In the Moment - REPOST
Monday, November 19, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. It's time for another birth on Serenity.


Mal checked the manifest. Three crates of assorted medical equipment and supplies, ranging from syringes and kidney bowls to a small portable scanner, going to a small community who would be more than grateful. He grinned. And yet another Alliance hospital was counting the cost of the dread Reynolds and his gang. Simon sure knew his way around the supply closet. Mal’s grin grew. Maybe it was something he needed to talk to Kaylee about.

He heard the beep of a wave coming from the shuttle‘s main console, but ignored it. Zoe would deal with it.

“What is it, honey?” she asked, seeing Hank on the screen.

“Um … is Mal there?”

“In the back. Why?”

“Can you … get him?”

She looked at him, but he just smiled hopefully. “Captain,” Zoe called.

“Yeah.” Mal stepped onto the small bridge, surprised to see the face of his pilot. “Hank? What is it?”

“How … how much longer are you likely to be?”

Mal’s brows drew down at the odd tone in Hank’s voice. “Well, seeing as we left Serenity only an hour ago it’ll take us another hour to get to the delivery point, then get paid … What the hell –”

“Mal, I think you’d better get back here right now.” There was a grin more like a rictus on his face.

“Hank –”

“Freya’s in labour.”

Mal grabbed for the back of the pilot’s chair. “What?”

“Labour. You know, where your wife gets all vicious and mean and eventually pushes a baby out of –”

Suddenly Freya appeared on the screen, forcing Hank out of the way.

“Malcolm Reynolds, you get your ass the hell back here right now! You are not going to do this to me again!”


“This baby is coming and I’m …” She stopped as a contraction pulsed through her, her faced screwed tight against it, holding onto the seat.

“Breathe, Frey,” Hank said softly.

“You gorram breathe,” she ground out.

On the shuttle Mal could do nothing but watch, berating himself that he wasn’t –

Zoe input new co-ordinates and the stars whirled lazily in the window.

The contraction receded. “Mal, please.” She stared into the screen, pleading.

“We’re on our way, xin gan. Just … just hold on.”


The screen went back to static.

Jayne stuck his head around the bridge entrance. “That right? Frey’s dropping?”

“Looks like,” Zoe confirmed.

“Just so long as I don’t have to play catch,” the big man said, and disappeared again.


Almost as soon as the shuttle docked Mal was out of the door and down the stairs, running to the infirmary. The rather empty, somewhat bare and decidedly Freya-free infirmary.

Someone coughed behind him. He span and came face to face with Simon.

“Where is she?” he asked.

“In your room.” The young man nodded towards the ‘maternity suite’.

“What? Why?”

“Braxton Hicks.”


“Not who. What. False labour.”

“False … “ He stared. “You saying she isn’t giving birth right now?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying. The contractions stopped about twenty minutes after we contacted you. Once I’d got Freya to lie down, there didn’t seem to be much point in waving you again.”

“Doc, you know that chat we had once about me deciding what was important and what wasn’t?” Mal went over to one of the easy chairs and dropped into it, his heart rate slowing to something near normal.

“Besides, you should be here. It really could be any time.”

“But she ain’t due for a week.”

“She was early before. And second babies are often impatient to get into the ‘verse, Mal.” Simon sat next to him. “Much better you stay here.”

“Really. And what about the delivery?”

“Would you rather I made it and you weren’t here to see?”

“Sir?” Zoe leaned into the common area. “Should we be boiling hot water?”

“No.” Mal wiped his hands over his face. “False alarm.”

“How’s Freya?”

Mal started guiltily. He hadn’t asked.

“She’s fine,” Simon said, his lips barely twitching at the other man’s discomfort. “Feeling a little ashamed, if truth be told. She’d got herself somewhat … wound up.”

Mal stood up. “Better go see her, then,” he said. “Zoe, get that delivery done. Take River.”

“I’m sure Jayne and I can handle it.”

“Take her anyway. Give her something to do other than those gorram drawings she keeps leaving in my bunk.”

“I don’t think that’ll stop her.”

“Then don’t let her take her colours with her.”

Zoe smiled and went to find the young psychic.

“Drawings?” Simon asked.

“You mean you haven’t seen them?” Mal shook his head and pulled a folded sheet from his back pocket, handing it over. “Last two weeks.”

Simon unfolded it. “Ah.”

“And that’s the least disturbing.”

“She has a wonderful eye.”

“Well, seeing as this little one ain’t even born yet, she must be using that eye to look into the future.” He took the page back and gazed at it. It showed, in incredible detail, Freya on the medbed, a sheet thankfully preserving her decency, gazing down at a baby in her arms, Mal standing behind her. The tears on his face had been particularly well rendered.

“And the others?”

“The entire birth. Moment by moment.”


“Oh, yes.”

“I’ll have a word with her.”

“Appreciate that.”


“Sorry.” Freya was sitting up in the bed, a huge number of pillows and cushions behind and around her, supporting the bulk at what used to be her waist.

“What for?” he asked, stepping inside and closing the door.

“Calling you back for nothing.” She looked embarrassed, wrapped in one of his old shirts but her stomach only partly covered by the blanket.

He sat down, taking her hand in his. “You didn’t know it was nothing. According to Simon, those Branston Hicks things can feel like the real McCoy.”

“Braxton Hicks.”

“Yeah, that.” He laid his free hand on her belly, the skin swollen tight. “You know, you shouldn’t go around scaring your Momma like that,” he whispered.

“I thought you were going to miss it.” She couldn’t help it. A tear slid down her cheek.

“Hey, don’t,” he said, shuffling closer so he could wipe it away with the pad of his thumb. “No need for that. I’m here now, and I ain’t going anywhere. And I’m sorry, Frey.”

“What for?”

“Going on that delivery in the first place. You’re more important, and I should’ve realised that.”

She smiled. “Thank you.”

“No,” he said softly, leaning down so he could kiss the extended nub of her belly button. “Thank you.”

“Wish I could,” Freya teased. “But I feel the size of a house right now.”

He smiled at her. “You’re beautiful.”

“No, I’m not.”

“I’m captain. You’re beautiful. Kinda evens things out.” He put his cheek against her stomach. “Be seeing you soon,” he whispered, feeling the double heartbeat.



Someone was poking him in the back.


Hard, probably at least two fingers.


Okay, they’d got his attention. “What?” he asked, his eyes still tight shut.

“I love you.”

He smiled. “That’s good. ‘Cause I love you too.”

“Then get up off your pigu and fetch Simon.”

Freya’s words slowly penetrated the fog of sleep in his brain. With a jerk he rolled over, his eyes wide.


Freya was breathing hard, panting, her forehead screwed up in pain as she held the naked swell of her belly.


Then he realised the bed was soaking wet beneath him.

With a shaking hand he reached out and touched her stomach, feeling the last of the contraction ripple through her.

“God …” he whispered, throwing back the blanket and leaping from the bed. He slammed the door open and yelled, “Simon!”

He turned back to his wife. The contraction had stopped, and she lay back on the pillow, her hair sticking to her head.

“You sure about this?”

“Pretty much.”

“Not those Branston –”


“– Braxton things?”

“I don’t think my water breaking comes into those.”

“Oh, right. So … how long?” he asked, sitting back next to her and wiping the sweat from her face.

“Since more or less just after you went to sleep.”

“Why didn’t you wake me?” He was almost angry with her.

“You needed your rest. After the last few days you needed to sleep.”

His next words were cut off by Simon running into the room. “How far apart?”

“About six minutes,” Frey said as he began to examine her belly.

“Then we’ve got time to get you into the infirmary.” The young doctor looked at Mal. “You’d better put some pants on.”

Mal looked down at his nakedness and nodded. He didn’t care, but maybe the first thing his daughter saw coming into the world shouldn’t be her father’s nudity. He grabbed a pair of pants and heaved them on. “I’ll carry her,” he said.

“I can walk, Mal,” Freya said peevishly. “I’m perfectly capable.”

“I wouldn’t argue with a woman in labour,” Simon advised.


Between them Simon and Mal got Freya to her feet and into her robe. She glanced down at the bed.

“Sorry,” she said, smiling a little. “I seem to have made a mess.”

“Don’t you worry none about that,” Kaylee said from the doorway. “I’ll clean that up.”

Mal looked at her in surprise, then saw the rest of his crew behind her. “How did you all –”

She interrupted him. “Cap’n, that yell of yours probably woke ‘em up on Osiris,” Kaylee grinned.

“Oh, yeah, right.”

“Daddy?” Ethan peered round the corner.

“Hey, big feller,” Mal said. “Don’t worry. Just your baby sister deciding to make an early appearance into the world.”


“I'm okay,” Freya said softly, smiling at him. “Why don’t you go and sit with Bethany? She probably needs someone to look after her.”

“Want to stay.”

Mal went down onto his heels. “Ethan, there ain't anything to see. Not yet. Best if you go take care of Bethie, keep her mind off things so she don’t pick up too much.”

Ethan nodded. “Hurts.”

“Sorry about that,” Freya put in. “Just keep those walls up and it won’t.”

“’Kay.” He still didn’t move.

Mal touched his cheek, getting his attention. “Gotta be strong right now. Take care of things while I take care of your Momma, dong mah?”


“Go on, then. Get to Bethany. Keep her from getting nosy.”

Ethan smiled a little, and walked back towards the little girl’s room. “Nosy Bethie,” they heard him say to himself. “Nosy rosy dozy Bethie.” He chuckled.

Mal stood up and put his arm around Freya’s waist. “Okay?”

She nodded. “Okay.” She shook her head. “You are such a good father.”

“Guess I'm gonna have to be.” His eyes narrowed just a little. “And what walls?”

“Aren’t we supposed to be going somewhere?” Freya countered.

“Don’t think you’re going to get out of this conversation just ‘cause you’re giving birth.” He helped her out into the common area. “We’re gonna talk about this.”

“Later, okay? I'm sorta busy at the moment.”

They didn’t quite make the infirmary before Freya moaned, her knees almost giving way as another contraction pulsed through her.

Mal felt her fingers digging into his arm, knew they were going to leave bruises, but that was only with a distant part of his mind. Most of it was concerned with the fact that he’d never seen Freya like this. When Ethan was born he’d kind of only come in at the finale, not during the overture. Now he was seeing what this did to her. And all thoughts of his son’s mental walls were quite forgotten.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered.

She looked into his face. “Why?”

“For doing this to you.”

“Wasn’t just you,” she smiled, trying to breathe. “Seem to … to recall I had something to do with it too.” The spasm eased and she took her own weight again. “And I’d go through this a thousand times for us, Mal.”

He felt tears prickling his eyes. “I love you.”

She grinned weakly. “I love you too.”

“Come on before we all die from saccharin overload,” Simon said dryly, and they completed the journey into the infirmary.

“Inara’s gonna be pissed,” Mal heard Kaylee say to Zoe. “Missing this.”

“We’ll be at Lazarus tomorrow.”

“Yeah, but I don’t figure Frey’s gonna wait that long.”

Simon had manoeuvred Freya onto the bed. “Well, you’re a few days early, but that isn’t unusual with a second child. I just need to examine you, see how far you’re dilated.”


Mal turned to his crew. “Out.”

“Mal, I seen it before,” Jayne complained.

“Not lately. Out.”

They filed reluctantly out of the infirmary and Mal closed the door, taking a moment to lower the blinds in the windows too.

When he turned back Freya had her feet in the stirrups, and Simon was leaning between her thighs.

Seeing another man there, even her doctor, gave Mal a flash of jealousy which he immediately suppressed. Not quite quick enough, though, as he heard Freya’s amused voice in his mind.

You think I’d want him with you around?

He felt a blush burn up his chest, meeting the gold cross around his neck, perfectly visible since he was shirtless. I hope not, he thought back.

“You’re not fully dilated yet,” Simon said, unaware of the conversation going on. “It’ll be a few hours yet.”

“Hours?” Mal stared at him.

“Babies aren’t born quickly, Mal. Even second children.” Simon covered Freya back over with her robe. “You might want to walk around a while.”

Freya nodded. “Sounds like a plan.”

“Walk?” Mal put in. “Is that a good idea?”

“It’ll help labour progress,” Simon explained. “And I wasn’t suggesting a hike into the engine room, just a stroll around the common area.”


The next two hours seemed to expand into decades as Mal helped Freya walk around, stopping occasionally as another contraction rippled through her, holding her until it passed. They were definitely getting closer together, and stronger.

“Mal, you’d better get that glove,” Freya said at one point. “I will break your hand.”

“Got it here,” Kaylee said, holding it out.

Mal flashed his mechanic a grateful smile. “Thanks, mei-mei.” He already knew he’d be black and blue, but anything that would stop a few bones shattering would be a bonus.


“You hate me right now, don’t you?” Mal asked, rubbing her back as the contraction eased. She nodded, her grip on the end of the medbed still tight.

“Oh, yeah.”

“And you’re never gonna let me come near you ever again, are you?”


“Are you telling the truth?”

“No,” she admitted. She finally looked up at him. “Oh, Mal, I’m just glad you’re here.” There were tears in her eyes. “I mean, last time, Jayne was … well, Jayne.” She laughed, hiccupping. “But I’m glad it’s you this time.”

“Me too.”


“Can you hear her?” River asked, staring at Freya’s belly about two and a half hours in. All the other crew had gone back to the galley to wait it out, but the psychic seemed to be intrigued.

Freya rested on the back of one of the chairs. “She’s ready,” she admitted.

“Is she psychic?” Mal asked, a question that had stalled on his lips a thousand times since they’d found out Freya was pregnant. Now it leaped out before he could stop it.

Freya smiled at him. “No. There’s no …” She gasped as a strong contraction ripped through her, and she almost fell.

“Okay, that’s it,” Mal said, holding her to him, waiting for it to pass, his heart beating too fast to count the individual strokes. “You’re laying down. Now.”

“Where’ve I heard that before?” she panted.

“Mal’s right,” Simon said, looking out from the infirmary. “They’re much closer. I need to take another look.”

And now it was happening. The glove on his hand didn’t alleviate all the pain, but he didn’t mind. What Freya was going through was much worse, and her last yell had brought the others back down.

“Okay,” Simon murmured, calm and professional. “You’re doing well. Next one you can push.”

“Promise?” Freya panted, her face red with the effort, and never more beautiful in Mal’s estimation.

“I promise.”

Mal wiped the sweat away as best he could, holding her shoulders against him. He could feel her broadcasting love, and his own heart swelled.

“Soon,” she whispered, but not only to him. “Very soon.”

Another massive contraction swept through her, tearing a scream from her as she pushed, and Mal saw Simon reach forward.

“That’s it. Keep going. Keep going.”

Suddenly there was a cry, and Mal thought time had stopped. He leaned forward a little, and saw a small, wet, squirmy thing in Simon’s hands. His daughter. Tears sprang from his eyes and rolled down his cheeks. “Thank you,” he whispered to the God he’d let once more into his life when he got Freya back.

“She’s beautiful,” Simon said, lifting her up and placing her on Freya’s belly. Mal watched his wife reach down and stroke the dark hair on her baby’s head, and his fingers joined hers.

“Welcome to Serenity,” he whispered, “daughter of mine.” And his heart soared.


The others crowded round the medbed, watching Freya cradle the new arrival.

“She looks like Mal,” Kaylee was saying.

“What, all screwed up and red?” Jayne said, then grunted as she elbowed him in the stomach.

“Sure got her daddy’s eyes,” Hank added.

“All babies have blue eyes,” Zoe pointed out. “Ben’s were blue at first, even though they‘re grey now.”

“I know. But it’s kinda sweet.”

“She’s adorable,” Kaylee said.

“Can I see?” Bethany called, jumping at the end of the bed.

“Here,” Simon said, lifting her up.

“Oh,” she said softly. “Pretty.”

Mal stood back, almost overwhelmed by the emotion. His daughter. His child. Sister to Ethan, who even now was sitting on Kaylee’s hip, looking down at his new sibling, grinning tiredly around the thumb in his mouth. For so long he’d never thought he’d have a wife, let alone a family, and now … He tried to swallow the lump in his throat, but it stayed, stopping his breath, and he had to turn away.

“Captain?” It was River, silently appearing next to him.

“Albatross,” he managed to say. “You next?” Trying to cover his lapse with a joke.

“Perhaps. Then Zoe again, then me, Freya, Kaylee …”


“Miracles happen, Mal. You should know that by now.” Her dark eyes glittered.

“And Frey again?”


He couldn’t help it. He laughed. “You got all that planned out, little one?”

“Someone has to.” She put her hand on his. “Your wife needs you.”

“No, River. I need her.”

She smiled.

“So what’s her name?” Kaylee was asking as he stepped up to the medbed.

“I don’t …” Freya paused. “We’ve talked but I don’t know that we’ve come to any –”

“Yes we have,” Mal said, carefully taking his daughter from her mother’s arms. Holding her gently against his proud chest, feeling the steady rise and fall of her breathing, he said, “Her name’s Jesse. Jesse Alice Reynolds.”

“Jesse?” Kaylee sighed. “That’s a real nice name.” She sniffed. “And Alice is good too.”

Freya looked up at him, and he felt her in his mind. Thank you.

He grinned then turned his attention back to his newborn daughter. Her eyes opened, and they fixed him with their bright blueness, and in that one instant he knew he was lost forever.



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Now and Then - a Christmas story
“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!]

Monied Individual - Epilogue
"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!]

Monied Individual - Part XVIII
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!]

Monied Individual - Part XVII
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.

[Maya. Post-BDM. The search for Hank continues. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XVI
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.

[Maya. Post-BDM. Kaylee finds the problem with Serenity, and Jayne starts his quest. Read, enjoy, review!]

Monied Individual - Part XV
“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!]