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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. River and Regan do hair, and Simon and Gabriel skirt the issue. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1739 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
“You should have woken us,” Hank complained, turning enough in the pilot’s seat so he could look at the man standing behind him. “I could’ve done with a laugh.”
“Nothing to laugh at,” Mal chided. “Finding out there’s a madman looking for Simon ain’t exactly my idea of fun.” He’d updated the rest of the crew about Quintana’s desire to get hold of Simon at breakfast that morning.
“But we already knew someone was after him, sir,” Zoe said, perched on the edge of the console. “From what Theo said.”
“Oh, I agree. And we ain't no worse off than before by knowing who it is now.” Mal shook his head. “I just wish I’d had the chance to leave him and Kaylee someplace safe.”
“You know they’d never leave,” Hank pointed out.
“Yeah, but I’d’ve felt better for the argument.”
“You want an argument? I can oblige.” Hank ran a hand through his untidy brown hair.
Mal glared at his pilot. “I'm sure you can. Not so sure you can breathe vacuum without a suit, but …”
“Honey, is he threatening me?”
Zoe nodded. “Yes.”
“Oh. Fine. Just so I know.”
She looked back to Mal. “He is right, though. Simon wouldn’t have gone, nor Kaylee. But this does make me feel somewhat uncomfortable about the cargo we’re carrying.”
Mal nodded. “I know what you mean. Been feeling that way myself.” He took a deep breath, exhaling it heavily. “You know, Zoe, I feel like I’m being manipulated, having my strings pulled.”
“They’re just leading me round, making me do what they want, and I’m just following their script.” He shook his head. “Alliance, New Browncoats … I don’t like it. I’d have more control if I had a ring through my nose – least then I could pull back on it.”
Hank stirred in his seat as if he really wanted to make some snarky comment, but luckily he refrained. Zoe’s boot on his foot might have had something to do with it.
“What do you suppose we’re actually carrying?” she asked.
“Don’t know, and neither did Patience. She said she never looked.”
“And you trust her?”
“Not even as far as I could throw her.” He smiled. “But there’s always one way to find out. And it’s not like we’re planning on actually delivering the goods.”
“Good idea, sir.”
They walked down to the cargo bay, finding Jayne working out. He’d just finished his pull-ups and was checking the barbell when all three came down the stairs. “This some kind of outing?” he asked, picking up his towel and wiping his hands on it.
“Nope,” Mal said. “But since you’re here, you can help.” He walked up to the biggest crate. “Open it up.”
Jayne smiled slightly and dropped the towel on his bench.
Between the four of them, it was only the work of a matter of minutes to lever off various lids and sides, bringing the contents into the light of day.
“Cao,” Mal said.
“For once I agree with you,” Hank murmured.
“That what I think it is?” Jayne asked.
“It is,” Zoe confirmed, running her hands over the Alliance flag on the side of the ‘Blue Sun DNA Gene Splicer Mark 3.4 – Ultimatron’, as it very prominently said.
Mal looked at the other equipment they’d uncovered. Each and every one was some high end medical device or other, and one even appeared to be a ViroStim, although of a newer type than they’d acquired. “Cell synthesisers, cryounits …” He felt his gun hand begin to itch. “Just about everything a man needs to start his own species.”
“And I imagine every bit of it stolen,” his first mate added.
He nodded, glancing at her. “I conjure you’re right.”
“But we were going to deliver this to Argos,” Hank pointed out. “There’s a Fed station there. What if we’d been boarded by the Alliance?”
“Then we’d all be bound and charged with smuggling stolen high end goods. And probably with being traitors to boot.” Mal almost laughed humourlessly. “I hear the prisons have improved since the war, and we’d probably have had a goodly long while to experience them. That is, if they didn’t decide to make an example out of us.”
Hank swallowed, remembering his all too close encounter with a hangman’s noose. “But that wouldn’t get them Simon,” he argued.
Mal leaned on the genetic encoder. “Hank, they pinched Mara out from under the noses of the Feds. If Simon got arrested, how long do you think it would be before they managed to get him too?”
“Oh.” Hank subsided a little. “I guess you’re right.”
“So what do we do with it?” Jayne asked. “’Cause if I get a vote I say we put it out the airlock.”
“I don’t know about that,” Mal said. He kicked the gene splicer. “This stuff’s worth a pretty penny.”
“And it’s as good as handcuffs on us.”
Mal was surprised. “In the right place this’d fetch enough to keep you in ammo for half a lifetime. I thought you’d be wanting your share.”
“Not of this.” The big man took a step forward. “Mal, we got troubles coming our way. Don’t go looking for more.”
Mal gazed at his gunhand until Jayne began to feel just a little nervous. “No, you’re right,” he finally said. “But we don’t need to dump it, just leave it someplace safe.” He looked at Hank. “Ain't there a black rock out on the edge of Hera’s orbit?”
The pilot nodded. “Not much bigger than an asteroid,” he confirmed. “Got a whole load of crap circling with it, too. Probably the remains of a moon that didn’t take kindly to terraforming.”
“Lot of that about.” Mal glanced at the equipment again. “Can we get to it easily?”
“Easily, maybe not. But with the right man at the controls we can probably keep from running into something damaging.”
“That would be preferable.” Mal stood straight. “Jayne, get this stuff crated back up. We’ll leave it there and pick it up on the way back.”
“That’s assuming we’re gonna be coming back in one piece,” the ex-mercenary growled.
“Oh, I'm not assuming anything at this juncture,” Mal said, heading for the stairs. “But I live in hope.”
Regan was sitting in the common area, trying to read. It was one of Hank’s novels, the lurid cover professing it to be titled Dangerous Love, with the picture of an alien embracing a rather scantily clad human female. So far there had been no aliens and little in the way of nudity, but there was something intriguingly mind-numbing about it, and she turned the next page.
“I can tell you how it ends, if you like.”
She looked up, seeing River in the doorway to the cargo bay, her hands locked behind her back, her feet bare. “I think I can guess.” She smiled. “Your pilot offered me the pick of his library when I said I had nothing to read.” She glanced down at the woman’s cleavage. “Are they all like this?”
“Yes.” River shrugged. “He likes them, and they cost very little.”
“I'm not surprised.”
“And it’s safer than going onto the Cortex at the moment to download anything.”
Regan told herself off for being surprised. “You read me.”
“Yes. I have to protect my family.”
Now Regan wasn't so much surprised as shocked. “And you think I’m a threat?”
“Not any more.”
“Well, I'm glad about that.” She breathed out slowly. “And yes, I did ask Hank if he could download me a book or two. I've left all mine on Columbine.”
“Better to read Hank’s. Safer. In case anyone is listening.”
Regan coloured slightly. “I didn’t realise people could eavesdrop like that.”
“You haven’t been on the run long enough to make it second nature.”
“I suppose that’s true. And we’re your family too, River.”
“I know.” River looked down at her bare toes, as if she’d come over shy. “Is Simon in with Father?”
“Yes.” Regan nodded, then sighed. “They’re … talking.”
River giggled suddenly, and it was like the sun turned on. “He loves Kaylee,” she said simply, lifting her face, her dark eyes full of mischief.
“I saw that. But I thought I’d better leave them to it,” Regan explained. “It’s difficult enough for your brother, but if I was there as well …”
Regan’s eyes widened in surprise. “River –“
“Just saying.” She put her head onto one side, and for a long moment just stared at her mother, the mischief turning to something like longing, before asking diffidently, “Will you … will you brush my hair?”
“Like you used to. When I was little.”
An image flooded Regan’s mind of a girl going to school in her pinafore and shiny patent shoes, hair in tight pigtails, and for a moment she saw that child in place of the young woman in front of her. She blinked hard. “I didn’t think you remembered.”
“I remember everything.”
Just three words, and Regan felt like her heart was being ripped from her chest. She swallowed painfully. “I'm so sorry, River.”
The young psychic just repeated, “Will you? Brush my hair?”
“Of course,” Regan said, putting the book down onto the table and holding out her arms.
River might be a wife with a baby of her own, but it was the little girl who hurried down the steps and settled on the floor at her mother’s feet, holding up the hairbrush she’d had hidden behind her back.
Regan took it and began to brush through her daughter’s long dark hair. There were some knots, high at the back, and she took time to tease them out, one by one. “Doesn’t Jayne do this for you?” she asked softly.
“Yes. But it gets untidy again if he does.”
Her mother laughed. “And does he make you happy?”
“We are two sides of the same coin. I see myself reflected in him, we complement and confirm, chastise and castigate each other …” She glanced over her shoulder. “And yes. He makes me happy.”
“Then that’s all a mother can ask.”
“Well, perhaps I did want you to have a big house, lots of servants, horses –“
“Horses would have been nice. But I have a home. A family.”
Regan glanced towards the room she and Gabriel were using. “River, sweetheart, can you tell your Captain not to call you xiao nu? Your father was … well, somewhat upset by it.”
“Mother, Simon was right. He came for us when Father wouldn’t have, while Freya has saved me so often. And you keep saying family is more than blood.”
“Do you really feel like that? That the Reynolds’ mean more to you than we do?”
River didn’t answer, and that told Regan more than she honestly cared to know, and she concentrated on making her daughter’s hair shine.
Eventually River stirred. “Why didn’t you believe Simon?” she asked in a neutral voice.
Regan swallowed, debating whether to lie, but realising there wasn't much point. Better to be honest and risk losing her child once and for all. “I … I thought it was a game. Or at least I told myself it was. Your father and I … Gabriel and I … we were having problems, and I didn’t need the added complications of …” She saw the tension in River’s shoulders. “I'm sorry.”
“I know that now. And if I could I’d kill the people who did that to you. I would take your Captain’s gun and shoot every last one.” She started brushing again. “I am so, so sorry, my darling.”
River leaned back against her legs. “You used to do this when I came in from school.”
“And you would sing to me.”
“Not words. Just little bits of music, from ballets and operas … telling me the stories behind them. Will you do it again?”
“River, I –“
Regan looked down at her daughter’s face, gazing up at her, so young and innocent yet with the weight of half the ‘verse on her shoulders. “All right,” she said, and began to hum a melody from her favourite ballet, Swan Lake, as she worked on the hair spread across her lap.
River settled back, her eyes closed, for a while just feeling contentment.
“Who thinks up these names?”
“I don’t know. But it’s the name of the drug I was taking.”
“Did it work?”
“Not … really.”
Simon was sitting, somewhat stiffly, in one of the passenger dorms. His hands were in his lap, and he knew he looked as if he was about to undergo an interview, but that couldn’t be helped. As much as he really didn’t want to be doing this, Kaylee was insistent, and because he loved her here he was, face to face with his father. With Gabriel Tam.
“Why didn’t it?”
Simon took a deep breath. “Kaylee … refused to let me complete the treatment.”
“Why would she do that?”
“It has … unfortunate side effects.” Like tachycardia, dangerously high temperatures …, he thought to himself, adding silently, and making far too intimate an acquaintance with the toilet bowl.
“She was concerned about you.”
“I know. But I was doing it for her, for the second child she wanted.”
“Which she’s now having,” Gabriel pointed out.
“Ah, yes. Hope.”
Simon licked his lips, aware his next words would be hard to say. Still, he was a grown man, and it needed saying. He cleared his throat. “Father, about that … I was being a hypocrite.”
“Not quite.” Gabriel shook his head. “You saw a child in need and decided to make her one of your family. Not quite the same as buying embryos.”
“Close enough. And the why isn’t as important as the fact that Hope isn’t my blood or even Kaylee’s, but we’re still her parents.”
“Then apology accepted.”
“I don’t recall apologising.”
“No. Perhaps not.” Gabriel wanted to smile, to clap the young man in front of him on the shoulder and tell him to stop being such a lu zi, but he knew Simon would never accept it. As it was, they were both sailing very close to talking about the real problem between them, and he wasn’t sure he was ready. Not when they were in the same room, and not actually fighting.
Simon took a deep breath. “Father, I –“
Gabriel interrupted. “Kaylee is an amazing woman.”
His son exhaled. Fine. If he didn’t want to talk about it, then maybe it wasn't the right time. “Yes. Yes, she is. I’m very lucky.”
“The way she looks at you is how your mother used to look at me.” Gabriel spoke almost longingly, as if he was gazing into the past. “At least, when we first met.”
“She was very beautiful,” Simon agreed.
“She still is.” Gabriel allowed himself a small smile.
“Yes. Do you still love her?”
The question surprised the older Tam. “Do I? With all the problems we’ve had, the fact that she left me, went off to do her own thing, live her own life, do I still love her? What do you think?”
Simon felt his lips lift. “I think you love her very much.”
Gabriel laughed. “That I do.”
“That’s … nice.”
“Nice? Oh, Simon, ever the diplomat and damning with faint praise.”
“Don’t be. You’ve got nothing to be sorry about. You saved your sister. I didn’t.”
Simon was aware of the ice cracking under their feet, and this time it was him who didn’t want to venture any further out. “Jayne has had a big hand in that, too.”
“Yes.” Gabriel leaned back, feeling lassitude spreading through his body. “And I must thank him. If he’ll let me.”
“River would like it.”
“Then I’ll speak to him later.” He tried to suppress a yawn.
Simon stood up. “You’d better get some rest.”
Gabriel looked at him, his brown eyes shrewd. “Is that your professional opinion?”
“Then I’ll just take a nap. My son, the doctor, has prescribed it.” He closed his eyes, and in less than a minute was asleep.
Simon watched him for a while, then backed slowly out of the room, closing the door as quietly as possible. As he crossed the common area, he pondered on the fact that they’d skirted around the real issues, more like two associates than father and son. He told himself he shouldn’t feel disappointed, that at least they were talking. And yet suddenly it didn’t seem enough.
He had his foot on the bottom tread of the staircase when he heard a soft voice.
“He’s trying to atone.”
He looked up. His sister sat on the old yellow sofa, her legs drawn up
“It’s too late, River.”
“It’s never too late.” She patted the cushion next to her, then again when he didn’t move. “Until it’s too late.”
He dropped into the seat. “River -”
“I know. I’m a doctor, remember?”
“But even if he wasn’t, if he was in the rudest of health, he’d be here. Trying to stop this from happening.”
He half-turned to look at her. “He abandoned you, River.”
“He was stupid.” She took his hand. “But that was all. He didn’t sell me.”
He stared, knowing that it had been a fear that surfaced in the dark hours of the night, bathing him in a cold sweat as he lay there, afraid his father had sold his only daughter for gain. “You know that?”
She tapped her temple with her free hand. “I know it.”
He had to smile slightly. “You read him.”
“Had to keep everyone safe. To see if it was all true.”
He was serious again. “I can’t forgive him, River. No matter what Kaylee wants, I just can’t. Not just like that. We were his children, yet he thought more of saving face than saving you.”
“He didn’t know. He thought the threat would bring you to your senses.”
“And if I had been bound? Going back into the blackout zone? Would he have come for me?”
“I don’t know,” River admitted. “But neither does he. And it eats at him.”
He noted the shadows under her eyes, the weight she couldn’t afford to lose slipping from her. “And you, mei-mei? Are you eating?”
She knew he was concerned - it rolled off him like a purple fog - but he was also changing the subject. She sighed. “Jayne makes me, but I’m not hungry.” She squeezed her eyes tight shut. “All I can hear is her voice in my mind, calling me.”
He pulled her to him, wrapping his arms around her. “Mei-mei, you only have to ask. I’ve got more of that Heretofen on hand.”
“Perhaps.” But she shook her head. “Although it would dull me, and I need all my senses.”
“But if it hurts -”
She reached up and placed a single slender digit on his lips. “I’ll ask if I need it.”
“You know, you really are a brat, aren’t you?”
She smiled suddenly. “I work hard at it.” She stepped back. “Have to go. Jayne is looking for me.”
“Are you going to find him, or hide from him?” Simon asked, his blue eyes twinkling with mischief.
She swatted him on the pad of his arm. “That isn’t fair.”
“No, and I’m sorry.” Only he wasn’t really.
“He has food.” Her nose wrinkled up, and the resemblance to her niece was striking.
“So hiding it is.”
She hit him again, same place. “Boob.”
“Are you ever going to stop calling me that?”
“Maybe when you’re old and grey.” She flounced past him.
“Are we going to live that long?” he asked before he could stop himself.
“My job,” she said, her face looking over her shoulder at him, her dark eyes full of mystery.
“And it’s Jayne’s to make sure you’re able to do it,” he pointed out. “Go and eat.”
She stuck her tongue out at him, then scampered up the rest of the steps into the cargo bay.
Simon shook his head, wondering just when he’d passed responsibility for his sister on to that great hulking ex-mercenary.
On the stairs going up to the next level, just out of sight, Regan stood, allowing the tears to fall silently, the tray of tea she’d gone to make forgotten in her trembling hands.
to be continued
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 4:18 AM
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 7:48 AM
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 9:49 AM
Wednesday, November 5, 2008 12:05 PM
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