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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Still fluff. Conversations, and the imminent arrival of visitors. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1681 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Simon stretched, feeling tendons and muscles popping in his back. He’d not done anything quite so physical in a while, and it felt good.
Mr Boden leaned on his own axe and smiled. “You’re going to ache in the morning.”
Simon laughed. “Well, that’s one of the good points about being a doctor. I can self-medicate.” He glanced down at the pile of logs already split into a handy size, and the heap still waiting to be done. “And I think I may have to.”
“You didn’t need to help,” Mr Boden pointed out. “My wife will be furious with me if she finds out.”
“She won’t hear it from me.” Simon pushed his damp hair out of his face. “And if she does I'm more than happy to say it was for my benefit. When I was at Medacad, then at the hospital, I was used to doing physical activities when I was off duty. Hiking, climbing … even cycling. But on board Serenity it can be … well, difficult at times.”
“I've even sneaked time on Jayne’s work-out bench,” Simon admitted. “After I’d disinfected it first, of course.”
Mr Boden dropped his head to hide the grin. “From what Miss Inara has said, I didn’t think there was enough food available to get fat.”
“Not fat, certainly not on the quality or quantity of food we have sometimes.” Simon looked down at his body. “Just out of condition.” He picked up his axe, placing a new log on the chopping block. “I needed this.” He swung, and a satisfactory thwock rebounded through the garden as the two halves fell to the ground.
The other man smiled as he took a firm grip on the wooden handle, and for a long while there was just the double counterpoint of wood being cleanly cleaved, rhythmic and hypnotic.
Inara stood in the doorway, watching the two men work. Simon had actually stripped down to his undershirt, and she could see his muscles flexing with each stroke, the sweat beading on the fine hairs on his arms. She’d thought before how much he reminded her of Sam, the same strength in a slim body, but now she realised he was his own man, and as much as she tried, she couldn’t imagine Sam out here splitting logs. Although maybe she was doing him a disservice. And the way Simon looked, perhaps she should suggest it …
“Miss Inara.” Mr Boden stopped, having seen her from the corner of his eyes.
“You’re doing a good job,” she said, knowing she was blushing slightly as thoughts of Sam swinging an axe, naked, still bloomed in her mind. “Mrs Boden thought you’d like some refreshment,” she added quickly, carrying the tray out into the sunshine.
The older man started guiltily. “She knows?”
“About Simon?” Inara laughed pleasantly. “She does. And she says she’ll be having words with you later.”
“I’ll look forward to it, Miss.” He couldn’t have looked less convinced. “Let me take that.”
Inara smiled and handed the tray over.
“Where is everyone else?” Simon asked, wiping at his forehead with the back of his hand as he took a glass of cool lemonade.
“The children are having lessons in the dining room, Mal and Zoe are –“
“Lessons? Is that fair?”
“Freya insisted.” Inara folded her hands. “And she’s quite right, too. It’s important that they keep a routine, even when they’re here.”
Simon laughed. “Bethie must be dying of boredom.”
“I think she is, with Ethan a close second.”
He drained the glass. “Perhaps I should go in and rescue them.”
“Your daughter will love you forever if you do.”
“She will anyway, even when she’s fifteen and hating me too for saying she can’t go out with a young man the spitting image of Jayne.”
Inara put her hand on his arm. “Oh, the joys of parenthood. And that reminds me … Mr Boden, could you give us a few minutes?” she asked. “I need to talk to Simon about something.”
“Of course, Miss.” He picked up the two axes. “I’ll just go sharpen these again.” Dipping his head he strode off towards his shed.
“Are you all right?” Simon asked, searching her face for any signs of pain or discomfort.
“I'm fine.” She smiled. “But I … there’s something rather delicate I need to speak to you about.”
“Je suis, tu es, il est, elle est, nous sommes, vous …” Bethie’s voice trailed off.
“Finish it,” Freya said. “Come on, I know you know it.”
“Then why do I have to –“
Bethie sighed heavily. “But the sun’s out. And I don’t see why I have to know French anyway. And Ethan says there’s rabbits in the orchard.”
She glanced at the little boy. “Rabbits?”
“’Es, Mama,” Ethan said, nodding hard. “Saw them this morning.”
“Well, don’t go telling your Uncle Jayne. He’ll be wanting to shoot them for the pot.”
Ethan changed the nod to a shake. “Too pretty.”
“Who? Jayne or the rabbits?”
“Rabbits.” He giggled. “And Uncle Jayne.”
“You think all the men on Serenity are pretty, don’t you?” She pushed his hair out of his face.
“It’s only ‘cause he hasn’t got anyone to compare them too,” Bethie said astutely.
“I suppose that’s true.” Freya smiled. “But men are handsome, Ethan. Women are pretty.”
“Bethie’s pretty?” Ethan asked.
The little Tam preened as Freya said, “That’s right. Only Bethie isn’t quite big enough to be a woman yet.”
“Soon,” Bethie promised. “And I’ll always be older’n you,” she added, glaring at Ethan.
He sighed. “Tell me what to do all the time now.”
“That’s how it’s s’posed to be.”
“Bethie, stop teasing him,” Freya admonished. “Come on. Just get through this and –“
The door opened and Kaylee walked in. “Oh, sorry, thought you were finished.”
“Not quite.” Freya suppressed a sigh, seeing the rest of the lesson disappearing fast for the horizon.
“Only I thought Bethie and Ethan’d like to come with me and see if we can figure out what’s squeaking in the generator. Mr Boden’s sure it’s the fuel valve, but he ain't managed to fix it. I said I’d take a look.” She grinned. “You know, give you and Mal a chance to have a little ‘quality time’ together.” She even did the air-quotes thing, although it was one-handed as her left shoulder was still strapped.
“Mal’s talking to Zoe and Hank about a possible job.”
“No, he ain’t. Least, if he is, he’s doing it by himself. Zoe and Hank’re taking a walk with Ben. They even offered to take Hope.” She leaned a little closer. “I think they’re going to find that mud hole.”
Freya raised her eyebrows. “Who told you about that?”
“Inara might’ve let it slip after breakfast.” She chuckled. “’Sides, we all saw that mark on your pants.”
“I’d forgotten it was there.”
“Yeah, sure. Wearing it like it was a badge of honour or something.”
Freya didn’t reply to that, knowing it was far too close to the truth. Instead she said, “If they come back covered in mud, it’s nothing to do with me.”
Bethie couldn’t hold it in any longer. “Please, Auntie Frey? I promise we’ll work extra hard tomorrow, won’t we?” She looked at Ethan for support.
Freya looked from one to the other, almost bouncing in their seats, then back at Kaylee. “You do realise, as soon as you get them outside, they’ll be off? I have it on good authority there are rabbits in the orchard, and I think little furry, bouncy things tend to come ahead of metal monsters that stink and blow smoke everywhere.”
Kaylee grinned wider. “Only young once.”
“With this crew, I'm not so sure.” She sighed. “Okay. Just for today.”
“Thanks, Mama!” Ethan said, sliding from his chair.
“Thank you, Auntie Frey!” Bethie echoed, jumping to the floor. She hurried to the door and opened it, nearly colliding with her father and Inara.
“Hey, where are you going?” Simon asked, doing his shirt back up and tucking it in.
“No more lessons!” Ethan crowed.
“And I was just coming to rescue you.”
“Going to see the rabbits!” Bethie said, running past him and out of the front door.
“Rabbits?” He looked enquiringly at his wife.
She hooked her arm through his. “I’ll explain later. Right now, you and me are gonna go take a look at the generator.”
“Sure we are.”
“But you’re wearing your pretty dress. Won’t it get all –“
She pressed a little closer. “It’s all warm in there. And dark. And the door locks.”
The puzzled look on his face melted into something else entirely. “Ah.” He grinned. “Looking at the generator. Right.”
Kaylee flashed a smile at the two other women and led her husband towards the autumn afternoon.
Inara laughed, a light sound that was all at once playful and seductive, gazing after them. “Those two act like newlyweds.”
“You told them?” Freya asked, a trace of asperity in her tone.
She turned back to her friend. “Told who what?”
“The others. About the mud.”
Inara coloured, just a light haze on her cheeks. “I might have mentioned it. Kaylee saw me taking my clothes to Mrs Boden to see if she could get the stains out. I had to explain.”
“Well, Zoe and Hank were there anyway.” Inara took a step forward. “Freya, nothing happened. I promise.”
“And nothing ever will. I've got over that phase.”
“Mal was a phase?”
“I’ve got Sam now. And he’s almost more than I can handle anyway.”
“Hmmn? What does hmmn mean?”
Freya was looking at her in a mock-calculating fashion. “Well, I'm not sure. You come in here, and Simon’s half-dressed …” She raised on eyebrow significantly.
Inara thumped her lightly on the arm. “Simon was chopping wood. And I wanted to talk to him, that was all.”
A faint thread of unease wound around Freya’s belly. “Anything to worry about?” she asked.
“No. Oh, no, nothing bad.” Inara shook her head. “I just needed his advice.”
“As a doctor or as a man?”
“As a doctor.”
“This isn’t making my concern go away.”
“I told you. It’s personal and nothing to worry about.”
“You want I should get Mal? He’ll tell me to peek, I’ll do it, you’ll get all huffy, there’ll be a massive row –“
“I don’t get huffy!”
“See, you’re doing it now.” Freya crossed her arms. “I can be just as nosy as the rest of them. And that’s saying something.”
Inara sighed. “I suppose it doesn’t matter. I was just asking him about … about birth control.”
“Birth …” Now it was Freya’s turn to blush. “Oh. Sorry.”
“It’s just that Sam and I are … well, as I said before, we’ve been talking about children, but only as a long term idea. And I know my contraception injection is due to expire, and if I can’t find a suitable alternative we may have to resort to condoms, and –“
Freya held up her hands. “Inara, enough.”
“I did. And I should have kept my curiosity to myself.”
Inara smiled. “It’s okay. But you have to believe me, if there was anything wrong, I’d tell you.”
“Okay.” Freya glanced towards the front door where Simon had vanished. “Did he …”
“He’s going to let me have some of the Bropaxin he has on hand. The efficacy is only three monthly, but it’s easier to come off if we decide to … to have children.”
“You think you might?”
“I don’t know,” Inara said honestly. “Sam has a grown-up daughter, grandchildren, and I’ve …”
“Been a Companion all your life.”
“I wasn't supposed to have children, and when it happened, when Gregor and I …” She stopped, her white teeth delicately biting her lip.
“I didn’t mean to upset you,” Freya said gently, feeling guilty at making her friend think of the child she’d given up.
“You’d think I’d be okay with this by now, wouldn’t you?” Inara said, watching motes of dust dancing in the shaft of light from a high window. “For so long I thought my son was dead, and then to find he was alive …”
“Colm is going to be a fine young man.”
“But I won’t be there to see it.”
“You might. Domina could tell him.”
Inara shook her head sadly. “She won’t. And I don’t blame her. For all I feel, for all I want Colm to know who his real mother is, she’s the only one he’s ever known. They’re his parents, and all I’d ever be is the person who gave birth to him.”
“You weren't thinking another baby might replace –“
“No!” Inara stopped, took a cleansing breath. “In fact, that’s partly what Sam and I have been talking about. If we have children, it’s because we both want them, because we want that physical proof to the world that we’re a couple.”
“Inara, you are. Anyone can see that.”
“But you weren’t sure, were you? At first.”
Inara’s insight shook Freya for a moment, but she answered honestly. “No. I wasn't sure. Not until the night of the storm. Coming back to you was one thing, but that –”
“I need him, Freya.”
“More than you needed Mal?”
“It’s different. Because Sam is different.”
“You telling us he’s sly, now?” Mal asked, wandering into the hall through the door leading to the kitchen.
Inara glared at him. “Of course. I thought you all knew. The only reason he’s still here is because he wants to ravish all the men in their beds.”
“Don’t think Frey’d let him,” Mal pointed out. “I kinda figure she’d fight for my honour.”
“You never have,” Freya murmured, and moved smartly out of the way of the hand that was aimed at her backside.
“See how much she loves me?” He shook his head. “And talking of that man of yours, he’s waiting for you in the garden. Something about herbs?”
“Oh, I’d forgotten.” Inara straightened her dress. “He’s going to show Mrs Boden how to do a recipe his mother used to make, only we were going to check we had the herbs he needed.”
“And it takes both of you? These herbs likely to fight back or something? Maybe they’re carrying grenades. If you like I can go get Jayne –”
Inara glanced at Freya. “How do you put up with him?” she asked.
“Rather you than me.” She gave Mal one more glare and stalked regally towards the kitchen.
As the door swung to behind her, Freya asked softly, “You were listening?”
“Of course.” He pulled his wife towards him, wrapping his arms around her waist. “She okay?”
“I think so.”
“You know, she’d make a good Mom. Never say it to her face, but she would. She looked after River when Simon first brought her on board, and being Kaylee’s friend and all –“ He stopped, seeing Freya’s eyes tighten slightly. “All I'm saying is that she’ll be good. But that’s the past. You’re the mother figure on board now. And you do a damn good job of it too.”
“Just you remember that.”
“Oh, I intend to.” He smiled and leaned forward, capturing her lips in a deep kiss.
“Isn’t this fun?” Hank said, watching Ben and Hope toddle through the long grass, hand in hand, talking to each other in their nonsense language.
“Nice?” He stared at his wife. “Nice? The sun’s warm, we’re almost alone, there’s no-one actively trying to kill us … and you say it’s nice?”
She raised an eyebrow. “What do you want me to call it?”
“How about … wonderful? Or magnificent? Or maybe brilliant? I’ll even settle for great.”
“Now, you see, that don’t work now. Not when I said it first. You gotta come up with something different to that.”
Zoe couldn’t help but smile. “Hank, it’s nice. I'm not being derogatory. It’s nice. Nice is good. Nice is all those things you said, and it’s me and you, and the kids, and the fact that we’re happy. Nice is right.”
“Oh.” He thought for a moment. “Okay. Nice.” His grin reappeared. “I can live with nice.” He took hold of her hand. “It’s romantic, too.”
“You know, we could –“
“No, we couldn’t. Not with Ben and Hope here.”
“I guess not.” He thought for a moment as they walked further. “We could always –“
“You don’t know what I was gonna suggest.”
“Thought I wasn’t allowed to,” Hank pointed out.
“Bad choice of words. And the answer is still no.”
“How about tonight? Can I suggest it tonight?”
She smiled. “Wouldn’t be you if you didn’t.”
There was a booming sound some distance off, and Hank looked questioningly at Zoe. “Was I too quick to say we weren’t actively in danger?”
Zoe shook her head. “That’s Jayne’s rifle. I think he’s after rabbits.”
“He’s killing bunnies?”
“That he is.”
“You’ve eaten them before.”
“I know, but … bunnies?”
“River won’t let him slaughter all of them.”
“But … bunnies?”
“Enough,” River said, watching as Jayne picked up the small, blood-stained carcass.
“One more?” the big man asked, stuffing the dead rabbit into the sack.
“We have enough. Let them be now.” She sat down carefully, Caleb in his blanket, and leaned against a tree trunk. “Besides, Ethan and Bethie are heading this way.”
“Oh.” Jayne quickly unloaded the rifle. “Yeah, guess we got enough.” He slid down the bark to the ground next to her. “How’s the kid?”
“Our son is fine. He slept through it all.”
“I told him to.” She ran her fingers delicately across the baby’s forehead.
“Riv, is he –“
Jayne breathed a sigh of relief, then swallowed guiltily. “Not that I’d’a minded if’n he had been. Just might’ve been bad for him, is all.” He forced a chuckle. “Not that he’d be a genius, not with half my genes.”
“Your genes are good,” River said firmly. “You are my husband, and Caleb’s father, and I won’t have you pretending you’re stupid.”
“Not pretending, moonbrain.”
“Yes, you are. You do all the time.” She turned her head so she could look into his blue eyes. “I know you.”
Now the chuckle sounded real. “Guess maybe you do. But I’m not smart, River. Not like you and your bro. Takes me all my time to write a letter, so I know I ain't smart.”
“Not the same. Smart isn’t knowing which knife to use at the dinner table. Smart is knowing which knife to use to dispatch your enemy the quickest and with minimum of fuss. Smart is tracking a man across ten miles of open rock. Smart is still being alive.” Her lips twitched. “Smart is stopping running long enough so that I could catch you.”
He grinned. “Guess that’s true. Must be a genius, then.”
“And Caleb is smart, too, because he has you for a father. And you will teach him how to hunt, and shoot, and fish –“
“No fishing.” He suppressed a shudder. “You know what I think about fish.”
“No fishing,” River agreed. “So hunt, shoot, survive. And I will teach him how to read, and count and calculate optimum trajectories.”
“What about the pair of us? What’ll we teach him together?”
She leaned into him, and he slipped his arm around her shoulders. “We’ll teach him he is loved, and that nothing in the ‘verse is ever going to harm him while we are here. And we’ll teach him that, when we’re not, he can still defend himself and his friends.”
Jayne thought for a moment, then squeezed her gently. “That’s a good set of teachings, River.”
She smiled brightly. “I thought so.”
There was a long pause. “Riv?”
“You going to sleep?”
“Resting my eyes.”
“Oh. C’n I rest mine?”
“If you like. But you have to be awake for the visitors.”
“The … who?”
“We’re supposed to be fixing the generator,” Kaylee said, her eyes closed.
“Were we?” Simon’s voice was slightly muffled.
As Simon kissed down Kaylee’s neck, the sound of an engine could be heard in the distance, coming closer, until it roared overhead.
Kaylee put her head on one side. “That sounds familiar,” she said. “Only it can’t be.” She looked at him.
“You know I don’t know one ship from another, Kaylee.”
She pushed away from him, struggling pull up the strap of her dress from where it had inexplicably slipped to her waist. “It is! It’s the Cressida!”
to be continued
Thursday, March 6, 2008 1:55 AM
Thursday, March 6, 2008 3:11 AM
Saturday, March 8, 2008 5:10 PM
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