BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Broken - Part II
Friday, February 8, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Mal and the crew have a job, and everyone has breakfast. Lots of fluff, some plot. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1970    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

“You okay?” Mal asked, peering at Freya as he pulled his pants up, tucking his shirt in and buttoning them tightly around his hips.

She lay on the bed, one arm across her eyes. “I just feel … odd.”

He sat down next to her, moving her arm so he could touch her forehead. “You don’t feel hot.” Stroking her cheek he added, “You want me to get Simon to come and look at you?”

“No, no,” she said, shaking her head. “I think I’ll just sleep for a while. It’s probably nothing.” She smiled tiredly at him. “Probably just the imminent arrival of Baby Cobb.”

“Baby Cobb,” Mal repeated. “That sounds enough to make anyone feel ill.”

She slapped his thigh. “It’s not as bad as that.”

“I know. And I wouldn’t be surprised if you were picking up something.” He pushed her hair out of her face. “They thought about a name yet?”

“No-one’s said.”

“That wasn't what I asked.”

“And I haven’t looked.”

“No?”

She slapped him again, this time on the arm. “No.”

“You know, I'm gonna have to be called one of them battered husbands, you keep doing that.” He rubbed the sore spot.

“Sorry.” She reached up enough so that she could put a kiss on the offended portion of his anatomy, the sheet sliding off her upper half as she did so.

“And you keep doing that and I’ll be considering a lay-in myself,” he pointed out.

“You can’t,” she said, putting her head back on the pillow. “You’ve got Sullivan to deal with.”

“He’ll be fine.”

“Taking Jayne?”

“And Zoe. I ain't stupid.”

She grinned at him. “I know that.”

“At least Bethie seems to get the whole process now.” Mal picked up his boots, pulling them on over his thick socks, as he went back to the original topic.

“That was sweet, though.” Freya sighed happily.

“You didn’t have to explain it to her.” Mal shuddered as he remembered the time that seemed like only yesterday but was probably more like a couple of years, when Bethany had the wrong end of the stick.

“Bethany?” Mal looked into the storage locker that had been dubbed ‘Eden’.

“Uncle Mal.” The little girl was sitting on the floor, a number of her toys arranged around her, all facing the large, earth-filled tanks.

“What are you doing here?” he asked.

“Waiting.”

“For what?”

“Babies.”

“Um … babies?”

“For them to grow.”

Mal sat down next to her, his back protesting just a little. “What do you mean, pumpkin?”

“River planted seeds. She told me. So now I’m waiting.”

Seeds. Planting. “Ah.”

“Uncle Jayne said -”

“Uncle Jayne oughtta sometimes think before he speaks,” Mal muttered. The man had opened his mouth and told Bethie that babies came from seeds planted in their mother’s tummies. And Bethie was all of two, with a very literal view of things.

“You mean he wasn’t telling the truth?” Bethie asked, turning large, somewhat moist eyes on him. “Uncle Jayne was lying?” Her bottom lip began to quiver.

“Well, no, not quite … but …” Mal was floundering. “Bethie, I think maybe you’d better talk to your Pa about this.”

“And you weren’t the one to explain anything,” Freya pointed out.

“No, but –“

“And even Simon got out of it.”

“Yeah, but –“

“Kaylee had to do it.”

“I know! But I was there when Bethie came out with it at the dinner table.” He shuddered again.

“We all were.” Freya laughed. “She remembered everything really well.”

“In explicit detail,” Mal agreed, standing up. “Least she ain’t doing that at the moment.”

“Give it time,” his wife said, covering her eyes again with her arm. “Give it time.”

---

Bethany very carefully drew another large, thick, black ‘X’ through yesterday’s date, then eagerly counted all the remaining ones until the square outlined in red with pretty pink and blue flowers all around it.

“So how many to go, sweetie?” her mother asked, busy making breakfast.

The little girl grinned. “Six!” Recapping the pen she put it back on the counter.

“That’s right.”

“Can’t wait.” She bounced up and down a little.

“Well, not long now.”

“Nope.”

Fiddler scratched himself under the table, then snuffled loudly around his rear end.

“He keeps doing that he’s gonna be kept out of here,” Mal said darkly, stepping down into the galley, Jesse in his arms, Ethan at his side.

“He itches,” Bethie explained, smiling at him and showing all her teeth.

“You mean he’s got fleas?” Mal glanced down, his voice a little higher than normal.

Bethie was indignant. “Of course not. Daddy keeps him ‘tected.”

“Protected, honey,” Kaylee automatically corrected.

She ignored her mother. “Anyway, he just itches.” She looked Mal directly in the eye. “You scratch when you itch.”

“Not under the dining table I don’t.”

“Well, there was that time –“ Kaylee began, but stopped when she caught the glare thrown her way. “Time for breakfast,” she said brightly.

Ethan ran over to the calendar, then turned to look accusingly at Bethie. “You did it,” he said.

“Did what?” she asked, looking innocent as only a four year old could.

“It was my turn!” The little boy put his fists on his hips.

“Then you can do it tomorrow,” Kaylee said placatingly. “And the day after.”

“But it’s my turn tomorrow,” Bethie began. “And that means he gets two goes –“

“Like you did yesterday and today,” Mal put in, sitting Jesse down next to him in the high chair. “So Ethan gets two goes. Fair’s fair.”

Ethan grinned at his father, then stuck his tongue out at Bethie. “See?”

She swiped at him.

“No!” Kaylee said loudly. “No fighting. Or no breakfast.”

“Momma …” Bethie began to wheedle. “Hungry.”

“Then sit down and be good.”

The little girl pouted, but climbed into her chair. Ethan hurried around to the other side of the table, keeping out of the way of Bethie’s kicking feet.

Mal crossed to the counter to help dish up.

“You get the impression there’s more fighting going on right now?” Kaylee asked quietly as she spooned hot cereal into bowls.

“I think River’s having an effect on folks. Frey’s staying in bed for a while, for a start.”

“She okay?”

“Just feeling a bit odd, according to her.”

“Do you want me to ask Simon to look in on her?”

Mal nodded. “I’d take it as a kindness. She said no, but …”

“Sure.”

“Joshua Cobb.” Hank followed Ben into the dining area, watching him carefully as he negotiated the steps. “Or Malachi.”

“Which would be shortened to Mal, and that’d just makes things confusing.” Zoe was a pace behind him.

“True. Then how about Daniel?” He grinned at the others. “Morning.”

“I take it this is a discussion over possible baby names?” Mal asked, taking the bowls back to the table and putting one down in front of each of his children. Ethan immediately reached for the sweetener. “Just like your mother,” Mal went on quietly, smiling nevertheless. “Like way too much of that stuff on your cereal.”

Jesse eyed her breakfast with something approaching distrust, then picked up her spoon and began to stir it diligently. She’d burned her mouth a little some weeks before, and she was determined not to do it again.

Hank grinned, picking Ben up to put into his seat. “Yeah, baby names. Well, Jayne’n River’ve been pretty tight-lipped as to whether they’ve decided or not. So we were coming up with a few. Just to be helpful.”

“Any particular reason why they’re all from the Bible?” Mal sat down and took the sweetener off his son to sprinkle lightly across his own food.

“I don’t know.” Hank took the bowls offered him by Kaylee. “Seemed appropriate.”

“For Jayne.”

“Still seemed right.” The pilot grinned. “’Sides, there’s nothing wrong with Bible names. It’s a good source.”

“I’m not sure I’ve read about too many Hanks in the good book.” He took a mouthful of cereal.

“And you’ve read it all? Cover to cover?”

Mal pointed at him with his spoon. “I have. My Momma was a regular church-goer. And I went with her.”

“Oh.” Hank looked a little ashamed. “Well, there’s no Malcolms in there either.”

“Old name, though,” Zoe put in, trying to ease the slight tension building. “And it is religious. Means a follower of St Columba.”

“Who?” Hank turned to stare at her, even as Mal raised an eyebrow.

“An ancient saint from Earth-that-was,” she explained.

“And you know that … how?” Serenity’s captain asked.

“I was on late watch and … I was bored.”

“Oh, the Cortex has a lot to answer for,” Hank muttered.

“Yeah, like horror vids,” Mal said.

Hank quickly went on, “So did you look up Zoe? I mean, what your name means?”

“Life. It means life.”

He smiled widely. “That’s my wife.”

“Jesse, honey, that’s cool enough now,” Kaylee said, sitting down and placing bowls in front of herself and Bethie, who as usual attacked her food with gusto. “Slowly, sweetie. Or you’ll give yourself indigestion.”

“Yes, Momma,” Bethie said, slowing for a nanosecond before shovelling it in just as quick.

Kaylee shook her head. “I’ll tell your Daddy to have something ready.”

Bethie grinned, oat cereal adhering to her teeth.

“Where is Simon?” Zoe asked. “It’s not like him to be late for breakfast.”

“Hope wanted to dress herself, so he’s supervising.” Kaylee laughed. “Could be a while.”

“You noticed how all the kids on this boat are very forward?” Hank commented. “Something in the air, you suppose?”

“It’s having such great role models,” Mal said, lifting Jesse’s hand out of her breakfast where she’d decided it was easier to eat with her fingers. He wiped it on the cloth he kept ready in his pocket, then picked up the spoon to give back to her, but Jesse opened her mouth ready. He sighed and poked a spoonful of breakfast inside, watching his daughter chew happily.

“Oh, that I can see,” Hank agreed. “And where are the expectant couple? Seems half the crew’s missing.”

“Frey’s feeling fragile, and Jayne took some breakfast into River ‘fore any of you got here.” Kaylee shook her head. “Doubt she’ll be getting out of bed much in the next few days.”

“As long as Jayne realises we’re landing on Marley in about an hour.” Mal looked at Hank. “I’m presuming we’re still on schedule.”

“Hour and ten,” the pilot confirmed.

“He’s needed to look intimidating.”

“Oh, I think he’ll be there,” Kaylee put in. “Look he had on his face, I think he’d quite like to kill something.”

---

“It’s an easy pick-up from Bernadette, then deliver to Argus,” Sullivan said, wiping his sweating face with his red handkerchief then thrusting it back into his pocket. It was early summer as they stood some miles outside of Boscombe, the major town – the only town – on Marley, and the heat sat like a blanket over everything. Even Mal, who didn’t seem to perspire much, was aware of his shirt sticking to his back, and knew there were large damp marks under his arms. Jayne was just a heap of wet T and combat pants, grumbling like a bear. Only Zoe looked unruffled except for a line of tiny droplets on her top lip.

No-one knew how Sullivan stood it, considering his girth, but he didn’t seem disposed to move away, despite his wealth.

“Legal?”

“Hardly. Two crates of power packs, fully charged, so they need to be kept well away from anything metal.”

“Sullivan, my whole ship’s metal.”

“Then your mechanic’ll have to make sure they ain’t likely to come to harm.” He looked hopeful. “That still little Kaylee?”

“It is.”

“Next time, you bring her with you. She always brightens the day.”

“It likely to get us a bigger cut?”

Sullivan backtracked a little. “Now, Mal, you know I got overheads –“

“And underheads, and sideways … yeah, I know the drill.” He shook his head. “Kaylee stays on board. With her husband. And her kids.”

“She’s just so pretty to look at. Makes a man’s blood run hot, you know what I mean?”

Jayne growled, his hand very close to his gun.

“Sullivan, you’d better start talking about the job and not my mechanic, or I’ll just be ornery enough to let him loose,” Mal said, almost conversationally.

“Job. Yes.” Sullivan cleared his throat. “Anyway, like I said, two crates of packs, and another of stabilisers.”

“How big?”

“Usual.”

Mal nodded slowly. “Alliance?”

“Possibly. At some point.”

“So it’s keeping under the radar?”

“Well, I don’t think you’ll be wanting to advertise it, no. And I’d rather you didn’t get pinched in the process.”

“Why, Sullivan, I didn’t know you cared.”

“I don’t.” He dragged the kerchief out of his pocket again. “But I’ve got a reputation, and I mean to keep it.”

“So do I.” Mal stood up straighter. “And the Bernadette pick-up?”

Sullivan suddenly wouldn’t meet his eyes. “Ah, you just need to get them out of the warehouse.”

Mal glanced at Zoe, saw the same disgust in her eyes as he had in his own. “Sully, you ain't telling me something.

“Don’t call me that, Mal,” Sullivan pleaded.

“I’ll tell everyone what you used to be if you don’t tell me the truth. Sully.”

Sullivan sighed, making the hot air around him move in little eddies. “Well, there’s just a small hitch.”

Mal glared at him. “The kind where my people get shot? Or worse, me?”

“No! Well, maybe.”

“Which is it, Sully?”

The big man winced again. “Maybe. The goods are safe, but they’re kind of being held to ransom by some unscrupulous types who say I owe them money.”

“Do you?”

Sullivan twitched. “No.”

“Care to try that again?”

“Damn it, Mal, yes, but they didn’t do the job they were hired for, so they didn’t get paid. Not like you,” he added quickly. “You always do the job. That’s why I know you can do this.”

“Another fifty.”

Sullivan’s eyes widened. “Now, Mal, you can’t –“

“Another fifty. And if you try and wheedle out, it gets to be another seventy-five.”

“Mal –“

“In advance.”

“Mal –“

“Seven-“

“Okay, okay!” Sullivan reached into his jacket, then almost jumped out of his skin as he saw Jayne’s hand land on the butt of his pistol. “Just getting the cash out!”

“Jayne,” Mal said quietly.

The big man muttered something under his breath, but settled back.

Sullivan counted off a number of notes, handing them over to Mal as if he were giving his own children away, then adding a single sheet of paper, folded four times. “These are the details.”

Mal smiled, tucking the money and the sheet into his pants. “Sully, nice to be doing business with you.”

“Sullivan, please, Mal.”

“Of course.”

They watched as the fat man waddled away, heading for his ground car which sped away as soon as he had levered himself inside.

“Glad River ain't taken it into her mind to come out here,” Jayne grunted, pulling his T off over his head and wiping at his face with it.

“Put that back on,” Mal said, but only mildly, feeling happy with money in his pocket and a job to be done. He started back towards Serenity, knowing they were keeping abreast of him.

“Ain’t no-one around gonna see.” Jayne slung the wet fabric over his shoulder and looked at the landscape around them. He was right. Yellow sand, yellow rocks, grey trees … and not a soul in sight.

“Sir, Bernadette’s a day away, and Argus another three after that,” Zoe pointed out. “We’ll be hard pushed to get to Lazarus in time for River.”

Mal’s brows drew down. “Hadn’t considered that,” he said thoughtfully. “But we got the coin for more fuel if we need to go to burn. Thanks to Sully.” He patted his pocket.

“River ain't fussed.” Jayne shrugged. “She said she’d as like the baby born in space, since that’s home. S’only Inara who’ll get cranky if she ain’t there.”

Now Mal smiled. “Cranky. Yeah, well, Inara’s had enough practice of that where we’re concerned.”

“She ain't the only one,” Jayne added, but so quietly no-one else heard.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Friday, February 8, 2008 3:28 PM

KATESFRIEND


Your fluff is wonderful as always, especially when it's of the family variety. Glad to see the children aren't always perfect angels, but get the feeling this job isn't as easy as it looks either.

Friday, February 8, 2008 4:50 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


Fluff with an undercurrent. I agree that it's not going to be an easy job.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008 2:10 PM

SLUMMING


Looks like we're headed back toward rougher waters, but the ride's so sweet you hardly notice. Great job!


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