Growing Into Them - REPOST
Friday, November 9, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Mal explains why he wears suspenders.


Bethany was ecstatic. Just that morning her father had scanned her arm and announced, at lunch, that she could have the cast removed.

Now, as they were all sitting down to their evening meal, she was showing everyone how pale her skin was.

“Yuck,” Hank said. “Looks like some kinda sea slug.”

Bethany giggled. “Does not.”

“Does too.” Hank picked up one of Bethany’s pens and drew eyes on her two middle fingers. “See?”

“Hey, that don’t wash off!” Kaylee complained.

Bethany, on the other hand, was delighted. “Uncle Jayne!” she crowed, running round the table to him. “I’ve got a sea slug!”

“That better’n a puppy?”

“Course not,” she scolded, then waved her fingers at him. “Tentacles!”

“Bethie, come and sit down, it’s time to eat,” her father called.

“Daddy, can I have a sea slug for my birthday?” she asked, coming around the table and climbing into her chair.

“I don’t see how,” he said. “We’re a pretty long way from the sea.”

“Stuffed one?”

“We’ll see.”

“It was nice seeing Auntie Nara and Giselle,” Bethany chattered on. “Why does she call Giselle Jayne, Uncle Jayne?”

“’Cause she’s pretty like me.” He grinned at her. She giggled.

“You know, I think we’ve seen more of Inara than we ever did before, and that was when she was living on board,” Mal commented.

“At least you know the girls are going to be well looked after.” Freya put her hand on his.

They’d dropped the girls off on Lazarus, and Mal had good-naturedly endured Inara’s gentle digs.

“Well, you always have said you wanted a girl.” She laughed. “Now you have five.”

“Technically six, ‘cept I have doubts Honor’d see it that way,” Mal pointed out. “You sure you’re okay with this? I mean, they’ll likely be with you a good long while.”

“I shall enjoy it,” Inara assured him. “And I’m sure their father will come and visit often.”


“You, Mal.”

“I ain’t their daddy.”

“Surrogate, at least.”

“Look, I may be their guardian, but I ain’t their flesh.” He watched her laugh at him. “Hell, Inara, just take care of ‘em.”

“I will. And they’ll be able to help me with my other clients.”

“That going okay? Not getting naked for a living?”

“I suppose I can let you get away with that one,” Inara sighed. “And it’s going very well, thank you for asking. In fact, I have another client arriving tonight.”

“Well, sorry to say we can’t stop, since we’ve got a job waiting.”

“I understand. Next time.”

Bethany was quite torn up having to say goodbye to Hermione, having become friends since their initial encounter.

“But I promise I’ll write,” the Reilly girl said. “I promise.”

Bethany had sulked and cried, and it took a few days for her to be back to her normal sunny disposition. Even her father buying her a new dress after Pickett’s job was concluded without hurt to any of the crew didn’t help much. Now, though, she seemed back to her usual self.

In fact, as they finished dinner and Kaylee announced it was time for bed, the little girl scrambled from her chair and ran around the table specifically to grab Mal’s suspender and pull, letting it go with a ping.

“Hey!” the injured man said, pushing his chair back and chasing her, grabbing her around the waist as she tried to make a getaway and slinging her over his shoulder. He looked around at the rest of the crew, all of whom were smiling. “Well, look at this. Seems like I caught me something here, and I was just wondering if it belonged to any of you before I sling it in the hold for a month.”

“Uncle Mal!” Bethany shrieked, her head half way down his back.

“Don’t think so, Mal,” Jayne said, his deep voice at odds with the grin on his face. “Can’t say I’ve ever seen it before. What is it?”

“None too sure.” He turned around so everyone could see Bethany’s pink face. “Any of you able to tell?”

“Mal, you’ll make her sick,” Simon said.

“She’s yours, then?”

“I think she might be.”

Kaylee thumped him on the arm. “Course she is,” she scolded. “As if I’d be with anyone else.”

River smiled and lifted the little girl down from Mal’s shoulder. “Oh, look,” she said. “I think it’s Bethany.”

“Hello.” She waved at everyone, then yawned hugely, belatedly remembering to cover her mouth with her hand.

“Definitely bed time,” Kaylee said. “Are you two going back to your bunk tonight?” she asked, looking from Mal to Freya. “Only Simon said something about it being time …”

Mal glared at the young doctor, and Freya laughed.

“Something like that,” she admitted.

“Oh. Oh!” Kaylee suddenly understood, and grinned. “Then you’d better let Ethan sleep with Bethie again.”

“That would be good, thanks.”

“Actually, an early night sounds kinda good,” Jayne said, glancing meaningfully at River.

“I second that,” Hank said, then added quickly, “I mean, not with you, but you know … me and Zoe …”

“Well, last one leaving turns off the light,” Mal said, pulling Freya’s chair out as she got to her feet.

There was a chorus of goodnights, and the crew dispersed towards their various bunks.

Mal climbed down the ladder first, then watched as Freya descended. “You okay?” he asked somewhat anxiously as she reached the floor. “No pain?”

“I’m shiny, Mal.” She kissed him softly then crossed to the bed, laying down on it and looking up into the shadows. “A bit sore, but it’s better every day.”

“You sure?”

“Just good to be home.” She sighed happily, then looked across at him. He was closing the hatch and rubbing unconsciously at his chest. “You okay? What with Bethany attacking you quite unprovoked.”

Mal glanced down at the guilty suspender. “It stung.”

“Well, it’s your own fault for wearing them,” Freya said. “There’s been more than one occasion when I’ve had to resist the urge to do exactly what Bethany did.”

“You know that hurt, don’t you?” He pointed to the area of his left nipple.

“Ah, poor baby,” she teased.

“Sometimes I wonder if you love me at all.” He grinned.

“So why do you wear them?” Freya asked, watching Mal push his suspenders from his shoulders.

“To keep my pants up.”

“But your pants are tight enough. You don’t need any other help.” She gazed at his rear end.

“What are you … hey, stop that!”


“Looking at my ass like that!”

“Like what?”

“Like if you stare at it long enough I’ll tell you why I wear suspenders just to stop you.”

“Is it gonna work?”

“No.” He pulled his shirt off and dropped it onto the chair.

“Then I guess I’ll just continue admiring the view.” She rolled carefully around on the bed until she could rest her chin on her hands and still watch him.

“Ain’t gonna happen, Frey.”

“So you said.”

He undid the buttons on his pants. “I mean it.”

“Of course you did.”

He managed to ignore her for a few moments more, than turned and glared at her, his hands on his hips. “What’s so all-fired important about knowing why I wear suspenders?” he asked.

“Just curious.”

“You know what curiosity did to the cat, don’t you?”

“I ain’t a cat, Mal.”

“Good job too, otherwise you’d be in serious trouble.”

“So come on. ‘Fess up. Why do you wear them when it’s so clear to see that you don’t need to?”

Mal sighed, finally coming to sit down on the bed next to her. “You really want to know?”

“I really do.” She moved her head so it was in his lap and she was gazing up at him.

“Okay. It’s really boring and there ain’t much point to it but …” He paused for dramatic effect. “I was fifteen, and going to a dance with Mandy Horowitz.”

“Fifteen. So you were experienced, then.”

“I knew I should never have told you about my first time,” Mal muttered. “And yes, as well as no. I was, Mandy wasn’t, and I didn’t get any further than putting my hand on her knee. Satisfied?”

“Nearly. The suspenders.”

He shook his head. “I was dressed, ready to go, when I bent down to pick something up, and there was the sound of something ripping, and a breeze blowing where no breeze had a right to be.”

“You’d split your pants?”

“Right up the backside.” Mal chuckled. “Guess I’d been growing more than I realised, and they’d finally given way.”

“I’d like to have seen that.”

“I’m sure you would.” He stroked her hair absently. “Anyhows, I was in a pickle. Mandy was waiting, I didn’t have another pair clean enough or respectable enough to wear, so my Ma went and got me a pair out of a trunk. My Pa’s, as it turned out.” He looked across the room and back in time. “Ten years and she hadn’t thrown his clothes away, almost as if she thought he was gonna come home one day.” He came back to the present and looked back down at her. “Gave them to me. I put them on, and immediately we kinda saw the problem. It seemed I hadn’t grown that much, and they were threatening to slide off my hips and reveal my shortcomings.”

Freya giggled. “Your what?”

Mal ignored her and went on with the tale. “So my Ma got out a pair of my dad’s suspenders, made me put them on. The pants weren’t so big that they looked that bad, so I got to the dance on time, felt Mandy’s knee and had a good evening. When I got home I found my Ma had been crying because she said I reminded her so much of Pa.”

“Oh, Mal.”

“I wanted to give them back to her, to put them away, but she said it was time. Told me I should keep ‘em, wear ‘em. Probably thought I’d grow into them someday, only I never did.”

Freya reached up and touched his face. “What was he like? Your Pa? You hardly ever talk about the past, and almost never about him. What was he like?”

“You wanna see?”

She looked at him in surprise. “What do you mean?”

Mal stood up carefully, laying her back down on the bed, and went to his drawer. From inside, in between the clean shirts, he withdrew a capture.

“Where did that come from?” Freya asked accusingly. “It wasn’t there before -”

“Not gone through my drawers lately?” he teased, sitting back down. “You’re slipping, Frey.”

“I’ve been poorly.”

He smiled and switched the capture on. “Harry gave it to me, just before we left Mead. He’d found it in some old stuff, made me a copy.” The picture glowed to life, two young men, arms around each other, laughing and making faces. “That’s Uncle Zach, my Pa’s brother and Harry’s father. And that’s –”

“Your Pa.”

Freya sat up, taking the capture and studying it closely. She’d have known who it was, even if Mal hadn’t said. Tall, dark brown hair flopping across his forehead, he had the same blue eyes, and the same strong nose and jawline. No wonder his Ma had cried. “He looks … wonderful.”

“I think he probably was, what I can remember of him.”

She felt tears prickling at her eyes. “You know, Mal, you’re wrong. I think you’ve grown into your Pa’s pants just fine.”

She looked up at him, and he felt a surge of undying love for her.

“You’re crazy, you know that, don’t you?” he said, taking the capture from her and placing it carefully on the shelf.

“I don’t care.” She ran her fingers down his naked chest, towards the buttons still done up on those pants, and over the suspenders hanging from them. “I’ve got you, and permission.”

“Permission?” He leaned over her. “To do what?”

“Whatever I want, Mal.” She grabbed him and pulled him down to her. “Whatever I want.”


Sunday, June 1, 2008 3:27 PM


Reading some of your older works and found this to be so good.I love the last part. Made me cry...darn you!! :)


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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!]

Secrets - Part XX
“No. You don’t get to play word games with me, Inara. Mal, his crew … perhaps I can understand you not wanting to burden them with this. But me?” The pain was evident in his voice and now in his expression. “Me, Inara? I gave up everything to be with you. And I would again. But you don’t trust me enough to tell me something this important. Don’t you think I had a right to know what my child is doing to you?”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Inara's secret is revealed. And don't faint because I've posted another chapter in less than a year!]

Secrets - Part XIX
Freya gazed at Inara, at the innate elegance of her simple blue tunic and full length skirt, her newly short hair making her look even more delicate, more elfin than usual. Still, that didn’t disguise the steel core. “Okay.” Freya nodded slowly. “When you’re ready. Just don’t leave it too late.”

[Maya. Post-BDM. Edging closer to finding out about another secret, this time Inara's.]

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.]