Nightingale - Part V
Saturday, April 21, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Mal and Freya argue, Hank and Zoe talk ... One more part to go in this title, but there'll be more. Thanks to everyone who comments, and please continue. I'm down on bended knee here, you know ...


Freya came out of the nursery to find Mal facing her. “He’s asleep,” she said, smiling.

“Good.” He didn’t smile back.

“Ah.” She closed the door and leaned on it. “We’re going to have one of those conversations.”

“Pretty much.”

“Well, if you don’t mind, I’ll be getting ready for bed while you tell me off.” She went to move past him, but he took her arm.

“I’d rather you didn’t. We need to talk. Properly. Not with you getting all naked and putting my mind onto other things.”

“Don’t you have any self-control?” she asked, teasing him.

“Just … don’t.”

She looked into his blue eyes, at the determination in them, and her forehead creased slightly. She nodded. “Okay. Can I sit down?”

“Surely.” He let go and she walked to the bed, forgetting to hold the limp back, lowering herself carefully to the mattress.

He noticed. “It still bothering you?” he asked, letting himself get side-tracked, just for a moment.

She glanced down at her hips. “I’m okay.”

“Not what I asked.”

“It’s getting better, Mal. And I’ll be fine.”

“Okay. As long as you’re sure.”

“I'm sure.”

“Good.” He took a deep breath. “So do you want to explain to me what all that was about?”

“All what?”

“Well, apart from the fact that Bethie said you knew about her … peeking –“

“Mal, that was –“

“I’m more concerned about why you don’t want River teaching her anything.”

She looked up at him, his arms crossed. “You being captain again?”

“Frey, don’t play games with me. Something’s going on, and I want to know what it is.”

She didn’t answer for a moment, just gazed up at him. Then … “Those two men on Ibis. The ones who attacked Kaylee. She killed them.”

“She did what?”

“Killed them. It was her.”

“I …” For once Mal was stuck for words.

“I’ve spoken to her, so has Jayne. Just now. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about it again.”

Mal’s jaw dropped. “Worry about it? Frey, she killed two unconscious men. Weren’t attacking or fighting, or even tracking us. She just broke their necks.” He stared at her. “You think I don’t have to worry about that?”

“She knows it was wrong.”

“Seems to me she prob’ly knew it was wrong when she did it.”

“Mal, she’s learned her lesson.”

“And two men are dead.”

“Two men who would have kidnapped Kaylee, to sell her,” Freya reminded him softly. “To someone who would have –“

“That ain't exactly the point!”

“Mal, no matter how we feel, we can’t any of us go back and change it. What River did was wrong, and she knows it. She’s sorry for it too. But she’s grown as a result.”

“Grown. Into what?”

“It’s about control, Mal. It’s always about that.”

“You keep saying that, but I don’t see evidence of it.”

“Of course there is. Back on Magdalene, when she …” Freya bit her tongue, but it was too late.

“When she … what?”

Freya looked down at her hands, studying them, noting the graze she’d acquired somewhere across one knuckle. “Well, when she and Hank went to get Serenity, there might have been a few guards on board.” She looked up, adding quickly, “But she only knocked them out. That was all.”

Mal stared at her. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but this was before the murders, right?”

“She didn’t murder them, Mal!”

“Tell me another word you’d prefer. Execution?”

“She thought she was protecting her family. You’ve done that.”

“Committed murder?”

“You killed Wing.”

Mal felt a hard lump of ice grow in his chest. “Because of what he did to you.”

“But you still did it. Just like I killed those men in the camp, because of what they tried to do to me.” She stood up, facing him, squaring off. “I'm just saying that we’re none of us blameless here.”

“Blame …” He took a deep breath, then another, but it didn’t help. “And why the diyu didn’t you tell me about this?” He was getting angrier. “Thought we weren’t gonna have secrets.” He stood with his hands on his hips.

“This wasn't my secret, Mal.” She tried to close her mind, not feel the rage coming off him in waves.

“And if she takes it into her mind to start carving people up? Like she did on the Marrakech? What then?”

“She won’t.”

“Can you honestly swear to that?”

“Dammit, Mal, I don’t know,” she said in exasperation. “You afraid you might have to shoot her?”

He glared at her. “To save you? Yeah.”

At his words she felt a strange calmness suffuse through her. There was a reason behind his anger, and she could understand it. Accept it. “Mal, that’s what she thought she was doing. Saving everyone else. Now she knows she doesn’t have to, that it was the wrong thing to do, and she’s moved on. Jayne’s helping.”

Still he didn’t break eye contact, then suddenly pulled her into his arms, holding her tightly, almost crushing the air out of her. “I'm sorry,” he whispered.

She lifted her hands, pressing them against his back. “Don’t be,” she said as quietly. “Never be sorry for worrying about us.”

“About you.”

“I know.” She buried her face in his chest, luxuriating in feeling him so close, his heartbeat next to hers, his breath in her hair, and felt renewed. She loved him so much that sometimes it was difficult to think of anything else, to be impartial, but this, just being next to him, smelling him, tasting the very air around him, was what she craved most of all. She sighed.

“You okay?” he asked, aware his hands on her body wanted to do more than just hold. They wanted to strip the clothes from her, caress her, run his fingertips across the pale scars and bright tattoo, then take her so powerfully she would moan with delight …

“Shiny.” She smiled a little, knowing what was in his mind without having to look. She pressed herself into his burgeoning hardness. “So … am I taking your mind off what you wanted to talk to me about?”

“Gorramit …” he groaned, unconsciously rotating his hips against her.

“Mal, don’t worry. I’ll teach Beth control. And River can help. Who knows, it might do her good too.”

“This ain’t over, Frey,” he said, trying to keep some command over the situation. “You not telling me things … we’re still gonna talk … wuh de mah.”

“We will,” she promised. “Later.”

He gave up and let his hands pull her shirt from her pants so he could reach the skin on her back …


“Aren’t you coming to bed?” Zoe asked, her dark voice low.

Hank turned in the pilot’s chair. “Just got a coupla things to do ‘fore I turn in.”

She stepped closer to him. “Like what? Seems to me we ain’t exactly out in the black, so we don’t need any course correction.”

“Just making sure things are okay.”

“I thought that’s what the captain did on his last rounds.”

Hank shrugged. “Yeah, well, from the sounds coming from their bunk a little while back, I don’t think he’ll be doing that tonight.”


“No, not that.” He sighed. “Sounded like they were arguing for a while.”

“Any idea what about?”

He shook his head. “Couldn’t hear. Not without putting a glass against the hatch.”

“And you didn’t have one to hand?”

“Damn right.” He managed a small grin. “Bet they’re making it up now, though.”

“Want to go listen?”

“I'm not that much of a pervert.”


“Well …” The grin widened and he held out his arms. “You gonna sit with me?”

She smiled and eased herself into his lap. “I thought you were busy.”

“Busy thinking, more like.”

“About Bethany?”


“Mal’s right, you know,” Zoe said, putting her arms around his neck. “She’s safe here with us.”

“Oh, I know that. It was just …” He stroked her hip. “How come she’s a reader? I mean, Simon ain’t.”

“No, but River is.”

“But isn’t that due to what they did to her at the Academy?”

“She was always gifted.” Zoe thought back to the first time Simon had told them about his sister, standing there in the galley, right after the captain had released her from the cryobox … everything she did, music, maths, theoretical physics – even dance – there was nothing that didn't come as naturally to her as breathing does to us … She explained. “Probably her abilities came out that way. But I think she’s right; they didn’t make her psychic, just changed what was already there.”

“Like Freya?”

Zoe nodded. “Although I think with Frey it was more developed. She said once that her family were afraid of her, because of what she was.”

Hank was openly shocked. “But she was just a kid! That’s terrible!”

“It is.”

“So Ethan’s going to be –“

“Not necessarily. Freya was a twin, but her brother wasn’t gifted.” Zoe sighed. “’Sides, I think Kaylee probably had a hand in it too.”


“Her gift with machinery might be classed as psychic.”

“You mean how she says Serenity talks to her.”


“So she could have ended up …”

She could feel the shudder run through him. “Didn’t happen, Hank. She’s down in her room with Simon, and it ain't gonna happen to Bethany either.”

“Is this what having kids means?” He stroked her hair. “Worrying about them all the time?”

“Pretty much,” Zoe agreed. “Why, you having second thoughts?”

“No.” He was very firm. “Never that.” He put his hand on her belly. “More’n anything I want us to have a family. Us. You and me.”

“So …” she prompted.

“Just … if I worry about Bethany like this, what am I gonna be like with ours?”

She smiled. “It’s probably gonna be hell, Hank. He’s gonna be locked up in his room for sixteen years just so’s we don’t have to be concerned he’s gonna fall into the compression coil.”

He grinned. “Only sixteen. Simon said Bethie ain’t gonna have to worry about sex for forty years.”

“She’s a girl, and he’s an idiot.” She nuzzled his neck.

“You? Calling our good doctor an idiot?”

“Bethie’s got the best people around her, dear. Nothing’s going to happen to her. Or ours.”

“Good.” He sighed as she pushed his collar to one side. “So … was that the general he again? When you were speaking about our baby there?”

She lifted her head and looked into his eyes. “Do you really want to know?”

He returned the gaze. “I … yeah, the truth is I do. Not that I want to do anything crazy like painting the walls pink or blue, or stuff like that, but … Zoe, I’ll be happy whatever sex our kid is.”


He looked a little ashamed of himself. “I want a son, Zoe. A boy.” He patted her stomach.” I mean, if this is a girl I’ll be over the moon. But … a son, Zoe. When we found out the Cap and Freya were gonna have a boy, it felt right. And that’s what I’d like for us.”

“Do you want to ask Simon?”

“Well …” He shrugged. “Only if you want to know. ‘Cause, like I said, I’ll be happy either way.”

“We’ll ask him tomorrow,” she promised, and was rewarded by the widest grin she’d ever seen.


“Really.” She leaned over and nipped his neck. “Only I don’t think we’ll bother him right now.”

“Why, do you think he’s busy?” Hank closed his eyes.

“No. I am.”

to be concluded


Saturday, April 21, 2007 2:21 AM


Excellent dialog as always and a neat peak inside of their relationships to see how they work.

Saturday, April 21, 2007 2:41 AM


Loved the relationship stuff too.

“Just … if I worry about Bethany like this, what am I gonna be like with ours?”

She smiled. “It’s probably gonna be hell, Hank. He’s gonna be locked up in his room for sixteen years just so’s we don’t have to be concerned he’s gonna fall into the compression coil.”

He grinned. “Only sixteen. Simon said Bethie ain’t gonna have to worry about sex for forty years.”

You got that so right. I think every parent feels that way when the relity of a baby is coming hits them.

Saturday, April 21, 2007 5:52 AM


great addition here. love how hank's so like a little boy in his eagerness, and, of course, his protection of his family. i think he was a little unreasonable toward river... but love makes us do crazy things. and this chapter really cleared up my question about how bethie inherited river's psychic abilities. it makes a lot of sense in your verse, especially with kaylee. the series leaves so much to the imagination that it may well be the case there, too. and thanks BEB for explaining it as well. :-)

Saturday, April 21, 2007 5:52 AM


whoops, i meant to say mal's protection of his family, and mal being unreasonable toward river.

Saturday, April 21, 2007 8:27 AM


Loved this especially the Mal/Freya goodness but also the wonderful Hank/Zoe moments too. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Saturday, April 21, 2007 11:41 AM


This is terrific - so wonderfully in character for everyone. I'm glad that the crew is determined to keep Bethie save - I wouldn't expect any less!

Sunday, April 22, 2007 6:56 AM


Another lovely chapter.

Sunday, April 22, 2007 12:32 PM


I really didn't "explain" anything," killwithbrain. I offered a plausible suggestion for how Bethany could have psychic abilities and Jane0904 seemingly took up the suggestion...or proved my suggestion right;)

And Jane0904! How fabulous are you?!? Utterly! Over the moon and to Mars from your usage of the idea that I suggested...even if it was only a mere confirmation, rather than a borrowing.!

Really thought Mal was spot-on with his argument with Freya. I could totally see Mal being "WTF!?" when it comes to having secrets like Bethie's abilities and River's little moment of vengeance coming to light. Though I get the feeling that Mal will still have a conversation with River about this, even though both Freya and Jayne have talked to her about it...



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[Maya. Post-BDM. The end of the story, and the beginning of the last ...]

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

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[Maya. Post-BDM. A seasonal one-off - enjoy!]

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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!]