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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Mal wants a little chat ... Short but sweet(ish). Let me know if you like or not.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1632 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Mal stopped in the cargo bay, his thumbs hitched in his pants pockets. He looked around, seemingly at nothing in particular, then spoke, his warm toffee voice normal conversation level.
“River, we need to have that talk.”
“She’s not here,” came a voice from the top of a stack of crates. “She left.”
“Pretty cold outside,” Mal said. “Wouldn’t’ve thought she’d have gone without saying goodbye. At least to Bethany.”
There was a pause. “What talk?”
“’Bout Jethro. And you knew it was coming, albatross.”
There was no movement for a moment or two, then she sighed and climbed down. She looked at him through her hair. “Hello,” she said. “Did you miss me?”
“I guess we’d have noticed eventually.” He nodded towards a box. “Better sit down.”
“Well, I ain't standing.” He sat down, perched on the edge. “Be obliged if you’d join me.”
She gazed at him then glided across to him, sitting down and slipping her legs under her. “How’s Freya?” she asked.
“She’s shiny, thanks for asking. And no changing the subject.”
“I just –“
“River.” He contemplated her, the hair she still used like a shield, the soft dress and bare feet, looking for all the ‘verse like a girl, not the young woman he knew her to be. “So.”
“So,” she echoed.
“So he’s here. I'm lettin’ him stay a while.” He lifted his eyebrow at her. “Why am I doing that?”
“He’s my friend.”
“Oh, I know that, on account of you telling everyone. But I’ll say it even if no-one else will. You were at Bathgate for a total of three days. You met the man … how often?”
River stared at her hands, twisted together in her lap. “It doesn’t matter how long –“
“I think it does.” He spoke kindly but firmly. “You’re making like you’ve got your whole life together planned out. He ain't a toy, River. Or a puppy, or any other kind of lost creature. He’s a grown man. So I'm asking what you’re planning on doing with him.”
“I couldn’t leave him to be hurt –“
“No, that’s plainly the case. And it was a piece of kindness. But that kindness stopped when you made Jayne bring him on board. So now I want to know your intentions.” He turned to her.
“Mal …” She looked at him, her eyes dark and wide, limpid and tearful.
“Don’t go tryin’ that on me,” he instructed. “You know those eyes of yours only work on your brother, and he’s getting more immune.” He sighed. “Okay, so if you don’t want to answer out loud, how about I ask questions and you just nod?”
She gazed into his fatherly blue eyes. “’Kay.”
“Good.” Mal crossed his arms. “Did you expect me to make him a member of the crew?”
“I didn’t –“
“Only I ain't got enough put by to feed the ones I got, let alone another stray.”
“We’ve got the job on Persephone –“
“You know that ain’t the issue here. Don’t go trying to cloud it.” He leaned forward. “What am I supposed to do with him? He ain't a passenger – according to Jayne he ain’t got the wherewithal to buy one of those sugar sticks, let alone a berth.”
“He could be useful,” she suggested in a small voice.
“How, exactly?” He shook his head. “Unless I'm likely to go insane and ask for him to hold a service – and he ain't even a full Shepherd, I’d like to point out at this juncture – just what do you figure he could do the rest of us can’t?”
“I don’t know.” She dropped her eyes. Now her fingers were so tangled together she didn’t think she’d ever get them free.
“Not sure that’s good enough, mei-mei.” He let a moment go by. “And what about Jayne? He’s madder’n a dog with fleas at the moment. You think he’s gonna learn to love Jethro?”
“Captain …” Two big tears slid off her nose and splashed onto her knees. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I just feel that he’s important. To all of us.” She looked up at last. “To me.”
“Are you in love, little one?” Mal asked, now very gently, hating to see her cry.
“I think I have to find out.” She rubbed her nose on the back of her hand.
“Ain't you got a hankie on you?” he asked.
“No,” she sniffed.
“My ma told me to always keep one on me,” he said softly, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a linen square. “Just in case I came across a lady in distress.” He handed it over.
“I'm not a lady.” She wiped her face.
“Not far off,” he contradicted. “In about a month you’ll be twenty-one, and on most planets that makes you an adult. Some of ‘em would expect you to be married with a parcel of kids by now, but we’ll let that one slide on account of you being crazy.” He smiled at the surprised look on her face. “Yeah, I been keeping track. But … River, this is just another reason not to be playing with men’s affections. Jethro or Jayne. You ain't a little girl no more. You gotta behave like a grown woman.”
She blew her nose. “I’ll try.” She held out the hankie.
“No, you keep it.” Mal smiled. “Frey makes sure I’m well supplied.”
“That she does.” He stood up. “And she’s waiting for me.” He looked down into her face. “But you think on what I've said. Don’t go trying to make something out of this there ain’t, or you’ll hurt other people. And maybe get hurt yourself. Wouldn’t want that.”
“You care too.”
“That’s as maybe,” he said, heading towards the stairs. “But with this crew it’s easier when everyone’s happy.” He paused. “Well, not quite so miserable.”
“I’ll try,” she repeated, folding the hankie and placing it carefully inside her dress. She watched him walk up to the top of the gangway, disappearing through the hatch.
She didn’t know what was going to happen, only that Jethro needed to be here. For everyone’s sake.
Thursday, February 1, 2007 1:28 AM
Thursday, February 1, 2007 2:38 AM
Thursday, February 1, 2007 8:52 AM
Thursday, February 1, 2007 1:41 PM
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