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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Just realised I needed a little epilogue to TALL SHIP (after reading some of the comments - thanks, guys!) so here it is. NEW
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1885 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Mal climbed the ladder out of their bunk, pausing briefly to watch Freya sleep. She was tangled up in the sheet, lying mostly on her front, and her tattoo was visible. He’d never told her how much he loved that tattoo, how it had brought her back to him all those years ago, but he was pretty certain she knew. When he’d kissed it from the base of her skull right down to the swell of her hips, before turning her over and slipping into her, he was sure she understood.
Not that he understood her sometimes, now being a prime example. With a sigh which he ruthlessly suppressed, he stepped into the corridor and headed for the galley. Switching the lights on but leaving them low, he crossed to the kitchen and opened one of the top cupboards. He smiled. He knew he could always rely on Jayne to have a bottle stashed somewhere. Picking up a mug he went to the table, sitting in his usual seat and pouring himself a measure, as he scratched his beard idly. Tomorrow this was coming off.
“Should you be drinking alone?” Sam asked.
Mal looked up. The therapist stood in the doorway, his shirt hanging loose from his pants, his hair released to fall down his back. “Want some?”
“Maybe a drop.” Sam smiled.
“No. I've been reading, but it doesn’t help.” He sat down next to the captain and held out his glass. “Just a small one.”
“Well, since it’s Jayne’s it can be as big as you like. Might help you drop off.” Mal poured.
Sam held up a hand. “That’s plenty.” He took a sip, and Mal had to admire the way he concealed the shudder that ran through him.
“Yeah, it’s good stuff,” he said, his lips twitching.
“Captain, I hate to think what your stomach looks like.”
“Yeah, me too. Nearly saw it, back there on Three Hills, too.” Mal took a mouthful himself.
“Yes.” Sam studied him.
For a moment Mal let him, before he put the mug down on the table, staring at the other man. “What?”
“Just wondering why you’re not in bed with your wife.”
Mal shrugged. “She took all the covers.”
“So you were cold.”
“Middling. And the sound of the ship kept me awake.” He smiled a little. “Kinda got used to sleeping in a bed with no noise, except maybe something snuffling around outside.”
“Sleeping with Hannah.”
Mal sat up. “What –“
“Simon told me there was just the one bed. And no couch.”
“I'm gonna have words with that young man.”
“He was worried Freya might find out.”
“Well, that’s none of his concern. And nothing happened between Hannah and me. Never would have.”
“That’s good to hear.” Sam took another sip. “So the reason you couldn’t sleep was that you were cold and it was too noisy.” He nodded slowly. “And that means you have to get up and drink in the middle of the night?”
“It’s about as close to an excuse as you’re going to get.”
“Hmmn … what?” Mal demanded. “You trying to analyse me now?”
“Oh, I don’t have to do that.” Sam sat back. “You’re afraid.”
“Me. Afraid. How, exactly?”
“That she’ll try again.”
Mal didn’t look over his shoulder towards their bunk, but only through sheer self-control. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, doc.”
“No? Mal, even if I wasn't a counsellor, you’d be easy to read. I’m sure everyone else knows.”
Mal glared at him, at his smooth olive face that was understanding and receptive, inviting his confidence. He slumped a little in the chair. “Ain't afraid,” he said. “But … I don’t see why she tried in the first place.”
“Because she thought you were dead.”
“But I wasn't.”
“She didn’t know that. And I don’t think she’ll do it again.”
“I never thought she’d do it at all.” Mal let the sigh erupt from his chest. “I guess maybe I don’t know my wife as well as I thought.”
Sam looked down into his whisky for a moment, then asked, “What if it was the other way around? If she’d been lost to you.”
“I understand what you’re trying to do, Sam. But we’ve got kids. Ethan and Jesse … they’d be … if …” He took a deep breath. “Truth is, I nearly did lose her. Someone – no point in telling you who since he’s dead now – someone damn near killed her. Left her for dead on Whitefall. It’s only due to Simon’s skills that she … well, that she survived. Got better.”
“But you didn’t lose her.”
“Well, no, but –“
“You didn’t think she was dead. You were afraid she was, but you didn’t know. That you were never going to see her again. That you couldn’t even say goodbye to her …”
“Is it?” He put his glass down and leaned forward. “I don’t know what it’s like to be psychic, Captain –“ Mal shot him a hard look. “– but I imagine what she went through was like being struck deaf, dumb and blind, while still being able to hear, speak and see. And feel. She lost her anchor, the one man she’d given herself to, opened up entirely to, who knew her more and better than anyone. She was lost, Mal, and she couldn’t even bury you.”
He didn’t want to answer. “How’d you know? About Frey?”
“The pair of you talk sometimes. Without words. And I am trained to notice things.”
“Have to be careful about that.”
“I doubt anyone who wasn’t looking for it would see.”
“I wondered if Inara had said anything.”
“Only after I did.”
Sam watched the anger flit across the younger man’s face. “She didn’t break any confidences. And neither will I. No-one will ever know from me.”
Mal took a deep breath, exhaling heavily. “Good. Hate to have to kill you now. I think Inara might be a mite peeved.” He went back to the matter in hand. “You really think it was that bad? For Frey?”
“Probably worse. The things she has told me, the little she’s let me into her experiences before you two got together, even after … you’re her lifeline, Mal. And she thought she’d lost you.”
“She’s mine. My lifeline. And you’re right. There was one moment, back on Whitefall, when I thought she was dead, and … I knew I couldn’t go on without her. If’n Simon hadn’t managed his miracle, I might’ve eaten my gun.” He shook his head. “Hell, prob’ly would have.”
“In a way I don’t envy you, Captain. A love like that, between two people, it is the most wonderful thing there can be, but also the most painful. And when one of them is psychic, it makes it worse.”
Mal had to smile. “No, Sam. It makes it better. You have no idea when she’s in my mind, the closeness, the …” He stopped, the smile fading.
Now he did look over his shoulder. “Oh, my Frey …” he whispered.
“We’re going to talk, Mal. So she can understand why. But you’re doing the right thing. Treating her normally.”
“Ain't no such thing with Frey,” Mal said, shaking his head.
“Then as close as you can.” Sam put his hand on Mal’s arm. “Be there for her.”
“Long as I live, doc,” Mal said softly. “Long as I live.”
“Hey, there something goin’ on here I can sell tickets to?” Jayne demanded from the doorway.
Mal half-turned in his seat. “How come you’re creeping about my boat this time of night? And I stress the word creep.”
Jayne looked down at the slippers on his feet. “Hell, feel like I gotta wear ‘em,” he said. “River havin’ gone to all the trouble of buying ‘em and all. Long as Ethan ain't around to drop something on my foot again.” He stepped quietly into the dining area, then saw the bottle on the table. “Hey, that my booze?” Jayne glared at them.
“Yeah. Want some?” Mal held it up.
He smiled. “Nah.”
“Then why are you up and not sleeping like a babe?”
“River’s hungry.” He started going through the cupboards.
“Jayne, she ain't here.”
“No, but ‘cause she is, I am.” He pounced on a pack of biscuits as Mal and Sam shared a look. “This’ll do.” He ripped the top off and proceeded to stuff three into his mouth at once.
Mal’s brows drew together. “Jayne, your manners ain’t improved by being on Three Hills.”
The big man chuckled, swallowing hard. “Nope. Reckon that’s why River loves me.”
“Well, I suppose there had to be a reason.”
“Oh, more’n one.” He headed for the door.
“Jayne, wait.” Mal took a breath. “I … I wanted to thank you. Zoe told me what you did, with the sheriff and all, and … well, I wanted to say … thanks.”
The mercenary shrugged. “You’re my Cap.”
“That the only reason?”
Jayne grinned. “You’d better not push it, Mal. Yeah, I mighta told people you’re my friend, but that was when I thought you was dead. Don’t mean it’s the case.”
Mal understood. “No. I get that.”
“But Frey … she needed you back. Serenity needed her captain. And if I couldn’t get you for ‘em, then I was gonna get the man that killed you.”
“Jayne, that’s the definition of friendship.”
“Well, I ain't had that many friends to compare notes with. And, by the way, I spoke to Francine, the whore … the woman I stayed with. She’s gonna make sure that Hannah’s okay. Look in on her once in a while.”
Mal was surprised at the big man’s thoughtfulness. “That’s … nice.”
“Yeah, well, weren't her fault you went and got yourself shot.” He held up his snack. “Can I go back now? If you’ve finished being all … mushy.”
“Go on. And don’t leave crumbs.”
Jayne managed to look affronted. “’S’if I’d waste good food.” He laughed and headed out of the galley, throwing his final words over his shoulder. “And the beard? Nah.” He stroked his own neat goatee and disappeared down the stairs.
Sam waited until his munching had receded. “You know he does think of you as his friend.”
“Yeah.” Mal smiled. “And as much as it galls me to admit it, it’s pretty much reciprocated.”
“You’re a family.”
“Have been for a while now.” Mal took another pull at the mug. “You came to find me, didn’t you?” he said softly.
“Figured I’d be here at some point.”
“I saw your face, Mal. Several times during the evening. The way you were looking at your wife.”
“Can’t help still being angry with her.”
“I think she knows that.”
“I love her so much, Sam.” He leaned his elbows on the table. “So much.”
“And she’s waiting for you in your bunk. Don’t you think you’d better get back there?” Sam stood up. “And if you want to talk, I'm only a few paces away.” He put his glass on the counter. “Thank you for the drink, by the way. Remind me to buy Jayne a decent bottle when I can.”
Mal laughed. “Sam, he ain't got the taste buds for anything more than this.”
“Then perhaps I should educate him.” He smiled. “Goodnight, Mal.”
“’Night, Sam.” He waited until the doctor had left the galley, then switched out the lights. Heading back to his bunk he dropped down the ladder, then paused.
“What’re you doing up?” he whispered.
Ethan looked round at him from where he was sitting on the end of the bed. “Watching.” He turned back to gaze at his sleeping mother.
"‘S. Making sure.”
Mal picked him up and sat down on the edge of the bunk, settling his son onto his lap. “Making sure she don’t hurt herself?”
“’S.” He wriggled until he could see her again. “Got to keep her safe.”
Mal wrapped his arms around Ethan’s small waist. “You know, that’s kinda my job.”
“’N’ mine. My Mama.”
“I guess.” He watched as Freya shifted slightly under the sheet, but didn’t wake up. “So we gonna look after her together?”
Ethan smiled tiredly into his father’s eyes. “’S.”
“You know she ain't gonna do that again. She loves us too much to even think about it no more.”
“I know it did, Ethan.” Mal sighed. “And she’d not have done it at all if she’d been able to think clearly.”
“Yeah. But it wasn’t her fault. It was mine. Sending Jayne back without me, and then not –“
Ethan lifted a little hand and covered his mouth. “Nobody’s fault. Uncle Sam said so.”
“Uncle Sam, eh?” Mal had to smile. “Well, I guess maybe Uncle Sam kinda knows what he’s talking about.”
“You’re smarter, Ethan.”
“Yeah. Because you’ve got a Momma like her.” He glanced at Freya. “And we’ll look after her. Together.”
Ethan let his head fall onto Mal’s chest. “’Gether.” He yawned.
“That’s right.” Mal smiled. “Come on. I think we need some sleep ourselves.” Getting up, holding Ethan carefully against his chest, he pushed the sheet back and climbed under the covers.
“Still dressed,” the little boy pointed out.
“I don’t think your Momma’s gonna mind this once.”
“Not this once.” Ethan settled down between them, his eyes closing immediately. “Look after Mama.”
“Yeah,” Mal agreed, watching as his son slid easily into sleep. “Just like she looks after us.” He closed his eyes too, then had to smile as he felt Freya move in bed, her arm coming across them, holding them both. “Night, Frey,” he murmured.
“Nnght,” his wife said in her sleep.
Monday, December 17, 2007 4:38 AM
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