced down into his water. “Captain, I may not be a full Shepherd, but if you’d like me to hear your confession I’d -” He raised his head again at Mal’s unexpected bark of laughter.
“Just how long’ve you got, Preacher?” Mal said, sitting back. “I’ve kinda packed a whole lot of sinning into my life.”
“Then perhaps another time, Captain.”
“Perhaps.“ Mal took another mouthful of coffee, tasting the bitterness of a too-long brewed beverage. He pushed the mug away. “You sly?” he asked.
Jethro felt his face colour. “No. No, I’m not.”
“Just wondering. Wouldn’t be the first time a man took to the cloth ‘cause he didn’t like women.”
“I like … I’m not sly,” Jethro confirmed.
“But you are a virgin,” Mal said astutely.
“Like I said, I’ve known a few Shepherds, and most of them have been celibate. Can’t say it’s ever appealed to me, but they seemed to find it soothing.” He put his head slightly on one side. “I figure you for, what, maybe twenty-three, twenty-four?”
“See, always was a good judge of men.” Mal smiled. “Little Kaylee let slip you’d been at the Abbey some eight years. Means you were barely sixteen when you signed on. Now, I’m not asking what you were doing for the first five years, since I can guess … something to do with a fee to be paid … but unless Eos has changed, they never looked kindly on sex before marriage, and there ain’t no ring on your finger …”
Jethro stared at him. “You’re right,” he said finally. “I’ve never known the … the company of a woman.”
“See,” Mal said with a grin. “Told you I was a fair judge of folk. And I still say you ain’t from Eos.”
“That’s where you’re wrong, Captain,” Jethro said, just a little righteous indignation in his voice. “I was born there. But … my mother wasn’t. She came from the Core, from Londinium. She made sure I spoke well, educated me …”
“Lot of that about.” Mal’s face softened. “My Ma was pretty much the same. Not with the talking, but the education …” He smiled in fond remembrance.
“Where are you from?” Jethro asked.
“Oh. I’m sorry.”
“Long time past.” Mal shook himself. “And a lot of air through the intake since then.” He looked at the young man. “Why’d she leave Londinium?”
Jethro blushed. “She … there was a family scandal. She thought she had no choice.”
“Got with child, eh?”
Jethro nodded, surprised at this man’s insight. “She … her family disowned her, and she came out to the borders.”
“Seems to be sometimes the civilised planets lack a certain amount of civilisation.”
“It wasn’t her fault,” Jethro said quickly, defending his mother.
“Nope, don’t reckon it was,” Mal replied gently. “So she left.”
“Got to Eos before the little money she’d managed to take ran out. My father took her in. He fell in love with her.”
“Maybe not genetically, but he’s -”
Jethro nodded again. “He’s a good man.”
“I think maybe he is. Seems to have brought up a good son.” There was a companionable silence for a few moments, then Mal said, “So. You and River …”
Jethro started guiltily. “I don’t know -”
“No, I kinda figured that. Seems to be the general answer.” Mal looked at him, the short black hair, the dark brown eyes. “Just bear in mind that River’s … special.”
“I know she’s psychic.”
Mal’s eyebrows raised. “Do you, now.”
“I’ve known since I first saw her at the Abbey. And you don’t have to worry, Captain. I won’t tell anyone. I haven’t so far.”
“No. I think you’re trustworthy. Just not quite sure yet what she wants with you.”
The young man blushed again. “Captain, I can promise you, I have no designs on River.”
Mal’s lips twitched. “Like I said, it ain’t you I’m worried about.” He stood up, moving to the counter to put his unfinished coffee down. He looked back. “Don’t do anything to hurt her. Or you’ll find out just how special she is.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Hope you never do,” Mal said. “You switch off the lights when you’re through, okay?”
“I … of course.”
Mal hadn’t waited to hear. He’d left the galley, walking down the corridor to the hatch to his bunk. Pushing it open he climbed down the ladder, glancing across at the bed as it came in sight. “Frey? You okay?”
She was sitting naked in the corner, her legs drawn up to her chest, her arms around them. “Can’t sleep,” she said, not looking at him, but staring through the open door of the nursery.
“Why not?” he asked, crossing the floor to sit on the edge of the bed next to her.
“How can I be a good mother? A good wife?”
He laughed. “You already are.”
“No, I ain’t.”
He put his hand under her chin, pulling it around to look into her face. “What’s brought this on?” he asked gently. “Something I should know about?”
“Nothing.” She wouldn’t meet his gaze.
“Frey, I know you. Maybe better than you know yourself. So tell me.” He stroked her cheek with his thumb.
She finally raised her eyes. “I don’t know how to look after Ethan,” she admitted in a small voice. “Everyone keeps saying that it comes naturally, but … I don’t know how.”
“Of course you do.” He moved up a little further so he was touching her. “Frey, honey, this is just that post-partum thing Simon talked about. Just a little depression. It don’t mean anything.”
“Simon should talk.” The corner of Freya’s mouth raised. “He lost Bethany today.”
“She wandered off.”
“Does Kaylee know?”
“No. And you’re not to tell her. But what if I lost Ethan?” The smile, however fleeting, was gone.
“You won’t. You are a good mother.”
“Then why am I jealous?”
Mal wasn’t surprised. This came up from time to time, as if she could never really get free of it. “Jealous of who?”
“Kaylee, and the way she looks after Bethany. Zoe, the way you and her are so close. And …” She stopped.
“And?” he prompted. “Inara?”
“I know you love me. I know you don’t want her, I do know that, really I do,” she said in a rush. “But I look at myself at the moment, and I can’t help feeling she’s so much more … I mean, look at me.”
He leaned back, flamboyantly running his eyes up and down her naked body. “Okay, I’m looking. And I see my beautiful wife.”
“But I’m not!” she insisted. “You’re not really looking, Mal. I’m so … I can’t even exercise properly at the moment. Simon’s only just said I can start doing situps, and my body has gone so soft -”
He stopped her with a finger to her lips. “Frey, listen to me. Yu xin teng, ai ren. All of you. So what if you’re a little softer at the moment? That’s because you had our child inside you. And it won’t be long before you’re back to the way you were.” He moved in close again. “And if you don’t, do you really think it would stop me loving you?”
“I just thought you wouldn’t want me like this.”
“Oh, Frey.” He sighed. “Up until last night I’ve been climbing the walls of Serenity because I couldn’t have you. You think I was makin’ that up?”
“And what about me?” he asked. “Are you going to stop loving me when I’m old and grey?”
She smiled a little. “Could be you go old and bald.”
“No, no,” Mal said firmly. “The men in my family don’t lose their hair. We just get … distinguished.”
“That what you call it?”
“Maybe I’ll grow a beard,” he added. “Just to complete the set.”
“You don’t think it’ll suit me?”
“Okay, maybe not.” He grinned. “The point is, when I’m old and whatever, you gonna stop loving me?”
“Mal, if you lose every hair on your body, every tooth in your head, even if you can’t straighten up or remember my name, I’ll love you.”
“So why shouldn’t I love you now?” he asked, running his fingertips down her neck and chest to the softness of her belly. He leaned in over her thighs and kissed her navel. “You are so beautiful. Everywhere.”
“Everywhere?” she asked, looking down to see his dark head in her lap.
“Everywhere,” he agreed. “Like here,” he kissed her left thigh. “And here.” Her right thigh. Her legs relaxed. “And here.” Her right hip. “Here.” Her left hip. “Here.” His kisses trailed down …
She sighed in pleasure, putting her hand on his head, looking at the engagement ring he’d put on her finger three times, the wedding ring he placed there when they got married, and felt the tension leave her body. “Mal …”
“Oh, and most definitely here …”
The freighter hung in the sky like a grey jewel, its surfaces reflecting Serenity’s lights.
“What happened to her?” Hank asked, staring out of the window at the mess made of its hull.
“Core went,” Kaylee supplied. “I checked her out on the Cortex. Looks like maybe they didn’t have a good mechanic, so when something went wrong … bang.”
“They died?” Jethro asked from the back of the bridge, his first time there.
“Every single one.” Kaylee gave him a sad smile. “No lifeboats, not on a freighter, but it would’ve been quick.”
Jethro nodded, and offered up a silent prayer.
“Well, that ain't exactly our problem,” Mal said firmly. “All we gotta do is get over there, find the goods and get away again.”
“What about radiation?” Inara asked. “If the core exploded …”
“There’s some, but …” Hank considered. “As long as you don’t take too long about it, you should be okay.”
“Then we don’t dawdle.” Mal leaned down a little. “Hank, can you get us up against their airlock without -”
His pilot shook his head. “Can’t, Mal. We ain't gonna dock. That explosion took out the cargo bay as well as the engine room.”
“Bad design,” Kaylee muttered. “Ya just don’t do that, have ‘em so close together.”
“I’ll be sure to mention it next time I talk to the Alliance,” Mal said dryly. “So it’s suits. Zoe, get ‘em prepped.”
“Is there …” Jethro started, then paused as everyone turned to look at him. He blushed a little but went on, “Is there anything I should do?”
“How about keepin’ out of our way?” Jayne said, his voice low and menacing.
Mal glanced at the big man, still wondering at the animosity he was showing … well, more than usual, but said, “Thanks for the offer, Jethro. Still, as we’re not sure where your talents lie as yet, I conjure you’d be best off staying put. Unless you’ve been for a walk in the black before?”
Jethro shook his head silently.
“He can help me in the kitchen,” River suggested from the doorway. “Clean up after breakfast.”
“Good idea, albatross,” the captain said, smiling at her. “Just don’t break anything this time – ain't got money to waste on new plates if you start jabbering away.”
She didn’t answer, just gave him a look that did not bode well and took hold of Jethro’s arm, leading him away towards the galley.
“What’s he doing on board, Mal?” Jayne asked, soon as they’d gone. “He ain't part of the crew. Not much more’n a passenger, and not one as can pay, either.”
“He’s River’s friend,” Mal said shortly. “If you’ve got a problem with that, go talk to her.” He looked around the rest of his crew. “Right. Zoe, suits. Hank, get us as close as you can without actually impaling us on something, and Kaylee …”
“Stop Serenity blowing up?” she suggested.
“Why doesn’t he like me?” Jethro asked.
“Who?” River handed him an apron.
“Jayne.” He tied the strings around his waist. “Did I do something to him whilst I was unconscious?”
“He’s just being a big silly,” River said airily.
“Are you and he …” Jethro stopped, embarrassed.
“We’re friends.” She smiled at him. “He doesn’t want to see anything bad happen to me.”
“And he thinks I might be bad?”
“He doesn’t know you.”
“Neither do you.”
“Yes I do.” She gazed into his eyes and he felt her in his mind.
“Stop that,” he said quickly, angry at her.
River stepped back as if she’d been struck. “I'm … I'm sorry. I thought you understood.”
“You don’t just go …” He shook his head. “I know you’re psychic. I realised that back at Bathgate. But …”
“I just wanted to show you –“
“You don’t do that!” He tore off the apron again. “People’s minds are private places, River. You can’t just go through their thoughts.”
“I didn’t mean to make you –“
He glared at her and strode out of the room.
“That didn’t go too well, did it?” Freya asked from the doorway.
“I didn’t mean …” River looked upset and confused.
“I know you didn’t.” She stepped down into the galley. “But you weren't exactly showing any of that control we’ve been working so hard on.”
“I like him.”
“I know.” Freya gathered her into her arms, feeling her holding tightly. “But you don’t have to force people to let them know. You just say.”
“No buts.” She looked down into the large dark eyes. “Control, River. That’s what it’s all about. If you don’t have control …”
“I know.” River sighed, putting her head back into Freya’s chest as she stroked her hair.
“I think you’d better apologise.”
“I suppose so.”
“And no more digging in people’s minds, not unless they say yes. Or Mal tells you to.”
She felt the girl smile. “Or you.”
“Okay.” She stood back, Freya’s hands on her shoulders.
“Then run along and say you’re sorry.”
“Yes, momma.” River grinned and hurried off, her bare feet silent on the decking.
Freya shook her head. If that young man was the one she wanted, he wasn’t going to be able to say no that easily.
The cargo bay doors opened and Mal stood on the edge, looking out into the black. He loved it, the feeling of openness, of nothing all around. It was that very nothing that made Simon quake when he had to put on a suit, but Serenity’s captain felt at home in it. Even with the slight nausea weightlessness always gave him. A small price to pay to feel at one with the ‘verse. He grinned. Freya was right – getting a mite too poetical in his old age. He almost wished she was with him, just so she could laugh at him, but Simon had said not yet. Sex was one thing, going out into space was –
“Sir?” Zoe asked.
He shook himself, getting his mind back onto the job. “Let’s go.”
He pushed off, his feet leaving the skin of the Firefly. He almost expected to feel the wind in his hair as he drifted through the vacuum, but it was only the freighter coming up that showed he was moving at all. The stars stayed where they were.
Behind him Zoe and Jayne followed, the big man with a selection of tools and bags hung about his person.
“You sure they’re all dead?” Jayne asked, twenty feet away but sounding as if he was breathing in Mal’s ear.
“All of ‘em, Jayne,” he said reassuringly. “No ghosts here.”
“Weren't thinking about ghosts,” the mercenary said. “Just that I didn’t bring Vera.”
“Not likely to need to shoot our way out.” He saw the opening coming up and got himself ready to take the impulse out of his momentum.
“Sometimes, Jayne, I think you love grenades more than you do Vera,” Zoe said deadpan.
“I don’t love River!” His voice this time was loud, shouting into the mike.
There was a pause, then Mal heard her say, “Vera, Jayne. I said Vera.”
Mal could imagine the look on the big man’s face. “Something you want to tell us?” he asked, feeling his boots hit the freighter’s deck.
“Nope,” Jayne muttered. “Ain't nothing I wanna tell anyone.”
“Good.” He turned to see the others landing after him. “Then let’s just get the job done, dong mah?”
“Sure, Mal.” Jayne nodded through his faceplate. “Lickety-split.”
to be continued
Monday, February 5, 2007 9:20 AM
Monday, February 5, 2007 12:50 PM
Monday, February 5, 2007 1:30 PM
Monday, February 5, 2007 6:47 PM
Monday, February 5, 2007 9:11 PM
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