BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Ordinary Day - Part VIII
Sunday, March 30, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Everyone's on edge from their cargo, and there's a little blood. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2018    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

“Main water pump’s gone down,” Kaylee said succinctly as everyone gathered for breakfast.

“That why I ain't getting anything here?” Jayne asked at the sink, turning the taps back and forth.

“Yep.” Kaylee sat down.

“Then how come I could make coffee?” Zoe asked, glancing down into her mug.

“You probably had what was left in the pipes, but that’ll be it ‘til I can get up and take a look.”

“Is it gonna cause problems?” Mal asked, settling Jesse into the high chair.

“No, not really. The auxiliary pumps’re still going, so the toilets’ll flush, and infirmary’s got water, but that’s about it.”

“How did you find out?”

Kaylee giggled, hastily suppressed at the glare from her husband. “Simon was trying to take a shower this morning, and it ran out halfway through him rinsing his hair. You don’t wanna know where I had to get the water from so he could finish.”

“She didn’t tell me I could have used the infirmary sink,” Simon explained wearily.

“Well, didn’t want you trailing suds all through the corridors, now did I?”

Mal tried to hide the smile, not all that successfully. He looked at his mechanic. “Well, you got around seven hours ‘til we land. You gonna be able to fix it by then?”

“Won’t know ‘til I take a look. Might be something real simple, or it might mean a whole new pump.”

Mal winced. “And I’m guessing that’s gonna be expensive.”

“And it might just be a valve.” She smiled at him. “No looking on the dark side ‘til we have to, okay?”

“Do you have to be that cheerful so early in the morning?” he complained.

“Well, I could be an old grump like you, but where would that get us?”

“That’s Captain Grump to you.” He raised his eyebrow at her.

“I love my captain.”

“That don’t always work.”

“Course it does.” She grinned widely.

---

As breakfast broke up, Ethan looked up. “Mama, can I come sit with you while you fly?”

“I won’t be doing much,” Freya said, smiling at her son. “Just making sure we don’t hit anything.”

“You can teach me stuff.” He puffed out his chest. “So I can fly one day.”

“Hey, I wanted to learn how!” Bethie complained, her fists on her little hips. “That ain't fair!”

“You can come too,” Freya said, her tone conciliatory. “You can sit in the co-pilot’s chair and Ethan can sit on my lap.”

“Why does he always have to be around?” Bethie whined. “He always gets to do stuff.”

Mal put his second mug of coffee down. “So do you, short stub.”

“I know, but he’s always there.” She glared at Ethan.

“Honey, stop that,” Simon said quickly. “Of course he’s around. You both live on a ship.”

“Why don’t you come help me today?” Kaylee suggested. “I have to climb up into Serenity’s hull. You can –“

“Don’t want to.” Bethie crossed her arms, slumping back into her chair.

“Bethany.” Simon was much sharper this time, and using his daughter’s full name meant he was verging on annoyed.

“It’s okay, Simon,” Kaylee said, trying to hide the fact that she was disappointed. “I'm sure the bridge holds a lot more interest than some dusty old pump.” She got up, taking their plates to the sink. “Have to leave the washing up for a while, though,” she said.

“Could always try putting ‘em in the airlock and opening the door,” Jayne suggested.

“What? Why?”

“Feller I worked for once did that. He said you could just scrape the bits off, kinda like being freeze-dried.”

She stared at him, her mouth open. “Jayne, that’s disgusting!”

“And it probably doesn’t kill everything,” Simon added. “I'm surprised you weren't all sick.”

“That’s why I left,” Jayne explained, easing Caleb over to his left arm. “I spent the whole three months on that boat hanging over the head. I ain't never felt so empty at either end.” He flexed his right hand, wincing a little.

“Is that bothering you?” Simon asked, gladly switching into doctor mode and not noticing Bethie climbing down from her chair.

“It kinda aches.”

“Let me see.”

Jayne reached over the table just as Bethie rounded the end, heading for where Ethan was sitting. “It’s sorta hot, too.”

Simon peeled the dressing back and studied the skin. “It’s red, and I don’t like the look of those lines. You’d better come with me and I’ll clean it again. Although those antibiotics should have –“

There was a cry, and suddenly Ethan was on the floor.

“Ethan?” Freya was immediately down on her knees next to her son, Mal hovering close behind. “It’s okay, Ethan, I'm here.”

“Mama?” He was holding his face, his small body shaking.

“Let me see.”

“Bethie pushed me,” he sobbed. “Hit my nose. Mama, it hurts.”

“I know. Let me see, Ethan. Let Mama see.” She gently pulled his hands away, her heart missing a beat as she saw blood mixing with his tears. “It’s okay, Ethan. It’s okay.” She gathered him into her arms. “Simon?”

“Bring him downstairs.” He hurried ahead of them to get the infirmary ready.

Freya stood up, Ethan held close. “See?” she said gently. “Uncle Simon’ll fix this right up.”

“Auntie Frey ….” Bethie tried to speak, but Freya strode out, not even looking at her.

“Not right now, Bethie,” Mal said, following.

---

“It’s not broken,” Simon announced, finishing his careful cleaning. “It’s just a nosebleed, although he may end up with a black eye.”

Freya released a long-held breath, and brushed Ethan’s bangs from his forehead. “See?” She smiled for him. “All okay.”

“’Es, Mama.” He was still crying, but that was more from the shock than anything. “Do I get a lollipop?”

Simon laughed, holding one out. “I had it ready,” he said.

Ethan took it and ripped the cover off, putting it into his cheek and sucking loudly.

“What do you say?” Freya prompted.

“Hang yu,” he said indistinctly around it.

“That’s my good boy.”

“Auntie Frey, it was my fault,” Bethie said from the doorway. “I was angry and I … I know I shouldn’t have pushed …” She stopped, her breath catching at the look on Freya’s face.

“Honey, all kids fight,” Mal pointed out, his voice as gentle as he could make it.

“I know.” Freya turned back to her son, but not before glaring at Bethie, who burst into tears and ran away towards her room.

“No reason to be like that,” Kaylee said hotly, chasing after her daughter.

“Every damn reason,” Freya breathed, gathering Ethan to her and walking out in the other direction.

Simon watched her go. “We’re all a bit jumpy, Mal,” he commented. “That place … Bethie said it was making her feel like someone had put itching powder under her skin.”

“I conjure we all felt that way.”

“But she’s a Reader. It makes it worse.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Mal’s temper snapped. “That’s no gorram excuse for what she did!”

“She still feels it, Mal.” Simon was being reasonable, not wanting to go head to head with his captain over this, even though it was his daughter. “She told me. I think you ought to make allowances.” Tossing the used swabs into the bin, he added, “And you yourself told Freya that kids fight.”

“And you’ve gotta realise how Frey feels. Nearly losing Ethan like that, to Minuet’s … He’s her son, Simon. Our son.”

“I know.” He sighed. “I’ll speak to Bethie.”

“I’d appreciate it. I've a notion your wife is doing that right now, but sometimes daughters listen to their fathers more.”

Simon couldn’t stop the snort of laughter. “You think?”

“Hell, I'm hoping so.”

---

Mal found his wife and child on the bridge. Ethan was on her lap, his face pressed into her, one little hand wrapped in the fabric of her shirt. He was fast asleep.

“He okay?” Mal slipped into the other seat.

“I think so.” She didn’t raise her eyes from the boy. “Being up here, he finds it restful.”

“Me too. He really must be my son.” He waited for her to smile, to make a joke, or even hit him, but she didn’t move. He sighed. “It could’ve been worse, Frey.”

Her arms tightened a little. “I know.” Finally she looked at him. “Where’s Jesse?”

“River’s got her in with her and Jayne. It’s okay. I wouldn’t leave our daughter to fend for herself.” He watched Freya nurse Ethan for a while. “Are you going to speak to Bethie?”

“No.”

He went on as if she hadn’t spoken. “Only I think you should. This job … it’s got her all jinxed, and maybe you should let her tell you why she pushed Ethan ‘fore you decide she needs to go out the airlock.”

“I wouldn’t do that.”

“She thinks you would.”

Her eyes pierced to his soul. “Are you turning psychic now?”

“I’ve been told I could’ve been.” He leaned forward. “Frey, you gotta let Bethie apologise. She knows she was wrong. You know she knows. And she knows you know she knows, and if you don’t let her say sorry she’s gonna think you don’t trust her no more.”

“She pushed Ethan off his chair.”

“I know. And I’m fair sure over the years there’s gonna be more of that kinda thing, maybe worse. We’re on a small boat, Frey. There are times I wanted to push Jayne off his chair, only I didn’t. Mainly ‘cause he’s bigger’n me, and River’d gut me, but we all get on each other’s nerves some time or another. And that damn planet’s only made it worse.”

“This ke pa job,” Freya agreed. “Nothing but trouble since we took it.”

“You can say that again. It’s almost got me wishing I’d agreed Jayne could organise a birthday party for me instead.”

Finally the corner of her mouth lifted. “Only almost?”

“Only ever almost.” He held out his arms. “Come on. Give him to me.”

“What if I don’t want to?”

“You’re gonna go and talk to Bethie, Frey. Oh, we might argue about it, throw things, threaten each other with guns or maybe knives, but you know damn well you’re gonna do it. Might as well make it easy on yourself.”

“No guns,” Ethan said sleepily, yawning hugely.

“Hey, big feller,” Mal said, getting out of his chair quickly and going down onto his heels next to them. “How’re you feeling?”

“Sore.” Ethan touched his nose tenderly.

“I know, but that’ll go off. Hell, I got my nose broke more’n once, and it ain't done my good looks no harm.” He glanced up into Freya’s face. “What?”

“Nothing.”

Ethan untangled his hand from her shirt. “Gotta go talk to Bethie,” he said, sounding somewhat stuffed up.

“Really?” Freya looked down into her son’s face. “You think I should?”

“’Es.” He nodded. “Daddy can look after me.” He held out his arms and Mal lifted him from his mother’s lap.

“I guess that’s told me,” Freya said, standing up.

Mal followed, shaking his head. “See, that’s what I mean about things being all ass-backwards at the moment. I tell you to go talk to Bethie, you say no. Ethan just brings it up in conversation, and you’re off running down there.”

“I'm not running anywhere.”

“Stop prevaricating and go.”

“Long words don’t make me want to –“

“Go.”

She held up her hands in surrender. “All right, I'm going. Just don’t crash us into any solid moon, okay.”

“I think I can manage that. And I've got Ethan to help me. Right, big feller?”

The little boy nodded hard. “Right.”

---

Kaylee had managed to calm her daughter down, and they were sitting together on Bethie’s bed when Freya appeared in the doorway.

“Bethie. Can I speak to you for a moment?”

The little girl looked at Kaylee, who nodded slightly. “’kay,” she said, sniffing a little.

“Well, I’d better go start looking at that pump,” Kaylee said, getting to her feet. “Otherwise the Cap’s gonna be mad at me.” She smiled encouragingly at Bethie. “If you wanna come find me later …”

“Yes, Momma.”

Kaylee nodded, then glanced at Freya, a wealth of information in that single look, from pleading not to be too hard on her daughter, to understanding why she might be. Then she walked out, whistling tunelessly to calm her nerves.

“Can I sit down?” Freya asked.

“’Es.” Bethie shuffled up a little, taking the opportunity to grab hold of the large green rabbit Mal had won for her a long time ago and holding onto it tightly.

“Thank you.” Sitting down, Freya studied the little girl. “So what happened, Bethie?”

“Not sure.”

“Ethan’s smaller than you. And a lot younger.”

“I know.”

“Then why did you push him?”

“Don’t know.” She was twisting the rabbit’s ear, round and round.

“You must have some idea.”

“It just … seemed …” She stopped, looking up into Freya’s face, afraid of what she might see.

“It seemed the right thing to do?”

Bethie nodded. “’Es.”

“You know it wasn’t.”

“’Es.” She swallowed. “Auntie Frey, I'm sorry. I don’t know what made me do that. I don’t wanna hurt Ethan, nor anyone else. I just –“ She clamped her lips tightly shut, knowing she was about to make an excuse.

“Mal said it was that moon.” Freya leaned back, her shoulders on the bulkhead.

“It’s not nice,” Bethie agreed.

“That’s true.”

“And I don’t like that thing in the bay.”

“Neither do I.”

“Blood,” Bethie said quietly. “So much blood.”

Freya nodded slowly. “I can feel it too.” She studied the little girl. “A few more hours and it’ll be gone, though. And you’re gonna have to promise me you won’t do that again.”

“I promise, Auntie Frey.”

Freya could see the honest intentions almost shining out of her, and she relaxed a little. “Come here.”

Bethie scrambled along the bed and cuddled into Freya’s embrace, closing her eyes. “Sorry, Auntie Frey.”

“Accepted, Bethie. You need to apologise to Ethan too, but that can wait a while.”

“’Kay, Auntie Frey.”

Simon smiled slightly from his position just around the corner, having listened surreptitiously to the entire conversation. Thank God things were getting back to normal.

“Hey, doc,” Jayne grumbled from the infirmary doorway. “You gonna come look at this ‘fore it falls off?”

---

“Okay, folks, buckle up. Ariel is coming up to meet us.” Freya switched the com off.

“I hope that wasn’t a suggestion that we’re about to crash,” Mal said from behind her.

“No more than usual.” She glanced over her shoulder at him. “How’s Ethan?”

Mal had spent the last couple of hours with his son, just having some father time together. “He’s okay. I think Simon’s right, though. He’s got the beginnings of a royal black eye.”

“Oh.“ Freya bit her lip, murmuring something under her breath.

“Honey, you know I can’t understand your cursing when you mumble.”

“Let’s just get this job over with as quickly as possible, dong mah?”

“Wasn’t planning on dawdling.” He watched her make a couple of tiny corrections as the Firefly dropped through the atmo towards the docks. “It still bad?”

“Yes.”

“Damn Hank for coming up with -”

“It isn’t him, Mal. Nothing about this job has felt right, even before he started on about curses.”

“But I doubt he’s helped.” The late afternoon sunlight caught one of the tall skyscrapers, flaring through the bridge windows, and he closed his eyes briefly.

“No. Maybe not. And you’re not allowed to duct-tape him.” She managed to scrape up a smile for him just as she adjusted the VTOL engines, pulling back on the power at the last minute to settle gently into their appointed docking space.

“Nicely done.” He dropped a kiss onto the top of her head. “And stop reading my mind, witch.”

---

Mal adjusted the gunbelt around his hips, tugging his coat into place. This time they were taking the shuttle to make the delivery, and he was going armed. “Zoe, see if you can get us some passengers. I doubt it, but there might be someone wanting to get off this fancy rock who doesn’t want to use a liner. That is, if Kaylee manages to get that pump fixed. Can’t exactly be taking people’s cash if things ain't working.”

“No, sir.” She smiled slightly. “What’ll I put as our destination?”

“Persephone. Close enough people might want to go there, far enough for me to feel more comfortable.”

“Yes, sir.”

Mal watched Freya step into the shuttle above him. “And keep an eye out. I know it ain’t likely, but I’m not stupid enough to ignore it when she feels agitated.”

Simon stepped out of the common area doorway. “I still don’t see why I need to come,” he said, joining them.

“Dr Bell saw you before,” Mal said, dropping a hand onto the young man’s shoulder. “I don’t wanna spook him by taking someone else. Besides, I’d’ve thought you’d jump at the chance to see the great man in his home environment. Isn’t it supposed to be able to tell you something about him?”

Simon glanced around the cargo bay, at the worn ship that made up Mal’s home. “I believe it is,” he agreed.

Jayne stepped out of his home above them and crossed towards the other shuttle. “We going?” he asked, grumpier than usual.

“And you’ve got a patient to be looking after,” Mal pointed out, watching the ex-mercenary disappear.

“I’m more than a little concerned about him,” Simon admitted. “That wound should have started to heal, but I just can’t seem to clear the infection.”

“Do you need anything to help? Something we could get whilst we’re here?”

“No, not really. I’ve got a culture growing at the moment, and when we get back I might have a better idea what it is we’re dealing with.”

“Is he fit to work?”

“Well, his right hand is certainly uncomfortable, but as he said, he can shoot almost as well with his left.” Simon looked sharply into Mal’s face. “Why, do you think there’s going to be violence?”

“I hope not. But you never can tell. Randolph Bell might turn out to be a homicidal maniac with a taste for young doctorial flesh.”

“Oh, ha, ha.” Simon shook his head and turned away, heading up the stairs to the shuttle. “Why you never made it as a stand up comedian on the Cortex, I’ll never know.”

“I like a private audience.”

Simon leaned on the railing. “All I can say is don’t give up your day job, captain.” He vanished into the shuttle’s interior.

“Violence, sir?“ Zoe dropped her voice.

“Like I said, I hope not. But the sooner I get this thing off my ship, the better.” Mal picked up the backpack and strode towards the stairs.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Sunday, March 30, 2008 2:08 AM

AMDOBELL


I'm a hundred per cent with Mal about that gorram creepy artifact. I don't think Bell is half as good a person as Simon believed him to be, all them secrets and all wrapped up in a core of greed. Just hope our crew doesn't come out the worse for wear because of it. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, March 30, 2008 4:43 AM

NCBROWNCOAT


I'm getting all itchy and nervous about that artifact too. The sooner it's gone, the better.

Loved the Mal/Freya and Mal/Simon banter. You have all the characters down so well that I'm really beginning to believe that you're a hybrid between Joss and Jane Espenson.

Sunday, March 30, 2008 5:15 AM

SLUMMING


Good chapter. And I think the handling of Bethie's behavior was very well done. Bound to have things like that happen with more than one kid aboard, especially when dealing with eerie-ass artifacts! :D

Sunday, March 30, 2008 6:54 AM

KATESFRIEND


Loved the psychology of parenting that went on between the couples and how well the adults are holding together. Hate the thought of a poltergeist thingy on board the ship. I really hate those kind of problems, but you're handling it very well.


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“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

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Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
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She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

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Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.


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He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

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“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

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“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

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