BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Lazarus - Part II
Monday, May 21, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. A little angst and a lot of fluff, and Mal does some serious talking ... Please leave your comments - I'm addicted!


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1927    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

“That smells good,” Mal said, stepping down into the dining area.

Inara turned from the stove. “I wish I could say it was all my own work, but it isn’t. Mrs Boden is an excellent cook, and she’s put together one of her best meals.”

Mal sniffed the air. “Is that beef?”

“It is. Cooked in one of her special sauces. She’s given me full instructions, and it will be ready on time.”

“Somehow I don’t think anyone’s gonna be late for this meal.”

Inara grinned. “I’ll let Mrs Boden know your appreciation.”

Mal picked up a mug and lifted the coffee pot. “You do that.”

Inara watched him pour, then said, “I noticed Freya’s still limping.”

Mal’s hand paused, then he continued. “Yeah. Simon says it may never go fully, but … some days it’s better than others. When she’s tired or stressed it’s worse.”

“Is she?”

“Well, with Ethan and all …”

“Yes, I suppose so.” She covered the pot and put it back into the oven. “Mind if I join you?”

“Course.” He pulled the chair out next to him.

Inara poured herself a cup and sat down. “Is … is Freya all right?” she asked tentatively.

“Sure.” He took a mouthful. “Why shouldn’t she be?”

“Oh, nothing. Just a feeling.”

“Like I said, with Ethan just getting back to being …” He shrugged and stared into his mug.

After a minute of silence Inara said, “I'm sorry.”

He looked back up in surprise. “What? What for?”

“Slapping you. It was immature and entirely uncalled for.”

“Immature. Like sticking your tongue out at me.” His lips twitched.

“Exactly. I was a Companion. Companion’s don’t do that sort of thing.”

“You were. Ain't now. I think you can make up your own rules.”

“Then I should know better.”

“It’s alright, ‘Nara. And I'm the one who should be apologising. I kinda goaded you into it.”

“I shouldn’t have expected you to call me the minute Ethan got sick.”

“Maybe I should have. We’re friends.”

She smiled at him. “Friends.” She gazed at him, then added, “So why not tell me what’s wrong with you and Freya? As friends.”

“Didn’t say there was something wrong.”

“No. But you both seem to have something you need to talk about.”

“No, now that ain't the case.” He sighed. “Least, not quite.” He shook his head. “It’s hard to explain.”

She put her hand on his. “Just tell me.”

His blue eyes stared into hers, and she felt the indecision warring inside him. Finally he spoke.

“We … Freya and me … since Ethan got sick … we haven’t made love.” The words came out in a rush, as if he was afraid they’d run and hide otherwise.

“That’s nothing to worry about. I’m sure she’s just –“

“She … she won’t let me touch her, Inara.” There was pain in his voice. “Thinks if she hadn’t been making love to me, she’d’ve heard Ethan. Known he was sick. Maybe stopped all this happening before it started.”

“Could she?”

Mal stared at her. “Course not!”

“Have you spoken to her about it?”

“I’ve tried, only she just kinda changes the subject.”

“Do you think she’s afraid, Mal?”

“Afraid?”

“Of it happening again. Of being in your arms, making love, and something happening to Ethan?”

He nodded. “Yeah. I think she is.”

“Oh, Mal. That’s just being a mother.”

“I know that. But what with her being psychic, she’s blaming herself for not knowing sooner.”

Inara thought for a moment. “I gather Bethany heard.”

Mal hugged his mug. “Yeah. Told the doc.”

“And Freya thinks it should have been her.”

“Thinks if she’d been stronger, not let me … not given in to what I wanted, that … hell, Inara, not sure what she thinks.”

“So it’s really your fault.”

His eyes flashed sapphire. “You think that ain’t on my mind?”

She sighed. “Mal, you’re parents. You have a child, a son. That son is dependent on you both. And every single parent feels the same way. Even me. My son is worlds away, and yet I worry that he might be sick, or hurt, and I can’t do anything about it. It’s natural.”

“Freya ain’t looking at it that way.”

“And it’s worse because she’s psychic, isn’t it?”

Mal nodded. “I conjure it is.”

“There are three Readers on board, Mal. One of them heard Ethan’s distress. One of them will always hear. It may not be Freya every time, and I hope to Buddha there’s never another time at all, but someone will hear.” She squeezed his hand. “You’re luckier than most, you know. Other parents would go to bed and not know their child is sick at all.”

“Could you tell Frey that?” he asked.

“No. But I think maybe you should.”

“’Nara, please. Talk to her for me.”

“I don’t –”

“Please.”

“I’ll think about it.” She stood up. “I’d better check those hot biscuits, otherwise it will be like eating charcoal.”

“Nope, that’s Freya’s cooking.”

Inara laughed.

---

Simon watched River and Jayne leave, heading out into the rapidly falling night. They were strolling towards the house, Jayne in his best outfit, River in a floaty dress she’d bought on Greenleaf for the occasion. She was almost skipping, like a little girl.

The young doctor walked to the cargo bay doors, not seeing anything else.

Jayne must have said something, because River laughed, stopping under one of the lights suspended in the trees.

His breath caught as he saw her face. He’d been wrong. It wasn’t a little girl out there, but a woman, a lovely young woman who happened to be his sister, and who was smiling at the man she’d given her heart to.

Jayne leaned over, his hands resting on the trunk. Her arms came up, embracing him, and they kissed.

It truly must be love, Simon thought, shaking his head slightly.

“Must be love,” Kaylee said from behind him, her arms snaking round his waist.

“I suppose it is,” Simon agreed, startled at hearing his thoughts echoed back to him, but still watching as the couple outside broke apart, continuing towards the house, their hands entwined.

“You okay?”

For a moment Simon didn’t know what to say, whether to nod or shake his head. “I … I don’t know.”

Kaylee kissed the back of his neck. “Now that’s the man I married,” she said. “Not afraid to admit he ain’t perfect.” She squeezed a little tighter. “Come on. It’s time to eat.”

“Not sure I’m hungry, either.”

“Inara’s provided the food.”

“Oh. Maybe a little then.”

“I’m gonna tell Frey you said that.”

---

Mal looked around the table, and felt a sense of recognition. Apart from Jayne and River, the table was full, and the conversation flowed like it used to.

“… but it never meant anything,” Inara insisted.

“How can you say that?” Kaylee asked. “Weren’t there a few, maybe just one, who made your heart beat faster?”

“A Companion is taught never to play favourites.”

Hank shook his head. “Come on, ‘Nara. Jayne ain’t here. You can tell us.”

“Honestly, Hank. The training is so strict.”

“Not a one.”

He seemed so disappointed that she sighed. “Well, let’s just say there were a few I was more pleased to have repeat contracts with than others.”

“See?” he said triumphantly. “Knew it.”

“I’m not sure this is the kind of conversation we should be having,” Simon dropped in, looking down at his daughter, her head on the table.

“She’s well away,” Kaylee said, lifting her hair from her face. “Worn out with all the excitement.” She suppressed a yawn herself.

“It doesn’t look like she’s the only one,” Inara said, smiling softly.

“Well, it’s been a kinda long day,” Kaylee agreed, grinning.

Freya put her hand over her mouth.

“I think we could all do with turning in,” Mal said, noticing, his own lips twitching.

“Well, I for one ain’t sleepy yet. It’s a fine evening,” Hank said, pulling one of Jayne’s cigars from his pocket. “I think I might take a turn along the lake before bed.” He looked at Zoe. “Wanna come?”

“Not if you’re going to smoke that thing.”

“What? After all the trouble I went to pinching it?”

“You know, smoking is bad for the baby,” Simon pointed out.

“It doesn’t do much for me either,” Zoe agreed.

Hank sighed and slid the tube back into his pocket. “Maybe I’ll save it for later.” At Zoe’s look he added quickly, “Like never.”

She smiled at him. “That’s a good boy.”

“Ain’t a boy,” Hank pointed out. “’N’ I think I proved that this afternoon.”

“Take him outside,” Mal put in. “Before he gets to revealing all the gory details.”

“Weren’t no gore involved, Mal,” Hank said as Zoe got to her feel, pulling him after her.

“Go!”

“Goodnight, sir,” Zoe said, pushing Hank in front.

“’Night.”

Simon stood up too, lifting Bethany into his arms. “Kaylee?” he asked, looking at his wife.

“Sure, honey. I do kinda feel our bed calling me.” She looked at Freya, Ethan asleep in her arms. “Want I should put him down for you?”

“No, I’ll do it.” Freya smiled at her, not feeling able to let anyone else do for him just yet.

Kaylee understood. “’Kay. G’night.”

“Night.”

She followed Simon out into the corridor, finding him waiting for her by the stairs next to the engine room.

“Kaylee, I know you want to … but can we not? I mean, just for tonight.”

“Not what, honey?”

He glanced at Bethany, but she was fast asleep, her arms wrapped tightly around his neck. “Make love.”

“Why? Ain’t you feeling well?” She put her hand on his forehead, and he had to smile.

“It’s not that. It’s just … knowing what River’s intending to … I suppose I just feel a … a little uncomfortable.”

“So you just wanna snuggle?”

He nodded. “Do you mind?”

She smiled at him, at his serious face. “I don’t mind snugglin‘. Never did. ‘Cept snugglin’ often turns to something else.”

“Not tonight, it won’t.”

“Then we’ll snuggle.”

“Doc, can you hold up a sec?“ Mal called, hurrying after them.

“What is it?”

“I gotta favour to ask you, you and Kaylee …”

Simon glanced at his wife and said, “Sure. What do you need?”

Back in the dining area Inara picked up some of the plates.

“I’ll do that,” Freya insisted. “I was supposed to cook tonight, so the least I can do is clear.”

“I wasn’t intending to wash up,” Inara admitted. “Just make it look a little tidier. Besides, everything else can just go back to the house in the morning.”

Freya smiled. “Your Mrs Boden must be a wonder.”

“She is.”

“Well, she’s a damn fine cook. Maybe she could give me lessons.”

“I could ask her, if you like.”

Freya laughed. “You know, I think the rest of the crew would appreciate it.” She got up, careful not to jar her son.

“You haven’t poisoned anyone yet.”

“Yet.” Freya rounded the end of the table. She was limping tonight.

“Why don’t you get to bed?” Inara suggested. “You look tired.”

“I admit, I haven’t been sleeping too well.”

“Then have an early night. I’ll finish here, and we can wash up the rest in the morning.”

Freya smiled. “I’m not sure Mal will approve.”

“One night isn’t going to make that much difference.”

“Okay.” Freya walked to the door then glanced back. “It is good to see you again.”

“You too.” She made shooing motions. “Go.”

After a moment there was the sound of a hatch opening, then closing again.

Inara shook her head. It was going to be difficult for Freya to trust anyone, at least for a while, that was obvious. Stacking the plates, she wondered what she would have been like, if it had been her son. Just the same, no doubt. Perhaps worse.

Mal came in from the opposite direction, looking around. “Where’s Frey?”

“She went to bed.”

“Did you … I mean … what we talked about …”

“No, Mal. I haven’t spoken to her. This is between the both of you. If I get involved, I think it’ll just make things worse.”

“How can it? She won’t let me touch her.”

“At least she hasn’t thrown you out. Which she could do if I try and counsel her about this.”

“The old jealousy thing?”

“She’s your wife. If I were in her shoes, I’d feel the same about someone else butting into my marriage unasked.”

“I did ask you.”

“But she didn’t. She’s had the opportunity to talk to me, but she hasn’t. And I think she’s right not to. This is about you and her.”

“’Nara –“

“I was right to leave, Mal. As much fun as this has been, it’s just a reminder of how much things have changed.”

“Nothing’s changed, Inara.”

“No? Hank and Zoe are expecting a child, Simon and Kaylee are a little family, even Jayne and River are finally together … and you and Frey have Ethan.”

“Nearly didn’t.”

“No. But he’s alive, he’s healing, and when he’s around thirteen Freya may finally let him out of her sight.”

Mal smiled a little. “Yeah, although I think thirteen is hopeful.”

“You’re all couples, Mal. And as much as I have, on occasion, participated in a threesome, it isn’t going to happen here.”

“We could always find a toy boy for you. I’m sure Jayne knows of a few good places to look. Would you prefer blond or brown?”

“Redhead. Less trouble.”

“Well, I’m sure we could advertise.”

“Mal, it was the right thing to do. And I’m going to cherish these times when you come here, but it’s different now.”

“Guess you’re right.” He hooked his thumbs into his pockets. “A threesome?”

“A special client. And it was myself and another Companion.”

“Were you … did you …”

“I didn’t kiss and tell before. What makes you think I’m going to do it now?”

Mal shrugged. “For old times sake?”

“We don’t have any old times. Not like that, anyway.”

“Guess not. Three kisses don’t count.”

Her skin burned. “Three?”

“You think I didn’t finally figure it out?” He stepped closer to her, close enough so she could smell the soap he used. “It wasn’t Saffron you kissed. It was me.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He grinned and stepped back. “Sure.”

“Go to your wife, Mal. She needs you, at least.”

“Not sure she wants me though.”

“Why don’t you go and talk to the woman and find out?”

“I'm …” He suddenly looked like a little boy. “I'm kinda scared what she’s like to say.”

“You? The hero of Serenity Valley? Scared?”

“Ain't no hero, ‘Nara. Just an ordinary man who’s in love with an extraordinary woman.”

The pain that would never go away flashed through her again, but she smiled. “Then you’d better go talk to her.” She patted his chest. “Take this from a friend.”

---

“Honey.” Mal closed the door above him. “Are you awake?”

There was no movement from the bed, but something told him Freya wasn't asleep. He peered into the nursery, making sure Ethan was okay, then slid the door to. He turned back.

“I gotta talk to you.”

Still nothing, but the overriding impression was of someone listening.

“I love you. You know that. I love Ethan. You know that too. But I ain't having you thinking you coulda stopped him being sick. ‘Cause that ain’t the truth. Even if I’d not got shot, ducked just a bit faster, or if we hadn’t been making love, do you think you’d have heard?”

“I would.” She spoke from the depths of the bed, her body still turned away from him.

“Prove it.”

She sat up suddenly, her face pale. “How can I prove –“

“Exactly.”

“I’d have heard, Mal.”

“So you’re gonna turn me away just in case something happens and you don’t hear that one time.”

“How can I think about my own pleasure when Ethan might be –“

“He’s not.” Mal sat down on the edge of the bed and took both her hands in his. She tried to pull away but he wouldn’t let her. “Ethan’s in the next room. He’s safe. He’s getting better. And I just talked to Simon and Kaylee – they’re going to get some kinda receiver linked up so that if he cries, or his temperature goes up even a little bit, it’ll tell us.”

“And what about the next time?”

“Next time.”

“When he’s sick and I don’t hear. Maybe it’ll be too late.” Tears were gathering in her eyes.

“What about when he’s twenty-six? You gonna insist on listening in on him then?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“Or forty. Fifty-seven. Hell, eighty-three.” He shook his head. “Kids get sick. I know. It happened to me once. And for their parents it’s a living hell. But they get better. And if they don’t then we’re luckier’n most. We got Simon. He kept Ethan alive, Frey. And now Ethan’s gonna grow up strong and healthy and worry the pi hua out of us.”

The tears rolled down her cheeks. “I know. I know all this. And I still feel like –“

“It was your fault.”

“Yes.”

He sighed. “You know, I ain't ever known a one such as you for taking on all the guilt. Unless it’s me.” He moved forward. “Frey, you don’t wanna make love to me, that’s up to you. I ain’t gonna force you. I’ll never force you. But I love you. And what we do is part of that. If you want me to move out so I don’t accidentally touch you the wrong way, I can do that too. I’ll hate it, but I can. Just … don’t, Frey. Please.” He tried hard not to, but a tear of his own spilled.

“Oh, Mal.” She reached up to him, the blanket falling away from her, putting her hand on his face.

“You still ain't got no night thingies?” he asked, smiling slightly at the sight of her breasts.

“You want I should buy some?” She wiped his tear away with the pad of her thumb.

“Depends. Can you get some of those wispy things? You know, the kind that are sorta, now you see them, now you don’t?”

“You mean the sort Inara has.”

“Wouldn’t know.”

Freya smiled. “I could,” she admitted. “Why, do you wanna borrow them?”

He grinned. “Not sure they’d suit me. No, I’d more in mind tearing ‘em off you.” He turned his face so he could kiss the palm of her hand. “Frey, we’re two physical people. Maybe more physical than any other pair on this boat. We ain't built to just talk about our love. We have to show it. And I want to. More’n I’ve ever wanted to with anyone else.”

“Even Inara?” she teased.

“Hell, yes.”

She let go of his face and took his left hand in hers. “Not sure I can go through that again,” she said softly.

“Frey, I ain't either. But if we let the what ifs and maybes rule us, we ain't never gonna be free.”

She gazed into his blue eyes, so tender, so loving, and realised he was telling the plain, simple truth. She placed his hand on her breast. His breath caught, and she could feel the calluses from his gun, the wedding ring on his finger. “I love you,” she whispered.

“God, Frey …” He ran his thumb across her nipple, and her eyes widened. “Don’t tell me I’ll never be able to do this again.”

“Even when we’re ninety?”

“I'm planning on breaking the century, truth be told.” He leaned forward, moving his body to lie next to hers.

“Sounds … good.” Her voice cracked as he replaced his thumb with his mouth.

“So you’re gonna be sensible?” he asked, his voice muffled.

“Not sure it’s in my nature,” she said, her head pressed back into the pillow as he moved the sheet away from her body.

“Try.”

------------------------------- A.N. - Okay, you've been patient. Just hold on for another day for RAYNE!

COMMENTS

Monday, May 21, 2007 1:05 AM

AMDOBELL


Yay, at last Mal breaks through Freya's fear that making love will mean she won't hear if Ethan cries or is poorly. A fear I am sure any parent can relate to especially when it nearly cost their little one. So glad they look to be getting through that though I would have liked more Mal/Freya goodness, you seem to be rationing it in this fic! LOL. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, May 21, 2007 4:14 AM

SLUMMING


Geez, who could resist the man for long? Lovely chapter!

Monday, May 21, 2007 5:43 AM

TAMSIBLING


That was great - all of Mal and Inara's banter was absolutely perfect and completely in character. As was Mal and Freya. I thought Simon's request to just cuddle was ridiculously adorable.

I'm also glad he was able to see River as a young woman and recognize that she's made her choice and it's okay. Just perfect all the way around!

Monday, May 21, 2007 4:36 PM

BLUEEYEDBRIGADIER


Lots of fan service, I must admit. Though, I think in this case, the inclusion of moments between characters that address our concerns and/or desires are welcome inclusions;)

The conversations between Mal and Inara, and Mal and Freya were brilliantly done, Jane0904! I especially have to give you props for having Inara tell Mal he needs to be the one to talk with Freya about her fears about not hearing Ethan when he gets sick again if Mal and Freya are otherwise occupied. Much as Inara could have counselled Freya about her fears...Freya had a chance to ask and decided not to. Mal sought advice from Inara and he eventually acted on it. That and for not forgetting to have Inara get a twinge of pain about what she missed out on; much as they are now only good friends who see each other occasionally, Inara will never really lose the regret she carries and so it should be.

BEB

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 4:13 PM

KATESFRIEND


WOnderful portrayal of your Mal - Inara - Freya working relationship and very sensible at that. Wonderful writing as always!


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