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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
More fluff and some plot. So who is Maddy? What does she mean to Mal? Feedback is welcome with arms open wide!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1579 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Cool air filtered in as the ramp lowered, the lights inside illuminating a short distance.
“Think they’re here yet, sir?”
At that a woman stepped, rather tentatively, into the light. “Hello?” she called.
“Ma’am?” Mal answered, stepping down onto the dust of Shadow.
“Mal. I don’t believe it!” The woman ran to him, throwing her arms about him.
“What the …” He pushed her back a little to look into her face, then put his arms around her waist and swung her up. “Maddy!” Mal was grinning from ear to ear. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“Meeting a ship. Something called Serenity.”
Freya stood back, her eyebrows raised.
Mal stopped and put her down. “That’s this ship. My … Are you –“
“We’re your cargo. You’re taking us to Whitefall. Got a place ready there for us.”
“No-one said it was people.”
“Did you ask?”
“No,” he admitted. He became aware of the others standing behind him. “Oh, hey, Maddy, this is my first mate, Zoe.”
“Hello,” Maddy smiled, and Zoe nodded.
“And that’s Freya.”
Freya stepped down the ramp. “Hi. So you’re an old friend of Mal’s?”
“We grew up together. My daddy worked on his momma’s ranch. We were inseparable.” She looked across at Mal, something more than mere affection in her gaze. “Went everywhere together.”
“Well, nearly,” Mal amended. “‘Til I left.”
“And you didn’t come back.” Maddy put her hands on her hips, almost accusing him of something. “How come?”
“It’s … a long story.” He smiled again. “And we’ll have time to catch up properly.” He looked across at the pile of boxes and sundries. “How many of there are you?” he asked.
“Eight. Me and my kids and another family.”
“Kids? You got kids?” He looked so surprised Maddy laughed.
“Well, I couldn’t wait around for you any longer.” She twinkled at him. “Two. A boy and a girl.”
“And your husband? Where’s he?”
Her face darkened a little. “Six feet under. We buried him last spring. A sickness took him off in only a week.”
“Hey, I'm sorry, Maddy.” He put his hand on her shoulder.
“It’s been hard. Even with the war over things got a lot worse, but the offer of work came just as we were going down for the third time.” She looked into his eyes. “It’s taken a long time to get close to better on Shadow, but it’s not good enough.”
There was blame there too, Freya realised, as if Mal was the cause of all their troubles.
“Well, better get this stuff loaded. We’ve got enough rooms – probably make you more comfortable than in the bay,” Mal said, changing the subject quickly.
“We don’t want to put you out.”
“It’s no trouble.” He turned to Zoe. “Get Jayne down here – he can lend a hand.”
“We can do it,” Maddy insisted.
“Faster with more.”
“Okay.” Maddy nodded, then waved her hand. A group of people came out of the dusk, including some children hiding behind legs. “I’ll do the introductions later.”
“We’ll get you stowed, then we’ll eat.” Mal picked up a crate and carried it on board. As he passed Freya he paused. “We got enough supplies for another eight mouths?” he murmured.
“I’ll go see what else I can scrounge up.”
“Got cash on you?”
She patted her pocket and nodded, melting into the dark.
Mal continued into the bay.
“What does she do?” Maddy asked, following him with her arms full of bags.
“She looks … “
“Looks what?” Mal asked.
“Like she’s handy with that gun.”
“Not very feminine.”
Mal smiled. “Oh, don’t get her wrong. If you mean weak, no she ain’t. And she’s saved my life more than once. But I‘d rather have her at my back than a whole platoon.”
“Doesn’t mean she’s a woman.”
“Oh, yes it does.”
Maddy watched as he placed the crate in the bay against the wall, biting her lip as she thought.
“This is good of you,” the man of the group said. “I'm Jess Adams, by the way.” He held out a hand and they shook.
“Well, we’re getting paid.” Mal smiled a little then headed back for another pack.
“Yes, but you could have packed us in like animals.”
“People ain’t animals, shouldn’t be treated like it,” Mal replied over his shoulder.
“He seems like a good man,” Adams said to Maddy.
“Zoe said you wanted me?” Jayne called from the walkway.
“Jayne, help us with this stuff. Want to get off this world soon as I can.” He put another box against the first.
“Not going to go home?” Maddy asked, surprised.
“No home to go to. Not anymore.”
“You could have claimed it back. When the Alliance started to put it back together, you could have claimed the ranch back.”
Mal shook his head. “Wasn’t mine anymore. No-one left to make it mine. I'm better off out here, Maddy, going where my wit and whimsy takes me. None to answer to but my crew.”
“That’s somewhat irresponsible.”
“Irresponsible? I don’t see it that way at all. I had none to be responsible to, not on Shadow.” He stood with his hands on his hips. “And they’re a good crew.”
“Acceptance, Maddy.” He headed back out again.
Within a very short while all the gear was stowed and everyone was standing in the bay, looking around. “Zoe, take them along to the guest quarters, get them settled in.”
“Then I think everyone had better assemble in the dining area, go over a few rules and introduce them to the rest of the crew.” Mal watched Maddy gather up her party then stepped to one side as Hank strolled down into the bay.
“This all ours?”
“Our guests.” Mal nodded to where the last of them was disappearing towards the common area.
“Thought we were taking on cargo.”
“So did I. That’s why I want you to get hold of Ferrini. I’d like to have a little chat with him.”
“Will do. Now?”
“Yeah, no time like the present.”
“I don’t recall suggesting it was anything other than human cargo, Mal.” Ferrini was eating, and speaking with his mouth full.
“Humans ain’t cargo – they’re passengers. And I would have negotiated a different price.”
“Maybe that’s why I forgot to mention it. Look, Mal, this is all the money they got. They need to get to Whitefall, and the people they’re going to work for ain’t paying. This is down to them.”
“So if we don’t take them –“
“They don’t go. And they need the work.”
“You know them? Personally?”
“They’re good folks, Mal. Maddy Jones’s had a bad time of it lately, and a change of landscape will do her good. Her and the kids too. And Jess, well, he's none too bright, but his wife’ll keep him in line.”
“I ain’t got no worries regarding their character. Just the way this has been done.”
“It’s work, Mal. You need it, they got it, so we all win. Dong mah?”
“Next time, Ferrini …”
“Next time you can gyp me. Sorry, got to go. My meal’s getting cold.” The vidscreen went blank.
“If I hadn’t known that boy when he was a kid …” Mal shook his head. “You try and do a feller a favour, and this is what you get.”
“You from here?” Hank asked, surprised.
“You don’t talk about it.”
“Nothing to talk about,” Mal said shortly.
“Oh. Well, we’re good to go.”
“Just waiting on Freya, then we can get off this rock.”
Freya closed the cargo bay doors, looking up as Hank called to her from the walkway. “You back?”
“Yeah. You waiting on me?”
“Didn’t want to leave you behind. Mal might not take kindly to that.” Hank grinned then disappeared.
Freya smiled and carried the large box up the stairs to the kitchen. Mal was holding forth, explaining about the bridge, infirmary and engine room being off limits. “It’s for your own safety – there’s stuff that don’t take kindly to folk poking around.” He felt Serenity lift from the ground. “You can visit the kitchen whenever you choose, and you’ll need to get to your stuff in the cargo bay. I presume there’s nothing alive in those boxes?”
Jess Adams, standing with his arm around his wife, shook his head. “We were told we couldn’t bring anything live – the Alliance won’t let livestock be transported between worlds without a licence.”
“Well, we could have gotten around that.”
“Oh. It don’t matter none anyway – we sold what we had to pay for passage.” He watched as Freya took the box into the kitchen area, admiring the smoothness of her figure.
His look wasn't lost on Mal, who bridled slightly but let it pass. “Then there’s no problem. Oh, and since most of you weren’t introduced earlier, this is Freya.” The woman in question smiled slightly at the assemblage. “And that’s about it. There’ll be food around 18:00. Don’t think we’ll all fit around this table, so probably best you eat in your rooms, or the bay, but there’ll be plenty.”
“Sounds very fine,” Maddy said.
“Trip’ll take best part of three days, so you’ll get to know us pretty well by then.”
“Is there anything we can do to help?” she asked.
“Not tonight,” Freya said quickly. “Although I would appreciate some assistance with the cleaning afterwards.”
“Of course. An extra eight people to do for makes a lot more work.” Maddy smiled, all friendly.
“Why don’t you all go back to your rooms for the moment: get some rest. You’ve all probably had something of a busy day.” Mal unhooked his arms. “We’ll let you know when food’s ready.”
“Good idea. Come on, everyone.” Maddy shooed them out of the kitchen and down the stairs.
“Got enough?” Mal asked Freya, stepping around the counter to stand close to her, and turned over a few of the items in the box.
“Plenty.” She looked up into his face. “It’s a hard world out there. Seems like the years since the war hasn’t changed much.”
“That’s maybe why I didn’t want to come back.”
“Too many memories?”
“Something like that.”
“Well, I think you’re going to get your memory prodded somewhat. Maddy looks like she wants to relive old times.”
Mal’s lips twitched. “Am I going to have a problem with you two?”
“Me? No. As long as she stays in her bunk, there won’t be a problem at all.” She began unloading the supplies.
“Your jealousy acting up again?”
“Not jealous. Not at all.” She looked up again. “Don’t have anything to be jealous over. Do I?”
“Not a thing.”
“Good. Now, git. I have some serious cooking to think about.”
“Don’t tell me – stew?”
“You don’t wanna be poisoned otherwise, do you?”
He grinned. “Need some help?”
“Well, if you see Kaylee hanging around looking like she has nothing to do, you could send her in here. Or Jayne. He’s good with a knife – he can chop the vegetables.”
“Will do.” He smiled, dropped a quick kiss onto her cheek, and left the kitchen, heading towards the bridge. As he passed the junction, he heard his name called.
He turned, looking to his right. “Maddy. What can I do for you?”
“I need some stuff from one of my boxes, but it’s underneath. Can you help?”
“Sure. No problem.”
He grinned and held out his hand, indicating she should go first. She hurried down the stairs and through the common area. “I didn’t have a chance to say, but you look fine,” she said over her shoulder.
“So do you. You haven’t changed much.”
“It’s been a long while, Malcolm Reynolds. I've changed a lot!”
“I would recognise you anywhere,” he said, gallantly.
“You always did know the right thing to say. I seem to recall you could get your own way in most things.”
“Yes, really.” As she stepped into the cargo bay, she looked over her shoulder at him. “You never had a problem at all.”
Mal raised his eyebrows but forbore to comment. “Which case do you need?”
“That one.” She pointed to a chest at the bottom of the pile, and he started to move the ones on top. “I should have said when we were bringing the stuff in, but it didn’t occur to me.”
“No problem,” he grunted as he lifted the last box.
“Does she look to you?” Maddy asked, opening the chest and taking some clothes from inside.
“If you’re asking if we’re together, then the answer is yes.”
“I thought that might be the case. She’s been giving me some odd looks. Here, hold these.” She gave him an armful of linens. “So how long have you been …?”
“You don’t want to talk about it?” She closed the chest with a snap and turned to face him.
“Nothing much to tell. Frey sleeps with me. That’s about it.”
“Only I think there’s more to it,” Maddy probed.
“Maddy, you always were inquisitive,” Mal said, not wanting to go into the recent past. It hurt too much.
“Why?” Mal was intrigued, if slightly off-balance.
“Just wondered. She doesn’t seem the sort to just be with anyone. Too self-contained.”
“Freya is … complicated.”
“So I would think.” She took the clothes back from him. “But she’s wearing a ring. Looks surprisingly like your momma’s. You betrothed?”
Mal sighed. “Yes, Maddy. Freya is my fiancée.”
Maddy sighed. “But you ain’t married yet.”
“Not yet, no.” For some reason he didn’t want to explain that they’d finally set a date – that was too personal to be going into.
“Your momma wouldn’t’ve approved.”
“Yeah, well, I’m a grown man, Maddy.”
“She’d still have put you across her knee if you’d been sleeping with someone like this.”
“I wish we could ask her.”
There was a sad pause.
“We tried, Mal,” Maddy said. “Tried to get her to leave the ranch, come with us. She’d’ve been safer. But you know your Ma.”
“Yeah. Never was one to let anyone tell her what to do.”
“When the Alliance –“
“Don’t want to talk about that, Maddy,” Mal interrupted. “It’s a long time ago.”
“Yeah. A lifetime.” The pause stretched out this time. “What’s that on her back?” Maddy asked eventually.
“What’s it of? I couldn’t get more than a glimpse when she was helping us bring this stuff in.”
“A sort of flame. It goes up most of her spine.”
“Seems like an odd thing to have.”
“Like I said, Freya is complicated.”
“Was she an Independent?”
“Figures.” She headed back to the common area. “Well, best get back to my kids before they start to fight and tear the place apart.”
“I’d take it as a kindness if they didn’t.”
“…they’re good kids, but they sometimes run me ragged.” Maddy handed over a pile of plates. “You got kids?”
A shadow passed across Freya’s face. “No.”
Maddy didn’t notice. “Well, until you do you have no idea the joy they can bring. And the worry. Why, when Jacob fell out of that tree I was beside myself. Didn’t know whether to hug him because he was alive, or whup him for breaking a leg.”
“Difficult.” Freya slid the plates into one of the small cupboards, closing the door.
Maddy started to dry the cups, looking at Freya thoughtfully. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure. I'm not guaranteeing I’ll answer it.”
“The tattoo on your back. What does it mean?”
“Should it mean anything?”
“Well, Mal said it’s a flame, and it looks big. Why have something like that done if you don’t have to?”
Freya took a deep breath. Of course Mal had been speaking to her, it was only natural. Childhood friends and all. “It’s personal.”
“Don’t want to talk about it?”
“Not very talkative on this boat,” Maddy commented.
“You’re obviously not talking to the right ones,” Freya said. “If you want to talk, I’d suggest Hank.”
“Can’t shut him up, sometimes.”
“Can I see it?” She pointed. “Your tattoo.”
“Why, Maddy? What’s so interesting about it?”
“Just wondering whether Mal likes it. If it was painful.”
“Mal likes it fine,” Freya said. “And pain fades.”
There seemed to be more than one meaning in her words, but Maddy didn’t enquire further. “Hmmn.” She watched as Freya started to stack the dishes. “You haven’t asked about Mal and me.”
“I don’t need to know. There’s been a war and, hell, a couple of lifetimes since you were friends.”
“More than just friends. We were going to get married.”
Freya paused only a nanosecond. Then, “Why didn’t you?”
“Oh, I don’t know. We didn’t set a date, then the war came. He volunteered soon as he could. I got a couple of letters, then one telling me not to wait for him. He didn’t come back. One of those that did told me he’d survived, been something of a hero. But he never came back to me.”
“War changes people.”
“Were you an Independent?”
“Thought as much. You can tell. There’s a kind of sadness in …” She shook her head and handed Freya the last of the cups. “Why’d you fight?”
“The same as everyone else. Didn’t believe the Alliance had the right to tell us what to do.”
“You’re not from Shadow. You sound more like one of the central planets. Didn’t think there were any Independents from there.”
“A few. More maybe than you know.” Freya looked at Maddy. “Being born on a core planet doesn’t mean you automatically agree with everything the Alliance does.”
“I told him not to go, you know. Mal. I told him it wasn't our fight, that we needed to get on with our lives. He didn’t listen to me.”
“Well, that’s Mal.”
“You known him a long time?”
“Seems like a lifetime.”
“Is he happy?”
“He has his ship and his crew.”
Freya looked at her. “And me.”
“Sorry. I didn’t want to tread on your toes, or anything. It’s just been a long time since I've had a man, and Mal was special to me once. But I'm not going to try and come between you. Doubt I could, from the way he looks at you.”
“No, really. He –“
“Maddy, thanks for your help with the cleaning up. But I think you’d better get back to those kids of yours.”
“Course. See you in the morning.”
Mal turned in the act of pulling his suspenders from his shoulders and looked at Freya, sitting on the chair undoing her boots. “You don’t like her, do you? Maddy, I mean.”
Freya looked up at him. “Mal, she’ll be on this boat three days. Do I have to?”
“It makes things easier. She is my friend.”
“People change. You haven’t seen her in a while – a long while. And people change.”
“Oh, I have.” She laughed. “I’ve changed a lot since I was young and foolish.”
“So now you’re old and … old ... er … older and wiser –“ He stumbled, trying to save himself.
“Nice catch,” Freya smiled.
“So how’ve you changed?” he went on quickly.
“Well, I met you.”
He looked at her, his eyebrows drawing together. “Hmmn. Look, just see if you can cut Maddy a little slack, could you? She’s had a tough time lately.”
“Mmn.” Freya went back to unbuckling her boots, glancing at the ring on her finger. “She … she said you were going to marry her.”
Mal was dumbstruck, standing in the middle of the room, his shirt half open. “I didn’t … we weren’t … I didn’t ever ask her to marry me!”
“Did you … had you …”
“Slept together? Well, yes. Off and on. But I never –“
“Were you her first?”
“Ah.” Freya sighed. “Mal, some women fasten on that as a proposal.”
“Frey, we were fourteen!”
“Oh, was she the one you made puppy-dog eyes at?”
He opened his eyes a little wider in surprise. “Do you remember everything?”
“Pretty much.” She gazed at him. “So was she your …”
“First? As it happens, yes.” He sat down on the edge of the bunk. “So who was yours?”
“Oh no.” She shook her head.
“Come on. I want to know.” He pushed himself backwards until he could lean on the bulkhead.
“It’s not … let’s just say, compared to you, I was a late developer.”
“Before or after your tattoo?”
He grinned. “Come on. You know mine. ‘Sides, don’t think we should go into this marriage with any secrets, do you?”
“You really want to know?” Mal nodded, and she looked at him, considering. Then, “Okay.” She took a breath, looked down at her boot then back at him. “It was a man I met in a bar. Slept with him that very night.” She saw his face tighten, as if, despite his insistence, he was finding the information hard to take. She paused a moment before going on, “Then we shipped out next morning.”
Realisation hit. “Did you happen to save this man’s life?”
Freya raised a brow as if in thought. “You know, I believe I did.”
Mal’s surprise was almost palpable. “You were a virgin?”
“Like I said, I was a late developer.”
“But you … your skill … what you did …” He was non-plussed.
“I was reading you, Mal. Knew what you wanted, what you needed.” She smiled. “And I have a very good imagination.”
“I’d say you have.” He finally grinned, shaking his head. “I had no idea.”
“That was the point.”
“So … did you consider that a proposal?”
“If I had I think it would have worn off pretty quickly. You didn’t exactly encourage me.”
He shook his head again. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me.”
“Would you have made love to me any differently?”
“Maybe. I might have been less … forceful.”
“Then I'm damn sure I did the right thing in not saying. I'm not a fragile creature, Mal, and I wasn't then either. Now …” She stood up, undoing the buttons on her shirt. “Why don’t we relive old times?” She shrugged the fabric from her shoulders, her flesh glowing warm in the soft light.
Mal stood up, feeling his body react to her nakedness, her sheer female physicality reaching out to him and making his blood pump, his own flesh engorge. He reached for her, his hands stroking her skin, running across the stone in her engagement ring. “Rather make up some new ones,” he murmured.
“Well?” Jess Adams asked as Maddy stepped into the cargo bay.
“An interesting crew,” she replied, walking towards him.
“But do you think it’s doable?”
“Of course.” She moved closer to him, pushing him towards the corner of the bay, behind the stack of their belongings. “I told you we could do this.”
“But he’s a friend. Doesn’t that make a difference?”
“He used to be. But he left me. Went off to fight a war for no good reason other than he preferred it to me, and I have a few problems with that.” She leaned against him, pressing her body to his. “I don’t have any problems with our plan. Just makes it more … satisfying.” She ran her hand up his thigh, making him groan.
“Maddy, we can’t. Not here. It’s too …”
“They’re all asleep. No-one’s going to see.”
“Just stand still. I know what you want. Just don’t move.”
“Jess?” Sadie Adams sat up in bed. “Where have you been?”
“Nowhere. Not many places I can go. I was just thinking.” He started to undress.
“Whitefall. What’s waiting for us.”
“Well, it’s got to be better than what we left behind.”
“Yeah. Guess it must.”
“So what you worried about?”
“Who said I was worried?”
“Jess, I've been married to you for twelve years. I know when you’re worried. Is it this ship? Has something about it got you anxious?”
“No. It’s just a ship.”
“But we’ve not been off-world before. It can make you scared. I know I'm a bit scared, worrying about all that nothing out there.”
“There’s nothing going to happen to us, Sadie. We’ll be fine.” He pulled off his pants and sat on the edge of the bed. “We get to Whitefall, we’ll be made.”
“Well, then, you’d better get to bed. I need my rest, even if you don’t.”
to be continued
Monday, November 20, 2006 1:18 AM
Monday, November 20, 2006 2:05 AM
Monday, November 20, 2006 5:38 PM
Tuesday, November 21, 2006 4:43 AM
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