Tall Ship - Part VI
Friday, December 7, 2007

Maya. Post-BDM. Jayne is making headway, Kaylee's mourning and Freya's lost. NEW CHAPTER and who knows, maybe a 2BF later?


Jayne made his way down the hall, stopping outside the door the barkeep had told him about. Inside he could hear someone singing to themselves, in quite a pleasant voice, something he remembered Kaylee had hummed for a few days before this all started.

Deciding to be a gentleman for a change, he knocked. After a moment the door opened, and a young woman peered out, apparently caught in the middle of painting her face ready for the evening.

“Yes?” she asked.

“You Lily?”

She smiled at him, looking him up and down. “Well, I ain’t actually open for business yet, but I guess maybe for you I could make an exception.”

He leaned on the doorjamb, and let his widest grin out. “So I can come in?”

She stood back. “Surely can.”

Jayne sauntered over the threshold, then waited until she closed the door. “Thanks.”

“So … what do you fancy? My rates depend on what you’re into and –“


She looked confused. “What?”

“I just want to talk.”

She put her hands on her hips and stuck her breasts forward. “Why?”

“’Cause I need your help.”

“Why didn’t you say?” She sidled towards him, so close he could smell the cheap perfume she’d put behind her ears. “I can help you a lot.”

He pushed her away. “Not with that. Ain't never needed help with that. No, this ain't sex, Lily. I need your help with something else.”

She shrugged. “If I'm getting paid, I guess I’ll try.”

He pulled a couple of notes from his pocket and handed them over, watching idly as she stuffed them down her cleavage. “Few days back, before you took off, you were helped by a guy in the bar. Tall, blue eyes. Wore a –“

“Brown coat, yeah, I remember.” She half-smiled. “He wasn't interested in me either.”

“He wouldn’t have been.”

“Said he was married.” She wrinkled her nose slightly then put her head on one side. “He in trouble?”

“He’s dead.”

She stood straighter. “Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. He stopped me getting a black eye or busted lip. Or worse.”

“He was my friend.”

“He seemed nice.” She sighed. “What was it, an accident?”

“Only if you think getting murdered is accidental. Not half an hour after he helped you.”

Lily’s eyes went wide. “And you think … is that why you’re here?” She backed up. “Look, I didn’t have nothing to do with that.”

He held up a hand. “Not saying you did. But the man he stopped hitting you … who is he?”

“You think it’s him?”

“Pretty much. So what’s his name?”

“Dyle. Mickey Dyle.” She wrapped her arms around herself as if she was cold. “I knew him before I came here. Fact is, he’s the reason I came. He got clingy, wanted me all to himself. Then I found he’d followed me here.”

“He violent?” Jayne asked.

“Ain't everyone?” she countered.

“Most, I guess.”

She was scrutinising him. “Are you gonna kill him?”

“I’d like to, but I think maybe we’re gonna have a chat first. About why he picked Mal.”


“My friend. So I need you to tell me where he is.”

“Mickey? Sure. I can tell you. In fact, I’ll take you. Hwoon dahn cracked one of my ribs a while back, and I’d like to see him get some payback.” She chuckled. “But if I’m gonna turn him in, I need to powder my nose first.” She stepped to another doorway. “Why don’t you fix yourself a drink? Might make you more … friendly.”

He smiled. “Lily, you’re a sweet kid, but I ain't interested.”

“Then give me ten secs to get myself together, and I’ll take you to Mickey’s. That ga ni niang ain't gonna know what’s hit him.”


Kaylee sat with her back to her engine, and stared at the broken catalyser. She’d never admitted to the Captain that she’d kept it, all that time back, after he’d nearly gotten himself killed getting a new one, then fixing her girl for her, and all the while he was bleeding all over the place …

She sniffed, wiping at her eyes with the back of her hand. He’d’ve laughed, that was for sure, if he’d known she’d squirreled it away in one of her hidey-holes, just as a reminder of how much he loved his boat, was determined to do everything he could to keep her flyin’. There must’ve been a coupla dozen times over the years she’d seen it sitting there, and she knew she could’ve used the space for something else, but she always found something else to throw out. Something about it …

“Momma?” Bethany stepped down into the engine room.

Kaylee quickly mopped at her face again, then stood up from the corner where she’d wedged herself.

“What is it, honey?”

“Can’t sleep.” The little girl was hugging her Ethan doll, something she hadn’t done in a while. “Hurts.”

Her mother put the old catalyser carefully on the bench, then swung her daughter up into her arms. “Auntie Frey?”

Bethie nodded. “She’s using Uncle Jayne’s weights, but I can still …” She clamped her lips tight shut.

“It’s okay, sweetie,” Kaylee said quickly. “It ain't peekin’. Not now.”

“She’s trying to think of other things, but there’s only Uncle Mal.” A tear slid down her cheek, and Kaylee wiped it away, leaving a small grease mark. “I miss Uncle Mal, Momma.”

“Oh, so do I.” Kaylee moved over to her hammock, sitting down carefully. “We all do.”

“Ethan doesn’t understand.” She glanced out of the door. “Doesn’t know his Daddy ain't coming home. Not really. Doesn’t want to believe it.”

“If that’s the case then none of us understand.” Kaylee leaned back, keeping Bethany on her chest. “I keep thinking he’s gonna shout any second, ask why I ain’t got the EC set right, that it’s too cold, or that the entry couplings have gone again and why aren’t I working on ‘em …” She swallowed hard. “I’d give almost anything to hear him angry with me again.”

“Never got angry with you,” Bethie said softly. “His mei-mei.”

“Sure he did,” Kaylee said. “Like there was this one time when I was trying to get this part, and it took longer than I expected, and he shouted at me for hours when I got back, just ‘cause I hadn’t told anyone where I was going.”

“Not angry. Worried.”

Kaylee looked down into her four-year old daughter’s face, and wondered how she’d ever managed to produce a little girl so intelligent. “Guess. But I wanna worry him again.”

Bethie put her head down and let the tears slip into the comforting roughness of her mother’s coverall. “Miss him, Momma.”

Down in the cargo bay, Freya fitted another weight to either end of the bar, then lay down on the bench. She was already soaked in sweat, her muscles aching, but she kept going. Anything rather than hear the thoughts of the crew, of their pity, of their own grief when she was fighting to stay sane …


Lily led Jayne through the streets to the far side of town, into an area close to the spacedock. The buildings were old, some of the original shanty that had built up to service the ships that landed, before the town proper had been built. Now they were little more than shacks, rented by the week or month, just another stopping place on the slippery slope towards the gutter.

“How do you know he’s here?” Jayne asked.

“When he found me he told me he’d changed. Brought me here. Then he tried to take what he wanted without paying.” Lily looked scathing. “I hit him with a bottle and ran. It was after that he came to the bar to see me, and your pal stopped him getting his own back.” She stopped and pointed towards a small, single storey building, probably just one room. “There.”

Jayne nodded. “You stay here.”

“But I –“


“I ain't a dog,” she complained, but hung back.

Jayne moved forward, his feet silent in the snow, until something caught at his nostrils. He could smell burned gunpowder, fresh on the cold air, only a few minutes old. Betsy was out of her holster and nestled in his hand in a moment, and he oozed along the side of the building until he could peer in through a window. The dirty curtain only half obscured the view, and his grip tightened. “Tzao gao,” he murmured under his breath.

Looking around he continued on to the door, about to turn the knob when he realised it was open. Pushing it gently with his shoulder, he moved it out of his way and stepped inside.

Blood. He could smell it, even above the powder. And it was clear where it was coming from.

A man sat in the only armchair in the room, facing the door, his shirt off and his suspenders pulled back up over his dirty white vest. A handgun lay at his feet, and his brains were decorating the wall behind him.

“Mickey?” Lily stood in the doorway.

“I told you to stay back,” Jayne said savagely.

“Is he …”

“Dead? Pretty much.” Jayne walked forward, briefly checking to make sure no-one was hiding, but there was no place a man could be waiting in that small room. He approached the body, touching it lightly on the shoulder with one finger. Still warm, and the flesh was soft. “Recent, too.” He glanced at her. “This him? Mickey Dyle?

“It … it is. He killed himself?” Lily couldn’t stop staring.

“Looks like.” Jayne went round the back of the chair, careful to avoid the blood and gore on the floor. “Blew the back of his head clean off. Must’ve eaten his gun.”


“Who knows why anyone’d want to blow their brains out. Maybe he had a pang of conscience for all the men he’s killed. Or he just got fed up with the cold.” Jayne shrugged, as if he’d never felt that pang himself, and the cold was no reason to die.

“Mickey …”

“Yeah.” Jayne started to turn out the few drawers, moving the mattress so he could look underneath.

“What … what are you doing?”

“Seeing if he’s still got any of the stuff he took. Ain't been no mention of Mal’s gun coming up, and I doubt it went into the river with him.”

She looked at him, open-mouthed. “You gonna steal it?”

“Gonna give it back to his wife.”

“Oh.” She nodded. “But maybe it ain't here. Maybe he didn’t have time to –“

“Lily, if you’re gonna stand there arguing, don’t. Just help me look.”

She glared at him, but did as he asked. It took only a few minutes to prove there was nothing of value in the room at all. “He must’ve hidden it,” Lily said softly, her eyes being dragged back to the body in the chair.

“Yeah.” Jayne took a deep breath and exhaled noisily through his nose. “Come on. We need to get gone.”

“You think someone heard the shot?”

“Probably, though in a place like this it won’t be unusual. But I ain't gonna wait around to find out.” He dragged her outside into the fresh, cold air. “You’d better get back home.”

“Aren’t you gonna tell the sheriff?”

“Nah. Even if no-one called him, someone’ll figure out there's a body here eventually. And I don’t wanna be answering questions for something I didn’t do.”

“I guess. But what about you?” She put her hand on his arm. “This is over now, isn’t it? What’re you going to do?”

Jayne glanced back into the room. “Not entirely sure.” He looked back at her. “Go on. And don’t tell no-one.”

“I wasn't planning on it.” She reached up and put a swift kiss on his cheek.

“What’s that for?” he asked, surprised.

“Not taking advantage.” She smiled then ran off.

He watched her go, a speculative look on his face. Something about this felt … wrong, but he didn’t know what to do about it yet. Dyle hadn’t known Jayne was on his track, so why’d he kill himself? And no sign anyways of the booty. Yeah, something wasn't right. And maybe he needed to think on things a little.


Freya could lift no more. Her arms hurt, and were shaking with the effort as she sat up, trying to take the top off the water bottle. In a flash of anger she threw it away from her, hearing it bounce on the floor and skitter amongst the crates they were to deliver in just a few days. Picking up the towel instead, she wiped her face, pushing it through her hair, attempting to wipe the pain out of her mind.

Except it wasn’t going. Instead it had grown to fill her, the numbness around her heart like a cold lump of granite surrounded by the fire of grief. Sam had already tried several times to speak to her, and she’d been polite, but eventually she’d just got up and walked away. She knew, if she talked, if she said exactly how she felt, that numbness would vanish, and she'd burn up in the resulting conflagration. And if she did that, she didn’t think she could stop taking them with her.

“Mama …”

She looked up. Ethan had come out of the common area, and was standing watching her, his blue eyes wide. He looked so like she imagined Mal had, and the jagged agony cut at her again. “You’re supposed to be asleep,” she said, as gently as she could.

“Are you staying here?” He twisted the head of his stuffed alligator.

She nodded slowly. “I think so.”

“Daddy wouldn’t like it.”

She closed her eyes. “He’s not here, Ethan.”

“Still wouldn’t.”

“I know. But …” She couldn’t speak, just sat with her head hanging between her shoulders.

“Want to help,” Ethan said softly, walking up to her. “Make it better.”

“You can’t.”

He reached out for her. “Mama, please.”

She looked up. “He’s not here, Ethan,” she repeated, every word dragged from deep inside her.

“Mama …” His voice was full of sadness, and he was about to cry.

Freya stared at him, then held out her arms. He climbed onto her lap and snuggled deep into her embrace. She held him tightly, feeling his little heart beating against her chest, and without conscious decision her mind turned to his father.

She longed to be able to reach out and touch him, just run her mental fingers through his mind, past all the locked doors she never went through, to the place where he loved her. That shining, glowing area where she felt safe, secure, surrounded by his unfailing adoration. Her breath caught, and she hugged her son closer to her, even as her walls gave a little.


It forced out of her mind, filled with the longing and the need and the pain and the loss and the total misery that stabbed through her. It rolled out of the ship, making Ethan whimper and Bethany sob, setting dissonance in all those intellects even a little psychic, giving nightmares and bad tempers to all those it touched. It made River, standing in the orchard on Lazarus in the warm sunshine, sink to her knees and hug herself, even as Inara asked her what was wrong.

And on Three Hills it touched a man sleeping fitfully, tossing on the dampened sheets as he dreamed of things he couldn’t remember, of faces and voices that melted away into the cotton-candy fog, and he cried in his sleep.

Hannah lifted the blanket a little higher, tucking it around his shoulders, and waited for the morning.

to be continued


Friday, December 7, 2007 3:58 AM


Wow, what a heartbreaker this was. Beautifully written, and painfully accurate description of grief. Glad to see it was Ethan that could get through to Freya. And the Kaylee part was perfect and so in character with how loving she is. Happy fluff soon?

Friday, December 7, 2007 4:01 AM


Excellent chapter. And I wouldn't be averse to another one today, please! :-)

Friday, December 7, 2007 6:55 AM


That was emotional. Maybe the little nudge will bring Mal back around before the crew cracks.

Friday, December 7, 2007 10:41 AM


Oh Wow, this was beautifully written especially the last part with Freya after Ethan goes to her and her thoughts and longing for Mal touch every one of them and reach him in his sleep. As for Lily, she is up to her neck in this whole business. I kind of suspected that her and the man supposedly after her might be in this together, setting up marks and then rolling them for their coin and any other valuables they might have. I also think the Sheriff might me in on it or running things. Lily saying she needed ten minutes to get ready before taking him to Dyle was so gorram fishy I am surprised Jayne wasn't suspicious. It gave her ample time to ring someone, perhaps the Sheriff, so that Dyle could be killed to make it look like a suicide and cover their tracks. I really hope Jayne catches a clue bus soon. And poor Frey. I also really liked seeing how the loss of the Captain is affecting Kaylee, was all manner of touched that she kept the broken catalyster and really loved how Bethie knew that all Mal's yelling and shouting wasn't through anger but worry. Such a lot crammed into this little chapter and you make it look so easy. That is very classy. Can't wait for the next part. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, December 7, 2007 4:09 PM


Great job, all around. I can't resist a mystery either!


You must log in to post comments.



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!]