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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. The Tams learn about Jayne, and there are goodbyes. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1811 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
They talked for a few minutes about nothing of importance, careful not to skirt too close to the subject of what that Tams might be guilty of again. But they discovered they had a couple of acquaintances in common, and Regan was almost animated as she imparted a piece of juicy gossip.
“I really didn’t know he was capable,” she said, sitting forward, her knees tight together.
“Nor I.” Inara smiled. “Bella must be furious.”
“Well, from what I can ascertain, they haven’t slept in the same bed since that night.”
“Hell hath no fury …”
They laughed gently, and Inara felt it safe to broach another delicate subject.
“Regan, your husband … he’s sick, isn’t he?”
“Yes.” Mrs Tam looked down into her half-empty cup, suddenly no longer thirsty. “Yes, he is.”
“I'm so sorry.”
“So am I.” Regan sighed heavily. “Gabriel and I have lived separate lives for some years, and I only came back when I heard he was ill. From a third party, no less. He would never have told me.”
“Too stupid.” She smiled a little. “No. Pride it was. But he needed someone to look after him, make sure he did what the doctors said. After all, a wife’s place is at her husband’s side.”
Despite her words, Inara got the impression that wasn't the only reason Regan had returned to her husband. “In sickness and in health,” she murmured, echoing one version of the marriage vows she had yet to take.
“Well, we’ve gone through the ‘for richer, for poorer’ part.” Regan shook her head. “Gabriel is a self-made man, and he saw his mission in life, at least at first, as acquiring wealth. Perhaps that’s …” She paused, biting back on what she wanted to say, instead finishing with, “But we married for love.”
“And now he’s sick.”
“Very.” Regan saw the younger woman glance towards the door, and understood. “It’s nothing contagious. It’s genetic.”
“Is that why you decided to go with donors for your children? So as not to pass it on?”
“I couldn’t have children, but … yes, we both took the conscious decision not to burden them with the possibility.”
Inara sipped her tea, now almost cold. “And how is his heart?”
Regan looked surprised. “Excuse me?”
“Is he susceptible to heart trouble? From a shock, perhaps?”
Regan’s confusion was growing. “I don’t understand.”
“Only I think there’s something I need to tell you.”
“I feel odd in breaking this to you, but I’m sure Bethie isn’t going to be able to keep quiet much longer …” Inara took a deep breath. “The baby, Caleb.”
Regan’s mouth fell open. “River? But she’s a child. How can she –“
“She’s a grown woman. A married woman.”
Now all colour leached from Regan’s face. “Married?” she whispered. “My little girl?”
“Regan, she was fourteen when you saw her last. For her, a lifetime ago. She’s been through so much, seen things, done things … you can’t imagine.” An image flashed into Inara’s mind, of River standing over a pile of dead Reavers, blood dripping from an axe, but she pushed it ruthlessly away. That wasn’t something she was about to share.
“But married? With a … a baby?” This was almost too much. First Simon, married to a mechanic on board a Firefly, now her little girl with babies of her own …
“Breathe, Regan,” Inara urged, patting her hand. “Breathe.”
Regan drew in a ragged lungful of air, still shaking her head. “I don’t believe it.”
“I can assure you it’s true. Her name’s River Cobb now.”
“Cobb?” Automatically her brain went through all the people she knew, trying to come up with a match, but after a moment she told herself to stop being stupid. This man, this … husband of River’s … wasn't likely to be anyone in her circle.
Inara took a breath herself. “His name’s Jayne Cobb.”
“Jayne …” Regan didn’t think she could be more surprised, and was wrong. “Isn’t that a girl’s –“
“Oh, I don’t think you want to go down that particular route,” Inara advised. “All you need to know is that he’s River’s husband, and he loves her with a pure passion.”
“Can passion be pure?”
“His is.” No matter what his occupation, Inara thought privately. “He loves her for what she is, and always will.”
“And not for what she was?” Regan’s astuteness was revealing.
Gabriel burst into the small drawing room, having run faster than he had moved in years, Dillon and Breed right behind him. “Regan, did you know?”
Regan looked up. “About River? I just found out.”
He dropped onto the couch. “I don’t believe it. Married. With a … a baby boy.”
Bethie pushed past Dillon‘s legs, and immediately went to the open cookie tin, picking it up and wriggling into one of the armchairs. “Grandpa,” she said, as if in total explanation of the events.
Sam walked through the open doorway, carrying Caleb, Hope holding tightly to his free hand. “I thought you might like to meet your other grandchildren,” he said, smiling slightly.
Regan gathered herself, standing up to take the baby from him, settling him surprisingly naturally onto her hip. She looked into blue eyes, and Caleb gurgled happily at her. “My, aren’t you a handsome boy?” she murmured.
Caleb patted her cheek.
“And who’s this?” Gabriel said, sitting forward on the couch and extending a hand to the other little girl.
Sam nudged her gently, and she walked forward, slipping her tiny fingers into his. “Hope,” she said softly, smiling very shyly.
Gabriel took in her short blonde curls, her angelic expression. “You don’t look like your sister,” he observed.
“Hope’s ‘dopted,” Bethie said, her mouth full of cookie. “Her momma died, and Uncle Mal said we could keep her.”
“You mean he made Simon –“
Bethie gave him a look, one he recognised all too well from the times he recalled seeing River give it to Simon. “Daddy wanted to. So did Momma. Hope’s my sister.” She spoke slowly, as if explaining it to someone feeling particularly obtuse.
Gabriel could barely take it in. He looked up at his wife, still holding Caleb and rocking him gently backwards and forwards, then back at Hope, her thumb inching towards her mouth.
“Hope’s a talented artist,” Inara said quietly. “Even at her tender age. You would be amazed.”
“I am already,” he agreed. “That my son has children … and River …”
“It’s a lot to take in.”
“It is that.” He shook his head. “Run-tse duh fwo-tzoo, this makes me even more sure we’re doing the right thing,” he added. “We have to get to Simon, to his friends. Warn them.”
“What about?” Dillon asked. “You still haven’t said.”
“And I don’t intend to, not until we’re safely in space.”
Breed glanced around the room. “You think we might be overheard?”
“Have you checked?” Gabriel gestured with both hands. “The Alliance made a mess, that’s true, but there’s no guarantee they didn’t leave anything.”
“You think –“
“No. But I'm of the same opinion as Alex. Paranoia tends to make you live longer.”
“Then we talk outside.” Dillon crossed his arms. “No-one’s going anywhere until I know what the diyu is going on.”
“Mustn’t swear,” Bethie said automatically.
Gabriel got to his feet. “I'm not trying to tread on your toes here. I know these are your friends, not mine. But what I have to say … it’s honestly better if I wait to tell everyone all together. Then if anything happens, you can honestly deny that you knew anything.”
“Don’t you think I should be allowed to make that choice myself?” Dillon asked.
Regan sighed. “Don’t even bother trying to persuade him. When Gabriel gets a bee in his bonnet, he can be the most insufferably stubborn hutu dan I've ever met.”
Everyone stared at her, then at Gabriel, who shocked most by laughing. “My dear, I think you know me far too well.”
“You know, all of this is moot anyway,” Alex said. “We have no idea where Serenity is.”
“I do,” Bethie said, spraying crumbs from the cookies she was still filching from the tin.
They all looked at her in surprise.
“You do?” Breed asked, going down onto his knees next to her. “Dare I ask how?”
“Saw Auntie Frey’s thoughts.” She giggled, wiping at her dress. “Not happy.”
“Are they all right?” Alex asked.
“Shiny. But Auntie Frey was angry at Uncle Mal for a while.”
“Everyone thinks Uncle Mal’s going to get shot .” For some reason she giggled again.
“And this is funny … how?”
Inara took hold of Bethie’s chin, turning it towards her. “Bethie, dearest, where are they going?”
“Whitefall,” she said, knowing that tone of voice was one not to be trifled with. “See Patience.”
The ex-Companion’s eyes widened. “Really?”
“Got a job.”
“Should I know the name?” Alex asked.
Inara stood up, unable to hide the smile playing across her lips. “Let’s just say Mal and Patience tend to have something of a volatile relationship.”
“Then that’s where we need to be,” Gabriel said firmly, straightening his coat into place.
It didn’t take long for arrangements to be made, and it was decided to take Alex’s ship instead of both.
“If the Alliance do drop by again,” Alex explained, “at least they won’t recognise it. And you can say it’s a client.”
“Besides, Callum’s staying,” Dillon added.
Inara wasn't happy. “I don’t need a babysitter.“
Dillon shook his head. “This has nothing to do with you, Inara. I just don’t want to have to explain to Mal how his children and his friends came to be locked up.”
“If you really think something’s likely to happen then we perhaps we should –“
“No. Even worse.”
“You don’t know what I was going to say.”
“You were suggesting you come with us. And you know damn well that isn’t going to happen.”
She was getting annoyed. “Dillon, as much as I like you, you can’t tell me what to do. I'm a grown woman.”
“Then act like one. Mal left the kids with you for a reason. He needs to know they’re safe – well, safer than with them. And Callum’s staying just to make that a bit stronger. He’s very good with a gun, and can fly the ship perfectly well. If need be he can get you all out of here in under ten minutes.” He took her hand. “Humour me, Inara.”
Her eyes narrowed. “You know, you look just like Mal when you do that.”
Dillon laughed. “Only he isn’t sly nor quite as handsome as me.”
“Well, considering the number of times I’ve seen him wear a dress …”
“And me in a permanent relationship. If only I’d known,” Dillon added dryly.
“If nothing else, just to see you trying to suggest that to Mal would be worth it.” She sighed. “But all right. Leave the ship. Callum can pretend to be some bigwig who’s in need of counselling.”
“Something along the lines of inability to consummate his relationships?” Alex suggested, a twinkle in his eye.
“I’ll let you tell him that,” Dillon said, grinning widely.
Regan wasn’t happy to be leaving so soon, though. “Can’t we stay a little longer?” she asked, a rare note of pleading in her voice.
“I’m sorry, no,” Gabriel said. “We’ll barely have time to make it to Whitefall as it is.” But he understood her reluctance, feeling it himself. “You’ll see them again.”
“Will we?” Regan watched Bethie turn a page of the book she was reading to Hope and Caleb. “What if they don’t let us?”
“I know, Regan. But they’re our grandchildren.”
“No, they’re not.” She turned hot, suspiciously moist eyes on him. “They’re those other people’s, and we just bought them.”
He pulled her into his arms in a rare display of physical affection. “And they wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
“I don’t think Simon’s going to consider that’s enough,” Regan whispered from the depths of his chest.
Now Inara was watching the Vanguard take off, and a small part of her wished, despite all the reasoned arguments certain people had put forward, that she was going too. Not entirely from any sense of loyalty to Mal, either. If truth be told, she really wanted to be a fly on the wall when the Tams met their son-in-law.
“Uncle Jayne will be good,” Bethie said, standing next to her.
“I hope so.” Inara couldn’t help but smile, though. “You’ll let me know what happens?”
“Bad to peek,” the little girl admonished.
“What, even a teeny tiny bit?”
“Well …” Her grin widened. “If you ask me to …” she added slowly. “If you ask.”
Ethan ran out of the house behind her, swerving past, the dogs barking furiously at the end of their leads. “Going to play, Auntie ‘Nara,” he called over his shoulder as Ben and Hope hurried after him.
Bethie watched them go, until the temptation was too great and she took to her heels as well.
“Don’t go near the lake!” Inara called.
Inara felt a tug at her dress, and she looked down. Jesse, her big brown eyes hopeful, held up her arms. “Play, Auntie ‘Nara?” she asked.
With barely an effort, Inara lifted the youngest Reynolds up onto her hip. “Where’s Caleb?” she asked.
“Ms Boden. Bein’ fed mush.”
“Then would you like me to braid your pretty hair?”
Jesse nodded firmly, said hair falling around her face, and Inara laughed, turning and walking sedately back into the house.
to be continued
Saturday, September 27, 2008 2:01 AM
Saturday, September 27, 2008 2:55 AM
Saturday, September 27, 2008 4:45 AM
Saturday, September 27, 2008 2:17 PM
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