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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Last of the short Interludes series. Just a bit of fluff, really, to apologise for the long delays between uploading. Simon is trying to write a letter ...
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1605 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
Freya slid the portable Cortex link back into the cupboard and closed the door firmly.
“That bad?” Simon asked, settling himself at the old kitchen table, spreading his equipment out in front of him. Pens, paper, envelopes ... all laid out neatly in their proper places. For all the trouble he was taking, they could be scalpels, forceps and retractors ready to remove the inevitable bullet.
Freya sighed and dropped back into her just vacated chair. “Some days it’s hard work.”
“Well, you are still recovering from that food poisoning.”
She pointed her finger at him. “Don’t you dare say I told you so.”
“Not if my life depended on it.”
She grinned. “Anyway, it isn't that. It’s the fact that all the kids are at different stages, it’s so hard to come up with a lesson plan that doesn’t either bore some or scare others. I may have to call on someone to help.”
River, standing at the stove stirring a pot, looked up expectantly. “Help?” she asked, her spoon stilled.
“Mei-mei, I don’t know if that’s a good idea,” Simon said.
“But I enjoy it,” the young psychic said.
“I know, but …” Memories of the complaints that had filled Serenity the last time River had taken over teaching duties flowed across his mind. And that was just from the adults.
She wrinkled her nose at him, obviously having read him with ease. “I’d follow Frey’s lesson plans. It would be fun.” She turned her gaze on the other woman. “Please?”
“Well, I didn’t know whether to ask,” Freya said slowly. “But if you’d like to …”
River grinned widely. “Done.”
“It’s not that I don’t enjoy it. I mean, it’s reminded me of so much I thought I’d forgotten when they …” Simon could see her physically skirting away from what had happened to her when she was young, then she gathered herself. “But if you could take the younger children and I’ll teach Bethie, Ethan and Ben.”
There was so much disappointment in that one sound.
“Or we could alternate,” Freya added quickly. “One day each. Just so long as it’s fun.”
River brightened again immediately. “Oh, it will be.”
Simon unscrewed the top of his pen and chuckled. “Just so long as you know what you’re letting yourself in for.”
The two women exchanged a glance, then River asked, “Who were you talking to?”
“I'm not sure I should be insulted or not,” Freya said, smiling nevertheless.
“Boob,” River commented.
“The story of my life,” Simon said, grinning as he prepared to start to write.
“Hey, can I have one of those?” Freya asked.
“One of your sheets. I wanted to drop Alex a letter, since Mal is convinced it isn’t safe to wave at the moment, only I’ve run out. I’ll replace it as soon as we get to Wayborn.”
Simon hesitated for a moment, then held one out. “Here. Do you have a pen?”
“That I think I can do.” Freya laughed and got slowly to her feet as if her back ached. “Although I think I might take a nap before I attempt the arduous task of asking my brother what he’d like for his birthday.”
“Birthday?” Simon started guiltily.
“Mmn. Don’t worry, it’s not for ages yet. Three weeks.” She sighed. “Not that I’ll get a response back in time, so he’ll probably have to make do with something I can pick up somewhere, but it’s the thought that counts.”
“I'm sure he’ll enjoy anything you buy him,” Simon said stoutly.
Freya smiled. “And there speaks the loyal brother.” She wandered off towards her bunk. “Although the level of the places we’ve been lately, I somehow doubt he’ll look kindly on a post-holer.”
“Oops,” River said, carefully putting the lid on the pot.
“I’d forgotten,” Simon admitted, whispering in case Freya could hear.
“I hadn’t. I’ve got her something pretty.”
“Don’t be so smug.”
Simon couldn’t think of a really good put down, so instead said, “Twins. Same birthday.” He shot his sister a sharp glance. “I don’t suppose Mal’s forgotten.”
“Of course not. He has the bracelet charm ready, and a new pack of incense sticks – which shows true love if you think about it – as well as a pair of very flimsy undergarments in red lace with little black –”
She smiled sweetly at him before getting out a loaf of bread and the carving knife.
Simon flinched just a little as the light was split along the sharp blade, then deliberately went back to his letter. “There’s plenty of time,” he said, picking up the pen again. “I'm sure I can find something suitable.”
“Something she’d like, not something she needs,” River advised, slicing carefully.
“Of course.” Dear Mother …
Voices drifted up the stairs, coming closer along the corridor.
“A long weekend.”
“We can ask.”
“Take the shuttle, find somewhere secluded, maybe leave Ben with Bethie …”
“You don’t want your son to come with us?”
“Honestly? No. I don’t think I could let myself go if he was watching. Oh, hi, doc.” Hank stepped down into the kitchen, Zoe at his back. “Riv, how long ‘til lunch?”
“Twelve minutes and thirty-three seconds. Approximately.”
“Hear that, honey? We’ve got twelve minutes and thirteen seconds to go and find something to do.” He waggled his eyebrows.
“Twenty-seven seconds,” River corrected.
“Twelve minutes and twenty-seven seconds all to ourselves. Imagine what we could do with that.”
Zoe shook her head. “It could be three hours, twelve minutes and twenty-one –“
“Sixteen seconds, and it wouldn’t matter. We’re supposed to be working out what supplies we need from Wayborn.”
“I’d rather fly the ship.”
“It’s Mal’s watch. And we’re going to check the linen cupboard.”
Hank perked up. “It’s … um … warm and cosy in there, isn’t it?”
Simon groaned. Just the thought of what the pilot was suggesting they get up to was making him feel nauseous.
“Two weeks ago last Thursday,” River sang, spreading something that purported to be butter on the sliced bread.
“What?” Hank turned to look at her, but she just carried on. “Simon? Any idea what your sis is talking about?”
If there was a way to medically stop someone blushing Simon thought he could make a fortune. As it was he kept his head down and waited for the tide to turn. “No.”
Zoe chuckled lightly. “River, do you have the list of foodstuffs we need?”
River nodded, determined to make the butter even and equal. “On the table.”
“This?” Hank lifted a mug from the old wood and withdrew a folded sheet of paper it had been holding down.
“Two lists. What is needed, and what is wanted.”
He opened it up and perused it. “We’re out of that again?”
River shrugged. “It goes.”
“But it’s so strong. The amount we get through, I’d be thinking someone on this boat was pregnant if I was Mal.”
“If that’s the case we can sell tickets.”
River put down the butter knife. “My Jayne, in the middle of the night. He dips protein sticks into it. He says it gives him the energy to come back to our shuttle and sex me.”
“River,” Simon complained. “What did we say about too much information?”
“That it was something to be cultivated?”
“Almost the exact opposite.”
The young woman wasn’t contrite in the slightest. “Ah. I’ll endeavour to remember.”
Hank, on the other hand, was grinning. “I might have to try some of that stuff myself.”
“If you do, you’ll be sleeping alone,” Zoe said. “Come on. We need to check how many sheets are left after Fiddler got into them.” She strode towards the stern of the Firefly and the store cupboards.
“Coming, dear.” Hank trotted after her.
“Finally,” Simon murmured. Dear Mother …
“Riv?” Jayne stomped heavily into the kitchen, Caleb on his hip. “You got a while?”
“Lunch is cooking,” she admitted.
“Good. Mal wants me to check the ammo ‘fore we land, and I don’t wanna do that with little fingers about.” He glanced at his son who was chewing on the tail of his metal horse. “You know what happened last time.”
River nodded. “It fit,” she explained succinctly.
“Yeah, but I don’t think Mal’s gonna take too kindly to reaching for a refill for his gun and finding snot all over it.”
“Perhaps not.” She smiled at her son, who grinned back, showing a handful of white nubs in pink gums. “He can stay here.”
“Great.” Jayne set the little boy on the floor before leaning over and planting a kiss on his wife’s lips. “Love ya,” he whispered.
She preened. “I know.”
“And I’ve put those ‘luvial rounds on the list. You never know, he might say yes this time.” Jayne headed back the way he’d come. “’Though I wouldn’t try holding my breath.”
“I never do,” River agreed.
Simon waited for a moment, but nobody seemed inclined to interrupt again.
Dear Mother. I hope you are well. We are all well. We ...
His pen trailed off, leaving a thin black line across the page.
“Damn,” he whispered, trying to clean it before it set, and only making more of a mess.
“Should do it in rough first,” River advised, getting out the plates as Caleb bounced his toy horse on the floor and laughing at the clattering it made.
“I've never had a problem before,” Simon snapped. “Maybe it’s all the noise going on.”
“Better in rough.” She added, ignoring his sudden ill-temper, “My Jayne does it.”
“Please do not compare me to your husband,” Simon complained, screwing up the page and tossing it across the kitchen.
A small brown blur whizzed into the room, grabbed the wadded up paper and ran off with it, followed by a silver grey flash. They headed for the bridge.
“Out of sight, out of mind.” River lifted the lid on the saucepan and sniffed.
Simon sighed heavily and pulled another sheet towards him. He only had three left of the heavy vellum pages, and he made a mental note to buy some more at Wayborn Skyplex when they stopped for supplies and postal deliveries. If he ever managed to finish it. Or start it, for that matter.
“Give her my love,” River added, sprinkling a pinch of oregano to what was essentially protein and potato soup. Apart from the vegetables she grew, they were down to the bottom of the stores, but she enjoyed making it taste of more than cardboard. Mal had promised they could have some real meat, but until then this would do. It would still fill the crew’s bellies and keep them going.
Simon put pen to paper again, writing Dear Mother (again) then stopped. “I ... don’t know what to say,” he admitted. “I can’t mention you by name, nor the children, or the ship ... or anything.”
“Then just say love Simon,” she suggested, teasing him.
“Gorramit!” Mal’s yell echoed from the bridge. “Ethan, Bethie – you come and get your pets afore I decide to have ‘em served up for supper!”
Simon glanced at his sister for clarification.
“Two small animals making a snowstorm.” She nodded towards the paper.
It took a moment to interpret, then Simon couldn’t help but smile, mentally entertaining himself with the image of a dog and a cat tearing his discarded letter to shreds and covering Mal with little white flecks.
Still, it didn’t resolve his dilemma. “I have to say something, mei-mei.”
“You don’t have to talk about us at all,” his sister said, putting the pan to the back of the stove to cool slightly before she dished up. “Tell her how you feel.”
“Me?” He raised his eyebrows.
“She knows we’re well. We’re always well – we have you to look after us. But she’d like to know you better.”
“River, she knows me. She brought me up.”
“But not now. She doesn’t know you now.”
He shook his head and turned back to his letter. The two words he’d managed to write stared back at him accusingly.
“Honey, have you seen ...” Kaylee stepped down into the kitchen. “Oh, there it is.” She crossed to the alcove, pulling a wrench from under the cushion. “Honestly, I ain’t got an idea how these manage to migrate, but whenever I want this particular one it’s always out here somewhere.”
“I don’t know,” Simon said, then wished he could take the words back, or at least the tone behind them.
Still, Kaylee didn’t take offence. “People getting to you?” she asked, stepping up behind him and putting her arms around his shoulders.
“Too many interruptions,” River explained.
“Oh, sorry, Simon. I didn’t mean –“ She went to let go, but he quickly put his hands on hers, stopping her.
“You I don’t mind,” he said, reaching down and placing a kiss on her fingers, even though they smelled like engine grease.
“Aw, that’s nice.” She snuggled against his back. “I’d suggest we go to the linen closet, but Zoe and Hank are in there.”
“Counting towels,” Simon said firmly.
“Not from what I heard.” Kaylee giggled in his ear. “But I ain’t got the time. I got to go loosen the k-junction cable, else the Cap’s gonna be wondering why we ain’t slowing down when we get to Wayborn.” She seemed reluctant to leave, though.
“Probably not a good idea to crash, no.”
“No.” She sighed and stood up, dropping a kiss of her own onto the top of his head. “Later,” she promised, and bounced out back toward her domain.
River watched her go then turned the heat right down under the saucepan. “Come along, Caleb,” she said, picking up her son and settling him on her hip. “I need to draw you.”
He patted her cheek and grinned. “Mama.”
Simon exhaled. “Thanks, River.”
“No problem.” She started for the steps. “And remember … tell her what you feel.” Her bare feet made no sound on the metal treads, but suddenly he was alone.
He stared at the page, his mind still whirling with all the interruptions that had stopped him from making a fool of himself on paper … and realised his sister was right. His mother didn’t want to know where they’d been, what nefarious deeds they’d been getting up to. All she wanted to know was if they were all safe, healthy and likely to be anywhere she could see them.
He smiled, rolling the pen between his thumb and forefinger, and began again.
Dear Mother, I miss you. You’re often in my thoughts, and as I watch my family I know that you feel the same way …
Tuesday, July 13, 2010 4:10 AM
Tuesday, July 13, 2010 7:13 AM
Thursday, July 15, 2010 11:56 AM
Wednesday, September 1, 2010 7:26 AM
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