A Perfect Day - Part IV
Monday, August 17, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. After talking to his sister, one of Kaylee's brothers decides to be true to himself. NEW CHAPTER


2.30 pm

“Ma told me to … oh, sorry.” Bobby, his face red, went to back out of the makeshift bedroom.

“It’s okay,” Simon said quickly. “It’s ending.” He helped Kaylee back onto the mattress, lifting her legs up so she could lie flat and covering her with the comforter.

“What, the whole thing?”

“No.” Simon smiled. “Just the contraction.”

“Easy for you to say,” Kaylee muttered, trying to get her breath back and wiping her perspiration-wet hair out of her face. “Next time I’m pinin’ over a baby, or getting all broody, you remind me about this, will you?”

Her husband gazed lovingly at her. “I’ll try, but I doubt it would work.”

Kaylee sighed. “Guess you’re right. Always did want me a large family. You know, when I was younger, thinking about who I was gonna marry in the end.”

“I'm glad it was me, bao bei.” Simon leaned over and kissed the end of her nose.

“That all I get? All of this, and a peck?”

“At the moment.” He grinned. “Don’t worry. In a few weeks you’ll be back to your old self and …” He paused, glanced at Bobby. “Well, you know.”

“No, I don’t.” Kaylee leaned back on the pillows. “And that ain’t ever gonna happen again.”

“So you keep telling me.”

Bobby coughed, feeling his face turning even redder. “Um …”

Kaylee turned to gaze at him. “What, Bobby? Only you’re standing there like a frog at a hare’s wedding.”

Simon raised his eyebrows at the turn of phrase, never having heard that one before.

Bobby held up two mugs. “Ma … she sent some more tea.”

“Good.” Kaylee managed a smile. “All o’ this is making me thirsty.”

Simon shifted on the bed. “Which is a good point,” he said, standing up. “Kaylee, all that tea … I need to …”

She nodded. “I understand. Bobby’ll sit with me a while. Him and me are due a chat, anyway.”

“Shiny.” Simon hurried to the door. “I’ll only be a minute.”

“Don’t rush. It don’t look like anything’s happening quite yet.” He grinned for her and was gone, the door closing softly behind him. She turned her warm gaze to her brother and patted the bed. “Come on. Talk to me.”

Feeling awkward, Bobby approached slowly, perching on the very edge. “What about?”

“How about what’s happening outside this room? I’m sure it’s more interesting.”

“Uh, well … all the kids are helping Ma make cookies,” he said, brushing at a faint layer of white flour on his pants. “They’re making a hell of a mess.” He looked into his sister’s face. “What about you?”

“No mess as yet. No baby, either.” She shook her head. “Can’t wait to arrive, and now decides to take his time.”

Bobby couldn’t help the faint grin. “So I’m gonna be an uncle.”

“You already are.” Kaylee softened the chastisement with a hand on his knee. “Twice over.”

“Yeah, but a nephew … I can teach him how to fish.”

“He’ll like that.” Kaylee shifted uncomfortably, and in a moment Bobby was on his feet.

“Do you need Simon?”

“No. Just … can you adjust the pillow? It’s slipped, and pushing on something it shouldn’t.”

“Oh. Okay.” As gently as he could, Bobby lifted Kaylee up so he could get to the problem, puffing and flattening as he went. “That better?”

“Woof,” Kaylee exhaled, settling back. “Much. Thanks.” She patted at the comforter across her. “So why don’t you tell me why you’re behaving like such a grump?”

His eyebrows shot into his hair. “Me?”

“You, Bobby. Ma told me. And Pa. And Pete had a few words to say, too, when he popped his head in. They tell me you’ve been acting off for a while, but these last few days … well, Ma’s worried about you.”

He felt the colour rising in his face again. “It ain’t nothing, Kay.” He hoped using his nickname for her would stop his sister, but he should have known better.

“’Cause I seem to recall the last time you were like this, it was over a girl, and you were about twelve.”

Bobby was glad he couldn’t see his face – it had to be as red as a beetroot. “I said it ain’t nothing!” He jumped from the bed as if his backside was burning as badly as his cheeks, and he headed for the door.

“Bobby, stop.” Kaylee wasn’t begging, but it was close. “I'm sorry. I just … I miss being a part of your life, you know?” She struggled to sit upright. “I mean, I got a family on Serenity, and I love that, but you’re my brother. My blood.”

His hand on the knob, Bobby paused, head dropped. “Kay, it ain’t … I …” He closed his eyes briefly, then turned back. “Kay …”

“Why don’t you tell me about it?” Kaylee smiled a little, just lifting the edges of her mouth. “’Cause I’m thinking maybe there’s a problem here.”

Bobby sighed, but crossed back to the bed and sat down again, taking her hand in his. “Might be,” he admitted, his voice very quiet.

“So who is she? The lucky girl that’s got you all tongue-tied?”

“Not a girl. Tyree.”

For a moment Kaylee didn’t know what he was talking about. The only Tyree she knew was a young man from the town, whose father owned … Her eyes widened. “Bobby? Are you saying …”

“Kay, don’t tell anyone,” he pleaded. “Ma and Pa, they don’t know, and if they get to find out I’ll …”

“What? Bobby, they love you. And you gotta tell ‘em.”

“No, I don’t. Me and Tyree, we’re … well, we ain't together no more, so it doesn’t really matter does it?”

Kaylee recognised the look on his face. Stubborn with a side of militancy. Pure Frye in its nature. “And why ain’t you together?” she asked, keeping her own voice down in case anyone should be listening.

“Just ain’t.”

“I can guess. Because you won’t tell anyone you’re sly.”

“I'm not!”


Bobby twisted away from her, running his hands through his hair. “I can’t be, Kay. There ain’t no-one in our family been that way.”

“Bobby, it ain’t something you catch!”

“Why not? ‘Cause otherwise it’s something you’re born with, and I … I don’t think I can take that.”

Kaylee knew there was nothing she could say at that moment to make things better, so instead she took his hand, holding it tightly between both of hers. “Bobby, there ain't nothing wrong with being sly. I got friends that way, and believe me, they’re some of the best a person can have.”

He looked at her. “Are you playing with me?”

“Of course not. Ask Frey. Ask her about Dillon and Breed, and then you go think on it a while. But if you’ve broken up with Tyree just because you think people won’t understand, then you’re more of a sha gua chun zi than I took you for.” Her face screwed up as a contraction hit, a strong one by the noises she was making.


“Bo … Bobby … go get Simon. I think … I want to push.”

“Whoa, no, sis, you can’t …” If Kaylee had been able to see, if she hadn’t got her eyes closed, she’d have been able to appreciate the look on his face. Total and utter panic. And pain from where she was gripping his hand so tightly he was sure something had broken. “You … just hold on.” He tried to disentangle their fingers, but it was only as the contraction eased that he was able to stand up. “I’m getting him. Right now.”

“I’m here,” Simon said, hurrying in, River at his back with her stopwatch.

“I want to push,” Kaylee said.

“Not yet. Try and hold it back.”

“I can’t.”

“I need to check.” He lifted the comforter away from the bed, and Bobby turned quickly, but not soon enough to miss the swollen expanse of his sister’s belly, a sight he knew was going to be with him forever.

Kaylee was panting now, trying to do the cleansing breaths as she’d been taught, but her mind was still on her brother. “Bobby, do you … you … love Tyree?”

He wanted to move away, but this was his baby sister, about to give birth, and somehow he knew he had to tell the truth. He glanced back, then slammed his eyes shut. “I … yeah. I love him. But that’s not –”

“That’s exactly the point. Love.”

“Lie still, Kaylee,” Simon ordered.

She ignored him. “Our boat’s filled with it, and most of it … well, there’s folks elsewhere would think inappropriate. But it’s what keeps us flying.” Exhaling heavily, she managed to finish, “You go call Tyree.”

“Kaylee …”

“Bobby, you need to leave. Now.” Simon looked up from his position between Kaylee’s legs. “Honey, it won’t be long. Do you want your mother?”

A tear leaked down her cheek. “Yes.”

“Bobby, get her.” This was River, her voice calm, collected, and he found he wanted to obey her.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said, bolting out of the door.


Tyree’s folks owned a small store in the middle of town, selling everything from potholders to second hand mule parts. Mrs Vance, his mother, was serving, cutting a length from a bolt of cornflower sprigged muslin for a woman in her fifties, and chatting idly.

Bobby paused in the doorway, then slid inside, hopping from foot to foot as he waited. Finally the customer paid, picked up her parcel and left.

“Bobby?” Mrs Vance smiled, if sadly. “What can I do for you?”

“Is … is Tyree upstairs?”

The sadness grew. “He’s gone, Bobby.”

“Gone? Gone where?”

“Left. He said he had to clear his head.”

“So where’d he go? The mountains?”

“No. Left. Gone. Off-world.”

Bobby felt all the blood drain from his face. “He’s left Phoros?”

“Went to the docks yesterday to find the first ship as’d take him.” Mrs Vance shook her head, a catch in her voice. “Hardly said goodbye, even. And I just know I ain’t gonna see him for years. If ever.”

His mouth was so dry that he could hardly speak, but he managed to force the words around his swollen tongue. “Ain’t gonna happen, ma’am. Not if I can help it.”

Mrs Vance looked into his eyes, searching for something. Whatever she found, it apparently satisfied her. “You look after my boy, you hear?”

Bobby nodded, barely managing to say, “I will,” before he turned and ran for the port.


Nothing had left, that he was sure. Transports weren’t exactly common, except those that picked up or delivered from the factories, and he was sure they wouldn’t take on a green hand like Tyree. So the young man had to be waiting somewhere close by, and he started to search.

It didn’t take long, either, but he could see his luck was so close to running out.

An old Havelock, its upper nacelle towering over the main body of the ship, sat with its bay door open, but men were going on board, each carrying cargo or other supplies. It was obvious they were close to leaving. And Tyree was one of those doing the carrying.

Bobby took a deep breath, tried to slow his heart rate, and approached.

“Tyree,” he said softly.

The young man looked up automatically, then his face hardened. “Go away. I'm working.” He pushed his blond hair out of his face with his wrist, and picked up another crate.

Bobby stood his ground. “Tyree … wait.” He swallowed, the lump painful in his throat. “I want to talk to you.”

“Nothing to say.” Tyree strode to the ship and passed the box to the man waiting just inside the cargo bay door, glancing only once at Bobby before heading back for another. “Not a gorram word.”

Bobby was scuttling along next to him. “Tyree. Please.”



Tyree paused, hearing the pleading in the young man’s tone. He turned, and Bobby was shocked to see tears in his eyes. “Why? You said all you wanted to say. You’ve made it more’n plain that I ain’t who you want. Ain't what you want. Can’t you just leave it at that?”


“Why? You wanna hurt me some more?”

“I wanna love you.”

Tyree stared, his mouth working but no sounds coming out. Eventually he managed to stutter, “Wha .. you … I … what did you just say?”

“I wanna love you. I do love you. No matter what anyone else says. And I can’t bear the thought of you leaving.”

Everyone had stopped, whether it was the port control people or the crew of the Havelock. All of them were listening intently.

“If … if’n you loved me, you wouldn’t have left me,” Tyree said.

“I know. And I was a sha gua chun zi.” His sister had been right all along, as she so often was.

“Oh, more’n that.”

“I know. And if you’d like to make up a list, I’ll agree with each and every one.” Bobby felt a wave of unaccustomed boldness take him over, and he stepped closer, close enough so that he could feel Tyree’s heat. “I'm sorry. So very sorry I hurt you.”

“You sly?” one of the other men asked, sneering a little. “You never told us that.”

“I wouldn’t worry,” Tyree said, still staring at Bobby, their heights being equal. “You’re safe in your bunk. You ain't my type.”

“Not what I hear. Seems folks like you can’t keep it in their pants.”

Bobby glared at the man. “Shut up.”

The man sniggered, thinking he’d touched a nerve. “Yeah. Probably sold it around town. There’s a word for that, you know.”

It was only Tyree’s hand on his arm that stopped Bobby from crossing the short distance. “He ain't worth it,” he said quietly. “He really ain’t worth it.”

Bobby glanced back, saw the expression on Tyree’s face. “He insulted you.”

“I don’t care. Not if you meant it.”

Bobby slowly faced his lover. “I meant it. Every single rutting word.”

“Then that’s … I don’t care about anything else.” Tyree smiled, the lazy, sexy smile that had ensnared Bobby in the first place.

The young man felt his heart hitch. “You coming home?” he asked, his voice a notch deeper than before.

“You want me to?”

“Good Lord, yes.”

Tyree chuckled. “Then maybe I will.”

They were so close there was little but a breath between them, and Bobby had the strangest feeling he was about to kiss a man in broad daylight.

“Hey, freak.”

Both Bobby and Tyree turned, not sure who he was calling, but it was Tyree who caught the stone that was thrown, hitting him on the forehead and knocking him to the ground. In a moment Bobby was down next to him, trying to pull his hand away, a hand that was rapidly becoming red.

Anger flared in Bobby, and he leapt to his feet, facing the man, the same one who’d spoken before. “Why you … You wanna try that now with someone your own size?” he demanded.

The man who’d thrown the stone smirked, his hands tucked nonchalantly into his belt. “Like you could take me.”

“Try me.”

The captain of the ship hurriedly stepped forward out of the bloom of the bay, quickly getting between them. “Now that ain't gonna happen,” he said, glaring at his own man before turning to face Bobby. “I'm sorry for what he did, and don’t think I ain’t gonna take it outta his pay, but there’s gonna be no fighting. I need all the men I have, and in one piece.”

“Then he’s gonna apologise,” Bobby said, his voice quiet, deceptive.

“Like that’s for sure.” The assailant laughed unpleasantly.

The captain sighed heavily. “Jinty, you shut that mouth of yours or I’ll shut it for you. If you weren’t so good at the heavy lifting and the gunplay, I’d put you off here and let this feller deal with you.”

Jinty looked faintly alarmed. “Look, it ain’t like it was my fault.”

“Of course it was. You’re a bigot and a hypocrite.”

“Boss –”

“One more word and I’ll shoot you myself.” He turned back to Bobby, who had been taking deep breaths all through the exchange. “Like I said, I'm sorry. And I will deal with Jinty. But I have places to be, and I can’t have anyone on board who disrupts things. I’ll drop your friend’s belongings off at the port office.” He smiled slightly. “Now you’d better go see to him.” As an afterthought he dug into his pocket, pulling out a few bills. “Here. Ain't much, but it’s a few days wages.”

Bobby shook his head. “No.”

“Take it.” The captain held out the cash. “Pay a doc to stitch that cut.”

Bobby glanced behind him to where Tyree was still sitting on the dirt, then grabbed the money, thrusting it into his pocket. “Thanks.”

The captain straightened, half turning to look at his men. “I ain't paying you to stand around lollygagging. Get to work!”

Most of them nodded, continuing with what they had been doing. Only Jinty didn’t move, except to spit into the dust.

The Havelock’s captain sighed again. “Jinty, you get on board and stay in your bunk. I don’t wanna see hide nor hair of you for the next twenty-four hours, dong mah?”

Now the man showed some emotion. “But I was gonna go get me some –”

“I don’t care. And you ain’t. Get on board afore I give in to my first inclination and shoot you anyway.” His hand lingered above the sidearm strapped to his thigh.

Jinty muttered something under his breath, but turned and headed into the ship.

The captain nodded once at Bobby, then went back to supervising his remaining men.

Bobby watched for a moment, making sure Jinty didn’t come out with any kind of weapon, then turned back, going onto his heels beside Tyree. He winced as he saw the amount of blood running down his lover’s neck, and the slightly glazed expression in the young man’s eyes. “You think you can walk?” he asked, his fingers cupping Tyree’s head tenderly.

“I … I think so. If’n you help me.”

Getting his arm under Tyree’s shoulders, Bobby assisted him to stand, then waited until he stopped swaying. “You okay?”

“Oh, shiny. I love getting hit in the head with a stone thrown by a moron.”

Bobby had to laugh. “You’re okay. Come on. My brother-in-law will sew you right up.”


As it was, Simon was rather busy at that moment, although he did leave Kaylee’s side for the few seconds it took to examine the wound.

“It does need half a dozen stitches,” he confirmed. “But it’s a clean wound. It should heal well.” He glanced back into the bedroom. “I suppose I’d –”

“I’ll do it, doc,” Mal said quickly, having followed Bobby and Tyree inside. “I’ve sewn up people before you ever came on board. Hell, sewn up myself on occasion.”

“I know. I can tell,” Simon muttered without thinking.

Mal didn’t take offence. “Sure you can. I ain't as neat as some.”

“Then I would be obliged. There’s supplies on board, but –”

Ellie Frye had followed him out, giving her space next to her daughter temporarily to River, who even now was enduring the machine-working strength in Kaylee’s right hand. She interrupted. “I got needles and the like,” she said. “In the kitchen cupboard over the sink. There’s a box. Even got some anaesthetic.” She glared at her son. “Although a part of me thinks I should be putting you over my knee.”

Simon nodded just once, then hurried back into the parlour, and Mal had to fight to keep the laughter contained as he said, “Come on, Tyree. I think we’d better leave ‘em to it, and I’ll see what a mess I can make of your forehead.”

“Yes, sir.” Tyree let go, somewhat reluctantly, of Bobby’s hand, and followed Mal.

Ellie was still glaring. She shook her head. “Getting into fights. Letting Tyree get hurt. Just ‘cause you’re too thick-headed to know your own self.”

“Ma?” Bobby was confused.

She put her hands onto her hips. “You think I didn’t know? Robert Lee Frye, you should know better than that.”

He tried to clear his throat. “Know … know what, Ma?”

“That you’re sly.”

“You did?” He couldn’t keep the shock out of his voice.

“Course I did. You’re my boy. My baby. I was just waiting for you to realise it too.”

“And you … you don’t mind?”

Ellie shook her head and sighed. Sometimes she wondered why she’d gone to all the trouble of having kids when they could be so … “Why should I mind?” she asked in turn.

“’Cause it ... it ain’t natural.”

“Now you stop that right now,” Ellie said firmly. “I wouldn’t let anyone else say that about my boy – you think I’m gonna let you?”

“Sorry, Ma.”

“Okay, then.” She pulled him into a hug, feeling him relaxing against her like he always did, and she had to smile. “Kaylee’s been telling me about where they’ve just been, that Jericho Wells place. About how they treat folks.” Her lips thinned briefly in annoyance. “It ain't right. But I know there’re people who don’t know how to be civilised, no matter where they come from. And that man was one of ‘em.” She squeezed him tightly, then let go enough so that she could look into his face. “But we ain't like that. Your Pa and me … we know there are all kinds of people in the ‘verse, and we don’t all of us like the same thing. Hell, be a boring place if we did.” She saw Bobby’s eyes widen at her use of even such a minor cuss, since she hardly ever swore in company. “But the point is, it is natural. I lean towards men, which is a good thing for your Pa.” Bobby had to stop a laugh. “Your brothers prefer women. And that’s fine too. And you like Tyree.”

“Love, Ma.”

“Good.” She patted his hand. “That’s good. ‘Cause I don’t care who it is, what sex, whatever, as long as it is love, and it ain't just playing around. ‘Cause God knows Peter does enough of that.”

This time Bobby did laugh out loud. “He surely does.”

to be continued


Monday, August 17, 2009 8:33 AM


Nice to see how this little crisis got resolved. Loved Ellie's role in this - no wonder Kaylee is so loving. Looking forward to more.

Monday, August 17, 2009 11:08 AM


I'm glad Bobby told Tyree how he felt before it was too late. I do hope though that neither of the boys ever run into Jinty again. He seems the type who would hold a grudge. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"

Friday, August 21, 2009 12:58 PM


Waiting with baited breath for the latest Tam to enter the 'Verse...


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