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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ADVENTURE
It is three years and four months since River Tam left the crew of Serenity and she has decided to return home. 1st fanfic of the second series, featuring post BDM characters and a few of my own creation. Having feedback is like charging my battery, please comment. Part 2 of 2.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1148 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
MÜNCHEN, June 2525:
River stepped out onto the dockyard of München racked with nervous emotions and a hunger to see everyone again. She arrived on a passenger vessel from Boros, having hopped on various transports and docks all the way from Londinium. It felt really good to be back - more than good, River felt delirious with happy feelings. She was used to blocking out peoples’ thoughts in busy places, but now she wanted to know if there was anyone familiar in the busy port that she might hitch a lift home with. She dumped her kit bag at a diner table and sat down, calling for a beer. When it arrived she sipped it, revelling in it’s malty taste and appreciating the excellent quality, having been schooled by Don Bay in the delights and pitfalls of serious alcohol consumption. She then closed her eyes and sought out any one of Serenity’s former crew who might be around.
It took some time as there were a lot of people around to filter through, like looking through lots of pictures trying to see if you recognised someone. She located Ishmael and then Hans’ son, Lukas, both at school, but not going home until the end of the week. Hans was not in München. Bane! Bane was here – shopping for parts with someone familiar to her, but not to River. She downed the rest of her beer and hitched up her kit bag, setting off to the junk yard to find Bane. River couldn’t help smiling as she headed there and as a result she was turning heads, even with her cap pulled down. She saw none of the appreciative glances however, but concentrated on Bane’s mind to give her direction.
Bane was going through the list in her head of what she had already and what she needed. Once she was in the Black that would be it, and if she didn’t get the right stuff, it wouldn’t get done. Her cousin, Wang Pye, Captain of the Antonia, wanted an EMP defence system like she had fitted on the Rosalyn all those years ago. Only because it was highly illegal, it had to be created in a way that was intrinsic to the ship. Bane’s way was to make it part of the water heating system. As part of his homework, she had got Ishmael to translate her original notes on the subject and that had enabled her to make a shopping list.
“Can I take these things back to the mule?” asked Matt grumpily. He thought he had been coming into München for a short shopping trip, but it had turned into the whole day. Typical of women, he grumbled, doesn’t matter what they shopped for, it still took gorram ages. He’d only come in for a generator part as a favour for Kaylee which he’d found in the first ten minutes. Bane removed her hand from the crook of his arm and smiled.
“Of course, they must be getting heavy. Just lead me to where the valves are first.”
“Hmmph,” Matt answered, that meant another ruttin’ hour while she felt for the right one, and she was right fussy, which was nothing to do with being blind. After he had left Bane giggled to herself. Matt’s fluster and bluster for the last three or four hours was nothing new, he had just the right amount of patience for a Cobb. Maybe he should go with Jayne when he went shopping for guns, then he would know the true meaning of a long shopping trip.
Bane sat amongst the valves and felt around her. She was looking for one with a shut off lever at each end, in as good condition as she could manage, with the least amount of rust anyways. She could only imagine how dirty she was which was why she had plaited her hair around her head under a scarf and worn trousers. There was a time when she had worn nothing but trousers. However, wearing a long skirt gave her a miniscule few seconds of warning that she was about to bump into something and she found it useful.
“Besides,” said River, “You look better in a skirt.” Bane went very still, not entirely certain she hadn’t imagined what she’d just heard. She had missed River terribly and always twinned her memory of Stan with her, as she was lost too. “I missed you too,” said River, more emotion to her voice and she touched Bane’s arm.
“Oh River!” she cried and flung her arms around her in a vice of a hug. River found the tears form in her eyes easily and slid down her cheeks, as did Bane’s. Bane didn’t let go, she couldn’t bear to, knocking River’s hat off with one hand to touch her head and then feel her face.
“What’s going on here? You’re supposed to be shoppin’, not socialisin’!” said Matt, a little anger to his voice. Gorram ruttin’ woman was gonna take the whole week at this rate. As they pulled apart he saw they were both crying and he calmed down, wondering what was wrong. He blinked a few times before recognising the other woman from the few captures he had seen. “You’re Simon’s sister! You ran away the night I arrived.”
“And you’re Matthew Cobb, Junior,” River announced in the same tone. She was surprised when he held out his hand to shake with River’s, as she didn’t think the Cobbs were that well trained.
“How’d you know who I was?” he replied, feeling the strength and firmness in her grip. Definitely no wilting flower, in his opinion. Because he had never met her, he only knew her from other peoples’ descriptions which varied greatly. River smirked cheekily.
“I just know things, Matthew,” she said, assessing him keenly.
“Matt,” he corrected, self consciously clearing his throat. “Hmmph – Bane must have told you we’ve bin here all ruttin’ day.” River reached down and picked up a valve.
“Will this do, Bane?” she said, with a smile. Bane took it and ran her dirty hands over the piece to check it’s suitability.
“Feels like the right thing and there’s no flaking to the metal. I’ll take it.” Matt mouthed a grateful ‘thank you’ to River and they walked back to the mule together. Payment for the goods found was done at the exit gate and it was not long before they were on the road headed out of the large town. Bane still clasped River’s hand, almost afraid she would go away again.
“So what’s new?” River asked. Bane laughed.
“Well you’ve a lot to catch up on. You’re an aunt for one thing.” River bit her lip. Having practised for years at blocking out other peoples’ feelings and information, she had been concentrating hard as soon as she landed, so that she could revel in true surprise at all the things she was being told.
“Yes. April was born in April this year. The prettiest thing by all accounts.” Matt Cobb looked across at River sitting next too him, taking in the slender figure and high cheekbones. Not the prettiest thing, he concluded, he was definitely sitting next to the prettiest thing. Besides babies weren’t pretty, they were chubby, noisy and smelled, a lot. River was used to hearing peoples’ thoughts on how she looked but for some reason felt herself getting hot under Matt Cobb’s assessment. And annoyed to realise she had done her own one on him, watching his muscled forearm flexing and the curve of his butt as he lifted the goods onto the mule – “Jayne and Esper are goin’ for a record, I think,” continued Bane. “Twin boys first time round, Abram and Arran, young Matt, and another one due in August sometime.”
“Noisy buggers they are too,” confirmed Matt.
“Then, let’s see,” Bane mused. “Mal and Inara were married the March after you left and had Serra last year. Now she’s a darling peaceful scrap, not like her parents at all.”
“She looks like ‘em though,” Matt added. They were driving clear of the built-up areas now, and would soon be out in the country. Bane pressed her lips together with annoyance at being interrupted. River let the joy of the moment wash over her.
“Zoe an’ Hans are still together and Marcus turns five at the end of this year. Can you believe it? Have I left anyone out?”
“Karl,” hinted River.
“Oh yes. Well we’ll still together.” River noted something else to her voice and the worry in her thoughts.
“And how about my brother? You gonna get to him anytime soon?”
“Well, I thought you would want to wait until you see him. I won’t pretend that it hasn’t been difficult for him,” Bane’s tone turned more serious. “He wanted to go after you so bad.” River squeezed Bane’s hand, but it was more for her own comfort. After breaking her out of the Academy, River knew exactly how Simon would have reacted to her running away.
“Can I see him first? Before anyone else knows I’m back?” she asked. Bane opened her mouth to answer, but Matt beat her to it.
“I can park behind the barn. If no one’s outdoors, you can make it to Simon’s without being seen.”
“I’m sure you could probably do that anyway,” retorted Bane.
Bane told her of the other goings on, including the new Pye Eatings vessel which River said she already knew about, having eaten on it at Whitefall a year ago. “Ah, but there been some additions to the crew since then. The long lost cousins on Boros have joined them when their farm got taken away. I’d only met Long So Pye once or twice before the war when we were children. She lost part of her leg at Du Khang, married her commanding officer one week after the war was over and bin livin’ out in Boros since then. Barty Phillips died some eight years ago now, but after the farm was re-possessed, Wang offered her a job on the Antonia, and she and the three young ‘uns are now crew.”
“They ain’t so much young ‘uns,” corrected Matt, still wanting to stay in the conversation. “The eldest one is sixteen, the youngest –“ he interrupted himself. “We’re comin’ up on the München gate. If you don’t wanna be seen by the camera, you better cover yourself with that,” he indicated with his head to the jacket slung in the back of the mule with the parts. River pulled it over herself and leaned onto her knees. Bane then used her as an arm rest, as did Matt, until they were past the cameras. Back at Gang Kou, Esper viewed Matt and Bane driving through the gate. Before turning at the sound of young Matt’s wail, she wondered why her brother-in-law had a huge grin on his face when he’d been shopping all day with Bane.
River sat up after they were clear of buildings and, as they drew nearer, got more nervous about seeing Simon again. Matt Cobb nudged her leg and gave her a reassuring smile which she returned, he liked the idea of getting to know Simon’s sister better. Even though he’d only just met her, she was definitely a cut above the rest of the women he had met since arriving. River sighed inwardly, knowing that she would not be involving herself with Jayne’s brother. If she needed the physical release of some sexing, she would not choose someone so close by, as they would always want to take it further – something River was not willing to do again.
Matt stopped the mule behind the barn as he promised and River got out. He then drove around and up the road as normal, up to Bane’s house, so they could offload the goods there.
“How does she look?” asked Bane innocently.
“Mighty fine,” Matt answered without thinking. “I mean. She’s dirtied up some thanks to your greasy huggin’.”
“Uh huh,” Bane said, a wide smile on her face, confirming her suspicions. Matt turned back to her with his arms laden.
“Oh no. None of that interferrin’. Jayne told me about you an’ your matchmakin’.”
“Me? I thought nothin’ of the kind. I can’t see her – I just asked you how she looked.”
“Yeh, an’ I’m a ruttin’ baboon’s aunt,” muttered Matt. Bane laughed, still not admitting he had rumbled her.
River peeked through the window of Simon’s surgery and saw that his back was to her. He was writing at a desk, using the light from the other window. She saw that the door was open, letting in what breeze there was on this hot June day. She put down her kit bag and walked in, pausing for a moment while she thought about how much she had missed him.
“If that’s you again, Jayne, I’m telling you now, Esper ain’t due for another two months. And I’m not speeding it up so you can start on the next one.” River was shocked – having never heard her brother speak with such vulgarity – vulgarity for Simon, that is.
“You said ‘ain’t’,” River sniggered, and Simon spun around on his stool. He came to his feet, his expression showing he didn’t believe what he saw. “I’m back to st-“ Simon crushed River in a hug, a sob escaping from his mouth. River hugged him back, crying once again. They didn’t speak but carried on clasping each other for several minutes.
“Where’ve you been?” he said finally in a broken voice, still not letting her go. River extracted herself, but kept hold of Simon’s hand in reassurance.
“Growing up – finding out about myself. Not much.” She took in his image again, the dark hair, blue eyes, and the things that had changed about him. “You need a hair cut,” she stated. Simon laughed, feeling more carefree than he had for a long time, but probably closer to shedding a few tears. Since River left he hadn’t felt he deserved to be happy with her still missing, but in truth, he was.
“You need a wash,” he shot back.
“That was Bane – she was real pleased to see me too.” Simon pulled the other stool to him and sat opposite his bright wonderful sister.
“I can’t believe you’re here. I thought you were gone forever.”
“Didn’t you get my letters?”
“Well, yes. But you must have known it wouldn’t be enough.” River didn’t answer as she knew he spoke the truth.
“How’s my niece?” she asked instead.
“You know about April? Oh, of course – Bane must have updated you. Do you want to meet her?”
“In a minute,” answered River. “I want to know about her father first. Like when did you start saying ‘ain’t’?” Simon laughed genuinely again, he was so happy.
“Well. Apart from looking after the ever-increasing numbers here, I work two days in München at the small hospital there. And, as well as the small bit of pay I get, they let me have any medical supplies I need for the surgery here. The people in the small homesteads in the mountains come here too, as it’s closer for them.”
“You don’t go in the Black anymore.”
“How did you know?”
“I caught sight of Serenity once. Kaylee was there, but you weren’t.”
“Well, there’s too much to do here. And Mal doesn’t take the real dangerous jobs anymore. They mainly do cargo delivery work, some legal, some not so much.” River laughed at his turn of phrase.
“I never thought to hear you speak spacer, Simon.” Simon laughed softly.
“Well, it’s hardly surprising – I’m surrounded by it, and not had you around to correct me.” River stood up and gave Simon another hug. River sensed he was happy, the guilt fading now she was back.
“I’ll just get my bag and then we’ll go in and see Kaylee.” She whipped out the door and came back with the large kit bag. Simon took it, then dropped it, surprised by his unexpected weight.
“Shun-sheng duh gao-wahn! What’ve you got in there?” he exclaimed.
“Simon Tam, I’m telling Kaylee you swore!” Momentarily taken back twenty years, Simon responded in kind.
“Tell her. See if I care, dinosaur breath!” They walked into the main room and Simon called out to Kaylee, who came through from the spare bedroom.
“Hush, I’ve just put her to b-! Ta ma de – River!” Kaylee ran forward and literally knocked River over on her ass, taking Simon with her. They landed in a heap and the baby started to cry from being rudely awakened by the noise.
Mal heaved the saddle from his horse onto the special fencing in the barn and brushed her down. She was a beauty, a smooth russet coloured coat, white face and intelligence. She was the pick of the herd, some of which were ready to go to off world for a nice tidy profit. They had nearly one hundred head of horses now, built up and bred with care and attention. And everyone of them saddle broke. The land had finally started paying for itself so there was less of a need to take on the more dangerous jobs. Like some of the others, Inara supplemented their income by teaching at the school in Hannover. She taught English, Chinese and, thanks to Berta, some of the girls how to be young core-bred ladies, though why, was still beyond him.
“Hello, Mal,” said River. Mal didn’t turn around straight away, he continued rubbing down Summer, but a smile appeared on his face.
“Nice to have you back. You seen your brother yet?” River walked towards him and held out her hand for the horse to slobber on.
“Just came from there. Matt Cobb and Bane gave me a lift in from München a few hours ago.” Mal finished the job on the horse and now faced River Tam, his former pilot. His expression became serious.
“Why’d you leave us?” he asked. River could detect the guilt he felt and she tried to put her own feelings into words. She leaned against the saddle.
“I had to grow up. Much as I loved you all, I couldn’t deny that you’d forgive me anything, even if it meant the death of one of us.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” started Mal.
“Then whose fault was it? I was the one who turned back the ship, almost killing us. I was the one who broke your collar bone without even flinching. If it wasn’t for the Rosalyn, Esper and Jayne would be real lonely here now.” Mal said nothing at first, despite still believing River wasn’t to blame.
“I don’t know ‘bout lonely, there seems to be another Cobb every time I open my curtains.” River smiled.
“You have your own addition I hear.” Mal smiled broadly, every bit the proud father, she thought.
“Would you like to meet her? She’s beautiful, an’ just like her mother.”
“Well, Kaylee tells me she’s real good and quiet, so she can’t take after either of you much.”
“Hah! And I thought I was pleased to see you.” River stopped leaning and walked out of the barn with Mal. Just before they went outside into the sunset, he put his arm across her shoulders and squeezed her against him, his own version of a heartfelt welcome.
It was well into nightfall and River had done the rounds at Mal’s, Inara’s, Karl and Bane’s and there was just Jayne and his family left, on account that Zoe was in Hannover with Hans. Her heavy boots clumped on the porch as she stepped up and knocked on the door. Jayne opened it, a wide grin already on his face – it wasn’t as if Bane could keep her mouth shut about these things.
“Hey, Ape,” retorted River, walking past Jayne into their house. Matt was sitting in the armchair by the fireplace, sitting up straighter as River entered, and Esper was at the table in the kitchen. She got up and walked through, welcoming River with yet another hug.
“It’s good to see you again, River. You prob’ly conjure by now how much people have missed you.”
“Yes. I’ve missed you all too.”
“Well you’ll be pleased to know the brats are all asleep – peace has descended,” she stated, spreading her hands out.
“About ruttin’ time,” muttered Matt behind his beer. He was making the most of sitting in the comfy chair as it was usually reserved for Karl when he came over and he didn’t plan on giving it up, even if River was the prettiest girl in Gang Kou.
“They ain’t so bad,” defended Jayne, who liked nothing more these days than to be drowning in his own offspring. Although rolling on the floor earlier, Arran had accidentally kicked him in the nethers and it still twinged even now. He grasped Esper around the waist and placed his hand protectively on her belly. “This one’s gonna be real quiet. I can tell.”
“You turnin’ moonbrain now, Jayne?”
“Hell, no. I jus’ have a feelin’ is all.” Yeh, right, thought Esper with a smirk, it was Jayne’s ‘feelings’ that got her into this in the first place.
“If you run out of names, you could always use Bert,” suggested River. Esper blushed and glared at her husband, thinking it was him who had told her that was what Jayne called his contraception doser. Jayne laughed loudly at the joke. After four years working dawn til dusk on the ranch at Gang Kou, Jayne was a considerably changed man. He could still drink and shoot with the best of them, but with a growing family to support, he knew where his responsibilities lay. The couple didn’t much care what the others thought about keeping population numbers down; it was their life and their family.
“Sit yourself down, River, and I’ll fetch you a drink,” said Jayne.
“Beer, please,” she requested, knowing it was something they had plenty off. Jayne couldn’t prevent the surprised look on his face.
“Pickin’ up dirty habits. Does your brother know?”
“Jayne, I’m twenty five years old. And today I don’t think Simon would care if I came home with a drinking problem, one leg or pink hair.” Jayne sniggered.
“Have you just come over from Karl and Bane’s?”
“Yes. They were very welcoming, but things were a little tense.” Esper nodded knowingly.
“Bane’s going off with her family as soon as the Antonia arrives, leaving Karl here. There ain’t much for him to do on the Eatings ship, an’ he’s needed more here or on Serenity.” Like Esper, River knew it was more than that. Karl wanted to settle down, follow the rest of them and was afraid to broach the subject in case Bane didn’t want the same. And Bane didn’t think she could burden Karl with the additional responsibility it needed for some of the things she wouldn’t be able to do without sight, despite always trying to make it seem like she could do anything as well as the others.
“They’re both as stubborn as each other,” concluded River.
“He should just knock her up and get it over with,” announced Jayne, coming back with the beers.
“Jayne!” admonished Esper. Matt rolled his eyes and River smiled at him, before taking the bottle from Jayne.
“Well, it’s true, ain’t it? Karl’s said as much to me.”
“You an’ Karl are far to free talkin’ with each other for my likin’. Goodness knows what you’ve told him about us. Pair of old women, the both of you.” Jayne refrained from commenting further. Esper, ever the hypocrite, confided what River already knew. Matt, however, was tired of the subject.
“Can we stop discussin’ Bane and Karl’s sexin’ an’ talk about somethin’ else for once? Honestly, you would think it was the only thing we did around here.” urged Matt.
“We?” asked River pointedly. Matt flushed in embarrassment and Jayne laughed at his little brother’s discomfort.
“You’ll have to watch yourself with this one, Matt, she’s a mite quick on the uptake.”
“Yes, not like those empty-headed trollops in München,” added Esper. Matt stood, fed up with the teasing.
“Ni-mun doh shr sagwa!. I’m off to my bunk. Nice meetin’ you, River. I hope you enjoy it here as much as I do,” he said through gritted teeth before leaving.
“He doesn’t like being teased it seems,” stated River.
“His sense of humour is understated,” said Esper. “He’s really a lovely man and works very hard. Strong too, though you couldn’t say that about him when he first arrived.” River wasn’t fooled by her veiled attempt at matchmaking, though it did pass over Jayne’s head completely.
“Yeh, on the night the twins were born, he caught a chill and was sick for a month.”
“That’s only because you threw him in the river, in the middle of December,” explained Esper. “Jayne was drunk from Mal’s bachelor party when I went into labour, but of course you know that bit.”
“What you don’t know is that I was so drunk that they had to sober me up, so I could be there fer Esper. Took three of ‘em to get me into the water, an’ Matt fared worse’un me. It took several pots of coffee before I could understand what was going on.”
“An’ I’ve been up to my elbows in babies, puke and other effluent ever since,” she concluded, not looking the least bit worried about it.
It was past midnight when River left the Cobbs. The whole day felt like she had taken a refreshing shower and she revelled in the renewal of all the souls back into her head. Once upon a time she hadn’t wanted everything inside her head engulfing her into oblivion. Now, older and wiser, she accepted it and now she was back, this was part of being back. It was good to be home.
Monday, February 11, 2008 10:33 PM
Tuesday, February 12, 2008 4:51 PM
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