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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. River is telling a story to Simon, that's all, of an alternative reality to the Maya 'verse. Part II of III. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1640 RATING: 8 SERIES: FIREFLY
“So Mal’s married, but not to Freya.”
“They didn’t meet, didn’t fall in love.” River looked sad.
Simon put his hand on her arm. “Mei-mei, it’s just a story.”
She gazed at him. “Just a story.” She nodded slowly, then shook her head. “Stories have power. Become legends. Turn the tables on religions and overcome empires, and are remembered long after they are dead and dust.”
Feeling somewhat uncomfortable, and wondering whether two blood tests a day were called for, Simon tapped the notebook. “So what happens next?”
Freya sat down at the head of the table in the dining area, looking around at her crew and passengers. Her eyes alighted on the Preacher. “Shepherd, would you say Grace?” she asked.
He looked surprised. “I didn’t think you’d want –”
“Like I said, we ain’t had a man of God on board for a while, and I think some of this crew are in sore need of spiritual guidance.”
“Freya, why’re you looking at me like that?” Jayne grumbled.
“That ain’t fair, Frey!”
“Shepherd, would you?”
“I’d be delighted.” Book smiled and dropped his head slightly, his eyes closing. With a calm voice, he thanked God for their food, and for their good fortune in finding passage. “Amen.”
“Amen.” The word echoed around the table.
“Please, dig in,” Kaylee said, piling her own plate with rice. “No-one stands on ceremony here.”
“Thanks, miss,” Mr Reynolds said, smiling at her. “It looks real shiny.”
“Kaylee. My name’s Kaylee, remember? I told you, Mr Reynolds.”
“Kaylee. And you'd better call me Mal.” He helped himself to supper.
Freya did the same, then looked at the young doctor. “Simon, how’s your sister? I saw you had a letter from her in the post we collected.”
“She’s good.” He added a few vegetables to his plate. “Bratty as ever. Worse, if that’s possible. The company’s putting on a performance of –”
“Wait, you’re not on Serenity?” Simon sat up, interrupting his sister‘s vocal impersonation of himself.
“Then where are you?”
“Stop talking and you’ll find out.”
“– Giselle, and she’d got the lead. She’s loving every moment.”
“Your sister’s a dancer?” Mal inquired.
“The Osiris Ballet,” Simon agreed. “She’s their leading light. She’s been with them for nearly six years now, and she loves being the centre of attention.”
“Then why are you here?” Maddy Reynolds asked. “And not back in the Core with her?”
“Maddy.” Her husband looked at her sharply.
“No, it’s all right.” Simon smiled. “I graduated from MedAcad and was doing really well. Then something happened, our parents … and I … I decided to see the ‘verse. I was looking for a ship when Captain Nordstrom here saved my life. I owe her.”
“No you don’t.” Freya laughed. “You paid that back with interest.”
“But I stay because I want to,” Simon finished.
“So I’m guessing you don’t get to see her that much,” Mal said, smiling. “Your sister, that is.”
“Not very often. We go where the work is, and that tends to be out in the borders. But there’s talk of the Ballet doing a tour to some of the outer planets, so I’m hopeful.”
“If I can I’ll make sure you get to see her,” Freya assured him. “I wouldn’t mind seeing a real-life ballet myself.”
“And don’t let her appalling table manners fool you,” Wash added, talking around a mouthful of tomato. “Freya was born in the Core too.”
“Oh?” Mal seemed genuinely interested. “Where would that –”
“My husband is in the Shadow legislature,” Maddy interrupted, her hand proprietorially on Mal’s arm.
Freya’s eyebrows raised as she looked at him. “I thought you were just a rancher?”
“Mostly a rancher.” He glanced at his wife then put down his chopsticks. “But folks back home need someone to speak for ‘em.”
“So you do.”
“I do. That‘s what I was doing, truth be told. Putting our case before the Senate.”
“Shadow was lucky, I heard. During the war.”
“Guess we were.”
“Rumour had it you were about to be hit, just as the war ended. Some kind of new weapon.”
All other conversation stalled.
“We heard the same rumours. A lot of Browncoats came from Shadow, and I think they wanted to make an example of us. But the war ended before they could make good on their threat.”
“Heard the powers that be there did some negotiating.” The final word had an ominous ring to it.
“Wouldn’t you?” Mal said in return. “To save your planet?”
She didn’t rise to it. “Maybe. Did you fight?”
“No.” His blue eyes filled with sadness. “I was going to, all ready to sign up. And for the Independents, I might add. Then my … my mother died. I had to take over the ranch.”
“It was a long time ago. But did you? Fight?”
She nodded. “Zoe and I were in the same Independent platoon.”
“Ah. Then I’m surprised you survived.”
“Yeah, surprised me at the time too.”
“Zoe’s with Inara, in case you were wondering where she was,” Kaylee added, looking around the table. “’Nara’s been off Companioning, so they’re getting reacquainted.”
“Kaylee,” Simon warned.
“We have guests.” He glanced over at the Shepherd.
“It’s all right, son,” Book said, smiling. “I’m not that out of touch with life that I don’t understand people and their needs.”
“Is this your first time out of the Abbey?” Kaylee asked, for once not worrying about Simon‘s prudishness.
“No. I tried once before, a few years ago, but I … there wasn’t a ship that appealed to me. But this time –”
“You saw Serenity.” She sounded proud.
“That I did.” He looked at her warmly, and then turned to Freya. “May I ask a question?”
“Sure. Not saying I’ll answer it, but you can ask.”
“If you were born in the Core, why were you fighting against the Alliance?”
“I always have had a penchant for being on the losing side.” She grinned. “Now, this good food is in danger of getting cold. We’d better eat before Kaylee gets mad. And that’s not a pretty sight.”
“Was Freya at Serenity Valley then? In your story?” Simon asked.
River sighed. “If you keep interrupting I won’t tell you the rest.”
“I just wondered why Serenity was called that. I mean, it’s only because Mal was –“
“I don’t know. I think so. It hasn’t told me that part.”
“The story.” She fixed him with her dark eyes. “Do you want me to go on, or do you want to ask more questions?”
He chuckled. “Go on.”
The meal ended and Freya excused herself to check the bridge, giving Wash a break so he could spend more time mingling. She sat down in the pilot’s chair, and sighed.
She didn’t have to turn to recognise the warm toffee voice. “No need to apologise.”
“My wife tends to … she gets her own way in a lot of things, and she tends to speak her mind.”
“I imagine that can be awkward for someone in the Shadow legislature.”
Mal laughed softly. “Let’s just say that sometimes it can make things … interesting.”
“Mmn.” She stared out at the stars a while longer, but knew he hadn’t gone. “Is there something else?”
“I just thought we might pass the time of day.”
“Always is out here, I think.”
“True.” She turned enough to look at him. “Better take the weight off your fancy shoes, then.”
He glanced down at his feet. “I hate these things,” he said unexpectedly. “More at home in boots, up on a horse, but Maddy wouldn’t let me travel in ‘em.” He crossed the bridge and sat down in the co-pilot’s seat. “Or bring the horse.”
Freya had to smile a little. “Seems she keeps you on something of a short lease. You been married long?”
“Long enough. Near fifteen years.”
“She must’ve been a babe in arms. Any kids?”
“No. We were never blessed with any.”
“You’re still young. There’s time.”
He didn’t look enthusiastic. “And you? No husband out here?”
“No. No husband.”
“What about your first mate. Zoe. Does she … look to you?”
“We’re not lovers, if that’s what you mean.”
She fixed him with her hazel eyes. “Mr Reynolds, I’m figuring that’s none of your business.”
“No, I conjure it ain’t. But I was hoping to find out if you were sly.”
Her eyebrows raised until they were almost in her hair. “If I’m …”
“Don’t tell me you don’t feel it too.”
Her heart near stopped beating. “It?”
“This attraction. Between us.”
She stared at him, his fine clothes, his slightly arrogant air. Then really looked, his blue eyes, the neatly trimmed hair, the smile twitching at his lips … If she hadn’t already been wet, she would have flooded. “Mr Reynolds …”
“Mr Reynolds, I don’t know what you think you’re seeing here, but I don’t play around with married men.” She stood up. “It’s time for you to be getting back to your wife.” She put a lot of emphasis on the last word.
“And I don’t normally do this,” he admitted. He got to his feet. “But there’s something, a spark … isn’t there?”
“Even if there was, I don’t intend acting on it. Goodnight, Mr Reynolds.”
“Fine.” He turned to leave. “Why did you become an Independent?” he asked over his shoulder.
“Feeling that no-one has a right to tell a body what to do doesn’t just come from being out on the Rim,” Freya said softly. “What to do, what to think … it’s wrong.”
“And it was worth fighting for?”
“It was worth dying for.”
There was a lot of pain in her eyes, but he didn’t ask. Instead he said, “And now?”
“I’m just a transport captain with a different name to the one I was born with.”
“Another story. Goodnight, Mr Reynolds.”
“Goodnight, Captain Nordstrom.”
“No, look, I don’t get this.” Simon shifted his buttocks on the metal stair, trying to get some feeling back into them. “If Wash and Book are still alive, and you’ve been with the Ballet for six years, then what about Miranda?”
“It didn’t happen.”
“But that –”
“It’s a story, Simon.”
He wouldn’t leave worrying at it, though. “And if Mal’s married but is attracted to Freya … you know, I don’t think he’d do anything about it.”
“No. Neither did I.”
She lifted the pad. “Listen.”
“Can’t you sleep?” Inara asked, stepping down into the dining area and heading for the counter.
Freya sat at the table, a book open in front of her. “Nope. You?”
“Zoe’s exhausted, but I needed some tea.” She felt the pot. “Would you like some?”
“Not if you’re offering me whatever you’ve done to make Zoe tired out. But if it’s tea, then please. Anything that might make me feel sleepy.”
Inara laughed. “Then I recommend camomile and rosehip.”
“Okay.” Freya turned the book over and ran her hands through her short hair, scratching gently at her scalp.
“Kaylee tells me we have passengers.” Inara took two cups from the cupboard.
“That we have. And when did she tell you that?”
“When she collected our dinner things. She said one of them is a rather handsome rancher from Shadow.”
“And that you seem to find him attractive.”
Freya sighed. “I’m going to have to have words with that young woman.”
“She just thought I might be interested.” She looked up. “And do you? Find him attractive?”
“What is it about my love life, or lack thereof, that makes it such a topic of conversation on board this boat?”
“What else do we have to talk about?”
“How about Jayne? Why Simon won’t give Kaylee a tumble? Or perhaps … any other damn thing but me?”
“So it’s true.”
Freya sighed and decided she was too tired to lie. “Pretty much. Oh, Inara, I should’ve become a Companion. At least I’d get some sex now and again that didn’t need batteries.”
“Perhaps you should have.”
“I don’t think I’d have made it through training.”
“I think you would have surprised yourself.”
She barked half a laugh. “I’d certainly have surprised someone.”
Inara brought the tray over and sat down. “Why don’t you encourage him? This rancher? It’s not like you’re going to see him again.”
Freya closed her eyes. “That’s the whole point. I don’t do this, Inara. Not just to scratch some itch. And not at all with a married man.”
“Married men come to Companions. Almost a third of my clientele have wives or husbands at home.”
“And that makes it right?”
“It makes it normal.”
“For you, maybe. You’re providing a service, something perhaps that they can’t get elsewhere. What I want is more … physical than that. More basic.”
Inara put her hand on top of the other woman’s. “I could perform that service for you.”
Freya smiled, just a little. “You’re as bad as Zoe.”
“Did she try again?”
“The minx. I’m going to have words with her.”
“You know she didn’t mean it. Although that could be interesting to watch.” Freya disengaged her hand and reached for her tea, letting the warmth from the cup soothe her.
“It would only cost you a little extra.”
There was silence, then they laughed.
“Hey, this private fun or can anyone join in?” Jayne stepped down to the floor. “And what’s this about paying extra?”
“I’m going to bed,” Inara said, ignoring him. “Goodnight.” She swept out of the galley.
“’Night, Inara.” Freya looked at the mercenary. “And what are you doing up?”
“Got the munchies.”
“You still pining after that panty-waist idiot downstairs?”
“Jayne.” Her voice was low, warning.
“Why don’t you look for a real man?” he asked, grabbing a bag of protein snacks from the cupboard. “I’d do it for free.”
“Jayne, just –”
“You don’t need him, Frey.” Suddenly he was at her shoulder, his heat at her back. “Ya know how I feel. And we got more in common than with him. You and me.”
“You ain’t had a man that I know of for near a year. Even Kaylee ain’t been that long.”
“Go to bed.”
“Better if you came with me.”
She stood up, turning to face him. “You’re my crew, Jayne. I don’t do that with crew.”
“But you’re thinking about it with one of the passengers.”
His breath was hot on her face. “That wife of his made a pass at me, did ya know that?”
She tensed. “When?”
“’Fore we turned in. Pressed herself up against me real nice, said some pretty things.”
“Didn’t take her up on it. She ain’t my type. Too weak and wishy-washy. I need someone who’s a real woman. Like you.” He put his hands on her waist. “You know, it pained me, turning down free tail.”
“Then you were right before. You need to get to somewhere you can pay for it.” She moved away, his hands falling from her. “Go to bed, and we won’t say anything about this.”
“Can’t help how I feel.”
“And I don’t want to. Go to bed.”
He picked up his crackers. “Your funeral.” He passed her by and went back to his bunk.
to be concluded
Thursday, November 29, 2007 1:36 PM
Thursday, November 29, 2007 3:22 PM
Friday, November 30, 2007 2:34 AM
Friday, November 30, 2007 4:36 AM
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