BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Arrivals - Part III
Friday, January 26, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Mal and Freya's son has been born, but there are complications ... Thanks for your comments on this so far - don't let me down with the concluding part!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1643    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Simon was working frantically in the infirmary, setting up a transfusion.

“’Nara?” Kaylee was outside, watching Mal standing like a rock, unable to move, just a few feet away from his wife as she lay so still on the medbed.

“I don’t know, mei-mei,” the Companion said, putting her arm around the young mechanic, needing to feel another’s warmth and comfort as much as giving it herself. “I don’t know.”

Zoe had Ethan on her lap, sitting in one of the easy chairs Hank had dragged towards the door. “She’ll be fine,” she said. “I'm sure she will. Simon’s a good doctor.”

Jayne just sat on the stair, hugging his knees, ignoring the blood that had soaked into his pants. Her blood.

“Simon?” Mal asked finally.

“She’s haemorrhaging,” the doctor admitted, his professionalism taken over. “If I can’t stop it …”

“If you can’t …” Mal echoed. He stepped towards his wife, then slowed.

Everything slowed, as if they were moving through transparent treacle. Then it all stopped. Simon was frozen in the act of inserting the transfusion needle, Mal had his hand reaching towards the medbed, and Freya …

Freya was standing in the infirmary doorway, watching. “What is this?” she asked.

“Time to choose.”

She looked to her left, to a young girl standing next to her. She reminded the older woman of River, with brown hair that curled softly, and wide blue eyes, but just as slight and waif-like as the original. She looked familiar. “Choose what?”

“Life or death.” The girl waved her hand, and the infirmary shimmered, seemed to split into two. Two Mals, two Simons, two Freyas on two medbeds.

“Then I choose life,” Freya said immediately.

“Are you sure?” The girl pointed to the image on the right. Simon started to move again, inserting the needle, opening the bag to begin draining into Freya’s arm. “Are you sure?”

“Doc?” Mal asked.

“I don’t know. If I can’t stop …” He shook his head. “She’s losing too much blood.” He lifted Freya’s legs, opening them so he could …

Time passed, but only for them.

“Mal, I'm sorry,” Simon said. “It’s not … I can’t do anything.” His face was full of sorrow, and the sound of Kaylee’s crying filtered in from the common area.

“Freya?” Mal said, his voice questioning, his eyes disbelieving as he leaned down, putting his elbow on the medbed so he could look into her face. “Frey?” He stroked her cheek, willing her to wake up, to look at him, to tell him it was all right, that there was nothing to worry about, that …

The slow beep from the monitor stuttered. Once. Twice. Then it stopped. No sound. Nothing above Kaylee’s crying and Inara’s sobbing. “Frey?”

Ethan wailed.

The picture changed. A hillside. Familiar. A stream running through the valley below, and a stand of trees for shade. A small grave. Now a bigger one next to it.

Mal stood staring at the freshly turned soil, looking as if he’d been there for days.

Inara came up behind him, putting her arms around him, holding him as he turned into her, grief wracking his body. He didn’t want to go on. Not without her. Without his wife.

“Ethan needs you,” Inara said softly, long hours later. “He needs his father.”

“He killed his mother,” Mal said, sitting down on the soft grass and staring into the distance.

“No. No, Mal. It was … no-one’s fault.”

“Simon said it was the scar tissue. I got her pregnant, and I …”

“Mal, he needs you.”

“He has everyone else. They can look after him. Take care of him. I ain't his father no more.”

Kaylee walked across from the ship, carrying a small bundle. “He wants you,” she said, placing the baby at his side.

“Take him back,” Mal ordered.

“No.” She hurried back to Serenity, tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Take him back,” Mal said to Inara.

“No.”

“Then we’ll leave him here.”

Inara gazed at him then turned and walked away.

Mal didn’t move, just stared into the setting sun. Next to him, Ethan woke up, reaching his hands up but finding nothing to hold to, and he was cold. He did what any cold, lonely baby would do. He began to cry.

“Quiet,” Mal said, trying to ignore him.

Ethan’s cries became more urgent.

“Quiet!”

He began to sob.

“Ai ya, will you be quiet!” Mal leaned over the baby, glaring down at him. Ethan stopped, and held up his little hands. “Run-tze de fuo-tsoo,” Mal breathed. “God in heaven.” He reached down and picked up his son, cradling him, tears falling onto his small face. “Help me,” he whispered. “Help me.”

The image shimmered again as Freya cried. “Mal,” she said softly.

“Watch.”

A young man ambled up the ramp to Serenity, his hands in his pockets. “Dad?” he called.

“Ethan, I told you to be back by noon,” Mal said, coming down the stairs from the bridge. “We need to be off this rock before sundown.” He stepped onto the deck and winced. His back was playing him up, but the doc had said it was just a touch of rheumatism. Something to be expected, mostly from all the bullet wounds and knife scars he carried. That didn’t help. “Been here more’n three weeks already, just so’s Kaylee can fix that engine again.” He stroked the beard he’d taken to wearing a couple of years back.

“I want you to meet someone.” Ethan smiled, looking so like his father that Mal couldn’t help but grin.

“Who would that be?” he asked, joining his son.

Ethan beckoned to someone outside. A young woman walked up towards them, her hands playing nervously with a large sunhat. “Dad, this is Molly.”

Mal held out his hand. “Pleased to meetcha, Molly.”

“She’s my wife.”

At this Mal’s mouth fell open, and he stared at his son. “Your … what?”

“We just got married.” Ethan looked at his father. “I know. But she’s the woman I want to spend the rest of my life with.”

“How … how long have you known each other?” Mal stammered, trying to get himself under control.

“We met last time we came here. Been conversing on the Cortex, and …” Ethan grinned. “Molly’s my wife, Dad. Ain’t no-one else I want. Just like you and Mom.”

“You think?” Mal shook his head, then took a deep breath. “’Nara!” he shouted. “You know about this?”

Inara stepped onto the catwalk. “You told him?” she asked Ethan.

“Did more than that, Ma. We got married today.”

She couldn’t help laughing. “That’s exactly the wrong way to go about getting your father on your side, you do know that?”

“You knew!” Mal said accusingly.

“Of course. He tells me everything.”

“Can’t help if it I'm like my Mom, can I, Dad?” Ethan said, catching hold of Molly’s hand and pulling her towards him. “Love at first sight, and all?” He squeezed his wife’s waist, and she smiled into his eyes.

“Ethan …” Mal threatened.

“Go and introduce Molly to everyone else,” Inara ordered, coming down the stairs to stand next to her husband. “I want to speak to your father.”

Ethan nodded. “Come on. They’re not all as bad as this.” He took her towards the common area.

“I can’t believe that you …” He shook his head at her, the light catching in the silver hairs amongst the brown on his head.

“He’s your son, Mal,” Inara said gently. “Yours and Freya’s. Do you really think he was going to do what was right and proper? And he’s right – she loved you at first sight.”

“Freya …” Mal’s face softened as it always did when anyone mentioned her. “She’d have laughed herself crazy over all this,” he said quietly.

“And she’d have made Molly welcome, just like you’re going to.”

“Am I?” he asked, pulling Inara into his embrace.

“That you are. For all our sakes.” She kissed him lightly. “If you expect him to leave her behind, there’ll be a mutiny.”

Mal registered her words. “You mean he’s … we’re gonna have to …”

“Mal, close your mouth. That’s very unbecoming of a father-in-law.”

The picture slowed, halting on Mal glaring at Inara, his arm around her waist.

“He’s happy,” Freya said quietly. “Without me.” She shook her head. “I choose life.”

“Wait.” The girl pointed to the left. “See this first before you decide.”

"Doc?” Mal asked.

“I don’t know. If I can’t stop …” He shook his head. “She’s losing too much blood.” He lifted Freya’s legs, opening them so he could …

Time passed, images changing to Mal thrown out of the infirmary until he could take it no longer.

“Doc, please …” he pleaded, opening the door. “I gotta know …”

“She’s going to be okay,” Simon said, wiping his hands. “I had to do a hysterectomy, but … she’s going to be okay.”

“A hyst …”

“There won’t be any more children,” Simon explained. “I’m sorry.”

Mal refused to be sad. “Doc, you saved her life. And we’ve got Ethan. Ain’t gonna wish for more than that.”

Simon smiled tiredly. “She’s going to be asleep for a while longer, so you should take your son and get some rest yourself. Unless you want Kaylee and me to –”

“No,” Mal said, heading for the other bed where Ethan lay wrapped in the blankets. “I’ll take him with me.”

Mal picked up his son and stood for a moment watching his wife sleep, then went outside.

“Life,” Freya said, smiling as she wiped the tears from her cheeks.

“Watch,” said the girl.

“Ethan, come back here!” Freya chased the toddler along the corridor towards the bridge.

“Whoa,” Mal said, dropping down the steps and scooping his son up into his arms. “What’re you doing all naked on my boat?” he asked.

“Daddy,” Ethan said delightedly. “Bath time.”

“So I figured.”

Freya leaned on the wall. “I think he’d rather you gave it to him,” she said, smiling.

“Daddy bath,” Ethan agreed.

“It’s because you tell him stories while you do it,” Freya explained. “All about when you were young and reckless.”

“As opposed to being old and … what? Safe?”

Freya grinned. “Lately, yes. You sure seem to be keeping within the law nowadays.”

“Got me a family to look after,” Mal said, perching his son on his hip. “Can’t go around making enemies of folks like I used to.”

His wife stepped up closer to him so she could put a kiss on his lips. “Thank you.”

“What for?” he asked.

“Thinking of us.”

“Always do, Frey,” he said, feeling Ethan put his little arms around them both. “Always do.”

The picture froze.

“Life.”

“Watch.”

A hillside. Familiar. A stream running through the valley below, and a stand of trees for shade. A small grave. Now a bigger one next to it. But not much bigger.

“I’m sorry,” Simon said. “I wish I could have … but out here, something that simple can be …” He couldn’t go on for the pain in his chest.

Mal and Freya stood together, his arm around her shoulder, holding her so tightly she’d have bruises. Not that either of them cared. Neither could feel anything but the pain of loss, this time so great that it was tearing them into pieces.

Simon stepped back, to Kaylee, standing with Bethany by her side. The ten year old was crying.

“I’m sorry,” she said, had been saying for days. “I didn’t mean to get sick. I really didn’t mean …”

Kaylee went down onto her heels to look into her daughter’s face. “I know. We all know. Don’t worry what the captain said - he didn’t mean it. And what your daddy said is right – measles ain’t something usually bad, unless you ain’t well in the first place. And Ethan was … he wasn’t strong enough, that was all.”

Simon squeezed her shoulder and she stood back up. “That’s right, honey,” he agreed. “Ethan …”

“But I brought it on board. And Uncle Mal said –”

“No,” Simon said firmly. “He’s … he didn’t know what he was saying.”

“Yes he did,” River said, standing behind them. “He meant every word.”

“River, that isn’t helping –”

“Not trying to help. I’m just telling you the truth. He meant it. And he won’t change his mind, not this time.”

“He really wants us gone from Serenity?” Simon couldn’t believe it. “But it wasn’t … I couldn’t … doesn’t he realise?”

“He’s empty,” the psychic said. “Nothing left. Not even Freya can fill him up again.”

Kaylee clutched at her husband. “Simon?”

Another shift, and this time there were no words from Freya.

“I’m sorry,” Jayne said, mumbling a little, staring down at his hands. “It went wrong. That’s all there is to it.”

Freya looked down at the body of her husband, only a little blood to show the two bullet wounds in his chest. “How?”

“Patience didn’t … she wasn’t going to pay,” Zoe explained. “I don’t know why the captain ever agreed to take this job, knowing what the old lady’s like …”

“I know why,” Freya said softly, her voice cutting through. “For this.” She reached out and touched his face, already growing cold. “He’s been waiting for it since Ethan died. It just took a while.”

“If we’d had Simon with us, maybe …” Jayne shrugged.

“He’s better off on Corvus. They needed a doctor. And Mal would have found a way somehow.” She didn’t take her eyes from her husband’s face.

“Do you want me to tell Hank to head for Prometheus?”

Freya didn’t answer, just laid her head on Mal’s chest, wishing with all her heart to hear a beating from inside, but there was nothing, only cold, dead clay.

Time froze.

“Life?” the girl asked.

Freya stood still, seeing both images at once, Mal and Inara, happy without her, and Mal dead, herself alone. “Why do I have to choose?” she asked, wrapping her arms around herself. “Why can’t there be a middle path, where everyone gets to live?”

“Choose.”

Freya could feel tears on her cheeks, and she could taste salt on her lips. “I …”

The girl nodded, a smile on her face. “Very well. It’s time.”

Freya watched as the images blended together, back into the infirmary, Mal waiting by the medbed, Simon working. She so wanted to reach out, to touch him, to tell him she loved him more than anything, but the girl put her hand on her arm. “I know,” she said softly, tears running down her cheeks. She turned away, to head out of the room, to head towards the darkness waiting just beyond the common area …

“No.” River stood in front of them.

The girl stared. “She’s made her choice. Time to go.”

“No.” River stepped forward. “It’s not your choice to offer. And you’re not who you say you are.”

The girl glared, then laughed, her face and body flowing like water, remoulding itself into another. “I had to try, just one last time,” Eric Lon said before he faded away.

Freya stared. “I don’t understand,” she managed to say.

“The future isn’t written yet,” River said, touching her arm. “These are only two possibilities out of an infinity caused by the choices we make every day, not just one. And you don’t have to choose either.”

“Then what do I –”

“You go home.”

The pull on her arm was insistent, almost painful, and as the room span faster and faster, she opened her eyes.

“Frey?” Mal asked, his face anxious.

“Mal?”

“Doc!” he called, looking over her.

Simon appeared. “Just lie still. You’re fine.”

“What … what happened?” she asked, trying to sit up.

“I told you to lie still,” Simon said, putting his hands on her shoulders and pushing her back.

“Ethan?”

“Is fine too.” Simon glanced out of the infirmary doorway to where River was holding the new addition to the family. “He’s healthy.”

Freya swallowed. “And me? Did you have to do … to do a …” She touched her belly.

Simon understood. “No, no, Freya,” he said quickly, reassuring her. “There was a weak point, but I’ve repaired it. As long as you give it enough time to heal, you’re going to be fine.”

She lay back, tears flowing into her hair.

“Frey?” Mal was still concerned. “What is it?”

“I just … I dreamed that …”

“Dreamed what?”

She looked into his blue eyes, full of unshed tears, and smiled. “I can’t remember.”

He shook his head and managed to smile back. “You’re gonna make an old man outta me, you know that?”

“I hope so. Eventually,” she said, lifting her hands to pull his lips to hers, still crying, but now with relief.

River sat in the common area, a grin as wide as Serenity on her face. Everything was as it should be. ---

Bethany looked down into the little bed in the temporary nursery. “Mine?” she asked from where Kaylee was holding her.

“Not quite.” Kaylee looked into her daughter’s face. “Almost, but … more like a cousin.”

“No. Want him. Now.” Ever since she’d made a spurt with her talking in the last few weeks, she’d been more demanding.

Kaylee glanced at Simon standing in the doorway. “Well, that’s something we can discuss later.”

“Mine.” Bethany reached out towards Ethan.

“He’s not a toy, honey,” Simon said softly. “He’s a little baby.”

“Want him. Bro … bro …” She couldn’t remember the word properly, but they almost got it.

“Sweetheart, to be a brother he has to come from your mommy …” Kaylee tried to point out. “And that takes time to –“

“Mine.” Bethany was very firm.

“You want him as your baby brother?” Mal asked, stepping past the doctor into the room. “That what you want, squirt?”

Bethany smiled brilliantly at him. He understood. “Yes.”

“Then I think that’s okay. But just so’s you know, he’s gonna be looked after by Auntie Frey and me.”

“Daddy.”

“That’s right,” Mal said, feeling as if his heart was going to explode with all the emotion inside. “I’m his daddy.”

Bethany nodded. “’Kay.” She looked back at Ethan and said carefully, reaching out to him, “Brother.”

Mal smiled. “Can’t help feeling like there’s gonna be some fun and games around here from now on,” he said, shaking his head.

COMMENTS

Saturday, January 27, 2007 4:12 AM

KATESFRIEND


Just had to push that angst right up to the edge this time...wonderful story!

Saturday, January 27, 2007 4:33 AM

NCBROWNCOAT


Whoa! What an angsty chapter. Wonderful and I love the end where Bethany want Ethan as her brother.

Saturday, January 27, 2007 7:25 AM

AMDOBELL


When you went into all the awful choosing while Freya was adrift I was hoping and praying you wouldn't do that, it was such a relief when River stepped in and told Freya it wasn't real, that Eric Lon is one mighty twisted *wangba dan*. So very much dancing with delight to have a happy ending and I just loved Bethany wanting Ethan for her little brother. This was wonderful even if you did scare me out of a few years of my life, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, January 27, 2007 8:00 AM

GIRLFAN


Very cleverly done.

Saturday, January 27, 2007 11:49 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh...that little plot twist was completely brilliant and unexpected! Having a mental remnant of Lon take on the form of what I presume is a grown up Alice and actually make her mother feel that she had to either choose dying and knowing that Mal and Inara would raise Ethan up, or choose life and see her son die of measles and have Mal die from how empty he would be? Absolutely fabulous work:D

BEB

Saturday, January 27, 2007 9:29 PM

TAMSIBLING


WOW! Absolutely brillaint ... I did not see that twist coming and honestly, I was torn as to what exactly Freya should do.

Once again, thank God for River.

And the bit with Bethany at the end - perfect!


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“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

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He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

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“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

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“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

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