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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Some of the aftermath of Aegis, and maybe something lighter. NEW AND CONCLUDING CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1854 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Aegis was just a memory, and Persephone their destination, when Kaylee sought out Mal. He was sitting in the dining area, a cup of coffee in front of him, contemplating the last few days, but mainly the impact it had had on Ethan. The little boy had never seen death before, and from what the others had said, he knew it was his mother had killed Sadie. Had watched it happen. And now …
“Got one for me?” Kaylee asked, smiling at him from the doorway.
He looked up and pushed his chair back. “Plenty in the pot. I’ll -”
She held up a greasy hand. “No, you sit. I can get it.” She walked behind the counter and took a mug from the cupboard.
Mal pulled the chair back under the table, the legs squealing a little. “My boat okay?”
“Everything’s running fine, Cap.” Her grin widened. “Better’n fine, in fact. I’m just tweakin’.”
“Good to know.”
“I’m pretty sure Serenity’s just glad it’s all over.” She sat down opposite him, blowing on her coffee. “Think that Jasper’s gonna be sensible?”
Mal smiled, remembering climbing up the path from the gorge towards the two ships, Freya at his side, River and Jayne just behind. His legs seemed to weigh a tonne, but the sight of Zoe, Hank and Simon holding guns on Prater’s remaining crew made him feel a whole lot better.
“Well, now, seems to me we’ve been in this situation before,” Mal said, standing and looking down at the men sitting cross-legged on the dirt, their hands on top of their heads. “Except I’m not all that convinced I should be giving you a third chance.”
Jasper looked up. “But I helped,” he insisted. “I called Warren here, told him to open up so your people could get in.”
“You had a gun to your head,” Zoe pointed out. “Anyone’d help in that situation.”
“So what’s to stop me just killing you like the others, and leaving your mouldering corpses here?” Mal went on.
“They’re dead?” Jasper asked.
“Seems to be the case. You wanna give me a good reason why you shouldn’t join ‘em?”
“’Cause I’m pretty?”
“See, the thing is, if’n I let you go, am I gonna regret it like I did with Prater?”
Jasper shook his head vehemently. “No, no, sir. This was his vendetta. Not ours.”
Mal looked into Jasper’s face, hope that he was going to see another day written large, even though the man’s eyes were scared, and he sighed inwardly. “Too much killing,” he murmured, then straightened up. “I see any of you again, I end you, without a thought. It’s a big ‘verse out there, so keeping out of our way shouldn’t be hard.”
Jasper had started to nod as soon as Mal spoke, and now looked like one of those Geisha dolls. “Oh, we will. We will.”
“Mal, don’t’cha think we should -” Jayne put in, protesting.
“Decision’s made,” the captain of Serenity said firmly. “I’m taking Jasper’s word here. But just to make sure …”
Mal came back to the present and looked up at Kaylee. “What exactly did you do to their ship?” he asked.
“Oh, nothing much. Just removed the hard baffle, screwed up the fuel remix, bent the anterior connector out of wack … and a couple of other things.”
“So nothing much.”
“Nope. Good mechanic’d have her up and running in a day or two.”
“And if they ain’t got a mechanic, good or otherwise?”
Kaylee shrugged. “They’ve got a beacon.”
Mal laughed. “I wonder how they’d explain to the Feds what they were doing on a protected site?”
Kaylee giggled along with him. “Be an interesting conversation.”
“That it would.”
The young woman sobered a little. “Do you think anyone’ll ever find the bodies?” she asked softly.
“They’re inside the tunnels so, maybe, maybe not. Honestly, I don’t know, little Kaylee. That place’s probably got more secrets than we found, and I wouldn’t want to bet on there not being a few more corpses around.” He smiled a little. “Might make future archaeologists scratch their heads in wonder, I dare say.”
Kaylee bit the inside of her lip, then said, “Do you … I mean, I know it sounds crazy now, but … do you think we were cursed?”
Mal put down his mug. “Things happen, Kaylee. Just because Hank was going on about curses, we started to look for things that were going wrong. Even if they weren’t really.”
“I know, but what about that bunch of antibiotics? Jayne running his hand onto something, then them only being water, he could‘ve died.”
“Hank’s checked on the Cortex. Seems a whole consignment was meant to be recalled ‘cause it was faulty. We were just unlucky and got some ‘fore it was.”
She wasn‘t about to let it go, though. “And the water pump?”
“You tell me. You fixed it. Was it due to bust?”
“Well, yeah, there was wear on it, and I s’pose it was gonna … but Bethie pushing Ethan like that?”
“They were picking up on Hank’s worry, everyone’s concern … and they were fighting before this.”
“Not that much.”
“A bit. Kaylee, Bethie’s his big sister, to all intents and purposes. They’re bound to argue, it’s the nature of families. But it don’t mean there was a curse.” He leaned forward, putting his large hand onto hers. “’Sides, we put the damn thing back, got away with little more than a few scrapings. I think you can stop worrying.”
“And now?” She looked into his blue eyes. “Ethan?”
Mal sat back, a huge sigh escaping him. “Yeah.”
“As much as I wish she hadn’t, Bethie’s seen hurt through others’ eyes,” Kaylee went on. “She understands what we have to do sometimes. But Ethan … it was his Ma, Mal.”
“I know.” He shook his head. “I’ve tried to talk to him about it, but he won’t. He ain’t even slept in his own bed.”
“I know. He’s been in with Bethie since we left.”
Mal stared into his mug. “He won’t even be in the same room as Frey, and it’s killing her.” He finally looked up. “I think he’s afraid of her.”
“Maybe it’ll be better now.” Kaylee reached out this time, hating to see the hurt written across his face. “She’s gonna try and talk to him.”
“Now?” His eyes widened and he pushed his chair back, hearing it fall over behind him but ignoring it as he strode from the room.
Freya leaned on the doorway to Bethie’s room. “Hi.”
Bethie looked up from the lettered blocks spread across the bed. “Hi, Auntie Frey.”
“What’re you two up to?” She smiled at her son, but he didn’t look up from the teddy he was holding.
“Building Ethan’s walls back up,” Bethie explained. “So he can’t see.”
“That’s good,” Freya said encouragingly, trying to sound normal even though pain was flaring through her. “That’s good.” She swallowed. “Can I … can I come in?”
“Course.” Bethie moved up enough so there was room to sit down next to them.
“Thanks.” She stepped inside and lowered herself carefully onto the bed. “Is it going well? The walls, I mean.”
“Okay.” Bethie sighed. “Ethan won’t concentrate.”
“I can understand that.” Freya reached out to put her hand on his knee, but he jerked away. She could barely contain the agony that caused, more than anything Wing had ever done to her, or Lon, or even the Academy.
Bethie stifled a moan, catching the edges. “Auntie Frey …”
“Sorry.“ Freya closed her eyes, trying to take back control. When she opened them again she looked at Ethan. “So … your Daddy wants to know when you’re going to come sleep in your own room.”
Ethan shrugged, twisting the ear of his teddy. “Don’t know,” he muttered.
“Only he misses you. So does Jesse.” She paused. “So do I.”
“No, no. That’s true. But …” She licked her lips. “I’m sorry, Ethan. I wish you hadn’t had to see that. God, you have no idea how much. And if I could go back, do it differently, I would. But you’re my son. I will do anything to protect you. She would have hurt you, and I couldn’t let that happen.”
“’S.” He was barely audible, his head still down.
“I know you’re afraid. Afraid of me. But I’m still the same person I was before. The one you came crying to when you hurt your hand. The one who bathed you, changed your diaper, fed you. The one who loves you more than anything.” She took a breath. “Ethan, you have to understand. There are bad things. You’re so young, and you shouldn’t be made to know about them, and I will do my best to make sure you don’t, but … Ethan, please look at me.”
He finally dragged his head up, his blue eyes suspiciously moist.
She went on. “You and Jesse and your Daddy … you’re my life. Nothing else matters. And I’ll do whatever I must to protect you.” She stared into his face, but wouldn’t look, wouldn’t peek. Couldn’t see the trust they’d had shattered by that one act into a million pieces.
“’Kay,” he said, dropping his head again.
Freya sighed and stood up. “I’d better go and … do something else,” she said, her heart breaking. She looked at Bethie. “Take care of him.”
“Course, Auntie Frey.” The little girl waited until they were alone, then she hit Ethan on the arm.
“What’s that for?” he complained, rubbing the place.
“Your Momma’s hurting.”
“Do you want her to?”
Ethan glared at her. “No. But -”
“I pushed you off the chair,” Bethie interrupted quickly. “And you’ve forgiven me.”
“It’s not the same.”
“Why not? She’s an adult. Adults have to do things they don’t want to keep us safe. And she needs you.” Bethie took his hand. “You tell me she doesn’t.”
Ethan looked into her brown eyes, and let his walls down a little, reaching out. His jaw dropped. “Mama …” he whispered, scrambling off the bed. “Mama!”
She turned in the doorway to the cargo bay, saw her son running towards her. He stopped a few feet away. “Ethan?”
“Do you … do you want my teddy?” he asked, holding out the toy. “To keep you company. Make you feel better.”
She swallowed hard. “I … thanks.”
“I’m sorry.” His little face screwed up. “I’m, sorry, Mama.” He reached out, and suddenly he was in her arms, held tightly against her.
“Oh Ethan!” Her hand was in his hair, and she was crying with relief.
“I’m sorry, Mama,” he said, over and over, sobbing as tears rolled down his cheeks to soak into her shirt. “I’m sorry.”
Mal watched from the stairs by the infirmary, blinking hard. Then Freya held out a hand, and he hurried to join them, putting his arms around them both.
“What’s going on?” Jayne asked, peering out through the infirmary door.
Simon pulled his hand back around so that he could finish redressing it. “I think it means things are getting back to normal.”
River swung Caleb slowly backwards and forwards. “Family again,” she said softly.
“Hey, great.” Jayne grinned. “Maybe now I can get that party going.”
“Where is the big guy?” Mal shifted Jesse to the other hip. “This was his idea. If he thinks he can get away with not coming -”
“He said he had something to get.” Kaylee grinned as they walked down the street, Persephone‘s lights blazing all around them. “Probably a gift.”
Mal shuddered. “Hope not. This I can just about handle. But presents too …”
Kaylee looked a little downhearted. “You don’t want gifts?”
“From you, okay,” Mal said quickly, stepping on the guilt. “That’s fine.”
She brightened up. “Good, ‘cause I think there just might be.”
“Pressies!” Bethie said happily, skipping on ahead.
Mal sighed heavily. “You know, maybe if I was a four-year old girl, this wouldn’t be so bad.”
Freya half-closed one eye, as if imagining it. “Hmmn. Pig-tails. And a gingham dress.”
“Don’t forget the ankle socks,” River added, wafting by, Caleb in his sling across her chest.
“Ankle socks …”
“Don’t even go there,” Mal warned. “If Jayne hadn’t got witnesses, we wouldn’t even be here.”
“It’s your birthday, Mal,” Freya said, adjusting his collar as best she could one-handed, since Ethan was holding tightly to the other. “You’re going to go in there, and you’re going to enjoy yourself.”
Mal sighed. “Do I get any kind of choice in this?”
“Doesn’t me being captain mean anything?”
“Not a one.”
Mal looked into Jesse’s eyes. “You gonna treat your poor old Pa like this when you get older?” he asked.
Jesse grinned. “Daddy!” she said, and patted his cheek.
“Just don’t go thinking you’ll be always be able to get round me that way,” he warned, but couldn’t stop the smile on his lips.
“We’re here!” Kaylee announced.
Mal looked up at the frontage, the bright lights and the flashing sign announcing this to be Luigi’s Bar and Grille. “That ain’t how you spell grill,” he pointed out. “And it looks like a -” He didn’t get any further on account of Freya’s finger across his lips.
“Jayne went to a lot of trouble to arrange this,” she said. “And it looks fine. Just a bit … gaudy.”
“Come on, Mal,” Simon urged.
“It‘s time, sir,” Zoe agreed.
He looked at her. “I thought you at least would be on my side.”
“Are we taking sides?” Hank asked. “Only if we are, I want Zoe on mine.” He bounced Ben a little. “And Kaylee. And Jayne.”
“Just get inside.”
The doors opened and let out a gust of faintly scented air, and the crew of Serenity hurried inside.
“Mal! Freya!” Dillon Malfrey stood up, waving at them. “Over here!”
“I don’t believe this.” Mal stood stock still, shaking his head. At the long table all down one side of the restaurant sat not only Dillon and his partner, Breed, but their general factotum Callum, as well as Sir Warrick Harrow, smiling into his beard. More surprising, though, were …
“Mal!” Inara got up and hugged him, her delicate perfume warring with the general ambience. “Happy birthday!”
“How did you … when …” Mal was almost speechless.
Sam Nazir was grinning at him. “Yesterday,” he said. “Did you really think we’d miss this?”
Inara let him go and pointed down the end of the table where a group of suspiciously familiar people sat. “Or them,” she added.
The actor/manager of the Hawkins troupe inclined his head. “Noni insisted,” he said, indicating the girl sitting next to him. “How could I say no?”
Toby, Etta, Mikel, Pol … they all waved at him.
“Mal, I think you’d better sit down before you fall down,” Freya advised.
Simon led him to a chair and waited while he lowered himself into it before taking Jesse and putting her down on a bench next to Hope and Ben.
“I … I don’t know what to say about this,” Mal stammered, then caught himself. “It’s good to have friends.”
“That’s what we are,” Dillon said, smiling widely. “And we weren’t going to let this day go by without some kind of celebration, so when Jayne waved me, I said I’d make the arrangements.”
“You did this?”
“I thought it was suitable.” He winked at Freya. “Remember?”
She laughed. “How could I forget?”
Mal glared at her. “You really have to tell me what you used to get up to,” he threatened.
“Maybe later,” she promised. “As a birthday treat.”
“Hmmn,” he growled.
“Happy birthday, Uncle Mal,” Noni called. “I really hope you don’t mind all this.”
“Mind?” Hank waved his hands in the air. “Noni, you should’ve seen him. We practically had to drag him out of - ow!” He glared at Zoe.
Mal felt Freya’s hand on his thigh, squeezing gently, and he sighed. “No, Noni. I don’t mind. As long as it don’t get to be a habit, that is.”
Kaylee beamed. “Well, it isn’t every day your captain gets to -”
“Honey, don’t do that,” Simon said quickly, taking a spoon from Hope’s hand where she was trying to push it up her nose.
“And where is Jayne?” Dillon asked. “I would have thought he‘d be the first here.”
River shrugged. “He said he had …” Her face fell a little. “Oh dear.”
“There he is,” Hank interrupted as the door opened.
Jayne bounded in. “Hey, hope I ain’t missed nothing.” He grinned. “Just had to wait for ‘em to finish this.” He pulled something out from behind his back. Something that floated on a ribbon in his fist. Something big and round and shiny, that said ‘Happy 40th Birthday’ on it in big, round, shiny letters. It drifted towards the ceiling and the entire restaurant exploded into applause.
“Jayne …” Mal hissed, wishing he was wearing his gun. “I said no balloons.”
The big man sat down, his brow furrowed. “Really? Did ya?”
“I remember distinctly.”
“Oh.” He grinned wider. “Oh, well, too late now.”
Sunday, April 13, 2008 4:54 PM
Monday, April 14, 2008 1:30 AM
Monday, April 14, 2008 1:35 AM
Monday, April 14, 2008 12:33 PM
Tuesday, April 15, 2008 3:02 AM
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