BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Volcano's Edge - Part I
Thursday, June 26, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Start of the two story 'big' arc. The crew visit Kaylee's family on Phoros. You know me by now. A little fluff before the descent into angst ... NEW STORY


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2412    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

“Haven’t you ever known you were going to see an old friend, even though you believed he was off-world? Or didn’t do something because you just knew it was going to go wrong? We all have them – psychic flashes. But by extension there are those individuals who sit between us and the powerful psychics like River and Freya. We saw what happened with Grace, when she had her abilities turned on, the almost overwhelming nature of it. Suppose that was multiplied a thousand times, a million… Less than one tenth of one percent, Mal, that’s what she said on Miranda. That’s about right for the kind of psychic ability I’m talking about.” Simon, OPPORTUNITIES

---

They swung by Persephone on their way to Phoros, burying the remains of their friends under the small stand of trees. Jayne dug the grave with varying degrees of assistance from Hank and Simon, and River collected soft grass and flowers for inside while Kaylee engraved the headstone.

“What do you want on it?” Kaylee asked, knowing Mal was standing at her back, watching carefully as she finished inscribing the date. “Not really enough room for all the names, ‘less I write ‘em small.”

“Road Runner,” he said softly. “That’s all it needs. It’s what they were, Road Runner’s family.”

Shr ah.”

Still, as they laid the box to rest, Mal noticed she’d managed to put the crew’s names anyway, even if it wasn't clear from any distance. He had to smile. If anything like that ever happened to them, he hoped there’d be someone around to make sure they were buried right. No. He corrected himself. He hoped something like that never happened to them.

After the small ceremony, where he read a passage from Book’s old Bible, most of the crew moved off, while he stayed at Freya’s side. She’d made a small posy from more wild flowers, and was staring at the smallest stone that marked their daughter.

“I miss her too,” he said quietly. “I can only imagine what she’d’ve been like.”

Freya glanced at him, and he was pleased to note she looked fairly calm.

“Her and Bethie would be running the ship. And I’m not calm,” she added. “Just good at hiding it.”

“Not so good at the not peeking, though,” he chided.

“You were thinking loud.”

“I thought it was only River who accused me of that.” He put his arm around her waist.

“Sorry.” She leaned into him, her eyes still on the marker. “I wish …”

He squeezed gently. “Me too. But you seen that down there?” He nodded towards the stream that ran along the bottom of the valley. “That’s our future, Frey. Down there.”

Freya looked, and had to smile. Ethan was at the water’s edge, Jesse hunkered down next to him. It looked as if he was making boats out of leaves and twigs, and setting them to run over the chattering stones. They could hear Jesse’s giggle from where they stood.

“Family,” River agreed from where she had arranged herself on the grass by Jethro’s stone, Caleb in her arms.

“Gotta agree with you there, albatross,” Mal said. “You showing the boy off?”

River nodded. “I have a lot of things to tell Jethro, so I would be obliged if you would leave us be.” She looked at him quite pointedly.

“Guess that’s told me,” Mal murmured. “Come on, Frey,” he added. “I conjure we know when we’re not wanted.”

Freya laughed lightly, then placed the posy against the tiny headstone. “Miss you,” she whispered, her voice catching, then stood straight, taking Mal’s hand. “Shall we see whether you can teach me to skip stones?”

He grinned. “Make sure Ethan ain't gonna fall in, more like, taking our youngest with him.” They headed off down the hill towards their children.

“You okay with this?” Zoe asked, leaning against the open cargo bay doors, watching Jayne watching River.

The big man shrugged. “If’n you mean am I jealous?” He glanced at her. “Sure. But it’s a crazy kinda jealousy over a dead man, ain’t it? It ain't like he’s gonna get up and walk, maybe taking her away from me. And if he tried, wouldn’t take much to put him back down.”

“I suppose.”

“Besides, she’s my wife. Got the tattoo to prove it.” He held up his hand, showing the intricate design. “We’re forever, Zo. That ain't never gonna change. She said so.”

“And you believe everything she says?”

Jayne growled with pleasure. “Sure. She’s River.”

Zoe smiled and went inside to find her own husband.

Down in the soft grass, a little further along, Simon grabbed Hope around the waist and lifted her up into the air, flying her through the pollen and tiny seeds thrown up by their running. She wriggled in his grasp, laughing with delight. “Higher, Daddy, higher!” she hiccupped.

“She’ll be sick,” Kaylee warned, showing Bethie how to make a daisy chain.

Simon made as if to let his daughter go, and she shrieked as she grabbed at him, but his hands were secure and he pulled her close into his body. “Are you likely to be sick?” he asked, holding her upside down.

“Daddy!” she exclaimed. “Tickles!”

“Really?” He looked almost surprised, then rolled onto his back, Hope on his chest. “You know, I quite like your hair like this,” he said, ruffling her short blonde locks.

“I still ain’t sure,” Kaylee admitted, looking askance at their other daughter.

“She wanted it,” Bethie said, her head on one side as she studied the daisies linked together.

“But it was so pretty.” Kaylee sighed, remembering the day only a couple of weeks before when they’d found the pair of them sitting in Hope’s room, her long blonde hair scattered across the floor, and Bethie with a pair of scissors hidden behind her back.

“It’ll grow again,” Simon assured her. “And Bethie was already punished.”

The little girl nodded. “No books or toys for a week.” She sighed, sounding very hard done by. “Uncle Mal thought it was funny.”

“And he oughtta be ashamed of himself,” Kaylee muttered to herself, then looked up at a shout from the stream. She grinned. “Bethie, I think you need to go get Fiddler. I think he just splashed your Uncle Mal.”

Bethie leaped to her feet and ran to rescue her little dog from an irate captain.

---

All too soon the sun dipped below the level of the mountains, and the air cooled quickly.

Mal stood up, rubbing his hands together. “Okay,” he said. “Everybody back on board.”

“But Daddy –“ Ethan began.

“Unless you don’t want to go visit Grandma Frye.”

In a moment Ethan was standing, Jesse’s hand clasped tightly in his, and they were hurrying up the hill towards Serenity. River got elegantly to her feet and touched Jethro’s headstone, just once, then turned into Jayne’s embrace. Kaylee and Simon ambled on board, until there was only Freya, pausing once more by the headstones.

“You okay, ai ren?” Mal asked, standing close enough that she could feel the heat from his body.

“Not sure.”

“You seeing something? ‘Cause if you are –“

“I don’t know.”

His shoulders tightened. “We likely to be adding to these?” When she didn’t answer, he put his hand on her arm. “Come on. Else they’ll be leaving us behind.” He slid his hand down until their fingers meshed, and he led her back into Serenity, the shadows lengthening behind them and ghosting over the row of markers.

And now they were dropping towards Phoros, and Bethany Tam was bouncing so much that her mother couldn’t get her shoes done up. “Sit still, will you?”

“But it’s Granma and Granpa,” her daughter said, pushing her hands under her bottom to sit on them in an attempt to do what she was told.

Kaylee smiled. “I know. And I ain't seen ‘em in a month of Sundays either, but at least I managed to get dressed by myself.” She finished the last buckle. “There.”

Bethie slid off her bed and looked down. “Do I look nice?” she asked, studying her patent shoes and her soft pink dress.

“You look real pretty.”

“Good.” She grinned, showing the gap where one of her baby teeth had recently come out. When she’d first found it was loose she had been upset, insisting her father glue it back in. Then he’d explained that normally children didn’t start changing to adult teeth until they were six, and she was only five, so she was more advanced. Besides, he pointed out that, when it did fall out, if she put it under her pillow, she might get a nice surprise.

“Bethie, do you have to?” Mal complained, having endured most of the dinner that night watching the little girl wiggle her tooth, first with her tongue, then her finger.

“Simon’s fault,” River said, spooning mush into Caleb’s mouth. “Told her about the tooth fairy.”

“The what?” Mal looked at Freya, hoping for some kind of enlightenment.

His wife smiled. “Something Core parents tell their children.”

“Daddy said I’d get a surprise if I put it under my pillow,” Bethie explained somewhat indistinctly, moving the tooth backwards and forwards.

“Alex and I used to get a brand new ten credit note for every tooth,” Freya went on. “Of course, Mother insisted we immediately put it into the bank for a rainy day.” She laughed. “You know, I never did use any of it. Probably worth a fortune by now, what with interest.”

“Money?” Bethie’s eyes grew rounder.

“Not on board Serenity, though,” Hank put in. “The tooth fairy doesn’t carry money this far out.”

“Wouldn’t worry, squirt,” Jayne added, taking pity on Bethie’s downcast face. “There’s places on the Rim they’d be knocking each other’s teeth out just for a chance at ten credits if they heard.” He covered his own with his lips. “Everyone’d be talking like this.”

Bethie grinned at him, as always finding her Uncle Jayne funny, even if everyone else was glaring at him.

It still took another four days for the tooth to come out, and next morning everyone heard the commotion as the tooth fairy was discovered to have left a small silver pendant in place of the tooth.

She was wearing it now, a little teddy bear on a chain. Kaylee straightened it around her daughter’s neck, then smiled. “You look real shiny.”

“Thank you, Momma,” Bethie said formally, then leapt into her mother’s arms. “I love you.”

“And I love you too.” Kaylee held her close, rubbing her hand up and down her back.

Not that Bethie could stand still too long. “Is it time?” she asked, untangling herself and smoothing her dress.

“Nearly. Why don’t you go wait in the cargo bay while I get Hope ready?”

“Okay.” She skipped out, collecting Fiddler on the way. Uncle Jayne was already waiting, sitting on his weights bench doing arm curls. “Hello,” she said, smiling.

“Hey, ain't you the cute one,” Jayne said, looking her up and down. “Nice dress.”

“’S’new.” She primped a little.

“Figured it might be. And I'm glad you’re wearing your gift from the tooth fairy.”

Bethie put her head on one side. “’Cept the tooth fairy goes by the name of Uncle Jayne, doesn’t he?”

Jayne didn’t blush. He figured his skin had forgotten how to, so he just growled. “You ain't to go telling no-one, you hear?”

“Momma knows.”

“Yeah, well, I had to tell her. She caught me sneakin’ into your room.” He fixed her with a glare, usually guaranteed to wilt any adversary of up to seven feet tall and three hundred pounds. “And you ain’t supposed to be peekin’.”

The glare didn’t seem to work on someone three feet from the ground and not much more than thirty pounds wringing wet. “I love my Uncle Jayne,” she said, grinning widely. She glanced at her own small version weight bench sitting next to his. “Can we –“

“No.” He raised his eyebrows. “You got any idea what your Ma would do to me if I let you mess yourself up?”

“Keelhaul you.”

Somehow he wasn't surprised she’d know a word like that, still being enamoured of pirates as she was. “Most like.”

“Everyone, hold onto something,” Mal’s voice came over the com. “Hank’s trying to break his record for landing.”

“Aw, hell.” Jayne grabbed Bethie and pulled her onto his lap, hearing the engine note change as they dropped through the atmo. The little girl giggled. “Hey, ain't nothing to be laughing about,” he scolded. “One day that man’s gonna make a mistake and we’re gonna end up smeared all over the landscape.”

“Not today,” River said, walking down the stairs from their shuttle, Caleb in her arms.

“At least hold on,” Jayne pleaded, envisioning the ship jerking and his wife and son flying across the bay.

“It won’t happen.” She continued down to the floor, and as she reached the deck she flexed her knees and absorbed the shock as Serenity touched down with just a small bounce.

“Okay, people,” Mal said again, with more than a trace of relief. “Since Hank’s failed in his attempt to kill us all, be in the bay in five ready to leave.”

“I ain't that bad!” Hank’s voice filled in the background.

“I coulda landed better!”

“Yeah? Well, why don’t you just go and …” There was a pause, then Hank went on, a trifle strained, “I’ll just go get ready, shall I?”

“Good idea.”

“Um, Cap?” This time it was Kaylee. “You’ve still got the com on shipwide …”

There was a silence, then a click. Jayne looked at River for clarification.

“Mal drew on Hank,” she explained.

Jayne grinned. “Yeah, that’d do it.”

---

Near a year, give or take a month or two, since they’d last been to see the Fryes, and it felt like no time at all had passed. Ellie Frye was standing at the oven, pulling a huge loaf of bread from inside, as Kaylee tripped into the kitchen.

“Hi, Ma,” she said.

“Mornin’ Kaylee. Can you give me a hand?”

“Course.” Kaylee grinned and picked up a glove from the counter, taking the other side of the tin and helping her mother slide it into the rack. “Everyone okay?”

“They’re fine.” Ellie smiled back. “You’re looking well. Blooming, almost. That husband of yours keeping you right?”

Kaylee laughed. “Surely is. And now Hope’s walking and beginning to talk, and Bethie’s five, and River’s got Caleb –“

Her mother put up her hand. “We’ve got time for all that. Where are they all?”

“Outside.”

Ellie shook her head. “Every time you do this, leave them out there as if they ain't family.”

“They just like me to have a few minutes with my Ma.” She put her head on one side. “You know?”

“I know.” Ellie put her arms out and Kaylee hurried into a hug, feeling her mother’s unconditional love surrounding her, and breathing in the soft scent of fresh baked bread. As she felt her daughter relax, she grinned. “Now you go let them in. I want to see the new arrival.”

The door opened and Bethie blew through like a mini tornado. “Granma!” she yelped, running across the room and throwing herself onto her Ellie, who lifted her up.

“Hey, you’ve grown!” she said, hugging her granddaughter.

“Couldn’t wait any longer,” Bethie admitted, glancing over her shoulder as Simon, holding Hope’s hand, came into the house, followed by the rest of the crew.

“And that’s as it should be.” Ellie put her back on the floor, then smiled at everyone. “Eddie’s out back as usual, so you all go through.”

“Can we help at all?” Freya asked, basking in the warmth emanating from the woman.

“You’re guests!”

“We’re family,” River said, slipping her arm through Ellie’s. “You said. So what do you need?”

“Well, you could bring the bread. And there’s some stuff in the cold store needs bringing out. And I think there’s another keg of …” She stopped, embarrassed.

Mal grinned. “You just tell us what to do.”

---

--

“You have them in sight?”

“Yes sir.”

“How many?”

“The entire crew. They’re visiting a family.”

“Good. Is good. You know what to do.”

“Yes sir.” There was a click in his ear and the tiny unit went silent. He exhaled, realising he’d been holding his breath while talking to his boss. It always affected him this way. That voice, all … unreal. Mechanical.

It made his teeth itch.

Moving back into the shadows, he could see the fire at the back of the house, with figures moving to and fro. He could wait. He was good at that.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Thursday, June 26, 2008 9:02 AM

SLUMMING


All that fluff and then wham! just a few words to raise the hair on the back of my neck! Eagerly awaiting more! :D

Thursday, June 26, 2008 9:44 AM

AMDOBELL


Holy crap! Lull us with all the happy and fluff and then hit us with the evil nasty *tamade hundans* coming after them. You would think with a couple of Readers on board and some pyschic kids that at least SOMEONE would have an inkling something was wrong. Ali D
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, June 26, 2008 10:00 AM

NCBROWNCOAT


You're awful...all that fluff and then throw that last paragraph in. Makes for a good story though.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 10:32 AM

WYTCHCROFT


"He could wait. He was good at that."

this l'il wytch however is known for the lack of patience - begin the BIG in!:)
you did promise the big...

of course you played the reader here like the seasoned pro you are)

Thursday, June 26, 2008 1:16 PM

KATESFRIEND


Um, is this a new bad guy or a formerly dead bad guy or something of your own creation?

Thursday, June 26, 2008 2:58 PM

ANGELLEMARCS


The first part made me cry, the middle made me laugh, the almost last made me sigh, and then the last part made me...WANT MORE NOW!! Okay, so I will be on vacation, but you are such a stroy teller. Makes me want more.

Thursday, June 26, 2008 5:48 PM

FREEVERSE


You try explaining in mixed company why you suddenly laughed out loud, after this exchange:

'There was a silence, then a click. Jayne looked at River for clarification.

“Mal drew on Hank,” she explained.

Jayne grinned. “Yeah, that’d do it.”'

Thanks Jane!
~freeverse


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