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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Post-BDM; one job goes awry (shocker, that) and the crew needs to rest a bit. River makes a selection that brings Kaylee's prior life into her present life. I decided on a family for Kaylee; if you don't like it, my apologies...as always, i'm just guessing here. All characters and whatnot belong to Joss... Comments are so very welcome.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1819 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
"How long does it take for that man to dress?" Mal asked the room in general. Inara shot him a look that suggested he not do that again. He'd been awake nearly five full hours and in the last two Kaylee had explained that her folks were so glad to hear they were planetside they'd all been invited to stay with the Frye family for supper. He was not really in any condition to argue - not that he'd wanted to - so he had instructed everyone to shine up and be ready to leave soon.
He was sitting at the dining table and practicing not wincing every time he breathed. Inara sat to his right, helping River untangle the last few knots from her hair. Jayne twirled the makeshift crutch Simon had informed him he must use, his boredom beginning to make the twirling more intricate. Zoë watched quietly, her exhaustion evident in her eyes. She'd been awake a grand total of two hours longer than her captain and it was apparent to everyone that she was ready to go back to sleep for another few hours. Apparent to everyone, it seemed, except Simon.
Kaylee had let everyone sleep on the ship until morning, then slipped off with only a word to River about her destination. She had breakfasted with her parents and informed them of the need to rest, but at their insistence, had returned to extend her family's invitation for supper. She was excited about the evening and her excitement was the only thing that really convinced the recently wounded they should go. Simon had gone to "clean up" before meeting his in-laws...he was still nervous about the concept. At first, Mal found it amusing.
Now, it was downright aggravating.
Or it was the painkillers wearing off.
"I'll just go check on 'im," Kaylee murmured from Zoë's side. She stood and quickly made her way to the door.
"Kaylee, wait," Inara called after her. She looked to Mal with accusatory eyes. He shifted his gaze to avoid hers.
"That was unnecessary," she whispered to him. He didn't respond. "Simon is nervous about giving a good impression. You don't need to be boorish."
"You don't need to tell me how to act on my boat," he argued.
"We are going to meet her family," Inara responded, getting the last knot out of River's hair and patting her on the shoulder to let her know she could move again. "Some manners would be appreciated."
"I'll keep a civil tongue when we're there," Mal insisted. He looked at Inara. They were still too new to this part of their relationship...it was strange to argue and know she'd still hold his hand if he reached for her. He tried it for novelty's sake...he turned his hand so the palm faced up. She smiled softly and placed her own hand in his. His smile was unbidden, but it worked better than a painkiller. She cared for him. Let Simon waste more time on his hair. Inara was holding his hand.
"Here we are," Kaylee announced brightly from the doorway. Mal looked up to see Zoë turn away from his quiet moment abruptly. A pang of guilt hit him and he released Inara's hand. His first mate had never indicated any negative feelings regarding his new level of relationship with Inara, but he still saw the loss in her eyes. He knew she didn't mean to show it, that no one else could see the meaning in her eyes, but it still kept him aware of his actions around her. Everyone was getting to their feet, now, so he braced himself for the effort and joined them.
What an odd crew they were, he realized not for the first time. He, Zoë and Jayne all wore loose-fitting clothes over various bandages. He wore the blue shirt Inara had brought him and his duster. Zoë wore what could have been one of Wash's shirts under her own duster - Mal couldn't see a loud pattern on the shirt, but it was tucked and tied to fit Zoë's usual style of dress. Jayne's shirt had some faded advertisement against a dark brown. Kaylee wore one of the bright red outfits she and Inara had been working on to fit the coming months. She stood out against the sapphire blue of Simon's shirt.
While Kaylee looked bright and warm and welcoming, Simon looked clean, distant and rich.
You could take the boy outta the Core, he mused, but you couldn't take the Core outta the boy.
And then there was River, in a dark dress that seemed to find every stray draft and flow is if she were floating in the atmosphere...and the combat boots, rooting her firmly to the ground. Inara had worked wonders on the girl's hair and it shone even in the dim lights of the dining room. Next to her, Inara wore a pink gown and soft shawl around her shoulders. Her own hair was coiled neatly with small braids adding a delicate eccentricity to the ensemble.
They made quite a team.
And a slow team, with three injured.
Luckily, Kaylee had borrowed her Daddy's mule to carry the three who wouldn't fit on their own. Otherwise, no one was convinced they'd make it even halfway to the Frye home.
"I jus' don't see what's so wrong with that Jayne fella," Winna Frye said quietly to her daughter, handing her a large pot of stew. Kaylee rolled her eyes, trying to not drop the stew at such an idea.
"Momma, I love Simon," she tried. "An' he's a doctor. I thought you'd be proud a'that, at least."
"I'm not sayin' a thing is wrong with a doctor," the woman replied, tucking away the strands of hair that always flew out of any hairstyle she tried. "I jus' don't know why ya always reached for the moon when there's perfectly good people aroundja."
"That stew won't serve itself," the woman sniffed, turning to cut more bread into slices. "Go take it out there, 'fore it gets cold and no one likes it."
Kaylee turned to leave the kitchen and almost walked right into her sister.
"Why'dja go and drag those poor folk here?" Maura hissed at her. "Half of 'em can't even keep their eyes open, they're so tired!"
"Momma tole me to!" Kaylee whispered back. "And it ain't cause they're tired, it's cause they're healin' and need rest! I tried tellin' Momma, but--"
"Go on, serve the stew," her sister dismissed. "And quit blamin' Momma for you wantin' t'show off your fancy husband."
"I weren't tryin' to--"
"Girls!" Mrs. Frye turned around to give them an exasperated look. "Kaywinnit, you go serve that stew now! Mauralan, take out the bread now, 'fore I get your father in here wantin' his supper!"
The girls responded as they always had: a tongue stuck out the moment Momma stopped looking and a scrunched nose in response. The silent battles for right never ceased.
Kaylee peeked at the table quickly before coming completely out of the kitchen. The Cap'n was talking quietly with Daddy and Zoë nodded - partly cause she was tired, but mostly cause that's how Zoë listened. Simon and Jayne were listening to Mathias go on about some race he'd won last season - Jayne listened with interest, Simon...was that horror on his face? River and 'Nara were talking quietly with Corbin and Maura's husband, Cale.
Maura was just jealous of her crew, she decided.
Smiling triumphantly, she set the stew on the table to cheers and applause. Maura and Momma came out of the kitchen with bread and more water behind her. Kaylee took her seat next to Simon as Maura sat between 'Nara and Cale. Momma refilled glasses till Daddy cleared his throat meaningfully. Momma only raised her eyebrow at him and continued refilling glasses as Daddy sheepishly shrugged to Mal. When Momma was finished, she took her seat and looked expectantly at Daddy.
"Kaylee, Simon," Caspar Frye said in his quiet voice. "Right glad I am my little girl found herself a man to care for. And to care for her. You will, that is. And a good thing she found a good people to travel the stars with, such as you sitting here with us. And good food to share. With us. Winna's done a good job cookin' for us and little Maura to help her. We're glad for them. Now, to eatin'."
As he started serving the stew, he leaned conspiratorially to Mal and said softly, "I ain't so used to speakin' much. For more'n my family, that is."
"Not t'worry," Mal responded, accepting the stewpot and setting it down on the table as his chest screamed in protest. "It was a fine piece spoken."
"I think your brother hates me," Simon whispered in his wife's ear as he passed the bread to her. She looked at her brothers, both hungrily focused on their bowls of food and scarcely glancing at the doctor.
"Why'd you think so?" she whispered back.
"He's staring at me," Simon's words were quiet but clear. Kaylee looked again at her brothers.
"Which one?" she asked, eyeing the two angrily.
"He's looking at me now," Simon said, glancing at his wife in confusion. Kaylee, in her own confusion, looked around the table to see Cale - her brother-in-law - watching the Tams with interest.
"That's not my brother," Kaylee whispered, looking again at her stew and wondering how she was going to keep it down if just smelling it made her nauseous. "That's Maura's husband, Cale."
"Oh," Simon answered, looking at his plate again. There were lumps he hoped were some kind of meat and lumps he hoped were some kind of vegetable and lumps of undiscernable bits that concerned him more than the other lumps.
"So," Maura said, looking up as Zoë jerked awake for the third time. "How'd y'all get busted up like this? Hope it wasn't a brawl or nothing."
"Oh, no," Kaylee answered for them. "There was no brawl. Whaddya think we are?" She let the question hang in the air and glanced at Mal.
"What are ya, then, Kaywinnit?" her mother asked quietly.
"Nothin' unsavory, Momma," she mumbled. "We jus' had a rough...time...is all."
"Some of our work takes us to the border moons and it ain't all as civil as we'd wish," Mal said quickly. "This last run was met by some of those types."
"I hope you ain't takin' Kaylee inta dangerous situations," Mathias grinned. "Girl couldn't shoot more'n a dirty look if you paid her to."
"She leaves most of the shooting to others," River said flatly.
"I ain't payin' your sister to shoot anyone or anything," Mal smiled. "She does a fine job keepin' us flying and fed."
"You feed them, too?" Maura asked, surprised. "No wonder they's all so thin."
"Cookin's a rotational chore," Zoë answered. "Kaylee does a job puts some of us to shame."
"I'll say," Jayne grumbled. "River's last attempt made me--"
"This stew is excellent, Mrs. Frye," Inara interrupted Jayne. She smiled warmly at Winna as Jayne rubbed his leg where Mal had kicked him. "I can see where Kaylee gets her culinary skill."
"Kaylee? Cookin'?" Corbin laughed. "That'd be the day. Momma couldn't get her near a stove less'n it were broke and needed fixin'!"
"I can cook!" Kaylee argued. "Maybe not award winnin' pies like Maura, but I can cook allright."
"No one's sayin' ya can't," Winna soothed, picking up her glass. "Your brother's jus' bein' difficult."
"So, nothin's changed?" Kaylee teased. Corbin grinned back.
"Naw, you knew nothin'd change on this rock," Mathias joked. "Looks like you mighta changed a bit, though."
"Not overly," Kaylee grinned. Now, she thought, now I can tell 'em about the baby coming. But as she opened her mouth to say something, River caught her eye and shook her head slowly.
She wished for a moment she could read minds like her sister-in-law.
"You'll be wantin' to show your sister that deathtrap o'yours," Daddy spoke up, his eyes on Mathias. Kaylee's older brother blushed and nodded.
"I thought it'd wait till after supper," he answered. "Dint wanna take her away from Momma's cookin'."
"She ain't touched it anyway," Maura announced to the table. "Might be too good for her stomach. She's been eatin' her cookin' so long she can't stomach homecookin'."
"I been answerin' questions!" Kaylee protested. "I can't talk an'eat all at the same--aw, hell. Matty, let's go look at the 'death trap.'" She stood up defiantly and started to walk away, realized where she was and who was at the table and returned to push in her chair.
"Momma, it's good food," she said quietly. "Daddy, if it's all right with you, I'm gonna go look at some engine bits with Matty now."
"Your plate," Momma said from her seat. Daddy nodded and Mathias stood with his plate in his hand, still chewing. He kissed his mother's head as he ducked into the kitchen. Kaylee followed suit and the two tore out of the kitchen at a dead run, laughing as they had in childhood.
At the table, the newly-fallen silence was only broken by the distant sound of laughter. Corbin turned to Jayne expectedly.
"You a huntin' man?" he asked. At Jayne's look, he went on. "Got a new piece I'm proud of, if you ain't in the mood to do the washin' up."
"Cap?" Jayne asked, his eyes begging for release from chores. Mal nodded. Jayne and Corbin stood, taking their plates into the kitchen, Corbin kissing his mother's head as his siblings had before him.
"Thanks for supper," Jayne grunted as he limped past.
"I s'pose I shouldn't be surprised," Maura sighed, standing up and stacking her husband's plate on top of her own. She reached past Inara and took her mother's plate as well before adding Simon's plate to the stack. She looked at River expectantly and seemed confused when River stared back.
"Little one, why don't you offer to help Maura?" Mal suggested softly. Simon started to say something, but Inara's voice answered.
"River and I will help with the washing up," Inara said, standing smoothly. She nodded to River who then began collecting plates from Zoë, Mal and Caspar. Mal smiled his thanks to Inara as Maura huffed and exited to the kitchen. River rolled her eyes as Inara and she followed the woman.
"I don't know what's got into that girl," Kaylee's father sighed. Cale raised his eyebrows at the comment, but didn't respond. Instead, he directed his question at Simon.
"You play cards?"
Simon nodded numbly and Cale nudged Zoë's elbow, sending her eyes flying open from the lazy half-closed position to which she'd allowed herself to drift. Cale repeated his question to her and she nodded, seemingly glad to have something to occupy her time. Cale turned to his mother-in-law and the question died on his lips.
"You'll be fine with just the three of ya's," Caspar suggested as subtly as he could. Mal looked at his host questioningly as the doctor and his first mate accompanied Cale from the room. Maura and River returned to the room to collect more dishes, Maura obviously feeling put out and River apparently enjoying the woman's distress. Frye stood and stretched his back.
"It was a good meal, Winna," he said to his wife. "I think the Cap'n and I'll go take a bit of air."
"You mean smoke that foul pipe," she sniffed. "Don't come back in this house thinkin' t'stink up my furniture, or you'll find your bed ready in the shack with your tinkerin's."
"I'll smoke it if the Cap'n here is a smoker himself," the man lied. Mal stood with effort and followed his mechanic's father outside. When they were not five feet from the house, the older man grinned with a glint in his eye as he pulled a small pipe from his coat pocket.
"I know she says she hates the smell," he said wickedly, "But she curls up to me in bed when she thinks I don't know, jus'to breathe it in."
Mal smiled, letting the cool air of early spring settle around him. There was an easy air about Kaylee's father that made him likable. It was apparent to Mal where Kaylee got her easy-going nature. Caspar set a relaxed pace as they strolled to the furthest edge of the Frye property.
"I don't know how much lil' Kaylee told you 'bout us," Frye began casually between puffs on his pipe. "But she's a bit of a chatterbean if you let her go on."
"She is proud of her folks," Mal responded, feeling relaxed around the man. Frye nodded.
"She is that," he smiled. "We's just as proud a'her, mind. Always have been. Proud a'her. Matty was only three when she come out, but he strutted around like cock a'the walk for months, thinkin' she was his. He tried carryin' her a few times, till she learned to walk outta self-defense. She took to workin's like...well, I'm sure you've noticed she's got a way."
"She does," Mal smiled, thinking of the first time he'd met her. She had fixed Serenity's engine in a moment, not even thinking about it more than a heartbeat. He had snatched her up faster than he'd fired Bester. "Kept us flyin' more often than I can tell you."
"Her Momma," Frye frowned, trying to find the right words. "Her Momma doted on her as much as Kaylee'd let her, but as much as she seemed t'want to learn Winna's secrets...well, there were more dolls covered in grease than oilrags with some stitchin', if you catch my meanin'."
"I think I do," Mal smiled. They reached the "shack," as Winna had called it. It was the Frye's garage, truly, the source of their income and not quite as small as the misnomer suggested. Kaylee's voice could be heard arguing with Mathias inside. Frye led Mal to the side of the shop, where several overturned crates waited to serve as seats for tired men.
"Her Momma may seem harsh," Caspar went on with a heavy sigh and a puff of the bluish smoke. "But it's only cause she loves her littlest one."
"Hard not to," Mal nodded, leaning against the wall and staring out at the sunset.
"So," Frye said, his eyes also towards the reddening sky. "You'll understand if I ask ya t'keep my daughter outta those gunfights o'yours."
He said it so casually that Mal wasn't sure he'd heard the man correctly. He turned to look at the well disguised wisdom in the man's eyes.
"I ain't so dense as t'think you try to get into 'em," he went on, seeing he had Mal's full attention. "But I jus'wanna be sure my little girl ain't on her husband's surgery table, gettin' bullets pulled outta her. I din't send her off to die so young."
"Sir," Mal finally answered. "I would never willingly risk your daughter's life. I don't plan on any o'the scraps we find ourselves in..."
"So that Miranda 'wave was just meant t'acquire harsh words and a simple slap on th'wrist, then?"
"That..." Mal swallowed thickly. He knew then that Kaylee had told her parents - or at least her father - more than just the weather was fine and that she missed them all.
"And when she was shot while serving as your crew," the man went on. "That weren't an ordinary occurrence? A gun misfired jus' the once and she's th'only one been shot on board your ship?"
Mal mentally went through the list of people who'd been shot on or near Serenity and, aside from finding himself on the list more often than he'd care to remember, winced slightly when he realized he couldn't remember each individual time it had happened.
"And flyin' through Reaver territory or even near Reavers," Caspar continued. "That ain't so much as a common happenin' as coincidence, I'm sure."
Mal waited. He was sure there would still be more to follow. He started trying to word his apologies in his head while he waited.
"Course," Frye's voice softened slightly. "If she hadn't gone off on your crew, she'da never met that pretty boy of a husband, nor been the happiest I ever seen her. And the capture she sent o'that dress you bought her so's she could go to the fancy ball...I think even Maura envied that chance."
"Do my best," Mal muttered, trying to figure out how to convince the man there were more good memories than bad situations. "She really told you about all those...times?"
"She keeps Matty jealous with her stories of derring-do," Kaylee's father sighed, shaking his head. "And he tells Corbin. And they think I don't hear them goin' on and back and forth. I jus' wish they'd keep the stories from Winna. She don't do much now but fuss over us all. And Maura feeds her the bits she gleans from Corbin and Cale. They work on Cale's farm, y'understand, and Corbin loves to tell tales of his baby sister off fightin' Reavers while pulling Crazy Ivans in her spare time."
Mal raised his eyebrows at that. It hadn't been her "spare" time, really, at all. Frye's eyes lit up and he glanced at Mal, the smoke from his pipe adding to the effect of a mischevious sprite ready to have some fun.
"Did she really pull off a Crazy Ivan?" he asked, those eyes glinting with hope. Mal smiled at him.
"She did," he confirmed. "And countless other tasks that woulda been the end of us if she weren't there."
"That's my girl," the man breathed, relaxing against the wall again. He settled the pipe between his teeth and puffed out more smoke, letting the aroma carry thoughts and worries away.
"She's carryin' his babe, ain't she?" Frye asked suddenly.
"That ain't exactly my news to tell," Mal admitted.
"Best let her know to tell her Momma when Maura ain't around," the man said quietly. "That girl ain't ready to hear news like that too soon."
"I'll be sure to pass on the advice," Mal promised. He paused. "If Kaylee has such news to tell, that is."
"Of course," the smoker smiled. They resumed the comfortable silence.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007 7:34 PM
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 1:34 AM
Wednesday, May 2, 2007 7:12 AM
Sunday, May 6, 2007 4:21 PM
Friday, September 14, 2007 6:42 AM
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