BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

World Without End - Part I
Monday, December 31, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. River makes a decision that could affect everything. Plus a little Maya family togetherness. NEW STORY


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2010    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

He heard it before he saw it. In fact, he smelled it before he saw it, a dark odour that drifted to him on the wind. It was followed by the sound of undergrowth being mashed.

“Stay down,” he said to the boy with him. “And keep back. Ain’t no telling what he’s like to do.”

“I will.”

He could hear the tension in the boy’s voice, and smiled. Lifting the rifle, the one his Daddy had taught him how to use when he was younger than the boy, he moved forward carefully, just enough so that he could see his prize. It was a huge buck, horns spreading wide, and as he sighted along the barrel, his mouth began to water at the idea of venison roasting slowly on an open fire …

Jayne hugged the pillow and grinned. Rolling over he twitched, the dream having such a strong hold on him that he didn’t notice the other side of the bed was empty.

In the corner of the shuttle, River was huddled on the floor, her arms around her knees, hugging as much of herself around her belly as she could as she sobbed silently.

---

“… and that adjusts the attitude thrusters. Otherwise we could be flying upside down.”

Ethan, sat on his mother’s lap as she showed him the bridge controls, chuckled. “Can we fly upside down?” he asked.

“Maybe we are,” Mal said from the other seat, Jesse held in his arms. She was playing with his suspenders, a game she found neverendingly interesting.

“But we’re the right way up,” Ethan insisted.

“Your daddy’s right,” Freya said. “Because Serenity has her own internal gravity system, it’s only when we’re in relation to something else that you can tell if we’re not the right way up. At least, to them.”

“Them?”

“Whoever.”

“But who -”

“ANYWAY …” Freya raised her voice just a little, experience telling her that Ethan could go on with questions like that for hours if left to it. “That’s the autopilot.” She pointed to a switch.

Ethan leaned forward. “What does that do?”

“It keeps us on course when there’s no-one on the bridge.”

“Like when we’re sleeping?”

“That’s it.”

Mal moved slightly opposite them. “You know he knows all this, don’t you?” he put in. “Hank’s been showing this to him since he was able to stand up.”

“I know.” Freya smiled at him. “But he’s my son. I like showing him things.”

“’Sides, don’t know everything, Daddy,” Ethan said. He grinned, his blue eyes bright.

Mal felt a tug at his innards, seeing himself in the little boy. Although had he ever been this eager?

Of course, he heard in his mind. You still are. Just remember last night.

He felt the blush burn up his chest. I thought you were the eager one, he thought back, his eyes fixing on Freya’s.

You were the one calling out to God.

He almost laughed. That I was, he agreed, then noticed Ethan giving him a strange look.

“Talking without words again,” the little boy said, shaking his head. “Bad.”

“It’s not bad,” Freya said, holding him close. “It’s just private.”

“Can you hear what we’re sayin’, big feller?” Mal asked, not concerned with the content as much as his son’s abilities.

Ethan shook his head, and Mal felt a relief wash through him. “No,” the boy said. “Just know you are. It’s like …” His face screwed up as he tried to think of the right way of putting it. “Like hearing Serenity.”

“Hearing Serenity? What do you mean?” Mal glanced at Freya.

“Just know it’s there.“ Ethan shrugged. “Itches.”

“What, like this?” Freya tickled him, making him giggle.

“Mama, stop!”

She hugged him tightly and planted a kiss on his forehead before stroking the hair out of his eyes. “You need a trim,” she said softly. “Remind me after your bath.”

Ethan sighed. “Yes, Mama.”

Mal chuckled, watching his wife and son with adoration in his eyes. “You’re so damn good at this,” he said softly.

“I’m just winging it,” Freya admitted, then nodded towards their daughter. “Mal.”

He looked down, just in time to see Jesse try to take the edge of his suspender into her mouth. “Whoa, no there, pumpkin,” he said, plucking it from her fingers. “Don’t want to chew on that.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out her plasticast ring. “Here. Much better.” He handed it to her, and the breath she’d taken in to start wailing was expelled in a sigh of pleasure instead as she started to gnaw on it.

“She’ll have teeth in no time,” Freya said, a little sadly.

“Yeah, and a few months after that she’ll be wanting to be off sleeping with her boyfriend,” Mal joked. “It’s okay, ai ren,” he assured her. “She’s gonna be a baby a while longer.”

“I know. It’s just …”

Mal smiled at her, and made her feel warmed through.

“’M’I a baby?” Ethan asked.

“Nope,” Mal said gallantly. “You’re my son, and one day, all this will be yours.” He swept his arm in a grand fashion, taking in the slightly dilapidated bridge controls, the dinosaurs still on the console, and the buffer panel warning light that never went out.

“Whoop de doo,” Hank said from the doorway, his tone a verbal picture of sarcasm. “You mean I’m gonna be taking orders from a Reynolds into my dotage?”

Mal moved the chair around and raised his eyebrows at his pilot. “You mean you ain’t reached it yet?”

“Ha ha.” He pushed off from the door jamb. “I need to -”

“Already done,” Freya said, reaching out and correcting their course by one degree.

“Gorramit,” Hank complained. “Mal, why the hell do you need me when you got Freya?”

“Are you quitting?” Serenity’s captain glared at him.

“Well, no. But I still don’t get why you need a pilot at all. She can fly this boat almost as well as I can.”

Freya looked at her husband. “He has a point. And it would mean a bigger share for the rest of us.”

“That’s true,” Mal agreed. “Another couple of contributions to carve up between us …”

“Couple?”

“Well, I figure if I fired Hank, Zoe’d probably go too. Although we’ve been together a good long while, and I might be able to persuade her to stay.”

“Be worth it,” Freya said, keeping a remarkably straight face. “She’s good with her gun. And when you get shot she can take over being captain.”

“That’s a given.”

“Shouldn’t tease Uncle Hank,” Ethan admonished the pair of them.

“Do we?” Freya asked, looking at Mal.

“Think we do,” he agreed.

“Why?”

“It’s fun.”

Freya grinned. “Oh, yeah.” She glanced at Hank. “Anyway, why are you complaining? It gives you more time with Zoe.”

“Oh, I’m not complaining about that,” the pilot said quickly. “Just don’t like feeling I’m getting paid for nothing.”

“So next payday I’ll remember that,” Mal said, his lips curving a little.

“Great. Another month of not being able to buy new underwear.”

“Too much information, Hank.”

“Mama.“ Ethan reached up, taking hold of Freya’s collar, pulling her down. She tilted her head so he could whisper in her ear.

As he finished, she smiled. “No, I agree. Uncle Hank’s too pretty to be thrown off the ship.”

“Thanks, Ethan,” Hank said, turning around and heading back down the steps. “Let me know when you’re finished being the resident comedians. Then I’ll come back and do my job.” He passed Jayne on the way back to the galley. “Wouldn’t go up there,” he advised. “Not if you want to keep your sanity.”

Jayne glared at his back, but carried on up the steps. “Mal?”

The captain shifted Jesse slightly in his arm. “What’s up?”

“You seen … oh, Frey.” The big man looked relieved when he realised she was sitting in the pilot’s seat. “Can you talk to River?”

“Why?” She dampened down on the automatic instinct to peek.

“She says she’s leaving.”

Mal sat forward. “What?”

“Just now.” Jayne looked confused, angry, and more than a little upset. “We had breakfast and she was quiet, but I figured it was ‘cause she had that morning sickness again, or just plain wasn’t looking forward to her brother sticking her finger with his gadget, but … she said. When we went back to the shuttle. She started packing her stuff and said she was gonna leave.”

“And go where?” Freya asked, but Mal spoke over her.

“What’ve you done to that girl?” he demanded, standing up, Jesse clasped firmly to his chest.

“Nothing!” Jayne turned away, leaning on the wall. “We were fine. Shiny. Talking about the baby, going over some names … and now this.”

Freya got to her feet, putting Ethan down onto the deck. “Do you know where she is?“

Jayne looked back at her but shook his head. “I was trying to find out what she meant, and she ran out on me. I searched but … I didn’t do nothing, Frey.”

“She’s pregnant, Jayne. And she’s River. That’s something of a volatile combination. I’m sure she didn’t mean it.”

“Sure sounded like she did.”

“Jayne, if I find out you did something …” Mal warned.

The big man stood straight. “Mal, I swear. On … on Vera … I didn’t.”

Mal didn’t look convinced, but subsided a little as Freya put her hand on his arm. “Yeah, well …”

“We’ll get this sorted,“ she said softly. Then, her voice a little louder, “Jayne, take Ethan and Jesse to the shuttle. We’ll speak to River.”

The big man visibly relaxed. “Thanks. You know how she looks on you.”

Freya chuckled, just a little. “I suppose it’s good practice for us for when these two are big enough to be that much of a worry.”

“You mean it’s gonna get worse?” Mal muttered, handing his daughter to Jayne.

“Much.”

“Well, that gives me something to look forward to.” He watched the mercenary stomp off the bridge, Ethan tagging along behind. “So, you know where she is?”

Freya shook her head. “Too much static. But I don’t feel there’s a real problem. At least, not yet.”

“Hope you’re right, Frey,” Mal said. “Hope you’re right.”

---

Mal searched the lower levels including the cargo bay and shuttle one, just in case River had decided to double back, while Freya checked out the kitchen and engine room.

“You sure I can‘t help with whatever it is you‘re looking for?” Kaylee asked, wiping her hands on a rag.

Freya smiled. “Only River. She was going to babysit for a while, but I can’t quite locate her.”

“She’s prob’ly with Jayne someplace.” She sighed. “Ah, young love.”

“You know, that makes you sound like you’re ancient,” Freya laughed.

“Some mornings I feel like it.” Her eyes glimmered mischievously. “By the way, you talked to the Cap yet? I mean, it ain’t long, and he -”

“No, not yet. I will. When the time’s right.”

“I was thinking after you two had …” She stopped, glancing at Bethany where she was sitting at the work bench, industriously screwing two pieces of wood together, Fiddler at her feet as always. Her mother changed the words she was going to use. “After you’d been relaxing. Be more amenable then.”

“There’s plenty of time, Kaylee.” She looked around. “Where’s Hope?”

“With Simon. Now she’s trying to walk, this ain’t a safe place for her. Least, not yet.” Kaylee bit her lip. “Miss her, though.”

“And she’s only a couple of dozen feet away.” Freya glanced over to where Bethany was now using a hammer, the noise reverberating through the engine room.

“And you’re trying to change the subject,” the young mechanic said shrewdly. “I know you’re afraid of asking the Cap.”

“I’m not!”

“Prove it.”

“Kaylee, there’s nearly five months yet. Plenty of time to get things prepared.”

“I don’t know about that. Not if we want to do this right.”

“River will be giving birth before then,” Freya pointed out.

“That’s true.” She leaned forward to make sure she was heard over the banging. “You want me to help you find River?”

Freya shook her head. “No. I’m sure she’ll turn up.”

“Downstairs,” Bethany put in, her voice indistinct from where she had a nail in her mouth.

“Honey, no …” Kaylee exclaimed, darting across. “You might swallow it …”

“Thanks, Bethie,” Freya said, heading out of the engine room.

Mal was waiting for her in the common area. “Any sign?” he asked.

“Not yet. Although I have it on good authority that we’re getting warmer.” She looked around the room. “River, you might as well come out. We’re not going until you do.”

Mal looked at her, his eyebrows raised in surprise. “Frey, she ain’t here.”

“Yes, she is.”

He glanced around the common area. “I’ve searched the infirmary, the guest quarters, even her garden.”

“She’s here.”

“Where? I mean, there ain’t no …” He paused. “Is there?”

“Mal, as much as I love you, you’re like your son. You don’t know everything.”

“You mean there’s a … in here?”

“We might as well make ourselves comfortable,” Freya advised. “We could be here a while.” She sat down.

“You’re not going to go away, are you?” came River’s disembodied voice.

Mal resisted, just, the urge to turn around, to try and gauge where it was coming from. Instead, he glared at Freya, who did the don’t blame me shrug.

“That’s right,” she confirmed. “Not going to move from this spot.” She patted the seat next to her and Mal slowly sat down. “And I figure we can wait longer than you. Especially being pregnant. Probably about now you’re thirsty, and need a long, cool drink of water, splashing into the glass, apart from the fact that you’re really wanting to pee …”

Mal shifted uncomfortably. “Frey …”

“That’s not fair,” River said behind them, making him jump.

He scrambled to his feet, turning to look at her. “Where the good gorram did you come from?” he demanded.

River shook her head, her face taking on an odd look. “It doesn’t matter. I have to … to …” She ran for the guest quarter toilets.

Mal turned to Freya. “She coming back?”

She nodded, settling into her seat. “Yes.”

“Mal, what’s going on?” Simon asked, sticking his head out of the infirmary, Hope in his arms.

“Nothing for you to worry about,” Serenity’s captain said firmly. “You go back to counting your swabs, or whatever it is you do in there.”

Simon glared at him but retreated into his own domain.

“So where is that hidey-hole?” Mal asked, scanning the wall but seeing nothing unusual.

“Now, wouldn’t it spoil the fun if I told you?” She smiled at him.

“No.”

“Well, I’m -” She stopped as River slunk back into the common area.

Mal crossed his arms. “You want to explain what this is all about?” he asked, trying to keep his voice soft.

“No.” She looked down at her bare feet.

“Not the answer I was looking for, albatross.”

Freya stood up and crossed the deck to the young psychic. She lifted her chin, looked her in her big, dark eyes. “Why do you want to leave, River?”

“Have to.” The words were barely audible.

“Why?”

The young woman didn’t answer, her eyes just darting from Freya to Mal. Then she sighed, almost deflated, and threw herself down onto one of the easy chairs, her belly very prominent where she sat with her legs stretched out. “You think it’s my hormones,” she grumbled.

“Is it?”

“Don’t want Jayne to die.”

“What?” Mal said quickly.

“Don’t want Jayne to die.”

to be continued

COMMENTS

Monday, December 31, 2007 3:07 AM

BADKARMA00


Well, you didn't disappoint. I'm hooked already! Great way to end the year, and start the new one!

Monday, December 31, 2007 3:50 AM

COLT999


Nice start. I don't want Jayne to die either.
The part where Mal pulled the teething ring out his pocket was nice. From grenades and ammo to beng loaded down with baby gear. Funny.

Monday, December 31, 2007 2:36 PM

AMDOBELL


Oh no, what a place to leave it! I love the crew banter but am puzzled why River staying on Serenity would mean Jayne would die. There are days I so want that girl to make sense more than once in a blue moon. I know, where would be the fun in that? Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, December 31, 2007 6:32 PM

SLUMMING


Yikes. I don't want Jayne to die either! This does not bode well!

Monday, December 31, 2007 6:45 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


New story for the New Year. And this one has me hooked too. Add me to the list that doesn't want Jayne to die and how does River leaving prevent it?

I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, May 20, 2010 8:07 AM

WAFFENMAC


Great start.


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