BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

JANE0904

Secrets - Part II
Monday, March 18, 2013

Freya watched him leave, slightly ashamed that she’d pushed him a little mentally. The trouble was, she knew he was right, but so was she. Yes, she should tell Mal, but he’d want to know why she’d decided to ask Simon to do those tests, and exactly what she thought she was feeling. Worse, if she told him, told Mal about those spiderweb touches in her mind, he might think she was going mad. And that would be the best of the possible reactions. (Maya. Post-BDM.)


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 1655    RATING:     SERIES: FIREFLY

The next few days were pleasurable enough, once Mal got over the shock of Inara’s pregnancy. He wasn’t too happy with Freya giving her a boxful of Jesse and Ethan’s baby clothes – as he said, he was trying his hardest to get her knocked up again – but Freya explained patiently that this was just something one did, and it didn’t mean that she’d given up hope. In fact, they could practice some more this layover, and would Mal care to join her for a bath?

Actually Mal had also grumbled when he found out Rosemary and Letitia Reilly weren’t at home either, gallivanting (his word) off to join their sisters on their interrupted cruise.

“Valentia and Phoebe offered to pay,” Inara explained. “I think they wanted some … company.”

“How about that bodyguard Dillon was gonna get them? There’s no way I’m like to countenance the four of them making the ‘verse twitch on their own.”

“Oh, they’re not alone.”

Freya, standing next to her husband, narrowed her eyes. “Inara, what did you do?”

“Oh, not me.” She smiled knowingly.

“You didn’t.”

Inara didn’t respond, just continued with her smug smile.

“Frey, there something going on I don’t know about?” Mal asked, looking from one woman to the other.

“Dillon and Breed.” Freya had to laugh.

“So they were going to hire a couple of guards. So?”

“So they didn’t hire anyone.”

This time it was Mal’s eyes that widened, and he stared at Inara. “You got them involved?”

“They offered. Something about a cruise being something they’d always wanted to take but never had.”

“With four young ladies?” Mal chuckled. “They won’t know where to look.”

“And I feel incredibly safe knowing just that.”

“I conjure Dillon and Breed ain’t.” Indeed, just the thought of them having to chaperone half a handful of Reillys kept him chortling all evening.

At least the rain stopped sometime during the second night, and after a hurried breakfast the children were allowed outside to go and get as muddy as they liked, something they were all extremely good at.

Mal, on the other hand, took the opportunity to work Serenity’s books at the kitchen table. For once the figures were the right side of the line, and for another month or so they weren’t going to have to tap into the nest egg sitting safely in the Frye basement on Phoros.

“Cap?”

He looked up to see Kaylee stepping down into the warm room, wiping her hands on an oily rag. “Xiao mei mei.” He smiled, then his expression froze when he saw hers. “Okay, how much?”

She’d been working on the engine ever since they landed, taking her baby apart to find the cause of the trouble that had plagued their journey from Jubilee. Now she was fiddling with the corner of the cloth, part of one of Jayne’s discarded t-shirts – the naked geisha was still just visible under layers of oil. “Might not be too much,” she admitted. “If’n I can get a decent Jackson. Two’d be best.”

“Jackson?”

“It’s a power damper, stops the engine cycling too hot and blowing the relays.”

“Is that what happened to us?”

“Pretty much.”

Mal knew he’d never be a mechanic, knowing how to change a catalyser and not much else beyond some very basic maintenance. He’d been the occasional finger Kaylee utilised to keep something in place while she cajoled, twisted or welded something into the right position, but most of the rest of it was a mystery. They always made a joke of ‘captain dummy-talk’, although sometimes he felt it was all too fitting. “How much, Kaylee?”

“Depends if I can find one, or have to order it in. Or two. Otherwise we’ll need –”

“Kaylee, I’m not stupid – I know that the more you go on talking the higher the amount’s gonna be. Best guess. And most optimistic.”

She took a deep breath. “Eighty platinum. Well, one sixty for two.”

“And if you can’t?”

“Anything upwards of five hundred.”

“Kaylee, the entire ship ain’t worth that.”

“Then we gotta hope the Jacksons are around.” She was still fiddling with the rag, but now waited hopefully.

He glanced down at the figures in front of him. Five hundred or more and that would wipe out any cushion they had and make them bleed red. Even the lower figure might make things tight for a while, at least until they could find a job. And as much as he didn’t like to feel beholden to Inara, he knew this downtime at least meant he didn’t have to worry about the kids not getting enough to eat. He looked up again. “Okay. Where’d you get one from?”

Now she knew Mal understood Kaylee relaxed. “Sam says there’s a pretty good supply yard the other side of town. And ‘Nara said he’s been counselling the owner’s daughter, so he might be able to get us a good deal.”

“You think they’ll have one?”

“I can wave, check.”

“Do that. No point in going on a wild goose chase else. And if they have, get a firm price, then flutter those puppy-dog eyes of yours at them when you get there.”

“Cap.” She sighed at him.

“Yeah, I know I’m teaching my grandmother to suck eggs, but humour me.”

She laughed, the cheerful side of Kaylee back in charge. “Okay.”

“And no looking for other bits.”

“As if I would.”

“As if you wouldn’t.”

Kaylee laughed again and headed back to her enclave, saying over her shoulder, “Can’t surprise you any more, can I, Cap?”

“I don’t know about that,” Mal muttered to himself, picking up his pen again and making a notation under the debit side. “People always manage it somehow or another.”

---

Outside in the orchard Freya had dried off one of the wrought iron chairs and was sitting in a small sunny patch, well away from any drips that might come off the trees. Intending to improve her mind she’d taken a book of poems from Inara’s small library, but right now was just relaxing, her eyes closed, simply enjoying the late summer warmth. In the distance she could hear the children playing, and knew they’d come back so dirty it was possible their clothes wouldn’t survive, but for now it was her time, letting her mind roam where it wanted, or perhaps simply not doing anything at all.

“Freya … do you have a moment?”

Ah, well. Maybe there’d be time later. She looked up and smiled. “Of course, Simon.”

The young doctor picked up a second chair and put it down next to hers. “I just wanted to talk to you about those results.” He sat down gingerly on the very edge.

She didn’t sigh, but only because she had been expecting his enquiry for some time. “Right.”

“It’s been a couple of weeks, and I thought you might have come back to see me.”

“Why?” She closed the poetry book and laid it gently in her lap. “It doesn’t change anything.”

“But now you know –”

“Knowing is going to make it better? Going to make me conceive again?”

“No, of course not. But –”

“Simon, all I wanted to know is if those particular dreams were just that, or memories. And you confirmed it.”

“And have you told Mal? What you remember?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Do you tell Kaylee everything?”

“Of course not. Well, most things. But if it’s important then yes.”

“I don’t think this is important.”

He stared at her. “Freya, what they did to you –”

“Was a long time ago. Telling Mal would only make him angry with nothing to fight.” She shook her head. “And you can’t.”

“I know. But I still think you should talk to him about it.”

Freya couldn’t help the sigh now. “I probably will. Just not yet.”

“Why?” He was honestly interested, and more than a little concerned.

She wasn’t, however, about to be drawn. “When I’m ready.”

Simon gazed at her, but could see he wasn’t going to get any further. “Well, as your doctor I advise sooner rather than later.”

“That’s the good thing about advice, Simon. You don’t have to take it.”

He shook his head and stood up. “If you do need to talk …”

“I know where you are.” She smiled. “Shouldn’t you go and see what the children are doing? Just in case Bethie’s decided to make another play to be captain?”

Successfully derailed Simon laughed. “That daughter of mine would make Machiavelli look tame.” He wandered off towards the distant sound of play, patting absently at the damp seat of his trousers.

Freya watched him leave, slightly ashamed that she’d pushed him a little mentally. The trouble was, she knew he was right, but so was she. Yes, she should tell Mal, but he’d want to know why she’d decided to ask Simon to do those tests, and exactly what she thought she was feeling. Worse, if she told him, told Mal about those spiderweb touches in her mind, he might think she was going mad. And that would be the best of the possible reactions.

Taking a deep breath she held it for a count of ten, then let it slowly trickle from her lips, imagining it turning pale pink in the air, all the tension of the last few minutes drifting away.

“Ah, Freya, there you are.”

“What is this, Osiris Central Spaceport?” Freya muttered.

“Sorry?”

“Nothing.” She put on a bright face and half-turned. “Sam. What can I do for you?”

The counsellor narrowed his eyes slightly. “Would you rather be alone?”

Freya couldn’t help it – she laughed. “Am I that obvious?”

“You live on board a small ship with fourteen other people – I’m sure your free time is precious to you.” His olive face softened. “And I am intruding. We can talk later.”

He turned to go but Freya called him back. “No. Honestly. What do you need?”

“Inara.”

“What about her?”

“I … wondered if you would talk to her.”

“I have been. For hours.”

“Then don’t you think there’s something wrong?” Sam sat down in the recently vacated, and now dry seat.

“Wrong? How wrong?”

“I … I’m not sure.” He ran a hand through his hair, and for a moment Freya saw him as he used to be, so self-assured that nothing stuck to him, when the long ponytail he had affected was the only thing about him that wasn’t conservative. Inara had changed that, changed him, and here he was asking for her help.

“Okay.” She reached out and took his hand. “What’s the matter?”

“I’ve been overjoyed ever since Inara told me she was expecting. Scared, too. I mean, it’s a long time since Dhira was a baby, and I don’t know if I remember how to be a father.”

“You should have seen Mal before Ethan was born. He felt exactly the same way. And he’s very good at it.”

“Except I think Inara believes I won’t be.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Then why won’t she talk to me about what’s troubling her?”

“Is there anything?”

“Tell me you haven’t seen it.”

“Of course I …” Freya stopped, memories of the two or three times she’d caught Inara unawares, and the worry etched into her face. A moment later there was nothing, and she had almost convinced herself it had just been her imagination. Except ...

Sam sighed in relief. “Then I’m not going crazy.”

“She’s probably worried about the birth. I was, with both of mine.”

“I understand that. And we’ve talked about it, at least a little, and she’s been through it once. Although, of course, that doesn’t mean the anxiety gets any less, more in fact, knowing what’s coming.” He took a breath and seemed to realise his mouth was running away with him. “No, I’m convinced there’s something else.”

“Have you asked?”

“Of course. She says I’m being silly and changes the subject.”

“Yes, well, she always was good at not talking about anything she didn’t want to. It took me ages to even start to get her talking about what Han did to her.” When the man who’d killed so many young women had taken her and Noni, and would have done the same to them.

Sam nodded. “You made my job a lot easier, not least because she’d almost got over throwing plates by the point I arrived.” He sighed deeply. “Except I’m not sure there’s the time.”

Freya stirred uneasily. “Inara’s seen a doctor, yes?”

“Dr Farlow, in town. She seems capable enough, but she doesn’t have anywhere near the experience Simon has.”

“Has he –”

“No. Inara’s refused to let him examine her. She says she’s not chopping and changing at this stage.”

“Simon’s got her notes, though, yes?”

“He says the pregnancy looks entirely normal.”

“Then why don’t you take his word for it?”

“Because I know Inara. And I am very experienced with people lying to me. I have to be able to tell when they’re not being honest, it’s part of my job, and I’m damn good at my job. Inara isn’t telling me something, and whatever it is it’s scaring her.”

Freya gazed at him for what seemed like an age, at the worry lines on his forehead, the apprehension etched deep into him. “I’ll talk to her,” she finally conceded.

“I was wondering ... more than talking ... I thought … you might …”

Sam’s intention was suddenly bright in her mind. “No. Oh, no, Sam. I’m not going to do that.”

“For me.”

“Not even for you. I’ll speak to Inara, try and get her to talk to me. But I’m not reading her mind.”

“And if she doesn’t tell you? If she lies to you too?”

“Sam, I’m not invading her privacy like that. And it is an invasion, of the worst kind. Do you have any idea what she’d say if she found out?” Freya shook her head firmly. “No. I won’t do it.”

Sam dropped his head to stare at his hands, but he nodded just once. “I understand. And forgive me for asking.”

“You’re worried. I know. But this isn’t the way to go about finding out. She’d never forgive either of us if we did.”

“You know, sometimes I wish I’d never come to Lazarus,” Sam admitted, his voice small. “My life would have been so much easier.”

“Mal thinks the same, sometimes, usually when he’s drunk. If he’d stayed on Shadow, if he hadn't joined the Independents, hadn’t bought Serenity, hadn’t married me ...”

“What ifs.” Sam looked up, his eyes suspiciously moist but under control. “So many what ifs.”

“River explains it best,” Freya said softly. “She says we stand forever at a fork in the road, and that each option forks again, and again, until there is only road filling the horizon, separated by nothing more than a molecule’s thickness of time. We seem to stand still, but the landscape moves perpetually past us, and all those options melt together into the one we stand on.”

“But she is crazy.”

“I thought nobody was crazy, not in the eyes of a counsellor.”

“Sometimes I like to make an exception.” At least he smiled. “I’m sorry.”

“For what? Being in love? If that was the case then we’d all be apologising.”

“It would be easier to be alone.”

“But not so much fun.”

“Perhaps you should be the counsellor.”

Freya laughed. “I don’t have the patience. But I will talk to Inara.”

“Thank you.”

The breaking of a twig underfoot announced the arrival of yet another of Serenity’s crew, and they both turned to see Kaylee making her way towards them. She’d changed from her old coveralls into a new set, and had brushed her hair, but something of the engine room still hung around her.

She grinned. “Sam?”

“Kaylee.” He smiled as he always did at the bubbly mechanic – there was something about her that just seemed to make the day brighter.

“C’n I borrow you for a while?”

Sam glanced at Freya, but she waved her hand. As far as she was concerned their conversation was obviously over. He turned back to Kaylee. “Of course. Can I ask why?”

“Well, I was thinking of leaving Simon and you looked like a good candidate to replace him, being a doctor n’all.”

For just a moment – about the same length of time most people gave River when she insisted fairies were going to paint the cargo bay sky blue – he considered the idea, then smiled. “So I’m just convenient?”

“Means I don’t have to change them monograms on the sheets.”

“True. But what about Inara?”

“Well, we could always do that thing like they used to on Calliope, and everyone do the old switcheroo.” Kaylee was fairly twinkling now.

“I see. So Inara gets ...”

“How ‘bout Mal? Then Frey here can take on Hank, and Zoe gets Jayne.”

“I think Freya might break Hank.” Sam ignored the older woman’s slightly affronted look. “But what about River?”

“She can referee.”

Sam laughed, something he done a lot more often since he’d met this eclectic crew. “At least you didn’t suggest she takes up with Simon.”

Kaylee made a face, looking very like one of her daughters. “Ew, that would be gross.” She sighed theatrically. “Oh, well. I guess I’m stuck, then.”

“Sorry, yes. But isn’t there anything I can console you with?”

“Well, you could come with me to town to get me a good deal on a couple of Jacksons I’ve got set by.”

Sam opened his mouth to ask what Jacksons were, but something in the air suggested he probably wouldn’t understand anyway, so he just contented himself with asking, “Now?”

“Zoe’s getting the mule down. She’s gonna drive.” Kaylee giggled. “We can sit in the back and canoodle.”

“I don’t think I know how to canoodle.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll teach you.” She grinned then looped her arm through his. “Come on, Dr Nazir. You can tell me all about some of your more interestin’ cases on the way.”

“You know it’s all privileged information, don’t you?”

“Then you can make something up. Or change their names.” She led him back towards the Firefly, leaving Freya on her own again.

The older woman shook her head in amusement, then picked up the book of poems. She flicked through some of the pages but it was no good. The mood had gone.

Casting her mind open she picked up the flame that was Mal relieving himself in their bunk, Simon adjudicating a mud pie castle contest down by the lake, Jayne and River doing something quite private in their shuttle ... ah, there she was. Inara. She was in her bedroom, apparently having just finished waving someone as she was in the act of closing down the vidscreen.

Like her son, Freya could sometimes see people’s auras, although he was much more attuned to them than her, but if she tried hard enough it was possible. Inara should have been gleaming golden, her joy at being pregnant overwhelming everything else, but it was a dull yellow, shot through with sharp red points.

It would only take a little more concentration, Freya knew, and she’d be able to read her friend’s mind. Just a push here and ... no. Stop. What she’d told Sam was right – this was an invasion of the worst kind, taking information by force, and she wasn’t about to be a party to it. So it was just going to have to be done the old fashioned way.

Freya stood up and exhaled heavily. And no time like the present.

to be continued

COMMENTS

Tuesday, March 19, 2013 5:58 PM

AMDOBELL


Hmm, what is Inara hiding and why do I get the feeling it is bad news? Poor Mal, just as it looks as if they are going to be in the green for a little while Kaylee breaks the news about the parts Serenity needs and how much they're likely to cost. Love the notion of Simon judging the mud pie contest, he really has turned into a great father. Ali D :-)
"You can't take the sky from me!"


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