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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Mal and his team get ready to leave for St. Albans, and Kaylee has a little talk with her son.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 605 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
River cornered Mal in the cargo bay. “I don’t like this plan, Mal,” she said, looking up at him worriedly.
Mal snapped to attention. “You seein’ somethin’ I should know about?”
“No,” River answered. “Just don’t like the idea of you being away from the ship right now.”
Mal pulled her to him gently. Resting his cheek on the top of her head, he said, “I ain’t overfond of the idea myownself, bao bei. But Simon needs those drugs sooner than not, and if we don’t make the delivery to St. Albans in time, there’s a decent chance our fee’ll be cut. That happens, we can’t fuel the ship proper and get Daniel to Osiris. I ain’t willin’ to risk it, are you?”
River nodded her head sadly. “I could go with you. Zoe could stay here and pilot Serenity.”
“Your brother’s gonna need you here,” Mal said kindly. “And I want you here too. Me and Zoe’ll be back ‘fore you know it. Well, maybehaps not before you know it, bein’ as how you’re a Reader, but still pretty gorram quick.” He could see that his attempt at humor did not go very well.
“You could at least take Jayne, in case there’s trouble at the drop point. Jim could go with Simon.”
Mal shook his head. “Don’t know Jim well enough just yet I’m apt to leave him with my ship to handle things. Best he goes with me for now.”
River sighed, knowing she was fighting a losing battle. “All right, ai ren,” she conceded. “Just promise me you’ll be careful.”
Mal flashed her a winning grin. “Do my darnedest, darlin’,” he said, grabbing a crate to help load the shuttle.
Jim whistled in appreciation when Jayne pulled back the blanket covering his impressive array of weapons. “Looks like there’s enough here to mount a fairly decent revolution,” he said in amazement.
“Never do know when you might need one,” Jayne said, running his hands lovingly along the guns and knives. “Figured you might need a little more ordinance than you got, if’n you’re supposed to be watchin’ Mal’s back on St. Albans. Man can get in more trouble than you can see comin’ most of the time.”
“So I’m noticing,” Jim said wryly. “What would you suggest I take?”
Jayne pulled a large duffel bag from under his bunk and began to select the weapons. “You can get the ammo from ship’s arsenal. Mal pays for the bullets,’ he said.
Jim ran his hand appraisingly over one of the guns Jayne had selected for him. “This one’s a real beauty.”
“Yeah,” Jayne agreed. “That there’s Jolene.”
Jim chuckled. “You say that like there’s a story there I’d love to hear.”
Jayne smiled slightly. “Little too long for the tellin’ right now. Mebbe when you get back, if you don’t get yerself killed first.”
“I’ll look forward to hearing it,” Jim answered mildly.
“Least we won’t have to pack as many rations without Jayne along,” Zoe said dryly, as she and Mal finished their preparations for departure.
“You sanguine about how Jim’s gonna work out?” Mal asked. As Zoe raised one eyebrow, he said, “Yes, I remember what it means. Don’t look so shocked.”
“Never doubted it, sir,” she replied, though her expression clearly said otherwise. “As for Jim, I got no cause to doubt him.”
“And no cause to trust him either,” Mal finished her thought.
“That’s about the size of it.”
“Well, I conjure between the two of us we can handle things either way,” Mal said easily.
“Need Mr. Jim.” Adam climbed up into the shuttle to attach himself to Mal’s leg.
“That a fact?” Mal asked, sweeping the two-year-old into his arms.
“Yep,” Adam said, looking at his father with impossibly blue eyes. Putting his little hands on either side of Mal’s face, he continued, “Wish you weren’t goin’, but Mama said you got to.”
“Your mama’s right,” Mal said, smiling. “But I’ll be back soon’s I can, and then we’ll be able to get the things little Daniel needs.”
Adam’s expression saddened. “Daniel’s scared. Doesn’t understand.”
“He tell you that?” Mal asked.
Adam rolled his eyes, the expression so much like River’s that it left Mal momentarily breathless. “He can’t talk, Daddy. He’s only a baby.”
“Good point,” Mal said, kissing the tip of his son’s nose. “Guess you just sorta…feel it.”
Adam nodded. “Uh huh,” he answered.
“Well, you’ll just have to be extra careful to help make him feel not so scared, then,” Mal said, setting the boy down on his sturdy little legs. “Think you can look after Mama whilst I’m gone, too?”
“I will,” Adam said. “And Miss Zoe and Mr. Jim will look after you.”
“That we will, little one,” Zoe said, ruffling Adam’s hair. “Run and get Anya for me, please. I need a good-bye hug ‘fore we take off.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Adam said, tearing out the door on his mission, feeling very important indeed.
River sat on Serenity’s bridge absently stroking her rounded abdomen as she watched the shuttle detach and head toward St. Albans. Turning her attention back to her own task, she headed Serenity to the Skyplex.
“You okay up here?” Inara asked, peering through the doorway.
“Fine,” River replied, easing Serenity’s speed up gradually. “Just wish we didn’t have to split up to get everything done.”
Inara nodded, slipping gracefully into the room. Sitting down in the co-pilot’s chair, she looked carefully at River. “He doesn’t ever want to be away from you either, you know,” she said softly. “He loves you very much.”
River turned her complete attention to the Companion. “Yes, he does,” she answered simply. “As I do him.”
Inara looked out Serenity’s glass at the Black. “It’s a puzzle to me,” she said, almost wistfully. “What is it that makes two people choose to spend their lives together? Makes them know that they’ve found someone else in the ‘verse that completes them?”
Discerning Inara was no longer talking about Mal, River sighed. “There is no science to it, though I suppose a case could be made that there are certain chemical and physiological components to a successful mating. The real reasons can’t be quantified, nor even vaguely understood, I imagine.”
Inara smiled at the younger woman. “You sound like an old mystic by the fire,” she said.
“It is mystical in a way,” River said. “Don’t you find it so?”
Inara glanced at her sharply. “Me?” she asked.
River rolled her eyes. “Yes, you,” she answered. “And Jayne.”
Inara shifted uncomfortably in her chair. “What Jayne and I have…it isn’t like you and Mal.”
“Doesn’t have to be,” River said calmly. “Shouldn’t be, in point of fact, since none of us are like the others. But it is strong, and deep, and wide. I feel it, from both of you.”
“Perhaps too strong, sometimes,” Inara whispered, unaware she’d said the words aloud.
“No such thing as too strong,” River said. “Has to be strong to survive everything the ‘verse tends to throw at it.” Sensing Inara’s thoughts, she added, “And you’re wrong. Loving Jayne is not a weakness. It’s one of your greatest strengths.”
Inara was strangely moved by the words of the younger woman. Sighing raggedly, she said, “How did you come to be so wise, at such a tender age?”
“Learned about love from an excellent teacher,” River answered, smiling impishly. “And I was an eager pupil.” She turned back to check her console, and relaxed back into her chair. A companionable silence descended on the bridge, as the two women stared out into the Black.
Mal flipped switches, idly thinking that the last day had been the quietest one he’d had in a long while. Zoe, never talkative at the even the best of times, had barely strung three sentences together. And Jim had spent his time basically watching the stars pass by.
Mal had hoped that Jim would be a good fit for his crew, and the truth of the matter was that he had done absolutely nothing to cause Mal to lose that hope. But neither had he done anything much to bolster the idea, unless one considered the fact that he had saved the lives of Mal, Zoe, and Jayne on their first meeting. And Mal most assuredly did remember that. It was proving, so far, to be the deciding factor in Mal’s choice to allow the man to stay.
He was a pleasant enough sort, Mal thought. Not nearly as loud or mouthy as Jayne. And he never questioned Mal’s orders, responding with the long habit of obedience many former soldiers possessed. But, with the exception of his interactions with Anya, Jim did not seem at ease among the other crew members yet, though he had been on Mal’s boat for three months. Maybehaps it was time for him to spend some time with his new crewman, Mal thought, as he began the landing sequence. Making a mental note to do just that when they returned to Serenity, Mal said, “Zoe, Jim, get ready. We’ll be at the drop in a few minutes. Look sharp.”
Kaylee looked down at her son lovingly, wondering how such a tiny body could survive the seizures that had been ripping through it for the past two days. Simon had altered the med dosages as much as he could to slow the onset of the seizures, but still Daniel was either lethargic from exhaustion or in the throes of the violent spasms. Kaylee stroked the baby’s cheek gently, rousing him long enough to suckle for a few minutes at a time.
Kaylee sighed, pulling her hair behind her ears as Daniel drank. “For a little guy,” she whispered gently, “You’ve sure got a way of wearin’ out several full-grown folk. Ain’t ever seen your Daddy so tired as he was ‘fore I sent him off to bed. Not even when your Aunt River used to get so bad off.”
Daniel looked up at his mother, the blue of his eyes just beginning to change to a shade of green. Despite the meds, his eyes were bright and inquisitive. His tiny hand moved clumsily up to rest on the side of her breast as his cheeks puffed in and out over her nipple.
“Your Daddy’s gonna get you everything you need to make it all better,” Kaylee said, as much to comfort herself as the child. “And then, after everything’s shiny and fixed up just right, you’re gonna grow and learn to walk, and run, and play with Anya and Adam and whoever your other little cousin turns out to be. And then one day, I’ll show you all Serenity’s workin’s, and your Uncle Mal will teach you all about the Black, and Aunt River’ll show you how to fly. And you’ll be strong and handsome like your Daddy, and all the girls’ll wanna dance with you when we’re dirtside.”
She didn’t even notice that she was crying until a tear splashed across Daniel’s forehead. The baby wrinkled his brow and scrunched up his face at the strange sensation. Wiping the moisture gently away with the pad of her thumb, Kaylee sniffled. “All those things are gonna happen for you, sweetie, if’n I can do anything about it. I swear.”
Daniel looked intently at her and gurgled happily. Kaylee leaned her head against the back of the rocker and closed her eyes for just a moment. Feeling the cruel jerk of her son’s body, her eyes flew open just in time to see another seizure begin.
To be continued
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