Old Habits - Part VII
Friday, June 6, 2008

Maya. Post-BDM. Mal and Freya talk, with a little interrupting from Hank. NEW CHAPTER


“Frey, do you want me to take over?” Hank asked, leaning in the doorway. “I mean, it is what your husband pays me for.”

“No, that’s fine. I just need to sit for a while.” She smiled at him. “You go play with Ben.”

“I’d rather play with Zoe,” the pilot said. “Only she’s not in the mood for games at the moment.”

“Are you surprised?”

“No, not really. But I keep trying.”

“Too much information, Hank,” Mal said, coming up the steps behind him.

“Ah. Right.” He straightened up. “Shall I go someplace else? I mean, if you’re wanting to use the bridge for fighting.”

“We’re not going to fight. Are we?”

Freya turned back to the stars. “Of course not.”

“Right.” Hank backed up around Mal, then span on his heel, heading back towards the galley at what he hoped was a nonchalant pace, but suspected was almost a full run.

“So.” Mal stepped onto the bridge and sat down in the co-pilot’s seat.


“You’re mad at me.”


“Yes, you are. I can tell.”

“Oh? Feeling psychic yourself, are you?” She couldn’t stop a trace of sharpness creeping into her voice.

“Ha! See, I knew you were mad at me.” He turned to face her. “It was a long time ago.”


“So long ago … I don’t even think of that time no more.”

“No reason why you should.” She hadn’t looked at him.

“It was right after the war. When you were … off doing whatever it was you were doing. And I didn’t ever ask what that was, I might add.” He saw her lips tighten. “Okay, no, that’s not what we’re talking about,” he said quickly. “She and I were … well, she came from Shadow, and –“

“I know. I heard.”

Mal glanced over his shoulder towards the galley. “She told them?”


“How much?”

She shook her head, a small, unfunny laugh escaping. “I wouldn’t know. I've no idea how much there is to tell.”

“She wasn't who I thought she was, Frey,” he said quietly.

“Are any of us?”

“Gorramit, Frey, you look at me!” He went down onto his knees next to her, pulling the chair around, even though she kept her head lowered. “I don’t know how to say I'm sorry for not telling you. I can give you the reasons, maybe the excuses, but I can’t make it not happen. She’s just a girl. A woman. And I once thought to marry her.” He swallowed as he saw pain flit across her face. “Once, Frey. Just once. Then something happened and I realised I didn’t want her.”

He sat back onto the floor, leaning against the console. “You want me to say I figured that I couldn’t marry her with you in the background? Okay. I’ll say it. Only you know that ain't true. It took me a long time to get over that near terminal stupidity. Years. And not ‘til you came back into my life, standing on that dock as if you owned the place.” He smiled a little. “Still took me a while to remember, to realise how I felt, but I chose you, xin gan.”

She didn’t answer, but he knew she was listening, could tell by the slight jerking of her hands in her lap.

“But even with Becca, back then … I think maybe you were part of it, part of the reason I never did forgive her. Same with Inara. Why it never worked for us. You know what you did to me that night. I've told you often enough. And I've apologised for pushing it away.” For a long moment he closed his eyes, seeing Freya in that hotel room, her body next to his, and the slow dawning with the coming day that he couldn’t have her and be the soldier he needed to be. “But I found you again. And I’m planning on spending the rest of my life making it right. Frey, I love you.”

“I know.” Finally she looked into his blue eyes. “I’m sorry,” she said, her voice nothing more than a whisper on the breeze.

He moved closer to her, shocked to see the emotion in her face. “You’re … why?”

“I know I'm being unreasonable. I know you weren’t a virgin that night, even if I was. And between … well, I’d not exactly been celibate either.”

“Two, Frey.” His lips twitched a little, hoping he was right and it was going to be okay. “All of two men. One time only. That’s almost as good as.”

She swallowed hard. “I don’t know why this has affected me so much.”

“I do.” He took hold of her hands and pulled gently, inordinately pleased that she let him draw her down into his lap. “Magpie.”

“That girl?”

Mal nodded. “I didn’t tell you about what she was like, and then this coming on top … no wonder you thought you couldn’t trust me.” She stiffened slightly in his arms. “But you can. Whatever happens.” He touched her wedding ring, putting his own next to it. “Forever, Frey.” Wrapping himself around her he went on, “I love you, Frey. Married you. Hell, we got two kids on this boat that are yours and mine. Nothing and no-one is gonna come between us.”

“I know that. It’s just sometimes –“

“Your jealousy gets away from you. I know. Hey, nobody’s perfect.”

She gazed at him. “I'm not perfect.”

“Didn’t say you were, ai ren. In fact, I seem to recall my exact words being that nobody is. We all got our faults. Even me.” He smiled as he saw her mouth lift at the corners. “But to me, you’re close as. And all married couples argue. Kinda goes with the territory.”

She finally leaned against him. “How come you always know the right thing to say?”

He chuckled. “Thought the problem here was ‘cause I didn’t say anything at all.”

“Maybe it’s that feeling I can’t get rid of,” she said softly.

“That something bad’s gonna happen?”


“Well, if it does, then we’ll cope with it together. All of us. Like we have done already. But you don’t need to feel jealous, Frey. I know me saying that and you doing it ain’t ever gonna coincide, but Becca ain’t even Inara. I’m not asking you to be friends with her. Just put up with her ‘til we reach Persephone and we can dump her in the dust.”

Freya stifled a laugh. “You’re going to wait that long?”

“Honestly, I’d rather do it now, but it’d prob’ly be messy, and Jayne’d argue about having to clean up, so … yeah, Persephone’s better.”

“And the fact that she turned up right at that moment?” She looked into his face. “You believe she just happened to be there, right when we were robbing the place?”

He narrowed his eyes. “You getting psychic or something?” he asked, almost seriously.

“I mean it. I can’t feel her, can’t read anything at the moment, but –”

He put his finger on her lips. “Frey, I don’t think it was an accident. I know Becca. She doesn’t do anything without a reason.”

“Why do I get the feeling you know what that’s likely to be?”

“Well –“

A chime from the console made them both look up.

“Sounds like a wave,” Freya said, climbing to her feet and sitting down again.

Mal followed her, his body feeling bereft of her touch. “So who is it?”

Freya’s eyebrow raised. “Badger.”

“We’re still too far out for a live feed, so it’d be just like him to drop bad news this way …” He sighed heavily. “Go on. Let’s find out what the little huang shu lang wants now.”

Freya pressed the button, and the screen shimmered to life, and the bane of their current existence appeared.

“I’ll make this short, seein’ as I got more important things to do that talk to the likes of you.” Badger smirked.

“’M I wrong in wanting to put my fist through the vidscreen?” Mal murmured, and found himself amazingly happy to see Freya flash him a smile.

“There’s no need for you to worry about delivering the main cargo. Got someone comin’ to meet you, transfer it. They’ll take it on, give you half the coin you’re owed then deliver it themselves. Like I told you, my client ain't exactly enamoured of people what wear brown, so this is how it’s gonna be.” He straightened his jacket. “The pick-up’s transponder code is attached to this message, so you’ll know it’s legit. Then all you gotta do is bring the other package to me and get paid the rest.”

“If that hwoon dahn thinks I’m gonna just hand over the goods and –“ Mal began, but Badger apparently had anticipated the objection.

“I know you’re prob’ly swearing at me right now, but this is the deal, take it or leave it. And remember, if you leave it, you’re stuck with stuff you might not wanna be caught with if the Alliance ‘appens to call.”

Mal’s jaw dropped. “Is he threatening me?”

“‘Sides, I don’t think you’ll mind too much when you see who it is,” Badger went on, reaching forward. “See you in the world, Captain Reynolds.” The satisfied look was back on his face as the screen went to static.

Freya switched it off, then checked the transponder data. She laughed.

“What’s caught your funny bone?” Mal demanded. “That weasel’s trying to gyp me somehow, and I ain't gonna fall for it.”

“He’s right, though.” She tapped the information screen. “You’re not going to mind.”

He hooked his arm around her waist and looked over her shoulder. He shook his head slightly. “And I thought I was the only decent and upright person contemplated taking work from that ji guan.” Pulling her closer against him, he whispered, “But you say he’s right again, and I ain't gonna be responsible for my actions.”

She felt his warmth suffuse through her, melting the last resentment in her core, and she pressed back into him. “You want to tell the others who we’re meeting, or shall I?”

“Oh, I think we’ll let it be a surprise.” He tightened his grip, letting his other hand run up and down her hip. “Now, you gonna come help me rustle up something for the crew to eat, or are we gonna argue some more?”

She sighed as he kissed her neck. “I don’t want to argue. I'm not that hungry, either.”

“Fine.” He lifted his head and yelled over his shoulder, “Hank! You’re cooking!”

Freya winced, but smiled. “You do know we have an internal com, don’t you?”

“Really?” He nuzzled the top of her tattoo. “P’raps you’d better come down to our bunk and you can explain all about it.”

“Are you tryin’ to get around me, Captain Reynolds?” She did a creditable impression of Badger, then yelped as he pinched her.

“Less of that, wife. And I hope I'm trying to get round you.” He soothed where he had pinched. “It gonna work?”

“I'm still angry.”

“No, you ain’t.” He rested his chin on her shoulder. “Like I said before. Us is forever.”

She turned in his embrace to look into his eyes. “Ungrammatical, but I like the sentiment.”

“Then why don’t you –“

Whatever he was about to suggest was interrupted by Hank leaning in the doorway, covering his eyes with his hand. “Look, I know you two’ve made up, but do you have to do it here? And I ain't cooking. It ain't my turn.”

“You wanna walk to Persephone?” Mal asked, not even looking at the pilot.

Da-shiong bao-jah-shr duh la doo-tze,” Hank muttered.

“What was that?”

“Nothing!” Hank said quickly, heading back towards the kitchen. “Just don’t blame me if everything gets burned!”

to be continued


Friday, June 6, 2008 3:17 AM


Another great chapter! I am still wary of dear sweet Becca as to why she is on the boat. Hope either Freya or Mal let their guard slip. I know Zoe won't.

Friday, June 6, 2008 11:35 AM


Loved this, so glad Frey has forgiven Mal for having a life before her. Don't like it when they argue, it feels all manner of wrong. As for Becca why can't they just dump her into the atmo? No clean up for Jayne then. I am mighty curious though who they got to meet them for the job. Ali D :~)
You can't take the sky from me

Friday, June 6, 2008 12:56 PM


Interesting chapter yet again! Looking forward to more!

Monday, June 9, 2008 11:54 PM


this seemed a little short - but no mistaking the quality...


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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!]