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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Maya. Post-BDM. Simon operates, Freya worries, and Indigo comes to a decision. CONCLUDING CHAPTER
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1717 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
“You’re lucky,” Simon said, drying his hands.
Mal narrowed his eyes. “You think?”
“I know. The bullet was intact, it missed the main artery and your pelvis ... I call that luck.”
“Luck woulda been Pedersen missing entirely.” He wasn’t in the mood to be generous. When the shuttle docked and Freya and Zoe had carried Mal on the stretcher into the infirmary, Simon was ready for him.
It had taken Mal a lot to keep from throwing up. Simon had shot him with a painkiller, but seeing the doctor pushing a metal probe into his flesh ... Luckily the narcotic included in the injection began to kick in, and the infirmary soon span and drifted away.
He came to with Freya stroking his forehead, something he took a moment to enjoy before wishing it would happen more often without him lying on the secondary medbed, bandages wrapped around his body until he felt like a mummy from Earth-that-was.
“Hey.” She smiled, her face paler than he would have liked.
“Hey.” He coughed, his mouth dry, and she held a cup of water with a straw for him to sip. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” She stroked the hair back from his forehead again.
It was at that point Simon made his observation, and Mal shifted awkwardly on the counter. He gasped as a stab of pain lanced through his hip and filled his body.
“Lie still,” Simon advised. “You won’t be going anywhere for a while. You might have been lucky, but you were still shot, and I’ve had to operate. Any unnecessary movement and you could bleed to death.”
Hank, on the main medbed, chuckled. “That’s what he said to me.”
“He says it every time,” Mal agreed, somewhat sourly.
“With monotonous regularity,” Simon said deadpan. “I just wish you’d listen.”
“He’s not going anywhere,” Freya promised.
Noises out in the lounge made Mal change his focus from glaring at his wife to looking out into the common area. The rest of his crew were smiling in at him, including the children. Even Indigo stood back in the shadows.
“Hey, Cap,” Kaylee said, grinning widely.
“Mei-mei.” The soft vibration of the engines registered. “My ship okay?”
“Running smooth, Cap’n. Could do with a new diathermic calliper, though.”
“Are we likely to blow up without one?”
“Nope,” the girl admitted cheerfully. “If it goes we might have a problem with the septic vat backing up, but we’re shiny for the moment.”
“I’ll add it to the list.”
Simon took a step towards the doorway. “Mal needs to rest,” he said. “Everyone will have plenty of time to annoy him later.”
Jayne coughed. “C’n I have a word first?”
Simon glanced at Mal, then tossed his hands into the air. “Fine. Just ignore me.”
“Just a sec,” Jayne promised, stepping into the cool room. “Just thought you’d like to know me and Addie had a conversation.”
“About anything in particular?” Mal asked, the image of the short, buxom saloon owner in her brightly coloured plumage slipping into his mind.
“The people at the camp.” He glanced at River who had followed him silently inside. “I ... er ... explained a coupla things to her.”
“About what happened?”
“Some.” Jayne looked about as uncomfortable as he ever got. “Not all, a’course. But some.”
“She ... uh ... called the Feds.”
Jayne nodded sharply. “Me and River ... we thought she’d be best. I was gonna call ‘em, put in an anonymous tip, but Riv suggested ...” He took a breath. “Addie was happy to help, least after what she’d been doing, keeping the slavers supplied. There’s an Alliance patrol boat half a day out. They’re gonna come take a look, take charge.”
“She was non-specific?”
“You’d’a been proud of her. Whetted their appetites, nothing more. Just said she was a concerned resident, and something funny was going on up at the old camp.”
“And you’re sure they’re coming?”
“She may have mentioned kids and guns.”
Mal was grimly pleased. “Good. You did good, Jayne.”
“Thanks.” The ex-merc didn’t preen, but there was something inside him that warmed, mainly from the thought that a few years ago Mal would never have complimented him on anything, and he wouldn’t have deserved it if he had. Now, though, with his moonbrain at his side, maybe he wasn’t quite as bad as before.
“And I take it we’re not gonna be around when they arrive?” Mal went on.
“Nope. Left Cason’s Point soon as the hover was stowed.”
“Can’t say I’m sorry.”
“Me neither,” Freya agreed.
Kaylee shook her head, worry etching her face. “Sorry, Cap’n, but I don’t see how just waving ‘em is gonna make ‘em what to come here. Ain’t it the Alliance who’re buying the kids?”
“Blue Sun,” River said, her arms wrapped around her slim body. “Alliance but not Alliance. Hidden in the shadows.” She shivered. “Two by two ...”
“They still around?” Mal asked before he could stop himself.
“Shrouded hands and shrouded minds, but ... yes. Always more.”
Jayne pulled her into his embrace, his physical presence immediately easing her tension. “Killed ‘em before, moonbrain. Kill ‘em again. Keep killin’ ‘em ‘til there ain’t no more coming.”
“Might have to poison the nest,” she whispered against his chest.
“Then we do it. I remember my Pa taking out a wasp nest once – we can do it to them.”
Mal had a similar memory of a time on Shadow when they’d had a nest of hornets in the barn, worrying the horses, and Lowrie had been tasked with getting rid of them. He’d made up some mixture in an old tin can, leaving it to smoke under the nest all night, and it was a charnel house by morning. Mal had felt faintly sorry for the hornets, but he wouldn’t if they ever came up against the people who made the Blue Hands.
“Now, I really do think it’s time the captain had some rest,” Simon said pointedly. “He needs to recuperate.”
In response Freya merely pulled a stool next to the counter and sat down. Simon rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, come on,” Kaylee said, her normal sunniness winning through. “How ‘bout I make us all some sandwiches?”
The children brightened up.
“Can we have peanut butter and jelly?” Ethan asked, licking his lips.
Kaylee laughed. “I think there’s some left.” She shooed the children up the stairs, calling over her shoulder, “I’ll make enough for everyone. Simon.”
The doctor sighed.
“Food.” Hank murmured the word, rolling it around his mouth before sighing himself. “I am so hungry.”
Simon shook his head. “Not yet. Nothing solid for a few days yet.”
“How about if they blend it into a paste?” Hank asked hopefully.
“Not even then.”
“Gorram it.” He lay back, disgust making his hair even more untidy.
Zoe laughed softly and uncrossed her arms. “Soon, honey.” She glanced at Mal and nodded, then went off to take a turn on the bridge.
Mal chuckled, then wished he hadn’t. Freya glanced at Simon, who dipped his head once and turned the painkiller dispensing into the saline drip up by a notch.
“I’d ... uh ... better go make sure the kids don’t eat everything,” Jayne said, crabbing towards the door before striding out.
River sighed. Sometimes even she found her husband’s love affair with his stomach embarrassing.
“It’s okay,” Freya said softly. “He’s just a man.”
“Yes.” River moved closer to the counter bed. “I have selected the appropriate course.”
Mal had to smile at the young woman’s occasional propensity for pompousness. “And what’s that, xiao nu?”
“Jubilee first. Then Lazarus.”
“That’s a long way round. Can’t we stop at Inara’s for a day first?”
“No.” She shook her head firmly, her long dark hair flying about her face. “You have to recuperate first. And a day isn’t enough.”
Freya broke in. “River, Inara might not want –”
“You’re sure of that, are you?” Mal asked.
“One hundred percent?”
“As has been pointed out previously, nobody can know everything absolutely.” She raised an eyebrow at him. “But 99.9999768 –”
“Okay. I get it.” He stifled a chuckle, but it still hurt.
Immediately Freya smoothed her cool hand across his forehead.
“Duck next time,” River advised.
“That’s what Frey said.” Mal shook his head.
The young psychic exchanged a glance with the older. “Listen to her. She’s your wife. She knows best.”
“I know that. Just don’t let on I know, dong mah?”
“I'm standing right here, Mal,” Freya pointed out.
“Must be the medication. I could be saying anything.”
River rolled her eyes, and the resemblance between brother and sister was very marked.
Her stomach rumbled.
“Best you get to those sandwiches,” Mal advised, even as Hank moaned quietly to himself.
“Xie xie, Captain.” She saluted.
“You and Jayne’re like to be the death of me, you know that?”
“Not yet,” she said primly, spinning on her heel. “Not if you listen to Freya.” She stalked out, leaving Mal laughing and grimacing in equal measure.
“Simon, I think we need a smoother,” Freya said.
“No, no, I’m good.” Mal swallowed it back.
“I will knock you out,” Simon warned.
“I am captain, you know.”
“And in here, I’m God.”
Indigo, still lounging against the doorjamb, laughed. “Nothing like being modest.”
“And that’s nothing like,” Mal agreed. “So you decided to come with us?”
Indigo shrugged. “Yeah. I’m sure I’m gonna regret it someday, but yeah, me and Sara’ve decided to take you up on your offer.”
“And Mallory? Is she around somewhere?”
The older man’s face stilled. “No. I asked her, but ... no, she’s back there. In Cason’s Point.”
In the big house overlooking the town but far enough away not to smell the despair, Medea Tanner looked at the younger woman, obviously in her best dress, her hair neat and freshly washed.
“Thank you for coming,” Medea said, her age showing in her face, shadows bringing her cheekbones into high relief.
“I didn’t have any choice, did I?”
“You could have said no.”
Mallory exhaled sharply through her nose. “You’re Mrs Tanner. I know how things work.”
“Yes. Yes. Perhaps.” Medea clasped her hands together in front of her. “I wanted to talk to you about ... about your son.”
“What about him?”
Medea chose her words carefully. “I want to ... help him.”
“We don’t need your help.”
“Living out on the edge of nothing? Making do? Scraping a living when he could be comfortable?”
Mallory bridled. Perhaps the words hadn’t been chosen well after all. “Josh is staying with me.”
“Even if it’s to his advantage?” Medea tightened her grip. “He’s all I have left.”
“He’s my son.”
“I know.” The two words were dragged out of her with enormous reluctance. “I ... he’s your boy. But his father was my boy. And the only family left to me now.”
“And I ain’t gonna let him be taken away from me.”
Medea narrowed her eyes. “I could –”
“You finish that sentence and I’m out of this house, and I ain’t gonna stop until I’m someplace off this moon. Me and Josh, we’ll spend every penny we have to leave, then you won’t ever see either of us again.”
“Why haven't you?” It was something Medea wanted to know, something that had vexed her ever since she’d thrown Bradley out of the house. “You could have gone. Why didn’t you?”
“He asked me,” Mallory said, tossing her head up. “Begged me.” She looked down at her hands as they rubbed around each other as if she was cold, but when she lifted her head the expression on her face was firm, much more the woman she had once been, when she’d been negotiating payment. “But this is my home. I was born here. I ain’t like Indigo – never felt the urge to wander the ‘verse, see the sun rise over different horizons. For all Cason’s Point is the way it is – and you and me both know why that’s happened – it’s the place I know. Now, you try and take Josh, and the last you’ll see of both of us is our heels. But ...” She sighed. “I don’t want to leave. I didn’t want Indigo to go either, but I can see why he had to. And the truth is ...” Her head went higher, the tendons standing out on her neck. “Truth is, if we went with Indigo there’s no guarantee he ain’t gonna get killed on us. He’s a gunhand, that’s all he knows. He’s never gonna be a farmer, or something safe like that. And my son deserves better.”
The two women glared at each other, then Medea nodded, a single dip of her head. “Yes. You’re right. And I’ve room for you both, you can move in as soon as –”
“No. Me and Josh will be staying in our house.” Mallory saw the old woman about to protest, so went on quickly. “But I reckon maybe he can visit regularly. He is your grandson, after all. And Troy would have married me.”
Medea bit back on the retort that bubbled up behind her lips as an image of her favourite son swept through her, aged seven, cuddling a puppy he’d found somewhere, and telling her he was keeping the scrap of nothing, tears streaming down his cheeks. She’d let him, and they’d been firm companions for nearly a decade. Wesley and Bradley had been jealous, of course. Perhaps that was where it had started, their hatred of their younger brother. But that was Troy all over, trying to temper his siblings and save the strays.
“I don’t know about that,” she said instead. “But Troy wouldn’t have wanted me to ... he’d never have ... not his son ...” She stopped, aware she wasn’t giving a good showing of herself. For a moment she closed her eyes, and when she looked at the other woman again it was Medea Tanner back in control. “I want Joshua to take Troy’s name. He will be Joshua Tanner. And when he’s old enough, I want him to learn about the family businesses.”
Mallory looked like she was going to argue, but surprised Medea by saying, “Fine. But I get to explain things to him, when I think he’s ready. He’s already had one Pa, and to hear he had another ... I do it.”
“Yes. Of course.” The old woman looked out into the snow-covered grounds, but hearing the thaw as it dripped from the eves. “Can I ... meet him?”
“He’s in school.” Mallory’s voice was firm, but as the stiffness in her shoulders relaxed a little she added, “But I reckon I could bring him by, after. Just to say hello. Just for a while.”
They gazed at each other, recognising traits they were loathe to mention. There but for the grace of any deity they might worship ...
“That would be nice,” Medea finally said.
It was never going to be perfect, and there was no chance of them ever becoming close. Mallory knew too much about how Medea worked to ever be truly comfortable in her presence, and Medea could never look on the other woman as anything but a whore. Their only connections were Troy and Josh, but maybe it was going to be enough. At least for now.
Mal had been allowed to leave the infirmary, but only as far as one of the few remaining guest rooms. Simon was firm, saying that there was no way he was going to be able to get down into his bunk, and since he drew the line at Jayne carrying him, there was no alternative.
The bed was at least more comfortable, but Mal knew he was bored when he found himself missing Hank’s chattering.
It was only the arrival of Jayne, his arms full of weapons, that stopped him trying to get up. They didn’t talk much, just cleaned various guns and rifles, making sure the after-effects of the previous battle weren’t going to cause misfires in the next.
As they finished, and Jayne gathered everything together in a blanket, the big man asked, “Think they’re gonna be okay?”
“Who, the slaves?”
Mal shrugged, rubbing at a spot of gun oil on the back of his left hand. “The Alliance ain’t good for much, but they’ll get them back home.”
“You mean will they inform on us?”
“I doubt it. Pretty much all they saw was River, and I doubt they’d be believed if they tried to tell the purple-bellies that a slip of a thing could do what she did. And in her get up, nobody’d be able to recognise her anyway. Other than that, the only person they saw was Zoe, and that was only brief. No. I don’t think we’re in any more danger than we were before.”
“You say that like we’re okay.”
“We’re no worse off.”
“I s’pose.” Jayne hefted the weapons into his arms. “Just can’t help feeling like there’s something not finished.” He stalked out.
Mal didn’t have long to ponder these enigmatic words, as his next visitor was Kaylee, and he began to wonder if they’d made a rota as she stayed for what seemed like an hour exactly talking about nothing in particular, before announcing she had things to do in the engine room and almost skipping off.
Five minutes later he was sure when Zoe stopped by, ostensibly going over supplies they still needed to get, including the now criminally low levels on some of the ammunition, then reminiscing about a certain quartermaster they’d known who would have been able to supply a lamp with a genie in it if given enough time.
Then Bethie and the other children came in to keep him company, showing him the drawings they’d been working on and reading to him until Kaylee called that it was time to wash up for supper.
The one person he hadn’t expected to see put his head around the door a minute later.
“You got a sec, captain?”
Mal glanced down at himself. “Well, I was planning on dancing a jig or two, but I conjure I’ll put them off for a while.”
Indigo smiled under his moustache. “I was wondering what you planned to do with us. Me and Sara, that is.”
“What I said. Any place we’re passing you fancy, I’m sure River can be persuaded to actually set us down long enough for you to get off.”
“That’s nice o’ you. Although there’s not that many planets in this sector I’d care to take a kid.”
“True. They ain’t all bad, but I’d agree the majority leave something of a bad taste.”
“Got any suggestions?”
“On whether you’re planning to make a career move or not.”
“Not sure that’s any of your affair.”
“Nope. Probably not. But you’re a dad now. Ask Jayne – it makes a helluva difference.”
“I’ve already come to that conclusion.”
“Then you know what I’m talking about.”
Indigo shook his head. “Being a gunhand is about all I know. Never did push a plough or work a factory machine – can’t see me starting now.”
“I heard tell Bakerstown is looking for a sheriff.”
“Bakerstown?” The change in subject seemed to throw Indigo.
Mal stared up into the bulkhead above him. “My contact back on Wayborn happened to mention it while we were negotiating. Place on Jubilee. Not too big, probably ‘bout the same size as Cason’s Point. But they’re good people, done business with them before. It’s where we’re dropping our cargo.”
“You really are trying to reform me, aren't you, captain?” Indigo asked with the hint of a smile beginning under his straggly moustache.
“Not particularly. But like I said, you’re a family man now. Can’t be going round doing what you were doing. You ain’t exactly in the first flush of youth anymore, and age takes its toll on a man. Makes you slower, less likely to beat the next idiot with a gun. And I conjure you want to see Sara grow up.”
“I’d planned on doing that.”
“Then maybe you should consider what I’ve said. I can put a word in for you with the town elders, give ‘em a slightly edited version of the truth, and maybe they’ll give you a chance to live a mite longer.”
“Can I think it over?”
“Sure. Wouldn’t expect you to make a snap decision like that on the fly. Best to sleep on it.”
Freya appeared in the doorway, a tray in her hands with two covered plates on. “Oh. Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“No problem,” Indigo said. “I was just leaving.”
“Supper’s on the table. Sara’s already waiting.”
Indigo smiled. “That girl of mine sure likes her food.” He passed her, heading for the back stairs.
“That for us?” Mal asked. “Frey?”
His wife belatedly noticed he was speaking to her and gathered herself from wherever it was she’d gone. “Yes. I thought we could eat together.”
She smiled and sat down next to him, putting the tray on his legs and carefully avoiding the area of his wound. “You’ll be glad to know Simon cooked, not me.”
“Hell, I’m hungry enough to eat your cookin’.” He laughed at the expression on her face. “Sorry, xin gan. Didn’t mean that. And you can’t even retaliate.”
“Really?” she asked, one eyebrow raising.
“Not yet, anyway.”
“Believe me, I’ll keep it in mind.”
“The couch?” He tried to take a leaf out of Bethie and Jesse’s book, and did the puppy-dog eyes.
Freya stared at him for a long moment, then her face dissolved into a smile. “Don’t. It doesn’t suit you.”
He grinned. “Frey, I love you. And as long as you love me, I don't care what you do to punish me.”
Her smile became mischievous. “I didn’t know you were that much of a masochist.”
“Only where you’re concerned, ai ren.”
She leaned over and brushed her lips across his, just touching them with her tongue. As he opened his mouth to prolong the kiss, she sat back, and he groaned faintly.
“And that’s out of the question for a while,” she said pointedly.
“Frey, I’m wounded here,” he complained. “I need some TLC.”
Reaching up to cup his cheek and run her thumb along his jaw, she smiled softly, the love in her hazel eyes evident, warming his blood. “Mal.”
“Eat your supper.”
The lights were turned down, and nearly everyone was either in bed or doing a last few chores before sleep.
Freya sat at the old wooden table in Mal’s usual chair, a mug of coffee in her hands. She was holding it as if it was the only source of warmth in the room, even though it had gone cold long since, staring into its murky depths as if she could see the future in it.
Kaylee stepped down into the kitchen behind her and headed for the range. “How’s Mal?” she asked, lifting the lid on the coffee pot and taking a sniff. It had been brewed a while, but either she’d burned out her taste buds over the years or she’d become immune to it, because it seemed okay. As she poured a mug, she realised the woman sitting so still hadn’t answered. “Frey? You okay?”
Freya roused herself enough to lift her head, to look straight at the mechanic, and for a moment she saw something other than the captain’s wife looking back at her, something old, icy, and entirely without compassion. Then she was back, her lips twitching slightly.
“I’m fine,” she said, sitting upright and stretching her back out. “And Mal’s finally taken the smoother and is asleep.”
“Good. Good.” Kaylee lifted the pot. “You want a top up?”
She glanced down into her mug, then grimaced faintly. “No. No, I don't think so.”
Kaylee took a sip of her own drink, feeling her mouth recoiling. “Ew. No, I don’t blame you.” Still, she sucked half of it down as quickly as she could before pouring the rest down the sink.
“Are you trying to stay awake?” Freya asked gently, her smile warming.
“Someone has to keep their eye on the ball. Zoe’s with Hank, and what with Mal being laid up too ...” She ran her fingers through her long auburn hair and grinned. “I reckon it falls to me and River, and I’ve got any number of things to keep me going in the engine room.”
Freya pushed her mug away. “So what has our temporary captain been doing?” she asked, an amused expression on her face.
“River’s been setting us a course for Jubilee.” Kaylee told herself she must have imagined what she thought she’d seen only a couple of moments before. “If that’s still the plan.”
“We took the job,” Freya agreed, aware of what was going through the young woman’s head, and sorry for it.
“I suppose we should wave the buyer, though. Let him know we’ll be more than a little bit late.”
Kaylee shook her head. “Not yet. Me and River’ve got a couple of ideas about that,” she admitted. “In fact, I’d better be getting back. There’s a comet coming up she thought she might be able to get a push from, increase our speed enough we might only be a day tardy, and I’ve got a few adjustments to make before she tries.”
Freya grinned suddenly. “Kaylee, I don’t care what Mal says about you. I think you’re worth every penny.”
She laughed. “You tell him that next time I want some alone time with Simon, will you, and he walks in on us?”
Kaylee grabbed a couple of sugar sticks from the pot and walked around the counter back towards the door, pausing only to put her hand on Freya’s shoulder. “And you go get some rest.”
“Aye, aye, captain,” she said, saluting.
“Captain.” Kaylee sighed, a beatific smile on her face. “I like the sound of that. Although I think I’d have a fight on my hands with River if’n it came down to it.” She laughed gaily, then strolled out of the room towards the rear of the Firefly.
Freya’s grin faded, replaced by a slight frown. What Kaylee had seen before was something she normally managed to keep hidden, locked away from everyone but the other Readers on the ship. What they had done to her at the Academy might have created it, or maybe it was always inside her and they merely let it out to play, but it was what she called her ‘darkness’.
She could still hear Amon’s voice as he tattooed her back, applying first the frame then the colours, and finally the sigils in their cartouches.
“With great passion can come great power, but without enlightenment the world is dark.”
She was gritting her teeth, feeling every brush of the needle as it swept her skin. “I don’t understand,” she ground out.
“Yes, you do.” He wiped the anaesthetic rag across her flesh for the hundredth time. “You are a passionate woman.”
“Not a woman.” This time she was panting, taking the brief respite from the pain like a draught of cold, clear water to a parched man. “Just a girl.”
“Then a girl on the verge of becoming a woman.” He came around the end of the table where she lay face down, going down onto his heels to look into her eyes, his own full of sympathy. “Elena, you have such power within you, for whatever reason. And you will learn to control it.”
Tears ran unbidden down her cheeks, which she attributed firmly to the aching in her back. “I’m afraid,” she admitted.
“As am I. Elena, we all are. And if you ever come across a man who isn’t, be more afraid of him than anyone, because he has no limits, nothing to tell him he shouldn’t.”
“Anything. Such a man could force the ‘verse to its knees.”
She shuddered slightly at the warning in his voice, the seriousness on his dark-skinned face. “I’ll watch out for him,” she agreed, then added, “But that’s not what I’m afraid of.”
Amon stroked away a long hair that was sticking to her sweat-streaked skin. “Then what, my child?”
“Love,” she blurted out.
“Love?” He didn't quite smile.
“That nobody could love me. Not the way I am.” Fresh tears joined the others. “All this darkness inside me ...”
He stroked her cheek. “Yes, Elena. There is darkness in you. But between us you are learning to control it. And more than that, there is passion. And love. So much love in you, Elena, I can feel it.”
“In me?” she scoffed. “I don’t have love.”
“Yes, you do. It’s what brought you to my door. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to save you. And the darkness is what gives it form. Without it you’d burn out in a moment, a flare in the night that dies before it’s seen.”
“And yet you still don’t believe me.”
“You’ll see. One day, Elena You’ll see.”
“What?” He looked surprised, something she’d rarely managed to engender in him.
“Not Elena. Not anymore. You told me to pick a new name, something that was mine.”
“And have you?”
“Freya.” He tested it on his tongue. “Freya. Yes, it sounds like a good choice.”
“Then that’s who I am.”
Amon nodded. “Freya. But forgive me if I call you Elena accidentally on occasion. I’m an old man and my memory is sometimes poor.”
“You’re not old,” Elena … Freya said stoutly.
“Oh, but I’m ancient, at least compared to you. You, Freya, are but a few minutes old.”
She laughed, wiping at her face with her hands, pushing the tears away. “New born.”
“Exactly.” He leaned forward and put a kiss on her forehead. “Enjoy your birthday,” he added, standing up. “We have work to do.”
He disappeared from her sight, and she heard the hum of the needle begin again, and she braced herself for the thousand pinpricks as it travelled over her skin ...
The memories of Amon slipped away, replaced by something else.
She knew she wasn’t pregnant, just like she’d told Mal, and in all the fighting and confusion there hadn’t been an opportunity for him to get her that way, so she knew it wasn’t her child’s consciousness interfering. And yet ...
Someone was out there. It had only been a moment, just a touch of a spider’s web while she stood in the doorway to the room where Mal lay, listening to Indigo talking about his daughter, but she knew she hadn’t imagined it. Something … someone like her. More like her than anything she’d ever known beyond Ethan and Jesse. In a way like Alex, but even that description wasn’t enough: besides, she knew it wasn't him. Someone else. Someone else entirely.
Another memory was nudged loose, and fell into her consciousness. She’d have put it down to a dream, a figment of her imagination, if it hadn’t been so clear …
“She’s a perfect candidate.”
“And with her healing ability, there’s every possibility we can harvest more.”
“If you believe in nature over nurture.”
“I think we both know a psychic is born, not made.”
“Well, helped along a little, perhaps, but in essence … yes.”
“Perhaps more than a little.”
Laughter, not wicked, but uncaring.
“At this point in her cycle we should be ready to collect in less than three weeks.”
“That’s a large dosage.”
“She can handle it. And if she can’t, then she’s not the candidate we thought.”
“True. Very true.”
Another conversation, many pain-filled weeks later …
“Yes. The hormones, do you think?”
“I would imagine so. It appears they have limited her healing.”
“There’s a lot of scarring.”
“It doesn’t matter. We have sufficient for our needs at the current time, and there’s always a possibility that, if we withdraw the hormones, her body will recover naturally, and we can try again.”
“And if not?”
“Well, she’s hardly likely to ever want to conceive, is she? Not with what she’s going to be.”
Laughter again, this time more than uncaring …
The voices still sounding in her head, Freya walked quietly out of the kitchen and down the stairs through the common area, pausing a moment before peering into the lower crew quarters. Mal was, indeed, asleep, his hand resting lightly on his belly, well away from the bandages. She shook her head – no matter what he said, he certainly did seem to get hurt more than anyone else on board. And he wasn’t exactly the best of patients, not when he was healing and itching to get back to the bridge.
It didn’t stop her loving him more than she could ever express. The trouble was, that wasn’t going to stop her doing what she needed to do right now. She headed to the other side, to another room.
Simon was standing by the chest of drawers, a pen in his hand. She watched him for a moment, his hair falling over his forehead as he made a last notation in someone’s medical records – Mal’s, she guessed from the thickness – then he slid the pack home and closed the drawer.
He turned, a smile lighting his tired face. “Frey. How’s Mal? Does he need anything?”
“No. Whatever you gave him has knocked him out.”
“Good. Sleep is by far the best medicine, even for him.”
“Simon, I …” She stopped, unsure what to say next.
“What is it?” He took a step forward. “Frey? Is something wrong?”
“I …” Courage, she could almost hear Amon saying. Courage, my dear. She took a deep breath. “Simon, I need you to run some tests for me …”
He sat and stared at the screen, the information writ large. He knew what Reynolds had said that last time, and knew even more that he’d meant it, but something had made him keep tabs on the infuriating man. He himself might not be the same man any more, having been emptied of everything he believed in, but now he felt something trickling back. Right at this moment it was barely staining his soul, but it was going to be more, and he believed eventually it would flood him. By that time, though, things would be in hand that no-one in the ‘verse could stop.
A single phrase, a code, typed into the computer, erased the message, wiping it and its method of transfer from the banks, and as he sat back he caught his reflection in the glass of the bridge window. His dark skin barely registered, but his eyes stared back at him, demanding redemption. Soon, he saw his lips form. Soon.
A.N.:That's it for Indigo, started in August 2010! But as you can tell, there are more stories to come ... Thank you for reading and commenting!
Saturday, May 19, 2012 4:04 AM
Saturday, May 19, 2012 11:06 AM
Monday, May 21, 2012 4:21 AM
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