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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
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CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2117 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Kaylee’s knock echoed through the house, and from inside she could hear a dog barking, and a man shouting at it to be quiet. A woman’s voice joined in, and suddenly the door opened. A man stood there, dressed only in his pants and a vest.
“Kaywinnet Lee Frye?” he said, a smile appearing on his face. “Is that you?”
“That it is, Mr Buchanan,” Kaylee said, trying to look cheerful.
“How are you doing, girl? Heard tell you were coming home for a visit.”
“Frank, put a shirt on!” came the woman’s voice from inside.
“It’s only Kaylee,” he called. “You remember?”
He was joined by a woman in a floral dress, wiping her hands on a cloth. “Kaylee? My, it’s good to see you again!” She leaned over and planted a kiss on the young mechanic’s cheek.
“You too, Mrs Buchanan.”
“So you planning on staying a while?”
“Only a day or two.” Kaylee licked suddenly dry lips. “I was wondering, is Dray around?”
“No, dear,” Frank Buchanan said. “He moved out coupla years ago. Got himself a job in one of the factories other side of town, and decided it was too far to travel every day. Rents a small place, just a coupla rooms in a house, but he seems happy enough.”
“Oh. He … he didn’t marry then?”
“No, that he didn’t,” Mrs Buchanan said. “And there’s Frank and me wanting grandkids.”
“Hush, Lilian. You know he ain’t never shown any interest in providing any.”
Lilian Buchanan sighed. “You should have stayed around, Kaylee. Maybe you and he could have made a go of it.”
“I had to leave,” Kaylee said. “Got a job, and -”
“Course she did, Lily.” Mr Buchanan scolded his wife lightly. “Hell, if I’d got the offer of a job to go somewhere else when I was Kaylee’s age, you wouldn’t’a seen my ass for dust.”
He grinned, then looked back at Kaylee. “I reckon he’d like to see you, though. Want me to call him for you? I’m sure he’d come by.” He hooked his arm around his wife’s waist. “Be a good excuse to make him drop in and see us too.”
“Um …” Kaylee glanced back at Freya, who nodded firmly. “Yes, please, if you would.”
“He knows you’re here, of course. I mentioned it in passing when I last spoke to him, few days ago, and he seemed surprised.”
“Well, we didn’t exactly keep in touch.”
“No.” Frank looked at her kindly. “Guess you were too all-fire busy out there in the black.”
“We … yeah, it can be.”
“Well, I’ll wave him tonight, so you come back for some food tomorrow, about noon. I’m sure he’ll be here.”
Kaylee smiled, a little unsteadily. “Thanks. That’d be shiny. I’ll see you tomorrow, then.”
“Yeah, see you tomorrow.” Frank grinned. “I have to say, he doesn’t know what he let go.”
“Frank!” his wife rebuked, pulling him back inside and closing the door.
Kaylee stood in the dark until Freya came up behind her. “Come on, time to get you home. I think you need a drink.”
The young woman sighed. “I wish it were all over.”
“A couple of drinks, then.” She took her arm and pulled her gently along. “Come on.”
“You knew him,” Hank said, walking next to Zoe but glancing back all the time.
“That man. In the restaurant. The boss.”
“What gives you that idea?”
Hank grabbed her arm, pulling her around to face him. “Oh, pretty much the look he gave you. You knew him.”
“Perhaps I did.” She glanced at his hand, but he didn’t remove it.
“He was wearing a coat like Mal’s,” Hank insisted. “Was he an Independent?”
Zoe sighed. “Yeah, he was. His name’s Davey MacAlister. He was Freya’s sergeant.”
“Do not mention it to Mal,” Zoe warned.
“What, that we saw MacAlister or that I know she outranked him?”
“That we saw him.” Zoe moved closer, so close Hank could feel her breath on his cheek. “Mal had respect for that man, and to find out he’s just a common thief …”
“What kind are we, then?” Hank countered. “Uncommon? Special? ‘Cause sometimes I find it hard to tell.”
“Hank, just don’t.”
“No, I mean it. What do you think we are? Some kind of soldiers in a holy crusade? Fighting the Alliance at every turn?” He stepped back. “Zoe, let’s face it, we’re crooks. If there were justice in the ’verse we’d be in jail. And just because MacAlister robs people close to, doesn’t mean he’s any different to us just because we pull off the odd bank vault job. We’re all still crooks.”
Zoe glared at him and walked away. “It just is.”
“Because you say so doesn’t make it so.”
She span on her heel. “The difference is that Mal would rather not, that when he steals it takes something away from him. MacAlister tonight? If it had been one of the other diners who was fussing, and not me, I don’t know that he’d’ve stopped his man from shooting.”
Hank was taken aback by her vehemence. “You think?”
“I don’t know. And that’s the point.”
“To save himself, or us. Not just for the pleasure of it.”
“And you think MacAlister might be like that?”
“The look in his eyes, that banter of his … I can’t help feeling it was hiding something.”
“And you’ve got a lot of experience of that.”
“Yes, yes I have.”
He nodded slowly. “I guess you do at that.”
“Does this put you off me?” Zoe asked, her voice softening a little.
“No. Just makes you more interesting. More faceted. A lot more layers to get to know.”
Zoe put her hand on his arm. “Hank, even Wash didn’t get to know all the layers of me.”
“But I plan on being around long enough to at least get close to your soft centre.”
“You think I have one?”
“Zoe, honey, on tonight’s showing, I think it’s pure marshmallow.”
“And you can keep that to yourself as well.”
“Of course, dear.” His stomach grumbled. “You know, I’m starving. We never did get to order anything.”
Zoe smiled. “There’s a fast food place just around the corner. I noticed it as we came long before. We can go there. But we'll go halves,” she insisted.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Hank grinned.
As Kaylee entered the house, her father stepped up and took her arm. “There you are,” he said, smiling. “We’ve been wondering where you‘d gotten to. Your captain was just about to send out a search party. There’s an old friend been waiting to see you.” He stepped to one side.
“Hi, Kaylee,” said Dray Buchanan, standing up from the chair. The young woman stared at him, her mouth open slightly. He was taller than she remembered, a few more lines on his face and perhaps the trace of his hairline moving back, but he was still Dray. Still handsome. Still muscular. And still coming towards her. He put his arms around her and kissed her soundly. “I’ve missed you.”
“Dray …” Kaylee managed to say. “It’s … it’s good to see you too.”
“My Pa told me you were coming to town, so I had to see you.” He held her at arms length. “And it sure does my eyes good, n’all. I swear you’re prettier than ever.”
“Th … thanks.”
“So, when’re we getting married?”
There was a sudden silence in the room, broken only by the sound of Simon rising from his chair. “Excuse me?”
Dray glanced over his shoulder. “I asked this little lady to marry me before she left Phoros, and she said yes. So I’ve come to claim my bride.” He smiled at Kaylee. “So, when’s the wedding? And your friends can come back and visit often, I’m sure.”
“Come back?” Kaylee shook her head. “What are you talking about?”
“Well, when you’re married to me, you ain’t gonna be traipsing all over the ‘verse, are you? Can’t do that with my kids in tow, now can you?”
Simon cleared his throat. “Excuse me,” he repeated. “But she’s not marrying you. She’s marrying me.”
“Has she said yes?”
“Well, no,” Simon admitted. “But she’s the mother of my baby.” He nodded over to where River had the sleeping Bethany on her lap. “So I think I have a better claim.”
Dray looked sharply at Kaylee. “Is that true? You got yourself another man and you didn’t tell me?”
“Dray, I …”
“Don’t make no never mind,” Dray said, shaking his head. “Kaylee said yes to me first.”
“I don’t think so.” Simon glared at the other man, moving closer.
Dray closed the gap until they were face to face. “Well, I do.“ His fists clenched.
Mal moved quickly between them, a hand on either chest. “We ain’t gonna have anybody fighting in here,” he said.
“Thank you, Cap’n,” Kaylee said with relief.
“Best we take this outside,” Mal went on, and Kaylee tensed all over again. “And we’ll decide on some rules.”
“Fine by me,” Simon said, heading for the door.
“Shiny.” Dray followed him out.
“Cap?” Kaylee said plaintively.
“Mal, what do you think you’re doing?” Freya asked, grabbing his arm.
“They both lay claim to Kaylee,” he said, looking deep into her eyes. “Need to get it decided.” He removed her hand and walked outside.
“Pa, stop them!” Kaylee pleaded, but her father shook his head.
“Winnie, if you promised to marry Dray, then you only got yourself to blame.” He patted her arm and went out after the others.
“I don’t believe this,” Freya said, looking around at River and Inara, at Mrs Frye and her sons. “We have to stop this.” She hurried out, Kaylee at her heels, the others close.
Outside Simon and Dray had divested themselves of their jackets, and were listening to Mal.
“I ain’t gonna say this has to be a clean fight, ‘cause I know the doc here don’t know how, and you don’t look like the kinda man who’d be downright dirty. So try not to gouge, or hit below the belt if you can. And if one of you wants to retire, just yell out and we’ll stop it. But basically it’ll be last man standing gets Kaylee.”
“Mal, no!” Freya strode over. “This is not gonna happen!”
“Sure it is,” Mal said. “Only way to get this sorted out.”
“Kaylee is not a piece of meat!”
“Then she should have said something before.” Mal smiled slightly. “’Sides, could be fun to see the doc messed up somewhat.” He pushed her back.
He grinned wider and turned back to the men standing in the middle of the street. “Are you ready, gentlemen?” he asked.
“Ready,” Simon said, lifting his hands into the classic boxer’s pose.
“Yeah,” Dray seconded, his hands looser, held in front of him.
“Stop this!” Kaylee shouted, running between them. “This is crazy!”
“Sweetheart, get out of the way,” Simon said firmly. “I’m fighting for your honour here.”
“More’n she ever did,” Dray muttered.
Simon’s eyes narrowed and he stepped nimbly round Kaylee. With a speed that shocked nearly everyone watching he punched the other man on the jaw, laying him flat on his back.
“Stop it!” Kaylee shouted again. “Enough!”
“Would you rather they used guns?” Mal asked, leaning on the verandah rail. “Or swords. Perhaps Inara could rustle us up some?”
“No, I couldn’t,” the Companion said coldly.
“I don’t want them to fight at all!” Kaylee wailed.
“Then why’d you leave it so long?” Mal asked, pushing off and stepping closer to her. “Why didn’t you wave Dray here and tell him you weren’t gonna marry him after all?”
Freya’s eyes narrowed, and she began to step forward, but River held her back. “Wait,” the young girl murmured.
“I don’t know!” Kaylee admitted.
“Do you want to marry him?”
“No, I want to marry Simon!”
“Then why’d you say yes to me?” Dray asked from where he lay on the ground, nursing his jaw.
“Because you wanted me to! Because I wanted you to be happy! That’s all I ever wanted, everyone to be happy!”
“But you never intended to keep that promise? That‘s why you made me swear not to tell anyone?” He climbed slowly to his feet.
Suddenly Kaylee burst into tears and ran inside the house, slamming the door after her.
Freya glared at the three of them. “You … liou coe shway duh biao-tze huh hoe-tze duh ur-tze. All of you.” She hurried inside.
Kaylee was sitting in the armchair, sobbing. “I’m sorry,” she managed to say. “I wish … I’ve been so mean to everyone.”
“No, Kaylee,” Freya said, gathering the young woman into her arms and rocking her gently. “No-one deserves this.”
“No, you don’t.” Simon stood in the doorway. “Kaylee, I’m sorry. It wasn’t meant to go like this.”
“Meant to …” Freya held her breath. “This was a game? Some kind of set-up?”
“It wasn’t a …” Simon knelt in front of the chair, putting his hands on Kaylee’s thighs. “Dray came by just after you went to see Freya. He told us what he’d asked you. What you’d said. And … it was a shock.”
Freya glanced up to see the others filing back into the house, Dray at the front. “So what, this was to get back at Kaylee?”
“No!” Simon insisted. “But it hurt, that she hadn’t told me. That this was the reason she wouldn’t say yes to me.”
“So whose idea was it?” Freya looked from the young doctor to the group standing quietly behind, then her eyes settled on Mal. On the slightly hunted look on his face. “I don’t believe it,” she whispered.
“It was only meant to show how these things can get out of hand,” Mal said quickly.
“And it wasn’t Mal’s fault,” Simon added. “It was mine. He suggested it as a joke, and I said yes. I’m sorry.”
Kaylee looked up at him, her cheeks wet. “I didn’t mean to hurt anyone.”
“Why didn’t you tell us?” her father asked.
“It was a secret,” River put in unexpectedly, holding Bethany. “No-one knew because Kaylee promised, so I couldn’t say anything.”
“You knew?” Kaylee gave her a look.
“You promised not to tell so I couldn‘t.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Simon asked, his voice so quiet it seemed almost a whisper.
“I thought I could ignore it, ’cos it seemed … like it wasn‘t real. Then when we had Bethany, and you were asking me to marry you, I realised I couldn‘t say yes until I … I had to do it properly.”
“Too honourable,” River murmured.
Simon sighed. “I suppose I shouldn’t expect anything less from you.” He half-smiled. “I guess we’ve both got secrets, things we haven’t told each other. It would take too long to go over every detail of our lives before we met. And this was a long time ago.”
“Like Sophie,” River said, nodding intently.
“Who’s Sophie?” Kaylee asked, looking from one to the other of them.
“We were … going out,” Simon said, shooting a glare at his sister.
“More than that. You bought a ring.”
Kaylee’s jaw dropped. “You asked her to marry you?”
“No!” Simon said loudly. “We were close, yes. I was an intern, working hard, but I thought I loved her.” He saw Kaylee’s head come up a little. “At the time, Kaylee, at the time. But I realised it wasn’t right, that she wasn’t the one I wanted to spend my life with. Not like you.”
“Why? Why was she wrong?”
“She …” He shook his head. “She was always holding back, never giving all of herself. I felt it was wrong.”
“So you think I might be the same? Never giving myself?” Kaylee, feeling guilty herself, was winding up to explode. “That I might be waiting to trap you into marriage? Just to give my daughter a father?” She ignored Simon’s attempts to interrupt. “Well, let me tell you, Simon Tam -”
“Kaylee.” Freya said the one word, loudly enough to cut across her, and Kaylee stopped, suddenly ashamed of herself.
“See?” said Hank from the doorway. “You don’t even have to be married to have rows.”
“No, dear,” Zoe agreed. “It seems you’re right.”
“What’ve we missed?” Hank asked Inara, but she shushed him to silence.
Dray stepped forward. “Kaylee, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have let this happen. And it was just as much my fault as yours. I knew you didn’t really want to marry me, even when I asked, not when you told me not to be faithful. If I thought you meant it, I figured you’d've had my balls on a plate if I’d even looked at another woman.”
“But your dad said …” She wiped her nose on the back of her hand until Simon pulled his hankie out of his pocket for her. She sniffed and went on, “Your dad said you hadn’t gotten married.”
“So you thought I was pining for you?” Dray smiled, shaking his head. “Oh, Kay. I ain’t got married because I’m having too much fun. There’re a lot of women out there, and I ain’t ready to settle down yet, no matter what my Ma wants.”
“You could have waved me.”
“Yeah, I could. But I was pissed that you didn’t tell me, didn’t write.” Dray looked at her. “I reckon we’re even.”
“What if I’d said yes? I mean, if I’d come back and said I was ready to marry you?” Kaylee asked, drying her face.
“Then I’d’a thought I was the luckiest man in the ‘verse and taken you gladly before the preacher. But we both knew that weren’t gonna happen.” Dray glanced at Simon. “So I reckon I’m looking at the luckiest man instead.”
“I don’t know,” Simon said slowly. “After this, I don’t know if Kaylee wants to marry me.” He turned back on his heels and put one knee down. “Will you, Kaylee? Will you marry me?”
“I thought you wouldn’t want me, not now.”
Simon smiled. “I don’t care what you do. Or say. If I have to fight every man on this damn planet, and the next, and the next … I want you to be my wife.” He put his hand towards his pocket, then realised he hadn’t got his jacket on. “Mal, would you?”
Mal reached into Simon’s coat and pulled out a ring. “Don’t think it’d fit me,” he joked, smiling. “Better try it on Kaylee’s finger.” He handed it across.
Simon looked back into her face. “Well? Will you?”
“That ain’t the same ring you bought that Sylvie?” Kaylee asked pointedly.
“Sophie,” Simon corrected. “And no. I sold that one back to the jeweller. And made a loss on it.” He grinned. “I bought this one when I got Bethany’s christening bracelet.” He cleared his throat. “Kaywinnet Lee Frye, will you marry me?”
“We don’t need to, you know,” Kaylee said quietly.
“I know. Because I’m never going to leave you. But I want to marry you. Hell, ask Freya if she thinks it’s a good idea.”
“I don’t have to,” Kaylee said, a smile forming on her lips. “Simon Tam, I will marry you.”
“At last,” Mal said as they all watched Simon slip the ring onto Kaylee’s finger. “Maybe now we can get down to some proper celebrating.”
“Ain’t you forgiven me?” Mal asked much later, following Freya at a safe distance back towards Serenity. Ahead of them, Simon and Kaylee were wrapped up in each other, carrying their sleeping child.
”No.” Freya didn’t look behind.
“We gonna fight about this?”
Mal glanced over his shoulder at the others. “It worked though, didn’t it?”
“And if it hadn’t?”
“Frey, you think I’d allow my mei-mei to not get the man she wants?”
Freya stopped suddenly and he almost ran into her. “Would you have been like this with … with Alice?” she asked.
He turned her to face him. “Frey, truth is, I’d’ve never let our daughter outta my sight. Not ‘til she was at least thirty.”
She smiled. “You’d have made a great dad,” she said, unconsciously stroking her belly.
“Still plan on showing you you’re right.”
She leaned into him, and he put his arm around her, heading slowly back to the ship.
“So, did you have a good time?” Inara asked. “Go anywhere interesting?”
“Just to a restaurant,” Hank said airily.
“And what?” Zoe asked as they stepped up the ramp into the cargo bay.
“There must be more to it than that,” Inara insisted.
“We had a good time,” the first mate said.
The Companion just looked at her. It didn’t matter: she’d get the details later.
“Are they okay?” Hank asked, watching Mal and Freya heading up towards their bunk, his arm around her, her head on his shoulder.
Zoe misunderstood. “They’ll be fine,” she said, looking at Simon and Kaylee as they took Bethany towards their quarters. “I reckon they’ve got some talking to get done before they go to sleep, but they‘re engaged now. That‘s gonna kinda make all the difference.”
Hank glanced at her, and realised. “No, I meant the Cap and Freya.”
River, standing next to Inara, said, “It’s nine months.”
The Companion looked down at her. “You mean -”
“She would be giving birth, according to Simon’s calculations,” she confirmed.
“I never …” Zoe shook her head. “It hadn’t occurred to me.”
“Nor me,” Inara said.
“I don’t think any of us realised,” Hank added.
“Mal didn’t,” River said, reaching into the pocket of her dress and taking out a folded sheet. She handed it to Inara.
“What’s this, sweetie?”
“Something I drew a few days ago.”
Inara opened it, looking down onto the delicate features of a child, softly coloured, aged about six, laughing as if she’d just been told the best joke in the ‘verse.
“Is that …”
The young psychic nodded. “Alice.”
Inara handed it to Zoe so she could see. The girl in the picture had long brown hair, curling gently, and wide blue eyes.
“Would she have looked like that?” Hank asked, looking over the first mate’s shoulder.
River shrugged. “One of many possibles, but … I think so.”
“You can’t give this to Freya,” Zoe said firmly.
“I wasn’t going to. It would hurt too much. But one day she will ask.” River took it back and refolded it, slipping it into her pocket once more.
“Are they ever gonna have kids?”
“My brother isn’t right all the time,” River said.
“Is that a yes?” Inara asked.
“There are so many variables with any conception … time, place … even mood. But I don’t think the Captain will leave it at that.” River smiled suddenly. “Not too long.”
Inara put her arm around the girl’s shoulder and squeezed. “I hope you’re right. They’d make good parents.”
“They’ve had the practice,” Hank agreed. “And here comes their eldest now.” He nodded out into the darkness as Jayne rolled up.
“Where have you been?” Zoe asked, putting her ‘in charge because Mal ain’t here’ face on. “We were looking for you.”
Jayne grinned, slightly the worse the wear for alcohol. “Been looking around. Seeing what there is to see.” His grin grew wider as he passed by them on his way towards his bunk. “And you can tell Kaylee she’s wrong.” He laughed wickedly and headed up the stairs.
Monday, December 4, 2006 3:36 AM
Monday, December 4, 2006 6:26 AM
Monday, December 4, 2006 6:38 AM
Monday, December 4, 2006 1:00 PM
Monday, December 4, 2006 1:22 PM
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