BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Nightwatch - REPOST
Sunday, November 18, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. After nearly encountering the Blue Hands on Corvus, Mal takes on the night watch.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1583    RATING: 0    SERIES: FIREFLY

“Everything okay?” Mal asked, sticking his head into the bridge.

“Shiny, sir.” Zoe stood up, preparing to hand over the watch.

Since their almost encounter with the Blue Hands back on Corvus, Mal had insisted on a rotating watch, just to make sure they weren't in danger of being followed. It had been a week, and the only thing showing on their sensors was a derelict slowly meandering down to a fiery death in the atmosphere of an unnamed moon that had chlorine for air.

In his capacity as captain Mal had decided to take the first of the long watches, from 10 pm to 4 am, at least giving the married and not-so-married members of his crew a chance for some time together, totally ignoring the fact that he too was married. As had been pointed out to him by his first mate.

“We’ll see how it goes,” he said. “Week, maybe two, and we can look again.”

“You think we’re going to be in that much danger of being followed?”

“Better safe than sorry.”

She’d given him one of her looks, he’d grinned at her, and they’d done as he ordered. She had to admit it at least gave her some uninterrupted time with Hank and Ben, but she still felt a little guilty. And now it looked as if it might just be coming back to bite her, as Mal didn’t sit down immediately.

“So. Zoe.”

“Sir.”

“You and Hank. Doing okay?”

“Fine, sir.”

“And little Ben.”

“You saw him at supper, sir.”

He smiled. “Zoe, you ever gonna just call me Mal?”

“On your deathbed, sir.”

“That soon.” He stood contemplating her for a moment.

“Is there something else?” she asked, gazing back.

“Zoe, why don’t you take a seat.”

“I've been sitting.”

“Then sit again.”

“If you’re going to fire me, I’d rather stand.”

“Not gonna fire you. Wouldn’t dare. You know all my secrets.”

“I'm sure there are a few I don’t.”

“Nothing major.”

Zoe nodded. “Good to know.”

“Zoe, sit.”

With a heavy sigh she did as she was told, lowering herself slowly into the co-pilot’s seat. Mal took the other. He looked at her, his blue eyes darker in the low light.

“What, sir?”

He began slowly. “You know, marriage is a great institution. Gives you stability, something to lean on, someone to talk to in your old age …”

“I thought we already had this conversation.”

“Maybe we have. Only you don’t seem to have done anything about it.”

“Sir, with all due respect, it’s nothing to do with you.”

“Respect or not, that man wants you to marry him.”

“Maybe he does, but that isn’t any of your concern.”

“Zoe, he wants to marry you!”

She looked at him, her face devoid of expression. “You ordered me not to marry Wash. Now you’re ordering me to marry Hank?”

“Not ordering. Suggesting. In a firm but fair fashion.”

“There’s a difference?”

“Kinda hoped so. ‘Specially since you didn’t follow my order about Wash.”

“So it was an order.”

“Sure. Never did think he was good enough for you. Not at first.”

“And later?”

“Maybe … maybe he kinda grew on me,” Mal admitted.

“I'm so pleased.”

Mal sighed at her dry tone. “Zoe, you know why I'm saying this.” He leaned forward, his elbows on his knees.

“Captain, I am happy. I have a man who loves me, and a baby. I don’t see that a wedding band is going to make any difference to that.”

“It does.”

“Don’t see how, sir.”

“Zoe, I waited a long time to get Freya to marry me.”

“Well, the first eight or nine years weren’t exactly her fault,” Zoe pointed out.

“No, no, okay. I’ll concede that. But after that it still took a while. I was like you … really didn’t think it would make that much difference, that she was mine no matter we didn’t have a piece of paper saying that. Only I was wrong. Zo, waking up next to her, knowing she’s carrying my name, gives me such a … a thrill. Still does. Always will, I guess.”

“Sir, I do know what it’s like to be married. And I know what you mean. I felt the same way about Wash.”

“But not about Hank?”

“About him too.”

“Then why –“

“Because it doesn’t stop them tearing your heart out.”

Mal stared at her then nodded. “No, it don’t. But even if I knew she was gonna do that tomorrow, I’d still marry her again today.”

“I know.” Her voice gentled.

“You love him. Like you said, you’ve got a baby. You’re a family. And he loves you so much he’d walk into the air intake if you told him to. Granted he’d probably be complaining the whole way, but he’d still go.”

“In a way that scares me.”

“You think Wash wouldn’t have done the same?”

“I know he would. That’s why I'm afraid.”

“Zoe, I can’t promise he ain't gonna end up dead, ‘cause everyone does eventually, one way or another. But I’ll try not to let it happen too soon. How’s that?”

“I don’t need you to promise. He’s already done that.”

Mal smiled. “So this is a moot conversation?”

“No. I haven’t actually said yes, yet.”

“Then I guess the question is … are you two gonna be together forever?”

“Forever, sir?” She raised an eyebrow at him.

“Or part thereof.”

She smiled at last. “I think we are.”

“Then marry the poor slob! Put me out of my misery and get a ring on your finger!”

She gazed at him for a long while, and he wondered what exactly was going on in her brain. He’d long ago given up wondering what she thought, preferring to wait and see what little she’d tell him. But right now he wished he was as psychic as Freya.

“Perhaps.” She stood up. “I'm going to bed, if that’s all right.”

Mal sighed. “Not gonna be able to make you, am I?”

“No. It’s not your life. Nor your decision. You might be captain, but I didn’t obey your orders before.” She tempered her words with a smile. “Let me deal with this in my own time.”

He laughed a little. “Fine. You deal. Just don’t expect me to not bring it up once in a while.”

“Wouldn’t dream of it, sir.” She walked off the bridge, her head high. At the bottom of the stairs she paused, though. “Sir, it’s not … Hetter who’s made you –“

“No!” Mal was adamant. “Hell, Zo, you could have a hundred kids hanging on your skirts and no ring before I’d take notice of that hwoon dahn. That is, if you wore skirts.”

“I'm sure I could find one if you wanted. Perhaps I could borrow one of yours.”

“Now that’s just unkind,” Mal complained.

Zoe smiled to herself and headed back towards her bunk.

Freya heard the hatch close, but didn’t hurry. She finished putting the clean laundry away, sat with Ethan a while to make sure he wasn’t likely to wake, then slowly climbed the ladder into the corridor. Glancing towards the darkened galley she let her consciousness roam just enough so she could tell everyone else was either asleep or getting passionate - and in one rather disturbing case, both - and walked towards the bridge.

Mal was sitting in the pilot’s chair, staring out at the stars.

“Didn’t listen to you, huh?” she said, gently, closing and locking the door.

“Nope. Surely do have a mutinous crew.” He didn’t turn, his eyes fixed on a reddish star almost dead centre of the window.

She leaned down behind him and put her arms around his shoulders. He gripped her hands.

“You know Zoe will marry him in good time. She’s used to having him around now.”

“Shipboard romances,” he sighed, shaking his head.

“Are they so bad?”

She felt his chuckle deep in his chest. “Maybe sometimes they’re okay.”

“Only sometimes.”

He grabbed her wrist and pulled her around into his lap before hooking her arms over his head again. “Occasionally it does seem to work.”

“I hope you’re counting us in that.”

“I do.”

“I'm not too heavy for you, am I?”

He tightened his grip around her waist. “Tell you if you are.”

“I mean, I could get fat. And with the baby and all …”

His lips lifted as he glanced down to her belly. “Fat, thin or anything in between, you’re my wife. And I love you.”

“Good,” she smiled, leaning over to kiss him, feeling evidence of that love growing under her.

In the week since their almost encounter with the Blue Hands on Corvus, Mal had insisted on someone staying on the bridge at all times, and he himself had taken the 10 pm to 4 am slot. Of course, he hadn’t said at any point that he was going to spend that time alone …

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