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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
"As Serenity nears Carousel, Captain and crew settle down for their meal but not everyone seems at ease."
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1982 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
TITLE: "FAMILY VALUES"
AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL
STATUS: Sequel to "NO GOOD DEED".
ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where.
WEBSITE: None. All Firefly stories archived at Fireflyfans.net
SUMMARY: "As Serenity nears Carousel, Captain and crew
settle down for their meal but not everyone seems at ease."
The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly'
are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy.
No infringement of copyright is intended.
Written by Alison M. DOBELL
* * * * *
The dust bowl looked nothing and everything like it had when she had first seen it. Only now the scouring sands lifted and patinated their gritty faces against walls made near invisible by being painted in the same muted shades of white and dusty yellow. The structures were sound, solid. Made of stone cut out of the little low mountain range to the North side of White Sands and cemented together into houses, out buildings and storage sheds. The last coat of paint was thick with the sand, slapped on the walls and covering even the roof tops and left to set and dry in the unremitting heat. Overall effect was the best gorram camoflage she had ever seen. The old woman turned her head and spit a plug of tobacco on to the ground then automatically covered it with the edge of her boot, not even needing to see where it had fallen to know it broke the uniform nothing she had worked so hard to achieve.
Her foreman didn't interrupt, just came and stood a respectful distance from her. He knew she was aware of him and waiting had never been an issue he could not surmount. The pay wasn't good, the living conditions neither, but she took in all his kinfolk as well. Gave them roofs over their heads and coin for food and necessities that at least kept body and soul together. Didn't have to like her to respect his place in the 'verse. When it was the difference between living and fading away into the nothing of an early grave he knew full well that it hadn't really been a choice. Too many mouths to feed and no one caring but him.
"Boys still workin'?"
Chin nodded. "*Qu*."
"You best have somethin' for me after all this time."
The Chinaman nodded, his pigtail swaying. "Come, come, I show."
Her eyes squinted against the harsh late sun then with a huff she got onto the sand crawler, a squat tracked vehicle that was one of the few that lasted any length of time in these conditions. Chin drove fast but with great surety, missing the little troughs of the uneven surface and bringing her to the entrance of the mine in nine minutes flat. Not that she was counting but it could be a personal best. Inside, the dark was illuminated by soft sulphur lighting strung out like falling stars on wires above their heads. As they went deeper she tried not to get excited, the voices of Chin's brothers and cousins drifting to her just out of sight set her heartbeat racing in unavoidable anticipation. Chin said he had something to show her. Something important. After seven gorram years of waiting it had better be worth it.
The evening meal had been lively, with Kaylee so excited about seeing her folks again that no one could look at her shiny, happy face without being warmed by it. In her arms little Daniel suckled as natural as could be, Simon holding little Samuel who was already sleepy and full. River looked like she wanted to jump out of her seat and take Samuel right out of her brother's arms but a knowing look from Kaylee and a little headshake kept her in her seat. Looking down at her plate River contemplated the unfairness of being a younger sibling, of being unmarried and without child. Did that make her barren? Putting a hand over her belly and ignoring the odd looks she kept getting River gave a little sigh. No. Not barren. Just hadn't met the one to fill that particular yearning. Lifting her head she noticed everyone had stopped talking. Instead of blurting out what she was thinking, River waited. She was learning.
Jayne was pulling a face, a look of dissatisfaction souring his expression. Naturally, he had already wolfed down everything on his plate and had a keen eye scanning the table in case anyone left anything. "Just don't see why I can't go is why."
The Captain knew he was thinking about his stomach again and the rich bounty of Mary Frye's generous table. Truth was, on Serenity the big man always left the table hungry. "We've already had this conversation Jayne, don't feel much like repeatin' myself, *dong ma*?"
"Yeah but ya said it's a milk run. What d'ya need me for?"
"Jayne. I'll say this one more time, real slow. Need someone strong for the lift an' carry."
"Ain't that why we gotta mule?"
If Wash had been there he would have said something about why have a mule when you had Jayne making an ass of himself. But Wash wasn't there and the Captain was starting to get ansty. Before the happy mood could deteriorate Zoe spoke up.
"Jayne, you heard the Cap'n."
"Besides," Mal said easily as he reached for a roll of bread "we'll be stoppin' for a few days after the job."
Curious, Simon looked up from his meal, little Sam dozing in the crook of his arm. "What's the cargo?"
The Captain broke the roll in half with his hands. "Didn't ask."
Across the other end of the table Inara watched and listened, a thoughtful look on her face. Inara had a client lined up for the next few days so would meet up again with Serenity after the job. She could tell Mal was keeping something back but what? If it was anything dangerous he wouldn't be letting Kaylee and Simon spend time with the Fryes on Carousel. Her thoughts stopped suddenly and her breath caught. Not only Kaylee and Simon but Zoe too. Since when did he leave Zoe behind? The one thing they all had in common was children. Mal glanced down the table, caught her eye and looked away. Paying extra attention to mopping up what passed as gravy on his plate. As conversations started up again around the table Inara watched and said nothing.
Zoe hung back as the commons room emptied. It was her turn to wash up and though Kaylee offered to help she waved the girl off with a genuine smile. "You have your hands full, 'sides Hope'll help me won't you, *fengmi*?"
Her daughter gave her a radiant little smile, the one that came out only rarely. "Sure, mama."
Now there was just the two of them and for a few moments the only sounds were the running of water in the sink, the splash and clatter of plates being washed. "When were you gonna tell me?"
Hope paused. "Mama?"
"I ain't blind, Hope, an' neither is the Cap'n."
"What's this have to do with Uncle Mal?"
Her daughter huffed but finished wiping the plate dry, careful not to slam it down on the counter top in her frustration. Had lost too many breakables with those little sparks of temper. Controlled it much better now, more like her mama, but that didn't mean she didn't still get mad. Right now she was taking in a deep breath, cooling herself down. "I already know how to shoot, how's throwin' knives any different?"
"It ain't what you're doin', *nu haizi*, but the not tellin' me."
"I ain't a child, mama."
"Then prove it. You wanna do somethin' like that again you speak to me."
"But Jayne's the best!"
That raised two eyebrows. Hope opened and closed her mouth then flushed red. "That ain't what I meant an' you know it, it's just - no one throws a knife like Jayne, mama. Hits what he wants every time."
For a long second or two Zoe just stared at her daughter. "What you wantin' so bad to hit, daughter mine?" She asked softly.
Hope could tell her but if she did the plan wouldn't work. In the end she decided to stick to a plainer truth. "Whatever I aim at."
There was a silence for a little while, the rest of the plates and mugs washed, dried then silently put away. Zoe watched her daughter fold the tea towel before speaking again. "I hear you asked the Cap'n to teach you the fast draw."
"Mama, I'm twelve years old. You taught me to shoot when I was eight."
"You sayin' there's somethin' lackin' in my teachin'?"
"No, no, not what I meant. It's just, the Cap'n's real fast mama. You taught me how to be comfortable with a gun, to not be afraid to handle it so I could shoot straight but I was always clumsy clearin' the holster. Cap'n ain't clumsy."
"You wanna be like Mal?"
"Not as such, mama, but everyone has skills, *dui*? Together we keep each other safe. That's what I want."
"An' you feel you can do that best by throwin' knives like Jayne, handlin' a gun like me but shootin' from the hip like the Cap'n?"
Hope nodded and bit her bottom lip, eyes on her mama. Zoe sighed and gathered her daughter to her. Wondering how much longer she would be able to put her arms around her and give and take comfort in this simple show of affection. If she had her way that would never change but Hope was growing up too fast, her eyes too knowing, a steel seeping into the girl's spine that reminded her too much like herself for comfort. And yet. She was proud of Hope as only a mother that loves with her whole heart can be and while she mourned her child's loss of innocence she couldn't wish for it back neither. Living in the Black required all of them to have their wits about them.
"*Mama, you mad at me?"
Zoe's eyes misted up and with an effort she drew back from Hope to look her in the eye. "Never in a thousand years, *bao bei*. Just wanna keep you safe is all."
Impulsively, Hope hugged her mother hard. Noting that the girl now came up to her shoulder, Zoe just caught the words mumbled from her daughter's lips. "So do I, mama, so do I."
CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)
*qu* = yes (lit. go) *dong ma* = understand? *fengmi* = honey *nu haizi* = girl *dui* = correct
*bao bei* = precious/treasure
Tuesday, September 22, 2009 11:55 AM
Tuesday, September 22, 2009 8:03 PM
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 7:20 AM
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