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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. The new arrival is taken to Lazarus to meet Inara. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1942 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Did you ever think you’d see that, Mal?” Inara asked, watching Jayne and River sitting on a blanket in the orchard, both cooing over their infant son.
“If’n I ever thought I’d be going insane.”
She hit him mildly on his upper arm, and he grinned at her.
They’d touched down on Lazarus a week after the birth, giving Inara plenty of time to arrange things. As soon as the Firefly landed Bethie was out of the door and running to see the puppies, the other children quite a bit slower but just as enthusiastically following her.
“Auntie ‘Nara!” she squealed as the woman came out of the house to meet them. “Where are they?”
Inara smiled, knowing exactly what she meant. “Downstairs in the kitchen. But you have to be careful. Giselle is very protective.”
“S’why Momma said we couldn’t bring Fiddler.” Bethie was almost vibrating with anticipation. “Giselle might not like it.”
“That’s right. You’d better go down. And ask Mrs Boden for some milk and cookies, if you like.”
“’Kay!” She ran past into the hallway.
“Hello, Auntie ‘Nara,” Ethan said more formally, looking quite the little man in his suspenders.
“Hello, Ethan,” she responded, going down elegantly onto her heels to look him in the face. “And how are you?”
“Shiny.” He grinned.
“And everyone else?”
“New baby,” he said succinctly, managing Mal’s look of faint disgust quite well.
“So I gather.” She smiled and stroked the hair from his forehead before turning to Hope and Ben, close together like they always were. “Do you want to go and see the puppies too?” The children nodded, slightly in awe of her as usual. “Come on.” She held out a hand, and Ben wrapped his fingers in hers. She straightened up and saw Mal coming towards her, Jesse in his arms. “I’ll be right back,” she said. “Don’t go anywhere.”
“Wasn't planning on it,” Mal replied, smiling. He watched her lead the children into the house, then looked back to the Firefly. Hank and Zoe had strolled out, hand in hand.
“Hey, where’s my off-spring?” Hank called.
“You hanging around a while?”
“Then me and my wife are going for a walk.” Hank grinned. “I love saying that. My wife.” He sighed happily.
“Do you need us to set a watch, sir?” Zoe asked, not letting his infectious nature get too overwhelming.
“Don’t think so. I think we’re pretty safe. Somehow I doubt Inara intends to play pirate and steal my boat.” Mal looked past them. “Where’re the others?”
“Jayne’s fussing around River and Caleb, making sure they got everything ‘fore they come out to play,” Hank put in. “And you don’t wanna know what Kaylee and the doc are getting up to.”
Mal rolled his eyes. “You’d think they’d’ve gotten it out of their systems by now, wouldn’t you?”
Mal glared at him, then looked at his first mate. “Take him away. Now.”
“Yes sir.” Zoe smiled widely, hooking her arm through her husband’s and leading him towards the lake.
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” Hank called.
Mal couldn’t help his lips twitching. “JJ,” he said, looking at his daughter and using the nickname he’d recently coined for her, “you ever get the chance to run your own ship, be careful who you take on as pilot. There’s something mighty odd about that whole profession.”
Jesse looked into his blue eyes and nodded seriously, not really understanding what he was saying but glad to be close to him.
“Talking to yourself?” Freya asked, strolling towards him. “First sign of madness, so I'm told.”
“Too late for that,” Mal joked. “And I was imparting my wisdom to Jesse here, seeing as no-one else on the crew listens to me.”
“So what were you saying?” She put her arm through his.
“Mama,” Jesse said, smiling at her but holding onto her father’s shirt.
“Nothing much,” Mal said. “Just wondering on the iniquities of owning a spaceship.”
Freya laughed. “One of those days, is it?”
“Always is, darlin’.” He grinned. “Truth is, I was just thinking how peaceful it is here, considering where we’ve been lately.”
“It is pretty.” She dropped her head to rest on his shoulder, looking around. In the long year Lazarus enjoyed, it was coming up late autumn, and she could believe some mornings there’d be the crack of ice around the edge of the lake, but during the day the sun warmed the air enough for it to be quite pleasant. The trees were turning, though, starting to shed their leaves and blanketing the ground in a blaze of colours. “But I still prefer the spring.”
“Promise of hope?”
“Something like that.” She squeezed his arm. “But it’s nice here.”
Pinching him enough to make him yelp and Jesse laugh, she said, “I keep telling you, Serenity’s home. Always will be.”
“So where’s Inara? I thought she’d be wanting to see the new arrival as soon as we got here.”
Mal glanced back over his shoulder. “She’s showing the puppies to the kids.”
“Oh, well, puppies. You should have said.” She chuckled. “You know, you’d better frisk Bethie before we leave. Just in case.”
He smiled at her. “The thought had crossed my mind.”
“And why isn’t Jesse with them?” She stroked her daughter’s face. “I know she’d like to see them.”
“There’s plenty of time, bao bei. She can play with them to her heart’s content.” He nodded towards the wrought iron chairs under one of the trees. “Sit with me?”
He led her into the orchard, making sure the seat was dry and leaf free before she sat down. Putting Jesse down onto the ground, he took his wife’s hand. “Are you feeling better?” he asked.
“Now that River’s given birth. I'm figuring her static’s died down somewhat.”
“A lot,” she agreed.
“So that headache you’ve had for the past few months has gone.”
She glanced quickly at him. “I never said –“
“I know you, xin gan. May not be psychic myself, but you’re kinda like an open book to me, the number of times I've thumbed through your pages. It’s been hard on you.”
“On all of us,” she corrected. “It’s been preying on Bethie and Ethan too.”
“But you more than most. You’re close to River, and I can understand it making life difficult for you.”
“Is that why you’ve been even more attentive than usual?” she asked, her brown eyes searching his face.
She smiled. “You’re right. It has been hard sometimes, but all I have to remember is that you’re here for me and it’s better. That’s all I need.”
“Me too, darlin’.” He leaned over and kissed her lightly, only stopping when Jesse giggled.
“Your children are going to grow up knowing far too much about sinning,” Freya pointed out, breathing her words into Mal’s mouth.
“Ain't sinned yet.” He pressed forwards, his hand on the nape of her neck.
“And you won’t be just yet.” She ran her fingers through his hair before sitting back. “You should have killed him, you know. Prater.”
Mal glanced at Jesse, but she was more interested in the small insect she’d seen land in front of her. “Would you?” he asked Freya.
“Yes.” She realised he was looking at her. “Probably.” He was still gazing. “Maybe. Okay, look, the point is we’ve got enough enemies in this ‘verse without leaving more around than we have to.”
“Maybe he’ll be sensible.”
“Mal, he followed us from one moon to another, just to get revenge. And you shot him.”
“Hey, wasn't me!” he protested.
“You’re captain. That means the buck stops with you. Whoever shot him, there’s only one person he’s going to blame.” She poked him gently in the chest. “You.”
“He was down, Frey. Don’t kill a man when he’s down, not ‘less I have to. I ain't Jayne.”
She exhaled noisily. “You are so stubborn sometimes.”
“It still means something, killing a man.” Mal shook his head. “If it ever comes to be easy, to be something I don’t think about, don’t regret even, then I won’t be me no more.”
“Wouldn’t want that to happen.” Despite her words just a minute earlier, she leaned forward and captured his lips, running her tongue over them until they parted for her.
“Frey …” Mal groaned from deep in his throat, pulling her closer.
Someone coughed. Twice.
Freya pulled back. “Oh, hey, Inara.”
Mal sighed. “Your timing is, as always, impeccable.”
Inara raised an eyebrow at the couple. “Don’t you have a bunk for that?”
“And where is Sam?” Mal asked in turn. “Worn him out? Buried him under the patio or something?”
“He’s fine, thank you for asking.” Inara sat down in one of the other chairs, arranging her dress demurely around her knees. “He’s in town at the moment, helping someone.”
“The kind of help a psychiatrist gives?”
“Well, he’s not shoeing horses.”
“Don’t wanna get his hands dirty?”
Inara ignored him. “He’ll be back in time for supper.”
Freya grinned, no longer worried that their arguing would lead to something else. “And everything’s okay? He sorted his business on Ariel?”
“He has. We’re just waiting for his belongings to arrive and he’ll be here permanently.”
Mal was surprised. “You’re really doing this? So quickly?”
“He’s been living here more than six months, Mal. We’re ready to take the next step.” She gazed at him from under perfect eyebrows. “He’s not like you. Taking forever to make up your mind.”
“Hey …” He was feeling more than a little insulted.
“As long as you made the right choice in the end,” Freya said quietly.
“I did, ai ren,” he promised, squeezing her hand.
Inara was about to look away, but realised the stab of pain she always felt at seeing Mal with someone else wasn't as bad as it had been before. Maybe she was healing.
Freya saw the thoughts flit across the other woman’s mind without having to peek. “Well, I think Sam’s a nice man.”
“I didn’t say he wasn’t!” Mal insisted. “Just that it seems to have happened fast.”
“When it works, why wait?” Inara said.
“And is it good?” Freya asked softly.
For a moment Inara let her happiness bubble through, and she looked like a young girl, not a woman, and definitely not like an ex-Companion. “Oh, Frey. It is. So very good.”
“Do you argue?”
“All the time.” She laughed.
“What’s good about that?” Mal asked, then realised. “No, don’t bother answering. I know. You get to make up.”
“We both have strong opinions, and sometimes we disagree.” She smiled. “It makes for interesting mealtimes.”
“And what do the girls think of him? Coming here? Movin’ in?”
Inara regained her poise. “Valentia and Phoebe have something of a crush on him, I’ll admit, but he knows how to deal with it. Letitia and Rosemary simply adore him.”
“Really.” He pushed down the surge of jealousy, reminding himself that, even though he was their legal guardian, circumstances meant he saw a whole lot less of them than the good Dr Nazir.
“He talks to them. Let’s them say what they think and doesn’t get angry. It’s amazing how rewarding that can be.”
Mal narrowed his eyes a little, but good humouredly. “You saying I don’t listen to folks?”
“Yeah, you would.”
“Children, children,” Freya scolded gently. “I think it’s sweet you’ve found someone, Inara. And I hope it lasts.”
“So do I,” Inara agreed fervently.
Mal had been thinking. “You know, maybe I should have a little talk with him.”
“No!” Inara hadn’t realised just how loud her voice was. “No. That’s not necessary.”
“I only wanted to let him know what’d happen to him if he hurt you.”
“I know what you wanted to do. And you’re not going to do it.” She smoothed her already flawless dress. “Sam isn’t one of your crew. And neither am I.”
“No, you’re right.” Mal gazed at her. “What you are is family. And I just wanna make sure he understands that.”
“He does. He saw the way you are with everyone. He understands.”
“Still, I –“
“Mal.” Freya didn’t even raise her voice.
“Just concerned,” he promised.
“I know.” She smiled. “And it’d good that you are. But you’re not going to go frightening Sam.”
“See?” he said, throwing his arms up into the air. “Like I said, no-one takes notice of me.”
“Of course we do, Mal,” Inara said, leaning forward and patting him on the knee. “We might not listen to you, but we take notice.”
He glared at her until she started to laugh. “Fine. Shiny. Make fun of me.”
“It’s only because we love you,” Freya assured him.
“Well, long as you do.” He reached over and kissed her gently.
A noise at the front of the house had them all turning.
“Oh, dear,” Inara breathed.
“Daddy! Puppies!” Ethan said, walking as fast as he could towards them, carrying something that was squirming in his arms.
“No,” Mal groaned. “Not having another one on board.”
“I don’t think you’re going to have much choice,” Freya laughed, seeing the entranced look on her young son’s face. “Looks like it wasn't Bethie you needed to worry about at all.”
to be continued
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 3:36 AM
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 7:03 AM
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 12:01 PM
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 3:02 PM
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 11:58 PM
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