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BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL
A bitter-sweet, medium length (7 pages) complete fanfic focussing on Mal, Wash and Zoe.
CATEGORY: FICTION TIMES READ: 1824 RATING: 9 SERIES: FIREFLY
Disclaimer: Firefly is the best gorram show ever to air in this part of the 'verse. It belongs to Joss Whedon.
The now of this story is about 6-7 years after "Objects in Space"
* * * * * * * * * *
Her head feels heavy against his chest, the weight pressing the clips of his suspenders into the muscle beneath. But she looks so beautiful, so peaceful, he doesn't have the heart to wake her. Holding her and watching her sleep is one of his greatest delights. He tries to shift into a more comfortable position and the movement makes her stir. Her eyelids flutter and the rhythm of her breathing changes. Mal freezes and holds his breath. Then she sighs and nestles further into the crook of his arm, her long dark curls tickling his skin. He tightens his embrace around her and drops a kiss onto the top of her head, still amazed by how much he loves her.
* * * * * * *
SIX YEARS EARLIER.
Zoe carefully buttons up her shirt as Simon puts his stethoscope away. She is unusually quiet, even for Zoe.
“Thank you, Doctor,” she says, slipping down from the exam table. She's about to leave the infirmary when she turns back to look at him. She seems to want to say something but quite doesn't know how.
“It's all right, Zoe,” Simon says softly, understanding her hesitation. “I'm your physician. This consultation will remain confidential.”
She drops her solemn gaze to the floor and nods once in acknowledgment of the promise. “Thank you, Doctor.”
* * * * * * * *
“Gorramit, Zoe!” Mal exclaims. “Have you been listenin' to a single word of what I've been sayin'”
It's been another hard day when yet again the job didn't go smooth and Mal is feeling more than a mite tetchified.
“Sorry, Sir,” Zoe says placidly. “Wash and I were having a personal conversation...” She trails off at the thunderous look the Captain shoots her.
“See? See?! This is exactly what I didn't want. Split loyalties. You not listenin' to me.” He tosses a quick glare at Wash. “Where's this obeyin' you reckon is always goin' on under your nose? She ain't even listenin'!”
“Listening now, Sir,” Zoe says coolly and quickly before Wash rises to the bait.
Mal snorts grumpily. “OK. The plan is this - we gotta find a new buyer for the cargo. I reckon we should try one of the moons off Bernadette.”
Jayne pricks up his ears. “Ain't that Reaver country? I ain't goin' nowhere there's Reavers.”
“You'll go anywhere I damn well say...” There's no denying Mal's ill temper this evening. The fact that Zoe and Wash keep exchanging significant glances is really getting under his skin. “Anyhow, Reavers don't stay nowhere long. Once they've done their rapin' and killin' an' bone-gnawin' they ain't got much interest in a place. No, Bernadette's as safe as anywhere else. An' folks out there are desperate for tools an' seeds an' stuff.”
Zoe nods approvingly. “It's a good plan, Sir.”
Kaylee, bothered by the tension in the air, tries to smooth things over. “Cap'n's always good at plans. An' we'd be doin' those folk a kindness.”
Mal takes a swig from his glass. “OK Wash. Set a course for Bernadette. Should be there in a couple of days or so. Then me, Zoe an' Jayne'll take the haul to a local dealer.”
He doesn't notice Wash frown, nor Zoe dig him sharply in the ribs as he opens his mouth to speak.
* * * * * *
Book looks pleased with himself as he sets the steaming bowl down onto the mess table. And his grin broadens as the crew lean forward to breathe in the delicious aroma it's giving off.
“Dig in,” he invites them, as if any encouragement were necessary.
Simon shudders, even now, at the unrestrained manner with which his fellow crew members fall upon real food. As always, the first mouthfuls of Book's meal are met with sighs of satisfaction and words of praise, before all conversation dies and the greedy shovelling into mouths begins.
But Jayne isn't giving the meal his full attention. He's watching Zoe like a hawk. “Hey there, Zoe! That's the third helpin' you've had.”
Mal fixes him with a warning stare.
“It ain't fair,” he says sulkily. “I'm the muscle on this crew. I need more'n her.”
“Yeah, but Zoe needs to feed her brain as well. A problem you don't have,” Wash says, in defence of his wife.
Jayne pushes back his chair violently and looms over the table towards the pilot. “You wanna go, little man?”
“Bizui!” Mal puts a halt to the impending row. “There's plenty for everyone...” His eyes follow Zoe's hand as she ladles another spoonful onto her plate. “Provided they ain't all gonna eat like Zoe.”
Zoe and Wash are down in the cargo bay laughing uncontrollably. It's a rare sight and Mal pauses on the gangway above as he enviously tries to catch the joke.
“It's not going to fit, I tell you, “Zoe is laughing, tears running down her face.
Wash grins, with something like – pride? - as he pulls on her gunbelt. “Maybe another hole would help. Or I could swap your belt with Jayne's. Can you imagine how crazy that'd make him?”
A slender hand settles on the railing next to Mal's. He turns to see River looking down at Zoe and Wash, a beatific smile lighting her pale face.
“Two by two,” she murmurs, but without any of the terror he's used to hearing in her voice when she utters those three words.
“Noah's ark. The animals went in two by two,” she replies to his unvoiced question.
“Uh-huh,” Mal humours her, pulling a bewildered face and making a mental note to give Simon a hard time about his continuing failure to cure his sister's whimsy.
“You really have to tell him.” Wash's voice has an urgent tone as it floats up to the gangway. “And I mean soon.”
Zoe is giving her husband a deadly serious look. She reaches forward to place a hand on each of his shoulders, then plants a long gentle kiss on his mouth. Mal isn't sure whether to look away or yell at them for such a public display of intimacy.
“And then there were three,” River says, moving her hand to cover Mal's. She squeezes it briefly. “Don't be afraid.”
* * * * * * *
FIVE YEARS AGO.
“Breathe, lamby-toes, just breathe,” Wash is advising his wife, dancing from one foot to the other with barely contained excitement. Zoe, her face flushed and drenched with sweat, gives him a long-suffering smile.
“And here was me thinking I could do this without breathing.”
“Not long now,” Simon tells her. “The head's crowned.”
An awed silence descends on the infirmary where all the crew are gathered. Kaylee and River are proving invaluable as nurses and Book is standing quietly at the head of Zoe's bed, his eyes closed in prayer but with a knowing smile on his lips as if God himself has given him His personal assurance that everything will be all right. Jayne is sitting on the second bed, clutching his hat reverently in one hand and preparing himself for the miracle of birth.
Mal and Inara have positioned themselves at some distance from the bed, near the doors. Neither feels comfortable. Mal is fighting a feeling akin to panic rising in his breast. Is it that the smell of blood and body fluids and the occasional pained moan from Zoe remind him of the battlefields of his early manhood? Or is he fearful of the enormous upheaval the addition of one small person to his crew is going to cause?
Inara's face is pale and unreadable. Her polished nails dig into her palms.
“Now!” Simon commands. “Push, Zoe, push!”
A grunt and a moan and then a squall as the baby takes it first breath.
“It's a girl,” River announces without looking.
“A girl! A girl! Hear that, Cap'n? A girl!” Kaylee is beside herself with joy.
“Well done, my beautiful wife,” Wash says as he kisses Zoe's forehead. “You too, Simon. Only not so much with the beautiful.”
“Thank you. I think.” Simon replies with a modest smile. “Here, take your daughter.” And he hands the tiny, squirming form to Wash, prompting him to laugh and cry at the same time.
“She is just so adorable!” Kaylee enthuses, gently touching the tiny fingers. “D'ya know what you're gonna call her yet, Zoe?”
“Oh yes. I've got a name all picked out.” And now Zoe is only talking to one person. Mal. He tries to look away from her but can't. “Hope.”
Wash's eyes flit from Zoe to Mal and back again. He knows he's outside this, but for the first time feels no jealously at their relationship. He watches Mal blink away his emotion and feels gut-wrenching pity for the man.
“Shepherd,” he says suddenly, “I would like you to bless my daughter.” A beat. “If that's OK with the Captain.”
Mal bites his lip, his eyes still locked on Zoe's, and he nods. Not graciously, but nonetheless, he nods.
“And,” Wash continues, advancing towards Mal whilst he still has the advantage and holding the baby out to him. “Zoe and I would like you to be Hope's godfather. Or not-godfather. Whichever.”
Mal is cornered and he knows it. What else can he do? He takes the bundle in his arms, momentarily surprised by her weight and warmth. The sensation is foreign to him. He can feel the enormous energy of this new born creature, her innate yearning to know the 'verse and to become a part of it. And it fills him with fear. She is so tiny, so helpless. There's a million and more types of nasty out there in the Black waiting to hurt her. How in the nine hells is he going to keep something so precious safe? What in the name of suo-yo duh doh shr-dang were Wash and Zoe thinkin', bringin' a child into this uncertain 'verse?
Inara takes a step nearer and looks down at the child, taking in her wax-covered blue-grey skin, black eyes and hair. When she looks up again her eyes are flooded with an ocean of sorrow for what might have been, what should have been if only she or Mal had been braver.
“Inara, I..” Mal begins.
“Don't,” she hisses through gritted teeth. “Not now. Not ever.”
* * * * *
THREE YEARS AGO.
“OK, ready, steady...GO!” Wash is standing at the bottom of the flight of stairs leading up from the cargo bay. Hope is on the fourth step up, with arms stretched out by her side. She beams at her father, then looks up as she hears footsteps above them.
“Uncacap! Uncacap! Look at me. Look at me,” she chants in her piping little-girl voice before launching herself fearlessly through the air and into Wash's waiting arms. She giggles delightedly as he catches her and swings her round his head. “Uncacap! Uncacap! You see Hope fly?”
Mal grins down at her. “Yeah. I see. You be careful. Don't want you fallin' and makin' a mess of my floor!”
“You did real good, cupcake!” Wash tells her. Then turning to Mal he muses “What in the diyu is a cupcake, Mal? Ever wonder?”
“No. But then, I'm mostly wonderin' what kind of a father encourages his daughter to do stunts that'll most like make her fall and hurt herself.” Mal sounds unexpectedly angry, even to his own ears. He realizes he wants to shake Wash until he understands how dangerous everything about life on Serenity is. How hard it is to keep Hope safe and happy. Then he remembers he is not her father. Wash is. And that he knows all this already. He went into fatherhood knowing all about the dangers of life in the Black.
“You worry too much,” Wash tells him, refusing to be drawn by Mal's criticism of his parenting style. “She's got to learn to fly.”
Mal shakes his head. Wash is either a ruttin' fool or just about the bravest man he's ever met.
“Fly. Like Daddy,” Hope says with a serious face just like her mother's as she slips her cool little hand into Mal's. “For Uncacap.”
Serenity is filled with the reek of spilt blood and charred flesh. It clings to his nostrils and tongue, as he gasps for air. It's hard to see through the thick smoke and his lungs are burning as he runs onwards, Hope limp and heavy in his arms, trying to find somewhere to hide. Sanctuary.
When he first realized there were intruders on his boat, he'd thought them Alliance. Feds. Purple-bellies. But now... Do the Feds slash and burn just for the hell of it?
Along the gangway – which gangway, he can't tell – and up more stairs until finally there's nowhere else to go. He claws at the metal grating covering the entrance to a small hatch at ground level. The metal claws back, ripping his hand, until at last he has worked it free.
He pulls it back, aching with relief and pushes Hope into the hiding place ahead of him. Only they are not alone. There's someone here already. Twisted, blackened hands reach out and snatch the child from his grasp and he looks into the grimacing, mutilated face of a Reaver.
“NO! NO!” he yells, trying to wrest Hope back from the murderous grip but he's not strong enough. Hope begins to cry and wail and there's nothing he can do to save her....
“It's OK, Sir, I've got her.” The voice is familiar but sounds like it's coming from the bottom of a faraway well. “You can let go now, Sir.”
Hope's crying is louder now, more piercing. Mal rubs his eyes groggily and looks around him in bewilderment. Zoe is standing before him, a tearful Hope hoisted onto one hip, with Wash looking anxious at her side.
“Wha's'a matter with Uncle Captain Mal?” Hope asks between sobs. “Why's he shouting at me?”
“Shhh, baby, “ Zoe coos. “The Cap'n had a bad dream, is all. Silly Uncle Captain.” And she gives Mal a wry smile. “You OK, Sir?”
Mal nods, feeling all manner of stupid. “Must have dozed off. Just for a moment, mind. Only a mo...”
Wash grins. “S'all right. No harm done. Wuh de ma, Mal! You look terrible.”
“Thanks. I babysit so you an' your wife can go play newly weds an' that's all the thanks I get.”
“Thank you. Sir,” Zoe says with just a touch of mockery, then “It's late. Hope should have been in bed hours ago. Say goodnight, baby.”
“Night-night, Uncacap,” Hope mumbles, using the pet name she invented for Mal as a toddler. When she was never quite sure if he was Uncle Mal or Captain Mal. A special name that fit like a key into a lock deep inside Mal's heart and opened up a part of him he'd thought closed off for ever.
Wash and Mal watch as Zoe carries the little girl off to her bunk.
“How d'you do it, Wash?” Mal asks suddenly. “How d'you cope with the thought you might lose her any day? How d'you deal with knowin' you ain't ever gonna be rich enough to give her all she needs? We never know what we're goin' to run into, or where the next job will be. How d'you do it?”
If he's surprised by the question, Wash doesn't show it. “Well, Mal, I'm not so big with the planning things out. I'm more with the throwing my goslings up in the air an' hoping I can juggle with 'em. And instead of looking at what I don't got, I look at what I do. I have a beautiful daughter and a beautiful wife. All around me I got people I care for and who care for me. I get to see all the stars I only ever heard about when I was growing up. Can't see the stars if you don't go into the Black, Mal.” He pauses and and although he's grinning now, there's something like sympathy in his eyes. “And the kuh-oo duh lao bao-jun I work for is probably the bravest man in the 'verse.”
Mal is touched by his pilot's words but shakes his head. “No, Wash. All I do is try to keep flyin'. What you an' Zoe've done – that's a sign of real bravery.” There's a brief moment of real connection between them, of equality and forgotten egos as they look into each other's faces. “Or utter ruttin' stupidity!”
* * * * * * *
Friday, January 23, 2004 6:47 AM
Friday, January 23, 2004 10:18 AM
Friday, January 23, 2004 3:01 PM
Friday, January 23, 2004 8:25 PM
Saturday, January 24, 2004 4:05 PM
Sunday, January 25, 2004 1:36 AM
Monday, February 20, 2006 2:32 PM
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