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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. After dinner conversation. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1799 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Mrs Boden had done them proud. The evening meal they’d just eaten was enough to keep the Serenity crew going for at least a week up in the black, and now they were all too full to move much. Mal had been forced to undo the top button on his pants, and even Jayne couldn’t get another mouthful down.
“That was … amazing,” Sam said, half leaning back in his chair, his hands clasped across his stomach. “My compliments to the chef.”
“I’ll pass it along,” Inara said, glad she’d worn a looser dress than she’d planned. She hadn’t eaten like that in a while, and she wondered if she was going to be able to keep it down.
Hank wasn't so circumspect. He belched loudly. “God, that’s better,” he said, relaxing a little.
“Is he yours?” Mal asked, fixing Zoe with a stern eye.
She shook her head. “No, sir. Never seen him before. I thought he was with you.”
“If I was considering turning sly, I think I’d have more taste.”
“I'm just glad Ben and Hope are in bed,” Kaylee said, shaking her head. “Hearing things like that.”
“Hey!” Hank put in. “I am actually here, you know. And I’m insulted.”
“That’s unlikely.” Mal glanced at Freya and saw her lips twitch. He glared back at his pilot. “About as unlikely as me taking you into my bed.”
“Anyway, that weren't nothing,” Jayne put in. “This is how you do it.” He put his chin into his chest and let rip with an almighty belch that seemed to rattle the cutlery.
“God, that’s –“ “You don’t to that in front of –“ “There are children –“ “How could you –“ Indignant voices spoke over each other in varying degrees of distaste.
As they died back, Mal cleared his throat. “Jayne, you do that again and you’ve got a date with an airlock.”
“I’d rather you didn’t,” River said. “That would be leaving me with a child to bring up all by myself.”
“I'm sure we could manage.”
Simon glared at his brother-in-law and said, “Jayne, you are disgusting.”
The big man grinned, unphased by the uproar. “’S’why River loves me.”
“I love you because you make my toes curl when you lick my –“ River began, but Freya interrupted.
“I think that’s enough. From both of you,” she said pointedly.
“He’s made my stomach feel queasy,” Hank put in.
“You started it.”
“And I’m finishing it,” Mal added. “We ain’t having no more of that kind of thing at the dinner table.”
“And I have plenty of antacids on hand in Serenity if anyone needs them,” Simon said.
“I'm thinking it might be compulsory,” Mal added. “Seeing as he appears to have forgotten we’ve got impressionable young ladies dining with us.” He glanced at the Reilly girls and winked, just a little.
“Oh, we don’t mind, Uncle Mal,” Valentia said.
“That’s what worries me.” Inara shook her head. “Here I am, trying to make you fit for society, and you find him funny.” She pointed at Jayne.
“It’s a talent,” Jayne said, grinning. “Ain't it, girl?” he said to Valentia, and everyone saw how she went quite pink.
River very deliberately handed him Caleb, still swathed in the blanket, and picked up a spoon. He quickly seemed to take an inordinate interest in his son as Mal chuckled and Simon absently scratched at his shoulder.
Inara looked around the full table, and couldn’t stop the smile on her lips. The house, which had always felt special to her, ever since she bought it off Monty, now seemed so much more like a home, with all the family here. She felt Sam’s hand on hers, and she looked at him. He was amused, she could tell, and she mildly cursed the man for the training that allowed him to be able to see exactly what she was thinking. She seriously wouldn’t put it past him to be a little bit psychic himself.
Mrs Boden made a silent entrance, appearing at Inara‘s elbow. “Was everything satisfactory, madam?” she asked.
Inara nodded. “It was wonderful, thank you.”
There were corresponding murmurs of approval from everyone else.
“I'm glad.” The housekeeper let her lips curve, just a little. “And will you be retiring to the drawing room for coffee?”
Inara looked around at the others. “Um, no, actually I think we’ll stay here.”
“Then I’ll just clear the table.” Mrs Boden began collecting the dishes.
“That’s not necessary.”
“Mrs Boden -”
“It’s just the work of a moment.” She lifted up the platter that still had the remains of the meat joint on it but Jayne grabbed it out of her hands.
“Just leave that one,” Jayne said quickly, putting it back next to him.
“Of course,” Mrs Boden demurred.
“I thought you were full,” Freya pointed out.
“Right now I am. But this is in case I get the munchies later.” He snagged another hunk of bread from the basket before that disappeared too, carefully holding Caleb against his chest.
“Jayne, you’re incorrigible,” Inara said.
“I'm a father.” He hitched his shoulder to lift his son a little higher. “Gotta keep my strength up.”
“Not sure what for,” Hank interrupted. “All you do all day is work out and hang around making googoo eyes at River.”
“You wanna step outside?” Jayne asked, leaning forward. “Just ‘cause I’m a Pa now, don’t mean I’m gonna let you impugn my dignity.”
“Imp …” Hank stared at him open-mouthed.
Jayne nodded in satisfaction. “I ain’t the idiot some of you seem to enjoy thinking. Nor am I above taking your sorry ass outside and beating the crap outta you.”
“I’d rather you didn’t,” Zoe said. “Not until I've finished with him, anyway.”
“And no-one’s shooting or otherwise damaging anyone tonight,” Mal added firmly. “We’re just had an excellent meal, and I for one ain’t in the mood to clear up entrails.”
Phoebe coughed and stood up, wincing slightly. “Inara, I think we’ll be going to bed.”
“You don’t have to.”
“I don’t want to,” Rosemary said, her eyes bright. “Besides, if there’s going to be a fight, I’d bet on Jayne any day.”
Mal laughed. “You really are Reilly’s daughter.”
“You ain’t wrong, either,” Jayne added, grinning at her.
Rosemary pinked up a little at that, but didn’t look away.
Phoebe gave her sister a glare, but said to Inara, “And I think we’d be intruding. We really need to get some rest what with other things to look forward to.”
“What other things would that be?” Mal asked.
“Oh, just things.” She smiled at him, then beckoned the other girls. “Come on,” she said. “Let’s leave the adults to themselves.”
“But Phoebe -” Rosemary began.
The Reilly twin sighed heavily but stood up. “Why’s it always the way?” she asked as she pushed her chair under the table. “Just as things get interesting, we get sent to bed?”
“That’s what being a kid’s all about,” Kaylee commiserated. “It was the same at my home. My Ma and Pa’d just start a conversation, usually about my brother Pete’s attachment to some girl or other, and I’d be told it was time to go up.”
“Nope, that it ain’t.”
“It’s not like me and Letitia are even tired.” She looked at her twin for corroboration, and the other girl nodded enthusiastically.
“Letitia and I,” Inara corrected.
Phoebe had the door open. “If you don’t get a move on I’ll …”
Rosemary stuck her chin out. “What?”
“Oh, I don‘t know.“ Phoebe pretended to think a moment. “Let me see. Maybe I’ll tell them about -”
The Reilly girl fairly ran across the room. “Po fu,” Rosemary muttered as she hurried out.
“Good night,” Phoebe said to the room, closing the door quietly behind her.
Mal looked at Inara. “What was that about?” he asked.
She chuckled. “I think Phoebe was threatening to tell on Rosemary about a boy she’s been having secret assignations with.”
“A boy?” Mal raised his eyebrows. “Should I be worried about this?”
“I don’t think it’s gone further than a little hand-holding,” Inara admitted.
Jayne guffawed. “Hell, ‘Nara, that’s how it always starts. Then pretty soon it’s other things getting held, and suddenly you find you’re elbow deep in a shotgun wedding.”
“She’s not like that. She’s far more sensible.”
“I don’t know,” Mal put in. “I think Jayne might have the right of it. Maybe I need to have a word with this boy. Make sure he knows where the lines are drawn.”
“You are not going to scare him,” Inara said firmly.
“Why not? I’ve been working on my intimidating manner. What’s this boy’s name?”
“Anyway, I thought that being intimidating was my job.” Jayne rocked Caleb a little. Everyone looked at him, and he glared back. “What?”
“Nothing, Jayne,” Hank said soothingly. “Just go back to being an intimidatin’ daddy.”
The big man’s eyes narrowed, suspecting he was being teased, but he decided he was too full for bloodshed right then. Besides, he had River’s leg pressed against his thigh, and that took his mind off things.
“So who were you helping?” Simon asked, trying to change the subject and looking at Sam.
“Inara said you were in town, helping someone.”
“Oh, yes.” Sam smiled. “Sorry. I'm just used to telling people my work is confidential, and them actually listening.”
“You saying we don’t listen?” Mal asked.
“I’m saying I don’t think I've ever known people quite as nosy as you.”
“Nosy and intimidating.” He pondered. “I kinda like that.”
“Yeah, about our niche,” Hank agreed.
Sam laughed. “It was the daughter of the local Federal officer. She’s just had her first baby, and she was somewhat depressed.”
“A Fed?” Zoe asked, her jaw coming up.
“It’s all right,” Sam added quickly. “I was just giving her some mental exercises to help her through the bad times.“
“But a Fed?”
“She needed my help,“ Sam explained. “And I won’t turn people away just because of who their fathers work for, or whether they supported Unification or not.” His dark eyes were suddenly serious. “If I am going to continue my work out here, then it will be for everyone, not just those I consider on the right side.”
“I can see that, but … we’re not exactly on their Christmas card list, doc,” Mal pointed out.
“Just as I would never break a confidence from a patient, neither would I tell them anything about you,” Sam assured him. “Besides, the authorities are somewhat more relaxed around here than on many other planets. They tend to be far more interested in prosecuting misdemeanours than in capturing really big, dangerous criminals.”
Mal preened a little until Freya said, “I don’t think he was talking about you.”
He glared at her. “Might be.” Then he smiled instead.
River stirred. “Am I going to be? Depressed?”
Sam looked at her, his dark eyes gentle, even as his lips curved. “There’s no reason to think you are, but if it happens, you can always talk to me. Or Inara.”
“Thank you.” River leaned against Jayne, watching their son sleep.
“Actually, that’s a point. How’re we gonna tell?” Hank asked, then flinched as someone kicked him under the table. He glared at Kaylee then looked back around the table. “No, look, I mean it. In the last few months she’s threatened all of us with guns, used a spoon as a weapon –“
“Spoon?” Inara murmured.
“Later,” Freya promised.
Hank was still talking. “ – put so much chilli in our food it left blisters … just what’s this depression likely to manifest as? I mean, I’d like to know, just in case I wake up dead one day.”
Zoe sighed. “Hank?”
“Besides, you don’t need to worry,” Mal said to his pilot. “If she does hurt you, I've got two other women around who are more’n capable of flying Serenity.”
“Are you calling me a woman?” Hank asked, trying to decide whether to take offence or not.
“How about a game of cards?” Simon suggested quickly, once again trying to smooth things out before they got in the least bit ugly.
“That’s a good idea,” Inara agreed, standing and going to the sideboard where she rummaged in a drawer before producing an unopened pack. “I knew I had some in here.”
Mal looked at Bethie, who was yawning hugely, and Ethan, who had his head on the table. “Better be putting them to bed ‘fore we start, though.”
Kaylee stood up. “I’ll do it. Not in the mood for cards at the mo, so I’ll take ‘em upstairs. I kinda feel like an early night myself.”
“Are you okay, bao bei?” Simon asked, concern on his pale features.
She smiled. “I'm shiny. Just tired, is all. And my shoulder aches a little.“
“Prob’ly all that activity you were up to when we landed,” Mal said pointedly.
Simon threw him a quick glare, but said to his wife, “Do you want me to get you something?” He started to push his chair back.
“Only yourself, in a little while. But don’t be too long,” she added, twinkling at him.
He relaxed, grinning. “A couple of hands, no more.”
“Good.” She stroked his cheek. “Come on, sweetie,” she said to her daughter. “Help me get Ethan up to bed.”
“‘Kay, Momma.” Bethie climbed from her chair and stood looking at everyone, rubbing her eyes. “’Night, Uncle Mal,” she said.
“’Night, Bethie. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”
Her eyes widened just a little, and she looked at Kaylee. “Are there -”
“No,” her mother said firmly, then she glared at Mal. “Don’t you go saying things like that.”
“What?” He feigned innocence.
“Just don’t.” Kaylee held out her good hand. “Ethan, it’s time for bed.”
The little boy lifted his head, but it was obvious that he was still half asleep. “Huh?”
“Come on,” Bethie said, pulling him from his seat as he complained tiredly. She sighed. “He takes such looking after.”
Kaylee chuckled as she led the children outside, everyone chorusing goodnight behind them.
“So,” Hank said, clapping his hands and rubbing his palms together. “We gonna play?”
“No gambling,” Zoe said quickly, glancing at Hank.
“Did I say anything?” He looked injured. “I don’t think I mentioned gambling. Not at all.”
“You were going to.”
She glared at him. “Really.”
“Maybe I was thinking we could play for chores, but that’s about it. No money.”
Jayne scratched his beard. “No way,” he said. “Last time I got laundry duty for a month.”
“Definitely not doing that,” Mal agreed. “I was picking bits of paper out of my favourite shirt for the same length of time.”
“No-one told me I was s’posed to go through the pockets first,” Jayne grumbled.
“Luckily River remembered the details, otherwise we’d never have got that job.” He raised his eyebrow at the big man.
“Mal, how many times I gotta say sorry for that?”
“Yeah, well.” Mal surreptitiously undid another button on his pants. “No gambling.”
“Then how about –“
“And no strip anything.”
“Suan ding, Mal, you don’t gotta be quite so boring.”
Mal glanced at Caleb, and shook his head. “You know, I ain’t gonna be surprised to find that baby’s first words are curses,” he muttered.
“That’s all right,” River said. “I've made a list.”
“Of swear words. As soon as he starts to talk, I’ll teach them to him.”
“You’re going to … what?”
“It’s all right, Mal,” Simon put in. “She’s joking.” He looked at his sister, then suddenly wasn't quite so sure.
“Well, you can all play nicely,” Freya said, standing up and stretching carefully, feeling the healing bullet wound in her shoulder pulling a little. “I'm going to go have a bath.”
“Hey, I had first dibs on that!” Jayne sounded aggrieved.
“You’re playing cards,” she pointed out.
“I guess, but –“
“Jayne, you gonna deal or what?” Hank demanded.
to be continued
Monday, March 3, 2008 1:35 AM
Monday, March 3, 2008 3:35 AM
Monday, March 3, 2008 5:16 AM
Monday, March 3, 2008 5:43 AM
Monday, March 3, 2008 4:17 PM
Monday, March 3, 2008 6:44 PM
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