Cats and Dogs
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Just a little short one-off as the crew head for Persephone, as a thank you to everyone who has sailed so far.


He’d had enough. She might be smaller, sweeter looking, but she was an interloper. Coming in here, taking all the affection that was supposed to be his, making people go all gooey-eyed when that was meant to be his job. It wasn't even as if she was all that much prettier.

Well, now was the time to put an end to it.

He looked out from his hiding place, and his heart froze at the sight of a pair of green eyes, staring at him, taunting him, daring him to try something.

Okay. Now it was time to be nonchalant. He strolled out, not even looking at her, head high, nose in the air.

He could almost hear her laughing at him.

That was it. He’d had enough. Letting loose a growl he pounced, only she wasn't there anymore. With a whisk and a flick she was down the corridor, and it was too much. Barking furiously he followed her, up the steps to the bridge.

“What the hell …” Mal looked down at the floor, lifting his feet out of the way as two small animals chased each other round and round, making more noise than a pack of Reavers smelling fresh blood.

Maoli leaped onto the pilot’s console then onto the lockers, spitting and hissing her annoyance. Fiddler bounced around the floor, trying to jump high enough and nowhere near making it.

“Get out of here!” Mal yelled, jumping up and waving his hands at the pair of them.

This only seemed to incense them further, and now Maoli was swiping at the air with one razor-clawed paw.

“Gorramit, I said get out of here!” He reached up to grab the cat, but felt the full fury of a pissed-off feline stab into his wrist just before she ran along the top of the lockers, leaping gracefully to the deck and taking off again at full speed, Fiddler in hot pursuit.


She came around the corner of the corridor. “You shouted?”

“That damn cat stuck me with her claws!”

She hurried up the steps to look at the four small wounds on the back of his hand, oozing blood like tiny drops of liquid rubies. “I think you’ll live.”

“Yeah, but she might have anything! Rabies, distemper … hell, I could be brewing up a dozen diseases right now and I wouldn’t know about it!”

“What exactly did you do to her?”

“Me? Nothing!”

“There must have been something,” Freya said reasonably.

“Trying to save her life, is all.”


“They were going at it like … like cats and dogs.”

“I heard the noise. And it’s natural.”

“No, it ain’t. Not on my boat.” His face was set in a stubborn scowl.

“Come on. I think I’d better clean this up.” She pulled him gently towards the door.

“And you’d better ask Simon what shots I need.”

“She’s just a kitten, Mal.”

“Well, at this rate she ain't likely to grow.” He allowed his wife to lead him down the stairs to the infirmary, where the noise of warring creatures became louder the closer they got until it was cut abruptly off. “You think Simon’s killed her?” he asked hopefully.

“Simon’s in his room, asleep.”

“You sure about that? Conjure a man can’t sleep through all this racket.”

“He took a couple of little yellow tablets. That Dr Paxton told him he had to take a nap every afternoon, and he’s sticking to those orders.”

“Think I might join him,” Mal mumbled as they reached the infirmary and looked inside. He sighed heavily.

River was stroking Maoli, who hung over her arm looking all sweet and innocent. Fiddler, safe in Jayne’s hands, growled low. The pair stood in the middle of the infirmary, which looked like a cyclone had hit it.

“They didn’t damage anything,” River said quickly, reading the impulse to put both animals out of the airlock.

“How can you tell?” Mal asked, looking at the packets of swabs and bandages liberally sprinkling the floor, some torn open and savaged by a dog that couldn’t get at the cat.

“I’ll clear it up.”

“See that you do.” He looked from the psychic to the ex-mercenary. “So what were you two doing in here anyway?”

Jayne dropped his head so his smile couldn’t be seen, but River said, very sweetly, “Playing doctors and nurses.”

Mal closed his eyes. “I don’t think I want to know.”

“Zoe has Caleb, so we thought we’d –“

“I said I don’t wanna know!”

“You asked.”

“That I did. And I retract the question.”

“Sit down,” Freya said, patting the medbed, and he grudgingly did as he was told.

“Can’t have this, Frey,” he said firmly. “They don’t live together, then there’s gonna be problems. What if she’d run the other way? Into the engine room? There’s things in there she don’t wanna tangle with.”

“There are things on the bridge I wouldn’t recommend, either,” his wife agreed, peering at the still bleeding claw marks. “You, for one.”

“That’s right.” He winced. “Why’d you persuade me to let him keep that damn cat?”


“I don’t care if she’s a lion. Although … my hand would … probably … be in more of a mess.” He pulled his dignity back together. “But that’s not the point. Serenity ain't big enough for the pair of them if they’re gonna fight like this. And I’d say Fiddler had squatters’ rights.”

It was almost as if the little dog understood, because he wriggled in Jayne’s grasp and licked the big man’s chin.

“And Maoli belongs to your son,” Freya pointed out, taking a bottle of something and an open pack of swabs from the cupboard.

“Which was none of my doing.” He looked at her from under his eyebrows. “What’s that?”

“Just something to make it clean.”

“It is gonna hurt?”


“I will talk to them,” River promised, carrying Maoli outside.

“See that you do, albatross,” Mal called, then yelped as Freya dabbed his hand with the antiseptic. “Hey, that hurts! You said it wasn’t going to!”

“I lied.”

“Gorramit, Frey …” He tried to tug his hand away but she held tight.

“Big baby.”

“I ain't a baby!”

“Ethan doesn’t make this much fuss when he falls and scrapes his knee.”

“I got stabbed!”


“Felt like a stab.”

Jayne chuckled. “You ain't never been a good patient,” he said, hitching Fiddler under his armpit. “Not in all the time I've known you, less you were unconscious.”

“Septic vat needs doing.”

The big man considered his options. “Think I’ll just take this one back to the short stub,” he decided. “Maybe see if we can’t do something about making sure he stays put a while.” He strolled out, idly playing with the little dog’s ears.

“That won’t work forever,” Freya said, wrapping a bandage around Mal’s fist. “He needs his space.”

“Then we’re just gonna hope River can talk some sense into them.” Her husband raised his head as a look of horror passed across his face. “I didn’t really just say that, did I?”

Freya patted his hand absently, eliciting a sharp drawing in of breath.


It took two days before a resolution was reached, and two nights of Fiddler howling in Bethie’s cabin because he wasn’t allowed to run free. Mal had almost reached the end of his somewhat short tether, and was threatening to do something someone would regret, just so’s he could get a night’s uninterrupted sleep. It didn’t help that Freya was so very sympathetic to him. Well, it did, but it didn’t stop him waking in the wee small hours. He was almost tempted to ask Simon for a loan of some of his little yellow pills.

Then Fiddler got out, and it was only Jayne’s big hands that stopped him from pouncing on the kitten in Ethan’s lap as they sat in the cargo bay.

“That’s it,” Mal declared. “The dog stays tied up.”

“It’s not his fault,” Bethie said, her lower lip trembling.

For once Mal wasn’t going to give in. “In your room, Bethie. No compromise.”

She flounced off, following Jayne through the door towards the lower crew quarters.



“What’s up, Bethie?” Hank asked, swivelling in the pilot’s chair.

“Have you seen Fiddler?” the little girl asked. “Jayne tied him up but he ate the lead.”

“I’d’a thought he’d be more likely to eat Maoli, the noise they’ve been making.”

“I gave him a good talking to, but he wasn’t listening.” Bethie sighed. “He was more interested in biting his pi gu.”

Hank couldn’t help the smile. No matter how they tried, both Simon and Kaylee, their little sweet, darling daughter was growing up with a vocabulary that was eventually going to put a dockworker to shame. “And he got out?”

“I had the door closed, too, but he escaped.” She rolled her foot and looked at him with huge brown eyes. “Do you think Uncle Mal will be cross?”

“The way he’s been the last couple of days, and what he said earlier … yeah, I think he might.”

“Me too.” Bethie sighed again, this one from the soles of her shoes. “Will you help me find Fiddler?” Hank quickly glanced at the control panel, making sure there was nothing likely to need his attention in the next half hour or so, and stood up. “Sure thing, Bethie. Where would you like to start looking?”


By the time someone should have started dinner, the whole crew were on animal alert, searching all the bunks, the storage lockers, even the secret hideaways, but there was no sign of Fiddler. Or Maoli, as it happened.

“You think he’s killed her and hidden the body?” Hank asked Zoe as they checked the infirmary cupboards.

“You know, my doctor said I wasn’t supposed to be doing anything strenuous,” Simon complained, stifling a yawn as he and Kaylee went through all the little nooks in the engine room.

“I’ll put money on the mutt,” Jayne added, following River out of shuttle one.

“This is crazy.” Mal stood in the middle of the common area, his hands on his hips. “This ain't a big boat. Someone must be able to find him.”

Freya smiled as she closed a guest room door. “And we will.” She stopped, and the smile grew. “Listen.”


“Just listen.”

Mal cocked his head, looking for all the world like his son, straining to catch what Freya had heard. Then … “Is that purring?“

“I think so.” Freya led the way to Bethie’s room, sliding the door open.

Mal looked over her shoulder. “I see it, but I don’t believe it.”

“I think it’s sweet.”

“Yeah, but you’re crazy.”

“Excuse me, but you’re not talking to River, here.”

“Sorry, xin gan.”

“Accepted.” She smiled and leaned back against him. “Admit it. It is sweet.”

Mal sighed in her ear. “I guess.”

“What are you looking at?” Hank demanded, coming up behind them. “Oh …”

“Sweet,” Zoe said, smiling.

“See?” Freya grinned in triumph.

There, on Bethie’s bed, curled up in the centre of a heap of rucked up bed linen, were two bodies, one golden brown and one grey. Fiddler had his head tucked under his tail, and was snuffling in his sleep, Maoli, on the other hand, had her emerald eyes trained on the people peering through the door. She gave a small ‘rowr’, then very deliberately lifted one tiny paw and placed it on Fiddler’s back. Mine, she was saying.

“Ain't that the way on this boat?” Mal said to no-one in particular. “All the fellers are under the thumb of the womenfolk.”

“Paw,” Freya corrected gently.

“So does this mean they ain’t gonna be fighting no more?”

“Feminine wiles,” River explained, her bare feet silent on the deck. “She has made the big bad dog become her protector.”

Jayne chuckled knowingly as Mal said, “Yeah?”

“She lay in wait for him, pounced, and then told him exactly what she could do to him if he didn’t play nicely.”

Mal turned to look at her. “Albatross, you’re making that up, ain't you?”

River just smiled.

“What’cha all looking at?” Kaylee demanded, shoving Jayne along so she and Simon could see. “Aw, ain't that sweet?”

“Not you too, mei-mei.” Mal sighed, then looked down as there was a pushing sensation against his legs. Bethie and Ethan made their way through to the front.

“See,” the little girl said, stepping into her room. “I told you she’d be all right.”

Ethan crossed to the bed and sat down, stroking his kitten, while Bethie did the same the other side, making Fiddler twitch in his sleep. “Thank you, Bethie,” he said quietly.

“Hey, we were the ones doing the searching!” his father protested.

Freya reached across and drew the door carefully across. “Let’s leave them to it, shall we?”

River slipped her arm through Jayne’s and turned him towards the stairs. “You can help me get dinner ready,” she said, leaning into his shoulder as they walked up to the dining area. “Jayne, I was just wondering …do you think Caleb would like a pet?”

“No!” Mal’s voice made the superstructure ring.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008 8:28 AM


Great! Cute! Wonderful!! Love the end. It is so cute. Ain't it grand how we womenfolk can do that to our men. :))

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 9:30 PM


This had so much sugar in it that it made my teeth ache! Loved the comment from River "feminine wiles". I think she just might be right. Not sure who the Captain is on Serenity any more because it sure isn't Mal. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 3:43 AM


That's so cute.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008 7:43 AM


I guess if a kitten scratch has Mal in the infirmary then he'd better not run out of catalyzers anytime soon. He's getting soft in his old age isn't he? :)


Wednesday, May 21, 2008 8:27 PM



Wednesday, May 21, 2008 8:27 PM



Wednesday, May 21, 2008 8:28 PM


I meant to say...


Pet fluff. Mal's turned into quite the softy lol.

Thursday, May 22, 2008 1:36 AM


i love how you've reached a point where i can HEAR Frey as much any of the BDH's. - been on (yet another) roll of late aint ya?:)


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