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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Third in the short series. River and Hank discuss jobs, and Mal thinks on paternity. NEW
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2049 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
There was something about it. The way it seemed to go on forever, unchanging and inviolate.
She shook her head, frowning slightly. Hyperbole. Using two words where one would do. Redundancy. Using two words that meant the same. Did that mean they cancelled each other out? Was space collapsing around her, and she would wink out of existence, at the same time as expanding back to infinity in an unending oscillation? Or –
River looked around at Hank, standing in the doorway, his hands on his hips, his untidy brown hair lifted indignantly. She was surprised how well it matched the expression on his face.
“Hello,” she said, smiling at him.
“No.” He raised a hand, shaking a finger at her. “No. You don’t go saying hello. Not when we’ve talked about this.”
“Talked about what?” She widened her eyes.
“You know exactly.” His thumb jerked. “Out.”
“Ah.” She slid from the pilot’s chair and shimmied into the other.
“Better.” Sitting down on his rightful throne, Hank scanned the board automatically, reaching out to correct a warning light. But she was quicker, her hand almost a blur. “Dammit, River!”
She was immediately contrite. “Sorry.”
“’Cept you aren’t, are you, else you wouldn’t do it.”
She stared down at her bare feet, lifting them up to perch on the edge of the seat, as if trying to make herself as inconspicuous as possible. “Sorry,” she said again, her voice even more so.
He felt like a heel. “Look, River, it’s what I do.” She still wasn’t looking at him, her face hidden behind her curtain of hair. He went on, “I can’t shoot to save my life, not like you and Jayne, or anyone else on this ship, pretty much. And my stitching’s so bad I'm not gonna threaten Simon. As for the engine room ...” He paused. “Well, maybe I can hold my own there, but nowhere near Kaylee’s skills. But you and Frey, you’re always up here, wanting to fly.”
“We like it,” she pointed out, flexing her toes to a perfect ballet point before lifting her head to gaze at him. “And you’re getting better with a gun.”
“Only thanks to Frey.”
“Okay, I’ll give you that. But I ain’t even Captain, so unless you consider me just Zoe’s plaything – and I'm not going to say that’s not a pleasant thought, so you can close your mouth right now – then all I am is a pilot. A damn good one, too. But that’s me. What I do. Pilot Hank.”
“Okay, we can add failed writer. Woop de doo.” He hadn’t meant to let bitterness taint his words, but there was a flavour nonetheless. His skin pinked. “Sorry. Didn’t mean that to come out the way it did.”
“Not all,” River repeated. “You are husband. Father. Friend. Family.” She shrugged. “And pilot,” she added grudgingly.
“Then why’re you always trying to do what Mal occasionally pays me for?”
“Mal is captain. And he distributes evenly.” There was the fastest of twitches to her lips. “Besides, he sits up here.”
“Like you said, he’s captain. He doesn’t take any notice when I tell him to leave.”
“Are you telling me to go?” She tried the puppy-dog eyes with just a hint of Bethie’s patented lip tremble, then wondered if she hadn’t gone too far.
Hank, however, seemed to take it at face value. “Aw, River ...”
“Then I’m not being ordered off the bridge?” she asked hopefully.
“Diyu ...” He shook his head. “Course not, River. Not when you like it so much. Just ... let me do my job, okay?”
“Okay.” She turned back to the stars, a small smile on her face only the dinosaurs were privy to.
“So what is it about that out there you like so much, anyway?” Hank asked, apparently wanting to make conversation to fill the gaps between seconds.
“It calms me.”
“You having a bad day?”
Where once the crew would have kept out of her way if she was, indeed, having a bad day, now they were much more solicitous. “No. But Jayne has toothache, and won't go and see Simon.”
“Oh, that why he was scowling so much at breakfast?”
She nodded. “Yes. I offered to remove the offending dental protuberance, but he refused.”
“I think most would, honey. No offence.”
“None taken. But he’s all sharp and pointy at the moment.”
“As opposed to being a sugar bear?”
“Peppermint puppy,” River corrected, her grin warm and infectious.
Hank laughed. “You know, I don’t think I'm gonna call him that. Least, not when Zoe’s not around.”
“Good idea.” River sighed. “So I’m waiting until this evening.”
“What’s this evening?”
“You mean ...”
“I shall withhold sexual favours until he gets the tooth seen to.”
“Right.” Hank shifted in his seat slightly.
“It will be difficult, because I have a high libido, but I shall be able to manage for a night. Possibly two.”
She grinned again. “Sorry. But he has to see Simon.”
“So you’re up here to get away?”
“Then I don’t mind.”
Hank relaxed a little. “You know, you say the stars comfort you. They don’t exactly do the same for your bro.”
“Simon is getting better. One day he will embrace it as I do. As Mal does.”
“Yeah, our captain surely loves the Black, doesn’t he?” Something glowed in Hank’s mind. “You know, I’ve been figuring. We know your Pa wasn't your Pa, but have you ever considered who was?”
“On occasion.” She knew what he was going to say, but wanted to hear him say it.
“And it occurred to me that there’s just an outside chance Mal might’ve been the donor. Being a potential and all.” He grinned. “You never know.”
“Don’t you go putting ideas into her head,” the man himself said from behind them,
Hank’s blush deepened, but by sheer force of will he didn’t spin his seat around. “Oh, hey, Mal.” He stared at one of the brilliant points of light outside, his gaze fixed.
“You been there long?”
River smiled at the two men. “Hank was just making mischief.”
“I conjure I was aware of that,” Mal said, before adding, “Still say you shouldn’t be thinking on those lines.”
“They were already in residence,” she admitted. “But I checked. There is only a 0.769434 convergence of our DNA.”
“And what would that mean?” he asked, curious in spite of himself.
“About average. We share a sexual coupling some hundred generations back, but nothing more.” She sighed. “Jayne’s has more commonality with mine.”
“That’s slightly disturbing.”
“Not enough, though. And everyone shares their common ancestor somewhen.”
His lips tilted. “Somewhen, huh?”
“Yes,” she confirmed. “So you’re not my father.”
“Have to say, I'm kinda sorry about that, xiao nu.”
“As am I. Lost children must come home.”
“You still lost?” His eyebrows showed his surprise.
“No. I am grounded. My feet are in the earth, toes grasping tree roots, even as my head is in the clouds.”
“The stars, more like,” Hank groused, but only quietly.
“Besides, I have my Jayne, my rock. And you.”
“If he’s your rock – although I have to say it’s an appropriate description sometimes – I hate to think what you’d be calling me.”
He smiled. “So what lost children are you thinking on? Less Zoe’s managed to lose track of Ben again.”
River didn’t speak for a long moment, just stared over Mal’s left shoulder until he wanted to fidget. Then she shrugged delicately, returning her eyes to his. “General, I think.”
“It becomes more than that, you let me know, dong mah? Can't be having kids wandering the ‘verse on their own.”
“Yes, Captain.” She saluted, quite an impressive feat since she was still sitting in the same position.
“That’s all very well, but –”
A voice interrupted him from somewhere, slipping through ventilation ducts and disturbing access panels. “Ben! Ben, you come here right now!”
Hank, on the other hand, sighed deeply. “Zoe,” he supplied.
“I kinda figured that,” Mal said. “Seeing as I knew her a while before you did.”
“Bathtime,” River put in. “Ben does not want a bath.”
“He needs it.” Mal smiled. “Seeing as he was painting with the other kids most of the afternoon, and he got more on him than on the paper.”
“Good job he wants to follow his dad and be a pilot, then,” Hank responded, standing up. “And I’d better go help my wife find my son and heir.”
“Heir to what, exactly?” Mal teased.
“My extensive literature collection.” Hank drew himself up as tall as he could, his untidy hair giving him an extra inch. “It’s going to be worth millions one day.” He stalked off the bridge.
“Don’t go holding your breath,” Mal commented, taking just a touch of perverse delight as his pilot accidentally caught his foot on the lip of the door and nearly pitched headfirst down the steps. He caught himself in time, and carried on as if nothing untoward had happened.
“You shouldn’t,” River whispered.
“He didn’t come to any harm.” Mal sat down in the vacated seat, its warmth somewhat disconcerting. “He gonna find Ben?”
“Eventually. He’s hiding in my garden.”
“He eating the strawberries?”
“Not ripe yet. But he is digging.”
“And getting dirtier by the second, I’ll be bound.”
“Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.”
“One of Frey’s sayings?”
“Yes.” Suddenly she sat up. “Oh.”
“What is it?” Mal quickly checked the control panel in front of him, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. “Albatross?”
“Jayne. He’s sneaked into the infirmary for a painkiller, and Simon’s caught him.”
“There gonna be blood? Entrails?”
“I hope not.” She was on her feet in a flash, off the bridge even quicker.
“if there is, you can clean it up,” he called after her, but if she heard she didn’t reply.
He smiled and turned back to the stars, tapping the buffer panel warning light, just out of habit, to see if it would go out. It didn't, but then neither was it important in the grand scheme of things. No matter what fell off his ship, or didn’t, the stars remained the same. Somehow he found that thought ... calming.
Thursday, May 27, 2010 3:16 AM
Thursday, May 27, 2010 6:39 AM
Thursday, June 3, 2010 4:12 AM
Wednesday, September 1, 2010 6:35 AM
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