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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Working towards something big, but maybe not quite yet. A little bit more fluff with a little bite, but hopefully not as saccharin as the last piece! The crew, a beach, and music ...
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2068 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
It was a popular decision. After the near-death experience for Simon and the near-hanging experience for Hank on Newhall, Mal had brought up the possibility at the dinner table, and been nearly overwhelmed by the positive responses.
“That’d be so shiny!” Kaylee enthused.
“Caleb will like it,” River added, rocking her son.
“Get a little swimming in,” Freya considered.
“No fish,” Jayne warned.
“No fish,” Mal promised. “But Hank’s found a small planet that’s got some deserted beaches, not a living soul within fifteen hundred miles, and even if we stayed for twenty-four hours we’d hardly be late at all picking up Badger’s cargo.” He looked at his first mate. “Zoe? You up for it?”
“Sounds good, sir,” adding as she looked at Hank, “Well away from temptation.”
He shouldn’t resent it, he knew that. What with the lying, and the … well, the lying was pretty much the biggest part. And Zoe wasn’t going to let him forget it that easily. Not that he could, not if he wanted to keep his promise this time. “Only temptation will be trying to keep my hands off you,” he said, smiling at her.
She raised an eyebrow at him.
“Shiny,” Mal said, slapping his hands together and rubbing them briskly. “That’s settled, then. Hank, put us on a new heading and get us to relaxing.”
The planet was everything the pilot had promised, and as Serenity’s ramp lowered, the clean fresh smell of the ocean filled the cargo bay, and suddenly everyone felt a little better.
“No wandering into the forest, though,” Mal ordered, looking more relaxed than he had in a while. “Least, not on your own. We don’t know what’s out there, and it could like young mechanics for dinner.”
Kaylee grinned at him, Hope standing by her feet staring out into the bright light. “The beach is all we want, Captain. Just to relax and soak up a little of the sunshine.”
“I’ve made sure everyone’s got suncream,” Simon said, coming out of the common area. “Here’s yours.” He held out a tube.
“Don’t need that.” Mal shook his head. “Never had any back on Shadow, and I was always brown as a nut by the time summer came.”
“You don’t take it, you don’t go.”
“You trying to tell me what to do on my ship?”
“Mal, the sun here is a lot stronger than your home planet. And it’s been a while since you were anything but pasty, so just take the damn tube.”
For a long moment Simon thought he was going to argue, then Mal unexpectedly smiled. “Nearly dying seems to have put lead back in your pencil, doc.” He took the tube. “Okay. But only so’s I can get Frey to put it on my pasty bits.”
Simon closed his eyes. “Thank you for sharing that.”
“My pleasure.” Mal lifted his head. “Nobody else getting off?” he yelled.
“Hold your horses, Mal,” Jayne admonished, stepping out of the shuttle in a pair of the most lurid shorts anyone could possibly imagine.
“Gods, what the diyu are you wearing?” Mal asked, screwing up his eyes in pain, although he wasn’t sure whether it was the shorts or the fact that the ex-mercenary had his gun strapped over the top.
Jayne looked down. “Neat, ain't they? River made ‘em for me out of an old shirt of Wash’s.”
“Does Zoe know?” Mal had an image of the yellow sand being stained red with someone’s blood.
“Yeah, she does.” Jayne didn’t stick his tongue out at the captain, but it was a close-run thing. “She put it out for rags, and I said I wanted it. She said go ahead.”
“Aw, I think they’re cute,” Kaylee said.
“You think everything’s cute,” Simon pointed out, putting his arm around her waist.
River joined her husband on the catwalk. “I agree,” she said, looking down as Jayne turned this way and that, showing off her creation. “And so does Caleb.” She lifted him up so they could see he was in an identical pair, if a lot smaller, pulled on over his diaper. No gun, though.
“Damn,” Mal murmured at the dual sight.
“Seconded,” Simon added, equally quietly.
Bethie ran out of the common area, past her parents and down the ramp. She started to bounce around on the sand, at last feeling better after her bout with the measles. “Come on!” she shouted. “Swimming!”
Laughter drifted down from above, and they looked up to see Freya wearing one of the soft dresses Dillon Malfrey had bought her when she was pregnant, the breeze from outside making the hem move gently. Ethan was clutching the fabric as he stared outside while his sister sat on her mother’s hip, her thumb in her mouth, her eyes wide. “I think she wants us to follow,” Freya said.
Zoe joined her, Hank at her heels with Ben holding tightly to his hand. “I’m not sure we should be leaving Serenity unmanned, sir,” she said, shaking her head a little. “We don’t know what’s around.”
Mal hitched his thumbs into his suspenders. “Nope, you’re coming, no matter what. We can lock her up, and there ain’t no-one around for miles. And you look like you could do with the sun, too.”
Zoe just looked at him, no expression on her face, while Kaylee snorted with laughter behind him.
Out on the beach everyone disrobed to varying degrees, although in Jayne’s case it merely meant unbuckling his gunbelt and putting on his hat. The rest of the children were in swimsuits and trunks, gifts from Inara the last time they’d visited Lazarus, while the adults ranged from a tank top and tight shorts that Zoe unexpectedly stripped down to, sleek silver trunks for Simon, and a pretty floral two piece sported by Kaylee.
“I feel underdressed,” Hank complained, looking down at his own red trunks. “Think I’m gonna go get wet.” With a yell he ran into the sea, splashing and making enough fuss for a dozen pilots.
Mal had come over shy and removed his own clothes behind a tree, coming out in a pair of black shorts that fitted closely to his muscled thighs.
Freya smiled. “You don’t mind folks seeing you naked, yet you get all coy about undressing in front of them?”
“I don’t see you doing anything different.”
She laughed and leaned forward, gripping the hem of her dress, and in one smooth movement pulled it off, revealing a bronze bikini that hugged her curves and had him thinking sudden, mostly lewd thoughts. Down, tiger, he heard in his mind. “You wear that and you expect a red-blooded man to look the other way?” he asked.
“You want I should put the dress back on?”
“Don’t you dare.” He stood closer to her, the tip of his finger running along one of the scars ghosting her skin.
“Simon said they’d probably become more noticeable if I get tanned,” Freya said softly, looking down. “I’m not sure I want them to be any –“
“Don’t mind if they do,” he whispered, interrupting her gently. “They’re you, xin gan.” He tried to keep the tremor to a minimum as he thought about how she’d got them, but she knew. She covered his hand with hers, leaning her body against his warmth.
“Mama.” Jesse’s voice drew their attention to where the little girl was sitting in the sand, grinning widely. She held out a shell.
“That for me?” Freya asked, going down onto her heels, the swell of her buttocks in that bronze fabric doing nothing for Mal’s self-control.
“F’you,” Jesse agreed, placing it carefully into her palm.
“It’s very pretty.”
“Do you want to find some more? Then we can build a sandcastle and you can decorate it.”
“’Kay, Mama.” She began sifting through the sand.
Mal lowered himself to sit next to her. “Can I help?”
She favoured him with a brilliant smile, her little white nubs of teeth shining. “Daddy!”
“Daddy, swim with me,” Bethie said, grabbing Simon’s hand and dragging him to the water’s edge.
“You need rescuing, doc?” Jayne called, a laugh in his throat. “Seeing as you ain’t exactly pro-ficient at it yet.”
“I think you’re the one needs rescuing,” Simon pointed out as he waded out into the ocean, looking back at the big man, covered from shoulders to feet with a huge pile of sand, getting bigger all the time as the children added more.
“Uncle Jayne’s our prisoner,” Ethan put in, scooping another handful on top. “Auntie River has to pay the ransom.”
“Ransom,” Ben echoed, patting the mound, Hope copying him assiduously.
Hank, doing a little digging of his own to augment the children’s work, chuckled. “That’s right,” he agreed. “And we’re not gonna negotiate.”
“Uncle Hank, what’s neg … nego …” Ethan stumbled over the words.
“Negotiate.” Hank leaned on his shovel. “It means taking less than you asked for, and a helluva lot less than you wanted.”
“Well, Auntie River is busy,” the young woman in question said.
“Doing what?” Jayne tried to look around at his wife.
“Sleeping.” She had her eyes closed, Caleb laying against her under a small sunshade Kaylee had rigged up.
“Ya mean you’re gonna leave me here at the mercy of this gang of desperadoes?”
“Ya really don’t love me at all, do ya?”
“Not even a little.”
He grinned. “You’re a diao hua of a liar.” He stood up, sand pouring off him like liquid gold, splattering the smaller children somewhat.
“Uncle Jayne!” Ethan stood with his hands on his hips.
“Don’t you worry none,” the big man said, going down onto his heels and dusting Ben and Hope off, feeling grit in places it had no right to be. “It’s your Uncle Hank’s turn now.” He looked up at the pilot. “Ain't that so?”
A look of resignation flitted across Hank’s face and he handed the shovel across. “Don’t tell me. Face down.”
“Now would I do that to you?”
Jayne chuckled and turned back to Ethan. “What’d’ya say, big feller, if we make Hank here dig a pit and bury him in it?”
Hank sighed dramatically.
Zoe couldn’t help but smile as she watched her husband playing with the children and Jayne. For all the times he could make her angry, make her almost wish she was still single and back in that dark place where she’d resided for a long time since Miranda, suddenly he’d do something like this, and make her heart ache for him. Then he’d break his word and it ached for a different reason.
“What’re you thinking about, looking so serious on a day like this?” Kaylee asked, drawing designs for a new inter-engine fermentation unit in the sand, since the last one had died a week or so back. Well, blown up might be a better description. She reminded herself to use a less volatile mix next time.
“Oh.” She drew her knees up and wrapped her arms around them. “You know, he’s trying hard. He’s been more … I don’t know, Hank-like in the last few days. Making us laugh, winding Jayne up.”
“He let you see that diary he’s keeping?”
The crew had only found out about it the day before, when Mal had walked in on his pilot scribbling in a book when he should have been steering the ship. After a few choice words, Mal had finally ascertained that Hank was keeping a journal of how he felt, and rather than have his captain blab to the crew at dinner, he’d come clean and told everyone.
“I wouldn’t’ve said anything,” Mal had put in quietly as his family exchanged glances. “I’m figuring it’s something Sam’s got you doing, so it ain't none of my business.”
“Thought everything that happened on your boat was your business,” Hank said shortly, still stinging a little.
“If it adversely affects my crew, maybe. But … this is for your own good.”
“I …” Hank felt the heat of shame flood through him. “Sorry, Mal.”
“Course, I might’ve saved it for a rainy day.” Mal smirked, then grimaced as someone trod on his foot.
Now Zoe leaned back on the sand and looked up into the cloudless blue sky. “No, no he hasn’t. And I haven’t asked, either.”
“Why not? I’ve read Simon’s.”
“Did he offer?”
“A’course.” Kaylee turned a little more pink than the sun-touched glow on her cheeks. “Well, after the first one.” She shook her hair off her shoulders. “And I let him read mine.”
“You keep a diary?”
“Course I do. So does Frey. All the things we wanna remember to tell the kids when they’re older.” She looked at her friend. “Don’t you?”
“Never occurred to me.”
“Well, I suppose it’s something to do with being a soldier. No time, I guess.” She stretched out her legs and crossed them at the ankles. “So, have you forgiven him yet?”
“You going to?”
Zoe exhaled heavily. “It’s not … it takes time, Kaylee. Okay, maybe I have forgiven him, but I’m not sure I can trust him anymore.”
“You still love him though.” When her friend didn’t answer, she rolled onto her side. “You do, don’t you?”
“It’s not as easy as that.”
“Sure it is.”
“Kaylee, how would you feel if Simon cheated on you?” The instant the words were out she wished she could bite them back.
The young mechanic didn’t take offence, though. “I’d feel like I was being skinned alive. But this ain't the same. He never went with that woman willingly.”
“That isn’t the problem.” She looked out over the ocean to the far horizon, seeing the slight curve to the world dropping away from her. She hadn’t told anyone else about her father, and didn’t intend to, but with her friend being all eager to help, wanting to understand … well, it made it hard. She forced a smile. “We’ll be okay, Kaylee,” she said finally. “It’ll take time, but I’m sure we’ll be okay.”
“Zoe!” Hank’s yell echoed across the beach. “Help!” He ran across in front of them, hotly pursued by Jayne with Hope under one arm, Ben the other, Ethan following as best he could, Fiddler yapping joyfully at his heels.
Zoe sighed. “I think Maoli has it right,” she said, shaking her head. “Staying on board and out of the way.
Freya handed Jesse another seashell, and the little girl put it carefully on top of the castle they’d built.
“D’ya think they had to bring those things here?” Mal asked, stretched out and feeling the sun warm his old bones.
“Not old,” his wife murmured, then smiled. “You mean the shells?”
He lay back, pillowing his head on his arms. “I just wondered. I mean, it seems odd they’d travel from Earth-that-was and take sea creatures with ‘em.”
“I think they took as much as they could.” Freya let the sand drift between her fingers, watching as the tiny grains got caught by the breeze. “If you knew you were never going back, that all you had was what you could take, I think you’d try and take it all.”
He gazed into the blue, trying to see back centuries. “I can’t imagine what the ships would’ve been like. Heard about ‘em, a’course, and Ms Gingrich showed us some old documentary once, but … they must’ve been huge. Bigger’n Alliance cruisers for sure.”
“They should have kept one, at least.” She picked up another handful. “Instead of cannibalising them to build the first cities like they did. Although I remember Alex telling me that some were as big as small moons.” Her voice softened as she thought of her brother, no longer such a stranger as he had been. “He was intrigued because they created their own gravitational vortex.” She dusted her hands off. “Built in orbit, then sent on their way to a new system, a whole new ‘verse.”
He looked at her. “You’d like to’ve been there? Seen it?”
She shook her head. “No. This is my place, my time. Here with you.”
“That enough for you?”
“More than enough.” She went down onto her elbow to gaze at him. “You and the kids. What more could I want?”
“Mama.” Jesse had her hand out for another shell.
“Oops, sorry, not doing my job here,” Freya said, laughing, doing as she was told.
By the time the sun was beginning to drop below the horizon, the crew of Serenity were content to just sit and chat. Kaylee had set up a small portable Cortex speaker and found some music channel, and soft tunes were drifting through the trees at the edge of the beach. Hank and Zoe had built a driftwood fire against the cooling air, and blue-tinged flames were shooting into the sky, the wood crackling as the salt burned. At the same time Jayne and Simon had been detailed to go back to the ship and bring food, and now several bottles of Kaylee’s wine were also doing the rounds.
“Just so long as you remember there won’t be no more until I can get a new system set up,” she warned, pouring a healthy slug into her own mug.
“If you get drunk I'm not carrying you back,” Simon said, watching her take a mouthful.
“Aw, that’s not fair.” She glared at him. “A husband’s supposed ta look after his wife, isn’t he?”
“Not when she’s made herself sick.”
Kaylee exhaled heavily and looked at Mal. “Cap, can I trade him in on a different model?”
Mal laughed, his arm around Freya as she leaned against him. “I don’t think that’s gonna wash, mei-mei. I think you’ve just gotta accept you’re gonna have to put up with him.”
“You know, there are places where such a thing as wife-swapping goes on,” Hank put in, oblivious to the look he was getting from his own wife. “Place on the backside of Aberdeen springs to mind. The boat I was on landed there once, had some kinda engine trouble, and we were all invited to a party.” He shook his head. “Dammit, what was the name of it? Dakin? Dawking?” He shrugged. “Don’t matter. All I know is I ain't never been so embarrassed.”
“Yeah?” Jayne sat forward. “What were they doing and how come I ain’t never heard about ‘em?”
“I think that’s a question – and answer – for another time,” Mal said quickly, nodding towards the children curled up by the fire. Most of them looked asleep, tired out after a hard day’s having fun, but Bethie was alert, listening. “Little ears,” he added.
“She’s probably already picked it out of his brain,” Simon sighed, looking at his eldest daughter, who gave the game away by giggling.
“Then I conjure lessons are in order from tomorrow.” Mal squeezed Freya. “Okay with you, bao bei?”
“Shiny,” she said, her eyes closed.
“Hey, you falling asleep?”
“Mmn.” She stretched, her skin rubbing his. Only suddenly it wasn't as she stood up. “You know, I think I'm going to go for a walk. Just to wake up.”
“Want some company?”
“No, not … later maybe.” She smiled at him in the firelight, then picked up her dress before wandering down the beach.
“She okay, Cap?” Kaylee asked, leaning towards him.
“Yeah, sure, course she is.” But he couldn’t tear his eyes away from her retreating figure.
When he finally went to look for her it was over an hour later, and the wine was going down considerably, which had to be the reason Kaylee had found some dance music and insisted Simon get up with her.
“Kaylee, I don’t want –“
“Sure you do,” she coaxed. “Come on. One, two, three and, one, two, three and …”
Jayne’s laugh resounded along the beach. “Aw, hell, Riv, I think we’d better show ‘em how it’s done.”
Mal glanced over his shoulder to see the big man almost lift River off the ground as he whirled her around. He smiled, just a twitch of his lips, but didn’t go back. He wanted … needed to find Frey.
She wasn’t far, just a little way around the curve of the bay, sitting against a pile of dried weed washed ashore in a far distant storm, staring into the darkness, her legs drawn up against her chest under the dress she’d put back on.
“Credit for them,” he offered, thumbs tucked into the top of his trunks.
She looked up and smiled. “Penny.”
“The phrase. It’s ‘penny for your thoughts’.”
“Guess you’d know, considering all the sayings you got stored up in that head of yours. Although I’ve a notion I’m right. Always did think your thoughts were worth more’n a penny.”
She laughed, a low, soft sound that seemed to echo in his chest. “Sweet talker.”
“I try.” He sat down next to her, nudging her gently in the ribs. “So?”
“What was I thinking about?”
“Life. The ‘verse. Whether I can get another year’s wear out of my boots before I need to buy a new pair.”
“That deep, huh?” He slipped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her into him, feeling her body chase away the chill that had begun to settle on him. It came back tenfold with her next words.
“And there’s something coming.”
He tensed, his heart starting to beat a little faster. “Coming?”
“I don’t know what it is, when … just … something.”
All trace of his good humour had vanished. “What Theo was talking about? A revolution?”
“I can’t tell.” She shook her head. “And don’t go asking River. She’s in the same boat I am. Apart from us, you and me, everything’s … fuzzy.”
“I think so. Maybe the high temperature burned something out … I don’t know.”
“Is it gonna come back?”
She shrugged. “I have no idea.” Looking into his eyes, knowing they were soft blue but not able to see, she added, “Would you mind if it didn’t?”
“Frey, ‘fore Ethan was born, when that Naxom knocked them out entirely, it didn’t matter to me one bit. It won’t now. You’re my wife, and I love you with all of my being. You not being able to read folks ain't gonna change that.”
She leaned against him again. “Thank you.”
“What for? Telling the truth?” He lifted her chin. “Frey, if there’s something coming, we’ll deal with it. Like we always have. And I ain't gonna have you worrying ‘cause you can’t see what it is.” He shook her slightly. “Okay?”
She smiled. “Okay.”
“Now …” He climbed to his feet. “Dance with me?”
“Wouldn’t you rather just sit and cuddle a bit?”
“We can do that later. Right now, I wanna dance.”
“Then find someone else. I'm sure Kaylee will dance with you. Or River. Or –“
“Is it so wrong to want to dance with my wife?”
“Mal, I don’t dance that well. You know that.”
“Yes, you do. And I’m not moving from this spot until you say yes.”
“That’s going to be awkward when we leave. I’ll be sure to wave at you from the bridge window.”
He growled and reached down, grabbing her hand and pulling her to her feet. “We’re gonna dance, woman. You and me. Now.”
The corner of her mouth lifted. “Don’t I have anything to say about it?”
“Thought you’d already been running off at the mouth. You mean there’s more?” He pressed his body closer.
“Just what kind of dancing were you thinking about?”
“We can get to that.” His smile was almost lascivious, if it wasn’t for the catch of love in his voice. “But right now the music’s calling, and I’m inclined to take notice of it.” He wrapped his arms around her and began moving to the beat, making her follow. “That’s better,” he murmured. “Much better.”
And the captain of Serenity and his wife danced in the shadows until the fire died down, and the only light were the pinpricks of stars in the heavens high above them.
Thursday, May 22, 2008 7:43 AM
Thursday, May 22, 2008 9:38 AM
Friday, May 23, 2008 1:32 AM
Friday, May 23, 2008 1:49 AM
Sunday, May 25, 2008 2:04 PM
Sunday, May 25, 2008 6:14 PM
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