Thin Ice - Part VI
Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. It's a special day, but maybe Mal hasn't remembered ... enjoy, comment, rate, and thanks!


“Mal, got something to ask ya.” Jayne stepped out into the sunshine.

Mal turned, a cup of coffee in his hand. “You know, I could get used to this,” he said, smiling a little. “Seeing the sunshine first thing.”

“Nah,” Jayne said. “You’d get land-crazy after a while.”

“Maybe.” Mal shrugged. “Still, nice to have some place to come to occasionally.”

“Yeah. Look, Mal …” He stopped.

“Whatever it is, you’d better come out and say it.” Mal looked at him. “You planning on leaving?”


“Well, that’s that out of the way. Now maybe you can tell me what it is.”

“River’s … she don’t want to move in with me.”

“And you want me to persuade her?” Mal shook his head firmly. “Your love life’s your own affair.”

“No, it ain’t that. It’s my room.”

“Your room.”

“She says there’s too many people in it.”

“Right.” Mal took a sip of coffee. “Too many people. Course. Sure. Why not.”

“She ain’t being crazy, Mal. And they ain’t real, just … memories. All the women I’ve paid for, and all the nights there weren’t one on hand, so to speak.”

“So you move into her room.”

“That ain’t gonna happen.”

Mal suppressed a grin. “Simon?”

“And Kaylee. And the squirt. Hell, Mal, I ain’t gonna be able to let myself go with them right next door.”

“So what’s your solution?”

“I was wondering … could I set up home in the shuttle?”

“The …” Mal stared at him. “My shuttle?”


“Jayne, I -”

“I mean, I’d pay. Well, maybe not pay as such, but ya could give me a smaller cut of the money we’re making. And it’d still be around for ya to use if ya needed to. And my girls’d be there, so if we needed firepower on a job we wouldn’t need to -”

“Jayne, stop.”

The big man ground to a halt. “It ain’t like you never rented it out before.”

“Inara was a businesswoman.”

“That ain’t what you used to call ‘er.”

“What I called her is between her and me.” Mal took a deep breath and held it for a long moment. “You think this is the only way you and River can be together?”

“Well …” Jayne looked down at his boots. “Truth is, we still sleep together. In my bunk. But she won’t move her stuff in. And until she does it don’t feel like …” He looked up. “Honestly, Mal, it don’t feel like she’s mine.”

“You could always ask her to marry you.”

“Don’t solve the problem of where we’d live, though.”

Mal nodded slowly. “That it wouldn’t.” He looked out at the breeze moving the long grass. “And you’re willing to give up some of your cut to pay for it.”

“Whatever it takes, Mal.”

“River ain’t gonna want to gussy it up, is she? ‘Cause if I need to use it for a job, I won’t want to be flying something painted pink.”

“I’d see she didn’t.” If Jayne had been one of those puppies, he’d have been standing with his tongue hanging out. “So? What’d ya think?”

Mal smiled. “Jayne, like you said, I didn’t have use of my shuttle for a long time. Didn’t seem to be any the worse for it. Go ahead.”

A big grin suffused the mercenary’s face. “Ya mean it?”

“And I won’t be taking more of your cut. You keep the shuttle ready for use, that’s all I ask.”

Jayne nodded hard. “It’ll be ready.”

“Okay then.” Mal laughed. “Guess someone’d be best making use of it, now Inara’s gone.”

“Thanks, Mal.” Jayne went to turn inside, then paused. “Only, can it be shuttle two?”


“If’n River’s antsy about being in my room with all the memories and such, ain’t so sure she’s gonna want to live in a shuttle where there was more sexin’ going on than I got.”

Mal was surprised at the big man’s sensitivity. “Shuttle two is fine. You’d better tell the others, though.”

“Will do, Cap!” Jayne hurried inside to give River the good news.

Mal shook his head, turning back to the view. “Might not be so bad,” he said to himself. “And when Freya gets pregnant again, we’ve got another room to use for the kids.” He grinned. “Speaking of which …”


Freya tidied the bed, tucking the blanket around the pillows. Mal just tended to let them lie wherever they fell when he got up in the morning, convinced it didn’t matter that much if they were in a heap. On the other hand, he never complained when he got the chance to make them untidy again.

Dropping to her heels by the drawers, she suppressed a slight hiss as her hip caught, and reached inside under her shirts. Her fingers found what she was looking for, and she pulled out a small box. Something else came with it, a small leather pouch, its drawstring tangled around it. For a long moment she stared at it, then thrust it into her pocket. The box she put on the shelf next to her meditation statue and incense holder.

“Frey?” Mal called down the ladder. “You gonna have breakfast or not?”

“Coming.” She looked at the box, a smile on her face, and changed her mind, picking it up and tucking it into her shirt. She hurried out of their bunk.

Mal was waiting for her, a mug in his hand. “Hi,” he said, kissing her gently.

“Hi.” She ran her hand through his hair.

“Needs a cut.”

“I can trim it if you like.”

“That’d be good.”

She leaned in a little closer, feeling the warmth of his body down the length of her. “Do you know what today is?” she asked softly, nuzzling his neck.

“Tuesday?” he suggested, his eyes closing a little.

“Apart from that.”

“Um …” He thought for a moment. “Day two of Bethany training? Or maybe it’s the first full day of us being a two-dog ship.” He smiled at her.

She gazed into his blue eyes, seeing no guile or dissembling. She managed a slight nod. “That it is.”

“Then we’d better get some food inside you. I think you’re going to be needing it.” He disengaged her arm and took her hand, leading her into the galley.

“Fine.“ She glanced back at the bunk. No, she wasn’t going to say anything. If he’d forgotten, then she wasn’t going to embarrass him. Better to sneak back later and put the box away again. Much better. She sighed.

“You okay?” Mal asked.

“I’m shiny.” She smiled for him. “Just shiny.”


“Auntie Zoe?” Bethany stood in the doorway.

“What is it, honey?”

Bethany held up the remains of … something. “They killed him.” Tears were rolling down her cheeks.

Zoe peered at the puppy dog toy, its head hanging at an unnatural angle, the stuffing coming out. “The puppies?”

Bethany nodded, running across the common area and climbing into Zoe’s lap. “They killed him.”

“They were just playin’, Bethie. They’re little. They don’t understand what’s theirs, and what ain’t.”

“But I told them. They wouldn’t stop.”

Zoe took the mangled toy. “Well, maybe we can fix it.”


“No, just … injured.” She pushed the stuffing back inside. “Maybe we can operate.”

“Like Daddy?” Bethany wiped her face on her sleeve.


“Lost it.”

“Come on.” Putting the little girl onto the floor, she took her hand and they walked into the infirmary. Carefully placing the soft toy on the medbed, she found a swab and dried Bethany’s tears. “Right, let’s see what we can do.” She went to a drawer and found what she needed.

“Operating?” Bethany asked, holding onto the bed and trying to see over the edge.

Zoe lifted her up onto the stool. “I’ll be the doctor, and you can be the nurse.”

“Does he need a ‘jection?”

“Perhaps he does.” Zoe made a show of filling a hypo from an empty vial, then injected it into the toy.

“That’s it,” Bethany said, stroking its forehead. “Auntie Zoe’ll make it all better.”

Zoe threaded the needle and began to sew, her tongue stuck out of the corner of her mouth. “This ain't usually my part in these things,” she said, pulling the puppy-ravaged edges together.

As she worked, Bethany kept a close watch on what she was doing, her eyes following the needle. “All done?” she asked as Zoe reached the end.

“All done. Can the nurse cut the thread?”

Bethany nodded and picked up the scissors, carefully opening them before manoeuvring them either side of the strand. Her eyes narrowed in concentration, she cut. “Is he all better?”

Zoe wiped her forehead. “Let me take a look.” She lifted the toy, examining her handiwork. Simon could probably have done it better, but at least the dog wasn't going to lose his head anymore. “All better,” she confirmed, handing the toy over.

Bethany hugged it to her chest. “Thank you, Auntie Zoe,” she said happily.

“I don’t think you’d better let the puppies play with it any more.”

“No,” Bethany agreed, wriggling to the edge of the bed. “I’ll put him away to recu … recu …”

“Recuperate?” Zoe suggested, lifting her down.

Bethany nodded and hurried out of the infirmary.

“You know she’ll expect you to be able to work your magic every time, don’t you?” Simon said, putting his head around the door.

“I didn’t know you were watching.”

“Someone in my infirmary, using my tools? You think I wouldn’t be?”

Zoe grinned. “Sorry about that.” She put the scissor and needle away, tossing the remaining thread in the bin.

“And how are you going to explain next time Jayne gets shot that you can’t just magic him back to life?”

“Is that what I did?” Zoe was surprised.

“She’s two, Zoe. A very bright, very precocious two, with an IQ above mine, but she’s two. She doesn’t see the difference yet.”

“Well, I hope she never has to.”

“On this boat?”

“You want I should talk to her? Explain?”

“No. I think I’d better. She’s less likely to hit me.”

“She doesn’t hit,” Zoe said softly.

“Not intentionally, no,” Simon admitted. “But so far I’ve had her cast in my eye when I was getting her up this morning, and in a far more … sensitive place as I got her dressed.”

Zoe laughed. “She’ll get used to it.”

“I hope so.” He clapped his hands together. “Now, are you ready for your exam?”

“I suppose so.”

“Zoe, you’re coming along really well. The baby’s growing fine, and there are no signs of complications whatsoever.”

“It’s just … undignified.” She suppressed a shudder.

“I’m your doctor. I’ve seen it all before.”

“That doesn’t make it any better.”

“I’ve seen Freya naked, in this position. Kaylee. Jayne.”


Simon grinned. “Just think about that while I examine you.”



Freya kept an eye on Mal for the rest of the day, as much as she could. He was his usual self, relaxed and happy, winding Simon up a little, and standing over Kaylee while she assured him that Serenity would be back in the black on time. He certainly didn’t seem at all worried that he’d forgotten something.

It shouldn’t hurt, she knew that. In all the two years they’d been married, he’d shown her so much love that she should be able to forgive him forgetting their anniversary. They’d both missed the first one, with other things going on, and it wasn’t as if by failing to remember he was showing he didn’t care. Still …

“Auntie Frey?”

Freya dragged herself back. “Hmn?”

“Is that right?” Bethany was staring at her, holding out a pad on which she had managed to write the number four.

“What?” Freya stared, then gathered her wits. “Oh, yes, Bethie, that’s good. That’s right.” She smiled.

Bethany grinned. “I can count,” she said proudly.

“Then what about if you double that?”

The little girl’s forehead furrowed. “Double?”

“In other words, what’s four plus four?”

Bethany bent back over her pad, the stylus jammed between her teeth.

“Are you all right?” River asked. “You seem distracted.”

“I’m fine.”

“You think he’s forgotten.”

Freya sighed. “I’m sure he’s just … it’s nothing.”

“Not to you.”

“And I’m being overly sensitive.”



Bethany had looked up, her wide eyes going from one aunt to the other. “Bad,” she said sadly, shaking her head. “Peeking’s bad.”

The two women looked at her in surprise. “We weren’t -” “I wasn’t -” they both said over each other.

Bethany shook her head again. “Need to build walls,” she said, looking down at her pad, feeling the comfort of the two puppies below her feet under the table. “No peeking.”

“She’s right,” Freya said.

“Being told off by a two year old,” River added.

“And rightly so.” Freya sighed. “We’re bad people, River.”

The younger psychic nodded. “Bad.” She grinned.

“Is this right?” Bethany asked, holding up the pad.

Jayne stuck his head into the dining area. “Frey? Mal wanted me to tell ya he wants you to meet him at ‘Nara’s place.”


“That’s what he said.”

“What for?”

“Didn’t say. Just asked me to pass on the message.”

“We’re in the middle of -”

“I can finish here,” River put in quickly. “If Mal wants to see you, it must be important.”

Freya considered a moment, then pushed her chair back. “I’m sure it could have waited.” She stood up and strode out, her limp barely visible.

Bethany giggled.

“What’s up, short stub?” Jayne asked, taking Freya’s vacated seat.

“Surprise,” she said, her hand covering her mouth.

Jayne glanced at River, who was grinning, and his own lips twitched. “Kinda think you’re right,” he said, chuckling. He glanced down at the pad in front of her. “So, what’re you learning?”


“Mathematics,” River expanded. “Addition and multiplication.”

“Uncle Jayne going to learn as well?” Bethany asked, looking up at River.

“Hey, I know enough to get by!” Jayne protested.

“Then let’s see, shall we?” River said, taking the pad and writing out a new sum. “Here.” She handed it to the big man.

He glared at her, then looked down. His brows drew together. “Hell, can’t we just play with the puppies?” he asked.

to be continued


Tuesday, May 29, 2007 1:29 AM


This is, as always, lovely. Very much liked the Mal/Jayne talk about the use of Shuttle Two. And I can't wait to see what Mal has planned for Freya!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 4:56 AM


I love your fluffy fics! There just so very sweet!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 6:32 AM


This was terrific! I love the conversation between Simon and Zoe and his assertion that now Bethany will think Zoe can work miracles. She's two - that's what she's supposed to think!

And what exactly is Mal planning ... Something tells me Freya's going to LOVE it!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 6:38 AM


I was really happy that Mal had no problem in letting Jayne and River move into the shuttle, and without charging him for the privilege. Zoe playing surgeon on Bethie's puppy doll had me smiling fit to bust, she is going to make one brilliant mama. And Freya, thinking Mal had forgotten their anniversay when he's been planning a surprise all along. Ah, this is what content feels like! Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Tuesday, May 29, 2007 4:19 PM


Oh...this was some fabulous stuff here, Jane0904! Definitely some of your A-game material:D

Have to admit...I honestly thought Mal was gonna take a little more persuading to acquiesce about letting Jayne and River take over occupancy of Shuttle Two - Shuttle One is rightly off limits because of the lingering psychic energy from Inara and her small multitude of clients - but I am glad he's willing to let them use it as long as it can be deployed for work or emergency reasons quickly;)

And Zoe's repair of Bethie's puppy toy? Utterly wonderful moment that: a) proves Zoe's gonna make a wonderful mother; and b) will probably come back to bite her in the bum when she has to fix someone's injury - probably Simon's - and she can't work the same kind of magic. Two is a fun age for developing a level of trust with a child;)



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Secrets - Part XVIII
“Can you be sure the parts aren’t tagged in any way? Because I can’t.” Freya shook her head, then put her hand on Monty’s arm. “We can’t afford to have this getting back to you. To us. Besides, if the ship isn’t found then I’m sure Harper Lecomb isn’t going to give up looking for his son. We’ve got enemies coming out of our ears – we don’t need to breed new ones.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Randall Lecomb meets his final end, and Simon is still working on Inara's problem. Here's an extra long chapter to make up for the long, long delay in getting it to you!]

Secrets - Part XVII
“Bored now,” River said and span on her heel. Her body moved out of the way of the bullet even as she lifted her leg, her foot connecting solidly with Linc’s jaw. [Maya. Post-BDM. While Inara's illness is no longer a secret, Mal and his crew go out to find Molly.]

Secrets - Part XVI
“Then do it again.” Mal was aware he’d used his sergeant’s voice from the slightly wounded expression on his old friend’s face, and made himself take a step back. “It’s like you said, Monty – in the dark there’s no knowing where that girl’s got to. Like as not she took it into her mind to go visiting, got lost and mistook the time. She could be huddled up in someone’s barn right now, fast asleep.” [Maya. Post-BDM. Serenity heads back to Lazarus and Inara finds her sickness finally getting the better of her.]

Secrets - Part XV
Monty stroked his beard. “Maybe they’re afraid of us for when the war’s begun, of what we’d be capable of. Considering we held the Alliance nearly to a draw last time.” [Maya. Post-BDM. Mal and Monty talk, Serenity takes a trip, but there's trouble on the horizon.]

Secrets - Part XIV
Jayne looked almost abashed, his usual expression when anyone mentioned his home planet. “Even took some work on a fishing boat on Melbourne once.”
“That must’ve been hell. For a man who hates fish guts with a vengeance.”
“Didn’t help.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Just a little fluff before getting back to the nitty gritty ...]

Secrets - Part XIII
"Perhaps you want to think on this. Lecomb sent a bounty hunter – several, in fact – to find some jewellery and kill a girl on the quiet, so nobody knows he lost them in the first place. Perhaps you should consider whether he might not employ someone else to kill you, just so you can’t tell anyone either.” [Maya. Post-BDM. Simon finishes the job, and Mal talks to Philo again.]

Secrets - Part XII
Her face looked back at her, make-up only a little smudged and appearing almost normal. Almost. Hard to see that she was dying. [Maya. Post-BDM. Everyone's waiting for Simon to work his magic, but Inara has secrets of her own.]

Secrets - Part XI
Freya gazed at him for a long moment, and he felt her stepping through his mind. It wasn’t to find anything, and he wasn’t even sure she knew she was doing it – it seemed more as if it was some kind of displacement activity while she thought. At last she said, “Corrupt it.” [Maya. Post-BDM. Simon explains what he's found, and Mal makes a plan.]

Secrets - Part X
He went to check the coffee pot, and decided that, while it might do for degreasing the welding that needed doing in the aft storage locker, as a beverage it left a lot to be desired, and poured it down the sink. “We might as well go sit with the rest, considering River couldn’t keep her mouth shut and everyone’s waiting for Simon to come up with something.”
[Maya. Post-BDM. Mal/Freya-centric chapter, and longer to make up for not posting in a while!]

Secrets - Part IX
“Everything a good forger needs to create some first rate IDs. Think he is? A good forger, I mean?” “Well, Monty has better contacts in the shady side of life than even me.” “No. Really?” Hank’s eyes were wide with feigned disbelief. [Maya. Post-BDM. Moving towards the nitty-gritty ...]