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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
This is a fan fiction set in the Firefly/Serenity universe created by Joss Whedon. It takes place after the events in the television series and the companion motion picture that followed, and is also the second part of a sequel to Wash: Double Booked, which was in turn a sequel to Firefly: Connecting Flight. This means it has SPOILERS, folks, and major ones at that. So please don't read this unless you get the chance to see the series and the movie -- and read my first two Firefly stories.
In the second part of WASH: CHANGING COURSE, Wash's revelation and others lead to big changes for the crew -- and for the future.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 648 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Mal sat up and looked around. For a minute, the interior of Inara’s shuttle looked back at him in the semi-darkness, while Inara breathed softly beside him.
“Gorram,” he whispered, waiting for something to confirm what had woken him. “I coulda sworn ...”
“Could have sworn what?” He turned and Inara’s eyes were open, looking up at him.
“Coulda sworn Serenity did a hard burn.”
She smiled. “That would be a neat trick, with Linda in sick bay and the ship on auto-pilot.”
“Well, something woke me,” he said slowly, and scanned the room again as if waiting for something to jump out. “And I been trusting my instincts too long to just let it go.”
Inara reached up and touched his shoulder. He looked down at her, and her face was serious.
“I’ve learned to trust your instincts, too, Mal. Wash always used to say the ship had a mind of her own, so maybe she did do a hard burn. But I’m sure she had her reasons, and it’s not happening anymore, is it?”
Mal took a few seconds to collect his thoughts.
“You think the ship did it ... her own self? Do you really believe that, ‘Nara?”
“I don’t know for sure.” Inara shrugged. “After all, it’s a big Verse, and hundreds of impossible things happen every day. Just look at me here, in bed with you.” She smiled to let him know she was joking. “But whether the ship did a hard burn or not, it’s not doing it now. Maybe you should get back to sleeping? After all, you’ve got all those captainy things you’re supposed to be doing in the morning, don’t you?”
He looked at her for a few more seconds, then smiled and shook his head.
“Yeah, those captainy things ...” After another minute, the Captain sighed. “I guess I can tell Kaylee to check the engines tomorrow. That’s a captainy thing, too. I’ll add it to the list.”
Inara nodded solemnly, and Mal lay back down again. She melted into him as he put his arm around her, and she sighed as well. For a few minutes, there was quiet.
“Mal?” Inara whispered.
“Sorta working on that whole sleeping thing at the moment,” he replied, his voice a little muzzy.
“What would you say if I told you I wanted to stop being a Companion, and just be yours?”
She felt him freeze, and then he relaxed. He held her a little tighter, and then he turned his head until his cheek rested on her hair.
“See? It’s questions like that one that put sleep right out of mind. And comin’ damned near out of the Black, too. Not that I’m complainin’, now ... but have you been thinkin’ about this long?”
“Since before the depot on Boros,” she said softly. “I just never felt like it was the right time to tell you. And if I do stop ... companioning, I’m not sure what I could do here, other than make you happy.”
“Well, you do that pretty well.” He kissed her forehead.
“That’s not a job, though ... even if you make it difficult sometimes.” She reached over and placed her hand on his chest. “I just want to be ... useful, that all. A valuable member of the crew.”
“I don’t recall Shepard Book havin’ any sort of job description at all.” Inara felt Mal’s smile. “But he was crew, sure enough. And you’ve been crew since long before we did the Lassiter job, even if nobody came right out and said it. No need to justify anythin’, ‘Nara.”
“There is for me,” she replied. “Mal, if I’m to be your woman, yours and yours alone ... I need a purpose on Serenity. Otherwise, I’m just dead weight ... and I never ever want to feel that way.”
They held each other for a while, and she felt Mal smile again.
“You already have a job on my boat, ‘Nara,” he said. “Something you’ve been doing on the side since you first rented the shuttle. Just need to make it official ... Ambassador.”
She sighed. “Mal ...”
“Just listen a minute. I’m not stupid, but I don’t know what you know, and every time we get close to the Core we run the risk of breakin’ some gorram law we don’t know about, or worse, doin’ something we shouldn’t that’s gonna bring us to the attention of somebody we’d rather avoid, like Niska or the feds. Like as I nearly got myself killed ‘cause I didn’t understand about dueling that time on Persephone.”
“And even out on the Rim, you saved Zoe and me during the train job with some quick thinkin’, even if it did hurt a mite. As much as I hate the Alliance, you know a hell of a lot more about some of it than I do. Your job is gonna be to keep us outta trouble with the locals as much as you can – both the feds and everybody else that might have a reason to take a dislike to us on account of we ain’t from around there.”
There was another long silence. Mal sighed.
“Listen, ‘Nara. I don’t like the Alliance, and I never have. That gives me a blind spot as a Captain that could wind up hurting my crew. I need you to show me the things I’m gonna miss, and smooth the way in places where being diplomatic ain’t my first choice. That’s your job, if you’ll take it.”
She thought for a moment, and then it was her turn to sigh. Inara gave Mal a squeeze.
“I’m just crew,” she whispered. “You’re the Captain. So I guess you’ve got yourself an Ambassador.”
“And a whole lot more,” he replied, and she could hear the smile in his voice.
Wash, Zoe and River sat in the darkened kitchen, with cups of Kaylee’s w>ine sitting untouched in front of them. The story of how Wash came to be Linda took up most of an hour, leaving all three of them wondering where the conversation was going to go next.
They didn’t have long to wait.
“Jayne,” Zoe said, a touch of amazement in her tone. Wash blushed and looked down, and the first mate smiled. “Damn, girl, you look pretty when you’re embarrassed.”
“Thanks ... I think.” The pilot raised her eyes and looked at her ex-wife. “It’s easy to be embarrassed when the woman you loved more than life itself finds you entering a relationship with another man.”
“But you’re not.” Zoe put her hand on Wash’s. “You love Jayne, and he’s not another man. He’s just a man. And you, husband, are a woman. And also not my husband anymore, come to think of it.”
“Til death do us part, I know.” Wash turned her hand over and gave Zoe’s a squeeze. “But I still love you. Not even death changed that. That’s why I came back, more than anything. I couldn’t stand the thought of us being apart.”
“And I love you too, baby. I always will.” The first mate paused, and looked into Wash’s eyes. “But … you know I’m not sly. Girls don’t curl my toes the way you used to. Not even a girl as sexy as you are now.”
The pilot looked down, and then nodded. “I know. The minute I got past the shock of being a woman, I knew it wasn’t ever going to be the same. It took a while to sink in all the way, but ... I know.”
“You’re cute when you blush, fly girl.” She smiled. “I can’t believe my husband is hotter than I am.”
Wash shook her head. “It’s like vanilla and chocolate, lamby toes. Both sweet, in different ways.” River laughed, and the pilot blushed a deeper red. “I can’t believe I said that. Hell, I can’t believe I thought that.”
“You are pretty sweet, you know,” Zoe said, reaching across and taking her hand. “You make a damned fine woman. Funny thing, though. I can still see the man I loved in you, now that I know where to look, and what to look for.”
“So, where does that leave us?”
The first mate gave her hand a squeeze.
“Friends, for sure,” she replied. “And if you plan on being Jayne’s woman, you’re going to need all the friends you can get.”
“I didn’t plan it.” Wash looked at Zoe and summoned up a small smile. “Any more than you planned to be mine. But I’m sitting here, and weird as it sounds, I do love him. At the same time, the thought of being with him ... like that, it’s —”
“Terrifying.” River spoke up. “And exciting. And exhilarating.”
Zoe and Wash both turned and looked at her. River shrugged.
“I don’t have to be a reader to figure that out. For Wash, it’s the last irrevocable step towards womanhood. She has to take it, and she wants to. But it commits her, both to Jayne and to being Linda. So it’s scary.”
“It’s all manner of weird that you can just do that,” Wash said, looking at the younger girl. “Go walking through the inside of my head like it’s a park on Osiris.”
“Doesn’t make it any less true, does it?” River grinned. The pilot sighed.
“No, you’re right. I’ve come to accept being Linda … being a woman. But admitting I love Jayne crossed a line, and there’s only one line left to cross.”
Zoe reached over and took her hand. “I’ll help, baby. You know that. And it's not like it's ever been an easy line to cross, not even if you're born female. The first time is always something special, and also a little bit frightening. But at the same time, most girls know deep inside that this is what they were built for. The scary stuff is wondering if you picked the right guy, and if he'll be gentle, and if it will hurt, and what will it feel like if it doesn't hurt."
She gave Wash's hand a squeeze. "From what I can see, you picked the right guy, and he'll be so afraid of not treating you right he'll wind up taking it too slow ... and you'll probably get so frustrated, you’ll do anything to get him past treating you like you're made of glass."
Zoe stood up, and pulled the pilot to her feet.
"Right now, you need to do what Simon told you to do and rest."
She put her finger on Wash’s lips. “I outrank you, dear. And Simon said you needed to rest tonight, not save the ship from certain doom. So go to bed ... now.” The first mate grinned. “After all, this may be the last night you get to sleep alone for a good long while.”
Wash looked at her ex-wife, and she felt her eyes fill up an instant before she suddenly pulled Zoe into a hug.
“This isn’t how it was supposed to be for us,” the pilot whispered. “It’s not fair.”
Zoe gave her a squeeze. “No, but it is what it is, baby. At least I’ve got you back. You’ve always been my best friend, and you still are. And I do want you to be happy, sweety, even if it is with Jayne.” She grinned. “So go to bed. We’ll figure out the rest tomorrow.”
The first mate took a step back, spun her former husband around and gave her a swat on the backside. “Now get.”
Wash looked back, gave her a shy smile, and headed for the crew quarters.
After she left, River and Zoe stood there for a while, silent.
“You’re very good,” the younger girl said softly. “I’m pretty sure she doesn’t suspect a thing.”
“Thank you,” Zoe replied, her voice flat with suppressed emotion. “Moving on is hard enough for . . . her, especially wrapped in a body like that. I’m not sure what else you expected me to do.”
“Nothing else you could do.” River moved closer and touched her arm. “It’s not like Chiang had much of a choice. Linda was available, and we needed Wash to be here, too. But I know it’s hard for you. It must feel like you’re losing him, all over again.”
Zoe’s jaw moved, just a little, and her whole body tensed an instant before she shook her head.
“I got him back,” she whispered. “Maybe not the way I hoped, but he’s not dead. I shouldn’t complain, but I want to, because she’s right. It’s not fair. But I learned a long time ago that what’s right and what is don’t usually share a bunk. In this Verse, you make your own luck, and you take what you can get. And I do want her to be happy. She’s a woman, now. Why should I stand between her and Jayne?”
The younger girl smiled, and nodded. “That’s about what I expected you to say.”
Zoe smiled back, a little sadly, and turned to go. River let her take a step before she spoke again.
“When are you going to tell her … about the baby?”
The first mate turned around, shocked. Her hand came up to touch her waist.
“How did you know?” she whispered. “Did you …?”
“Read you? No.” River shook her head. “Actually, a number of things gave it away, but to be fair, a few things helped you keep it a secret as long as you did. A woman’s first pregnancy doesn’t usually show as much in the early months, according to what I read on the Cortex. And you keep yourself very fit, so your stomach muscles did a lot to help you hide it for as long as you have. But you’re in the middle of your fourth month now, and it shows if you know what to look for. You’re walking a little differently, and half of your clothes haven’t left your cabin in weeks.”
Zoe lowered herself into a chair and sighed. “Who else knows?”
“Inara is pretty sure, and Kaylee suspects, but they both think it’s your secret to tell.” The younger girl sat across from her and took her hand. “Simon figured it out a while back but is working on respecting your privacy – although if you don’t come forward voluntarily in the next week or so, he is about ready to drag you into the med bay for a prenatal exam. Other than my brother, the men are totally clueless. Which is almost their natural state, come to think of it.”
She smiled, and Zoe smiled back. Her whole body relaxed, and they shared a silence.
“You are going to have to tell her, you know,” River said, and the first mate nodded.
“I will. She deserves to know first. After all, it’s her son, too. But not now. She’d going through enough as it is.” Without thinking about it, Zoe’s other hand dropped and rested on her stomach, feeling the baby bump she knew she couldn’t hide for much longer. “Wash needs to get used to being Jayne’s woman before ...”
“Before she can let go of ever being a father,” River finished, “and learn to become an aunt. Or even a mother herself, someday.”
“Another reason not to tell her yet – at least not before she gets to lie down with Jayne, anyway.” The first mate smiled and patted where her child was growing. “After all, being reminded what’s supposed to happen when a woman and a man ... get together might make her hesitate, and we wouldn’t want that.”
“Not before she gets to feel why a woman might want to take that risk.” River nodded, and Zoe grinned back.
“Over and over again.”
When Wash woke up the next morning, there was a feeling of unreality surrounding her. It felt like the whole experience with the quantum black hole and Zoe finding out the truth could almost be just some kind of really vivid dream, and nothing at all would have changed for her.
But her shoulders ached in places they hadn’t right after the big damned rescue on Flynt, and she remembered Zoe’s reaction all too well from the night before. She felt tears rising, and pushed them back. Gods, she had missed Zoe so much, and had hated lying to her … especially after Zoe had made her peace with Linda taking Wash’s job.
‘But it’s different now,’ she thought as she washed herself, the cloth running over her now all-too-familiar curves. ‘She’s more than a sister, even more than a friend. But she’s not mine anymore. And I’m … I’m Jayne’s. I’m his. Damn, that feels strange, even to think it. But it’s true.’
Wash felt her body reacting to the thought, and pushed it away.
‘If I don’t finish washing and get dressed, I’m going to miss breakfast. And the Captain woke everybody over the comms this morning and told everybody they needed to be there. Sounded like it was going to be important. I wonder if he felt the ship go into hard burn last night?’ She thought for a moment, then shook her head and stared rinsing off. ‘If he had felt it last night, he sure wouldn’t wait to the morning to start asking questions about it.’
She walked across the room and pulled some lingerie from the drawer, then turned to the closet and saw herself in the mirror. She turned slowly, then bent down and slipped her panties on. When they were seated properly, Wash turned sideways again, wondering whether there was a touch too much of her around the hips. As she put on her bra and settled her breasts in each cup, she found herself worrying about whether her chest was starting to sag a little.
“Oh, please! You’re so close to perfect it’s scary.”
Wash gasped and turned to find River’s head poking down from the ductwork above.
“You said you weren’t going to read me anymore!”
River did a perfect roll from the ceiling, landing lightly on her feet.
“I didn’t read your mind, Linda,” she replied. “I read your face. I’ve seen that expression on my own face often enough to know what it means. I’ve never met a woman who was truly satisfied with how she looks. Congratulations, honey. You really are one of us now.”
The younger girl hugged her gently, and Wash wondered how to respond to a hug delivered while she was almost naked. River pulled back and grinned.
“You hug me back, silly!”
Wash shrugged, smiled back, and gave her a hug in return.
“Good. Now get dressed in something special, and climb on out of your room. Breakfast is waiting, and so is Jayne.”
“Your man is waiting for you outside your door,” River said, springing back up into the ceiling, facing back towards the common room. She stuck her head back down. “He’s been there for a while. And it’s the morning of the first day of your life as his woman. You want him to remember why he’s waiting, and never forget how lucky he is to have you.”
She pulled her head back and the ceiling panel shut with a muted clang.
Jayne heard Linda’s door open, and the sound of her feet as she climbed the ladder up to the passageway where he waited. He saw her face when it appeared in the doorway, and the shy half-smile she showed him when she realized he was there. But his jaw dropped when she completed her climb and stood there in front of him.
‘That dress,’ he thought, his eyes taking her in from head to toe.
It was that yellow thing she wore on Boros, the one that wrapped all around her and hugged her body like a second skin, and Jayne saw her cheeks grow red as he took her in from head to toe. Her eyes lowered.
“Do you remember this dress?” she asked softly. He nodded, and she smiled. “Do you like it as much now as you did then?”
Jayne reached out and took her hand, then pulled her into him and kissed her. A lot.
Linda pulled back and looked up into his eyes, then took the edge of her thumb and rubbed a little lipstick off of the edge of his mouth.
“I guess I should take that as a yes,” she said with a grin. “I should’ve figured that would be how you’d answer, being the strong silent type and all.”
“Silent? You just wait until tonight, girl,” he replied, “and you’ll find out just how much noise this man can make in bed.”
She stood on her toes and kissed him gently on the lips, then put her arm in his.
“Keep talking like that, and I might not be able to wait until tonight.”
He froze for a minute, then stumbled after her as she started walking towards the kitchen, their arms still intertwined.
Mal and Inara were waiting for them, and Zoe walked in behind them, giving Wash a wink and a smile. Simon and Kaylee arrived from the passenger quarters, with River a few steps behind. After giving Jayne and Linda a quick glance, followed by a suppressed smile, he turned back to the table.
“I got two things to say this morning. First things first. I woke up last night ‘cause I thought I felt Serenity go into hard burn. Maybe it was a dream, maybe it wasn’t, but I don’t want to take any chances with my boat. Kaylee, I need you to check the engine and control systems, make sure the ship ain’t getting all notional about wantin’ to fly her own self.”
The mechanic nodded. “Sure will, Captain. Thought I felt somethin’, too, … though that might have been Simon going into hard burn instead of the ship.” She grinned, and the ship’s doctor turned red.
Linda looked at Zoe, then River. Zoe gave her the barest shake of her head, while River spoke directly into her mind. “Kaylee won’t find anything wrong, since the ship did exactly what you asked her to do. No sense getting the captain worrying about quantum black holes, so best keep quiet, jei mei.”
“Now for the second thing before we get down to the real business of breakfast, which is eatin’.” He looked at everyone, then cleared his throat. “Inara isn’t going to be renting her shuttle from us anymore.”
Five of the six crew members around the table began to speak simultaneously, River being the sole exception, but the protests only lasted a second or two before Mal raised his hand flat out, and the group fell silent.
“She ain’t renting the shuttle because she’s decided to stop being a Companion and officially become part of the crew. Sometimes I will admit, I tend to let Serenity Valley … affect my command decisions a mite. Her job is going to be making sure my hate for the Alliance don't wind up making us all dead.”
“The official title is Ambassador,” Inara said softly, letting her hand rest on Mal’s. “I’m just a resource for the Captain, really. I’ll let him know the lay of the land on some of the Core planets, maybe send me ahead sometimes to smooth things out before Serenity comes down.”
“Well, that’s a good place for you.” Zoe smiled. “Right by his side, keepin’ him out of trouble.”
“Not to mention the rest of us.” Mal grinned back and ducked his head. “Anything she can do to help a few more of our plans go smooth would be a kindness, and that’s a fact.”
River raised her hand.
“Got somethin’ to add, little albatross?” Mal said with a smile.
“There’s something Inara could probably help with right away,” River replied, smiling back. “I did move a lot of currency through a lot of banks in a hurry, and it might be nice to clean it up and make it all legal looking before someone wants to know where it all came from.”
“And how much exactly is a lot?” Jayne asked, earning him a nudge from Linda’s elbow.
The younger Tam pursed her lips.
“Too much, I think. I let my fingers have their way, and moved far more than I should have.” River’s eyes turned serious as she focused on Jayne. “Greed tends to be dangerous to the people who let it drive them, as I’m sure you know, Jayne.”
He nodded and looked down at the table top. Linda looked at River for a second, then put her hand on Jayne’s and gave it a squeeze.
“Just as long as we got enough coin to keep us flyin’, I’m happy,” he said. “As long as we took enough from those lecherous humps on Flynt to make ‘em hurt, that’ll do.”
“Not to worry.” River smiled again. “If the gas ever wears off, they won’t stop crying, I can guarantee that.”
Jayne nodded and turned his hand over, squeezing Linda’s in turn. River turned back to Mal. “Also, Captain, there is the possibility you may not need an Ambassador. In fact, considering how much I did take, you might want to reconsider your career options.”
Mal raised an eyebrow.
“If you put together all the accounts that I set up on Osiris,” she said, “there would be enough zeros on the end of the balance to restart the old Allied Spacecraft Corporation production line, build and buy a hundred brand new Firefly transports from scratch … and have enough left over to crew ‘em, fuel ‘em, and fly ‘em around in circles for the next three hundred years.”
The whole room froze. Mal's jaw dropped.
“And if that’s what you want to do with your share,” she continued with a grin, “you might want to consider promoting yourself to Admiral … Sir.”
Thursday, January 26, 2012 1:23 AM
Thursday, January 26, 2012 2:41 AM
Thursday, January 26, 2012 11:48 AM
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