New Start
Monday, October 30, 2006

Fluff before uber-angst. Freya wants to know why people are avoiding her ... Feedback is more than gratefully accepted!


Mal had been kinda offish in the last couple of days. Oh, he’d been real friendly at night, same as usual, but during the day he’d been quiet, as if he was trying to make up his mind about something. She knew Vinnie dying like that, saving his life, had grieved him, but it wasn’t likely to be just that.

His face was healing, and the violent purples of the bruising over his cheekbone had faded to yellow, and he had at least stopped snoring now his nose was back in shape, happier now that Simon had assured him he wasn't going to be disfigured for life. Simon had made some crack about his nostrils, and an Alliance cruiser, but he was going to be fine.

Only now the rest of the crew were acting odd too. Conversations stalled when she entered a room, or the subject matter abruptly changed.

That and the fact that she’d seen Mal in deep conversation with Simon and Inara, even Hank, and not with her, made her angry. No, not angry. That wasn't it. More … worried. And there was only one person she would turn to when she was worried. ---

“Have I done something, Inara?” Freya asked, dipping her head to get into the shuttle. “Oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.” She went to back out.

“It’s all right, Freya,” Inara said, rising to her feet gracefully and lifting her sari back into place. “I was just bathing.” She picked up the bowl and sponge from the floor, placing them on the small table.

“Yeah, sorry, I saw that. Don’t you usually lock the door?”

“Actually I thought I had.” Inara smiled. “But what can I do for you?”

“Look, if this is a bad time –“

“It’s a fine time. Sit, sit.” She motioned towards the sofa.

Freya looked at her then more or less collapsed onto the red satin. “As long as you’re sure.”

Inara sat next to her. “Now, what is it?”

“Have I done something that I don’t know about?” she asked, absently stroking her belly.

“Is this some kind of test?” Inara teased.

“Mal’s … well, I can’t say he’s ignoring me, because he isn’t, but he just doesn’t seem to want my company at the moment.”

Inara patted her on the knee. “I'm sure it’s nothing like that. He’s probably just got things on his mind. Like his baby.”

“Oh, I realise that,” Freya insisted, glancing down at the area of her waist. “I know he’s still getting over Tetris, too, losing his cousin like that … and he damn well should have told me they were related, instead of letting me go on about not trusting him.”

“You were right not to,” Inara pointed out. “And Mal’s fine about it now.”

“But that’s not the point.” She sighed deeply. “I still felt like a fool.”

“It knocked Mal back a little, I will agree,” Inara said. “Realising one of his own could betray him, even for the best of reasons. But he’s fine. He’s nearly healed, and he’s –“

“Don’t you dare say ‘fine’ again.”

“All right, I won’t.” Inara leaned forward, her sari slipping from her shoulder, baring the top of a perfect breast. “He’s a man, Freya. They have these mood swings occasionally. I wouldn’t let it bother you.” She pushed the fabric back up her arm.

“Mood swings?”

“I’ve been with a number of men, as I'm sure you can imagine. And some of them have been just this way, taciturn and morose. It’s nothing that we can do anything about, except be supportive. They get over it eventually.”

“You think?”

“I know they do.” Inara smiled. “Now, why don’t you go and grab some breakfast before Jayne eats it all?”

“Are you trying to get rid of me?” Freya asked, breaking into a small smile.

“Absolutely. I have my lover hiding on the bridge, and I really want him to come out now.” She grinned. “Besides, you’ll probably feel much better after you’ve eaten something.”

Freya’s own smile grew. “And we can’t have your sex life interrupted, can we?” She shook her head, adding, “You’re right. He’ll probably get over it, whatever it is.” She stood up, glancing towards the dark red hanging over the bridge entrance. “Have a good one,” she called, winking, and walked out of the shuttle.

Inara paused a moment then said, “You can come out now.”

Mal looked out from the small bridge. “I thought she’d catch us,” he said quietly.

Inara looked at him. “You like to play with fire, don’t you, Captain Reynolds?” She shook her head. “You’re going to have to do something about this, you do realise that?”

“I do. And I will. Now.”

“The sooner the better. And if she doesn’t shoot you, in her current state of mind, I’ll be very surprised.”

Mal went to the door, checking carefully to make sure no-one was watching him leave. As he stepped outside he looked back over his shoulder and added, “And I ain't morose.” ---

As Freya stepped through into the kitchen the conversation inside most definitely stalled. She looked around at Jayne, Simon, River and Kaylee, Zoe sitting in the booth with Hank. “Okay,” she said. “What’s going on? This isn’t the first time I've walked into a room and people have stopped talking.” She glared at them. “And believe me, it’s getting boring.”

“It wasn’t anything,” Hank insisted. “Coincidence, is all.”

“Yeah, right.” Freya headed around the back of the counter and picked up a bowl, stirring the hot oat cereal in pan. “And I'm fed up being lied to.”

Mal walked into the dining area. “Hank, have you spoken –“ He stopped, see Freya.

She put the bowl down with a bang. “Okay. That’s it. What in the tyen shiao-duh is going on?”

“Hey, there you are,” Mal said, attempting to gather himself. “I was just –“

“No,” Freya said loudly. “No, don’t bother. I’ll just go eat in my bunk, shall I? Then you can talk about me behind my back to your hearts’ content.” Angrily she ladled the cereal into her bowl, and picking up a spoon she strode out of the kitchen.

“Mal,” said Simon. “This probably isn’t doing the baby much good.”

“Hmn,” Mal nodded and hurried to the door. “Frey,” he called.

“What?” she said, about to descend the ladder into their bunk. “What?” she repeated, turning to glare at him.

“Come back in here,” Mal said.

“Why would I want to do that?” Freya asked, her annoyance evident in her voice.

“Because I said so.”

Freya glared at him but he didn’t back down, so she let go of the ladder and, with bad grace, walked back into the dining area. Her bad grace, however, turned to amazement as Mal took the bowl from her, placing it carefully on the table, then went down on one knee in front of her. “What on …” She stared at him. “What are you doing?”

Mal took her hand. “Frey, I've got one question I need to ask you.” He looked into her dark, confused eyes. “Will you marry me?”

She just stared at him, her mouth open, and everyone held their breath. The silence lengthened, until Mal began to fidget.

“Freya, say something,” Kaylee whispered, hugging her arms around her belly.

Freya glanced up at the expectant faces watching her, then back at Mal. “I …” She swallowed and tried again. “I …”

Mal smiled. “Okay, one word. Let’s try expanding on that, shall we? Although one word’ll do if it’s yes … or no.”

“You can’t be serious,” Freya said softly.

“Okay, that wasn't quite the expansion I was looking for,” Mal admitted. “Frey, honey, I want you to marry me. I want you to be my wife. And, yes, I am perfectly serious about it. Will you marry me?”

“Did … did you talk to them about it first?” Freya asked, pointing to the others. “Only they seem to know a damn sight more about this than is good for them.”

“I was gonna do this in private, but you kinda forced the issue.”

“That isn’t an answer.”

He sat back on his heel. “Okay, yes, I did happen to mention that I was considering popping the question. But that isn’t the point. I’m still waiting for your answer.”

“I … I don’t actually know –“ She swallowed. “I mean … why?”

Mal almost laughed, but managed to contain himself. “I love you. So much I’m making this kind of a fool of myself.” He glanced towards his audience. “But that don’t detract from the fact that I want to be your husband. More than anything in the world.”

“Really? I mean I love you but I didn’t think you were the marrying –”

“Frey, I’d take it as a kindness if you’d just say yes,” Mal interrupted. “My knee’s hurting, and this position ain’t doing my dignity any good.”

Freya looked at him, into his blue eyes. “Well,” she said, her lips curving, “if it’s a problem with dignity, then … yes.”

Mal grinned and got to his feet. “Good. Don’t think I could’ve stayed down there much longer.” He took her into his arms and kissed her deeply, hugging her tightly while the others clustered around them.

“Congratulations!” Hank said, putting his arms around them both, and dropping them pretty quickly at a look from Mal. “Always hoped this would happen.”

“Can I be bridesmaid?” Kaylee asked, almost jumping up and down in her excitement.

“Well I ain't getting all dressed up for it,” Jayne said pointedly.

“No-one’s asked you yet,” Zoe added, smiling broadly herself. “Although I can see you in purple tulle, with a gathered bodice ...”

Jayne glared at her.

“Is that what this has all been about?” Freya asked. “All the conversations I haven’t been a part of?”

“Pretty much,” Mal agreed. “Although we do like to talk about you behind your back.” He stifled a groan as she caught him on the shin with her boot.

Then she looked deep into his blue eyes. “Can I just … are you … you’re not just marrying me because I’m pregnant, are you?”

“Of course,” Mal said, grinning. “Hell, Frey, this time I'm doing the right thing for the right reason.”

“Oh. That’s okay then.” Freya still didn’t sound convinced.

Mal laughed. “Frey, honey, my child is going to be born in wedlock. Properly. Like my momma taught me. We’re gonna do this right.” His gaze softened. “Besides, I wasn’t lying. Pregnant or not, I want you to be my wife. For richer, for poorer. Til death do us part.” He kissed her softly. “Long as that last bit is a long time away. And the for poorer portion don‘t happen too often.”

Freya smiled. “Okay.” She looked at the others. “So what happens now? Are they gonna hang around while we celebrate?”

“You eat breakfast,” Mal said firmly, turning her around and giving her a slight push towards the table. “Woman in your condition needs food, regularly, or so I'm told.”

“Quite right,” Simon said. “Otherwise your hormones could go all over the place.”

“And I can’t be having with being shot right now,” Mal continued. “Got too much to do.”

“Do?” Freya asked, shaking her head. “Do what?”

“Frey, we got a wedding to plan!”

“A … Mal, you’ve only just asked me!”

Mal looked at her. “You sit down and eat and I’ll explain.” He glanced at the others. “And if you’ve got something to do, go do it.”

The rest of Serenity’s crew melted away, leaving just the engaged couple. Freya sat down and pulled the bowl of oat in front of her. “It’s gone cold,” she complained, poking at the congealing mess in her bowl.

“Let me get you another,” Mal said, taking it from her and going to the counter.

“Is this what it’s going to be like?” Freya asked, watching him spoon more oat into a clean bowl. “You looking after me?”

“Sure is,” he confirmed. “I ain't having anything happen to my fiancée.” He grinned. “Kinda like the sound of that. And wife is gonna sound even better.”

She smiled but went on, “If you’re so all fired up about getting married, I hope you realise we’ve kinda gone about this the wrong way round. I'm supposed to have a ring on my finger before you knock me up,” she pointed out, her hand on her belly.

“A ring.” Mal smacked his head. “I almost forgot.” He hurried back around the counter and put the bowl in front of her, then went back down onto his knee. “Freya Nordstrom, will you do me the honour of agreeing to be my wife?” he asked, his face serious but his eyes twinkling.

“I think I already said yes.”

“Just say it again.”

She shook her head, but said, a laugh in her voice that she was trying to control, “Yes. Malcolm Reynolds, I will marry you.”

He grinned and put his hand into his pocket. “Good. Thought you might have changed your mind.” With that he slipped a ring onto her finger.

“Mal …” She stared at it, a single small diamond in a plain gold band.

He let her hand go so she could look at it. “My momma’s. She had it from hers, so it’s been in the family a while. And I can’t think of anyone it suits better’n you.”

“Mal … I … it’s beautiful.”

“It’s a bit big, but we can get that fixed before the wedding.” He stood up. “Same time we get you a wedding dress.”

“A wedding – “ Freya’s eyes went wide. “When is all this going to take place?” she demanded.

“Eat,” Mal said, but she showed no signs of complying. “Okay. Fine.” He got back to his feet and sat down next to her, looking at her. “We drop Inara by Prometheus, then go do that job on Ita, before handing over the goods back on Prom. Inara’s promised her schedule won’t – “ He noticed the angry look in Freya’s eyes, and held up a hand. “Okay. Soon as we land we go see the local Prefect, get the paperwork done. The ceremony should take place in … around twelve days.”

“Twelve days!” Freya squeaked. “You think I can get married in less than two weeks?” She pushed the chair back and stood up. “There’s too much I … things to be done, I … how can you think –“

“Sit down.” Mal’s tone this time would brook no objection, and she sat down. “You don’t need to do anything. Not a thing. It’s all in hand. Eat your breakfast.”

“Mal –“


She looked into his blue eyes and sighed. Picking up the spoon she took a mouthful and swallowed it. “Okay, I'm eating,” she said.

“Good.” He reached over and took her free hand. “Frey, honestly, there’s nothing you need to worry on. Between us, we’ve got it all in hand.”

“So you keep saying, and I’m still not sure I’m happy you talking this over with the crew before you even ask me, but –“

“No buts. You don’t even have to worry about a wedding dress. Inara’s sorting that out.”

“You asked her?” Freya asked, eating the cereal, her stomach insisting it have more now that some food had got to it. “That why you’ve been talking to her so much?”

“She offered. She’s your friend, Frey. ‘Sides, I had to give her an idea of your size.”

Freya pushed the empty bowl away. “I'm still not sure whether to be angry with you over this or not.”

“I’d choose not,” Mal said. “Makes life a lot simpler.” ---

She hadn’t stopped worrying, of course. But with all the best wishes from the rest of the crew, the smiles of delight on everyone, especially Kaylee, she couldn’t stay even a little bit mad at him. Inara had promised a wedding dress that would be utterly perfect, Hank said he’d wave the Prefect’s office again to make sure all the arrangements were in place, and even Jayne kissed her on the cheek to congratulate her.

That night, as they lay in bed, damp skin on damp skin from him showing her just how much he loved her, she slept against him, her face turned up towards his in the crook of his shoulder, a smile on her lips.

For once he didn’t fall straight to sleep, but watched her in the dim light and felt a swelling of pride in his chest. Touching the ring on her finger he realised, more than he had ever done, that she was his, and nothing in the ‘verse was gonna stop him making her his wife. Time to be a real family.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006 5:08 AM


Aww, love the fluff ... but now I know the angst is going to be gigantic and I don't know if my heart can take it!

I loved Mal making a fool of himself in front of the crew ... and Frey hemming and hawing over it - that was absolutely perfect!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 10:55 AM


Gotta agree with TamSibling on this one, with so much fluff (and good fluff at that!), something bad and hijinksy of the angst kind is bound to be lurking none too far away.

Great piece..I love that Mal let the crew in on the little secret...made things so much more interesting!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 3:33 PM


Oh Wow, this was absolutely lovely! For one horrible moment, when Mal came out of hiding in Inara's shuttle I was thinking he was cheating on Freya with Inara and that made me mad at the pair of them until he spilled the beans. Just loved this to little itty bits and I could see him wanting to make sure his child was born in wedlock just like his mama would have insisted. Very fine story, thank you. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Thursday, November 2, 2006 9:37 AM


Oh...that was just all kinds of shiny, Jane0904! Though I too though Mal and Inara were cheating on Freya (though that would have voided the fluffy disclaimer royally;D)

And why do I get the feeling that the job's gonna go mighty wrong or Freya's gonna have a miscarriage? Cuz the level of angst to match or exceed this level of fluff? Won't be minimal:(



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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!]