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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Penultimate chapter. (No, penultimate is not a fancier version of 'ultimate'.) Some fluff - Jayne gets to go home. PG13 to be on the safe side (probably G, at least if you ignore the comments - man, I can't spell). Canon pairings +1 (River/ofc).
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1999 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Even Roses Have Thorns
Chapter Fifty-Two: Curriculum Vitae (the course of one's life)
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Chapters 1-10, Chapters 11-20, Chapters 21-30, Chapters 31-35, Chapters 36-40, Chapters 41-45, Chapters 46-50, Chapter 51
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There were a few more hours before Serenity would arrive at Haven, and Simon planned to use them well. He sat on his bed, knees drawn, thinking on how he would go about it; he had all the tools he needed, but he couldn’t do it himself. Normally, he would ask Zoë, but even if she hadn’t been pregnant, there was no way he would trouble her with this – with anything – today. The Captain would probably be persuadable, but would possibly get all broody wondering what it all meant, and frankly Simon didn’t want to think about it any more than he had to. He wanted it done with, quickly, quietly, and that was all. Really, that left Jayne. So he’d owe the big merc another beer. He could live with that.
As he rose from his bed, however, his sister’s pale face appeared around the edge of his doorway. “I can do it, Simon. Let me help you.” River’s voice was soft.
“River, it’s not going to be pleasant,” Simon prevaricated.
“Yes, because prepping me for cyro was a jealously-guarded treat.” River rolled her eyes. “It’ll be quick. Come on.” River paused and tilted her head. “The longer you argue the longer it takes.” She reached her hand out to her brother, and he took it.
Inara and Kaylee stood quietly in their ‘little greenhouse’ as they thought of it, carefully packing up surplus fruit and vegetables for sale, and laying them aside. Zoë rested her weight against the doorframe and smiled slightly, despite her mood. ‘Hydroponics for the babies’. “Cap’n said you wanted to see me,” Zoë said when she finally spoke.
“Yes,” Inara began. “Kaylee and I put aside some room for flowers some time ago, and I really should have spoken to you then, but I was wondering if you’d perhaps like to plant something on Wash’s grave.”
Zoë swallowed, but she walked over to where Kaylee was standing, holding up a bonsai specimen. It was only as she got closer that she realised what it was. Calla lilies, that mottled orange-red-yellow colour that Wash had loved so much. “How did you know?” She asked. “Did Wash tell you that they were his favourite?”
Kaylee shook her head, unable to speak for a moment. It made sense that they would be Wash’s favourite. “Nah,” she said finally, voice more than a little unsteady. “We were somewhere – Boros, I think – and we were just walking in this market and we saw ‘em. He told me that they reminded him a’ you. ‘Course them were the big ones, but weren’t no way I could grow them, so, we picked out this little bonsai that day we was out stocking up.”
Zoë wrapped an arm around Kaylee’s shoulder. “Thank you, Kaylee. This is perfect. Now, we got anything for the other graves?”
Kaylee nodded, but it was Inara who spoke. “River insisted on snowdrops for Book’s grave.” At Zoë’s arched eyebrow, Inara continued. “A poem, she thought Book would like, and it ended with ‘And Christ comes with a January flower’. I think she’s right, that Book would have liked it. Traditionally, it symbolises hope.” Zoë nodded, but said nothing, and Inara continued, pointing at some pretty coloured pebbles. “I picked up some stones to add to Mr. Universe’s grave, and well, Kaylee and I had picked up some things – just to have, for the table or such. And Aren was with us, and she said that she had always liked tuberose, so we picked some up.” Inara gestured to the strongly scented white flowers.
“Queen of the Night.” Zoë said.
“Yes,” Inara agreed, with a twitch at the corners of her mouth. “Symbolic of ‘dangerous pleasure’. Very Aren.”
“This where the ivy came from?” Zoë asked, referring to the ivy River and Ceres had worn at their wedding.
“Yes. It’s traditionally a symbol of fidelity. When we where shopping, I had already agreed to marry Mal,” Inara stopped, sounding a little choked. So much had changed in such a short period of time.
“He bought your ring that day,” Zoë confided.
Inara nodded, and they were all silent. It was a long while before any of the women felt like speaking again.
“It’s okay to scream, Simon. Scream your head off if it helps even a tiny bit, okay?” River said to her brother over her shoulder as she heated the iron she’d salvaged.
Simon nodded, but he had no intention of screaming if he could help it. He’d screamed enough, and he was frankly done with it, as far as he was concerned.
Simon watched (though the inner Dr. Tam voice was quick to remind him that watching only made the brain register the pain more firmly, thus making it hurt worse); Simon wanted to be in control, to see it go, feel it go, to know it was gone. He slipped off his shirt and watched as River took the iron from the heat. As she put it to Blue Sun logo on his skin, he grit his teeth and breathed through the pain.
Zoë watched as River dug gently in the ground above Book’s grave. The tiny white snowdrops wouldn’t last long, she thought, in the dry heat of Haven’s sun. Still, the private joke – the flower’s symbolism of hope notwithstanding – caught her attention.
“They say the snow on the roof is too heavy. They say the ceiling will cave in. His brains are in terrible danger.”
“River? Please, why don't you come on out?”
“Can't. Too much hair.”
“Is--is that it?
“Hell yes, preacher. If I didn't have stuff to get done, I'd be in there with her.”
River wasn’t the still-waters-run-deep of her or Simon or Mal. She was the distracting light and noise of a flash bang, like Wash, persuading you to ignore the depth of meaning they presented. Zoë tuned her attention back to her husbands gave, and ran her fingers gently around the ground she’d disturbed to plant the flowers that reminded her of reminding her husband of her.
The crew of Serenity stared as Jayne’s family came out to meet them. It couldn’t be helped. As the bevy of six-foot-plus brunette beauties swarmed out of the small Cobb bungalow, Zoë caught herself by surprise, quipping aloud, “Pity Wash didn’t live to see this.” Mal nodded at his first mate’s words. Jayne’s sisters were white versions of Zoë – curly-haired-tall-and-fit Amazons. Well, not exactly white versions of Zoë: they smiled too easily, laughed to readily. Perhaps white, happier versions of Zoë would have been a better way to put it. The crew watched as the giants, to a woman, of the Cobb clan swarmed around their older brother. Only one of them was smaller than Zoë, and Mal wondered if it was only because the girl hadn’t yet stopped growing.
“They’re named after queens of England. On Earth-That-Was,” River announced, by way, Mal assumed, of some approximation of an explanation. It might have helped if River’s gaze wasn’t directed at her wife’s abdomen, the Captain had thought. But River had her own way of dealing with things, her own way of making a point. The best he felt that he could hope for was to come close to guessing what it might be.
Jayne, oblivious in the best possible, happiest possible, way, merely nodded at River’s comment. “U-huh. Mother’s mother were a school teacher.” The older woman smiled at this, as Jayne’s hand reached instinctively for her. Jayne continued. “Mother, I’d like ta present the crew a’ Serenity. This is Cap’n Reynolds, our first mate Zoë, Kaylee, Mal’s lady friend Inara, River, River’s brother Simon, River’s wife Ceres, and Sam. I guess he’s River’s cousin-in-law.” Jayne turned toward Mal, his rusty etiquette still better than his crew would have imagined. “Mal, this is my mother, Mrs. Anna Cobb, and my sisters Mrs. Elizabeth Fox, Mrs. Mary Hardy, Miss Katerine Cobb, Miss Mathilde Cobb, and Miss Eleanor Cobb.” Jayne pointed into the near distance. “That there is Tom Fox, Liz’s husband, and ma nephews Tommy, Joey, and Danny. And that there is Bobby,” Jayne indicated, pointing to the toddler on Liz’s hip. “That,” Jayne pointed again, “Is Charlie, Mara’s husband, and Jo-Anna, Luke and Charlotte.” Jayne’s pause would have been imperceivable to anyone who didn’t know him well, didn’t know how consummate a tracker he was. “Don’t see Will Christopher anywhere, though.”
“Ain’t here, Jayne-boy,” Jayne’s mother replied easily. “I think he might have been a mite worried that Katie’s brother wasn’t coming home ‘cause he approved.”
Mal and Zoë couldn’t deny that their eyebrows shot up at this comment, but Jayne laughed, easily and obliviously. “Haha, Mother. Will knows I ain’t got nothin’ ‘gainst him. Katie’s had her eyes on him since they was in Nanna’s play school.”
Liz’s snort was a feminine version of Jayne’s. “I remember their first wedding. Will cried when Katie kissed his cheek.”
“Didn’t his brother tell ‘im he’d die if a girl kissed him?” Mara asked as the little fair-haired ball of baby fat called ‘Charlotte’ hurled herself at her mother.
“Yeah.” Jayne snorted as if he himself had never suffered under that delusion, unaware as his mother rolled her eyes.
Mal’s attention was on the girl Jayne had introduced as ‘Miss Mathilde Cobb’ – remembering Jayne’s letter from his mother and her comments about ‘Matty’ and the ‘damp lung’. The girl was indeed the only Cobb sibling shorter than Zoë – though she still towered above the rest of Serenity’s women. Mal asked her in a conspiratorial stage whisper, “He named after a queen a’England, too?” As Matty laughed brightly, Jayne turned an almost withering glare on his captain.
“Haha, Mal. Mother and Daddy thought they was having a girl,” the merc said, as if that not only explained everything, but made his bizarre name seem less ridiculous. Jayne’s mother and sisters shared a wicked smile with the young Captain.
The youngest girl spoke up, “They’d been calling him that since they’d found out Mother was pregnant.”
“You shush, Elle Cobb,” Jayne ordered without animosity, completely ignorant of his sisters’ benign smiles and giggles as he wandered toward the back door of his family home.
There was no doubt that Jayne’s mother – as his sisters – were thrilled to have Jayne at home, for however a short a while. And while Jayne might have been uncomfortable under the gaze of his crewmembers, when he forgot that they were there, it was clear that he was enjoying himself playing with his nieces, chasing his nephews and sharing moments for wordless emotion with his sisters. Mal and Zoë shared more than one look over Jayne’s at once almost-guarded almost-oblivious joy at being at home.
Jayne’s mother was everything the snippet they’d gotten from the letter would have indicated. She was fond of her son, proud of her family, and welcoming to strangers to a fault. Zoë only put up with the older woman’s extreme fussing over her pregnancy out of respect for her intentions and age, and both Mal and Zoë were grateful when River decided to halve Momma Cobb’s attention by pointing out that Ceres was also pregnant with twins. The revelation that both of Serenity’s pregnant women were carrying twins lead Liz and Mara to tease Katie about her desire to spend her wedding night aboard ship, and only River, with her damaged amygdala and inability to close her mind, knew that Katie wondered if she should, in fact, take the offer seemingly presented by the overtly-fertile Serenity’s appearance.
Likewise, only River, with her damaged amygdala and inability to close her mind knew that both her brother and his lover spent the entire trip wondering about what might have been – as Jayne played with his nephews and worshiped his nieces – as Mrs. Cobb relaxed into the happiness of a brood mother with all her chicks at home – as Zoë stroked her belly with love and Ceres pawed, unconscious, at her own – as Jayne’s sisters danced folk dances and trusted to the future, as Inara followed Mal following along, giving in – if only for a moment – to the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.
And while they danced, one with another, River made a point to dance with Tommy, first boy born in the Cobb family in 30 years, and only one his granddad was alive to meet. And River, being River, dancer extraordinaire and little lost soul, easily followed the lead of a ten-year-old boy who danced in time only to the beat of his own imagination.
River added more flowers to the ‘green house’ – white roses for Ceres and Simon (worthy of love, though they never quite believe it) and coreopsis (cheerfulness – a variety called ‘tequila sunrise’, because it made her laugh and think of engine wine) for Kaylee, red poppies for herself (symbolic of consolation), lily of the valley (return of happiness) for Mal and Zoë, Amaranth (unfading love) for Inara. Amaryllis (pride and beauty) for Jayne. She picked up some daisies – wild (for innocence) – mostly for Sam, if they were needed.
At least if the Alliance blew up the ship, the flowers would go with them, a memorial of sorts.
River laughed as she remembered the expression on Kaylee’s face as Elle danced with Simon, and sighed a little at the hidden fears in both Sam’s and Matty’s hearts that the other would forget them. She had a feeling that the time might come when she would dance at another Cobb wedding.
She would have smiled more at the thought if she could have been certain that she’d dance at another Tam wedding first.
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Saturday, May 5, 2007 2:08 AM
Saturday, May 5, 2007 2:39 AM
Saturday, May 5, 2007 3:29 AM
Saturday, May 5, 2007 4:50 AM
Saturday, May 5, 2007 6:45 AM
Saturday, May 5, 2007 9:11 AM
Monday, May 7, 2007 10:51 AM
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