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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Sort of an epilogue to FIXED, Mal is cleaning his guns late at night and has a visitor.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2030 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
It was late, and most of the rest of the crew had adjourned to their various bunks and beds, although the lights hadn’t been turned to night mode as yet. It was quiet enough, though, for Mal to hear all the little creaks and groans his ship made occasionally as she moved smoothly through the black, with the occasional murmur of voices and laughter filtering up, probably talking about their visit to Lazarus.
He had his gun cleaning kit laid out on the dining room table, the only place – as he’d had cause to note on more than one occasion – big enough. He didn’t have as many as Jayne, of course, but there were enough that it took a while to get them just right. He didn’t want to have them misfiring on him just when he needed them most, particularly not with Theo‘s words still buzzing round his mind, words of revolution and rebellion …
Sliding the magazine from his favourite handgun, the one that hung at his hip more often than not, he took it apart easily, the action second nature to him. Picking up the small brush, he began to clean the barrel of any tiny carbon particles that might be adhering to the metal.
He never used to do this quite so late at night, but with all the kids on board he’d found it harder to find time to do the simple things, like keeping his weapons in order, without little hands grabbing at stuff they shouldn’t. Easier to be able to concentrate when he knew they were all in bed.
“What are you doing?”
Mal’s heart jumped and he let out a yell, grabbing at the barrel before it could leap from his fingers and clatter to the floor. Maybe he’d been concentrating just a little too hard.
“Ethan, what are you doing up?” he asked, taking a calming breath.
The little boy looked at him with his head on one side. “Jesse’s wakeful,” he explained, holding his knitted alligator to his dinosaur pyjama-clad chest. “Mama’s tending to her.”
“So that means you can wander the ship this time of night?” Mal tried to look severe. “You should be asleep.”
“I was.” He twisted the head of the toy. “What are you doing?”
Mal put down the barrel and held out his arms. Ethan ran to him, jumping into his lap. “I’m just attempting a little housekeeping,” he said, settling his son on his thigh.
Ethan looked at the kit, the brushes and scrapers, gunoil in its bottle, rags and screwdrivers, and lots of things he couldn’t even begin to name. His eyes travelled down the guns waiting to be dealt with. “All yours?” he asked.
“That they are. Although I think that one’s your mother’s.” He pointed to a small two-shot derringer. “Must’ve got mixed up somehow.”
Ethan reached out to touch it, but found his fingers engulfed in his father’s large hand. “Daddy …”
“No. No touching guns. They ain't safe.” Mal was firm, pulling his hand back.
“You touch them.”
“I’m a grown-up.”
Ethan looked up at him. “Uncle Jayne was showing Caleb his.”
Mal felt a frisson of anger burn through him. “Uncle Jayne should know better.” He shook his head. “And Caleb’s a baby, not even a month old. Guns, well, they ain’t the kinda thing you want a baby to know.”
“You don’t want me to know. Am I a baby?” Ethan asked, his insight surprising.
“No, I didn’t say that.”
The little boy looked back at the guns. “Want to know.”
Mal heaved a sigh. “Ethan, they ain't for you. If’n you’d been in bed like you should be, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
“Uncle Jayne says they’re tools.” His eye was caught by the shine on a small revolver, the butt chased and decorated with scrolls and what looked like little birds. “Like a hammer.”
“Well, hammers don’t kill folks. Not often, anyways.” Mal hitched him further onto his lap, his arms around his waist. “Although I guess he’s right. In a way.”
“Auntie Zoe wears one, like Mama,” Ethan pointed out. “So does Auntie River. And Uncle Hank. And Uncle Simon. And –“
“I know. But … they’re adults.” He didn’t quite know what else to say.
“Will I have one when I grow up?” His blue eyes fixed his father, needing to know, wanting to be told the truth.
Mal looked at him. He couldn’t ever remember being this serious at his age, although that had come later, when his father died. Not that much later, he realised, flinching slightly. Just a couple of years, and he’d lost the man he looked up to, the father he’d wanted to be like. And Ethan was the same. He wanted to be like his Daddy. He offered up a silent plea that he’d be around to watch his own son reach manhood. “Ethan, it’s -”
“You will,” Freya said from the doorway, looking at Ethan and startling them both. “Probably before then.”
“Frey …” Mal wanted to tell her what he was feeling, but suddenly knew he didn’t have to.
She came and sat down at the table, next to them, reaching out her hand to take Ethan’s. “Wondered where you’d got to,” she said, smiling a little.
“Wanted to be with Daddy,” Ethan explained.
“I know. And quite right.” She glanced at Mal, saw the concern in his face. “Doesn’t mean I’m not cross for you not staying in bed, though.”
“Jesse was noisy.”
Freya nodded. “I know.”
Ethan returned his attention to the table. “Daddy’s showing me his guns.”
“Hey, no, I wasn't,” Mal protested. “That ain’t it at all.”
“Do you really want to know about them?” Freya asked, looking at her son.
“’Es.” Ethan grinned. “So when I grow up I can be like Daddy.” He leaned back.
Mal felt a lump in his chest, half pride, half worry, and all emotion. “That’s … that’s good,” he managed to say.
“But Daddy said no touching guns.” Ethan’s face fell slightly.
“Daddy’s right,” Freya agreed. “But I think you need to know about them. Just a little.”
“Frey, no, that’s not a good idea.” Mal shook his head.
“Mal, I’d love for Ethan never to have to pick up a gun, never to shoot one in anger. But that isn’t going to happen.” Her eyes were sad. “With what’s going on in the ‘verse, what Theo told us, the unrest, I need to know my son is safe. And if that means he learns about weapons earlier than we would either like, then so be it.”
“He has to be able to defend himself.”
“Frey, he’s a child.”
“I know. And he’s not going to handle one for a long while. But it’s better he knows about them. How they work. And it needs to come from you.” He loves you, she added into his mind.
I know that. I'm just …
She understood. It won’t make the worst happen, Mal. But it might prevent it.
Ethan looked from one to the other, a frown on his face. “Words,” he said finally, admonishing them both. “Need to use words.”
Freya laughed. “You’re right, Ethan. We do. And I'm sorry.”
Mal couldn’t help the smile curving his lips. “So you want to know about these guns of mine, do you, big feller?”
Ethan nodded so fast Mal wondered his head didn’t come adrift. “’Es.”
“Then perhaps I should show you. But that don’t mean you can go touching them. Or anyone else’s, dong mah?”
“’Kay, Daddy.” He moved forward a little, the head of the toy alligator getting a mauling. “What’s that?” He pointed to a small piece of metal, careful to keep a couple of inches from its surface..
Mal looked at Freya, who inclined her head just a little. “That’s from my pistol. It’s the firing pin. It hits the bullet and …”
His voice, warm and sounding like melted toffee, filled the dining area, telling his son all the weird and wonderful names of parts of the gun, showing him how it worked, as his and Freya’s prayers went through the metal hull of the ship into the void that he’d never have to fire one for a very long time.
A.N.: Just a brief explanation that the title for this piece comes from a poem of the same name, Naming of Parts, written in 1942 by Henry Reed. It's a beautiful poem, and I'd encourage everyone to read it. And I loved the title. Jane
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