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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Follow-up to "Waiting to Hear." More characters this time. There will be a third part if people like this...it's coming in fits and fractures, folks, bear with me.
All characters and whatnot belong to that genius Joss... Comments welcome.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1218 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Follow-up to "Waiting to Hear."
The meal was filled with a palpable silence that seemed to hold each crew member's gaze on his or her own plate. Even Jayne scraped his fork against the dish in an attempt to fill the space where conversations usually went.
Inara pushed the food around her plate, still feeling slightly nauseous and disappointed. She thought Simon had explained to everyone that she had been feeling ill, but that couldn't explain away the discomfort of the table. She avoided looking at Mal; she felt he might know what was going through her mind. It made no sense, the man was dense more often than not, and yet...she thought she would give away all her secrets if she looked at him.
Next to her, Zoë carefully did not watch Mal avoid looking at his crew. She shook her head slowly when Kaylee looked as though she were about to say something and saw the gentleness with which Simon patted the mechanic's hand. Kaylee looked from Simon to Zoë in confusion, but relented silently. Whatever was going on, it would come to pass in its own time. But Zoë really hoped it would come to pass soon. She wasn't sure she could take another meal like this.
River reached for the biscuit on Zoë's plate, knowing she would get her hand rapped by the woman's fork. It was just something to distract the first mate from her concerns...and to test her own response time. The fork just missed her fingernail...Zoë's sly smile was worth it. River turned her focus back to an interesting mathematical quandry she had developed earlier that morning and waited for the residing cloud of depression to lift. She knew, of course, what was going on and she knew more than most at the table, but it was up to them to solve it. It was always up to them to solve these little problems. She had bigger problems on which she could focus. Just to prove she could, though, she took Zoë's biscuit.
Jayne watched Zoë return the biscuit to her own plate and shook his head. That little girl was getting too cocky for her own good. She was lucky Zoë didn't have the heart to retaliate. When River turned her gaze on him, he went back to shoveling the food into his mouth again. He wondered, not for the first time, why everyone was acting so weird. No one was talking, everyone was just avoiding each other's eyes. It was like that time a few months back, when they'd been celebrating Mal's birthday and Kaylee had broken out some of her 'shine. There'd been a rash of not-lookin'-at-each-others the day after the celebrations, too. And for the next week or so, in some cases. He wondered who had done what with who this time...and why he wasn't getting any play...
Simon glanced up to see Jayne scowl at him. It wasn't terribly new to him; he watched River remove a sausage from the large man's plate though and fought to keep the smile from showing on his face. River grinned at him, her pride spilling out in a welcome rush. He smiled back at her and looked at Zoë again casually glance at the Captain and Companion. He shouldn't have told Mal, he knew. He should have insisted the obstinate man to discuss Inara's health with Inara. But some part of him knew that Inara would not have told Mal...and, from what little information he had been given, Mal had the right to know. If Kaylee thought herself pregnant with Simon's child, he would want to know. The thought sank in...Kaylee could be pregnant. They'd certainly engaged in the exercise that led to children... He looked at Kaylee with this thought blaring across his mind.
Kaylee, for her part, still wondered why nobody was talking to anyone else. Zoë had shook her head in that no-nonsense way of hers just when Kaylee was going to ask Inara how she was feeling. Simon had said she'd caught a bug or something, but apparently it was a big secret because...well, why else wouldn't anyone be talking? She, too, had seen River try for - and then, succeed in snatching - Zoë's biscuit and then watched Zoë take it back. She stuck her tongue out at the young girl and smiled when River cocked her eyebrow in acceptance of an unspoken challenge. Kaylee directed River's eyes to Jayne's fourth sausage (if people had been speaking, Kaylee was sure Mal would have stopped Jayne from taking it when others - like Inara - had only taken one) and enjoyed observing the little thievery at the opposite end of the table. When Simon looked at his sister, though, Kaylee didn't want to be admonished for leading little River down the path of crime, so she set her sights on her own half-empty plate. She poked at the rice concoction for a third time before feeling Simon's eyes on her. She looked up at him shyly, expecting him to know she had practically dared River to take from Jayne's plate. Instead, though, his eyes were full of a different emotion...one she couldn't quite...
"What the hell?" Jayne exploded from his end of the table. Several forks dropped from the surprise at the sound of a voice.
"You little, ruttin' --" Jayne stammered in River's direction. He had finally noticed the sausage. He started to take it back, but River blocked his reach with her fork.
"Jayne, that's enough," Mal ordered.
"She took my food!" the large man exclaimed. River grinned at him, picked up the sausage and licked it. "Aw, now she's gone and licked it! Mal, you gotta--"
"You've already had three pieces," Mal said sharply. "She can have that last one."
"No buts," the Captain interrupted. "If you don't like it, you can leave the table."
"Mal, that's hardly necessary," Inara observed softly. Mal didn't react. He stared at Jayne until the merc broke eye contact and then directed his blue stare at the younger Tam.
"You know better," he said sternly. "You want more food, the pan's on the stove. There's no need t'steal from him."
"Yes, Captain," River said quietly. Silence resumed.
"Wow," Kaylee smiled, ignoring the shut-up-shut-up-shut-up look from Zoë and Simon's insistent hand tapping. She turned to Mal. "I ain't heard words like that from anyone but my father. Feels just like home."
Inara's fork froze mid-food pushing. Mal choked on his drink. River and Zoë casually exchanged looks. Jayne looked around the table in an attempt to find the joke. Simon groaned softly.
"Well, it does," Kaylee said, her voice softer. "Didn't nobody else have dinners with their...folks?"
"I'm going to lie down," Inara said suddenly, standing at the same time as Mal.
"I need to check our course," he muttered unconvincgingly. They almost touched, but Mal stepped back, overturning his chair in the process. They left in opposite directions.
"I vote Jayne does the dishes," River said to the room. Three hands raised in agreement.
"Aw, hell," the man assented.
"What was going on at dinner?" Zoë asked from the doorway. Mal thought about moving in the seat to feign concentration, but knew his first mate wouldn't buy the act. He shrugged instead.
"Don't know your meaning," he lied instead.
"Of course you don't," she replied, taking the co-pilot's seat. "Just a regular sort of a meal, that was."
"That it was," Mal agreed.
"We ate food, drank liquids and sat in silence," Zoë went on. Mal looked at her out of the corner of his eye. She was still watching him.
"Words were exchanged," Mal insisted.
"Bet you can count 'em on one hand," she responded. Mal shrugged again.
"Wasn't much in the talkative mood," he replied dismissively. "Y'all coulda kept up conversation without me."
"Of course," Zoë said, her face impassive and her tone not much above that. Mal wondered if it could be called 'sarcasm' if there was no official tone...
"You got somethin' to say, Zoë?" he asked, finally facing her.
"Only if you don't, sir," she replied evenly.
"I don't, so let's hear it," he ground out. It wasn't often he and Zoë had these little talks, but when she felt it necessary, she didn't tend to hold back.
Inara lay on her bed, unable to stop the tears that coursed down her face. It was stupid, she kept telling herself, stupid to want a baby. There was no place here, no life that didn't lead to jail. And Mal was just...well, he was Mal and if that didn't sum it all up, she couldn't think of other words in which to put it.
"You're sad," River's voice cut through her reverie. Startled, Inara sat and wiped at her face desperately before remembering it was River...the action was pointless.
"You should knock," she said, reaching for one of her simple handkerchiefs. "You're getting as bad as the Captain in that regard."
"It's okay to be sad," the girl said, ignoring Inara's words. "But only if you know why you feel it."
"Really?" Inara smiled, facing River. "Why do I feel sad?"
River grinned at her.
"I can't tell you," she said cryptically. "You have to discover that on your own."
A baby's cry sounded from the trunk at the foot of the bed. Inara walked to it and, stunned, opened it. The cry came from the impossible depths. She knelt and began pulling the velvets and silks from the trunk, all the while hearing the baby's cry. River sat on her bed, still as a stone.
"Help me!" Inara begged. The baby cried again. She continued pulling dresses and shoes from the trunk.
"I can't," River answered. Frustrated, she thew a shoe at the girl. It smashed against the form and Inara sat up in her bed, shivering.
Dreams, she shuddered.
"'Nara?" Mal's head peered in from the doorway. "Can I come in?"
"Of course," she said, still trying to wake up completely.
"Simon said you weren't feelin'...well...I don't mean t'bother you," he explained as he entered the shuttle.
"You're not bothering me," Inara said, shaking her head.
"There's something," Mal paused, looking at the Companion's face...remembering...he looked back at his hands. "Something I think we should talk about..."
Thursday, April 12, 2007 4:35 PM
Thursday, April 12, 2007 4:57 PM
Thursday, April 12, 2007 6:04 PM
Friday, April 13, 2007 4:05 AM
Monday, April 16, 2007 6:38 PM
Friday, April 20, 2007 2:09 PM
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