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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Mal and Freya head off to the counsellor, while the rest of the gang do their various things ... mostly light plot, some angst. Try it out - you might like it!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1589 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Inara brought the shuttle into a landing on the small pad, then shut the engine down. Still gripping the control column, she tried to slow her breathing. She felt so close, as if the entire future path of her life was about to be decided.
She pushed her hair out of her face and noticed her hand was shaking.
“Come on,” she said to herself. “You’re a … well, an ex-Companion. You should be better than this.”
Closing her eyes she summoned all her resources, and when she looked out again at Ariel City, she was Inara Serra again.
“Time to go.”
“Hank?” Kaylee looked into the bridge.
“Oh, hey,” the pilot said, smiling broadly. “Thought you were going to the park?”
“I am. I was. I’m going back … Just something I need to do first.” Kaylee smiled somewhat furtively.
“You gotta secret?” he asked. “I’m good at keeping secrets if you want to talk about it.”
“No, I just … is the Cortex link in shuttle two working?”
“Sure. Last I looked. Why?”
“Something I need to look up.”
“Couldn’t you do that from here?”
“No, it’s … it’s a surprise.”
Hank looked at her. Kaylee was really the worst liar in the ‘verse, but he took pity on her. “Okay. I’ll make sure the link is up by the time you get there.” He looked behind her. “Where’s Bethany?”
“With River. They’re watching the ducks.”
“So there are actually ducks?”
“Thanks, Hank,” Kaylee said distractedly, hurrying off towards the shuttle.
“You were no help,” Mal complained as he walked beside Freya.
“Was I supposed to be?”
“They could get into a hell of a lot of trouble on this planet.”
“And you think they’d be speaking to you back on board if you didn’t let them go?”
“Be quiet, though.”
Freya smiled. “Now you know you hate it when they do that.”
“Maybe. But that don’t excuse you not backing me up. I am captain, you know.”
“And you do it so well.” They walked slowly along in companionable silence for a minute or two before Freya spoke again. “We could have waited, you know. For somewhere else. Somewhere not quite so … central.”
“Simon said this doctor was the best.” Mal glanced at her. “You think I won’t get the best for you?”
“But there are other doctors. Persephone must have some, Boros, even –“
He stopped and faced her. “Frey, they ain't the best. They’re … quacks, most of ‘em. I know. Seen good people go to ‘em for toothache and come out with less limbs than they had.”
“I don’t think they’d operate on me.”
“Stop being all reasonable here when I'm trying to make a point!” Mal insisted.
“Fine. Go ahead.”
“Which is that mostly their qualifications ain't worth the paper they’re very badly printed on. Dr Yi, according to Simon, is a proper psycho-thingy with more letters after her name than we’ve had sex.”
“Yeah. So it seems to me that this is the best place to be right now. For you.”
“And if they do get arrested?”
“Hell, I didn’t want ‘em goin’ out in the first place!” He leaned closer. “The fact that they did is partly your fault.”
“You could have put your captainy foot down.”
“I did. Someone trod on it.”
“Sorry.” She didn’t sound it though.
“Look, Kaylee and River ain't that far from the ship. Simon’s grown smart enough to know not to do anything foolish, and Jethro … well, he ain't had the practice yet at getting into trouble. I figure Jayne’s the one I need to worry about most here. And believe me, I wish I wasn't saying that. Feels unnatural.“
“What about Inara?”
“This is her kind of world. How much trouble can she get into here?”
“Oh, Mal,” Freya laughed, shaking her head. “I will remind you of those very words when she gets kidnapped by slavers and you have to go make the big rescue.”
“Slavers, huh?” He moved closer still, putting his hand on her waist. “I thought that was just you.”
“Shit happens,” she said, lifting her face so he could kiss her.
A couple walking by sniffed pointedly.
“Um, we seem to be making something of a spectacle of ourselves,” Mal said, backing up a little.
“Better get going then.” She grinned, moving the crutches enough so she could walk forwards, but winced as her foot hit the ground at slightly the wrong angle.
He didn’t put out his hand to steady her, although he really wanted to. “Right, in which case I am making a captainy decision here.” He nodded, getting the attention of a hover cab.
“Mal, we can’t afford it.”
“We’ll walk back. Maybe take in the sights. But if we intend to get to that appointment anywhere near on time, we’d better ride.”
Jethro looked up at the tall buildings and goggled. He wasn’t used to a city, the closest he had ever seen having been Greenleaf when he was on the freighter heading for the Bathgate. There had been a plaza there, with the surrounding buildings going up to maybe ten or twelve floors. But these … great steel and glass fingers thrusting into the sky, almost blotting it out …
Someone barged into him, and he brought his attention back.
“Sorry,” he said, but the man had already gone without a word. Jethro frowned. Perhaps they weren't as polite on the Core planets as he’d always been led to believe.
Turning around, he saw a public Cortex link and smiled. Just what he needed. Should be plenty of information in there on places to eat, things to do … and where to do them. He grinned and headed towards it.
“Mrs Reynolds. Please come in.”
Dr Yi stood up from her desk, coming around with her hand out. “Oh, I do apologise,” she added quickly as she saw the other woman was on crutches.
“That’s okay.” Freya smiled. “Sorry we’re late.”
“Only a minute.” Dr Yi stepped back to her desk, allowing Freya to get a proper view of her. She was a small woman, no more than five feet tall, and dressed in a close-fitting suit of glossy grey, her hair a shining black helmet that seemed to swing in the slightest breeze. Her eyes, almond shaped, were a rather disconcerting deep violet, but it was hard to tell if this was natural or a result of the latest fad for coloured lenses. “Do you need some assistance?” she asked, waiting patiently.
Freya was just about managing to get across the deep pile of the carpet. “No, no, I’m shiny,” she said. “I’m still getting used to being on my feet.”
“If you don’t mind, I won’t yet. I’ve been sitting a while, and … do you mind if I just walk about for a few moments?”
“Of course. I’ll be preparing my notes.” Dr Yi sat down behind her desk as Freya moved slowly around the room.
“You’re doing great,” came Hank’s voice over the tiny unit nestled in her ear. “Nothing so far.”
Freya looked at a painting, some two metres across. “This is rather lovely,” she said. It was an abstract, mostly greens and greys, but with one bright, reddish-yellow haze in the top right corner. “A Balzini. One of the early ones.”
Dr Yi looked up in surprise. “Yes,” she said. “I have an extensive collection, and I rotate them occasionally. You know his work?”
“I’ve … seen it before.” Freya didn’t get into the fact that her mother had had several examples.
Dr Yi raised her immaculately plucked eyebrows, and made a mental note not to underestimate this patient. Nor to make snap judgements from her choice of clothes.
“Other side, Frey,” Hank said over the earwig, adjusting the results on his screen from the small scanner in her pocket.
Freya crossed the room, appearing to study the certificates on the wall. “You seem well qualified,” she commented, smiling at the doctor.
“I have spent my whole life helping people come to terms with various events, if that’s what you mean.” A slight accent intruded into her voice.
“But you weren’t born on Ariel.” Freya turned back. “I’d say, probably … Sihnon. But the southern continent.”
“Way to go,” Hank grinned. “Put her on the defensive. And the room’s clear, Frey. No recording or observation devices.”
Dr Yi, in the meantime, had sat back in her chair. “You are right. I was born in Chao Li. But I left there when I was …” She stopped. It had been a while since a patient had wrong-footed her, got her to talk rather than the other way around, and she’d have to be more careful.
Freya smiled. “Thanks,” she said, adding quickly, “For seeing me.”
“You’re welcome,” Hank said. “You need us, just shout.”
There was a click in the earpiece, indicating he’d switched off the com.
“Didn’t want to listen in?” Zoe asked, her hand on his shoulder.
“I considered it,” Hank admitted. “But I’m not sure I could take what Freya has to say.” He shook his head. “Coward like me.”
Zoe squeezed gently.
“Won’t you sit?” Dr Yi asked.
Freya nodded, and manoeuvred herself over the chair. As she lowered herself gingerly she thought “River, go away.”
There was a taste of sunshine. “But you need –”
“I don’t want you listening in.”
“I know it all already.”
“Yes, momma.” Freya felt River smile then she was alone in her head.
“Would you prefer to use the couch?” Dr Yi asked, somewhat belatedly. “More comfortable.”
“No, I’m fine here.” Freya smiled. “I'm not sure I want to feel too vulnerable.”
“Very well.” Dr Yi picked up her pen. “I’ll be making notes as we talk, but I don’t use any other recording device.”
Freya’s smile widened. “No. That’s fine.”
Dr Yi gave her an odd look, then asked, “What did you specifically wish to talk about? The young man who made the appointment was unclear on that subject.”
Freya swallowed. “This,” she said, indicating her body. “What was done to it. Why I feel guilty over it.”
Dr Yi glanced at the crutches. “Then this was not an accident?”
“No. A man …”
Outside in the waiting area, Mal checked the clock on the wall for the fourth time in two minutes. Another fifty-eight to go. He shifted uneasily in his seat, feeling naked without his gun. But there were Feds everywhere, and an armed man was going to get pinched, even if he wasn’t doing anything more than walking down the street.
He hated the Core. So many Alliance. But for Freya, he’d face the fires of hell. Even go to see this Dr Yi himself. Not that he needed to talk to anyone. Nothing in his past he needed to discuss.
In fact, he considered himself to be a surprisingly well adjusted man. For a thief and a liar.
He grinned to himself and looked at the clock again. His brows drew down. Damn, but he wished he were armed.
Jethro turned into the side street and stopped. Now that was more like it.
The Cortex had given him a dozen addresses, but the first six were far too elegant, too … Not for River, of course. She’d be at home in any one of them, but he would have felt … wrong. He didn’t have the money for them either, but that was beside the – no actually it was the point. It would have been terrible if they’d enjoyed their meal and then had to wash dishes to pay for it. That was theft.
This place, on the other hand, was small, intimate, and – from the prices outside – much more within his range. And there was a couple of hotels not too far.
For a moment he let his mind dwell on dessert, then glanced around guiltily. No, no-one to see the blush that had burned up his chest and across his face. Then he pushed open the door and walked inside.
“Can I help you?” asked a young man, appearing as if by magic. “Do you wish a table?”
“I … no,” Jethro said quickly. “At least, not yet. I wanted to make a booking.”
“Of course.” The young man smiled ingratiatingly at him, and moved a little closer. “For just yourself? Or will you be entertaining a guest?”
“Myself and a young lady.”
The smile dimmed a little. “Of course.” He became more business-like and stepped behind a small lectern, bringing up the night’s reservations on the screen. “And when would you be intending to join us?”
“Tomorrow …” The young man hummed a little. “Yes, we have a table for two at 7.30. Is that suitable?”
“That sounds … sounds fine.” Jethro smiled.
“And what name shall I put this under?”
“McCall. Jethro McCall.”
“Jethro? Such a nice name.” The man tried again. “And is it your sister’s birthday?”
“She’s not my sister.”
“Pity,” he breathed. “Well, we will require a deposit. Unfortunately, we have had a rash of people lately who book and then don’t turn up.” He eyed Jethro meaningfully, as if he believed he might just be of that persuasion. “It will, of course, be deducted from your bill at the end of the evening.”
“Of course.” Jethro reached into his pocket. “How much will …” His voice faded and he tried the other pocket. Then his jacket. His shirt. Back to the first pocket. “I don’t …”
“Is there a problem, sir?”
“I … my money’s gone.” He turned to stare out into the street. “I must have … but I …”
The young man sighed. “I think sir might find his pocket has been picked,” he said, shaking his head. “We’ve had something of a rash of that too in the past few weeks. There’s a team, apparently. One person knocks into you, and your wallet is immediately whisked away to be emptied at leisure.”
Jethro closed his eyes. The man who barged into him in the street. It had to have been then. “I don’t believe this.”
“We take credit.”
“No, I don’t –“
“You should report it to the Federal station around the corner.” The young man wiped the booking from the screen. “And when you have some more money, come back. I'm sure we can accommodate you.”
Jethro’s skin burned and he rushed out of the restaurant.
Inara lifted her pale blue drink and took a sip. It tasted of oranges but she hardly noticed. She’d had to have something so she didn’t look out of place in the bar, but … she knew it hadn’t worked. Women like her just didn’t come into places like this, and certainly not alone.
“Want some company?” asked a growly voice.
She looked up. It was a man who seemed to fill her view, barrel-chested and sweaty, his bald head glistening.
“Thank you, but no.” She smiled, with just a little chill in it. “I'm waiting for someone.”
“Might be me.”
Buddha, I hope not, Inara thought. “I don’t think so.”
“Could be. If you were a bit nicer.” He tried to grin at her, showing he was missing several front teeth.
“I'm not nice,” she said, almost sounding regretful. “Just ask my husband.”
“You oughtta tell him he shouldn’t be leavin’ you in a place like this,” the man said, leaning down and breathing beer fumes over her. “Some folks ain't as polite as me.”
“I’ll pass on the message.”
“You do that,” he said, patting her on the shoulder before ambling back to the bar, just an ordinary drunk, probably quite nice once you got to know him.
Inara sighed and went back to her drink. Next time, she thought, I’m going to pick the rendezvous.
She looked up again, about to politely tell the man to leave her alone, but stopped. He looked as out of place in this bar as she felt. “Yes?”
“I'm Halliday. I believe I have some information that you require.”
He nodded and joined her, lifting his coattails out of the way. “Would you care for a drink?” he asked.
“No, I'm fine.” She didn’t take her eyes from his face. “Please, what can you tell me?”
He looked around, checking they were not likely to be overheard. “My fee?”
“I have the money. Now, what do you know?”
His gaze made her skin crawl. He might be cleaner and much more expensively dressed than the drunk who had spoken to her before, but she felt dirty just sitting at the same table as him. He smiled. “Miss Serra, I know where your son is.”
to be continued
Wednesday, March 7, 2007 8:06 AM
Wednesday, March 7, 2007 2:13 PM
Wednesday, March 7, 2007 6:58 PM
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