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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. A quick stop on the way to Phoros for some shopping before the birth. NEW STORY (because it was ready)
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1740 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Seven days to go ...
It was going to take a week for Serenity to drop below the main routes and hang a left for Phoros. It wasn’t that Mal was worried about the Alliance coming after them for the bank robbery on Jericho Wells. Not worried. Not exactly. More ... thoughtful. There’d been nothing on the Cortex about money going missing, and when Kaylee had waved Leo Gunn to thank him for everything, he’d been very clear.
“Nope, nothing happening,” he’d said. “Back to the same old same old, you know how it is.” He grinned. “Mind, young Miss Mercy is sure stirring up a hornet’s nest.”
“Oh?” Kaylee leaned forward as far as her belly would allow. “How’s she doing that?”
“Well, for starters she’s insisted on an office. Proper office, with all the mod cons. Seems like someone told her what was in the rules, and she’s making sure they stick to it.”
“Really.” Kaylee couldn’t help her lips curving. So that was what River and Zoe had been talking about as they were walking back from voting. The Firefly’s first mate must have passed the information on.
“Yep. Got a secretary and everything. And arranging meetings.” He chuckled. “Jericho Wells don’t know what it’s let itself in for.”
“You’d better keep me updated, then. I know for sure Zoe’s gonna want to know what’s going on.”
“No problems.” Leo smiled. “Give your Ma and Pa my regards, will yah?”
Kaylee grinned. “A’course.”
“And tell ‘em they got themselves a good one when they got you.”
She blushed. “You’re a bad man,” she admonished.
Leo laughed. “And don’t you be a stranger,” he insisted.
As the wave ended, Kaylee sighed happily, turning in her seat to see Mal standing in the bridge doorway. She gave a small yelp in surprise. “You startled me.”
“Have a nice chat?” he asked, crossing the small space to sit in the co-pilot’s chair, his eyes automatically roaming over the boards to make sure everything was okay.
“Shiny.” Kaylee smiled. “He’s a nice man.”
“That he is, although I conjure I ain’t the one he’s taken with, considering it wasn’t me who was flirting just now.”
She put her hand on her belly. “Captain,” she complained.
“What, you think that baby’s gonna be hearing? Too late if he is.”
She shook her head at him. “River says babies pick up things in the womb.”
“That why I could hear music coming from your room lately at night?”
Kaylee’s infectious enthusiasm rolled back full force, and she giggled. “Simon’s idea. Thought it might be soothing. This little’un has been moving around a lot.”
“Yeah, Frey said that happened with Jesse towards the end.”
“There’s still a couple of weeks to go,” Kaylee pointed out.
“One of which is gonna be taken up getting you home.”
“With that stop off you promised.”
He finally smiled. “Don’t fret about that. Hank’s got the course laid in for the Skyplex, so you can go and buy all the baby thingamagigs you want.”
She tried to stand, but Mal was at her side in a moment, helping her, supporting her under her arm. “Thanks,” she said gratefully. “Guess it’s gonna be a long fourteen days.” She patted his hand away. “Now I got stuff to see to.”
At the look on his face she laughed again. “No, it’s okay. I’m just supervising. Frey and River’re doing all the hard work.”
“So my wife’s gonna be coming to bed smelling like engine grease again?”
“You know, she told me how much it made you amorous last night. Sniffing her all over...”
They reached the first destination just after breakfast, not bothering to adjust their chronometers. As it was a space-bound conglomeration and not tied to any sun, the Winchester Skyplex kept to standard Alliance time, but since nothing ever closed the passage of specific hours and minutes was a little moot.
Kaylee had a long list of things she needed, so to save time this was divided between her and Simon, and Zoe and Hank.
“You sure you know what I mean?” the young mechanic asked, making sure yet again that everything had been written down.
“I’m sure,” Zoe said.
“I know.” Kaylee sighed deeply. “It’s just –”
“I’ll try. But what with the fuel being loaded and –”
“Which I’ll be seeing to,” Mal interrupted. “There’s nothing you need to be thinking on, mei-mei. You go and have a good time spending some of that cash, ‘fore something breaks on board that needs every cent.”
She glared at him indignantly. “Nothing is gonna break.”
“That’s what you said last time.”
Simon took her arm and steered her out of the cargo bay before her hormones got involved.
River and Jayne announced they were taking all the children to the amusement area on the level below, Hank barely getting away with his life when he suggested the big man was the biggest kid of them all. All except Bethie, whom Freya had invited to join her in some shopping.
The little girl preened, feeling all grown up, even though she had been looking forward to playing some of the games. But this was better. Much better. And as they walked along the brightly lit thoroughfares, a small amount of pocket money from her father tucked in the purse around her neck, she couldn’t help the big grin on her face. Even the fact that Fiddler had to stay behind hadn’t pricked her good mood.
“So what do you want to buy?” Freya asked, looking down at the little girl striding along next to her, swinging her arms.
“Not sure,” Bethie said.
“Perhaps ... some cookies?”
Bethie stopped dead, her face appalled, but Freya kept walking. After a second or two she got her legs going again and caught up. “Um ... cookies?” she said, a slight tremble in her voice.
“Mmn. You know. Flour, fat, sugar, all mixed up together and cut into circles and baked. Cookies.”
Bethie stared at her aunt. “Know what cookies are.”
“I’m sure you do.”
She should have known. Two other Readers on board, at least one of them was bound to have found out. “Are you gonna tell Momma?”
“What about?” Freya stopped at a stall, picking up a necklace made of twisted leather with a green stone hanging from it. “That’s pretty, don’t you think?”
“Mmn.” Bethie’s mind was whirling. “Auntie Frey ...”
“Do you think your Grandma would like it?”
“Prob’ly.” She was starting to feel all sorts of anxious, and slightly nauseous too.
“Or perhaps the red one?”
“Auntie Frey ...” She began to twist her foot.
“No. The green one.” Freya smiled at the stallholder and asked, “How much?”
As they haggled, Bethie was going through all the excuses she could think of in her mind. Number one was that it wasn’t her, that it was someone else entirely sneaked on board and stole the cookies. Except that wasn’t going to wash. Number two was that it was Ethan’s plan, only since this was Ethan’s Mama that probably wasn’t a good idea either. Number three was that she was sleepwalking at the time, and didn’t remember a thing. Number four –
“All done,” Freya said, smiling and tucking the small gift in her pocket. “Come on. I need a drink.”
“’Kay.” Bethie dragged along behind, knowing for sure now that she was about to get told off.
They settled at a small cafe, just a little way along from the man declaring that the bearded lady was just inside, along with a boy who was half ape. Having given their order, Freya deciding on a tea and Bethie a lemon cordial, they sat in silence for a moment, watching the world go by.
“Auntie Frey –” the little girl began, but her aunt cut her off.
“You know, it’s not nice to steal things.”
Bethie stilled. “I know.”
“It happens, and sometimes there’s no way around it. But stealing from friends, from family ... that’s really not done.”
“You stole.” A little belligerence crept into her voice, even as she kept it down to a whisper. “From the bank.”
“Yes. You’re right.” Freya smiled at the waiter as he brought them their drinks, waiting for him to retreat back into the café before going on. “And what we did was illegal. But not strictly immoral.”
“Auntie Frey –”
“And you do know the difference. You’re an intelligent little girl, so you know what I’m saying.” She watched a man with his head shaved to reveal the intricate tattoos on his scalp saunter by, his hands thrust deep into long shorts. “Those people on Jericho, they could afford to lose that cash.”
“Because they had more.”
“That’s right.” Freya finally turned to look at her. “But that didn’t make it right.”
“Then why do it?” Bethie shook her head. “Why take it?”
Freya leaned on the table, warming her hands on the tea. “We wouldn’t. Not in an ideal ‘verse. But things aren’t black and white out here. If the Independents had won, if the war had gone our way, we’d be able to be what we are, a transport ship. Taking stuff from planet to planet, doing deals, all above board and legal.”
“No,” Bethie said unexpectedly.
“We wouldn’t. Uncle Mal bought Serenity because we lost.”
‘We’. Freya couldn’t help her lips curving as Bethie said ‘we lost’. She might only be young, but she was about as brown all the way through as her uncle. “That’s true,” she agreed. “So Uncle Mal would probably be back on Shadow, on a ranch, half a dozen kids running around his feet.”
“Maybe. I don’t know.”
“Then yes.” Bethie was firm. “You. And Ethan. And Jesse. And ...” Her face fell. “Not me.”
“No. Probably not.” Freya reached out and stroked her honey-coloured hair. “Your daddy most likely wouldn’t have come out here. And if he had, he would have taken a different ship, not met your Momma, not had you, Hope, the new baby ...”
“Then better we’re crooks.”
Freya smiled. “All in all, I think you’re right. So we do what we have to.”
“To keep flying.”
“Not black and white.”
“No.” She sipped her tea.
For a long time Bethie was silent, thinking, rolling the straw in her lemon cordial around her mouth. Eventually she sat up. “Uncle Mal doesn’t want to be bad,” she said slowly.
“No, he doesn’t.”
“Neither does Auntie Zoe. Or Uncle Hank.”
“Even Uncle Jayne ... ‘cept he likes it.”
Freya had to chuckle. “Well, there has to be one exception.”
“But we don’t take from family.”
Bethie sighed heavily. “Are you gonna tell Momma?” she asked, her voice very small.
“Not this time, no, I don’t think so.” At the little girl’s relieved expression she went on, “But I don’t know when she’s going to be baking again. She’ll have a new baby to deal with, and that’s going to be hard work. You remember when Hope arrived?” Bethie nodded. “Well, this is going to be worse. With Hope, she didn’t have to go through labour, didn’t start out all exhausted in the first place. She’s going to need all our help, and I think cookies are going to be the last thing on her mind.”
Bethie nodded, then the nodding got harder. “Can we make some? As a treat?”
“We could, but if I had a hand in them they’d probably turn out like rocks.”
The little girl stifled a giggle. “Then can we buy some?”
Freya smiled. “I think that would be a good idea. But let’s finish our drinks first, okay?”
“And perhaps while we’re on Phoros your Grandma can give us both some lessons on how to make them. How does that sound?”
Bethie grinned widely, showing all her little teeth. “Sounds good.”
“Shiny. Then drink up. We’ve got some shopping to do.”
When everyone finally rolled back to Serenity Mal was sitting in Kaylee’s old chair at the top of the ramp, Maoli spread across his knees, purring as he stroked her back.
“Get everything?” he asked, staring at the boxes and bags Simon was attempting not to drop. “Although I’m guessing there ain’t much left in this place to buy.”
Kaylee swatted him on the arm. “It’s stuff we need for the baby.”
“I kinda figured that.”
Hank staggered up dramatically, Zoe a step or two behind. “Good grief,” he panted. “And I thought going down sewers was bad.”
Kaylee started going through his bags. “Ooh, you managed to get one. Didn’t think you’d be able to.”
“Well, rather than get your purchases out here, hadn’t you better take ‘em all inside?” Mal said quickly. “We’re fuelled up and ready to go.”
“Just gotta wait for the other stuff.”
His eyes narrowed and he stood up, Maoli hanging over his arm. “Other stuff?”
Simon, on his way up the ramp, paused. “Kaylee took a detour into a scrapshop.” He shook his head. “You know, I think she was more pleased with finding a fuel pump than with all this.”
“Weren’t just a fuel pump,” his wife corrected. “Virtually brand new. And a set of filters. And a governor for the –”
“Kaylee.” Mal stopped her mid sentence. “Why?”
“For Serenity.” She looked at his as if he was stupid.
“I figured that. But I thought she was running well with the parts you got off Leo.”
“She is. This is for the redundant back-up system I’m gonna build.”
His train of thought was broken as the children appeared, laughing and screeching, running past him into the cargo bay. A moment later River and Jayne strolled up, arm in arm.
“Did they have a good time?” Kaylee asked, her hands clasped on top of her belly.
“Real good,” the big man confirmed. “Shoulda seen Ethan sliding down the ropes.” He grinned.
River leaned into him. “He wasn’t the only one.”
“Yeah, well,” Jayne said, looking down into her eyes, tenderness suffusing his normally somewhat belligerent face. “Had to be chasing you, didn’t I?”
“Well, it sounds all kinds of fun,” Mal said, holding back the sigh. “But we need to be gone.”
“Not yet, Cap,” Kaylee insisted. “Still waiting for the parts. And it don’t look like Frey’s back.”
“Here we are.” The woman herself smiled as she walked towards them, Bethie holding her hand and carrying a large canvas bag.
“What you got in there, short stub?” Mal asked. “You bought up whatever your Momma missed?”
Bethie nodded. “Got stuff,” she said, letting go of Freya and standing next to Kaylee. She leaned against her. “Love you, Momma.”
Kaylee beamed, and stroked her daughter’s hair. “I love you too, sweetie.”
Mal and Freya exchanged a glance, on one side asking what had happened, and on the other promising to be more forthcoming later. With a twist to his lips, Mal instead turned back to his mechanic. “So how long do we have to wait?”
“Not more’n an hour,” Kaylee said. “The man promised.”
“Okay. One hour it is. A minute longer and I’ll be sending you to fetch the stuff yourself.”
“Like you would,” Kaylee scoffed, walking slowly up the ramp. “You ain’t the tyrant you pretend to be.”
“Just give it sixty minutes and you’ll see,” he called after her.
Fifty-eight minutes and seventeen seconds later, Serenity pulled smoothly away from her docking clamps, twisted on her long axis, and moved off, her bulbous rear end glowing in the dark. Next stop, Phoros.
to be continued
Wednesday, August 5, 2009 11:16 AM
Wednesday, August 5, 2009 3:30 PM
Thursday, August 6, 2009 2:24 AM
Thursday, August 6, 2009 8:33 PM
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