BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Games - Part VI
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Various conversations, and Mal decides it is time to leave Phoros. CONCLUDING CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1834    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

After Kaylee’s talk with her mother, and most folks realising they were too enervated to be in the mood for frivolity, the party was put off for another day, much to Mal’s relief. He caught Ellie smiling at him once or twice, and wondered if she was likely to suggest they all gather around the piano to chase the rain away, but luckily for him she refrained.

“You’ve got a good voice,” Freya whispered, leaning against him as they gathered platefuls of food from the long table set against the wall. “I like it when you sing for me.”

He blushed a little, looking around to make sure no-one else heard. He should have known she’d pluck that tasty little titbit out of his brain. “I don’t sing.”

“Yes, you do. When we make love. That’s singing.”

He looked down into her eyes, knowing he muttered endearments and other odd curse words while they were in the throes of passion. “That what you think?”

“Of course. And you’ve sung lullabies to me before.” She moved even closer, her warmth reaching him through his clothes. “It makes me love you all the more.”

His lips twitched. “Reckon I don’t mind then. Least, in private. When there ain’t the possibility of my gunhand and my pilot hearing me and making fun.”

She grinned. “Jayne sings, you know that.”

“Yeah, but Hank can't carry a tune if his life depended on it.”

Freya picked up a roll and put it on his plate. “He plays the piano instead.”

“Don’t mention that word,” Mal implored, glancing at Ellie and being relieved that she seemed to be engrossed in her grand-daughters.

“I won't let her make you sing,” Freya promised, trying not to laugh. “And if Hank shows any sign of heading for a musical instrument I’ll shoot him for you.”

“I’d take that as a kindness. But nowhere that’d stop him from flying.”

“Deal.” But she’d heard something else in his voice, and her eyes met his. “We’re not staying much longer, are we?”

“No, ai ren,” he confirmed, keeping their conversation low. “Coming back here was good for Kaylee, needed to be done, but it ain’t safe. Not for them. We’ll be gone from here this time tomorrow.” He put his hand in the small of her back and steered her towards one of the big easy chairs, waiting until she was seated before sitting on the floor next to her, leaning against her leg.

“Kaylee won’t like it.”

He shook his head, looking at his mechanic as she wiped some strawberry sauce from Simon’s chin. “Nope. But she knew this was nothing but a stopover. We’ve got to deliver the kids to Inara, then get that vaccine machine –“

“You know Eddie suggested we steal the replicator from the hospital here.” She couldn’t suppress the tremor that ran through her as she remembered the one and only time she’d been there, when Simon took the deep bone scans of her hip. That chair ...

He knew, felt it thrill down her body, but didn’t comment, just pressed himself a little harder against her. “Nope. Not doing anything on Phoros that might draw attention to the Fryes.”

She smiled down at him. “You’re a good man, Malcolm Reynolds.”

“No, I ain’t.” In the years they’d been married, he still couldn’t take the compliment. “I'm a mean old captain who makes his crew do what he tells ‘em.”

“Sometimes.”

“Yeah, well, they are pretty mutinous,” he agreed.

“I still love you.”

“Good.” His blue eyes were soft in the light. “’Cause I can’t rightly say what I’d do if you ever stopped.”

She leaned down and pressed her lips to his.

Hank watched the captain and his wife surreptitiously from under his eyebrows, at the ease they had with each other.

“Jealous?” Zoe asked, picking up a wooden skewer with a small sausage on the end.

“Of what?” Hank asked, watching her put the morsel daintily into her mouth, pulling the stick back slowly and making him palpitate a little.

“They do seem to fit, don’t they?” She smiled, knowing exactly what he was thinking about.

He grinned. “Yeah. I guess they do. I honestly can't see anything coming between them. Ever.”

“Neither do I.”

He took a moment to cut himself a slice of the pike pie, laying it almost lovingly on the plate. “It’s just ...”

“What?”

He turned so he was facing her, their eyes virtually on a level. “Do you trust me?”

Her smile stilled, and for a second it was as if they were the only people in the room. “What’s brought this up?” she inquired.

“All that’s happened. Niska. Everything. And, I guess, what’s gonna happen. Do you trust me?”

“Hank, I –“

“I guess what I'm really asking is, have you forgiven me?”

She gazed at him. She knew what he was referring to, the gambling that had almost got him killed on Newhall. In fact, she was staring at him for so long Hank began to fidget.

Finally she blinked. “Yes. I think I have. When I realised I might have lost you.”

He felt a knot unravel in his chest. “I’m trying, Zo.”

“I know. And I also know how hard this is for you.”

“Not as hard as thinking maybe you didn’t want me anymore.” His hand seemed to move of its own accord until his fingers were tangled with hers.

“Hank, I have forgiven you. Not sure I do quite trust you yet, but I'm working on that. But you’ve wormed yourself so deep under my skin I don’t think I could get rid of you if I wanted to.”

“Makes me sound like some kind of parasite.”

“Maybe you are. But you’re my parasite.”

He grinned. “Love you too, honey.” He turned back to the table and grabbed a handful of the sausages. “Want another?” he asked happily.

Zoe laughed lightly took one from his hand, then felt someone gazing at her. She half-twisted, seeing Freya smiling and nodding. She took a leaf out of the captain’s book, and thought hard, No peeking!

Freya grinned.

Jayne, meanwhile, was deep in conversation with Eddie Frye.

“... and it wouldn’t take much.”

Eddie shook his head. “I'm not sure we need to –“

Jayne interrupted. “You do. You heard what Mal said, ‘bout them Reavers. They’re hitting places they ain’t never got to before, moving in from the Rim. Nowhere’s healthy, not really, so you need to do what you can to keep your family safe.”

“I know, and I’m going to make Ellie go away for a while, but –“

“You think she’s gonna?” Jayne’s blue eyes were hard in the low light. “Her and little Kaylee ... they’re too alike. You think Mal’s gonna be able to make her stay behind?”

Eddie looked over at the two women in his life, then across at his sons, and swallowed. “No. I know he couldn’t. And Ellie’s the same. If she thought I was sending her away for her own good, she’d stick her heels in and not budge.” He took a deep breath, blowing it out through pursed lips as he considered. “You really think the cellar could be the answer?”

“You got hidey holes. This’d just be a bigger version.” Jayne took a moment to make sure no-one was listening. “You ain’t had dealings with Reavers. I have. And they scare me more’n anything in the world, even now. But I know we can deal with ‘em, and mostly survive, and if we come up against ‘em, like I'm thinking we might, we can do it again. But you’re not us. You don't have folks like me and River to take ‘em out for you. So you have to do what you can. What you’re good at.”

“I know.”

“I’ve seen places, like on Corvus, hidden rooms that they won’t be able to find. Hell, Eddie, even if it’s just a big strong door it’d be better’n nothing, but you’re an engineer. You can make something no-one’s gonna suspect.”

“You think?”

“I know. And if we were staying longer I’d give you a hand.”

“But you won’t be.” It was a statement, not a question.

“No. I reckon a day, maybe two, then the Cap’ll want to be gone. Safest place right now is on the move, only ...” Jayne stopped.

“Only your Captain isn’t thinking about safe, is he? Except for the children.”

“Might be there’s nothing to find,” Jayne suggested. “In which case we’ve burned fuel and made ourselves look the fool for nothing. But Niska talking about ... stuff, and other things folks’ve mentioned, I gotta say, he’s prob’ly right.” The big man glanced around. “But don’t go saying I told you that.”

Eddie cracked a small smile. “Your secret is safe with me. And me and the boys’ll be on that idea of yours first thing tomorrow.”

“Good.” Jayne seemed satisfied. “Now, where’s that home brew I’ve been hearing so much about? But I gotta say, it’d have to go some to be better’n Kaylee’s stuff.”

The older man laughed. “Where do you think she learned how to make a still?”

Jayne beamed. “Lead me to it!”

---

Ellie was right. As suddenly as the rain began, it had gone, the sky clearing so that the stars shone like diamonds scattered over black velvet.

Mal went outside with Eddie, hurricane lamps in their hands, and took a look around.

“Huh.”

Eddie looked at Serenity’s captain. “Bet you never thought you’d see that, did ya?”

“Um, pretty much … no.”

The light from the lamps was glistening on a plain of water, starting not ten feet from the front door of the house, and going as far as the eye could see. It curved around what appeared to be the crest of a hill, with Serenity standing proud on the far edge, but only a few houses were high and literally dry. The rest were standing at least doorstep deep, and the further away they were, the more the water lapped at upper windows.

“What about the factories? They ever get flooded out?”

Eddie shook his head. “They’re built on the highest ground. Be a damn big flood to kill them. Although sometimes I think it would be a blessing, some of the smells they produce sometimes.”

“You need to get your wife on to doing her rain dance,” Mal joked. “I'm sure she could manage to quell their fires.”

“I’m sure she could,” Eddie agreed. “Trouble is, it’d drown us too.”

“How long does it take to go down?” Mal could smell the wet earth sharp in his nostrils.

“It’s going already. Look.” He pointed, and Mal could see the bottom of a window frame in a house further along that had been covered just a few minutes ago.

“See what you mean.” He took a deep breath. “Think there might be folks out there need medical help?”

“Might,” Eddie conceded. “Do you think Simon might –“

“I'm here.”

Neither of the other two men had heard the young man approach, but then again they weren't surprised either to see him standing behind them, his bag in his hand.

“Soon as it goes down a bit more I’ll take a walk around, see what’s what,” Eddie said. “Be a bit muddy, but –“

“Eddie?” A voice carried across the still water.

“Carl?”

The three men peered into the darkness, seeing a glow approaching that resolved itself into a lamp on a pole, situated at the bow end of a rowboat. Jonah Frye and his brother Rafe were pulling on the oars, while Carl stood holding onto the pole.

“Everyone okay here?” he asked as the boat grounded, jumping lightly over the edge of the water onto the drier earth.

“We’re shiny,” Eddie said, pumping his cousin’s hand. “Over your way?”

“Water’s up to the top of the door frame, but it’s going down quick.”

“Then what’re you doing –“

“Need a doctor,” Jonah said, turning on his seat. “Sarah Caldwell went into labour yesterday, and you know we ain't gonna be able to get her to the hospital in time, not now.”

Simon was already climbing into the boat. “How far?” he asked, settling down onto the back seat.

“Have you there in no time, doc,” Rafe said, settling his oar into the water again.

“You want one of us to go with you?” Mal called. “Maybe the shuttle would be quicker –“

“Nowhere to land it if you did. Don't worry none,” Carl assured him. “We’ll take good care of him, have him back ‘fore you can spit.” He pushed the rowboat off from where it was grounded, scrabbling back in before he made closer acquaintance with the flood.

“Where’s Simon going?” Kaylee asked, coming up behind them and finding herself enveloped in her father’s arms.

“Woman giving birth,” Mal said, hitching his thumbs into his suspenders. “Reckon he’s needed.”

“Mmn.”

Eddie looked down at his daughter. “You okay about this? You know he’s coming back, right.”

“I know.” She smiled and yawned at the same time.

Mal laughed. “Should be telling you to cover your mouth, like you do to little Bethie.”

“No, you’re right.” She wriggled free from her father. “I’m going to bed. Anyone needs me, well, they’re just gonna have to need.” She wandered back towards the house.

“You’re wife’s a miracle worker,” Mal commended quietly.

“No. Well, yes, she is, but that ain’t what’s happened. It’s having you as her other family.” Eddie gazed out over the water. “Only reason I'm letting you take her with you.”

“And I'm grateful for that,” Mal said sincerely.

“But you keep her safe. Her and that little baby she’s carrying. Ain’t gonna have anything happen to that grandson of mine if I can help it.”

Mal’s eyebrows raised. “A boy?”

“That’s was Ellie says. And I don’t think we’re gonna argue with that, are we?”

“No, sir.” Mal grinned, resolving to keep that little bit of information to himself for the moment. “Not gonna argue at all.”

For a long while they stood quietly, Eddie lighting and dragging on a small cigar he’d fished from his pocket. “So,” he finally said. “You’ll be going soon.”

“Anxious to see the back of us?”

“No. You know you’ve got a home here whenever you need it.”

Mal smiled. “You know, for a very long time I didn’t have any place but Serenity. Everywhere else was just somewhere I visited, but never felt the urge to put down roots. Then I got me a crew and a family, and ...” He paused for a moment. “I guess what I’m trying to say is ... thanks. You and Ellie here, ‘Nara and Sam on Lazarus, even Dillon and Breed ... you’ve all welcomed us, made us feel to home.”

“Gives a man something to fight for,” Eddie agreed.

“No. Well, yeah, but not just that. It gives a man something to live for, and there’ve been times I wondered if I’d ever have that again.”

“I know what you mean.” Eddie blew a perfect smoke ring. “I never did see the war. But I seen those that came back, a lot of ‘em on the ships that came through after, and I could see the emptiness in their eyes. Some of ‘em seemed less than men.”

“Some.”

“And some of ‘em looked like there was nothing left but the fight.”

“Come across them too.”

“I reckon it could’ve gone either way for you,” Eddie said, with surprising insight. “Just about managing to live and breathe, maybe hiding in a bottle, or taking the ‘verse on as an enemy, and wanting to make it pay.”

“Prob’ly right.”

“’Cept you didn’t. You found a middle path. Don't know how, but ... There oughtta be more men like you in the ‘verse.”

Mal had to chuckle. “What, ornery and insane?”

“Yep. Reckon that’d be right.”

The chuckle turned into a full laugh. “I think maybe you’d be surprised. I am, on a regular basis.” The laughter died a little. “And yes, you’re right. We’ll be gone by nightfall.”

Eddie nodded. “Thought as much. Better have one of these while you can.” He held out another cigar.

“Well, I don’t usually ...”

“Neither do I. Least, not in the house. Ellie won't let me. But out here, this is my territory.” He waved an arm to encompass the surrounding houses, and the water retreating in front of them. “My little piece of the black.”

“Okay,” Mal said, chuckling again. “But if Frey turns me out of the bed, saying I stink of smoke, I’ll be coming knocking on your door to let me in.” He accepted the cigar and a light.

“And I’d be opening it up to you, Mal. You know that. Any day, any time.”

“Thanks.” He puffed, getting a good glow on the end.

“Gotta hold back that darkness somehow,” Eddie added, turning back to look out over the flood. “One small step at a time. And gotta have a little pleasure with it, ‘fore the fun and games really start.”

Mal blew out a thin stream of blue smoke, barely visible in the light from the hurricane lamps. “I’ve a notion you’re right, Eddie.”

“Course I am.”

They stood side by side, waiting for Simon to return, not speaking, just being two men, both the heads of their respective families, taking a moment out to enjoy the silence.


A.N.: And so ends this little interlude. I know I promised fluff, but I couldn't let Kaylee's reaction to being kidnapped go, and decided it was better to explore that a little. Still, there were some fluffy bits. And now onto PROSPERO'S LEGACY, and back to the real angsty stuff ... Jane

COMMENTS

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 2:52 AM

KATESFRIEND


Looks like Eddie is just as insightful as Elly. This is another true gem, Jane, just like the last one. Eddie's surprising insight into Mal and war survivors was spot on and perfect. This is a wonderful piece of writing! Loved the analogy of the storm and the flood and life going on with the birth.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 3:08 AM

AMDOBELL


Loved this, I like the comfortable feel of how Mal and his crew mesh with Kaylee's family so well you can hardly see the gorram join. Can't wait for wherever you take us next, you just write such wonderful stories with some lovely little character pieces. Plus, you put in a little bit of Mal/Freya fluff which brightened my day so much I might need sunglasses! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 10:50 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


Think we know where Kaylee gets her personality. I love how you wrote her parents. Wonderful!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008 3:34 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


Loved the whole chapter but especially the talk between Mal and Eddie. What he said about the survivors of war is so true, no matter what side you're on.

Also, am I the only one concerned that Simon isn't with the crew right now?

Thursday, August 21, 2008 3:26 AM

SLUMMING


Well done, Jane. A really good read!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008 7:59 AM

FREEVERSE


I didn't realize you'd put in the bit about the reinforced, Reaver-resistant cellar--and it makes sense, coming as a recommendation from Jayne to Eddie. I'm glad they'll hve some measure of protection, though I worry about all the extended Frye clan.
~freeverse


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