Thin Ice - Part V
Monday, May 28, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Simon talks to Freya about her limp, and there's more puppy fun ... Hope you're enjoying the fluff!


“Frey, can I talk to you a moment?” Simon asked, sticking his head into the galley.

“Sure. I doubt anything you say is going to make this any better, but sure.”

“Make what?” He stepped to the floor, then saw she was stirring something on the stove. “Oh.”

“Yeah. My cooking really doesn‘t improve, does it?”

“Well, it looks … interesting.”

Freya laughed. “You, sir, are a gentleman.” She lifted the spoon. “Inara’s housekeeper, that Mrs Boden, gave me some recipes and a few bits. She said they were easy to follow.”

“Are they?”

“Probably. Except I seem to have something of a blind spot when it comes to preparing food.”

He smiled and came round the counter to stand next to her. “Well, let’s take a look and see what you’ve done.”

They studied the recipe together, heads almost touching.

“See, I did what she said. Only it doesn’t exactly look … well, look at it.”

“I’ll admit it leaves something to be desired, but maybe it improves from the slow cooking.”

“Simon, I think I could put this in the oven for a week and it would still taste terrible.”

He smiled. “I think we should do what the recipe says.” He covered the dish and placed it inside the hot oven.

“And if it still comes out looking like a dog’s dinner?”

“Well, thanks to your husband and Jayne, at least we’ve got the dogs to feed it to.”

The expression on his face made her laugh. “He was only doing what he thought best.”


“Well, okay, maybe not,” she conceded. “There may have been a little bit of winding up his good doctor too, but … Simon, Bethany had turned on the big eyes.”

He sighed. “I know. And I will admit the thought did cross my mind to go and get her a little dog for her birthday.” He glared at Freya. “But if you tell Mal that, I’ll hotly deny it.”

Freya grinned. “I won’t.” She wiped her hands on the cloth. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone look so happy as Bethie did.”

“I suppose I’m going to have to bone up on canine physiology now.”

“Probably a good idea.”

“While I’m checking out your scans.”

“My what?” Freya dropped the cloth on the counter then looked at him. “Oh. Mal spoke to you.”

“That he did. He’s worried about your limp.”

“I told him I’d talk to you about it.”

“You haven’t.”

“No, but …Simon, I’m not sure there’s anything you can do about it.”

“Freya, why don’t you let me decide that?”

“So, what do you want to do?”

“Some deep scans. If I can take a look at what’s happening on a lower level, I might be able to figure out why you’re still limping.”

“It isn’t that bad.”

“Does it hurt?”

“No, look, Simon -”

“Does it hurt?”

She glared at him, then nodded slowly. “Sometimes. First thing, mostly. Or when I’m tired.”

“Why didn’t you come and talk to be about it?”

“Because I can live with it.”

“Mal can’t.”

“It’s not his body.”

“He wants you well, Freya.”

“I am.”

“If you were well you’d be pain free and running around after everyone.”

“You know you’re a pain in the backside, don’t you?”

He smiled. “It’s only because I care.”

“Oh, hell.” She gave in.

“Good.” He stood up. “Come on, I’ll help you clear up, then we’ll get started.”


Mal watched Bethany playing with the dogs for one last time before bed, as happy as he’d ever seen her, and smiled.

“I think they were a success,” Zoe said, joining him on the top catwalk.

“Seems to be.” He glanced at his first mate. “Is it so bad to have dogs on board?”

“I know a lot of ships that do.”

“Bethie was pleased …”

“Hmn.” Her lips curled.

“What?” Mal turned to look at her. “What?”

“Nothing, sir.”

“It wasn’t nothing. You made a … that sound.”

“And what sound would that be, sir?”

“You know what sound. I remember that sound. Heard it a lot in the war. It means you think I’ve done something stupid. Or crazy. Or both.”

“Really sir.”

“Yes, really.” He crossed his arms. “Well?”

Zoe sighed. “Two dogs, sir?”

“Hey, I was only responsible for one.”

“And didn’t you say, just a day ago, that that was one too many?”

“Well, yeah, maybe.” He gave a little ground.

“And you only got this puppy because Bethany used the big eyes and guilt on you.”

“Zoe, I know what she did. Already spoken to Inara about it.” He humphed. “Damn feminine wiles.”

Zoe smiled and looked back at the puppies. “I have to admit, they are rather cute.”

“Cute?” Mal grinned. My first mate thinks these dogs are rather cute?”

“Anything wrong with that, sir?”

“No, no,” he said quickly. “Just never thought you knew the meaning of the word.” He leaned back on the railing. “That what you call Hank?”

“Never in his hearing.”

For a moment they just stood, enjoying each other’s company.

“So, how’s it going?” Mal finally asked. “The pregnancy.”

“Fine, sir.”

“You got a due date yet?”


“Do I get to know it?”

“Would it make any difference if you did?”

“Well, I was just thinking we might be wanting to plan in some kind of planetfall around that time …”

“As long as the baby’s healthy, I don’t mind where he’s born, sir. Here on Lazarus or out in space.”

“Well, we’ve got Simon. He’s almost getting practiced at delivering.”

“Hank wants to help.”

“By doing what? Fainting?”

“I’m sure he’ll do good, sir.”

“You gonna marry him?”

“I don’t know.”

Mal smiled. “Well, at least it’s not a downright refusal.”

“Truth is, I don’t think I want to get married again. It doesn’t mean I don’t love Hank - I do. But there’s complications …”

“Like having been married to Wash.”

“It makes a difference.”

“Zoe, Wash would never forgive himself if you weren’t happy, you know that.”

“I know, sir.”

“Zoe, you’re pregnant. Something Wash never made you. This is Hank’s baby, and if he wants to get married, maybe you should think about it.”

“I am. I have.” She shook her head. “I’m just not ready.”

“Well, let me know when you are and we can plan it around your son’s twenty-first.”

Down below Kaylee popped her head out of the doorway to the common area.

“Honey, come on, it’s time to go to bed.”

Bethany got to her feet and climbed out of the pen. “Can the puppies come?”

“No, sweetheart. It’s time for them to go to sleep.”

“Okay, Momma.” She turned around and blew the puppies a kiss. “’Night,” she said softly. “I love you.” She smiled and hurried after her mother.

“Something in your eye, captain?” Zoe asked.

“’Bout as much as you’ve got something in your throat.” Mal stood up. “Well, I’m for my bed too.”

“Early night, sir?”

“Gotta sleep off that meal.”

“It wasn’t that bad.”

“Hey, no, never said it was. Least, not in Freya’s hearing.”

“She does try.”

Mal smiled. “Yep, I think you can say that.”


Simon sighed and switched off the lights in the infirmary. There was something about the deep scans he’d taken of Freya that was bothering him, but so far he couldn’t put his finger on it. Maybe a good night would do the trick. More than once in his career as a surgeon he’d been worrying about a particular problem, then after a few hours sleep the answer had lain out in front of him, fully formed.

He walked through the darkened common area towards the lower crew quarters, his mind still occupied. Mal was worried about Freya’s limp, and she obviously hadn’t told him about the discomfort she was still in. Still, if he could figure out what was causing it, he could make two people much happier at a stroke.

He slid the door open to check on Bethany one last time before turning in, but the bed was empty. “Kaylee, is Bethany in with you?” he asked.

Kaylee stuck her head out of their room. “Nope. Ain’t she in bed?”

“It looks like she was, but not right now.”

“Maybe she’s thirsty.”

“She’d have asked.”

“Then …” A smile crept across Kaylee’s face. “Come on.” She took Simon’s hand and led him out into the cargo bay.

“You think …”


Kaylee was right. Bethany was curled up fast asleep in the pen, her cast supported by her hip, her head resting on her dog toy. In the hollow formed by her body lay the two puppies, twitching as they dreamed.

Simon went to open the gate to pick her up.

“No, don’t,” Kaylee said softly. “One night’s gonna be all right.”

“But they might have fleas or something.”

“Simon, she’s been all over ‘em since the Cap and Jayne brought them on board. Anything they’ve got’s been shared by now.”

“Still …”

“And you can deflea ‘em tomorrow. Or whatever you need to do.” She leaned on the pen. “She just looks so sweet.” She had to swallow back a tear or two.

“What happens if something happens to one of them?” Simon asked, watching his daughter sleep. “What will she do then?”

“Cope, like the rest of us.”

“She’s a baby, Kaylee.”

“I know, honey. But she’s gonna have to learn at some point that things happen to people. And dogs. I did.”

“You did?” He looked at her in surprise. “You never said you had a dog.”

“Didn’t ask.” She pushed her hair behind her ears. “Little thing, just a few weeks old when we got her. I was about six. Pa brought her home, said they was gonna drown her if we didn’t take her in.”

“That’s cruel.”

“It’s what happens. So there we were, family with a dog.”

“What did she look like?”

“Oh, kinda scruffy. Brown fur, sticking out every which way. Kinda like Hank.”

Simon smiled. “Sounds adorable.”

“She was. Only when she was three, there was this …” She stopped and stared down into the pen. “She got sick. Nothing anyone could do. Pa buried her in the back yard.” She sniffed. “Cried my eyes out for days.”

“I’m sorry, Kaylee.” He put his arm around her waist, pulling her close.

“I wish animals didn’t have to die. People too. But that’s the way of life.”

“That’s very philosophical.”

“’Sides, you’re a doctor.” She looked into his eyes. “Anything happens, you can make ‘em well again.”

“A doctor for people, Kaylee. Not dogs.”

“How different can they be?”

Simon sighed. “I think I’m going to be finding out,” he said resignedly.

to be continued


Monday, May 28, 2007 3:24 AM


Children and puppies,or any pet give you so many life lessons. (sigh)

Loved the talk Mal had with Zoe. I can understand her hesitation to marry again. Even if the first relationship goes as well as Zoe's and Wash's there is a huge mental hurdle about committing to another person again.

I'm more than a bit worried about Freya's limp. I'm wondering if Simon will find something he wasn't anticipating?

Monday, May 28, 2007 3:43 AM


Love your humor and how you're weaving all the characters into each other's story lines. Really loved the time with Mal and Zoe.

Monday, May 28, 2007 3:55 AM


Yay, Mal and Zoe talking. Always love those interactions! Though Freya's scan results bother me a bit! Why do I feel angst coming on?

Monday, May 28, 2007 4:21 AM


Aw, I just had a feeling Bethie would sneak away to be with the puppies, made me smile fit to burst. Loved the Mal and Zoe interaction but worried about Freya's leg. I am wondering whether Freya knows what is wrong and that is why she has steadfastly avoided going to Simon or telling Mal. Maybe it is something inoperable, I surely hope not though as I want Simon to pull another miracle out of his medical bag of tricks and make her well again. Pretty please! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Monday, May 28, 2007 5:22 AM


I've said it before and I'll say it again - I LOVE BETHIE! She's just super sweet and adorable! And the image of her curled up with the puppies is priceless.

Also loved Zoe's talk with Mal - that was hi-larious ... "something in your eye, sir?"

So wonderful!

Monday, May 28, 2007 1:24 PM


Tons of fluff, with a chaser of angst...yep, definitely the right way to write;D

Definitely was all kinds of choked up over your "Bethany and the puppies" moments, cuz they were just too cute for words:D

Mal's conversation with Zoe was brilliant as well, as we get Mal doing his "best friend forever" impression with telling Zoe what she needs to here while being sympathetic to her position. Zoe's terse but honest replies were fabulous as well, since we get a really good look at the kind of insecurity she is having with being an expectant mother and her relationship with Hank.

Have to say though...Freya's limp is a concern. Hate to say this, but it would be par for the course if it turns out that Freya contracted something like necrotizing fasciitis when she was tortured by Wing's goons or something similar:(



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Monied Individual - Part I
Hank’s parents had died when he was young, and his grandmother had brought him up. Mal considered it was her fault he was the way he was, but that was unfair – Hank was who he was always destined to be. Or possibly he was meant to be someone else entirely.

[Maya. Post-BDM. A new story for your delectation and delight. Persephone, Badger and lawyers ... what could possibly go wrong?]

Secrets - Part XXVIII - Conclusion
River shook herself, turning from the rabbit hole. She didn’t feel like being Alice, and while Jayne’s grin sometimes made her think of the Cheshire Cat, the dormouse was asleep and likely to remain so. Of much more interest were the secrets. So many, some old, some new, some borrowed and some blue. And for once she didn’t care if she was referencing the Earth-that-was marriage ceremony. That wasn’t the point. Inara, the Bodens, Harper Lecomb and the Culver diamond, Randall Lecomb and his homicidal tendencies … all secrets, overlaid with the flavour of the Alliance and their need to control.
[Maya. Post-BDM. Secrets comes to a conclusion, but some are still waiting to see the light of day.]

Secrets- Part XXVII
“I don’t always trust him when he’s operating on Jayne. A slip of the scalpel, too many drugs, too little oxygen, and I would be a free woman. My worries. Not his thoughts. But he is my brother. For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. And we have experienced them all.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Home stretch now on Secrets, with the crisis passed for now and decisions made. Thanks so much for those of you who have stuck with this!]

Secrets - Part XXVI
"Have you never done that? In all those times you were treating someone in the hospital, when you were the great Doctor Tam, didn’t you once tell less than the truth to someone if it made them feel less desperate?”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Inara's fate, and what follows. My apologies for the wait!]

"Jayne, she’s psychic.” “So?”
[Maya-ish. Post-BDM. One of my occasional forays into standalone dialogue only, and to make up for the fact Secrets is still waiting an update. Mal and Jayne, and two cameos. Enjoy!]

Secrets - Part XXV
River sighed unhappily, and suddenly all the emotions were too much. She turned and ran back towards the lake, not stopping as she reached the water’s edge but continuing on, diving as she got deep enough, letting the cold fill her ears and eyes as if it might wash all feelings from her.
Breathing out and seeing air bubbles rise to the surface, she allowed herself to sink to the bottom. She ignored the pressure in her lungs, only considering how easy it would be to just breathe in, and she could float forever.

[Maya. Post-BDM. River sees everyone and everything. Things are about to happen.]

Secrets- Part XXIV
“My love, you must wake up,” Sam said so quietly it was doubtful anyone outside in the common area would have heard. “You must. If only to laugh at me and tell me how ridiculous I am. To touch my cheek and tell me I have to have faith. Please, Inara. Please.” A tear fell onto their hands, but he didn’t wipe it away, not caring if anyone saw.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Mal and River discuss life, and there are more visitors. This will all soon be coming to a head.]

Secrets - Part XXIII
Jayne materialised from the darkness and wrapped his strong arms around the young doctor, pinning him. “Not a good idea. Mal’s as like to give you one last chance then shoot you. If you’d tried that on me, now, you’d be bleeding into the dirt, but then Mal always was a soft touch.” “Let me go!” “Nope. Less you’d like me to hand you over to Frey, and don’t go thinking that’s the easy option.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Couples talk, Simon's anger bubbles over, and Inara's time is running out.]

Secrets - Part XXII
Simon’s lips thinned. “The D17 might be the original problem, affecting a tiny number of those exposed, perhaps only one or two people of the same family, but the Anti-Pax wasn’t designed for it. Besides, that would be like using a hammer when I need a scalpel.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Is there light at the end of the tunnel, or is it an oncoming Alliance cruiser?]

Secrets - Part XXI
“I don’t want to be pitied!” The words were out before she could stop them. “Pity? You think that’s what’s going to go through their heads? Inara, I knew you were stubborn, but since when did you catch stupid?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. A little more of the fall-out from Inara's revelation, and a message from Monty. And yes, another chapter in just a few days!]