BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Prospero's Legacy - Part IV
Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Simon outlines his plan to get the replicator, but Mal isn't happy. NEW CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1826    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Regan Tam watched her husband as the small ship took them further away from Osiris. He was studying more of the messages he’d received on his secure line, reading them through half a dozen times before deleting them, wiping them from the system. He didn’t even know her eyes were on him.

She would never have believed that a time could come when she’d be running from her home, from everything she held important … from her life. Yet here she was. Just because he needed her.

Oh, it was more than that, she knew. There were her children to consider. If there was even one chance in a million that she’d be able to see them, talk to them, maybe even hug them again … It didn’t matter to her one bit that genetically they weren’t hers. As she’d said to Gabriel, she carried them both for nine months, and as far as she was concerned that made her their mother.

With an ache in her heart she remembered the last time she’d spoken to Simon. He’d been heading out somewhere, his coat pulled up around his ears, looking somewhat furtive. She hadn’t asked where he was going, hadn’t made it her business to find out. She and Gabriel were on their way to a dinner party at the Friedlichs, and she was afraid they were going to be late. All she’d said was, “See you later, dear.”

“Yes, mother.” His last two words to her.

What if she had? If she’d put her hand on his arm and stopped him, asked where he was off to. Would he have said? Explained he was going to a blackout zone to try and get information on his sister? Doubtful, she admitted to herself. Not from any false sense of keeping his parents safe, but simply because he’d got so good at hiding things beneath that impassive face of his.

And when they were called, interrupted at the dinner table, she thought she was going to die from the mortification. Her son, bound by law. Gabriel had, of course, sorted things out, paid off where he needed to, but the embarrassment still made her cheeks warm, even to this day.

Simon had been around the house for some time after, of course. She’d heard him banging about in his room, and River’s, but not once did she go and ask if he was all right. He ate privately, spending all of his free time on the Cortex, and she didn’t even notice that he wasn’t dining with them. As long as he didn’t talk that nonsense about his sister being … Only it wasn't nonsense. Even now she found it hard to believe that the Alliance would condone hurting children like that, torturing them. Torturing her child. Her River.

And yet. There was always the and yet. She knew Gabriel was telling the truth. She might not have taken Simon’s word for it, declaring it was just stress, attempting to placate him with gentle words, talking of his career, his life, but when her husband said he believed, it cut her to the quick.

So here they were, heading for a small planet she would never have dreamed of visiting in a millennia. Just to make sure Gabriel took his medication, and ate properly, and got to bed at a reasonable hour …

Gabriel grunted slightly, going back and rereading a portion.

Of course it was just that.

She sighed and sat back, glancing out of the small window. She shuddered. All that nothingness.

---

“Okay,” Mal said, once the breakfast plates were cleared. “Parth is coming up tomorrow, and our young doctor has devised us a plan he says is going to get us the replicator we need, while making sure I don't get shot.”

“Sounds like a good idea,” Freya said, her hand on his.

“I thought so.”

“Is that even possible?” Hank asked. “I mean, it’s kinda traditional. We go to steal something, Mal gets shot.”

“I’ve been a lot better lately!” the captain protested, then smiled slightly. “But anything you walk away from is a bonus.” He looked down the table. “Simon, you’re up.”

The young man nodded, marshalling his thoughts. “As you know, we need a ViroStim or one of its type to replicate the vaccines we got from Niska. Both of them. Without such supplies, we would be in danger of being exposed to the Pax, should Mal’s concerns be correct.”

“Weapons,” Kaylee said, shivering a little.

“Yes. And we don’t know what such exposure would do to River or Freya.”

“That we don’t,” Mal added quietly, and glanced at his wife.

Simon saw River do the same with Jayne, and he wondered whether his sister had extracted a similar promise to the one Freya had made Mal give, to shoot her if she was exposed. Probably, since both women understood the darkness that was waiting to consume their family.

He hurried on, having to swallow the lump in his throat at the memory of handing that box to Sam. “So the replicator is our first priority.” He was amazed he sounded so normal.

“And just how is this going to be achieved?” Zoe asked, her eyebrow raised in enquiry.

“We’re going to walk out with it.”

“Walk out.”

“Yes,” Simon confirmed.

“Without getting shot.”

“No bullet wounds. Not even a graze.”

“And how are you planning on pulling off this particular miracle?”

“Making the captain stay on board?” Hank put in, tempting fate and Mal’s wrath.

“That’s a distinct possibility,” Simon deadpanned. “In fact, for this to work, it’s really going to be up to Jayne.”

“Jayne?”

“Me?” The big man sat forward.

“Well, you and Zoe, actually.”

“I think you’d better explain,” Mal suggested, for once not taking offence. He knew how much the humour was essential, otherwise they’d all be hiding in their bunks and refusing to come out.

“I’ve been checking the logs for the hospital on Parth,” Simon went on, standing up so he could pace.

Mal suppressed a smile. He remembered the young man doing the self-same thing when he was explaining about the Ariel job, and while that hadn’t exactly gone as planned, at least no-one had got shot. Almost put out an airlock, yes, but no actual bullet wounds. He felt eyes on him, and looked up to see River gazing at him as if she was reading his thoughts on the back of his brain.

What did I say about peeking? He let the words form in his mind.

He’s not like that any more, she admonished.

Never said he was, albatross. And I didn’t do it, did I?

Good man.

Me or him?

She smiled enigmatically.

Simon coughed discreetly from a position just to the right of Mal’s shoulder. “Captain? Are you with us?”

“Just waiting on you to tell us about this marvel of yours.”

“Hmmn. As I was saying, I’ve been doing some research on the Cortex – nothing that will link back to us, Mal,” he added quickly, forestalling the inevitable.

“Just so long as it don’t.”

“The information I needed is a matter of public record.” He tugged at his earlobe. “Anyone could get to it.”

“What, even those of us who aren’t criminal masterminds?” Zoe teased gently.

“Even you.” He smiled and went on. “Alliance hospitals have their own maintenance departments, but once a year there is an inspection, making sure all the equipment is up to standard. The Parth City Hospital is due for one in four days.”

Mal’s lips lifted. “And you’re thinking …”

“If we get there first, have the right ID, we can say we’re early, do the inspection and announce the ViroStim is … non-functional or whatever, and take it out with us. Jayne will do the heavy lifting.”

“What else is new?” the big man sighed.

“But the right IDs?” Kaylee sat forward. “Ain't they gonna be difficult to get?”

“Not in this case. Before we left Lazarus I spoke to Sam, and he –“

“Wait a minute,” Mal interrupted, his gaze darkening. “You got him involved? When I expressly forbid any such thing?”

“Do you want this machine or not, Mal?” Simon wasn't going to be goaded. He knew what he was doing, and he was going to make sure his captain did too.

“You know damn well I do. But that ain’t the point. If word got back that –“

“It won’t.”

“You can be sure of that, can you?”

“Mal, I looked at the problem from every angle. River took a run at it too.” He glanced at his sister, who nodded. “There is no other way. Unless you want to go in all guns blazing. I mean, that might work. It has before. And if you got shot then you’d be in the right place for them to patch you up before the Alliance came to get you.”

Freya could feel her husband about to make an angry retort, possibly even give in to his impulse to knock the young doctor into the middle of next week, and she squeezed his hand.

Mal pulled it away, turning on her. “It ain't gonna work, Frey,” he said sharply. “Maybe he’s right on the why, but not on the how. Our kids are on Lazarus. What if the fact that Sam helped us gets back?”

“It’s something of a moot point,” Freya said calmly, leaving her hand on the old wood. “It’s already done.”

“I know what moot means.” He was getting angrier with every passing moment.

“I know you do.” She tried to reach his mind, but his barriers were at full blast, radiating sharp points that bled into her. She licked her lips, feeling very alone. “But there’s nothing you can do about it.”

He glared at her. “And you think that makes it right?”

“Mal, Sam offered,” Simon said.

“So?”

“His contact is … they’re going to be the real thing, Mal.”

“And you know for gorram sure he ain't gonna be telling no-one?”

“Yes.”

Mal stood up, pushing his chair away from the table so it screeched on the floor. “You’d better be right, boy. ‘Cause if you ain’t and you put the kids in the line of fire …” He stopped, trying to control the temper about at its limit.

“I am sorry for what I said, though,” Simon added. “I shouldn’t have let my sarcasm get the better of me. But it is the only way.”

Mal took a deep breath. “Maybe. But you’ve been planning this for a while, that’s clear, and you should’ve come to me first ‘fore speaking to Sam.”

“So you could say no?”

“So I could find some other way of getting what we needed!” He shook his head in exasperation. “I'm a thief, doc. I know some pretty unscrupulous types, and for the right amount of money I could’ve got what we needed without putting the kids in danger.”

Simon went the palest shade of pink. “I … didn’t think of that.”

“No, well you should.”

Kaylee exchanged worried looks with Hank. What had been a light-hearted meal had turned into something ugly, full of tension. She spoke quietly. “Cap, Simon was only doing what he thought was right.”

He looked at her, the concern apparent on her normally sunny face. “I know, mei-mei, but there are other things to think about here.”

“Maybe you’d better let the doc finish what he was saying,” Jayne put in unexpectedly. “Seeing as this argument ain’t gonna be won.”

“Are you standing up for me?” Simon asked, unable to stop the words from coming out of his mouth.

“Don’t get too used to it,” Jayne advised. “Just saying.”

Mal closed his eyes for a moment, trying to centre his emotions, then nodded. “Much as I hate to admit it, Jayne’s right,” he said, sitting down again. “But next time we plan to knock over a hospital, or any other kind of government facility, you come and tell me the details before you do anything, dong mah?”

Simon blinked. “Yes, Mal.”

“Good.” He reached out and found Freya’s hand, wrapping his fingers around it. “Well, go on.”

River relaxed, and she went back to studying her hands, wondering why she only seemed to have the two, when by all accounts she should have four. ---

They didn’t think. Nothing that went through their radiation-addled minds could be considered as thoughts. There was only the need to hunt. To kill. To take and own before feeling flesh part and blood spill down their throats.

There’d been something in their brains, though. Something stopping them from fulfilling their purpose. Something crawling inside and making them wait.

It was gone for the moment, but they knew, with what little was left of their intelligence, that it would be back. Insinuating itself. Making them howl in rage at their impotence.

Still, as they turned their ship, corpses laced to the bow, they could feel the weakness bleeding off the nearby planet. Easy pickings. Closer in than they had ever been, taken there by the … whatever it was … Might as well make the most of it. Particularly as they hungered.

---

Freya couldn’t sleep – bad dreams that drifted away as she tried to pin them down haunted her. Mal, on the other hand, was dead to the world, even when she got up and pulled on her pants, wrapping her brocade shawl around her top half, not even bothering with a shirt.

She padded barefoot to the ladder, opening the door above and climbing up. Mal shifted in bed, rolling onto her side, but didn’t wake.

In the dining room Freya made herself a cup of tea and sat at the table, idly picking up a deck of cards. Within moments she was engrossed in a game of Patience.

“Red seven on black eight,” Jayne said behind her.

She looked over her shoulder at him. “Thanks.” She moved the card.

“Can’t sleep?” the big man asked, somewhat unnecessarily.

“No.” Freya sighed and picked up her cup, but the tea had gone cold.

“Me neither. Get like that sometimes, when I've not had any.”

“I know I'm going to regret this, but not had any what?”

“Action.” Jayne took a bottle from the cupboard and two mugs. “Don‘t need to worry about the getting laid part. Riv sees to that.” He grinned.

“Good to know,” Freya murmured, trying to get the mental image she suddenly had out of her head.

“Although the truth is, not having Caleb in his crib … it feels odd.”

“I know what you mean. Knowing that Ethan and Jesse aren’t in the nursery, that I can’t just go and look at them …” She sighed. “It hurts.”

“Yeah.”

Jayne sat down opposite her, pouring a shot of alcohol into each mug and sliding one across to her. “Here. It’ll help more than that shiong mao niao.”

“You’re probably right.”

She lifted the mug and they drank.

“That’s better,” the big man said, smacking his lips. “So how come Mal can sleep?”

“I … uh …”

“You sexed him into unconsciousness?” Jayne supplied, then he laughed as her skin flushed. “Hell, Frey, you ever gonna get over that prudish streak?”

“No,” she said firmly, tugging her shawl around her. “I’m pretty sure it’s here to stay.”

“Prob’ly. Although I think that discussion at breakfast didn’t help.”

“Mal was right,” Freya said, defending her husband.

“Oh, I ain’t saying that. But it kinda took the shine off things, don’t you think?”

“The shine?”

“Knowing there’s gonna be some action.”

“Jayne, I think there’s going to be so much action before this is over, even you will be glad when it’s done.”

He smiled crookedly. “Take a lot to do that.” He took down a mouthful of alcohol. “But things didn’t really feel right ‘til dinner.”

“No, you’re not wrong about that.”

“When Kaylee got out that cake her Ma’d made.”

Freya had to grin. “I'm surprised she’d managed to keep it a secret from everyone.”

“Hell, River knew. But she told me if I touched it I wouldn’t be touching her for the duration, so I had to be good.” He stared into his mug. “She really can’t bear folks to be unhappy, can she?”

“No. But that’s our Kaylee.” She held up her own mug.

“It sure is.” They toasted the young mechanic and fell back into companionable silence.

“So do you ever get drunk?” Jayne asked finally. “I can’t recall ever seeing you drunk. Least, not when I was sober enough to remember.”

“Occasionally.”

“You a happy drunk or a miserable one?”

“Middling. Sometimes I even get belligerent. But mostly I just smile a lot.”

“Wanna get drunk now?”

“Sounds … inviting, but I think I’ll pass.”

“Ok. Your loss. But next planetside, you and me, we go and get out of our minds.”

“How can I refuse such a gracious invitation?” Freya smiled and held out her mug for a refill.

Jayne grinned and poured. “So how about a game instead?” He tapped the cards.

“Sure. Just not strip anything.”

“That ain’t fair.”

---

Mal kicked the table and Freya woke up. At least, she managed to pry her eyes open. “Something you want to tell me?” he asked, looking down at her.

Freya looked around. She was on the sofa in the alcove, covered by her shawl. She sat up, grabbing at the brocade to stop it falling off and uncovering her.

“Aw, hell, Mal, nothing happened.” Jayne, at the other end of the sofa, stood up, pushing Freya’s feet, which had been in his lap, to the floor. “Like it ever would.”

“Really? You want to corroborate that fact?” Mal asked Freya.

Freya nodded. “Apart from the fact that Jayne now has to give me all his money for the next three jobs, it’s true.”

“What?” Mal looked lost.

“We played cards. I won.”

“I still don’t see how you could win all the time without cheating,” Jayne complained, scratching his face and emerging stubble around his goatee.

“Because she’s good,” Mal pointed out. “And you should know better than to play her.”

“Yeah, well, I do now. ‘N’ I thought it was only Hank was good at fleecin’ folks.” Jayne wandered off towards the shuttle, wondering whether River had noticed he’d been out all night.

“What time is it?” Freya asked.

“Nearly time for breakfast. Good job I came through first – hate to think what the rest of the crew would have thought. Especially of you laying there like that.” He fingered the shawl.

“I fell asleep.”

“Out here.”

She looked up at him, then glanced at the table. “Well, we were drinking …”

“Drinking and playing cards.” Mal shook his head and crossed his arms. “You’re sure there’s nothing I need to know?”

“Absolutely positive.”

“Good. I had a notion you had more taste than that.” He smiled, and sat down next to her. “Couldn’t sleep again?”

Freya nodded. “Bad dreams.”

“You should’ve woken me. I’d’ve helped.”

“I know. But you looked so peaceful. And you needed it.”

“Hmn.” He put his hand on her thigh. “Can’t remember what they were?”

“Nope. Just that I didn’t want to go back to them.”

“You should speak to Simon. He could give you something to help, maybe get you to understand ‘em.”

“Perhaps.”

“Don’t go thinking that was a suggestion.”

“No, sir, captain.” She stood up quickly, saluting, the shawl falling from her skin. “Mind if I go and get dressed now?” Her flesh jiggled delightfully.

“I don’t know about that. I was just admiring the view.” He reached out to touch her, but she backed away, turning to walk towards the bunks, holding the shawl to cover her breasts.

“Frey, is Mal – whoa.” Hank took a step back at the sight of a half-naked woman wandering Serenity’s corridors.

“In there.” Freya nodded over her shoulder, climbing down the ladder into her and Mal’s bunk, and letting the shawl slip from her skin, her flame bright.

“Right.” He stood still a moment, then hurried through to the dining area. “Mal, we’re about three hours out from Parth. I need to know where you want me to park, ‘cause if it’s not in the Port we’re soon gonna be on their radar.”

Mal turned from the cupboard where he was removing a mug. “Any activity in that asteroid belt we’ll be passing?”

“None that I can see.”

“How long ‘til we reach it?” Mal poured a cup of coffee.

“Couple of hours, bit more. We can keep it between us and the planet, make it easier.” Hank kept glancing back over his shoulder. “Though I’ve had to reduce our speed because of the traffic around here.”

“Then we’ll hide there, use the shuttle to move in. Set a course.”

“No problem.” Hank paused. “That was Freya half naked out there, wasn't it?”

Mal sipped his coffee. “You were hallucinating, Hank.”

“Right. Have to watch that.”

“Yeah. Not good for you.” Mal smiled at him and walked past back towards the bunks. “Zoe wouldn’t like it.”

“I’m married, Mal,” Hank’s voice followed him. “Not dead.”

to be continued

COMMENTS

Thursday, August 28, 2008 12:27 AM

AMDOBELL


Sometimes I think Hank has the best lines. I hope River had some inkling of whatever forboding that Frey had, and typicaly, can't remember having when it woke her from her sleep. I have a feeling I know exactly where those Reavers are heading because that's the sort of diabolical luck our crew would have. Am really interested in who and how they were diverted from their course though, that bespeaks a much darker intelligence. Creepy. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, August 28, 2008 2:47 AM

SLUMMING


Interesting stuff here, Jane. I'm hooked.

Thursday, August 28, 2008 8:36 AM

KATESFRIEND


Everyone was amazingly in character in this fic. Mal's sudden anger at Simon was so like Firefly - it was so refreshing to see. Why did River think she should have 4 hands? Waiting eagerly for more.


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