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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Mal explains why he wears suspenders.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1401 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Bethany was ecstatic. Just that morning her father had scanned her arm and announced, at lunch, that she could have the cast removed.
Now, as they were all sitting down to their evening meal, she was showing everyone how pale her skin was.
“Yuck,” Hank said. “Looks like some kinda sea slug.”
Bethany giggled. “Does not.”
“Does too.” Hank picked up one of Bethany’s pens and drew eyes on her two middle fingers. “See?”
“Hey, that don’t wash off!” Kaylee complained.
Bethany, on the other hand, was delighted. “Uncle Jayne!” she crowed, running round the table to him. “I’ve got a sea slug!”
“That better’n a puppy?”
“Course not,” she scolded, then waved her fingers at him. “Tentacles!”
“Bethie, come and sit down, it’s time to eat,” her father called.
“Daddy, can I have a sea slug for my birthday?” she asked, coming around the table and climbing into her chair.
“I don’t see how,” he said. “We’re a pretty long way from the sea.”
“It was nice seeing Auntie Nara and Giselle,” Bethany chattered on. “Why does she call Giselle Jayne, Uncle Jayne?”
“’Cause she’s pretty like me.” He grinned at her. She giggled.
“You know, I think we’ve seen more of Inara than we ever did before, and that was when she was living on board,” Mal commented.
“At least you know the girls are going to be well looked after.” Freya put her hand on his.
They’d dropped the girls off on Lazarus, and Mal had good-naturedly endured Inara’s gentle digs.
“Well, you always have said you wanted a girl.” She laughed. “Now you have five.”
“Technically six, ‘cept I have doubts Honor’d see it that way,” Mal pointed out. “You sure you’re okay with this? I mean, they’ll likely be with you a good long while.”
“I shall enjoy it,” Inara assured him. “And I’m sure their father will come and visit often.”
“I ain’t their daddy.”
“Surrogate, at least.”
“Look, I may be their guardian, but I ain’t their flesh.” He watched her laugh at him. “Hell, Inara, just take care of ‘em.”
“I will. And they’ll be able to help me with my other clients.”
“That going okay? Not getting naked for a living?”
“I suppose I can let you get away with that one,” Inara sighed. “And it’s going very well, thank you for asking. In fact, I have another client arriving tonight.”
“Well, sorry to say we can’t stop, since we’ve got a job waiting.”
“I understand. Next time.”
Bethany was quite torn up having to say goodbye to Hermione, having become friends since their initial encounter.
“But I promise I’ll write,” the Reilly girl said. “I promise.”
Bethany had sulked and cried, and it took a few days for her to be back to her normal sunny disposition. Even her father buying her a new dress after Pickett’s job was concluded without hurt to any of the crew didn’t help much. Now, though, she seemed back to her usual self.
In fact, as they finished dinner and Kaylee announced it was time for bed, the little girl scrambled from her chair and ran around the table specifically to grab Mal’s suspender and pull, letting it go with a ping.
“Hey!” the injured man said, pushing his chair back and chasing her, grabbing her around the waist as she tried to make a getaway and slinging her over his shoulder. He looked around at the rest of the crew, all of whom were smiling. “Well, look at this. Seems like I caught me something here, and I was just wondering if it belonged to any of you before I sling it in the hold for a month.”
“Uncle Mal!” Bethany shrieked, her head half way down his back.
“Don’t think so, Mal,” Jayne said, his deep voice at odds with the grin on his face. “Can’t say I’ve ever seen it before. What is it?”
“None too sure.” He turned around so everyone could see Bethany’s pink face. “Any of you able to tell?”
“Mal, you’ll make her sick,” Simon said.
“She’s yours, then?”
“I think she might be.”
Kaylee thumped him on the arm. “Course she is,” she scolded. “As if I’d be with anyone else.”
River smiled and lifted the little girl down from Mal’s shoulder. “Oh, look,” she said. “I think it’s Bethany.”
“Hello.” She waved at everyone, then yawned hugely, belatedly remembering to cover her mouth with her hand.
“Definitely bed time,” Kaylee said. “Are you two going back to your bunk tonight?” she asked, looking from Mal to Freya. “Only Simon said something about it being time …”
Mal glared at the young doctor, and Freya laughed.
“Something like that,” she admitted.
“Oh. Oh!” Kaylee suddenly understood, and grinned. “Then you’d better let Ethan sleep with Bethie again.”
“That would be good, thanks.”
“Actually, an early night sounds kinda good,” Jayne said, glancing meaningfully at River.
“I second that,” Hank said, then added quickly, “I mean, not with you, but you know … me and Zoe …”
“Well, last one leaving turns off the light,” Mal said, pulling Freya’s chair out as she got to her feet.
There was a chorus of goodnights, and the crew dispersed towards their various bunks.
Mal climbed down the ladder first, then watched as Freya descended. “You okay?” he asked somewhat anxiously as she reached the floor. “No pain?”
“I’m shiny, Mal.” She kissed him softly then crossed to the bed, laying down on it and looking up into the shadows. “A bit sore, but it’s better every day.”
“Just good to be home.” She sighed happily, then looked across at him. He was closing the hatch and rubbing unconsciously at his chest. “You okay? What with Bethany attacking you quite unprovoked.”
Mal glanced down at the guilty suspender. “It stung.”
“Well, it’s your own fault for wearing them,” Freya said. “There’s been more than one occasion when I’ve had to resist the urge to do exactly what Bethany did.”
“You know that hurt, don’t you?” He pointed to the area of his left nipple.
“Ah, poor baby,” she teased.
“Sometimes I wonder if you love me at all.” He grinned.
“So why do you wear them?” Freya asked, watching Mal push his suspenders from his shoulders.
“To keep my pants up.”
“But your pants are tight enough. You don’t need any other help.” She gazed at his rear end.
“What are you … hey, stop that!”
“Looking at my ass like that!”
“Like if you stare at it long enough I’ll tell you why I wear suspenders just to stop you.”
“Is it gonna work?”
“No.” He pulled his shirt off and dropped it onto the chair.
“Then I guess I’ll just continue admiring the view.” She rolled carefully around on the bed until she could rest her chin on her hands and still watch him.
“Ain’t gonna happen, Frey.”
“So you said.”
He undid the buttons on his pants. “I mean it.”
“Of course you did.”
He managed to ignore her for a few moments more, than turned and glared at her, his hands on his hips. “What’s so all-fired important about knowing why I wear suspenders?” he asked.
“You know what curiosity did to the cat, don’t you?”
“I ain’t a cat, Mal.”
“Good job too, otherwise you’d be in serious trouble.”
“So come on. ‘Fess up. Why do you wear them when it’s so clear to see that you don’t need to?”
Mal sighed, finally coming to sit down on the bed next to her. “You really want to know?”
“I really do.” She moved her head so it was in his lap and she was gazing up at him.
“Okay. It’s really boring and there ain’t much point to it but …” He paused for dramatic effect. “I was fifteen, and going to a dance with Mandy Horowitz.”
“Fifteen. So you were experienced, then.”
“I knew I should never have told you about my first time,” Mal muttered. “And yes, as well as no. I was, Mandy wasn’t, and I didn’t get any further than putting my hand on her knee. Satisfied?”
“Nearly. The suspenders.”
He shook his head. “I was dressed, ready to go, when I bent down to pick something up, and there was the sound of something ripping, and a breeze blowing where no breeze had a right to be.”
“You’d split your pants?”
“Right up the backside.” Mal chuckled. “Guess I’d been growing more than I realised, and they’d finally given way.”
“I’d like to have seen that.”
“I’m sure you would.” He stroked her hair absently. “Anyhows, I was in a pickle. Mandy was waiting, I didn’t have another pair clean enough or respectable enough to wear, so my Ma went and got me a pair out of a trunk. My Pa’s, as it turned out.” He looked across the room and back in time. “Ten years and she hadn’t thrown his clothes away, almost as if she thought he was gonna come home one day.” He came back to the present and looked back down at her. “Gave them to me. I put them on, and immediately we kinda saw the problem. It seemed I hadn’t grown that much, and they were threatening to slide off my hips and reveal my shortcomings.”
Freya giggled. “Your what?”
Mal ignored her and went on with the tale. “So my Ma got out a pair of my dad’s suspenders, made me put them on. The pants weren’t so big that they looked that bad, so I got to the dance on time, felt Mandy’s knee and had a good evening. When I got home I found my Ma had been crying because she said I reminded her so much of Pa.”
“I wanted to give them back to her, to put them away, but she said it was time. Told me I should keep ‘em, wear ‘em. Probably thought I’d grow into them someday, only I never did.”
Freya reached up and touched his face. “What was he like? Your Pa? You hardly ever talk about the past, and almost never about him. What was he like?”
“You wanna see?”
She looked at him in surprise. “What do you mean?”
Mal stood up carefully, laying her back down on the bed, and went to his drawer. From inside, in between the clean shirts, he withdrew a capture.
“Where did that come from?” Freya asked accusingly. “It wasn’t there before -”
“Not gone through my drawers lately?” he teased, sitting back down. “You’re slipping, Frey.”
“I’ve been poorly.”
He smiled and switched the capture on. “Harry gave it to me, just before we left Mead. He’d found it in some old stuff, made me a copy.” The picture glowed to life, two young men, arms around each other, laughing and making faces. “That’s Uncle Zach, my Pa’s brother and Harry’s father. And that’s –”
Freya sat up, taking the capture and studying it closely. She’d have known who it was, even if Mal hadn’t said. Tall, dark brown hair flopping across his forehead, he had the same blue eyes, and the same strong nose and jawline. No wonder his Ma had cried. “He looks … wonderful.”
“I think he probably was, what I can remember of him.”
She felt tears prickling at her eyes. “You know, Mal, you’re wrong. I think you’ve grown into your Pa’s pants just fine.”
She looked up at him, and he felt a surge of undying love for her.
“You’re crazy, you know that, don’t you?” he said, taking the capture from her and placing it carefully on the shelf.
“I don’t care.” She ran her fingers down his naked chest, towards the buttons still done up on those pants, and over the suspenders hanging from them. “I’ve got you, and permission.”
“Permission?” He leaned over her. “To do what?”
“Whatever I want, Mal.” She grabbed him and pulled him down to her. “Whatever I want.”
Sunday, June 1, 2008 3:27 PM
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