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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
River shook herself, turning from the rabbit hole. She didn’t feel like being Alice, and while Jayne’s grin sometimes made her think of the Cheshire Cat, the dormouse was asleep and likely to remain so. Of much more interest were the secrets. So many, some old, some new, some borrowed and some blue. And for once she didn’t care if she was referencing the Earth-that-was marriage ceremony. That wasn’t the point. Inara, the Bodens, Harper Lecomb and the Culver diamond, Randall Lecomb and his homicidal tendencies … all secrets, overlaid with the flavour of the Alliance and their need to control.
[Maya. Post-BDM. Secrets comes to a conclusion, but some are still waiting to see the light of day.]
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1184 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Mal, can I have a word?”
Mal turned from where he was inspecting the weather with Mr Boden at the back door, to see Dillon in the kitchen. “Sure. Long as it’s only one.”
“How does Freya put up with you?” Dillon asked, shaking his head in mock disbelief.
“Must be my love-making skills.”
Mr Boden coughed politely. “I think I’ll go check on the generator, make sure there is no incursion of water. Unless you gentlemen require anything?”
“Nope,” Mal said, smiling slightly. “But I kinda like being called a gentleman.”
Mr Boden inclined his head and moved out into the rain.
“Whatever Freya sees in you, it isn’t your tact. Or breath-taking wit,” Dillon observed. “You scared him off.”
“I’m pretty enough to make up for it.”
“You keep telling yourself that.” Dillon grinned.
“That it? You just came to insult me?”
“As much fun as that is, no. I was actually wondering if you’d be going anywhere near Persephone. I overheard you saying you’d be leaving soon.”
“As it happens that’s probably our first port of call. But ain’t you already got a lift?”
“Alex and Ellen are heading back, probably this afternoon, but I think they’d like a little alone time.”
“I know the feeling.”
Dillon ignored the interruption. “So me and Breed wondered if we could come with you? There’s no ship leaving Lazarus that’s going anywhere near the Core for at least a month. We’d pay our way, of course, and while I wouldn’t mind some of that alone time with Breed myself, from what I heard of Phoebe and Rosemary’s plans …”
“Even a sly feller like myself might not be safe.”
Mal laughed. “As much as I’d like to pass on that little trifle to ‘Nara, I conjure it’s better out of sight, out of mind. And we’ve got the space, since I presume you’ll be bunking up together.”
“We will. As long as you don’t think we’ll be corrupting minors.”
“I’m not so sure about Jayne, but I reckon the kids know about you and Breed. It ain’t like it’s the first time you’ve been on board.”
“Yes, but before there was a bit more possibility of death.”
Mal picked up a bread roll from the basket on the table and bit into it. “The way Hank flies, I wouldn’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.”
Alex announced his intention to leave Lazarus at lunchtime, amid howls of protest from the children.
“It’s only because you spoil them,” Zoe commented, her cool gaze making Ben close his mouth and concentrate on his food.
“That’s what being a child is for,” Ellen said. “And I believe you’re coming to Persephone anyway, so it won’t be long before we see you all again. And you can meet my children.”
“Will there be pressies?” Bethie asked hopefully before catching her father’s stern eye.
Everyone gathered outside to say their last goodbyes and make plans for meeting up on Persephone. The rain had finally stopped, as River had promised, and the sun had struggled through the thinning clouds, making any standing water shine, and the drops falling from the leaves twinkle.
As he was about to board Alex took Freya by the arm. “Can we talk?” he asked. “Just for a moment. There’s something I need to tell you.”
Mal, eavesdropping as usual, asked, “Anything we need to worry about?”
“No, no. Just a little family business.”
Freya exchanged a glance with Mal then shrugged, allowing Alex to lead her to one side and out of earshot.
Mal watched the conversation, unable to hear the words but intimate knowledge of his wife’s body language telling him she was angry, and getting more so. For a moment he wondered if he should intervene, if he was about to see a case of fratricide committed right there in front of him, but Alex pressed something into Freya’s hand, pulled her into a one arm hug and kissed her cheek before hurrying up the ramp of his ship. Katya’s airlock hissed closed behind him, the seal perfect and spaceworthy, and out of reach of his sister.
Freya hadn’t moved, just stood with one hand on her hip, the other clutching whatever it was Alex had given her, and glaring at the ground.
“She okay?” Mal asked softly.
River shrugged. “Be ready to deal with the fall-out.”
Mal waited until everyone else had dispersed and River went to stop Caleb rolling in a huge pile of wet leaves – or perhaps to join him – before he stepped closer to his wife. “Frey?”
“I … he … that …”
She lifted her face and Ma was surprised to see such an angry expression that was usually only directed at him when he’d done something incredibly stupid like not ducking fast enough. “Frey, take a breath ‘fore you burst, and I ain’t clearing it up.”
Freya did as she was told, but the anger only dimmed a little. “That hwoon dahn!”
“I take it you mean Alex.”
“Do you know what he’s done? What I told him not to, that’s what! I specifically said no, and now he’s done it anyway, and I can’t do anything about it, and he’s …” She waved her hand in the general direction Katya had gone.
“Frey, there are times I’m surely glad I ain’t psychic, but this ain’t one of them. What has he done?”
“This!” She held out a small flexi-sheet, no more than palm-sized but one of the new kind that was continually updating. All that was on it were two strings of numbers, one of which changed the last figure as he watched.
“Sorry, ai ren. Still not getting it. What is this?”
“My … inheritance.”
Alex had been very insistent. “It’s your money. Nowhere near what your share of the estate should be but perhaps they knew you better than you think. They put this into Trust for you in case they ever found you. Dad wouldn’t put you into his Will, in case it … well, in case it put you in danger. But this is yours.”
“I don’t want it.”
“Tough. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
“Freya, just accept it. And I have to go.” He’d walked away at that point.
“Money?” Mal now asked.
“Those two figures? The top is the account number.”
“So the second is …” When she nodded slowly he whistled. “Run-tse duh fuo-tsu …”
“Exactly.” Her fury was so bright if it had still been raining she would have steamed. “And I don’t want it.”
“Then give it back.”
“He won’t take it.”
“Then to charity. I’m fair sure –”
Freya interrupted him. “Oh, he’s thought of that too. If I try and give it away, if I even attempt to send the money back to the family, it’ll go into the Alliance coffers.”
Mal felt a faint thrill of appreciation at the sheer deviousness. “Sneaky.”
“He must have learned it from you.”
He moved closer and put his hands on her shoulders. “Frey, honey, there’s more to this, I conjure. Why are you so all-fired intent on keeping us poor?”
She glared at him. “You know that’s not –”
“I know. And I apologise. But tell me.”
“I … Mal, if I take this money, any of it, it means I’m accepting what happened to me. What happened to Elena Rostov. That the past twenty years never existed and I’m just a spoiled rich kid with nothing but wealth.” Her eyes moistened. “I lose being Freya Reynolds. I lose you.”
“Frey, I ain’t never understood how your mind works, and I don’t see that likely to change, ‘cause I’m here, you said ‘I do’ and our kids are even now getting more muddy than is gonna come out in a dozen baths.” He squeezed gently. “And none of us are going anywhere.”
“I know.” She sniffed.
He pulled her into his arms, hiding the smile. “If you don’t want it then we can destroy the details. Toss it into the fire. Ignore it.”
“And if Serenity needs a new engine?”
“Then we put that slip into the safe, it can burn a hole in there.”
“It will still exist.”
He shook his head. “I’m getting the notion there’s no real answer to this.” Pushing her away just enough so that he could look into her face, he went on, “You don’t have to decide now, do you?”
“No. Of course not. Not …”
“But it’s there. Can’t get past it. A bit like Jayne at the supper table.”
She smiled a little at that. “Nothing’s quite that bad.”
“Exactly. And while I’d quite like to see what it was like to be a kept man, I ain’t intending holding my breath. We’ve got that nest-egg from Jericho Wells sitting waiting on Phoros if we need it. And we get by, always have. We keep flyin’. Besides, if I was kept I’d get fat and lazy, and you’d find someone else.”
“Maybe for weekends,” she agreed.
He grinned, glad he’d been able to talk her out of her mood. “For now we ain’t gonna be thinking on it any more. That job on Persephone won’t wait forever, so I plan for us to be leaving before the week’s out. But for now …” He crooked his elbow. “Would my beautiful wife like to come for a walk with me?”
“Oh, you mean me?” Freya laughed lightly. “I’d be delighted.”
“See, I can be a gentleman when I want.”
“Really? You’ll have to show me that one day.”
“Hey, I have it on good authority…”
They walked away towards the lake, bickering good-naturedly.
Mal was as good as his word. The next Sunday the Bodens went to church in town, then came home and prepared the biggest lunch anyone could remember.
“I think they’re trying to make us so full we can’t leave,” Hank confided to Zoe.
“You don’t have to eat it all.”
“It feels rude not to.” He eased the waistband on his pants. It didn’t stop him flying Serenity out into the black, though, an hour later, all-be-it groaning occasionally.
Nor did it stop Inara, even as she was being carried aboard, still giving instructions.
“… and wave me if there are any problems. Anything. I’ve arranged sufficient funds to be available for day to day needs, and a little extra for treats, but –”
“Inara.” Sam put his hand on hers. “They will be fine.”
Mariah Boden almost hid her smile. “We’ll take good care of everything, madam.”
Inara sighed. “I know you will. I’m just being …”
“Pregnant,” Sam supplied with a grin, looking more youthful and relaxed than an expectant father had a right to be. Even his short hair seemed to have perked up.
She slapped his arm playfully. “I’d be the same if I wasn’t. And it is my home.”
Now she smiled. “Yes. Ours.”
“And I’d still love you.”
She pinked prettily, something she’d only recently rediscovered how to do.
Still, as the Firefly left the ground, Hank keeping the shaking to as bare a minimum as possible, she had to wipe a surreptitious tear from her eye.
Mal himself felt the tension leave his body the further they got from Lazarus, and he even took off his gunbelt.
Sitting on the bridge he idly tapped the buffer panel warning light, not expecting it to go out and not surprised when it didn’t. Hank had already set a course for Persephone, keeping them off the beaten Alliance track but not too far out that it would take months, only roundabout enough that he could put off the prospect of dealing with Badger just a little longer.
“I will protect you.”
Mal glanced across at his shadow sitting in the co-pilot’s seat. It was odd, he mused, but the young psychic seemed to enjoy spending time in his company, and he found it strangely comforting. “You ain’t going anywhere near that weasel, not again,” he said. “’Less it’s to kill him.”
“There’d be a queue.”
“I’ll take a number. Or perhaps we could share.”
“I bear the offer in mind.” He looked at her profile as she sat staring out at the stars. “You looking for something to do?”
“Just enjoying the idleness?”
“You pregnant again?”
“No. But not for lack of my Jayne’s efforts.”
“Good to know.”
She fixed him with a clear eye. “Which?”
“That I’m not pregnant or that Jayne is still trying?”
Mal didn’t leap into the abyss opened by the double meaning. “Ain’t it time for supper?”
“Kaylee is just laying the table. Although I’m surprised anyone except Jayne will be hungry after that lunch.” She sniffed in disdain.
He tried not to smile. “I take it you’re still full?”
“Yes. But perhaps later,” she allowed.
“I might have a spot still needs filling.” He got up and stretched his back. “You planning on taking the watch, then?” he asked as his tendons creaked alarmingly.
“I will. And I’m sure Freya will massage you. With one hand.”
“Ain’t going down that path either.” He put his hand on her shoulder. “You see anything untoward, you sing out, dong mah?”
She saluted crisply, and he left the bridge, chuckling to himself.
She looked back at the unchanging stars. Except of course they were changing, in an ever-present state of flux, burning hydrogen and shrinking, growing, living, dying. Her head tilted slightly. Were they alive? Stars ate fuel, excreted light, created life and extinguished in a fiery ball of … not sentient but …
River shook herself, turning from the rabbit hole. She didn’t feel like being Alice, and while Jayne’s grin sometimes made her think of the Cheshire Cat, the dormouse was asleep and likely to remain so.
Of much more interest were the secrets. So many, some old, some new, some borrowed and some blue. And for once she didn’t care if she was referencing the Earth-that-was marriage ceremony. That wasn’t the point. Inara, the Bodens, Harper Lecomb and the Culver diamond, Randall Lecomb and his homicidal tendencies … all secrets, overlaid with the flavour of the Alliance and their need to control.
And mu qin, of course. She had secrets. Things she didn’t tell Mal, that made her reach out with her mind when she knew he was asleep, searching for the elusive tendril she’d felt once before, the touch that was worse than nothing. It made her cry that she couldn’t find it, and was half-convinced she’d imagined it.
River sighed. Freya hadn’t imagined anything. And when she found it things would change. It was real, it was true. It was dangerous. And his name was Adam.
Author’s note: Thank you to all who have read and/or commented on Secrets – I know it’s been a long haul, but I hope you enjoyed it. There are two more stories I want to tell – Monied Individual and Bonemaker – but after that I think I will stop. Not that I don’t have lots more ideas, but enthusiasm for my tales seems to have waned, and it is probably better to bring it all to a natural conclusion. But again, thank you to those who have stayed fans, and at least you know there is more to come! Jane
Thursday, November 5, 2015 1:41 PM
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