BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Masks - Part XXXI
Saturday, May 8, 2010

Maya. Post-BDM. Serenity and Cherokee part company, Mal and Freya take a walk, and just a hint of something that will be coming up later on down the line. CONCLUDING CHAPTER


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1899    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

“We keep doing this, don’t we?” Jez said, her hands thrust deeply into her pockets as she stood by the airlocks joining Cherokee and Serenity. “Saying goodbye.”

“Way life goes,” Mal said. “At least we’re still around to say it.”

“True.” She smiled slightly. “Be a bit more difficult if we were standing here dead.”

“Sure be messier.”

“Think anyone’d clear it up?”

“Nope. Our mouldering corpses would probably stay until they stunk the place out.”

“Thanks for that mental image.”

“My pleasure.” Mal smiled, his blue eyes warm. “You all gonna be okay?”

“If by ‘all’ you mean me and Flynn … I don’t know. I hope so. We’ve made progress, that’s what’s important.”

“I guess.” His lips twitched. “So are you going to have any more kids?”

She raised her eyebrows at him. “Anyone ever tell you it isn’t nice to pry?”

“Probably. I didn’t take much notice, though. Only I’m figuring Flynn didn’t turn out that badly. Must be his genes.”

She blushed. Jez Thacker actually blushed. “I … suppose he didn’t.”

Mal, stop teasing her.

He had to cough to hide the laugh as Freya spoke in his head, and Jez looked at him sharply. “Anyway,” he went on quickly, “if you need any help any time, you let us know.”

“Don’t worry, we will. And the same for you.”

“I’ll take that as a kindness.”

They both knew it could be months before the two ships were within spitting distance again, but it didn’t matter. Friends were friends, no matter how often they could get together.

“And I’ll let Frey know how things go with Flynn and me,” Jez went on.

“Shiny.”

“Where is Frey, by the way?”

“Lessons. She wanted to get right back into the swing of things.” Mal chuckled. “Must be the first time the kids’ve ever hurried. I think maybe River taking over made ‘em more appreciative of my wife’s talents.”

“I had a governess,” Jez admitted. “And I hated her with a will.”

“I guess it took meeting me to mellow your nature.”

She considered hitting him, but Ida’s voice from inside the common area interrupted.

“Okay, take him through,” the diminutive woman instructed.

Jayne and Hank managed to manoeuvre the stretcher out of the doorway into the cargo bay, Ida close behind.

“I can walk,” Flynn complained.

“Hey, don’t sweat it,” the ex-mercenary said. “We’ve had plenty of practice carrying Mal every time he gets shot.” Jayne appeared to see his captain for the first time. “Oh, hey, Mal. Just talking about you.”

“So I gather.” Mal glared at him, then looked at the passenger. “You gonna be good?” he asked.

Flynn grinned. “About as much as you.”

“I’ll be on the lookout for your wanted poster then.”

“I think I’ll be in good company.”

Hank shifted his handholds slightly. “Look, I know Jayne’s bulging with muscles, and I’m not bad, but Flynn here ain’t a lightweight. Can we get on afore I drop him?”

Mal’s cobalt glare turned on the pilot, but his lips were twitching. “Fine. Take him on through. I’m sure he’s more’n willing to be in better company than you two.”

“You wound me,” Hank said, starting forwards again.

“Don’t tempt me.”

Simon stepped into the cargo bay, managing to contain the wince as he put his bad leg down. Kaylee had been somewhat enthusiastic in her welcoming, and he wondered if maybe he should be using that stick again. “Do you have everything you need?” he asked Ida as the other pair carried Flynn into Cherokee.

“More than enough. And you did such a good job all I’m going to have to do is keep it clean.”

“Yes, well, if there’s any sign of infection just wave.”

“Will do.” She reached up and planted a kiss on his cheek before following her patient.

“I’ll tell Kaylee on you,” Mal threatened.

The young doctor didn’t even blink. “And I’ll remember that the next time I’m having to sew you up.”

“I’d be happier if you’d remember to tell your wife to stop hitting me every chance she gets.” Mal rubbed the spot on his belly where her elbow had connected the last time. “’Cause it seems to me it wasn't my fault you got shot.”

Simon’s lips twitched. “You know, I think I’ll leave that up to you. After all, you are captain.” He turned on his heel and limped back to his domain.

“You have a wonderfully loyal crew,” Jez commented dryly, her face deadpan.

“Want to swap?”

“No.”

“You know, I'm surprised you ain't got more’n one passenger,” Mal said.

“You mean Flynn? He’s not a passenger. He’s family.”

“I was thinking more of Val.”

Jez shrugged. “They talked. Much more than that, I don’t know. Flynn hasn’t said.”

“What, not told his mother about the private conversation he had with his girlfriend?”

“I know you’re trying to wind me up, and it won’t work.” She glared at him. “And if Val is his girlfriend, it’s news to me.”

Mal didn’t enlighten her as to the conversation he’d had with Freya the night before. It wasn’t that she’d peeked, but she had happened to find herself outside the infirmary doing a bit of tidying up just at the time Valentia Reilly had given in to her desires and walked the few yards to see Flynn Youngblood.

Freya had said the kissing noises coming through the doorway after a while were quite disturbing.

“Give it time, Jez,” Mal advised. “Give it time.” He smiled. “And from the way you’re dillydallying, I can’t help feeling you don’t want to be parted from my company either.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever dillied in my life. Let alone dallied.”

“Nope?”

“No. And I’m just waiting for Hank and Jayne to get back, Captain Reynolds, then you won’t see my burn for dust.”

“Right.” He grinned. “I just thought it was my magnetic personality.”

“In your dreams.”

“Saffron’s, apparently. At least according to Frey.”

“Really?”

“She says the erstwhile Mrs Reynolds hates me so much she loves me.”

Jez scoffed.

Saffron, in fact, couldn’t wait to go back to the liner. “Durren’s sending a personal ship for me,” she explained to Mal, who for some reason even he couldn’t fathom had found himself in Cherokee’s small infirmary. “It’s going to meet us on Persephone.”

“You planning on staying put after you get back to Bellerophon?”

“Why, would you miss me?” she tried, batting her eyelashes at him.

“Saffron, sweetheart, I never miss.”

Her eyes narrowed as she contemplated the double meaning behind the words, then sighed heavily. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “Durren loves me, I have everything I want, but sometimes …”

“Heinrich,” Mal supplied.

She sighed. “You know, I never can remember his name.”

“Saffron ... Yolanda ... or whatever the hell you’re calling yourself right now ... that ain't something you should be proud to admit.” Mal looked down into the small carrycot at her side, at the baby lying peacefully asleep. “And you’re a mother, now. Unless you’re planning on carryin’ a papoose with you every time you go out trying to kill someone.”

“I don’t kill people.”

“Not many, anyway.” He smiled slightly. “I seem to recall us having this very same conversation once before, and it didn’t end up too well.”

“You still owe me for my share of the Lassiter,” she said quickly.

“Nope. ‘Less you want to pay me my share of that statue you almost made me the fall guy for.”

She glared at him, then tossed her head, her red hair sweeping out to frame her features. “Fine. Be like that.”

“Oh, don’t worry, honey. I will.”

A small baby’s wail announced that someone was hungry, and Saffron reached into the cot, lifting her son to rest against her chest. She began to unbutton her dress.

Mal hurried out. He’d seen enough women putting babies to their breasts to last him a lifetime, but the catch in his throat wasn’t because of that. It was seeing the look of … well, if he didn’t know better, he’d have to call it love on her face. He strode back towards his own ship and family, shaking his head. Maybe this was actually going to change her.

Not that he was going to get the chance to find out. Within the hour she and Barkin had been whisked back to the Empress, preparing to finally get under way.

“We’re back,” Hank announced, carrying the now dismantled stretcher. “Ida tried to entice us to stay with promises of good food and better company, but my masochistic side kicked in.”

Jayne chuckled, sounding like gravel down a washboard. “Nah. You just know what Zoe’d do if she found out you’d been flirting with someone else.”

“She was flirting with me!” Hank insisted, then spoiled it by grinning. “But you’re right. And I’d sort’ve like to see Ben grow up.”

“Then you’d better get up to the bridge,” Mal said. “Get us ready to separate.”

“I wouldn’t worry,” the pilot said. “I’m sure River’s there already.”

“Maybe I should be paying her your share of the next lot of cashey-money then …”

“Getting to the bridge in a supervisory context, on the double. Sir!” He ripped off a smart salute, only slightly hampered by trying to do it with the stretcher still in his hand, having to hand it to Jayne, and trying again. He ran up the stairs two at a time, his untidy brown hair looking worse than ever.

“You know,” Mal mused to Jez, “maybe I was right. Maybe there will be another passenger on board Cherokee. Me.”

Jez’s laugh rolled through the Firefly.

---

As Cherokee powered up and final goodbyes were said over the comm. system, Mal stared out at the stars.

“There she goes,” Hank said, his eyes roaming across the board as always, checking for potential problems.

“Mmn.”

The Pelican class ship had disengaged, and as they watched her engine lit with an inward fire, and in a moment she had vanished.

“Holding your breath?” Freya said from behind her husband, her arms snaking around his waist to rest, palms flat, on his chest.

“Yes.”

“It won’t happen again.”

“You can see that?” Road Runner, her innards spilled into the dark …

“Nope. But I believe.”

“Enough for both of us?”

Her fingers ghosted over the gold cross hiding under his shirt. “Yes.”

“Shiny.”

She shifted around so she could stand next to him, pressed against his side. “You think Val and Flynn are going to keep in touch?”

“I think maybe Cherokee’s gonna find some excuse to visit Sihnon around about the time the Empress docks,” Mal said astutely. “Although that’s dependent on whether they want to finish the cruise.”

“Ah, well, actually …” Freya’s voice faded.

He looked down into her brown eyes. “There something you ain’t telling me?”

“Lots. But in this case, Val and Phoebe want to rejoin the Empress at Persephone.”

“Do they, now. And what if I say no?”

“Are you intending to lock them in their rooms?” she countered.

“Nope. I don’t think I could take the aggravation.”

“So you’re okay with this?”

“Okay, no. But I kinda understand. And lightning doesn’t strike in the same place twice.”

River, sitting in the co-pilot’s seat, stirred slightly. “Actually –”

“Albatross.”

She subsided, and Hank chuckled.

“So I thought I’d contact Dillon, see if those other bodyguards are still available,” Freya went on.

“You intending on checking them out personally?”

“You’d better believe it,” she said fervently.

“Then I conjure I’ll be along with you. For moral support.” Mal pulled her a little closer. “Still be a while before they see each other again.”

“They do say abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.”

“I thought that was absence?”

“Not in my world.”

Mal smiled. “I always figured it just made a man all knotted up inside.”

“That too.”

“She’s pretty enamoured, ain't she?”

“She thinks he’s a hero.”

“No such thing.”

“Then hopefully the closest they’re likely to get.”

“And after you were so angry when you found the pair of them at Ling Miao.”

“Yes, well … maybe he did redeem himself.”

He had to nod. “I figure maybe he did.”

Hank coughed. “Um, as fun as this is watching you two smooching, where exactly would you like me to drive? I mean, it’s a big ‘verse out there, and –” His head snapped around to River. “And you can stop that right now.”

Her hand, which had been reaching for the controls, slid back into her lap. “Oops,” she said, smiling at him.

“Gorramit, you’re always trying to take my job.”

“I like flying.”

“Me too. It’s what I get paid for.”

“Zoe thinks it’s because you let her –”

Xiao nu.” Mal’s voice cut through the banter. “I think that’s enough, don’t you?” When she turned her dazzling grin on him, he chuckled. “More than enough.” Looking back at Hank, he went on, “Persephone first. Got me a date with a rodent. Then Lazarus to get Inara back to the lovin’ arms of Sam. If he hasn’t found someone else in the meantime.” Then he yelped as Freya pinched him.

---

Eavesdown hadn’t changed, and Mal wondered silently why he thought it would. The containers, the shacks, the people … the faces might move on, but humanity stayed the same.

“Penny for them,” Freya said quietly, her arm around his waist as they walked through the crowds.

“Not worth it,” he responded, smiling slightly. “’Sides, when did you ever ask permission?”

“Occasionally.”

“Not that often.”

“Once in a while.”

“Anyway, my thoughts aren’t worth a skinned –” He had to stop on account of her fingers on his lips. “This an example of you not peeking?” he mumbled.

“I know what you were going to say.” She dropped her hand.

“Frey, the kids ain’t around.”

“Just because they’ve gone with Kaylee to get some new clothes for them and David Gabriel, doesn’t mean …” She stopped. “Well, yes it does, but they’re hearing far too many curse words anyway.”

“Tell that to Jayne.”

“You know, that’s not so true anymore. Haven’t you noticed? Now Caleb’s starting to talk, Jayne’s been a lot more careful with what he says.”

“I just thought he’d run out of new variations.”

“Jayne? Has hell frozen over?”

They laughed together, their path taking them past the usual fast food stands.

“You know, that baby’s gonna have the most extensive wardrobe of us all,” Mal commented, going back to the matter in hand while watching a man juggle with swords, and wondering idly what would happen if one of the people clustered around him accidently nudged him.

“I see. And you didn’t buy him a –”

“Hey, that’s not for public broadcast.”

She smiled. “You’re just a big softie.” Something large flew overhead, something familiar. “The Empress must be in orbit,” she added, looking up as the liner’s shuttle descended towards the more salubrious end of the docks.

Mal chuckled. “What’s the betting Durren Haymer’s gonna be waiting for it in person?”

“Not taking that bet.” She laughed out loud, making a group of young women in all encompassing black outfits stare at her curiously. “Poor Saffron. He’s not going to let her out of his sight.”

“I feel more sorry for the kid. By the time he’s five he’s going to know more than enough about being a scam artist.”

“You think?” Freya asked thoughtfully. “I wonder.”

“Don’t,” he advised. “She’s not worth it.”

“Okay.” She grinned. “You do realise Durren is going to owe you this time, don’t you?” she said, side-stepping a small child in an oversized shirt, a large earthenware bottle balanced skilfully on her head.

“Hell, may need to call him on it one day.”

“Not yet, I hope.”

“Try not to, ai ren.”

They strolled on for maybe another hundred yards, then Freya spoke again. “Are you going to murder Badger?”

“Thinking on it. Why, you wanna watch?”

“Only, without his ore, we’d never have stopped the Laus.”

“We’d have found a way.”

“Mal …”

He shrugged. “Okay. No murder. Least, not today. But I ain't gonna thank him either.”

“Oh no. Not that far.”

“And he’s gonna pay the rest of the cash for that little job we did for him, too.”

“You think?”

“Or I might just look into how we ended up being a getaway vehicle.”

She grinned. “You really are a bastard, aren’t you?”

“Glad you noticed.”

“Good job I love you.”

“For me too, Frey. Me too.”

They walked in silence for a moment, then Mal sighed.

“What?” Freya asked.

“Not sure. Just feeling ... hungry.”

“Hungry? You ate not more than an hour ago.”

“Not that kinda hungry. More for something sweet. And cold.”

Freya’s lips twitched. “You mean like ice cream?”

“Maybe . Might be just that.”

Jesse had told how they’d had ice cream on Beaumonde, when they said goodbye. “I missed out, didn’t I?”

“Well, we did buy extra, but someone got into it one night.”

“Someone?”

“I'm thinking it was Jayne.”

“Not you.”

“Nope. Not ‘less I was sleepwalking.”

“I thought that was me.”

He smiled and hugged her a little closer. “So how about it? After we meet with the others and sort out Badger, how about we go get ice cream?”

“Mmn, sounds nice.” She hummed in satisfaction.

“You, me, and a ton of choc chips.”

“Okay. But I think we’ll have to take some back.”

“I was thinking of doing just that. Maybe some strawberry too.”

“You thinking it might make Kaylee forgive you?”

Mal was still recovering from various bruises. “I surely hope so.”

“Simon got shot,” Freya pointed out.

“Not my fault.”

“Not according to Kaylee.”

He sighed. “I know.”

“But I think maybe strawberry ice cream might go a long way towards mending fences.”

“Glad you agree.” He reached down and kissed her lightly on the lips. “But after dealing with Badger.”

“Oh, yes.”

They strolled on, content to be in each other’s company, passing by the rest of Persephone as if it didn’t even exist.

--- -- -

Half the way to hell and gone, so far from Persephone that it wasn’t worth counting the miles, a young man held a girl in his arms, trying to still her crying.

“Ssh, Naomi,” he whispered, rocking gently. “Ssh. It will be okay.”

“No … no … it … won’t.” Her words came out on sobs. “Hurts, Adam. Hurts.”

“I know. I know.” He looked around, not using his eyes. Nobody was watching, over and above the usual surveillance sticks. Turning in on himself, he felt for that nugget of life, the glow that kept him going when everything else tried to push him face down into the mud. Caressing it, making it flare just a little, he took the resulting flame and coated Naomi’s mind in it, bathing the wounds – both mental and physical – in its healing balm.

It was only a moment, then Naomi took a shuddering breath, the lines smoothing on her eight year old face, the tears stopping. “Adam …”

“Ssh,” he said again. “Don’t tell anyone.”

“I … I won’t.” She relaxed against him, a sweet smile gracing her lips for the first time in hours. In less than a minute she had fallen asleep.

Adam picked her up and carried her to the bed, her weight hardly registering on his muscles, and he made a mental note to encourage her to eat more. It wouldn’t do for her to be so thin, not when rescue might be just around the corner.

Laying down on the bed, he let her use him as a mattress, her little arms either side of him, her face pressed firmly into his neck.

He tiptoed through her dreams for a moment, before withdrawing and leaving her to memories of fluffy white clouds and snowdrops. Going the other way, he tested the walls around him, seeing if there was yet a chink that he could see through, out into the ‘verse, trying to contact her. He sighed. Nothing.

He’d never managed it yet. The drugs they used kept his abilities from their full potential, he knew that, and the security threads running all through the walls and floors were more than efficient. Most of the time he felt dumb and blind, only in the fleeting touches with the children’s minds getting any kind of relief.

One day. One day. It was his mantra, the way he could keep going, keep protecting the children as much as he could without arousing too much suspicion. If they knew, if they even suspected he’d been able to hack the records that one time, he knew he wouldn’t survive the hour. If they guessed he’d seen her face, her name, knew he was more than just a number …

Naomi shifted on him, one hand coming up to push a thumb into her mouth. He knew he should stop her, pull it gently away, admonish her for making her teeth crooked, but somehow he couldn’t. That little bit of comfort was essential.

His own eyes were closing, he knew, and he’d soon be joining her in sleep. Maybe his dreams would be of clouds and flowers too, but he knew better – too many things out there in the dark to populate his nightmares. Still, as he felt himself slipping, he held tightly to the truth of the matter. And one day he, Adam Rostov, would meet his mother.


A.n.: Thanks to everyone who stuck with this story - there'll be a blog coming soon with a bit more info! But I promise there will be more ... Jane

COMMENTS

Saturday, May 8, 2010 1:04 PM

MAINEAXE


Whew!!.. nice fluffy wind down to a magnificent tale... and then.... a preview of whats to come??? Freya's son is in the hands of dispicable fiends??
well..hell.. bring it on!!!
I CANT WAIT!!!!!!

Saturday, May 8, 2010 1:52 PM

BYTEMITE


Something just occurred to me. Saffron pregnant, and nursing. *wince* Ow. It's amazing she isn't in a worse mood than she is, unless I don't understand the particulars of the anatomy well.

I am laughing imagining her asking Jez to let out some of her shirts, though. I can't imagine they picked up Saffron's maternity clothes from the Empress in the rush to get away, or I've forgotten reading it.

Saturday, May 8, 2010 1:53 PM

BYTEMITE


Oh, oops, she went back to the Empress. Well, that explains that. Oh well. Good opportunity for a laugh.

Saturday, May 8, 2010 4:29 PM

KATESFRIEND


Where did Adam come from? Did I miss a memo?

Sunday, May 9, 2010 2:53 AM

ANGELLEMARCS


I want ice cream.....anyway, wonderful ending and an interesting ending! Something tells me the world is not yet done with our BDHs or Freya. Thanks for sharing your world, Jane. I'm ready to dive back in!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010 1:13 PM

OZZYSUN


Ok I have to admit I have trouble watching Firefly or Serenity now. These characters you've created is how the Firefly universe should be, I can't see Mal with anyone other then Freya, and Jane and River is PERFECT!!
Keep on a writing and I will keep on reading :)
Thanks Jane!

Monday, August 30, 2010 11:21 AM

AMDOBELL


Wow! Not only do you give us a super shiny ending to this series but you set up another story to follow on. Poor Adam in the hands of monsters. Will Frey be able to sense her son and will we get the full story of how he ended up in captivity with those other children? Surely hope so and we all know Mal and co will be right there beside Frey when she needs them. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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