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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. With a hint of things to come, the crew finish off an old job, and there are conversations regarding a special occasion. NEW STORY AND OPENING CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1917 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“What’s the name of this place again?”
“Ling Miao, sir.”
“That just means mausoleum.”
“I believe they buried their dead here, sir.”
“Cheery.” Mal gazed up at the columns carved from the sheer rock face, the sunlight throwing stark black shadows behind them as the heat burned down. “How’d they manage this, anyway?”
“It’s said men carved it out with their bare hands.”
“Now, why’d they do that, I wonder. Not using tools ‘n’all.”
“It made them closer to their god, sir.”
“Their god? Not ours?”
“I didn’t think you believed anymore.”
He touched the gold cross on his chest. “Not a case of believing, Zoe. Trust, now, that’s a different matter.” He stood straighter. “Anyway, that’s beside the point. There something going on here I don’t know about?”
Zoe hid her smile. “According to River, they considered their god separate from any others. Greater than. The God.”
“Huh.” He shook his head. “You mean they were heathens?”
“The Alliance allows for the practice of all religions,” Zoe pointed out.
“That’s magnanimous of ‘em.” Mal snorted slightly. “Maybe that’s why they ain’t wiped out the Reavers. They’re of a mind that they’re maybe a religion all by themselves.”
“Certainly a lot of praying going on when they appear, sir.”
He glared at her. “Did you just crack a joke?”
“No, sir. Must have been somebody else.”
He looked around at the empty gorge around them, the equally empty plain just visible through the mouth. “Like who?”
“Wouldn’t like to say, sir.”
“Look, can you just admit I’m the funny one and get on with it?” Hank said into their ear-pieces.
“You sure these things are gonna work inside?” Mal asked, fiddling with his. “I really wouldn’t want to get stuck in the catacombs.”
“Painful. And Kaylee says with the transmitter you’re leaving at the entrance they’re better than the coms at getting through the rock. Just shorter range.”
Mal looked up to where Serenity sat, her nose just hanging over the lip of the gorge. “You sure?”
“You want me to tell Kaylee you don’t believe her?”
“Not really.” He settled his gunbelt a little more securely. “Jayne, are you … what the hell are you doing?”
The big man turned guiltily. “What?”
“What are … are you carving?”
Jayne quickly put his knife back in its sheath at his waist. “No.”
“You know I know when you’re lying to me. Your lips move.”
Jayne glared, then wilted just a little. “Hell, I ain't the first. Looks like half the ‘verse’s been by and left its mark.” He indicated the amount of graffiti on the wall.
“You didn’t have to add to it.”
Mal sighed. “You’re not a good example to your son, Jayne.”
“He ain't here,” Jayne muttered, stating the obvious and rubbing surreptitiously at his initials on the pink stone.
“Sir. The job?” Zoe reminded him.
“Yeah.” Mal closed his eyes for a moment to refocus, then said, “Hank, which way?”
The tinny voice sounded in their ears. “According to that guy’s instructions, you need to go down to the end of the main hall and hang a left. You’ll get to a junction. Then it’ll depend on what you find on the walls.”
“Okay.” Mal glanced at Zoe and Jayne. “Time to get stealing.” He started forward then paused. “Hank, what’s that?”
“The music.” A jangly tune played on what sounded like an old guitar was filtering through their ear pieces.
“Oh, sorry. Hit the wrong button. Just some stuff I was listening to earlier. You know, when I get bored up here on the bridge. Just to pass –”
The music cut off.
“Better.” Mal straightened his coat and sauntered into the temple.
“Cao,” Jayne complained. “It’s freezin’.” He blew out, his breath forming crystals in the light of the torch.
“You’d think the sun would’ve warmed it through by now,” Zoe agreed, her voice lower than usual. “Being as this side of the planet’s always facing that way.”
“Not sure I want to think too much on that, Zoe,” Mal said, telling himself he was shivering from the cold, not the dead, creepy feeling of the place. “End of the hall and hang a left?”
“That’s it. Good luck.”
Just a hop, skip and a jump earlier …
“I ain’t celebrating.”
“It’s your birthday. And you’re going to be –“
“No, I ain't. People got that wrong.”
“So your Momma lied.”
“No. Just … made a mistake.”
Freya raised an eyebrow at him as they lay together, just a few yards from the cows they were here to protect. A moth wandered by, attracted by the fire, and was immediately reduced to ash.
“We celebrated mine,” she pointed out.
“That was you and me. Nobody else knew.” He smiled. “And I keep forgetting you’re older’n me.”
“Enough.” He held her closer, if that were possible. “Look, I don’t do birthdays. It ain't me. Not since I was knee high to nothing.”
“I bet you looked cute. Blowing out the candles on your cake.”
He squirmed a little, which was awkward considering they were bundled up together in a single sleeping bag. It took his mind onto other things for a moment. “I was never cute,” he finally said.
“Those blue eyes … all full of hope,” she teased.
He kissed her to shut her up. After a long while he put his head back and sighed. “Cute. Huh.”
“You ain't gonna get out of this.”
“Frey, I’m a grown man. If I don’t want fancy parties and gifts wrapped up in pretty ribbons, I don’t have to have them. That’s for kids like Bethie, and Ethan. Hell, when Jesse gets a bit older you can have all the birthday parties you want. But not for me.”
“And if we do? If we want it?”
He glared at her. “You ain't told no-one, have you?”
“Mal, they can count.”
“Yeah, well, maybe that’s debatable in some cases. But you don’t have to confirm it.”
“It’s just a number, Mal. I’ve got there. Jayne passed it some time back. It’s just a number that comes after –“
“I ain't. And it ain't, either. Just a number. It’s … middle age.”
“Middle …” She laughed so much she started to hiccup.
“It ain’t funny.”
“Yes it is.” Still, she tried to calm down a little. “Do you think I’m middle-aged?”
He looked down at her as much as he could, her litheness against him, the pressure of her breasts on his chest. “No. Ain't never gonna be, either.”
“So why are you?” She shimmied a little and he stifled a groan. “You may have a few scars –“
“Okay, a lot,” she amended. “But you’re beautiful. My man. My husband.”
“I ain’t beautiful.”
“I think you are.”
“You want I should ask Jayne?”
“Don’t even think about it.”
“So why should age mean anything?”
“I know it don’t. It’s just …”
“Being … older.”
“Mal, as I have told you before, I will love you when you’re so old you can’t get out of the chair without help. When you dribble when you drink. Although that can happen now …” He pinched the only convenient portion of her and she yelped slightly, then grinned. “I love you. I don’t care how old you are. And we’re having a celebration.”
“No, we ain't.”
“I don’t think you’ve got much say in it.”
“I’ll tell how old you are.”
“I don’t care.”
“Sure you don’t.”
He sighed heavily. “I’ll think about it. Okay?”
“Okay.” She put her head against his chest, kissing the soft skin she found there between the buttons she managed to undo on his shirt.
“If we don’t get some sleep, we’re never gonna be fit to get this herd into town in the morning.” He peered across at Jayne, already spark out, his back to the fire.
“Then we should have brought an extra sleeping bag.”
“Hey, you said we only needed to bring the one.”
She smiled. “Would you have preferred I’d brought two?”
“You know I ain't able to doze off without you next to me.”
The smile grew to a grin. “I know what you mean.” She stroked what she could reach of his back.
“That ain't no good either. Don’t think it’s physically possible. And Jayne’s right over there.”
“We could try.”
“We’re gonna snuggle. That’s it. Ain't gonna … what the hell are you doing?”
“Just shut up.”
“Oh. Right.” There was a pause. “Hey!”
River slid out of the night and sat down gracefully with her back diplomatically towards the captain and his wife. She’d only needed a glimpse, and it looked like a writhing caterpillar. A flare of sparks as a log broke open lit the small smile on her face.
Her gaze slid back to Jayne. Are you awake? she thought gently towards him.
There was something resembling a growl from the depths of his blanket. With that pair going on like they are? You’d think they were the newly-weds, not us. He rolled over so he could look at her. “You okay?” he asked, vocalising softly, little more than a whisper.
“It feels odd,” she admitted. “Not having Caleb with us.”
“Kaylee’s takin’ good care of him,” Jayne assured her. “And you’d know if there was … well, anything.”
“I know.” She looked down at her flat belly, toning nicely now that she was able to start exercising a little. “I just feel … bereft.”
Jayne stared at her in the firelight, the breeze catching her hair and tangling it like it used to be. “Come on,” he said, lifting the blanket.
“I can’t,” she breathed. “I'm on watch.”
“So’re Zoe and Hank,” he pointed out. “And it ain’t like we’re gonna sleep. Not with them over there.” He glanced across at the caterpillar again, and rolled his eyes at the swiftly stifled giggle that erupted.
River grinned. “Okay,” she said, and in a moment was lying next to him, her back pressed against his chest.
“Much.” She sighed contentedly.
Another giggle, quickly suppressed by the application of a chest or shoulder.
“Mal sounds like a girl,” Jayne complained.
“I think that was Freya.”
“Yes.” She pulled his arm around her waist, feeling the palm of his callused hand begin to stroke her stomach as she stared into the flames. “Besides, I make you laugh.”
“Yeah, but not in public.”
“We’re not in public.”
“You’re splitting hairs.”
“And they’ll split that sleeping bag if they carry on like that.”
“That’d be fun too.”
River watched the flames as they danced around each other, devouring the wood and leaping into the darkness. Life was good, she considered.
“I'm just saying, we’re due a celebration, that’s all.” Jayne leaned on the railing of the pen and looked out over the mass of cattle.
“You had a celebration,” Mal pointed out, waving a fly away with his hand. “On Lazarus. You got drunk, if I recall.”
“That was just a party.”
Mal raised and eyebrow at him. “So what’s a party if it ain't a celebration?”
“It’s your birthday,” the big man insisted. “Gotta have a party for a birthday.”
“To mark the occasion.”
“Just a little –“
“Jayne, what part of no don’t you get?” Mal was beginning to get exasperated.
“Okay, okay, keep your hair on.” Jayne pulled his hat lower over his eyes. “I only asked.”
“And you got an answer.”
It was quiet for a few minutes as they watched River get the last of the cattle into the pens by the simple expedient of asking them. It was somewhat creepy to see the animals look at her as if they understood every word.
“Just a –“
Freya closed the gate behind the cattle, letting the heavy latch drop with a satisfying thud.
“Anyway, soon as we’re paid we’re leaving. Got another job.”
“Another one?” Jayne glared at him.
“Yeah.” Mal grinned. “Nice to be working so much.”
“Not if we can’t have a party once in a –“
“So what is this job?”
“I’ll tell you all once we’re home.”
“Shiny.” Jayne stared at the horizon. “Course, it’d be more fun if we could tell ‘em there’d be a –“
Mal turned on him. “Go. Now. Take River and get back to the ship. And one more word about a party and you’ll be walking to the next planet.”
“Don’t get snitty.”
“I am not …” Mal took a deep breath, just as their employer came towards them, the clink of money catching his practised ear. “Just … go.” He added quickly, “And no getting anyone else to ask, either.”
to be continued
Monday, March 17, 2008 11:39 AM
Monday, March 17, 2008 11:40 AM
Monday, March 17, 2008 5:33 PM
Monday, March 17, 2008 6:00 PM
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 7:44 AM
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