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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Inara's home, but there's a problem ... Thank you for all your comments - it makes me think about the characters even more!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1670 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“… so I told him, if that was how he felt, I wasn't taking the job.” Freya lifted the chopsticks to her mouth, noodles hanging either side. She didn’t know what Kaylee had done to the sauce, but it was tasty.
“What did he say to that?” Mal asked, quietly intrigued.
“Nothing.” Freya paused as she chewed. Then added, “‘Cause I hit him.”
“You … why?”
Freya shrugged. “Because he pissed me off.”
“And so few people do that,” Mal said witheringly, tempering his sarcasm with a smile. Freya was finally blooming with her pregnancy, and it felt good to goad her a little.
“Oh, ha, ha.”
“So what happened?” Jayne asked, picking a stray fibre from his teeth.
“Well, there he was on the floor. And that was the problem. He was so big, so … round … he, well, he couldn’t get up. He just sort of rolled around.” A grin began on her face as she remembered. “Of course then I started to laugh. I tried not to, I really did. But the sight of him, like a ball of flesh … I laughed. And kept on laughing. And you know how it is, when you laugh, you can’t do anything, you’ve got no strength? So there he was, getting angrier by the minute, and me laughing so much tears were running down my cheeks, neither of us able to do any damn good at all …”
The others were all laughing too, even Zoe, who was having to be careful with the wound she’d sustained only barely healed. It had been ten days, and she was a lot better, but it pained sometimes. “I'm surprised he didn’t shoot you,” she said.
“He couldn’t reach his guns,” Freya admitted, feeling a slight pull of nausea herself.
Mal said, “You’ve certainly led an interesting life.”
“Well, the joys of having your own ship.” Freya breathed deep to calm down. She’d had occasional bouts of morning sickness for a long while, and this was nothing she couldn’t live with. But she put down her chopsticks and pushed her plate away.
“Do you miss it?” Simon asked, watching her carefully, not unaware of how she felt, but deciding it was probably okay.
“Sometimes,” Freya replied, looking down the table at the young doctor. “When people piss me off.” She aimed a look at Mal who just smiled and continued to eat. “But seriously, yes, I do on occasion. I put a lot of time, effort and a deal of money into that boat, but I've got nothing to show for it.”
“Not sure I’d say that,” Mal put in. “If you hadn’t lost your boat you wouldn’t have found me,” he reminded her.
“Oh, don’t get me wrong.” Freya turned warm brown eyes on him. “I think I got the best end of the deal.” She stroked her belly and smiled. Mal leaned over and put his hand on hers.
“Gorram it, if you two start getting all lovey, I’m gonna eat in my bunk! Or throw up,” Jayne protested.
Freya grinned at him. “So, Jayne. What’s your worst moment?”
“I know my cooking ain't as good as some fancy restaurants, but is it that bad?”
Everyone at the table looked across at Kaylee, who had spoken to Inara.
“What?” The Companion looked up. “Sorry?”
“You haven’t touched your food,” Kaylee explained, bouncing Bethany on her knee as she spooned mush into her mouth.
“I … I'm not hungry.” She managed a smile.
“You should have something,” Simon said quickly. “You’ve not been eating properly since we left Persephone.”
“And how would you know that?” Inara asked, raising an eyebrow, then glanced at River.
“You have to eat,” the young psychic said. “Even babies know that.” She handed Bethany a biscuit to chew with some of her new teeth.
“I’ve just … not had an appetite.”
“You should have come to see me. I could have given you something.” Simon sat forward.
“I’ll eat. Honestly.” She grimaced, pressing her fingers to the bridge of her nose.
“Inara?” Mal glanced at Freya then looked down the table at Inara.
“A headache, that’s all,” she insisted, smoothing the skin and looking up at him.
“Do you need anything? Can I get you a soother?” Simon offered.
“No, no, I …” She took a deep breath. “I think I need to speak to you all.”
“What about?” Mal asked, not sure if he was more concerned or intrigued.
“About why I decided to resign from the Guild.”
There was silence around the table.
“Inara,” Mal said eventually, “you don’t have to.”
“I think I do. I’m sure it has nothing to do with what happened, but …” She glanced at Simon, who nodded encouragingly. “I think I owe it to you all to tell you the real reason.” She took a deep breath. “Nine years ago I fell in love …”
As she spoke everyone sat motionless, food forgotten, all eyes on her.
“… I put in my resignation …”
Only Bethany, chewing her biscuit, looked from face to face.
“ … Gregor was so happy when I told him about the baby …”
Freya’s hand sought Mal’s, holding it tight, so very tight.
“… I thought I had no choice. I went back to the Guild …”
River watched, her eyes round, nodding knowledgably.
“ … And then I came here. To Serenity. And I found something I thought I’d lost a long time ago.” Inara stopped, looking at Mal.
Freya stood up quickly, pushing her chair back before hurrying out of the galley.
Mal stared at Inara, then followed his wife out.
Inara sat down, the others looking at each other.
“Frey …” He stopped her outside their bunk.
“She didn’t tell us. Didn’t tell me. When Alice …” She turned, such a look of desolation and anger on her face that he was worried for her and the baby.
“Would it have made any difference if she had?” he asked, putting his arms around her, pulling her in close to him, feeling her hard in his embrace.
“Would it have brought her back?”
She stiffened even more, then pulled free, heading down the corridor towards the stairs and the cargo bay. He went to go after her but a hand on his arm stopped him.
“Let me. It’s my fault,” Inara said, slipping away.
Mal stood, his arms crossed, his thoughts in turmoil.
“You knew all this?” Kaylee asked Simon quietly.
He nodded. “And I couldn’t tell you. I’m sorry about that, but it was a confidence.”
“No-one could tell,” River added.
“But we’re married,” Kaylee insisted. “We shouldn’t have secrets from each other. It ain’t right.”
“Bao-bei, I couldn’t. Please don’t be mad at me.” He put his hand on her arm but she pulled it away.
“I just thought we were past that,” she said, standing up and carrying Bethany towards her engine room.
“She’ll be all right,” River said. “It’s Inara you need to look to.”
Simon looked sharply at his sister. “Inara?”
“Freya,” Inara called, hurrying after her. “Please stop.”
Freya stepped down onto the cargo bay floor. “Go away,” she said.
She span on her heel. “Leave me alone!” Her voice was so loud it rang from the superstructure.
“No, I won’t.” Inara faced her. “I’m sorry.”
“Sorry?” Freya stepped so close there was nothing between them. “You didn’t tell me. You could have … before …”
“I don’t want him.”
Freya shook her head. “I know different.”
“Then you’re a fool.” Inara closed her eyes briefly, trying to clear the headache. “And it wouldn’t matter anyway. He doesn’t want me, and that’s a fact.”
“Then why are you doing this?” Freya asked, taking hold of her arm.
Inara cried out. “You’re hurting me.”
Freya let go immediately. “I wasn’t … that hurt?”
Even Inara looked surprised. “I know you weren’t, but it …” She lifted the gauzy fabric of her sleeve, and both were astonished to see bruises forming as they watched.
Freya looked up. “Come on, I think Simon needs to …” She stepped forward as Inara swayed, almost falling, catching her. “’Nara?”
“Freya …” The other woman’s voice faded as an intense look of pain crossed her face. “Oh, Freya!” she murmured, then cried out again, a scream that filled the bay. She slipped to the floor, moaning.
“Inara …” Freya went down onto her knees, then shouted, “Simon! Simon!”
Simon stepped outside the infirmary, not wanting his patient to possibly hear what he had to tell the others, even though she was sedated from the drugs he had used. He didn’t want her waking, feeling the pain he knew she would be experiencing otherwise. All the crew were waiting to hear his verdict.
“It’s some kind of poison.”
“Poison?” Mal repeated.
“I don’t recognise it, which is bad in itself, but it’s … if we don’t find the antidote, Inara will die.”
Mal’s face tightened. “Why didn’t you find it before, when you examined her?”
“Because the poison as such isn’t there anymore.”
“I don’t …”
“It’s adapted, hiding … it’s causing a cascade failure.” He looked at Mal’s face. “I didn’t know to look for it,” he admitted.
“How did it get into her system?”
Simon shrugged. “I don’t know. Ingestion, injection … possibly even airborne. I won’t know until I get some kind of idea what the poison actually is.”
“But you know it’s there?”
“Oh yes. The effects are obvious. The changes …”
Simon looked unsure. “Until I know what it is?”
“How long does Inara have?” Mal clarified.
“Maybe a week. Maybe less. I don’t know, Mal.”
“You’re the doctor - you have to have some idea.”
Simon looked deeply unhappy. “Given the damage already incurred … five days, maybe six. At the outside.”
Everyone looked shocked.
“Is she still in pain?” Freya asked quietly.
“Yes. I think it’ll get worse.” Simon looked back at his patient. “I can control it, keep her under as long as I can, but I need the antidote. She needs it.”
“And you think there is one?” Zoe asked.
“I have to believe there is.”
“We’ll find it, doctor,” Mal said firmly. He looked at his mechanic. “Can we get anything else out of the engine, mei-mei?”
“I’ll try, Cap’n.” She scampered off up towards her domain.
“I wish I could help,” River said quietly.
“You take care of Bethany, so the others don’t have to worry.” Mal looked at her kindly. “Ain’t your fault you’re not picking this up.”
“But I should be able to,” she said forlornly, slipping away towards the nursery.
“But if we don’t know where to look for this antidote -” Simon began.
“Got a notion about that,” Mal said, turning on his heel and walking out of the common area. “Hank,” he called, and the pilot followed him fast, Zoe and Jayne right behind.
“Can you tell how long it’s been in her system?” Freya asked.
“I might be able to. If I backtrack … I might be able to tell when …” He looked closely at Freya. “What are you thinking?”
“That possibly it wasn't only tranquillisers the kidnappers injected Inara with.”
“You think – “
“I don’t know yet, Simon. But check, and let me know.” She went to follow Mal but Simon stopped her.
“Freya, if you’re right, we need to get back to Persephone.”
“I think that’s where we’re headed.” Freya gave him a tight smile. “I'm not the only one this has occurred to, Simon.”
Freya wasn’t undressed when Mal stepped down the ladder. Instead she was standing staring at herself in the mirror, her hands on her belly. He came to stand behind her and put his arms around her.
“You okay?” he asked.
“I’m not sure I deserve this baby,” she said, not looking at him.
“What?” He was shocked. “Frey, how can you -”
“All I was thinking was that she knew how it felt, to lose a child, and she never said. Didn’t tell me how to cope with it.” She shook her head. “Not how she felt.”
Mal turned her around so he could look her directly in the face. “Frey, you say that again and I’ll …”
“I’m not sure,” he admitted. “But I’ll find something.” He put his hands on her cheeks, cradling her. “Frey, she didn’t say anything because it wouldn’t have helped. Not with what we were going through.”
“But she knew -”
“No. She didn’t. No more’n anyone else. Everyone’s different, Frey. Everyone.”
She gazed into his eyes then pulled him close, her arms around his back. “Hold me,” she whispered.
“Ain’t going anywhere.” He embraced her tightly, his chin on her head, smelling the scent of her hair with his eyes closed.
“I can’t help feeling how I do,” she confessed, her voice slightly muffled. “And I feel so damn guilty about it too. Having to go through that, seeing us, you … and now this baby …”
“If that’s the case then I’m as much guilty as you,” Mal said, kissing the top of her head. “I beat her up over staying with the Guild, supporting them after she knew what they did to Medori, when all the time she had these other things on her mind.”
“You didn’t know,” Freya said, lifting her face.
“’N’ neither did you.”
She looked into his eyes, seeing the love he had for her there. “Both as bad as each other, then.”
“No, I don’t think I can agree there.” He squeezed her slightly. “I think you’re worse.”
She laughed. “Thanks.”
“My pleasure. Now, we gonna get a couple of hours sleep?” He let go and sat down on the bunk, tugging his boots off.
“You think you can?”
“No.” He smiled tiredly. “But if I’m gonna worry about Inara, I’m gonna do it in comfort. Preferably with my wife next to me.”
“In a while,” Freya said, heading for the ladder.
“Where’re you going?” he asked, pausing in the act of pushing his suspenders from his shoulders.
“Just to see Inara.”
“She’s still out.”
“Don’t be long.”
She smiled at him, undoing the buttons of his shirt. “I won’t be.”
“Honey, can I come in?” Kaylee asked from the infirmary doorway.
Simon looked up at her. “Always.”
“I wanted to apologise.” Her voice was small, and she was looking down at her hands.
“Being like that. When ‘Nara told us about her baby.”
He crossed the room and held her tightly. “It’s okay. I understand.”
“I know you look out for us all, like the Cap’n. And I know you have people tell you things you can’t tell me. I … guess I was jealous.”
“Don’t you think there’s enough of that going around?” Simon asked gently.
“I know how she feels,” Kaylee said quietly.
“You do?” Simon was surprised and moved her away enough so he could look into her eyes. “What are you jealous about?”
“She talked to you. Not me.” Kaylee disentangled herself from his arms and walked away, turning only when she’d put the width of the infirmary between them. She looked at the woman on the medbed. “Why didn’t she trust me, Simon? I woulda listened, helped, done whatever I could. Why’d she talk to you instead?”
“I don’t know,” Simon said, determined not to mention anything about Inara not wanting people to judge her. “Maybe Bethany …”
“You’ve got a baby of your own. And you never, even once, considered giving her up, did you?”
“No,” Kaylee admitted.
“But what if something had happened to me?” He licked his lips. “What if Mal hadn’t come after me and River, when Lon took us? If he hadn’t been in time? If I’d … died?”
“Or before, on Tetris. If we hadn’t got away, if you’d been left with a baby to be born and no father …”
“Simon, stop.” She hugged herself, turning away.
Immediately he was behind her, his hands on her shoulders, turning her back to face him. “You wouldn’t have given Bethany up. Not to Zoe, not to Freya, not to anyone. I know you.”
“And she thought I’d be …” The expression on Kaylee’s face was one of sudden comprehension. “But I’d never … not in a million years … she must have …”
“Ai ren, I’m not sure what she was thinking. Maybe it was just because I am a doctor, and I’m not allowed to break confidences.”
“And you didn’t.” She smiled tentatively at him. “You’re a good man, Simon Tam.”
“I should hope so. I’ve got a good wife.”
She look her head. “Not so good. Not when I can think things like that with her lying there.” She shivered.
Simon took her back into his arms. “You are good,” he insisted. “And you’re her friend. She knows that. And it’s keeping her going.”
“I want her to be all right,” Kaylee said, holding him close. “I want everything to be all right.”
“It will be,” Simon said. “Mal’s seeing to that.”
“Simon?” Freya looked in. “Sorry, am I interrupting something?”
“Nope,” Kaylee said, letting her husband go and standing straight. “I was just on my way to check in on Bethany.” She smiled. “’Night.”
“Good night.” Freya watched her friend walk out into the common area then looked back at the medbed, Inara lying so quiet and still. “How is she?”
“The same. A little worse.” He shrugged. “I wish I could do more.”
“You’re doing what you can.”
“At least I know now that it’s a neuro-toxin. That’s why she bruised like that – it’s breaking down the cells in …” He paused a moment. “I still don’t have anything to combat it, though.”
“We’ll find the antidote,” Freya assured him.
“Oh, I understand that if anyone can, Mal will.”
“You’re not on your own in this, Simon.” She put her hand on his arm. “Everyone is going to do their damnedest to beat this. You know they are.”
“I know, Freya. That’s what I told Kaylee. But I'm her medic. It’s ultimately up to me.”
“No, it isn’t. Look, why don’t you go and get some sleep? I’ll watch her for a while.”
Simon shook his head. “No. I couldn’t sleep anyway, not at the moment. I might catch a nap later, but I’ve still got some other tests to run, results to check …”
“Okay.” Freya nodded. “Just make sure you don’t run yourself ragged. Won’t be any help to Inara if you do that.”
“No. I won’t. Besides, River won’t let me. Nor Kaylee.” A sudden smile flashed across his face at the thought of his sister and his wife, helping him to control his fury at feeling so impotent. “They’re just as likely to gang up on me.”
Freya grinned. “That because they love you.”
“Yes, I know. And I am blessed.”
This time his ironic tone made Freya laugh. “You go saying that in their hearing, and they really will gang up on you.”
“No, please.” Simon smiled again. “How are you, by the way?” he asked. “I should have …but this with Inara …”
“I‘m shiny,” Freya said.
“I’d better examine you. You’ve been doing a lot more than I recommended.”
“I got bored.”
“That’s not an excuse.”
“Then let me take a look.“ He gave her his professional look. “Or do I have to get Mal?“
Freya sighed and laid on the other bed. “Don’t you dare.”
Simon took out the scanner, positioning across her swelling belly, fixing sensors to her skin.
“You don’t have to,” she said softly. “I know he’s fine.”
“He?” Simon stared at her. “How do you …”
She smiled at him. “I can feel him. Here.” She tapped her temple.
“Have you told Mal?”
“No. And you’re not to either.”
“Why not? I mean, I won’t, of course, not if you … but you should.”
“He’s going to be the father of a healthy child - that’s all that matters.”
“I didn’t mean that,” Simon insisted. “I meant that your abilities are coming back.”
“I don’t know that they are.”
“But you just said -”
“I know I’m having a boy. That’s all. Let’s leave it at that for now, shall we?”
He stared at her, lying on the bed, so calm, and turned back to his scans. After a moment he nodded. “You’re right. He’s fine. Do you … do you want to see?”
She was startled. “Is there anything to see?”
“I wouldn’t have suggested it if not.”
“I …” She struggled for words, then nodded. “Yes. Please.”
His lips twitched and he pressed a series of buttons on the screen. “I’ll do you a hard copy.” The machine whirred for a moment then produced a small square of paper. “Freya, meet your son.”
She took it gingerly, not sure if this was a good idea or not, then looked at the image. It was grainy, not very clear, but … “My son.” There was awe in her voice.
Simon smiled. “Better show Mal. Prove to him that you’re not just eating too much.”
She swung at him but he moved out of the way. “Don’t tell him it’s a boy, though,” she said softly.
“If you don’t want me to.”
“I want it to be a surprise.” She climbed off the bed and went to stand by Inara. “Look,” she said, holding the picture up in front of her friend’s face. “My son. So you have to get better so you can see him in person.”
Simon’s smile switched off. “She may never see him.”
Freya looked up at him. “But we’re going to find the antidote. Mal won’t let -”
“I'm not sure it’s going to be in time. There comes a point when even the antidote can’t repair all the damage that’s being done.”
Freya was shocked. “And that point comes … when?”
“Soon. Maybe a day. More likely two. At least the damage to her nervous system isn’t speeding up, but I can’t guarantee that won’t happen.”
“So maybe forty-eight hours.”
“So the end result, even if we find the antidote, could be …” She paused, not sure whether she really wanted Simon to answer or not.
“Brain damage,” the young doctor replied. “Possibly severe enough to resemble an acute stroke, blindness, or loss of feeling in all extremities … it’s hard to say.”
“I wish I could do more,” Simon said, banging his fist down onto the work surface, anger finally showing itself in his face and voice.
“Then we will.”
Freya headed out of the infirmary and took the stairs up to the top level, passing the bunks and going on to the bridge. “Hey,” she said.
“Hey,” Hank responded, turning in his seat.
“Any response from Dillon?”
Hank shook his head regretfully. “Not so far. But we’re still out of vid range. Maybe he’s waiting to talk in person.”
“I hope not.” At Hank’s puzzled look, Freya went on, “Send him another wave, will you? Tell him we’ve got less time than we thought.”
“You mean –”
“Simon’s thinking maybe forty-eight hours before there’s irreparable damage.”
“Tzao gao.” The pilot’s face went pale.
“How long until we get back to Persephone?”
“About thirty hours.” He leaned over the controls, checking his instruments. “I can shave that a little, but we’ll be pushing the cells. Maybe twenty-six?”
“Do it, Hank,” Mal said from the doorway. He stepped over the sill onto the bridge. “Four hours might make the difference between life and death.”
“I'm on it, Mal,” Hank said.
Freya stepped closer to her husband. “I thought you were going to bed.”
“You’re right. I ain’t sleepy,” he admitted. “I don’t think anyone on this boat is going to get much shuteye ‘til this is over.” He hitched his braces back onto his shoulders. “Coffee?”
“Sounds good.” Freya glanced back over her shoulder. “Hank? Can I bring you a cup?”
“Yeah,” the pilot said, looking up and smiling a little. “Strong and silent. The way I like my women.”
“I’ll tell her you said that.”
“Go ahead,” Hank muttered as he bent back over the controls. “It’s half right, at least.”
to be continued
Monday, January 15, 2007 1:34 AM
Monday, January 15, 2007 7:42 AM
Monday, January 15, 2007 9:25 AM
Tuesday, January 16, 2007 8:17 PM
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