Like Woman, A Mystery - Part I
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Following on from PLAYING PARTS, Mal drops Inara back on Lazarus, and finds someone waiting for her. NEW STORY


Lazarus was huge in the bridge window, and Hank was expertly bringing Serenity into optimum re-entry position.

“Will you stay a few days?” Inara asked, standing next to Mal behind the pilot’s chair.

“Maybe. A day or two. Just knowing that someone ain’t out to kill me, or make me act, would be good.” Mal grinned. “But I’d’a thought you’d be fed up with us by now.”

“You maybe, but not the others,” Inara said, allowing just a hint of acid into her tone.

If anything he grinned wider. “That’s so nice to know, ‘Nara.” He glanced out of the window, seeing only the curve of the world. “’Spect you’ll be glad to be getting back to normal.”

“I’ve learned there’s no such thing, Mal. Every time I think things are routine, something comes along to destroy my illusions.”

“You know, that’s really sad.”

“I’d believe you more if you actually sounded heartbroken.”

The ship began to rock somewhat, and the air outside glowed.

“Be down in a few minutes,” Hank said, fighting the yoke a little but supremely confident as always. “Local time’s around 6 pm.”

“Mrs Boden said she’d have a meal ready for us.” Inara stroked her hands down her dress, mentally going through the boxes she’d already packed, trying to remember if there was anything she’d forgotten.

“Sounds good.”

Mal chuckled. “That the only thing you think about?” he asked. “Your stomach?”

“That and Zoe. And Ben, of course.”

“Glad you’ve got your priorities straight.” He looked at Inara. “Food would be good, thanks. And a day or two’s rest. Although I’ve had word of a job on Ibis.”

She raised her eyebrows. “That’s a long way from here.”

“Well, still got to drop Patience’ crate off on Greenleaf, and that’s closer. Might pick up something else in the meantime.” A jolt threw him against her, and he smiled somewhat ruefully, pushing himself away. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to …”

“That’s okay.” She turned. “Well, if Hank isn’t likely to crash us, I’ll go and make sure I've got everything.” She walked elegantly off the bridge.

Mal glared at his pilot.

“Didn’t do that on purpose, Mal,” Hank insisted. “Those entry couplings need adjusting again.”



Oddly enough, Hank didn’t crash the Firefly, and the landing was as smooth as ever, the ramp descending into the sweet evening air. As always Bethie was waiting by the inner doors, Fiddler on his leash, and Ethan standing next to her, clutching her hand.

Mal smiled as he walked to the door controls. “You gonna keep an eye on my son, Miss Bethany?” he asked.

“Going to play, Daddy,” Ethan said, smiling broadly.

“Only for a while. Dinner’ll be on the table soon.”

“We won’t be long,” Bethie assured him. “Hungry.”

Mal chuckled. “As usual.” He pressed the button. “Just don’t let him hurt himself, dong mah?”

“I won’t,” the little girl promised, and as soon as the doors were open wide enough they were off, Ethan barely managing to keep his feet as she dragged him towards the orchard.

“Mal, where is our son off to?” Freya asked, coming down the stairs, Jesse in her arms.


“There’s a nip in the air, though,” she said, ever the fretful mother. “He should really be wearing a coat.”

“He’ll be fine,” River put in, hurrying out of the shuttle above them. “I’ll keep an eye on them.” She ran down into the bay, barefoot as usual, and was out past Mal before he could form a sentence.

“You know, Bethie really is a little too young to be in charge of Ethan,” Freya pointed out, coming to stand next to her husband.

“I know. But this is Lazarus. And they ain't going far, not with the promise of food soon.” He hooked his arm around her.

She smiled. “I suppose.”

“Frey, let ‘em be young. They’ll have to grow up all too soon.”

“Oh, and I suppose it wasn't you who was worrying about what Ethan was up to just a day ago when you couldn’t find him? On a ship altogether smaller than Lazarus?”

He managed to look astonished. “Me? Worried?”

“You.” She poked him in the ribs. “I saw.”

“Thought you weren’t peeking any more.”

“I mean I saw your face when you found him in the engine room with Kaylee.”

He let his lips lift. “He’s my son, Frey. A’course I worry about him.”

“So do I.” She moved forward enough so she could kiss those very lips.

“Oh, please,” Hank said from the top of the catwalk. “What is this place, a bordello?”

“My wife,” Mal said. “My ship. My rules.”

“Fine. Then I’ll just go away again until you’ve finished making out, shall I?”

“No. You go help Jayne with Inara’s stuff.”

“Must I?”

“My ship. My rules.”

“Fine. I’ll go and put my back out lugging those great damn things outside, and then what will Zoe say?” Hank grumbled as he mooched down the stairs.

“She’ll say she’s proud of you for taking orders so well,” Freya said, smiling at Mal.

“I thought you were on my side!” the pilot moaned.

“She’s on mine,” Mal said, kissing her again.

Inara stepped out of the common area. “Would you like me to come back later?” she asked.

“No, I think we’re done.” Freya stood back from Mal. “For the moment, anyway.”

“Hank’s just volunteered to help you with your stuff,” Mal put in.

“Vol …” Hank’s eyebrows had almost disappeared into his untidy brown hair as he walked past Inara. “I'm gonna get me a new job. Persuade Zoe that she’s better off coming with me than staying on a ship with a …” His voice faded as he headed towards the guest quarters.

“Are you winding him up?” Inara asked.

“Who, me?”

“Yes, you.”

“Little bit.” Mal grinned. “It makes the day go faster.”

“You’re cruel.”

“Man has to have some fun.”

Inara turned to Freya, and put her hand on Jesse’s head. The little girl snuffled in her sleep, but didn’t wake. “I'm going to miss her,” she said softly.

“She’ll miss her auntie too,” Freya responded. “I don’t think she’s had so much attention.”

“Well, I didn’t really have much to do while you were all acting.” She glanced at Mal. “Well, so-called acting.”

“And you said I was cruel.” Mal shook his head.

Inara smiled tightly, then laughed at the look on his face.

“’Nara?” Kaylee hurried out of the common area. “Oh, thought you’d gone already.”

“No, she’s just standing here insulting me,” Mal complained.

Kaylee grinned. “Like old times, then.”

“Too much.” Inara turned her back on the captain. “And of course I've not gone yet. You’re all staying for a day or two, at least according to the kuh ooh duh lao bao jurn.”

“I ain't a tyrant!” Mal sighed heavily. “You know, this continuous wounding makes me almost want to go help Hank and Jayne.”

“Almost?” Freya murmured.

“Oh, yeah, only almost.” He smirked.

“Well, in which case, I think we oughtta go and have tea,” Kaylee said, ignoring him, and taking her friend by the arm.

“We’ll be having dinner soon,” Inara pointed out.

“Yeah, but tea don’t count.”

“I suppose not.” They walked out into the evening sunshine.

“You know, I’m gonna miss you,” Kaylee went on. “Our little chats.”

“You’ve got plenty of women to talk to on board.”

“Yeah, but it ain't the same.” She looked up at the setting sun reflecting off the windows of the house. “It’s so pretty here.”

“Well, anytime you want to have a rest from certain people, you just let me know. You can stay as long as you like.”

Kaylee sighed happily. “Might take you up on that, ‘Nara. I mean, Serenity’s home ‘n’all, but sometimes you just wanna …” She stopped, seeing Inara’s face freeze. “What is it?” She looked to where her friend was staring. “Oh. Oh!”

Sam Nazir had come out of the house, the soft gold light gilding his olive skin. He walked slowly towards them.

“You want I should shoot him for ya?” Jayne asked, one of her boxes in his arms, but ready to drop it if need be.

“There’ll be no killing without my say-so,” Mal put in, striding down the ramp. “Though I’d be willing to do that small favour for you if you say the word, ‘Nara. Despite how you described me just now.”

Inara glanced at him almost gratefully, but shook her head. “No, I don’t think that will be necessary.”

“You sure? I ain't shot at anyone for a while, and I’m getting kinda antsy.”

She smiled weakly. “No, honestly. I’ll take care of this.”

Sam came up to her. “Inara.”

“I thought you were going back to Ariel.”

Mal raised his eyebrows at the amount of chill in her voice. “Better make sure your husband has that hypothermia treatment still handy,” he said in a stage whisper to Kaylee, who smothered a laugh.

Inara shot them both an annoyed look, then turned back to Sam. “I think we’d better go for a walk. Away from prying eyes.”

“I’d like that,” Sam said, smiling hopefully. He held out his arm to her, but she ignored it, instead walking away down the path towards the lake.

“He looks like he’s going to his own funeral, don’t he?” Kaylee observed.

“Mmn. That he does,” Mal agreed thoughtfully.

to be continued


Tuesday, November 20, 2007 4:56 AM


Love the way you write Mal and Inara squabbeling.
Sams back. Inara can do better. Shoot him Jayne.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 5:14 AM


This looks to be an interesting arc we're embarking on! Can't wait to see more! :D

Tuesday, November 20, 2007 5:37 AM


Loxw the snarking and the friendship underneath for M/I. Love this new story arc too - about time for some happiness.


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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!]