BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Ripples - Part II
Thursday, March 26, 2009

Maya. Post-BDM. Mal and Freya have a little time together, there's talk of a trip, and Zoe makes a decision. NEW CHAPTER (bear with me, I'm not too happy with this one somehow)


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1992    RATING: 9    SERIES: FIREFLY

“I like Sam’s new style.”

“What?” Mal wasn’t really taking in what she was saying, just enjoying the view as Freya moved the pillows into a more comfortable shape behind him, seeing as he was in very close proximity to her chest.

“Sam’s hair. He’s had it cut.” She pushed him back, more than aware of where his eyes had been straying.

“Can’t say I noticed.” He reached up and tried to undo one of the buttons on her shirt.

Freya moved away slightly. “Stop that.”

“Why? We’re married.”

“And you have to rest. You know what Simon said.” She smoothed the blanket, just the one over him because the weather was so mild.

“When’ve we ever listened to him?” He attempted to catch her around the waist but she batted his hand away.

“Today.”

“I feel fine.” At her look, he amended it to, “Better.”

“Good,” she said approvingly. “And I intend keeping you that way.”

He sighed, letting himself fall dramatically back onto the pillow as she tucked an errant corner more tidily. Then, when she didn’t seem to take any notice, sighed again. Still nothing. “Huh.”

She had to chuckle. “Time will fly, honestly.” She sat on the edge of the bed, ruining her good work with the covers, and took his hand in hers. “And then we can swing from the support beams.”

“That’s your thing, not mine.” He grinned. “Not that I mind watching, a’course.”

“Pervert.”

“Thank God.”

She stood up, having to pull her fingers away. “Hungry?”

“Not really.”

“Then you don’t want some of Mrs Boden’s cookies, and maybe a proper mug of coffee, or –“

“On the other hand …” he interrupted quickly.

She grinned. “I’ll be back.”

“Hurry. I'm gonna get lonely without you around to annoy me.”

“That’s my job.” She bent for another soft kiss, then strode to the door. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

“Well, that gives me a lotta leeway to play with.” He waggled his eyebrows at her.

“Like I said. Pervert.”

“Hey, it takes one to know one.”

She laughed and left the room, almost running into Inara outside in the hall. “Hey,” she said, smiling widely. “How are you?”

“I’m fine,” Inara said, smiling warmly. They hugged, no sign of the animosity that had haunted the initial months of their relationship. “You?”

“Shiny. Now, anyway. You know I thought you’d’ve been by before now, see how he is,” Freya said pointedly, stepping back a little.

“Well, you know, things to do.” Inara waved a hand, as if she was so busy she didn’t have a second to herself.

“He’s going to be okay.”

Inara looked into her friend’s face, seeing nothing but honesty there. “I know. Everyone’s said.”

“You can go and check for yourself. While I find provisions.”

“Cookies?”

“For sure.”

“You’d better hurry, then. Otherwise you’ll be fighting Bethie for them.”

Freya chuckled. “I think maybe she’d win – I can’t do the eyes like she can. But go and sit with Mal. He’d like that.”

“Mmn.” Inara plucked at a lock of hair cascading down her cheek. “And he’s truly going to be okay?”

“Truly.” Freya could see what the problem was – hell it had been her problem too. “It’s not like him getting shot, is it?”

“Well …”

“Not that he hasn’t had plenty of experience in that regard, but this … because of something else, what someone else did and we didn’t know …” A flash of deep-seated anger darkened her eyes. “If he were here in front of me, I’d kill him right now. Only I’d do it slowly, not humanely like Mal did.”

Inara didn’t need to ask who. “So would I,” she said fervently.

The fire died back to an ember and Freya patted her friend’s arm. “But Mal’s getting better. He’s strong. A little thing like this isn’t going to keep him down for long.”

There was something in her demeanour that peaked Inara’s professional interest, something that suggested maybe Freya wasn't quite as all right with this as she pretended, but that could wait. Until a more pertinent time, perhaps with some good rice wine. “I suppose he’s being annoying as usual.”

“Of course!” Freya laughed again, and it was as if the darkness hadn’t shown itself, it was hidden so well. “But go in. I know he’s been wondering why you weren't in the orchard when we got here.”

Inara lifted her chin, just a trace of defiance in her face. “There are other people to look after than just Mal.”

“Oh, tell him that. It might make him more appreciative of the time we’ve all spent on him.” She opened the door behind her. “Go on.” She made a shooing motion.

“’Nara? That you?” Mal’s voice sounded querulous, almost like an old man.

Inara glanced sharply at Freya, who grinned widely. “He’s putting it on. Trying to make you feel sorry for him.”

“Really.”

“He was propositioning me just a few minutes ago.”

“Ain't nobody gonna come talk to a poorly man?” Mal’s voice had gotten higher with each word. “Beginning to think nobody loves me no more.”

Inara’s eyes narrowed slightly. “If you hear screams, ignore them,” she said to Freya, then marched into the sick room, closing the door firmly behind her.

Freya couldn’t help the grin blossoming across her face.

“Aunt Frey?”

She looked up towards the head of the stairs, at the young woman descending. “Val.” She smiled. “How are you?”

“Very well, thank you.” As tall as Inara, of all the Reilly sisters Valentia was the one who had taken best to the training the ex-Companion had provided in being a lady, even if it meant she was a little formal at times.

“And your sisters?”

Val inclined her head gracefully. “They’re fine. Staying out of the way for a while, until everything calms down a little.” It had only been a few weeks since they been by, but she and her twin sister Phoebe had passed their eighteenth birthday in the meantime, and she seemed determined to act like a grown up.

“Probably a good idea. You’re looking very pretty today, by the way.”

The young woman blushed, smoothing the pale blue sheath over a much darker blue dress. “Thank you. So are you.”

Freya laughed softly. “Thanks, but I wasn’t angling for a compliment.” She shook her head. “Besides, I’ve just been fighting off the attentions of your Uncle Mal. I doubt I look that presentable.”

A grin crossed Val’s face, but it was gone quickly as she composed herself. “You look fine.”

“Right.”

“And how is Uncle Mal?” Her gaze lingered for a moment on the closed door.

Freya had to stop another smile. Virtually every one of the Reilly girls had something of a crush on her husband, mainly because he never talked down to them and cared deeply about their welfare. To him, they were family, no matter who their parents had been. “He’s … getting there. It’ll take a few weeks, but he’ll be back to normal before anyone knows it.”

“I'm so glad.” This time the words were totally sincere.

“Me too. Oh, and … happy birthday.”

“Thank you. And for the gift.” Val’s hand strayed to the silver chain around her neck, a small pendant hanging from it. “It’s lovely.”

“I thought it was appropriate.” The charm, in the form of Chinese lettering, said Serenity. “I'm just glad Inara wasn’t too busy being busy to remember to give them to you both.”

“Too busy being what?”

“Never mind.”

Val blinked a couple of times, then said, going back to the original subject, “Phee loves hers too.”

“Good.”

There was a moment’s awkward silence, then Val said, “I'm sorry, was I interrupting you? You looked like you were going somewhere.”

“Only to the kitchen. Mal’s hungry.” She took the opportunity and linked her arm through the girl’s. “Walk with me.”

“Um, okay.”

They headed for the door towards Mrs Boden’s domain.

“So, eighteen. Has Mr Kilbrook been in contact?” Isaiah Kilbrook was the lawyer on Mead, who was looking after their affairs. Most efficiently, if reports were to be believed.

“Yes. He’s set up an account for Phoebe and myself.” She shook her head. “I … I had no idea there was so much money.”

“You’re both very wealthy young women.” Freya glanced at her. “So what do you plan on doing? Technically Mal isn’t your guardian any more, but … are you going to stay here?”

Val bit her lip, looking younger than before. “I don’t know. Phee and I have talked about it, and … I honestly don’t think we’ve come to anything like a decision.”

“Well, there’s plenty of time. It’s not like Inara’s going to throw you out. This is your home, after all.”

“I know, but …” She stopped walking, just outside the kitchen door. “We talked about having a house built, close by, and that sounds nice, but …” Her eyes brightened. “I’d like to see a bit more of the ‘verse. I mean, we’ve travelled, a little, from Mead to here and … but I’d …” Her voice faded away.

Freya understood. Despite how their lives had begun, for the last few years they’d been sheltered here on Lazarus, and any change was going to take a while to get used to. “Well, a house would be a good idea, but you have your whole life in front of you. And time to enjoy yourselves. Why not go on a cruise?”

“What?”

“A cruise. Inara has connections, I know, and Sam too, so perhaps it could be arranged. Go and see the central planets, dance at a few balls, have any number of young men fall in love with you …” She could see the idea taking hold. “You’re young, you have money, and you’re pretty … a deadly combination.”

Val laughed, and the façade of being a grown up dropped away entirely. “They wouldn’t know what had hit them.”

“Just be aware of what Mal’s going to be like if you do decide to bring a young man home.”

“He wouldn’t know.”

“You think Inara isn’t going to tell him? I’d be willing to bet he gets us to full burn before the Cortex link is cold.”

“Oh, do you really think so?” She looked pleasantly surprised.

“Absolutely. And that’s besides what your other uncles would be like.” Freya sighed and shook her head. “Honestly, you might find they scare them all away.”

“I wouldn’t mind that,” Val admitted wistfully. “If they can be scared, they’re not worth it anyway.”

Freya patted her on the arm. “That’s the spirit.”

“Perhaps … perhaps a cruise would be fun.” There was excitement bubbling up in her voice now. “Maybe I’ll go and find Phee. Talk it over.”

“Good idea. You might be able to catch up with Noni, too.”

Val nodded enthusiastically. She hadn’t seen her youngest sister in a long time. “I've got her itinerary. It wouldn’t be hard …” Her mental wheels were turning, and she unfocused.

“Not hard at all.” Thinking of Noni nudged Freya in a different direction. “By the way, have you heard from Honor at all?”

Val came back to the moment. “Once in a while.” Honoria was her older half-sister, and had gone off with her mother, Hil Dwyer, after Reilly’s treasure had been found. Mal was convinced the girl was related to Saffron, seeing a distinct resemblance, but so far they hadn’t found any proof of that. “She’s written a few times.”

“And … how is she?”

“Shiny. Enjoying her money, from what I can tell.”

“So her momma didn’t swindle her out of it?” Freya hadn’t known Hil for long, but it was enough. The woman, who had once been one of Mal’s great friends, had apparently changed over the years, and Mal had nearly died because of it.

“No. Honor arranged with Mr Kilbrook to settle some cash on her, but the rest is tied up where she can’t get to it.”

Freya had to smile. “Seems like that young lady has a head on her shoulders.”

“Honor will be all right,” Val said, somewhat dismissively. After all, her older sister had walked out on them. “She’ll always fall on her feet.”

“Seems so.”

Val fidgeted. “Aunt Frey, I have to … you know, talk to Phee.”

“Go on.”

She grinned and disappeared.

Freya laughed. In point of fact, she had no worries about any of the girls, not with Inara at the helm, although Mal would be pleased to hear that Honor hadn’t trusted her mother to the point of destitution. But a cruise sounded just the thing. And if she or her sister happened to fall in love with someone suitable or otherwise – and Mal would most definitely want to be in on that decision – then what harm could it do?

She turned to the kitchen door, which opened even as she reached for the handle.

“Madam.” It was Mrs Boden, acting as if they had only seen each other a few minutes before.

“I was just coming to see if you had …” She looked past the older woman to the large wooden table, where a tray sat, adorned with three plates, three mugs, a hot flask and a platter so full of her famous cookies it could have fed an army. “Mrs Boden, are you sure you’re not psychic?”

---

Hank stood on the bank looking out over the lake towards the mountains, feeling the breeze ruffling his untidy brown hair.

“Penny for them?” Zoe asked, stepping up behind her husband and wrapping her arms around his waist.

He put his hands on hers. “Not worth that much.”

“Let me be the judge of that.”

He stiffened slightly in her embrace, but didn’t say anything more than, “Yeah.”

They were better, she knew that. A lot better. And maybe River didn’t know everything. Just give them time, and they’d be back to normal.

Except maybe they wouldn’t. And she couldn’t take that.

“Are you okay?” she asked, her breath tickling his ear.

“Shiny.”

“Only it’s not like you to commune with nature like this.”

“I do it all the time,” Hank pointed out. “Only usually it’s with the stars.”

“Do you wanna talk about it?”

“About what?”

Okay, she could take the hint. Her arms tightened. “Are you going fishing?”

“Thinking on it. Never really did christen Serenity II.” He was referring to the boat Jayne and Mr Boden had built, with his help. Or perhaps hindrance. He was sure there was still a splinter or two in his fingers.

“You could take Bethie.”

“Might just do that.” He leaned back a little against her. “They off being kids somewhere?”

Zoe nodded, a smile smoothing out the lines on her face. “Treasure hunting.”

“I would’ve thought they’d had enough of that.”

“Seems not.”

He pulled away, turning to look at her. “Well, one of us had better go make sure they ain’t buried our son and heir to be dug up again in a thousand years time.” Reaching up, he touched her face, then walked back towards the house.

She wanted to call out, to stop him, but that wasn’t going to help. Every so often, she thought it was okay, that they’d gotten past it, then she’d say something, or he would, and the atmosphere would be back again. Like her saying she’d be the judge. And that was half the problem. She’d decided not to tell him about being a Dust Devil. Literally, she’d been the judge on that one. No matter that the others knew, she hadn’t told him, hadn’t allowed him to make his own mind up. Of course he would have understood, simply because she was being honest with him, but she hadn’t given him the chance.

A figure joined him in the orchard, and she recognised the newly spiked hair. Hank stopped, and there was a moment of stillness, of low conversation. They were too far for her to hear the words, but Sam nodded, and they began to stroll through the trees, not hurrying, not trying to get somewhere, just … talking.

For a moment Zoe held her breath as an irrational surge of anger made her heart beat faster. Since that conversation on the bridge, he hadn’t even wanted to mention it, and now, here he was, bearing his soul to someone else. That wasn’t fair.

Except … of course it was. And for all she wished it would just go away, she understood. He didn’t want to talk to her about it because he was afraid of what might happen. Talking to Sam, someone trained to listen, to not be judgmental, maybe it was exactly what he needed.

Perhaps she really did need to follow his good example.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Thursday, March 26, 2009 8:24 AM

WAKEUPSOON


There's no problem with it! Honestly! Glad Hank is talking to Sam, that should help some. (Y)
Anna.x.(:

Thursday, March 26, 2009 9:42 AM

BRIGLAD


I agree, a well done chapter. I'm glad you were able to tie things in with the earlier story arcs.

Thursday, March 26, 2009 1:30 PM

KATESFRIEND


Lots of dynamics in personalities in this one. Loved the games Mal is playing on people, especially Inara. Such a different attitude between injury and illness - one you have some control over, the other a danger unseen. Interesting to hear about the other girls again. But you really have a huge story between Zoe and Hank and the honesty it takes to really make a marriage work. i like! Glad Mal is keeping his sense of humor through all this.

Thursday, March 26, 2009 3:58 PM

KATESFRIEND


Just another idea on this - the almost manic happy that Mal seems to be having is like the almost manically happy Mal after he escaped from Niska. That was Mal at his most playful, after the trauma he went through. Just thought I'd mention...

Thursday, March 26, 2009 5:03 PM

NCBROWNCOAT


Good chapter. Loved the play between Mal and Freya and I think Mal will be swinging from the support beams soon enough.

And why do I think that Val will need help from the crew on her and her sister's cruise?

Thursday, March 26, 2009 7:00 PM

ANGELLEMARCS


Liking it so far. Frey seems to be having Mal under control or at least as much as she can. ;)

Friday, March 27, 2009 4:43 AM

AMDOBELL


I also think the girls going off on a cruise, while seemingly a brilliant harmless pursuit, opens them up to all kinds of dangers that won't be seen in advance and without having any of their 'uncles' to watch their backs. I was hoping they would opt to travel with Serenity for a while, though looking at Mal and crew's propensity for finding trouble that could be a no-brainer! Loved the interplay between Frey and Mal, though I don't see either swinging on the support beams soon. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, March 28, 2009 7:31 PM

SLUMMING


Still hurts my heart that Zoe was a Dust Devil for a time....maybehaps I should talk to Sam.... :)


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