BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Paquin
Thursday, May 3, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Just a little fluff for Friday. Mal and Hank have a fatherly talk - about being fathers. Please comment. Pretty please.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2002    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Serenity landed on Paquin just around dusk, notifying their contact that they had arrived.

“Sorry, Mal, but you’re gonna have to wait ‘til tomorrow. You made better time than we thought, and Crandall ain't here yet. Should arrive early a.m.”

Mal shrugged. “No problem.” He looked into the screen. “Anything happening around here we need to know about?”

Halvorsen shook his head. “Nope. Been dead quiet for a while.”

“Shiny. Well, let me know when he’s due, and I’ll roll out the welcome mat.”

“You being facetious?” Halvorsen asked, looking at Mal from under his big, bushy blonde eyebrows.

“Me? Would I do such a thing?”

“Yeah.”

Mal laughed. “I just don’t exude that allure of mystery any longer, do I?”

“Can’t honestly say you ever did. And tell Freya next time she’s in town to come see us. Hannah and the kids wanna say hi. And we still ain't seen that little’un of yours.”

“You know, we could always drop by now. Bring the shuttle.”

Halvorsen’s face broke into a full grin. “Now, that is a thought. When d’you think you could get here?”

Mal glanced at the shipboard chronometer. “An hour?”

“Shiny. Hannah’ll get some food going.”

“Food? As in the real thing?”

“Sure is.”

“You might get the rest of the crew descending on you if you say that too loudly.”

“Don’t mind if we do, but maybe another time, okay?”

Mal smiled. Since the war Halvorsen had always shied away from big groups, and his wife hadn’t managed to change the pattern. “Okay. Be setting down on your porch in a little while.”

“See you then.”

Halvorsen signed off and Mal sat back.

“We going somewhere?” Freya asked from the doorway to the bridge.

“Visiting.”

She walked up behind him and leaned down, putting her arms around his shoulders. “It’ll be good to see Hannah. We’ve not managed to catch up since Mabel was born.”

“Well, they want to see Ethan too, so get him together and meet me in the shuttle.” He stood up, taking her into his embrace. “Told you it’d just be you and me once in a while.”

“And Ethan. And Hannah and her family.”

“Ain't my fault you introduced them.”

“I don’t know,” she said, rubbing herself against him just a little. “Spending time around a newborn. Is this likely to get you even more broody than you were?”

“That’d be difficult.” He reached down and kissed her gently. “Come on. Be good for you to get off this boat for a few hours.”

She smiled. “Better get going, then.” She slid from him and walked to the doorway. “Might want to wait a minute before you go tell the others.” She glanced at his crotch and smiled.

He looked down. Damn, but that woman always did this to him, he considered.

---

“How long will you be gone, sir?” Zoe asked, stirring the stew she was cooking.

“Few hours. Not more. Be back before morning.” He looked down into the saucepan, the food an unappetising greyish colour. “Should it look like that?”

“Yes.”

“Oh.”

“Don’t see why we can’t come,” Hank said, sitting at the table.

Mal turned to look at him. “Because.”

“Is that an answer?”

“I seem to recall you using that before,” Zoe pointed out. “And that ended up with you having to shoot a Fed.”

Mal remembered that day, striding back on board Serenity, seeing Dobson with his hand around River’s neck … “Had to kill that man twice.”

“So is it a good idea to use that reason again?” Hank prompted.

“Look, it’ll be a few hours. You all come, it could be days. Just make do with the fact that we’re dropping by Lazarus in a while.”

Hank muttered and looked down at his hands. “Not yet.”

Mal stared at his first mate. “Can’t you keep your … whatever he is … under control?”

“Not so far, sir.”

“The sooner you two get married, the better.” He strode out, adding over his shoulder, “Let the others know, if they ask.”

Zoe continued to stir the stew, but glanced at Hank. He normally would have made some comment when Mal mentioned marriage, and it threw her a little when he didn’t. “You okay?” she asked.

He looked up, and for a moment she saw something in his eyes that she didn’t recognise. Then it was Hank again. He smiled. “Sure. Just thinking, with Mal and Freya gone, there’s all the more food for us.”

“Smells like something died in here,” Jayne said, stomping down into the galley.

“It’s dinner,” Zoe said. “And it isn’t that bad.”

“Sure it is. You can’t cook to save your life.”

“She cooks better’n you,” Hank pointed out.

“Thank you,” Zoe said. “Although since you’re no better than Jayne, I'm not sure if that’s a compliment or not.”

“Not if it’s meat. If it’s meat I'm your man.” Jayne scratched his chest and fragments of dust filtered through the air.

“You’re filthy,” Hank said. “And I mean that as in covered in dirt and … is that rust?”

Jayne wiped ineffectually at his T-shirt. “Damn it, yeah.”

“What have you been doing?”

“Aw, setting up those lights for River.” He fell into one of the chairs. “Damn things blew the fuse first time, so had to reroute the cables.”

“Was that the noise I could hear? Like big mice?”

Jayne glared at the pilot. “Had to drill through the bulkhead, if’n that’s what you mean.”

“I don’t think Mal would like you making holes in things,” Zoe put in.

“River said she told him what we were gonna do.”

“And you believed her?”

Jayne looked at her aghast. “You mean he ain’t …” He glanced around. “He didn’t hear, did he?”

“He’s gone off with Freya to see Halvorsen,” Hank explained. “I think you’re safe. For the moment.”

“Good.” A sly grin appeared on his face. “You sure they weren't just heading off for some sexing? Getting away from us so they could be loud as they like?”

“They took Ethan.”

“So?” He lifted his feet onto the chair next to him. “’Sides, why only them?”

“Because Hannah’s her friend and Halvorsen’s his.” Zoe tasted the concoction. Only her normally impassive face stopped her grimacing. Quickly she added in a handful of dried herbs. As an afterthought she poured in some more of the meat flavouring.

“Yeah, but we know ‘em too.”

“Jayne, they’ve gone on their own.” Another taste and she knew it wasn't helping. Oh well.

“Fine by me.” Jayne stretched hugely. “When’s food?”

“I thought you said it smelled like something’s died?” Hank asked.

“Don’t mean I ain't gonna eat it. Got a hunger on me so bad, I could eat you.”

“No, please,” Hank said, making shooing motions. “Not that I don’t appreciate the offer, but I'm spoken for.” He ducked the metal cup Jayne threw at his head.

---

Hank watched the shuttle come in to land on the port bow, the docking clamps engaging and pulling the small craft in to lock. Probably Freya at the controls, he considered. Mal’s landings in a shuttle still tended to leave something to be desired.

He’d been sitting outside for a while, just looking at the stars. Zoe had fallen asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow, but he didn’t mind. They hadn’t made love since Wayborn – she was too mindful of the hurts he still carried – but for once he didn’t resent it. Not because he didn’t want to, but for other, more personal reasons.

Instead he lay on his side and watched her sleeping. Then his eyes travelled to her belly. Carefully, so as not to wake her, he put his hand under the sheet and laid it on her stomach. Maybe he was imagining it, but … there was a bulge. Where her body was usually so lean, so toned, there was a firmness inside, and he could almost cup it with his palm.

He’d got up quietly, pulled on his shirt and pants, carried his boots up the ladder, and was now outside, wondering what the hell he was going to do.

A figure walked out of the cargo bay. “Saw you from the shuttle. Looked like you might need the company.”

“I didn’t think you’d be back yet,” Hank said, watching Mal cross the ground towards him.

“Frey was a mite concerned. One of Halvie’s kids ain't too well, and she was worried about Ethan catching anything.”

“Only Freya?”

Mal sat down on the rock next to his pilot. “We stayed for a while, but I could see she was getting anxious, so … okay, well, yeah, so was I.” He smiled in the darkness. “He’s my son, Hank. Don’t want him even catching a sniffle if I can help it. And, if truth be told, I’d had enough of them both sitting there discussing when kids walk and talk.”

“Frey thinking Ethan should be doing both?”

“She keeps saying he’s over eight months old. Bethany was talking by now. Not making much sense, but at least she called Simon Dada.”

“Actually, she called you that.”

Mal grinned. “You know, I’d’a paid to have a capture of the look on the doc’s face when she did that.”

Hank laughed. “I swear he thinks you coached her.”

“Wish I could lay claim to that notion,” Mal said, chuckling.

“But Frey’s worried?”

“Not no more. Hannah put her mind at ease, telling her how Kyle didn’t say his first words ‘til he was almost a year, and now they can’t shut him up.”

“And the walking?”

Mal’s face softened. “That won’t be long. He’s already trying, and …” He glanced at Serenity. “My son, Hank. Still can’t believe it sometimes.”

“Son.” The word came out on a sigh.

“Yeah. And yours’ll be along before you know it.”

“I know.” There was a long silence, and Mal began to think his presence wasn't wanted, but Hank spoke again. “I could feel him, Mal. My son. Inside her. Such a small thing, but …”

“Your own?”

“Yeah.”

“That why you’re out here?”

“You mean, am I running away?” Hank nodded. “Yeah.”

“How come?”

Hank dropped his head. “I was scared. What had happened on Wayborn, what could’ve happened … and I wasn’t …” He couldn’t continue.

“Wasn't your fault.” Mal looked at the dark bulk of his ship. “Some things can’t be helped, Hank. You didn’t go looking for trouble.”

“Still found me.” He resisted the urge to scratch the healing scabs on his chest. “How do you do it?” he asked softly, his voice carrying easily in the night air. “Keep it together? Make having a family look so easy?”

Mal stared at him in surprise. “You think I …”

“I had no idea how hard it was gonna be. And he ain't even born yet.”

“You thought it’d be easy?” Mal exhaled noisily. “Hank, when I was ten years old, I caught something. Don’t know what it was, just got ill. Right as rain one day, the next I couldn’t even get out of bed. Hot and cold at the same time, sweating, shivering, throwing up and … well, you can imagine the rest of it.”

Hank nodded. “Had some of that myself a couple of times.”

“Only I didn’t get better. My momma fed me beef tea, stuff like that, but I couldn’t keep it down. She never said, never told me I was really sick, only … the Preacher came.”

Hank stiffened a little. “A Shepherd?”

“She thought I didn’t know. But I could see through the crack in the door. He was praying, his Bible in his hand, and she was down on her knees, holding tight to the cross at her throat.”

The pilot swallowed. “It was that bad?”

“That bad.”

“Didn’t she call a doctor?”

“Shadow was … well, we didn’t have much in the way of hospitals, and our doctor had left a while back. There wasn't anyone to come see to me.”

“What did she do?”

“She just kept changing the bedclothes, drying me down, telling me I was gonna be fine, when all along she must’ve been thinking I was gonna die.” He paused a moment. “I can’t even begin to know what she was feeling. The pain. The anguish. The fear.”

“Mal, I didn’t know …”

“No reason for you to. Don’t think I've ever told anyone. Not even Frey.”

“So … I mean, you didn’t die. Unless you’re a very good-looking corpse.”

“Thanks.” Mal laughed quietly. “No, you’re right. I got better. Took a while but eventually I could stand up without passing out, then longer to be able to walk again. I guess it was maybe a year before she’d let me ride out with the men again. Longest year of my life. ‘Cept maybe during the war. There were days then that felt longer.”

He looked back into the past, then shook himself. “The point I'm making is … it don’t matter if they’re ten, a month or not even quite there yet. You still worry. You always will. Hell, when Ethan’s fifty Frey and me’ll probably still be fretting about him. You’re gonna be a dad, Hank. And I have to tell you … it’s up there with the best feelings in the world. And you’re gonna be afraid too. That you won’t be able to look after him. I think it comes with the whole ‘being a father’ thing. Even Jayne’ll be like that one day.”

“You think?”

“He’s courting River. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s how it ends up.”

“Courting?”

“You say one word and he’ll put you back in the infirmary.” Mal shook his head. “’N’ I shouldn’t’ve said anything either. Must be Halvie’s good rice wine making me talk too much.”

“No, Mal,” Hank said, smiling, a feeling of relief spreading through him. “I think maybe you talked just enough.”

In the darkness Mal blushed. “Yeah, well, I think it’s time I got to bed. Frey’ll be wondering where I am.”

“She isn’t the only one.” A different voice from the darkness, and a swish of heavy fabric.

They both looked up.

She’d thrown on a robe, one Inara had given her for her last birthday, and stood watching the two men in her life, her hair loose around her shoulders, looking dramatic and beautiful.

“Hi, honey,” Hank said tentatively.

“Is there a particular reason you’re out here, and not in bed with me?” Zoe asked.

“No, no. I just …” Hank stood up. “Mal wanted to talk.” He rolled his eyes.

His captain glared at him but didn’t disagree. He raised himself slowly to his feet. “Just needed a quiet word with my pilot,” he said.

“Mmn.”

“You saying I ain't telling the truth?”

“Not sure, captain,” Zoe admitted, her dark face almost indistinguishable from the rest of the night, only her eyes bright, fixed on him.

“Men gotta talk sometimes. Not too often, I’ll grant you, but sometimes …”

“Mmn.”

“You can be replaced, you know.”

“No, I can’t.”

Mal glared at her, then his look eased. “Well, maybe not. If you didn’t know where all the skeletons are buried, though –“

“Skeletons?” Hank interrupted.

“Figure of speech, dear.” Zoe held out her hand. “You ready to come back and be sensible?”

Hank stared and wondered just how much she’d heard. “Sensible?” he managed to say. “When am I ever that?”

“Oh, I think you’ve got more sense that you let on.” She reached for him. “Come on. I feel the need to be close.” She glanced at Mal. “If that’s okay with you, sir.”

He waved his hands. “Hey, I ain't getting involved.”

“Wasn't asking you to, sir.”

“Well, good.”

Zoe entwined her fingers in Hank’s shirt. “Come on. I’m not in the mood to wait.”

“Am I being kidnapped?” Hank asked, letting her pull him along.

“Yes.”

“Right.” He grinned. “Help. Help.”

She smiled in the darkness. “You keep going on that way, you’re gonna be a great father,” she said softly.

Mal watched them head back to Serenity, then looked up at the stars. They were always there, as they had been when he’d been lying on that bed, staring up through the window in the roof, thinking he might never get out there, into the black. He grinned. Still flyin’, he thought, and walked back to his family.

COMMENTS

Friday, May 4, 2007 6:49 AM

HERMITSREST


I really like this Jane. It was good interaction between Mal and Hank. Loved the way they denied they were talking about anything in particular as well.

Friday, May 4, 2007 10:20 AM

SLUMMING


Lovely, as always. But why do I feel a terrible foreboding in spite of everything here? Oh, that's right. Maybe because I've been reading all your other stories, and things never cna go smooth!

Friday, May 4, 2007 4:10 PM

TAMSIBLING


I like seeing Mal as the elder statesman, imparting knowledge to Hank on fatherhood and kinda life in general. It makes sense that he would has he survived quite a bit.

Although I worry a bit about Hank and Zoe only because he should probably be a bit more open with what he's feeling, but I can understand why he's not.

Saturday, May 5, 2007 2:37 AM

KATESFRIEND


You really nailed the Zoe snarkiness in this one, Jane0904. The banter with her and Mal was spunky and funny and still held the respect and trust between them. Very nice !

Monday, May 7, 2007 9:32 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Some fabulous stuff here, Jane0904. Really got caught up in the moment when Mal was dispensing wisdom to Hank about the nature of being a father;)

BEB

Wednesday, May 9, 2007 11:00 AM

AMDOBELL


Absolutely brilliant! My favourite bit was the talk between Mal and Hank, made me want to hug them both. Sigh. Just love your writing to bits, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me


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