BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Indigo - Part XXIII
Thursday, December 22, 2011

Maya. Post-BDM. Indigo finally tells the truth, and Mal comes to a decision. NEW CHAPTER (and a nice long one to make up for the delay!)


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1717    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

Mal stood in the common area, his arms crossed. “Well?” he prompted. “I figure you’ve got something more like the truth to tell us now.”

Indigo pushed his greying blond hair away from his face then ran his fingers down his moustache. “I told you. Sara’s my daughter.”

Inside the infirmary Simon was still working on the girl, Freya sitting on the opposite counter waiting her turn. Hank was lying on the medbed while Zoe leaned in the doorway, and all of them were listening to some degree or other to the conversation going on in the other room.

Mal glanced at Jayne standing brooding by the steps up to the cargo bay. “Did you know he had a kid?”

The big man shook his head. “Don’t recall it ever coming up in conversation.”

“She looks around fourteen maybe.”

“She’ll be fifteen next May,” Indigo put in. “And I don’t think I ever thought of mentioning it.”

“Where’s her mother?” Kaylee asked from where she was sitting on the old sofa with River next to her. “Isn’t she wondering where she is?”

“Polly ...” Indigo’s lips thinned for a moment. “I met her when I was on Bernadette for a spell, and we kinda liked each other. I was with her for near on a year, then she told me she was pregnant. I wanted her to marry me but she said no, that it wasn’t necessary.” He hitched his thumbs into his waistband. “She wouldn’t listen, so we never did get hitched, even when I had to leave.”

“You didn’t stay?” Kaylee always was interested in other people.

“There wasn’t the work, and what there was I wasn’t ... I went where the jobs were, but I always sent cash back, enough that Polly didn’t need to find employment – well, no more than she wanted. And I visited when I could, not as often as I’d’ve like or should, but ...” He stopped.

“What happened?” Mal asked.

“I was on my way back for a visit when I got word. Their town had been hit by slavers, Polly killed and Sara taken.”

“No,” Kaylee murmured, her hand flying to her mouth.

“I had to find her, get her safe, and it took most of the money I’d got saved, but I finally found someone to tell me, least when I used the right ... persuasion. And wouldn’t you know it, I find she’s in this shit-hole, waiting to be collected.” He paused again, chewing on the end of his moustache.

“Well, you’d better finish now,” Mal said on a sigh. “Since you’ve gotten this far.”

“Not much to tell. I got here, spent a day and a half keeping out of the way of the Tanners and just scoping things out. Addie helped soon as she knew about Sara, then just as I was about to go in and get her, there she was. She’d managed to get away.”

And the others? Mal heard in his mind. The rest of the cargo? He didn’t try and save them.

Mal held back the nod, instead asking Freya’s question for her. “And the others?”

“Others?”

“I conjure Sara wasn’t the only one for sale.”

Indigo shrugged, his tattoos moving in interesting ways. “They weren’t mine. I’d’a done anything to get Sara back, but the rest ...”

“Were there children?” Kaylee asked, her face paling.

Mei-mei, don’t.” Mal was firm. “If there were they’re long gone.”

Kaylee wasn't happy but subsided a little.

“Why didn’t you leave?” Zoe wanted to know. “You were together. Why did you stay on Ithaca?”

Indigo shrugged again, and a naked woman on his bicep danced. “Didn’t have no choice. I had no transport, we were waiting for something to come I could buy passage on, then ...” His hand wandered towards the scar on his back. “I ran out of time.”

“Is that all?” Jayne asked, his face a grim mask. “Nothin’ else to tell us?”

“About this, no.” Indigo sighed. “You gotta understand, boy. This was about family.”

Jayne glanced at River, who nodded fractionally. “Shiny.” He stomped out of the common area towards the cargo bay, saying over his shoulder, “You let me know when we’re gonna leave. I’ll be in my bunk.”

“Is that what’s going to happen, captain?” Indigo asked. “You dump me and Sara in the centre of Cason’s Point and leave?”

“Ain’t made up my mind yet,” Mal admitted. “But why the hell didn’t you tell us this before?”

“I didn't know you. Didn’t know if I could trust you. “Still don’t.”

“You know Jayne.”

“Not for a long time. And Addie said he’d changed. I didn’t know it was for the better or not.”

“It is!” Kaylee said, defending her friend, her eyes suspiciously moist.

“Ma’am, don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t take nobody’s word for anything. Learned the hard way.”

“I guess I can understand that,” Mal allowed. “Doesn’t excuse the fact that your daughter near as gorramit froze to death out there.”

“I didn’t think she’d follow me. I thought she’d go to Mallory’s.” It was the first time Indigo sounded even faintly defensive.

She didn’t follow. Freya’s voice sounded in Mal’s head, and he had to stop himself turning towards the infirmary. She knew.

Ai ren?

It’s why I could feel her outside. He’s right – she’s special.

Psychic?

Could be made to be. She was probably tested, maybe at school, or one of those games, and the trauma of being kidnapped has made it ... sharper.

“Yeah, well, that don’t change much.” Mal spoke for Indigo’s benefit. “’Cept I might’ve done the same in your position.”

“Thanks.” Indigo’s voice was dry.

“And for the record, I ain’t taking your word she’s your daughter at all, not ‘til I got proof.”

Indigo held out his arm, snakes coiling around his elbow. “Take as much blood as your doc needs, do all the tests he can think of. I’m Sara’s Pa.”

“Then maybe I do know what I’ll be doing.” He paused as if listening to someone else, then went on, “The way I see it Cason’s Point ain’t good for anybody’s health, so I don’t intend staying any longer than I need. You and Sara ...” His lips pursed just a fraction. “Soon as it’s confirmed you’re who you say you are, and not some hwoon dahn trying to keep her for other reasons, then you’ve got a choice. I can put you both in the hills behind Mallory’s place and you can dodge the Tanners until one of you shoots the other, or you come with us. There’s moons we’ll be passing by on the way to dropping our cargo, some place ... away.”

Indigo looked surprised, and not a little shocked. “You’d take Sara and me?”

“She’s an innocent in this. And soon as we know you’re her father, well ... a girl needs her daddy.”

Kaylee was smiling again, and even River looked pleased.

“As soon as you know ... You don’t trust my word?” Indigo asked nevertheless.

“You’ve made it plain you don’t trust us. So I’m guessing the feeling should be mutual.”

Indigo chuckled, a deep roll of the gravel in his voice. “You’re a strange man.”

“It’s been said.”

“Indigo.” It was Simon in the doorway to the infirmary, looking over Zoe’s shoulder. “Your daughter is awake and asking for you.”

Indigo started forward, then felt a tug on his pants. He looked down into Bethie’s face.

“Here.” She was holding out his t-shirt.

“Thanks, short stub.”

She grinned, showing all her teeth.

“Bethie, go on back to bed,” Kaylee said firmly.

“Yes, Momma.”

Indigo tugged the thin fabric over his head and strode into the infirmary.

“Daddy!” Sara reached out her arms to him.

He crossed the small room in two strides, taking her hands in his, rubbing them gently. “You okay, baby?”

“Cold,” she admitted, her youth evident in her smooth, shiny face. “Sorry.”

“Why didn’t you go to Mallory’s?”

“She doesn’t like me.” Now there was something akin to disgust in her expression.

“Course she does.”

“No. She thinks you, her and Josh could be a family. I’m not included.”

“Has she said something to you?”

Sara looked down. “Uh ... no.”

“Then how do you know?”

Mal, stepping over the door sill into the infirmary, looked across at Freya. Guess you were right, ai ren.

Of course.

His lips twitched at her sniffy tone.

“Just ... know.” Sara shifted on the bed and half-turned her head.

Hank gasped. “That’s her!”

Sara gave a little scream and her hand flew to her mouth.

Zoe’s face tightened. “Honey?”

Hank was staring. “Her! The one who shot me!”

“You sure?” Mal wanted to know.

“I know I said I didn’t know, but ... I remembered, Mal. Her face ...” He took a deep breath, even though it hurt. “I’m sure.”

Mal turned to Indigo. “Looks like you’ve been telling even less of the truth that I thought.”

Indigo almost deflated. “I’m her Pa. What the hell else was I gonna do?”

“The rest, then.”

Indigo nodded. “We were out hunting game for Mally and Josh, Sara was carrying the –”

The girl broke in, staring at Hank. “I did it,” she said, tears starting to stream down her face. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. I was carrying the gun, and I was surprised and ...” She sobbed. “I’m so, so sorry.”

Hank felt his heart lurch. “It’s okay, sweetie. I’m alive. You didn’t kill me.”

She hiccupped, but the tears didn’t stop.

Indigo reached out and wiped them from her cheeks. “It’s okay, Sara. It’s okay.” He looked over at Hank. “I tried to help, get you someplace, somehow ... then I heard the girl coming and we hid.”

“You were watching us,” River said quietly from the doorway.

“Just ‘til I was sure.”

“Sure we weren’t gonna finish the job?” Mal suggested.

“Something like that.” Indigo licked his lips beneath his moustache. “I’m guessing the offer to take us with you don’t count no more?”

Mal took a deep breath. “Well, the truth is I don’t think you’d know the truth if it bit you on the pigu, but ... I can understand a man protecting his kid.” He stepped closer to the medbed, a wave of sadness sweeping through him as Sara backed away as much as she could. “Ain’t gonna hurt you,” he said softly.

“I ...” She swallowed. “No, sir.”

“Got good manners.”

“My ... my Mom insisted.”

“I expect you miss her.”

She nodded hard. “Yes, sir.”

“I know my two would, if anything happened to their Ma.”

“You ... you’ve got children?”

“Ethan and Jesse. You can meet ‘em later.”

“I’d like that.”

Hank was amazed. Just his tone, his manner and Mal had managed to calm Sara down, put her ... if not at her ease, then certainly less scared. Zoe squeezed his hand as if she knew exactly what was going through his mind.

Mal went on, “Just need to know one thing. Sara, is Indigo your Pa?”

She swallowed again, her grip on the tattooed man hard enough to leave bruises. “Yes sir. Only one I’ve got.”

Mal nodded then looked at Indigo. “Simon’s still going to run his tests, but it’s pretty clear you’re who you say you are. Then it’s your choice. Stay here or come with us.”

A slow smile spread across Sara’s face, which faded just a little when Indigo asked, “What about Mallory?”

“What about her?”

“Without me here to protect her ...”

Mal glanced at Freya, who shrugged. “Up to you. I’m willing to take all of you, if that’s your notion. But this is her home. She’s not likely to want to up sticks and leave everything.”

“I can persuade her.”

“You do that and we’ll find space for you all. Might be that you can work your passage a little, seeing as my pilot is still laid up.”

“I’m getting better,” Hank insisted, but was generally ignored.

“Then I’ll talk to her.” Indigo held out his right hand. “Thank you.”

They shook as Mal said, “Just don’t take too long. I want to be out of atmo before next nightfall.”

“Of course.” He turned to Simon. “Does Sara need to stay here?”

“Until morning,” the young doctor confirmed. “I just want to keep her under observation.”

“Can I stay?” Indigo asked.

“Not a good idea,” Mal put in. “Place is gonna be crowded enough as it is, and you don’t want to be under Simon’s feet.” He glanced out into the common area towards Kaylee and River, and the small faces of most of the children peeking around the corners. “Besides, the night ain’t hardly over yet, and everyone should be getting back to their own beds. We don’t want anyone to be cranky in the morning, do we?” he added pointedly.

“Don’t worry,” Hank said. “I’ll keep an eye on her.”

“She shot you,” Indigo reminded him.

“She didn’t mean it.” Hank smiled tiredly. “So we’re good.”

Zoe leaned over and kissed his cheek. “You’re an extraordinary man, Hank Mills.”

“Makes you glad you married me, didn’t it?”

“Mostly.”

Mal clapped his hands. “Then everyone not actively needing medical treatment, off to bed.”

There was a general murmur of goodnights, even Zoe kissing Hank goodnight and heading out of the infirmary in her stately fashion, until only Mal, Indigo, Simon and the three patients were left.

“You too, Mal,” Simon said, checking Freya’s feet now the immediate danger of bloody confrontation seemed to have been quelled.

“Can I take Frey back to our bunk?”

The young man stood upright. “Yes. She’s lucky. There’s no sign of frostbite, so just keep an eye on her tonight.”

“Intend to do just that.”

“Although I wouldn’t recommend walking about barefoot in the snow again.”

“One of these days she might actually listen to one of us,” Mal said, helping his wife off the counter. “Least, I live in hope.” He winced as she pinched him. “You go on up – I’ll be following in a breath.”

“Okay.” Frey tugged the blanket tighter about her shoulders, and he almost smiled as she walked gingerly to the stairs, holding onto the handrail as she headed to their bunk.

“You’d best be getting to your own bed, too,” he added, turning back to his medic.

Simon waved off the suggestion. “I’ll grab some downtime later,” he said. “I’m sure Kaylee can do without me for a night.”

“I’ll be sure and mention that when she tries to elbow me at breakfast for making you stay up.”

“I don’t doubt it.”

Indigo stirred. “Well, if you’re sure I can’t stay, I’ll go get my own beauty sleep,” he said, bending over to kiss Sara lightly on the forehead. “’Night, honey.”

“G’night, Daddy.”

“Not so fast.” Mal stood in front of Indigo, stopping him from leaving. “Finish it.”

“What?”

“The truth. I know you ain’t capable of telling it all, but the rest.”

Sara took a sharp intake of breath.

“What makes you think there’s anything more?” Indigo asked, ready to fight if need be but unwilling to hurt the man who might turn out to be their saviour.

“Oh, I don’t know.” Mal sounded almost conversational, a dangerous sign to those who knew him. “Mostly ‘cause Jayne told us where the best hunting was, and it ain’t anywhere near the camp. So why would you take your daughter to a place that’s gonna be holding some pretty bad memories for her, just to be chasing a buck or two?”

“I didn’t say we started there, it was just where we ended up.”

Suddenly Mal was in his face, his hands wrapped in the thin t-shirt, making the other man stagger back until he was against the counter and couldn’t go any further. “How long?”

“How long what?”

“The camp’s occupied again.” Mal didn’t wait for an answer, seeing it written large in Indigo’s eyes. “More slaves.”

“Mal?” Hank tried to sit up, but could barely move more than a couple of inches.

“There’s slaves waiting to be picked up, right now. Maybe kids. All trussed up and ready for collection.” Mal’s hard blue gaze hadn’t moved even though he had answered his pilot. “Ain’t that right, Indigo?”

The older man nodded slowly. “Sara wanted to see if we couldn't help.”

“Let him go,” Sara pleaded, reaching out for her father, even as Simon held her back.

“I’m not exactly the most truthful of people,” Mal admitted, ignoring her, “but me and mine’ve done nothing but try and help you, yet you’ve done nothing but hide things from us. I can understand when it comes to family, but I don’t take kindly to not being told things that might keep us alive.”

“It’s why I didn’t tell you.”

Mal’s eyes narrowed. “You wanna run that by me again?”

“You want to let go of me?” When Mal showed no signs of doing as requested Indigo blinked just once then went on, “You’ve got kids on board, family. There’s nothing here for you, Captain.”

“You’ve made it different. And if I find out you had anything to do with those slavers, I ain’t above putting you out the airlock, and I won’t be waiting ‘til we land either.”

Indigo inclined his head slowly. “I understand. And while I ain’t gonna say I’ve never ...” He stopped, glancing at his daughter. “This is nothing to do with me.”

“Shiny.”

“Well, good.” There was a pause in his oil-on-gravel voice. “Now, do you mind?”

Finally Mal let go, taking a pace back. “Breakfast’s at eight.”

“Fine. I’ll probably be hungry by then.” Indigo looked at Sara. “I’m just a coupla dozen steps away if you need me.”

Sara nodded, but worry was still etched on her face. “’Kay, Daddy.”

Indigo walked to the door but stopped, framed in the opening. “How come you waited?” he asked over his shoulder. “Why didn’t you ask me this in front of everyone?”

“’Night, Mr MacCready,” Mal said.

His lips curving under the straggly moustache, Indigo continued towards his temporary quarters.

“Mal?” Hank asked from the medbed. “What the hell was that all about?”

“Not too sure.” Mal looked at Sara. “I'm sorry,” he said, his voice softer. “But there are things your Pa’s chosen not to tell us, and it’s making me antsy.”

Sara swallowed. “I ... he’s not a bad man. Honestly.”

“I'm sure he isn’t.” Mal smiled. “Get some sleep, girl. You’re safe now.”

“’Kay.” She nodded jerkily, laying back.

Simon was glaring at Mal in that cool, detached way of his, and would probably have said something if the other man hadn’t stepped out of the infirmary into the common area.

“Well?” Mal asked apparently thin air.

“You knew I was waiting.”

“I think I’ve got used to you sneakin’ up on me, xiao nu.”

River stepped from the shadows. “Finally?”

“For now.” Mal walked slowly up the stairs, his albatross following silently. “So what did you want to say to me?”

Mu qin.”

“She ain’t your mother.”

“I don’t care.”

He paused at the turn to look at her, and his lips lifted. “Neither does she.” His brief good humour died. “She’s not going to let it lie, is she?” he asked, almost rhetorically.

“No. What you deduced here, she has herself.”

“I figured as much. Saw it in her eyes.”

“The window of the soul.”

“Maybe.” His fingertips played absently with the gold cross around his neck. “More slaves.”

“Yes.” She passed him, her thin nightdress moving in an unfelt breeze. “And worse, Frey knows what almost happened with the children on Wayborn, and has taken it to the next possibility.”

“And I hadn’t?” He felt a surge of anger, knowing it was irrational but unable to control it. “You think I ain’t woken up in a cold sweat from a nightmare they’d been taken? That it could be Ethan, Jesse being held there?”

“I know you have.”

Something clicked. “But Frey isn’t so sure. She thinks maybe I’ve discarded the notion too quick.”

“She sees children – hers, ours, those yet unborn – being forced into change, into us.” She disappeared around her corner, her voice floating back to him. “And it will eat her from the inside.”

Mal was shocked then hurried to catch her up. “Surely it ain’t that bad.”

River sighed, as exasperated as if she was trying to explain quantum mechanics to a three year old. “It’s part of what she thinks of as her darkness. The guilt of having escaped, when so many didn’t. And if there are children here, waiting to be sold to the Alliance ...”

Mal finally saw. His wife might stay the same, but the Freya to whom he’d given his total love and being would be tarnished forever. “Frey ...”

“Your choice, jia yan. We will follow, as we have always done. But where you lead may not be the right path.”

Xiao nu, any chance of captain dummy talk?”

“No need. You understand.”

He glared at her, then his eyes softened. “You know, there are times Frey can be so gorram pig-headed.” At River’s raised eyebrow he went on, “And less o’that, young lady. I know I can be too, but at least when I am I can blame it on being captain.”

“And she can blame it on being a mother.” River cocked her head like a bird. “I wouldn’t wait.”

“Huh?”

“She heard.”

For a moment Mal looked mystified, then his brow cleared and he glanced involuntarily down the stairs back to the infirmary. “Shit.”

“Yes.”

Mu qin is angry.”

“And we ain't none of us gonna sleep while she’s that.”

“Maybe Caleb.”

Mal smiled slightly. “Best be getting back to him then, albatross.”

“I will.” Except she didn’t move.

Mal shook his head and strode past her. By the time he dropped down the ladder into their bunk, he was pretty sure what he was going to find, and he wasn’t wrong.

Freya had changed her clothes and now had her boots on, her heavy jacket laying on the bed as she examined her gun.

“You wanna tell me what you’re doing?” Mal asked gently, resisting the urge to lock her in the storage cupboard for the foreseeable as he hooked his arm over one of the rungs.

“What does it look like I’m doing?” she asked, slipping out the magazine to check it was full.

“Something stupid.”

“Then you don’t know me as well as you think.” She didn’t stop, though, sliding the gun into its holster and strapping it around the swell of her hips.

“Oh? I thought you were gonna take on the slavers all by yourself.”

She paused. “Maybe you do know me.”

“What’s going on, Frey?”

“Children.”

“Maybe.”

“We have to do something.”

“It ain’t our fight, xin gan.”

She lifted her head, her anger so fierce and visible it was like her tattoo had come to life and surrounded her with fire. “Not our fight? There could be children!”

“We don’t have any proof there’s anything to do something about.”

“You saw the slaver in town. Isn't that proof enough?”

“It ain’t any of our affair.”

“It isn’t ...” She shook her head, feeling the fury in her chest like a lump of granite. “How can you say that?”

“Soon as Simon’s done his tests, proved Indigo’s the girl’s father, then we’ll be on our merry.”

“We’re not leaving!”

“Frey –”

“No!” Her cheeks were flaming. “Mal, how can you say we’re going anywhere with the possibility that there are stolen children right now at the old camp?”

“We don't know there are.”

“We don’t know there aren’t!”

“Frey, it really ain’t our business. We came here for a specific purpose. I got me half a dozen crates over there burning a hole in my hull, just itching to be delivered, Indigo ain’t dead, Jayne’s ... Jayne, and we –” He stopped because she was backing away.

“Not our business? It might have been our kids, Mal! Ethan, Jesse –”

His temper snapped. “You think I don’t know that? You think I ain’t figured that out?”

“Then how can you say –”

“’Cause it ain’t!” His voice rang from the superstructure, and he had to take a breath to try and calm his racing heartbeat. “Frey, I fought a war for what I thought was my business. I lost. We lost. So many friends … and more since. If I don’t want to run the risk of losing more, then I think I got the right, don’t you? I ain’t gonna bury you here.” The raw emotion burned his throat, even as his stubborn, often totally unreasonable, streak kicked in. “And we’re only guessin’. Despite you peeking when you shouldn’t, you can’t see anything, neither can River or the squirt. And the kids Sara was with are long gone.”

“I don’t care.” She picked up her jacket, thrusting her arms into it so hard he was surprised not to hear the seams go. “Indigo thinks there are slaves in the camp, and if there are children I’ll find out.” She went to go past him to the ladder, but he moved with her, blocking her in.

“No.”

“Get out of my way.” She tried to shoulder him physically aside.

“Frey.” He never manhandled her, not unless they were in the throes of passion and she was as physical as he was, and not least because he knew she could kill him all too easily if she took it to mind. But this time he grabbed her shoulders, making her turn to face him. “Stop.”

She was trembling under his hands, but she wasn’t afraid of him. “Why? So you can try and talk me out of this?”

He gazed into her brown eyes, trying to get through to her with more than words even as he lowered his voice. “Talk you out of heading into a snowstorm in the middle of the night to likely go and get your head blown off? Hell, yeah. Talk you out of wanting to do something about the kids the slavers may have locked up at the camp?” He shook his head and let go, feeling a certainty growing in the pit of his stomach. “It’d be like trying to stop the Candlemiss with a sponge.”

Her forehead creased, momentarily distracted. “The Candlemiss?”

“It’s ... was a river on Shadow. Fast moving, lots of rapids. Great fun for a thirteen year old who had more bravado than sense.”

“You broke your wrist,” she realised, reading the thought from the surface of his mind.

“That’d be for the second time.” He absently rubbed his left arm. “First time was falling out of the barn when I was eight, after Vinnie told me if I flapped my arms hard enough I’d be able to fly. This time I was in a canoe and went straight into a rock. Harry had to fish me out. Aches like the devil when it gets cold sometimes.”

She could see his memories. “You wouldn’t listen. Said you could do it on your own, face the rapids.”

“Yeah.” He waited.

She didn’t disappoint. “I’m not thirteen. And this isn’t rapids.”

“And I could’ve just as easily ended up with my head cracked open like an egg, and my Ma crying over my corpse.”

Freya swallowed and closed her eyes. “I can’t leave this, Mal. Not if there might be children. And nobody should be at the mercy of slavers.”

“Then let me make a plan.”

Her eyes flew open, fastening on his own blue orbs. “Plan?”

He put his hands back on her shoulders, tenderly this time, gently squeezing. “Give me ‘til morning. Just give me that.”

“Mal ...”

“Please.”

There was a long moment that seemed to stretch from one end of infinity to the other, humming with possibilities, then Freya stepped forward, pressing her body against him, her arms wrapped tightly around him.

He pulled her closer, feeling her heat permeating his clothes and embracing him.

---

River stepped through the airlock of the shuttle. “Jayne.”

“So?”

She moved closer, seeing his bulk hunched on the bed. “Sara is his. And he’s coming with us when we leave.”

“Ain’t surprised. Mal always was a soft touch.”

“You don’t trust Indigo.”

“Used to. Used to trust him with my life.” He was staring down at the Callaghan in his hands.

“With good reason.”

“Got a bad feeling about this.”

She sat down next to him, her slight form resting against his side. “Yes.”

“Freya?”

“Yes.”

“Figured as much.”

“Mal has persuaded her to wait. He is formulating a plan.”

If it was possible the ex-merc became stiller than ever. “He’s gonna do that for her?”

“Yes.”

“Man really does love her.”

“He’d walk into hell for her,” River said softly. “As you well know. As you would for me. Simon for Kaylee. Hank for Zoe. And all of us for all of you.”

He sighed, a long drawn out exhalation that seemed to leave him drained, smaller than usual. “How come we’re like this, Riv? Most folks I know’d run a mile afore agreeing to piss off the Tanners, let alone taking the fight to them.””

“We’re special,” she murmured. “Family.” She got to her feet.

“Where’re you going?” he asked in surprise.

“I have work to do.” She crossed back to the door.

“Work?”

“Research. On the camp. Jia yan can’t go in blind.”

“And you hafta do that in the middle of the night?”

“It’s always night in space.”

“We ain’t in space.”

“I am.” She smiled and him and stepped out of the shuttle.

He stared at the empty space then sighed again. He loved his moonbrain with all his heart, but sometimes ... Hell, her and Frey, he wouldn’t be surprised if they didn't turn ‘round one day and announce they were mother and daughter after all, considering how much they liked to discomfit their husbands.

Still, it didn’t mean he wanted to be left alone tonight. Too much going on elsewhere in the ship, and in his head. So it was with an air of slight resignation that he slipped a sleeping Caleb into the carrypack River had made for him, hitching his son across his back before picking up a selection of guns and cleaning equipment. Then he followed his wife to the bridge to keep her company.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Friday, December 23, 2011 6:04 AM

WAFFENMAC


My god you never disapoint fracking awesome installment.

Friday, December 23, 2011 5:19 PM

FREEVERSE


Thank you, Jane. Merry Christmas!

And I'm trying to remember the backstory here, but given River's uncertain parentage, could they be...? Nah.
~freeverse

Sunday, December 25, 2011 1:23 PM

BYTEMITE


>_> Considering the kind of plans Mal tends to have, maybe Freya shouldn't be quite so quick to be mollified. But then again, she's probably good enough to fix whatever problems come up.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011 2:33 PM

EBFIDDLER


Exciting chapter. You wrote the confrontations very well.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011 12:10 PM

AMDOBELL


Loved this. I'm with Jayne, I don't trust Indigo either. I knew Mal wouldn't be able to leave children in the hands of slavers any more than Frey could, just hope he comes up with a good gorram plan. Ali D :~)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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Monied Individual - Part XIX
“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]


Monied Individual - Part XVIII
Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]


Snow at Christmas
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]


Monied Individual - Part XVII
Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.


[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]


Monied Individual - Part XVI
He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]



Monied Individual - Part XV
“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]



“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]


Monied Individual - Part XIV
This wasn’t how an ex-companion did things. Perhaps she’d been hanging around a certain Firefly captain for too long. He listened at keyholes as if it were a competitive sport.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The crew go to the Spring Lights Procession, Mal gives some good news, and Sir Warwick puts in another cameo. Read, enjoy, review!]


Monied Individual - Part XIII
“It’s a family tradition, Mal.” Eugenia patted his hand. “No matter who marries into us, whatever their name, the moment they say ‘I do’ they become Rostovs. So you are Malcolm Rostov. It has a fine ring to it, don’t you think?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A chapter of Mal and Freya, and a small revelation from Eugenia Rostov. Read, enjoy, review!]


Monied Individual - Part XII
Hank had to shake his head. In this day and age, when the entire output of every quill, pen and two-fingered monkey thumping on a keyboard was available on the Cortex, this statement of wealth and power was way over the top. He loved the feel of paper himself, turning the pages to get to the next twist, scanning the print to try and guess the next turn, but even his collection wouldn’t fill more than a shelf here.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank thinks about Zoe, Zoe thinks about Hank, while Freya and Mal have lunch. Read, enjoy, review!]