BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Exhibition
Saturday, October 4, 2008

Maya. Very, very post-BDM. A one-shot. The kids are all grown, with kids of their own, and this is just something that wrote itself when I should have been writing Prospero's Legacy (which will be updated soon, I promise!). STANDALONE


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1960    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

Hope Roxanna Mills, nee Tam, stood at the back of the gallery and breathed a sigh of relief. It all seemed to be going well, and she’d heard more than one order for the red dot to be lit next to one of her paintings. It looked as if she was going to be able to eat again. The soft murmur of conversation washed over her from the crowd, but she was just happy people had turned up at all.

“Told you they’d come,” a voice said next to her ear, and an arm snaked around her waist.

She didn’t look up, didn’t need to. Her husband, Ben Mills, had been at her side all evening, even when the podcasts had tried to inveigle him away for interviews to get dirt on the newest art sensation to hit the Core. He’d smiled politely but declined, knowing she needed him more.

“I wasn’t sure. I mean, they’re just doodles.”

“Doodles that are making an obscene amount of money,” Ben corrected.

“You know that’s not why I’m doing it, don’t you?”

He pulled her closer. “Of course. You have to let that talent out or your head will explode.”

She elbowed him in the ribs. “I told you that in confidence.”

“And I ain’t told no-one else.”

She shook her blonde head at his turn of phrase, but would never try and stop him. For all the high praise from the critics, she was still a Rim girl, born and bred on a ship out in the black, and if her husband said ‘ain’t’, or swore in Chinese, then so be it. “You do know half the people here are family, don’t you?”

Ben laughed. “So?”

“I mean it’s not quite the massive turnout you were predicting.”

“’Course it is. And it ain’t the family buying the pictures.”

She had to concede his point and looked up into his grey eyes, beaming at her from his coffee-coloured face. “I’m glad they’re here.”

“Hope, honey, they wouldn’t have missed this for the world.” He nodded towards where Uncle Mal and Aunt Freya were standing in front of one of the large landscapes. Since the discovery of the Kugelman Hoard, none of the crew had ever needed to work again, but it didn’t stop them flying. Uncle Mal had given Hope’s mother carte blanche to upgrade Serenity, and she had attacked it with a will, making her gleam. Secretly Ben missed the way the Firefly used to groan when they entered atmo, but that was just the pilot in him. It certainly meant they all lived longer than they might have.

Mal ran his finger around his collar, pulling it from his neck, and Freya swatted his hand down. He turned to smile at her, his beard just touching her cheek, before Zach, the oldest of their grandchildren, ran up and tugged at his leg, making them follow him.

Aunt River materialised out of the crowd, her long dark hair caught up in a myriad of tiny jewelled clips. “I was never this good,” she said quietly, lifting a hand to stroke Hope’s arm.

“Of course you were.” Hope was affronted. “Your paintings are alive.” She was referring specifically to the one of the crew her Aunt had done when she was pregnant with Caleb that now hung in pride of place in the common area.

“That’s not the same,” River said, turning back to look out over the crowd. “That was magic. This is talent.”

Hope blushed faintly. “I just paint what’s there.”

“And so many can’t even hold a pencil straight.” River chuckled as she saw the bald dome of her own husband out in the sea of people. “I’d better go rescue him, before one person too many jostles him and there’s blood.” She melted into the crowd after Jayne to stop the entrails.

Hope sighed.

“Honey? What is it?” Ben asked, tightening his hold on her.

“I just wish …” Her voice faded.

“That your Ma and Pa could be here?” When his wife nodded, he squeezed a little more. “You know they wanted to, but what with that epidemic out on Corvus, they couldn’t really leave.”

“I know. It’s just … this is my first exhibition. And I so wanted them to see me be a success.”

“Do you really think they don’t know?” Ben pointed to where Ethan and Bethie each held a capture, recording for posterity the admiring looks on the buyers’ faces. “They ain’t gonna be missing a minute, xin gan.”

“I know.” She looked into his loving face. “I know, honestly I do.”

“But it ain’t the same.”

“No,” she admitted.

A small figure barrelled out of the mass of people and ran into them. “Oh, sorry, Auntie Hope,” Eleanor Cobb said, pushing her hair out of her eyes. “Didn’t see.”

Hope went down onto her heels. “You mean you weren’t looking.”

“Maybe.” Ellie grinned, all a six-year old’s enthusiasm glowing from her.

“Where’s your sister?”

“Hiding,” Ellie admitted. “I’m seeking.”

“You know you shouldn’t be playing,” Ben put in. “This is serious.”

“Oh.” She deflated a little. “Sorry.”

Hope put her hand under the little girl’s chin, lifting it. “No. Don’t be sorry. If these people can’t put up with someone having some fun, then we shouldn’t be here. We should be out in the black, where we belong.” She felt Ben put his hand on her shoulder.

“So we can play?” Ellie wanted to get it straight in her mind.

“You can play,” Hope confirmed.

The little girl grinned widely, then ran off in search of her twin to tell her they had permission.

Hope straightened up, and heard Ben chuckled next to her.

“You are going to get a reputation,” he said softly.

“I don’t care. They’re my family. All of them. Like I said, if these folks can’t accept it, then maybe they ain’t the kind of people I want buying my pictures.”

Caleb Cobb pushed past a large woman wearing what looked like the entire output of the diamond mine on Paquin and grinned. “You seen my young’uns?” he asked.

“No,” Hope lied blithely. “Not for a while.”

“All of ten seconds,” Ben breathed in her ear.

Cal caught the sound but not the words, not being psychic like his mother. He took after his father too much, with almost his bulk. “You sure?”

“I expect they’re around.”

“Hmmn.” He wasn’t sure he believed her, mainly from past experience.

“Cal, your wife’s looking for you,” Ben put in, nodding towards the far corner of the gallery.

“Oh, okay.” He straightened up, adjusting his waistcoat. “Better go see what she wants. And if you see the twins, let them know we’ll be going soon. It’s way past their bedtime.”

“Course.”

“Shiny.” He pushed past the sparkling woman again, who glared at him fit to melt carbon, and disappeared.

“That girl rules him with a rod of iron,” Ben commented.

“That girl loves him with all her heart, and he loves her,” Hope corrected him. “I think it’s sweet.”

“That’s because you are. I love you, Hope.” Ben turned her enough so that he could lay a soft kiss on her lips.

“Hey, put her down,” he heard a familiar voice say. “You can’t do that sort of thing in public!”

He turned to see his father striding towards him, his mother shaking her head just a pace behind. “Dad. Mom.” He stepped forward and they embraced. “You’re late.”

Zoe sighed. “I’m surprised we got here at all, the way that boat of ours is playing up.”

“What happened to your mechanic?” Hope asked, taking her own hugs.

Hank managed to look ashamed. “Well, you know how I said he seemed to be watching me all the time …”

Ben burst into laughter. “You mean he really was sly?”

Zoe punched him on the arm. “It ain’t nothing to laugh at. The feller became so mortified when he figured we knew he had a crush on Hank that he ran off. Took all his gear and just left.”

“Sorry, Ma.”

“Luckily we had some help, so we didn’t quite fall out of the sky,” Hank said, smiling broadly.

“Help?” Hope looked surprised, then that look turned to sheer amazement as … “Mama!”

Kaylee Tam ran forward to hug her daughter, her husband following a moment later.

“Oh, baby,” Kaylee said, her eyes wet. “Did you really think I was gonna let you do this without me being here?”

“I thought … but you’re on …”

“Hank came and got us,” Simon said, holding his little girl tightly. “We weren’t going to miss your triumph, Hope.”

“At last,” Captain Mal Reynolds said as he strolled up, his arm around his own wife. “I was thinking you’d decided to take a detour or something.”

“Good to see you,” Freya agreed, leaning forward to place kisses on them both. “You know, you’re really going to have to get your own ship.”

“I know,” Simon said. “And Kaylee keeps telling me the same, but … we don’t really have the use for it on Corvus.”

“That don’t mean we ain’t getting one,” his wife said firmly, sniffing hard. “And we ain’t going back without it.”

“Kaylee …” She glared at him until he sighed. “Fine. Whatever you want.”

“Well, I can see who still wears the pants in this relationship,” Mal said dryly, then winced as Freya pinched him.

“How are things on Corvus?” she asked.

“Better, thanks. The vaccine is working, and my partner is more than capable of handling things now.” Simon smiled. He might never have thought, when he started MedAcad, that he’d be a doctor out on the Rim, but he loved being the senior man in his practice. And soon his own son would be joining him.

“Good.” Freya smiled. “I’m so glad to hear it.”

“And maybe now Hope’ll have something more of a smile on her face,” Mal put in.

“I’ve not been that bad,” she said, swatting him herself.

“I keep getting beaten up,” Mal complained.

“Then you should be used to it by now,” Freya said, smiling at him.

“See how I’m treated?” he said to the others.

“Ah, just like old times,” Hank said.

Everyone laughed, then it faltered as Hope put her hand to her mouth.

“What is it?” Simon asked, instantly changing into concerned father mode.

“It’s all right,” Ben said, rubbing his wife’s back. “It’s just morning sickness, only she gets it all hours.”

“You … you‘re …” Kaylee couldn’t get the words out.

“Pregnant,” River supplied, appearing from the crowd, Jayne at her side.

Hope swallowed hard, then nodded. “I wanted to tell you in private.”

Fay-fay duh pee-yen, girl, it ain’t like your aunt didn’t know the moment it happened,” the big man said, running a hand across his polished scalp.

“Jayne,” Mal admonished. “There’s kids about.”

The ex-mercenary shook his head. “A man my age, and I’m still getting told off for saying something like -”

“Then you should know better,” Freya interrupted, taking Kaylee’s arm. “You know, I think we’d better all go and sit down before you faint.”

“I ain’t gonna faint!” Kaylee insisted, but saw the look on her daughter’s face. “But … a sit down would be good.”

A man bustled out of the mass of people. “Oh, hi, Ma. Glad you managed to make it,” David Tam said, somewhat distracted. “Sis, is there a cloth or something anywhere?”

Hope looked at him. “Cloth?”

“Ellie’s managed to knock an entire tray of champagne flying, and it’s gone everywhere.”

Freya chuckled. “Come on,” she said. “Let’s go and find something to clean it up with before we all get bound for making a disturbance.”

Hope watched her Aunt take charge, and sighed happily. What it was to have your family around you …

COMMENTS

Sunday, October 5, 2008 12:53 AM

AMDOBELL


Loved this for at least two big reasons. One, it is brilliant and made me feel all warm and happy. And two, this future fic means you aren't going to kill any of our Big Damn Heroes in your current fic. Ain't that shiny? - Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Sunday, October 5, 2008 3:12 AM

KATESFRIEND


I agree with Amdobell - this means you won't pull a Joss on us, right? I can see how this would write itself. And you're right, it's good to have family around.

Sunday, October 5, 2008 4:33 AM

NCBROWNCOAT


I had a big grin on my face as I read this. Everyone healthy, happy and even with a bit of coin in their pocket.

Sunday, October 5, 2008 5:17 PM

TWILIGHTSEEKER


I like knowing everyone is still close and still with us. Thanks


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