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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
"Simon stablises and monitors Kaylee's condition while River searches for a safe place to hide. Meanwhile, Inara manages to get the Captain to be a mite more truthsome than he wanted."
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2145 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL
PAIRING: Simon/Kaylee. Mal/Inara.
STATUS: SEQUEL to "FUTURE TENSE"
ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where.
SUMMARY: "Simon stabilises and monitors Kaylee's
condition while River searches for a safe place to hide.
Meanwhile, Inara manages to get the Captain to be a mite
more truthsome than he wanted."
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 Captain was worried. Joshua knew but even though he had an old soul it was filtered through the eyes of the young and the life he was leading now made the past indistinct shadows on his memory. Those memories had been bright when he had first awakened to this glorious new life, this second chance at happiness. Once, but now they were like dreams only half remembered and it made him fearful of what else might be lost. The others had seemed to accept early on his almost adult way of speaking, the pieces of wisdom scattered through his conversation like some idiot savant. At times Zoe had given him a long penetrating look and Joshua had to use every ounce of his willpower not to squirm in his seat. At other times he was the child he should have been. As the weeks and months grew into years those times became more frequent. His new life eclipsing the old.
Now he was watching the Captain. Or rather, watching the Captain worrying over Kaylee. Zoe had wanted him to come away from the infirmary window but Joshua was strangely drawn and truth to tell Zoe didn't have the heart to force him. Her own thoughts with her Captain and friend, the same concern etched onto her face.
Within the infirmary Kaylee lay on one of the hard narrow beds and squeezed her eyes shut as another contraction hit. Inara held her hand on one side of the bed while the Captain murmured words of comfort from the other side. Simon monitored her condition, his mood becoming more worried not less. Mal turned his head and narrowed his eyes, Inara instinctively picking up the comforting monologue to Kaylee so that the girl would not become distressed.
"*Shenme shi*, Simon?"
The doctor paused. It was not often that the Captain spoke to him by name. He took it as a measure of the man's concern that he did so now. After all, Kaylee was dear to them all. "The baby isn't due for another six weeks, Captain."
Mal barely blinked, his voice keeping the same tone. Not wanting any hint of his uneasiness to be picked up by his little mechanic. "I need to know why Kaylee's in pain an' what can be done about it, *dong ma*? Don't much care for fancy words so just speak plain."
"Perhaps it would be best if I showed you?"
The Captain blinked then turned his head to look down at Kaylee. The girl was smiling bravely up at Inara as the Companion made reassuring comments and stroked her damp hair. She caught the Captain's eye. "*Duibuqi*, Cap'n. Just a little mornin' sickness is all."
He tried to swallow without it being obvious. Inara let her hand fall and took a step back. "Guess I ain't cut out for a midwife, little Kaylee." The Captain joked.
The smile was watery but it was there. Pushing through the pain to let him know she was alright. "You'll be shiny, Cap'n."
"Best you rest now, *dong ma*?" At her tired nod, the Captain leaned down and kissed her forehead. "That's my good girl." He whispered. "You just rest an' you'll be up an' around in no time, ain't that right doc?"
"Absolutely." Said Simon in a clear voice. But Kaylee was past listening, her eyelids too heavy and her body too demanding for sleep to evade her a moment longer.
They watched in silence, waiting until the steady breathing assured them that she was sleeping. Mal turned to Simon. "Best we talk."
Simon nodded and stepped to the far side of the infirmary, Inara giving Mal a look to reassure him that she would stay with Kaylee.
"Okay doc, what ain't you tellin' me?"
"Physically Kaylee is doing well, Captain."
"I sense a but comin'."
"But with all the recent excitement the baby appears to be coming early."
The Captain looked a little confused. "Thought you said baby wasn't due for another six weeks or somesuch?"
"It isn't and that's the problem."
It seemed all at once as if the Captain couldn't breathe. Couldn't hear proper neither. They so did not need any more complications right now. What with needing a place to hide out until they found the gorram bug there was no way they could chance being planet bound. He ran a hand through his hair and tried to still the uneven beat of his heart. Not Kaylee. Nothing could happen to his *mei mei*. "What you sayin', Simon?" He asked quietly.
"For a baby to come this premature means we need to take extra precautions. It also wouldn't hurt to have an incubator ready."
"We really needin' one of those?"
"It depends on the baby. When a child comes prematurely it often means that certain organs are not yet fully formed."
All the colour fled from the Captain's face. "*Wode ma...*"
Alarmed, Simon softened his voice. He hadn't meant to give the man a heart attack. "It isn't necessarily life threatening, Captain."
Breath seemed to rush back into crushing lungs. The Captain blinked at him. "It ain't?"
Simon almost smiled. Remembering how the normally calm and unruffled Captain had begun to panic when Petaline had gone into labour at the Heart of Gold. It had been a side of the man he had never seen before, made him more human. "No, but it does complicate things."
"Ain't that always the way?" The Captain sighed then got a grip of himself. They weren't out of the woods yet and getting Kaylee put right was only part of the equation even if she was the most important part. They still didn't know who was setting them up or why. "What d'you need?"
The Captain was surprised how little it was and the more Simon explained, the more he appreciated the man's grace under pressure and expertise. With a nod Mal walked back to Kaylee's bedside and gently brushed the hair out of the sleeping girl's eyes. When he looked up Inara was staring straight back at him, a calm knowing look in her eye. "She's going to be fine, Mal. We have the best doctor in the 'verse." Inara did not add 'what could go wrong'. No sense tempting a fickle fate. A fate that seemed to take a perverse pleasure in bringing trouble down on a certain *shenjingbing* ship's Captain and his eclectic crew.
Outside the infirmary Joshua looked up at his momma. "She gonna have the baby now?"
"*Wo bu zhidao*, Joshua."
The boy scrunched up his little face into a frown. "But she's been sick an' cryin' an her belly is fit to bust." The boy paused, flicked a glance through the window and tried to push back the little wall of panic rising inside him. He needed a diversion from the worry eating up half of his soul. "Bit like Jayne when he's eat too much."
Despite the circumstances Zoe chuckled, her tension easing just a mite. Crouching down she eyed her precious son as if making a promise set in stone. "*Fang xin, bao bei*. Simon won't let anythin' happen to Kaylee." Unspoken words tagged on inside his brain, *and I won't let anything happen to you*. Joshua smiled. He loved his momma so much and oddly enough, that love had expanded to include every one of their dysfunctional little family. As odd as they were, they fit together like pieces of a puzzle.
It was hard. Breathing was difficult. Strained. Air too thin to give much more than a leaky wheeze of precious breath but it was enough. Just. Shepherd Book did what he could to help. His calm inducing a similar effect in the impatient little soul wanting anxiously to be born.
*You can't hurry this*
The small glowing form dulled with disappointment.
*I know you have been waiting so long, little one*. Book reassured in his deep comforting voice. *But trying to force this will just make it harder on your mother. You wouldn't want that now would you?*
There was a barely perceptible agreement. The Shepherd hid his amusement.
*Best you withdraw for a while, hao?*
All resistance faded. The stubborn desire fading into regret and sorrow. The soul had not meant to put another at risk. Especially one so very precious. Book beamed and in that warm glow of approval relaxed.
Kaylee was dreaming. Yup, that was it. It was the only way she could grasp why the smiling face of Shepherd Book was looking down on her with such joy and love. Made her want to cry and hug him at one and same time, but even as the thought formed in her mind sleep deepened and the space between contractions grew further apart.
Simon Tam looked up from his examination with suprise. The Captain frowned, anxious and hoping against hope that something else hadn't gone wrong. Inara gripped the side of the infirmary bed until her knuckles went white. The doctor was staring down at Kaylee. "*Wo bu dong*."
"What's wrong, doc? An' don't be lookin' for gentle words just spit it out."
"Um, oh nothing. Nothing's wrong, quite the contrary actually."
While the Captain looked puzzled, Inara felt herself relax. "Then Kaylee is alright?"
He blinked and focused on the Companion. "Yes, yes, she's fine. Better than fine in fact."
"What you sayin'?"
"I don't know how to explain this, Captain, but I've been timing Kaylee's contractions."
"Simon, I want that in Captain Dummy Talk, *dong ma*?"
The doctor did not mock him. "The contractions have stopped speeding up, in fact they are coming further apart not closer which means if this continues the baby shouldn't come early after all."
The Captain stared at Simon for a moment, hardly daring to believe what he was hearing then a big smile swallowed up his face, relief only too evident as he clapped a hand on Simon's shoulder. "Always knew you was smart, best gorram doc in the 'verse!"
"Um, I didn't do anythin' Captain."
Mal was too happy to be concerned about such trifling little details. "That's the best nothin' I seen in a long time."
The Captain stayed only long enough to check one last time on Kaylee his own self before leaving the infirmary. Time to see how his albatross was doing. One calamity averted - for now at least - just one to go. Simon sat quickly before his legs gave out. Staring wordlessly at Kaylee while he tried to figure out what had just happened. Inara shot him an anxious look, worried in case Simon had lied to calm the Captain down. But one look at the young man's face disavowed her of that possibility. Inara reached for Simon's hand, the touch causing his head to jerk up, as if surprised to find anyone else in the infirmary with him.
"Simon? *Shenme shi*?"
The man looked as if he was slowly coming out of shock. "*Yiwusouyou*. I don't know how to explain it but everything is fine. Really." He gave a confused shrug and looked back at Kaylee. She looked so content and peaceful now, her face relaxed in a soothing sleep. Of its' own volition his hand lifted to touch that face, so gently, so tenderly that Inara wondered if he knew how much he gave away. The doctor's eyes drinking in the features he had come to love so well. Inara realised in that moment that despite his professional calm, Kaylee had frightened him.
"You'll make a good father, Simon."
He looked up, startled, eyes wide like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck. Inara laughed lightly despite herself.
"Do you want me to make you some tea?"
Simon almost laughed. Tea! The universal panacea on a hundred worlds. But then again a touch of the mundane was nothing to sniff at. He nodded and found his eye drifting to her stained dress. Inara smiled back.
"Let's see if this time we can keep the tea in the cups."
Up on the bridge River was flying with her eyes closed. Zoe had tried unsuccessfully to get her to open them. Joshua was all kinds of fascinated and wanted to fly blind as well but his mother had a firm hold and wasn't letting go any time soon. The hurried clomp of the Captain's boots distracted Zoe from the desire to try to shake some sense into their scary pilot. The Captain frowned at River, the girl taking no notice of his entrance.
"What in the nine hells you doin'? Don't wanna crash into no rocks or somesuch. I said hide us, little albatross, not crash us into bits so small it won't matter a good gorram."
When River didn't answer the Captain looked at Zoe. She shrugged helplessly. Mal tried to ignore the grin on Joshua's face. The boy was mightily impressed with River. Obviously had no notion of what impending doom felt like. Mal hoped he wouldn't find out in the next five minutes.
"River, what you doin'?"
"Finding the best path."
"In case you ain't noticin' we're in the Black. Ain't no roads nor nothin'."
"Yes, there are. You don't see them because you aren't looking."
The Captain stared out at the Black. Nope. Not a planet, star or asteroid in sight. Just a whole heap of empty staring back at him.
Mal turned to her and noticed River's eyes were now open. Staring calmly at him in a way which was reassuring and creepifying at one and the same time. He had no way of understanding how that was even possible but then this was River. Impossible had no way of finding a foothold in her alternate reality. Girl confused him even on a good day. "Then what is it an' where in *diyu* is this gorram road?"
She grinned at him, her face alight with humour and affection. He tried to look grumpy and unimpressed but he wasn't fooling her one bit even when he added a scowl. Could see right through him as if he was transparant. Not that the Captain would admit any such thing. Had to keep discipline aboard his boat. "Just need a course correction, Captain."
River nodded then began to lay in a new course. Mal leaned over the console and tried to pretend he knew what she was doing. Sure he could fly the gorram boat but River flew to no known chart, took no readings or such to get her bearings. It was as if the girl's brain was hard wired to the gorram ship. A notion the Captain in no way wanted to dwell on. Memories of Jubal Early pushed to the back of his mind where they rutting well belonged. It was the jolt of the ship that brought him out of his reverie. Eyes growing wide as saucers as he looked away from River and stared out at the Black. "What in the..."
In the co-pilot's seat Zoe was tight-lipped, her grip on Joshua just short of cutting off the boy's circulation if Mal was any judge.
"Asteroids, sir." Said Zoe as if the Captain couldn't see the ship sized chunks of rock flying at them his own self. River dodging and weaving through them like a skier on a slalam slope.
The Captain glared at River. "What the *guai* we doin' in a gorram asteroid field?"
River leant to her left as the ship yawed left. The Captain gripped the back of Zoe's chair to stay upright. "Can't stop the signal so have to block it."
"An' bein' pummeled into space dust is the way to do it?"
"Captain, where is your faith?"
Malcolm Reynolds didn't answer. He couldn't. One minute River was aping Mr Universe's favourite saying, the next it was Book. Made him all kinds of unsettled. Just as he was beginning to think the answer would not matter as they would not live long enough to appreciate it, River pointed at something ahead of them. "There!"
Zoe and the Captain peered forward, not sure what River was pointing at. "Where?"
Instead of answering River skillfully brought the ship into a figure of eight, bringing them around the backside of a much larger hunk of rock. Coming back round River trimmed their speed and altered the trajectory to bring them in so close the Captain was convinced if the windows could have opened he would be able to reach out and touch the surface as they passed. Zoe shut her eyes and inhaled a sharp breath. Joshua laughed with glee, loving it, his little hands outstetched as he clapped them with excitement.
"River, this ain't a good idea."
"It's not an idea." She responded, speed slowing almost to a crawl. Belatedly the Captain realised she was trimming her speed to match the rotation of the rock. Somehow it didn't make him feel any better. "It's a solution."
The Captain blinked. Zoe could not help thinking they were all going to die. Sucking in a breath the Captain decided to trust his suicidal pilot one last time. "You best be right, little albatross. We got enemies enough if you ain't."
He got no reply. River concentrating completely on her flying now, bringing the not quite gainly Firefly in to land in a trench gouged into one side of the rock. The Captain's mouth dropped open, expecting a scraping noise and panels to come ripping off his ship. They didn't. Instead River brought them down as gently as you please. Eyes closed it could have been Wash landing them, she was that gifted. *A leaf on the wind*. It still shook the Captain and Zoe out of years of their lives and not just because of how close they had come to death but how easily River Tam had evaded it. Probably had a grey hair or two ready to sprout if it wasn't too damn frightened to put in an appearance. But they were down. In one piece and sheltered by the depth of the trench as well as the continual motion of the asteroids turning and moving around them. The Captain had to admit it was a daring plan.
"River?" He huffed, kind of breathless.
River turned her head, her look and voice so casual and blase she sounded bored. "Yes, Captain?"
"Do that again an' we're gonna be needin' one of them special talks."
The girl grinned back at him as if he had just thanked her. "*Bu xie*."
The ship was off the radar. Small, elite, and very fast. The long sleek arrow shape of her like a poison dart in the night sky. The bodywork black, a non reflective surface. As near invisible in space as a black hole. But oh so much more deadly.
"We have lost the signal."
The long sallow face showed no emotion. Eyes that held no warmth looked inward, like a calculator built of flesh and bone running through a million calculations to work out one solitary equation. An organic instrument built for destruction. The eyes came back into focus but the man did not blink. "They are hiding."
The navigator was wise enough to offer no opinion.
Inara hated this. Even though she was as much to blame as the Captain it was easier to see this as his fault. He had the gall to tell her she twisted him up inside, always had. While it was true the words had hurt. Maybe guilt added to that simmering ire, a need to protect herself by attacking him. When had it all become so complicated? And why oh why did she have to develop feelings for such a *wangu shenjingbing* man? But Inara was having an honest moment and realised she didn't want to carry on like this. Reeling from one catastrophe to the next, always at odds with her heart and with him. Once she had thought running away was the answer but all it did was add distance to the deep yawning chasm of loneliness swallowing her up a heartbeat at a time.
Making sure that Kaylee was comfortably settled, Inara gave Simon a smile and a nod then left the infirmary. Although not totally sure of the Captain's plan she knew it involved checking the ship for unwarranted transmissions. Bugs. What she hadn't expected was the Captain to be donning an EVA suit to do it. Stopping in her tracks she stared at him, not noticing Jayne coming up behind her with another suit. "What do you think you're doing?"
The Captain did not pause, calmly stepping into the suit and wriggling into it with the ease of long practice. Jayne pushed passed Inara and began to do the same. "What does it look like?"
At the sour scowl aimed back at him, Mal paused.
"River says we're tagged. Not nobody came aboard which means they must'a snagged something on the outside."
"Mal, it could be hidden anywhere!"
"Nope, actually it couldn't. Ship is a finite size, Inara. Be like scraping barnacles off the belly of a whale."
Cross now, she put her hands on her hips. "And when was the last time you did that, Captain Ahab?"
Jayne smiked but at a glower from the Captain kept his mouth shut. "Inara, sooner we get out there the sooner we finish, *dong ma*?"
"I want to talk to you."
He blinked but kept his expression blank. "An' we will do, I promise. Just one thing at a time."
"No, Malcolm Reyonds, we are going to talk now!"
Something about her insistence chilled him. Jayne sighed and began to strip out of his suit. The Captain stared at him. "What d'you think you're doin'?"
"Gonna get me somethin' to eat. Won't be long, Cap." He paused to leer jovially at Inara. "Don't wanna be gettin' me no black mark in no Client Registry."
Inara and Mal stared at him. With a chuckle, Jayne put his suit down next to the Captain and left them to it. Mal stared down at the suit, not ready to meet Inara's eyes. Not sure what this was about but feeling the apprehension squash his lungs more than the cold vacuum of space. For a minute neither spoke, the tension getting almost painful. Reluctantly the Captain took a deep breath and looked up, not quite meeting her eyes. "You wanted to talk?"
When she didn't elaborate he risked a look then found he could not look away. Inara Serra seemed hesitant, uncertain. The sight so unlike her that he was kind'a stunned. A fear began to bubble inside him. "Inara? Somethin' happen?"
She blinked. "*Shenme*?"
"You're scarin' me here. Simon said Kaylee was alright."
"Oh no, everything's fine."
His eyes narrowed. "Then what's with the grim looks an' such?"
"Mal, we need to talk."
"Inara," He said gently, trying to move the conversation along without raising her hackles. Something he was wont to do as soon as look at her it seemed. "Me an' Jayne gotta find that transmitter. No tellin' how far away them as wants us may be."
"I never meant to come back."
He blinked. What was this?
"The first time I left Serenity was supposed to be the last."
Now breath was coming a little too slowly into the Captain's lungs but he couldn't for the life of him get any more air. Had to make do with the thin mixture turning his head all light. "Why d'you come back?"
She stared at him. What he had really meant to ask was 'why did you leave?' only he couldn't quite manage to do that. Afraid it would make a difficult thing ten times harder. Inara took a seat beside him and knew it was time to be honest. "You."
That surprised him. "Me?"
If this wasn't so serious Inara would have been tempted to laugh at the shock on his face. Inara noticed the dark circles under his eyes, the slightly gaunt look to his face where worry was forming a constant hollow in his cheeks. She couldn't bear to see him unhappy. Hated it even more when she was the cause. Not that either of them were admitting as much. "Yes, Mal, you."
"But you left again." He all but whispered, the words so soft they made her heart ache in sympathy knowing she had hurt him. An arrow to the heart.
He raised his eyebrows but said nothing. Sure that if he did she would not explain that interesting little tidbit.
"I'm a Companion, Mal. It's what I do, who I am." She could see the protests rising in him and raised a hand. He deflated slightly but gave a nod for her to continue. "You could no more accept who and what I do for a living than I could you and yet I'm drawn to you. Can't sleep for thinking and worrying about you and whether staying or going would be the right thing to do. Mal, I can't think straight when I'm around you and I can't function like this!" Her normally controlled voice ended on a wail.
The Captain looked stunned. "You too?"
For a moment they simply stared at each other then a smile quirked the Companion's lips and the Captain started to chuckle. Soon they both began to laugh, the tension easing out of them as both relaxed. Their positions no longer adversarial. The Captain smirked at her as he got himself back under control. "We are some pair."
"We are but what can we do about it?"
For a moment he just stared at her. Took in the beauty of her long wavy hair, shiny and silky and crying out for his fingers to run amok through those exotic strands. His eyes drinking in the face that haunted his dreams and mocked his waking hours. Her lips full and red and parting slightly, moist and inviting, almost bringing his gorram heart to a stop. Her words were faraway wisps of meaning he was powerless to unravel, her nearness undoing him with desire.
"Mal? I said..."
The rest of her words were swallowed up in surprise as the Captain leaned in to her, his hands framing her face as his lips found hers. So gentle, so tenderly persistent. Inara wanted to ask him what in the nine hells he thought he was doing but another part of her brain was telling her to shut up and respond already. It was what she had been craving for so long and now she was kissing him back, more forcefully and ardently than she had intended. But instead of being apalled at herself and pulling back, Inara threw caution to the wind and wrapped her arms around him. Not wanting words to break the magic of a moment too long in the making.
When at last they broke apart, Mal stared at her for so long that Inara began to have doubts again. Then the Captain smiled and dropped a little kiss on her nose causing her to frown in annoyance. How could he miss her lips when they were this close? His smile broadened and the mirrored mischief in his eyes stole her breath away. *Wode ma*, she was in love! How the *diyu* had she let such a foolish thing happen?
"Inara..." His voice was husky, deep and honey coated. A tingle of want and need shivered through her from head to toe. "*Xin gan*, still gotta go outside, *dong ma*?" The words were quietly spoken, punctuated with little kisses ghosting over her lips, her cheeks. Who could have guessed Malcolm Reynolds could be so tender?
He paused to cup that beautiful face. "And then," She could see his eyes sparkling. Dancing back at her. "Then we'll *talk* some more."
In a daze she watched him call for Jayne, the big man lumbering back seconds later making Inara suspicious that he had been hanging around close by. How much had he heard? Seen? And what did it matter? She loved that irrascible Firefly Captain with every inch of her being and oddly enough the 'verse had not self destructed with the knowledge. Well. Wasn't that shiny?
CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)
*shenme shi* = what's the matter? *dong ma* = understand? *duibuqi* = sorry
*mei mei* = little sister *wode ma* = mother of God *shenjingbing* = crazy
*wo bu dong* = I don't understand *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart)
*bao bei* = precious/treasure *dui* = correct *yiwusuoyou* = nothing
*guai* = devil/ghost *bu xie* = you're welcome *xin gan* = sweetheart
*wangu* = stubborn *qu* = yes (lit. go) *shenme* = what *diyu* = hell
*wo bu zhidao* = I don't know *hao* = okay (lit. good)
Saturday, June 10, 2006 9:17 AM
Saturday, June 10, 2006 11:40 AM
Monday, June 12, 2006 6:17 AM
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