BLUE SUN ROOM FAN FICTION - GENERAL

AMDOBELL

TEMPTATION SERIES: 49. "Settling"
Thursday, January 5, 2006

"On Serenity the crew readjust to the new additions and changing crew dynamics then get ready to say goodbye to some old friends."


CATEGORY: FICTION    TIMES READ: 2900    RATING: 10    SERIES: FIREFLY

TITLE: "SETTLING" AUTHOR: Alison M. DOBELL FANDOM: "FIREFLY" PAIRING: Mal/River. Kaylee/Simon. Wash/Zoe. RATING: PG-13. SERIES CONCLUSION. STATUS: SEQUEL to "PIECES" ARCHIVE: Yes. Just let me know where. FEEDBACK: Welcomed. EMAIL: AlisonMDobell@aol.com WEBSITE: http://carlajane.50megs.com/Ali00.html

SUMMARY "On Serenity the crew readjust to the new additions and changing crew dynamics then get ready to say goodbye to some old friends." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.

"SETTLING"

"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

With the Captain laid up and Kaylee nursing two premature babies, the infirmary was a mite more crowded than even its' busiest day. For once Simon was not getting ansty, throwing folk out. Too besotted with his wife's new issue. His distraction gave River a measure of freedom to stay close to Mal during his long slow recovery back to health. Inara smiled at them then went over to where Kaylee and Simon were cooing over the twins. Zoe was holding one, Wash the other, and if the look in their eyes was anything to go by Inara had the feeling there would be more new arrivals before year's end. *Wode ma*, it was feeling more and more like a nursery as the days went by. Shifting little Jack so that he was easier to carry on her hip, Inara's smile widened as Zoe looked up and caught sight of her son.

River had been watching, noticing, taking pleasure in their pleasure. Now she turned back to Mal, pleased to see that his face was healing well. The swelling had gone down and the bruises were fading, the cuts healing. At least she could kiss him now without making him bleed. She closed her eyes to force down a shudder at the thought, her mind too eager to turn every thought into images crystal clear and in technicolour.

"*Xin gan*, somethin' wrong?"

She shook herself and opened her eyes, a gentle smile echoed in her eyes to reassure him. "*Qu*, just grateful."

Her words surprised him. He was lying flat on his back, the pillows that usually propped him up absent for a while. Unable to turn himself, sit up unaided or do basic things he was fully reliant upon others to fuss over him and see to his needs. Since River had taken up pretty much permanent residence in the infirmary with him the Captain had amazingly stopped complaining. As biddable as a lamb, not that his crew would say so to his face. Noblody wanted to jinx the period of calm. Well, Jayne would, but he was wary enough of River not to do or say anything to attract her wrath. Girl was too damn protective of the Captain to risk saying overmuch. Not that it stopped everything that came out of his mouth. "So," Prompted the Captain, warm amusement in his voice. It flowed like honey over River's ears. Made her wish she could bathe in it then lick it off. Real slow. "Why's that?"

River's smile faltered just a fraction. "Nearly lost you."

"Can't lose me, *xin gan*. I'm the bad penny, *jide*?"

"Penny?"

"You know, ancient coin from Earth-that-was an' don't pull that don't-know-what-the-crazy-Cap'n's-talkin'-about look. Heard Simon make mention of the sayin' a time or two, you know the bad penny always turnin' up an' such."

Her smile was so full of love and affection he thought his gorram heart would stop. It was like the sun beaming down on him, all warm and happy. "You're not a penny, Mal."

His voice was soft and just a little bit hoarse. "Then what am I?"

Instead of using words she kissed him. Soft and slow. Not that he was complaining but it was all kinds of aggravating not being able to lift his hands, to cradle that sweet face, even to brush the waterfall of dark hair that covered him like silk when their lips met. It was the loud unsubtle throat clearing that alerted him to the presence of unwanted guests. River ignored it, making the kiss deeper, more sensual and what was a man to do but go with it? Again with the throat clearing, and was that a laugh? When River came up for air she already knew who would be standing there. Jayne grinned at them, ready to make a comment but the Captain caught his eye. "Not a word, Jayne."

"Aw, but Mal, not my fault you two're makin' out like ruttin' rabbits..."

The Captain raised his eyebrows. "*Shenme*? We were not! It's called kissin', Jayne, might have heard of it. Oh," He broke off and gave Jayne a sly little grin. "You don't kiss 'em on the lips, do you?"

"Could be tempted to change my mind."

Before the Captain could reply Jayne's mood changed, puzzled and kind'a concerned if Mal was any judge by the odd antics of the Shepherd. "*Wei*! What ya doin'?"

"Oh, just takin' a few measurements." Said the Preacher mildly.

Jayne watched Book with the length of rope, sliding it through his hands and holding it against the width of the infirmary bed. "What? Ya gonna hang him?"

River only just kept the laugh in. Looking up at her, Mal could feel his heart swell. This feeling of wall to wall happy was new to him and he was enjoying it too much to let anything dull the shine. Shepherd Book made a knot in the rope and gave an amused shake of the head. "No, Jayne, but we don't have a tape measure."

"A what? Why would we want one o' them?"

"Simon was telling me about the problems with these beds. The head doesn't raise so you can't incline a body except with pillows."

The mercenary stared at Book as if the man were a fool. "We got pillows."

Mal and River exchanged a look, River leaned down and giggled softly into his face stealing kisses and enjoying the way the Captain stole them back. With interest.

Book deliberately began to walk towards the door as he answered Jayne, the big man following him without realising it until they had stepped outside the infirmary. The Preacher looping the rope into a small coil in his hands. "Jayne," Said Book in a quieter tone. Not wanting the Captain to hear him. "The Captain's bones were broken."

"*Diyu* I know that an' what's with the whisperin'?"

"It means he can't do anything for himself. Can't run, can't sit, can't get up off the bed."

A leer came over Jayne's face. He was thinking of the way River was fussing over the man, her hands constantly touching. Then there was all that kissing and such. If they was being discreet he didn't see no sign of it. 'Sides, wasn't as if the Cap was complainin'. "Don't seem much of a disadvantage to me."

"Well no matter how it looks it is. Simon had a word with me earlier, asked if there was any way I could make something to help. A frame, something adjustable so he could sit up and have his upper back and shoulders properly supported."

Jayne frowned. Not getting it. "What's wrong with pillows?"

"They're too soft. He needs firm support not to sink into the bed linen."

"The bed what?"

"I said I would see what I can do though without any hinges and no saw to speak of I'm limited to a hammer, some nails and an old wood chisel."

Jayne was in deep thought for a minute or two, their footsteps ringing as they descended the metal stairs to the cargo hold where Book intended to recycle an old packing crate into something a mite more useful for current needs. "So, ya ain't makin' a coffin?"

The Preacher stopped dead in his tracks and looked at him. "No Jayne, I only bury the dead."

Serious, Jayne nodded thoughtfully, his mood lightening. "Good. Just so's I know."

Book stared after Jayne as the mercenary walked away. "What do you mean?"

Without pausing, Jayne looked over his shoulder. "Chain of command. Just keepin' track Shepherd."

* * * * *

Rafe Connor was amused. Watching Chung-li rumage through the storage cupboards to rustle up a meal was always fun. The man could turn the most innocuous ingredients into a feast fit for a King. Molly had gone quiet again, something she was doing habitually since they had been reunited. Rose was shivering a little, her too thin frame feeling every shift of air like an icy wind blowing through her. Despite the fact that she was now fourteen in Rafe's eyes she was still the little girl he had sheltered since her mama died. Even though the shell had been broken and she had joined them all in the larger world, there were times like this when he could almost see and touch that shell. Times when he was tempted to sign to her rather than speak out loud. He did not realise that she could sense what he was thinking and feeling nor how much it cost her to hide that fact from him. People feared what they did not know or understand. She wasn't a Reader like River or Chung-li but she had some psychic ability, what experts called an Empath. Therefore his pain became hers, his confusion a fog to cloud her own consciousness. His joy the warmth of a thousand suns. Now she was cold, sensing and sharing his fear for the future. His uncertainty about the present.

"It's alright Rose, I'll ask if we can turn up the heatin'."

She shook her head and smiled. "*Hen hao, ba ba.*" Rose paused, her eyes searching his. Molly actually began to take notice and for that small light at the end of a long dark tunnel Rafe was grateful. "Where we gonna live?"

Rafe closed the distance between them and gently wrapped his arms around his two daughters, the warmth of his body a shield against the cold fear in his heart. "We'll find somewhere, *bao bei*. *Fang xin*. Mal an' his people'll put us right, you'll see."

Into his shoulder Rose sniffed, eyes filling with tears, too many sorrows to keep locked up in silence any more. "Ben... Mark...." She sobbed. "Oh, *ba ba* it isn't fair!"

Molly eased out of the shared embrace to let Rafe rock Rose in his arms, biting back tears of his own. Rafe was determined to be strong if not for himself then for them. He caught the look in Molly's eyes, knew she was thinking of her husband Todd. So was he, his eyes told her. But Molly was retreating again. Withdrawing from him. Back into that void of pain and darkness where nothing could reach her. Sitting at the table Hilary and David exchanged worried glances. Neither of them knew what would happen next but the Chinaman had assured them they would not be left to fend for themselves. When he and Rafe found a new place to settle they were welcome to come too. While Hilary had reservations David was older, had seen more and knew that these were good people. He tried to reassure Hilary, his thoughts going back to brave Peter. Peter who had alerted them to the captive being tortured across the corridor. Peter who had made the crazy suggestion of getting him and hiding him before the *tamade hundan* that had wrecked their lives took that of another innocent. Who could have known that that one act of humanity would touch so many other lives? But Peter had paid the ultimate price. Had died before the rescue had come. Another body in a pile of rotting corpses. Now buried under tons of rock and earth while their enemies opened up newly exposed seams to continue their greedy trade. It sickened him but not so much as if he had stayed. No. Wherever Malcolm Reynolds' ship took them he would willingly go. And be grateful.

* * * * *

Zoe couldn't believe it. Tears! Wash wanted to reach out, hug her, but the little one in his own arms was so tiny, healthy despite being a little premature but too tiny to be juggled like geese. Blinking, Zoe stared at Kaylee. Saw all the goodness and sunlight in her that the Captain had recognised from the get go. She glanced at the little squirming bundle in her arms and tried the name upon her tongue, an awed whisper wanting to see how it would fit. "Grace?"

Kaylee was smiling, Simon sitting on the side of her bed. So proud of his beautiful wife. So full of joy and fatherly pride. Kaylee could have called them Yin and Yang for all he cared except that they were both girls. They were alive and healthy and he and Kaylee had made them. How could that be anything but a good thing? But seeing Zoe affected like this? That was unexpected. "Are you sure you're alright with this, Zoe?" He asked.

"Better than alright," She said softly, then seemed to gather herself. The weak moment seeming to pass though the soft look in her eyes said otherwise. "Cap'n'll be mighty proud."

"You don't think it'll upset him? You know...?" Said Kaylee hesitantly.

Wash gave a chuckle and rocked the second twin as if he had been rocking babies all his life. With Jack it sometimes seemed that way. "He'll be fine, Kaylee. Besides," Wash paused to sneak a look across to the bed on the other side of the infirmary. "Somethin' tells me he'll soon be cradling a little addition of his own."

Kaylee gasped, a hand covering her mouth. Eyes wide with hope and barely surpressed glee. "You don't mean? Him an' River?"

Her very shiny husband wanted to scowl and look annoyed but nothing could dim his pleasure of the moment and knowing his sister was happy too made him content in a way he had never dreamt he could be before. To Kaylee's surprise Simon turned to Inara. "I understand you were offered a teaching post at one of the training houses?"

Surprised, Inara gave him a quizzical look. "Yes, but how...?"

"Are you going to take it?"

She blinked. "I hadn't made up my mind..."

His smile widened so expansively she was captivated. "Because," And here Simon paused to glance from baby Jack to his own twin girls, his wife then a fleeting glance across at River and Mal before settling back on Inara's intrigued face. "I think you could find a post here."

"*Shenme*?" What was he talking about? Had the good doctor hit his head?

"I mean, there are three babies now on Serenity - who knows when there may be more. And I don't know about Wash and Zoe but I wouldn't feel right trusting their education to just anyone..."

Kaylee squealed and clapped her hands. "Oh, 'Nara say yes, say you will, you'll do it!"

"*Wei*!" All heads turned at the unexpected sound of the Captains' voice. They couldn't see his face because he was lying flat on the bed but River was beaming at them. "What mischief you concoctin' over there?"

"Nothin', Cap'n." Said Kaylee in a bright and breezy voice. "Just fixin' on a reason for 'Nara to stay."

It took a moment for her words to sink in. "You goin' some place, Inara?"

"No, Mal, I'm not going anywhere."

"Inara's gonna be a teacher." Burst out Wash.

Just then Shepherd Book entered the infirmary with Jayne in tow. He was carrying a wooden contraption that looked like a cross between a window shutter and a torture device. Wash frowned. "What's that?"

Book smiled. "Just what the doctor ordered."

With Jayne's help he eased the Captain into a sitting position and set the frame in place, slotting the back rest into the holding frame at an angle of roughly 45 degrees. Mal moaned softly then grunted as his body settled into position, River sliding in a pillow or two to pad the hard surface for his wounded body.

"How's that, Captain?"

The Captain gave a long low sigh of relief, all manner of grateful. "Shiny, Book. Can't tell you how good that feels."

Book smiled, happy and content to have been able to find some way to help. There were times when he felt awfully useless. Thankfully this was not one of those times. River kissed Mal lightly on the lips and he smiled at her then remembered what he had been saying and turned his head to look across at Kaylee and her retinue of baby sitters. "As I was sayin', what in *diyu* you up to over there?"

Laughing, Simon looked at Kaylee for a moment as if asking permission. She smiled and nodded. Simon held his hands out to Zoe who gently laid the baby girl in his arms. The doctor jerked his head at Wash indicating him to bring his other daughter over to Mal's bedside so they could be formally introduced. Zoe and Inara followed. Book and Jayne moved to one side so Simon could show off his children. "Captain, I'd like you to meet the twins. Wash is holding Bethany. Bethany, say hello to your Uncle Mal."

The Captain raised his eyebrows at being called 'Uncle' then caught a look on River's face that made him flush but he didn't argue the point. "Hello Bethany, hope you're gonna be less troublesome than that shiny smart-mouthed papa of yours."

The baby wriggled and gurgled something incoherent but it made the Captain laugh and smile. Wash moved back to let Simon show the Captain the other twin. His eyes glued to the Captain's face, Simon's voice softened. "This little girl we would like to name Grace, if that's alright?"

Malcolm Reynolds couldn't speak. Emotion welling up and robbing him of gorram speech. Behind Simon, Zoe felt herself choke up knowing how much the simple gesture would mean to the Captain. Blinking back tears he stared at the child, the child stared back. Little tiny arms waved at him as if wanting to get closer and frustrated at the distance. Mal could sympathise, felt pretty much the same his own self not that he would admit as much. Simon leaned in close and held the baby up to him, so close now that man and child were only inches apart. Voice hushed the Captain spoke, welcoming the new arrival into the 'verse. "Hello little Grace, welcome to Serenity."

River smiled, kissed Mal's cheek then dropped a kiss upon the baby's head. Simon moved back, well pleased with the way things were turning out. Tired and emotional, the Captain could only thank him with his eyes. Didn't mean he was weak. Simon nodded, a silent truce, then returned to Kaylee's side. Inara looked on, happy and content. Maybe being a teacher wouldn't be a bad thing after all? Might even be able to steer the adults on a less painful path. Of course, that was supposing miracles could happen in the Black.

* * * * *

Six months later, Drylan was enjoying his moment in the sun. The 'tragedy' on Hope had been efficiently dealt with, the cracks papered over, the correct hands greased with gold. The families of the soliders and guards who had died had been told there had been an accident at the mine and were handsomely compensated. There would be no ugly scenes, no demands for an official enquiry. Production had resumed after the new shaft had been struck. New tunnels boring into the richer seams. Profits escalating along with the greed.

It was the day. The time for which Drylan had been hoping ever since Commandant Rankin had hinted at his rise in power. Status the key to everything the Alliance built, stole or protected. As long as they all paid homage to the same lie what harm did it do? It was not as if the captives could protest. They had no voice, no life beyond the toil handed to them by the yolk of the Alliance. Officially they were called miners. They were paid, fed and housed. That all of it happened below ground made no never mind. They were slaves pure and simple.

They helped him into his robes, silently affixing the sash, the rich brocaded belt, the badges of honour and of state ready for the official ceremony to crown him the new Governor of Hope. As he was handed the Governor's hat a harrassed servitor burst into his office, all a fluster, panic and alarm writ all over his reddened face. "*Shifu*! I couldn't stop them!"

"*Shei*?"

Stumbling the servitor was pushed to one side and a large man barrelled through, soldiers taking up position behind him, faces blank and staring ahead. Rifles not quite at parade rest. Alarmed, Drylan stared at the figure now standing before him. A large man but not especially fat, his broad framed body clothed in heavy dark serge yet the cut was expensive as if the clothes were a affectation not a fashion statement. His eyes narrowed with suspicion. The scarred and pock marked face staring back at him held no clue to the man's identity until he spoke. The voice searing through every happy dream Drylan had ever harboured. A nightmare scenario awakening before his horrified eyes as he realised who this must be.

Cyrus White's caustic words lashed out like a whip, flaying the confabulation that had been Drylan's life to shreds. "How did you think you would get away with this, you maggot? Thought you had killed me, did you? That I was not made of sterner stuff?"

Drylan backed away, the hat falling from his hands, the rich fabrics of his ceremonial costume now working against him and confounding his retreat. Cyrus hissed through his teeth, the layers of indulgence gone, the fat turned to hard muscle in the months of his recuperation. The hard grind back to health, the building of muscle, the toning of a body that would have crushed him had apathy been his middle name. But Cyrus White could be as determined and bloody minded as any and nothing motivated a man like vengeance.

"You will pay for your treachery!"

"But I didn't...everyone said you were dead!"

"And you looked so closely, just to be sure, hmmm?"

He did not know what to say and now his back was to the wall and death was staring him in the eye. Unblinking and ugly. "Before you die," Said Cyrus in a calm almost conversational tone. "I want one thing only from you."

Unable to speak for the fear coursing through his body Drylan could only nod.

"Where is that pitiful *tamade hundan* Rafe Connor?"

Drylan blinked. Who?

"And where," Said Cyrus with a crocodile smile as he closed in for the kill. "Is Malcolm Reynolds?"

Gulping in air that somehow did not seem to make it to his flagging lungs, Drylan tried to reassure the Governor as best he could. "Dead, they're dead."

"You saw the bodies?"

Drylan shook his head. "No, Governor, but Reynolds had been beaten to a pulp, by all accounts already dying and Connor was still below ground in the mine when the explosions came. Only a few got out alive and they're still here. It's taken months to renew the workforce."

Seemingly satisfied, Cyrus White nodded. The knife went in under Drylan's breastbone. Long, thin and wickedly sharp. Jerking his hand up the blade burrowed until it cut through the walls of Drylan's heart. He made a sick wet sucking sound in the back of his throat as he tried to gasp. Eyes wide, mouth open and drool running down the side of his chin. Even before the light in his eyes dimmed the message from his heart to his brain was already telling his body the man was dead.

Cyrus White let the body fall. The servitors that had once served Drylan now bowing and twisting their hands together to curry what remnant of favour they could from the man who now held all their lives in the palm of his hand. He barely spared them a look. Traitors every one. With distain and cold anger on his face, Cyrus turned to his soldiers. "Kill them."

Then, without a backward glance he exited the room and the door closed behind him. Shutting out the screams and containing the blood. Even when the room was cleaned and refurbished he would never use it again. In the meantime his spies would keep their eyes and ears open. Should any of his enemies come to notice again, they would not fair so well as Drylan. No. They would not fair so well at all. Falling into step beside him, Commandant Rankin carefully hid his smile of satisfaction. Yes. It was always interesting when links opened up in a chain of command. It gave the astute and the worthy the chance for accelerated promotion up through the ranks. In the end it was all about status. That, and the impossible riches that could come with it.

Cyrus White said not one word more. His face a battleground of scars where a fragmenting hand grenade had all but ripped him to pieces. Only by commanding his skimmer pilot to lay over the device had he escaped certain death. Someone would pay for that. One day. And Cyrus White could be a very patient man.

* * * * *

Captain Malcolm Reynolds would have moaned, would have complained about how gorram complacent his crew was getting but he couldn't do it. The smile on his face just wouldn't turn into a gorram frown and these days all his thoughts were shiny, constantly thinking about the incredible feel of the woman he loved in his arms. Not content with wearing him down to a rutting frazzle, the woman had moves he was sure no other woman could accomplish without surgery. River said it was because she was supple, double jointed. Mal said it was because she was a gorram freak and River had laughed and said "Yes, but I'm your freak." And that was what had painted the smile on his face. All the gloom, the gory memories of war, the loss, the pain and the terrible aching sorrow were shut far, far away. In its' place this amazing and gifted lady had come and graced his life, taught him not only how to laugh and care again but how to love.

Nope. Couldn't keep the ruttin' happy off his face and being back in one piece, walking and talking, he was finally settling into this notion that he too could be a happy man. As he passed Inara on the catwalk they exchanged a few words, a nod, a smile, then he was on the move again. Seeing her prompting another thought to spark with amusement in his mind. Oh yeah, he aimed to give River hundreds of fat children. All of 'em happy and Alliance-free, and every gorram one of 'em bearing his name. Good as it was to be the Captain, he had a notion he would like being a father ten times more.

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*wode ma* = mother of God *xin gan*/*ai ren* = sweetheart *qu* = yes (lit. go) *jide* = remember *wei* = hey! *shenme* = what *diyu* = hell *hen hao* = very good *ba ba* = daddy *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *bao bei* = precious/treasure *shifu* = sir *shei* = who? *tamade hundan* = fucking bastard

COMMENTS

Thursday, January 5, 2006 6:38 AM

ARTSHIPS


You do happy so well - I'd love to see more of it. Thought about a post-Serenity story?

Thursday, January 5, 2006 6:43 AM

AMDOBELL


Hi artships yes, I have thought about doing a post-Serenity story but there are a number of ways to take our heroes and I haven't made up my mind whether it should be episodic or one shots. In the meantime I will be working through some other story ideas. Anything to keep the good ship Serenity flyin- - Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, January 5, 2006 8:44 AM

CLIOMUSE


Wow, what a conclusion. This was fantastic. As always, you leave me wanting more.

Sunday, February 12, 2006 3:45 AM

TAYEATRA


Rating of 10! This is shiny.

I'm not normally a Mal/River Shipper but this was stunningly well written. It's impressive how well your new characters fit the 'verse so smoothly. Very few fanfic authors can introduce new people that I don't feel the need to slap.

Also, loving the way Inara dealt with the Alliance. So very 'in character'!

It's taken me the better part of a week to back read all your fics and I'm finally caught up with the current series.

Shiny, just shiny.

Taya

(Still Flyin')

Thursday, March 16, 2006 7:22 AM

KISPEXI2


Lovely, lovely ending. So nice you managed to keep Inara and give her a meaningful role. I felt quite moved when Simon introduced Grace to Mal - especially after you'd made me laugh with Mal grousing about their smart-mouthed father. Neat emotional footwork!

Thursday, November 3, 2011 8:48 PM

SHINYZOEKAYLEE


Awwww twin girls! Great job on the naming of Grace!!!!

"Hello Bethany, hope you're gonna be less troublesome than that shiny smart-mouthed papa of yours."
Bwahahaha so Mal!


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