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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Simon puts his foot in it - again - but manages to apologise. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1874 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
The church clock in the middle of town had just finished tolling twelve, the sound bouncing back off the factories and rolling through the streets. A dog barked, chained to a kennel, just testing to see if it was worth a volley, then turned around twice and laid down, snuffling around his rear end with clipper teeth.
Everywhere was dark, quiet, except for one house, where lights burned back the night.
“Do you think it’s enough?” Ellie Frye asked, standing back and looking at the bed they’d made up in the downstairs parlour, softly padded with a number of mattresses, as well as comforters and pillows.
“It’s fine,” her husband, Eddie, said. “Besides, I’m sure Kaylee’s going to want to give birth back on Serenity.”
“No, she won’t.” His wife was adamant. “She said. That’s why she’s coming.” Her eyes narrowed. “You think maybe it needs another blanket? I mean, it’s pretty cold outside, and if she’s coming from a warm ship she might be –”
Eddie pulled her into his side, holding her tightly. “Ellie. Stop.”
She looked up into his face. “She’s my baby, Eddie. My little girl. And she’s coming home to have her son. Our grandson.”
“You’ve already got grandkids,” he reminded her.
“Oh, I know,” she said, swatting gently at him. “And I’d never let anything happen to Bethie, or Hope. But this is ... you know what I mean.”
He moved her around so he could embrace her properly. “You’re getting broody again.”
“No, I ain’t!” She tried to wriggle free, but only half-heartedly, after only a moment letting him comfort her as she wanted to be comforted. “We’re too old for more children, Eddie. But grandkids ... that’s the best of both worlds.”
He smiled and kissed her nose. “Reckon maybe it is. Get to hand ‘em back when they need changing.”
“Changing ...” Ellie’s face changed. “I’d better make sure there’s enough in the way of diapers.” She slipped out of his arms.
“I’m sure she’ll be bringing plenty.”
“That’s not the point.” She paused in the doorway. “And make sure there’s plenty of coal for the fire.” She nodded towards the flames dancing merrily around the grate. “Kaylee always did like a fire.” She disappeared.
Eddie smiled, and shook his head. His wife wasn’t going to stop fussing until that little baby was in the bassinet. If then.
High above Phoros, a distance measured as nothing in the cosmic eye, Serenity seemed to hang against the backdrop of stars.
“Everyone hold on,” Hank’s voice boomed over the com. “Breaking atmo in two and down in five.”
Kaylee looked up from where she was packing the last of her purchases, making sure nothing was left behind that she might need. It didn’t matter that the ship wasn’t going anywhere, that if she had forgotten something someone would be able to come and get it. She still wanted all of her stuff around her, ready.
She reached for her hairbrush, then had to stop, holding onto the shelf for support as a wave of pain washed through her. She panted, riding it out.
She’d been having some pains off and on for a while. Nothing regular, just every so often there’d be a sudden deep ache, and she’d have to stop whatever it was she was doing – which admittedly hadn’t been much these last few days, not with all the men on board making sure she hardly lifted a finger, let alone a wrench, and all the women being worse.
There was still a week to go according to Simon’s calculations, although she’d been relying on the fact that her own birth had been nearly two weeks late, as had every single one of her brothers. It looked like none of the Frye children were all that anxious to get into the world. And she couldn’t compare Bethie’s birth with now, since that had been something she’d not really had any control over.
Still, River had been going around the last few days with a stopwatch hung strategically around her neck, so maybe she knew something the others didn’t, particularly as she had told every member of the crew that Simon was an early baby, much to his chagrin. Kaylee had to smile, even though the discomfort had her gritting her teeth, glad at least the baby had finally moved around into the right position.
The pain eased, and she looked down at her belly.
“Okay, okay,” she said softly. “I get the message. Seems like you’re more of a Tam than a Frye.” She picked up a tiny sleepsuit. “But can you at least wait ‘til I’m home?”
“Who’re you talking to?” Jayne asked, his head appearing in the doorway, rapidly followed by the rest of him.
“Oh, nobody. Just ...” She patted her bump.
“Never can get my head around something as big as a baby comin’ outta someone as small as you,” Jayne said, leaning on the wall.
“Why not?” Kaylee asked as she finishing stuffing baby clothes into the bag. “You’ve seen it first hand.”
“Don’t remind me.” The big man shuddered. “Nearly had to play catch with Ethan, and that weren’t something I plan on repeating.”
“I meant Caleb.”
“Yeah, I know.” His eyes misted for a moment as he remembered seeing his son for the first time. “But that were the prissy ... I mean, your other half dealing with that. Not just me and Frey alone in a shuttle with a storm outside.”
Kaylee smiled at him. “I know you still call Simon prissy. Only he ain’t, not no more.”
“I guess.” Jayne didn’t look convinced. “So, you want me to carry you out?”
“No, thanks. I can walk.” She looked up as the engine note changed, and a faint vibration ran through the hull under their feet. “Feels like the transfer linkages could do with adjusting,” she said to no-one but herself.
It was Jayne who answered, though. “Well, you even consider doing that right now and Mal’s gonna ...”
“What?” she asked, thrusting her chin up. “Lock me up? Space me?”
“I was thinking more along the lines of telling your Ma.”
She feigned shock. “That’s low.”
“I keep telling you he is, but nobody ever listens.” Jayne grinned. “There’ll be time enough for that, li’l Kaylee. Mal’s made it clear he intends stopping for at least a month, seeing as we have the cash on hand.” He chuckled. “You’re gonna get so fed up seeing your folks ...”
“Never,” Kaylee said stoutly, her finely-tuned senses knowing the moment Hank adjusted their angle of entry and the ride smoothed out. “And if you’re looking for something to do, you can carry this.” She patted the bag.
“What’d your last slave die of?” Jayne asked, picking it up nevertheless.
“Not sure. He went into the cargo bay one day with Simon, and he never came back. Hear tell there might have been an altercation near the airlock.”
“I ain’t even gonna ask what you might’ve been doing with him to warrant that.” Jayne laughed out loud this time, carrying the bulging bag with ease.
Simon was waiting for them in the cargo bay, his daughters by his side. He watched her waddle towards him. “Are you okay?” he asked.
She grinned. “Shiny.”
Simon crossed his arms. “Only Bethie tells me you’re in labour.”
Kaylee looked down at the little girl, who smiled nervously. “Did you?” she asked.
“’Es,” Bethie admitted.
“And you were planning on telling me ... when?” Simon looked stern. “Even if you ignore the fact that I’m the father of that little boy, I’m also your doctor, and as such –”
“Don’t go making a fuss,” Kaylee said, waving her hand dismissively.
“Making a ... Kaylee, if you’re in labour, I need to examine you, make sure everything’s as it should be.”
“It’s only a little bit.”
“A little bit. That’s like only being a little bit pregnant.”
“Or a little bit dead,” Jayne put in, enjoying the show.
Simon ignored him. “Kaylee, you’re early. Not much, but –”
“No, she isn’t.”
They all looked up to see River on the catwalk outside the shuttle.
“Mei-mei?” Simon asked.
“Exactly on time.” She looked at her stopwatch. “Not long to go now.”
Simon stared at her, then looked at his wife. “Right. I want you in the infirmary right now.”
“I’m going home. Well, I am home, but the point is I wanna be with my Ma. And you ain’t gonna stop me.”
“I’m not suggesting you stay on board, just that I examine you.”
Kaylee crossed her own arms as much as she could and shook her head firmly. “Nope.”
“Sweetheart, please. Don’t be stubborn about this.”
“Not being stubborn. You wanna examine me, fine. But you can do it at the house.”
“But we’re here. And all my equipment is –”
“And you’ll figure out some way of making sure I stay on board to give birth.” She saw the faint look of guilt cross his face. “Ain’t happening, Simon.”
“But if it’s safer –”
“There won’t be a problem,” River put in. “Everything will go smoothly.”
“And you know this?” her brother snapped at her.
She didn’t take offence. “Yes.”
Jayne growled a laugh. “I think maybe you’d better be taking her word for it, doc.”
Kaylee smiled up at River, then turned back to Simon. “See?” she said triumphantly.
“What’s all the fussin’?” Mal asked, stepping out of the top hatch at the same moment as there was a slight judder and the engine throttled back, but nobody noticed.
“Kaylee’s being ...” Simon stopped, aware he was about to open his mouth and put his foot so far in it he’d be able to kick himself into the middle of next week.
“Yeah?” Kaylee moved closer to him. “Being what?”
His mind went through all the possible words he could use, from stupid to unreasonable to ... Then he saw the hormone-fuelled fire in her eyes. “Being Kaylee,” he managed to say.
Bethie snickered, but quickly put her hand over her mouth.
“’Bout what?” Mal wanted to know, controlling the urge to smile himself.
“She’s getting ready to pop,” Jayne supplied.
Simon rolled his eyes.
Mal’s mouth twitched against his wishes. “That right, mei-mei? You in labour?”
Kaylee nodded. “That I am.”
“And I want to examine her before she goes anywhere,” Simon added.
“And I’ve already said it ain’t happening.” Kaylee glared at him. “More’n once.”
Mal walked slowly down the stairs. “Then let’s see. Is there any reason to think there’s anything wrong?” he asked the young doctor.
“Well, no, but –”
“And you were planning on examining Kaylee when we got to her folks place anyway, weren’t you?”
“Well, yes, but –”
“And she ain’t exactly gonna drop this baby right this minute, right?”
“Then I don’t see the problem.”
Simon’s temper snapped. “The problem? I’ll tell you the problem! Not one of you is a doctor, although you’d never know it from the number of times you tell me what to do. Well, this is my wife, my baby. And if I don’t want her giving birth in an unclean environment, under less than ideal conditions, then it isn’t going to happen. Do you understand me?”
Kaylee was looking at him, a strange expression on her face. “Unclean? Are you suggesting my Ma don’t keep her house? That’s she’s some kind of slob, not capable of washing down a floor?”
Simon realised his mistake immediately from the quiet voice, hiding, as he well knew, a temper that could rip him apart if it ever got loose. “Kaylee ...”
“Is that what you meant?”
“No, I ... I didn’t mean ...”
“Zoe gave birth to Ben at Inara’s, and you didn’t complain about that. You suggesting Mrs Boden’s better at it than my Ma?”
“No, Kaylee, that wasn’t what I meant.”
“Sure sounded like it.” She stepped as close to him as she could get, considering her size. “And if you are then you ain’t the man I married, and you ain’t the father of this little baby.”
There was silence in the cargo bay for a long moment, stretched thin to almost snapping point. Then Hank jumped through the top hatch.
“Okay, folks, we’re down, and the local temp is only just above freezing, so if ... you’d ... like ...” He stopped. “Am I missing something here?”
Simon took a deep breath. “Oh, nothing much. Only me being a qian dao.” He reached up a hand to cup his wife’s cheek. “Dui bu qi?” he asked.
Her glare softened a little, and she said, very quietly so that only he could hear properly, “I want my Ma, Simon.”
“I know. And ... I’ll do the examination at the house.”
Her face regained the look of joy she’d been wearing, and it melted his heart.
“Oh, honey,” she said, pressing as much of herself against him as she could manage. “And a’course I forgive you.”
Mal clapped his hands together, startling everyone. “Well, since it appears there ain’t gonna be bloodshed today – and no point in looking disappointed, Jayne – I think the best thing would be if Hank got out the mule, and you rode in style to the Fryes, don’t you?”
Kaylee nodded, sniffing back a wayward tear. “That would be shiny, captain.”
It didn’t take long for the ATV to make the short trip to the Frye house, where a small group of people were waiting.
Mal smiled as he brought the old vehicle to a halt. “You catching being psychic?” he called. “Or is this another example of Ellie’s old-fashioned magic?”
Eddie grinned. “Something like that.”
“We heard ya coming,” Bill Frye admitted. “Nothing much else landing lately.”
“Can’t sneak up on us Fryes,” Peter agreed.
Eddie looked around. “Where’s everyone else?” he asked, seeing only the captain and the expectant couple.
“Staying on board, at least until morning,” Mal said. “Then maybe we’ll come on over in shifts.”
“You know you’re all welcome, especially my granddaughters.” Ellie had bustled up to the mule, holding out her hands for Kaylee to take. “Baby?”
“Are you okay?”
“Oh, shiny.” A tear ran down the young woman’s cheek, and she laughed lightly. “Can’t rightly say why I’m cryin’, though.”
“Nothing to be ashamed of,” Ellie insisted, sniffing back one of her own.
“Well, before we all get in on the act,” Mal said quickly, “maybe we’d better get Kaylee out of the cold.”
“Oh, my, yes, of course.” Simon had already dismounted from the back and had his black doctor’s bag in his grasp. Ellie’s hand flew to her throat. “There’s nothing wrong, is there?”
“No, Ma, no.” Kaylee grinned. “He’s just being a worrypuss is all.”
“Kaylee’s in labour,” Simon said.
“Then we’re getting you into the warm real quick,” Eddie said, taking charge. “Bobby, you take the bags. Pete and me’ll help your sister inside. Bill, open the doors. Joe, go turn back the covers on the bed.”
“Yes, Pa,” was chorused by all four of his sons.
“It ain’t necessary,” Kaylee protested, but not very hard as Ellie helped her climb from the mule.
“Of course it is,” her mother said, relinquishing her place only reluctantly to her husband. “And you’re gonna sit back and enjoy every second of it. I even got Aunt Jemima to give me some of her special herbs so I can brew up that tea.”
Kaylee grinned, then grimaced as a contraction hit, slightly stronger than the last.
“Inside,” Eddie ordered, and he swung his daughter up into his arms, grunting only a little with the effort as he carried her into the house.
Mal couldn’t help the indulgent smile on his face as he had to stand back and let them get on with it, watching the Fryes fussing around Kaylee. “I’m kinda thinking you ain’t gonna be allowed to do much here, doc,” he said quietly.
“You know, I’m not sure I mind. It might be nice to be able to be the expectant father for a change.”
“I believe you, Simon. Millions wouldn’t.”
“No, honestly. I’m just going to sit back, packet of cigars in one hand, glove in the other.” He looked up sharply. “The glove. I don’t think I packed it.”
“Don’t you worry,” Mal said, clapping him on the shoulder so hard the boy almost staggered. “Frey’ll bring it when it gets light, along with anything else you’re likely to have forgotten. Make a list and I’ll wave it over.”
Simon raised his eyebrows slightly. “Are you staying?”
“If’n you don’t mind. She’s a member of my crew, after all.”
“And your surrogate daughter, just as much as River is.”
Mal shrugged. “Always looked on Kaylee more as the sister I never had, but I get your drift. But one way or another, I kinda want to be close on hand. Just in case she needs something.”
Simon smiled. “Mal, I just want to say I ... I’m glad you’re here.”
“You’re more’n welcome, Simon.” He shook his head. “And believe me, it was a fight with Freya to be the one to come.”
“I can imagine.”
“I got the scars to prove it.” He chuckled. “And weren’t you gonna be giving Kaylee that examination?”
“Yes, yes, I was.” Simon looked at his captain. “And ... thanks.” He turned and hurried into the house before his unaccustomed display of emotion had him crying too.
Mal grinned, about to start the mule’s engine again to take it around the back out of the way, when he paused. “Albatross, you may as well come on out. I know you’re there.”
For a moment he thought he’d been wrong, then a wraith slipped out of the night, moving silently to stand next to him.
“How did you know?” River asked, only dressed in a thin dress with a loose sweater over the top. Even her feet were bare. “Or are you catching being psychic?”
“Maybe. And I know you.” He tapped the stopwatch hidden in the folds of her top. “I get the feeling you ain’t gonna be more’n a few paces away the whole time.”
“Kaylee’s my sister too.”
“Jayne know where you are?”
She nodded. “He saw me leave.”
“And he didn’t try to stop you?”
“No. He knows me too.”
“I reckon he does, xiao nu.” He laughed. “Go on. Better get inside and start annoying your brother. Give him something else to think about during the hours to come.”
“Yes, sir, captain.” She saluted him quite snappily then ran indoors.
“And warm up your feet before you give us all chilblains!” he called as the door closed.
to be continued
Saturday, August 8, 2009 6:21 AM
Saturday, August 8, 2009 1:34 PM
Saturday, August 8, 2009 2:55 PM
Saturday, August 8, 2009 3:19 PM
Sunday, August 9, 2009 12:06 AM
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