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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Conversations and revelations, and Kaylee comes home. NEW CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1960 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Eventually Freya managed to slip out of their bunk, by virtue of having worn Mal out and leaving him sleeping, a tiny snore filtering through his lips. She smiled softly, then fastened the remainder of the buttons on her shirt before climbing the ladder.
The metal of the deck felt cold beneath her bare feet, so she hurried through the Firefly, pausing only briefly to push at the Halo-inspired fog in her mind and make sure her quarry was where she thought she was, and unaccompanied. Then, nodding slightly, she stepped through the airlock and made her way up to Cherokee’s kitchen.
It was almost dark, just one light burning over the stove in case anyone felt the need to raid the stack of goodies Ida always kept in one of the cupboards. This time, though, nobody was eating. The sole occupant of the room was sitting at the head of the table, her arms on the old wood, head down, staring into a glass.
Freya slid into the seat next to her, watching her for a moment.
Jez looked like a permanent feature, as if she had been carved out of the same wood as the table, and at the same time like some bizarre figurehead. Her glass was currently empty, but the open bottle next to it suggested it wasn’t often. Indeed, as Freya watched, her hand reached out and grabbed the neck, upending it, letting the clear liquid pour out. She didn’t stop until it almost reached the brim.
“Looks like a good year,” Freya commented, the perfume of slightly raw alcohol reaching her nose.
“I think it is. All of four months.” Jez carefully put the bottle back down, somewhat too carefully if the truth be told. She’d been here a long time.
“Ah. You know, I think little Kaylee’s plan is to spread the knowledge of how to build an inter-engine fermentation still throughout the known ‘verse.”
“And I think it’s working.”
“Marcel made a few adjustments.”
“I’ll let Kaylee know. She’ll probably be interested.”
They were silent for maybe a minute, then Freya spoke again. “You killed him.” She wasn’t talking about Marcel.
“Yes.” Jez tossed back the moonshine, feeling it burn an already over-burdened throat.
“Do you wish you hadn’t?”
“Then why are you torturing yourself?”
“Whatever gives you that idea? Maybe I just wanted a drink.”
Freya looked the other woman up and down, noting the dark circles under her eyes, the not terribly clean shirt, her feet in disreputable socks, holes in the heels, and had to smile. “Jez, it might have escaped your notice, but I'm psychic. I know when someone’s hurting, and you’re in pain.”
“Maybe I’m just trying to figure out why I didn't just shoot him in the first place. Soon as Laura and I got on board. Bang. All over.”
“And what conclusion have you come to?” Freya reached out and took the bottle, possibly risking life and limb in doing so. She gently recorked it.
“Hmmn ... what?”
“I was just thinking how like Mal you are.”
Jez’s eyes narrowed. “If you’re about to make a play for me, I'm happily married. Well, married, anyway.”
Freya smiled, wondering if Noah had been nagging her too. “No. You’re not my type. You’re missing something important.”
“Like what?” Jez leered.
“Sobriety, for a start.”
“This? This is normal. Just me. Having a drink.”
“Having several drinks. Having half the bottle, in fact.”
“So? You’re not my mother.”
“No, I'm not.”
Something in Freya’s tone made Jez look up. “You stay out of this, Frey. This is between me and my conscience.”
“That’s what this is all about, isn’t it? Motherhood.”
“No idea what you’re talking about.” Jez lifted the glass again, almost surprised to find it empty.
“I’m not stupid, Jez.”
“Never said you were.” She reached for the bottle but Freya moved it further away. “Frey ...”
“You’ve had enough.”
“Nope. Never enough.”
“Oh, I see. So this is going to be like when you thought you’d crippled Noah.”
“I did!” Jez rubbed her belly, as if she’d received a blow to it. “I did,” she repeated, much quieter.
“No, you didn’t. We talked about that, remember?”
“Hell, I ain’t likely to forget.” She shuddered, memories of being made to be sensible still raw in her head.
“And now you need to talk about this. To me, or Noah, I don't really care. Even Mal, if you’re feeling masochistic.”
“Oddly enough, not that much.”
“No, most people aren’t.” Jez’s lips twitched, but that was about all, and Freya went on, “I don’t doubt you saved my life. And Dr Barkin’s, let alone Saffron’s. Harrington wasn’t going to keep anyone alive who could possibly testify to what he’d done.”
“But that’s not everything, is it? There’s more. About Harrington. About how Laura says, when she heard the kill shot and rushed in, his gun was the other side of the ship.”
“You’re asking if I killed an unarmed man.”
“No. But I think you need to say it.”
Jez stared at her friend, knowing she knew, knowing she was going to have to say the words out loud. Hell, might as well get them over with. “Yes. You’re right. Harrington didn’t have a gun. I can't even use that excuse. He was talking, and all I could hear was my father saying the same words, and I didn't have him in front of me. So I just pulled the trigger.” She paused for a long moment, then went on, “I murdered my father. By proxy.”
“But knowing that, knowing why I did what I ... what I want to do ...” Her eyes screwed tight shut. “It doesn’t make it right.”
“No. But we all do things we regret, things we wish we’d never had to, things we’re ashamed of. This is just another one.”
“I'm not ashamed!” Jez’s voice rang from the superstructure. “I'm not.” She reached for the bottle again, but this time Freya put it on the floor. “I just want a drink.”
“You've had enough.”
“It won’t help. And in the morning you’ll have that damn mask back on, and nobody’s going to see the hurt you carry inside.”
“Get out of my head, Frey,” Jez warned darkly.
“I'm not in there. I just understand.”
“No you don’t. How can you? Nobody took away your son!”
“No. But I buried a daughter.”
There was a long, very silent moment, neither of the women even breathing.
“Gorramit,” Jez muttered, her face turning red. “Frey, I ...”
“I nearly lost Mal because I didn't talk about it.”
“So am I.” Freya took a deep, cleansing breath. “I was fong luh over it – don't you be.”
“Can if I want,” Jez said, somewhat childishly. Then she shook her head. “How come you always know what to say?”
“Practice.” Freya couldn’t help chuckling. “You and Mal are so alike.”
“If I had my gun I’d consider shooting you for insulting me like that.” Except her shoulders had relaxed just a touch, and maybe there was the beginnings of a smile on her face.
It made Freya broach the other subject. “Jez, when are you going to see Flynn?”
Okay, maybe it was too soon.
“Is that it?” The other woman glared at her, sudden anger fuelled by booze. “All this concern over how I feel about shooting a man, and you just want me to go and poke a tiger?”
“Well, not that. But go and see your son, yes.”
“And tell him what, exactly? Sorry, boy, but I’d love to kill the man who raised you.” Jez laughed, mockingly. “I can see that going down a treat.”
“Have you asked him?”
“No. And I don’t intend to.” Tears began to run down her cheeks, the emotional alcoholic switchback running its course. “What am I, Frey? What the hell am I?”
“A person. A woman with a son who needs her, who she needs, and who’s about as pig-headed as they come.”
“Nobody needs me.”
“Jez.” It was Noah, dressed in only a pair of pyjama bottoms, his hands resting in his lap, as always in the wheelchair.
“Shit.” Jez wiped the tears from her face angrily.
“I need you,” he said simply.
“How long have you been there?” she demanded to know.
“Long enough.” He propelled himself forwards until his knees touched hers. “I know what you did. We all know. And we understand.”
“Don't you damn well pity me!”
“Nope. Not doing that. Like Frey said, we’ve all got our ghosts in the closet. Hell, some of ‘em I wouldn’t want to be telling you even now. Things I’m so ashamed of ...” He shook his head. “Yeah, perhaps you should have shot him when he had the gun in his hand. But you saved us all, Jez. All of us.”
Jez stared into his face, her eyes searching for something, anything that said he wasn’t telling the truth. And all she could see was love. “Shit,” she whispered again.
Freya got up quietly, bare feet only whispering on the decking as she left the kitchen. At the top of the stairs she paused. “’Nara.”
A shadow resolved itself. “I was just going to talk to her myself,” the ex-Companion said softly.
“Still can, if you want.”
“No. I think you did a good job.”
“’Nara, I live with Mal. If I didn’t know how to handle difficult people once in a while, I’d be raiding Simon’s stocks of drugs every day.”
“I know I would.” Inara smiled briefly, then her gaze went back to the small area of light framed by darkness, where Jez sat with her head in her husband’s lap, his hands stroking her hair. “Is she going to be all right?”
“You’re the counsellor – you tell me.”
“I think she’s going to have a hell of a hangover in the morning.”
Freya smiled. “That she is.”
“And as for the rest ... yes, I think so. This might even be a cathartic experience for her.”
“I wouldn't be at all surprised.” Freya stifled a yawn.
“And you should be in bed.”
Inara’s jaw dropped a little, then she regained control. “One day I might actually take you up on that.”
“Somehow I doubt it.” Another yawn, this time sneaking up on her so fast she couldn’t stop it. “Oh, sorry.”
“Go to bed,” Inara advised.
“That your prescription?”
“It is. Just like I'm going to.” To make her point she started down towards the cargo bay. “Coming?”
“Mmn.” As her friend walked in front of her, Freya studied her, the elegance, the poise, and smiled slightly. That was going to change soon. Very soon. But that was going to be Inara’s secret to tell, not hers. When she finally found out, that is. And if River could be persuaded to keep her mouth shut.
Next morning, after a leisurely breakfast prepared by Ida in Cherokee’s kitchen, Mal sat nursing a cup of coffee and talking to Jez and Noah.
“We need to at least pay you for the ammo you used.”
Noah shook his head. “Nah, no need. Marcel’d been wanting to check out the guns for a while, so it just gave us the opportunity. ‘Sides, he said the aft one’s seized up now, so there’s no need to replace the charges.”
“Don’t be telling Kaylee. Or Jayne. They’ll be fighting over who gets to try and unseize it.”
Noah grinned. “Hell, I'm just glad it didn’t blow up on us. And Marcel’s looking forward to taking it to pieces when he has nothing else to do.”
“Then I insist we pay for –”
“No,” Jez said firmly, interrupting him. “You saved our lives before, so we’re just repaying the debt.” She winced slightly as Mal twisted his mug on the old table. The smoother was finally beginning to work, but she still felt a little fragile.
He gazed at her, feeling only the smallest amount of sympathy for what he considered a self-inflicted injury. “Kaylee only fixed your engine.”
“Then make it that she can do it again sometime. I'm sure we’ll need it.”
Mal had to smile. “You’re really not going to let me repay you, are you?”
“You know how much that irks me.”
A wide grin split her face. “Oh, yes.”
“Come on, Mal. It’s what you love about me.”
“Hey!” Noah put in. “No talking about love. At least, not while your husband is here.”
“Fine.” She glanced at him then back at Mal. “We’ll talk about it later. When we’re alone.”
Noah groaned a little. “See how much she thinks of me?” A mischievous look flashed across his face. “Hey, you ever been to Covenant?”
“Out beyond Jiangyin?” When Noah nodded, Mal went on, “Nope. One of the few places I haven’t set foot.”
“There’s a settlement called Amity there, and they practice a little tradition called wife-swapping. See, every six months they all get together and have a big feast, and everyone puts a numbered ball into one of two pots. One for the women, one for the men. And everyone gets to pick out a number from the opposite pot, and they live together for the next six months.”
Jez was now leaning back in her chair with her arms crossed, her expression promising retribution if her husband didn’t stop talking, but Noah ignored her.
“Really,” Mal said, trying not to smile.
“Really,” Noah agreed. “And did I ever tell you I was born there? ‘Cause I figure I’m way overdue.”
“You told me you were born on Calliope,” Jez pointed out.
Noah laughed. “Yeah, but a man can dream, can’t he?”
She hit him, not very hard, but enough so that he yelped and rubbed at his arm.
“Well, if you won’t let me pay for the ammunition,” Mal said, getting back to the matter in hand even as he enjoyed seeing two other people fighting for a change, “then at least come on over and see Flynn.”
Jez shot him a glare. “No.”
“Because he doesn’t want to see me.”
Noah wheeled back from the table a little so he could turn to face her fully. “Since when did you do what other people wanted?”
“Since when do I have to explain everything to you?” she countered.
“Since you said ‘I do’. Which, I have to admit, sometimes worries and confuses me.”
“Because I said yes?”
“Because you turned up at all. Jez Youngblood, Independent. Diyu, but that’s the most apt title I’ve ever heard.”
“Jez Thacker, if you don’t mind.”
“Oh, I don’t mind. But as the man who gave you that name, why won’t you go see your son?”
Mal grinned. “I think you’re outnumbered,” he put in. “And as senior captain here –”
“I get to say.”
“Who died and made you God?”
Noah leaned forward. “Jez, stop being such a baichi and go see Flynn.”
She glared at him. “Bastard.”
“Actually my parents were happily married. Until they had me.”
“I'm not surprised.” She ran her hands over her face. “Look. I want to see him, make sure he’s okay, but ... we didn’t exactly part on the best of terms last time.”
“Try it again,” Mal suggested. “You never know.”
“He did.” Freya smiled at Flynn. “Naked as a jaybird.”
“And that’s her?”
“Has she had the baby yet? I have to say, I was surprised Simon didn’t rush over there.”
“Ah, there might be … extenuating circumstances.” Freya smiled. “Like being more than a little concerned Saffron might take it into her head to sell him and River out to the Alliance.”
“After you rescued her?”
“Saffron doesn’t exactly have the same moral compass as the rest of us. What’s good for Saffron is all that matters.”
“But her husband’s rich.”
“I don’t think she sees it that way. And yes, she had the baby. A few hours ago. A boy. From what I understand, Ida’s learned some new curse words.” Freya shook her head. “Saffron, a mother. Somehow, it undermines your belief in the basic goodness of the ‘verse, doesn’t it?”
“What’s she going to call it?”
“Last I heard, she was threatening to name him ‘Mal’.”
Flynn laughed, then his face screwed up. “Don’t,” he said quickly. “It hurts.” He had to wait a few moments for the pain to subside and he could breathe easier. “She must be happy.”
Freya considered. “Happiness and Saffron. I honestly don’t know if she ever is. She’s probably at her happiest when she’s fleecing some poor mark, but actually being happy ... I don’t know.”
“But she’s got a baby. A son.”
Freya looked into his eyes, seeing the hopefulness in them. “Maybe. Maybe this will change her.”
“I doubt it,” Jez said from the doorway.
Freya looked up. “Hi.”
From the look on her face Freya knew she hadn’t exactly come willingly. “Mal?”
“And Noah. My own husband ganging up on me.”
“I figure that’s what they’re put in this world to do. And you wouldn’t listen to me.” She stood up. “Come on. Better get this over with.”
Flynn, watching the two women from his supine position, shook his head. “You make it sound like it’s my funeral.”
“It could have been!” Jez didn’t mean to be so sharp. “Sorry. But I ... I only just ...”
“And I didn’t help.” Flynn sounded sheepish, and Jez stepped to the bed.
“I’ve still got my leg. Thanks to Mal, according to Simon.”
“Mmn. A one-legged mercenary. Probably not a good career move.”
“Murphy MacLean,” Freya said thoughtfully as she stepped back to lean on the counter.
“He had one leg. And one arm. Come to think of it, he only had one eye and no nose.” She paused. “We used to call him ‘Lucky’.”
Jez glared. “Go.”
Freya grinned and sauntered out. “If you need me, I’ll be just here.”
Turning back to the medbed, Jez looked at her son. “I’m glad you’re going to be okay.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“Flynn, I ...” Her voice failed her.
Her breath hitched in her chest. “Yes.”
“You killed him.”
“Because he was going to take Saffron’s baby from her, like Grandfather did to you.”
Jez swallowed. “Yes.”
“He shouldn’t have.”
“No, but maybe I over-reacted to –”
“Not Harrington. Grandfather. What he did. I'm sorry.”
Jez had to fumble for the stool to sit down before she fell down. “What?”
“I was stupid. I believed him when he said you didn't want me, that all you wanted was money to run away.”
“That’s what he told you.”
“He said you couldn’t wait to give me up.”
“Flynn, that’s not how it happened.”
“I know.” He looked down at his hands. “I ... after last time, when we ... I was so angry. I thought you were making excuses ...” He bit his lip. “So I wrote home. To him.” He could still see the response in his mind’s eye, those few lines scrawled so angrily across the expensive vellum that they’d torn through in a couple of places. “He never forgave me for leaving, I know that. It was probably the only reason he told me the truth. That he’d made you leave me behind.” He swallowed hard. “I’m ... I’m sorry.”
Jez reached out, took his hand, held it tightly. “Don’t be. If I could change things, go back, make it right –”
“No,” she had to admit.
“Then we move on from here.” He smiled slightly. “Mom.”
She couldn’t speak, couldn’t even breathe for the sudden welling of happiness filling her, hearing that word from him for the very first time. Eventually she coughed. “Yes. We move on.”
His fingers wrapped around hers. “You do realise it’s only the drugs Simon has me on that’s letting you hold my hand, don’t you?”
“Oh, I know that.”
“Otherwise I’d be too embarrassed.”
“But that’s what mom’s do,” she said quietly, leaning forward as if it was a secret. “At least, so I've been reliably informed.”
He grinned suddenly, but it faded all too quickly. “Umm ... Mom …”
He looked like a little boy. “I just ... how’s Val?”
Jez’s lips twitched. “She’s fine. Not hurt at all.”
“I don't suppose ... she wants to talk to me.”
“I think she’s still pretty mad.”
“Not surprised. And I didn't mean to ... She’s really nice.”
Jez didn’t push. Love wasn’t something she felt qualified to comment on, at least for other people. Although ... “I can ask her to come down, if you like.”
He jerked, but ignored the pain in his leg. “She’s still here?” He couldn’t have looked more surprised.
“Uh-huh. Mal insisted the girls stay with him, at least until they can decide what they’re going to do.”
“Oh.” He stared into the infirmary ceiling. “I was sure she’d still be on board the liner.”
“Mal didn’t have to argue that hard. I think it scared them both more than they cared to admit.”
Guilt suffused his features. “Sorry.”
“Just don’t do it again.”
She pushed his blond hair back from his forehead, something she’d wanted to do all his life. “So you want me to ask her?”
Flynn shrugged as best he could lying down. “If you see her.”
“But only if … you know …”
“If I see her.” God, he was so young sometimes. Although, thinking about it, Noah behaved … maybe all men were like it once in a while. Mal certainly was. There was a pause, and she tried hard not to ask, but the words fell from her lips anyway. “So are you coming with us? Ida wants to take you in hand.”
“Tell me off, you mean.”
Jez felt her heart drop. “So you’ll be going with Mal. That’s ... I understand.”
“No. I mean I’m sorry for everything I did. Everything I said.” It was probably the painkillers, just like he said, but tears began to run down his cheeks into his hair. “For running away last time. And I want to come with you. If you’ll have me.”
She felt her own eyes moisten. “Got to have someone to look after you,” she said quietly. “Until you’re back on your feet again.”
“Yeah.” He sniffed and wiped at his cheeks. “Don't know why I’m crying.”
“No,” Jez said, doing the same. “Me neither.”
Outside in the common area, Freya smiled, as did both the other psychics on board. Maybe now life could get back to something more approaching normal.
It was a good twenty hours later that Hank got a wave from the Empress.
“Serenity, this is Captain Singh.”
“Captain.” Hank was impressed. He usually only got to deal with people much lower in the pecking order. “What can we do for you?”
“Your engineer is ready to come home.”
“My ... you mean Kaylee.”
“Yes. Ms Frye.” Singh smiled through his beard. “We will, of course, be frisking her before she leaves, but I wouldn't be surprised if she hasn't got a few trifles in her pockets.”
Hank grinned. “You up and running again?”
“We’ll get to Persephone,” Singh allowed. “As soon as we’re clear of The Halo I’ll request a full working party to meet us there.”
“What about your passengers? Any of them wanting to get off?”
“A few. I don’t think this has done our reputation much good, but most of them seem content to stay on board. Of course, we will probably have to adjust our schedule somewhat. We do have something of a hole in our side.”
“Yeah, guess you do.” Hank grinned. “Well, see you in the world, Captain Singh.”
“And you. And pass on my thanks once again to Captain Reynolds. I know we only survived because of his intervention.”
“Will do.” Hank signed off, sitting staring at the blank screen for a few moments. This his lips twitched and he exhaled sharply through his nose. It was amazing just how many folks were still around in the ‘verse just ‘cause of Serenity’s ‘interventions’. Mal could quite possibly end up being the most popular browncoat in the Alliance. And wouldn’t that just annoy him.
Now grinning even wider, Hank reached up and pulled the com down to him. “Mal, just got a wave from the Empress. Kaylee’s ready to come home.”
“Better get River to –”
A light flashed on the board in front of him, and a familiar tremble ran across the deck. Hank sighed. “She’s already gone, Mal.” River’s distinct laughter filtered through his mind, a contact so rare in his experience that he almost jumped.
There was a pause and Hank could imagine the expression on his captain’s face, probably accompanied by an eye roll.
“Shiny,” Mal said finally. “I’ll get to the cargo bay. Welcome her home.”
The shuttle door opened, and Mal smiled. “Hey, there, mei-mei. Did you have a –”
Kaylee thumped him.
“Ow! What was that for?” he asked, rubbing the sore patch. Whatever he’d done, she meant it, and years of dealing with recalcitrant nuts and other machinery had made her deceptively strong.
“For not telling me Serenity’d been hit by an EMP!” She was obviously furious, not just from her resorting to physical violence, but also the high colour in her cheeks.
“Didn’t anyone mention that little fact to you?” Mal tried for innocence, and failed.
“No, they gorram didn’t!” She crossed her arms, trying hard not to whack him again.
Innocence having failed, Mal tried praise. “Well, whatever you and Hank did, it worked. She’s still running.”
“And I need to do a full sweep! Diagnostics, visual as well as integral scans, run a …” She glared at him. “Cap’n, you got any idea what might’ve gone wrong?”
“Um, no?” He put his hand on her arm, risking broken bones. “Kaylee, that’s why I’ve got you. So I don’t have to. And you’re the best mechanic floatin’.”
She wanted to stay mad, but his words sounded so sincere that her anger melted away. “I know that,” she said. “But you still shoulda said.”
“Next time we get hit, I will.”
“Mmn.” She looked around. “So where’s Simon? And my children?”
“Bethie’s got Hope and David Gabriel in with her. I think they’re itching to see you, but she knows you’ll want a little time with Simon first. Who’s in the infirmary. He’s changing Flynn’s dressing.”
“Oh. Good.” She backed up a step. “I’ll just go … see if he needs a hand.” She turned and sauntered towards the stairs, but breaking into a gallop as the anticipation got too much for her, clattering down the steps.
“You might want to run,” Freya commented from where she stood leaning on the railing of the opposite catwalk.
He looked across at her. “Run? Why?”
“Because nobody told her Simon got shot, either.”
“Oh, diyu …”
“Cap’n!” Kaylee’s voice filled the Firefly. “Why’s my husband limping?”
Mal stepped back into the shuttle’s airlock. “River, fire her up!” he called, adding to his wife, “If anybody asks, tell ‘em I've decided to run away and join the circus.”
Freya laughed. “What, and miss all the fun?”
to be concluded
Thursday, May 6, 2010 3:00 AM
Thursday, May 6, 2010 3:15 AM
Thursday, May 6, 2010 8:50 AM
Thursday, May 6, 2010 3:44 PM
Friday, May 7, 2010 1:49 AM
Friday, May 7, 2010 6:13 PM
Monday, August 30, 2010 10:32 AM
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