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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Arriving at the Abbey, there's a surprise for Jayne, and everyone settles down for the night before the wedding. NEW CHAPTER (fairly long)
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1946 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Ma?” Jayne couldn’t believe his eyes. If his jaw could have dropped any lower it would have been dragging on the ground. There, large as life and twice as beautiful, stood his mother, her white hair gleaming. His feet began to move of their own accord until he was running to her. “Ma?”
“Jayne!” She threw her arms around him. “Thought I’d not see you again,” she whispered, fighting back the tears.
He still couldn’t quite take it in, even as he hugged her tightly, not even able to take in the fact that Matty and Gilford were behind her. He lifted her up off the ground, her toes dangling. “Ma!”
It was a surprise, River’s voice sounded in his head as she walked behind to him. So she can see you being an honourable man.
“Put me down,” his mother insisted.
“Ma …” Jayne did as he was told and held her at arm’s length so he could look into her face. “You okay?”
Mrs Cobb laughed, sniffing slightly. “Don’t I look okay?”
“Only …” He glanced at Matty, who shook his head slightly, and Jayne’s gut tightened.
“I'm fine, Jayne,” Fionnula Cobb-Gilford insisted. “All the better for seeing you two, though.” She held out her arms. “And come here, girl.” She looked down at River’s belly. “Though not a girl no longer,” she said, smiling.
“Nearly a mother,” River said softly, stepping forward to let herself be enveloped, her eyes closing as she revelled in the closeness.
Kaylee, up on the ramp next to Simon, had to remember to close her mouth. And breathe. “I don’t believe it,” she whispered.
“Didn’t know that either?” her husband said, somewhat amused by the look on her face.
“Neither did they, by the looks of things.” He nudged her so she’d look at Zoe and Hank who were equally amazed.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Inara said.
“Oh, me too,” Kaylee quickly agreed.
“Well, now,” Mrs Cobb said, letting go and straightening her dress. “This isn’t polite of me.” She smiled at Mal. “And how are you, Captain?”
“Shiny, and it’s still Mal, Mrs Cobb. Mrs Gilford.” He glanced at Freya, who just shrugged a little. “What do I call you?”
“You could try Ma, like Jayne does. But I’ll take Fin.”
Mal grinned. “Then I'm shiny, Fin.”
“You did this?” Jayne asked River, watching his mother as she greeted the rest of the crew.
“Of course.” She smiled, holding onto his arm. “For you. So she could see us get married.”
“She looks … well.” He shook his head slightly.
“She ain’t,” Gilford said, stepping close to them. “She had another episode on the boat coming here, and we thought we wasn't gonna make it. But she’s determined to see you wed.”
“Then maybe she shoulda stayed home on Ezra and not come halfway across –“
Matty put his hand on his older brother’s chest. “Jayne, it’s like Jason said. She’s determined, and not hell nor high water would’ve been able to make her change her mind. Even if it …” He swallowed, not able to finish.
Jayne looked down at River. “She gonna see it?” he asked softly.
“Yes,” she assured him. “But not much more. And Matty’s right. Here or on Ezra, the outcome will be the same. And here she’s with you.”
He nodded slowly, not allowing the tears that wanted to run down his cheeks to even get started. “Thanks, moonbrain.”
“Mal made it happen.”
“Then I’ll thank him later.”
Mrs Cobb bustled back up to them. “Well, now, Jayne. I understand there’s food waiting. Are my two best boys gonna escort me inside?” She smiled at River. “Long as you don’t mind, of course.”
“I don’t mind, Mother.”
Mrs Cobb beamed wider than anyone thought was possible. “Then you sit next to me while we eat, and tell me all this big one of mine’s been up to.”
“Ma, you don’t wanna –“ Jayne began, his mind racing back over years of exploits he never wanted his mother to know about, but she waved her hand at him.
“I do. And we will.” She hooked her arm through his. “Now, come on. Can’t keep these good folk waiting.”
Jayne shook his head at Matty over the diminutive woman. “She ain’t changed?” he asked.
“Nope,” Matty agreed. “Still gets her own way over most things.”
Mrs Cobb slapped her two sons on the arm. “No I don’t.” But they all walked inside together anyway.
“Feel like you’re a spare wheel?” Hank murmured to Zoe.
“Don’t worry, dear,” she said, taking his hand. “We have each other. And we’re both going to be at the centre of attention tomorrow.”
“Oh, yeah.” His face crumpled.
“Cold feet?” she teased.
“If I do I’ll warm them on your back tonight.” He pulled out a smile. “No, just … it’s for real, ain't it?”
Suddenly he laughed. “And I’m glad. More glad than I've been of anything.”
Zoe smiled, looping her arm around his waist. “That’s nice. And you’re not warming your cold feet anywhere on my person.”
“But it’s such fun …”
Over dinner, a simple but ample meal, Seymour leaned in towards Mal. “I would like to thank you, on behalf of the Abbey, for letting us know about Derrial.”
Mal froze a moment. Hardly anyone had ever called Book by his first name, and here was a man who … “You knew him?”
“He was a good friend to us all, throughout his time here.” Seymour’s face took on a saddened aspect. “We were all sorry to hear of his passing.”
“He died protecting his flock,” Mal said somewhat shortly.
Seymour smiled. “Yes, that didn’t surprise me when I heard. He always was very protective of those in his care.”
“That he was.”
The Shepherd looked closely at Mal. “You still believe yourself responsible, don’t you?”
“That kind of burden shouldn’t be taken lightly, Captain. And I can’t see –“
“Do you know the circumstances?” Mal interrupted, harsher than he had intended. He tempered his tone, glancing around the table to make sure no-one had heard. Everyone seemed unaware, and even Inara, seated next to him, was engrossed in conversation with a young Shepherd the other side. Only Freya, opposite him, was looking, concern in her eyes. He shook his head slightly at her, and she turned back to her meal, rocking Jesse absently. “Preacher, I took it on myself to set the course that got him killed. That makes it my responsibility.”
“What were his last words to you?” Seymour asked.
For a long moment Mal didn’t answer, just remembering. Then … “He told me to believe. It didn’t matter in what. Just to believe.”
“And did you?”
“Yeah. Died in my arms, and I believed.” The bitterness was still in his voice. “Got another friend killed too.”
“And your friend’s wife is getting married again tomorrow,” Seymour pointed out, chuckling at the sharp look he got. “I've had to make all the arrangements, Captain. And believe me, there is an amazing amount of paperwork to be filled in, even for a simple set of weddings as this.”
“Paperwork?” Mal looked down the table at River, whose dark eyes rested on his moment.
“It’s all right, Captain,” Seymour assured him quickly. “It is for our records only. I understand the need for … shall we say, discretion in this matter. But in the eyes of God, true and honest names have to be registered. The Federal authorities, on the other hand, will only be informed of the marriage itself, and whatever details we choose to reveal.”
Mal relaxed a little. “Thanks.”
“No need to thank me. This isn’t the first wedding – or weddings – of this type that we’ve performed. But I will say your choice in coming here was somewhat inspired. There are several other Abbeys of our order who aren’t quite so … discreet.”
A trickle of unease slid down Mal’s spine as he remembered River’s assertions about a certain Shepherd at Bathgate Abbey, and how she’d been certain he was involved somehow when she and Simon had been kidnapped. He shuddered at the memory of the outcome, of Freya almost dying, of the wound the psychic had inflicted … “Then I'm glad we came,” he managed to say.
“And we’re more than happy to have you here.” Seymour leaned in a little closer. “Captain, I saw the Miranda broadwave, like everyone else. And I know what Derrial was like, and the little he’d told us about you. If putting two and two together is a mistake, then blame my arithmetic. But I think you were involved in that, weren't you?”
“Perhaps. Not that it’s done much good. Alliance is still in power.”
“But perhaps things will change.” He smiled. “Things do, if you wait around long enough. Even as the river can cut through a canyon, things change.”
Mal couldn’t help smiling a little. “Do all Shepherds from this place talk like that? Some kind of class you have to go to?”
Seymour laughed, the tension of the last few minutes evaporating. “Absolutely. We’re not allowed to take the white until we’ve passed our exams in pontificating.”
If the Shepherd was expecting Mal to ask what he meant, he was mistaken, as the Captain nodded and smiled wider.
Looking over at Freya he heard in his head, Are you okay?
Fine. Honestly, he thought back, letting his reassurance warm his mind.
I'm here. If you need me.
I know, ai ren.
Freya felt a small hand tug at her sleeve, and looked down into Ethan’s blue eyes. “What is it?” she asked, leaning down a little.
“Have to use words,” he said solemnly.
She had to smile. Sorry, she thought, and those blue eyes widened even more.
“Mama?” He’d never heard her in his mind before.
“Shh,” she whispered. “Our secret.”
A grin suffused his face. “’Kay, Mama.”
At the other end of the table the Abbot had taken the opportunity to corral Hank and Zoe.
“Of course, we would prefer it if couples got married before they had children. It is expected.”
“Sir, you tell me something Zoe’s done that was expected, and you can knock me off this chair with a feather,” Hank said, shaking his head.
“It wasn’t that,” Zoe insisted, turning to glare at him, seeing the brown hair that would never lie flat, the grey eyes that were incapable of hiding his amusement. “I just needed to be sure.”
The Abbot nodded, his long black hair tied in a tail at the nape of his neck. “If anything, I’d rather that, myself, even if it is against the teaching of the church. It is that much sadder to see a marriage torn apart because the participants hurried into things too quickly.” He smiled at Ben, sitting on Hank’s knee. “And you do have a fine son.”
Ben grinned at him, showing the half dozen teeth he’d grown, then went back to the rusk he was destroying.
Hank brushed crumbs off his pants. “That he is,” he said proudly. “And I’m hoping there’s more in the pipeline.”
Zoe stared at him. “Just where do you think babies come from?” she asked, her eyebrow raised, her lips barely twitching.
A little way along, Simon and Kaylee were sitting side by side, Bethie on her lap, Hope on his.
“Kinda makes me wanna get married again,” Kaylee said wistfully.
“As long as it’s to the same man,” Simon pointed out.
“Of course! Wouldn’t want it to be anyone else. Ain’t no-one made me feel the way you do,” she assured him.
He smiled, and she felt her heart beat just a little faster.
In the centre of the table, Jayne and his mother were sitting together.
“Did you really think I’d let you get wed and not see it?” she was asking, her hand on his arm. “Take more than a little heart trouble to stop me.”
“I know, Ma, but I …” Jayne was lost for words, his mouth working but nothing coming out.
“I know I'm dying, Jayne,” she said softly. “Knew that a long time back, ‘fore you even came home. But I can go now. Least, after the ceremony.”
“No point in pretending. I've had a good life, in the most part, and I've lived long enough to see my two sons reconciled, and at least one of ‘em married.” She glared at Matty, who had the grace to blush slightly. Mollified by his reaction she smiled at River sitting the other side of her. “And I know there’s gonna be a little Cobb to carry on the family name.”
Jayne looked at his fiancée. “You tell her?” he mouthed.
River shook her head.
“Of course it’s a boy,” Mrs Cobb said, chuckling a little. “The way she’s carrying him? Has to be.”
River looked down at her belly, her eyebrows raised. “Really? I thought that was an old wives tale.”
“Sweetie, I am an old wife.” She laughed out loud, and all the diners looked around at her, smiling.
As everyone finished eating, the Abbot stood up.
“You know, he kinda reminds me of Sam,” Mal said, leaning over and whispering to Inara. “Same hair, skin tone … you sure you ain't run him off and he’s joined a monastery under an assumed name?”
She kicked him and he stifled a yelp.
Behave, Freya’s voice settled into his mind.
“Now we’ve finished our repast, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome our guests. It is something of an honour to be asked to perform not one, but two marriages tomorrow, and I was most glad to agree. I feel, somehow, as if we all know each other, through the good graces of our departed brother, Derrial Book.” He stopped for a moment, bowing his head, and Mal saw all the other Shepherds, regardless of the colour of their collars, do the same.
Praying. This time it was River’s voice. For his soul.
Figured that, albatross. Mal nodded at her, just a small movement.
The Abbot straightened up, and looked at Serenity’s crew. “You may not be aware, but Derrial wrote letters on a regular basis to us, and it was my custom to read them aloud after our main meal, much as we have had tonight. I have to say, sometimes I wondered if they shouldn’t be … censored in some ways, but I never did.”
For some reason he looked down at Jayne when he said this, who managed to look all innocent, quite a feat. “Sure I don’t know what you mean,” the big man growled out.
“No. Of course not.” The Abbot smiled. “But, nevertheless, it almost feels as if he is with us tonight, now his friends are here.”
“Never did know he wrote,” Mal said, leaning back in his chair. “’Though, now you mention it, I'm not that surprised. As long as he was … circumspect with some of the details.”
This time the Abbot actually laughed. “Oh, he was. Nothing that could be remotely described as damning. He liked you all far too much for that.”
“Liked him too,” Mal admitted.
“He knew that too.” The Abbot clapped his hands together lightly. “But now to business. It is, of course, essential that the two couples stay in the Abbey tonight, and –“
“No, wait,” Hank interrupted. “We don’t want to put you out at all.”
“It isn’t that.” Again it seemed as if he was suppressing a chuckle. “I am fully aware that we don’t have the luxury of each party being a virgin, unless we are considering another example of immaculate conception –“ He glanced at River’s belly and then at Ben, who had fallen asleep on his father’s shoulder and was now drooling rusk fragments over his shirt. “– but at least one night away from each other’s beds is acceptable. We can, of course, find rooms for you all, if you require.”
“No, no,” Mal put in quickly. “The happy couples’ll stay, but we’ll sleep back on Serenity.”
“As you wish.” The Abbot nodded. “Then it is time for us to retire. Seymour will show you to your rooms in the dormitories, and then he will leave you to say your goodnights.” Clasping his hands together, he added, “God be with you.”
Various members of the crew echoed his sentiments, and even Mal nodded as the brothers got up from the table and headed out of the refectory.
“Is he for real?” Hank asked, leaning on the wall and watching the final rays of the setting sun dwindle to nothing more than a glow.
“Who, the Abbot?” Mal had taken Jesse from Freya, and stood with his sleeping daughter in his arms. “I think so. Not an apparition, at least.”
“You know what I mean.” He brushed ineffectually at his shoulder again where the fabric of his shirt had dried stiffly.
“I like him,” Ethan said, leaning against his father’s leg.
“Smells nice,” Bethany put in, then yawned hugely.
“That he does,” Mal agreed, smiling in the dimming light.
“I liked that Book wrote to ‘em,“ Kaylee said, Hope held against her chest, equally fast asleep. “Told ‘em about us. Makes me feel all kinds’a warm that maybe they prayed for us.”
“Didn’t think you were one for religion, mei-mei,” Mal teased gently.
“Oh, once in a while. And I liked Book. You know, when he first came on board, even ‘fore he set foot on Serenity, I called him Granpa,” she added wistfully. “Told me he was never married. But, you know, I think I had the right of it.”
Mal nodded. “I think you’re right, Kaylee. Certainly acted like he was everyone’s grandfather, giving advice all the time the way he did.”
“Not sure my grandfather would’ve followed us onto Niska’s skyplex,” Simon pointed out, carrying Ben, who was to sleep in Hope’s bed. “Nor had quite the efficiency with weapons our Preacher had.”
“Everyone has a past,” River said softly. “Even Granpas.” She laughed. “Besides, our grandfather wasn’t ours.”
Her brother put his arm around her and squeezed gently.
Freya walked out of the warmly-lit doorway, coming up behind her husband and putting her chin on his shoulder. “Zoe’s settled in,” she said, wrapping her arms around his middle. “Not that she’s likely to sleep much.”
“I could always –“ Hank began.
“No, you couldn’t,” Mal finished. “You’re gonna do like you were told, and go to bed. On your own.”
“Aw, Mal –“
Hank sighed, but it wasn’t more than automatic argument. He so wanted to marry Zoe, he would have gone and slept in the middle of an ant heap if he had to. “Then I’m turning in.” He waved at them and strolled back inside.
“Well, time we went off ourselves,” Kaylee said. “’Nara’s already gone, and we’ve got a few things to take care of ‘fore we turn in.”
“Do we?” Simon asked, surprised.
“We do. And you can help.”
“It will fit,” River said, enigmatically.
“Good.” Simon still didn’t know what they were talking about.
“You coming?” Kaylee looked at the others.
Freya smothered a yawn. “After the day we’ve had, I can’t wait for my head to hit the pillow.”
“I think I’ll stay out here a while longer.” River breathed deeply of the cool air. “Just a little.”
“Don’t go getting cold, mei-mei,” Simon said.
“I won’t. Goodnight.”
“If you need anything, you just –“
The young doctor smiled. “’Night,” he said, leading his family towards the dark bulk of Serenity outside the walls.
“You sure you’re gonna be okay here?” Freya asked. “Zoe’s just down the hall from you, but I could stay if you want.”
“It’s okay, Momma,” River said, her pale face almost glowing in the twilight. “Jayne’s mother is next door, and I’ll be fine.”
“Okay.” Freya kissed her cheek. “’Night.”
“Your last night of freedom, albatross,” Mal said as Freya picked Ethan up, resting him on her hip. “Sure you ain't gonna come to your senses?”
“I doubt it.” She patted her belly. “And leave this a poor fatherless child?”
Mal laughed. “Yeah, right.” He walked off into the darkness, Freya at his side as always.
She stood for a moment, watching until their figures had disappeared, then followed the wall along to a seat, barely visible in the gloom, easing herself down onto the rough stone surface as memories swelled to the surface. There had been another Abbey, half a lifetime away, and a young man about to take the white …
“You thinking about Jethro?” Jayne asked, coming out of the dark behind her.
“I still …” She stopped. It was wrong. She shouldn’t be feeling so sad, not this close to her wedding, and certainly not with the man who had made her so happy standing next to her.
“It’s okay. You can think about him. Miss him, too, if’n you like. But just so’s you know, you’re mine. Ain’t giving you up for no ghost.”
“Not haunted. Except by memories.”
He sat down and pulled her into his lap, a more difficult thing to do now she was so heavy with his baby. “Can I help? Do something to make it better?”
She studied him, seeing in the ambient light from the doorway the carefully trimmed goatee, the strong cheeks, the intense blue eyes. “Did you like him?”
“What? Who, Jethro?” When she nodded, he exhaled hard. “Hell, River …”
“Did you like him?”
“Well, I …” He sighed again. “I guess … he was okay. I mean, for a Preacher. A nearly-Preacher.”
“He liked you.”
“River …” He tried to squirm, but she was too firm in his lap.
“He did. He thought you were a good man underneath. He was right.” She laid her head on his shoulder.
“Ain't good, River.”
“Maybe it is a long way down …”
As she giggled, it registered with him what she’d said. “Why, you little –“
She stopped his mouth with a kiss.
“Jayne?” Zoe stood at the entrance to the small garden.
“Yeah?” he responded, only moving away from River’s lips enough to answer.
“Put her down. It’s time to get some sleep, unless you intend getting married with bloodshot eyes.”
“You been sent to tell me that?”
“By your Ma.”
Jayne chuckled. “Reckon she’s right, too.” He stood up, letting River onto her feet with care. “Next time I see you, it’ll be in front of the Preacher,” he said softly.
“In my wedding dress,” she confirmed.
“Long as it’s easy to take off.”
“You'll have to be gentle with me.” She touched his lips with her fingers then ran off towards the dormitories.
Jayne growled lightly in his throat, then sauntered across the grass to Zoe. “You think she’s ever gonna slow down?”
“Making you feel old?” the first mate countered as they strolled back inside.
“Nope. Makes me feel young. It’s just … being pregnant and all –“
He glared at her, but had to smile when he saw the grin on her face. “You know what I mean.”
Zoe put her hand on his arm. “Jayne, in a couple of weeks, maybe less, the baby will move down. Then she won’t feel like running anywhere. Believe me, I know this.”
“Guess.” For a moment he was silent. “You and Hank gonna have another?”
Zoe laughed. “Not sure Mal would give his permission.”
“He ain’t that bad.”
“You? Standing up for the captain?” She managed to get a lot of shock into her voice.
“You say I said that and I’ll deny it.”
Smiling in the twilight, Zoe shook her head. “Wouldn’t dare. Besides, you’re right. He isn’t that bad. I think Frey’s done wonders for him.”
“So how about answering my question?”
“Another child?” Zoe stopped at the entrance that split into male and female quarters. “Let’s just say we’ve been talking about it.”
“Been doing more than that, sounds coming from your bunk sometimes.”
She hit him lightly on the pad of the arm. “You get to your bed, Jayne Cobb, and we’ll be having less of that kind of talk around here.” She disappeared around the corner of the corridor.
River waited until Jayne had gone in the other direction before stepping out of her hiding place and going back to the garden. She had some ghosts of her own needed talking to.
to be continued
Wednesday, January 16, 2008 12:38 PM
Wednesday, January 16, 2008 1:02 PM
Wednesday, January 16, 2008 1:04 PM
Wednesday, January 16, 2008 6:12 PM
Thursday, January 17, 2008 3:27 AM
Thursday, January 17, 2008 5:53 AM
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