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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Sequel to 'Coffee,' though it stands well enough on its own. Mal muses over a conversation with Simon while having a cup of coffee. (Pre-BDM)
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 671 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
The next night Mal found himself having a quiet drink with himself in his own galley. Hot coffee swirled in the mug sitting on the worn table next to him, and he took a sip as though the concoction could clear the questions from his mind.
Simon’s talk with him the night before rattled the captain a little. Sure, after the near-death experience at the stake on Jiangyin he and the doc had had a little discussion about things, but Mal never figured that the younger man had carried that around with him that long.
“You don’t even like me,” Simon had insisted. Mal took another sip of coffee. Well, that wasn’t entirely true. Yes, at first he hadn’t liked Simon very much—bringing Alliance trouble onto his boat had certainly not helped matters—but over time the doc had proven himself as both a competent medic and a trustworthy though not entirely understanding of the ‘verse sort of fellow. The captain fingered a small, thin scar near his right shoulder—one that was almost barely there thanks to Simon’s ministrations.
The boy had worried that he and his sis were costing them money. That was true, to a point. Mal had turned down a few choice jobs since taking the Tams on board, but the ones they’d managed to get kept them flyin’. Truth be told, Mal preferred taking on the slightly riskier jobs—made life all sorts of interestin’ afterwards. Plus, should they need a big payday, they could always look to the resident criminal mastermind that lived mostly in the ship’s infirmary for a good score.
But what really rankled the captain as he sat looking into his coffee that night was Simon’s revelation about his folks. They had disowned the kid for having the guts to stand up to the government and get little River out of that place. Somethin’ about a dinner party being ruined or some such.
Mal could make no sense of that. River was a trial at times, sure—never knew what creepifyin’ thing might come out of the girl’s mouth—but on the whole she was just a sweet kid who’d been taken advantage of by the Alliance. There were times Mal himself looked at her while she was playin’ in the cargo bay and thought of a slightly simpler time, before the war, when a girl like River could’ve easily been his child as anyone else’s. How could the so-called government do such a thing to her? To any child? he wondered.
While refilling his cup, the captain thought heavily on the older Tam. It puzzled him to no end that of all the supposedly smart people in the ‘verse, only Simon—the girl’s brother—seemed to care that something might have been wrong. The fact that Simon was marked and tagged as well spoke volumes, as did the countless hours the kid spent in the infirmary trying to undo what the great Alliance had likely irreversibly wrought on his sis. Mal recalled the warrant that kept cropping up on the Cortex at least six times a day that outlined the two as the most wanted souls in the ‘verse, and found it strange that while it specified River was to be brought in alive, there was no such order for Simon.
Likely kill the boy for springin’ his sis out of that gorram hellhole in the first place, Mal thought. Or worse.
Simon’s offer rang through Mal’s ears. “Perhaps it would be better if River and I left…” The captain took a long pull of his coffee and grimaced at the thought. There was no place that could hide them for long, not any place planetside, and both men knew it. Plus, there was the point that Simon seemed to forget—both he and River were on Mal’s crew, and that put them in a special place.
Can see now how it’s hard for him to cotton to the notion, after what he said about his folks and all, the captain thought. Did anyone care much for those two when they weren’t being hunted down by those that would destroy ‘em?
Footsteps softly padded into the galley, and Mal looked up to see Inara almost floating towards the storage lockers to boil a pot of tea. Preferring his own company for the moment, he shifted his gaze back to his now half-cold cup of coffee.
A chair pulled over to the side and Inara made herself comfortable in it. “About?”
“Mmm.” The pretty lady took a sip of tea, clutching the mug as though it would float off into deep space.
“How can someone write off their own kids, ‘Nara?”
“How do you mean?”
“Last night, had an interestin’ conversation with the doc. Told me in not so many words that his folks wrote him off once he started plans to go get his sis.”
“Simon said this?”
“He was askin’ some other important things at the time.”
“I’m sure I don’t want to know, but I can guess.”
“I’d take it as a kindness if you didn’t.”
Inara took another sip of tea. “Mal, the core worlds—places like where Simon and River are from—they don’t tend to see the black sides of the Alliance as clear. For them, things have always worked in their favor. Simon seeing River’s letters…” The graceful woman shrugged. “…I’m sure that’s the first time Simon ever thought that the government that most Core-worlders are taught to believe is benevolent might actually have a dark side.”
“So the old man casts him off for it?”
“Station is, sadly, sometimes more important to people like the Tams. I’ve seen it in dozens of clients before this.”
“Thought you had a policy about kissin’ and tellin’?”
“I do. To mention that hardly qualifies. It’s just as easily noticeable on the street as it is in the private sphere.”
“Really.” Mal slumped in his chair a little. “Kid’s feelin as though he should leave, and took a little work to see the folly in that.”
“It’s not hard.”
The captain’s eyes opened wide. “Why, Inara. Was that…I do believe…was that a compliment?”
The Companion shook her head slightly. “Mal. It’s common sense. You yourself have said more than once that the best way to not be found is to keep moving. Even Simon knows it. I think it’s more the burden he thinks that he and River are putting on you that’s making him think like this.”
“Boy hates being indebted.”
“It’s a point of pride, Mal. Not unlike some of your own.”
“Mmm.” Mal stood up, rinsed out his cup, and started toward the door. “Well, he’s stayin’. That much I know.”
“You do? How? I doubt he told you.”
“In his eyes. He’s stayin’. Because he knows better.” As the captain walked into the bunk hallway, he turned. “Plus he knows I won’t space ‘im—not yet, anyway.”
Inara turned back to her tea and smiled. Just like Mal, she thought. Always knows how to make a person feel welcome…
Tuesday, August 04, 2009 4:49 PM
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 7:54 PM
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