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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Jayne's been gone a while, and things are about to get a whole lot darker ... Hope you like and let me know.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1728 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Oh, I'm sorry.” Jethro paused on the threshold to the cargo bay. “Did you want to be alone?”
Freya looked up from where she was sitting on the floor, studying her son, his little arms waving at her. “No, that’s fine.”
“I just wanted … I was going to use the weights,” he admitted, stepping through. “If that’s okay.”
“Sure. I doubt Jayne’s going to mind.”
“Thanks.” Jethro put his towel down on the bench. “I feel … working in the Abbey kept me fit, but sitting around here …”
She laughed. “I know what you mean.”
He adjusted the weights on the barbell then looked back at her. “I’m sorry.”
“I don’t think you need to apologise,” Freya said, making faces at Ethan.
“But everyone misses him.”
Freya shrugged. “Some more than others maybe.”
She looked up. “He’s my friend. A good friend.”
“But it’s because of me he’s gone.”
“He isn’t dead, Jethro,” Freya said firmly. “Don’t talk like he is.”
“Sorry.” He watched her playing with Ethan’s fingers. “I just feel as if it’s my fault. If I hadn’t come on board –”
She sighed. “Jethro, what happened was between him and River. You may have been the catalyst, but I don’t see how you could have stopped it.”
“I could have left.”
“Maybe.” She sat back. “But as someone once told me, hindsight is perfect. It’s looking into the future that’s the difficult part. And she needs you right now.”
“So … how’re you getting along together?”
Jethro blushed. “I … we talk. A lot. About very little of any importance, but … we just talk.”
“That’s good.” Her lips twitched. “You kiss her yet?”
The blush deepened. “I … no.”
“I don’t …”
“Jethro, you’re not a Shepherd.” She nodded towards his open-neck shirt. “You don’t even wear it any longer.”
“It feels like it’s still around my neck.”
“And how does River feel about that?”
“She understands.” He looked down at his hands. “We’re … taking it slowly.”
“That’s good too.” She smiled. “You really don’t want Simon to come after you for seducing his sister.”
His head lifted up, his eyes wide. “I wouldn’t do that!”
“No, I don’t suppose you would.” She grinned. “You’re okay, Jethro.”
He smiled, his whole face lighting up, and sat down on the floor opposite. “He’s a lovely baby.”
“That he is,” the proud mother said. “And he’s gonna be spoiled rotten, aren’t you, Ethan?”
The baby gurgled, blowing bubbles.
“I'm sure he will.” Jethro looked into her face, at the loving expression in her eyes. “Have you … will you get Ethan christened?”
Freya looked up in surprise. “Haven’t hardly thought about it. But I doubt it. I can’t say Mal is religious any more, and as I don’t follow that particular path …” She shrugged expressively.
“Why?” She smiled at him. “You keep apologising around this crew and they’ll start to think you’re guilty of something. It was a perfectly valid question.” She looked at her son. “Maybe when he’s older, he can decide for himself.”
“What do you follow? If you don’t mind me asking.”
She glanced at him. “Nothing you’d know. Something … old.”
“I know quite a bit about different –“
“No.” She sighed. “It’s not something I talk about, Jethro. It was taught to me by someone, and I … it’s private.”
“What did I just say about apologising?”
“I'm …” He stopped and laughed.
“That’s better.” She smiled and looked back at Ethan, letting him grab her fingers. “You know, I never thought I’d have him. Life we lead, things go wrong, and sometimes … I didn’t think I could have children. Then he comes along and he’s like a miracle.” She paused. “I'm sorry if that makes you feel uncomfortable.”
“Talking about miracles?” Jethro shook his head. “I’ve seen things since I left the Abbey that make me believe even more in them. Even if it’s just a case of needing something to believe in at all.” He shook himself. “You’ve known the captain for a long time?”
“Sometimes it seems like forever.” She glanced up, still smiling. “We got married a year ago. More.” She chuckled. “We forgot our anniversary, you know. In the middle of something, and it just went by.”
“I'm sure there’ll be a lot more.”
“Sure there will.” Ethan went to grab the silver pendant about her neck, but she pulled it out of reach, pushing it back inside her shirt.
“Freya, the night Jayne left, when River told me about the Academy, what they did to her …” He paused. “I didn’t know that sort of thing went on.”
“Most people don’t, and if they do they turn a blind eye. Easier that way.”
“She says she hurt you.”
Freya looked up. “A long time ago, Jethro. And it wasn’t her fault.”
“She thinks Jayne leaving is.”
“Maybe it was. But that isn’t going to change things now.”
“Was he in love with her?” Jethro asked, almost afraid of the response.
“I think so.”
“Then why didn’t they do something about it?”
Freya shook her head and smiled at him. “That’s like asking why is the sky blue.”
“River’s upset that Kaylee won’t speak to her.”
“Kaylee and Jayne were friends. She’s … Kaylee‘s always cheerful and wants everyone else to be, and right now she thinks they’re not.”
“And she blames River.”
“She’ll get over it.”
Jethro let Ethan take hold of his fingers. “It’s been four weeks. I don’t know that she will.”
“There’s more going on than just Jayne, Jethro.”
“I sort of figured that out.” He laughed. “Not sure I’ll ever get to know everything that happens on board Serenity.”
“Well, I haven’t,” Freya agreed, and started to tickle her son.
Mal was doing the accounts. It was odd, but working with the figures, balancing and checking, was very relaxing, particularly as the last few jobs had paid well, and for once the high figures were on the right side of the line. And no-one had gotten even so much as a scratch, even without Jayne behind them. Maybe Jethro was good luck. Not that he approved of relying on luck. He stopped to take a mouthful of coffee as Simon stepped into the galley.
“Captain, do you have a moment?” he asked.
“Sure,” Mal said. “Though I tend to get somewhat worried when you start a conversation by calling me Captain.”
“As has been pointed out to me on a number of occasions, that’s who you are,” Simon said dryly. “And it’s in that respect I need to speak to you now.”
“Fire away,” Mal said, intrigued.
The young man sat down opposite him. “I would … I need to get to a Core hospital. Or if not that, a hospital with Core-level facilities.”
Mal sat up straight. “Is it Kaylee?” he asked.
“No, no,” Simon assured him. “Well, not directly.”
“You’d better explain.”
Simon blushed, just a little. “Well, you know she’s been … we’ve been …”
Mal took pity on him. “You’ve been trying for another baby. Hell, doc, the whole damn boat knows that.”
Simon smiled briefly. “Yes.”
“So you’ve finally done it? Only I don’t hear no cheering from the direction of your cabin.”
“No. In fact, quite the opposite.” He paused, embarrassed to be talking about this to another man. To any man, but especially the captain of Serenity.
“Come on, spit it out. You’re a doctor,” Mal prompted. “You’re used to talking about medical things.”
“About other people, Mal. Not me.”
“Oh. So I’m guessing you’re the problem?” Mal sounded sympathetic. “Sure it’s not Kaylee?”
“Positive. After Tetris, I kept a close eye on her. And she asked me to do a full physical on her only a couple of months ago. There’s no reason why she shouldn’t be conceiving.”
“So you think it’s you.”
“I know it is.”
“Why’re you so certain about that, doctor?”
Simon looked down at his hands, at his long, lean surgeon’s fingers, the fingers that weren’t going to be able to heal this dilemma. “I … checked my sperm count. To say it’s low would be like calling River mildly talented. It’s almost non-existent.”
“But Bethany –”
“It was fine then. There was no problem.”
“I know I’m going to regret asking this, but you know this how? Do you usually check your … your sperm at regular intervals?”
“I …” Simon blushed even darker pink. “It’s something I’ve done for a while, yes.”
“And this is because?”
“Well, ever since I came on board, I’ve … being so close to a radion accelerator core, there’s always the possibility of a badly shielded system causing sterility amongst the male members of the crew -”
“You saying we’re all sterile?” Mal almost wanted to laugh. “With two kids on board?”
“No, that’s not -”
“And you really don’t want to be even suggesting that in Kaylee’s hearing, or you won’t have to worry about whether your count is low or not, ‘cause she’ll never let you near her again.”
“I know,” Simon said quickly. “And I know there’s no problem. I’ve been keeping an eye on the … on the rest of …”
The penny dropped. “Those regular check-ups you’ve started to insist on?” Mal said, his eyebrow raising. “You been …” He indicated an area roughly around his groin.
“It’s part of it.”
“All of you.”
Mal shook his head. “Doc, it was a good job he never found out … But we’re okay?”
“You’re all fine.”
“Any idea as to the cause?”
“I did wonder … Corvus.”
“There was some residual radiation, particularly on some of their victims, and I was around them, operating, for some time …”
“But you never said –”
“I didn’t even consider it at the time, but now … I don’t know, Mal.”
“Right.” Mal sat up in his chair. “So you want to check into a hospital? Is that a good idea?”
“Not check in. Just … borrow some of their equipment. There’s some tests I can’t run on board Serenity, particularly if it is caused by radiation that has been left untreated. It might be a really simple thing to remedy, but I just … for Kaylee’s sake I need to find out.”
“And if it’s permanent? Doc, I think you need to tell that little girl. I’m presuming you haven’t?”
“No. And I will. But not … look, I’d rather no-one knew, not until I was certain. I’d hate for her to be worrying over nothing.”
“She’s your wife, Simon. I think you oughtta be considering that. She ain’t gonna be too pleased when she finds out you didn’t tell her, no matter what the outcome of all this.”
“I can’t. She’s set her heart on another child, and if I can’t give it to her … I have to find out for sure first.”
“’N’ you figure the Core’s the best place? Only you’re still a wanted fugitive, no matter that the warrants are old. They’re still active.”
“It doesn’t have to be the Core. Just someplace with a good hospital.”
“You got any ideas?”
“Well, Persephone has a decent sized facility. They should have the equipment I need.”
“Persephone. Well, we could go there. Only a coupla days away. Maybe pick us up a job, too, though we don’t need one at the moment.” He tapped the books as he thought for a moment. “Fine. I’ll tell Hank to set a course.”
“Thanks, Mal.” Simon stood up. “And … you’ll keep this to yourself?”
“Doctor/patient confidentiality. Figure maybe it should work both ways. I’ll tell the crew we’re just having a little downtime, some R&R.”
“No problem. Though I still say you need to speak to Kaylee about this. She’s gonna find out anyway, and it’ll be better coming from you now, and not one of us later.”
“I really –”
“And don’t go thinking that was a suggestion. She’s a big girl, Simon. She can cope.” Mal picked up his mug and took another drink. “No time like the present.”
Simon stared at him, then nodded. “You’re right, of course. I’ll tell her now.” He hurried out of the galley towards the engine room.
Mal closed the account book in front of him and pursed his lips thoughtfully.
“Kaylee?” Simon called, seeing his wife’s legs under the engine.
“Honey, can you pass me that wrench?” she asked, her foot pointing towards her work bench. “The big one, with the ratchet handle?”
He peered at the assorted tools, then picked up one he thought she might mean. Leaning down he put it into her hand. “This it?”
“That’s the one,” she said. “Thanks.” She gave something an almighty whack. “That’s better,” she said with satisfaction, and slid out from under. “Hi,” she said, smiling at him.
“What’re you doing here?”
“Can’t I come to see my wife?”
“Well, that’s nice ‘n’ all, but you don’t normally come calling. Too much grease.” She nodded towards his hand that now showed a dark stain.
Simon rubbed at it. “I … actually there is something I need to talk to you about.”
“If you’re coming to talk to me about River, save your breath. It didn’t work before and it ain’t gonna now. I’ve got nothing to say to your sister.”
“It wasn’t her fault, Kaylee.”
“Jayne’s still gone. Like Wash, like Book … breaking up the family.”
“He’s not dead.”
“But he ain’t here.”
“Kaylee, it … it isn’t that. There’s something else.”
The young mechanic got quickly to her feet. “Is it Bethany?”
“No, no,” he assured her. “It’s me.”
“You?” She looked into his face, a worried expression in her eyes. “Honey, what is it?”
“Nothing. Nothing dreadful, honestly.” He tried to smile. “I think you’d better sit down.”
She perched on the edge of the step. “What? Simon, please.”
He paced a little then said, “I think I know why we’re not conceiving.”
Kaylee stood up. “It’s me, isn’t it? I knew it. Something’s wrong with me.” Her eyes filled up.
“No, it isn’t.” He put his hands on her shoulders and made her sit down again. “It isn’t you. I think it’s me.”
“You?” She stared at him. “How could it be something wrong with you?”
“I don’t know.” He went on quickly at her confused look, “I’ve been doing some tests, and the reason you’re not getting pregnant is because … because my sperm count is too low.”
“You’re firing blanks?”
Simon winced at the phrase. “Something like that.”
“But … Bethany … I mean …”
“It’s recent. Only in the last few months, I think.”
“Oh.” She looked down at her hands then back into his face. “So what do we do about it?”
He was gratified that she hadn’t burst into tears, or broken down, but he should have known – this was Kaylee, and she was stronger than anyone realised. “I’ve spoken to Mal, and we’re heading for Persephone. There’s a good hospital there, and we’ll … I’ll get in and do some more tests. Figure out what to do next.”
“So we’ll fix it?”
“I hope so.”
Kaylee looked into his eyes. “And if we can’t?” she asked in a small voice.
“We have to wait and see.”
“Wait and see,” she repeated. “Yeah.” She tried to smile. “And we’ve got Bethany.”
“That we do.”
“And there’s lots of people don’t even have that.”
“And I know it’ll be fine.”
“Kaylee …“ He leaned forward and took her into his arms.
“No, Simon, you’ll get all dirty,” she said, trying to pull away.
“I don’t care,” he said, holding her tightly, feeling her melt into him. “I love my wife.”
Mal leaned over the small bed and kissed his son goodnight. Ethan stirred a little, his small hands coming up to wipe his face, his eyes screwed up tight, then he relaxed and slipped into a deeper sleep. Mal smiled and lifted the coverlet a little higher.
Freya was lying on their bunk when he came back in, sliding the door to the nursery closed. He looked at her, her arms behind her head, gazing up into the shadows above.
“Penny for them,” he asked, sitting down on the chair and pulling his boots off.
“Us. You and me. Ethan. How good it is. How much I love us being a family.”
He smiled. “Yeah. I do that. Odd moments in the day, I find myself conjuring all sorts of reasons to be grateful.”
She moved her head so she could look across at him. “And are you?”
He got up and moved to her side, kneeling down on the floor to look into her face. “So much you wouldn’t believe.”
“Good.” She reached up and ran her fingers through his hair, pulling him down so she could kiss him. “So why’re we really going to Persephone?” she asked eventually.
“What makes you think it ain’t what I said?” He slid onto the bed next to her so he could put his own body along the lengths of hers.
“Mal,” she said, looking into his eyes. “Who do you think you’re talking to?” She narrowed her gaze. “Heard tell Jayne’s on Persephone.”
“Mmn. Working for Badger.”
Mal was surprised. “That I don’t believe.”
“Would you be considering trying to persuade him to come back?” she asked hopefully.
“It was his choice, ai ren.”
“I know.” She locked her hands behind his neck. “So what else?”
“Okay, maybe there is another reason,” he admitted. “But it ain’t anything for you to be worrying about.”
“I’m not worried. Just curious.”
He grinned. “You know what curiosity did to the cat.”
“You calling me a cat?”
He kissed her throat. “Not if I want to live to see Ethan grow up, no.”
“So? Tell me.”
“Tell you what?“ He moved his hand down her belly to her pants, unbuttoning them and slipping his hand inside. He watched her eyes widen as he entered her, feeling her hot wetness on his fingers, ready for him.
“And trying to distract me isn’t … isn’t going to … that is so not fair.”
“Want me to stop?”
“I … damn it, no.” She began to breathe harder. “But I still want to know why … oh.”
Mal saw the flush begin on her chest above her shirt, and smiled. “Simon wants to use some hospital stuff. He thinks he’s the reason Kaylee ain’t pregnant.”
“Oh.” Freya’s eyes closed as he manipulated her. “I … I see.”
“Happy now?” he asked.
“Not yet.” She reached for him, unbuttoning his shirt so she could lay her hands on his bare flesh. “Just give me a few minutes.”
Inara’s Cortex link buzzed. She looked up, wondering who it could be. Since her resignation some months back, the Guild had dictated she contact all the people on her Client list to tell them she’d be no longer available. Most had been understanding, even supportive, and all had been very sorry to see her quit her career. Only a couple had made comments that suggested they should never have been on her books at all. At that point she’d asked Mal to change her Cortex address, which he’d done without a murmur, understanding that she didn’t want to be plagued by calls asking for services she no longer performed.
So it couldn’t be a client. She really didn’t feel like speaking to anyone, but with a sigh she got up and pressed the receive button. She was surprised by the face that appeared on the screen. “Sheydra?”
“Inara!” Her friend smiled widely. “I thought you were never going to answer, and that I’d have to leave a message. Oh, are you going to bed?”
Inara looked down at her nightdress. “Just going. How did you –“
Sheydra waved a hand. “The Guild knows your new address, and that means I do too.”
“Well, it’s good to hear from you.”
“You look well. Celibacy appears to agree with you.”
“You look fine yourself. And celibacy is … interesting.” She smiled. “Now, what can I do for you? I presume this isn’t just a case of catching up with old friends.”
Sheydra’s face became more serious. “No. I've just … there’s something I’ve found out that I think you need to know.”
“What is it?”
“No. In person. I’m not sure I trust the Cortex nowadays – too many people listening in.”
“Sheydra, this is a secure link.” Another thing she’d insisted upon when she resigned, and Mal had upgraded the shuttle screen, this time not quite without a murmur, saying he was paying good coin just because she wasn't under the protection of the Guild any more.
“I don’t think there is such a thing,” Sheydra said, looking over her shoulder.
Inara had to smile. “Whatever it is, it can’t be that bad.”
“Inara, I …” Sheydra bit her lip. “No, I can’t. Not like this. I need to speak to you face to face. Where will you be landing next?”
Inara raised her eyebrows. “We’re a long way from Sihnon.”
“I'm not on Sihnon. Please, Inara. I think this is something you’ll want to hear.” She leaned forward, lowering her voice. “Just tell me where you are. I’ll come to you.”
“Is it really that important?” Now Inara’s curiosity had been piqued.
“It could have a significant effect on your future,” Sheydra confirmed.
“Well, we’re on our way to Persephone. I think Mal’s planning on staying a couple of days.”
“Good. I’ll meet you there. At the House.”
“Sheydra, what is all this about?”
The other Companion paused, then said, in a low voice, “I’ll see you soon.” She cut the link, leaving Inara to stare at the static.
to be continued
Tuesday, February 13, 2007 6:53 AM
Tuesday, February 13, 2007 6:59 AM
Tuesday, February 13, 2007 8:12 AM
Tuesday, February 13, 2007 8:25 AM
Tuesday, February 13, 2007 1:07 PM
Tuesday, February 13, 2007 2:47 PM
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