BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - ROMANCE

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Family--Part 3, Moments in a Life
Tuesday, July 4, 2006

This AU story begins 14 years after "Serenity, the Pilot," and is Mal/Simon slash. Don't read if that's not your cuppa. Warning: Character Death


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 3107    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

DISCLAIMER: Don't own it, never did, never will--just having fun playing.

A/N: You should really read the first part of this story, if you haven't already. All chapters are interlinked. Chapter 1 Adult Only!, or an alternate beginning at Chapter 2 PG13 and Part 2, Chapter 1.

Thanks, as always, to my wonderful beta reader, !

This is the end, folks. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Feedback is my drug of choice. Feed my habit?

Moment #1--Four years after the end of "Family"

"Poppa! Poppa!" An energetic bundle of four-year old arms and legs rushed at Mal as he strode up the ramp into Serenity, flinging herself into his arms as she reached him.

"Hey, there, Hope, darlin'. What's the matter?" he asked, brushing away the tears that streaked her face. "Where's Ben? Don't usually see one of you without t'other."

"He hurts. Daddy's helping."

Mal faltered for a moment, but quickly regained his equilibrium--wouldn't do to let Hope see his fear on her twin's behalf. "How's about you tell me what happened," he told her as he continued through the cargo bay on the way to the infirmary.

"We were playin' and this mean ol' log just jumped up in front of Bennie. He fell down a hole! Daddy and Unca Wash rescued him. His leg looks funny. Hurts. Won't cry. Why won't he cry, Poppa?"

By this time they had reached the infirmary. "Simon?"

Simon glanced up from where he was finishing the cast on Benjamin's leg. "He's fine, Mal. A little battered and bruised, but fine."

"Poppa!" Hope's voice was insistent.

"Darlin'?"

"Why won't Bennie cry?"

"Ah. Reckon it's 'cause he thinks men don't cry. That right, son?" Mal put Hope on her feet as he approached the medbed where his son lay, looking far too pale for Mal's peace of mind.

The little boy nodded his head as he said, "Unca Jayne says…"

"I don't care what your Uncle Jayne says," Mal said, holding Ben's little hand in his own big one. "It's all right to cry if you're hurtin'. You just ask your daddy. Simon?"

"That's right, Benjamin. Men cry when they're hurt. You just go right ahead and cry if you need to. None of us will make fun of you. You know that." Simon brushed the hair off Ben's forehead as he spoke.

Hope crawled up on the stool by the medbed so she could see her brother. She took his other hand and looked him in the eye as she said, "It's ok, Bennie, I'm here. We can cry together." And as the tears started to flow down Hope's cheeks, Bennie's eyes filled as well.

As their children comforted each other, Simon stepped into Mal's embrace.

"Are you sure he's all right, Simon? He looks so pale."

"Yes, love. He's fine. Hope told you what happened?"

Mal nodded and Simon continued, "The hole wasn't very deep, but it was a bad break. He lost some blood, but not enough to need a transfusion. He's mostly just scared. I've given him some pain medicine, so he probably isn't too uncomfortable."

"Hope says he hurts."

"Oh, well, maybe he needs more. I hate to give him too much, though."

"Nah, just keep an eye on him."

"I will."

"I know. How are you doin'? Sorry I wasn't here."

"That's all right. I'm okay right now. Ask me again when the adrenaline rush is over." Simon smiled slightly.

"Bennie doesn't hurt now. Wants to sleep. Can I go play with Becca?"

"Not 'til you give your daddy and me another hug." Mal swung Hope off of the stool and into his arms.

She hugged Mal around the neck, placing a sloppy kiss on his cheek, before doing the same to Simon. As soon as Mal set her back on the floor, she ran out of the door shouting, "Becca!"

"Guess that means Ben's doin' fine," Mal laughed, releasing tension he hadn't been aware of.

"What? You'll take the word of a four-year old over a trained physician?" Simon said in pretend indignation.

"When the four-year old shows every sign of being an empath, you bet I do." Mal grinned at Simon before kissing him speechless.

***

Moment #2--Five years after the end of "Family"

"Simon?"

"Hmm?"

"I've been thinkin'."

"Uh oh."

"What?!"

"Well, it seems like every time you start thinking, things start going wrong."

"Very funny. Just for that, don't think I'll tell you what I've been thinkin'."

"No, I'm sorry, love. What have you been thinking?"

"Not gonna tell you. Just go back to sleep."

"Mal. You know I won't be able to sleep now. Tell me."

"Well…if you insist…"

"I do."

"Was thinkin' 'bout retirin'."

"What!"

"Yeah. Thinkin' 'bout buyin' a ranch somewheres out on the Rim an' settin' up a cattle breedin' business."

"Why? I thought you liked being out in the black, flying free?"

"I do. Maybe not the best place to raise the kids, though."

"Wash and Zoë haven't complained. And if they weren't happy, you know they could have left any time this past ten years."

"True. You can't say you're happy out here, though."

"Yes, I can. I'm happy wherever you're happy. Now that you've become a respectable trader, and aren't getting shot all the time, I'm even happier."

"You must miss usin' your doctorin' skills. Wouldn't you like to work in a clinic or somethin'?"

"There are still enough injuries with this crew to keep me busy. And, sure, someday it would be nice to work where I can help more people, but not for a while."

"You sure?"

"Positive."

"So, you don't think I should retire?"

"Not just yet. Give it a few years. Maybe when the kids are older."

"OK, then. G'night."

"Mal…"

"Hmm?"

"I'm not tired."

"What d'ya want me t' do about it?"

"Oh, I'm sure you can think of something."

***

Moment #3--Almost nine years after the end of "Family"

"Uncle Jayne?"

"Yeah, squirt?"

"Reckon I'll ever learn to shoot as good as you?"

"Why'd you want to?"

"Oh, I don't know. Might need to hunt for food someday. Or maybe I'll need to save Hope from a bad guy. Never can tell. Will you teach me to shoot?"

"Nope."

"Aww. Why not?"

"Not my place. Best ask your folks."

"Aww, they'll just say no."

"That right?"

"Uh huh."

"How you know 'less you ask?"

"Already done asked."

"Uh huh. So you thought you'd ask me instead?"

"Uh huh."

"You tryin' to get me in trouble, squirt?"

"Oh, no, Uncle Jayne! I just wanna learn to shoot. Will you ask 'em for me?"

"I'll think 'bout it. Now git 'fore I swat you on the backside."

"Thanks, Uncle Jayne!" Ben hugged Jayne's leg, and ran off as fast as his eight-year old legs could carry him.

As he disappeared towards the dorms, Mal stepped out from behind a crate. "Threatin' to spank my son, Jayne?" He shook his head in mock disgust.

"Aw, Mal, you know I'd never lay a hand on him."

"Yeah, I know. 'Spect he knows it too." He grasped Jayne's shoulder. "Thanks for puttin' him off."

"Yeah, well, still think you're wrong. Boy needs to know how to handle a weapon."

Mal pinched the bridge of his nose as he said, "Can't disagree with you, but Simon's adamant that Ben's too young. I'll keep tryin' to talk him round, though. I'll talk to Ben, too. Keep him from botherin' you."

"Aw, he's no bother, Mal."

"All the same. Well, best go find him."

Mal found Ben in the common room, watching Eddie study the schematics of Serenity. He held out his hand to him as he said, "Son, we need to talk."

Ben looked up at him, then stood up and shuffled his feet a bit before taking Mal's hand. "Yes, Poppa."

Mal walked with him into the infirmary where Simon was finishing restocking the supplies he'd obtained on their recent stop.

Looking up from his inventory sheet, Simon immediately assumed the worst. "Ben? Are you hurt? What's the matter?"

"He's fine, Simon. We just need to talk. All three of us."

"Ah."

Mal lifted Ben to sit on the medbed then leaned back against the counter, crossing his arms. "So. Ben. Care to explain to us why you asked your Uncle Jayne to teach you to shoot a gun?" Simon looked at Mal in shock, and Mal gave him a slight nod before turning his attention back to the small boy.

"I dunno, Poppa. I wanna learn, and you said no, so I thought…"

"And what have we told you about goin' behind our backs to get what you want?"

"Not to. 'Cause it doesn't work." Ben whispered barely loud enough to hear as he hung his head.

"That's right. And it didn't work, did it?"

Ben just shook his head.

"You know you have to be punished, don't you."

Ben nodded and Mal ran a hand down his face.

"You know, Benjamin," Simon added, "learning to shoot a weapon isn't about fun and games. It's very serious, and you have to be mature enough to realize that. By going behind our backs to Jayne, you showed that you're not mature enough to learn yet. Isn't that right, Mal?"

"It is. So, Ben, I want you to go to your room and think about what we've been talkin' about. Then tonight at supper, you can apologize to Uncle Jayne."

"Yes, and I want you to write, in your best penmanship, what you did wrong, why it was wrong, and why it will never happen again."

"One last thing, Ben. There'll be no more talk about learnin' to shoot until after your birthday. That's two months. You show us you're mature enough to not talk constantly about shootin', and we'll talk about it again after that, dong ma?"

"Yes, Poppa." Tears were streaming down Ben's face as he said, "I'm sorry, Poppa. I'm sorry, Daddy."

Mal and Simon both hugged Ben as they said, "That's all right, son." "You're forgiven."

Mal lifted Ben off the bed to set him on the floor. Ben wrapped his arms around Mal's neck as he said, "I love you, Poppa."

"I love you too, son."

Ben reached for Simon, and Mal passed him over. "I love you, too, Daddy."

Simon hugged him tight then set him on his feet. "And I love you. Now go to your room and do as we said." Simon gave him a slight push towards the door then turned to Mal who was still looking grim.

"You okay?" he asked as he wrapped his arms around Mal's waist and leaned his head on Mal's chest.

"Yeah. I just hate disciplinin' him is all." Mal wrapped his arms around Simon, holding him close.

"I know. But it needed to be done."

"Yeah. You know we're gonna have to let him learn to handle a weapon soon, don't you?"

Simon shuddered as he protested, "He's so young yet."

"I was already handlin' a rifle when I was his age."

"Yes, but you lived on a ranch. He's out here, where one little mistake can cost us all."

"All the more reason for him to learn proper. We've got two months, Simon. But then …"

"I know. But then…"

***

Moment #4--Fourteen years after the end of "Family"

Simon sat in Mal's embrace on the front porch of their ranch house, watching Ben playing with his dog while Hope tried to capture the sunset in front of her on canvas. In the distance he could hear the sound of their cattle. Fortunately, the herd was far enough away that he couldn't smell them. Even after four years, he had a hard time breathing when the wind blew from the wrong direction. He couldn't understand that, since he'd never had any problems when they'd hauled cattle on Serenity.

It had been a long day at the clinic, and he was glad to be able to relax in his husband's arms. Tomorrow would be their twentieth anniversary. Where had the time gone? Other than the gray hair, Mal still looked as young as he had the day they'd met. Still walked as tall and proud, too. His own hair had more than a touch of gray in it these days, and working hunched over his patients hadn't helped his posture any, though tiān xiăo de he'd tried not to let it affect him. More often than not, he was on the receiving end of the massages he'd taught Mal to do years before--trying to get some relief from the back pain.

"You doin' okay, ài chēng?" Mal asked him quietly.

"Mmm hmm. Just thinking."

"Yeah? What about?"

"How happy I am."

Mal hugged him a bit closer and kissed the top of his head.

The sun had finally sunk below the horizon, and the stars were becoming visible. Ben and Hope sat on the lawn, pointing out constellations to each other, the dog lying next to Ben, being petted. Everything was peaceful and serene.

"We've had a good life, haven't we, love?" Simon asked.

"The best. And it's not over, yet. We've got lots of years ahead to enjoy."

"True."

"You ready to go inside yet?"

"No, it's so…lovely…out here tonight, I just want to soak it all in."

"All right, but I think it's time for the kids to go in. Ben! Hope! Time to hit the hay."

"Yes, Poppa!"

"Coming, Pop! Down, boy."

Ben and Hope, followed by the dog, made their way inside, stopping to give Mal and Simon a hug and a kiss each. The sound of their chatter drifted out through the windows until soon all was quiet again.

Simon tried to stay awake, but the darkness, the quiet, and the steady heartbeat under his ear all had their effect as his eyes fluttered closed and he dozed. Some time later, Mal stirred and Simon awoke. "I'm sorry, love. Didn't mean to use you as a pillow."

"Hush, now." Mal put a finger on Simon's lips. "You won't hear me complainin'. Think it's 'bout time we went in, though. It's gettin' late."

Simon winced a little as he stretched then reached up and brought Mal down for a kiss.

When they broke apart, Mal stood and helped Simon up. "Come on, ài chēng. Let's go to bed. I wanna be makin' love to you when our anniversary rolls around."

"Mmm. You'll hear no complaints from me."

"Didn't think so. Wŏ ài nĭ, Simon Tam."

"I love you, too, Malcolm Reynolds."

With their arms wrapped around each other, they entered their home and made their way to their bedroom.

***

Moment #5--Twenty years after the end of "Family"

Mal sat in the parlor of the ranch house he and Simon had built ten years before. Occasionally, he glanced out the window to the lone grave on the hill; but mostly he looked at the capture in his hand as he let his mind wander.

Well, Simon, xīn ài, today's the day. Our little Hope's gettin' hitched. Remember your reaction when I said that about us? You always were an easy mark. He smiled a sad smile as his thoughts continued.

Hope's not so little any more. Can't believe she and Ben are twenty. Where'd the time go? Seems just yesterday they was gigglin' and chasin' each other all 'round this place. This fella o' Hope's ain't so bad. He's a teacher in town. Kinda serious, but with a wicked sense o' humor. Think you'd like him, too.

Ben's home for the weddin'. Sure is good to see him. He's turned into a fine young man. Decided to follow in your footsteps and become a doctor. Says he's gonna come back here and reopen the clinic after he graduates. You'd be so proud. Know I am.

River and Kaylee flew in last night. They're in with Hope now. Can hear 'em gigglin'. Not sure I wanna know what that's all about. Becca's in there, too. Gonna be Hope's… bridesmaid, I guess they call it. Amazin' how they've stayed best friends all this time considerin' they live on different worlds.

Eddie's turned into quite a pilot. Almost as good as Wash from what Zoë says. The flight school they're operatin' on Persephone's doin' well, too. Lotsa people wantin' to be out in the black these days. Makes me glad we chose this ranch, not so crowded out here.

Jayne and 'Nara couldn't make it, though they each sent Hope a gift. 'Nara's at the Trainin' House. Never have understood why she went back. Jayne… Well, he said his boss needs his bodyguardin' skills, but I think he just couldn't bear the thought o' everyone seein' how big a softie he is. The way he loves these kids is nothin' short of amazin'. Too bad he never had any o' his own.

Book…Well, reckon you know Book's gone. Passed on a few months back. Saw him at the abbey not long before. Seemed happy and at peace.

Mal's eyes filled with tears. Oh, God, Simon! I miss you so much! It's been five years, and it still hurts like it was just yesterday.

Suddenly, there were arms wrapped around his neck as Hope leaned over and hugged him. "It's okay, Poppa. I'm here. So is Daddy. He's right here," she said as she laid a hand over Mal's heart.

Mal smiled up at his daughter as he said, "I'm sorry, darlin'. This is supposed to be a happy day, and here I am gettin' all maudlin."

Hope walked around and sat on Mal's lap. "That's all right. I miss him, too. We all do."

Mal looked up and realized that everyone else had left what they were doing, and joined him and Hope in the parlor.

Hope continued, "But he hasn't really left us. He's here in all our hearts. And he wouldn't want you to be so sad."

"I know, darlin'. I'll be all right. Just wish he could've been here today. He'd be so proud. Almost as proud as I am." He hugged Hope tightly, giving her a kiss on the cheek, before setting her on her feet and standing up.

Soon, he was surrounded by his family--the family that had been with him through all his ups and downs for nigh on thirty years.

COMMENTS

Tuesday, July 4, 2006 11:31 AM

LVS2READ


Sorry, wanmei. *passes kleenex* It was hard for me, too.

I'm so glad you enjoyed this whole series. Thanks for your support all along the way! And for your wonderful compliments! *blushes* *hugs*

"I love my captain."

Tuesday, July 4, 2006 1:27 PM

AMDOBELL


Gorramit, I didn't want any of them to die - so sad, though it was comforting to think they had all those happy years together and ended up with such great kids. Do think Inara and Jayne should have been there though. Shiny, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, July 5, 2006 5:41 PM

LVS2READ


Ali,

I know. I didn't either, but it just seemed right as I wrote it. But, you're right they had over 20 good years together, so it wasn't all bad.

It always seems like somebody can't make it to weddings. Guess it was Jayne & Inara's turn this time around. *g*

Thanks for sticking with me for this story, and for all your wonderful comments along the way!

"I love my captain."

Wednesday, July 5, 2006 9:26 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Well now....mighty shiny ending you got here, Lvs2read...getting a might teary just thinking on it:)

Good to know that things end up shiny for our crew...though Mal being a solely legal trader is something I doubt would come to pass totally. Mal's too much the honourable rogue to just the occasional smuggling job pass him by;)

BEB

Thursday, July 6, 2006 5:32 AM

LVS2READ


BEB,

Thanks! *passes kleenex*

Well, now that Simon's gone and the kids are grown, Mal might take on the odd shady job or two. Just to keep busy, you know. *g*

Glad you enjoyed this series, and thanks for all your wonderful comments along the way!

"I love my captain."


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