BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

MARKOMI

Angels We Have Heard (Part 1/5)
Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas special. Mal teams up with Simon to search for some hidden crates on the ice planet of St. Albans. They find something else instead.


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2614    RATING:     SERIES: FIREFLY

A/N: This Christmas special is, as the observant reader will notice, a tie-in with last year's, "The Night Before". You might say it's the story about what happened in the meantime. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

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As Malcolm Reynolds punched the button to open the cargo bay door, he caught sight of the digits blinking on the panel next to his hand, showing the local time, and saw that it was almost nine in the morning. Never having been a big sleeper (and in particular not since the war), he'd been up for several hours already, but as the door opened and icy cold wind came blowing inside, he longed to be snuggled up back in his bunk. Preferably with a bottle.

Wrapping his scarf one more time around his neck, he squinted out at the landscape outside and frowned. If you wanted a white Christmas, St. Albans certainly delivered. There was no shortage of snow on a planet where the winter lasted for ten months and 'summer' meant the temperatures occasionally spiked above 32 degrees.

Problem was, Mal didn't want a white Christmas.

In fact he didn't want Christmas at all.

Not counting Unification Day, it was his least favorite holiday, and if it had been solely up to him, he'd taken Serenity far into the Black and just stayed out there until the crazy had passed. That was precisely what they'd done the first time around; back when it had just been him and Zoë and Wash and Bester. But then Kaylee had arrived on the scene, and she always got homesick this time of year and so, to cheer her up – just because he loved her and cared about her so much – he'd allowed a small celebration, though limited to a tiny, crooked evergreen in the cargo bay, a dinner and perhaps a few presents.

He'd promised her a celebration this year as well, though she had been more reluctant than usual to ask for one, seeing as it would be their first Christmas after Miranda and the first Christmas without Wash and Book. Surprisingly, in the end it had been Zoë who'd insisted. The alternative, she said, was to just sit around and glare, and even though Mal guessed she would've been fine with that, he agreed with her it wasn't fair to the others. And so Kaylee was busy with the last preparations, even though Christmas was still a couple of days away, and because she always found the bright side to everything, she seemed to love the fact that they were spending the holidays on a winter world. Growing up on Harvest, the young mechanic had probably not seen many white Christmases in her life, but she was among those people who gladly delved into the whole cliché if they could have it.

White Christmas.

Mal shuddered. The white didn't bother him, but the white always came with the cold, and he was certainly no fan of the cold. His home world had been a temperate planet, and after the war he'd spent most of his time in the controlled environment of a spaceship, and so he wasn't used to it.

None of his crew was used to it, come to think of it. Except Jayne, of course. His home planet, Paquin, had fairly cold winters, Mal mused, especially in the northern parts from where his mercenary hailed. Though even he had seemed bothered by the weather the night before when they had returned from yet another fruitless attempt at finishing their current job, especially because he'd lost his jacket. Long story.

It was a job that had brought them to St. Albans, of course, one you would have to be desperate to actually take. And Mal was desperate. Jobs didn't come as easy as before (as if they had ever come easy), and so when Bernoulli had offered it to him, he'd had no choice but to accept it.

They were to find some merchandise left here by smugglers. Easy enough at first glance but problem was, nobody really knew exactly where it was hidden, because the people who'd actually done the hiding had all since died. Bernoulli only knew it was 'in a cave a few miles outside some village somewhere on the eastern continent'. Detailed directions indeed, Mal sarcastically thought to himself as he threw another glance at the watch. This would be their fifth stopping place and the fifth village in as many days.

The digits now blinked 09:05, and Mal felt his irritation rise. A little because he'd told Jayne to be ready at nine, but mostly because he just wanted this gorram job to be done with, and so when he heard footsteps approaching he was more than ready to bite someone's head off. Realizing it was Zoë, though, he managed to stop himself.

He was walking on eggshells around his first mate these days. She had lost her husband, and then discovered that she was pregnant with his child, a circumstance that would have made anyone flip out a little, but of course Zoë wasn't. She was caught in that strange void between all-consuming grief and great joy, but she never let it show, and Mal really didn't know how to deal with that. For the first time in all the time he'd known her, she was difficult to be around.

He couldn't think of anything smart and meaningful to say this time either, so he just nodded curtly and then turned around to punch the button on the PA. "Jayne!" he hollered into the mic. "Get your pigu down here, we're leavin'!"

Zoë stopped next to him, her arms wrapped tightly around her body to shield herself from the cold. "We could go with you, you know," she said. "Me and Kaylee. Help you cover more ground."

"No." His reply was short and instant, and she had expected it; he could easily see that, despite her lack of facial expression. "No," he repeated, a little softer, "Jayne and I got this. Kaylee's busy with all things Christmas-y, and you… Well, you just stay here."

She tilted her head a little to the side, but her face stayed the same. "Simon says it's alright for me to work, you know. As long as it doesn't involve shooting, punching or kidnapping. His words, not mine."

"Well," Mal retorted, "our jobs have a way of ending up including at least one of those scenarios, don't they?"

He saw the hint of a smile fall across her lips as she shrugged, "True enough."

Feeling that strange and yet by now so familiar sense of awkward fall between them again, and desperate to get rid of it, he finally saw a way to use Jayne's absence to his own advantage. "Now where the hell is he?" he exclaimed. Embracing the opportunity for welcomed distraction, he slammed his fist down on the bay door button to close it again and made his way up the staircase towards the crew quarters. "Jayne!"

Zoë followed suit, not even the slightest hindered by her growing belly. "You even seen 'im today?" she asked as they rounded the corner into the hallway and stopped by the hatch to the said man's room. "'Cause I haven't."

Mal didn't answer, just pounded on the door with his hand. "Jayne!" he yelled, "Get up here!"

There was no response, and suddenly an uneasy feeling in his gut told him just how wrong that was. Glancing over at Zoë and seeing the serious look on her face, he knew she was thinking the same thing: Jayne had his flaws, but being late wasn't one of them.

Reaching for the keyboard hanging on the wall, he punched in the captain's override code, and when he heard the hiss from the door as the lock released, he used his foot to kick it open. "Jayne?" he called again, but didn't pause to wait for an answer before quickly sliding down the ladder.

At least the man was alive. The sound of heavy and strained breathing told him that right away. He was on the cot, curled up, shaking and shivering, tugging at a thin sheet that did nothing for him, and Mal didn't have to touch him to know he was really, really sick. He put the back of his hand against the man's forehead anyway, and grimaced at the heat. With a sigh he turned his head back towards the ladder, "Zo', get the doctor!"

Jayne winced at the sudden outcry but didn't wake, and Mal suppressed another sigh as he tugged off his winter jacket. He was annoyed by this unplanned turn of events, but also felt a bit badly for being annoyed, which left him all messed up inside. Jayne suddenly coughed and it was a bad cough; it sounded like his lungs were about to be ripped apart, and gripped by a sudden surge of sympathy and tenderness, the captain looked around for another blanket and found one lying neatly folded on a chair –

Jayne was tidy, wasn't he? Funny how he kept seeing new sides to his people these days, Mal thought to himself as he draped the blanket over the freezing form on the cot.

Funny how Miranda had changed everything, when it really hadn't changed anything at all.

Funny how he kept pondering these questions…

Simon arrived with his medical bag, and Mal stepped out of his way while he did his thing. The doctor didn't even talk to him, but he spoke softly to Jayne now and then, giving him instructions, and at least sometimes the mercenary seemed to react to this and followed orders, which of course made the whole scenario all the more scarier.

Eventually Simon stood, pulled his stethoscope from his ears and turned to finally address the captain. "It's pneumonia," he said. "Double-sided."

Mal closed his eyes for a moment. "Well, Jayne never does anything half way, does he now?"

Simon wasn't smiling. "I believe it's bacterial," he simply continued as he carefully folded up his equipment and put it back into his bag. "I'll draw some blood to make sure, and put him on some antibiotics." He started making his way towards the ladder again.

"What about the job?" Mal asked him.

The doctor stopped. "What job?"

"I have a job waiting. The only reason we're on this gorram ice rock, remember?"

"Well, I won't keep you."

Mal glanced towards the cot where Jayne was having another one of his violent coughing fits. Simon followed his eyes. "Surely you're not expecting him to go with you?" he said.

Mal bit his lip, knowing very well how unreasonable he sounded. "It's not a one-man job," he explained through gritted teeth.

"Well, it doesn't matter," Simon plainly said, full of that confidence he always displayed when he was in doctor-mode, "'cause he's not going anywhere for at least a week." He put his hand on the ladder as if to start climbing.

"If we can't finish this…" Mal began.

"What are you really expecting me to do?" the doctor interrupted him, his voice laden with impatience and annoyance. "Look at him, for heaven's sake! He's got a hundred-and-three point five temperature. This," he pointed towards the cot, "is what happens when you walk around in the snow in your t-shirt! I don't have some magical pill to just fix it."

Mal felt his shoulders slump as all his energy seemed to leave him. Sighing for the umpteenth time he glanced up the ladder towards the closed hatch. "Mayhaps Kaylee could…"

"No," Simon sounded strict and firm as if he was suddenly in command. "I'll come with you."

Mal raised his eyebrows and looked at him, disbelievingly. "Huh?"

"You just need an extra pair of eyes to look for some crates, right? We're not fighting anyone?"

"Well, we're not planning to."

"See? I'm sure I can handle it."

Mal threw another look in Jayne's direction. "Don't you have a patient to look after?"

"There's only so much I can do for him," Simon honestly replied. "Once I get him settled, Zoë and Inara can look after him just as well as I can."

"Hm," Mal muttered, somewhat amazed to find himself actually considering this option. Realizing he really didn't have a choice, he eventually agreed, "Okay, fine."

He longed for the bunk and the bottle again.

Next

COMMENTS

Monday, December 24, 2012 2:34 PM

BYTEMITE


This looks really good, I like how it ties in with your Jayne holiday story. And Mal's thoughts and his uncertainty around pregnant Zoe are right on.

Thursday, December 27, 2012 6:20 AM

EBFIDDLER


'in a cave a few miles outside some village somewhere on the eastern continent'. -- yeah, some hint! They may be looking for a while. Zoe's going to get annoyed with being sidelined like this. She's not used to sitting things out. It's going to be interesting seeing Simon and Mal work together on a job -- I'm looking forward to seeing how that works out. I really enjoyed the zany look inside Jayne's fevered head in The Night Before, and now I'm looking forward to seeing what the others were up to in the meantime.

Friday, December 28, 2012 3:25 PM

AMDOBELL


I like how this story is shaping up Markomi and I can so imagine Mal's awkwardness around Zoe. Poor Jayne I hope he gets well soon. Am a bit worried about Simon going on the job in his stead, things do have a habit of not going smooth. Ali D :-)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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