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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
The first backstory for my other fanfic ... how Freya Nordstrom becomes part of the crew of Serenity, and a few hints at what might be coming next. Feedback would be most welcome ...
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2548 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
They were in trouble. Which wasn't unusual. They were being chased, also not as unusual as he would have liked. But as they ran, Mal pondered the fact that it hadn’t gone smooth. Again. He and Simon pounded along, dodging other people, barging into one or two, almost falling then running again. Not that it had been his fault, this time. If Simon hadn’t started talking to someone, hadn’t been drinking at the time, and hadn’t been entirely stupid enough to mention that they could get their hands on anything the other guy needed … Mal had come back from the john to see Simon being held up against the wall being frisked, and two men saying that he was being arrested. Mal had sighed, shook his head, then laid them out with a chair. Unfortunately, he then found out that they’d already called the local Feds who were on their way. So they ran.
“Next time you and Kaylee have an argument, you can go out and get drunk on your own,” Mal gasped.
“I don’t intend there to be a next time,” Simon said, his breath rasping in his chest. “Whatever she says I’ll agree with.”
“Best you do.”
Simon risked a look back over his shoulder. “Are they still following?” he managed to say.
Mal nodded. He didn’t have to look. “Still there.” Then he almost collided with a mule, had to stagger to maintain his balance, but couldn’t manage it. He sprawled into the dust by the ramp up to a sleek ship.
“Oh my,” he heard someone say as they stepped down towards him, and feet came into his view.
Mal’s gaze travelled upwards, past heavy brown work boots with trousers tucked in, not unlike his own, to a gunbelt slung low; again, not unlike his own. Higher, though, the illusion was spoiled by a black leather basque, strapped and laced tight, and the swell of two magnificent breasts thrust forward. Only the brown leather waistcoat and brown duster coat stopped it being quite so erotic. Or maybe made it more so, depending on your particular perversion. Above, a woman’s head with short hair, bleached blonde in patches, brown in others. She was smiling slightly, her left eyebrow raised.
“Well, well. Look what the cat’s dragged in.”
“Hi, Mal. Still running?”
“Looking for somewhere to hide, actually.”
“Go on. You know where.”
“Thanks. I owe you.” She didn’t watch as they scrambled inside, Simon following Mal without a pause.
“I know.” She called over her shoulder, then watched as Alliance soldiers ran up, searching every vessel they passed. They stopped next to her. “Can I help you gentlemen?”
“We’re looking for a pair of renegades, cutthroats. Have you seen any suspicious people around here?”
Freya laughed, throwing her arms wide. “Have you taken a look around lately? We’re all suspicious.”
“These are two men, wanted for smuggling illegal substances.”
“Wouldn’t be smuggling if it was legal, now, would it?”
“Have you seen them?”
“I haven’t seen any strangers run by, no. Not now, and not all day. And I've been here all day, supervising the unloading of my own cargo.”
“My men will search inside.”
“Sure. They might want to be careful of my cargo, though.”
“It’s … I don’t think I can be polite about this. It’s shit. Processed, for sure, but shit nevertheless. It’s used for fertiliser, fuel, all sorts of things. But it still smells, though. And boy, did we find that out. One of the damn crates burst about an hour out of port, and we’re still trying to clear it out. But please, go ahead.” She moved to one side.
One of the other soldiers had been listening to his earpiece. “Sir – there’s a report of the men we’re looking for up near the refinery.”
Freya lifted her eyebrows. “You don’t want to come in?”
The captain shook his head. “No. Thank you for your assistance.”
Freya watched the men run off, her hands on her hips, squinting into the sunlight. Then, appearing quite unperturbed, she ambled back inside. “It’s okay, they’ve gone,” she said to the empty cargo bay.
A slight shift in the light on a wall indicated a door opening. It swung noiselessly away and Mal looked out. “Did you have to keep inviting them in?”
“Would you have known where to look if you didn’t already?” she countered.
“No,” Mal admitted.
The other young man sniffed the air. “It doesn’t smell in here.”
“So I lied. Happens a lot.” She looked Mal up and down and smiled this time. “Good to see you again. I heard all about your exploits on that moon. And I'm sorry about Wash.” The smile faded.
Mal’s face tightened a little, as it always did at mention of his late pilot. “So am I.”
“How’s Zoe holding up?”
Freya nodded. He didn’t want to talk about it, and she couldn’t blame him. “And who is this?”
“No-one important.” Mal saw Simon bridle a little at this apparent dismissal.
“Really? Then why were they looking for you?”
“Frey, I'm always being chased by someone or other.”
“Yes, but they weren’t looking for you.” She glanced at the younger man. “They were looking for him. You were kind of incidental.”
Simon took a mental step back. “How do you know?”
Mal looked pained. “Don’t ask.”
“So who is he?”
“Freya, this is Simon Tam. Simon, this is Freya Nordstrom. An old friend. And a right, royal pain in the ass.”
“I love you too, Mal.” She smiled sweetly at him, but Simon noted a touch of steel in her gaze. “So where’s your boat?”
“About two miles outside of town. Dock was full, so we parked and walked.”
Freya nodded and clicked her fingers. A crewman materialised. “Get the rest of the cargo shifted, get the money and take off. I’ll meet you farside.” She added a couple of words in Chinese, “Mah shong.” She turned back to Mal and Simon. “I’ll take you back in my shuttle.”
“Thanks, Freya.” Mal relaxed a little. “You afraid they’ll be back?”
“They will when they realise they’ve been led of a wild goose chase.”
Simon gave her an odd look as they followed her back into the bowels of her ship.
The sleek shuttle landed by the old Firefly. Battered, held together by baling wire and love, Serenity had settled into the landscape like an old woman. As the door to the shuttle swung open, several of the older ship’s crew were watching intently.
Mal climbed out first, nodding to his first mate, followed swiftly by Simon who hurried inside, placing just a brief touch on Kaylee’s arm as he went past.
“Everything all right, sir?” Zoe asked, stepping down the ramp into Persephone’s bright sunlight.
“Shiny,” Mal said. “Brought an old friend home for supper.”
Freya climbed out of her shuttle and closed the door. She grinned at the other woman. “Zoe. Good to see you again.”
Zoe smiled back. “Freya. It’s been a while.”
“I was sorry to hear about Wash. He was a good man.”
The smile disappeared, and an infinite sadness darkened her face. “He was.”
Freya nodded, then turned to the young mechanic who had almost skipped up to her. “And Kaylee! My, girl, you get prettier every time I see you.”
They hugged, holding tight. “Freya! It’s been way too long.”
As they broke apart, Freya saw Jayne ambling down from the cargo bay. “Hi, Jayne.”
“Freya.” Jayne did not look impressed, but he was smiling, just a little.
Freya cast a calculating eye over the ship. “Look’s like Serenity’s been through the wars.”
Mal bristled, as he always did when someone said something uncomplimentary about his ship. Then he realised that was just the reaction she was intentionally provoking. “She’s okay.”
“Did you lose the Primary Buffer Panel again?”
“Damn thing won’t stay on more’n a week.”
“Doing good business?”
“Some. Enough.” Although he mentally added that enough was getting to be difficult lately.
“I know the feeling. If I didn’t keep my ear to the ground all the time, I’d never get any legitimate cargo at all. Sometimes all you can do is – what?” She had dragged a com unit, beeping incessantly, from her pocket and had spoken into it.
“We’ve got an Alliance cruiser on our tail. Looks like they didn’t believe you.”
She swore in Chinese. “Tah muh duh. Okay. Don’t wait for me. Go to the alternate destination and I’ll meet you there. Did you get the money?”
“Well, that’s one thing. But don’t dump unless you have to. Out.” She returned the com unit to her pocket and sighed. “It’s one thing after another.” She turned to Mal, who had been listening in. “Mal, I have a favour to ask.”
He looked at her, a slight smile on his lips, his arms crossed. “You need a lift.”
“My shuttle won’t get me that far, and I wondered, if you were heading in that direction …”
“Where’s your alternate?”
“We’ll be going by there in a few days. Got some stuff to do first.”
“I can wait.”
“What do you want to do about your shuttle? We’re full, can’t hitch you up.” He looked up at his own two shuttles in their places above the powerful thrusters.
“Damn. Best I hide it, then. We’ll be dropping back here before long, and I can pick it up then.”
“Best not be slow about it,” Mal added. “I don’t think it’s any too safe to be hanging around here.”
Simon spoke up, reappearing at the bay door. “Why should you be worried about the Alliance cruiser? We’re not on board.”
Freya laughed. “You think you were the only thing I was hiding?”
Mal held out a hand, inviting her inside. “Kaylee’ll show you a bunk. Do you need anything?”
“Clothes, stuff.” Mal was not usually this uncomfortable. “I suppose Inara could lend you some bits, or I could get out an old shirt or two. We’re much of a size …” He glanced sharply at Kaylee who had giggled, then looked back at Freya. “If you need it.”
“Thanks, and I might borrow a shirt. I've got a few bits in the shuttle, but I would be beholden if you could help me out somewhat.”
Mal stuck his head out of the kitchen and saw River heading his way. “River, go tell Freya chow’s on the table.”
River nodded and headed back towards the guest quarters. The door to Freya’s temporary living area was open, and River went to go inside, but stopped. Freya was sitting on the floor, facing away and cross-legged, apparently naked, a dark red shawl pooled around the base of her back. It wasn’t her nakedness that made River pause, though. It was the magnificent tattoo that ran up Freya’s back, in reds, golds and greens, a flame that had been caught in the act of running riot. Within the flame were three small cartouches, one at the nape of her neck, the second half way down, and the third in the small of her back, an intricate symbol in each. The whole tattoo seemed to pulse with life. River gazed at it, then noticed a small incense burner was giving off scented smoke in front of the seated figure.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Inara had come to stand next to River.
“Is it religious?”
“I don’t know. Freya has never talked to me about it, but I think so. It is not a religion I know myself, but it seems to be one she follows. At least to some degree.” The Companion smiled.
“Don’t most religions dictate non-violence? There is a lot of darkness in her soul.”
Inara was startled. River didn’t usually make comments any more about their passengers. “Maybe the tattoo brings the light. Did you want to speak to her?”
“Mal says food is ready.”
Freya moved, and made them jump. “Did someone say food?” She reached down and pulled the shawl up to cover the disturbing tattoo. “Good, I'm starving.”
Everyone was already eating when Freya entered the communal area. “Sorry, am I late?” she asked.
Mal indicated the seat next to him. “Grab it before Jayne eats it all.”
Freya smiled and sat down. Filling a plate swiftly, she picked up the chopsticks set out for her and took a healthy mouthful. “It’s good. Who’s the cook?”
Kaylee held up a hand. “Me.”
“I should have known.” Freya smiled at the younger woman then looked down the table at the other girl. “And who is this? I don’t think we were formally introduced.”
Simon spoke up. “This is my sister, River.”
“Nice to meet you, River.”
The girl smiled shyly. “Freya – that’s a nice name.”
“That’s why it was chose,” Freya said somewhat cryptically. She went to spear a vegetable but looked up sharply instead. “Now, now, that’s not nice.”
The others looked confused, apart from Mal, who stared down the table at River. “It’s not polite, River,” he said. “Freya is our guest.”
“Sorry.” Trouble was, she didn’t look at all apologetic.
“That’s okay. No harm done.” Freya looked around the table. “She was just testing me.”
“River!” Simon now verged on anger.
“No, really,” Freya insisted. “But she tries again, it won’t be pleasant, though. For her.”
“How did you –“ Simon began, but Mal interrupted him.
“Doc, I told you not to ask,” Mal said tiredly. “Freya has talents it’s best not to go into too much.”
Freya just smiled.
“What are you doing?”
Freya looked up to see Zoe standing next to her. “Looking at the stars.” She laughed and held up a bottle. “And getting drunk. Would you like to join me?”
Zoe sat down in the pilot’s chair and took the bottle. “What is it?”
“Brandy. Very old. Very powerful.” She watched as the other woman took a sip, then followed it immediately with a sharp breath.
“It sure is.”
Freya leaned her head back on the rest. “So. Wash.”
“You two should have had kids. You’d have been great.”
“It never seemed the right time. For him, anyway,” Zoe admitted. She’d known Freya for a long time, been close since the war, and for once she didn’t mind talking about her husband. “Kept saying he didn’t want to bring kids into a world like this.” She looked at her friend. “But I kept saying to him … when’s that gonna change?”
“He wouldn’t listen, huh?”
“No.” Zoe shook her head sadly. “I did think about … you know, pushing it, stopping … but he’d never have forgiven me.”
“Wash? He’d have forgiven you for anything,” Freya said firmly, taking another pull at the bottle.
“I’ll never know.”
“Yeah.” Freya looked out at the stars for a moment then glanced over. “But you’ve still got …?”
“So there’s still time.” She passed the bottle.
“Still.” She took another sip but her throat didn’t cringe this time – must be getting used to it. “What about you? Never thought of having little ones yourself?”
“Never found a man I wanted to get that close to.”
“Yeah, well. Unlikely to happen now.”
“You never know.”
They had been drinking a while, and the level in the bottle had gone down quite a lot. Mal stood in the doorway to the bridge, his arms crossed. “And what are you two up to?”
Zoe sat up, about to stand to attention, but somehow her legs wouldn’t take her commands. Instead she sat as straight as she could.
Freya waved the bottle. “Having a drink. Want to join us?”
“Don’t mind if I do.” He took the bottle and a mouthful, and had to use all his self-control not to gasp at the strength of the alcohol. “What the –“
Freya took the brandy back. “Sip it, don’t gulp. Zoe here was just telling me about … what was her name? Saffron?”
“That was a … misunderstanding.”
“Just goes to show you should never take these things for granted.”
“What things?” Mal asked, his face lit by the glow from the screens.
“You play with fire … or girls holding wine cups … and you’re like to get burned.” She laughed, then covered her mouth with her hand.
“Or married,” Zoe added.
“We were not married.” Mal hitched his thumbs into his pants, defiant.
“You might have been,” Freya laughed. “And I gather it was only because you weren’t the first.”
Zoe caught a glimpse of Mal’s face and managed to stand up. “Good night, captain.”
“We’ll be having a little chat about this in the morning,” Mal said, his face stony.
Zoe passed by him, her head down. A little.
Freya hugged the bottle, then hiccupped. “I think I’d better go to bed too.”
“Not before time.”
She stood up, swayed a little then fell against Mal. “Oops. Sorry.”
“Come on, I’ll help you back to your room.”
“Why, thank you, Captain Reynolds.”
They passed River, on her way to do some late night piloting, who stared at them.
“Are you drunk?” Mal asked as he opened the door to her temporary quarters.
“Some. But not that much,” she admitted.
“So why the act?”
“Because when you’re drunk you can say things you wouldn’t normally say, and the people you say them to can’t take offence.”
“And what would you say?”
“I would say … you and Inara should get your act together and sort yourselves out. And when you’ve done that, come to my bed.”
Mal felt a tight fire ball in his belly. “Freya …”
“I know. But you wouldn’t be disappointed.”
“I would be taking advantage.”
“So take advantage.” She so wanted to hold him, to take him in her embrace and make him want her.
“That wouldn’t be fair.” He crossed his arms, solid, implacable.
“Who the hell cares? Come to my bed.”
Mal shook his head. “Frey, we’ve been over this. I don’t take advantage of my friends. Whatever the circumstances.” He turned away. “Best get to bed. We’ll be at Clarion by suppertime tomorrow.” He didn’t look back as he walked out of the guest quarters.
She watched him leave until he was out of sight, then stepped into her room and closed the door. Tossing the bottle onto the bed she leaned against the wall and told herself she was not going to cry.
“Where the hell are they?” Freya asked, staring out into the black with an expression of equal parts confusion and anger on her face.
“I'm not getting any wave from them, just the distress beacon,” Zoe said.
They’d picked up a distress call soon after breakfast, a muted affair with at least one of the crew having something of a hangover. Freya had immediately identified the signal as being from her ship.
“There’s no way they should be here. They should already have been waiting at Clarion.”
“Sir.” Zoe spoke quietly, staring at the screen. Mal looked down. There, clearly visible, were three large pieces of … something. He swore under his breath and turned the ship in that direction.
“Damn.” It was obvious, now that it was clearly visible, that the three pieces were the remains of a ship, torn up. They were gently spiralling each other, caught in the gravity field they created.
Freya headed out of the bridge, but Mal was faster. He was up out of the pilot’s seat and at her side, catching her arm, before she could get down the steps. “And where do you think you’re going?” he asked.
“To check this out. That’s my ship, Mal! My crew!”
“I know. But not alone. Jayne and I will be going with you.” He turned and called back into the bridge. “Zoe, prep the suits.”
Zoe had manoeuvred Serenity close to the remains of the other ship, and Mal, Freya and Jayne didn’t have far to travel once the airlock had depressurised. Even then they could see into the cargo hold, conspicuously empty. Freya gritted her teeth and used the suit’s small jetpack to move towards one of the other sections, entering through a ripped bulkhead. Not waiting for the other she headed towards the bridge and captain’s quarters – her quarters.
Outside the bridge, in the corridor, she came across one the corpses of some of the crew. The explosive decompression hadn’t done it much good.
“Reavers.” Jayne, close behind, hugged Vera closer to his suit.
“No.” Mal and Freya spoke together.
Mal added. “Besides, there’s no … bits. Probably most got pulled out when the ship was broken up.”
Freya pushed open the door to her quarters and walked inside, her boots sticking to the deckplating. Swiftly she checked the floor safe, luckily a mechanical one as the ship had no power. “Tzao gao,” she murmured to herself.
“What makes you so sure it weren’t Reavers?” Jayne asked. He’d had a close call on Miranda, and really didn’t feel like facing them again so soon.
“Reavers don’t take cargo, not like this. And the money’s gone from the safe,” Freya added. “It was no Reaver that did this.” She stood up. “This is piracy, pure and simple.”
“Pirates don’t tear a ship apart like this. Sell it, scrap it, don’t destroy it,” Jayne protested.
Freya shrugged, and Mal said, “New technique, same result. Maybe they’re looking for the easy sell.”
“It’s just so much space junk, now.” Freya leaned against a bulkhead and looked at the other two through her face plate. They couldn’t tell, but it looked like she might have been crying. Or it could have been anger.
Freya was sitting on the bridge when Mal found her, just staring out into the black.
“You okay?” he asked, stepping over the sill.
“You wanna try that with a mite more enthusiasm?” he asked gently.
She turned to look at him. “What do I do now, Mal?” she asked, the pain evident in her voice. “Everything I had was on that boat. It was all I … What do I do now?”
“Go on. Keep flying. You started over twice now that I know of. Can’t see you having any kind of a problem doing it again.”
She rubbed her face with her hands, then pushed them through her hair, a habit he remembered. “I'm tired, Mal. I’ve done so much, seen so many things …” She paused and he knew she was thinking about the war, about Dhu-Khang, about all the other battles she’d managed to survive. She shook the memories away. “I don’t know if I can start again. Particularly as all I now own is in a bag in the cargo bay. Ain't much for a life.”
“You can always stay. Stay here,” Mal suggested, surprisingly diffidently. He was normally so sure, so set on his course. But now it was as if he was afraid of the answer. “It may have become apparent to you that I need a pilot. River is helpful, more than that, but … Anyway, I remember you as being pretty damn good. Proved it too, as I recall.”
“Stay?” Freya glanced around the bridge. “On Serenity?”
“Wasn’t suggesting anywhere else.”
She looked up into his face. “With you.”
“Well, on board. Working for me.”
“Hey, it’s just an idea. I asked you once before: there won’t be a third time.“ Mal uncrossed his arms. “Course, if you’ve got somewhere better to go …”
“No, no. I’d like to stay. Not sure I’d feel at home much anywhere else.”
Mal nodded. “Good.” He leaned forward and looked out of the viewport, his head at her height. “Set a course for Beaumonde. We’ve some goods to pick up and deliver to Paquin.”
Freya smiled and started inputting the code. “Yes sir.”
Sunday, September 3, 2006 4:33 PM
Sunday, February 18, 2007 5:21 AM
Tuesday, September 25, 2007 6:57 AM
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