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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.” The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.
[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 544 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
It was quiet. Very quiet. Without the normal sound of the engine, something they were so used to it seemed like nothing at all, and with no crew to shout or laugh or bicker, he was able to hear every tick, groan and wince of his ship.
There’d been times when he’d wished he was alone, that there was nobody to disturb his isolation, but that had been when it wasn’t solitude he felt, but depression. He might have tried to give Zoe the impression that he was fine, that being out in the Black was shiny, that it had mended his soul, but both of them knew he was lying.
It had taken a long time to get to where he was now – scarred, for sure, physically and mentally but mostly intact – and it had been a long journey, littered with births, deaths, and everything in between, but at least he didn’t wish they’d all go away anymore. In fact, pretty much the opposite right now, and standing in the cargo bay, knowing there was only Frey and him on board, felt wrong.
Mal, she’s here.
Freya’s mental voice rolled softly through his brain, and he felt a vibration start in the base of his belly, followed by a clang, then a ripping sound like a thousand weaves being pulled off, all at the same time.
“If’n River’s scratched my ship, I’m gonna be more than peeved.”
As if she would. She loves Serenity almost as much as you.
As much as she loves me, or as much as I love Serenity?
Do not go down that path. The faint warning tone of his wife’s mental voice made him smile slightly even as he pushed down on the atmo equalizer, waiting for the light to go green before he took hold of the handle.
“I thought I was gonna have to come over in a suit,” Kaylee said as he pulled the door open. “But River found Katya has a mating mechanism. She says no-one’s ever used it.”
“She staying over there?”
“Nope, just making sure everything’s shut down, then she’s gonna come over and help.” Kaylee was already on her way across the cargo bay to the common area. “’Though I got an idea, seeing how she’s spinning like she is.” She disappeared, not bothering to explain who was spinning.
“Not me.” River had floated up behind him. “Serenity.”
“I kinda got that.” He glanced down at her. “Katya fly well?”
She shrugged. “I’m not sure Alex will be happy. At one point I thought she was going to shake herself to pieces. Kaylee may have another patient by the time we all get back to Persephone. I don’t think he’s ever got her above a crawl.”
“Yeah, well, if he won’t buy a Firefly that’s his look-out. In fact I’m half surprised he ain’t with you. What did he say when you asked to borrow her?”
“I don’t know. When I ask I’ll let you know.”
Mal gaped a little. “You mean you stole his ship?”
“Like father like daughter.” She shrugged with one shoulder, the resemblance between herself and her niece very marked. “Or the company I keep. Besides, it isn’t stealing if you intend to put it back.”
“I’m fair sure there’s a whole load of lawmen who’d disagree with you on that, albatross. And you’re gonna be the one to argue that kinda semantics with Frey’s bro when he finds out.”
“I left a note.” She indicated something the size of a cracker.
“Did you sign it?”
Mal had to laugh. “Maybe you are too much like the rest of us. Go on – I think Kaylee’s waiting for you.”
“Going.” River nodded and wafted towards the stairs to take the longer route than her friend.
“And put some more clothes on,” he added. “Frey’ll lend you something if needs be, but it’s cold in here and I ain’t gonna be the one held responsible when Jayne finds out you’ve caught pneumonia.”
“I’m not cold.”
“I am, so humour me.”
“Yes, jia yan.” She curtseyed and continued up the stairs.
Mal watched her go, and the stray thought ran across his mind that maybe his albatross was having one of those days. Best hide the kitchen knives.
At the top catwalk, just as she was about to go through the door, she turned and glared at him.
It seemed to take hours, and he was certain the temperature had dropped at least another ten degrees, although it was probably more like five. He could see his breath, that was the main thing, and despite the two pairs of socks inside his boots he was starting to feel the cold. So it was with expectation of some heat that he smiled at Kaylee as she stepped down into the kitchen.
“So what broke?”
“Kaylee, I’ve a notion it ain’t usual for Serenity to be spinning like this.” He nodded towards the bridge where Freya was keeping company with the slowing moving starfield. He’d started to feel just a little nauseous, which was why he’d offered to scrape up some more rations rather than keep finding himself leaning to one side.
“Nothing broke, not until this went off.” She held out a small collection of parts which she dropped into the centre of the table. Most of them looked charred.
Mal felt something cold trickle down his spine. “A bomb?”
“Not so much, more a device. Where this was put, a bomb would’ve blown the bulkhead, not just the comms and thruster. You'd’ve been sucking space.” She sat down, reaching out to turn the fragments over, as if they could tell her something she didn’t already know.
Mal, on the other hand, felt a wave of fury start to consume him as similar words to those Freya had used were repeated back to him. He was able, on some level, to recognise that the feeling wasn’t so much for the damage that could have happened to his ship, or even the potential danger to himself, but for the harm it could have caused his wife, but he was too angry to care. “Can you tell how long it’s been there?”
“Well, the bits had scattered, s’why it took so long for me to find ‘em, but seeing as originally it was right next to one of the valves for the main atmo feed, it wasn’t there when I put it all back together again.”
“Has to be.”
“How soon before we can get going again?”
“The damage don’t look too bad, but I won’t know ‘til I can get into things. Anything going like it did might have affected other systems, but … it’s gonna be a few hours, at least, even with help.”
“You want Frey to come?”
“Much as she’s been learning, I need someone who know what they’re doing, and don’t need to be told.”
“Then I conjure River’s already there waiting for you.” He watched her hurry back to her engine room, the fire inside him turning to ice.
Someone had tried, if not to kill him and Frey, to at least disable the ship. With the comms down nobody would have even been looking for them for at least two days, if his wife wasn’t psychic. And a lot could happen in forty-eight hours.
He walked slowly back through the kitchen and up to the bridge. “You heard.”
Freya nodded. “A device. Yes.”
“You said you thought someone had been on board.”
“And you said Hank said it was only him showing … Luke?”
“I thought he was one of the good guys.”
“I think looks can be deceiving.”
“His Pa had a Firefly. You think he’d know enough to disable us?”
“I think if it had been one of the Fosters we’d be floating in in a cloud of dust and itty-bitty pieces about now.”
He wasn’t going to argue. The thought had crossed his mind, too, accompanied by the always painful memory of what was left of Road Runner and their friends after the bomb had gone off. “Which kinda leads us back to where we started.” He shook his head. “Why’d they want us dead?”
“Not dead. Out of the way, maybe.”
“Out of the way … yeah.”
“Mal, I don’t have a good feeling about this.”
He looked at her, the tiny dent between her eyebrows where they were drawn together. “Frey, ai ren, I’ve got to that point and gone way past it.” He glanced down at the non-functioning comm system. “You think you can contact Zoe from Katya?”
Something smelled funny. Spicy. Almost like the si xi wanzi his Gran made. She only ever cooked them on his birthday, but as far as he could remember it wasn’t today. Besides, she’d been dead a long time, so he doubted she’d be doing it this year.
He knew he’d spoken, but the way he’d slurred it could have been anything. And Zoe didn’t cook. Well, sometimes, but that was rarer than his Gran making meatballs. Not that Zoe was dead.
“No, he isn’t.”
“He said something.”
Not me, he wanted to say. I’m awake. Look, I’ll open my eyes to prove it. Go on. Open. Funny, that usually worked.
“I’m telling you he’s awake.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“If he starts making a fuss … And what’s that?”
There was a beeping, muffled like it was underwater, or in someone’s pocket.
“Hey …” he managed to breathe.
“I told you he was awake!”
“Clive, shut up. I can soon deal with this.”
Clive? Clive who? Wait a minute –
There was a sensation of air moving against his head, then pain, then nothing except a voice disappearing into the darkness.
“Did you have to hit him that hard?”
“Nothing.” Freya kept sweeping the frequency, but where there should have been someone answering was only static.
“Are you sure she took a comm?”
“Both Hank and Zoe have one. And a beacon each.”
“Can you track those?”
“Not from here. We’d need Serenity’s systems to do that.”
Mal looked around Katya’s bridge. “A hulking new space ship and there’s something my old Firefly does better?”
She knew he was only joking because he was worried. “Serenity is better in pretty much everything, you know that.”
“Except for that gorram buffer panel.”
“Well, we all have our idiosyncrasies.”
“Better try Jayne,” he ordered.
She adjusted the setting then smiled. “I’ve got him.”
“Speaking of idiosyncrasies …”
Without the shuttle Jayne had taken refuge in the south wing of the house, making a sort of nest out of timbers and several of the thermoblankets from the emergency locker, as well as the alcohol from the first aid supplies (what Simon didn’t know wasn’t going to hurt him). Still, even wearing as many of his clothes as he could manage, and wrapped in another two blankets from their bed, his feet were still cold, and the idle thought occurred to him that he might not have all his toes when he took his boots off. He grunted a laugh at having to check to see if anything was rattling around his socks, but decided not to worry about it right now.
He’d seen Zoe and Hank through the windows heading up to bed about nine the previous evening, having had dinner with the family but not waiting for dessert. Jayne’s stomach had complained, although even if he’d smashed his way in there wouldn’t have been anything left considering the way Crispin had been taking his third – or possibly fourth – helping.
He’d taken a few turns around the place, the only lights visible being in the gatehouse – looked like Luke was finding it hard to get to sleep – but a little after midnight he settled into his nest and tried to sleep.
Not that it would come. It wasn’t the burned out wing, nor the shadows, and not even the cold – he’d camped out in worse for longer when he was hunting – but something was tickling his senses, and it refused to lie down. So he did what he always did in times like this, and brought up memories of the past. Charity, Delilah, Mallory, Florence, Mai Ling … so many women had gone through his bed, or he through theirs. Some had been just a night, others a week or more, and a few … a very few … lasted months. But none of them had ever laid claim to his heart, except maybe Charity, and even then she hadn’t fitted him quite like River.
He smiled, bringing his moonbrain to mind, that first time he’d realised what she was. Standing there in that slip of a dress, axes in both hands that dripped blood into the pools already ankle deep on the floor, barely breathing hard … Gorramit, hard was pretty much the right word. Not that he’d said. She was still the doctor’s crazy sister, and it was a long time before he even began to think of her in any other way. Except she’d made up her mind, all fifteen hundred of them (so she said), and despite the odd hiccup, death or near fatal shooting here and there, she’d got him.
And she’d be waiting for him when she got back, and there were so many things he’d want to do with her that it would take a lifetime just to list ‘em all.
He snuggled down, and the memories shifted towards the nights they’d spent in their shuttle. As the sky started to glow in the false dawn, he even started to doze when the comm link in his pants pocket began to buzz and vibrate.
Something may have happened to Hank and Zoe.
He struggled to a more upright position, fighting the blankets until he could get hold of the link.
Mal’s voice filtered through. “Jayne, where are you?”
“Freezing my balls off in the old bit of the house.”
“Find Zoe and Hank. Neither of them is answering their comm.”
“Already on it.” He was on his feet and heading outside even as he thrust the comm back in his pocket.
Ignoring the front door – assuming from experience that nobody was likely to let him in that way – he headed for the kitchens, the plan of the house from his previous entrance still clear in his head, and knowing that the staff would be awake even if the rest of the inhabitants were still in the land of Nod.
Dottie screamed as the outside door was flung open, and a man dripping dust and snow stood framed against the cold.
He slammed the door behind him, making the plates rattle on the sideboard. “It’s okay, girl, I ain't gonna hurt you.”
The cook, as tradition dictated, plump and rosy cheeked with her arms covered to the elbows in flour, but with a gypsy voluptuousness, picked up a rolling pin.
“You neither,” Jayne added quickly. “That the way into the house?” He pointed towards at door at the far end of the kitchen.
Dottie nodded, and the cook bounced the rolling pin in the palm of her hand.
“Where’s the master bedroom?” Jayne continued, feeling like he was having to work too hard with this one-sided conversation.
Dottie squeaked again, and Jayne sighed.
“The heirs. Hank and Zoe Mills. Where are they?”
The cook pushed at an errant strand of raven black hair with the back of her hand, leaving a floury trail across her forehead. “Why?”
“They’re my friends. And something’s happened to ‘em.”
Looking him up and down, and apparently finding him, if not believable, at least satisfactory, the cook turned to Dottie.
“Your virtue’s safe, my girl. This time. Take him up.”
“Oh, Mrs Demarco, what about the masters?”
Mrs Demarco tossed her head, her dark eyes flashing. “If we had any sense we’d pack up and leave, before we’re all tarred with the same heathen sacrilegious brush.” Evidently her gypsy colouring hid an ardent church-goer.
“Not Ms Demelza!”
“Well, no. But she’s the only reason I haven’t handed in my notice before now. That Crispen demanding meals at all hours … “ She shook herself, and a small cloud of flour particles took off into orbit. “Do you want us to call the Alliance?”
Jayne grinned at her, and watched her cheeks pink. “Nah. There ain’t much I can’t handle.”
“I should think not.” She pushed at her hair again. “Go on, Dottie, do what you’re told.”
The girl bobbed nervously into a curtsey and scuttled past Jayne to the door.
to be continued
Tuesday, November 29, 2016 1:23 PM
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