Old Habits - Part V
Monday, June 2, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. In which Freya finds out who the woman is, and Mal gets a shock. NEW CHAPTER


“Who the hell are you?” Freya demanded.

The blonde shrugged. “Just someone who doesn’t want to get caught. They’d never believe I wasn’t involved, so I’d rather we didn’t stand around here giving introductions. Do you have a way out or not?”

Freya drew herself up. “Look, I don’t know who you think I am, or what you believe you’ve seen, but I am not to be accosted in this manner, and if you don’t leave I will ask security to detain you.” It was the best impression of her mother she’d ever done.

It didn’t work. “You talk much more and we’ll be attracting the kind of attention neither of us wants.”

“Hmmn.” Freya glowered at her, trying to see past the fog in her mind, but bouncing off it like a rubber wall.

“Frey, who’re you talking to?” Mal hissed in her ear.

“Never mind.” She glanced around once more, then said, “This way.” She led the other woman to the doorway, just visible behind the gossamer curtain that billowed out a little. Taking one last look to make sure no-one was watching, she slipped inside, knowing the blonde was at her heels.

Out of the perfumed air, there was a faint smell of cooking from further up the corridor, getting stronger as they hurried along. At the bend Freya held up her hand, and her companion stopped. Carefully she glanced around, but could see no-one in the kitchen just a short way further along. Nodding, she gestured and walked quickly forward, then felt the blonde almost run into her back as she stalled. Movement, and not the purple and gold of the flunkeys, but the black and shiny guns of the security guards, standing in their exit.

“Gorramit,” Freya breathed, dipping into the only open doorway. The other woman followed her, closing the door behind them until only a sliver of light showed.

“They’re not moving,” the woman said. “I think we’re going to have problems getting out that way.”

Freya looked around the dark room, her eyes adjusting quickly. It was some kind of linen store, table cloths and tea towels piled high on metal shelving. Glancing up she couldn’t see any kind of ventilation shaft they could use, so headed to the window, where a dim glow showed through years of grime. Obviously Salazar didn’t spend money where he didn’t have to.

“Well?” the blonde asked, leaning back into the room.


“They’ll hear if you break the glass.”

“I wasn’t planning on that.”

“Then we don’t have a choice. We have to –“ Her eyes widened as she saw Freya remove the knife from the thigh sheath. “I didn’t think that was real.”

“It’s real.” She smiled swiftly, then ran her hand over the window frame. Nothing tingled, but that didn’t mean much. “Hank, we’re in a closet. Can you tell if there’s an alarm on the window? I'm standing right next to it.”

“Who’re you talking to?” the blonde asked, but Freya ignored her.

On the shuttle, Hank turned from watching Mal help Zoe through the door, then punched a few buttons. “Nothing’s registering, Frey. But take it slow. If you hear me yell at you to stop, you stop, dong mah?”

“Dang rahn.”

“Who is this ‘we’ she keeps talking about?” Mal asked, looking at Zoe as she stripped off the jacket.

“I don’t know, sir. She was alone when I left.”

“Well, she ain't now.” He strode to the small bridge. “Anything?” he demanded.

“Nope. And just in case you were about to ask, I don’t know who she’s with, either.”

Mal scowled, thinking hard, You’ve got some explaining to do, woman.

When I get back, okay? I’m kinda busy right now. Freya smiled slightly and slid the knife between the frames.

“What are you doing?” the blonde asked.

“Getting us out of here.”

“But you said, they’re locked.”

For a moment Freya closed her eyes, then continued working the blade in. “Where I was born we had a kitchen. And there was a storeroom, pretty much like this. With a window, very similar. Kept locked. Only my brother and I found out that the lock was old, and didn’t fit all that well, and a well-placed knife would … make … the … frame …” She levered just a little and the window popped open.


“Frey?” Mal again. “You coming?”

“We’re on our way.”


Freya didn’t respond, just wrapped the length of her skirt over her arm so it fell like arterial blood. “After you,” she said to the blonde, slipping the knife back into its sheath.

Hank spoke above the sound of the shuttle engine. “We’re coming to you, Frey. There’s a lawn about fifty yards from the back of the house. Meet you there.”

“Thanks.” She raised an eyebrow at the blonde woman still standing staring at her. “Do you want to get caught or not?”

With something muttered under her breath that sounded suspiciously like cussing, the other woman hitched her skirt up, pulled one of the hampers across, and climbed up. “If I fall and break my neck, I’ll come back and haunt you.”

“If you fall, I'm not cleaning it up.”

The woman glanced sharply at her, but clambered out of the window, dropping lightly to the ground beneath. A moment later Freya joined her, and they ran quickly along the gravel path, between the trimmed yew hedges, and towards the lawn. A rush of air signalled the shuttle descending, and it had barely touched the ground before Mal was leaning out of the doorway.

“Come on!” he shouted, waving his arm for them to hurry.

They didn’t need any other urging, and jumped into the main body of the shuttle even as Hank lifted them away, banking hard and tossing them to the floor.

Freya sat up, laughing. “Well, that was bracing.”

“Are you insane?” Mal demanded, holding onto the door frame as he slid it closed, then on the same breath hurled over his shoulder, “Hank, tell River to get Serenity ready to go. We’ll be coming in low and hot.”

“Got it, Mal,” the pilot said.

“And who the hell is this?” Mal stood over the blonde still lying on the deck, her hair covering her features.

“Not sure,” Freya admitted. “But it seemed better to bring her with me than leave her behind.”

“We’ll see about that,” her husband said, holding out his hand and reaching down to help her up.

Then the blonde lifted her hair away from her face, looking up at him. “Mal?” she said, barely vocalising.

Mal glanced at her, and all the blood drained from his skin. “Hun zhang.”

Freya saw but didn’t acknowledge Zoe walking off the bridge with her gun in her hand. Her attention was entirely on the man and woman in front of her, Mal frozen in the act of helping her stand, the blonde looking astonished. “What the hell is going on?”

In response the stranger leaped to her feet, throwing her arms around Mal’s neck and hugging him tightly. “Mal!” She sounded … delighted.

Mal lifted his arms slowly, taking hold of her shoulders and pushing her away so he could look into her face. “Becca?”


On Serenity’s bridge, River’s hand stopped in the action of bringing the Firefly to life, and she whimpered slightly.

Jayne immediately pushed off from the wall, going down onto his heels next to her. “You okay, moonbrain? You hurting?”

“Not me,” she whispered. “But she will.”

Her husband reached up, pushing the long dark hair out of her face. “I don’t understand, Riv.”

“Neither do I,” she admitted, pulling herself back together and away from the future. “But I will.”

In the sling around his chest, Caleb woke up, and his wail filled the bridge.


“Mal, I don’t …” She was trying to get back to him, to embrace him again. “I don’t believe it’s you.”

“Uh, me neither.”

“Sir, do you want me to –“ Zoe began, her thumb very close to the safety on her pistol, but Mal shook his head.

“It’s okay.”

Freya stood up, feeling her heart beginning to jackhammer. “Mal, you want to explain to me how come you know this woman?”

“Well, I –“

Mal didn’t get any further, as the blonde turned a wide, shining, smiling face on her. “He was my fiancé.”


“A few years ago, but I hope he hasn’t forgotten.” The blonde laughed. “You haven’t, have you?”

Freya waited, waited for him to say that it wasn't true, that it was a mistake, like the time Maddy had said the same thing and he’d said she’d misunderstood, that it wasn’t correct, that it was a downright lie … anything but the words that came out of his mouth.

“I ain't forgotten, Becca.”

At least he didn’t look happy to see her, but that might just be shock. “Mal?” Freya stepped forward. “Aren’t you …” She swallowed hard. “Aren’t you going to introduce me?”

“Can’t this wait?” Mal snapped, then saw the look on her face. “I'm sorry, Frey, but we’re kind’ve in the middle of a getaway here.”

“Oh. Yeah, sure. Later.” She backed up until she felt the bench against wall hit her knees, and she sank down onto it before she fell down.

Becca, the blonde, raised an eyebrow, then looked around, peering into the gloom. “Zoe? Is that you?” She chuckled. “I should have know you’d still be hanging around this old reprobate.”

“Becca.” Zoe didn’t move. Neither did her gun.

“Are you going to shoot me?”

“I haven’t decided yet.”

Freya couldn’t believe it. Not only Mal, but it seemed like Zoe knew this woman too. This … Becca. She felt like all the air had been knocked out of her.

“Coming up on Serenity,” Hank called over his shoulder, then spoke into the com. “River, we good to go?”

“Soon as you’re docked.”

“Coming in now. Docking in … three, two, one.” There was a slight thud as the shuttle settled, then a judder as the clamps engaged, drawing them in tight to the hull.

“Hank, get us out of here ‘fore someone takes it into their head to call the Feds and get us pinched,” Mal said, then had to grab a stanchion as he felt his Firefly lift from the ground.

“Dammit, girl’s always trying to take my job,” the pilot said, unbuckling and standing up.

Freya was quicker. She got to her feet, her hand on the door before anybody else could move. “I'm going to change,” she said quietly, looking into Mal’s face. “Then I think maybe we need to talk.” She slid the door open and disappeared outside.

“Hon?” Hank murmured to his wife, who shook her head slightly. “Well, I’d better make sure River ain't gonna fly us into a moon or anything,” he said to nobody in particular, and followed Freya out into the cargo bay.

“Good idea,” Zoe breathed back.

She hadn’t got very far, but was leaning on the handrail, head down, looking for all the world as if she was deciding whether to jump or not.

“Frey, you okay?” he asked, coming up behind her. She just held up one hand in the universal signal that, if he didn’t leave her alone, she was going to gut him. He nodded, for once understanding perfectly, and headed for the bridge instead.

Back inside the shuttle Mal turned to Zoe. “We get it?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Usual place, then.”

“Do you want me to stay?” Zoe asked bluntly.

Mal shook his head. “I don’t think Becca’s gonna hurt me.”

“As if I would,” the blonde pouted, her hands on her hips.

“Yeah.” Zoe picked up the black bag. “I’ll be outside, sir.”


Mal waited until his first mate had left, then turned to Becca. “What are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same thing.” She sat down on the bench, arranging her skirts about her legs. “I was on Claymore, minding my own business, when I see someone breaking and entering. Well, entering, anyway.” She shook her head. “You know, I really didn’t recognise Zoe in that outfit. She looks good, by the way.”

“I’ll be sure to pass on the compliment.” He crossed his arms. “That don’t explain how come you attached yourself to my … to Frey.”

“Because they were about to start checking IDs.” A faint look of disgust crossed her face. “Let’s just say mine wasn't going to stand up to violent scrutiny.” She leaned back. “So what were you … acquiring?”

“Nothing to do with you.”

“Fine. Don’t tell me. But I’d quite like to know where we’re heading.”

“Me and mine are going to Persephone.” His face was still, unreadable.

“Persephone. Huh.” She glanced around the shuttle. “Um, Mal, look, grateful as I am for the lift, but I left my change of clothing back on Claymore. And I don’t exactly fancy travelling all that way in this outfit.”

“Who said you were coming with us?”

She laughed, but it died in her throat as she saw the ice in his eyes. “You can’t be suggesting you might put me out the airlock.”

The slight vibration neither of them had noticed ceased as Serenity broke the upper atmo.

“Haven’t made up my mind, yet.”

She stood up, moving across the shuttle to where he stood. Putting her hands on his crossed arms, she looked up into his face. “Mal, are you honestly saying you haven’t forgiven me yet?”

“Actually, I'm honestly saying I ain't thought about you in a long while, Becca. But forgive you? No.”

She could almost see the anger rolling off him in waves. “Fine,” she said, stepping back. “Well, while you make up your mind, any chance someone can lend me a change of clothing?”

“I’ll see if Zoe has anything might do.”

“How about … what was it, Freya? She looks as if –“

Suddenly he was in her face, pushing her hard back against the shuttle wall. “You stay away from her, dong mah? You ain't good enough to clean her shoes.”

She felt a faint thrill of fear burn up her spine, but kept her eyes locked on his. “Do I detect something there, sergeant?”

He let her go. “Not sergeant. I'm captain, this is my boat, and if you don’t wanna spend the rest of the trip locked up in the hold, you’ll mind your tongue and your manners.”

She ripped off a textbook salute. “Yes sir!”

He glared at her, but stalked out of the shuttle without another word. Zoe was waiting for him.


“Find her something to wear, then bring her to the galley.”

“And Frey?”

He took a deep breath. “I'm gonna go talk to her now.”

“How much are you going to tell her?”

“That I ain't figured out yet.”

to be continued


Monday, June 2, 2008 7:02 AM


Well, now....I am being to get a wonder where this Becca came into the Capt's life. Got my curiousness up that's for sure.....

Monday, June 2, 2008 5:23 PM


Becca, I remember meeting her I was totally wrong on who she was.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008 1:51 AM


I think Mal should tell Frey everything and then the two of them should decide where to dump Becca. I can't believe it is an accident that she just *turned up* in the same place as Mal and Co. Too much the coincidence to be believable which means the woman has an angle. Maybehaps too much like Saffron for anyone's comfort. I liked that Zoe never once let her guard down, happy to shoot the woman as soon as look at her if the need arose. Good to know. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Wednesday, June 4, 2008 4:56 AM


Becca, huh? This should be interesting.


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“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!]

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"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 ...]

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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.]

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“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!]

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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!]

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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!]

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“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!]