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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Hank and Zoe talk, Inara and Monty talk, and the party gets under way! Feedback, please, as I love to know what you think ...
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1444 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Tonight might be a good time,” Hank said, picking up a fallen branch.
“Maybe.” Zoe picked a couple of apples off the tree and stood contemplating them. Lazarus had a long summer, and the fruit had ripened early.
He gazed at her. “You look like Eve,” he said softly. “About to tempt me.”
She looked across at him. “You don’t need tempting.”
“That I don’t.” He walked to her. “Why don’t you wanna tell Mal? You afraid of what he’s gonna say?”
“No. Not really. It’s just … things’ll change.”
“Things tend to. That’s the way of things. They move on. They alter. Things change.”
“Not sure I'm ready for them to.”
He dropped the wood he’d collected. “Zo, I'm here. I ain't going anywhere. You’re carrying my kid. And we’re gonna be such good parents we’ll put the others to shame. There is gonna be so much love on board that it’ll make everyone sick that comes near it.”
Her lips twitched. “You think?”
“I know.” He took one of the apples from her. “You don’t wanna tell Mal right away? Fine. It’ll be our secret. Half the people on the boat know, but it’ll be our secret.” He took a bite from the fruit. “Hey, these are good. Worth getting thrown out of Eden for.”
She smiled at him. “You think you’re in Paradise?”
He grinned. “When we’re in bed together, I know I am.” He went to lean in to kiss her when Jayne limped into view.
“Aw, hell,” the big man said, looking faintly disgusted. “Not you too.”
“What did you do?” Hank asked, noting the limp and making a mental note to go fishing. For something big. With lots of guts.
“The scythe jumped up and attacked him,” River said, following, her bare feet kicking through the grass. “I saved his leg.”
“It ain’t more’n’ a scratch.”
“Then how come you just stuck a weave on it?”
“Because I’m good.”
Jayne sighed. “Mal wants to know if you’re finished being all squishy and can get back to the job in hand,” he said.
“His word, not mine.”
“Jayne uses different words,” River said, picking a blade of grass and putting it between her thumbs. “Lots of them.” She blew across it, an odd sound echoing through her palms.
“I'm sure he does, honey,” Zoe said. “And he’s right.”
“I am?” Jayne asked, surprised.
“Not you. The captain. We need to get on with this otherwise you won’t have anything to cook over.”
“Why the hell does it have to be me?” Jayne complained. “I ain't stopped since I got up this morning.”
“Because, as you keep telling everyone, meat is the one thing you know how to cook.”
“I guess.” He turned to go.
“No, wait,” Hank said, picking up the bundle he’d collected. “Don’t want to go back empty handed.” He gave it to Jayne.
“Seems to me I do all the work around here,” the big man muttered, hefting the wood and walking back towards the house, his shadow following, whistling mournfully across the meadow.
The Cortex link buzzed, announcing a wave coming in, and Inara hurried from the galley where she was making tea to answer it. She didn’t normally, but as she was the only person still on board …
“Hey, there, ‘Nara. Now you’re a sight for sore eyes!” It was Monty, his hair spread out around his bald dome like a brown cloud.
“Monty. How nice to see you again.” She smiled warmly.
“You got there okay?”
“We landed a few hours ago.” The smile widened, and her dimples showed. “It’s lovely here.”
“Well, I’d join you only I got a little work of my own.” He scratched his beard absently, and Inara hid a smile as she remembered Mal recounting how Monty had shaved it off, all for the love of his darling ‘Bridget’. “Did you want to speak to Mal? He’s outside but I can -”
“No, no. You can pass on the message. Just wanted to tell him ‘bout the generator. Forgot to mention there’s some fuel in the barn should be enough for your stay. And the pipes should be okay long as they didn’t burst over the winter.”
Inara laughed. “I’m sure they’re fine. And I’ll tell Mal.”
“So, how’re things going with you?” Monty asked, settling back for a long chat. “Heard tell you weren’t Companioning no more.”
“No. I am now a lady of leisure.”
“Leisure. One of these days I’m gonna have to see what that feels like. Got stuff to do halfway across the galaxy, and precious little time to get from one to the other.”
“Monty, you should have said. I’m sure Mal would have helped.”
“Yeah, well, with what Freya’s been through ‘n’ all, I figured best not to …yet there’s a case in point right there …” He stopped himself. “Anyways, I’m glad someone’s making use of the place.” He grinned. “Only I’d be obliged if you’d tell Jayne not to go getting light-fingered over any of my stuff.”
Inara shook her head. “I’m sure he wouldn’t. But I’ll remind him anyway. Now, tell me more about these jobs of yours.”
“Why, you planning on becoming a … a respectable and totally honest cargo monkey like me and Mal?” He was circumspect, even on a secure link.
“Maybe. I have to find something to do now I’m no longer Companioning.”
Monty’s laughter filled the bridge. “You know, I reckon you might be pretty good at it, and all.”
They’d collected enough fuel to make a great fire, and Jayne stood over it, sweat soaking his t-shirt, making sure the meat cooked properly. Every so often River would bring him a mug of beer, which he’d suck down then go back to his work.
Inara had finally come out of Serenity, dressed in a floaty chiffon dress that changed colour with every movement. She seemed happier, somehow, more relaxed than earlier, and she kept turning her face towards the setting sun as she brought out food from the ship.
Kaylee had managed, after a great deal of kicking and muffled swearing, to get the old generator in one of the outbuildings working, powering up the few lamps in the house that worked. She also ran a cable to the orchard for the strings of little lights she used to have around her door. She was almost wistful as she ran her hands along the coloured glows, but there was contentment there too. Simon was feeling so much better, Bethany was healthy and happy, everyone else was here, laughing, River was improving … if needed she’d have given the shirt off her back to keep them that way.
“Pretty,” her daughter said, looking up at the lights.
“No touching,” Kaylee warned.
“No touching,” Bethany agreed.
“What exactly are we celebrating?” Hank asked Zoe as they put plates on the table. “Ain’t no-one’s birthday, is it? And we kinda missed Christmas, what with everything that’s been going on.”
Zoe shrugged. “Does there have to be a reason?” she asked. “Will you enjoy it more if there is one?”
“No, I guess not. Just don’t want to be expected to give gifts or anything.”
She smiled. “I think this is Mal’s gift to us.”
“So we’re gonna tell him?”
Zoe went to move one of the chairs a little further in, but Hank took it from her, doing it himself.
Mal, busy making a fruit punch with some of Kaylee’s interengine fermentation product, watched them thoughtfully.
Jayne sat back from the fire for a moment, and wiped his forehead. He picked up his old guitar from the ground and idly ran his fingers across the strings, playing a chord softly.
“You planning on making a ruckus with that thing?” Mal asked, tipping some rum he’d found into the bowl.
“If’n you mean was I planning to get a tune out of it, yeah.” Jayne bristled. “Got something to say about that?”
“Only that I’d recommend you don’t drink too much of this stuff.” Mal stirred the dark concoction. “When you get drunk you get maudlin, and I ain't sure I can take you singing those sad songs you learned somewhere.”
“Ain't sad,” Jayne protested. “Just got me some good memories of where I learned ‘em.”
“Well, stick to stuff that people actually like, dong mah? Keep people happy.” He nodded over to where River was arranging some wild flowers she’d picked in an old bottle. “Dong mah?”
Jayne nodded. “Nothing sad tonight,” he agreed.
“Hey, is that burning?” Hank called, sniffing the air.
“Course it ain’t,” Jayne shouted back. “It’s just the fat dripping on the logs. Meat is one thing I know about.”
“Not the only thing,” River added quietly, sadly, putting her arrangement in the centre of the table.
Freya placed a bowl of pasta next to it. “That’s really pretty,” she said, stroking the young woman’s hair.
“It’s almost okay here,” River whispered, leaning closer. “Almost free.”
River looked into her eyes. “He’s good to me.”
“He loves you.”
“Maybe one day there’ll be something worthy of that love.” She went to help Kaylee carry the rest of the food. “But nothing here now.”
Freya exchanged a glance with Mal, who shrugged slowly.
Hank ambled over and sniffed the punch. “Smells good. How does it taste?”
The pilot dipped a cup into the brew and sipped. He immediately started coughing. “Shit, Mal, what the hell did you put in that?” He felt like the lining of his throat was combusting.
“Hank,” Freya warned automatically.
“Just a few bits I had lying around. And it’s good for you. It’s got fruit in it.” Mal poked the apple segments he’d added for colour.
“Good for you?” Hank tried to breathe deeply. “How bad would you have to be before this was good for you?”
“Why, what’s wrong with it?” He used the ladle to pour a little into a mug and sampled it himself. “It’s fine,” he said, trying to stop his eyes from blistering. “’Though maybe I oughtta water it down a little.”
“Just a bit,” Hank agreed. “’Less you’re gonna give it back to Kaylee to degrease the engine.” He shook his head. “Clears the sinuses, though.”
Kaylee stood back from the table. “Are you insinuating my wine is bad?” she asked, glaring at the pair of them.
“No, no,” Hank said quickly. “Just what Mal’s done to it.”
“It’s fine,” Mal repeated, pouring in a lot more water. “No, seriously, it’s fine.”
Inara put the platter of bread down on the table and looked around. “Come on, everyone,” she called. “It’s time to eat.”
The food had been good, the company better. Even Jayne brought out his cigars, offering them around. Hank had accepted, and, surprisingly, so had Simon.
“You were doing good,” Kaylee said, watching him expertly light up.
“I was drowning,” her husband said between puffs.
“Daddy was funny,” Bethany put in, yawning hugely and settling down on the rug they’d placed on a pile of the cut grass, Ethan already asleep next to her.
“You shoulda called us, doc,” Jayne said, the lit end of his cigar glowing like a summer bug. “Could all’a done with a laugh.”
“It ain't that bad,” Kaylee asserted. “’N’ he was doing real well by the time we finished.”
“I just have to face it, I'm not meant to be a fish,” Simon said to general laughter. He took another mouthful of punch, and ruminated that it seemed to grow on you. Either that or his tastebuds had been seared off with the first mouthful.
“I can swim,” River said softly. “Breathe, hold, kick and pull.” She was nursing a mug of the alcohol, but hadn’t drunk a drop.
Jayne moved his chair a little closer. “Maybe you can teach me someday,” he said quietly, taking the cup from her hand and putting it back on the table.
Simon watched, wishing it was him she’d let be that close.
“You can’t swim neither?” Hank asked. He poured the contents of his own mug down his throat then waved it around. “Kinda explains why you don’t like fishing.”
Zoe put a hand on his arm.
Jayne pointedly ignored him and picked up his guitar. “Anyone got any requests?” he asked, catching Mal’s eye and nodding almost imperceptibly.
“The Pirate and the Serving Girl,” Kaylee called, her cheeks pink.
“Nah, that one ends with ‘em all … anyways, I don’t know all the words.”
“No,” Jayne said firmly. “Something else.”
“You pick,” Zoe said quickly, seeing Kaylee winding up to argue.
“’Kay.” He plucked a chord, then played the first notes of a fast jig, and in his low voice began to sing. “Oh, merry maid come dance with me, o’er land that’s dark and air that’s free, Come take my hand and lead me high, through clouds and rain and sun; Stars I’ll pluck and give to thee, moonbeams catch and pretty be, hold the wind and catch the sea as you take me to the sky.”
“Does he know he’s doing it?” Freya whispered to Mal, leaning against him, his arm around her.
“Serenading River? Not sure.” Mal watched the young girl, her foot starting to tap. “I think it might be working, though.”
A couple of hours later and the punch had almost gone, and the songs got more raucous, with most everyone joining in.
“… and I twitched my hand and felt her jump, and the mood took hold of me, And I pressed her flesh 'til the morning came and that was the end of me, oh, that was the end of me.”
At some point during the song Hank had got up, caught River around the waist and whirled her into a dance, and as Jayne finished they span apart, both of them laughing.
Zoe stood up. “And I think that’s the end of me, too,” she said. “It’s time for bed.”
“Oh, no, not yet,” Hank said, leaning his hands on his knees and trying to get his breath back. “It’s still early. One more dance.”
“Nope, Zoe’s right,” Mal said, climbing to his feet and clapping his hands. “Time for you all to get back to Serenity.”
Hank looked at him in surprise. “Don’t we get to stay?”
“Nope. This is Freya’s and my time. A few days, just for us. Maybe a week. Oh, you can all come and visit, but this is ours.”
Freya stared at him. “What about Ethan?”
“Kaylee’s gonna look after him.” He smiled at her. “Don’t you want to spend some time alone with me?”
She bit her lip. “Could be nice,” she said softly.
“I can finally get to touch you properly,” he whispered, leaning down so only she could hear. “Strong enough.”
“What about our clothes? Or are you suggesting we go naked?”
He smiled. “Good idea. But I brought them a while back. And blankets. And I think you really wanna wait until you see the bath before you say no.”
“Ain't gonna say no.” She pulled him closer. “Bath?”
The smile turned to a grin. “Oh, yes.”
to be continued
Saturday, March 31, 2007 11:16 AM
Saturday, March 31, 2007 12:24 PM
Sunday, April 01, 2007 1:09 PM
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