Christmas Present
Monday, October 2, 2006

Just a little story set after Blues and Greys. Feeback is much appreciated!


Mal had asked Freya at the end of November what she wanted for Christmas, since it was their first together. Properly together, that is. She’d moved her stuff in with him, and now her incense burner and statue sat next to his shaving equipment on the shelf. He’d managed to get used to the scent, although it had been a near thing.

They had actually spent a Christmas together once before, during the winter campaign outside New Casmir, but they weren’t exactly alone. Nearly a thousand men and women from both sides were dug in around there, and no-one had actually felt like celebrating too much. Not with three feet of dirty snow and no food to speak of. They had sung carols when they figured it had gotten to the actual point of midnight, at Mal’s suggestion, and he had revealed a rather pleasant voice that sang the old words with sincerity, and flowed through her like melted toffee. He’d been surprised at the strength of her voice too, and had found he’d wanted to hear more.

“So what do you want?” He pulled his boots off, sitting on their bunk. “Within reason,” he added quickly.

She smiled at him as she undid the buttons on her shirt. “There’s nothing I want,” she said, revealing glowing flesh that entirely took his mind off what he had just said.

Two weeks later he tried again, slightly more gingerly as he had managed to get himself a little wounded in the meantime on their last job. This time they were in the galley, and he sat down with care at the table. “Come on,” he said. “I hate not knowing what to get a woman. I’ve had some uncomfortable experiences in that department before, and I’m hurting enough as it is.”

Freya put the cup of coffee down in front of him and sat in the next chair. “There’s nothing I need.”

“You are a singular woman, Freya,” he said, dumbfounded. “I have never known a woman who couldn’t tell me exactly what they wanted, usually with a full description and a price tag. You ain’t normal.”

She smiled. “That I’m not.”

He leaned forward, suppressing a slight groan. “There must be something.”

“Honestly, you gave me the best present I could possibly wish for by not getting yourself dead.” She put her hand on his face, feeling the roughness of his beard where he hadn’t shaved that day.

“You’re really saying there ain’t something, a little trifle, that you don’t want me to get you?”

“I'm honestly saying that,” Freya agreed. “You’re here, you’re alive, and that’s enough.”

He shook his head, but said, “Okay. If you’re sure.”

“I’m sure.”


It was still a week to go but Kaylee had strung lights all over the kitchen, rows of red, green, yellow and blue dots twinkling merrily. River had spent hours making paper chains that now hung along the corridor to the bridge above the hatches, and had tied some tinsel in a bow to the end of the compression coil.

Simon watched Kaylee as she sorted through the supplies in the galley, making notes as she went, humming to herself. His eyes moved from the soft curtain of hair that swayed as she looked back into the cupboard, the dungarees tied around her waist, the small amount of flesh showing between them and her short t-shirt, then on down past her buttocks and the furry teddy-bear sewn to her trouser leg to the backless sandals on her feet. He sighed.

“What is it?” Kaylee asked, checking the sugar box and making a note on the pad she held.

“What do you want for Christmas?” he asked.

“Don’t mind, honey,” she said over her shoulder. “Something pretty, maybe?” She smiled at him then went back to her search.

“Can you be a little more specific?” Simon asked plaintively. “I have never been good at trying to figure out what girls want.”

Kaylee laughed. “I’ll be happy with anything, sweetie.”

Simon sighed.


Two days before Christmas River was watching Jayne as he lifted weights in the cargo bay. He’d gotten used to it somewhat, as she had taken to standing there, gazing at him, for a few weeks now.

“You wanna have a go?” he asked, sitting up on the bench. “I can set something light up for you.”

“You miss him, don’t you?” River said suddenly.

“Who?” Jayne asked, but he knew who she meant.


Jayne sighed. “Well, we used to do this a lot. Kinda got used to having a Shepherd around the place, then he comes over all moral and has to take off, and ends up gettin’ himself killed.”

“He liked the cigars you gave him.” She twisted her hair around her finger.

Jayne grinned. “Yeah, he did, didn’t he?”

“What are you going to get me for Christmas?” she asked, twisting on her heels.

“Get you?” Jayne shook his head. “I don’t get no-one anything. Don’t expect it myself, so I don’t buy.”

“I've got you something,” River said.

For a moment Jayne was non-plussed, then a disturbing feeling crept over him. “Ain't nothing dead, is it?”

She laughed and walked away.


Come Christmas Eve, Zoe and Inara were sitting in the Companion’s shuttle.

“So, has everyone done their shopping?” Inara asked.

Zoe shrugged, sipping her tea. “I wouldn’t know. I did mine more’n a month ago.”

“A month?”

“Wash always insisted we were prepared early,” Zoe explained. “I guess I ain’t got out of the habit.” She sat back. “You know, we never used to do this, before this crew. It’s kinda nice, but it took me a while to get used to it.”

“Didn’t you celebrate at all?”

“Wasn’t easy, during the war. Then when Mal bought this boat, he wasn’t really into celebrating anything that even tasted of religiousity, so it got put on the back burner. Wash started it really.”

“Wash did? How?”

“He bought me a gift.” Zoe smiled, remembering the look on his face when he’d given it to her, wrapped inexpertly in a page out of some magazine, half a roll of tape all over the outside. When she’d finally got it open she was surprised to find a razor inside. She’d looked up at him, her face asking the question her voice couldn’t.

“It’s for you, lambie-toes,” he’d said. “Got the hot water and soap ready, and everything.”

“For what?” she’d asked finally.

He stroked the moustache lying on his top lip. “So you can shave me, sweet-cakes.”

“He trusted you?” Inara asked, laughing.

“I think he figured that if I didn’t take the opportunity to cut his throat, he was probably onto a good thing,” Zoe admitted. “But he was right – that damn moustache had to go!”

“And did you sleep with him that night?”

“Let’s just say that he really enjoyed his Christmas present.”

They laughed together, easy and relaxed in each other’s company.

There was a tentative knock at the door, and Mal stuck his head around the corner. “Can I come in?” he asked.

Zoe looked at Inara. “Does he usually ask?”

“No. It must be important.”

Mal nodded quickly. “It is. I need your advice …”


The next morning, breakfast, when it finally began, was more like lunchtime, and the crew were eating what they fancied rather than the usual cereal.

Mal was sporting a fine new pair of brown leather suspenders, which he was obviously mighty proud of. He kept running his thumbs under them, looking at Freya every time he did so.

Jayne, on the other hand, was waxing ecstatic on the new cover for Vera River had gotten him. “It fits perfectly, like a glove,” he said. “Guess I shouldn’t be surprised, knowing she’s a reader.”

River smiled. “I made it,” she said. “I found the rubber in an interesting shop on Persephone,” she explained. “It had the most amazing things in there I have ever –“

Simon put his hand on his sister’s arm, and she stopped talking, just grinned at him. Even now he wasn't sure that she hadn’t said exactly what she intended to say. He looked at the new clasp that held her hair back out of her face, and realised where she had got it. He stared at Jayne, who just muttered something and went back to munching on a bag of protein crackers.

Kaylee swirled past in the dress he’d bought her, and he caught a hint of the perfume he’d add into the gift box. She had been almost as delighted with the wide red ribbon that had wrapped it all up as the contents. He wasn’t wearing his present from her … if he had he’d have been so embarrassed that his face would have rivalled the red baubles Kaylee had placed in a bowl on the table. That was for later, when they were alone. Suddenly it occurred to him that maybe Kaylee and River had gone shopping together … he blushed anyway.

Zoe had given everyone a small gift, and had been genuinely surprised when everyone gave her a present back. She took them to her bunk, wanting to open them later in private, and no-one said anything: they understood.

Inara too had bought a little something for each of them, a small pocket watch for the men, and a silk handkerchief for the women, with their initials embroidered in the corner. She was delighted with the red satin cushions she had been given in return, a gift from Zoe, Kaylee, River and Freya, while the men had clubbed together to replace the vase that had been broken a while back.

“Was that you I heard singing earlier?” Inara asked, smiling at Jayne.

“Might have been,” Jayne said defensively. “Weren’t my idea.” He glanced at River. “She kinda told me she’d turn my brain to mush if I didn’t.”

“I knew he could sing,” River said, taking one of the crackers from his bag. “He just needed a little encouragement.”

Mal and Freya exchanged amused looks, and Zoe was not surprised to see Simon and Kaylee do the same. No wonder everyone was late for breakfast.

“Well, don’t encourage him anymore,” Mal ordered. “It’s something to be woken up on Christmas morning by a mercenary caterwaulin’ about a Silent Night.”

“Fine by me,” Jayne said, hurriedly moving the protein crackers away from River’s questing fingers.

“So, what did he get you?” Kaylee asked Freya when the menfolk had finally decided to go and get the eggnog they’d been hiding away. “You got him them braces, that’s clear. So what did he buy for you?”

“Who said he got me anything?” Freya asked in turn, putting the plates on the counter.

“Course he did.” Kaylee was almost twitching with anticipation.

“I told him not to,” Freya said firmly.

“You mean he really didn’t –“

“There wasn't any need,” Freya interrupted. She looked around. “Damn, I forgot the sugar cookies I bought for today.” She headed out towards the bunks.

“I don’t believe the Cap’n would do that!” Kaylee said indignantly to Zoe and Inara. “Not get her something, their first Christmas together.”

Inara smiled. “She didn’t say that,” she pointed out.

Zoe nodded. “He showed it to us, wanted us to say whether we thought she’d like it or not.”

“So? What was it? Something pretty?” Kaylee asked, her eyes wide with excitement.

“Oh, yes.”

They hadn’t got up, just laid there listening to River singing carols at the top of her voice, with the unexpected bass counterpoint that was Jayne.

“Is it just me or does that make you feel somewhat uncomfortable?” Mal asked, looking towards the hatch, his arm around Freya.

She snuggled closer into his chest. “I think it’s nice.”

“Nice?” He peered down at her in the dim light. “Woman, I think you might need your head examined.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt it.” She smiled and sucked his nipple into her mouth, making him take a sharp breath.

“You expecting me to perform with that going on?” he asked, stroking her shoulder.

“I can always go and ask them to stop,” she said, biting his skin a little harder.

Some time later he tried again. “You know you said you didn’t want anything for Christmas,” he began, pushing his wet fringe out of his eyes.

“And I meant it.” She laid back, then had to stop herself rolling out of the bunk. “Although you could ask Jayne to make this bed bigger. I don’t want to fall on the floor again.”

“No problem,” Mal said. “He’s good with a torch.” He propped himself on one elbow, moving over enough so that she had room to lie on her back. “So that’s all you want.”

“The look on Simon’s face last week when I went to him with that bump on my head was enough,” she laughed.

“Right.” He moved his hand surreptitiously to the shelf behind him. “So you’re happy.”

She closed her eyes. “Perfectly.”

“Okay.” He placed the package on the damp skin between her breasts.

Her eyes opened again. “What’s that?”

“Well, since you didn’t want anything for Christmas, I guess it must be an early birthday present.”

She sat up, picking up the small parcel from where it rolled into her lap. It was wrapped in brightly coloured paper, a ribbon tied neatly around it. “What is it?” she asked.

“Open it and find out.” He joined her, leaning his chin on her shoulder.

She grinned and carefully undid the ribbon, laying it to one side, then with one fingernail lifted the corner of the paper, taking her time.

“Why can’t women just tear the wrapping off?” Mal grumbled, aching to see what she thought.

“That’s the difference between us,” Freya explained. “Men always have to see what’s underneath, instead of taking their time with the revealing.” She went back to the paper, unwrapping the small box inside. Smoothing the paper flat, she finally lifted the lid. “Oh.”

He looked into her face. “Do you like it?”

She was staring at the contents, and for a long moment he thought she didn’t, then she looked into his face, and her eyes were wet. “It’s beautiful,” she said in a whisper.

He smiled and reached around her, taking the chain from the box and carefully fastening it around her neck. The small silver Firefly hung between her breasts. “Now, wherever you go, you take a piece of me with you,” he said, pulling her around so he could kiss her.


Monday, October 2, 2006 1:16 AM


Ah, I really loved Mal's gift to Freya and was so glad he got her something even though she had said not to. Hope there are more stories to come and I also loved River and Jayne singing and all the other details. Very shiny bauble to hang on my Christmas tree! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, October 2, 2006 8:09 AM


Good for Mal that he doesn't listen to his stubborn woman and still got her a gift!

And good for Simon - seems he was able to suss out what Lil' Kaylee might want. I thought the insight into all of their gifts was great. I've nver been able to write a Christmas fan fic, just because it seems so incongruous out in the black, but this one was one of the best I've read.

More stories with Freya and our interpid crew, please!

Monday, October 2, 2006 2:03 PM


Glad to know Mal ain't gonna fall for the "You don't have to get me anything...honest!" schtick. Cuz Lord knows he would have gotten an earful (or the opposite) for failing to give a present to Freya;D


Sunday, February 24, 2008 6:06 PM


I loved the gift!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008 9:10 AM


~~~~~I've got you something,” River said.

For a moment Jayne was non-plussed, then a disturbing feeling crept over him. “Ain't nothing dead, is it?”

She laughed and walked away.~~~~

Made me laugh and laugh. I'm your new biggest fan. I hope that didn't sound stalker-y.


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Now and Then - a Christmas story
“Then do you have a better suggestion? No, let me rephrase that. Do you have a more sensible suggestion that doesn’t involve us getting lost and freezing to death?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little standalone festive tale that kind of fits into where I am in the Maya timeline, but works outside too. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Epilogue
"I honestly don’t know if my pilot wants to go around with flowers and curlicues carved into his leg.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

Monied Individual - Part XX
Mal took a deep breath, allowing it out slowly through his nostrils, and now his next words were the honest truth. “Ain’t surprised. No matter how good you are, and I’m not complaining, I’ve seen enough battle wounds, had to help out at the odd amputation on occasion. And I don’t have to be a doc myself to tell his leg ain’t quite the colour it should be, even taking into account his usual pasty complexion. What you did … didn’t work, did it?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Simon has no choice, and Luke comes around.]

Monied Individual - Part XIX
“His name’s Jayne?”

“What’s wrong with that?” the ex-mercenary demanded from the doorway.

“Nothing, nothing! I just … I don’t think I’ve ever met a man … anyone else by that name.”

“Yeah, he’s a mystery to all of us,” Mal said. “Even his wife.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Hank's not out of the woods yet, and Mal has a conversation. Enjoy!]

Monied Individual - Part XVIII
Jayne had told him a story once, about being on the hunt for someone who owed him something or other. He’d waited for his target for three hours in four inches of slush as the temperature dropped, and had grinned when he’d admitted to Hank that he’d had to break his feet free from the ice when he’d finished.
[Maya. Post-BDM. The Fosters show their true colours, Jayne attempts a rescue, and the others may be too late.]

Snow at Christmas
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!]

Monied Individual - Part XVII
Jayne hadn’t waited, but planted a foot by the lock. The door was old, the wood solid, but little could stand against a determined Cobb boot with his full weight behind it. It burst open.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XVI
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!]

Monied Individual - Part XV
“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]

“Did we …” “We did.” “Why?” As she raised an eyebrow at him he went on quickly, “I mean, we got a comfy bunk, not that far away. Is there any particular reason we’re in here instead?” “You don’t remember?” He concentrated for a moment, and the activities of a few hours previously burst onto him like a sunbeam. “Oh, right,” he acknowledged happily.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little with each Serenity couple, but something goes bang. Read, enjoy, review!]