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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Fourth in the short episodes following BIRTHDAY. Mal offers advice ... Please leave feedback, good or bad.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1933 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Uh huh?” Serenity’s captain straightened from where he was moving crates in the cargo bay. “What can I do for you, doctor?”
Simon stepped down from the doorway to the common area. “Can I … could we speak?”
“Not Freya, is it?” Mal asked, tensing, looking past the young man towards the infirmary.
“No, no, she’s fine. In fact, you can maybe take her back to her … your bunk in the next day or two. Although probably the guest quarters would be better. Less ladders.”
“Yeah. Good. Shiny.” Mal relaxed somewhat. “So, what do you want to talk to me about?”
Mal knew this had been coming, but that still didn’t make it any easier. “Everything?” he repeated, making a joke of it. “That’ll take a bit more time than our allotted three score and ten, don’t you think?”
“I've been speaking with Inara.” The young man was not to be sidetracked.
“Yeah. Figure everyone on board knows that by now.”
“She’s been helping me see … what I did.”
“What you did is save Freya’s life. And Hank’s, although as he don’t sleep in my bed that ain’t exactly as dear to me.”
“I'm serious, Mal.”
Mal sighed. “Yeah, I know. And I apologise for not taking it that way.” He sat down on one of the crates and nodded towards another. “Better take the weight off your feet if we’re gonna have that kind of conversation.”
“I wouldn’t have let her die,” Simon said, sitting down carefully.
“I know that.”
“Yet you felt the need to threaten me.”
Mal looked at the young man, so stiff and formal, even now. “It weren't so much a threat. More a … an encouragement.”
“You said you’d finish what Lon started.”
Mal could still feel the blood on his hands. “I was reminding you, is all.”
“And if … if she had died?”
Mal shook his head. “She didn’t. You saved her life.”
“If I hadn’t?” Simon insisted. “Would you have killed me?”
Mal looked at him for a moment, his blue eyes thoughtful. “Can’t say, doctor. I'm really hoping we never find out, but right now … I can’t say.”
“I've been threatened a lot of times on this ship.” Simon glanced down at his hands. “Right from the start.”
“Well, you do have a propensity to attract that kind of criticism,” Mal said lightly. “’Sides, that first time it really was your fault.”
“I didn’t shoot Kaylee!”
“Dobson was after you.”
“You were threatening me!”
Mal, about to continue the bickering, took a breath instead. “Well, whatever, you saved her life, so that cancels it out.”
“Is that how it works?” Simon asked, belligerence creeping into his voice. “You think I caused something, I do my work and we’re even?”
“Something like that,” Mal agreed. “And don’t start getting tetchy with me, boy. You were the one wanted to talk.”
Simon stared at him, then nodded. “I did. And I’m not a boy.”
“No, guess you ain’t.” Mal glanced towards the other quarters. “Got yourself a wife-to-be and a baby now, so I guess we can call you a man.”
“Wife-to- …” Simon’s mouth hung open. “What are you –“
“Been letting that slide for a while, on account of Kaylee not pushing it, but you’re gonna marry that girl. Ain’t having no sinful living on my ship.”
This time Simon couldn’t stop himself. “Sinful …” He leaped to his feet. “You and Freya are … you were …”
“And we were planning on getting married,” Mal pointed out, his eyes twinkling. “Still am, soon as I can get the pig-headed woman to name the day. But I don’t see you making no plans.”
“Kaylee doesn’t want to get married.”
“You asked her lately?”
“Well, not –“
“Don’t you think you should?”
“Mal, I’m not even sure I should be with her, let alone …”
“Be with her?” This time Mal laughed out loud, the sound echoing through the cargo bay. “Simon, I ain’t never seen a couple more suited, and believe me, I wouldn’t say that lightly. You know how I feel about shipboard romances.”
“But I betrayed you all!” Simon’s words cut through the humour, and hung in the air.
“Yeah. Reckon that’s what this is all about,” Mal said quietly. “Sit down.” When Simon didn’t move, he repeated, “Sit.”
Simon let himself down onto the crate.
“Now, I’m not ‘Nara, and I don’t pretend to be. Most ‘cause I’d never get into one of those dresses, and don’t think I haven’t tried.” Mal put his hand up to stem Simon’s inevitable interruption. “The point is I know she’s told you to talk to me. Get this out in the open. Well, okay. We can do that. We can talk until the cows come home but it ain’t gonna change what happened. Yeah, you betrayed us. So what?”
“What?” Simon was confused.
“If you’d gone to that man, offered your services, said you’d tell him what he wanted to know for money, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, on account of your dried and desiccated corpse floating somewhere in orbit around Osiris. And I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.” Mal let that sink in for a moment. “But you didn’t. It took drugs and torture to make you, and you fought them at every step.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Hell, course I do, Simon!” The grin on Mal’s face floored him. “You ain’t weak. Figured that out first time you told us what you’d done for your sister. Makes it worse, though, doesn’t it? If you’re weak you can blame that, but if you’re not, there’s nothing left to blame but yourself.”
“Are you trying to flatter me?” Simon asked at last.
“Nope. Wouldn’t know how. I’m just saying it like it is. Now, you’re gonna tear yourself up about this, and nothing anyone can do or say is gonna stop you. I know. After Serenity Valley, I felt like I’d betrayed all the men and women I’d ever known, watched ‘em die because I wasn’t strong enough to keep ‘em alive. Thought about eating a bullet more’n once. But I didn’t. Not ‘cause it was against my religion, not no more. Mainly it was because I had Zoe at my side, but it was also because I knew it wasn’t my fault. Least, not entirely.”
Simon watched him, saw the difficulty this strong man had in admitting to weakness of his own. “You got through it.”
Mal smiled sadly. “Some might disagree with you on that score, doctor. More’n one has made it clear to me that I never left there.”
“But you’ve got Freya …”
“I have. And that’s what’s made more difference than I would care to admit. And sometimes that’s the only thing that’s keeping me from shooting you dead when you rile me.”
Simon stared, then realised there was humour in his eyes. “I gather that happens a lot.”
“Least once a day,” Mal admitted. “That’s why Freya keeps my guns locked up. Says I can’t be trusted.”
The very thought of Freya not letting Mal have access to his own guns was enough, and Simon laughed. “She’s very perceptive,” he said, smiling.
“That she is. Although annoying is the phrase I’d tend to use. And I’d be obliged if you could make sure she stays around to keep doing it.”
“So you want me to stay.”
“Don’t recall saying that.”
“But you just ...” Now Simon was really confused.
Mal put his hand on the young man’s shoulder. “Just told you like it is. No, I don’t want you to go, and partly it’s for purely selfish reasons. And I’m not gonna say I’ll never threaten you again, because that’s a pie-crust promise. But whether you stay or not is your own choice.” He stood up. “Kinda got used to having you around, doctor. And Kaylee’d mope for a few days if you left.” He sighed. “Still, I reckon Jayne’d console her.”
Simon jumped up. “Jayne?” He glared up into the taller man’s face. “Over my dead body.”
“Good.” Mal smiled and gave him a slight push. “Now go say all this to that little girl in there, before she does something really stupid.”
Simon gaped, then turned away, heading purposefully towards his quarters.
Mal watched him until he disappeared, then shook his head, smiling. Maybe Inara’s dresses didn’t suit him as well as he’d’ve liked, but he was pretty good at this counselling lark all the same.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 4:40 AM
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 6:47 AM
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 11:33 AM
Wednesday, November 15, 2006 3:48 PM
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