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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. More conversations, mostly about children, but River lets a secret out. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1778 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Kaylee couldn’t wait any longer. They’d been gone from Whitefall almost a full day, she’d thrown up twice, and fixed a dozen small things needed fixing. And she’d obeyed Simon’s wishes that she not go and talk to his parents.
Not that it was without ... discussion.
“If’n I don’t meet ‘em, how do I know what they think of me?” she’d asked, pushing back a strand of hair where it had come loose from her ponytail.
Simon stood in the doorway to the engine room. “Kaylee, I … I don’t want you to feel … bad.” He knew it was an excuse, and she knew it too.
“They might like me.” She smiled, wiping her hands on the cloth at her waist. “There’s nothing wrong with me, is there?”
“No, no, Kaylee, bao-bei, there’s nothing wrong with you,” he said quickly, crossing the threshold and putting his hands on her shoulders. “Nothing at all.”
“Then why –“
“It’s not you, Kaylee. It’s them. I don’t know how they’re going to react.”
Her eyes narrowed a little. “But you just said there’s nothing wrong with me.”
He sighed. “Kaylee, please, I really don’t need an argument right now. Just trust me. It’ll be a few days and they’ll be gone, and we won’t need to think about them any more.” He’d dropped a kiss on her mouth, then headed back downstairs, leaving her staring after him, biting at her lip.
Simon had good reason to hate his parents, and she understood that, but this was getting a bit absurd. Even Jayne had met them, for Buddha’s sake, albeit briefly, and surely that was more of a shock than it would ever be to meet her. And from what Freya said, Bethie and the other children had been something of a hit with the older Tams, and Kaylee knew her little daughter wouldn’t make friends with people who were in any way suspect.
Dinner that night had been easy – Regan had stayed with Gabriel in the infirmary, Freya taking a tray down to them both, so Alex was the only extra face at the table.
He’d told some stories about when the Rostov twins were young, stories that his sister took great pains to insist weren’t true, but the slight blush that ran across her cheeks suggested otherwise, and Mal made everyone laugh by asking River to borrow one of her pencils, as he wanted to make notes.
Next day, as well, Kaylee had her list of jobs, augmented by a couple from Hank that meant it was well into what passed for afternoon on board ship before she even had a chance to think about her parents-in-law. And they were, no matter what Simon said. It just wasn’t fair.
She sighed, turning back to the environmental controls. They were running hot, trying to get to Hera as soon as possible, and it put other systems under pressure. Serenity wasn’t exactly new, and if one thing went it usually meant some kind of cascade, and she didn’t want to be the one who told the Cap that they needed a replacement catalyzer or anything, so she crawled back under the board and carried on working.
But it was too much to take. Her list took her finally to the common area, where the passenger shower was playing up, and she’d unconsciously left it until last. It had only taken a little application of a wrench and a few choice swear words, and it was running fine, and she smiled as she left the small room, but it faltered when she saw Regan sitting in the common area, her hands clasped around a mug of tea.
Sliding the wrench into the long pocket on her coveralls, she licked dry lips and walked forwards. “Hi,” she said, as bright a look on her face as she could muster.
Regan looked up. “Hello.”
“Are you … are you okay?”
The older woman dragged a smile up. “I’m fine. What is it that you say? Shiny? I'm shiny.”
“Only you don’t look it.”
The smile became more honest. “Do I really look that bad?”
“No, no. Not at all. Tired, maybe.” Kaylee grinned. “But not bad.”
Regan laughed. “Thanks. I think.”
Kaylee couldn’t hold it back any longer. “Can I … you saw them?” she asked, her hands clasped tightly in front of her. “You saw my babies?”
“You’re Kaylee?” Regan really looked at her this time, taking her in, from the grease on her face to the teddy bear appliqué, right the way down to the sandals on her feet.
The young mechanic felt a blush burn up her skin, knowing she was being appraised, and she pushed ineffectually at her hair, trying to make a better impression than the one she was afraid she was giving. “I …” She cleared her throat. “Yes. I'm … I'm Kaylee.”
“I’m pleased to meet you,” Regan said, standing up and holding out her hand.
“Oh, no, you don’t wanna do that,” Kaylee said, taking a step back. “I'm covered in engine oil, and you don’t want to get it all over your –“ She had to stop, because Regan had grasped her fingers.
“Yes, I do.” She smiled. “A little oil isn’t going to hurt me.”
“Then I’d better find you something to clean it off with.” Her free hand darted around her waist, trying to find a rag that was a bit cleaner than the others.
“I'm fine, Kaylee.”
“Oh.” Her lips twitched. “Okay, Mrs Tam.”
“Is that what you’re going to call me?” Regan asked. “Only it seems a bit formal.”
“I … I don’t know yet,” Kaylee admitted.
“No, of course not. You’ll want to talk to Simon, see what he thinks.”
“No, it ain’t that.” She was flustered, not at all sure she understood this woman. She certainly didn’t seem anything like the way Simon had described her. “I just … it’s gonna take me a while to work it out.”
“Then why don’t you call me Regan for the moment? It’s my name, and it doesn’t suggest any relationship that might be difficult.”
“Okay.” Kaylee’s kind heart went out to this woman. “It’s a nice name.”
“Thank you. I was named for my maternal grandmother, in the hope that she’d leave me all her money.”
“Not a penny. It turned out she’d spent it on alcohol and wild times with young men a third of her age.” She pulled the young mechanic down to sit next to her on the sofa.
Kaylee’s eyes widened, following her. “She didn’t.”
Regan smiled. “Well, no, but I think she wished she had.”
“You’re awful,” Kaylee reprimanded, but with no heat in it.
“I had to have something to keep me occupied during the long Osiran nights. I used to make up all sorts of stories about my family, terrible things that they’d done and got away with because of their status.”
“You didn’t …”
Regan smiled wider. “I did. I seem to recall telling the servants some of it, and finding it got back to the people involved, and there was a terrible fuss.”
Kaylee was intrigued. “How old were you?”
“Oh, about ten. I think I got into trouble for it, but my father thought it was funny, so he didn’t punish me that badly. I think I got grounded for a few weeks, but that was all.” She laughed again. “Anyway, I like the name Kaylee.”
The young woman grinned. “It’s Kaywinnet, really. I was named after an aunt, though. Kaywinnet Lee Frye that was, ‘til Simon asked me to marry him.” She grinned wider, this time remembering the wedding, both of them. “A’course, I had to chase him a long time before he caught me, if you know what I mean. Not that I made him marry me, or anything,” she added quickly, in case she’d given the wrong idea. “He was the one had to keep asking.”
Regan smiled. “Yes. Simon always was persistent when there was something he wanted very desperately.”
Kaylee blushed again. “I don’t know ‘bout that.”
Regan squeezed her hand. “I do.”
She changed the subject, pushing away the traitorous thought that if Simon had wanted her that desperately he wouldn’t have spent most of the first year putting his foot firmly into his mouth. “And you did see Bethie? And Hope?”
“I did.” Regan sighed. “They are so beautiful.”
“I know.” Kaylee swallowed back the lump that had become wedged in her throat. “It seems like so long since I've seen them, and to know you’ve …” She had to stop.
“Would you like to see something?” Regan asked, reaching into the purse at her feet. “Gabriel says I shouldn’t have it, but I don’t care.” She lifted out a capture. “Your friend Inara gave it to me.” She pressed play.
Kaylee sat entranced, watching all the children playing, pressing play again when it finished so she could enjoy it once more. As it ended, she looked up. “Thanks,” she whispered.
“Bethie told me you’re pregnant again,” Regan said, smiling.
“Yep. Not too far along, least not so you can see, but ...” Kaylee grinned and patted her stomach. “Finally.”
Regan raised her eyebrows. “Oh? Was there a problem?”
“Simon was sick.” The look on the older woman’s face made her hurry on quickly. “Not like that, but ... he caught something made him sterile.”
Regan’s hand flew to her mouth. “No.”
“When he found out, he tried ... stuff ... to make it better, but nothing worked.” The memory of her husband hanging over the toilet and throwing up after taking that medicine made her shudder internally. “’Cept my Ma gave him some special tea, and he’s been drinking it off and on. And it seems it works.” The grin came back.
“And does Simon look on Hope as his own?”
Kaylee nodded vigorously. “All of us do. There ain’t a one on board would have to think for a mo if you asked such a thing of ‘em. Hope’s our baby girl, just as much as Bethie.”
Regan ran her tongue over her lips. “Kaylee, I know Simon hates us, and he has every right to. But … I carried him. Him and River. Nine months, through all the morning sickness, the swollen ankles, the backache, the … the sheer exhaustion of twenty hours of labour with him, and not much less with her. No matter what he thinks, he’s my son. And you’re my daughter-in-law. And I am so glad I have the opportunity to get to know you, even if it’s only a little bit.”
Kaylee was almost speechless. “But Simon said –“
“That we’d be snobs?” Regan nodded. “I think perhaps we were. But things change. People change, if they want to. Sometimes willingly, and sometimes because it’s forced on them. And I’m not going to promise that there still aren’t things you won’t like about us. But we’re sorry.” She glanced into the infirmary where Gabriel was sleeping. “Both of us. Sorry for what we did and said, didn’t do and didn’t say. We’re sorry.”
Kaylee knew she was a soft touch when it came to other people’s emotions. She’d been told it often enough, but couldn’t see why she should change. She didn’t now, even though she’d noticed Simon standing just outside in the cargo bay. With her eyes brimming, she pulled Regan into a hug that the older woman resisted for a moment, then allowed herself to return.
Simon waited until he could follow her back into their room before confronting her. “So you ignored me.”
Kaylee looked around from the mirror where she was trying to rub off some of the grease. “Had things needed saying.”
“Kaylee, I asked you –“
“And I listened. But I think I got the right to make up my own mind, don’t I? I mean, that’s what a marriage is about, ain’t it? Give and take?”
“Absolutely. But –“
“And that’s what I did. Made up my own mind.”
She faced him. “Simon, why won’t you talk to them?”
“You know why.” His tone was low, flat.
“But Hope’s our little girl, and I never –“
“I don’t intend to discuss this!” He turned on his heel and strode out.
Kaylee sighed. He could be so gorram stubborn when he wanted.
Unlike the night before, dinner was strained. Even though, once again, his parents weren’t there, Simon ate quickly but didn’t say much beyond “Pass the bread, please.” As soon as he could, he excused himself from the table, leaving them all looking at each other.
“I take it he didn’t approve,” Freya said softly.
Kaylee shrugged, trying not to let the pain show on her face. “Seems not.” She wasn’t surprised that the older woman knew.
“You talked to his kin?” Mal asked, his face gentle, kindly.
“To Regan.” Kaylee pushed her plate away, her food hardly touched. “I know what they did, but …” She stopped as a tear ran down her cheek.
“You want I should go beat him up for you?” Jayne suggested. “Make him see sense?”
“No. But thanks for offering.”
“Wouldn’t work,” River put in, moving her own food around. “His skull’s too thick.”
Mal shook his head. “Thought you’d be the first to agree with your bro.”
She lifted her eyes briefly. “I see things … differently.”
“Seems that way, xiao nu.”
“Give him time,” Freya advised. “Even if it’s the wrong one, it’s his decision.”
“But what if it is the wrong one?” Kaylee asked, wiping her face on her sleeve. “Like they said, his Pa ... Gabriel’s dying. If he don’t do it now, he ain’t likely to ever get the chance to say goodbye.”
Out of the corner of his eye Mal saw Alex glance at Freya, and knew why. Despite his own advice, she’d taken the opportunity to speak to her father just before he died, and it had had a liberating effect, cleansing her of a lot of pain that she’d carried around since she was so very young. He cleared his throat, focusing back on Kaylee. “Mei-mei, Frey’s right. Best thing you can do right now is let him stew on it a while. But you know that, whatever he decides, you gotta be behind it. When this foolishness is done with, and they ain’t on board no longer, you still gotta live with him.”
“Are you saying I can't try and change his mind?”
“Nope. And you wouldn’t be Kaylee if you didn’t.” He saw her lips twitch, and felt relieved. “Just ... do it gently. He’s a man, remember. We ain’t good at dealing with things like emotions. Just ask any woman.”
“Ain’t that the truth,” Zoe agreed, earning an odd look from Hank.
“You really think that?” Hank asked, closing the hatch above him. Everyone had voted for an early night, and after checking the con one last time he’d turned the lights down and followed Zoe into their bunk.
“What?” She removed the clip at the nape of her neck, letting her hair loose to fall into its sumptuous curls across her shoulders.
“That men can’t handle emotions.”
She looked over at him, idly noting his untidy brown hair needed a trim, even as she also noted the concern on his face. “Does it matter?”
“A bit,” he conceded. “Are we really so dense?”
Sitting down on the bed, Zoe shook her head. “Not really. But I think they make you uncomfortable, so you tend to hide them under bluster.”
“Me specifically, or are we talking about the general male population?”
“Pretty much generally.”
“Because I think I’m pretty good at handling emotional women. I’ve got badges in it.”
She smiled. “You’ll have to show me some day.”
He crossed the room and kneeled down in front of her, leaning his forearms on her thighs. “Is this all still about Newhall?” He felt her stiffen. “Because I know you haven’t quite got back to trusting me yet, but I am trying. Like Sam said, one day at a time.”
She gazed into his grey eyes. “Maybe it is.”
“I have a gambling problem. An addiction.” He wondered when it was going to get easier to admit to, but maybe that was the point. It should never be easy, otherwise it would be equally easy to go back on his word.
“I know.” She lifted a hand and stroked his cheek.
“But I’ve got you and Ben to keep me on the straight and narrow.”
She smiled. “And I apologise.”
“You do? What for?”
“Implying you can't handle emotions. I think you do it pretty well.”
“Told you. Badges. And certificates.” He grinned and stood up.
“Maybe we should get them framed.”
“Good idea.” He glanced at the closed door to Ben’s room. “Do you think they’re having fun?” he asked wistfully, pausing in the unbuttoning of his shirt.
“With Inara to spoil them? Let alone Mrs Boden’s cooking. I doubt they’ll want to come home.”
He stared at her. “You don’t mean that.”
She moved closer to him, putting her hands on his. “No. Not one word. As much fun as it is, running around in the open air, playing with the dogs, they’ll be missing us as much as we’re missing them.”
“That much, eh?”
“And the cat. Don’t forget Maoli.”
“As if I would.” She leaned closer and pressed her lips to his.
Jayne had grabbed a quick shower, always preferring to get clean when there was less likelihood of anyone – particularly Hank – catching him and commenting. Not that they would any more, but it was a habit he didn’t see the point in breaking. Stepping back into the shuttle he could see River sitting cross-legged and naked on the bed, her sketchpad on her knees, her pencil working quickly, although her gaze seemed to be out beyond Serenity’s hull.
“What’s up, Riv?” he asked, pulling the towel from around his waist and hanging it up to dry.
“There’s more,” she whispered, finishing and turning the page even as he watched.
She wasn't even looking at him, just firm strokes of the pencil across the surface of the paper. “They know more.” She pressed too hard and the point broke. She glared at it angrily, tossing it to one side and picking up another.
It took only a couple of steps to be at her side. Gently he pushed the pad down with one hand, taking the pencil from her with the other. “River, honey … control.”
She hissed at him and grabbed for the pencil, but he kept it out of her reach. “Mine,” she whispered, lunging again for it.
“Moonbrain …” He did what he still found so difficult – he opened up his mind to her. River.
She stared at him, then seemed to shrink into herself as if she only now realised where she was. “Jayne?”
“I'm here.” He picked her up, wondering if it was his imagination that she seemed lighter than usual. Turning, he sat down, letting her wrap herself around him. “You dreaming?”
“No,” she admitted. “But I thought I was.”
“That Mara again, ain't it?” He rocked her gently.
“I don’t know. Some, I think, but not all.” She clung to him.
“You said there’s more, that they know more. Who?”
“My parents.” She had begun to shiver, her naked form showing goosebumps in the dim light.
He rubbed her back, trying to warm her up. “Bad stuff?”
“They know more.”
“Does Mal need to hear this?”
She nodded, her thumb travelling towards her mouth but staying on her lip. “Yes.”
“Then we’d better go see him, don’t ya think?”
“Is it important?”
She bit her lip. “Yes.”
River concentrated a moment. “Yes.”
A thought occurred to the big man, and his face took on a faint look of disgust. “They ain’t doing what I think they’re doing, are they? ‘Cause I don’t think Mal’s gonna take too kindly to being interrupted in mid –“
“No. They’ve finished. They’re just talking.”
“Then he ain't gonna mind. Well, not too much.” He stood up, her still in his arms. “Better put some clothes on, though. Frey might not mind, but I ain't walking ‘round Serenity in my birthday suit.”
Freya stood in the doorway to the nursery, her arms crossed over her breasts. “I miss them,” she said quietly.
Mal roused himself from the post-coital malaise that threatened to make him sleep. “So do I, ai ren.”
“I know.” She glanced over her shoulder at him, the mussed hair and half-closed blue eyes making her smile. “You think they’re missing us?”
He got up, crossing the small room to stand behind her, his warmth against her back. Snaking his arms around her waist, he laid his hands palm-flat on her belly. “You tell me.”
“They are,” she agreed. “Ethan wants to come home. He thinks his place is here, on board ship.” She sighed. “The day you decide you want us to retire, he’s going to be calling himself captain before you’ve even managed to get the words out.”
Mal laughed, and she could feel the vibration through her.
“Frey, I ain’t ever intending retiring. Couldn’t afford it.”
“But if you did. Where would you like to set up home?”
He pondered a moment, then said, “Phoros. The Fryes are right nice folks, all twenty thousand of ‘em, and I kinda like the atmosphere there.”
Freya chuckled. “Kaylee will love you forever.”
“Already does.” He winced then grinned as she pinched him.
“But not Persephone? Dillon and Breed would like that.”
“And be close to Badger? Nope. They can come visit instead.”
She leaned her head back on his shoulder. “What about Lazarus?”
Mal shook his head. “That’s Inara’s home.”
“We could still build somewhere of our own.”
He put his head onto one side so he could see her profile. “You been thinking about this? There something you think I should know?”
“No. Not really. Just ... you know, when I can’t sleep.”
“I'm surprised you ain’t suggested Osiris, to be close to your own kin.”
“That’s not my home any more, Mal. This is.”
“Yet you’re talking ‘bout making another someplace else.”
“One day,” she pointed out. “And not for a very long time yet.”
“Then maybe I’ll change my mind. There’s perhaps a place better suited to us.”
She turned in his arms so she could look into his face, pressing her body against his. “Oh? Where’s that?”
He reached up and stroked her cheek. “Prometheus.”
She didn’t answer straight away, making him worried he’d said the wrong thing, reminded her of the daughter they’d never got to see, but then she smiled. “Yes. That would be good.”
“Prom it is, then. Eventually.” He dropped his head and kissed her gently, feeling his body beginning to respond again.
Except someone was knocking on the hatch, opening it almost immediately.
“Mal, you down there?” Jayne’s voice filled the bunk.
“No, I'm dancing a jig on Londinium. Where the hell do you think I’d be?” Mal asked in turn, more than a little waspishly.
The ex-mercenary didn’t take offence. “Think you’d better get some clothes on and get up here. River says it’s important.”
Mal looked into Freya’s brown eyes, and she nodded. “Two minutes,” he called.
The infirmary was empty, and Mal turned to look at River.
“Simon put Father into one of the guest rooms,” she explained, somewhat sheepishly. “I didn’t think to say.”
The young woman didn’t answer, but led the way towards the far quarters.
“Where is Simon?” Freya asked. “The mood he was in I doubt he’s gone to bed.”
“Using my weights,” Jayne answered. “I think he’s tryin’ to wear himself out. Boy’s still angry.”
Mal shook his head. “I conjure that ain’t likely to improve in the next few minutes?”
“Unlikely,” River agreed.
“Then we won’t interrupt. It might be better the fewer people listening anyway.” He stopped outside an open door.
Gabriel looked up from the book he was reading. “Captain Reynolds.”
“I thought we’d decided on first names,” the older man said with a smile.
“That was before River here told me you were still keeping secrets.”
Mal nodded, just once. “Glad to see you ain’t denying it.”
“How could I? With a psychic for a daughter?”
“It’s a step in the right direction, but that’s all it is, a step. You’ve got further to go than that.”
“Oh, I know, Captain.” Gabriel sat up more. “And you’re right. I haven’t – quite – told you everything.”
“Then I think you’d better start.”
to be continued
Thursday, October 30, 2008 5:04 AM
Thursday, October 30, 2008 6:39 AM
Thursday, October 30, 2008 12:13 PM
Thursday, October 30, 2008 12:30 PM
Thursday, October 30, 2008 4:06 PM
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