BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Waiting - Part III
Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Simon's feeling the pressure, and Hank is worrying about Zoe. Let's not go into how Mal and Freya are feeling ... more angst, and more to come. Please comment. Pretty please?


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1901    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Hank had increased their speed as much as he dared. He’d managed to pull a little more power and plot a better course, and he’d cut the time to Greenleaf to under ten hours, but it still seemed a hell of a long time. Longer for them downstairs, though.

Now he sat and stared out of the window, had done for more than a couple of those hours, out at the stars sprinkled across the sky like diamonds. No, not diamonds. Maybe the wishes of people. More like. And among them were wishes of his own. Whole-hearted ones that Ethan would be okay. And more guilty ones that he suppressed quickly on the lines of if any child died he didn’t want it to be his.

He checked the navigation once more, then got to his feet. He had to know.

---

“Kaylee?” Simon looked into the engine room.

“How’s Ethan?” his wife asked, bringing her head out from under the housing and rubbing her hands on the greasy rag at her waist.

“The same.”

“So what’re you doing here? Not that I ain’t pleased to see you.”

“I needed to stretch my legs. I can’t stare at those monitors any longer.” He smiled a little. “And I told Mal I needed to make sure you were okay.” He sighed. “To tell the truth I couldn’t take any more.”

“Mal and Freya?”

“I know we’d be the same over Bethany, but I can’t do anything right now, and it …”

“Makes it difficult?”

“Very.” He glanced at Bethany asleep in the hammock. “Worn out?”

“Worrying about Ethan.”

“So what are you doing in here?”

“Gotta keep my girl flying. Mal weren’t joking when he said about burning out the coil, and I don’t blame him. But if I can coax her along, maybe we won’t actually blow up.”

“Is there any likelihood of that?”

“The way Hank drives?”

Simon managed another slight smile which died as quickly as it was born. “I should’ve known,” he said, sitting down on the steps. “I should have realised it was something more than just a temperature spike.”

“How? You said it hides. And we might have the best doc in all the ‘verse, but you can’t know everything.” Kaylee sat next to him, mindful of getting dirt on him. “You did the best you could with what you got.”

“It wasn’t good enough.” Simon didn’t care about the grease. He just wanted to feel someone close to him, and he pulled her into his side. “Mal thinks he’s responsible for everyone on Serenity. He’s captain, so he’s in charge, and he‘s right. But my responsibility goes way beyond that. I have to keep them alive. And I didn’t realise Ethan was that sick.”

Kaylee put her arms around his waist. “You know, I think the Cap should change the name of this boat. Not Serenity no more. He should call it My Fault. Everyone always thinks if they’d done something different, said something, or not, that things wouldn’t’ve turned out the way they did. Lately that’s all anyone’s been saying.”

“The My Fault.” Simon shook his head. “Has a sort of ring to it.”

“Don’t you go suggesting it, though.” She looked into his face. “’Cause it ain’t true. It’s not yours or anyone’s fault. Not even Halvorsen’s.”

Simon exhaled deeply. “Oh, bao bei, what would I do without you?”

“Life’d probably be a lot simpler.”

“But a lot less interesting.”

“So is Ethan gonna be okay?”

“I don’t know,” Simon admitted. “Freya won’t leave his side, Mal’s right there next to her, and both of them want me to tell them exactly what might happen. And I seriously don’t know.”

“What about Zoe? She’s been in that shuttle for quite a while already. Does she have to stay there?”

“Minuet’s is something pregnant women really don’t want to come into contact with,” Simon said softly.

“Why? What does it do?” Kaylee asked.

Simon rubbed his hands over his tired face. “It can cause spontaneous abortion.”

“Oh, Simon.” Kaylee was shocked.

“Except if it was going to happen, it would probably have before now. The fever’s most likely burnt out or at least reduced the virus itself. As long as she doesn’t actually go near Ethan, Zoe should be able to go back to her bunk.”

“Thanks, doc,” Hank said from the doorway.

They both turned to look at him, and Simon stood up. “Sorry, Hank. I should have said.”

“But you think it’s okay?”

“I think so.”

“But you ain’t sure.”

“Not one hundred percent, no.”

“Then she stays put.” He was about to leave when he paused. “Will it be okay for me to go into the shuttle? Spend some time with her? I mean, I won’t take it in with me?”

“I got the air scrubbers working flat out,” Kaylee put in. “If that makes any difference.”

Simon looked from one to the other. “Honestly, Hank, if you’re concerned at all, then don’t. A few hours on her own isn’t going to hurt her.”

Hank nodded. “I understand. And thanks for saying.”

“Saying what?”

“That you don’t really know. I understand what that means to a man like you, admitting you don’t have all the answers.”

“I never said I did.”

Hank smiled slightly and headed for the shuttle.

Simon sighed.

“What was that for?” Kaylee asked, snuggling back.

“He’s right. I act like I know everything there is to know about medical matters, but I can’t even advise him what to do.”

“He ain’t gonna let anything happen to Zoe. Whether she likes it or not.”

“True.” Simon smiled a little himself. “You know, I’d quite like to hear that conversation myself.”

“Now that’s not nice.” She looked past him. “Did you see where Bethany went?”

---

“Zoe. It’s me.”

She was instantly awake from her catnap, and at the door. “Hank. How’s Ethan?”

“Still … don’t know yet.”

Zoe felt her heart contract. “And Mal and Freya?”

“Worried sick. We’re headed for Greenleaf as fast as we can.” He leaned on the glass. “Oh, Zo. If anything happens to him …”

She understood. He worried about them all, but Ethan was an innocent … “I take it I can’t come out yet?”

“Simon said you probably could, but … do you mind?”

She’d done a lot of thinking in the last couple of hours. “It’s okay, Hank,” she said, and noted the relief flooding across his face here. “I’ll stay. It ain't gonna hurt me.”

“Thanks.” He wanted to say more, to tell her how much this meant to him, but could only manage the one word.

“You tell them I'm thinking of them. Praying for Ethan.”

“I didn’t think you prayed. Like Mal.”

“You think he isn’t?”

“I reckon he’d be down on his knees if he thought it’d make any difference.”

“He did for Freya. And so would we all, dear.” She smiled at him. “You’d better get back. See if you can’t shave the time a bit more.”

He nodded. “Yeah. And if I don’t tell you enough, you’re amazing.”

“Just don’t forget I'm here.”

“I won’t. Do you need anything?”

Zoe looked around the sparse shuttle, and shook her head. “Kinda suits my mood, truth to tell. And there’s some stuff here if I get hungry.”

“I’ll be back. Soon as we know anything.”

“You do that.” She watched him blow her a kiss then hurry off, back to the bridge. She went and sat down on the bench along the wall, leaning her elbows on her knees and clasping her hands in front of her. “Let Ethan be okay …” she murmured, closing her eyes. “Please.”

---

“I ain’t been home. Not since I was … well, long time ago.” Jayne dropped into the chair and River lowered herself carefully onto his lap, twisting her legs up under her. “Not even when Matty got sick with the damp-lung.”

“Your momma forgave you,” River said, putting her head on his shoulder, needing the comfort of another human being. Needing Jayne’s comfort.

He glared at her, then his gaze softened. “Yeah, guess you would know all ‘bout that.”

“He was your father. You had to avenge him.”

“Not how she saw it. My Ma, well, she kinda died herself inside that night, and what I did just made it worse.”

“An eye for an eye.”

“Yeah.”

“It’s in the Bible.”

“Book would’ve said we were better’n that. Only I guess I ain’t.”

“Do you want to go home?”

“Not sure I got one. Least, one that ain’t here, on board.”

“You’ve got your momma.” She smiled. “Still sends you socks and nether garments.”

His lips twitched. “She’s my Ma.”

“She loves you. You know she’d like to see you.”

“It’s been a long time, River.”

“It’s never too long to go home, Jayne.”

“You planning on it?”

“I wish I could.” She put her arms around his neck. “But this is my home now. My family.”

“Yeah.”

“That’s why we hurt when they hurt.”

“Trouble is, ain’t nothing we can do. Not to help that kid in there.”

“He reminds you of Matty.”

Jayne nodded. “First time I saw him in that crib Pa made. All pink and squally, like some kinda worm.”

“More like a puppy.”

He smiled. “Easier to look after.”

“I’d like a puppy.”

“You want I should buy you one?”

“The Captain wouldn’t allow it.”

“How’d he stop us? Time he found out, we’d have everyone on our side.”

“He’d be angry.”

“What? With it having those big eyes, and them big feet, all slobbery? What ain’t to love?”

“Sounds like you.”

“I don’t slobber.” He thought for a moment. “’Less I’m drunk.” His grin returned. “’Sides, little thing like that’d have everyone on its side. One of those fait ‘ccompli’s. Hank’d be all over it, so’d Bethany. And Freya’d talk him round. And soon as Mal saw Ethan playing with it …” His voice trailed off and his face lost its humour.

“He’ll play soon.”

“Hope you’re right, moonbrain. Surely hope you’re right.”

---

Mal had at least made Freya sit down, the stool drawn up as close as she could get it to the bed. She wouldn’t go and dress, though, not take out those precious few minutes. Instead she’d wrapped her robe as tightly around herself as possible, and he’d topped it with the blanket. Now he stood next to her, neither of them intending to move an inch.

Freya was singing, really quietly, barely vocalising, but Mal recognised it as the lullaby she used to calm Ethan if he woke in the night.

Sleep softly, my baby, and close your eyes, your momma is with you to gentle your cries. Sleep softly, my darling, and when you awake your daddy will hold you, your laughter to make.

He wanted to ask her to stop, that it was killing him, but he knew he couldn’t. It was the only thing keeping her going right now. Instead he had his hand on her shoulder, giving her what comfort he could.

“Auntie Frey? Uncle Mal?”

They both looked up, and Mal crossed the infirmary to the little girl standing in the doorway. “Bethie. You shouldn’t be here.”

“I was worried about Ethan.” She looked at him, her large eyes concerned.

“Bethany, really, you should go back,” Freya said.

The little girl shook her head. She put her hands out for Mal to pick her up. “Ethan’s sick.”

Mal swallowed and lifted her onto his hip. “He’s … your daddy’s looking after him.”

“Daddy’s a doctor.”

“That he is. And he’s going to make Ethan all better.” Mal managed a smile.

“I brought this.” Bethany held out something. “In case he’s lonely.”

“What is it?”

“Dinosaur.” It was one of those from the bridge, the one everyone called Steve. “Uncle Wash’s favourite.”

“He’d like that.” Mal glanced at Freya, who nodded, and he carried Bethany to the bed, holding her carefully so she could reach out and put the toy next to Ethan.

She placed her little hand on his forehead. “Come back soon,” she said softly.

Agony flashed through Freya, her face screwing up with the pain. Tears splashed down again.

Bethany looked at her. “Don’t be sad,” she said, reaching out to wipe her fingers over Freya’s cheeks. “Ethan will be okay.”

Freya held out her arms and Mal placed the little girl into them. “Oh, Bethie, I hope you’re right.”

Bethany wrapped her arms around Freya’s neck. “I peeked. I'm sorry.”

“Don’t be.” Freya sniffed, trying to smile. “You did the right thing.”

“That’s what Momma said. But I don’t understand.”

Freya pushed her back enough so she could look into her face. “When Ethan’s better, I’ll explain –”

She didn’t finish. Alarms went off.

“Simon!” she screamed, jumping to her feet, putting Bethany on the floor in her haste to get to her son. The little girl scurried into the corner.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 3:27 AM

KATESFRIEND


Looks like you're hitting the jackpot on the angst machine here! Another well crafted fic with interesting twists and turns!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 6:23 AM

TAMSIBLING


Oh man! I adore Bethie - have I said that before? I might be repeating myself, but I don't care - she is just the sweetest thing and I love how much she loves Ethan. I feel awful for Mal and Freya, but the other moments scattered throughout took some of the sting away.

I'm glad that Jayne and River are getting closer and that Simon is able to admit his fears to Kaylee. That's a really big thing for a man like Simon. Keep it coming!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 8:04 AM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Oh...I am speechless, Jane0904! The level of brilliance you've shown here with how you have the characters act and think simply blows my mind. Though I seriously hope you give us some fluff in the near future:(

Honestly have to agree with TamSibling and say that Simon conversation with Kaylee was utterly fabulous and quite telling. A doctor of Simon's skill and intelligence would be beside himself from his perceived impotence. Though I am glad Kaylee was in fine form with her words of comfort to him.

Also, the Rayne moment was well done too, since we get to see the usually hidden vulnerable side of Jayne as he thinks on his actions in his youth concerning avenging his father and the consequences of said actions. Though what really hurt was River's acceptance that she can't go home to her family because of what they did/didn't do:(

BEB

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 8:08 AM

SLUMMING


Okay, so I admit it. You've made my cry twice. Once long ago, when Mal looked at the tarp and thought Freya was dead, and now when Bethie talks to Ethan. You are an evil woman, but I'm thoroughly addicted!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 8:32 AM

AMDOBELL


I'm a little confused, I thought Ethan got sick because Bethany had unwittingly passed on the virus from her contact with Halvorsens and now she manages to slip away from Kaylee without being noticed and into the very sick room she should be staying away from. On top of that Freya sits her on her laps and takes the dino from her for the baby. No wonder the alarm went off or am I the only one worrying that instead of making things better she is making things worse? I love Bethie to bits and hope she hasn't made things even more dicey. Please don't let Ethan die! Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, May 15, 2007 9:48 PM

JANE0904


AMDOBELL, it was Ethan went with Mal and Freya to the Halvorsen's, and picked up the virus from their son. Simon was worried Bethany might have picked it up *from* Ethan, but as Minuet's is only bad for under two's, she's not in any danger.


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