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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Landing on Mead, the wake for Reilly begins ... [And just a comment, but the last part of Not There Yet - Part IX dropped off the list very quickly. So, if you haven't read it ...] Oh, and this is a long chapter because there wasn't anywhere else to break!
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1595 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Mead was a border moon with little going for it apart from a healthy – or possibly unhealthy – interest in gambling. Everything was bet on, from the outcome of a horse race at the large stadium, purpose built outside town, or how slow the traffic would clear after the latest accident at the main crossroads. The main town was like a tarnished jewel sitting in the middle of nothing, staining the evening with its crassness. Bright lights glittered, advertising various wares, shows and prostitutes, so much that it even made Jayne’s fingers itch.
“It looks … fun,” Kaylee said, her face unsure.
“It ain't,” the big man said. “Last time I was here I got fleeced.”
“That wouldn’t be hard,” Simon commented, looking out of the bridge window as Hank brought them in to land. “From what I've read Mead attracts some of the lowest forms of life.”
“You suggesting that’s what I am?”
“If I were I wouldn’t just suggest it.”
Jayne just glared at him.
“Well, we’re not here to have fun, people,” Mal said, coming up behind them. “We’re here to say goodbye to an old friend.”
“Why was your pal here?” Hank asked.
“Betting. Reilly just loved it. All through the war he’d lay odds where he’d get hit next. Usually winning, too, which was the scarier part.”
“Our lieutenant put him on report once for sticking his backside up above the trench we were in, just to see if he could make another 100,” Zoe added from the co-pilot’s chair.
“Two flies walking across a dead man was the one I think I hit him for,” Mal said thoughtfully.
“Laid him out,” Zoe agreed.
“Broke my hand doing it.”
“But he respected you from that moment, sir.”
The pair of them shared a look as Serenity settled into her dock without a discernible bump, and for a moment everyone else felt excluded.
“Time to get moving,” Mal said. “The main event ain’t until tomorrow, so me, Frey and Zoe’ll be back some point to –“
“You?” Hank looked surprised. “I thought we were all going.”
“You didn’t know him.”
“Neither did Freya.”
“Yeah, but she fought in the war –“
“So that means we can’t come and say goodbye to a friend of yours?” Simon asked. “I’m not sure that’s fair. And we do know a number of people who will be there.”
Mal was surprised. “I thought you’d all want to go do your own thing.”
“Don’t you want us to come?” Hank asked.
“I –“ Mal stopped. “It’ll be boring,” he protested, but only mildly. “Old soldiers talking about old battles and battle wounds.”
“I didn’t fight in no war,” Jayne said. “But if’n there’s free booze, I'm in.”
“I see River hasn’t managed to change you that much,” Simon said dryly. He looked back at Mal. “But the point is we’d all like to come.”
“Besides, there might be tales told we can blackmail you with in the future,” Hank added.
Mal stared at them then turned to Zoe. “Do I have a hope in hell of telling ‘em not to come without ordering them to stay put?”
“Not a one, sir.” She smiled. “If it’s that bad they can always come back.”
“Don’t try and cheer me up,” he said sighing. He looked round at the expectant faces of his crew. “You get rolled anywhere, don’t come complaining to me. Just remember I told you to stay on the ship.”
Hank sprang to his feet. “Aye aye, captain!”
“I'm not surprised River decided to stay on board to babysit,” Simon said, shaking his head. “This place is …” He couldn’t think of the right word to describe it as they walked slowly along the main concourse, heading for the hall where the wake was to be held.
“It’s all flash,” Mal explained, shaking his head at yet another young man trying to get his attention. “Underneath it all it’s just the same as any other border planet with delusions of grandeur.”
“So why is it here? So far away from everything?”
“The place is riddled with them. Half a dozen different ores were dug out, soon as the moon got terraformed,” Mal went on. “But the mines got used up pretty quickly, and there wasn't much else a body can do when you’ve got no place else to go. Alliance wasn't any use, and most folks were on the edge of starving to death until someone decided to open a gambling place.”
“A casino?” Simon asked, surprised.
“I don’t think I’d call it that.” Zoe smiled. “More a single room with four tables, from what I hear. But the house took a rake of the money, legalised various other disgusting habits, and since Mead is one of the few inhabitable planets this side of the system, ships kept dropping by. Money started to come in, and they reinvested. Kept building. And it looks to me as if they didn’t know when to stop.”
“We dropped off some cargo couple of times,” Mal put in, “but there’s something makes me feel kinda like I want to take a shower after walking these streets, so we tended not to stay.”
“Long enough to lose me my money,” Jayne grumbled.
“Well, that was up to you,” Mal replied.
“Was Reilly one of the ones who came here on purpose?” Kaylee asked, snuggled close in Simon’s protection.
“He was born here,” Mal said, surprising them all. “Other than that, I never really understood what Reilly wanted.”
“I don’t think he knew, sir,” Zoe said quietly.
“And now you’ve come to say goodbye.” Hank smiled. “And to see old friends.”
“Yeah. Old friends.” It amazed Mal that he was actually looking forward to meeting up with them again. He glanced at Freya, and wasn’t at all surprised to see her smiling at him, having picked the thought out of his mind.
“It shouldn’t take a man dying to get people together,” she said softly as she hobbled along. “But that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Mal stopped. “Look, why don’t you take a rest? Or better yet, go back to Serenity. We can –“
“I'm fine.” She touched his cheek. “Although I might take a breather. Just for a few seconds.” She rested both hands on her stick. “You go on ahead.”
“No, we’ll wait.”
“Go. I’ll only be a few steps behind.”
Mal turned to the young doctor. “Simon …”
“We’ll stay with her,” he promised.
“Yeah, me too,” Jayne said. “The way the doc looks someone might just mistake him for one of these boy whores.”
Simon glared at him, but Kaylee got in first, hitting him on the pad of his arm.
“Simon don’t look like no boy whore,” she said. “And, ’sides, I think they’re kinda pretty.” She smiled at one of the young men leaning on the wall.
“Don’t,” her husband said quickly. “He’ll think you’re encouraging him.”
“He don’t need no encouragement,” Jayne chuckled.
“You go,” Freya said again. “I’ll keep them out of trouble.”
“Somehow I find that hard to believe.” Mal glanced down the street. “It’s just up there, down the next turning on the left.”
“We’ll find it,” she assured him.
He grinned at her, leaning in to press his lips to hers. “Don’t be long.”
Mal and Zoe strode off together, the captain and his first mate.
The hall was in the older part of town, one of the original buildings put up when people were civic and God-fearing, and before they began to worship the acquisition of money, preferably somebody else’s. The outside showed a double row of windows, and above the door it said ‘Mead Town Hall’.
A large woman in a heavy brown coat was about to go in.
Mal grinned at Zoe and walked forwards. “They let anyone walk around unmolested nowadays, it seems.”
The woman turned.
“Mal Reynolds!” Hilary Dwyer held out her arms and walked forward, enveloping him in a huge embrace.
“Hil. Good to see you,” Mal managed to gasp out. “Thought you were dead for sure.”
“Heard you were.” She let go and stepped back. “More’n once. Seems you got more lives than a cat.”
“Good people with me, Hil. That’s all.”
Hil looked past him. “Zoe? Is that …” She couldn’t believe her eyes. “You’re still flying with him?”
Zoe hugged the older woman. “For the moment,” she agreed.
“And you’re carrying?” Hil had felt the bulge between them.
“A few months yet.”
Hil grinned. “Let me know when it’s born and I’ll send you something for it. Maybe some booties. Get someone to knit ‘em for me.”
Pickett strolled up. “See you’ve been renewing old acquaintances,” he said, grinning widely. “Mal,” he nodded in greeting. “Zoe.”
“Where is everyone else?” Mal asked.
“Inside. It looks like Reilly knew he was going, made these arrangements. He hired the hall, paid for the booze, everything. We’ve got the place for a couple of days.”
“Booze?” Hil’s eyes lit up.
“Reilly hasn’t stinted. He seems t’ve got every kinda alcohol you can imagine.” He laughed. “And lots of it.”
“He must have been really sick,” Mal considered. “Spending good coin on the likes of us.”
“Hell, I don’t care if there’s drinks around.“ Hil clapped her hands together, rubbing them in anticipation. “Lead me to it.”
“Hold on for a second, there, Hil,” Mal said. “Just waiting for the others.”
Her eyes narrowed. “They Browncoats too?”
“They’re my crew.”
Hil backed down. “Then they’re good as.” She smiled. “More the merrier, long as they don’t drink everything before I get to it.”
“Somehow I doubt that,” Pickett said. “And they’re here.”
Hil watched Mal turn, taking a step towards a tall woman with a stick. The way he was fussing over her made the other woman make an inspired leap. “This your wife?” she asked.
“That she is,” Mal said proudly. “Hil, this is Freya. Frey, Hil Dwyer.”
“Heard you got hitched. Didn’t really believe it at first, not from the tales you used to tell, but …” She held out her hand. “Nice to meet you.”
Freya smiled back and they shook. “Tales?”
“Make your hair curl.”
“Oh, those ones.” Frey glanced at her husband. “Hil, I think we have a lot to talk about.”
“No you don’t,” Mal interjected swiftly. “And don’t you go telling stories I can’t repudiate, Hil.”
Hil laughed. “I wouldn’t be repeating anything you hadn’t already said.”
“That’s as may be but –”
A man bustled out of the hall. “Dammit, Mal, ain’t you ever gonna get inside so we can have a drink?”
Harry Reynolds slapped his cousin on the back.
Mal tried to get air back into his lungs for the second time in five minutes and grinned. “You’re looking better than the last time I saw you,” he said, gripping Harry’s arm. He didn’t add after Tetris, when we took Vinnie home to be buried.
“Well, it’s been a coupla years, Mal.”
“I guess it has.”
Harry turned to the others, “But I see we’re all still living. Good to know.” He waved generally, then stared. “Zoe? You pregnant?”
“I am.” She looked at him as if daring him to say something.
“Ah … that’s good?”
“Sure is,” Hank said, putting his arm around her.
“Yours, I take it?”
Harry grinned suddenly, taking years off him. “Congratulations. Both of you.” His eyes lit on Simon and Kaylee. “And I guess your little’un’ll be not so little anymore.”
“She’s nearly three,” Kaylee said proudly. “Her name’s Bethany.”
“Hey, that’s great. Where is she? I bet she’s as beautiful as her momma.”
Kaylee blushed a little, smiling widely, and Simon said, “She’s back at the ship. Hopefully getting ready for bed, but somehow I doubt it.”
Harry laughed. “I know what you mean.” He looked at Mal. “And your little one? Guess must be almost the same age.”
“Our son’s nearly a year,” Mal said.
“A … but you were –” He looked from Mal to Freya.
“There was an accident,” Freya said quietly. “I didn’t … she died.”
Mal took hold of her hand and squeezed it gently.
“Oh, hell, I’m sorry.” Harry looked stricken. “I didn’t know.”
“No way you could,” Mal said. “But Ethan’s a fine boy. You should come back to the ship later. He’d like to meet his uncle.”
“I ain't really …” Harry considered. “Actually, what the hell am I?”
“Wasting good drinking time, far as I can see,” Hil put in. “Come on.” She put her arm around Freya. “And you can tell me just what kinda man our little Mal has grown into.”
Mal watched, somewhat uncomfortably, as they walked into the hall together.
There were more people than even Mal had expected, and the large hall was bustling. Anyone who had ever known Reilly seemed to be there, and a hell of a lot wore brown coats. He was glad he had his own on as he was buffeted by cigar smoke, music and conversations. Waylaid by a number of acquaintances, including Monty, he lost track of the rest of his crew, but found a drink in his hand and bruises forming on his back from being slapped on it so often.
At least Hil hit him on the arm.
“What’s that for?” Mal asked, flicking the spilled drink off his hand.
“You not telling me who your wife is.”
“Yeah. Freya Nordstrom. Harry just filled me in. Mal, she’s almost as famous as you.”
“I ain’t famous, Hil.”
“You are in some circles. So’s she. Even those that weren't at Dhu Khang’ve heard of her.”
“Hil, she’s my wife. The mother of my son. And I captain a Firefly. Whatever we were before, the war’s long done. Those people we used to be … they don’t exist any more.”
“Then what’re you doing here?”
“I was enjoying a drink.”
Hil sighed. “You’re crazy, Mal,” she said, throwing her arm around him. “But I guess you always were.” She glanced around. “There might come a time when we have to talk. Seriously. About the colour we’re both wearing.”
“And we’d lose, Hil. Like last time.” He too looked around, making sure they weren’t overheard. “I know about the rumours. Every so often one comes up about a new uprising, about people massing arms. But that’s all they are. Rumours. The Alliance are too strong, got their fingers too far out.”
“That’s what some people thought last time.”
“And look where it got us.”
“You saying you don’t believe in the cause any longer?”
“I believe in freedom. That ain't gonna change. But I believe in family too.”
“And if it comes? Threatens your family?”
Mal bit back the response he wanted to give. About how he knew more about it than she did, about the men behind the scenes who orchestrated things, about the children like River, about the whole rutting business on Miranda, and the people trying to control the Reavers … “We fight, we’ll lose, Hil. It won’t be glorious, like you seem to remember. It’ll be hard, bloody and pointless. The Alliance have things …” He stopped, seeing the disappointment on her face. “Hil, I have a wife and child. I want more kids. That’s what’s important to me right now.”
She still pressed. “And? If it does happen?”
He sighed. “I’ll defend them, Hil. Like you damn well know I would.”
She nodded, apparently satisfied. “Come on,” she said. “I think I’d better buy you another drink.”
“It’s free, Hil.”
“Well, it’s the thought that counts.” She looked towards the small band playing in the corner, and her face fell. “Oh, God.”
Mal followed her gaze. The big man had stepped up onto the dais, and was stroking his soup-catcher.
“Can I have your attention,” he called. “Seems to me this party needs livening up a bit. So, in memory of old Ironguts, I think it’s time we got a sing song going. Like we used to back in the day.”
There was a mixture of groaning and cheering.
“You go to it!” Harry shouted.
“I intend to,” Monty agreed. “And this one’s for Reilly …”
Hil covered her ears. “Oh, God,” she murmured again.
The songs had got more maudlin as the night, and the booze, progressed. One by one Serenity’s crew began to stroll home, even Jayne having enough, until only Mal and Zoe were left.
“Where’s Frey?” he asked, looking around somewhat blearily.
“She left, sir. About two hours ago.”
“She said you weren't to come to bed if you were in a drunken state. Remember?”
Mal half-closed his eyes. “Uh … kinda. Was that before or after Monty started telling those damn stories?”
“After. I think she heard two of them, and decided that was two too many.”
Mal grinned. “Probably for the best. There’s stuff Monty knows about me I don’t want her to hear.” That and the fact that there had been far too many toasts to fallen comrades.
“There’s stuff about you I don’t want to hear.”
He peered at her. “Are you being insubordinate, Zo?”
“And you ain't even drinking.”
“Not in my condition, sir.” She stroked her belly.
“You know, they do say a single drink ain't gonna harm any little ones.”
“I don’t think Hank would approve.”
“Where is he?”
“Gone home. They’ve all gone home, Mal.”
He looked up sharply. “What’ve I done wrong?” he asked.
“You only ever call me Mal when I've done something stupid.”
“Just getting in ahead of time, sir.”
He relaxed back. “Just so long as it’s that. Just so long …” His eyes closed and he started to snore gently.
She smiled. He looked like a little boy when he was asleep. Admittedly, a little boy who’d been caught out doing something he really shouldn’t, but …
“Zoe.” Hank had sidled back into the hall.
“You coming to bed?”
“I don’t know …” She looked down at her captain.
“He’ll be fine,” Hank insisted. “Wake up in the morning with a hell of a hangover, but he’ll be fine.”
“I should stay. Everyone else –“
“Is either dead drunk like Mal, or on their way.” He looked around the bodies on the floor, and held out his hand. “Come on. You shouldn’t really be sleeping down there with them.”
She let him lift her to her feet. “Is this what you’re going to do for me?” she asked. “Bring me home when I’m drunk?”
“Not even a little.”
He grinned. “That’s my girl. But, to answer your question, yes. I will bring you home drunk. Drunk, sober, screaming, bleeding … although I’d rather you didn’t go too much on the last one.”
“Then that’s fine.”
“You gonna do the same for me?”
“I’ll think about it.”
“Just for that I won’t be making love to you tonight.”
Zoe grabbed a handful of his ass. “Really?”
Someone was shaking him, and it hurt. “Gorramit, you keep doing that and I'm gonna shoot you.”
“Mal, can’t you tell your girl to quieten down?” Kilburn groaned.
“I'm not his girl.”
“No,” Mal said. “She doesn’t shout at me like this.”
“Yes she does and I'm not shouting.” Zoe crouched down. “I presume you’re dying.”
“Figuring I was gonna join Reilly in the great beyond,” Mal admitted. He still hadn’t managed to pry his eyes open.
“Reilly got cremated, Mal,” Pickett called.
“Then I think I’ll pass. Got hell enough to look forward to without goin’ early.”
“I think Freya’d have something to say about that.” Zoe held out two small white pills. “She sent you these.”
“Uh?” He finally unglued his eyes. “If’n she’s trying to poison me, you would tell me first.” He peered into his first mate’s face. “Wouldn’t you?”
“I’d seriously consider it, sir.”
“You got anything to take them with?”
“We got booze, Mal,” Monty said next to him.
Mal shuddered. “I’ll take ‘em dry.” He lifted them from Zoe’s cool palm and threw them into his mouth, swallowing hard.
“What it is to have a woman that loves ya,” Monty murmured, turning over.
“Yeah, it’s something special.” Mal closed his eyes again.
“No, sir, you can’t go back to sleep.”
“Because there’s a man here to talk to you. About Reilly’s will.”
“His last will and testament.”
to be continued
Thursday, June 14, 2007 2:23 AM
Thursday, June 14, 2007 6:15 AM
Thursday, June 14, 2007 6:18 AM
Thursday, June 14, 2007 11:40 AM
Monday, June 18, 2007 3:51 AM
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