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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Serenity reaches the Wayborn Skyplex, and various conversations are had ... a long chapter, but I hope you enjoy it. Please tell me!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2507 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
The Wayborn Skyplex looked like it had been built out of the remains of a dozen or more spaceships, all different, but all brilliantly lit with advertising selling its wares into deep space. One of the first commercial skyplexes, it was designed around a central core, where the cargo was held until picked up, and had several levels of shops, entertainments, even a whorehouse. It was also bustling with people, all types, ages and sexes, some dealing, some buying, and some looking to get rich without having to work for it.
Freya was following Simon, Ethan on her hip, Kaylee next to her, picking their way through the crowds.
“Sure is busy,” Kaylee said.
“And the smell of all that food … kinda makes me hungry.” The young mechanic sniffed the air, taking in the aroma of all the different food stalls.
“Best you wait ‘til we get back to Serenity,” Freya warned. “You have no idea what’s in it.”
“Hell, I don’t care about that!” Kaylee laughed. “Long as it tastes nice.”
“Philistine,” Freya said good naturedly.
“Who?” Kaylee asked, but her friend didn’t answer.
Instead Freya watched as a young boy cannoned into Simon ahead of them, then ran by them both – or tried to. She grabbed him by the arm and swung him around to face her. Handing Ethan to Kaylee, she glared at the boy and held out her hand. He tried to look innocent, but then to Kaylee’s amazement produced a small wad of currency and placed it in Freya’s hand. He tried to move, but she still held him fast. She moved her hand closer under his nose until he reluctantly, and with very bad grace, produced another bundle of cash and handed it over. Freya gave a small nod and released him, and he scuttled off into the safety of the crowd.
“Did you just roll him?” Kaylee asked in wonder.
“Serves him right for pinching so badly,” Freya said with a smile, pushing the larger wad inside her shirt. She took Ethan back from her friend, whose mouth was still open, then called, “Hey, Simon.”
“What?” The young doctor stopped and turned to look at her.
“You missing something?” She walked to him and held out the rest of the cash.
Simon’s hand slapped to his pocket. “How did you –“
“Keep it somewhere else,” Freya advised, handing it over. “There’s pickpockets all over this place.”
“Thanks,” Simon said gratefully, starting to put the cash back into his pocket then wondering where the hell to put it so it would be safe before thrusting it down his shirt.
Freya grinned at him and patted him on the arm as she carried on by him, going towards the postal desk where Mal was standing.
“We got mail?” she asked as she came up behind Serenity’s captain.
Mal smiled at her. “Yeah. Package for Jayne –“
“I got a package?” the big man asked, materialising out of nowhere, River at his side.
“Here.” Mal handed a small box to him. “Just be careful how you open it.”
“Hey, it’s from my mother!” Jayne exclaimed happily.
“Maybe it’s another hat,” Kaylee said, coming up with the others.
“Could be,” Jayne said, opening it up. “She said she was gonna knit one for everyone on board.”
Simon looked appalled, and turned to Mal for him to take charge, to say it wasn't necessary, but he was watching Jayne lift a pair of large, thick woollen socks from his parcel.
“Hey, how’d she know I needed some socks?” he asked, examining them with delight.
“She’s your mother, Jayne,” Freya said. “All mothers know their sons always need socks.”
“I hate to think what state your socks are in,” Kaylee said. “Surprised they don’t try and climb out of your bunk without you.”
“Only ‘cause I nail ‘em to the bulkhead,” Jayne replied, surprising everyone with his witticism. “She knitted ‘em herself. Wants me to write and let her know if they fits okay.” He looked up, perplexed. “Now she knows I don’t write letters much. Don’t have much cause to.”
“I’ll help you,” River said, smiling at him.
“’Kay,” he grinned at her and tucked the socks back in the box.
Mal was flicking through the rest of the post. “And another letter for you, Jayne. Seems like you’re the popular one today.”
Jayne grabbed it. “It’s from Simon,” he said, tucking it into his pocket.
The young doctor looked up in surprise, then it registered. Jayne meant Simon Cobb, the boy back on Jiangyin who thought the mercenary was his father. And seemed proud of it too. This Simon’s heart flipped a little as he saw River take Jayne’s arm, but made himself smile.
“And how is the young man?” he asked.
“Let you know when I’ve read my letter,” Jayne said. “But I'm sure he’s shiny. Comes from good stock.”
“Jayne, you do remember he ain't yours, don’t you?” Mal teased.
“Yeah, but he don’t know that.”
“That’s an interesting take on things,” Simon admitted. “Does a belief that you know who your parents are make you like them?”
“I figure Inara’d be the one to ask that of, doc,” Mal said. “What with her son being brought up by others. But since she ain't here, I’ve known a lot of bastards who fit right in, so it might just be the case.”
“Mal,” Freya said reprovingly, glancing at Ethan.
“Ethan’s going to be talking any day now, and I don’t want him to hear too much too soon.”
“You really think Ethan ain't gonna pick up language like that? Hell, look at Bethie,” Mal grinned.
“Yes, but not as his first words.”
Simon nodded, then remembered that Bethany’s first words hadn’t even been to him or Kaylee, but to Mal himself. And she called him Dada. He began plotting his revenge.
“I’ll try and remember,” Mal promised, leaning in to kiss his wife.
“Anything for me?” Kaylee asked, getting impatient.
Mal handed over two fat letters. “Looks to be from your folks too,” he said, smiling.
“Ooh, yes.” Kaylee backed away, holding them like prizes. “From my momma. She’s sure to tell me all the news.” She giggled. “And I bet there’s a few recipes inside too.”
Mal hid a smile. “Well, you got time to read ‘em. Just got word our cargo’s a mite late getting here, so we’ll be around maybe another day.”
“Oh, then we’ve got time to see the other levels,” Kaylee said excitedly, clutching Simon’s arm.
“Probably the same as this,” Freya warned.
“Still, with Zoe looking after Bethany, you and me can get some fun in,” the mechanic said, snuggling into her husband’s embrace.
“It’s all still cows,” he said softly, smiling down at her.
“What is it with these feng le cows?” Jayne asked, puzzlement on his face.
River took his hand and led him away. “Come on, I want your help.”
“’M I gonna end up carryin’ something?”
“You know I still ain’t fit …” His voice disappeared into the crowd.
“Cows?” Freya asked.
Simon smiled. “Foetuses, actually.”
“Right.” She nodded, as if that explained everything. Then she shook her head. “Anyway, I’m going shopping.”
“What with?” Mal asked, hooking his arm around her waist and holding her close. Ethan smiled and patted at him.
“I've got a little money about my person,” Freya admitted. “And Ethan needs some clothes.”
“Ain’t Kaylee got something you can use?”
“Mal, it may have escaped your notice, but you have a son. And Bethany is a girl.”
“Really? I kinda wondered about that.”
“And he needs some new things.”
Mal sighed. “Okay then. But you come back with more than a few, there’ll be words.”
Freya grinned and kissed him. “You can always come and hold our hands.”
“Me? Shopping for baby clothes?”
“You’re not that much of a caveman,” she whispered, pressing against him. “But I’ll let you off this time.”
“We’ll come,” Kaylee said quickly. “See what there is for Bethany.”
“I thought you wanted to have some fun,” Simon pointed out.
Kaylee looked at him as if he was an idiot. “Shopping is fun,” she said, then sighed. Men.
Zoe sat in the common area and watched Bethany set all her toys up for a tea party. She’d got out some mugs from the galley, and she was carefully arranging the plates on the table, putting her little head on one side and adjusting them minutely.
“One for Daddy,” she said, patting the old rabbit she’d been given for a birthday present. “One for Momma.” This time she touched a doll with bright yellow hair. “One for …” She stopped.
“What is it, honey?” Zoe asked.
“One for the baby, but my momma can’t have no more,” Bethany said quietly, lifting her Ethan doll into place at the head of the table.
“Did she tell you that?”
The little girl nodded. “I wanted a brother, but she said no.”
“Did she say why?”
Zoe took her arm and turned her gently so that she could look at her. Once more she was struck by the resemblance to Kaylee, but the seriousness in her eyes was all Simon. “That ain't so, Bethany. Your daddy ain’t sick. He was, but he got better. It’s just he can’t … give you a brother.”
“Does he still love her?” she asked, her voice very small. “Only Uncle Jayne said when a man loves a lady, he plants a seed –“
“Your daddy loves your momma very much,” Zoe said firmly. “And not everyone wants to have children, even if they love each other.”
“You and Uncle Hank do.”
“Yes, that we do.”
“He’s planted a seed.”
Zoe took a deep breath. “Yes, he has.”
“Can he be my brother too? Like Ethan?” She looked at Zoe, her eyes big and ingenuous.
“Bethany, have you been peeking?”
The little girl scuffed her shoe on the decking. “Little bit.”
“Didn’t Uncle Jayne say that was wrong?”
“Didn’t Auntie Frey say that was wrong?”
“Didn’t Uncle Mal say that was wrong?”
The little girl just nodded. “Sorry, Auntie Zoe,” she whispered.
“Okay.” She sighed. “Just don’t tell anyone.”
“’Kay.” Bethany grinned, aware she’d been let off with just a warning this time, and turned back to her toys. “Is Uncle Jayne going to plant a seed in Auntie River?” she asked, moving one of the plates half an inch.
Zoe closed her eyes. The sooner Freya got to work, the better.
“You want both of ‘em?” Jayne asked, eyeing the large lamps with disgust. “Looks like they ain't been cleaned in a while. Like, ever.” Dust was piled on dirt, and cobwebs moved gently in the breeze.
“They’re the right kind,” River explained. “Daylights. Otherwise the plants won’t grow properly.”
“Well …” He lifted one of the price tags. “Hell, they ain't worth half that.” He straightened up, pushing his shoulders back. “Let’s see what kinda deal I can get.”
“I want them, Jayne.”
“You’ll get ‘em, moonbrain. Just not for that money.” He squared up and headed for the counter.
River smiled and wandered out of the shop, content to let him intimidate the owner and get the lamps she wanted for a good price. She went and leaned the railing, looking out from the mezzanine over the crowds. She felt Mal walk up and stand next to her.
They stood companionably on the walkway, watching life hurry by below.
Mal looked at the young woman. “Frey tells me –“
“I know it was wrong.”
His eyebrows raised in surprise. “I’d ask how you know what I was about to say, but I figure I can guess. And I thought it was only Bethany had trouble with peeking.”
“I don’t have any trouble, captain,” River said, not looking at him. “I can see fine.”
“Then you know my concerns.”
“I killed them. For what they would do. Not for what they had done. And I know that was wrong.” Her dark hair had swung forward, obscuring her face, but her voice was serious.
She turned, and her dark eyes captured his. “I won’t ever hurt anyone on board, captain.”
“That ain't the question.” He stepped closer and took her arm. “River, I ain't saying none of us have ever killed in anger, ‘cause that would be a lie. But what you did was in cold blood. And that makes it murder.”
“Why is there a difference?”
“Because there is. River, honey, all through the war I killed people. I ain’t proud of it, but it was war. Point is, I never murdered them. I didn’t go out with the intention of taking lives. You did.”
“They were going to –“
“I know what they were going to do, little one. But they’d been stopped. Simon and Hank had stopped them.”
“I know.” Her eyes filled with unshed tears. “I do understand, Mal. I do. And I’m sorry. I know that’s why Freya doesn’t want me to teach Bethany, in case I fill her brain with those intentions.”
“It ain't quite like that, albatross. She just thinks you need to practise a bit more. Do it together.”
“She doesn’t hate me?”
Mal couldn’t help it. He pulled the girl into his arms, hugging her tightly. “She doesn’t hate you, River. She loves you like you were her own.”
River sighed and revelled in the physical contact, breathing deep of the leather scent that hung around him even when he wasn't wearing his brown coat. “I'm sorry,” she said softly.
“Okay. Good.” He let her go, just holding her gently by the arms, rubbing up and down. “Don’t do it again.”
“Good.” Mal smiled at her. “’N’ if you’d’a brought up Wing, just remember you ain't too big to be put over my knee and spanked.”
“I don’t think Jayne would like that,” River pointed out.
Mal laughed. “Maybe not.” He let go and turned to look out over the crowds below again. “That’s a nice necklace,” he said, relaxing back into his normal persona.
River fingered the silver locket hanging at her neck. “Inara gave it to me. When we said goodbye.”
“Didn’t think you had.”
“You don’t know everything, captain.”
“I've kinda come around to that conclusion, yeah.”
River was curled up against Inara, on the newly reconstructed bed. She didn’t feel like a grown woman right now, more the broken girl who had climbed from the cryobox and been comforted.
“It’ll be all right, sweetheart,” Inara promised. “I'll always be here for when you need me.”
“I need you now.”
“River, you’re growing up. Maybe it took a little longer than usual, but …” She lifted the girl’s chin to look into her dark eyes. “You’re a beautiful young lady, River. And I know you can cope with life.”
“Except that you’re not on your own now. You’ve got all of us, even me, and I'm not going to let you forget that.”
River smiled a little. “I’ve got Jayne too.”
Inara stroked her back. “Be gentle with him,” she advised. “He’s only a man, and sometimes men find it difficult to understand us.”
“Jayne loves me.”
“Oh, of that I don’t doubt. But remember that he’s also Jayne – he’s not used to being nice.”
“Everyone says that, but I see the real Jayne. And he’s trying very hard.”
“Just don’t be surprised when he does something really stupid. All men do.”
“Oh, I know.” River grinned. “Simon still does with Kaylee. Even the captain –“
“Yes, well, no-one ever accused that man of having much in the way of sense. And don’t look at me like that, River. You know it’s only the women on board who’ve kept him alive this long.”
“Freya loves him too.”
“And I hope he keeps her happy.”
“I’ll make sure he does.” Her serious tone was offset by the laughter in her eyes.
“What’s so funny?” Mal asked.
“Nothing.” She fingered the locket. “Where’s Freya?”
“Getting Ethan some new clothes. Didn’t know she had the cash spare, but … why?”
“Oh, nothing.” She smiled again.
“Gorramit, these things are heavy,” Jayne groaned, coming out of the shop behind them. “Aw, Mal, take one of ‘em, will you, ‘fore I drop ‘em both and lose all my money’s worth.”
Mal smiled and took one of the lamps, noting the dust being transferred to him immediately. “What the diyu do you want these for, Jayne?”
“Ain't mine,” the big man said, nodding towards River. “They’re hers.”
Mal looked at the girl. “Then the same question applies.”
“They’re for my garden. On board Serenity.”
“Look, I ain't said you can do that yet.”
“It will be good for me. Therapy. Keep me on the straight and narrow.” She fixed him with her eyes again.
He sighed. “Yeah, but do they have to be so rutting heavy?”
“They are so cute,” Kaylee said, bubbling away as they headed back to the docking area. “I just can’t get over how pretty he’s gonna be in ‘em.”
“He’s a boy, sweetheart,” Simon said, carrying Ethan for Freya. “He can’t look pretty.”
“Yes you do. When you’re asleep. Your hair all mussed, and your chest all –“
“Please,” Freya said quickly. “I've only just eaten.”
Kaylee giggled, then waved at Zoe who was standing by the open cargo bay doors. She was scanning the crowd as they approached. Her face had its usual stoic expression, but anyone who knew her could see she was concerned.
“Are you okay?” Freya asked, the hair on the back of her neck beginning to stand on end.
“Anyone seen Hank?” Zoe asked.
to be continued
Wednesday, April 25, 2007 2:41 AM
Wednesday, April 25, 2007 5:53 AM
Wednesday, April 25, 2007 7:13 AM
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