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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Set straight after WORLD WITHOUT END. Just a little intro of soft fluffiness ... lulling you into that sense of security ... ... ... NEW STORY
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1428 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“I can’t stop it, Mal!”
“That opens up, we’re all dead!”
“You think I don’t know that?”
“Nothing’s working …”
He slammed his hand on the com. “Kaylee! Get out of there. Now!”
They made delivery of the cattle to Achaeon with no problems on the way, bar a somewhat heavy odour that seemed to find its way into every crevice of the ship. Sir Warwick Harrow’s estate appeared to take up the entire southern continent, and as they came in to land, they flew over herds of horses, scattering from the noise, and in the distance there were other dark masses moving over the lush grasslands.
“Nice place,” Hank murmured. “Amazing what having money does for you.”
“Doesn’t buy you happiness,” Mal said, leaning on the back of his chair.
“No, no. But you can be gorram comfortable in your misery.”
“I’ll just be glad to get our four-legged passengers off my boat.”
“Yeah, but Bethie likes them.” Hank tilted the thrusters and cut back on the power.
“She likes anything that breathes and don’t talk back.” Mal shook his head a little. “I think she sees ‘em all as big puppies.”
“Just so long as she doesn’t attempt to talk you into letting her keep one.”
Mal put his hand on the pilot’s shoulder in an almost benevolent fashion. “Hank, she already tried.”
The estate manager was more than pleased. “These’ll be the basis for a good herd,” he said, running his hands over the back quarters of one of the cows, who kicked out slightly. The man avoided it easily, his economy of movement speaking of long practice.
“I figured they were more quality than the usual beef on the hoof,” Mal agreed, standing leaning on the holding area railing. Even without Jayne’s help it had been easy to get the cargo off Serenity. “Smooth lines.”
“You know your cattle?” The manager was surprised.
“Didn’t always captain a Firefly. Grew up on a ranch. Fair-sized herd.”
“Well, you’ve not lost your eye. These are all from good stock, and Sir Warwick is looking forward to increasing the value of his holdings here.”
“He often come out?”
The manager shrugged. “Once in a very long while. He says he intends to retire here, but since he shows no sign of wanting to leave Persephone …”
Mal smiled. “Yeah, he likes being someone, doesn’t he?”
“That he does. And some of the stories I could tell …”
They shared a private laugh, then it was back to business. “There’s something to be going back?” Mal asked.
The manager nodded. “A crate.” His hands sketched a box some metre square.
“He told you?”
“I guessed. But, yeah, he confirmed it.”
“Pure Achaeon’s. Some of the finest in the sector, and there’s Persephone not allowing them to be imported.” The look on the manager’s face spoke volumes. “It’s not right.”
“Always trying to get in a man’s way,” Mal agreed.
“Can you deliver them … quietly?”
“I've been doing things quietly all my working life,” Mal assured him, ignoring the look he was getting from Zoe as she stood next to him. “And that’s two reasons I’m actually glad one of my crew ain't on board. He’d’ve taken one look at those steers of yours and we’d have had a barbecue, whether I said yes or not, and I wouldn’t mind betting you’d’ve been a few cigars short of the box by the time we got back to Eavesdowne.”
“I'm sure I can find a few for him,” the manager said, smiling broadly. “Sir Warwick has a number of friends he supplies, and as he has asked me to extend every welcome to you, I know he won’t mind.”
“I think he’d be grateful.”
“If someone could come into the house, I’ll get the remainder of the money together for you. The crate is inside too.”
“And can I offer you anything else?” the manager asked. “Food? Perhaps a drink? As I say, Sir Warwick was anxious to -”
Mal shook his head. “No, but thanks. We need to be getting back. Things to do. You know.”
The manager walked towards the large mansion, and Zoe went to follow, only pausing at Mal’s elbow. “Doing things quietly, sir?” she asked.
He glared at her. “You can be replaced.”
“I'm on my honeymoon. Hank wouldn’t approve.” She smiled and strode off after the estate manager.
“It still smells in here,” Kaylee said, wrinkling her nose a little. “’N’ I've got the scrubbers turned up high as I dare. Much more’n’ she’ll burn something out.”
“I rather like it,” Simon admitted, pulling her feet up so they lay in his lap. They were sitting in the common area, letting the food that Freya had prepared for lunch have a chance to digest. It was slow going.
“You do?” She looked at him in surprise.
“It’s … warm. And it reminds me of, well, of home.”
“Your home smelled like a barn?”
“Of course not.” He ran a finger down the sole of her foot and she twitched, the slight jolt sending pleasurable signals to his brain. “But one of our neighbours had a stable, and occasionally I’d go riding with their son.”
“And you liked the smell?”
“If you’d ever been in our house, you’d understand. My mother was a stickler for cleanliness. Every room was spotless, every floor shone, and the smell of pot pourri …”
“Poe por-what?” She pronounced it the way he had, or at least tried to.
“Dried flowers. Scented with something sickly.” He shuddered. “There must have been a fashion for it, because all of her friends’ houses smelled the same, for at least a couple of years. Believe me, the odour of a stable was infinitely preferable.”
“Good job you had a friend with horses, then.”
“Well, he was the same age as me, but … the truth is, it was about the only thing we had in common.”
“Didn’t get on, huh?”
“Not particularly. He was something of a bully, to be honest. And after I hit him that time, he never spoke to me again. And I was so upset.”
His sarcasm melted over her and she giggled. “Yeah. Right. But what did he do to make you hit him? And how old were you? What did your parents say?”
Simon smiled, counting off on his fingers. “He pulled River’s pigtails and called her a moron then wouldn’t apologise, I was twelve, and my parents were so angry that I’d been fighting they took away my source-box privileges for a month.”
Kaylee’s eyes were wide. “He called River a … that’s crazy.”
He shrugged. “He was jealous of her, I think.” A thought occurred to him, and he added, “I hope. Just so long as it wasn't some kind of horrible infatuation …” He exhaled heavily and shuddered.
“And you hit him?”
“On the jaw. Knocked him over.” He grinned at the memory of Bradley Camberson sprawling back among the bales of straw, the horses looking down their noses at him with curiosity.
“You know, that’s nothing to be proud of,” she pointed out. “Brawling at that age.”
“It wasn't a brawl,” Simon insisted. “He just sat there on his backside and … cried.”
“Oh, Simon …” She was trying not to laugh, biting her lip. “How could you?”
“Okay, I admit it. I felt guilty.” He grabbed hold of her feet. “And besides, you should talk. I seem to recall you telling me about the time you had a knock-down fight with one of your cousins because he stole your –“
“That wasn't the same thing at all!”
Simon rubbed her instep. “No?”
She sighed in contentment. “Well, maybe a little. So what else did –”
“Do I have a mechanic, or just someone playing footsie with my doctor?” Mal demanded, stomping down the stairs.
Kaylee laughed. “Nothing wrong with footsie, Cap’n,” she said, waggling her bare toes at him. “’N’ Simon was just telling me how the smell of cows reminds him of home.”
“Really?” Mal looked at the young doctor, his eyebrows raised.
“Well, that wasn’t quite –“ he began, but his wife interrupted him.
“You said it did.”
“I said it –“
“As interesting as this might be, it actually brings me to another point,” Mal put in quickly before they could start. “My boat still smells of ‘em - cows, that is, and they’ve been gone nigh on two days.”
“I got the scrubbers working full time, Cap’n,” Kaylee said, sitting up straighter, bristling just a little as she always did when she imagined someone was slighting her ship.
“And it sounds to me like they’re fixing to bust, if the clanking from the engine room’s anything to go by.”
“Clanking?” Simon smiled. “Is that a technical term?”
“From what I heard it’s pretty much descriptive, doc.” Mal crossed his arms. “And if something’s likely to explode, I’d rather you stopped it right now.”
Kaylee quickly got to her feet, her mind swiftly running through all the possible things that could be … well … clanking. “Serenity ain't gonna explode.”
“’Cause I’d be sorely tempted to make you walk back to Persephone if it does.”
She raised an eyebrow at him, then decided that wasn't enough. She stuck her tongue out too, before scrambling into her shoes and running up the stairs.
“I don’t pay you to be taking time out,” he called after her. “Nor you,” he added, turning back to Simon.
The young man stood up slowly. “Well, since I’ve counted the medical supplies until I can recite them in my sleep, and no-one appears to be in the slightest danger of getting shot right now, I’m at something of a loose end.”
“I'm sure I can find you something to do.”
“Oh, I'm sure you could.” Simon patted Mal on the arm. “In fact, I'm positive you could.” He smiled and ambled back towards the infirmary, a certain insolence in his gait.
A soft laugh came from the door into the cargo bay. “No-one’s letting you be captain, eh?” Freya said, leaning on the bulkhead.
“Since when did he grow a pair?” Mal asked, crossing the common area towards her and resting one arm on the railing.
“Oh, some time back. I'm surprised you haven’t noticed.”
He grinned. “Not saying I didn’t. I was merely wondering out loud when it was.”
“Probably about the time he got his sister out of the Academy.”
“Prob’ly.” He climbed the steps slowly. “They okay? Her and Jayne, I mean.”
Freya nodded. “It’s not like it was unexpected. And she had her family around her.”
He paused on the step below her so his face was on a level with hers. “I guess. It’s just hard losing a mother.”
“I know. Even when they’re still alive.” She drew her thoughts away from her own family. “You know, this makes Jayne an orphan.”
Mal burst out laughing. “The least likeliest example you’ll ever see,” he said, shaking his head. “The man’s older than me.”
She moved her lips closer to his. “I'm just saying, he needs some TLC.”
His voice raised an octave. “Tender loving … woman, you expecting me to coddle him?”
“A little. Long as I can watch.”
“You are devious. And disgusting.”
“Hope so.” She smiled and closed the gap even more, their mouths just barely touching, tongues just beginning to taste …
She stilled, her body unmoving.
“Frey?” He looked into her eyes, seeing her unfocus. “What is it?”
“I’m … not sure.”
The proximity alert broke in on them, sounding throughout the ship, followed by Hank’s voice hard on its squalling heels.
“Mal, you might wanna get up here. Something I think maybe you should see.”
to be continued
Tuesday, January 22, 2008 2:17 PM
Tuesday, January 22, 2008 4:14 PM
Tuesday, January 22, 2008 5:48 PM
Wednesday, January 23, 2008 3:00 AM
Wednesday, January 23, 2008 6:30 AM
Saturday, January 26, 2008 9:07 AM
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