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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BSM. Complete. The crew get letters, and at least one has an effect.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1465 RATING: 0 SERIES: FIREFLY
A week to go and everyone was getting anxious. Hank was wandering around the corridors of Serenity at all hours of the night until Zoe asked Simon for a hypo for him. Jayne was working out even more than he usually did, Bethany often at his side, telling him pirate tales as they lifted weights together, while Kaylee spent a lot of time in her engine room, coaxing her baby along to get them to Lazarus without incident. Even Simon continually went through his supplies, making sure he had everything he could possibly need. Of the two births they’d had onboard, neither had exactly gone to plan. Bethany had been an emergency Caesarean while he wasn’t even there, and Ethan was technically born in the shuttle after it crashed. This time he wanted no margin for error.
Mal, of course, was getting in everyone’s way.
“You sure you got all you need?” he was asking Simon every day.
“I’m sure,” the young doctor would respond, then go and count the suture kits once more.
“She gonna hold together ‘til we get there?” he said to Kaylee.
“Course she will, Cap’n. Smooth as you like,” she always replied with a smile, before crawling back under the housing with a determined look on her face and a wrench in her hand.
“You know what you’re gonna have to do?” he asked Jayne.
“Carried women in that state before, ain’t I?” the big man would say, adding an extra plate to each end of the barbell. Bethany nodded and did the same.
“You leave me alone or I’ll shoot you.”
Mal put his hands up and backed off the bridge.
The only people not running around like chickens about to be plucked were River and Freya. And Zoe, who lay back on the cushions, her hands as far around the mound at her waist as they could go, looking serene.
“I don’t think they’re going to make Lazarus,” Freya said as they sat in the maternity suite, hearing Simon muttering under his breath in the infirmary, punctuated by the occasional thud reverberating from the engine room as Kaylee hit something with her wrench.
“They’re all waiting,” River said, concentrating on the drawing she was doing.
“But do they have to do it so loud?” Freya rubbed the bridge of her nose. “It hurts.”
“Can’t keep them out?” Zoe asked, smiling.
“This ship is so full of tension I’ve had a headache for five days.”
“I can get you something if you like,” River suggested, picking up her dark brown pencil. “I’ve been using Ibaxofen.”
“Would you?” Freya looked hopeful. “I haven’t wanted to go near the infirmary. Simon’s …”
“I’ll get it for you when we leave.” River flashed her a smile then went back to her drawing.
“Anyone would think they were the ones about to give birth,” Freya complained. “I can hardly talk to Mal without him asking me whether you’re all right.” She leaned back on the wall. “I’m beginning to wonder if he doesn’t love you more than he does me.”
Zoe laughed. “Now you know that isn’t the case. He’s just never seen me like this.”
Freya was shocked. “Is that how you feel?”
“No. I feel odd. Empowered, almost.”
“Earth mother,” River put in, colouring industriously.
“Perhaps,” Zoe agreed. “But I think Mal’s … concerned.”
“Scared,” Freya amended, grinning.
Zoe smiled. “Perhaps. Even after Wash …” She paused a moment, the memory of seeing her husband as a corpse after he’d just saved their lives leaping out at her. She took it, accepted it, and put it away again. “Mal sees me as his corporal, always has. And corporals don’t tend to go around looking like a whale and about to push out a ten pound baby.”
“You sure about that?” Freya joked, looking down at the very large mound. “Just ten?”
“Hank told me, only yesterday, that he was a very big baby. He thought it might cheer me up.” The look on Zoe’s face said more than words as to what she thought of that.
“Is that why he’s limping?”
“Well, no, that’s because I accidentally trod on his foot when he was helping me up, but …”
“So, big baby, huh? Were you? Big, I mean?”
“According to my mother, yes.”
Freya winced. “Sorry.”
“Just so long as Simon has plenty of drugs on hand, I’ll be fine.” Zoe patted her belly. “Won’t we?”
“So you’re not going for the natural birth.”
“Do I look crazy?”
“You look wonderful,” River said, turning her picture around. It was of the three of them, sitting in Zoe’s room, right this second.
Zoe laughed. “Can I have that?”
“I’ll frame it.”
“Mal, we’re passing by Wayborn, aren’t we?”
“Close to.” He looked into Freya’s face. “Why?”
“Didn’t you get word there was post for us?”
“Well, yeah, but we’re pushing for Lazarus –”
“An hour. Tops. I can get the post and be back before you know it. Be good for everyone. Get their mind off the birth and all.”
“No, now, Frey …” He was shaking his head.
“You’re doing those puppy-dog eyes again.”
“I told you, I can’t do them.”
“You looked in the mirror?”
He gazed at her then sighed heavily. “One hour. Then we go, with or without you. And how come you need an hour anyway?”
“There’s a couple of things I need to buy. For the baby.”
“Oh, right.” He managed a smile. “For the baby.” He turned towards the bridge to tell Hank to make the slight course correction then stopped. “Tell you what, I’ll get the post, you get your bits, and we make it half an hour. Deal?”
She grinned at him. “Deal.” She watched him stalk away, muttering something about ‘feminine wiles’.
Mal expected an argument from the crew, all wanting to take some time out at Wayborn, but oddly enough no-one made a peep.
“They haven’t forgotten the last time we were here,” Freya had commented, tucking her shirt into her pants.
“Think he’s still there?” Mal had asked, putting his hands on her hips.
“Niska?” When Mal nodded she shrugged, and he could feel her flesh move under his fingers. “I don’t know. I don’t care, either. Nor am I going to go and see.”
He smiled. “Good. It did cross my mind you might have an eerie-ass idea of going to look.”
“Either he is or he isn’t. If he is, he’ll be dead by now. If he isn’t, someone’s probably killed him anyway.”
“Still wish you’d finished the job?”
After Serenity docked he made her promise. “Thirty minutes. You got half an hour to get whatever trinkets you’re after. Then you meet me back here.” He nodded towards the vendor selling suspicious meat snacks. “Thirty-one minutes and I’m coming to find you.”
She grinned. “I’ll be back before you are,” she said, kissing him softly before disappearing into the crowds.
He shook his head. She’d given the stick back to Simon, and seemed to be pretty much limp free. Only now he found it even harder to keep track of her.
Twenty-nine minutes later he approached the vendor, a couple of boxes and envelopes under one arm, and was surprised to see her waiting for him, nibbling on a large pretzel.
Stepping up behind her he asked, “Salt or sweet?”
She turned. “Sweet, of course. Want some?” She held out the pastry and he took a bite.
“Not bad,” he said, chewing. “Get everything?”
She picked up the bag on the floor by her foot. “That I did.”
“Come on, then.”
They strolled through the crowds, listening to the barkers trying to tempt them inside.
“So what did you want to buy?” he asked, his hand in the small of her back.
“Oh, just some things.”
“I figured that. You know, my keen sense of intelligence told me you wanted to buy ‘some things‘.” His dry tone made her smile. “I was hoping you’d be a bit more specific.”
“Wait a while.”
“I’m captain. I don’t need to wait.”
“Yes you do.”
“I could order you to tell me.”
“You really want to tempt me into mutiny?”
“Sometimes I wonder why I married you.”
“Yeah, me too. Must be my sweet and fluffy nature.”
“Nope. Sure ain’t that.”
Fifty-nine minutes after Serenity docked at Wayborn, she was blasting off back into the black, and her captain was still rubbing at the bruise on his arm.
“Mail.” Mal sat at the table and held out an envelope. “Kaylee, looks like your mom has some stuff to tell you.”
The young mechanic grabbed the fat wrapper. “Ooh, feels like there’s something inside.” She ripped it open and tipped the contents onto the table. Three pieces of paper covered in close handwriting were wrapped around a bag containing what looked like dried grass. She picked up the letter and read the first few lines.
My darling Kaylee, it was so good to see you and your fine husband, and that little darling of a girl of yours. I can’t believe she’s my granddaughter! Eddie keeps pulling my leg, saying I don’t look old enough to have kids, let alone them to have kids of their own. But I don’t mind. Anyways, before I forget, the enclosed is some more of that tea for Simon. It’s an old recipe, and if he drinks it like I told him, it’ll put things right. I ain’t gonna tell you what’s in it, cos he probably wouldn’t drink it if he knew, but tell him it’s good for him.
“Oh, this is for you, Simon,” Kaylee said, holding out the bag. “Tea.”
“Oh. Lovely. Thanks.” He couldn’t have sounded less grateful.
Kaylee grinned and thrust the letter into her coverall. “I’ll read the rest later. It’s news ‘bout the family, I expect.”
Mal picked up a pale pink envelope. “Bethie, looks like there’s one for you too.”
The little girl looked up from where she was reading. “Me?”
“Says it’s from someone called H Reilly on the back.” Mal sniffed it carefully. “You getting love letters at your age?”
“It’s from Hermione,” Bethany said, giving him a withering look.
“You sure? Could be from someone called Herbert.”
She held out her hand. “Uncle Mal …”
He grinned and handed it across to her, watching her tear it open pretty much like her mother had done, finding a single sheet and a capture inside.
“You’ll be seeing that girl in a day or so. Don’t know why she’s writing to you now,” he pointed out.
“She promised.” To Bethany, that was all the explanation needed. She looked at the rounded script, and was glad Hermione had used short words. Her reading was improving every day, but sometimes the long words in the books Auntie River gave her were problematical.
Dear Bethie, looks like it’s going to snow here. Might even be white when you arrive! The enclosed capture is of Valentia and Phoebe getting told off by Inara. They don’t know I saw, so they don’t know you have this. Keep it secret! If anyone else finds out I will be in trouble!! This is what happened …
Bethany slid from her chair, still reading, walking slowly out of the dining area towards the stairs, Fiddler trailing along after her. They heard her giggling as she disappeared.
“I got anything?” Jayne asked, leaning on the back of the chair.
Mal nodded. “Yep. Three. Two letters and a box.” He handed them over.
“Hey, how come he gets more than the rest of us?” Hank complained.
“’Cause people like me,” Jayne said, holding up the box. “My Ma,” he added. “Musta sent it straight after we seen her.”
“I’d like to have met her, Jayne,” Freya said, holding Ethan on her lap.
“Yeah, me too,” Hank put in. “Prove you weren’t grown in a test tube somewhere.” Then he yelped. “Ow!”
River had hit him on the muscle of his arm.
“Less of the fighting,” Mal ordered. “And if you’re going to, least let me know first. I want a front row seat.”
“What about the other two, Jayne?” Freya asked, trying not to smile.
“Looks like … yeah, Simon,” the big man said, turning one of the letters back over, meaning the young man on Jiangyin who was convinced the mercenary was his father.
“You wrote to him?”
“Yeah. Figured I should, seeing as he wrote to me.”
“Gave your blessing?”
Jayne grinned, taking that kind of comment from Freya, whereas if it were Hank the pilot’d be looking for his teeth. “Something like that. He’s a good kid.” He waved the second letter. “No idea who this is from, though.”
“Try dunking it in water first,” Hank muttered, then ducked out of the way of River’s hand.
“Have we got anything else?” Simon asked.
“Yeah. One for you.” Mal held it out.
Simon’s jaw dropped. “I’ve got a letter?”
Mal spoke as if he was holding himself in check. “Well unless you take it and open it, I’ve a notion we ain’t gonna find out.”
“Andrew …” River breathed.
Simon looked at her in surprise. “Really?” He grabbed the envelope from Mal’s fingers and checked the return address. Andrew Brooks, it said in spidery writing on the back. Corvus. His face broke into a smile. “What does he want?”
“News.” River looked pale, but only Jayne noticed.
“Moonbrain?” he murmured, but she shook her head.
“Anything else?” Freya asked.
“Couple of things for me,” Mal said, tapping the other box and an envelope. “Nothing for you, though. Sorry.”
“I don’t mind,” she said, smiling at him. “Everyone I know likely to write to me is on board.” She put her hand on his. “Besides, I’ll have fun making you tell me who’s writing to you. See, I'm not peeking.” She smiled and he returned the grin.
”Well, I think you can do that when we’re alone.” He looked around at his crew. “Which’ll be in about five seconds. You all got jobs to do, go do ‘em.”
“I never get any post either,” Hank grumbled as he headed for the bridge. “Even the squirt got a letter.”
“I’ll write to you if you want,” River said, following him.
“Ain’t the same.” Then he yelped. “Can you stop doing that?”
The others wandered out of the kitchen.
“So?” Freya said, sitting forward. “Who are they from?”
“Kilbrook.” Mal handed the box over. “Here, you do the honours with that.” He himself opened the heavy vellum envelope, embossed with the lawyer’s personal seal.
Freya tore at the box, levering the top away, even as Mal smiled at her enthusiasm.
“It’s cigars,” she said, lifting out another flat case. She inhaled the scent of strong tobacco. “Good ones, too.” There was something underneath. “And a capture.”
“Hold on, then.” Mal pulled out a single sheet, and began to read aloud.
Dear Captain Reynolds, I trust this finds you well. I have been successful in negotiating with the various tenants of the land, and the first instalments have been paid into the account, amounting to a rather large sum (I’m sure you will understand I feel unable to be more specific, not in an open letter). Please tell your friend that reasonable funds can be drawn against the balance for expenses, the remainder to be held in trust until the girls reach their majority.
On a more personal note, by separate parcel I have taken the liberty of sending you a box of cigars. I am unaware if you smoke personally, but I felt compelled to share my good fortune. The capture included with it shows Casmir winning his first race under my ownership, ridden by the boy Howell. Since that time he has won a further three races, and shows no signs of intending to be anything but in first place. Howell, when told I would be informing you, asked me to pass on a message, that Casmir was doing what you asked. I honestly have to say I do not understand, but I have done as requested.
Captain, should you find yourself in the vicinity of Mead, please do contact me, as I would be more than happy to renew your acquaintance, and perhaps you could impart some tales of your own daring do. Until that time, I remain Isaiah Kilbrook.
Freya had pressed play, and the capture ran through the horse race. Casmir, easily recognisable, led from the front and won by more than two lengths.
“Damn good horse, that,” Mal said softly as he watched Howell grinning in triumph.
“That he is,” Freya agreed, and pressed play again.
Jayne waited until he could go alone up to the shuttle to open his letters. The first was, as he suspected, from Simon Cobb.
Dear Dad, thanks for your letter. No, I wasn’t that stupid. Soon as I posted my letter to you I realised I didn’t want to wait, and asked her. She said yes. Dad, I am so happy I could almost bust! She said we had to wait, though. Do it proper. Her Pa is the local minister, and he … well, he wanted us to have a long engagement. In case we thought better of it, I suppose. I don’t mind. I want her so bad I can taste it. And I’ll wait forever if I have to.
Jayne grinned. Maybe not flesh, but the kid had the right of it. Wait for the right one, even if it takes the rest of your life. And a minister in the family – he’d have to mind his Ps and Qs if they ever met. He carried on piecing the words together.
So Suzie (that’s her name) and me have set a date for December 23rd. Just in time for Christmas, but long enough to keep her daddy happy. I hope you can be here – I’ll be saving a seat for you next to us. Let me know. I’ll write again soon, let you know the plans, but I’m counting on you, Dad. ‘Til then, I guess I’ll be closing now. Simon.
Suzie. Sounds like a real nice girl, Jayne thought as he slid the letter back into its envelope. Good kid, too, that Simon. Doing things right.
The parcel was a little more awkward. Not because he couldn’t get it open, but because of what might be inside. Him and his Ma had worked a lot of things out, with crying on her side and a couple of tears of his own, but they managed to forgive each other. When he left, she had wrung a promise to return out of him, one he was glad to give. But he was still apprehensive. Finally, taking his courage in both hands, he opened the box and took out the single sheet on top.
Dear Jayne, I am so glad we had the chance to talk. To clear the air over things before it’s too late. I wish you and Matty had been able to sort things out, but I’m going to see it’s done. I did make Matty tell me about the letters. He didn’t want to, argued he’d never had them, but it didn’t take much to make him admit to burning ‘em. All except the last. He still had that and he gave it to me. Oh, Jayne, I’m sorry I ever doubted you were writing. I should’ve known better for my son. So inside here you’ll find those extra couple of pairs of socks, like you asked for. Although why you wanted one pair on a string I don’t know. I wanted you to get them soon as possible, so it kinda took me a couple of nights, so I hope there ain’t any dropped stitches. Next time you come by, bring those other folks with you. If they’re anything like that River of yours, I’d sure like to meet them. Don’t make it too long, though, you hear? I love you. Your Ma.
He felt the tears prickling at his eyes again, blinking them back. He didn’t cry. It wasn’t for a man to cry. Least, not one who’d done the things he’d done.
Quickly he picked up the second letter, tearing it open. He wasn’t surprised to see it was from Matty.
Jayne, Ma told me. Said I had to know what you’d done. Why you’d done it. Why you left. She thinks I hate her for not telling me, for letting me think, all those years, that you ran out on us. I don’t hate her. She thought it was for the best, and she’s my Ma. Our Ma. I can’t say I love you, though, Jayne. Spent too long wanting to kill you for that. But next time, when you come home again, maybe we can talk. Hash things out. Hell, maybe fight. I don’t know. Eight years I looked up to you, my big brother, everything I wanted to be. Then I spent the rest of my life wishing you was dead. That don’t go away that easy. But we can try. Guess that’s the best I can make it right now. See you around, Jayne. Your brother, Matty.
This time a tear did slip down his face. He went to wipe it roughly away, but a slim hand was there first. River climbed into his lap, wrapping herself around him, holding him, not saying a word.
It was some time later that Simon had the opportunity to read his own post, having to give Zoe her daily examination first. But now he sat back in the yellow armchair in the common area, concentrating in order to make out the old man’s rather spidery handwriting.
Dear Simon, I hope you don’t mind me writing to you, but you said I could. There are a few things you need to know, and I might not be able to wait long enough for you to come back to Corvus. No matter what you think, I’m an old man, and time is catching up with me. This last winter was unpleasant, and I … well, that’s beside the point. There are some things I need to tell you. Now.
Simon shook his head. If Andrew was admitting to age, it had to be bad. He read on.
You worry that you will turn out like your father. I saw that. And no matter how much I or anyone else reassures you, you are afraid that his genetic signature is too strong, and that you’ll come to value reputation over people. You won’t. Believe me. This is why I am writing. It is hard, and I wouldn’t tell you this lightly, if at all, but I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. Simon, I wish you were my son, that I could give you all my wisdom and tell you things are all right. You patently know they are not, but maybe I can give you something. Give you your freedom.
The handwriting was giving him a headache, but he pressed on. Something was crawling up his spine, some sort of premonition, and he felt compelled to find out what about.
Your mother … and please don’t hate her over this … but she couldn’t have children.
Simon almost dropped the letter. That was ridiculous. He’d seen photos of her with him and River when they were babies, and before, when she was pregnant. He’d been in the house when Regan Tam was delivered of a bouncing five and a half pound girl …
And there are some genetic markers in your father’s makeup that could cause problems for any children. They knew about this, so they came to me. I made the arrangements. Put them in touch with … well, you don’t need to know who. Suffice it to say it was legal. Perfectly legal, Simon. They chose two donors from a long list … and the embryo was implanted in your mother. She carried you, Simon, for nine months, gave birth to you. As far as she was concerned, you were her son. Your father felt the same way, I promise you. And when they wanted a daughter, they chose the same donors. Don’t even begin to think you and River aren’t brother and sister – you are. Just … not Tams.
He couldn’t breathe. First the Tannhausers, now this … he never believed in coincidence, yet here it was. He tried to focus.
I can tell you who you are, if you wish. Your mother confided in me. But that is your choice. I won’t impose that information on you. All I will say is that the donors were people of impeccable reputation, of intelligence, of … well, if they’re anything like you, they must be compassionate too. But Gabriel Tam is not your biological father. I’m sorry, my boy, but I had to tell you. Please contact me if you want to talk, or persuade that captain of yours to drop by Corvus before I shuffle off. Please don’t think ill of me, Simon. I would have told you when you visited again, but I‘m afraid there won‘t be time. You had to know. I hope this helps. As for now, I am and will always remain your friend, Andrew Brooks.
The letter slipped to the floor.
“Honey?” Kaylee had come down the stairs from the engine room, having read her own letter and wanting to share it with her husband, only he was sitting white-faced and shaking slightly. She rushed to his side. “Are you okay?”
He looked at her then gestured to the letter on the floor. “You’d better …” He couldn’t finish.
She picked it up, read it through, sitting down slowly onto the sofa next to him. She read it again. “Simon, I ain’t sure I understand,” she said finally.
“They chose us. Had us created because they couldn’t have children of their own. Made us.”
She stared at him. His words should have meant he was incredibly angry, but there was a smile touching his lips.
“I still don’t …”
“Andrew was right. I was so afraid. But now …” He began to laugh.
For a moment she wondered whether she should get Mal. “Then who are your real parents?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know! And it doesn’t matter!” He stood up, pulling her to her feet, holding her tightly. “All I know is that I’m not a Tam!”
Kaylee was bewildered. “But if you’re not, then … who am I? Who’s Bethany?”
He stopped, looking down into her eyes. “Whoever we want to be, Kaylee. If you like I’ll become Dr Simon Frye. Bethie will be Bethany Frye, who looks so like her mother she’s going to break hearts.”
“And what about River? Won’t she mind?”
“I don’t know,” River said from the doorway and they both looked up. “I felt you reading the letter,” she explained, gazing at her brother.
Simon’s jubilation died a little at the expression on her face. “Mei-mei, I'm sorry. I didn’t … I was just so glad not to …” He crossed the room to her and wrapped his arms around her. “I'm sorry.”
“They did love us,” his sister said softly.
Simon swallowed. “I know. I mean, at least at first …”
“And later. But they got confused, didn’t realise what they wanted. Our father –”
“He isn’t,” Simon interrupted, tightening his grip.
“Bought and paid for.”
“That doesn’t mean –“
“She carried us, Simon. Gave birth to us. Don’t hate her for that.”
“I don’t!” he insisted, then wondered if he was lying. “It’s just … what they did … leaving you there, not listening to me when I told them –“
“And you came and got me. And I have family here, more than I ever had before. And blood doesn’t matter to have a mother who loves you. I know that. Or a father who can’t give his wife a child himself,” she added pointedly.
“I've come to that conclusion myself,” he admitted.
She smiled. “And I know you worried. I couldn’t help so I didn’t speak. But you’re my brother. That’s all that counts.”
“Thank you, mei-mei,” he said sincerely.
“Do you want to know?” she asked, looking up into his face, feeling the overwhelming relief running through him like a bright stream. “Who our parents really are?”
He shook his head. “No. It’s not important. Like you said, I have you. I have Kaylee and Bethany. I don’t need anything else.” He gazed into her dark eyes. “Do you? Because if you do I can wave Andrew –“
Her face broke into a huge smile. “I’m who I am. Names don’t matter. Maybe I’ll be River Cobb.” She shrugged. “Or stay a Tam. Names don’t matter when it’s the person inside that counts.”
“She’s kinda right, you know,” Kaylee said. “’N’ I sorta like being Mrs Dr Simon Tam.”
“Then that’s what I’ll stay.” He released his sister to take his wife into his arms, kissing her gently.
“Are you going to tell the Cap‘n?” she asked eventually.
“No need,” the man himself said, heading down the stairs, Freya behind him. “You were making enough noise I think half the quadrant knows.”
“Sorry, Mal,” Simon said.
“Ain't no need to apologise.” Mal stepped to the deck. He lifted one eyebrow. “You’re really gonna be okay with this?”
Simon paused, then nodded. “You know, I really think I am. Maybe I’m not the person I thought I was, but …” Suddenly he grinned. “My … Gabriel Tam sent my sister to that Academy. I thought … I was afraid I was going to become like him, more interested in saving face than saving my own family. Now I know I won’t.”
“Simon, honey, you never were,” Kaylee assured him.
Simon laughed and wrapped his arms tightly around her, lifting her up so he could kiss her again.
“See?” Freya said softly, her own arms snaking around Mal’s chest. “I told you it’d be a good idea to pick up the post.”
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