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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.
[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 170 RATING: 10 SERIES: FIREFLY
“Ow.” Mal sucked his thumb, something he hadn’t been prone to do since he was about three, but the paper cut stung.
It was Christmas Eve, probably the day he’d always loved most of the holiday season. Even when he was a kid, and he knew there’d be presents the next day, somehow that final 24 hours of build-up held a magic all its own. Hope, he’d always figured, and he didn’t mean the little girl asleep down in the crew quarters. The feeling of hope – and anticipation. No matter if the gifts weren’t what he wanted, that there would always be clothes and things his Ma thought he needed, that anticipation of what might be inside the gaily wrapped packages had been almost too much to bear, and still had the power to make his heart beat a little faster.
He knew he wasn’t alone in this, Freya having mentioned it herself when she talked in particular about her grandma coming to stay at the Rostov family home, but he wondered if anyone else felt it quite so keenly.
Kaylee, of course, had started decorating as soon as the calendar had turned from November, and now a tree of sorts stood in the cargo bay, another in the kitchen, and paper chains hung along every corridor. He’d avoided going into the engine room lately in case yet another piece of shiny folderol caught his eye, although the traditional origami crib on the bridge did make him smile. When he was alone, of course. Couldn’t have his reputation as Captain Humbug cracked.
Still, it wasn’t going to be quite the same this year. No matter how hard they tried, neither Hank nor River had been able to devise a course that would take them close to a planet where they could put down and have real snow for the festivities. The job, the first in a while and very welcome, meant they were for the most part away from any civilisation or uninhabited moon, not even a black rock in their path.
It was his own fault, of course. In recent years he’d made sure the kids had a white Christmas, no matter what their age (even Jayne had looked let down), and he’d felt a heel when he’d broken the news at breakfast a week before. Everyone had understood, but he still felt bad, knowing they were hiding their true disappointment.
Then he’d taken the late watch and found some very old vids on the Cortex.
Freya had laughed when he told her, but whole-heartedly agreed, offering to get the ingredients from Simon’s medical supplies herself. River had dropped into their bunk at that point, and while he’d pointed out the hatch had been closed – and locked – she ignored him, instead offering her services in such a good cause.
She was out there now, high in the cargo bay, fitting her contraptions to the support beams.
Freya, on the other hand, was fiddling with the environmental controls so the heat was turned down in all but the crew quarters and the bridge. Of course, she’d said she wasn’t sure she could do it right, and maybe she’d be switching it off entirely and they’d freeze, but he had complete faith in here. Besides, Kaylee’d soon fix it if she did.
There. All done. The red paper was exotic but festive, especially with the gold ribbon. His darling ai ren had done all the wrapping for the kids and the other adults, but these were his gifts to her. Special. Private. Which was why he’d closed the door to the bridge, and not to keep warm.
He hadn’t heard the door open, but turned in the pilot’s chair. “You snooping?”
Freya stood in the doorway. “I did knock.”
He grinned. “I didn’t hear.”
“And no, I wasn’t snooping. I’ll have you know I’ve been very careful not to snoop.”
“I noticed. You makin’ sure you don’t find out what’s in these before the big day?” He tapped the packages with one finger.
One eyebrow arched, but she smiled softly. “Perhaps. Anyway, I just wanted to say it’s done.”
“Shiny. So they’ll wake up to a cold ship tomorrow?”
“Yes. And it’s today.”
He glanced at the chronometer. Somewhere in the last half hour or so the day had ticked over. “They’ll complain.”
“Only for a while.”
“You think?” They’d wake, he knew, discover it really cold outside the bunks, and all call Kaylee to find out what was going on. She would hurry to the engine room, but find one of the signs River had painted and posted by each doorway, directing everyone to meet in the cargo bay. Mystified, bundled up in their warmest clothing, they’d head for the doors …
“Softy.” She crossed the bridge and lowered herself onto his lap.
He put his arms around her. “Bah humbug.”
“Nobody believes you anymore.”
“Guess I’ll have to growl more often. Or threaten the airlock.”
“I love you so much.”
“That’s nice. Only it don’t mean you’re getting your presents yet.”
“Not even one?” She nuzzled his neck.
“Hey, that don’t work all the … well, maybe it does.”
Down in the cargo bay River withdrew from Mal’s consciousness, her delicate mindprints not leaving a trace of her passing. She’d seen his memories of his Ma, the Christmases when he was a boy on Shadow, even a faint echo of one before his Pa died, all still there, not diminished by his burning, glowing celebrations of now with Freya.
River jiggled the containers, the chemicals inside sloshing slowly from one side to the other, ready to hit the air and crystallise into cold white flakes. She’d timed it to start when Kaylee’s door opened, so everyone would see it begin to fall, at first just a sifting over the crates and cages, making the lights on the tree flicker and glow as they drifted down. By the time breakfast was over, and gift giving completed, the bay would be ankle deep, and continue to accumulate for another three hours and twenty-seven seconds. Approximately.
As long as the temperature was kept low it would stay, until the bay doors were opened and it was sucked into the Black. Future travellers might wonder at the cloud with the odd bauble floating in it, but it would be their secret.
The big man climbed up the rest of the ladder and crawled along the maintenance platform to where she sat. “You plannin’ on coming down anytime soon?”
“Right.” He paused. “Why?”
“Do I have to go hide the knives?” She gazed at him for a long time, until he began to feel a shade nervous. “Riv?”
“No. I’m not psychotic. Not today. Just … hopeful.”
“You didn’t have to climb up.”
“You’re up here. So I am too.”
“You mean big, hard, and with less intelligence than a turd.”
“I mean strong, dependable, something to tie myself to.”
“I’ve got some ribbon somewhere.”
“You just wanna sit?”
“You said.” He looked along the support beams. “So how do these … things work?”
River tapped the metal rose at the bottom of one of the containers, looking suspiciously like one of the shower heads. A tiny droplet of liquid formed, then immediately blossomed into a handful of white crystals, multiplying and growing until its own weight made it detach. She caught some as it fell, spreading into a soft cloud and floating noiseless to the deck, far below. “Here.”
He took it. “Hey, it’s cold!”
“Just like the real thing.”
“Will it melt?”
“Yes. That’s why Freya adjusted the temperature.”
“Thought me and brass monkeys might be having something in common.”
“I’m quite comfortable.”
She shrieked as he pushed the handful of snow down her dress. “Jayne!”
He grinned, glad he could still surprise her for once. “What?”
She was trying to scoop the rapidly melting mass from her cleavage. “Retribution …”
“Gotta catch me first.” He scuttled backwards and dropped down the ladder, his hands controlling his descent. “Mind readin’ genius …” His voice drifted up.
She stopped, her eyes narrowing. Ignoring the cold against her skin she followed him, intent on revenge, even if it was of the somewhat pleasurable kind.
Up on the bridge Freya smiled.
“What?” Mal demanded.
“Nothing. Nothing at all.” She snuggled down deeper in his lap.
He shook his head, tightening his embrace. He’d never understand women, least of all Freya. All he could do was be grateful for finding her, and look forward to watching her open his gifts later on. For now he was happy, just sitting, both of them gazing out into the Black, at the stars outside his ship, his Serenity, leading the way into Christmas.
Happy holidays, everyone!
Tuesday, December 27, 2016 1:59 PM
Friday, December 30, 2016 8:34 PM
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