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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
Jayne looked almost abashed, his usual expression when anyone mentioned his home planet. “Even took some work on a fishing boat on Melbourne once.”
“That must’ve been hell. For a man who hates fish guts with a vengeance.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Just a little fluff before getting back to the nitty gritty ...]
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 2444 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Mom, do you want a hand?” Molly stood in the doorway, watching her mother taking down the washing.
Mariah Boden glanced around at her daughter. “I thought you were playing with the children.”
“I was.” Molly did a full-body shrug. “It just that they can be a bit full-on.”
Mariah smiled, being reminded that Molly was little more than a child herself, despite what she’d been through. “Well, you can help me fold the sheets if you like.”
“Okay.” The young woman stepped out into the sunshine, squinting slightly but smiling all the same.
Sam, taking a gentle constitutional with Inara, watched the two women folding linens. “You know, we could always ask Molly to stay,” he said contemplatively.
“Really?” Inara studied the girl. “Why? I mean, she’s pleasant enough, but there might be something else she wants to do with her life.”
“I’m sure there is, but right now what she needs is some stability. Get herself back onto an even keel.”
Inara smiled. “And what’s brought on this outpouring of nautical similes? Or metaphors. I always get them mixed up.”
Sam laughed. “Me too. But it did occur to me that Molly is very good with the children, and since we’ll be meeting this new little one before long …” He caressed Inara’s stomach. “…I just thought it might be a good idea to have some help.”
“You mean like a nursery maid?”
“Something like that.” His brow creased. “Unless you think I’m suggesting you won’t be able to cope?”
“No, no, I wasn’t thinking that at all.” She patted his hand and smiled again for him. “You’ve done this before, and I have the feeling I might be needing all the help I can get.”
“I know you’ll be magnificent.”
This time she laughed quite naturally. “Sam, darling, it will be sweaty, disgusting and very time consuming. And that’s only the birth.”
He grinned, looking so unlike the staid counsellor he had once been it was as if the past had never existed. “And I can’t wait.” Something hit him on the back of the leg and he turned, looking down, to see a brightly coloured ball on the ground.
“Uncle Sam!” Ethan shouted. “Kick it back! Or come and join in!”
If anything his grin widened
Mal was relaxed. Shirt off, suspenders around his hips, he was letting the late autumn sun get to his skin, at the same time as helping Jayne recaulk the small boat before it went away for winter.
“Gotta be done,” the big ex-merc had said. “Else someone’ll go to use it in the spring and the gorram thing’ll fall apart ‘cause the old stuff has dried out and shrunk.”
“I bow to your greater experience, although I have to ask where it came from. Ezra’s pretty dry.”
“Hey, I been around.” Jayne looked almost abashed, his usual expression when anyone mentioned his home planet. “Even took some work on a fishing boat on Melbourne once.”
“That must’ve been hell. For a man who hates fish guts with a vengeance.”
Still, whatever his experience Jayne was doing a good job, even sealing it in with something he’d boiled up in an old can and smelled of pine. Mal was pretty much relegated to just holding the tools.
Mal straightened up, stretching his back. “Little Kaylee. Thanks.”
The mechanic’s brows drew together. “What for?”
“Giving me an excuse to stop.”
Jayne mumbled something under his breath, but only the words wimp and soft were audible, but not necessarily in that order.
Kaylee laughed sunnily, and Mal reflected that everyone was in better spirits now Philo Cobb had disappeared into the ether.
“I just got a wave from José O’Higgins,” she said, her hands on her hips. Even the butterfly decal on her coveralls seemed to be smiling.
“Who now what now?”
“José O’Higgins. He owns that place I got the Jacksons.”
“That can’t be his real name.”
“It’s what he calls himself.”
Mal was about to argue, then realised he was standing near a man called Jayne, and instead said, “What did he want?”
“He’s doesn’t just sell stuff, he’s into farming as well.”
“Well, he said, since we’d have to break atmo to bed the new one in, he’s got a delivery he’d like us to make on Magdalene.”
Mal twisted his hips first one way then the other, feeling the scar tissue on his hip pulling. “That kinda depends on what it is. ‘Sides, ain’t my ship still broke?”
“Not no more.” Kaylee grinned in a satisfied manner. “The Jackson’s fitted in real well, and I’ve done half a dozen other tweaks. She just needs to be run in now.”
“And you think a trip to Magadalene would be enough?”
“Sure. Not to go to burn, a’course, but a nice slow journey. Give me a chance to check nothing else ain’t on the verge of blowing up.”
“Mei mei, I’d take it as a kindness if you wouldn’t use the words blowing up in connection with my boat. In any connection.”
She laughed. “Okay, Cap’n. And it ain’t like Magadelene’s the other side of the ‘verse.”
“True. Is it legal?”
“Yep. Export papers and everything.”
“Makes a change,” Jayne grunted.
Kaylee turned her brightness on him for a moment, then said, “So what do I tell José?”
“Depends,” Mal said. “What is it that we’ll be hauling, all legal and above-board like?”
When Kaylee told him, Mal looked pained, and Jayne burst into guffaws of laughter that bounced around the trees and startled the birds out on the lake.
“You’re what?” Monty’s jaw dropped open slightly.
Mal crossed his arms. “You heard me.”
A grin slowly widened under Monty’s impressive facial hair. “You? Cattle?” He chuckled, the deep resonance coming clearly through the wave.
“Why does everyone think I have a problem with cows?” Mal shook his head in exasperation.
“Not sure. Prob’ly ‘cause you’ve always said never again.”
“Yeah, well, maybe I did. But this is different. It’s a prize bull. The farmers who bought him want to improve their herd.”
“Does that make you a lau mao?” Monty laughed. “You know, making a profit from sex.”
“Ain’t that much profit. And I could say the same of you, considering you sold Inara the house. And you know where that money came from.”
“Good point.” Monty smiled into his beard. “Anyway, that why you waved?”
“Pretty much. It was more or less to say we might not be here when you land. Kaylee won’t let us go to burn, so we’ll be taking it easy to Magdalene.”
“When are you leaving?”
“Tomorrow. We’ll be loading the bull first thing then taking off. Like to take us a day or so before we’re back.”
“Well, you don’t need to fret. My business got done quicker than I thought, and we’ll be with you before supper tonight.” He leaned forward as it about to confide some confidence. “The little woman is looking forward to cooking for you all.”
“The little woman, eh? She know you call her that?”
“She’d take a ladle to me if she did. But you wait ‘til you meet her. You’ll see.”
Monty was as good as his word. Just as the sun touched the horizon his ship landed next to Serenity, dwarfing the Firefly, resting some ten feet above the ground on six thick legs. The cargo loading dock lowered from the belly of the Leviathan-class cargo hauler (named Carrie-Ann after Monty’s mother) and settled into the dirt of Lazarus.
“Damn, but it’s been a while since I was here,” Monty said, striding out into the sunshine where Mal and Simon were waiting for him.
“Be glad you weren’t here a few days ago,” Mal said, thumbs in his suspenders. “That behemoth woulda sunk.”
“You been reading the dictionary again?”
Before Mal could respond the front door of the house burst open and a small tornado spilled out, running as fast as it could towards them and resolving into the Serenity children.
“Uncle Monty!” They raced up to him, attaching themselves to various portions of his anatomy until he looked like a monster.
Fizel, Monty’s first mate, grinned as he started supervising the unloading.
Monty walked forwards, looking like nothing less than a zombie from one of Hank’s old vids. “Missed me?” he growled.
“Yes, Uncle Monty,” Bethie said, wrapped around his right arm. “Did you bring us anything?”
Monty’s laugh vibrated through them. “Maybe I did.”
“Bethie,” Simon admonished. “It’s not all about presents.”
She gave her father a withering look, then slid free. “It’s lovely to see you again, Uncle Monty,” she said formally.
“It’s good to see you too,” Monty responded. “And don’t mind them,” he added to Simon. “You’re only young once.”
Simon glanced to where River and Jayne were just appearing from the orchard, picking blades of grass from each other’s clothes. “I’ll have to take your word for that.”
Monty chuckled. “Still running you ragged?”
“Monty.” Inara swept out of the house. “It’s good to see you again.”
“You too.” He reached out his free hand and took hers. “You’re blooming.”
She blushed delicately, just a hint of colour along the top of her cheekbones. “Thank you.”
“And I like the hair.”
Inara touched it. “It’s easier to manage.”
“Suits you. Bet it’s a bit cold around the neck, though.”
She smiled. “Just a little.”
“I got those bits in the hold, and it looks like I might only just be in time.” He glanced down at her waist.
“You know, I’d’a got them if you’d asked,” Mal said, just a hint of reproach in his voice.
“Aw, you feeling left out?” Monty teased, then enveloped him in a huge bear-hug. “It’s good to see you, you old scallywag.”
“Thanks,” Mal gasped, then, when he was released, made a great show of attempting to get air back into his lungs.
“Gotta say, you always smell nice.”
Mal rolled his eyes. “You know, if you hadn’t told me you’d got yourself hitched again I’d start worrying about you.”
“Only where you’re concerned.”
This time Serenity’s captain just shook his head. “Monty, we’ve got business to discuss.”
“That we do.” The big man looked down. “Why don’t you kids go find Inez? She’ll be in the galley, and I’m pretty sure she’s cooked up some treats for you.”
He’d barely finished speaking before the landscape was conspicuously child-free.
Mal chuckled and scratched his chin. “Seems like you got the touch.”
“It’s amazing how food-oriented young-uns are.”
“Not just young-uns.” Mal glanced at Jayne, who was fidgeting noticeably, and sighed.
Monty laughed. “Go on. I think Inez’s made enough for an army.”
River rolled her eyes. “Come, my Jayne. Let’s stop the children from eating so much they’re sick.”
“If’n you think we should.” Jayne made a good show of being dragged against his will into the bigger ship.
“He’s the one’ll be sick,” Mal muttered.
Monty turned to Simon. “Doc, if you’ve got a few, Colby took a fall last week and busted his arm. We set it, but you’d be doing me a favour if you could check we ain’t crippled the man.”
“Of course,” Simon said, hurrying towards Serenity. “I’ll just get my bag.”
Mal had taken the opportunity to take a look at some of the stuff Fizel had already unloaded. “This crib yours?” he asked Inara, somewhat suspiciously.
“And if it is?” She raised her eyebrows. “Is there something wrong with it?”
“No, no. Just figured you’d have had something more … fancified.”
The crib in question was of solid wood, stained a deep, almost reddish brown. It was simple and sturdy, only the rockers and head board being carved in soft relief with flowers and small animals.
“This is a family piece,” Inara said primly. “It’s been handed down over several generations. I was told it came with the first settlers from Earth-that-was.”
“Really.” Mal crossed his arms. “Then I’m surprised your Ma let it go.”
“She has no-one else to pass it on to. I have no other siblings.” There was a tension in Inara’s voice that suggested more was being said than just the words, but a moment later it was gone as she smiled at Monty. “You have to let me know how much I owe you.”
“No, now, that ain’t necessary.”
“Of course it is. And I intend to pay the proper fee.”
Monty scratched his bald head, surrounded by the straggly rim of hair. “Well, you see, it wasn’t much of a detour. ’Sides, you took this place off my hands when I needed the cash.”
“’Nara, I don’t charge friends.”
“Really?” Inara glanced significantly at Mal.
He glared back. “Hey, I may’ve asked for the rent, but I’m fair sure there was more’n one occasion I didn’t get it.”
She raised her eyebrows. “You know full well I was always on time with my payments.”
Monty guffawed. “Seems like old times.”
There was a long pause, then Inara smiled. “We enjoy keeping our hands in.”
“Well, afore you start killin’ each other, better show Fizel where you want the stuff so he can take it in for you.”
“You, sir, are a gentleman.” She turned on her heel and strode, with only a hint of a flounce, back inside the house. Fizel grinned and followed.
“Never said I was!” Mal called after her, but was ignored.
“Well, that told you,” Monty said, reaching into one of the many voluminous pockets of his brown coat.
Mal shrugged. “She ain’t changed. And considering what you used to keep in them pockets of yours, you might wanna consider being careful what you pull out.”
“I’ll have you know this is a fine bottle of rice wine,” Monty said with just a hint of reproach, tugging just that from inside. “Best Sihnonese, from the Chi Loh valley.”
“Frey and Inara got drunk on that a while back. You shoulda heard the songs.”
“I didn’t know my wife knew things like that.”
“Then maybehaps we can see if we can outdo ‘em.” He lifted the bottle. “I thought you’d like to split it with me.”
A slow smile made its way across Mal’s lips. “Thought you’d never ask.”
As they walked across the dirt towards Serenity, Monty said, “Where is your better half?”
“Zoe’s up on the bridge with Hank.”
“I didn’t mean her. Although I’m surprised she’s still with you. Thought she might’ve made for a better berth with someone that’d really value her experience.”
“Like you, you mean?”
“Could be.” There was a beat. “Do I want to know what they’re doing?”
“Probably not. They’re supposed to be plotting a course to Magdalene, but I’m pretty sure the door’s locked.”
“Then I’m not gonna ask. And I meant Frey.”
“I know.” Stepping into the Firefly’s cargo bay, Mal went on, “She’s communing with the infinite.”
“She’s in our bunk. Meditating.” He started up the stairs towards the kitchen. “The bath was busy. Sam was playing with the kids and got a trifle dirty.”
“That I’d like to have seen.” Their footsteps rang through the superstructure, and Monty glanced towards where he knew the bunks were. “She do that a lot? Meditate?”
“Some. When she needs to order her mind.” Mal led the way into the top corridor. “There’s a lot of folks on board, and sometimes it gets a little … crowded, especially if Kaylee’s got the air filter in pieces on her work bench. Frey’s preferred escape is in a suit out on the hull, but as we ain’t in the Black she’s making the ship smell like a bordello with her incense, and sitting naked on the floor.”
Monty took a deep breath. “That what that is? And it’s an interesting image.”
“I’ll be telling Inez on you.”
“Nah. She knows I’d never stray. Not with her cooking.”
Mal chuckled. “Let me know when you bust your britches. I’ll sell tickets.”
They stepped into the warm room.
“You’ve put on a couple of pounds yourself,” Monty observed.
“And that’ll go easy if we have a couple of lean months, you know that.”
“That’s for sure.” Monty put the bottle on the table, and tossed a double handful of plasticised cards next to them. “Like you wanted.”
Mal picked one of the new IDs up, examining it closely. “They good?”
“Better’n good. Unless you’re planning on going to Osiris, which I doubt.”
“I’d say that’s a no.” He picked up another. “Only it looks like there’s more than I asked for.”
Monty shrugged. “I got you all one, even Simon and River. Just in case.”
“How much?” Mal was sceptical. “Especially since some of us are practically legal.”
“Yeah, but young Bethie’s getting to an age where she’s gonna have to be registered, and her Pa ain’t.” Monty dropped his luxurious chin hair to his chest. “That’ll stop any … inconvenient questions.”
“Then I’m grateful. How much?”
“Just pay me for the Bodens. Feller who made ‘em did me a good deal, seeing as I explained they were going to good Browncoats.”
“Hey, what’re friends for?” Monty pulled him into a bear hug, lifting him off his feet. “You know you only gotta ask.”
“Can you stop doing that?”
“Monty, better put ‘im down. You don’t know where he’s been.”
The big man turned to see Serenity’s mechanic standing in the doorway. “Lil’ Kaylee!” He dropped Mal and crossed the kitchen in two strides, picking her up instead and swinging her around.
“It’s so good to see you,” Kaylee said, her voice muffled. “And as suai as ever.”
“You need glasses, girl.” He rumbled a laugh and pushed her away enough so he could look into her merry eyes. “When you gonna dump this old suan ding and come away with me on Carrie-Ann?”
Over Mal’s grumblings Kaylee said, “Ain’t a girl no more.”
“Aw, as far as I’m concerned you’re a young stripling, too young to be a wife and mother.”
Kaylee coloured prettily. “Monty, you’re a bad man.”
“You trying to steal all my crew?” Mal demanded, but without any real heat.
“Only the women,” Monty said, slapping him on the back. “You can keep Jayne.”
“Must I?” Mal wriggled his shoulders to get some feeling back into them.
“It’s okay, Kaylee. He’s only teasing.”
“I know.” Kaylee shook herself. “Anyway, better get back to finishing off those coupla little bits, then I can get washed for supper.” She leaned forward as if about to impart something highly confidential. “Simon and Mrs Boden were arguing about what to cook.”
“Hmmn,” Monty rumbled. “Inez had some ideas on that front herself.”
“Maybe I’ll sell tickets to that,” Mal commented.
Kaylee laughed and skipped back towards her engine room.
“Well?” Monty said, turning to his friend. “How about those mugs?”
Another ship, sitting next to the Firefly. Much bigger, a fair bit newer, but somehow the lesser vessel, something to do with the crew inside, perhaps.
He berated himself. While sometimes his insights proved useful, this was just fancies, and would never do. Still, it meant he had to wait, nothing new in his line of business.
to be continued
Sunday, March 9, 2014 7:02 PM
Monday, March 10, 2014 8:56 AM
Monday, March 17, 2014 1:00 AM
Thursday, April 3, 2014 9:57 AM
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