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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. The start of a new story. Kaylee talks to Inara, Jayne thinks about Ezra, and everyone's worrying about Mal. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1973 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Kaylee stepped out of the shower and began to towel off, humming happily. The new filtration unit (well, second hand, actually) was working well, and there was no sign of the faint chemical odour there had been from the recycling system. It also helped, of course, that the tanks were still fairly full, after their visits to Ezra and then on to Beylix and Whitefall.
The Cap had been right, for once – he hadn’t gotten himself shot, but that was quite probably due to Patience being away on business, and her foreman had dealt with everything. Mind, when that same foreman had suggested they wait, since she was due back any time, Kaylee wasn’t sure she’d ever seen the Cap move so fast. They were up and out of atmo ‘fore anyone could even offer them a cup of tea. She smiled at the memory.
Sitting down on the drop down seat she tried to dry her feet. Try being the operative word. Her bump had been getting bigger and bigger, and at just over seven months she was finding things increasingly difficult to reach. Finally getting between her toes, she sat back, letting her hands rest lightly on her son.
Her son. Just the thought that she was carrying a little baby boy made her heart zing. She knew Simon loved their girls to distraction, but a son … didn’t every man want someone to carry on the name after him? All the other men on Serenity had ‘em, from the Cap on down.
Her brow furrowed slightly. Had he felt left out, she wondered? Like he was missing something? ‘Specially when Jayne … She shook her head. No. They were all so close it was like having a whole passel of boys anyway, and he’d got a lot of experience baby-sitting Ethan and Ben, especially before he worked out that Mal had rigged the rota.
Leaning back on the tiles, she chuckled as she remembered Simon’s face. Still, it wouldn’t be long before another little Tam was running around Serenity. Or at least crawling. Well, crying, crapping, puking and sleeping for the first few months.
And according to River, there was another Cobb on the way, too. Not Jayne’s, least, not this time. But Matty’s. River’d said Jayne had a good word to say to his brother about keeping secrets, especially after the talk they had back in the house, when Matty had more or less denied all knowledge. He swore he hadn’t lied, though. Him and Jolene hadn’t talked about having kids of their own. It just … sort of … happened.
Kaylee had to grin. She knew about that sort of happening. It’s how she had Bethie. And not a one of the kids on Serenity had been planned. Hoped for, sure. And Mal was even now wearing himself thin in an attempt to get Freya in the family way again – at least, that’s what he said. No sign yet, though. But Kaylee could see a day when there were so many children on board they wouldn’t be able to move.
Maybe they’d have to buy another ship. For a moment the thought haunted her, then she pushed it away firmly. No, that’d never happen. The Cap would never let go of his Firefly, and neither would she let him. So maybe they’d find someplace on the ground somewhere, maybe near her folks, and take it in turns to live there. Some kind of rotation.
She giggled. Now she really was letting her fancy take her into some strange and unusual places. Standing up she sighed, then grimaced as her son did a lazy somersault inside her, kicking her in the kidneys on the way past.
“That’s enough of that,” she whispered. “I don’t mind you moving around, but trampling on me ain't a Frye’s way of doing things.”
As if to say that he was a Tam, and she wasn’t to forget it, he turned the other way and she saw the tiny imprint of a little foot as he kicked her belly. With a smile that seemed to light up the small bathroom, she touched the spot.
“Are you planning on being in there all day?” Zoe called from outside.
“No, no,” Kaylee said, grabbing her clothes and struggling into them. “Just … I’m coming.” The coveralls didn’t meet across anymore, but her t-shirt just about covered her belly. Slipping into her sandals, she threw open the door to find Serenity’s first mate leaning on the wall, her arms crossed, her lips twitching. “All yours.”
Zoe pushed straight. “I don’t need it. I was more checking that you were okay.”
Kaylee relaxed slightly. “Oh, I’m fine. It’s just … easier to take a shower now. Come time for bed, all I wanna do is fall under the covers and have Simon rub my feet.”
“That bad, huh?”
“No. Not really. River’s version of my Ma’s potion worked a treat, and I ain’t feeling sick no more. Just still needing to pee a lot, and that occasional heartburn …”
Zoe laughed. “I know exactly what you mean.”
“I know I went through all this with Bethie, but that seems like it was so long ago.”
“And would you give it all up?”
“What, and not have this little baby? No way.” She cradled her belly.
“You just hold onto that thought.” Zoe chuckled. “But if you were looking for something to do, Hank was asking if you were going to be able to fix the faucet in our bunk.”
Kaylee’s hand flew to her mouth. “I’d forgotten all about it. I’ll get right on it.”
“No rush. But he was saying it made him want to get up himself half a dozen times during the night, the amount of dripping it was doing.”
“No, I shouldn’t be shirking my responsibilities, just ‘cause I’m pregnant.”
“Is that what you were doing in there?”
“You know River says being pregnant causes most of your brain cells to shrivel up and die,” Zoe pointed out.
“I think she’s right. I ain't got two to rub together at the moment.”
“Then I don’t think you’ve got a choice. You’d better get busy reminding Freya and River how to do things. Maybe get one of ‘em to help you today.”
Kaylee sighed. “I know. And they did good last time, but … it’s just … she’s my girl, you know?”
Zoe understood. Serenity might physically belong to Mal, but if the amount of effort that went into keeping her running had anything to do with it … “It’s all right. I doubt either of them is going to try and take your place.”
“They couldn’t, anyway,” the young mechanic said, hugging her damp towel to her. “Bethie, on the other hand …”
The two women laughed, and Zoe said, “Yes, she does love it in the engine room.”
Kaylee thought for a moment. “Maybe I’ll talk to River. I mean, since Frey’s got teaching duties ‘n’ all.”
“That’s true. Wouldn’t want to interrupt all that educating.”
“Ain't you got no work to do?” Mal asked, walking down the stairs from the upper level. His face was tired looking, almost lined.
“On my way now, Cap’n,” Kaylee said brightly.
“Good. Can’t be having my ship fall out of the sky just ‘cause you two want to stand around jabbering at each other all day.” He eased his back a little.
“Are you okay, sir?” Zoe asked.
“Yeah, I'm fine. Just slept badly, is all.” He looked at Kaylee. “And before you start work there’s a wave for you.”
“But we’re not in range of Lazarus …”
“According to Hank, the signal’s piggybacking off one of those new relays the Alliance put up a few weeks back.” He grimaced. “Filling my sky with junk.” He must have realised how he sounded, because he managed to scare up a grin. “Go on, then. She’s waiting.”
“Here, give that to me,” Zoe said, taking the towel.
Kaylee grinned and hurried up the stairs. “I’ll deal with your faucet straight after,” she promised as she rounded the corner.
“Are you sure you’re okay, sir?” Zoe asked again, turning to her captain.
“Honestly, I'm fine. Just having two young’uns to keep up with makes me feel old, sometimes.”
“Ah.” Zoe followed Kaylee up towards the bridge.
“You’re supposed to say I ain’t old.”
“Well, I would if you weren't walking like a man in his eighties.”
“I ain't that bad!” he called after her.
“Actually, yes, you are.” Simon leaned out of the infirmary. “And I’ve been telling you for days now to come and see me.”
“You have no idea how much I love the people on board this ship thinking they know more about medicine than I do,” Simon said, straight-faced.
“Well, truth is, your sister probably does.” Mal lowered himself onto the old sofa, leaning back into its lumpy support.
“Okay, that one I’ll grant you. But you don’t.”
“I told you, I’m fine. Just running round after Ethan and Jesse. And trying to get ‘em another little brother or sister.” He fixed Simon with a mischievous eye. “So, do you think that tea of yours’d work for me and Frey?”
“I’m not sure it worked for me and Kaylee,” Simon pointed out.
“Your tests not shown you anything?” Mal was referring to the fact that the young doctor had decided to see if there was any medical reason for Ellie Frye’s miracle cure to have actually allowed Kaylee to get pregnant.
“Not so far. At least, they’re inconclusive.” Simon gazed at him with that implacable stare of his. “And you’re not changing the subject. I want to give you a full going over.”
Mal had to smile. “Always knew you were sly really. Just can’t keep your hands off me, can you?”
“Not if we found the Kugelman Hoard and you said I could have it all.”
The smile grew at Simon’s dry tone, joined now by a chuckle. “Doc, I'm shiny. Just slept bad, that’s all.”
“For at least a week.”
Mal’s eyebrows went up. “You keeping track?”
“Of course I am. Mal, I'm your doctor. And, better yet, I'm your friend. I know you.”
“And Frey’s been bending your ear.”
Shaking his head in mock-disbelief, Mal said, “That wife of mine is going to hound me into an early grave.” He closed his eyes.
“She’s trying to keep you out of one.” There was no response. “Mal?” He touched the other man’s shoulder.
“What?” Mal looked up, jerking in his seat.
“Were you asleep?”
“I was just resting my eyes.” At Simon’s look he felt impelled to explain. “Doc, it’s just … like I said, my back’s been aching some, in the night. Stops me having a decent night’s rest.”
“So it isn’t Freya making demands on you.”
“Well, not only that.” Mal stood up, ignoring the weariness that swept through his bones. “Simon, give it a few days. We need to get Badger out of the way first …” He paused, allowing the second meaning of what he’d just said to entertain him for a moment. “Then you can poke and prod me to your heart’s content. Deal?”
“It’s not like I have anything better to do. But then again, neither do you.”
“Sure I do. I got captainy things to occupy my attention. We’ll be on Persephone tomorrow and I need all my wits about me to deal with Badger so we don‘t get gypped. And maybe I’ve just eaten something that disagreed with me, you thought of that?”
“Since we’ve all been eating the same things, I doubt it. And that wouldn‘t account for the tiredness.” Simon crossed his arms. “But all right. You have two days. After that, I’m getting Jayne to drag you into the infirmary so I can do a full physical on you. In the meantime …” He went to a drawer. “I want to take some blood.” Turning back he had a large hypo in his hand.
Mal‘s brow puckered. “Needles?”
“I’ve drawn lots before.” Simon tore open a swab packet.
“Ever thought that might be giving me a phobia?”
“Roll up your sleeve.”
“And if I say no?”
“River’s in her garden. Jayne’s in the cargo bay. Or would you prefer I call Freya?”
“Fine, fine,” Mal muttered, extending his arm and pulling up the fabric. “Call out the big guns, why don’t you?” The cold slick of the swab was replaced by the prick of the needle, and he winced.
Simon watched the blood fill the hypo, waiting until the thick liquid reached the top. “Good.” Using the swab, he covered the site and removed the needle. “Bend your arm and keep it like that for a minute or two.”
“I know the drill, doc.”
“Then you should be used to it.” He put the blood-heavy hypo into a kidney bowl. “And if you get any worse, feel any other symptoms, don’t wait. Come directly to me.”
“You ordering me about on my own ship?”
Mal chuckled. “Okay. But I’m sure it’ll be gone by then.” He headed for the steps up to the cargo bay.
“And I’ll be telling Freya exactly what we’ve agreed,” Simon added to his departing back. “Exactly.”
“That’s right,” Mal laughed over his shoulder. “Hit a man when he’s down.”
Simon waited until the captain was out of sight, then went to Eden’s open door. River was on her knees, running encapsulated fertilizer around the base of the various stems.
“I’ll keep an eye on him,” she agreed, without looking up or her brother having to say a word. “But it might just be that he’s tired.”
“And if it’s physical I can’t see it anyway.” She sighed, her breath moving the leaves on one of the strawberry plants. “And Freya’s closer.”
“I just … after all that’s been going on, all the stress he takes on himself …”
River smiled. “I’m sure he’s happy to know you care.”
“Don’t you start.”
“Do you think I could grow apples?” his sister asked, changing the subject with her head on one side as she contemplated her garden.
“River, I think you can do whatever you set your mind to,” Simon said, seeing her face light in a wide grin before he headed back to his infirmary to start running the blood tests.
Jayne had finished his workout and was sitting on his bench, a cigar dribbling smoke clenched between his teeth, staring into nothing.
He was thinking back to that last day on Lazarus, when he’d walked into Port Town to get some more smokes from Gilford’s store. Jason had insisted on taking him through to the back, where he poured him a handsome glass of whisky and they’d sat down and talked for a spell.
“Good stuff.” Jayne had been appreciative of the liquor.
“I buy a bottle every so often. Lasts me a while, since I don’t take too much.” Jason Gilford sat back in the seat and sipped his own drink.
Jayne looked around at the comfortable set-up he had. “You live here now?” he asked.
“Mostly,” Jason admitted. “Since your Ma died, I … it’s easier. And it means I ain’t beholden to Matty to look after me.”
“Sure he don’t mind.”
“No, he don’t. But what with Jolene now … I ain’t wanting to be a burden.”
“They don’t feel like that.”
“Well, I ain’t gonna hang around until they do.” He lifted the glass. “To your Ma.”
They sat and talked for a few minutes, then Jason said, “I … you know I wanna be put in next to her, don’t you?”
Jayne nodded. “Matty said something about it, yeah.”
“Probably won’t be that long now, either.”
“There ain’t nothing wrong with you, Jason,” Jayne said firmly. “The doc checked you over, didn’t he?”
“Yeah. But even he can’t keep old age from creeping up on me.” Jason ran a hand over his bald head. “And without your Ma to keep me going, I don’t know how much longer I’ve got.”
Jayne sat forward in his chair, his bulk seeming to fill the room even more. “I ain’t gonna say this more’n once, ‘cause I don’t think I need to. You ain’t to go around saying things like that, and certainly not to Matty. You’re …” He paused, wondering if this was the right thing to say, but deciding to say it anyway. “You’re more of a Pa to him than our real one. You’ve been there for him longer. And now he’s gone and got himself hitched, and with a baby on the way … he’ll need you even more.”
Jason‘s forehead screwed up in confusion. “Baby?”
Oh, gos se. “Yeah, well, that’s something you need to talk to him about. But even if I wanted to, I ain’t gonna be around to back him up all that often. Got my own life to live, and that’s away from Ezra. He needs you.”
“You think so?”
“I know so. You … you made Ma’s life bearable when she needed it. And she …” He swallowed the rest of the whisky in his glass and blamed that on the need to blink hard. “She loved you. Married you. She wouldn’t’a done that with just anyone. And when the day comes, and it’s gonna be a long way off, I’ll be there with Matty to put you in next to her.”
The look on Jason’s face said it all. “You mean that.”
“Don’t say things I don’t mean. ‘Less I’m lying, and I ain’t.”
The old man sighed in contentment. “Thank you.”
“No need to thank me. Should be thanking you myself, for looking after Ma and Matty.”
They shared another whisky each, then Jayne announced he had to leave. Picking up his cigars, he turned to Jason. “You … keep yourself well, dong mah?”
“I will, son.”
They’d shaken hands, and Jayne had walked out into the sunshine heading for the cemetery to see his parents …
“Penny for ‘em,” Mal said as he crossed the bay floor.
Jayne took a deep breath, drawing the cigar smoke into his lungs. “Ain’t worth a turd, let alone a penny.” He looked up at his captain. “Wouldn’t wanna gyp you.”
“No, and I’m glad of that. I’ve too many premonitions of Badger doing exactly that to be looking for it from someone else.”
“Why’re we dealing with that weasel, Mal?” Jayne asked, grinding out his cigar on the deck before standing up. “I’d rather see him lying in a pool of his own blood.”
“Yeah, well, me too, but we need the money.”
Mal perched on a crate. “What we did on Hera, at the Abbey, I think maybe it’s had some … ramifications.”
“You mean like the Alliance trying to tie everything down that much tighter?” He picked up his towel from the end of the bench.
Mal was surprised. Normally the big man didn’t bother with what was going on in the wider ‘verse, just how it would affect him and his little family. But maybe this did. “Yeah. Like those relays they’ve put in, and there’s talk of them pushing more cruisers off the production line.”
“Well, you sent out that AntiPax formula, gave it to everyone as could brew up a cold. Maybe they were relying on those Pax guns to keep the peace, and you’ve well and truly scuppered them.”
Mal had to smile. “Reckon we did at that.” The smile faded. “But it seems there’s less work than ever on the horizon, so we need to get as much savings in as possible, weather out the storm.”
“Then maybe we oughtta’ve kept those coins, sold ‘em ourselves.”
“No.” Mal shook his head. “They’re better off helping Matty and his family.” He stood up and headed towards the stairs. “We’ll make do. We always have.”
Jayne watched him walk slowly up the metal steps, and wondered when Mal had turned into an old man.
“He’s not totally reformed, then.” Inara smiled at Kaylee over the Cortex link, the picture grainy but passable.
“Jayne? Nah. I think it was the idea of all that gold made him revert.”
“Is River dealing with him?”
“From the sounds coming from their shuttle the last few nights, yeah, I think so.” Kaylee giggled.
“And how come you were listening?” the ex-Companion wanted to know.
“Well, I been up every night this week so far.” Kaylee patted her belly. “This little one’s been fractious, moving about a lot. Stepping on my bladder too, from the feel.”
“Still peeing a lot?”
“Yeah. Cap says if I don’t stop he’s gonna make me do the septic vat next time we hit land.”
“Tell him if he does that he’ll have me to answer to.”
The grin widened on Kaylee’s open face. “I will. Thanks, ‘Nara.”
“Any particular reason my godson is very active?”
Kaylee shrugged. “He’s a boy. What more do you want?”
“True. Even Sam can’t seem to sleep without getting the covers all wrapped around his legs.”
“Really?” Anticipation of some juicy tales lit her eyes.
Inara smiled. “And I still don’t kiss and tell.”
“Oh, come on! Who’d know?”
“You would. And it’s not like I ask you about your love life.”
“Yeah, but I tell you anyway.”
They laughed, best friends separated by a few million miles.
“So, are you sure Mal won’t set you down on Lazarus for a while? I would like to see everyone.”
“I tried, but he says we need this job.”
“Yes, but dealing with Badger … that never goes well.”
“Badger’s just the go-between in this one. He’s made the arrangements for a third party, at least according to Mal, then we get on with the job.”
“Is it … dare I ask … legal?”
“Of course!” Kaylee winked theatrically.
Inara groaned slightly. “That man will end up getting you all in jail.”
“The Cap’s got a plan.”
“And that’s supposed to make me feel better?”
“’Sides, he ain’t exactly himself at the moment.”
Inara looked surprised. “So who is he?”
“Just … not the Cap.”
“Is Simon looking into it?”
“I think so.”
“Good. And let me know if it’s anything to worry about.”
“Oh, I think we’ll all be doing that if it is.”
As Mal sat down to dinner that night, he could barely keep his eyes open. Maybe he’d been pushing things too hard. After all, the last few months had been hectic, what with Becca Morgan, then Niska, and all the business on Hera … Kaylee had been pushing for them to all have a little downtime, and he thought that was what they got on Ezra, but maybe he was wrong. Perhaps they should go to Lazarus when they’d done with Badger, or even Phoros. Kaylee was saying she wanted her baby born in the bosom of her family, and maybe -
He looked up to see Simon standing over him. “What?”
“Falling asleep again?”
“Right.” The young doctor held up a hypogun.
“What’s that?” Freya asked, sitting down next to her husband.
“I finished my preliminary blood tests. He has a low grade infection.”
Her eyebrows raised. “Infection? What from?”
“At the moment I don’t have any idea,” Simon admitted. “But this is a broad spectrum antibiotic, and it should make him feel a lot better.”
“I don’t feel ill,” Mal pointed out.
“Probably because this has crept up on you.” He held the hypo against Mal’s neck and pressed the trigger. There was the hiss of gas.
“Do we need to worry about it, Simon?” Zoe asked, glancing at her son and the other children.
“No. It’s not infectious that I can tell.”
“So you don’t know what it is yet.”
“No. But all the indications are … you don’t need to worry.”
Zoe didn’t look particularly mollified.
“How long?” Mal asked.
“Until you feel better? Well, you should be feeling the effects by tomorrow morning, but it’s going to take a day or two to get to its full efficacy.”
“You trying to confuse me with long words?”
“No, I -”
“It’s okay, doc,” Mal said, rubbing absently at his neck. “And thanks.”
He watched Kaylee dishing up, and his stomach rolled slightly. “You know, I think I’m gonna have an early night.”
Freya’s brown eyes clouded with concern. “Are you all right?”
“Just tired.” He smiled at her.
“Then an early night wouldn’t hurt me, either.”
“If you think you’re going to have your wicked way with me, I don’t think I’ve got the energy.”
“Doc, I think Mal’s dying,” Hank joked. “Has to be. Turning down sex like this.”
“I think you’re right,” Kaylee agreed. “It has to be bad.”
“Never known him say no,” Jayne put in.
“And I’m in a parallel universe where I have a bunch of comedians instead of a crew,” Mal said, pushing back his chair. He shook his head, then looked at Freya. “And don‘t you go missing this good food. I’ll be fine.”
“Are you sure?”
She put her hand on his. “I’ll put Ethan and Jesse in with the other children, give you a chance to nod off before I come down.” She didn’t add that it would keep them out of harm’s way, in case Simon was wrong about it being infectious. She didn’t have to.
“You know that ain‘t really necessary.”
Freya smiled. “Otherwise how am I going to keep my hands off you?”
“Control, woman. Control.” He stood up. “Don’t be too long,” he said as he headed for the corridor.
Mal paused at the doorway and looked back at his pilot. “When do we hit atmo?”
“’Bout ten-thirty our time, two-fifteen theirs.”
“Don’t change our clocks. I ain’t planning on doing much more’n seeing Badger and refueling.”
“It’s all in hand, don’t you fret,” Hank assured him.
“I always fret,” Mal said, heading again for his bunk. “It’s what I get paid to do.” As he pushed the hatch open, a wave of dizziness swept across him and he had to hold tightly to the wall to avoid falling down the ladder. “Gorramit,” he muttered to himself. “Must be more tired than I thought.” As it passed he shook his head, then climbed carefully down.
to be continued
Sunday, March 1, 2009 2:00 PM
Sunday, March 1, 2009 2:16 PM
Sunday, March 1, 2009 2:31 PM
Sunday, March 1, 2009 5:23 PM
Monday, March 2, 2009 10:27 AM
Monday, March 2, 2009 3:30 PM
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