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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Complete. River is bored on Lazarus.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1500 RATING: 0 SERIES: FIREFLY
The night after Benjamin Malcolm Hoban Mills was born it snowed, heavily and silently, and everyone woke up to a world of white. After a call from Mal, Jayne and Mr Boden dug a pathway to Serenity, and everyone had a hearty breakfast together in the big kitchen. Well, most of the crew. Hank and Zoe were having a quiet meal in their room, enjoying time alone.
“What do you want to do today, honey?” Kaylee asked Bethany, who was almost vibrating in her seat. “You could tidy your room, or there’s your lessons to be had, or –“
“Snowmen!” She couldn’t keep it in any longer. “I want to make snowmen! Lots and lots!”
Mal couldn’t help the grin on his face as he glanced at Freya. They’d not told anyone yet, and didn’t plan on doing so just yet, but seeing Kaylee and Simon’s daughter so enthusiastic about getting cold and wet made his heart soar. “Lots and lots, huh?” he said. “A whole army?”
“Yes!” The little girl bounced on the chair. “Armies of pirates!”
“You’re still on the pirate kick, then.”
“Maybe the other girls can help,” Kaylee suggested, smiling at her daughter, then looking at Inara.
“I doubt it,” the ex-Companion said, stirring her coffee. “They seem to be more than happy in each other’s company. Except for Hermione.”
“Maybe I should go up and encourage ‘em to come down and join us,” Mal said.
“Don’t you dare! You’d frighten them too much.”
“Me? Hardly think so. That’d be if I sent Frey up to get them.” He winced as his wife kicked him on the ankle.
“Well, I'm going ice-skating,” Simon announced. Everyone, apart from Mal and River, turned to stare at him in surprise.
“You?” Jayne said, then laughed. “Better be careful. You break something, ain't no-one can fix you but you.”
“I won’t break anything.”
“Aw, honey, I'm not so sure –“ Kaylee began.
“I am. I used to skate a lot when I was young, and Mr Boden said the ice on the lake was more than thick enough. He’s even found me an old pair of blades.”
“Might all have to come down and watch,” Mal said. “Just to make sure you’re doing it right, of course.”
“Pull ya out if ya fall in, more like,” Jayne said, still chuckling.
“I don’t mind people watching me,” Simon said, deliberately ignoring the big man. “Not today, though. I need to get a bit of practice in first.”
“Can I skate?” Bethany asked, her eyes huge.
“I thought you wanted to make snowmen,” Kaylee pointed out.
The little girl bit her lip. “Oh …”
Freya reached over and ruffled the little girl’s hair. “How about snowmen this morning, then skating after lunch? Besides, we might have to make you a pair of skates.”
“Hell, I could prob’ly manage that,” Jayne said.
Ethan, on Freya’s knee, grinned. “Hell,” he said.
In the silence that followed Mal glared at the big man.
“Had to happen sometime, Cap’n,” Kaylee said, attempting to mollify him. “He’s gonna hear the odd swear word now and again.”
“Wasn't the first,” River put in.
“It wasn't?” Freya turned to look at the young psychic. “Do you mean my son has been cussing before now?”
River nodded. “We were playing in the cargo bay when Simon dropped something on his foot.”
Mal moved his glare to the doctor. “That right?”
“It was an accident,” Simon insisted.
Bethany giggled. “Ethan said gos se,” she informed everyone. “That means –“
“I figure we all know what that means,” Mal said quickly, trying to look stern. “And you just remember it ain't right to say stuff like that, not even when you’re … you.”
The little girl giggled again.
Kaylee pushed her chair back. “Come on,” she said, holding out her hand. “If we’re going to make snowmen, you need to put something warm on. And I think I've got just the thing back on Serenity.”
River was bored. Something about Lazarus in the snow, all soft noiselessness and muted colours, depressed her, and even Jayne couldn’t seem to get her out of the doldrums.
“It ain't that bad,” the big man said as they stood in the shuttle. “Why don’t you help me make the short stub’s skates?”
“No, you’re doing them. Good with your hands.” She unconsciously ran her own down her flat stomach.
“Ain't just the snow, though, is it? Thinking about kids?” Jayne asked.
She nodded. “Four little lives on board.”
“Won’t be little too long. Bethie’s growing, Ethan’ll catch her up, then there’s Ben and …” He heard her sigh. “You want kids?”
She shook her head this time.
“Is that a no, you don’t want kids, or a no, you don’t want kids with me?” he asked astutely.
He shrugged. “Never really thought about it. Not ‘less I was thinking ‘bout making sure I didn’t have any. Never met a woman I wanted to be around long enough.”
“She couldn’t have ‘em.”
River stared at him. “You mean …”
“She told me, is all. Some infection she caught when she was young. Meant she could never … she’d’ve made a good mom.” He busied himself getting his tools out of the box.
“Good mom,” River echoed.
There was a moment’s silence, then, his head still turned away from her, he said, “Course, if you wanted kids, I mean … if you decided that you might … you know, in the future …”
Her lips curved a little. “Are you applying for the job?”
He turned back to her. “Just saying we could practice a bit.” A sly grin appeared on his face.
“You’ve got work to do,” River said pointedly. “I don’t think Bethie would be too pleased if you didn’t.”
“Spoilsport.” Still, he crossed the small shuttle and took her into his arms, kissing her deeply before heading off to the cargo bay.
She sighed, watching him leave. Knowing he was just a few yards away didn’t help. There just didn’t seem to be anything to do at the moment.
“You coming to make snowmen?” Kaylee asked, sticking her head in the door. “Bethie wants to see if she can make ‘em into pirates, but I don’t think … you okay?”
“Shiny.” River tried a smile.
The young mechanic stepped inside. “What’s up, sweetie?”
“I can’t ride because of the snow, I can’t swim because of the ice, and everything feels like … I'm hemmed in.”
“Then you need to get outside. Get some fresh air.” She grinned. “You could always go skating with Simon.”
“I'm pretty sure he wouldn’t mind.”
“I’m pretty sure he would,” River corrected. “Especially if I was better than him.”
“Likely to be?”
River shrugged. “Maybe.” She didn’t say it, but they both knew that with her natural grace and balance, as well as her dancer’s poise …
Kaylee took her hand. “It’s not good to shut yourself up in here.”
“Just for a while.”
“Still not good.” She looked at her sister-in-law, her brows drawn down in thought. “But I can’t make you do what you don’t want. So all I’ll say is that we’ll be outside when you want to join us.” She smiled. “We’d like you to.”
“Later,” River promised.
“’Kay.” Kaylee squeezed her hand and left the shuttle. She hated to see her like this, somehow more like the old River than the new. She needed something to think about, to … Sure, why not?
She hurried to the bridge and searched her Cortex messages. Yep, there it was. She hadn’t gotten around to getting rid of it, and now maybe it seemed like the answer to her prayers. Just a silly chainwave from a feller she knew in a junkyard in Ephesus, that she’d originally kept meaning to fill it in and at least send back. Now she completed it quickly and sent it to the screen in the shuttle. Then she went outside to help Bethie and Hermione made snowmen.
River, sitting on the bed counting the rivets in the hull and dividing them by the Hubble constant, heard the buzz and looked up. She didn’t know anyone who would be waving her, so it was probably for Jayne. But her curiosity was piqued and she went to look. As she read the contents, her eyes glittered mischievously, and a smile formed on her lips.
“First time you saw snow was when you were eight months,” Kaylee said, fixing some small lumps of coal into the front of her snowman for buttons. “Christmas Eve, and we were just a day away from finding out your Auntie Frey was having Ethan.”
“Gloves on strings,” Bethany agreed, standing back and critically eyeing the snow dog she’d made. She’d given up on the idea of pirates, instead deciding on a white representation of the crew of Serenity. Fiddler was sniffing around his likeness very inappropriately.
“You looked so pretty,” her mother sighed. “Not that you don’t now.” She grinned.
“Pretty,” Bethie echoed, her head on one side. “Momma, does that look right?”
Kaylee stopped and observed. “Looks fine to me.”
“Don’t think the ears are right.”
“All a dog needs is four legs and a butt,” Jayne said, stomping through the snow and throwing his arms around himself. “Ain’t you finished yet? It’s colder’n a witch’s -”
“Jayne,” Kaylee warned in time.
“Cauldron,” Jayne went on. “That’s all I was gonna say.” He grinned at her.
“Why does a dog only need four legs and a butt?” Bethany asked.
“’Cause he only ever thinks about four things. Food, sex, sleep and food. One for each leg.”
“That’s only three.”
“Yeah, well he thinks about food twice as much as anything else.”
“And the butt?”
“Jayne, I knew you shouldn’t’ve started this,” Kaylee complained.
“Stops his legs falling off.”
“Our neighbour on Mead had a three-legged greyhound called Lucky,” Hermione said, sticking her head out from behind one of the snow people.
“Three legs and they called it Lucky?” Jayne chuckled.
“Might only have had two,” Hermione explained.
“You know, you got a point there,” Jayne agreed.
“Did his butt come undone?” Bethie asked.
“ANYWAY,” Kaylee said loudly. “What do you think of our handiwork, Jayne?”
“Looks okay,” he said, surveying the scene. “Like the authentic touch down there, though.”
Jayne pointed to a yellow patch of snow at the rear end of Bethany’s snow dog.
The little girl sighed heavily. “We’re going to have a long talk, my lad,” she said to Fiddler, who just rolled in the snow and wagged his tail. She looked up. “Uncle Jayne, can I go skating yet?”
“Not quite. Still working out the details,” the big man admitted. “Just need to measure your feet.” He dropped down to his knees and marked on a piece of wood from Bethany’s toe to heel.
River strolled past. “There’s a message for you, Kaylee,” she said, smiling sweetly.
“Where’re you going, moonbrain?” Jayne asked, standing and brushing snow from his pants.
“To see the new arrival. He’s woken up.”
“Hang on, I’ll come with ya.”
“Momma, can we go too?” Bethie asked, almost jumping up and down.
“Course you can. And I’ll be along in a while. Just got something I need to do on board.”
“Thank you!” Bethany shouted and ran to join the others, Hermione just a pace behind.
“Ya might try rousting the Cap and his wife from their bunk,” Jayne called back over his shoulder. “They went to Serenity for something, and ain’t showed themselves again yet.”
Freya climbed the ladder, watching Mal sleep as she did so. They’d gone back to the ship just to pick up her capture, leaving Ethan with Inara, but things had got a little out of hand, and they hadn’t even managed to get as far as finding the small device. She smiled. He still looked like a boy, even though he’d just proved he wasn't. Besides, the rest would do him good.
What she needed now, though, was coffee. Even if it wasn't the real thing like Inara had, there was something reassuring about the taste. Padding along the corridor in bare feet, almost wishing she’d put her boots back on as the metal was cold, she reached the galley, then paused in surprise.
Kaylee was sitting in the small seating area, her feet tucked up under her, giggling.
“What’s that you’ve got there?” Freya asked.
The young mechanic looked up guiltily. “Nothing,” she said, folding some sheets of paper.
“No, honestly. Just … just some stupid old instructions on how to keep a Firefly in the air.” She made a face, pushing the sheets under her thigh. “As if I need them.”
“Then why are you reading them?” Freya opened the cupboard.
“Are they what?”
Reaching inside to find a mug, Freya didn’t look at Kaylee as she said, “You want to really tell me what they are?”
There was a silence, long enough for Freya to pour herself a cup of coffee, grab a cookie from the tin and join Kaylee on one of the comfy chairs. She raised her eyebrows at the young mechanic.
“It’s … I … River was bored, so I …” The words got caught up.
“River was bored, so you did something. Right. Anything Mal should know about?” Freya sipped her drink.
“It’s just a silly chainwave,” Kaylee said quickly. “Just thought it might make her smile. I filled it in and sent it to her, only … she’s done everyone’s for them, and sent them back to me.”
“It ain't bad. Honestly.”
“I think I need to see them to be sure.”
“It was just a load of silly questions, like …” She dragged the papers out. “Like … what’s your favourite drink, what was the last movie you watched, do you have any tattoos, if you were a crayon what colour would you be –“
“Yeah, I didn’t get that one myself. ‘Parrently I’d be yellow.”
“That I can understand.” Freya smiled. “So … what does Mal’s say?”
“You really wanna look?”
“You telling me you haven’t read Simon’s?”
“Kaylee, this is me you’re lying to.”
“Well, maybe I did just take a peek.”
“So come on, hand it over.” Freya held out her hand, shaking it when Kaylee wasn’t quick enough.
“Well, if you’re sure …” The young mechanic passed the page across.
Freya scanned the answers. “Well, this doesn’t seem to be … too …” Her voice failed.
“Yeah. I kinda thought that myself.”
“Oh, beware the bored psychic,” Freya breathed softly.
“Which one?” Kaylee asked, trying to see. “Oh, that one.”
“That’s personal,” Freya said.
“You know, I always thought he had just the one.”
“Well, no … there is … damn it, that girl had no right …”
“And is it a heart with an arrow through it?”
“Only yours says the same.” She smiled. “I think it’s kinda romantic.” She tapped the sheet. “’N’ this is sweet. What’s on your desk right now? According to River, the Cap’n’s got a capture of his wedding, Ethan’s chalks and your journal.” She looked up. “Didn’t know you kept a journal.”
Freya felt the tinge of embarrassment creep up her skin. “It’s not … just a few things I …”
“Things you’re remembering to tell Ethan?” Kaylee supplied softly.
“You too, huh?”
“Yup.” She suddenly became engrossed in the sheets again. “Look, says Jayne had a teddy bear called Pookie as his favourite toy when he was a child.”
“That explains a lot.”
Kaylee giggled, sounding like her daughter. “Don’t it just.”
“Did she send them to anyone else?”
“Looks like I was the only one got ‘em all. But she sent each one personally back to that person too.”
Freya got to her feet. “I think we’d better get into the system, delete them before anyone reads them.”
“You think they’ll mind?”
“Did you see what she said about Simon’s underwear?”
It was the young mechanic’s turn to blush. “It’s just … he likes to … when he ain't got any clean …”
“And you want him to know that River knows he wears your undies sometimes?”
“No. And definitely no.”
They hurried to the bridge, and it was just the work of a moment to delete the files from the system.
“You’d better burn those, too,” Freya advised, nodding towards the hard copy sheets in Kaylee’s hand.
“Oh, I intend to. ‘Less I decide to blackmail anyone with ‘em. Think it’d work?”
“Kaylee, if it was anyone else, I’d be advising them not to stand too close to the airlock when they tried. You, on the other hand … just get rid of them, please?”
“Don’t worry. No-one else’s gonna see these.” She tore the pages into small squares. “Only I’d kinda like to know about one of the Cap’s answers.”
“The one asking when was the last time he cried. He put last night.”
Freya took a slow breath. “This wasn't Mal answering the questions, Kaylee,” she pointed out.
“No, but the rest’ve been pretty true. Why’d the Cap cry yesterday?” Kaylee stiffened slightly. “Ain't Zoe or the baby, is it?”
“No, no, nothing like that,” Freya quickly assured her.
“Frey, I can go ask him, and you know I’d prob’ly be able to make him tell me,” Kaylee said firmly.
“Or puppy dog eyes. Works on Simon.”
“Oh, cao.” Freya sank into the pilot’s chair.
“Frey, what is it?”
“He wasn’t unhappy, Kaylee. Just the opposite.”
“Why’d he cry if he was …” Kaylee stopped, her mouth a wide ‘O’. “Are you …”
“How far along?”
“Not far. Just a few weeks, I think.”
Kaylee sat down heavily. “Does Simon –“
“No. And you’re not to tell him.”
“But he’ll need to know. Get you on those vitamins, check you over –“
“We’re not ready yet, Kaylee.”
“To tell everyone.” Freya leaned forward. “This is Zoe’s time. Her and Hank. Not going to take anything away from them.”
“But it wouldn’t be. They’d be pleased for you, you know that.” Kaylee’s enthusiasm bubbled over. “Oh, Frey, this is great!” She laughed at the shocked look on her friend’s face. “Did you think I’d not be pleased for you?”
“I thought … I was afraid to tell you in case … with Zoe and everything …”
“You mean with Simon being sterile?”
Freya nodded. “Well, yes.”
“There’s options,” Kaylee said, leaning forward, taking her friend’s hands. “’N’ this just makes me even more determined.”
“You deserve it, mei-mei.”
“’Sides, I kinda knew.”
“What?” The look of shock was back. “How?”
“My Ma read your tea leaves, remember? Said there’d be a girl coming along pretty soon.” She looked down to the area of Freya’s stomach. “Is it? A girl?”
“I … I think so.”
Kaylee grinned. “See? My Ma’s always right.” She stood up quickly. “Well, better be getting back to the others. No knowing what kind of swear words Jayne’ll have taught Bethie by this time.”
“He loves that little girl like she was his own.”
“I know.” Kaylee paused. “You think they’ll ever have kids? Him and River, I mean?”
“I don’t know.” Freya shrugged. “Not sure how Simon would take that.”
“I wonder if they’d be psychic, too.”
“No.” Kaylee’s face cleared. “Be fun to see, though, wouldn’t it? Jayne as a daddy.”
“You two planning on sitting there all day?” Mal asked from the corridor.
“Nope, just going,” Kaylee said, passing by him on the stairs. “And congratulations!” She reached up and gave him a kiss on the cheek before hurrying off.
“She knows?” Mal asked, stepping onto the bridge, his shirt barely done up, his suspenders round his hips.
“I told her.”
“How come? Thought you wanted to keep it a secret for now.”
“I did. It’s just … Kaylee.”
Mal grinned. “Yeah, guess I know what you mean. She’s kinda relentless, ain’t she?”
“Just a little.”
“You know she’s not going to be able to keep it a secret.”
Freya relaxed, leaning back in the chair. “Truth is, I don’t think I mind. She’s right – everyone’s going to be so happy for us.”
Mal went down on his heels next to her. “No more’n me, xin gan.” He moved her knees apart so he could lean into her lap. “So what else were you two talking about?”
“Oh, nothing much.” She reached up and ran her hand through his hair, still sticking up a little from his nap.
“So that chainwave didn’t come into it.”
Freya froze. “Chainwave?”
“Just read ‘em. All of ‘em.” His lips twitched. “You think you can get rid of something off my ship without me knowing?”
“Don’t be angry at River,” Freya said quickly. “She was bored, and it probably seemed like a fun idea at the time.”
“Had me a few of them. Always seemed to end up with me getting shot.”
“You can’t shoot River.”
“What, not even a little bit?”
“She’d tear you limb from limb. Then Jayne’d come along and finish the job.”
“Ouch.” He moved closer. “That still doesn’t excuse peeking into everyone’s minds and writing all their little secrets down.”
“I don’t think many of them were secrets, Mal.”
“No, well, maybe not. But the one about our tattoos was.”
“She was bored.”
“You’re making excuses for her now?” He fixed her with a stern eye, but couldn’t keep it up.
“I’m allowed.” She patted her flat belly. “I'm pregnant.”
He grinned. “That you are.” He kissed her shirt above where he thought their baby was lurking. “Guess I can make allowances then.” He stood up. “Come on, darlin’, my knees are hurting. And I need a coffee.”
She got to her feet and let him lead her off the bridge back to the galley. “Mine went cold.”
“Then I’ll get you a fresh one.” He glanced back over his shoulder. “And while I do that, you can tell me if you think your answer to River’s extra question was right.”
“Didn’t you read that far?” He laughed. “That thing gave people the opportunity to ask one question of their own.”
They stepped down into the galley.
“You know, I'm almost afraid to ask what River put,” Freya said.
Mal turned to look at her. “She asked what people’s favourite sexual position was. And answered her own question.”
“That little … I'm going to have words with her,” Freya said, starting back towards the bunks and her boots, except Mal grabbed her around the waist, pulling her to him.
“Hey, now, you ain't gonna go do murder,” he said forcefully. “Not if I ain't allowed to.”
“She’s got to know she can’t do that!”
“And we’ll tell her later.” He ran his hand down her back to her pants, pushing inside her waistband. “Got me some other thoughts to dwell on right now.”
“I thought you wanted a coffee?” she asked, feeling his fingers massaging the top of her buttocks.
“Changed my mind. Captain’s prerogative.” He grinned. “’Sides, we’ve got to find out if she was right or not.”
“How many goes at guessing do I get?”
“You know, for a married woman, you sure can be wanton,” Mal said, claiming her lips.
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