The Dance
Friday, November 3, 2006

Everyone starts to heal ... Follows Beginnings and Endings. Please leave feedback.


Freya was sitting in the common area in one of the easy chairs, her hand across her face.

“Frey?” Inara called from the entrance to the cargo bay.

Freya wiped her eyes quickly. “Yeah?”

“Are you all right?” Inara asked, stepping down.

“Shiny.” She tried to smile but it didn’t really work.

“What is it?” Inara asked, taking a seat next to her friend.

“It’s … it’s hard,” Freya admitted.

Inara nodded. Freya didn’t have to say another word – everyone on board understood, even if they didn’t know the depth of her feelings. But Inara, with all her training, could pick up Freya’s distress more than most. “It will get better,” she said, taking the other woman’s hand in hers.

“Inara, the things that have happened to me, all the … the Academy, the war, then more recently… Maice, Lon … so many things that have hurt, so much … yet … I've got scars, Inara, so many that I daren’t count them, both inside and out. But this – I feel like my heart’s been ripped out.”

Even Inara was shocked at the raw pain in her voice. “Freya –“

“Please, Inara. Don’t.” She shook her head.

“Do you want to be alone?”

“No.” Freya shook her head again. “No, I don’t.”

“Where’s Mal?” Inara glanced towards the cargo bay.

“Keeping busy,” Freya said. “Only way he can cope with it. Only I don’t really have anything to do.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“Not really. I just … need company. Someone who understands.”

“Come on.” Inara stood up. “Come to my shuttle. We won’t be disturbed there.” ---

“You can talk about it,” Inara said, settling Freya down on the red satin sofa.

“No, I can’t,” the other woman said, sitting stiffly, her back ramrod straight. “No-one wants to hear any more.”

“That isn’t true,” Inara insisted. “Everyone understands what you’re going through.” She lifted a hand to forestall Freya’s next words. “And yes, they do. Not one on board hasn’t lost someone. Whether in the war, before or since, we’ve all lost people we care about.”

“It’s not so much …” Freya swallowed. “It’s the waste. This little girl would have been loved by everyone,” she whispered, her hand on her belly, feeling its emptiness through her clothes, her skin, her soul.

“We would,” Inara agreed. “And it is a waste. But we have to move on.”

“I know.” Freya suddenly sat back. “And that’s what everyone’s doing, except I can’t.”

“Have you and Mal had sex yet?” the Companion asked.

Freya went pale. “What?”

“Are you making love yet?”

A little fire came into Freya’s eyes. “Why, hasn’t he told you? I thought he told you everything!”

At last. Some other kind of emotion than pain. “I haven’t asked him. He’d probably tell me if I did.”

“Then damn well ask him!” Freya stood up quickly. “But it ain't anything to do with you!”

Inara stayed her with a hand on hers. “Freya.”

She looked down, almost ready to hit out. “No, Inara. Not this time.” She walked out.

Inara watched her go, as mad at herself as with Freya. She’d handled that really badly.

“Was that Freya?” Zoe asked, ducking inside the shuttle.


“She didn’t look too happy.”

“No. I was trying to …” Inara shook her head.

“Talk about the baby?”

“Yes. But she won’t. She thinks no-one wants to hear.”

“That’s how I felt after Wash died. That no-one wanted to listen because they’d got over their grief too soon.” Zoe shook her head slowly. “It took a long time before I realised.”

“The trouble is, Mal’s doing the same thing. He won’t talk to me either.” Inara stood up, smoothing the dark green brocade she was wearing. “He’s shut that part of himself away, as if it doesn’t exist.”

“Been known to do that before,” Zoe said. “But this time he’s got family.”

“So what do you propose we do about it?” Inara asked.

Zoe smiled a little. “Absolutely nothing. Don’t go trying to fix this, ‘Nara. It ain't ours to fix. We can be there, for when they’re ready, but it ain't our place.”

“But I hate to see them both in such pain,” Inara insisted.

“Yeah, me too. But it’s something they have to do.” She stood a little straighter. “We’ll be landing on Regina in about an hour – that’s what I came to tell you. I don’t think there’s any likelihood of you getting any clients, but that can’t be helped.”

“I know. We need the job.”

“Surely do. Some things ain’t changed.” She smiled at the Companion and walked out of the shuttle, adding over her shoulder, “Let’s get this bit of business seen to, then we can think some more on Mal and Freya. Though I think they’ll sort themselves.” ---

For once the job went smoothly, with no-one hurt or even scratched. The stolen property was returned, and the township was grateful, putting on a celebration just for their saviours.

“Will you dance with me?” a pretty girl asked, standing in front of Mal, her hand out.

“I don’t know. I ain't a great one for dancing,” he said, glancing across at Freya who was sitting the other side of the great fire.

“It’ll be fun,” the girl insisted.

“You ain't got a hat made of flowers and dish of wine, do you?” he asked, peering at her.

She laughed. “Don’t wanna marry you, silly,” she said. “Just wanna dance with you.”

“Well, I guess that’s okay, then. But if I tread on you, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Freya watched Mal take the girl into his arms, twirling her through the firelight, and although she smiled it was a rueful smile that didn’t reach her heart.

“Why aren’t you dancing?” The Elder of the village was standing by her side.

She looked up at him. “I don’t dance – well, not often anyway.”

“Yet you mind him dancing with someone else.”

“No. It’s not that. I just …” Suddenly she felt she couldn’t lie to this man: it would be like lying to a preacher. So she just stopped, watching Mal dancing.

“I understand.” He sat down next to her.

“Do you?” she asked. “Then perhaps you’d explain it to me.”

“Does he love you?”

“Yes.” That at least was the truth.

“Then why does he –“

“Dance with other girls? Oh, I'm almost sure he does it on purpose. Besides, it’s only a bit of whimsy.” She laughed, but even she could hear the distinct lack of humour in her tone.

The Elder watched the dance, then asked, “Are you betrothed?”

Freya looked at him in surprise. “Mal and me? No. Yes.” She stopped. “It’s complicated.”

“Then perhaps you could explain it to me.” He sounded so kind, so sincere.

She stared at him in the firelight, then words started to fall from her lips without her conscious knowledge. “I had a … I lost a baby, Elder. Just a little while back. His baby. And although everything’s okay between us, we ain’t … I mean I can’t …”

“You mean you’ve not had sex since?”

Freya swallowed, embarrassed. “I didn’t think –“

The Elder smiled at her. “My dear, just because I’m the spiritual leader of this township, doesn’t mean I haven’t seen the world. Or worlds. I've lived a good many years more than you, and I realise people have sex outside marriage. Even had some myself, once.” He patted her hand. “So is that the problem?”

“Everyone’s so damn anxious to talk about my sex life,” she muttered.

“Perhaps it’s because they care.”

“I know, but it’s … it’s personal.”

“When you leave this moon, likelihood is we will never see each other again. You can talk to me and nothing will ever leave this place.” He looked into her eyes, dark in the light. “And I think you need to talk.”

She gazed at him, thinking hard, then began to speak slowly. “We’ve been pussy-footing around each other, Elder, ever since the … the funeral,” she admitted. “He treats me like I'm some kind of cracked china doll, afraid to touch me in case I break. And I've been no better,” she said quickly, lest he think she was blaming Mal. “I'm all healed, but …”

“Have you talked to him?”

She shook her head. “No. Not really. I guess I figured it was going to get better by itself.”

“Only it hasn’t.”

“No.” She watched Mal, his face slightly flushed from his exertions, a smile so wide the type of which she hadn’t seen on him for so long. And it wasn't for her.

“Do you love him?” the Elder asked gently.

“More than … more than my life,” she said, her voice pale.

“And this hurts, seeing him enjoying himself?”

“I … yes, it does. I think he should still be hurting, like I am.”

“And you think he isn’t?”

She swung her arm out towards the dancing man. “How can he be?” she asked, anger in her eyes. “Look at him! He’s –“


“Without me.” She hung her head, all the strength she had shown for the last weeks deserting her, and tears fell into the dust at her feet.

“If you push him away, he has to.” The Elder let her cry for a few moments, then said, “Do you want him?”

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak.

“Then dance with him.”

“It ain't that simple.”

“Why not?” He lifted her chin so he could look into her face. “I'm not going to tell you that it will get better, because you know it will, even if you feel right now that you’re going to hurt forever. But you need each other.”

Freya nodded slowly. “I know. But it just hurts …”

“Drink with me,” he said, and lifted a large flagon from the ground.

“No thanks: I've had some of that. Too much and I won’t even remember this conversation. Although, on the other hand … “

“Then drink. Take it from a friend if you won’t from a counsellor. You’re a good woman, and you deserve to heal. “

She shook her head. “No, I'm not. But I'm not too bad, either.”

“You’ve overcome much: that I can see. And come through a strong person, with morals and courage.”

“You’re being too kind.”

“No, only realistic. Come, drink with me.” He filled two bowls, and handed one to her.

“Okay. Anything to stop you flattering me.” ---

Inara stood huddled in her fur-trimmed coat, trying to get warm. No-one had asked her to dance.

“They’re scared,” River said, watching the movement around her with wide, dark eyes.

“Scared?” Inara stared at her. “Of me?”

“Of messing your pretty clothes.” River smiled. “You could always ask Jayne.” She nodded towards where the big mercenary was sitting on a bench, a girl in one hand, a flagon in the other.

“River, I am not that desperate,” Inara said witheringly.

“Nor is he.” At Inara’s scandalised look the young girl laughed.

“River, you are terrible,” Inara said, smiling. “You know, Zoe should have come with us, instead of volunteering to stay on the ship.”

“Too many memories,” River said. “Times she’d been with Wash in places like this. But she’s got Hank to keep her company.”

“You do realise there may only be one of them left when we get back, don’t you?” Inara laughed.

“Not sure Hank would mind going out that way,” River said, moving to the beat of the music. Her eyes swept the dancers and fastened on Mal. “He should be with Freya,” she said softly. “She needs him.”

“He’s trying to deal with it in his own way,” the Companion explained.

“It’s the wrong way,” River said firmly.

“Oh, I know that. It’s just trying to get through to that yu bun duh man is so …”

“Just watch,” the young psychic said. ----

“Why haven’t you asked her to dance?” The Elder tapped Mal on the shoulder, waving away the young woman who was about to ask him to join her. She looked disappointed but walked away.

Mal looked at the Elder, the older man’s face radiating warmth. “Who?”

“Your betrothed.”

Mal glanced across the fire. “She wouldn’t say yes.”

“Have you tried?”

“Elder –“ Mal began, but the older man stopped him.

“Captain Reynolds, what are your intentions towards this woman?”

Mal stared at the Elder in surprise. “Intentions? What are you, her father?”

“I’m everyone’s father, at least on this moon.” He spread his hands to encompass his entire village.

“Well, not on my ship.”

“Captain, you’ve done us a great favour, and I realise we can’t easily begin to repay you. With little money we have only goods to offer … or perhaps advice.”

“Well, I don’t need any advice.” Mal hitched his thumbs into his gunbelt.

“Are you so sure?”

“Oh, I'm pretty sure.” He laughed. “My crew are more than willing to offer me the benefits of their wisdom, and do so on numerous occasions.”

“And have they this time?”

“What do you –“

“On your loss?”

“My –“ Mal looked sharply across the fire at Freya, sitting so still, staring at her hands. “She told you?”

“Because I asked.”

“She had no right!”

“Why?” The Elder sighed. “She is hurting so much, and you dance with others.”

Mal stared at him, then sagged a little. “She won’t let me in.”

“Then take this advice from an old man. Believe in her.” When Mal looked at him in surprise, he added, “And ask her to dance.” ---

“Why ain’t she wearing it?” Kaylee said to Simon for the hundredth time. “Her ring. I don’t understand.”

“She’s afraid,” Simon said.

“Of what? That the Cap’n don’t love her no more?”

“That he only wanted to marry her because of the baby.” He pulled Kaylee a little closer to his chest, her body leaning into him. “She thinks he won’t want to now the baby’s gone.”

Kaylee rubbed her swollen stomach. “That’s crazy.”

“It is,” Simon agreed. “But she’s not exactly using all her brain at the moment.”

“They ain’t made love, either, not since then,” Kaylee put in.

“How do you know?” Simon asked, looking down at her, the firelight reflected in her eyes.

“’Nara told me. And I ain't heard them, have you?”

“Well, no, but I just thought they … well, they were being quiet.”

“Too quiet. They ain't ever been like that, Simon. Not ever. Don’t think she knows how to.” Kaylee locked her arms around him. “Scares me.”

“You think she might leave?”

“I think the Cap’n thinks she might. Afraid this’ll break them up, worse than before.”

“She won’t go,” Simon said firmly. “I know she won’t.”

“He don’t. But it ain’t that, Simon. It’s just … not every time they argued, they never went to bed mad. And this is worse.”

“Has she talked to you?” Simon asked.

“No. Not really. She ain't talked to no-one, but I think she’s stayed away from me more. With this little one due soon, I don’t think she wants to be around me.” She sounded so unhappy that Simon squeezed her gently, trying to tell her with his actions just how much he wanted her.

“You miss her?”

“I miss the Freya we all love.”

“She’s still there, xin gan, just hiding.”

“Well, the Cap’n should get her back out.” There was a trace of asperity in her voice. “Do them both good.”

Across the fire, Freya reached into her pocket, pulling the ring from inside. It sparkled in the firelight, like a star caught in a trap of gold. She stared at it for a good long time. ----

Mal stepped up to Freya’s side, and she looked up at him. “It has been suggested that you might like to dance.”

“Really.” Freya glanced across at the Elder of the settlement. “I think I can guess who suggested it.”

“Well? Do you?”

“Do you want to?”

“Wouldn’t ask if I didn’t.”

“Hell, why not.” Freya stood up, only a few inches short of his height. “I’ve had enough to drink.”

“That’s what it takes to dance with me?” Mal asked, taking her hand.

“Sometimes.” She allowed him to lead her towards the dancers, who moved aside to make room.

Jayne, sitting on the sidelines, the half-empty flagon in his hand, lifted it in salute, then chugged back. “Go, Frey,” he called, hugging the giggling girl next to him.

Mal held her hands, swinging her through the other dancers, then realised something was pressing into his fingers. He looked at her left hand and stopped moving, pulling her to a halt. “You’re wearing it,” he said, almost shocked.

She glanced at the ring. “You put it on me,” she said. “When you asked me to marry you.” She gazed at him. “Do you want it back?”

“Freya, I …” He couldn’t speak.

She sighed and disentangled her hands from his. With great care she took hold of the ring and pulled it from her finger, the gold band sliding easily over her knuckle. “Here,” she said, holding it out. “Maybe you’ll find someone else you’d rather wear it.”

He took it, staring at it lying in the palm of his hand. “Don’t you want to marry me no more?” he asked, people flashing past them where they stood in an island of stillness. When she didn’t answer he looked up at her, seeing tears on her cheeks. “Oh, Frey …” He couldn’t take it, and stepped forward, enveloping her in his embrace.

The other dancers stopped, unsure of what was going on. The music faltered, came to a halt.

“River …” Inara breathed.

“Just wait.”

“Simon?” Kaylee asked.

“I know.”

Jayne just watched.

“Don’t you love me no more?” Mal asked softly.

“Of course I do!” she said, almost angrily from the depths of his chest.

“Then why’d you give it back?”

She pushed away enough so she could look into his eyes. “I thought you wanted it!”

“Frey, honey, I wanna marry you. I don’t care when. But I want to be your husband.”

“But what about the … the baby?” She swallowed the lump in her throat.

“Frey, if we have a hundred kids running around Serenity, I couldn’t be happier. But if we never have one, I’d feel the same. I love you. I want to be with you for the rest of my life.”


“Really. Although sometimes I wonder if you ain’t more trouble than you’re worth …” He smiled down at her. “You think I’d be a tamade hundan and not want to keep you just because of what’s happened?”

“I … wasn't sure.”

“If you don’t want me to make love to you, that’s fine. Well, it ain't, but I’ll live with it. Just so long as you’re in my bed, next to me.”

“I do want to, Mal!”

“Good.” He squeezed her a little tighter. “And if you need to cry, cry. If you wanna shout, you just go and scream the place down around our ears. I’ll be there, until the pain of what’s happened eases, however long it takes. Just don’t shut me out.”

“Is that what I've been doing?”

“Sure feels like it.”

“I'm sorry.”

“Don’t be. I guess I've been doing the same.” He moved her away enough so he could lift her left hand. “Next planetfall has a decent workshop, we get this altered to fit,” Mal said firmly, slipping the ring back onto her finger. “Otherwise you might lose it, and I wouldn’t be too happy about that.”

She smiled at him, a real, genuine Freya smile. “Neither would I,” she said quietly.

He pulled her into his arms again. “We get married when you’re ready,” he whispered, her mouth close to her ear. “Won’t be pushing things onto you again. When you’re ready.”

She nodded, her cheek pressed against his chest.

Jayne clapped his hand. “At last!” he shouted, grabbing the girl next to him. “Hey, ain't this supposed to be a dance?”

The music started up again, and the people moved about them, laughing and smiling.

“See?” River said. ---

That night, as they undressed each other slowly, Mal smiled. “You know they’ll know where we were going,” he said quietly.

“I don’t care,” Freya replied, running her fingers up his chest. “Wouldn’t have cared if you’d taken me there and then.”


“Well, maybe I would,” she admitted, her own lips twitching, feeling the hard nubs of his nipples under her fingers. “It’s been too long, Mal. Not sure I remember how to.”

“Don’t worry,” he said, his breath catching in his throat. “I’ll remind you.” He kissed her lips, her mouth opening to his like it used to. After he’d taken his fill, for the moment, his eyes glanced across to the strip of condoms waiting on the table. “Frey, honey, if you ain’t ready …”

She looked to where his eyes had fallen. “Simon say we had to take care, is that it?”

“Well, he did mention as we were leaving …” Mal looked almost embarrassed.

She smiled at him. “It’s okay,” she said softly, leaning into him.

Afterwards, he held her as she cried herself to sleep.


Friday, November 3, 2006 5:30 AM


Beautiful ... these are just little islands of angst and emotion in the midst of great story-telling.

I still love Freya and I love her and Mal together ... give me more!

Friday, November 3, 2006 7:52 AM


Absolutely lovely. I was hoping and praying that this would not break them apart and hooray, it hasn't? Think Freya and Mal are so wonderful together and this was beautifully written. Many thanks, Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, November 4, 2006 11:55 AM


Ya know...I was totally expecting the Elder to pull a Triumph and get Mal and Freya hitched while they were blotto. Cuz at least he wants Freya as his wife, unlike with Saffron;)

Still...this was shinier than chrome, Jane0904. If only because it shows how everyone is feeling and gave Mal and Freya a chance to finally start letting things go so they can heal:)



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“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!]

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"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!]

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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!]

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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.

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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.

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“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!]