BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Aftermath - Part III
Sunday, February 25, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Freya makes a decision ... and some Simon/Kaylee, Mal/Freya talk. Please let me know what you think!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1728    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Cookies and milk. Funny how they always tasted better in the kitchen, even though her mother had never baked in her life. And strange to think these would be the last ones she’d have for a while.

“Do you think you could send me some?” Elena asked their cook, who smiled, drying her hands on her apron.

“Don’t see why not,” she said. “You always did like my cookies better’n bought ones.”

Elena grinned, wiping the ring of milk from around her mouth on the back of her hand.

“’Lena, use a napkin,” her mother scolded. “And Bridget is going to have far too much to do to think about sending you food parcels.”

“But what if I get hungry?” Elena protested, her eyes wide. “What if I don’t like the food?”

“Don’t be silly. And cookies are not a food anyway. They’re a snack.” She looked down at the small expensive timepiece on her wrist. “And it’s time to go.”

“Oh.” Elena jumped to her feet, cookies quickly forgotten in her renewed excitement, the crumbs falling to the floor. “I can’t wait!”

---

“Simon?” Kaylee was standing in the doorway to the infirmary, watching as her husband finished redressing Freya’s left foot. One of the wounds had become infected, and although it was finally healing he was keeping a close eye on it.

He looked up. “Hey, sweetheart.”

“Can I … can we talk?”

“Of course.”

“In private.”

“Oh. Fine.” He looked at Freya. “Are you going to be okay?”

“Your wife needs you,” she said, a small smile flittering across her lips. “Nice to be needed.”

“I won’t be long.”

“Okay. Not going anywhere.” Just sitting in the dark, she thought, watching the two of them walk out into the common area.

Simon kept glancing back over his shoulder at the woman laying on the medbed, her face still lined with pain.

“Is she okay?” Kaylee asked.

“I don’t want to leave her too long.”

“No, I understand. It’s just …” She ground to a halt.

“What is it, bao bei?” he asked. “Is there a problem?”

“I don’t know. Is there?” She lifted her face to look into his eyes.

“I don’t …”

“Those tests. The ones at the hospital on Persephone. You ain’t told me how they turned out.”

“The …” Now he understood. “Kaylee, I don’t know. I haven’t … I’ve been a bit busy.”

“I know. It’s just …”

“You need to know.”

“It’s been so long, and I’ve tried to be patient, I really have, but I …” Kaylee twisted her hands. “I just wish …”

“It’s okay,” he assured her.

“I know you’ve got Frey to look after. I know that. But this is important too.” She sniffed. “And don’t think I don’t feel guilty saying this.”

He almost smiled. “It’s all right. You have a right to know. But it’s not as if I just haven’t told you. I … the results are … they still need to be analysed.”

She nodded. “See, it’s just that every night I put Bethany to bed, now more than ever, I want to feel another little one kickin’ me. And the Cap, leaving Ethan with us … it makes me want him to be mine.”

“I know, sweetheart.”

“And when Frey woke up, started to heal like she does …” She stopped herself again.

“You thought I should have taken notice of us for a while?” Simon suggested.

“Yes,” she said quietly, sounding like her daughter when she’d been caught out in something.

“I’m sorry.”

She looked up into his eyes. “Why’re you apologising? I’m the one who’s being mean.”

“No, you’re not. And I haven’t seen how important this is to you, and I should have. I’ve had my doctor’s blinkers on and … I’m sorry, Kaylee.”

“Why’re you so nice?” she asked, sniffing hard so as not to cry.

“Am I?”

“Yeah. And there’s me being all mean and crazy.” She wiped her face on her sleeve. “No, look, Freya comes first.”

Simon hugged her. “You are an amazing woman, Kaylee. And if I wasn't already married to you I’d fall madly in love with you all over again.”

“Only if?” she said in a small voice, looking up at him.

“Every day, my sweet wife. Every day.” He kissed her gently. “And I will get those results done. I promise.”

She pulled away enough to shake her head. “No. Not yet. Ain't like they’re gonna go away. You look to Freya, make sure she gets well.”

He leaned down again the short distance to her lips. “Thank you.”

“Go on.” She let him go and made shooing motions with her hands. “Go.”

He smiled, heading back into the infirmary where Freya was trying to slide her body to the edge of the medbed.

“You shouldn’t be doing that,” he said quickly, moving to stop her. “What if you fall?”

She looked at him with blank eyes. “What would it matter?”

“Of course it matters!”

“I have to get up, Simon. I can’t stay here any longer.”

“That’s not your decision, Freya.”

“Yes it is.” She slid her legs over the edge, breathing shallowly as the unaccustomed weight change made her close her eyes.

He put his hands out to stop her. “Frey, please.”

“No. I have to.”

“Freya –”

“You’re a good doctor, Simon. But I know me. I have to … just let me get up.”

“You’re not strong enough –“

Wuh de tyen, ah, Simon!” she shouted at him suddenly. “You don’t know everything! Let me get onto my own two choulou feet!”

He gazed at her, his face understanding. “Freya, I know what you’re –“

“You have no idea!” Her voice was still raised.

“Doc, if she wants to get up, then maybe you ought to let her,” Mal said from the doorway, having heard the shouting and come in from the cargo bay to investigate.

“Mal, she’s not –“

He stepped inside the infirmary. “Is it going to hurt her?”

“Yes.” Simon was getting angry now. “A lot.”

Mal turned his blue eyes on his wife. “Probably not a good notion, then,” he said, smiling a little.

Freya tried to push herself further forward. “Tah muh duh, just get out of my way,” she said violently.

“Doc, not sure we’ve got any say in this,” Mal said, not taking his eyes off her face.

“We don’t even know if she can stand up.”

“Gorramit, stop talking about me as if I’m not here!” Freya was almost shouting again.

“Can you?” Mal asked softly.

She couldn’t shrug. “I don’t know. Mal, please.”

“Then I guess we’re gonna find out.” He walked to the com. “Jayne, I’d be grateful if you could join us in the infirmary. Mah shong.”

“Jayne?” Simon repeated.

“In case we have to carry her.”

“Thank you.” Freya didn’t smile, just retreated again into herself, into the cocoon of darkness.

Simon looked from one to the other, then threw his hands up in the air. “Fine. Dandy. I'm just the doctor around here.”

“Then hadn’t you better get those crutches you were talking about?” Mal asked.

The young man muttered to himself as he reached into the corner and brought out a pair of metal frames, heavily padded at one end. “This is against medical advice, you do realise this?”

“Doc, if we don’t help now, do you know what Frey’s gonna do the minute your back’s turned? And probably fall and undo all that good work of yours?”

Simon stared. It really hadn’t occurred to him that she could be quite that fong luh. “Perhaps you’re right,” he said. “But it still isn’t a good idea.”

“What ain’t?” Jayne asked, leaning into the infirmary.

“Frey’s taken it into her head to start walking.”

“’Bout time too,” the big man said, stepping inside and grinning. “Too much layin’ around, in my opinion.”

“And you’d know?” Simon said, feeling anxious about the whole affair.

“So what do we do?” Jayne asked, ignoring the young man.

Simon sighed. “All right. Mal, Jayne, you’ll need to take Freya’s weight. I’ll get these in place.” He lifted the crutches.

“Absolutely,” Mal said. He looked at his wife. “Frey?” She gazed at him, and for a moment he saw darkness in her eyes, as if she didn’t even recognise him. Then they were normal again and she smiled, just a twitch of her lips. It gave him such a spark of hope that he almost felt it blaze into a conflagration inside him. “You ready?”

She shook her head which turned into a nod, then he and Jayne took as much of her weight as they dared, moving her forwards. Simon slid the crutches under her arms and they lifted her onto them. She hissed as every muscle and tendon cried out, each ligament demanded to know what the diyu was going on.

She leaned onto the frames, ignoring the pain lancing through her shoulders, and tried to balance herself. “Let go of me,” she said, knowing they were still holding her weight.

“Not a good idea, honey,” Mal insisted. “Better if you just get used to the feel of the –”

“Let me go!” There was a desperation in her voice that was foreign to Freya, and Mal looked at Jayne.

“Guess she knows her own mind,” the mercenary said.

“I’ve never been too sure about that,” Mal said, but then nodded. He and Jayne let her take more of her own weight, until she was almost hanging on the crutches.

She wasn’t going to say anything, wasn’t going to admit that her feet felt like they were on fire, that flames were consuming her, and that her arms were blocks of ice with no feeling in them, except for the raw pain that was flooding through her nerves. Still, she concentrated and swung her left leg forward. Or tried to. It moved about two inches before her foot hit the floor and she had to bite her lip to not cry out. She leaned forward and tried to put her weight onto it, willing her right leg to follow. It was too much and she slipped from the crutches, the three men grabbing for her as she fell. Mal caught her first, Jayne reaching down and putting his strong arms under her legs, and they lifted her up onto the medbed.

She was crying, her eyes jammed shut. Something she’d always found so easy, never had to think about, and she couldn’t take a step like a child. Even Bethany walked better than she did. Her tears mingled with the blood on her lip where she’d bitten through it.

“It’s okay,” Mal said softly, taking a swab from Simon’s outstretched fingers and wiping at the small wound. “Just a first go. Don’t mean a thing.”

“I don’t work,” she said, so quietly he had to strain to hear. “I can’t be fixed.”

“That ain't true. You’re so much better than you were.”

“Broken.”

“Then we’ll mend you.” Mal put his hand on her forehead. “Xing gan, please.”

She opened her eyes, stared at him. “I deserve it. My own fault. What I did.”

“No!” Every time she said this it was like a knife in his guts. “Frey, it wasn't you. It was Wing. And he paid for it.”

“I let him.” She turned her head away from him.

Mal looked up into Simon’s face, anguish on his own, not knowing what to say or do that would help her.

“Maybe I should get you a soother,” the young man suggested, turning to the supplies on the counter.

“I need to get out of here,” Freya said. “I don’t need to sleep any more. Too much like dying.”

“Doc, if we … is there any reason she needs to be in here?” Mal asked. “What if we went to one of the guest rooms? Would that be okay?”

Simon considered. “I suppose so. Medically I guess I can easily administer … and I suppose a change of scenery wouldn’t be a bad idea. All right.” He fixed her with a stern eye. “But if you think it means you can do what you want, you’re mistaken. If you feel strong enough to want to try and walk, then we start your physical therapy tomorrow.”

“Whatever.”

Simon looked at the others. “We’d better -”

“I’ll do it,” Freya said quickly, trying to sit up.

“Not this time,” Jayne said unexpectedly, moving forwards and slipping his arms under her before Mal could object. He lifted her up. “Shit, Mal, she don’t weigh a thing.”

The captain nodded. “Kaylee’s got some ideas on that score,” he said, following the big man out into the common area, hating not being the one carrying her. “When we stop at Paquin I've got a list as long as my leg of things to get just to tempt Frey here to eat.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Mal hurried past him to the room where they’d stayed in the last few weeks of Freya’s pregnancy, and he slid the door open. “In here.”

Jayne carried her through and laid her gently on the bed. He looked into her face. “You need to go upstairs, you call me,” he said firmly. “Ain’t having the Cap here blame me just ‘cause you took it into your head to fall down the steps and crack your skull open. Even those two hwoon dahns didn’t manage to do that.”

Mal glanced sharply at him, about to reprimand him for reminding her, but he was amazed to hear her laugh. Not much, nothing more than a chuckle, almost more a clearing of the throat, but it was a laugh. Maybe the big man knew his wife better than he did.

---

The family owned a great number of vehicles, but Ivan Rostov preferred to use the small hover carriage for short distances, and it wasn't that far to the collection point. He hadn’t, of course, got home in time to say goodbye, but Alex had been forced to accompany them.

“Don’t see why she gets to go,” he said, his arms crossed in front of him, his voice barely containing his childish anger.

“Because she’s special,” his mother said.

“Yeah, special all right. Like in crazy.”

“Alex,” his mother scolded. “You mustn’t talk like that about your sister.”

Elena didn’t care. She was staring out of the window, her heart starting to pound even harder. The space port was looming, and she could see all the different ships. “That’s a Trans-U,” she said excitedly. “And there’s a Locust. I didn’t know there’d be so many.”

“A ship’s a ship,” Alex said, changing his tack to boredom. “You’ll probably chuck your guts up soon as you leave atmo.”

“Alex.” Genia Rostov smacked him lightly on the leg. “You know better than to talk like that. You sound like the worst kind of gutter rat.”

“Don’t care,” he muttered, but very quietly. Louder he said, “When I go off-world I'm going on a cruiser. All big and shiny. You’d never know you were in space.”

“What’s the point of that?” Elena asked, glancing over to look at him. No matter that he was mean to her, that he taunted her for her talents, he was her brother and she loved him. “You might as well stay at home.”

“Fat lot you know,” he said, striking out and catching her arm.

“Alex.” His mother was getting tired of this. “Don’t do that again or you’ll lose your allowance for the next three months.”

“Hell, be worth it,” Elena heard him think.

She rubbed her arm, but continued to stare out of the window. “We’re here!” she said, almost bouncing up and down on the seat.

“Elena, behave.”

“But they’re waiting for us. For me.” She smiled widely, her happiness overflowing into the small carriage.

---

Mal woke up first, and lay there for a moment, revelling in the feeling of his wife at last being next to him. He turned his head to look at her. She was lying on her back, as she had to at the moment, unable to get comfortable in any other position. Not that she was comfortable. It took one of Simon’s hypos to make her even doze. At least she looked peaceful, and he checked quickly, and guiltily, to make sure she was still breathing. What the young doc had said before had made him all too aware of what a determined woman like Freya could do.

She wasn’t moaning, either, like she had been during the night. The nightmares were back. He’d hoped so much that Simon was wrong, that the change of room would help break the cycle, but just after midnight they began again. He put his arm around her, holding her gently, at least letting her know he was there, touching her. At one point her eyes flew open, and she pushed him away, trying to call out but no sound escaping from her throat. She lifted from the pillow, her fingers outstretched, her face a mask of pain as she tried to reach something, or stop something …

He could only watch, waiting until she fell back, her eyes closing again, unintelligible words falling from her lips as her head thrashed. Tentatively he put his arm back across her, and at least this time she didn’t push him away.

He began to talk softly, just words, so she could have something else to hold onto. As he spoke he realised it was a lullaby his mother used to use, something from long ago that he thought he’d forgotten. “Oh, fear not the bugle, tho' loudly it blows, it calls but the warders that guard thy repose; their bows would be bended, their blades would be red, ere the step of a foeman draws near to thy bed. Oh, hush thee, my baby, thy sire was a knight, oh, hush thee, my baby, so bonnie, so bright.”

It seemed to work, as the trembling and noise diminished, and she drifted into a deeper sleep. He lay still, not wanting to disturb her, and eventually dropped into a fitful doze himself.

Now he watched her, wishing he could do more. Eventually he heard the others moving about, and slid silently out of bed, dressing quickly. As he pulled his suspenders onto his shoulders, he heard her speak.

“Mal?”

He looked around. “Morning, sleepy,” he said, smiling at her. “Feel like some breakfast?”

“Not really.”

“Well, how about you lie there like a lady of leisure and I go see what’s on the menu, bring us back something?”

“You don’t have to.”

“Sure I do.” He sat down on the edge of the bed, stroking her hair from her face. “’Cause I want to.” He grabbed his boots and tugged them on. “So, what takes your fancy? Eggs, maybe? Or I think there’s some of that stew Kaylee made yesterday. I can heat it up for you.”

Freya grimaced. “No. Thanks.”

“Then what?”

“I don’t care.”

His eyebrows drew together in concern. “You should, ai ren. You need to eat, get your strength back. Simon wasn’t kidding when he talked about therapy. And knowing him it ain’t gonna be easy.”

“I don’t mind what you bring back,” she said, reaching out and putting her hand on his arm. “Eggs, maybe.”

“Eggs it is, then.” He ran his fingers through his hair, trying to make it lie flat and making a mental note to bring their stuff down from the bunk. “Want me to bring Ethan in? He can lie next to you, make you feel better.”

“No.” She shook her head slightly. “Let him be. He’s better off where he is.”

He looked at her. “No, he ain’t. He ain’t with his momma.”

She didn’t want to argue, didn’t have the strength, so instead she said, “Food?”

He grinned and stood up. “Your wish is my command.” Bowing somewhat stiffly he hurried out of the door.

He didn’t see the tears running down her cheeks to stain the pillow.

to be continued

AN: lullaby is by Walter Scott

COMMENTS

Sunday, February 25, 2007 11:23 PM

KAYLEEBIRD


Ohh... God, that made me cry..

One thing- I only comment on things I like. So, with this here, I LOVE IT! GOD! HOW CAN YOU WRITE SO WELL! Yikes! I love this!

I love the way you portray Freya's 'unhappiness' as i'll call it cos I don't know the right word. It's brilliant! I absoloutly love it! Keep it up! Can't wait for Aftermath IV!

Monday, February 26, 2007 8:48 AM

TAMSIBLING


Beautifully described. You can completely feel Freya's pain. And I like the idea that Kaylee asked Simon about the sperm test. She has a right to know and of course, I love Simon's response to her trying to assert that she's selfish and mean. I think you write them amazingly well.

All of this is so great - I wonder what River's going to do - I know it's painful for her, but can't she help? Can't wait for more!

Monday, February 26, 2007 10:24 AM

NCBROWNCOAT


Are you really Joss? You write so well and every character is so, so....

Freya is hurting so much. Please let her live.

Monday, February 26, 2007 9:20 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


I gotta ditto ncbrowncoat's comments...are you channelling Joss somehow? Cuz it damn well seems like it;D

Brilliant writing as usual, Jane0904! I was especially drawn in by the last scene with Mal thinking on Freya's nightmares and how he sung his childhood lullaby to her to ease her pain:D

BEB


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