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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Mal does a little baby-sitting. Sweet enough to rot teeth! (Sorry for the delay but real-life has been getting in the way!) NEW
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2046 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
With children on board ranging from just a few months to nearly seven, the crew took it in turns to watch them, particularly when they were planetside and the adults had things they needed to do. On the move between jobs there wasn’t quite the same need, and Freya always took up a couple of hours in the morning with lessons, before letting the kids loose to run quietly amuck.
“I hate it when you can’t hear anything,” Hank had said on more than one occasion. “I always think they’re planning something.”
“They probably are,” Zoe agreed. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Bethie doesn’t want to take over the ship and run it her way.”
“Hell, can’t be any worse’n Mal,” Hank had joked, then suddenly found himself very busy making course corrections, which had nothing to do with his captain appearing in the bridge doorway and glaring at him.
Right now, though, Freya was in bed during what passed for daylight hours on board the Firefly. Unfortunately Mal himself couldn’t take advantage of this fact as she was getting over a nasty and unexpected bout of food poisoning.
“I told you not to eat anything,” the young doctor said, tutting in his worst bedside manner.
“It was only fruit,” Freya insisted, her face as pale as the sheets. “I’ve had it before.” She gulped noisily, just the thought of food threatening to make her throw up again.
“But not here. And don’t expect any sympathy.” Simon shook his head. “You didn’t want to get innoc’d, so I consider all of this your own fault.”
“It was clean!”
“You have no idea what they washed it in.” He sighed heavily. “If I didn’t know better I’d think you just wanted to keep me busy.”
“Found me out,” she said, barely able to give a smile before leaning over the bucket Mal held for her.
He stroked her back until she’d finished, then wiped her mouth and clammy cheeks with a damp cloth. “There you go,” he said gently.
“Thanks.” She flopped gingerly back onto the pillow.
Simon packed up his little bag. “Lots of rest, fluids, and … Frey, actually listen to me next time, okay?”
“Okay,” she agreed, her eyes already beginning to close.
Outside in the corridor Mal stopped Simon with a hand on his arm. “She’s gonna be okay, isn’t she?”
“Threatening me with the airlock again?” Simon asked, amused.
“Not done that in a while. But if it helps you give a straight answer …”
“She’ll be fine.” He paused for a moment. “I’ll admit, I was worried at first, and perhaps someone without her healing capabilities might have found it harder to deal with it, but she’s rallying already. This particular strain … well, I’d have anyone else in the infirmary hooked up to a drip before you could blink. As it is, all she needs is rest. The shot I gave her will stop the vomiting, and help her sleep.”
“Yeah, saw that.”
“Just give her a little space and she’ll be back on her feet in a few days.”
“’Kay, doc. And thanks.”
He’d tried. It was okay during the rest of the afternoon, but as soon as he attempted to put Jesse down for the night he realised his nearly four-year old little daughter was not going to play ball. She was as wide awake as Frey was sleeping, and showing no sign of wanting to rest. Even a story and a glass of water wasn’t helping.
“Just put your head down, okay?” he asked, trying to keep the wheedling out of his voice. “Put your head down and close your eyes. It’s been a long day, and you’ll soon be dreamin’.”
“Not sleepy,” the youngest Reynolds said, hugging one of her toys, a stuffed giraffe whose head had always hung at an odd angle.
“She’s asleep. And we don’t want to wake her up, do we?”
“Shh, JJ,” he whispered, using his pet name for her. “She’s not feeling too well at the moment.”
“Didn’t kiss me goodnight,” Jesse complained, trying to see past him into the main bunk area.
“Can’t I give you two? Kinda like one from me and one on account?”
“No.” Her little face began to screw up, and he knew from previous experience she was about to cry. Loudly.
“Okay, okay.” His eyes ranged about for something to distract her, but nothing leaped at him. Except the picture on the wall River had done a long time ago, of mountains with a monastery sitting high up amongst the snow. “JJ, how about we go on an adventure instead?”
“’Venture?” The impending tears dried immediately.
“Sure.” He grabbed the blanket off her bed, tossing it over his shoulder before he lifted her onto his hip. “Oof,” he said, making her smile. “Not sure how much longer I’ll be able to do this.”
“Daddy,” she said, laying her head against his neck.
“Yeah, well, maybe a while longer.” Picking up a box of her toys, he carried her out of the nursery.
“Mama?” Jesse looked at her mother, lying on her back, the sheet tucked demurely around her neck, snoring slightly. “Can I kiss Mama better?”
“She’d like that,” Mal conceded. “But she’s better off sleeping right now. Wait ‘til she wakes up.”
Mal opened the top hatch, then paused, considering his predicament. Daughter in one hand, toys in the other … he really needed another –
“Sir?” It was Zoe, standing in the top corridor, looking down at him.
“Here,” he said, holding the box as high as he could. “Take this.”
Zoe went down onto her knees and leaned over, lifting the container easily and set it down on the floor. “Moving out?” she asked.
“We’re going on a ‘venture,” Jesse said firmly.
“A ‘venture?” Zoe smiled. “Well, considering how some of those turn out, you’d better not let your daddy get hurt.”
“I’ll ‘tect him.”
“You do that.”
Climbing the ladder with a practiced one hand, Mal glared at his first mate. “Between you and the rest of this crew, she’s gonna grow up thinking all my plans end with me gettin’ shot.”
“Experience would seem to suggest that, yes, sir.”
Mal put Jesse down. “I ain’t that bad. Anyway, it’s Frey as needs the doctor’s services right now.”
“Is she okay?”
“Will be. If she can get enough sleep.”
“Ah. Is that why …” She nodded down towards the little girl, bending over the toy box.
“Yeah. I figure if I can tire her out, she’ll sleep ‘til morning.”
“Good luck with that.”
“I conjure I'm gonna need it.”
“If you like she can come in with Hank and me.”
“No, that’s okay. If it really gets bad, we’ll both go sit in one of the passenger bunks until exhaustion takes over.”
“Hers or yours?” Zoe said, heading towards the bridge and the late watch.
He was about to make a funny, scathing and probably very apt comment when he felt a tug on his pants leg.
He looked down into his daughter’s face, not for the first time fascinated by her resemblance to her mother. “Oh. Right.” Taking her hand, he picked up the box and headed towards the cargo bay.
Jesse hung back a moment, her eyes on their bunk. “Mama be okay?” she asked, worrying her lip.
Mal smiled at her. “She’s going to be fine, JJ. She’s just got a bit of a tummy bug, and she’s a little wary of giving it to you.”
Jesse screwed her face up. “Yuck.”
He laughed. “Have to agree with you there.”
Jesse grinned. “Good daddy.”
He wondered briefly whether she was glad Frey was going to be okay, or if she was praising him for agreeing with her, and decided to take it as a compliment. “Thanks, JJ.”
She bestowed another of her wide smiles on him, and it caught in his chest. The hair, the eyes … one day he was determined to ask Alex if he had any pictures of his sister as a young girl, just to see if what he suspected was true.
They entered the bay, walking slowly down the stairs, Mal adjusting his gait to that of his daughter. Finally they stood on the deck, facing the crates they were to deliver in three days time to their owner on Paquin.
“Where are we, Daddy?” Jesse asked, her eyes huge.
“Well, technically we’re still on board Serenity, but I guess you don’t mean that. You’re talkin’ about our adventure, ain’t you?” When she nodded, the one where he was sometimes afraid her head might come clean off her shoulders, he smiled. “Well, then, we’re in the Wraiths. Back on Shadow.”
“Mountains, JJ. Not far from where I was born, where I grew up. Used to go hiking in ‘em during the summer when I was sixteen, seventeen. My Ma’d pack me a few rations, then me, Brad and Lyle would take the magtrain to the foothills, and we’d spend a long weekend just walking, fishing, talking.” He looked down at her and smiled. “Good times.”
She nodded again, trying to understand what he was talking about, but probably not getting more than half. “Daddy?” she asked expectantly.
“Well, now JJ, I think maybe we need to do a bit of climbing, don’t you think?” He reached into the toy box. “Only we gotta be careful, ‘cause there are some wild beasts about.” He placed the toy dinosaur Zoe had given her on one of the higher crates, and one of her teddies lower down. “’Specially if we’re gonna find the hidden treasure.”
“Treasure?” If anything, her eyes grew wider.
“Yep.” He put his hand into his pocket and withdrew a single coin. “Treasure.”
He flicked it up with his thumb, watching it twist in the air so the light caught the edges. The coin fell back onto his palm and he tossed it on top of a crate. “We gotta find it, JJ. Might be all we’ve got to feed us next month.”
She giggled, then went to grab Ethan’s weights bench, pulling it across the floor, ready to use it like a ladder so she could clamber up.
Mal was impressed. Must be a hell of a lot more Frey in there than he thought. “Hang on a sec, though.” He waited until he was sure she wasn't going to go climbing unsupervised, then crossed the bay to the other stack of crates, where the shape and size had created a natural hollow. Putting the box of toys down, he spread out the blanket he’d brought, just about filling the small area.
“This here’s Shangri-La,” he explained.
“Shangri-La. Means ‘paradise’ or some such. A place where you’re safe, secure. Home.”
“Yeah.” He walked back to her, lifting her easily onto the bench. “First we fight off the monsters, then we find the treasure, and at last make our way to paradise.”
A thought occurred to him. “Only ... JJ, this kinda thing, clamberin’ about up here ... you can only do this when I’m watching, dong mah? ‘Cause it’s not safe otherwise.”
“I was thinking more about you falling and hurting yourself, then your Ma getting angry with me and making me sleep on the couch for the foreseeable, but monsters works too.” He put his fingers under her chin, his blue eyes gazing into her brown orbs. “So only when I know what you’re doing, and can catch you, okay?”
“That’s my good girl.” Eschewing his son’s bench in case it collapsed under him, he jumped up onto the crate, holding out his hand. “Come on, then.”
She grinned and followed.
They gave the dinosaur a wide berth, seeing as it appeared to be eating something small and squeaky, at least according to Jesse. The teddy bear was hibernating, so they passed him easily enough, although Mal wondered if he shouldn’t praise the virtues of sleeping the winter away, or at least the night.
Then Jesse yelped in delight, snatching up the coin and waving it in the air. “Treasure!” she announced.
“Surely is.” Mal smiled. “Guess you’d better keep it ‘til we’re some place you can spend it.”
She smacked her lips. “Ice cream.”
“Yeah, you and River both.”
Jesse searched her pyjamas for a pocket, but in the end held out the coin. “Daddy.”
“You want me to look after it for you?”
She nodded. “’S.”
“Okay. But you trust me not to fritter it away on useless things like fuel?”
“You’re my Daddy.”
“I reckon I am.” He slipped the money into the breast pocket of his shirt, patting it. “All safe.”
“Safe,” she echoed. “C’m on.”
She started down, and he had to hurry to keep up, ready to stop her if she even looked like she might slip, but her feet were sure, and in less than a minute they were on the bay floor.
Jayne, on the way back to the shuttle with a post-dinner snack, leaned on the railings. “What’cha doing?” he asked, munching a protein stick.
“’Venture,” Jesse told him, grinning up. “Going to find Shang ... Shang ...” She couldn’t remember.
“Shangri-La?” Jayne suggested.
She beamed at him. “S’right, Uncle Jayne.”
Mal looked up at his ex-mercenary and raised an eyebrow in query.
“One of them books River got me reading,” the big man explained, dropping his voice as if afraid others might hear and make fun of him. “All waterfalls and flowers, and livin’ forever.”
“Pretty,” Jesse sighed.
“Pretty enough,” Jayne agreed. “’Part from the abominable snowman!” He vaulted down the stairs in two huge leaps, growling, his back bowed, arms hanging to his knees.
“Daddy!” Jesse shrieked delightedly, trying to hide behind him, but Jayne grabbed her around the waist, lifting her high.
“Mine!” he crowed, and proceeded to pretend to eat her, making her gasp with laughter as his teeth worried at her belly.
“I was tryin’ to tire her out so she’d sleep,” Mal said gently, barely a hint of reproach in his tone. “Instead of making her even more awake.”
Jayne hung the giggling girl over his shoulder. “Frey?” he asked.
“Sleeping. Least, I hope so, after all this noise.”
Jayne didn’t look abashed. “Ain’t gonna knock her down for long.”
“I know.” Mal took his daughter and set her on his hip. “’Cept some little girls are supposed to be sleeping too.”
She kissed his cheek, then wriggled to be put down. He sighed and did as she wanted.
Immediately she went to her box of toys, tipping them all out onto the blanket.
Jayne chuckled. “Can’t see you getting to bed any time soon.”
“River’n’me could take the squirt in with us, if’n you’d like.”
Mal wondered why he was still surprised at the sentimental streak Jayne occasionally showed, but shook his head. “No. We’ll wait a while longer. She must be gettin’ tired.”
“Right,” Jayne said, clapping his hand on the other man’s shoulder. “You keep tellin’ yourself that.” He grinned and ambled up the stairs, pausing at the top only to say, “’Night, squirt.”
“’Night, Uncle Jayne,” Jesse said, industriously sorting out her teddies according to size.
Jayne laughed quietly and disappeared into the shuttle, no doubt to regale River with tales of children who wouldn’t sleep.
Mal lowered himself carefully to the blanket and rested against a crate, watching his daughter. His little girl. When he looked at her, he wondered how he could ever have been so lucky. First her mother, then her brother, then … his JJ. A man shouldn’t have favourites amongst his children, and he loved both Ethan and Jesse to distraction, but somehow, having a little girl that he could protect ...
Maybe it was his make-believe, saying the crates were The Wraiths, but he wished his own mother could see his family. There was something in Jesse, maybe the chin, that reminded him so strongly of his Ma it made his eyes sting sometimes. And she’d be proud to know they were Reynolds, carrying on the family name, making ‘em cookies and lemonade before taking them into the warmth of her arms.
Jesse started to hum, just quietly, under her breath, just like Frey did when she was concentrating on something.
He smiled. Yes, the chin might be his Ma’s, but the rest was all his wife. He made a mental note to send that wave to Alex. Or better yet, write to Dillon Malfrey. He’d be sure to know where his brother-in-law was, and he’d pass on a message without the possibility of someone who shouldn’t be listening taking note of it. Not that he’d tell Frey, though. She’d get mad at him for being ... well, more sentimental than Jayne. She’d tell him she wasn't that child anymore, that she was Freya Reynolds, and he’d agree with her. But it wasn’t going to stop him finding out for sure.
He yawned suddenly. Maybe Jesse wasn't sleepy, but he was.
“JJ,” he said softly, “I'm just gonna rest my eyes. You’re lookout, so if you see any more of those abominable snowmen, you let me know.”
He smiled and let his eyelids fall. After only a moment or two, he heard her humming turn to singing, just quietly, something he recognised as a lullaby he’d used to get his tiny baby girl to sleep a long time ago, something her remembered his own Ma singing to him a lot further back. Jesse didn’t know the words, but she was making the right sounds, and as Mal listened he could feel sleep overtaking him.
Then, just as he was about to tip over into dreams, he felt someone snuggle up close to him.
Forcing his eyes open, he realised Jesse had snuck under his arm and was leaning against him, her giraffe clutched tightly to her chest.
As he tried to keep sleep at bay he could hear her breathing even out, and it took only a minute before she was away with the fairies herself.
He smiled and settled back. He’d slept in worse places, and in company he really didn't want to be thinking about, so a night in the cargo bay wasn’t going to kill him. And in the morning Frey would be feeling better, and he’d make her smile with the story.
Besides, he conjured as he felt himself drift away, he was with his JJ, on their ‘venture, and nothing was going to interrupt that, nothing in the whole, wide ‘verse.
Monday, June 21, 2010 7:01 AM
Monday, June 21, 2010 10:30 AM
Monday, June 21, 2010 2:59 PM
Friday, June 25, 2010 6:55 PM
Wednesday, September 1, 2010 6:48 AM
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